(973) 216-3666

What To Do With An Old Computer

If you’re anything like us, you probably have an old computer (or seven) somewhere in storage that you’ll never use again. You may be hesitant to toss it in a recycling bin because of personal data that you want to save, or erase – or perhaps you just feel bad throwing it away. No worries, Brainy Beaver is here to help with some other options.

1) RECYCLE YOUR COMPUTER

If you want to get rid of your old computer, you shouldn’t just “throw it away”, but rather bring it to an appropriate place for recycling. There are official and trusted organizations that will properly dispose of, or re-purpose them. You can send your devices to any company that is a member of the “e-Steward” network, such as the World Computer Exchange or the National Cristina Foundation, and they will recycle or refurbish your old computer and donate it to be used by people in need. You can visit the e-steward website to find a location near you that accepts tech on their behalf.

*Important Note: Always remember to completely wipe the data from the computer, or destroy/remove the hard drive before recycling it if you have any sensitive or personal information! Feel free to contact Brainy Beaver anytime if you need help transferring files, or safely erasing your old data.

2) BRING IT TO A MAJOR RETAILER

Some big stores like Microsoft, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, and Apple have recycling programs set up to take your old electronics. They are supposed to work within the “e-stewards” network, but be sure to ask them at your local location before handing over your items to make sure they get recycled in a “green” manner.

3) DONATE IT TO BRAINY BEAVER!

Our clients and followers can donate their old computers, tablets, and phones to Brainy Beaver. We refurbish them for charities that can make use of them for educational purposes. We accept any devices (working or not) that are less than 5 years old (anything older should be recycled).

Devices donated to Brainy Beaver will be securely erased and wiped using military grade software, so your personal information cannot be recovered and will not fall into the wrong hands.

If you’re interested in donating technology to Brainy Beaver, feel free to contact us, and we’ll let you know where you can drop off or send your old devices.

Best Browser Extensions: Honey, The Ultimate Coupon Finder!

Like most Internet-savvy people, I love using coupon codes to get the best deals and discounts when I buy online. Recently, I came across the browser plugin “Honey”. It’s designed to run in your browser, recognize any item added to any online shopping cart, and search far and wide for applicable coupons. Sign-up was quick and free. The plugin is unobtrusive. And it works!

I visited Godaddy.com first, to purchase a domain I needed. “Honey” noticed my cart addition immediately, and prompted me to search.

With one click, it searched, found, and tested a bunch of coupons, and applied the one with the biggest discount to my order automatically. Within seconds, my price dropped from over $90 to only $45! I tried it on a few other eCommerce sites with similar success, and can honestly say it’s become one of my favorite plugins.

On their homepage, you can manually browse coupon codes for tons of online stores, but it’s far more convenient as a browser extension. It is currently supported by Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, and a mobile app will soon be added.

If you have any questions about how to install new browser extensions/add-ons, feel free to contact Brainy Beaver at any time.

Let us know in the comments below if “Honey” works for you, or if there’s any other tips you have for saving $ online!

Is Console Gaming the Best? Or should I return to PC?

When I was a kid, PC was king…

I consider myself a true gamer. I remember booting up my dad’s desktop into DOS and running 8-bit games off of floppy disks before we even had operating systems like Windows. I was born in the mid 80’s, so by the time I was ten I was hooked on my Nintendo console, used my desktop computer every day, and eagerly anticipated every new console or major game release. I can’t even imagine how many hundreds of hours I spent online with my friends playing PC games, especially when Half Life released the Counterstrike mod and STEAM debuted. For a time, PC gaming was my favorite since it had the most amount of games and the most realistic graphics.

I’d come home from school every day and play Command & Conquer: Red Alert until my mom physically kicked me off the computer.
How do you play an online 1st person shooter with crazy lag? You don’t. You just sit, wait, and curse at your screen!

I was simply tired of keeping up with the PC hardware and software updates I seemed to constantly be needing for every new game that came out. I can’t even remember how many video cards, sound cards, and RAM chips I went through in the 90’s! Every once in a while I’d give in to my constant urge to try new games exclusive to PC and I’d pick one up, but rarely did I ever have a game install and run smoothly. Something always went wrong, whether it was hardware or software compatibility issues, driver updates, display errors or ridiculous lag, I could never just buy a game and jump into the game-play.

I’ve been waiting my entire life for graphics to catch up to my imagination.

For people like me, console gaming was heaven-sent, and until now I haven’t once considered going back to PC. Until now. Video game graphics are finally near the point that I, as a kid, always dreamed of, and some of the new open world, RPG’s, and action games coming out like “Escape from Tarkov” and “The Witcher 3” are pretty enticing. Still, I’m very hesitant to stray from the reliability and ease of play on my Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo consoles.

