Main Content RSS FeedLatest Entry

My work computer technician backpack – Condor Urban Go Pack

For the longest time at my job I was talking about getting a special bag just for work. Something to use as a grab bag of tools, cables and possible random items I might need when going to another office to fix computers. The company I work for has 5 offices so I get to travel occasionally when I cannot fix things remotely over the network. I was going to use my current Ogio messenger bag with the Firefox logo on it, but since I ride a motorcycle most of the summer to work this would not work well. This was the year for the backpack to finally be purchased and get put to use. Especially now since I am having to bring a laptop home more often. After looking through a large amount of backpacks online I landed on the Condor Urban Go Pack, which is a tactical backpack. Due to working in an office I decided on the black color instead of any of the several other colors they provide like Coyote Tan and ACU. Below are a few pictures of the outside.

Front
Side view
Back (White rectangle is a business card)
Side view with laptop access

The front top compartment has a lot of pockets. Some are always open on top, some have a flap with hook/loop covering the pocket and some have zippers. All of these pockets can hold a lot of small equipment.

Main front pocket
Front pocket contents

Contents shown in the pictures above.

  • Various CDs
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Verizon broadband card
  • Glasses
  • Blackberry
  • Post-it notes
  • Business cards
  • Plastic baggies
  • USB thumb drive
  • USB extension cable
  • Micro USB cable
  • Mini USB cable
  • Sharpie permanent marker
  • Pens
  • Plastic poking/prying device (Got it from Dell long ago when I was replacing a keyboard in a laptop)
  • Headphones
  • Dell power cord strap

The next compartment contains mostly tools.

Front bottom pocket
Front bottom pocket contents

Contents shown in pictures above.

  • Extra USB mouse
  • Mini screwdriver set
  • Tape measure
  • Zipties of various sizes
  • Network/Phone crimper
  • Multibit screwdriver
  • Mini torx screwdriver
  • Larger ziplock bag (Mainly in case it rains)

Since I ride my motorcycle to work a lot in all weather I may get caught out in the rain. This is for all of the extra plastic bags in the bag. I have been caught in one light rain and it did not leak into the bag. I would prefer to not take any chances just in case. The bag does also have some drain eyelets on the bottom of each side and main compartments.

The side compartments are even large enough to store a good size water bottle in with no problems.

Side view with water bottle

Inside the main compartment there are a few more pockets and sleeves. Extra cables fit great inside these pockets.

Main compartment open
Main compartment contents with PLENTY of room to spare

Contents shown in pictures above.

  • Network cables
  • USB cables
  • Power cords for desktop computers and monitors
  • Serial cable
  • USB to serial adapter (My Dell laptop does not have a serial port so configuring network switches via console this is a must)
  • Small parts holder:
    • Cage nuts
    • Cage Screws
    • Cheap cage nut tool
    • Cat5 network cable ends
    • Cat6 network cable ends with
    • Twisty ties
    • Rubber bands
    • 9v batteries (Added after my cable tester batteries died and had to run to the store for more)
    • AAA and AA batteries
    • Small variety of screwdriver bits and sockets

 

I still need to stock the bag with:

  • Electricians scissors
  • 110/66 punch tool
  • Small parts grabber
  • Better flashlight

 

If you are not a fan of the waist belt on this bag it is removable. I have not attempted to remove it yet but it is secured to the bag with hook/loop. I have been able to fit some rather large items in this backpack. I have occasionally had to carry items such as a Dell Optiplex 745 desktop unit or a desktop monitor with the stand sticking out the side. The one thing that has been a bummer about this bag so far is the zipper pulls.

Zipper pulls

They are CHEAP! They will fall apart no matter what you do. I will eventually find something else to put there as these keep falling apart. All in all I would recommend getting this bag for a computer tech that needs to travel between offices often.

 

What would you add to this setup?

Recent Entries

Wings over Houston in Houston Texas

This past weekend was the Wings over Houston air show in Houston Texas. Here are two of my favorite shots of the weekend. Will post a few more photos at a later date.

