Kickstarter/Indiegogo projects seem to fail rather a lot, but I have long wanted a battery I could charge a monster laptop from and so I could not resist the ChargeTech as they promised a 250 Watt output, which would handle the 130-170 Watt power supplies that nearly all my laptops have. after the delays that are now run of the mill with the outsourced production that is common on Kickstarter projects, they did actually deliver, my wonderful monster battery came in a very smart box and inside the battery in all its glory but with a huge yellow label on it1
The Plug its self has the size and feel of an extremely bottom heavy hardback book, it has a quality feel about it.
The business end of the Plug, I have used a lot of these universal sockets, they often feel fragile and like they are going the break if I push the plug in hard, these, however, feel just perfect. the blue LEDs on the USB are a tad on the bright side, there is also a usb-c and a barrel charge port on the left-hand side.
The accessories you get are basic but expected, I also got a car charger (not shown), I will talk about the charger later, the bag is perfectly satisfactory if a bit tight but in a nice touch it has a hole on the side so you can charge the Plug while it is still in the Bag
Using the Plug is logical and simple, turn it on at the front and get shown a little LED % readout, and then there is a separate switch to turn on the AC power, the % indicator remains on during use, I plugged in my laptop and then every USB port, and it just took it like a champ, happily worked on it for a few hours till the % readout read 00 and then it turned off,I unplugged my stuff and then plugged in the included charger, the % counter then slowly counted back up till it read 99 then FF (for full)…… don’t know what I expected but it behaved perfectly.
Even though the Plug is a product from an existing company and not just a Kickstarter newbie it does have a couple of bits that are not perfect
Charge Levels The charge % on the front has a couple of numbers it seems a bit fond of, mine, in particular, seems very fond of 9% and 64% I don’t know why, but the first couple of times using it I actually thought it was broken.
Power Low After a week in my bag, I took the Plug out and checked the % …. it was at 70%, WTF!!! … after a minor panic, I realised that because the on/off button is a raised one on the front, it was simply getting turned on in my backpack, so I will have to get a couple of small rubber glue on feet to stick either side of the button to prevent this, perhaps make this button recessed in a future release.
I like the Plug, it’s a slightly strange beast, it has the feeling of something that was designed and build by Techs, then finished off by accountants, the 250 Watt outage is done perfectly and will make a real difference to my remote working, though I wish you could do a trickle charge off USB-C or some other method.
The sheer size of the 54,000mah battery was a joy, taking a few hours of my Lenovo P50 running flat out plus all the USB ports in use to kill it, it fills a gap in the battery market that has been open for a long time and I am glad I now have one.
This worried me for a second but it just turned out to be a REALLY pushy registration card….. so frankly it can get stuffed… ↩
A quite interesting bit of work I am doing at the moment is building an AngularJS app running on an IBM ISeries, this has presented a whole series of odd little challenges but the one that bit us hard by corporate standards was logout and session expiring, The system and its sessions are on an Apache box sitting on an ISeries, it has turned out that not only was the Apache logout URL not present but that the Apache session expiry did not take effect1.
So what to do….
Basic authentication does not really handle log off very well. For everything but Internet explorer you basically have to perform a fake login.
Followed by a very iffy 30 min log off timer, that surprising works rather well
but even if it had, it would have screwed up the Internal application that most people use to have an Iseries Session via a browser. ↩
Due to a disagreement at the passport office (they said that because my passport got wet 2 years ago1 then it was “damaged” and could not be renewed, only replaced — which is exactly the same process but takes longer)
The session is
“Choose your own adventure: Update/Convert/Replace” Tuesday, May 9 13:30 - 14:30 in Room C. Gorilla 3
A world of adventure awaits you within every app’s lifetime, none greater than when the managers decide it is looking a bit long in the tooth. The realm is a tricky one, your cause may be just but how to you justify you opinion to the grand council of the Elder PMs? Hunt for the hidden forest where backing from the business is said to dwell. Visit the fantasy lands of ‘bolting on the latest tech’ Face the dark overlord of Rip and Replace Your challenges will not just be technical, but political & economic, can you defeat evil forever or will it rise stronger in 5 years time? Let us be your Gandalf, and take you on a journey where you are the hero
Please go, it’s one that entertained me to write and also go grab a drink with the rest of the evil mob Ben, Julian, Matt and see if they will give you a prize off our stand, while I sit here and sob on my keyboard.