When I was a kid, this is what I thought video games should look like! It only took about 20 years but we’re finally here.

So do I stick to consoles or return to PC?

I would love to hear from my fellow gamers out there how you feel about the current state of PC gaming vs. consoles. I know this is a hot-button issue at times, especially for loyal PC users, but let’s keep this a friendly and open discussion, and respect each-other’s opinions! If you can make a rational, intelligent argument why I should invest again into a gaming computer, I may actually bite the bullet and re-join the PC gaming community.

5 Things Every eBay Buyer Should Know!

Despite having about 169 million users worldwide as of 2017, I still constantly meet people that don’t know or trust eBay enough to use it! I’ve been using eBay literally since their inception, as a buyer and a seller, and I’ve encountered pretty much every issue that can arise.

As someone with Top Rated status, over 1,500 positive feedback at 100%, and over 1,000 items listed for sale, I feel confident in my ability to help others use eBay more effectively. I’m writing this guide to buying on eBay so that people can better understand how awesome and fun buying from eBay can be if you just follow a few helpful tips!

1) Buy-It-Now VS. Auction Style

Many people still assume that eBay is just an auction site for random (usually used) items that they have to constantly watch and bid on at the last second. In fact, much of eBay is now official stores/retailers and high-rated users that sell thousands of new and used items. You can shop on eBay just like you do on Amazon or any other major site, with the ability to filter and see only the items you want to see, including items that you can buy immediately and not have to bid on. First, let’s break down the difference between auctions and buy-it-now listings.

“BIN” (Buy It Now):

Click to enlarge image.
The item(s) is listed at a fixed price and you can buy it immediately without waiting for the listing to end. The price won’t change unless the seller manually raises it or applies a sale, and the listing usually won’t be taken down unless the item is sold or the available quantity hits zero. You may also see an option in BIN listings to “Make an Offer”. This means you can submit your best offer to the seller and they can accept, decline or make a counter offer, meaning you can often get an item for less than it’s listed for!

Auctions:

Traditional style auction where a single item is listed for 3-10 days and will automatically end when the timer hits zero, even if it has no bids. Any number of buyers can place bids at any time, and the price will incrementally increase depending on what each person bids.

Click to enlarge image.

Which Should I Choose?

There are pros and cons to both styles of listings, and it’s helpful to figure out what kind of buyer you are before choosing one over the other. For example, if I need something quickly, maybe as a gift for a certain occasion, I may look only at BIN listings so I can buy and pay for the item that moment and have it shipped right away. Also, if I’m shopping for a common retail product like a shirt or toy that hundreds of people are selling, I may look at only BIN listings and filter by “lowest price” because there’s a good chance someone is already offering the item at the lowest market price to beat all other seller’s prices, and there’s no need for me to wait for a cheaper one!

 

On the other hand, perhaps the item I want is a unique or rare and has only a few people selling it, or I’m in no hurry. In this case, I may look at auction style listings to try and get a lower price. Auction style is more unpredictable because you have no idea what price it will end at, which means an item may sell for way less or way more than you expect! You’ll have to watch the item (click the “watch” button to add it to your watch list) and see in the last few minutes how many bids it has and what the price is at, and then choose if you want to bid.

2) Be Patient And Find The Best Deals

If you’re not in a huge rush to buy your item(s), you can often get some amazing deals if you know how to look for them and wait for the best listings. Here’s a few things you can do:

Watch:

Use the “Watch” button to save a listing and see if the seller lowers the price with a sale. You’ll also receive random e-mails letting you know that an item you’ve been watching has been re-listed or lowered in price!

Follow Seller:

Use the “Follow Seller” button to get notifications whenever one of your favorite sellers lists new items.

Save Search:

Use the “Save Search” feature to follow a search word or phrase and get notified when we a new item is listed that matches your criteria. This way you can be one of the first people to have a chance to grab a new item that’s listed at a good price. (This is my favorite way to find new listings for rare, or expensive items I’ve been trying to buy for a long time!)

Search for your item without too many filters if you don’t quickly find it at a good price. For example, I may look for an item in all styles of listings in all categories if it seems hard to track down. Someone may list a rare Super Mario Bros. shirt under the “Video Game Collectibles” category, which I won’t see if I have only items in the “Men’s Clothing” category showing.

Click to enlarge image.

3) Pay attention to shipping dates and locations.

