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Review: Dell XPS 13 9365 2-in-1

By on Feb 12, 2017 in Blog Posts, Hardware | 0 comments

Back in 2012 I got my first Dell XPS 13 and it was the best laptop I’d ever had. It was svelte, fast, and just what I needed in a mobile computer. I used it for years before I got a Chromebook Pixel which was (and still is) a better device. Since then Alona has taken over ownership of the 2012 XPS 13 and has used it daily. While it’s still a solid device, it’s starting to show its age. Windows 10 never worked perfectly on it (neither did Windows 8), with a number of minor nagging issues and a serious bug with the display driver that we were never able to resolve. So, it was time for an upgrade. Alona needs a Windows laptop because she has to run Windows-only apps, so that meant no Chromebooks. In the end, we opted for the brand new Dell XPS 9365 2-in-1. Although the name leaves a lot to be desired, the device itself is dripping with sex appeal. It’s fanless,...

How to Get a Static URL For Shopify Files

By on Dec 14, 2016 in Internet | 1 comment

Ran into an issue today where a Shopify app named Findify needed to be able to link directly to a CSS file hosted on the store it was connected to. For some reason Findify doesn’t inherit styles from your theme and you can’t simply override the styling using a typical stylesheet in your Shopify theme and you can’t make a lot of changes via the external Findify management interface and adding tags to their custom box doesn’t work, so you’re left with using the external CSS link. Findify support was…less than helpful with this. I was left to my own devices. Trouble is, Shopify doesn’t provide static external links to assets in your theme’s folders. For example, let’s say you add a new CSS asset to your theme in the standard way using the theme customizer. You’d think you could access it at www.domain.com/custom.css or maybe...

ARK: Survival Evolved Review – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

By on Mar 30, 2016 in Games | 0 comments

There are times when ARK: Survival Evolved (ARK), the dinosaur filled survival game in development by Studio Wildcard, is awe inspiring. Your initial hours of exploring the island and fighting to survive will be at times frustrating but more often engrossing and rewarding. ARK puts its hooks in early and they are only shaken loose by its inability to deliver on its promise in the mid and late game. I’ve put way, way more time into this game than could possibly be considered healthy. No one should put 900 hours into anything that doesn’t pay your bills or further humanity, and I’m pretty sure playing ARK does neither. Also, this review is interminably long. Sorry about that. What follows is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of ARK: Survival Evolved. ARK: Survival Evolved Review This is a review of an Early Access (EA) game. That means the game is incomplete and is...

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Google’s OnHub Router

By on Oct 30, 2015 in Blog Posts, Hardware | 2 comments

Way back in the heady days of October 2012 I purchased a popular wireless router – the ASUS RT-N66U. It was so cool that ASUS even nicknamed it The Dark Night. For nearly three years it was not only the router I wanted, but the one I needed. It more than got the job done. Then we moved into a new house, and the wireless speeds mysteriously became unreliable. Even 30 feet away I couldn’t get a decent test result. My 100M/10M Internet connection was hobbled. I ran tests and quickly found that a wired connection to the router worked perfectly. 2.4ghz was fine, but since the limits of 802.11g meant I couldn’t fully utilize my bandwidth, I opened a ticket with ASUS support. After a week of fruitlessly testing different settings, the 5ghz band’s performance was less reliable than Lindsay Lohan. ASUS initiated an RMA. But wait, isn’t this an article about...

Ukraine: A Village Far From the Front Lines

By on Jun 20, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

It’s not easy to get to Ukraine. You have to want it. A few weeks after I began dating my girlfriend, Alona, she started asking if I would ever take a trip home with her. I fell in love and my fate was sealed; six months later I was on my way to a small village in central Ukraine.   Getting There The trip began in a taxi to an Amtrak station at home in Norfolk at 4AM. The train took us to DC where we took an Uber to a hotel and stayed overnight. The next day we rode the shuttle to the airport and flew to Amsterdam and then to Kiev in Ukraine. The flights were long but bearable. If you go straight to the village from Norfolk it’s about a 26 hour trip, all told. Once we arrived in Ukraine I immediately noticed the reserved nature of the Ukrainian people. They quietly went about the business of disembarking the plane, making their way to the baggage claim, and waitng for their...

My Favorite People on Twitter

By on Mar 30, 2015 in Blog Posts, Internet | 0 comments

For some reason I have a really difficult time finding interesting people to follow on Twitter. There is a lot of useless noise out there, but every once in a while a magnetic persona shines through. Here are a few people that keep me coming back to Twitter like Adam Sandler to bad movies.   Laura Watkins – @OneHelluvaDame Laura is one of the funniest people I know. Her tweets are often raunchy but good-natured. She usually talks about her tiresome jobs, peculiar boyfriends, and sweatpants. My grandma once raised money for a poor family to buy Christmas presents. They bought a monkey. I probably think about this every week. — Laura Watkins (@OneHelluvaDame) March 2, 2013 If you're a Zumba instructor and they find out you don't have an ankle tattoo, do you get fired? — Laura Watkins (@OneHelluvaDame) August 17, 2012 Neighbors fighting....

How To Replace Symantec’s Backup Exec

By on Mar 16, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

Back in 2012 I wrote a long post about my terrible experience with Symantec Backup Exec and their lackluster technical support that still remains one of my most popular posts. It seems I’m not the only person who was fed up with Symantec; far from it. At that time I decided I would never again purchase another copy of Backup Exec (BE), and I never did, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s tempting to simply upgrade whatever you have in place, but after years of less than stellar releases from Symantec the time finally came to find a replacement. I found two. Arcserve Backup The first, a more traditional product, is Arcserve Backup. It installs on your server or workstation in a similar manner to BE and can backup to tape or external drives, among other options. Setting up and managing jobs will be familiar to anyone who has been using Symantec’s product, though there...

Soma Water Filter Review

By on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog Posts | 1 comment

The folks at Soma put a lot of thought in to their product but I wonder if they actually spent much time using it. The things fails at almost every aspect of being a water delivery system and sometimes even the simple, beautiful design hurts the functionality of the Soma. From filling to pouring, there are problems. First, the Soma is a little tricky to put together. You’ll feel like you’re going to break the thin, flimsy lid. Apparently Soma knows this is a weakness, so they’ve produced a video showing you how to put the lid on. Seriously. It’s part of a longer video welcoming new customers by giving them incorrect information about their own product. In the video we’re told to simply soak the filter for 15 minutes and it’s ready to use, but in the instructions that come with the Soma you are told to give the first three fills to your plants. Seems...