Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tech Review: Solid State Drives. Are They Worth the Extra Money?

Solid State Drives (SSD's) contain no moving parts, therefore the time it takes to read and or write data is slashed significantly, compared to a typical Hard Disk Drive (HDD's) that contains heads, an actuator, and a spindle motor.

Think of a SSD as a really large thumb drive (the one you stick into the USB port of your computer to save pictures, documents, even mp3's to as a backup, or for transferring files to another computer), except they're not meant for carrying around with you everywhere.

They are meant to be fixed in place inside of your computer (as long as its case has the room) and to have Windows or Mac OSX (or whatever other operating system you prefer) installed on them, to be used in place of the regular old fashioned one similar to WD Green 2TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5-inch, SATA 6 Gb/s, IntelliPower, 64MB Cache WD20EZRX .

You can have both types of hard drives installed into the same computer, but you would have to decide which one would be your main drive, and which one would be a secondary or backup drive.

If you actually wanted to use a SSD as a portable drive you'd be better off buying an Samsung T1 Portable 250GB USB 3.0 External SSD (MU-PS250B/AM) external model
U32 Shadow
U32 Shadow USB 3.0 with 128 gigabytes
that comes encased in a protective plastic shell and is powered by plugging it into the USB port of a computer, but beware, you don't get a lot of storage per dollar.

The U32 Shadow USB 3.0 SSD start at $85 USD for a paltry 128 gigabytes (GB) of storage, but which is a good sized amount for a writer, all the way up to $15,000 (yes, fifteen thousand!) USD for a 2 terabyte (2000 GB) model. Mind you, you do have the peace of mind that a portable SSD is very resistant to magnets, shock, and vibration, compared to a portable HDD.

Now if you want more storage for your buck, don't mind the few extra seconds the hard drive's moving parts need to spool up to read and or write data, and are willing to risk having your data wiped out by a magnetic field or dropping it on the ground (always by accident, of course – you wouldn't play fetch with your dog with one of these, would you?!), then maybe you'd prefer the portable version of the regular old fashioned HDD mentioned earlier.  It's a great choice for a writer, but not someone who loves every other gadget known to man.

They also come in a protective case like the portable SSD, are powered by USB (even though these ones do have moving parts, which require more power, the USB cable you use to connect it to your PC or Mac provides enough juice to power them, as long as they're not the really high capacity models).

They range in price from $23 USD for a 60 (GB) Storite 120GB 120 GB 2.5 inch USB 2.0 FAT32 Portable External Hard Drive - Red, which is reasonably priced at $28.00- and good for a beginning writer with a limited budget all the way up to $150 USD for a 5 (TB) model, but keep in mind, the larger storage capacity drives require an AC power source due to the larger physical size of the HDD, thus negating portability. Want true portability, stick to the drives that are between 60 GB and 2 TB.

I will compare the pros and cons of both a SSD and a HDD below:

SSD Pros:

Faster read/write speed of data.

A real world example where this would be beneficial: I have an internal 1 TB HDD (2.5”like the ones found in laptops, as the standard 3.5” desktop HDD won't fit) inside of my Playstation 4 (PS4). It originally came with a 500 GB drive right from the factory, but I swapped it for the bigger 1 TB drive and put the 500 GB one in my Playstation 3 (PS3), since I hardly use it anymore.

I would love to have installed a 1 TB SSD into my PS4, as my games would load noticeably quicker, but the asking price is still prohibitive. I need at least 1 TB, so the cheaper, less capacity SSD wouldn't do.

They run much cooler.
No moving parts means less power usage and less heat buildup while being stuck inside of the PS4's hard drive bay.

Status symbol.
People like to brag that they use SSD's. My friends sure do. (For their desktop computers).

Portability. (If you have them in an enclosed case).
You will never need an AC power source (unless you opt for a 3.5” 5 TB SDD)

SSD Cons:

Storage per dollar.
You don't get a lot of GB's for your money.
High capacity models can cost as much as a used car.

Longevity. (Or lack thereof)
There's only so many times you can add and delete data before the drive fails. A buddy of mine lost 320 GB of data because he was always copying, cutting, deleting and moving data to and from his SSD.

You should really only use them as backup drives, in my opinion. Fill them up with data, and leave them alone.

HDD Pros:

Storage for your dollar.
You can get a small capacity drive for the price of a new blu-ray movie. Even the large capacity drives are very reasonable in price.


A Western Digital or Seagate HDD (the brands my friends recommend to me) can last at least 6 years, even more with moderate use.

Data: You can add, erase, copy, cut, paste, repeat steps 1 through 5 many, many times (within reason) without drive failure. (Be sure to defragment your drive once in a while to get rid of traces of files that were deleted and have been written over only partially. This keeps the drive from having to sort through garbage data, which can slow things down.

HDD Cons:

Heat: Because of moving parts, and a circuit board, they can get pretty hot, especially in enclosed spaces. Thank goodness my PS4 has a built in fan to help keep temperature in check.

Susceptible to interference: Magnets near your drive can wipe out data.

Dropping the drive would render it useless as the head that reads and or rights the data is easily damaged or misaligned. (I had two buddies that did this. They lost 2 TB of data! Bumping it while it is running would cause skipping, much like a record or even a CD.

Portability: Higher capacity drives over 2 TB require an AC power source. There may not always be a spare receptacle available.


I will stick with the good old fashioned HDD's until 1 TB or higher SSD's come down in price and are proven to be more reliable for people like myself (or my one friend) that like to move a lot of data around.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why I Work with The Amazon Affiliate Program

Is the Amazon Affiliate Program some thing a writer should want? 

