Andrew Jorgensen

It’s better than bad, it’s good!

Trove Review

Earlier this month, Minh, from Trove, contacted me to ask if I’d like to try his new wallet. I’ve been skeptical of elastic so far, but wanting to be more open-minded, I asked if he’d send me a sample to review. It arrived, direct from the UK, the same day that my Big Skinny ripped(!). I’ve carried it for more than a week now. While there are some drawbacks, I’m pleasantly surprised.

On the calipers, Trove measures more than 3 times thicker than other slim wallets I’ve used, which are generally less than 3mm empty. But Trove is compact, which I can’t say of the others, so the design definitely has merit.

A lot of effort has been put into making a quality product. The seam where the elastic is joined is precise, and covered by an attrative label on the side opposite the leather.

Trove, and Yubico, but not Dilettante

As with some others, there’s no place for my pen. There also isn’t a place for anything larger than a credit card, unless you’re going to fold it. That’s a problem for me, because Dilettante makes an excellent Extra Grande Dark Hot Chocolate (63), and their punch card is just a bit too big.

Because of how the leather is folded, there are three slots. I keep all of my cards in the middle. I have two credit cards that are still embossed, so I place those facing eachother, one upside down, so they lay flatter. The slight bulge in the photo above holds my YubiKey NEO and FIDO U2F Security Key. I’ve also got some cash folded and tucked on the opposite side.

Overall, this is not what I’d term a slim wallet, but it makes up for it by being very compact and snug. I’ll be happily carrying it for a while yet. Go pick one up!

SlimFold Wallet Review

I love Tyvek. It can be terribly thin, durable, recyclable, and inexpensive. The SlimFold Wallet is a new design, consisting of only 4 layers of Tyvek, sewn, rather than folded like the Dynomighty Mighty Wallet. Both versions measure less than 2mm thin, beating out my Ripstop Nylon All-Ett by nearly 1mm.

They come in a variety of attractive, distinctive colors that play nicely with the natural texture of the material. The printing is high quality, and hasn’t rubbed off on anything in the weeks I’ve been using mine.

Original

SlimFold Original

The SlimFold Original is designed to hold 11 cards, including an ID slot, with a pocket for cash. It uses a vertical split deck design that bends easily when folded. Each slot is designed to grip one card, and the manufacturer warns against stretching the slots.

The horizontal split deck of the All-Ett puts the natural fold between your cards at odds with any cash you may have inside. The vertical split deck of the SlimFold Original bends so easily when loaded with bills that you might forget there’s cash in it. With four card slots in a row, it’s much longer than your cash, so it can have a bit more bulk on one side when folded.

MICRO

SlimFold MICRO

The SlimFold MICRO is a simple bi-fold, otherwise similar to the Original in its construction. The description claims it’s designed to hold 8-12 cards, one of them an ID slot. I wouldn’t try to put more than 7 in it; 5 is more comfortable. You really shouldn’t carry more than that anyway.

When you keep the MICRO in your pocket, the part that isn’t held rigid by your cards will bend, which can be unsightly. Any cards you keep in the back bulge out when folded, making a distinct ridge. Overall, I prefer the Original, but you might find it perfect.

Summary

The SlimFold Original is my new favorite wallet, edging out the Big Skinny Tri-fold. It lies incredibly flat, even when full of cash. The one disadvantage is that there’s no suitable place for my wallet pen, so now I’m in the market for the ideal pocket pen (spoiler: it’s not a Fisher Space Pen, though I do love the shape of the Bullet version). By any other comparison, the Original has the advantage over other wallets I’ve tried.

Disclaimer: I was provided samples in the colors pictured above. The photos are copied from the manufacturer’s site. I strive to keep my reviews fair, frank, and honest. If you’d like to see photos of mine after a few more weeks of wear, please say so in the comments.

Defeating Google SafeSearch

For reasons I won’t try to uncover, “AMI” is a restricted term in Google SafeSearch. If you have SafeSearch turned on, and you search for “amazon linux ami,” Google will helpfully remove “ami” and search only for “amazon linux.”

The word “ami” has been filtered from the search because Google SafeSearch is active.

Luckily, Google will also helpfully correct your spelling, so search instead for “amazon linux amih” and it will show you the results you were looking for.

Showing results for amazon linux ami
Search instead for amazon linux amih

Problem solved!

I’m sure there are nefarious things a young person might do with this bit of know-how, but I won’t elaborate.