Red Bull helicopter doing flips

Red Bull helicopter, Houston Texas

P-40K Warhawk

P-40K Warhawk, Houston Texas

Alpinestars SMX Plus 2011 model review

This year I added a pair of riding boots to my riding gear collection. I decided on getting the Alpinestars SMX Plus 2011 model and I picked them up from RidersDiscount.com. They are located in Holland Michigan so I was able to stop by their shop to pickup and try on the boots before buying. My first trip up I was caught in traffic and was 10 minutes late to picking up the boots. One of their programmers was still there and was able to let me try the boots on but they didn’t fit right. My normal shoe size was too big and I needed the next size smaller. I left the boots there and emailed back saying that I needed the smaller size. After having a family emergency I had to come back through Holland 3 days later so I was able to stop by during business hours and pick up the new size. They fit great and I was a happy camper. I will do business with them again in the future for sure.

Front

The Alpinestars SMX Plus 2011 model boots are really nice. They are the first boot I have ever owned and I feel comfortable in them. I almost ride exclusively in these boots now as I have been riding with as much gear on as possible. I even wear them just for my 5 minute drive to work in the morning. Until recently I had no complaints or problems with the boots, they were rock solid. Just a few weeks ago I broke an eyelet on the inner boot system on the left foot. Below the first image is a eyelet that is not broken, the second image is of a broken eyelet even after repair. (Click for larger image)

Non broken eyelet
Broken eyelet (after repair)

I was really bummed, especially after spending so much money on the boots. I called Alpinestars up right away and told them what just happened and asked what they could do for me. They kindly sent me next day UPS shipping label and I sent the boot back. I finally got the boot back after about 2 weeks of being out for repair. Today was the first day that I wore the boot for a ride. I put the boot on and was trying not to pull hard on the laces at all and right away the eyelet breaks again. The same eyelet that was “repaired” was broken on the first lace up. Needless to say I am not to happy. Tomorrow when Alpinestars is open again I will be calling them and seeing what they can do for me. I expected so much more from them and they are failing to deliver so far. I am starting to question if I want to get new riding pants/jacket from them if this is the way their products last. Here are a few more pictures of the boots.

Back
Side open
Side

Update: (10-20-2011)
I have gotten my boots back a little while ago from their second trip to get repaired for the same problem. I am still taking it easy with the laces trying to make sure they do not break. I have been on several rides with them since they have come back and everything seems to be good so far. Unfortunately it has been rather cold and raining a lot here so not as much riding as I would like. Will update more if necessary.

Toshiba Stratagy phone system new voicemail button calls other extension

One thing I run into occasionally on our Toshiba Stratagy phone system is new voicemail indicators directly calling another users desk extension. Usually this happens without either parties really understanding what is causing the issue. On the phone display it self it shows something like:

Daniel K ext.112
Call 112-111

The normal screen when a new voicemail is available may show:

Daniel K ext.112
Call 112-333V

What the first screen shows is that the owner of the phone is extension 112 and that extension 111 wants to talk with the person at 112. When the user of extension 112 pushes their blinking Msg button it will call 111 and should clear the indicator once the person at 111 picks up the phone. Sometimes this is not the case and we must dial a special sequence of numbers on extension 111 to clear the light on 112. So from the Ext 111 phone dial #64 plus the extension (in this case it would be #64112) and then hang up.

Now here is the cool thing with this “issue”. If you wanted to notify a user to call you without interrupting a meeting you can dial #63 plus the extension to enable this light. An example of this would be if I was still at Ext 112 and I wanted the person sitting at Ext 111 to call me I could dial #63111 from my Ext 112 and it would show the following on Ext 111:

Josh ext.111
Call 111-112

Once the conversation was done I would then dial #64111 on my phone to clear the new Msg blinking light on Ext 111. Enjoy!

Linux uptime

If you want to show the uptime of your linux server on your website, you can do so very easily.

