Saturday, May 27, 2006

Network

Like a lot of people these days I own more then one computer. Back in the mid ninities along with many others I would list my computers down to which hard drive was in what box, but that type of information changes quite often and provides almost nothing of value to the reader. Instead I will highlight a few items that I feel are important and why.

KVM Switch

Even back in 1997 I knew I needed something similar to what this product does. Once I started to have more then one computer I knew that having three monitors, three keyboards, and three mice wouldn't work out. It would be too expensive and take up way too much room. After doing a little research I purchased an OmniCube which is made by Belkin and have used it ever since. It allows me to have one monitor, one keyboard and one mouse attached to up to four computers simultaneously. To switch between computers I hit "Scroll Lock" twice in a row and then the keys 1 through 4. I would recommend a kvm to anyone that is looking to own multiple computers while keeping costs and space down.

Kinesis Keyboard

I tried out many different and exotic keyboards, but in the end I settled on a Kinesis Classic keyboard. This keyboard which has the most frequent keys such as enter, space, delete etc in the middle of the keyboard reduce the amount of work on the weakest finger, the pinkie. Due to its curved design my wrists don't bend reducing any possibility of injury. I also found that after a week I was able to type faster with this keyboard.

Herman Miller Aeron Chair

I code up to eight hours a day, seven days a week, and spend another twenty hours a week working on other projects in front of my computer. If my butt is to be plastered for that long in something it should be comfortable and wont break. What can I say? This chair isn't the best just because of hype. When I first got the Aeron chair everyone around the office came and took a quick spin in it. Sitting in the chair for a minute they would all say: "Ok this is comfortable, but is it really worth that much?" One day After working all day I attended a meeting and noticed just how good my chair was and how bad all of the other chairs were. You don't know how good something is until you have to use something much worse.

Quiet Computing

As computers get faster and hotter the fans get louder. When upgrading my Tivo's hard drive it was recommended to get one of the ultra quiet Seagate hard drives. When I installed it I found to my suprise that even though it was faster then the old Tivo drive it was dramatically quieter, and the old drive was quiet by any standard. Impressed and hearing of other quiet computing projects I started looking them up online. One of the items I discovered was the Antec Sonata case. With hard drive noise dampners, a very large (thus spinning slowly) rear fan that was temperature controlled and a power supply fan that was self controlled it was the prefect case for reducing noise. When I needed a new hard drive I got another Seagate and also picked up the Antec Sonata case. When my other computer is on I can't hear anything from the Sanota computer over the noise from the old computer (before it was upgraded). With a little research a few dollars more you can pick up very quiet computer components. You do not need to have a jet engine under your desk.

The router appliance

One of the big reasons why I got into Linux back in 1997 was that I was able to take an extra computer and with Linux's built in capability turn the computer into a router. Then all my computers could be online at once. Back then the other option was to either use wingate (a primitive proxy) or some overly expensive windows program. I learned a lot about Linux just by setting up all the different servers such as iptables, dhcp, and samba. But these days rather then having to run a whole separate computer running all the time and needing to know a lot about the inside of Linux anyone can walk into a computer store and pick up a low power, noiseless box that frankly does more then I had ever set up manually, all for less then $100. And the best part? It still runs Linux.

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