Cut the cord! 25% off refurbished Roku media players

205627_Roku CouponsIf you’ve been on the fence about cutting to cable TV cord, it might be time to take the plunge.  Here’s a Tightwad friendly deal on the latest generation of the little box that brought Internet media to the living room. It comes just in time to provide new alternatives to the Cable Guys’ usual fare of summer reruns.

If you haven’t checked the huge  lineup of available channels for Roku lately, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.  You might just find there’s more than enough variety to keep you entertained. Most of the programming is free and what isn’t is offered a la carte. No more paying for 50+ channels you hate just to get the one you  like.

Want one? Just click the banner at the left to get  yours (while supplies last) and you’ll also help support Tightwad Technica.

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Advanced degrees for $100?

According to Forbes, this kind of Tightwad friendly college could be a reality, all no farther away than the screen you are currently reading. Of course,making a degree affordable to anyone still won’t  make it easy. In addition to paying the tiny tuition , students will still cbe required to study and complete all of the work.

The man behind this lofty goal is no stranger to achieving the impossible.  He’s the brains behind Google’s diver-less vehicles. If you’ve created a self driving car, what do you do as a follow up? If you’re Sebastian Thrun, you found your own online university with the intent of setting knowledge and the skills to use it free. Actually, make that almost free while attracting venture capital to get the idea off the ground. Thrun envisions the cost of a Maters Degree at has start up Udacity to be around $100 for his students while making a profit for his investors. The magic comes in the economies of scale, teaching the masses online and paying professors a flat rate for conducting a class.

With a current curriculum limited to  11 worthwhile courses, all free at this writing, Thrun still has quite a bit  to do. We’re rooting for him as he attempts to truly democratize higher learning.

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Farewell to Ray Bradbury

Prolific SciFi author Ray Bradbury may have been the first in the genre to gain the begrudging acceptance of stuffy ivy league lit professors as a real writer. To the average geek much of our modern world, both good and bad was first depicted in one of his stores. A  freedom living individualist, Bradbury mistrusted the mega corp and mega government.

The best new ideas are always born in the mind of an individual, often working alone. Bradbury never wrote a line of code or built physical devices, but in his own way, Ray was very much a geek in a garage.  He worked alone creating works that inspired, entertained and gave us a look at things to come from a unique perspective.

Bradbury left  this world last night. He left behind many a new world to explore in his works.  With gratitude, rest in peace Ray Bradbury.

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$25 DIY Jib Crane for cinematic video effects

OK, so you’ve got a new DSLR or video camera that does pro grade video. There’s a little more to getting pro level shots. Unless you have an incredibly steady hand and the moves of a gymnast , you won’t  be able to get smooth sweeping shots without a little help. Getting the kind of gear Hollywood uses could require taking out a second mortgage. With a little ingenuity it can be done for far less. Here’s a clever jib crane that can be constructed from commonly available parts for a few dollars with basic hand tools. Now there’s no good reason to not add some smooth, sweeping camera motion to your videos!

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Dr. McCoy’s Hypospray becomes reality

As a needle hating youngster, I was fascinated  by the original Star Trek’s doctor administering injections with air pressure. While it’s taken half a century, the prick  of the needle may finally be on it’s way out.  A team if MIT engineers have developed a injection device that delivers drugs on a hypersonic blast of air that is reportedly pain free and leaves no mark. While it doesn’t currently resemble Dr. McCoy’s slender cylinder I’ll take function over form any day. Can they be made cheap enough that Tightwad physicians will actually buy them?

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Via launches tiny single board Android computer

The market for small single board ARM based computers continues far exceed all guesstimates with the success of products like Raspberry Pi. Via has a little different take on what a tiny computer should be. It’s new ARM11 board comes with a respectable 512MB RAM, and an 800 mHZ  low power processor. There’s also real world friendly I/O including VGA and HDMI ports, 4 USB ports, a microSD slot, Ethernet and audio I/O.

The board includes an “optimized” version of Android, so it’s safe to assume running a different ARM Linux is possible.  Via states that the board will be available in July for $49.

More at Via’s site.

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Nook as an Android tablet with full USB support

One of the problems with cheap reader / tablets like the Nook and the Kindle is how their implementation of the Android OS cripples their true potential. While the prices of these portables are  attractive, they only function effectively as a gateway into the retailers virtual marketplace. Not satisfied to be confined to a walled garden, many a hacker has taken control by jail breaking.

Want to run the open version of Android on a relatively cheap Nook reader? It’s easier than you might think and the free and open source  code for the task fits neatly on a 4GB microSD card. Step by step instructions can be found here.

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