Tag Archive for Gear

Anyone know the cabling required for Dish Satellite Internet service?

To address my ADSL woes, I am considering getting Dish Satellite Internet Access. I’m already a Dish TV customer so this seemed like it would be the easiest path.

My physical dish location is 40 feet from my house though, and I need to make sure I have the right cable in the ground before the Dish installer shows up.

After 4 phone calls with Dish, I finally found someone that purportedly knew the cable requirements. They told me that I would keep my existing dish with its RG6 coax cable for tv, and that I would have a 2nd dish with cat5 cable for the Internet. The 2nd dish part sounds fine, but cat5? I would have expected to run another rg6 cable to a modem in the house.

Anyone a dish Internet user?

UPDATE: Finally found a knowledgeable dish technician, solid copper RG6 is the correct requirement. this is what hughes requires as well, so it makes sense to me. I just couldn’t believe that dish would run cat5 (not even cat6) outdoors, and put the modem outdoors at the dish.

iPad mini rippling thru my hardware setup

Ok I got an iPad mini for Christmas — thanks family! The lack of retina display does bother me, it is super noticeable. I will certainly upgrade to an iPad mini retina when it exists.

But it is interesting to see the impact on the rest of the gear in my bag.

* obviously the big iPad will not be in my bag much anymore, the mini is just so light and convenient. I need to figure out what to do with old iPads. Can I use them as monitors for raspberry Pi’s?
* do I need to carry an eInk kindle anymore? On the one hand, the mini fits nicely in a hand and so can supplant the kindle. On the other, the mini is so light, there is really no problem carrying both, and the kindle still has that great battery life.
* needless to say the Surface is rarely in my bag — and it now seems really obese in light of the iPad mini.
* I used to carry a 17″ laptop. Now I’m at 15″. Really wondering if 13″ would work just as well .. And for the first time considering the 11″ Air. I pretty much run every app full screen at this point, is the larger screen buying me that much?

I may have too many computers…

I’m doing some dev work on an ASUS Zenbook running Ubuntu that I am carrying around. I have a Macbook Pro that I carry around for productivity and photography apps. A hand-built WIndows box at home for Steam (tho it has been frightfully long since I played a game). A Raspberry Pi, another ARM sbc, and an Arduino that I am dorking around with. Of course an IPad and a smartphone.

I thank the lucky stars for:

* Cloud services — evernote, github, spotify, bitbucket, smugmug, dropbox, skydrive, google reader, twitter, various mail and cal systems — so that I can get to my content from any of these machines
* USB switches and HDMI switches — so that I can share keyboards, mice, and displays, or I would be awash in them
* SSH, RDP, and other remote shell/remote desktop solutions — I would die without them

One tool that doesn’t help me much, surprisingly, is good old-fashioned file sharing. I have struggled with getting Windows 7, OSX, and Samba SMB sharing systems to be happy with each other but it is a security and rights morass. I long for the days of password–protected file shares, that would be so much easier in the home.

Dorking around with an intel atom home theatre system

“Rich”:www.tongfamily.com asked me what setup I am using — here is what I have so far

* Zotac IONITX-S motherboard with Intel Atom D525 proc Nivida ION 512MB GPU. You can pick up at “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/ZOTAC-Dual-Core-Intel-Wi-Fi-Motherboard/dp/B004V3X9D2 if you want it fast or there are cheaper slower options.

* 4G of DDR3 800Mhz FSB RAM. This is available many places, is super cheap due to modest speed of FSB.

* For a case I like the “open air techstations”:http://www.highspeedpc.com/ so I can get in and out easily. But these things are completely open, so not a great choice if you have an inquisitive cat or a toddler. Another open air case option might be the “Antec Skeleton”:http://store.antec.com/Product/enclosure-skeleton_series/mini-skeleton-90/0-761345-15127-6.aspx but whoa, a 90W power supply seems seriously minimalist

* I can find no clear doc on what kind of power supply these need (ie watts). I picked up a “20+4 pin mini itx supply”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817148044 because that seems to be the right thing but I am a little concerned about being underpowered. UPDATE: in email with Zotac support, they suggested 112W for the board, sans hard disk. So throwing in the SSD and Ceton card, 250W seems like it should be fine.

* and the “ceton card”:http://www.amazon.com/Ceton-InfiniTV-Digital-Cable-Quad-tuner/dp/B003B4VLJQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1338408276&sr=1-1 for cable feed

* oh yeah I need an SSD, I am using the “Samsung 256G unit”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147164 but I’d really like a 1T SSD. But those are crazy expensive.

Samsung NX200 first impressions — man that AMOLED screen!