<?php
function linuxUptime() {
  $ut = strtok( exec( "cat /proc/uptime" ), "." );
  $days = sprintf( "%2d", ($ut/(3600*24)) );
  $hours = sprintf( "%2d", ( ($ut % (3600*24)) / 3600) );
  $min = sprintf( "%2d", ($ut % (3600*24) % 3600)/60  );
  $sec = sprintf( "%2d", ($ut % (3600*24) % 3600)%60  );
  return array( $days, $hours, $min, $sec );
}

$ut = linuxUptime();
// If you would like to show the seconds as well just add [ , $ut[3] seconds ] after minutes.
echo "Time since last reboot: $ut[0] days, $ut[1] hours, $ut[2] minutes";
?>

Just call the $ut = linuxUptime() function and then you can use the variables to show the time.

**NOTE: Your server must allow you to run the exec() PHP command. Some hosts disable the execution of this and several other PHP functions.

Now if you were wanting to gather the uptime of multiple servers all at the same time this can be accomplished with CURL. What we would end up doing is using the above code and place it in a PHP file on each of the target servers. In the example below you will see I am referencing a file called linuxUptime.php which holds the code listed above. We could then use a MySQL database or just an array full of domain names that we would loop through to gather the stats. Below I am posting a simple script which uses an array as an example. (This file does not currently exist on my site to show uptime of my site)

<?php
$sites = array('danielkassner.com'); // Create a list of sites to check
foreach($sites as $site) { // Loop through each site and get uptime

$ch = curl_init(); // Initiate curl session
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, 'http://'.$site.'/linuxUptime.php'); // Set the URL of the uptime script
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0); // Disable header output
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER,1); // Return data as a string instead of output directly
$data=curl_exec($ch); // Execute curl commands
curl_close ($ch); // Close the curl session

echo $site.': '.$data.'<br />'; // Output value returned from the linuxUptime.php file
} // End server loop
?>

When we gather stats like this we could easily store the uptime values in a database table so that we could track the history.

Enjoy!

Notepad++ Ctrl+Tab tip

If you are like me and prefer to use the keyboard as much as possible instead of a mouse you will like this tip. When in Notepad++ if on your keyboard you press Ctrl+Tab it brings up a Windows style Alt+Tab menu to cycle through your open documents. When you let up on the keys it switches to the file you selected. Check out the screenshot below of it in action.

Notepad++Trick

Clik Elite Contrejour 35 bag review

Recently I was in the market for a new camera bag. I had a Lowepro Slingshot 300 aw camera bag that was just over one shoulder. This bag was great for just carrying it around town and on short trips. However lately I had been noticing two issues with the bag. The first was that the top compartment zipper was constantly splitting and coming open so any gear inside had the potential to fall out without me knowing. The second issue was that the bag was constantly sliding around my waist while riding my motorcycle even with the waist strap on. Riding one handed on a motorcycle trying to adjust the bag as it slides is not the best thing to be doing. For those reasons I started looking for a new bag. I was looking for two main things in a new bag. The bag had to be a backpack style with two shoulder straps and a waist strap. The second requirement was that it had to have a side entry to the camera compartment. My cousin had purchased a couple of bags from Clik Elite and was saying a few things about his bag. I went to their website and checked things out but never purchased anything. After months of dropping the subject I went back to their site to see what they had. I was thinking that the Clik Elite Contrejour 35 was way to large of a bag and it was just outside of my price range. After a while I decided to check to see the measurements of that bag versus that of airline carry on luggage requirements. It is just slightly larger than carry on requirements but it should pass. I have not gotten a chance to test this yet though. I will be doing so later on in August when I take a trip down to the Houston Texas airshow. After seeing how close the measurements were I bought the Contrejour 35 instead of the Contrejour 40. I have taken the bag on several road trips to Baltimore Maryland, Washington DC and trips on the bike around Northern Indiana / Midwest Michigan. The bag was a little rough to carry around the first day because I was not used to carrying a backpack much any longer but after that everything feels great. Taking the bag on trips on the motorcycle is great as well. The last trip I took with it on the motorcycle it was raining fairly well. I put the rain cover on but because of the wind (70MPH on the highway) it did not like to stay on. I may have just not been pulling the elastic on the rain cover right enough but thankfully it is tethered so I did not completely lose it. I am considering getting industrial strength velcro and making two bands to go all the way around the bag at the top and in the middle for when I ride. Even with no rain cover on the bag held up nicely to the rain. My gear was all in plastic zip lock baggies just in case but everything was dry where the camera gear was. The only part that got wet inside was the top of the bag where the CF cards are stored and it was soaking into the material. Overall I rather enjoy this bag and will have it for some time. Below are a few pictures of the bag. To view larger view click on the picture.

