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Blog Posts on My Frugal Life:

Cheap at Work
Friday, March 25, 2011 | By amseibel

A few months ago I was asked to be part of a group at the County department in which I work which is doing disaster recovery planning.  Our name for it is COOP (or Contingency Of Operations Plan).  As part of the IT (computer) group, it was my responsibility to come up with a plan to have computers and phones prepared and stored offsite in case our office building is destroyed or damaged to the point that no one can get back in and get any equipment of supplies.  Considering that I had no budget for this, it was going to be a challenge.  However, being the curb shopper and lucky scrounge I am, it wasn't that difficult.

First I sent out an e-mail to all the other IT people in all the County departments to see if they had any computers and monitors they were planning on getting rid of.  An IT guy from a department just down the hall replied that he had a few PC's we could have.  A co-worker and I grabbed a cart and hot-footed it over to see what he had available.  We found several PC's and were about to leave with them when I noticed several boxes of what appeared at first glance to be laptops.  I asked about them.  "Oh," he said, "they are some tablet computers we had for a project a few years ago, but they were slow and no one liked them so we aren't using them anymore.".  My eyes lit up - "Ooh, can we take one and test it ?" I said.  "Sure.  he replied.  "We have docking stations, cases, extra battery chargers and even car chargers."    So Bob & I grabbed a couple with docking stations and power cords and headed back.   Needless to say, once we completely cleaned off the hard drives and reinstalled Windows and the applications we would need, they ran beautifully.  They had dual-core processors and 2GB of RAM!  Even have them running on the internal wireless network.  We took all 24 tablets and almost all the accessories (except the hard cases which we really didn't need).  Then a few days later I contacted the warehouse where County offices sent equipment they didn't want anymore and came up with plenty of keyboards and mice to go along with them.  Now all I need are phones (VoIP and expensive), network cables and power strips.  Still got a couple of weeks though so who knows...
 

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Thrift Store Deal
Thursday, January 20, 2011 | By attic_treasures

I went to the thrift store today and came out with a nice leather purse for a quarter and a nice moniitor for my computer a flat screen samsung for $7.00.  I love going to the thrift store to go shopping.  Every thursday i go thrift store shopping with my boyfriend last week we hit the salvation army and i got 11 summer shirts for 99 cents a piece.  That was a good deal and the shirts are very pretty i was very pleased.  I went to my doctors today.  He knows i don't have insurance and he sees me for $20.00 an office visit.  He is a kind and caring doctor but what i am happy about is he gave me a phone number to a place i can get some health insurance for free.  I am really excited about it and i am going to check it out on monday. The weather has been really cold in Michigan i haven't been out much except for when i go to the thrift store.  I will be happy when summer time comes again and i will be able to go to garage sales hopefully the cost of gas won't be sky high in the summer.  The cost of gas now is around $ 3.00 here some a little less and some places higher.

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Second attempt at nothing
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | By Marcia Lynn

Well...it's not going, obviously,  not  going to be a daily thing, this blogging. Life gets in the way of living sometimes, and this is no different.

Many good things. Injured dog is well on his ay to recovery. Old dogs arthritis is behaving itself without medication, or at least he is not limping any more.

Husband is home and working away to provide for our humble little family.

Elderly friends and neighbors express joy at just waking up and enjoying seeing the sun shine once again.

Have you ever noticed, that we take such little things for granted? I did.  Until I started thinking about this silly blog.

Now, am just grateful.

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It alls starts today
Friday, September 17, 2010 | By Marcia Lynn

This is, for the most part, a place to vent a little, espouse beliefs and just nurture things that need to be recognized.

We all have them.

Thoughts that haunt us until we fall asleep, and wake up with in the morning.

Thoughts that tap us on the shoulder during the day and remind us that we should be moving on something we are deliberately avoiding. (sigh)

...yep...a place to just acknowledge life and the things that make it interesting.

Being new to blogging, this is yet another 'new' adventure of life for me...! Am verbal, but never spent much time putting things down on paper. (or type as the case may be)

But here I am.

Lets see how long it takes for me to forget to do it, huh...? Way to what, is paved with good intentions...?!?  :-)

 

They are asking me to pick a topic, so am going to 'topic' life in general, but calling it computers because I am USING one...!

