Strike 3 – Full Fail

Strike 3. I’m out. Not really, but I failed my goal of writing a post every two weeks or less. Goals are stupid anyway. James Altucher says set Themes–not goals.

This post was supposed to be published weeks ago–months ago actually. It is the 3rd and final chapter of my short failure trilogy. See Strike 1 & Strike 2. I would like to write more. It is something I enjoy doing, but I enjoy life in general and life has plans of its own.

Like I have mentioned before, when I decided to create this blog, I was convinced that I would be able to consistently post at least every two weeks or more. I have no shortage of tech topics that I can write about, but the fickle nature of writing is a roller-coaster of creative ups and downs. Also, setting a two week deadline between posts was supposed to encourage me to stay with it, but it only added extra angst to an already fool plate (pun intended).

I am going to continue to maintain this blog and occasionally post to it for my own benefit and satisfaction. Sorry that I won’t be able to post more useful stuff. I’ll just put up whatever I think is interesting. If you have any specific tech topics or questions you would like to address, please let me know and I’ll probably come up with something.

 

strike3

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Today I Fixed It – Compaq Presario R3000 Laptop

For about four years, I have been keeping alive a semi-vintage Compaq Presario laptop. It is able to run Windows 7 just fine, and it has some high-end networking components in it. It is a hand-me-down laptop from my mother, it makes a great backup PC, and it has proved itself useful on multiple occasions. I replaced the hard drive and DVD player, upgraded the memory, and one time I had to open it up to re-seat the graphics card and solder a broken contact point for a USB port.

When my dad gave me the computer, the battery in it was no good, so he had rigged a zip-tie to keep the power cord plugged into the laptop. I used it as a stationary PC for a while, but I eventually got tired of needing it to be tethered to its charger. I purchased a new battery for cheap from Amazon and then I was able to use it without having to keep it plugged in.

After I had a battery that could hold a charge, I started having problems with the charging cable. Having the power cable and connector zip tied to the computer at an awkward angle for over a year put stress on some of the internal connections inside the cable. It got to the point where it would not charge the battery unless the connector was at the perfect angle, with a precise amount of pressure, and it could not be disturbed until the battery was recharged.

The faulty connector was annoying, but I dealt with it for over a year. One night a couple months ago, I got frustrated when I couldn’t get a good connection, so I yanked on the power cable and distinctly felt something give inside the shielding. The connector was completely broke now.

I thought about giving-up on my mom’s old laptop, but I decided I could just buy a new charger for it. After putting-off buying the charger for a couple weeks, I thought, “Why buy another charger when I am perfectly capable of fixing this one?” How complicated could it be? Just a broken wire or solder point. I got my exacto-knife out and carefully cut back the shielding around the connector and found the center wire connection had completely separated. Opening it up also caused the ground connection to separate.

To make a long story short, I’ll briefly summarize it and let you fill in the details. I brought-out my soldering iron and then went crazy for an hour while looking for solder. I did not find any, so I used copper pins and electrical tape. This fix worked for a couple days, but I ended-up crossing the connections while I was fiddling with it–small sparks. I needed a more permanent solution, so I found some solder. I tried to restore the original contact points and succeeded while also making a mess of the hot glue and plastic shielding. This fix lasted about a week until one of the solder points became loose. I tried to adjust it while it was still plugged in, and I received a mild shock with more sparks.

The electrical shock was harmless but shocking enough to put the project down for a week.

Today I decided to fix it properly. I tapped a new pin into the center connection, soldered new wire to the pin, soldered the new wire to the old wire, and put down a solid solder point with new wire on the outside ground connection.

Now the connector on the charging cable is solid and not easily disturbed. I should have done it right in the first place.

Thoracic Bridge to Health

Today I discovered a great new way to stay healthy while working at a computer. It is called the Thoracic (Thor-ass-ick) Bridge, and it is a pretty basic stretch that takes less than a minute.

I have previously written about Standing Desks and How Working w/ Tech Impacts Health. Today for WordPress Wednesday and to makeup for missing YouTube Tuesday yesterday, here is another health tip. In the future, watch for an article about how to protect your eyes from too much technology.

This is the video that I found via @Facebook via @lifehacker via @YouTube via Max Shank via Ambition Athletics.

Craig–Friend to Freelancers

Happy Freelance Friday Friends!

A valuable tool that I use as a freelancer and an entrepreneur is Craigslist.

I’m no wizard at using Craigslist, but I am learning quickly. I’m probably better than most. I wish they would put some R&D into User Experience and update their platform. Maybe a nice Public API regulated by the GNU Community would help to clean the site up and get rid of some of the 50% that is scammers and schemers.

This post is about my experience on Craigslist. I would love to read about experiences from other people if they’re willing to read mine and give me some notes on it.

Posting an article on my blog helps to start the conversation with myself. Then I start researching and reading about whatever topic I’m writing about. In this case, I just posted 2 more ads on Craigslist before I finished writing that last sentence.