Front and side views of bag:

Front
Side

Back view of the bag. Able to put hydration pack in the back. No problems holding a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens and several other lenses.

Back
Back open

Side camera access. It is possible to get a camera with a battery grip in/out. The red piece in the unzipped area is a blanket. The main compartment goes all the way from the top to the bottom of the bag with access through the side of the bag. To fit a laptop in you need to slide it in from the top not the side.

Side
Side open

Top compartment showing digital media storage areas and other little pockets. Main compartment has a large zippered bag that you can put gear in so it does not slide all the way to the bottom.

Top
Top

Updated:
I have had this bag for several months now. The more I keep using the bag the more I like the bag. Just this past weekend I went to the Wings over Houston air show in Houston Texas. I flew down with this bag and a small gym type bag for my luggage. No checked baggage for this trip at all. The backpack fit perfectly in the overhead bin no problems! Continental/United flights never even questioned if the bag was to large. After forgetting to empty a water bottle in the backpack and forgetting a fruit cup from the air show in my backpack I got stopped by airport security. They had to check my bag. It was so easy to walk the airport security guy where everything is and how to open the bag. He was impressed with how quick it was for him to search the bag. Then at the air show they check every bag coming in as well and it was a breeze. The only complaint I have is that I don’t go on enough trips. Will need to work on that one! :)

View more reviews

Use Curl and PHP to check if website is up or moved

Using the below code you can check to see if a website is up or not. There is an array of various HTTP codes that it can check for. The code will also determine if the website has something like a 301 redirect and then produce the redirected URL. This could be useful for link directories that want to check for URL’s that are no longer active or update their links if the URL has changed. With this code we are just showing the status code and then parsing out all status codes to show later on in the script. The script then compares the URL you are checking vs what the URL that the CURL script ended up on to determine if it was moved. The very last bit of this code is showing you the HTTP headers from the CURL request for viewing purposes only and can be deleted.

<?php
$toCheckURL = "http://www.wlscripting.com/tutorial/67"; // The domain name of the site you want to check
// This all sets up the CURL actions to check the page
$ch = curl_init();
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $toCheckURL);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, true);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_NOBODY, true);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION, true);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_MAXREDIRS, 10); //follow up to 10 redirections - avoids loops
$data = curl_exec($ch);
$http_code = curl_getinfo($ch, CURLINFO_HTTP_CODE); // Get the HTTP Code
// Get final redirected URL, will be the same if URL is not redirected
$new_url = curl_getinfo($ch, CURLINFO_EFFECTIVE_URL); 
curl_close($ch);

// Array of HTTP status codes. Trim down if you would like to.
$codes = array(0=>'Domain Not Found',
			   100=>'Continue',
			   101=>'Switching Protocols',
			   200=>'OK',
			   201=>'Created',
			   202=>'Accepted',
			   203=>'Non-Authoritative Information',
			   204=>'No Content',
			   205=>'Reset Content',
			   206=>'Partial Content',
			   300=>'Multiple Choices',
			   301=>'Moved Permanently',
			   302=>'Found',
			   303=>'See Other',
			   304=>'Not Modified',
			   305=>'Use Proxy',
			   307=>'Temporary Redirect',
			   400=>'Bad Request',
			   401=>'Unauthorized',
			   402=>'Payment Required',
			   403=>'Forbidden',
			   404=>'Not Found',
			   405=>'Method Not Allowed',
			   406=>'Not Acceptable',
			   407=>'Proxy Authentication Required',
			   408=>'Request Timeout',
			   409=>'Conflict',
			   410=>'Gone',
			   411=>'Length Required',
			   412=>'Precondition Failed',
			   413=>'Request Entity Too Large',
			   414=>'Request-URI Too Long',
			   415=>'Unsupported Media Type',
			   416=>'Requested Range Not Satisfiable',
			   417=>'Expectation Failed',
			   500=>'Internal Server Error',
			   501=>'Not Implemented',
			   502=>'Bad Gateway',
			   503=>'Service Unavailable',
			   504=>'Gateway Timeout',
			   505=>'HTTP Version Not Supported');