Although I’ve had many great experiences buying from other countries, one mistake many people unwittingly make is accidentally ordering items from overseas (usually China) without realizing it, and get upset when the item takes 3-4 weeks to arrives and/or turns out to be a cheaper version or knock-off of the item. You should pay attention to the part of the listing that states how long the handling and shipping times are, and the location where it’s shipping from. If you’re in a hurry to get an item fast, you can filter your search to only include items that ship from within the country you live in, and look for items with 1-2 day handling and priority shipping options.

Click to enlarge image.

Often times the same item will be available for a fraction of the usual price, and it’s tempting to impulse buy it, but be sure to check that it’s not being shipped from Asia. This goes especially for clothing and toys, because these are common items that are re-printed or unofficially reproduced in China, and the size and quality of the items usually suffer to keep costs down for them.

4) Buy from a trusted seller

While there’s always going to be some bad seeds out there selling low quality items, making mistakes or ignoring messages, it’s pretty easy to spot the good sellers from the bad ones. Here’s a few points to consider:

Feedback Ratings:

Feedback ratings. Every eBay user has a feedback rating, and sellers especially have detailed info that you can scrutinize to help decide if they are worth buying from. Check and see how many stars they have on average for their customer service rating, and read a bunch of their feedback comments to see what other buyers have said about the seller. Be sure to filter them “as seller” so you only see the feedback they received for selling items. ?

Negative Feedback:

Don’t assume negative feedback makes a bad seller! Ebay in many ways is a numbers game. The more items a seller lists, the more items they’ll sell and the more chances buyers have to leave feedback. Just like with any major retailer, honest mistakes happen sometimes. A item may be damaged or lost in shipping, shipped late due to bad weather or holidays, or the seller may just accident overlook something when describing the item in their listing. While there are instances where a seller is truly unprofessional or unresponsive and deserves a negative feedback, often times buyers are hasty to leave feedback before even contacting the seller and giving them a chance to explain or correct the issue.

Click to enlarge image.

I’ve even seen many times a negative feedback for a seller but the actual feedback comment is totally positive! They just happened to accidentally check off “negative” or “neutral” instead of “positive”. Usually sellers are happy to address concerns and will work with you to fix any issue, especially to keep their ratings in good standing. If a seller has a few negative feedback, but has exponentially more positives and/or sells thousands of items and their rating is still above 98% or so, I would still consider them a good seller and worth buying from!

5) Take advantage of “eBay bucks” & promotions

Just like other major retailers, eBay tries to come up with fun ways to make your buying experience better!

After a quick and free sign up here, you’ll be able to earn eBay bucks with most purchases. You’ll earn a percentage of each qualifying purchase to your ebay bucks account, and at the end of each calendar quarter you’ll receive a digital gift certificate that you can use for any items on eBay.

In addition, ebay will send you notifications alerting you to eBay bucks promotions that give you up to 8x more ebay bucks for many items! If you use eBay as much as I do, it’s nice to once in a while get a credit that helps me justify buying something fun or expensive I was holding out for.

Click to enlarge image.

If you have any questions about buying or selling on eBay, please feel free to contact us or comment below. Also check back in our blog soon for part 2 with my top tips for selling on eBay!

How to Print 3D Objects Without a 3D Printer!

Most of us can’t justify spending thousands of dollars on a 3D printer, let alone find the time to learn to operate the machine. That said, I still want to be part of the club – it looks like fun!

This guide will teach you to find free templates for useful, interesting, and fun items to print, as well as recommending some websites to print them for a reasonable price.

STEP 1: Figure out what you want to print.

If you’re not sure what you’d like to print, sites like Pinterest or Instagram are also great sources for inspiration. The worldwide 3D printing community is a huge group of like-minded and generous people, which have uploaded literally millions of 3D models that anyone can download and use.

Websites like www.thingiverse.com, www.turbosquid.com, www.cgtrader.com, and www.cults3d.com offer hundreds of thousands of (mostly) free 3D models that you can download and use for 3D printing. There’s also www.yeggi.com, a “google-style” search engine that searches all the top 3d model websites.

STEP 2: Figure out who’s going to print your stuff!

ONLINE 3D PRINT SHOPS: There are many places that print 3D objects with no minimum quantity or maximum size. www.shapeways.com, www.makexyz.com, and www.you3dit.com allow you to upload 3D models (like those found on the sites in step 1), or you can browse their libraries of objects, print what you like, and get it shipped to your door. Prices vary from site to site, and the size, color and shape of your design affect costs as well, but most are affordable going for as little as $5-$50!

