The “IT Guy Kit”

My "IT Guy Kit"

When you work on IT you’re prone to two things: being a geek and carrying a lot of gadgets.

Well, I surely can’t escape my fate, and suffering from both issues (geeking with gadgetry) I have a plethora of things always ready on my “IT Guy Kit”.

Here’s the list:

  1. The kit pouch itself – It’s a Goodis GPS pouch but you can use it to carry anything. It has a decent amount of space for storage and two additional small pouches inside.
  2. TP-LINK M7350 Mobile LTE WIFI router – My main portable router. 4G LTE, 802.11a, with a 2550mAh battery and a 32GB MicroSD card I can share over the network, it’s the perfect router to use outdoors and indoors when your ISP or electricity provider fails.
  3. TP-LINK M5360 Mobile 3G WIFI router – This is my spare router. It’s not as fast as the M7350, but it has more autonomy thanks to a 5200mAh battery. It also doubles as a power bank.
  4. TP-LINK (yeah, I like TP-LINK’s stuff!) TL-PB10400 Power Bank – This sucker can charge a lot of stuff with its 10400mAh. It has two charging ports (1A and 2A) and a bonus flashlight.
  5. WD Passport Ultra 1TB – Storage on the Go. For Virtual Machines, backups and other stuff I don’t want to fill my laptop SSDs with (games, music, emulators, etc…)
  6. SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive 64GB – One of the best USB pens on the market, very fast, but it lacks a lot on the build quality of the materials. It heats up very easily and it should have an Aluminium body instead of plastic.
  7. USB OTG 3 Port Hub & Card Reader LINDY (42626) – This is a hell of a gadget to have around if you are an Android user. Plug it on the USB port of your tablet or phone and you can use it as an SD Card reader or connect other USB devices like a mouse or a keyboard.
  8. Network stuff – Assorted cables, WIFI and Gigabit Ethernet USB adapters; Serial to USB adapter – I often need more than one network connection on my laptop when I’m configuring a router or a firewall so, these are always useful to have around.
  9. urBeats – All around good set of earphones, comfortable on the ear and with a decent quality. Very durable!
  10. VictorInox CyberTool M – Love this guy! It has an insane amount of tools, some of them specific for fixing electronic devices.
  11. Google Nexus 7 (2012) 32GB 3G – Right now I have a love / hate relationship with this tablet. After Google released Lolipop for it, it became useless, slow, buggy. Only after a full rom flash with the latest Android 5.1.1 it became tolerable to work with this thing again…
  12. Samsung Galaxy S6 (not in the photo) – My current phone. Replaced it last month after my HTC One M7 went to warranty due to multiple problems. The S6 is a beast of a phone concerning the hardware, still the TouchWiz could be more polished. It’s not as bloated as it was on earlier Galaxy S phones, but there’s still room for improvement.
  13. Bellroy Very Smal Wallet – Not really a gadget or a tool, but I love this wallet. I dumped my old classic wallet and fitted everything I need in this small pocket wallet. Never been happier without the bulge of papers and receipts I accumulated on my old wallet.

And you? Do you have a kit as well? What do you usually carry arround?

Diggin’ In The Carts

If you’re an old school gamer like me, you’ll know that one of the key aspects of retro gaming is the music. When remembering a really good game from the good old days, one of the first things that came up is the game’s theme, that memorable melody that’s carved into our brains.

Red Bull Music Academy has released a very interesting and well made documentary about japanese video game music, that covers a lot of untold aspects of the story behind the most influential music to come out of Japan.

You can check the several released episodes here.

Apple releases iPhone 4S, World cries in pain!



I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror… I feared something terrible has happened. I launched my browser to find out that it were just Apple fan boys crying hysterically about the new iPhone 4S. The bitching started yesterday and is yet to end…

So Apple released the new iPhone 5 iPhones 4S and it doesn’t make popcorn, but hey, you can still be a happy camper and send a postcard to your granny! Or you can talk to it on those lonely nights!

Now, now, enough of this poison, let’s get constructive. Apple releases a new smartphone, a great smartphone but since it doesn’t live up to the ridiculous rumor mill the Internet has been feeding, most of the fan boys go on a tantrum… most of them, because others go the opposite way and start saying that the new iPhone 4S is the pinnacle of innovation and this is where I stop them with a shovel to the face!