Configuring Tunnelbroker on DNS-O-Matic

Hurricane Electric’s Tunnelbroker provides free 6in4 IPv6 tunnels. DNS-O-Matic provides a single Dyn-compatible interface to update all of your dynamic DNS resources. I use DNS-O-Matic because I want to update DynDNS, OpenDNS, and Tunnelbroker, all at the same time. I had a hard time finding the correct configuration for Tunnelbroker on DNS-O-Matic. There’s conflicting information because Tunnelbroker also provides a non-Dyn-compatible interface that uses different data. Their Dyn-compatible endpoint is at https://ipv4.tunnelbroker.net/nic/update.

User ID: Your Tunnelbroker Username (Account Name), the one you use to log in, not your long hashy User ID as suggested elsewhere.
Password: The Update Key from your tunnel’s information page, or your Tunnelbroker Password (the one you use to log in), if you don’t have an Update Key.
Host/Identifier: The DNS fully-qualified name of your tunnel, not the numeric Tunnel ID. This is of the form <user>-<index>.tunnel.<tunnel-server>.<datacenter>.ipv6.he.net.

Pete vs. Phil?

No one is quite sure of the origins of Phil's name... but there are stories
that he was indeed originally called "Punxsutawney Pete" when the first
observations of Groundhog Day were held in the 1800s. One popular story is
that a newspaper reporter kept erroneously calling him "Phil," and that name
eventually stuck.
At 12:40 PM 1/27/2004, you wrote: My family has been trying to figure out
if there was ever a Punxsutawney Pete. Some of use remember there being
one, but I couldn't find any evidence on your website. There are some
brief references to such a groundhog on the web.

Can we get an official (or at least semi-official) statement from the
Punxsatawney Groundhog Club to settle this?

Thanks!

Andrew Jorgensen
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Alan Freed, Webmaster  
PunxsutawneyPhil.com / Groundhog.org America's Second Favorite Holiday!  
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ChromeOS SSH with Public / Private Keypairs

Update: The Secure Shell Native Client Chrome app now supports ARM chromebooks, and provides a better overall experience than the following.

Samsung’s ARM-based Chromebook is still the #1 Best Seller in Laptop Computers on Amazon, and rightly so! Unfortunately for many of us, the Secure Shell chrome app doesn’t work properly on ARM yet. That could be a deal breaker, right? Not so! Chrome may not have a built-in terminal, but ChromeOS does, even (with some restrictions) when not in Developer Mode, and it has an SSH client.

I don’t allow passwords to connect to my servers, only keypairs. To use an ssh private key you have to jump through some extra hoops.

  • Download your key to the Downloads directory. I keep an encrypted copy of my key in Google Drive.
  • Press Ctrl-Alt-T to open a terminal tab.
  • At the crosh> prompt, type the following:
    • ssh
    • user <your-user-name>
    • host <your-host-name>
    • key <your-key-filename> (not the full path)
    • connect
Welcome to crosh, type 'help' for a list of commands.
crosh> ssh
ssh> user newbie
ssh> host server.domain.com
ssh> key id_rsa
ssh> connect
Enter passphrase for key '/home/chronos/user/.ssh/key-d0395ccd-28c4-4460-8d71-39c797bfb0ee': 
Last login: Tue Jan 15 21:48:48 2013 from some-ip.isp.net
newbie@server:~$

Driving in the Snow

I don’t like to drive in the snow. Here’s why:

Winter of early 2011, snow started coming down lightly in the evening. Much later in the evening, now snowing hard, I finally started to make my way home from my friend’s house. As I entered the freeway I flipped around about 270 degrees, so that I was perpendicular, but off on the shoulder. I called highway patrol because this was just past a bend in the freeway and I couldn’t see far enough to get straightened out before someone ran into me. Maybe an hour later they came and helped me know when my best chance was and I pulled away.

Utah has a lot of sections of freeway that go over smaller rural roads, so there are a lot of hills. I barely made it up many of these hills and decided there was no way I was driving all the way home so I pulled off on Provo Center Street, parked, and called my Dad to come pick me up in his little four-wheel-drive SUV. He didn’t answer. I called a few more times and still no answer. I had to pee.

Eventually I decided I’d brave the streets again and make my way to my parents house. On 9th East I saw a snow plow roll past so I fell in behind it. This was not as much of an improvement as I hoped.

