Working Remote Done Right…

Let’s face it, the world changed. Since Covid ended, we’re all working differently. Work from Home doesn’t mean you necessarily have to work from home. The truth is you can work from anywhere. Last week, I worked from my Mom’s place in Lititz, PA, and I’ve worked a few times at Wine & Whiskey’s guest house (you do read their blog, don’t you?), even at White Horse Beach in those cute Calico Seahorse Cabins.

The thing is, working remote, at least for me, is a lot more than firing up my Lenovo W530 and starting to peck away. I do a lot of EDI (electronic data interchange to you luddites) which involves tons of drag and drop. Hence, I prefer not to be using a tiny old laptop screen to do it (Honest, it’s got nothing to do with my aging eyes). I like to carry a flat screen monitor around so I can actual work effectively.

For the record, if you’re going to tote a external monitor around, you’ve got to be careful; very careful in fact. LCD monitors are extremely easy to break, especially if you bang the unprotected corner of it into something hard, like your garage wall. Like it did, the first time.

The second time around, I decided to go with a monitor case. My choice was a 24″ monitor case from Curmio for $35. It’s decent, but I think it only does a marginal job at protecting the edges, so I added a couple strips of pipe insulation to protect the edges. Now it’s easy to carry, and keeps the monitor safe.

I went with a $95 Acer R240HY monitor at Amazon, opting to spend less. It’s decent, so if you’re interested, get it here. I bought it on Prime Day, so you’re probably going to pay a bit more. So far, it works fine.

I like to keep my laptop elevated so it’s even with the screen of the monitor. For that I carry a lightweight laptop stand, like this Ergpollo version (mine doesn’t have a name on it, and I’ve had it for years).

Get yourself a decent keyboard and mouse. Only heathens use laptop keyboards and touch pads. Personally, I use a left hand mouse and really love my Contour Unimouse, which is a little more expensive, but for me well worth it. Heck, I am using it 9 or 10 hours a day. The keyboard is a simple Logitech K120 for $12, which I selected as it’s spill proof. I am dangerous with a cup of coffee, or anything liquid.

Team i all up with a nice rolling laptop bag. I can’t help you with what I bought as mine used to be my mothers and is likely very out of date. Never fear, Lifewire has a review of the top six rolling laptop bags here.

Now all you need is a comfortable chair and functional desk and you can work in style just about anywhere.

Now all you need is a comfortable chair and functional desk and you can work in style just about anywhere.

Solving Some of the Pain of Wireless Printers

Nearly two years ago I wrote about the pain in the a$$ that is wireless printers. They’re still a pain, but I thought I’d share a little trick that I’ve found that makes them a whole lot less bothersome: configuring a static IP address for them.

HP has a decent video on how to manually setup a static IP address for your printer which you can see here.  On many of their newer printers, if you go to the web page for the printer (it’s current IP address), it’s even easier than that, you just find the link for “create a static IP address for printer”, click it, and it will do it all for you.

For other printers, Google “configure static IP address <your printer model here>”.

The static IP address will keep you from losing contact with the printer every time the power goes out or the router is restarted.  Thus you spend much less time getting the printer to work.

Oh that this trick fixed the printer cartridge problems as well!

Initial Thoughts on the HP G7 and the Toshiba Satellite P855

I found myself with a sudden need for new laptop last week.  Not something I was really looking forward too, as I had a perfectly fine Dell MP4500 in my grasp up until last Friday afternoon.

Initially I thought I might make do with the HP G7 – exactly the same machine I picked up for my mother last month.  17.3″ screen, AMD A6 processor, 4 meg of ram and a nice price tag at $429.00 on special at BestBuy.

I forgot that I’m not like other users.  I do development work and I hit my processor rather hard most of the time.  This isn’t simply a media delivery machine for me, it’s my livelihood. I have a need for speed, and it’s not just so I can dodge zombies in Call of Duty.

So as I started setting the machine up, I was beginning to notice software like Eclipse was REALLY slow.  It became apparent almost immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to live with it.  So I started doing research.  I knew I didn’t have a boatload of drachmas to sweeten the pot with.  I was really going to need 8mb of ram, and the fastest processor I could get.

That processor issue became the central point.  I was really interested in the new AMD A10 which the hardware sites were saying was almost as good as the Intel 3rd gen I7 processor.  Lenovo had a machine in the wild with the thing in it, but I couldn’t find one, and after a little searching I can back to the operative words in the hardware assessment: almost as good as an Intel 3rd Gen I7.

“Almost as good” is kissing your sister – its a euphemism for not good enough.  I started searching for the 3rd Gen I7 and found luckily it had just hit the market and BestBuy had a Toshiba P855 with the beast on sale right in my price range.

I had to give up on the big screen, which comes in handy for members of the bifocal set such as myself.  What I got for my money was an etched aluminum case that is seriously rugged, a nice Harmon Kardon audio system (they bill this thing as a media machine, so audio is de rigeur), and the memory/processor combination I needed.

I haven’t run any hardcore tests on it yet, but I can tell you Eclipse loads at least three times faster than it did on the Dell.

A few general observations:

  • Added bonus, and frankly the biggest surprise: no bloatware.  Not a bit, unless you include the Norton Anti-virus they preloaded, but really, they’ve got to provide some form of anti-virus. The HP would have taken me an hour to uninstall the bloatware – if I hadn’t out of the gate decided on a full clean install of Windows 7.
  • Chiclet keys – not as much of a problem as I was expecting.  I tend to bank the board hard and this was a huge concern.
  • HDMI output to an HD monitor rocks
  • The power brick gets hot.  REALLY hot…to the point that I will most likely replace it someday soon.
  • The machine itself doesn’t seem to throw that much heat.  The Dell was hot enough to make popcorn, and it pump the air out on the left side, which is where I keep my external mouse.  In the winter, nice and warm on the hand.  In the summer, not so much fun.
  • They ship it with the battery in – and the reviews I read attribute this to a number of battery failures in new machines. Seems like a rather foolish mistake.

The lowdown: if you need a media delivery machine, to handle some emails and maybe manage your checkbook, go with the HP G7 (and do a fresh install of Win7).  If you want kick ass processing power and a laptop case you can bang nails with, go with the Toshiba P855-S5200.