Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Computer Support Travel Kit

I do travel a lot... and like to get as much work done as possible, whether it be in the airport, hotel, or just about anywhere. After all these years of traveling - over 2 million miles and 1500 flights... let me share with you what I've finally coalesced on the near perfect travel kit for computers.

All of this fits in the front pocket of my backpack - is easy to use, easy to pack up, and makes for a consistently successful work environment for me.

Of course I have other stuff for in-flight entertainment, like my Amazon Kindle2 for reading, my iPhone 3GS for music and watching movies, and my wonderful Dr. Dre Noise Canceling Headphones. Those all go in the larger section of my backpack with my MacBookPro 13" Unibody laptop.

The below travel kit is the 'supporting stuff' that makes working away from home and office 'work'.
After many attempts at finding the 'just right' bag for hauling stuff around I finally have ended up with a neoprene bag made for carrying charger bricks... I use it as a place to house most of this kit in one place. Easy to pickup - use - and put back. Enclosed in that kit are the following items - tucked into one of the six soft pockets of the bag.

AT&T USB Connect 881
- this 3G device lets me get Internet connection even when there is no WiFi available. As long as there is Digital Cell service - I can get on the 'net'.
Syncharger Dual cable - allows for me to charge USB powered devices, my iPhone and also sync my iPhone when needed. Spare Cat5 Cable to connect either wired Ethernet, or the Apple Extreme to be able to share wired Internet wirelessly. DisplayPort to VGA adapter so I can project my Mac to a TV or LCD projector when needed.APC 4-port USB port - so I can have multiple USB devices all sharing a single USB port - Small and compact. Two Zio Shorty USB cables - one to 'mini' port and one extension. Apple 45w Power supply for MacBookPro - with 'stub' power so I don't need another power cord. Apple AirPort Extreme N - supports 802.11n and allows me to 'share' wirelessly wired connection. Great for running Skype or a SIP phone on the iPhone when overseas - and have multiple computers share a single hotel Internet connection. Invaluable! Kindle2 Power Charger - Not just for the Kindle2, but I use the USB power base to charge other USB items with differnet cables. Monster Power2Go - a 4-port power strip - small and the power cable folds back on itself for compact storage.In the bottom of the front backpack pocket I aslo put the following items:

  • Two Western Digital 'Passport' 500GB drives - one that contains a full backup of my MacBookPro, and the other with 'working' documents, all my MP3 files, and hundreds of movies - both with Zio Shorty USB cables placed in a Case Logic portable hard drive case.
  • A Stanley 12' extension cord - very useful in hotel rooms without power by the desk, or to get power while waiting in an airport.
  • My latest addition is the amazing Kbex portable speaker systems from a previous post. This thing really works!
So that's what I carry with me. It helps a lot to have the right items with you when working on the road.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Yo Yo Ma Cello Music for the week

This week while working on my many computers - doing beta testing work, doing technical edit work on a couple of upcoming books, reviewing sets of exam questions, etc. I would leave my iTunes running in the background.

This week's music of choice was a few Yo Yo Ma Cello albums (well, not actually albums, but MP3s)

Very relaxing music - that man is sure talented. I like the music of the softer, lower sounds of the Cello when compared to violins.

Week at Home

The 'calm before the storm' - I was able to spend this week at home catching up on a bunch of small projects for work. Jill had to work a lot this week so I did the staying up with the summertime kids late into the evenings, walked Rory in the mornings, etc.

Tuesday night we took the Young Men and Young Women from our ward up to the new Oqurrih Mountain Temple. It was a nice evening out, the Bishop and his wife rode up with us in our car. The Temple was beautiful (of course) - a good time was had by all.
Rory has destroyed many parts of the garden boxes I worked on earlier this year - but the tomatoes are doing OK - perhaps I need to water them less (some of the leaves are turning yellow) but we did get one ripe one ready to eat. I was sitting in the breakfast nook after some of Grandpa Carlsen's breakfast of Shredded Apple, Fresh Squeezed Orange, and Sliced Banana for breakfast and had a nice view of the mountain. Later that night I thought to get a picture of it to save the moment. I got in trouble today for going to see the movie 'Up' without asking Jill first. I guess she had wanted to see it and I should have called her at work to ask her before watching it myself. I enjoyed it alot. I think we'll have to take McKinley to see it when she comes up in August.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Acoustic Guitar Music of Kaki King

Last year I wrote a blog about the movie "August Rush" - I liked the music and the story. While watching a variety of "TED Talks" online, I came across a small video clip from a guitarist named Kaki King. Within seconds, I recognized the genius behind the "August Rush" guitar solos.