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WE NOW HAVE GREAT INTERNET
Saturday, March 20, 2010 | By BACK_TO_DIALUP

JUST A SHORT UPDATE.

 

WE ACTUALLY RECEIVED THE WILDBLUE RETURN SHIPPING BOXES AND IT ONLY

 

TOOK 3 MORE CALLS TO THEM TO REMIND WILDBLUE TO SEND THEM TO US.


IN THE TIME SINCE SINCE WE TOOK DOWN THE WILDCRAP JUNK, OUR NEIGHBORS

 

WHO HAD TRIED TO USE OUR WILDBLUE SERVICE WITH OUR HOME WI-FI SYSTEM

 

WITH NO SUCCESS, HAD HUGHESNET INSTALLED AT THEIR HOME.


THEY PURCHASED THEIR OWN WI-FI EQUIPMENT SO THEIR CHILDREN COULD USE

 

THEIR IPODS AND INTERNET CONNECTIVE GAME SYSTEMS, AS WELL AS USE THEIR

 

LAPTOPS WITHOUT CONNECTING TO THE PHONE LINE.


BECAUSE WE HAD OFFERED TO LET THEM USE OUR WI-FI FOR THOSE CONNECTIONS

 

OVER OUR WILDCRAP SYSTEM, EVEN THOUGH IT VERY RARELY ALLOWED THEM TO

 

CONNECT, THEY PURCHASED AN ADDITIONAL WIRELESS ROUTER AND ALLOWED

 

ME TO USE THEIR INTERNET.


I WAS IMMEDIATELY ABLE TO GET TO THE INTERNET OVER THEIR WI-FI SETUP AND

 

IT WAS SO FAST THAT I RAN THE SAME SPEED TESTS WHICH I HAD USED WHEN I

 

CHECKED MY WILDWASTE  WILDWORTHLESS INTERNET.


I WAS AMAZED WHEN I SAW CONSISTENT HIGH SPEEDS EACH TIME I RAN THESE

 

SPEED TESTS OVER ABOUT 2 WEEKS TIME. I HAVE NEVER BEEN UNABLE TO

 

REACH THE INTERNET OVER THEIR HUGHESNET SATELLITE SYSTEM. THERE

 

HAVE BEEN NO DROP OUTS OR MESSAGES THAT THE INTERNET WAS UN-REACHABLE,

 

TRY AGAIN LATER OR THE OLD AND TIRED "OOPS AN ERROR HAS OCURRED".


I HAVE GOT ON THE INTERNET EVERY TIME I LOG ONTO THEIR WI-FI NETWORK AND

 

EVERY TIME I CHECK MY SPEEDS, THEY ARE MUCH FASTER THAN I EVER HAD WITH

 

MY WILDSUCK JUNK SYSTEM.


I HAVE TO SAY THIS AGAIN, I HAVE SEEN SPEEDS ON HUGHESNET WHICH ARE AT

 

LEAST 100 TIMES FASTER THAN WILDCRAP EVER DELIVERED TO ME. I HAVE SEEN

 

MY SPEED TESTS INDICATE NEARLY 2 MEGABYTES PER SECOND WHILE I HAD

 

DOWNLOADED UPDATES THAT WITH WILDCRAP GAVE ME SPEEDS SLOWER THAN

 

MY DIALUP!


I AM VERY PLEASED WITH MY DIALUP INTERNET SERVICE AND WILL STILL USE

 

MY 2ND PHONE LINE AND MY $9.95/MONTH DRAGON INTERNET AS MY PRIMARY

 

INTERNET SERVICE BECAUSE IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN FASTER THAN WILDCRAP

 

AND TOTALLY RELIABLE.


AT THIS TIME I AM CHANGING MY OWN WI-FI SYSTEM WHICH I HAD USED FOR

 

CONNECTING MY LAPTOP TO THE INTERNET WHEN I WAS IN THE BASEMENT OR

 

OUT IN THE WORKSHOP TO CONNECT TO WILDBLUE, TO ALLOW ME TO USE

 

INTERNET SHARING FROM MY DESKTOP COMPUTER I HAVE CONNECTED TO

 

MY 2ND PHONE LINE. I HAVE A LITTLE MORE WORK TO COMPLETE WHICH WILL

 

ALLOW ME TO USE REMOTE DESKTOP ON MY LAPTOP SO I CAN DIAL IN AS WELL

 

AS DISCONNECT WHEN I AM OUT OF THE HOUSE.


