Author: tyler

The Never-Ending Quest for a Proper Headset

The Headset Hot Mess

I am not an audiophile.

In my quest for the perfect headset, I’ve discovered, for me at least there is no one perfect headset.  There are headsets for different situations.

Left to Right (to the best of my ability): Plantronics USB Headset, Anker Sound Bud Slims, Jabra Evolve 75, Anker Sound Core, some no-name retractable neck buds I bought off of Amazon, Anker Wired Ear Buds.

There are two daily drivers I use during my normal weekly grind – The Jabra Evolve 75e and the no-name retractable neck buds I bought off of Amazon.

The Jabra Evolve 75e’s is the headset that is connected to Worky (the corporate issued laptop) via the included dongle.  Working in an open office, the noise cancelling headset is a necessity.  The microphone boom (supposedly) is a noise cancelling mic so your call recipients should be able to focus on your voice, rather than your open office coworkers surrounding you.  So far, call participants have noted the call clarity for this headset is improved over previous headsets.  I use this headset for calls via Worky.  I have not yet connected this to Noki (the Nokia 6.1).  Perhaps I’ll have a write up about them at a later time, but for now, you can find more information about them here:

https://www.jabra.com/business/office-headsets/jabra-evolve/jabra-evolve-75

The no-name retractable neck buds were a headset to replace an aging pair of LG Tone’s.  They don’t do noise cancellation like the LG Tone, which is unfortunate, but they do have a voice assistant button, which is kind of a gimmick, but becoming more useful over time.  They do vibrate when a call comes in, which is very handy when paired with Noki.  This is useful when Noki is set to vibrate, as I don’t often notice incoming calls especially when on the commute to/from work.

The wired Anker Soundbuds Verve Headset travels with me wherever I go just in case the battery dies in the no name or the Jabra Evolve 75e.  (Yes, all the devices I use “still” have headphone jacks).

The Anker SoundBuds Slim are wonderful.  I use these when exercising and on the weekends.  For some reason, when in the office, these would randomly disconnect from Noki.  I never did figure out exactly why they would disconnect would randomly happen in the office.

The Plantronics USB headset, is a backup headset to the Jabra Evolve 75e, in the event that the Jabra Evolve 75e ever dies.

The Anker SoundCore Space NC.  What can I say about these?  These are over the ear noise cancelling with a built-in mic.  Pairing with Bluetooth is easy enough to any device I tried (Noki, Worky, Nomad).  For me the noise cancelling was good enough.  Not Bose or Sony noise cancelling quality, but at the same time, not premium price tag attached either.  The mic will pick up your voice, and all the voices around you.  If you’re on a call and in a quiet area, the call quality should be just fine. 

Wrapping Up:  I don’t know if I’ll ever find a perfect headset for me that can be used all day, in all situations connected to various devices.  I think I’ve found a happy medium with no-name and the Jabra Evolve 75.

Tyler

Resources:

Jabra Evolve 75

https://www.jabra.com/business/office-headsets/jabra-evolve/jabra-evolve-75

Anker SoundCore Space NC

https://www.soundcore.com/products/variant/space-nc/A30210F1

 Anker Soundbuds Verve Wired Earbuds

https://www.anker.com/products/variant/soundbuds-verve-builtin-microphone/A38010F1

Anker SoundBuds Slim  

https://www.anker.com/products/A3235011

Alas, poor Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard… I knew thee well

<gasp> After at least 11 years, my original Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard finally died. CTRL-C stopped working along with the ENTER key.

I must say, it’s very hard to work without the ENTER key.

I am not an expert on keyboards, but I must say, once you find a keyboard that works for you, keep it.

Personally, I like ergonomic keyboards. I find them less straining than the straight keyboards I used growing. My first foray into ergonomic keyboards came in the last 90’s when a friend of mine had picked up a Logitech ergonomic keyboard.

I was so impressed with that, I immediately went out and bought and started using it. Well, tried to use it.

Switching from a straight keyboard to an ergonomic keyboard was different to say the least. I took me a week to get used to the split keyboard and probably another month to get really proficient at it.

What’s weird and what I don’t understand, is that after using ergonomic keyboards for so many years, I can usually feel the strain within 15 – 20 minutes when using a straight keyboard. But I don’t feel this same or similar strain when using a laptop keyboard whether it be Nomad or Worky. Is that weird?

The formerly working keyboard.

The Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 served me well for years. To be efficient in all my primary work areas, I also have the same keyboard at work. This helps me not to have to get used to different ergonomic keyboards on a daily basis.

Alas poor Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 that just died, what do I do now?

I bought a new one.

The new Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000
The new Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 in all of its expected 11 year life span glory!

I don’t recall exactly, but in the mid to late 00’s the Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 cost around $50.00, which isn’t cheap, but isn’t as expensive as some of the newer wireless options that Microsoft has available such as the sculpt series.

