Office Kit – February 2015

I was going to kick off the website reboot with an exhaustive post about my goings-on over the last 3 years, but instead I’m going to start by indulging in one of my latest vices, kit posts – a bit of an extension of the old “What’s in your bag?” meme from a few years back (yes it has been that long since I’ve written anything).

Mobile Phone

Nokia Lumia Icon – Windows Phone 8.1 for Developers Preview

This is my second Windows phone after an HTC 8X and I can’t fathom having to make the switch back to Android or iOS. Really hope Microsoft is true to their word and stick it out in the mobile game. Office Lens, Office Remote, Reading List, NextGen and OneNote do my daily heavy lifting. The default mail and calendar apps in 8.1 are quick and intuitive. Cortana is actually useful where Siri and Google Now were always a fiddly hassle. One downside – this would be a Nokia 1520 in a heartbeat if Verizon offered that device.

CHOE Stadium Qi Wireless Charger

I have a terrible habit of forgetting to charge my phone while at work. I take my phone out of my pocket each morning, place it on my desk and then promptly forget to attach the charging cable. This charger now occupies said spot on my desk where the phone goes. Phone comes out of the pocket, is placed on the wireless charge and my problem is solved.

Main Computer

Dell Latitude 6430u Ultrabook (late 2012) – Windows 8.1 Enterprise

i7-3687u CPU
8GB 1600mhz DDR (upgraded)
250GB Samsung 840 EVO mSATA Drive (upgraded)
RHEL 7, Ubuntu 14.04LTS and FreeNAS running in Hyper-V

This has been my primary work device for just over 2 years now and I will easily get another year out of it. Weighing under 4lbs, it was extremely light for 2012, 14″ notebook. It also has an excellent mix of ports (vga, hdmi, ethernet, esata) which is important when you are walking into an unfamiliar environment and don’t want to pack around a grip of dongles. Like all Dell Latitude laptops it very serviceable – battery, RAM, hard drive can all be replaced.

I originally ordered it to test Dell’s WiGig wireless dock solution (Dell D5000 dock) as a possible replacement for the fleet of Latitude docks we currently employ. The wireless docks never panned out, the biggest issues being continued loss of connectivity and the inability of USB webcams to function through the device, but the laptops has been bulletproof. If I had to replace it today, I would opt for the 14″ Dell Latitude E7450.

Dell UZ2715H Monitor

At only 1920×1080 it is definitely less pretty than the recent flood of 27″ QHD screens. But, at less than half (and sometimes closer to a third) the price of an Apple Thunderbolt display you get a quality business-class screen. This monitor is well-built, has a decent camera/speakers/mic combo, comes with a USB 3 hub and has buttons to mute the integrated mic, adjust the speaker volume and answer/hangup Lync calls.

Logitech M570 Trackball

I love thumb trackballs and this is best one I’ve ever used. I also keep a Logitech M325 mouse around (paired to the same Unifying receiver) for the times when someone else needs to navigate and can’t stand the trackball or the maxed sensitivity.

HooToo USB 3.0 Hub and Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

About the best Gigabit ethernet adapter and hub combination I’ve run across (and my teams has tried a lot of these things). If we deploy Surface Pros without the MS dock or Apple laptops, they get one of these. I keep one attached to the USB hub on my monitor so I can get away with connecting a single USB cable to my laptop and another in my bag for working on systems without ethernet ports.

Test System

Dell Optiplex 9020 Mini Tower (mid 2013) – Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2

i7-4770 CPU
16GB 1600mhz DDR
2x 120GB Samsung 840 EVO SSDs in Raid 0 (upgraded)

This is a headless box in my office that acts as a quick test bed for VMs before they get moved off or recreated in one of our production ESX environments. I ordered this system in the mini tower chassis so an enterprise Raid controller could be installed. After getting the SSDs running in Raid 0 through the onboard controller, I found I could take a bare container to a fully patched Ubuntu Server or RHEL system in just a couple minutes and reallocated the $500 I would have spent on the card to another project.

The Rest

Kingston DataTraveler SE9 USB Drives

I always have a couple of these in my bag or on my keyring – very durable and decent read/write speeds for a USB 2 drive.

Microsoft LifeCam Studio

This is for those times when I need to conference a room full of people through my laptop and the built-in camera/mic just doesn’t cut it. I’ve also had good luck with Logitech’s C930, but the mic on the MS camera seems to pick up better at range.

Rickshaw Bagworks Medium Zero Messenger Bag

My go-to bag for the last 3 years. Durable, made in the US and made with zero waste. Comfortably holds my laptop, lunch sack, spare charger, wallet and a copy of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim that I keep telling my wife I’ll finish reading.

That covers all the technology I touch on a daily basis. And before someone asks, no, I don’t carry a tablet. For me, I find tablets fill an awkward space between shrinking laptops and growing phones. Whenever I do happen to pick up a tablet, I find I am either wishing I had grabbed my laptop or wondering why I didn’t just use my phone. That said, I have sound several great uses for tablets in my environment but that is a post of another day.