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Five Star Buys (2022-11-12)

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.
Bookshop
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 the refrigerated and frozen stuff.
ElectroParts
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.
Monoprice
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.
StarTech
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.
Vat19
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. QFX ATSC Tuner (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. HIDIVE ($48/yr) Selection of anime hits targeted at a more mature audience. Shudder ($57/yr) More horror and thriller movies than you can shake a knife at. Peacock ($50/yr w/ads; $100/yr ad-free) All your favorite NBC shows, sports and news, and the WWE Network. Paramount+ ($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.

$180 Alera Elusion
Highly comfortable and customizable chair.
$37 Rollerblade Chair Wheels
For superior manuverability and immunity to hair-clogs.
$27 Stanley Work Light
Useful rechargeable light with unfolding LED panels and a magnetic base.
$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 Nintendo 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 dim the bright-AF LEDs in modern electronics.

House Embetterment

$415 Whynter Elite
Portable AC keeps your room comfy with 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.
$30 2x Emergency Light
These ones have a battery so you can keep seeing during power failures.
$29 Non-Programmable Thermostat
Basic temp sensor with no inevitable lithium battery betrayal.
$24 RMR Mold Killer
A quality disinfectant 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.

Everyday Carry

$43 Solar Battery Bank
Charge your phone with the power of the sun!
$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 Anker Power Brick
Folding-plug USB charger with A and C ports.
$21 AmazonBasics Tablet Bag
Ample space to bring all your shit.
$18 Tactical Belt
Seatbelt-style pants-securer that doesn't go anywhere when clicked shut.
$18 Sardine Can Survival Kit
Throw it in your pocket, forget about it, and have it if you need it.
$15 2x Butane Lighter
Adjustable handheld stick lighters that spew a jet flame.
$14 Battery Tester
Universal tester for the most common forms of 1.3-22.5V batteries.
$10 Zebra F701
Sturdy all-metal pen to satisfy your writing needs.

Batteries

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 10 years those have become extremely eager to leak.

For rechargeable batteries, Ikea Ladda and Duracell are the most durable, while SmartTools cells offer the best $/mAH.

  Single-Use AAs Rechargable AAs Alkaline AAAs
Longevity Energizer U.Li Gigastone Fuji EnviroMax
Balance Energizer Max Ikea Ladda
Duracell
AllMax
Cost/mAH Amazon Basics
Rayovac H.E.
SmartTools

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 flagship Samsung phones as they're at high risk of bloating within 3 years.

Headphones

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: TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 (wireless)
Value Headponies
$30: Koss KPH30i (on-ear)
$35: Samson SR850 (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 DT 770 Pro 80Ω
$170: Sennheiser HD58X
Exponsive
$230: Sony WF-1000XM3 (wireless)
$400: Huh-duh Six-hundos (Sennheiser HD-600)

As for microphones, I suggest starting out with a $40 Samson Go or Blue Snowball, then upgrade to an Audio-Technica condenser mic when 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 (Used since 2011)
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: voip.ms (Used since 2018)
The hidden gem of the industry, offering a self-explanatory configuration system and $0.85/mo numbers.
Cellphone: Consumer Cellular (Used 2009-2018) Ting (Used since 2018)
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 (Used since 2020)
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 (Used 2011-2022) PurelyMail (Used since 2021)
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).

Additional Resources 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. Unicomp Model M Keyboards It's time to upgrade to a proper typing experience. FloppyDisk.com Go on, take a wild guess what's sold here. Recommended Kitchen Tools What you need to make your life tasty. Bytemoth's Amazon WishlistGet me something nice for my birthdaymas.

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

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