Hähnel ProCube Review

A couple of days ago I was in the mood to do a French press tutorial, and for that I need lots and lots of pictures, and as I usual couldn’t locate a single one of my battery charger for my Canon 7D. As I travel a lot and switch between two camera bags depending on what’s useful, I quite frequently misplace my chargers. Normally they usually turn up after thorough search, but this time they were properly gone. This wouldn’t have normally been a problem either, as I always carry a second charged battery with me but luck would have it, it was flat as well. Me being an impulsive sort of guy from time to time, I went out and thought I would get the cheapest charger I could find to get be my until my proper chargers bothers to turn up. But at the shop I found this wonderful little cube.

ProCube Packaging

 

It’s a dual battery charger, that takes either Canon LP-E6s or LP-E8s, or Nikon EN-EL 14s or EN-EL 15s. Do note that I wrote either, it can’t charge more than one type of battery simultaneously, and changing the adapter plates are a bit of a hassle as you’ll see later. Additionally it comes with an adapter plate so that 4 AA Ni-MH/Ni-CD batteries can be charged (perfect for your flash) and an USB charging outlet, as well as all sorts of international plugs and a car adapter.

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Setting up NTP on HP Switches – HP Networking Series Part 3

This is a short guide on how to set up NTP time synchronisation on HP Network devices. I’ll be covering SNTP settings in this guide, as well as some of the niftier things that aren’t in the manuals but still are really handy. NTP time synchronisation allows you to maintain correct time across your network, which is very important for troubleshooting when comparing logs between two switches for example.

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Using the reload command with HP Switches – HP Networking Series Part 2

When configuring network hardware over the network itself it’s very easy to issue a command that breaks the network connection to the switch, requiring you to visit the switch and connect to it with a console cable to fix the issue. This is not a big problem if the switch is just down the hall in a closet somewhere, but in today’s world a switch that you’re configuring might be hundred of miles away from where you’re sitting.

Of course this whole issue can be sidestepped by just thinking through what you’re doing before hitting the enter key, but in the real world this is not always an available luxury.

The solution to this problem is to cleverly utilize the “reload” command in combination with the “write” command.

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How to set up STP on HP Switches – HP Networking Series Part 1

Setting up Spanning Tree on HP switches is really easy, after you’ve done it a couple of times, but getting it configured can seem like a daunting task for beginners, espcially in a production network. Here are some simple steps on how to get it up and running in no time. Note that enabling STP might cause small network outages, so don’t do this in a production network if you haven’t tried it before! All commands are written within “citation”-marks, so that’s what you need to enter into the CLI on your switch. For completeness I’ve added all the commands in order at the bottom of the post, which might be handy if you’re just looking for a CLI-reference.

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The Spam is Getting Really Weird – Part 1

Over the 5 or so years that I’ve had this blog I’ve been quite amazed at how the spammers try to get by your comment filters by writing “seemingly” legitimate replies to posts. Most are caught by the spam filter, but some do manage to fall through the cracks. This of course is a non-issue since I approve all comments myself, but some of them make for some interesting reading. Some on the other hand are so generic that it makes you cringe, while some others are just down right weird. Here’s a sampling of the best examples and my thoughts about what they spammers are actually (not) thinking.

For starters, this one dropped in as a comment on my younited – An in-depth review article by blackhead contact

s not simply an “acne relief” or ” skin-care program”.
In addition, a lot of common substances may be utilized to fight dry
skin. Skin picking has been associated with mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders (obsessive-compulsive
and borderline personality), impulse-control disorder (Bloch,
Elliott, Thompson, & Koran, 2001), and body dysmorphic disorder (Neziroglu & Mancebo, 2001).

This has to be the first time I see a blog comment with actual references. But, due to the drastic difference in topic (acne control vs. cloud storage?), I gather that this is a novel approach to bypass spam filters by quoting random text found on the web. Either that, or somebody writing high-brow texts about acne confused the comment field on my blog with their open thesis draft.    Continue reading

Microsoft is bringing the Start menu back, for reals this time!

This might seem like old news, because it actually is, since Microsoft said the same thing when releasing Windows 8.1. I remember getting all excited over that release, until I actually researched it a bit and noticed that the new “Start Menu” in Windows 8.1 was actually just a shortcut to the apps menu.
When I read this same promise the second time today, I was very sceptical at first, since last time it was such a huge disappointment, but this time Microsoft might actually deliver.

They are promising an old school start menu in Windows 7 style, but with added active tiles, which in my opinion actually makes this better than just bringing the start menu back. They are also promising to add the option of running Windows 8 apps in windows while in Desktop mode.

Windows 8 Start Menu – Image from The Register

Granted, most power users and myself included have already fixed this with third party application such as Start8 and ModernMix, but for enterprise deployments, applications like these just aren’t feasible, so it’s nice to finally get an official fix from Microsoft.
I myself is looking forward to this new menu, and it might just be the thing to make me migrate my other computers to Windows 8.

One caveat though, don’t expect this to be coming to a computer near you in the near future, Microsoft’s spokesperson cautioned customers that most of the features discussed at Build 2014 are “not coming in the next few days or weeks.”

Update:

Now that Microsoft has confirmed the “real” start menu in Windows 10, I thought it appropriate to also tell you guys that I’ve found a really good substitute, StartIsBack. It does exactly what it says on the the label, and after using it on both Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 for almost a year, I can tell you that it’s very stable, lean and functions perfectly. It’s also very convincing, you don’t notice it as an add-on, it just feels like how the start menu should have been in the first place in Windows 8.

Nokia Wins Camera Competition, again.