Looking at prices on Amazon it seems there are sellers selling a “Business” edition ( ?) for around $33.00 USD. As you can see by the lone unboxing photo above, the box it came in, is plain with just the keyboard and a warranty/warning booklet.

The keyboard feels slightly different when typing, but the layout is the same which allows me to continue to be as proficient as I can be.

While I personally recommend the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 as do many others ( https://co-op.theinventory.com/this-is-the-best-keyboard-according-to-you-1831676771 ), I’d also make the argument that once you find a keyboard that works for you, stick with it.

Tyler

A Morning Food Hack

Whether you maximize your daily grind morning routine by eating at work after you arrive or need something straight forward to make after waking up, here is A Morning Food Hack of Greek Yogurt and Oatmeal

The ingredients you need are Greek Yogurt (individual serving), two packs of Instant Oatmeal, Cinnamon and Honey (as seen below):

The Ingredients

Step 1: Open the Greek Yogurt and eat it.

Step 2: Open the Oatmeal packets and empty the oatmeal into the Greek Yogurt container. Add a teaspoon of Honey and a dash of Cinnamon:

The Ingredients

Step 3: Add 3.5 – 4 ounces of hot water depending on how you prefer the oatmeal

Obviously I am not a Food Photographer. The Ingredients after the hot water has been added

Step 4: Stir, making sure the hot water has reached all the Oatmeal, let sit for a few minutes, then enjoy!

Let sit and enjoy!

I hope that has given you all some ideas for a simple, straight forward breakfast routine.

Tyler

Happy World Backup Day!

Backup Now.

Then.

Test your backups. A backup is only good if you can restore from it.

March 31 each year is World Backup Day and depending on yours needs you can likely find some good promotions on backup solutions.

Acronis has an offer located at https://www.acronis.com/en-us/promo/world-backup-day/#choose-your-backup and I’m sure throughout the course of the day other offers will percolate up to your field vision through one of your feeds. In the past, I’ve seen lifehacker.com report on the various offers.

My backup methodology?…. has been built out of paranoia of losing everything and using tools I’ve come across over the years. And yes, at one point, I’ve lost everything due to a failing drive back in 2004.

Nomad, the aging Lenovo U310 Ultrabook running Windows 10 Pro, uses a few various way to back up the data I need backed up.

Backup using File History will backup the files I use on a daily basis to a spare external 500 GB HDD. This spare HDD is encrypted via Bitlocker.

Macrium Reflect (Free), is used on an as need basis doing an image backup of Nomad’s primary disk.

OneDrive is becoming more useful. Built into Windows 10 (whether you like it or not) is where I store document that need to be accessed across the various devices I use throughout the course of the day. Dropbox and Box accounts are also configured on Nomad as well.

I do not store Banking, Tax or any other sensitive information on cloud storage.

Photos. This is where a little bit of my paranoid backup thinking kicks in. If I lost everything else, I’d still want to retain the 100’s of gigabytes of family photos and videos taken over the years.

When I take a photo with Noki, the Nokia 6.1, Google Photos does it’s thing and backs it up to their storage, and as well, Dropbox transfers it to the Camera Uploads directory on their storage.

Workstation-001 a Windows 10 Pro VM running on a quickly re-purposed desktop with ESXi 6.5 will then transfer photos once a day to a _SORT-THIS/Photos directory on a mapped drive.

That mapped drive lives on server-001 in a separate data volume. That volume is software mirrored across to physical drives.

That data drive also has data deduplication running, thus allowing for save disk space savings.

That data volume is then backed up to a iSCSI disk mounted from a WD My Cloud EX2 device that pretty much sits on top of the re-purposed desktop.

The WD My Cloud EX2 device also hosts the backup of workstation-001.

My next step is to backup the family photos directory to some long term cloud solution like AWS Glacier or Azure Archive Backup or Google Cloud Storage.

In the even of a catastrophic failure across the disks serving Nomad, workstation-001, server-001 and the WD My Cloud EX2 NAS, would then at least be able to put in a request to one of the above services to restore the photos.

So, that’s the overly complex backup strategy that my brain has come up over the years. Suggestions on how to simplify this backup strategy of mine? Feel free to use the comments section below.

Tyler

Update: Amazon is having a Gold Box sale in celebration of World Backup Day

Dear Roblox, Why is C:\ Full ?

The 0 Bytes Available on C:\ was plaguing Streamy for months.

Streamy, the HP Stream 13 that was purchased some years ago for the eldest is still able to do the basics, and for the eldest, that means playing Roblox.

If you know anything about the HP Stream series, you know that the included drive space is very, very little. In this case the disk is a maximum of 32 GB.