The iPhone 4S is an awesome piece of engineering, it builds on the last model, upgrading it to what might be considered the standards, the problem is, that those standards this time were not set by Apple, but by other companies like Google and Samsung. Yes whining fan boy, the Android folk stole your spotlight. There’s not a single piece of innovation on this model, nothing you can’t find on actual Android phones. Wanna bet?

  • Siri – Android has voice commands for a butt load of years, Google voice app comes in every Android phone and it’s even available for iOS. My Samsung Galaxy S II even comes with an extra layer, powered by Vlingo, which, by the way, has an app for most smartphones available including your old iPhone 4 🙂 Is it good? I don’t know, I don’t speak to my phone… and I bet you won’t either.
  • Dual Core CPU – Check…
  • 1080p video / 8Mpx Cam – Check and Check… Oh and a 2Mpx front cam 😀
  • Notification system – Really? Are you going there? Android has a notification system like, since… always. Copied by Apple byw.
  • Reminders – Yippeee! A Todo app included in the OS! Thanks Apple for screwing the life of the 100000 developers who have todo apps in the App Store! Oh, yeah, Android has them too. A dime a dozen!
  • FindMyFriend – Oh come on! This one is plain dirty! Gowalla and Foursquare are two of the most popular apps in the iOS ecosystem, developed for iOS from day one. And Apple does what? Stabs them in the back and include a location app in the OS! Great move Apple, competing with the devs that made your OS popular! And yes… Android has them too… and Google Latitude.
  • Twitter integration – That one is cool! Let me know when all the apps on your phone integrate with the OS…
  • iTunes in the cloud – Google Music
  • Photo Stream – Picassa Web Albums
  • Documents in the Cloud – Google Docs
Want me to go on? Sorry, I don’t have the time. My advice to the fan boys? Stop bitching and bite the bullet! iPhone 4S is a great phone, the best Apple did so far, but be real about it and stop saying that it’s the best smartphone on the market, because it isn’t.
Apple is now up to the market standards, maybe innovation comes with the iPhone 5, but for now, enjoy the upgrade.

 

 

 

 

Bye bye iOS, Hello Android

Yes, I’ve gone Android.

For those who know me that might come as a shock. I’m a big Apple fan, I have a Mac since 2007 and never thought of going back to Linux or Windows (until recently with Lion’s release, but those are another 2 cents).

I got an iPhone 3G when they were released in Portugal. The first year using it was awesome, the second was normal, after that Apple turned my phone into a zombie. The last iOS 4 update, 4.2, left my phone crippled, unusable, with most of the new features left out. Still I used it for what I could… email, Twitter, music and a few apps.

Everything else was a bloated and dreadful experience, even the mere act of typing something in the keyboard was a torture, it literally froze the keys for a few seconds. My 3G became a pale shadow of the awesome phone it once was.

I needed a new device, it didn’t have to be a phone, I could perfectly live my daily digital life with a tablet, email, Facebook, Twitter, a good browser, WordPress support and I was set… but there was a problem: I was sick of iOS.

For me, as an iOS user, I got almost no new features for my 3G with iOS 4. So sticking with the same OS for 3 years in a row, can get you pretty tired of it.

I’m up to date on iOS info and rumors. I know what’s new for iOS 5 and I’ve played with a few iPhones 4… and even with all the new bells n’ whistles, I wasn’t buying it. Plus, with a new iPhone 4S or 5 or whatever Apple is going to release in October, it was more of the same.

So, as an Apple fan, I considered buying an iPad, same eco-system but with a few differences here and there, enough to give me something usable and new to explore. I’ve played with a few iPads from friends and co-workers. Hell of a machine. It was on my buy list, until Android crept in…

 

Continue reading “Bye bye iOS, Hello Android”

Being Creative

What is being creative? from Kristian Ulrich Larsen on Vimeo.

via /var/log

Asus EEE PC 1008 HA SeaShell

Asus EEE PC 1008HA

Until a few weeks ago, the netbook market / scene was a bit of a unknown thing to me. I lacked the information mainly because I was never attracted to small notebooks and netbooks felt into that “class”.

What made me change my mind? Well, my wife often mentioned she would like to have a smaller notebook than her 15.4″ Dell to take to school. That and a trip we made this vacation 🙂 I needed to take a computer and my 17″ Macbook Pro was out of the question since I would need it to check maps, info and e-mail on the go. So, a few days before this trip we went to take a look on the local Vobis / Worten and evaluated the offer.

