Geared Up

Pic unrelated, but you just lost the game

Everything you’re about to read is a lie. It’s an activity as old as mating. Show me what you’ve got, I’ll show you what I’ve got, we’ll see who’s bigger. The technical term is “peacocking” but it’s simply showing off. Well, I’m not really here to show off, mainly because I have little worth showing off about, but I am here to show and tell. This post is going to lay out the gear that makes my day work and makes projects like The Noisecast work. There’s nothing particularly special about any of my gear, at least not to the geeks out there, but some of it might be a revelation to the meatspacers* out there.

I’ll try not to bore you with details but I will split the list into hardware, Operating Software, Productivity software, and Guerilla gear. Guerilla gear will include software and hardware that may not be copacetic to publicly acknowledge. Basically, muscleheads compare biceps and geeks compare gear. Let’s do this — after the jump.


HP DV6: This is my primary workhorse. Not the baddest beast in the woods, but he gets the job done and has survived where the other pets haven’t. I call him Tiberius (not the PC name for networking, but my pet name). 300Gb HD, 4Gb of Ram, Intel Centrino 2 (2.13 GHz processor). Dual Boots Windows 7 and Ubuntu. He is old but reliable.

HP w2207h Widescreen monitor: This serves primarily as the external monitor for Tiberius. The majority of my stationary work gets done on this modest rig.

CR-48: The Google Chrome OS test module is my mobile workhorse. She gets the job done most of the time but lacks some critical software I need for certain tasks. However, on any given day, I can handle 100% of my tasks on her. She comes in handy in a pinch and I use her when travelling or when I feel like working at the park.

Samsung Black Jack II: yes, I know it’s old school, but it works for me. This phone is unbreakable, runs Windows Mobile 6.x with some little goodies of mine added. It handles all the normal smartphone tasks minus the special apps of “modern” smartphones. But I abide. I haven’t decided what I’ll be upgrading to when my contract is up, but there’s no point wasting a discount and carrying on with the same machine.

HTC Tilt 2: Another oldie but this one isn’t used as a phone. I use it as an MID. I had to do a lot of under the hood tweaking and if you have Windows Mobile devices you want to give the geek treatment to, you can check out:

iPod Touch (2nd gen): I keep this mainly for the apps and as a handheld gaming device and e-reader. It’s been jailbroken of course and is used for certain non-traditional activities like rapid back-ups and for remotely managing my system processes.

iPod classic (30 Gb… really classic): This is used entirely as an encrypted external hard drive, and nothing more. I don’t actually use any of my devices for music. I find I prefer to be either walking mindfully or reading when seated.

500Gb HP external pocket media drive + 1 Tb WD External HD: Self explanatory. Encrypted.

HP Slimline Desktop: Primarily runs Arch Linux

HP dm3: Runs OpenSuse and Backtrack. I call this one echo. I rarely have to break her out and usually only for a case of whimsical fuckery. The truth is, she’s capable of things beyond my skill and a friend of mine gets more mileage out of her, I get naughty too. ;)

Amazon Kindle 3: I love this device to death. As I’ve slowly donated my physical books to Libraries and cleared up shelf space (I’m a minimalist who prefers open space), I’ve come to depend on this more and more. As with everything else on this list, I do use her for certain non-standard uses. I’ll leave it at that.

V-moda Crossfade: If you don’t have these headphones you don’t have headphones, you have pieces of plastic that make random noise in your ear.

Operating Software

This is straightforward. I mentioned all of them earlier. I use: Windows 7, Ubuntu, Arch Linux (not recommended for Linux beginners… or anyone who likes their sanity), OpenSuse, Backtrack, Windows Mobile, and iOS.

Productivity Software/Apps

(most of these are Windows. Linux is for “other” things not day-to-day)
OneNote + Evernote: OneNote is my favorite piece of software and if you haven’t given it a gander, you’re missing out in a major way. Lifehacker OneNote rundown. (You better recognize!) Evernote is pretty cool too *shrugs*.

Google Chrome: This is my browser of choice. If you have to ask why, you haven’t used it and all I can say is, I pity how slow and unwieldy the internet must seem to you mere mortals.

Teamviewer: Sometimes the CR-48 doesn’t have everything I need, or I’m far away from all my gear. Teamviewer allows me to access and control my systems remotely and for free.

Chrometa: This really is a wonderful app. It allows you to keep track of your computer use down to the minute and even records breaks. If you’re a freelancer or consultant who bills by the hour, Chrometa allows you to record in proper detail how much time you actually spent working on it rather than just checking your facebook.

Introduction to Chrometa from JP Ren on Vimeo.

PeerBlock: I like my internet free of as many unnecessary dangers as possible. PeerBlock allows me to block certain trackers and blocks sites that don’t use https (though you can disable things).