Also sorry to Theo who has not put out a contract on my life for cancelling at such late notice.
Apparently not damaged enough for the TSA or Japanese or E.U or British customs, but too badly damaged for a civil servant sitting behind a desk who likes to p**s on peoples lives…. not that I’m bitter or resentful or anything… ↩
So it was time to get a new laptop…
My current one had given sterling service for the last two and a bit years, but there are a couple of broken bits on it, it was starting to make distressing overheating beeping noises and hard drives would often cut out, meaning I had to get a replacement before it gave out completely (and also before its warranty expired as I want it fixed to be my backup machine)
Time to start the hunt, but what are my requirements:
So basically a portable server, I have a separate VM for every client I work with (that includes clients of clients when I am subcontracting), I find that it just makes things cleaner, not only does it mean I can adhere to the desktop standards of each client but there is zero chance of leakage of any client details to another client and lastly, sometimes there is a long period between work for a given client and this way I can just archive a VM till its needed again.
After asking around, the decision was obvious, the P50 series from Lenovo was the only one that matched all the requirements this time round.
I ordered the machine plus various components for it and all had arrived in roughly a week, this time I had splashed out on a docking station as I always buy 2 power supplies anyway and I had drooled over them for years.
I still use Mint Linux (currently version 18.1) as my host OS, and it installed straight away, all standard hardware was detected and function keys worked so that was a nice none event, boot time was 6 seconds cold to login which was a bit jaw-dropping, the docking station worked perfectly with Linux, in fact, nothing went wrong and it was all in all a 10-20 min job, a quick copy over of my existing data and I was done.
Even though the keyboard was one of the new island types, the spacing is the same as the old Thinkpads, so my fingers settled in nicely, an added benefit that I was not expecting is the size and weight reduction, the laptop its self is both lighter and smaller than my current one as is the power brick, nice!
Two changes I did have to make were in the BIOS, Vmware had a little grumble at my 64bit VMs meaning that I had to go into the BIOS and enable “Intel VT-x” as show below
Also when when I was testing using multiple monitors I got a load of terrible screen tearing, even after installing the Nvidia drivers, Linux is know for being a bit poop when it comes to video drivers but in the end it turned out to be the integrated Intel Video, as the dedicated video card is only a 4Gig one, I just turned it on in the BIOS and will live the with slight battery hit (however the quality is so much better that I don’t think I would go back to the Intel one anyway)
Storage seems to be the issue I always have to do the most faffing around with as no laptop producer seems to have the options I want in their customization
Now I did not know that M.2. is just a name for a socket, its not actually a name for the new transport mechanism, it can support mSATA and NVMe, OK, what is the difference, turns out a huge amount, there are hundred of articles and videos on the difference but basically mSATA (the mobile form of SATA) was designed for spindle disks and so is designed around their speed limitation whereas NVMe behaves far more like RAM and so can access SSD’s very very fast
How the feck is this a TB Drive!!!!
fully populated and running like a dream. :)
Nothing is perfect, but in this case, I am happy to report that the minor faults I have found are nothing to do with the engineering of the Laptop and everything to do with me being a minor idiot and a little bit of disconnect on Lenovo’s side.