LOCAL 3D PRINT SHOPS: I could watch for hours, mesmerized, as a 3D printer magically liquefies the solid resin, and slowly reforms it into a solid object. If you want to see the printing process live, some Microsoft Stores, and many libraries and community centers now have 3D printers with (hopefully) staff trained to use it. Search your town’s website for locations with 3D printers, and classes or clubs that can help you get started.

MAKER DEPOT: If you happen to live near Totowa, NJ, Maker Depot is my favorite 3D printing spot. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and always happy to help – plus they offer “Makerspace” with several 3D printers – as well as wood/metal working stations and electronics/computer labs.

For about $75 a month, my Maker Depot membership allows me to freely use ANY of their machines, and I’ve already learned quite a bit from the staff, the classes, and the Makerspace community. The space offers a friendly and relaxed environment where I’ve made friends with some incredibly interesting people. Everyone has been so contagiously passionate about the technology, tools, and toys they work with, and happy to teach what they love, that I can’t help but go back as often as I can!

I hope you found this article useful, but if you have any questions, suggestions about the info above, or other clever ideas about easy 3D printing, please feel free to comment below!

Windows 10 Tips & Tricks: Set A Picture Password!

Are you constantly memorizing & typing passwords, or trying to come up with new ones that are secure and easy to remember? Me too, which is why I now use Picture Password! Windows 10 lets you set 3 gestures (lines, dots or circles) onto any image you want, and that becomes your new password! This works great with a touch screen, but is just as easy to use with your mouse. Here are instructions on how to set your picture password, and be sure to come back soon for more Windows 10 Tips & Tricks!

  1. Click the Windows Start button
  2. Click “Settings”. 
  3. Click “Accounts”.
  4. Choose “Sign-in Options” from the left side menu
  5. Scroll down & click on “Picture Password” & follow the on-screen instructions!

Apple Stores now offering free classes for kids & adults!

This month, Apple has begun a nationwide program called “Today at Apple”, that offers free educational classes at all 495 Apple stores. The classes will highlight fun & innovative ways to use their products for music, art & photography, and will be taught by both highly-trained Apple “Creative Pros” and assorted professionals from their respective fields. Apple has always been happy to teach people how to use their products, but this initiative goes above and beyond, helping teach adults and kids both basic and advanced ways to be creative with smart devices.

You’ll have to sign up for individual sessions on Apple’s website which will start soon, so be sure to check their website for announcements & extensive information on the upcoming classes!

Bloomfield NJ Cultural Commission International Food Festival!

A whole room full of food and only 5 bucks to eat anything and everything? Brainy Beaver was happy to attend this event! A big thanks to the Bloomfield NJ Cultural Commission for hosting the International Food Festival at the Park United Methodist Church, and to Mayor Mike Venezia for attending and serving his community, this time with a spatula and delicious Kugel 🙂 A special shout out to Councilman Theodore Gamble for bringing his AMAZING Beef Wellington! It was definitely a highlight of the evening. Councilman Joanow, you’re baked ziti definitely gets an honorable mention 😉

A final huge thanks to Mike Sceurman, the director of Bloomfield Parks & Recreation. We really appreciate you bringing us on board for this event, and we hope to contribute more to our town’s local events!

Free Stock Mock-up Poster Image!

Here’s a great stock image we found that is 100% royalty free to use in your next website or graphic design project! This is a “mock-up” style graphic, which means it’s set up for you to drop your own image into the blank canvas and it should look natural & realistic.

https://bit.ly/2mRcz1p

Not sure how to use this mockup sample? Contact a Brainy Beaver designer to help you customize this image for your product or design!

Stock image courtesy of www.pexels.com.

Brainy Beaver is now on Stumbleupon!

Search engines, like Google, Bing, or Yahoo are used to search the Internet for websites related to the specific words or phrases you search for… boring!

StumbleUpon is a “discovery engine”. Unlike a search engine, a discovery engine does not look for exactly what you want. Instead, its goal is to find the most useful and interesting website on the internet and match them to the people with an interest in those topics. It’s a fun way to discover websites similar to ones you like – or random awesomeness that you wouldn’t have even thought to search for.

1.) Infinite zooming comic tapestries (www.zoomquilt.org)
2.) Create & send private notes that self destruct, Mission-Impossible style (www.privnote.com)
3.) Literally paint a picture with words (www.tholman.com/texter)

Stumbleupon has a vast community of websites, and users that help rate and populate it with new sites every day, so it populates new material each time you use it. You can even install handy toolbars in your browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Exporer, Safari) so you can easily stumble around the world wide web. Be sure to give us a thumbs up if you happen to stumble upon brainybeaver.com 😉

MENU