SO FAR THIS IS WORKING, BUT I AM FORCED TO LEARN MICROSOFT'S NEW AND

 

VERY UNFRIENDLY WINDOWS 7 AND HOW TO GET IT TO ACT AS GOOD AS THEIR

 

WINDOWS 95. I WAS JUST GETTING MY WINDOWS XP SYSTEMS CLOSE TO THE

 

ABILITIES WINDOWS 95 HAS AND NOW I AM GETTING FRUSTRATED TRYING TO

 

FIND HOW TO GET WINDOWS 7 TO DO THE SIMPLE TASKS SUCH AS CREATING

 

A SHORTCUT WHICH WORKS.


ANYWAY, I WISH I HAD TRIED HUGHESNET AT FIRST INSTEAD OF WILDCRAP

 

BECAUSE IF I HAD GOTTEN SERVICE LIKE MY NEIGHBORS DO WITH THEIR

 

HUGHESNET, I WOULD HAVE HUGHESNET NOW AND I WOULD NOT HAVE

 

BEEN RIPPED OFF FOR ALL WILDCRAP'S CHARGES THAT GAVE ME NOTHING.


WHEN THE HUGHESNET SYSTEM INSTALLER PUT MY NEIGHBORS DISH AND

 

SYSTEM IN, MY NEIGHBOR WAS TALKING TO THE INSTALLER. HE SAID THAT HE

 

WOULD COME OVER AND CHECK OUT MY SYSTEM FOR FREE, BUT HE ALSO

 

SAID THAT HE WAS DOUBTFUL THAT THERE WAS ANY PROBLEM WITH MY

 

EQUIPMENT AND THAT WILDCRAP HAD DROPPED THEIR LEASE ON 15 OF

 

THE 50 PLUS SPOT BEAM TRANSPONDERS ON THE ONLY SATELLITE THEY

 

WERE USING.  HE SAID THAT THE OTHER SATELLITE WILDCRAP HAD BEEN

 

USING WAS ABOUT DEAD AND WILDCRAP WAS NOT GOING TO ADD ANY MORE

 

TRANSPONDERS FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS BECAUSE OF THE TRANSPONDER

 

RENTAL COSTS. HE SAID WILDCRAP DID NOT OWN THE SATELLITE THEY USED

 

AND THAT IT WAS USED BY SEVERAL CUSTOMERS FOR TELEVISION AND DATA.


HE SAID THAT HUGHESNET OWNED 15 SATELLITES AND THAT THEIR SATELLITES

 

WERE ALSO USED FOR TELEVISION AND DATA SERVICES BUT THEY DID NOT

 

HAVE THE SAME BOTTLENECK WILDCRAP HAD IN USING RENTED TRANSPONDERS.


THIS INSTALLER SAID HE ALSO INSTALLED WILDCRAP SYSTEMS AND WAS A CERTIFIED

 

AND FCC LICENSED TECHNICIAN. HE SAID HE INSTALLED VERY FEW OF THE

 

WILDCRAP SYSTEMS, AND WHEN HE DID HE HAD TO TAKE EXTRA NEW PARTS WITH

 

HIM BECAUSE OF THE HIGH RATE OF "BAD OUT OF THE BOX" NEW MODEMS AND

 

TRIAS. HE SAID HE HAD REPLACED NEARLY 50 WILDCRAP SYSTEMS WITH HUGHESNET

 

DISHES AND NEVER HAD TO REPLACE HIS FIRST BAD NEW HUGHESNET COMPONENT

 

DURING ANY HUGHESNET SYSTEM INSTALL.


JUST 1 MORE THING, I HAVE NOT SEEN MY NEIGHBORS SYSTEM UNAVAILABLE AT

 

ANY TIME. I WAS VERY FAMILAR WITH WILDCRAP NOT BEING AVAILABLE AT TIMES

 

LIKE WHEN THE KIDS GOT OUT OF SCHOOL, ON HOLIDAYS AND WEEKENDS, WHEN

 

IT IS RAINING OR CLOUDY, WHEN WILDCRAP HAD BAD WEATHER AT THEIR HEAD END,

 

OR WHEN I WANTED TO USE THE INTERNET.


