The fine folks at Lifehacker were kind enough to allow me to guest post for them last Friday, and now that the furor around it has died down a little bit and my nerves have calmed a bit, allow me to share those guest posts with you:
[ Lifehacker :: Roll a Powerful Media HTPC for Less than $500 ]
This piece was tons of fun to write – partially because of the speed with which I had to assemble the component build for the HTPC, and the fact that I had to stick to a budget. I wanted to stay under $500, but I wanted to make sure it was chock full of quality components that would get the job done. As usual, the comments are great for my piece, with lots of great critiques of some of the areas even I think are most flexible.
For example, a lot of commenters suggested going AMD instead of Intel to save money – great idea, I just went Intel because it was tried and true and proven to me, and frankly I’m not as familiar with the AMD chipset and its current-gen processors. A number of others suggested going with less RAM (something I don’t agree with at all) or with an Atom/Ion processor/chipset combo (skeptical, but open to the idea,) but if you’re planning on building an HTPC anytime in the future, this is a good guide and parts list.
Alternatively, you can accomplish much of the same by installing XBMC on your Apple TV 2, but the article was really targeted at people who wanted the ability to have complete and utter control over their home media solution – and who could drop the media management software anytime they chose to stream Hulu and Netflix even if those two services block the set-top software they’re using.
[ Should I Go Back to School? ]
This “Ask Lifehacker” column was partially torn from the pages of my own life: back in 2002 I was debating the same thing. I was stuck in a job where I didn’t think there was much career growth for me, and I had to make the decision whether I wanted to go to grad school or stick it out in my current job and hope for the best.
I decided to go back to school, get a Master’s, and stick it out in the job at the same time – partially for tuition benefits from my employer but partially because I didn’t want to just quit my job wholesale and go back to school full time. I had an apartment I had to keep and bills I had to pay, and while the tuition assistance was great, it wasn’t everything. When I did graduate though, it was clear that my current employer at the time still didn’t have any growth opportunities for me, so I left in favor of an employer who did. Best decision of my life.
But it may not be the best decision for everyone – and that’s what I point out in the Ask Lifehacker piece: weigh your options, your pros and cons, and whether you’re actually going back to school for something that will make a difference in your career. Discuss with your family and determine whether you can pay for it or get help from your employer to pay for it. Then make your decision.
[ IRS2Go Tracks Your Tax Return from Your Phone ]
A simple little piece on a handy mobile app that – even though it has some pros and cons – allows you to track your tax return from your smartphone and get tax tips and updates from the IRS…if you actually want them. Handy!
And that does it! I’m incredibly grateful to the Lifehacker team for allowing me to guest post for them, and hope I’ll have the opportunity to do it again soon. In the meantime though, enjoy! It was a huge accomplishment for me as a writer, and hopefully it can help you out in the process.