The Samsung NX200 is my 2nd try at moving to a mirrorless camera for my main camera. I previously tried a recent Olympus PEN and it is ok but feels cheap. And with all of Olympus’s corporate woes, hard to feel good about settling on it.

The Samsung tho feels rock solid, a great body. The flash unit is slick. I am still grinding thru all the controls and don’t have an opinion yet on them. But one feature stands out — the AMOLED screen is gorgeous. Great contrast, vibrant, good in daylight. Really beautiful.

Now I just need to pick up some lenses for it — like the “long zoom lens”:http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Movie-18-200mm-lens-Cameras/dp/B004W82I1K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328457973&sr=8-1

20120205-081020.jpg

Recent gear I’ve been trying

* “PlugBug”:http://twelvesouth.com/products/plugbug/. Ordered two.
* “iZON”:http://steminnovation.com/section/iZON/24/. Sleek look, nice looking software, but some bugginess. When it all gets ironed out will be a fabulous product.
* “Orchestra”:orchestra.com. Nice todo list with voice input (might be rendered irrelevant by Siri but I’m not 4s yet). Thanks “chris”:http://twitter.com/#!/chrisfhoward
* “Batch”:batch.com. An Ignition investment. Nice photo sharing tool.
* “Exoplanet”:http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/exoplanet/id327702034?mt=8. If you don’t love this, you have to turn in your nerd merit badge.
* “Drawtop”:http://thedrawtop.com/shop. Haven’t ordered yet but the simplicity of converting an unused flat surface into a whiteboard is so appealing.
* “Stepping into photos”:http://www.petapixel.com/2011/09/12/stepping-into-historical-photos-with-3d-camera-mapping/. No software to buy here, but I would buy in a second if there was something reasonably priced that would let me do this.
* “Lost Crates”:https://lostcrates.com/. Love the idea. Not sure it would work well in practice.
* “Voxatron”:humblebundle.com. What a nice looking indie game. Doesn’t quite suck me in the way Minecraft or Darwinia did, but excellent.
* “Findings”:https://findings.com/jhludwig. Thanks @crashdev, this should be just part of the Kindle experience.

You always need the cable/connector you don’t have

I’ve got thousands of feet of spare cables. Cat 5, 5e, 6. Coax. Digital audio — copper and optical. Video with all flavors of DVI, HDMI, and older connectors. S-video. Component. HDMI. USB. FireWire. Audio. Speaker wire. Microphone cables. DMX512. AC power cables of all sorts — grounded, ungrounded, extension cords. DC power supplies and cables in many varieties.

And bags of converters of all types. Audio. Video. Male-to-female. Female-female. Splitters. Joiners. You name it.

With all these cables and converters, I needed storage solutions just for them. Bins, racks, etc. And I had to keep it all ordered so I could find stuff.

I am throwing it all out. Moving to a JIT system for cables — I’ll buy what i need on the fly. Because having a massive inventory of spares has never saved me a trip to Fry’s or a Newegg rush order. I always need the one connector I don’t have.

Law of Constant Headphone Frustration

I love the fact that my Beats earbuds never tangle in my pocket due to their ribbon cable design. Ok they tangle a little but like one millionth the tangle frustration of typical buds.

20110728-070538.jpg

But dammit, the in-ear gel plugs pop off constantly and get lost.

Speculation: the tangling of the cord actually protects and secures the removable gel plugs. Mathematicians, get on this one. (Or alternatively – the gel plugs actually attract the cable and encourage tangling, this seems less likely.)

And if so, then earbuds actually conform to a universal law. The sum of tangle frustration and lost plug frustration is constant. The greater the tangling, the less likely you are to lose the plugs. The more plugs you lose, the less tangling you get.