// Check if we have a valid HTTP code from the above list
if (isset($codes[$http_code])) {
	echo 'Website returned status code: '.$http_code.' - '.$codes[$http_code].'<br />';
	// Get the headers from the $data to the $matches variable
	preg_match_all("/HTTP\/1\.[1|0]\s(\d{3})/",$data,$matches);
	array_pop($matches[1]); // Remove the last status that we just displayed above which should be 200
	if (count($matches[1]) > 0) {
		// Loop through all other matches to see what other status codes we got
		foreach ($matches[1] as $c) {
			echo $c.' - '.$codes[$c].'<br />';
		}
	}
	// Can use this to check if the URL is still the same as you checked
	// Or if the server has moved
	if ($toCheckURL != $new_url) {
	echo 'URL has now changed to: '.$new_url;
	}
}
// This is just to show you the headers of the website you are checking
echo '<hr /><pre>';
var_dump($data);
echo '</pre>';
?>

I have commented the code a lot so you should have no trouble modifying the code.

New motorcycle gear

It has been a while since I last posted anything here. I have been rather involved with playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 lately. Just before winter I picked up some new gear to work on the motorcycle. Since the local bike shop charges way to much to change tires on my motorcycle I decided that it seemed like something I could undertake myself. I purchased some Pit Bull stands, both rear swing arm stand (spooled) and the front triple tree stand with the matching peg for my bike. When I received them they were packed to withstand a almost any abuse during shipping.

IMG_7581.JPG
IMG_7587.JPG
IMG_7588.JPG

I also picked up a Cycle Hill Tire Changer. It was also well packaged.

IMG_7601.JPG

I did not want to mount this to the floor. Thankfully the previous owners of my home left some desk table top pieces of wood in the shed. Drilled a few holes through it and bolted it to the end of the board. Since that seemed like it would move way to much when trying to remove the tire from the rim I backed the front tire of my truck over the opposite end of the board. Rock solid and never moved when working with it. Best part was that I could move the tire changer anywhere I wanted since it is not permanent.

IMG_7606.JPG
IMG_7633.JPG

The tires that I changed to were the Michelin Power Road 2 for front and rear. After putting a few hundred miles on them since installing them I have been rather pleased. No issues with them.

The last piece of gear I picked up for the bike was a set of Tech Spec C3 tank grips. No more sliding forward due to no grip on the tank for me. I would get this again for future bikes. Easy to put on and can be removed with little effort. Best of all when I ordered the product it was not even released on their website yet. A few questions later on the phone with them I had their new product on it’s way to me with free shipping. Great company to work with.

IMG_8295.JPG

The thing that I really like about all three of these items.They are ALL made in the USA.

Dryer problems

Here is a little tip I just discovered while dealing with cloths dryer that would not dry cloths. I could run the same load of laundry through the dryer 4 times and the cloths would still be damp. When you would open the door you could smell a little bit of gas (it is a gas dryer not electric) which bothered me. After traveling around trying to find a good deal on a new dryer I got a tip from a sales rep as he was describing what happens to their refurbished dryers that they sell. He said my problem sounds like the vent is plugged not allowing the exhaust to escape to the outside. After a trip to Lowe’s to buy a new dryer vent tube which constantly ripped apart while trying to install it I attempted to clean the old vent out. Surprise surprise there was quite a bit of lint stuck in the old vent especially at the exit to the outside. A quick clean out later and the dryer is working like a champ again.

Always keep your dryer vent tube clean for optimum performance!

Switch to our mobile site