I RATE HUGHESNET SATELLITE INTERNET SERVICE AT ABOUT 1000

 

TIMES BETTER THAN WILDCRAP!


THANKS FOR READING

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2 YEARS OF FRUSTRATION
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 | By BACK_TO_DIALUP

Visit review and rating sites before you sign up for anything important or expensive.

We have just dropped wildblue and as we were doing this
the representative we reached had trouble finding our
wildblue account. They could not find us by the email
address we had with them nor could they find us with
our wildblue account numbers.

We told them this was the reason we were dropping their poor
wildblue satellite Internet service because we were rarely
able to make use of it. ( 2 years of frustration! )

They said that if we wanted to sign up for the wildblue satellite Internet
service, it would not be possible because it was not available in our area!

I will never touch any satellite internet service again.
I hope that we can someday see our phone company
provide DSL service or the local cable company reach
an additional 2 miles to get to us. There are nearly
300 other people who would sign up for cable tv service
along with us. We could then add Roadrunner internet
service as so many of my friends and co-workers enjoy.

Why did wildblue install our dish and take over
$2000.00 of our money for this service which they
admit is not available to us???

Why are there several other homeowners near to us
in all directions that have wildblue satellite Internet service??

Will wildblue refund all of our money which they have
ripped off from us??

I noticed the lights on the wildblue modem and watched
my Netmeter graph for about an hour after we canceled our
service and the first thing I saw was that the lights did
nothing unusual. The next thing I witnessed was that my
Netmeter graph indicated at next to the highest data speed
level that it ever has. Most all of the time when we were even
able to use wildblue, it rarely exceeded 3 to 4 times our dialup
download speed and never gave us as fast an upload speed as
our dialup. I guess they had to activate our service temporarily
in order to un-authorize our modem.

One of the reasons we dropped wildblue was that we could not
connect to the internet at the time we called to end our now
expired contract.. But when they needed to de-authorize our
wildblue modem, they suddenly activated it and at a much higher
speed than we ever were able to use to surf at except for
1 single time when it worked at the speed we were paying them
for.( Except for nearly 10 minutes, 1 time and 1 time alone )

This single time for less than 10 minutes, wildblue ran as fast as
my friends enjoy on Roadrunner!

This was as if they were searching for my modem and
after they found it, the speed went up to about 1/4 of the
speed we have been paying so much for!!

Why did wildblue have to turn our internet on simply to de-authorize
our wildblue modem? Why didn't they just keep on with their old
scheme of not allowing me to use the internet? What right did
they have to turn my internet service off at all, as I always paid
my bill on time? Why didn't they turn off the costs of my wildblue
service when they turned my service off so often?

Funny, we were not able to reach the internet at the time we
called to cancel wildblue but after they finally found our modem
address to de-authorize our service, the internet suddenly
appeared and at a very much faster speed than we were able
to use, save that single time when we got the speed we paid for!

This proves to me just how badly I have been cheated by them.
All those times I could not use the internet with wildblue, they
had simply turned me off!! I should get a refund for all the weeks
and months total during which the reason I could not use wildblue
for internet was obviously that they had selectively and intentionaly
turned my service off

And I was never late on my payment to them ever! They were in
the habit of turning me off for extended periods and on a highly
frequent basis. They owe me a very large refund as well as a public
apology to all of us who have suffered from these service drops.

We upgraded our service with them twice in an effort to get faster
speeds than our $9.95/month dialup gave us. Neither of these
upgrades did anything at all except for increasing what we paid for
the service that we never got.

Our modem is still acting as it has for most of this 2 year
fiasco, the internet is still there but I can no longer use it.
 ( Nothing much has changed !!! )

Most of the time when we were able to use wildblue, it
only downloaded data at about 1/4 of the speed of our dialup.
We now have our 2nd phone line and are past the absurd 2
year contract.

We only gained a slight benefit from having wildblue, which
was when we wanted to use the phone for calls instead of
for our dialup. But we now have 2 lines and can both
access the Internet and talk on the phone at the same time.

