I don't have any suggestions for cheaper telephone and internet service. We don't have a television connection for our old analog job, so I have even less to say on that, except that the library is a great place to check out free DVDs.
I can make a few suggestions regarding computing for the frugally minded, as in, proprietary versus open source resources.
Proprietary refers to that which belongs to a proprietor, or owner. In the computing, proprietary is "closed source," meaning that the source codes are owned and maintained by the owner and are not available to the public. We can use their operating systems or software after purchasing a license to do so. For the operating system ( abbreviated OS, usually Windows or maybe Mac), and some of the preinstalled software, the price of the license is included in the purchase price of the computer. We register the software and licenses when we first set up the computer.
Of the software preinstalled installed on new computers, some of it is only offered on a trial basis. After that, we must purchase a license to continue using it, or substitute something free, but with less bells and whistles. If you read your license agreements, then you know that legally you cannot sell a software disc after you've installed it on your computer, because the software doesn't belong to you. Even the fonts are licensed! In trying to self-publish a book, for example, one must pay for those fonts because the license doesn't include print publications.
If we go online (and who doesn't), then we must have antivirus programs, firewalls, spyware programs. A few are free, but the best ones come with a subscription and annual fee for renewal.
Open source refers to operating systems and software whose source code is available free of charge for the public to use, copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute. A detailed definition can be viewed at the Open Source Initiative, here. For every proprietary OS and program, there is an open source alternative. The disadvantage, is that there is a learning curve. Plus, we humans like what we're used to. We know where the menus, buttons, and icons are, and we know how our software programs can meet our needs. No new tricks for this old dog!
I mention all this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the costs do add up. Those of us looking for frugal alternatives in all areas of our life should consider frugal computing. Also, if you are a Windows XP fan, you are going to be faced with a learning curve anyway, because support for XP is ending on April 8, 2014. You might as well consider your options.
An open source OS primarily means Linux. Thought of as the realm of computer geeks, it has nonetheless become extremely user friendly in recent years. Here's the one I use....
|My Xubuntu desktop. You can click to enlarge a bit.|
I like Xubuntu because it has a more traditional interface than the newer operating systems.
If you like the look of Windows 8, you might prefer Ubuntu.
|Ubuntu's Unity desktop|
|The Unity Heads-Up-Display with Dash search function.|
In fact, Ubuntu utilizes the search feature instead of menus.
Another user friendly possibility is Linux Mint, which is based on Ubuntu, and almost as popular. It can be installed with a choice of desktop styles, including the one that comes with Xubuntu (called Xfce desktop). Another good introductory Linux system is Linux Lite, also based on Ubuntu.
Software? Thousands of choices are available from the Ubuntu Software Center, which is included as part of the installation package on both Ubuntu and Xubuntu.
For a more thorough look at the open source advantages vs. disadvantages, click here.
For a step by step look Ubuntu, Ubuntu 12.04 Tutorial
I know this post seems a little off topic, but as we analyze how we spend our money and how to be less dependent on the consumer system, even things like computer use should be considered. For me, it feels like one step closer to freedom.
Frugal Computing © November 2013