Getting Windows 10 1809 on that device during the annual tech support vacation (aka known as Christmas vacation), was a painful experience consisting of reverting windows to a fresh install, patching, cleaning up the patches to make disk space available and then getting 1809 installed, cleaning up the space the 1809 install used and then install applications the eldest “needs”, which includes Roblox.

Fast forward 3 months, and while helping the eldest with homework, Streamy was plagued by performance issues for even the simplest web browsing research.

We had run into this before. We had wondered why 4 GB of free disk space kept on getting lower and lower and lower.

Turning on Windows 10 Storage Sense to be very aggressive and running CCleaner every day only seemed to free up 60 MB at any given time.

What I find curious, is the fact that Windows wasn’t alert that disk wasn’t getting low. It kept on working to the best of it’s ability.

The only clue I could find was when running WinDirStat. When completing the analysis I could see that space as being used up in those directories.

Which was odd, all downloaded items, pictures, video etc. were moved to a 128 GB Sandisk USB drive.

A Duckduckgo search revealed nothing. A Google Search revealed this Reddit post
https://www.reddit.com/r/roblox/comments/7k1a3d/how_much_space_is_roblox_for_windows_10_take/

At least now, I had a hint where to look. Drilling down in to

C:\Users\YOURUSERHERE\AppData\Local\Packages\ROBLOXCorporation.Roblox_55nm5eh3cm0pr\LocalState\http revealed the following:

73,000+ Log Files Generated by Roblox

… I’m not sure what the logic is that Roblox needs log files from 3 months ago, or that there is no logic in Roblox to clean up log files after a certain amount of time.

Since I didn’t have a clear understanding of what would happened if I deleted the log files, I moved them to the 128 GB Sandisk USB drive.

~ 4 GB of disk space freed up and Roblox continues to work. A cursory glance at the Roblox settings didn’t seem to reveal any log deletion options. Perhaps I missed it?

Either way, now that we know where to look, I’ll be looking at a way to automatically delete files older than 7 days in this directory. I dont’ see any options in Windows Storage Sense to clean up specific directories such as the one Roblox uses, so I’ll probably try using Belvedere which Lifehacker wrote about years ago. You can find that article here: https://lifehacker.com/belvedere-automates-your-self-cleaning-pc-341950 .

A New Favourite Protein Bar

In the never ending quest to at least think I’m trying to be a little bit more healthier, I’ve been trying to find a protein bar that provides a greater than normal amount of protein, stave off the occasional bought of “hangry” 🙂 and not bankrupt the food budget.

My normal work week meal routine is this:

Breakfast: Plain Greek Yogurt, Plain Oatmeal with cinnamon and a teaspoon of honey.

1 – 2 hours later – Snack 1: Fruit snack pack

1 – 2 hours later – Snack 2: Protein Bar

1 – 2 hours later – Lunch: Double Fiber Whole Wheat Bread, 3 slices of deli turkey breast and pepperjack cheese

1 – 2 hours later – Snack 3: Vegetable snack pack

1 – 2 hours later – Snack 4: Protein Bar

1 – 2 hours later after arriving home: steamed vegetables, quinoa and sometimes a portion appropriate serving spaghetti.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried the normal types of granola bar from Nature Valley, the generic granola bars the local grocers, name brand protein bars such as Protein One and generic granola bars that have the word “protein” on the packaging.

While all those were fine, I came across the One Protein bars in my local grocers pharmacy/sports nutrition aisle.

I bought the Blueberry Cobbler (Not Your Grannie’s Cobbler) as my taste buds have always been partial to blueberries.

I’m pretty sure my Grannie’s cobbler didn’t come in the form of a snack bar.
The Blueberry Cobbler Nutrition Facts.
The lonely entry of a Blueberry Cobbler in the Fitbit app.

The taste buds were tantalized, and I believe that these protein bars were able to do the job of staving off the hangriness and helping to provide consistent energy through the work day.

This led me to try other flavours – Cinnamon Roll, One Basix Cookie Dough Chocolate Chunk (shown below):

Let’s Roll.
The Cinnamon Roll Nutrition Facts
The One Basix Cookie Dough Chocolate Chunk
The “I had a hard time balancing this for the photo” One Basix Nutrition Facts.

Not shown – Maple Glazed Doughnut (Glazed and Amused) and Birthday Cake (Happy Birthday.)

The Birthday Cake Flavour: What can I say about the Birthday Cake Flavour?…. Maybe the kids will like it?

Affordability: For me, these One Protein bars cost ~2.00 USD (not including taxes). While not cheap, at this time it doesn’t break the food budget while providing a tasty guard against hangriness.

Checking the website (as of March 2019), it seems a new flavour will be released soon – Peanut Butter Cup (That’s What’s. Cup.)

Disclaimer: IANAN (I Am Not A Nutritionist). The above One Protein Bars work for my needs at the moment. You need to do what works for you.

Suggestions? Comments? Leave them in the comments below.

Tyler

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