CL is a great way to organically connect with the local community to make deals with strangers. The site uses old school, simple technology to replicate the old school, simple industry it replaced–newspaper classifieds. The main competitors for CL are thrift stores and eBay. Earlier this week, I sold an old Vizio tablet through CL. I did a factory reset on the device, met the guy at the library, he checked it out and gave me my full asking price–CASH!

If you have a side gig or do a freelance business, you should always be posting ads on Craigslist. It doesn’t cost you anything, you can post ads in any city you want, and the more clever you are when writing your ads, the more people you’ll get to respond.

What’s your Craigslist experience?

7 Tech Predictions for 2014

I feel compelled to make my first post of 2014 one of those non-evergreen prediction posts that will let everyone look back a year from now and see how wrong I was. Here’s my cliche New Year’s Post

It’s a new year in tech and that means we have another 12 months of new technology to look forward to.

I’ve already read a few tech prediction articles for 2014, so some of these may have popped in my head from somewhere else.

  1. Google+ will become more widely adopted as the platform is forced into relevancy by Google changing their web search algorithms to favor their social media users.
  2. A dominating Motorola phone will be released or announced. The iphone was brought down a few pegs by Samsung and its Galaxy line. I’m looking forward to seeing what Google does with its new hardware line.
  3. Windows phone will stick around. Poor Microsoft just can’t hit a winning streak, but Office 360 and the hardware in Windows phones will keep MS in the mobile game.
  4. Windows 8 Second Edition. There are a lot of great improvements in Windows 8, but they don’t make up for getting rid of the start menu. 8.1 helped a little, but it’s not done yet.
  5. Quora will double in size and popularity. It’s a great platform. Like Wikipedia back in 2005, but more social.
  6. YouTube will become a major TV network. This might take a little longer than a year to happen, but it will become much more obvious in 2014 that Google wants YouTube to be bigger than Fox.
  7. Twitter (TWTR) stock hits 100. I don’t know much about the market, but I know we’re just beginning to see what Twitter can do.

I think 7 is enough–that’s half of 14.

Happy New Year everyone!

Future of Health Technology Infographic

Looking through my blog today made me think it needs more pictures, so I googled tech picI scrolled through the results until something caught my eye–naturally it was an infographic that kinda resembled the symbol for the Galactic Empire. Original Link

Infographics are one of the greatest byproducts of Web 2.0. They allow people to visually arrange information in a way that is easy to digest. A complicated topic can be simplified and arranged according to informational flow and different categories. I think the standardization of infographs will change the way people share information and learn.

Imagine a constitutional amendment for the digital age that required laws to be written in a manner that could be explained to the people with simple information graphics and charts.

The infographic below does a great job outlining the possible future of Health Technology.

Here is a breakdown of the Main categories:

  1. Regeneration
  2. Treatments
  3. Bio-Gerontology
  4. Telemedicine (Remote Doctors)
  5. Diagnostics
  6. Augmentation

It also mentions some neat technology including:

  • Synthetic & Artificial Organs
  • 3D Printers
  • Life Extension
  • Cryonics
  • Remote Virtual Presence
  • Mobile Health
  • Big Data
  • Sensors (Internal/External)
  • Neuroprosthetics
  • Sensory Augmentation

Health Technology Infographic

Freelance Friday

I wanted to use this Friday to give a shout-out to all the freelancers out there. I know it’s tough and dirty sometimes. Freedom is worth it! Freedom to chose the gigs you sign up for. Freedom to chose the projects you want to work on. Freedom to learn and grow towards what you think is interesting in this  incredible industry of the Internet.

I have been doing freelance tech work exclusively for the past three years. I have been doing it on the side for the past ten, and did it exclusively for a year at the end of high school into college.

Being a Freelance Tech Consultant is not so glamorous as some people may think. Doing the dirt work is exactly that–dirty! After a few years experience, some people find the more desirable jobs like c-panel management, content curation and distribution, web development, consulting, etc. The good tech work is out there, but most freelancers spend a few years at the bottom and know what I’m talking about.

Here is a List of My 8 Favorite Things about being a Freelance Tech Guy

    1. Crawling under dirty desks and through the dirty cable nests behind PC towers.
    2. Smokey, dingy home offices filled with pet hair, dust, ancient technology, and stacks of useless papers.
    3. Working in the dirty basements, attics, and crawlspaces where the network cabling is.
    4. The endless, mindless clicking and captchas of Amazon Mechanical Turk to make rent.
    5. Virtual Windows XP environments that run legacy software managing ancient databases.
    6. Graveyard and swing shift to bring down systems and servers after hours.
    7. Opening and sorting hundreds of computer boxes before running initial setup and software configuration.
    8. Running initial setup and software configuration on hundreds of computers. (One or two or more always fail right near the end so you have to restart the process and wait after everything else is already finished!)

There are also platforms like www.elance.com and www.fiverr.com to add extra revenue sources, but I don’t have any experience with those sites yet.

Happy Friday! Keep up the good work and remember–It’s all about the user!