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Five Star Buys (12023-09-04)

brook > getlinks > getstuff

(This is going to be US-centric, because guess where I happen to live!)

Firstly, I feel like I should acknowledge that I continue to remain deep within the Amazon ecosystem, despite being aware of the corporation's horrendous labor practices. And, yeah, I should stop, but the site is Very Convenient.

Alternatives to Amazon

(See also: The Amazon Pamphlet, Cancel Prime.)

But it's because I've spent over a decade using the site that I'm aware of a 'jack of all trades, master of none' scenario. Amazon tries to do a lot of things to a certain degree of competency, and excels in selection and logistics as a result. But, other companies focusing on their niches tend to provide a better service and often for cheaper.

Archie Mcphee
Produces novelties and gag items to delight and prank your friends with.
Need reading, ya nerd? Here's a selection from independent bookstores.
Costco Wholesale
For half 43% of the price of Prime, you can get your Gold Star and have any item from the nearest warehouse shipped to you in 2 days. Even Except the refrigerated and frozen stuff.
Covert Instruments
Everything you need to learn and practice lockpicking and bypassing.
Internal electronic components for circuit board repair.
Got a TV that's perfectly fine, except for the part where it doesn't work? Grab some spare parts and fix the bastard.
Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs Co.
Save literal thousands of dollars on the pharmaceuticals keeping you alive.
Low-cost retailer for all sorts of A/V equipment and cables, with prices that usually beat Amazon's on equivalent items.
Monterey Bay Herb Company
Direct dealer for bulk spices and herbs, because you know it's time for more oregano and cinnamon sticks.
Loads of PC and networking components and peripherals to get your old and new computers working how you need them to.
Tower Records
Vinyls, tapes, and CDs for your listening pleasure.
Good source for oddball and obscure tools and useful items. Also has a nice selection of drinkware and oversized gummy candy.

Then, with all the money you're saving by not having a Prime membership, you can sign up for a streaming service much more focused to your media interests:

Prime Video Alternatives
FreeVee Amazon's ad-supported streaming app. Why not. Pluto TV The best option for non-Amazon free streaming. Tubi Another highly-recommended free streaming service. hoopla Got a local library? Get into some digital borrowing.
RetroCrush (Free w/ads; $50/yr ad-free) The Greatest Hits and obscure gems of pre-2000s anime. Maximum fun if you watched oldschool Toonami.
Indoor HDTV Antenna
One-time $40 purchase
Loads of stuff to watch just flying through the air.
One-time $30 purchase
Slap in 5vDC, an antenna, and HDMI cable to see it all.

CuriosityStream + Nebula ($15/yr with promo code) Documentaries for the learners.
Selection of anime hits targeted at a more mature audience.
More horror and thriller movies than you can shake a knife at.
$50/yr w/ads
$100/yr ad-free
All your favorite NBC shows, sports and news, and the WWE Network.
$50/yr w/ads
$100/yr ad-free
Featuring CBS, Nickelodeon, and Star Trek.

JustWatch Movie/Show Search Guide to which shows are playing where in this fragmented mess. "WE DON'T NEED THIS MANY" -Scott the Woz fat RIP to CNN+ lmao

Recommended Items

On to the purchases. Prices may have changed since I made this page.

$375 Sauder Harbor View
Solid wood L-desk with plenty of room for activities.
$180 Alera Elusion
Highly comfortable and customizable chair.
$40 Megapro Ratcheting Screwdriver
90% as good as LTT's for half the price.
$37 Rollerblade Chair Wheels
For superior manuverability and immunity to hair-clogs.
$17 DC Barrel Jack Adapter Kit
Change 5v A- through L-type power inputs to N (5.5x2.1mm) jacks and hook up USB-DC cables.
$15 Console Repair Kit
Screwdrivers, spudgers, and picks to get into your games machines.
$12 Sony Remote
If you have or find any Sony Bravia TV, this remote will control it.
$10 Cedarwood Incense
200 sticks of a superb Japanese-style low-smoke incense.
$10 LightDims
Pack of stickers to debrighten glaring status LEDs.

House Embetterment

$415 Whynter Elite
Portable AC keeps your room comfy using 1/4th the power of a central unit.
$260 Tineco A11 Hero
The best value for a battery-powered canister vacuum cleaner.
$80 5-Tier Metal Book Rack
Sturdy storage solution for your book and/or movie collection.
$30 Luxe Bidet
An easily-installed bit of plumbing to get ur stinkin' hole clean.
$29 Non-Programmable Thermostat
Basic temp sensor with no inevitable battery bulging to fear.
$24 RMR-141 Fungicide
A quality mold remover that the pros use.
$20 10x E26 LED Bulb 4000K
Efficient 3-watt light globes to illuminate the space.
$17 Delta H2Okinetic
Simple but effective pressurizing showerhead with 1.75/2.50 GPM toggle.
$14 Battery Tester
Universal tester for the most common forms of 1.3-22.5V batteries.

Everyday Carry

$31 Emergency Radio
AM/FM/WB radio with reading light, usable with a hand crank or AAAs.
$28 First Aid Kits
One for home use, and a mini pack for your pocket.
$26 Tactical Power Brick
Folding-plug USB charger with A and C ports.
$22 Tactical Casio Watch
Classic timepiece with stopwatch, daily alarm, and backlight functions.
$18 Tactical Belt
Seatbelt-style pants-securer that doesn't go anywhere when clicked shut.
$18 Tactical Flashlight
1xAA/14500-powered light with rotating head and magnetic base.
$18 Tactical Survival Kit
Throw it in your pocket, forget about it, and have it if you need it.
$15 Two Butane Lighters
Adjustable handheld stick lighters that spew a jet flame.
$10 Zebra F701
Sturdy all-metal pen to satisfy your writing needs.