So I went online to iTunes and purchased a couple of her albums. I've been listening to these on various flights, and in the hotel rooms. I really like her stuff!
If you like well played acoustic guitar music, (NOT that rock riff screeching noise!) - Kaki King will make a nice addition to your collection!Perhaps not that much to look at... but, boy can she play that guitar!

San Jose, Winds of War & Harry Potter

I spent all last week in San Jose - without a car, at the San Jose Courtyard Marriott. The rental car rate for the week was over $350... so I figured I could use the walks each night.

It was a great little facility, perfect for the AirMagnet week-long training class.
Thanks Karrissa!

I was able to catch an earlier flight home than scheduled - and so returned home two hours earlier than planned. To an empty house! Jill and Alysha were still up at Girl's Camp for the week, and Ryan had taken Rory on a long walk up Provo canyon to Bridal Veil Falls.

After doing a bit of 'catch up' on a series of "To Do" items, we packed up the rested and cleaned girls and headed down to watch the new Harry Potter film. As a family we've always enjoyed the Harry Potter series, both in reading, and in watching the films. This one has been a long time coming - Ryan and I both read this on our flights back from Switzerland... and that was a long time ago!
We enjoyed the film - but like all the series, think the book version was superior.Then off to a fine dinner at Macaroni Grill where I instituted a new family dinner rule of "no texting" at the table. We're there to enjoy each others company, so we should focus on who's at the table. Right?


This week I didn't read anything special, but watched the entire series "Winds of War" by Herman Wouk. I remembered watching this series back in 1983... (yes, I'm that old)

It is a nice representation of the things that led up to World War II. This series ends right after Pearl Harbor - I look forward to the "War and Rememberance" sequel.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Truly Amazing Portable Speaker

A while back I saw a little 'bit' on the Internet about this speaker that worked on any surface. I'm a 'gadget' kind of guy - so I purchased one.

This thing is AWESOME! - I've had lots of little speakers I take with me on the road to listen to music from my iPhone or laptop, or even sometimes watch a movie in the hotel room. I've reverted to using my 'Beats' noise-canceling headphones to get sound I liked to listen to.

Then came along the K-Box from - this thing is amazing.
It has over a 20-hour internal rechargeable battery - that charges off a USB port (like all my other portable devices) - and turns on/off by simply plugging in a headphone cable into the device. (simple elegant solution) And it is smaller than a blackboard eraser.

When you hold the little speaker thing in your hand it sounds very 'tinny' and weak. But place it on a flat surface and the internal 'guts' work with a gel pad on the bottom to produce astonishing bass. So much I had to change my iPhone equalizer settings because it was too 'bassy'.

This thing can rumble a room! I was watching the last couple of episodes of 'Winds of War' - and the Pearl Harbor scene made me turn down the volume. That *never* happens with other small portable speakers - they just don't have anything at the bottom end. This little guy, however, ROCKS!

I can wholeheartedly recommend this speaker for anyone who travels (it comes with it's own little travel case) it doesn't weigh much, is easy to use and recharge and best of all - sounds great!
Specs below:

Plug it into your laptop, phone, mp3 or portable gaming device and experience it turn surfaces into sound!
Using patented 'gel-audio' technology when placed upon any solid flat surface, a wall, table or even windows, the K-box turns the surface into sound with a truly incredible bass response!
  • High Quality Audio
  • Full Bass response 40-20KHz
  • Compact and Portable
  • Up to 20 hours battery life
    (recharge via USB)

Historical and Genealogical Tour of Nauvoo Illinois

Years ago, Jill wanted to go to Nauvoo, especially to take her parents there. My parents also have wanted to go... so last week we all headed off and got our 'fix' of the "Spirit of Nauvoo".

The trip went off great - flight to St. Louis, dinner down by the famous Arch, then a van ride to Hannibal, MO, and then on to Nauvoo.

We had lots of time to see all the sights, attend all the events, watch the shows, go on horse-drawn carriage and wagon rides, and see all the exhibits.

The highlight was the 'Nauvoo Pagent' - simple superb.

We found both sets of our ancestors owned property in Nauvoo, and probably knew each other. It would have really amazed them to know their descendants ended up marrying, and then with our in-laws returning to where they once lived.

The Church has done a lot of re-construction, and they have done a wonderful job. The place is beautiful, clean and makes you want to live there.

It's hard to imagine that 160 years ago this was a bustling city of 12,000, second only to Chicago in Illinois. Without the reconstruction there would be a mere handful of houses left on the thousands of 1-acre plots that used to all be filled.