Year end link clean up

* “Poor Halo play prompts stabbing threat”:http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattle911/archives/231642.asp. Doesn’t seem unreasonable. I’ve heard campers threatened with worse.
* “How Secure Is My Password”:http://howsecureismypassword.net/. No idea how accurate, but fun. 17 thousand years for my typical password.
* “Rich on photobooks”:http://www.tongfamily.com/archives/2010/12/photobooks-for-christmas/. I just always use the default in Aperture but perhaps I should branch out.
* “AR.Drone”:http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/12/01/ar-drone-torn-down/. Why don’t I have one of these yet.
* “Declining energy quality as recession cause”:http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-declining-energy-quality-root-current.html. An interesting way to look at things. Not sure it actually makes sense tho.
* “Now you can swap useless Amex reward points for useless Zynga crap.”:http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/30/american-express-now-lets-you-swap-rewards-points-for-zyngas-purple-cows/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Techcrunch+(TechCrunch)
* “Snoopy themed Windows tablet”:http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/11/25/onkyo-announces-snoopy-themed-windows-tablet/. Take that, Apple.
* “Spiders on Drugs”:http://design-milk.com/spiders-on-drugs-by-guillaume-lehoux/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_campaign=Feed:+design-milk+(Design+Milk). We are asking for some serious payback from spider nation some day.
* “Umpteenth article on the death of cable TV”:http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/24/internet-tv-and-the-death-of-cable-tv-really/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Techcrunch+(TechCrunch), yawn. Until I can watch HD live sports without stuttering I am captive to cable/dish. Going to be a while.
* “Charles on breaking up MSFT”:http://www.platformonomics.com/2010/10/the-baby-bills-are-back/. Good as always.
* “Habitable planet found?”:http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/09/has-a-potentially-habitable-planet-just-been-discovered.html
* “Languages you’ve never heard of”:http://gadgetopia.com/post/7105?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+gadgetopia+(Gadgetopia). In the future, we will all have our very own programming language.
* “Topologist suggests new form of matter”:http://www.kurzweilai.net/topologist-predicts-new-form-of-matter. For most of our history we’ve used the forms of matter that nature gave us. It is interesting to observe and think about what we can create as we gain mastery over atomic organization.
* “One man’s indictment of iTunes”:http://www.xconomy.com/national/2010/09/03/the-leaning-tower-of-ping-how-itunes-could-be-apples-undoing/. The thing is a giant hairball of software.
* “Exercise and aging”:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/magazine/28athletes-t.html?_r=1&ref=homepage&src=me&adxnnlx=1290787262-FJGn2RNM8RCjxiaHpyyVDA&pagewanted=all. Crap I need to get after it.
* “Show Me What’s Wrong”:http://www.showmewhatswrong.com/. Super useful.
* “User experience of F1 telemetry”:http://www.solidstateux.com/interaction-design/the-user-experience-of-f1-telemetry/. Always impressed with the amount of money spent on racing.
* “MacPaint and MacDraw source code”:http://www.computerhistory.org/highlights/macpaint/. Nostalgia.

Daily amusements — tilt shift, 6502, glass speakers, carlashes

* “Tilt-shift Van Gogh”:http://www.artcyclopedia.com/hot/tilt-shift-van-gogh.htm via “Scalzi”:http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/09/23/your-whoa-dude-moment-for-today/. Because tilt-shift makes everything better.
* “6502 simulated in javascript”:http://www.visual6502.org/JSSim/index.html via “adafruit”:http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2010/09/18/6502-visual-simulator/. Freaking awesome, my first significant personal coding was on a 6502 (Apple ][), I wish I still had the code so I could test it out.
* “Glass speakers”:http://www.gstspeakers.com/. Outrageously expensive but oh my gosh cool.
* “Carlashes”:http://www.carlashes.com/. To be surreptitiously applied to your sibling’s car.

I count on Rich to solve the basics for me — batteries, cables

* “Rechargeable battery recos”:http://www.tongfamily.com/archives/2010/09/battery-geek/. Rich overbrains rechargeable battery selecting.
* “Rich on cables”:http://www.tongfamily.com/archives/2010/04/cables-and-cables/. Good tip on where to buy cheap cables. Amazon cable pricing is pretty good too. Best Buy is ridiculous, someone should go to jail for Best Buy cable pricing. Always better to stop at Radio Shack first for emergency cable needs, tho their pricing is not fantabulous either.

Rich, please advise on shredders next.

Can’t miss gifts for father’s day

No way your father has any of these…

* “LED showerhead with remote control”:http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/02/11/finally-a-color-changing-led-shower-head-that-includes-a-remote-control/. Wrong on so many levels.
* “Barking USB Dog”:http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/03/10/move-over-humping-usb-dogs-here-comes-the-dodobongo-usb-dog/. Just because you can make something, doesn’t mean you should.
* “RoadKill Rug”:http://design-milk.com/roadkill-rug/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=Google+Reader&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+design-milk+%28Design+Milk%29&utm_content=Google+Reader. High fashion in parts of West Virginia.
* “DIY Liquid Nitrogen Generator”:http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2010/05/27/diy-liquid-nitrogen-for-less-than-500/. A thousand and one uses.
* “The Thing Quarterly”:http://www.coolhunting.com/culture/the-thing.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ch+%28Cool+Hunting%29&utm_content=Google+Reader. No need to pick out an unusual useless trinket for your dad, let The Thing send him one regularly.
* Screw the Weber grill, get him a “Fuego modular outdoor kitchen”:http://design-milk.com/fuego-modular-outdoor-kitchen/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=Google+Reader&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+design-milk+%28Design+Milk%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

The size of our gadgets

Some smart guys have noticed that “internally, the iPad looks more like a battery with a computer than a computer with a battery”:http://daringfireball.net/2010/04/the_ipad. This is a pretty fundamental point.