According to Project Farm's comparison of non-rechargable AAs, the best value are Amazon Basics (or Rayovac HE), longest lasting are Energizer Lithium, and best balance are Energizer Max. While the best AAAs are from Allmax, simultaneously the cheapest and longest-lasting cells available.

I avoid Duracell alkalines whenever possible, as it seems like in the past 15 years those have become extremely eager to leak. However, for rechargeable batteries? Duracell (and Ikea Ladda) are the most durable, while PowerOwl cells offer the best $/mAH.

Single-Use AAsRechargable AAsAlkaline AAAs
Longevity Energizer U.LiGigastoneFuji EnviroMax
Balance Energizer MaxIkea Ladda
Cost/mAH Amazon Basics
Rayovac H.E.

Got a Mavica? Try a WasabiPower F550. And while they seem to not be manufactured anymore, if you can track down a ProMaster Traveler+, those charge nearly every variant of InfoLithium (and even a few Panasonic batteries).

Avoid Samsung phones as they're at high risk of bloating within 3 years and have combated repairability by patent-trolling OLED screen imports. Avoid Samsung appliances as they're notorious for breaking quickly.

Either avoid or open CyberPower PFCLCD-series UPSes, as many of them contain glue that eventually turns conductive and could potentially short components or start a fire.

Do not buy HP printers, as they lock you into buying expensive first-party ink cartridges. Same for Canon and Dymo. In fact, don't even buy inkjet printers; jump straight to Laser. Much better experience, non-proprietary/easily available parts, and you don't need to worry about toner drying out between prints because it's already just a powder.


Since I'm fine just using some barrelscraper $10 cans from Sony, these recommendations come from the DankPods youtube channel.

Budget Earsniffs
$20: KBear KS1
$20: KZ ES4
$24: KZ ZSN Pro
$40: TT SoundLiberty 79 (wireless)

Value Headponies
$30: Koss KPH30i (on-ear)
$35: Samson SR850 "These are better [than $85 Sennheiser HD280 Pros]." (semi-open)
$40: AKG K52 (closed-back)

"Sparkling Goddesses Hand-Made in New York"
$100: Grado SR60X

Best Starter Amp/DAC
$150: FiiO BTR5

Midrange Handpranks
$150: beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80Ω
$150: Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee

$230: Sony WF-1000XM3 (wireless)
$400: Huh-duh Six-hundos (Sennheiser HD-600)

For microphones, I suggest starting with a $40 Samson Go or Blue Snowball, then upgrade to an Audio-Technica condenser after the big bucks roll in.

Online Services

As a fan of reducing expenses when possible, I've been seeking out the lowest-charge, highest-quality stuff out there. Here's what I can confidently recommend:

Webhost: NearlyFreeSpeech.NET (12011--)
By far the best webhost for a single static site (besides Neocities lol), at under $4/year. But if you should need it, PHP is supported. And despite what the name might make you think, the team is explicitly anti-bigotry.
Home Phone: (12018--)
The hidden gem of the industry, offering a self-explanatory configuration system and $0.85/mo numbers.
Cellphone: Consumer Cellular (12009-12018) Ting (12018--)
Expensive phone bills? Fuck that noise, how's $10/mo for unlimited talk and text plus $5/GB sound to ya? Or perhaps something even cheaper?
Domains: Porkbun (12020--)
The cheapest domain name registrar on the entire internet. On top of that, they don't charge extra for must-have features like DNS and WHOIS privacy. See how they compare.
Email: FastMail (12011-12022) PurelyMail (12021--)
If you just need mail and not a bunch of other crap added on, you can have it for only $10/year. (Other low-cost providers: NexusBytes ($3+/yr), Zoho ($12/yr), Tutanota (€12/yr).)
Cloud Storage: BackBlaze B2
If you do need to host a lot of large files, it might as well be done for 1/4th the price AWS would charge you.

No matter what you'd choose, I suggest avoiding GoDaddy (overcharges and uses shady upsell tactics), and any webhost owned by EIG (guts and races-to-bottom the companies they own) including BlueHost.

Additional Resources Do not use Paypal Prudish MasterCard about to make life difficult for tons of websites keep ya outdated morals out my fuckin bank account smh
DRM-Free Living Where to find content that isn't locked down. Dumbphone Finder Tired of smartphones? Find your perfect smartn't phone. Go on, take a wild guess what's sold here. /r/Quality of Life Items Stuff that'll make shit better for ya. TechTangents: The Tools I Use Recommended tech for board/electronics repair work. Unicomp Model M Keyboards It's time to upgrade to a proper typing experience. Which appliances are built to last? TLDW: Speed Queen TC and LG washers, GE and Whirlpool stoves, dispenserless fridges, Bosch Nexxt dishwashers
Recommended Kitchen Tools What you need to make your life tasty.
Main Wishlist Get me something nice. Book Wishlist Get me something to read. DVDs Wishlist Get me something to watch.

[Listen]Listen to "Modern Talking - Geronimo's Cadillac" on YouTube?

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