No wonder we have had such a terrible time with this
wildblue scam, they seem not to have turned us on in
the beginning. I guess this is why they never answered
any of my emails complaining of their poor service. It
is also most likely the reason why they never finished
the install in the beginning and caused me to buy my
own new parts as well as properly install the dish and align it
myself.

Why did I have to wait for my 2 year contract to be over
to avoid paying them their crooked early cancellation
fee? If wildblue was not available in my area then why
did they want the early cancellation fee?

Beware of this scam, They will take your money and then
run away from all their obligations to their subscribers.
Their so called 90 day equipment warranty is worthless
because they refused to complete the hacked up installation
and never replaced the junk modem they installed.

I learned they installed A junk modem during their hacked up
install, when the new modem I purchased outright myself gave
me their own message on my computer screen that the modem I
was removing had already been reported as scrap!!

( Imagine that !!! )

Why would they ever answer any complaints from someone who
lived in an area in which wildblue was not available?

Why did they take my money then?
After this, we had to give them our Dishnetwork account
numbers and they then found us but added in amazement
that wildblue was not available in our area!!! (Imagine that)

We signed up for wildblue through Dishnetwork, but we were
not able to get any help from Dishnetwork to correct the
many problems with the sorry wildblue service. Dishnetwork
said wildblue was a separate company and they had no way
to help us other than to give us the wildblue phone number
and web address.

Wildblue never had anyone answer a single email we sent
asking for them to finish their hacked up installation. They
never had anyone reachable at their phone number unless
we waited on hold for often more than an hour just to listen
to some ignorant uncaring person tell us our new $3000.00
computer was too slow to use wildblue service.

It did not matter to wildblue that we could not connect to
the internet with their equipment or service and they wanted
to charge us more than $100.00 to check the install which
was made that same day. ( And did not work !! )

We were never able to contact the installer who hacked up
our install, because he left nothing with his or his business
name that was readable. The phone number for his cell phone
always returned a message that the phone was either out of
area or turned off. The business phone number he left reached
a payphone in a laundromat. We never thought to get the
license number from his car.

I really hope someone has the time and money and legal
resources to either put an end to this scam, or at least
force them to only be paid for service actually received by
their subscribers.

I would be very happy if I could get a refund for all the totaled
weeks and months in which we could not find the internet on
our wildblue satellite system. From all the reviews I have read
on the internet since my mistake in believing their false
advertisements, I am but a single person among the thousands
of duped customers who fell for their hype.

If I only had to pay for wildblue at a prorated cost related to the
actual speed we received as compared to the speed we were
charged for, then wildblue would probably only cost $5.00 a month.

As to their advertised speeds, they very seldom were able to
exceed the speed of my dialup which I had to keep just to have
internet access.

Only 1 time in 2 years of my suffering with wildblue did they
provide me with their advertised speed. But this was for less
than 10 minutes total time.

I am now using my old dialup which I was never able to
drop when we had wildblue because wildblue was seldom
available.

I now do not have my browser popping up the old and tired
messages that I have lost my Internet connection.

I now no longer spend or waste my time hitting the re-try button
to see if I can get a webpage. I am very happy with my old
slow but dependable dialup service.

I do however wish to say that my upload speeds on dialup remain
much faster than they ever were on wildblue. And I can now
attach pictures to my emails I send on dialup without having
to re-send because of wildblue's "OOPS, an error ocurred"
message. I learned early on that if I was going to try to send
a picture on wildblue, I could only send a single picture at
a time because they could not handle multiple attachments.
If I wanted to send someone 5 pictures on wildblue, I usually
had to send 5 emails and expect to read their "OOPS" many
times. Often wildblue caused me to spend more than an hour
just to send an email with a single picture attached, because
of their "OOPS".

And as well, I am saving about $100.00 per month by not
having to pay them any longer.

Buyer beware, because you need to research well before you
also fall victim to this disaster of an internet service.

I have disconnected the wildblue modem and am awaiting the
shipping box they said they would send to me for returning the
modem, power supply and tria to them. I have these items all
ready for the shipping box, but I expect I will need to call them
again next week to let them know I still have received no box
as they told me I would. I can only imagine their probable
response to me, they will probably again tell me that they have
no record of me and that wildblue is not available where I live.