Backlit keyboard: Early morning I sit down at the laptop and squint at the keyboard, why is the keyboard not backlit?, <tut>, I have just not turned it on, <moment of squinting at the keyboard> where the feck is the backlight?, quick visit to google, then a shamed visit to the Lenovo order page, a backlit keyboard is an OPTIONAL EXTRA, and like a numpty I had only glanced at the keyboard option to make sure that it was set to the UK, I did not notice that there was a none backlight option, it can be fixed by buying a a replacement keyboard, but seems odd to have an £20 option that has been standard on high end laptops for years set to off.. oh well RTFS
Installing SSd’s: as mentioned above I installed my own SSD, but you can’t just install the M.2. stick of gum, you need a plastic adaptor which is not supplied either with the laptop or with the SSD, these are not hard to find and the ones for the P50 look like this
Very very happy, I feel I have picked the right laptop for the next couple of years, it has the same tank like build that is the hallmark of Thinkpads, and with features like USB-C and NVMe I don’t think I will find it wanting during its life span, it is also claimed that it has a full day battery which is something I have not had in a laptop EVER but anything more than a couple hours will really make my year.
Now if I can just stop it getting greasy and dirty, and get some good stickers for the lid.
This was the main reason that I did not get another laptop from https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/ all their new laptops have these rubbish 4 pin power connectors which I have had problems with in the past, I phoned up and asked but the guy said that they were stuck with them for the next round of laptops. ↩
Got to get fit , GOT TO GET FIT, want to go back to fencing but I would be an embarrassment at the moment, so I have set my self a baseline first
Run 2.4 Miles (3.9 KM) to the Park and back 1 : 33:45 Fail
1 x Complete 7 Min Workout : 4 out of 12 Fail
1 x Run 2.4 Miles (3.9 KM) to the Park and back 1 : 31:22 Fail
Complete 7 Min Workout : 5 out of 12 Fail
1 x Run 2.4 Miles (3.9 KM) to the Park and back 1 : FAIL WORKING LATE
Complete 7 Min Workout : FAIL WORKING LATE
So the passing score for the Army 2 miles run (I have no idea which Army the US one I expect is 19:30 for an old fart like me I have no idea if that is carrying pack or what but its a good start, the park I will be using for fitness is 1.2 miles away, Sooooo 19.30 which equals 1170 Seconds, Pro-rata that: ( 1170 Seconds / 2 ) * 2.4 = 1404 seconds = 23.24, that will be my baseline the end goal will be the top mark in the old fart chart of 13:36 which Pro-ratas to 16.20 (hahahahahaha) ↩ ↩ ↩
I have recently been merging very old tech (RPG on ISeries) with modern tech (angulaJS 1.6) and it has brought a whole bundle of fun little issues on the ISeries side that I thought I would just note down.
I am NOT an RPG programmer (and never will be), but if you are ever having to deal with REST services (or Web Services) being hand cranked1 for you by a Iseries Dev, there are some of the issues that you may hit
A lot of RPG Programmers will not have done this kind of programming before, so testing the results will be a pain to them, may I suggest that you get chrome and https://client.restlet.com/ installed on their machine so they can test and https://jsonformatter.curiousconcept.com/ so they can test the results they are getting.
Yes hand cranked, The ISeries is very good at dealing with text formats and handles REST/MarkDown and its developers have had lots of practice at coding to such, this combined with the extreme pricing of bolt on features <cough> gouging </cough> mean that its most likely your client will drop the bundle of fun on a developer. ↩
Well that was a hell of a first quarter, a crazy mix of stuff that all HAD to be done, just surfacing on the Easter weekend
so what did I miss:
First year in what seems forever that I was not pounding off to the US in Jan for the yearly pep conference on all that is IBM, alas a thousand things conspired to stop me this year but mainly just too many client deliverables to take the time off, though it seemed I got on the big screen.
From what I could see from other peoples blogs the conference was a good one, and that we are finally shaking off the older stale parts of what we do and getting on with the new stuff.
what with UKLug/ICON not being on this year looks like my only conference will be Engage, where I will be speaking, this years dodgy session is: “Choose your own adventure: Update/Convert/Replace” at 13:30 on Tuesday in Room C (Gorilla 3).
Not spent any time in the chat and even missed the yearly swag frenzy (but thanks to Amanda she is going to bring me some stuff over), but I have been doing lots of IBM champion things in that I have been upgrading a variety of IBM tech as well as integrating it with other modern stuff, just not been very visible.
