Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category


WOW! Dann pulls through again!

I have had my Sansa Fuze for quite a while now and I completely dig it. It’s just simply one of the best “mp3 players” out there. Of course it does much much more than that . It plays Ogg natively and other formats too, and it’s not DRM magnet either. It also has a great fm radio tuner and does slot radio to boot.

The only thing I have not gotten it to do is video. It has some wacky format that it uses and no matter how many attempts I have made at it with ffmpeg or mencoder I get bupkis. That is, until last night.

You see, Dann broke his Sansa Clip a couple weeks back and for a replacement he ordered a Sansa Fuze. He received it and was reviewing it on the TechShow and mentioned that the video worked great. When I asked him how he got it working under Linux he pointed me to Absolutely Brilliant! I downloaded this software and tried it right away, and, just as Dann had said, it works flawlessly. This truly completes and rounds out the Sansa Fuze for OpenSource users.

There really is nothing bad I can say about this little player now. I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend trying out Video4Fuze to encode a couple videos for your new player.

Almost time for me to go watch a movie! 🙂

Monday, December 7th, 2009

‘Tis the season



What’s your tech wish list look like? I know mine is pretty impressive as they are always coming out with something I am sure I could make great use of.

That being said, there are a LOT of people out there who would love some tech themselves but just can’t afford it. I say, let’s compromise! Do yourself and others a favor by cleaning out your old computer inventory and putting it up on FreeLinuxBox. You can make some room (and a good excuse) for getting your new whizbang laptop while simultaneously giving the gift of a working Linux computer to someone who could really use it. Don’t wait or hesitate. Do it now and you’ll be glad you did.

You may be thinking that nobody wants your old junk, but let me assure you that is not the case. I just recently put up an old used laptop with a bad display and I had several people emailing me asking for it within mere hours. Unfortunately, I had to turn them all down but the one who got it. They are waiting for you to post yours now.

It’s really simple. Get your old computer out, the one that you were saving for your kids when they get old enough, or the one you were holding on to for that special project you will never do. Install Linux or BSD on it and make sure it works. Write down the specifications of the machine like make/model/ram/hdd etc. and post them on FreeLinuxBox. It only takes a few minutes and you can be making someone really happy with their new Linux/Unix toy within just a few hours.

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

1000 Songs

How would you like to pay 4 cents a piece for your music? Well, the price was definitely right for me. I stopped at BestBuy and bought a SlotRadio card to use with my Sansa Fuse.

Slide this little card in your Sansa Fuse and you get access to 1000 songs over a variety of genres. It works a lot like radio in that you cannot really choose what songs are going to play next, however, you can switch the genre channels and skip songs.

So far I am really digging this. The audio is encoded at a high quality and the actual songs are all popular (no bad B sides). For 4 cents a song, you just can’t beat this. It would be nice if the format was a bit more portable and I could get the songs somewhere other than my Sansa Fuse, but really, that is what I listen to most of my music on now anyway 🙂

While I was picking up my SlotRadio card I did also notice a few Slot Music cards as well. These are the pretty much the same thing as the slot radio cards but filled with one album. The price is about the same as the regular album and, word has it, this music is slightly more portable as an unencumbered mp3 that you can move from device to device. I will have to put one of these on my hot list of things to get and see for myself. I would have grabbed one already but the only albums available at the time in person were not to my musical taste. Ordering online seems to have quite a few more choices though.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

What I Carry

What do you do when you work an hour away from home in an urban jungle? Well, you have to take what you need with you.

That is one of the first things I noticed when I started working in Phily. Almost everyone there is carrying some sort of backpack or big shoulder bag. In fact, many people carry 2 or three (really). It didn’t take long to figure out that when you are that far from home for that many hours a day, you sort of have to be like a backpacker in the wilderness and carry everything with you that you need.

I am always interested in what other people need to tote around with them to get by, so I thought I would share what I take with me most of the time. If you click on the picture, I will go from top to bottom, left to right…

The Bag: I bought a SOLO polyester expandable messenger bag. I used to carry around a Targus computer backpack, but it started to hurt my one shoulder so I opted for a messenger bag which rides across my body more. Although this bag holds all my gear and is pretty rugged, my preference would have been for a nice leather messenger bag. The price difference is what got me the SOLO as it was around $20 and the leather version I wanted was $150.

Computer: I carry an Acer Aspire One with me. This is the 9.1″ version with the 8gb solid state drive. I have Linux Mint 7 installed on it instead of the default Linpus Lite Linux which was a little too light on the Linux for me. I also had the ram upgraded to 1.5gb, added a 9 cell battery for 6+ hours of battery life, and added a 4gb ssd card for a little extra storage space. I have yet to find anyone who owns one of these laptops that doesn’t like them. Right next to it in the picture is it’s power cables.

Ethernet Cable: Hey, once in a while it’s nice to have a hard line to a network for speed and simplicity sake and it really doesn’t cost a lot of space or weight to make sure I have a cable handy.

Glasses case #1: Yup, for my daily wear pair. Along about the age of 38 my eyeballs decided they would just crap out and the Dr said I could start wearing “progressive Lenses”, which is Dr speak for “your eyes are now crap.” Anyhow, I used to have a normal prescription for eye strain that I never wore and now I have glasses I only wear when I want to see.