Thanks for reading

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Free Stuff for Computers
Friday, January 08, 2010 | By amseibel

Since I work with computers every day, I've found some really great free software available on the Internet for such things as virus protection, spyware and malware cleaners, word processing, spreadsheets, drawing software, browsers and e-mail.  You have to be REALLY careful on the Internet.  Just because something says "free" doesn't mean it actually is.  Many times it will say "free download".  You can download it for free, but if you actually want to use it, you'll have to pay.  All too often, once you have downloaded and installed something, it is next to impossible to get rid of it.   Sometimes they are actually malware that will install and then nag with popups until you purchase the software.  BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN DOWNLOADING ANYTHING!!

So here is a list of stuff that is actually free to download and use. 

Virus Protection:  My favorite is Avast.  Download from  http://www.avast.com .  This is free for home use.  Once you download and install it, you will need to register it at the website.  Then they e-mail a license number that you enter into the software.  You will need to re-register about once a year, but there is no charge.  It works great and does daily free updates. 

Spyware Prevention/Removal:  My favorite is still Spybot Search and Destroy.  It can be downloaded from http://www.safer-networking.org.  Do be very careful when downloading.  There are a lot of look-a-likes out there that are really malware.  This does take some configuring - you need to immunize your computer and set up frequent scans.  They have other good products as well.

Another one is SuperAntiSpyware.  Located at http://www.superantispyware.com, this product does a great job of cleaning off spyware and malware.

Check out www.ccleaner.com  for a product that can be used to really clean and speed up your computer.  Ccleaner (formerly known as Crap Cleaner) removed temporary and unused files and registry entries that are no longer being used.  You can also use it to remove software that Windows refuses to uninstall.  When you run the registry cleaner, you'll need to run it about three times to get all the junk.

Need to do a presentation, or have word processing or spreadsheet functionality that is compatible with Microsoft Office but don't have $$$ to spend?  Check out http://www.openoffice.org.  Free open source software that provides word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphics and database functionality.  Moreover, it can open and edit and save Microsoft Office (up to 2007) files. 

Firefox is a great browser alternative to Internet Explorer.  Available from http://www.mozilla.com/  it provides more functionality that IE has even considered.  It is much more secure and protected against malware and spyware invasions.   Their Thunderbird e-mail product provides a great local e-mail client as well.

More to come...

 

   

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What I do
Thursday, January 07, 2010 | By amseibel

In real life I'm a computer tech at the local wastewater department.  I get paid to be a geek.  I work with two other self-professed geeks - worked with them for over 18 years.  We get along great  - most of the time.   We are part of the local county government and as such, money is tight.  However, a few years ago I figured out that since other county departments seemed to spend a lot of money on computer equipment and replace it rather quickly, I would acquire their castoffs  (for free) that were still in great shape and had a least a couple of years of life left.  They were delighted that we would come and pick them up - they didn't have to clean off the hard drives and take them to surplus. We took all they had and then used the best ones to replace older machines and saved spares in case we had to repair them.  We could always fix one faster with spare parts rather than waiting for a tech to come on a warranty repair.  Granted, then we had to take stuff to surplus, but it was worth it.  Over the past few years, I've acquired flat panel monitors and printers as well as computers.  Sometimes we would buy a few sticks of memory to add to the computers, but overall we saved (the county) a LOT of money.

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Is anyone else having trouble posting?
Monday, March 16, 2009 | By freya1970

Just wondering, I wrote two long posts in the last few days and none of them are showing up for some reason. :(  I lost everything. Is anyone else having the same issue? 

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Cutting Down on Spam Posts
Friday, March 13, 2009 | By Lewissan

We are working on some changes to cut down on spam posts.  We hope to have them in place this afternoon.

Thanks for your patience in dealing with this problem!

Update: We now have some new anti-spam controls in place.  Hopefully we see a lot less of those annoying technology posts.  We also are testing a spellchecker.  Click the "abc" image in the text editor and it opens up a spellcheck.  Be sure to let us know what you think of this features, especially if you have any problems with it.

Regards,

Lewis

ThirftyFun.com

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