Hmmm I was supposed have got a s**t load of Salesforce qualifications by now, I have had opportunity enough, free training (thanks to bluewave) and what not, but still spend all my time DOING stuff rather than learning stuff, must MUST get a grip on that. also on the radar is docker and the other platform support bits we are looking at for LDC Via
On the plus side I have solved a huge number of client crises in these last few months and made a number of clients very happy, so that is a excellent thing :)
Due a huge number of unfortunate events LDC Via are not at connect this year (though we will be at other IBM conferences), refusing to give up on the core tenant of such conferences we will be getting pissed and watching the OGS.
I only do these reviews for new anime I like now so take this as a recommendation
Set in an alternative world war I that includes magic and told from the German point of view, a young very Arian blond girl is the commander of an airborne mage platoon, it soon turns out she is a cut above the rest in both ability and viciousness, a cruel calculating horror in the body of a little girl.
Nicely detailed, with a lot of research on what WWI battlefields looked like based on my somewhat limited knowledge ( the reading of Good-Bye to all That and such ) looks a bit like Fullmetal Alchemist
This will be the kicker, they could be boring with this or they could go anywhere, to have such an obviously evil hero character is a fairly unique starting point, but as they have already included political bits, the war being at a tipping point and a young soldier who does not know what to make of her Commander which has shades of Platoon in it we might be going somewhere interesting.
Grim powerful music and great war noises
If the hero of Strike Witches had been an evil military minded psycho…..
It’s been 2 seasons since I have been surprised at a new anime, they have been very manufactured recently, but this one took me back, its quite obvious that the hero is an utter ba****d and a nut job and should be the bad guy, but I like her, want to see what she is up to and what her ultimate goal is.
Disclaimer: These are mini reviews of anime’s that are fresh out in Japan and are not licensed in the UK, buy them once they have been licensed or at the very least buy the merchandise, remember if the anime makers make a loss, THEY WILL STOP MAKING ANIME!!
Time for the annual year in review blog post! This year has just about everything in it, everything apart from peace and quiet. A huge diversity of work and skill-sets, from Salesforce to Sametime, from AngularJS to admin work on SAML, so much so that my tiny mind is bulging at the seams.
My Salesforce skills have come on leaps and bounds: it is an interesting platform, with a lot of opportunity for the clever hacking I enjoy so much. I must give Bluewave a huge thank you for letting me work with it (Salesforce is very partner-oriented, with little place for true freelancers) and most particularly Barry Hughes, the most patient guru who also lets me sit in on internal training sessions despite having finished my full-time work (with Bluewave’s permission I might add).1
For the first time ever, I have a proper office rather than simply relying on client sites or my home workspace: my rented office is at Purple Patch, and it has proved to be just perfect. I can get tons done, and it’s also somewhere to meet, and work, with clients.
Proper Programming —> Java is still my core “serious” language. I’m using it enough to keep things sharp, but it’s not a growth area.
IBM —> Sametime, Domino, WebSphere, ISeries and the other staples of the IBM family continue to test my imagination with integration and upgrade work, ensuring everything stays up-to-date and relevant.
Two big items to guess about here:
Salesforce - I’m less sure about this. The model favours a race to the bottom, which is already starting to show. The company is also incredibly partner-oriented which means it’s hard for smaller companies and individuals to find work. I will just have to keep the skills sharp and see what happens.
Bugger knows, this year has been busy, but it’s been in fits and starts3, such is the joy of freelancing. I had a couple of quiet spots and a couple of periods of full-on mayhem. For 2017, I’m hoping to avoid the two things that make we want to scream: (1) the sudden cessation of all work, followed by a couple of stunned weeks looking around, and (2) the conversation with someone later on that year who says “I would have asked you, but you always seem so busy…”
OK, that is enough of the fluffy blog posts for a while. Next up: proper tech stuff!
I was there as a contractor to help take deal with a sudden heavy load, they have now hired permanent staff, but still treat me as part of the team and I’m there if they hit another peak. ↩
Including requests to Google and other web email vendors for native buttons and drag-and-drop meetings, etc., etc. ↩
or even ‘Stits and Farts’ ↩