Pocket Knife: I carry a great little inexpensive pocket knife. It’s a Winchester ParFive that I bought for around $15 at K-Mart (I think). I use it for darn near anything and everything from cutting cables and opening boxes to poking holes in the film of my microwave lunches.

Cellphone #1: My home cell phone. I still have the junky one that I got from Verizon when I signed up 2 years ago. Yes, I am cheap 🙂 Hey, it still works fine!

Inhaler: Some yeas ago I had a couple bouts with asthmatic bronchitis. I literally could hardly breathe. That is the scariest dang thing in the world and I have carried an generic emergency inhaler around with me ever since.

Cellphone #2: This is the cell that work gave me. I like mine better so I just set that one to forward it’s calls to mine, turned it off and I threw it into my bag where is just rides around.

Tums: I drink too much caffeine and eat spicy foods and suffer the consequences.

Eye drops: Already went over how my eyes turned to crap right? Well, they get really dry too because I stare at monitors all day.

Deodorant: Did ya ever sit next to someone on the train that just stinks to high heaven? Well, I am not that guy. In fact, as a fat guy, I am kinda paranoid about smelling bad so I make sure that I don’t 🙂

Chapstick: Especially in the winter time my lips can get so dry that they hurt. A little tube of this stuff can go a long way.

Tissues: I am a guy and probably wipe my nose on my sleeve unconsciously but I carry tissues for any nose blowing I need to handle on the train.

Glasses case #2: It wasn’t too long ago that I finally got a pair of prescription sun glasses. It is so cool to be able to see while wearing your sunglasses. Everyone who wears glasses should get a pair!

Charging cable for Sansa Fuse: My Sansa Fuse uses some proprietary USB charging cable.

Work ID’s: Gotta have those to get my in work and datacenter, etc.

Train pass: $150+ a month, but it’s better than paying parking fees. Well, most of the time.

Wallet: Bet you carry one of those too!

Sansa Fuse: (above wallet) This is a fantastic audio player that is Linux compatible and also plays oggs!

Pens: Sharpie Pens. They write well on darn near anything and don’t bleed either!

Tide-to-go pen: What can I say, I am a slob. I cannot possibly eat anything with tomato sauce without getting it on my shirt. This stuff actually works to get it back out again!

USB Sticks: I carry 2 4gb usb sticks for all those files and Linux installs I need to do whenever I need them.

New Testament: Greatest book ever written right? I also carry the occasional Linux Journal, National Rifleman and Popular Science.

Glasses cleaners: Dirty glasses are the bane of my existence. Normally I run my glasses under hot watter and clean them off with a soft towel (bowling towels work great for this), but if I am in a bind, these will clean my spectacles enough to mostly not annoy me.

Last but not least is what isn’t pictured. I carry a lunchbag. I figure I eat breakfast and lunch at work for less than $3 a day if I carry it with me from home. If I don’t, it costs me at least $10 and many times more, for something not anywhere near as healthy (but many times more tasty).

That’s the norm for me. Now what do YOU carry?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Tools of the trade

Just what kinds of tools do you need to do a systems administrator job? I Am talking about actual hand-type tools, not fancy laptops, big brains or large amounts of your favorite caffeinated beverage and pizza. Surprisingly, I use very few.

The first thing I picked up is a little toolkit. I don’t think you need to spend a lot of cash on it, in fact, mine was less than $6, but it needs a few important pieces in it. The most important by far, probably, is a halfway decent screwdriver with at least a small selection of bits. The kit I bought (from Microcenter btw) has a regular screwdriver with extension and bit set and also has a small selection of the small jewelers screwdrivers. Although I hardly ever use jeweler screwdrivers, if your glasses happen to fall apart or something, they sure are handy to have around! The kit also includes a pair of tweezers which I have never touched, and two more quite important tools, a pair of side cutters and a pair of needle nose pliers. You’d be surprised how handy both of those are.

The other must-have is a pocket knife. Really. I cannot tell you how many times I reach for my pocket knife a day. I use it for everything from opening boxes and cutting strapping/cable ties/old wires to perforating the film on my lunch before I pop it in the microwave (yes, I wash it off first). Some guys carry around a Leatherman or a Swiss Army Knife with all kinds of screwdrivers and other things attached, but my preference is single task tools. They just seem more rugged, easier to use and better suited for daily use. To that end I picked a decent little inexpensive pocket knife, a Winchester Parfive, which was well under $20.

The only other tool I can think of that might enjoy wide use for some Systems Administrators is a good Ratcheting Telemaster cable crimper. While I don’t really use one of those at my current Sysadmin job, I used to use it almost daily at my old job. Do yourself a favor and make sure you buy a good quality tool here with a comfortable handle. After you squeeze on it a few hundred times you’ll understand why 🙂

Not the final authority on the subject, I am also interested to know what you might use yourself, and if you think I may have forgotten something. Just let me know by leaving a comment here or sending me an email in the usual manner.

Monday, November 9th, 2009

New Toy

Hey, if Dann can post about his new sandals then me posting about my new TV should be a no brainer. My wife made me go out and get myself a “good daddy” present for her to be able to use. For the first time in many, many years we bought a new TV. This thing is a Toshiba 32″ LCD TV that does HD at 720p. I spent just about an arm and a leg on it. As long as I don’t use the coax input, it actually looks pretty good. I Am really curious, however, about how nice it’ll look once I finally get it hooked up to a high-def picture source though 🙂

Monday, October 19th, 2009