I remember back in my first job, working on automotive electronics strategies, someone asked me “how small can a CD player be” and to me it was clear — size would be dominated by the media and the controls, not by the internal electronics.

When we started buying PCs and TVs and cellphones and other gadgets, their sizes were dominated by internal considerations — tubes and motherboards and drives and power supplies and electronics and antennas and all kinds of crud. And we are still in the last stages of this — desktop computers are still big boxy things, many laptops are big chunky things. But thanks to Moore’s law, the electronics are in the last stages of disappearing, and with them the big clunky power supplies, and awkward big antennas, spinning disks, etc. The gadgets we carry will have their sizes driven by human interaction needs, and those damn batteries (getting batteries down in size/weight is a hard problem).

Which is why I think questions like “Which will win, the Kindle or iPad”, or “Will the iPad replace notebooks” are ultimately not very interesting. When gadgets all are lightweight and no bigger than they have to be, and electronics are basically free, and connectivity is ubiquitous, you’ll carry all kinds of these things around or have them in your house and not worry about it, just like we never worried about books vs magazines vs newspapers.

Router-palooza

I guess I have been a little inattentive to my home network config. I’ve been installing a Slingbox and installation keeps dying during router config. I suspected that I had some unnecessary router complexity. As I dug in, I realized I was putting the Slingbox behind 3 (!) routers — the Moto cablemodem, a Linksys in the wiring closet distributing out to house, and a Dlink wired/wireless in the room with the Slingbox. The odds of me configuring all the port mapping/forwarding correctly for this chain of routers are basically zero. Time to simplify…

Gadget packing

A sad fact of modern life. When I pack for a trip these days, my packing planning and time is dominated by gadget packing.

Just carrying the gadgets isn’t that hard. MacBook, iPhone, Kindle, Canon 5d. Ok I have to plan lenses for the Canon a little, and actually there is a whole endless morass of camera decisions brought on by carrying a good dslr — lenses, filters, cases, tripod, etc. But let’s pretend this all away.

Power is the next challenge. Wall wart for MacBook. Wall and car chargers for iPhone because the iPhone wants to be charged often. Kindle charger if travelling for > 5 days or if not fully charged. Extra canon battery and/or charger. Tried ChargePod as a charging consolidation device for a while but hardware failed. Tried one of the aux battery packs for iPhone, it was not effective.

Ok, next, various connectors for playback and transfer. Earbuds, check. Currently using Shures and happy with them. iPhone USB cable (part of charging kit thankfully). Want to output Macbook video/pix or iPhone video/pix to tv/monitor? Bring the connectors. Need to get photos off canon onto MacBook during trip? CF reader. Oh and a USB flashdrive always helpful.

Long trip? Will need extra CF cards, as well as external USB drive with master photo storage.

Ok that is all the physical. Virtual packing now. Kindle is easy, holds all the books I can read on even the longest trip, and updateable over the air (in the US). Music? My Iphone can’t carry all my music, do I have right playlists and subset? Movies on iPhone? Same issue, do I have the ones I want loaded? Docs — I use google Docs, so easy to get access, as long as I can get wifi. Tv shows? Trying to get slingbox working right now to solve that.

Convergence has allowed me to dump some devices — vidcam (canon or iPhone are fine, and I don’t vid much), nintendo ds (iPhone casual games are fine). Those would have all their own attendant power/connector/media issues.

I use Eagle Creek pouches in various sizes to organize all this. Otherwise you have a mad tangle.

What would make all this better? Clearly better battery life, wireless charging would be great. Great cloud storage with local cache for all media would help. Device convergence is not something I care about, there are reasons why dslrs and ebooks and phones and pcs should be different devices. I will be interested to see what my kit looks like in 5 years.

Stuff I Want But Don't Need — Geekhouse Bikes Powder Coating, Boynq Iris, Cyclone, Earthworm Hydro Drill

* Geekhouse Bikes Powder Coating Graphics — I never ride my bike, but wow could it look cool collecting dust
* Now that I’ve installed Edison, let me burn up all my savings with this dynamic LED keyboard
* Boynq Iris webcam-speaker-light-mic combo. I was just asking myself, where can I get a webcam-speaker-light-mic combo?
* Cyclone metal cleanup tool. As they say, if only this worked for sawdust
* Earthworm Hydro Drill. I actually could use this for routing cables for Halloween in the yard, tho it seems like it might be a disaster.