As you might have noticed, Nokia seems to be getting really good at making camera phones these last few years. Now they strike again in a blind comparison between most of the big phones on the market!

And yes, this bnothers me to no end, since I’ve been an Samsung Galaxy S-series user since the S2.

How to properly use your Technivorm Moccamaster (or any drip brewer for that matter)

So, for the last few years two things has really annoyed me when it comes to coffee; nobody seems to know how to make coffee properly, and the abysmal taste of most coffee here in Finland. Now don’t get me wrong, we really like our coffee in a quantitative sense here in Finland (we consume 12 kg of coffee per capita and year here), and most brewed coffee is very drinkable, but it’s nothing to write home about.
And most people doesn’t either know how to make coffee, or does it all wrong for various reasons. The “doing it wrong” is what really bothers me, or more precisely, people who are doing things wrong, and in their own mind have perfectly good reasons for doing so.

water_tank

And here I come, with my little post trying to set the record straight. I’ll go through some common ideas and try to teach what I consider reasonably good technique, i.e. the bare minimum you need to do to get good coffee. There are ways to further improve these methods by additional steps and tricks, but they might be a tad too fussy for most people. And if you’re going to muck about a lot, why not use a press pot instead, the reason for using an automatic drip brewer (aka the garden variety coffee maker) is convenience, not necessarily quality.

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How Google avoids waste in management by telling people to be “inefficient”

Most of you have at some point or another encountered the term “lean” in relation to business processes or management. One of the ideas in lean management is that you should focus on flow efficiency (how efficiently something moves through your process) instead of resource efficiency (how much time a person spends actually doing something instead of twiddling their thumbs in a given work day). The idea behind this reasoning is that resource efficiency oriented processes will generate a lot of unnecessary work by their very nature, and due to how they quantify “efficiency”, these processes can’t even tell that they are doing pointless work instead of productive work. I’ll not go into the details of why this is so, but the reasoning behind this argument is very good.
Another law in lean management is called Kingman’s equation, which states that as resource efficiency grows, the process completion time grows exponentially. This means that as you approach 100% efficiency (I.e. no thumb-twiddling whatsoever), the time it takes for an task to be completed goes through the roof. This sounds quite insane, but it’s exactly what happens. The reasons why are a bit too complex and therefore outside the scope of this article (all this lean talk is just to give people a short primer before I jump to my main point), but if you’d like to see a future article about it, tell me in the comments below!

So, what has this got to do with Google’s ideas on HR policy? As most of you probably know, Google is sort of famous for allowing their employees to spend a large chunk of their workday on pet projects, i.e. stuff that interests the individual employee but might be a complete waste of time in the eyes of the employer. The common argument given for this strange concept is that the pet projects might turn into a major product for the employer at some point, and the unorthodox practice basically creates mini-skunkworks that can operate small projects without managerial interference. PostIt notes are actually a very good example for such a hobby-project-turned-major-product.
Another argument is that it allows employees to take a break from routine work while still doing something productive, and thus keeping their brains in the right headspace to easily continue with “real” work when the break is over.

And these reasons are very legitimate in my opinion, and are probably some of the core ideas behind Google’s move in this direction. But I’d like to argue that there’s another reason behind this that might not be very obvious, until you look at the concept from a lean perspective.
Remember Kingman’s equation that I talked about earlier? The one that stated that if you always have stuff to do, you’ll get nothing done? Well, some clever boffin at Google might have thought about this, and decided that if you by design only demand 80% of your employees, this problem becomes an impossibility! But hold on, won’t that just lower the maximum efficiency point to 80% and you’d have all the same problems but even less is getting done (how you calculate 80% of nothing will be left as an home exercise in futility)?
Well, that would be a reality if all your workers were perfect and did exactly what you told them, but luckily, humans are wonderfully bad at doing anything exactly. What do you guys think happens, if a worker at Google starts to feel overworked? Do you actually think that she would take a 2 hour break to play with a new cool micro controller when she has a lot of stuff she needs to get done before that big meeting tomorrow? Of course not! So what Google has designed is basically an overflow buffer to make sure that sudden peaks in demand doesn’t cripple their workforce until somebody higher up can be arsed to get some more warm bodies to the department, while formatting it in such a way that they a) get their employees to see it as a perk, b) get additional exotic skill sets to spontaneously materialize inside the company at no extra cost and finally c) get a long shot at somebody developing something truly revolutionary that they can late sell for huge profits!
This is nothing short of pure brilliance when it comes to HR management, and in my opinion it also sounds a bit too good to be just happy chance. But then again, that wouldn’t be the first, or even the 57th, time that Google did something that people thought was completely bonkers that later turned out to be extremely smart.
What a shame that Google wasn’t the first to think of this. At least not the underlaying concept. Kenneth E. Knight introduced the term “bootlegging” in 1967, which in business administration means projects that your boss might not actually know about. The practice is quite old infact, the Germans did this already 100 years ago, and even have a term for it, U-Boot-Forschung (which translates to “submarine research”). But it was first in the states during the ’60s that Hewlett-Packard and 3M started the concept of “permitted bootlegging”, with clear cut policy that you could spend x percent of your workday on said bootleg projects. Google just took if further with allotting a whooping 20% to bootlegging, as long as it has something to do with the company’s interests.
But nowhere can I find any reference to how this idea makes your employees more efficient. This might be due to the fact that bootlegging is an age old concept, while lean management is an 90’s idea.

So, there you have it, the conclusion is that Germans are a lot smarter than the rest of the world combined, and we should just do as they say all the time. If you have any ideas for new articles, or think that I’m completely off my rocker, put it in the comments below!

(I’ll be adding pictures and links and all sorts of other goodies soon, so watch this space)