F.Lux: Get it, use it, sleep better and thank me later.

SPlayer: VLC player be damned, this is the best damn media player on the net. It plays every format, just like VLC, but is a lot lighter on resources. However, it’s Windows only for now. On Linux I use VLC, and it honestly runs better there than it does on Windows.

SugarSync and DropBox: Cloud storage. I back up my most important documents and even use them for easy transfers as well as hacked cloud streaming (allows me to listen to my music on my iPod Touch without storing it on my device and saving memory – as long as I have internet access. Sugarsync gives you a free 5Gb and Dropbox gives you 2Gb. I find Dropbox more intuitive to use, but Sugarsync has more bells and whistles.

MediaMonkey: Hands down the best music player out there. Not as pretty as Zune (my secondary player) but both MediaMonkey and Zune are less resource intensive than iTunes. Minus Apps, it allows me to sync to my idevices too. If you like controlling the minutia of your music library, MediaMonkey is the way you want to go. Granted I have the full not the free version so I probably have a few extra capabilities with it. But I’m referring to the free features here.

7-Zip: Squares pay for WinZip

Calibre: The best (and really only worth mentioning) Ebook organizing, tagging, and converting software. I use it to organize my kindle and sync all my books especially since I had a large ebook collection before I got a Kindle. It allowed me to easily convert Epub to Mobi.

KeePass: password management,

PDF X-Change: Adobe Acrobat can really go screw itself at this point. I have the full/pro version, which equally matches Adobe Acrobat but the free version/viewer is equal to the task of Adobe Reader and MUCH less resource intensive.

Skype: My family and friends are spread across the globe. Skype (desktop and mobile) gets more voice traffic than my phones.

Teamspeak: This is what we use to record the podcast. Geographically dispersed with varying internet connections, but the quality is high. I can’t say the same for content and the mics of the people on it. Teamspeak is useless to you without a server getting your back.

Gedit and Notepad++: I dabble with python and a number of other things. These are the two best text editors on the market.

Microsoft Security Essentials: Not done with the platitudes here. This is the best antivirus program on a windows system. It’s better than all the other free programs and much better than more than a few of the paid programs. McAfee can suck my balls and Norton can go fawk itself.

Vibram Five Fingers: yeah yeah, I know, one of these things is not like the other. But seriously, my feet and my lower back thank me every day for my switch to barefoot biomechanics. I rock the KSOs whenever I get the chance (or full barefoot). I would wear less odd looking minimalist shoes if they made them to fit my size 17 feet.

Guerilla Gear

PirateBox: Because freedom is actually important to me. I didn’t build this one myself, I had help, but the next one will be done solo. Learn more here: PirateBox

Utorrent: Pretty standard. Believe it or not, it doesn’t get used for piracy often. Most of my uses are legitimate, but it has gotten some disreputable traffic. My introduction to PeerBlock came as an attempt to shield this program.

Privacy Toolkit on a flash drive: Lifehacker privacy toolkit. Yes, I do have a tin foil hat. Why do you ask? Also: the comments in that article for bonus pointers.

Burners: Cheap disposable prepaid phones. I swear, I’m not a drug dealer or anything criminal. Most of these don’t get used, but in the event they are needed, I will be prepared.

I should have mentioned Backtrack here. Google it and ask yourself what POSSIBLE use I and my friends could have for it.

That’s That, Sort Of

Well, in all honesty, I have more gear than this, and some that I don’t feel comfortable mentioning publicly, others that are just redundant. These are the items that are easy to explain in a sentence or two, or that are self explanatory. These are also the things that get the most use day-to day. The rest are for special occasions. One thing you should notice is that I like to use things till they die. I don’t just jump to the new hot item immediately. Part of it is a lack of adequate disposable income, but the other part of me likes to master a device and make it do what it wasn’t initially meant to. If I can make a device explode from effort, I consider it a job well done. So I wouldn’t so much say I have a thing for vintage tech, I just appreciate things that have been worn from use.

As with all other geeks, I have a disease that demands I lust after the new shiny thinga-ma-bob. I’m no different, I just have other equally demanding desires.

Nothing you have just read is a lie.

*Meatspace is the alternate term for the non-internet world. Used to be called IRL (in real life) but there is nothing “unreal” about the geekspace, so new terminology was needed. Now we have geekspace where interaction is ‘virtual’ and we have meatspace where interaction is in the flesh.

4 thoughts on “Geared Up”

  1. Why not just wear sandals? The VFFs are great, but if you’re tired of being looked at like you’re odd (which you are, your footwear just accents it) then try some minimalist sandals.

    1. Is that place still considered cool? It has never been that interesting of a place or even idea.

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