It was kind of like a Mormon version of Colonial Williamsburg - with people in period costume, exhibits and buildings reflecting how they once lived back in the 1840s.

We saw Gunsmith, Blacksmith, Tinsmith, Wainwrights, Bakeries, Printers, Farmers, Brickyards, Rope making, candle making, coopering, weaving, etc. - I loved learning of how they lived and worked back then.

We did get a bit 'lost' when I faithfully followed the directions "Annie" the GPS gave for travelling from Nauvoo to Carthage... it sent us way out through and extra 20+ miles of farmland. Around this area of Missouri and Illinois there is farming to the horizon. Hundreds of miles of flat farms in every direction. With NO IRRIGATION! For those of us in the West this is an anachronism. We don't have any growth, any green things, without irrigation. There, they just let the rain take care of it all. Green everywhere, trees, grass, corn, etc. Green, green, green. But we missed having mountains...

Another thing I missed last week. Connectivity!

I'm used to having my cell phone work and my laptop to have Internet when I'm in my hotel. In Nauvoo the only time the cell phone worked was if I was by the Mississippi River and would catch a cell tower from the other side. No quick 'look ups' of items on my iPhone. And then at night I couldn't get my e-mail or do any work because the Internet didn't work in our hotel room - even holding my laptop outside didn't help. So I had to go across the street over to the main hotel to even check my e-mail... this is where you say something like 'poor Keith'....

But this week I'm back 'in the saddle' again - teaching a class in San Jose all week. I kind of liked being on vacation the last 3 out of 4 weeks - one could get used to that lifestyle. Oh... I do need to bring in money to live on still - bummer.

Mississippi Paddle wheel Boat returning in Hannibal, MO

Sunset over the Mississippi

Ken and Bev Uptain with the Perchon Draft Horses - over 2,000 lbs each

Keith and Jill at the Mississippi

Browning's Gunsmith Shop - His son invented the Browning Automatic Rifles

Rebuilt Nauvoo Temple - Original destroyed by Fire and Tornado

My Parents and Jill's Parents overlooking the Mississippi in Hannibal, MO

One of the Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides

View of Temple from the 'city'

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stadium of Fire

As part of the Freedom Festival - on the night of July 4th - they hold a concert/extravaganza at BYU's Cougar Football Stadium - with lots and lots of fireworks. In order to get you there, and waiting for the fireworks, they have different entertainment options.

Glenn Beck was the Emcee for the show and came in with a theme of "76 Trombones" and gave a pretty good speech on the values on which we started this country.
This year they had tributes to the various flags of the United States. With people bringing them into the stadium in period dress.

Then on to the entertainment - first was a girl country singing group - originally from Utah called SHeDAISY. I don't normally like country music, but I think I'll go on iTunes and pick up some of their songs today. I liked their close harmonies, and the had entertainment quality!
The next group - and the one all the kids were screaming for - was the Jonas Brothers. A pop Disney sensation. All the kids around us were dancing, screaming, and belting out the words to their songs.There was a short section of fireworks, then Glenn Beck returned and narrated a solemn ceremony to 'retire the flag' - There are proscribed processes to retire a United States flag - and we watched as they brought in the huge Stadium of Fire flag - that is now too old and worn to use for another year. With great pomp they hand-carried the flag in, and placed it in a cauldron to be its final resting place, and burned it. Then on to the main event - Fireworks! Lots of big ones, devices in the south end of the stadium, huge ones that covered most of the sky, and my favorite--big loud ones! I like to 'feel' my fireworks, and this was a great show.

We were able to park close - since the grand-parents went with us, and we had their handicap stickers, we were able to park in the lot just west of the stadium (thankfully). Though it was a bit difficult for them to climb to almost the top of the west stands. But we had chair seats so it was better than the other stadium seats the young folks were in.

And now some photo evidence of the evening. (I didn't get any photos of the 4 F16 fighter jets passing over - couldn't focus on them moving that fast - bummer)
Joe, Karrissa, McKinley Winward - and Alysha Parsons McKinley getting ready for the show The Winwards Richard & Cenia Parsons - My Parents Ken & Bev Uptain - Jill's Parents OK, I didn't get the Jets - but I did get the Helicopters Over 700 dancers, fire dancers, etc. Glenn Beck delivering his speech The stadium was full of spectators for the extravaganza
Mountains in the background of a packed stadium Audience enthralled with the Fireworks displays Photos couldn't do justice to the Fireworks