If you are a writer who is serious about earning a bit more income, and a person who has a good bit of traffic coming to your website, the Amazon affiliate program is something you will want to have at your fingertips.

You have a book, and the idea is you earn royalties from your book.  This is a great beginning and with Kindle and Kobo and other e-books which can earn as much as a 70% royalty you might want to not worry about anything else.  You have a book, you have something, but you are selling your writing and your potential income short.

The Amazon Affiliate program follows some simple rules.  When a person clicks on your book link and purchases a book, you get a small percentage in return for this. It's a great concept and one which is worth thinking about.

I work with the Amazon Affiliate Program because I have a book reviewer and a lot of my readers asked to share the links to the books.  One reader mentioned the fact that Amazon offers these programs.  I was very much not interested at first, after all it is another program I have to work with and spend time learning about.

My mistake.

Not because I didn't want to have another stream of income, but because I didn't understand how this program helps me.

This is a great program if you have several of these things already happening on your website.

1) You have a good deal of traffic. 

When it comes to traffic you need people to spend time and buy something from you.  If you have a small website with little or no personal stories, or if you don't have much in the way of daily new readers, you will have a harder time with this program.  It's as hard as promoting a book, you need to get the people reading your work and then, others finding it.

2) Product, Placement, Product.

I'm not talking about just book reviews, but I am making reference to what you are suggesting to people.  For example, if I am talking about Transylvania, Romania and I add a link to my book, In Search of The Lost Ones this will help me in many ways.  However, if I write about creating a blog, and link to a "how to earn money blogging" it's not going get anyone who will go out and buy it from me. It's the product and where I place it that matters.

3) Proper Blog Posts.

This isn't something you might think of right away, but a short blog post or one which doesn't review a book or tell about your views on the product won't help you much.  Amazon has a small window from where your readers can help you earn money, and if you don't make it, you won't earn it.  People need to want to not only use your link to buy something from Amazon, but also have money in hand to do this.  The better the blog post the more likely you will increase your product earning.

4) Have some of your own books.

Writer have published books for a long time, and this won't stop.  Why not add the link to your book and thereby earn a bit more income?  You worked hard to publish a book, either via traditional publishing, or by self-publishing (I recommend using CreateSpace publishing) what better way to help your writing career blossom than to add a bit more incentive for yourself to get traffic to your website?

I work with the Amazon Affiliate Program because it has many benefits. However, the reverse is also true, I need to get search engine traffic and new readers in, or very loyal readers to create the income I want, and I need to do this every month.

Much like any other program, or writing a book, the more you put into this, the more likely you will make more income on your writing.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Organized, Passionate and Earning Income?

Write with passion, publish a great blog post, and then...

Don't wait around and see what will happen, do another post.  It's hard to take into account how much effort a blog post will take, and most new bloggers have little idea how to keep on going.  I've had seven years worth of experience in blogging and Living a Life of Writing has been active for almost as long.  It's a brand of a sort.

And then? Let's talk about blogs, and cash. I can't say most people don't go into blogging without some sort of 'cash goal' in mind.  It's the same as writing a book.  I don't write every book because I want to share what my ideas are for nothing, but I do need to prove I can earn some income from my efforts.
You and your blog
Let's be honest.  I mean truly, deeply honest.  How much time are you spending on your blog?  How much of it is you working on your blog and not on something else?

I'm sure I've heard the idea of 'write content and make money' so many times, it's stuck in my head.  I disagree with this comment.  I can write a blog post and I can spend hours working on making it good, and then publish it, and promote it all I like, but I'm not making one single effort to look deeper. I try, but not as hard as I need to.

There will always be some posts I love— I'm passionate about the topic and the writing.  There are also some posts I put up on the spur of the moment and haven't thought much of them since.  That is until recently.  I've never been one to worry about how things look outside of how I am doing as a writer.  I'm sure a lot of other bloggers feel the same way.  Blog getting readers? Great and wonderful.

My blog making some income for me? Okay, time to be honest. No, not really.  Not because I lack focus, but because I am lacking in proper focus.

What do I mean by focus?

This goes back to being organized.  I am not by nature an organized person.  I have some great ideas, and some great dreams, but the truth is I get sidetracked, thankfully, I have a great team including a great book reviewer, it is for me, too easy to become distracted.  Far too easy for my taste.  I have the passion for writing, and I have the passion for my websites and my business, but the truth is I'm still at the learning stage.

Knowing more about my blog and where it is going now, means I am focused on how to build a leading blog and brand with my 'name' on it.  Living a Life of Writing is just one of four websites I help maintain, but Living a Life of Writing is the oldest, and generally it is the one with the best readership.

Does it make a lot of income? Yes and no, I will say I have made money at the height of my posting spells, and I will say it was good.  I will not say it was income.  At the time, it is enough to allow me to cut back on hours at my part-time job. It's been seven years, and now I'm going to take this up a notch.

Wait... you said you've been blogging for seven years...

Yes, I have.  I have written and published blog posts for the past seven years and it means nothing at the moment.  You aren't reading a post published in 2008, you are reading a post published in 2015.  Big difference.  I saw this picture and it reminds me it's a list, but more than that it's excuses I use all to often.  When I get sidetracked and when I feel disorganized.  That's not living a life, it's just being inert.

What I can say is that becoming organized will help with your writing. Your website and you blog. Your writing.  You.

When you are organized and don't have as many distractions around you, the chances of earning some income from your own blogs increases.  I'm not saying it's easy, but rather it takes some learning of leadership skills, not Google.

People follow this website because it's been around for a while.  People will follow someone they feel is better than they are because they can learn from them.  Isn't that why it's a good thing to start becoming more organized in your website and writing?

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