The Asus EEE PC 1008HA was indeed the most balanced of them all, taking in perspective what we both needed: a light netbook. I was still split between the Asus and an Aspire One, but the Asus had Wifi N and a bigger hard drive, not to mention the screen quality that is amazing.

But enought chit chat, here’s my take and notes on the Asus 1008HA:

Pros

  • Very light, only weights 1.1 Kg
  • Stylish design, similar to a MacBook Air
  • 160Gb HD
  • WiFi Draft N and Bluetooth v2.1
  • Functional Keyboard
  • Multitouch Touchpad
  • 6 hours unplugged computing with Super Hybrid Engine (Asus’s energy managment app)

Cons

  • Plastic sheel feels cheap and fragile in some areas
  • Windows XP bundle
  • Non Removable Battery
  • No easy access to RAM and HD
  • 1.1 Mpixel Webcam has a crappy framerate

The Netbook behaved very well on the go, the battery time is amazing and it seems to last forever, and it’s a good thing because there’s no way to use a second battery. Due to the Seashell design, Asus limited all the expansion on the machine. The battery is not user removable neither is the RAM or HD. To replace these three components you need to disassemble the machine.

One of my frustrations was that there was no bundle with Linux, Asus seems to be kissing Microsoft’s ass again with Netbooks, so the first thing I did after getting home from the trip was to try to find a decent operating system for the Netbook. The candidates were:

  1. Windows 7
  2. Fedora 11
  3. Jolicloud
  4. Ubuntu Netbook Remix

Windows 7 installed very well, the only problem I had was with the ACPI and graphics card. Flashing the 1008HA with the latest bios solved the latest problem, and the other one was solved with a hacked ACPI driver I found on the web. There are still no Asus drivers for Windows 7 but the ones the system installs work rather well. The problem with 7 is that with a default configuration it ran slower than XP, consuming a hefty 450Mb of RAM without no other application loaded. Oh and it was slow as hell to boot. So, on to the next.

Fedora 11 looked beautiful for the first 5 minutes. It all seemed to work out of the box, even wireless and it booted rather fast from the CD I was using. One of the first problems I noticed was that the it wasn’t optimized for netbooks, Gnome dialog boxes were huge and often the OK / Cancel buttons were offscreen. When I tried to install it to the hard drive it failed afer creating the partitions and exited the installation program, leaving me with a damaged installation. I might try it another time but for now… next!

I was very eager to try Jolicloud but the alpha is still invitation only, and since no one on the Interwebs was kind enought to send me an invite, I only managed to try the OS without the cloud part… It seemed like a heavily modified Ubuntu Netbook Remix. It worked very well out of the box and the eye candy is very cool. Sadly for me the most interesting part of this system is the cloud… so, on to the next one.

Enter Ubuntu Netbook Remix, a netbook oriented Ubuntu, which seems to be the most common base of a boatload of netbook linux distros. I installed UNR 9.04 and guess what? Wireless and Ethernet didn’t work. It was Google time and I finally found this guy’s post on the 1008HA and exactly the same problem I had. Three commands and a reboot and Networking is back, my luck is that I also had an USB Ethernet adpter that UNR immediately recognized. After taking it for a quick spin, it seems I found a suitable OS for this netbook.

Of couse I’m not stoping here, as I’m writing this I’m installing UNR 9.10 Alpha to check if there are some significant improvements over 9.04. After that I’ll probably try another 2 or 3 distros, but I think it will be hard to surpass UNR 9.04. Unfortunately not everything works with UNR as well as it works with Windows XP, since there are no Asus drivers for Linux either. So don’t count with some keyboard combos and the Super Hybrid Engine on Linux, at least for now.

Ending this loooong post: The more I play with this netbook the more I wish that Apple would release a netbook or a smaller version of the Air (still I wouldn’t mind having an Air). I think that once you go Mac it’s hard to look back.

Notes

To get wireless working on UNR 9.04:

sudo apt-get update

Reboot

then:

sudo apt-get upgrade

Reboot

sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-jaunty

Reboot only needed after modules installation. (Thanks Tiago!)

Hexed…

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[tags]HD-DVD, MPAA[/tags]