When I arrived I saw my brother’s car, so I called his phone. No answer there either. I still had to pee so I checked all the doors to see if one was unlocked. My parents live in a very safe part of town, but no luck. I went behind the trash cans where there was some gravel. I’m not proud of this. I slept a bit, off and on, in the car while I waited for morning.

Fairly early in the morning my brother called, having finally checked his phone, which he either silenced or left in his bag, and unlocked the front door. I slept on the couch downstairs until the snow plows came through, drove home cautiously, and slept until early afternoon.

Last month I finally got new tires. They help, but I’m still shaken. I probably shouldn’t own a little rear wheel drive truck anymore. It helps that nobody drives into Seattle when there’s snow on the ground and I can work from home.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Vehicle Dock Review

DO NOT BUY! There’s a reason there are no reviews or ratings on devices on the Google Play.

Update: 3 months later; Yes, THREE months later I finally have a refund for this horrible product.

Remember the HTC Nexus One Car Dock? It cost $55, plus free shipping, but, hey, it had a Bluetooth audio device and some speakers on it. It was attractive and well designed. Mine broke after nearly a year, but HTC replaced it.

And the Samsung Nexus S Navigation Mount? That sold for around $40, plus $4 shipping. Kinda steep considering it didn’t have any electronics in it at all. A little hard to get your phone out of, but it felt secure in the durable but flexible hard rubber frame. If you were in a hurry you could leave it in the frame and pop it off the mount. It was thin and light enough you could almost imagine they meant for you to leave it on all the time. I’m sure some people do.

But the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Vehicle Dock, for $54, plus $10.50 shipping! is probably the worst piece of equipment I have ever had the misfortune to purchase. If you ordered one please do yourself a favor and cancel. If the UPS guy rings your doorbell tell him you’re refusing shipment. The product description says, “The custom fitted cradle holds the handset securely during long rides.” What it means is, “If you can get your phone into it, don’t plan on getting it out. It’s in there for the long haul.”

There’s about a half inch of hard, inflexible plastic in every direction. If you press hard enough you’ll feel lucky if don’t break off your volume buttons, power button, and the pogo pins inside the dock. When you hop out of the car to catch the express bus into town just insert your crow bar in the back and have your catcher’s mitt ready for when your beloved Galaxy Nexus flies out the window onto the hard, unforgiving pavement. The brainless middle-manager who personally designed this abomination “design can’t be that hard, right?” should be sent back to middle-school with a sign on his back that says “kick me!” “c’mon, real funny, guys. ha ha.”

It has pogo pins, button extenders, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a micro-USB plug. Jail cells have a toilet. Good thing, right?

Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to the similar product (without the electronics) on Samsung’s own website. Be sure to sort by “most helpful first”.

What’s that you say? A re-stocking fee? No, I don’t think that’s going to happen. A 15% re-stocking fee for this monstrosity? That’s $8.10 for the privilege of opening this enormous box and fathoming the depths of my disappointment. Can I at least pay the return shipping cost?

Shame on you, Samsung. Shame on you, Google.

VUDU / Disc to Digital

Walmart’s VUDU video service recently started a Disc to Digital program, which I finally got around to trying. When I first heard of it I thought it was absolutely brilliant, but maybe a hard sell. The actual experience didn’t go quite like I expected.

On the VUDU website you select discs you own from their library of available titles and select the resolution you’re willing to pay for. I payed $2 for an SD copy of Lost in Space. Rebecca took the disc to Walmart’s photo center where the technician had to go figure out what to do. Considering that this Walmart serves a large suburban population I’m guessing that means the program isn’t going very well. We assumed the idea was that you’d turn in your physical copy (which they might sell used?). Instead they stamped it, handed it back to her, and the video was added to my account.

So really your disc is a coupon. My guess is that Walmart will be trying to convince the movie industry to stop handing out free digital copies and instead persuade you to spend a few bucks at Walmart for that privilege.

To promote the new service they’re offering 5 free movies for trying it once. The catch is that you get to choose from a short list of genres and they give you 5 movies they selected for that genre. These are probably movies the industry is happy to let you have for free ‘cause nobody wants them. I’m likely to watch one, maybe two of them.

Surcharging

Square charges a flat 2.75% as of this post, so let’s say someone wants to pay you $100 but you don’t want to be the one to take the hit for using a credit card. How do you arrive at the correct value for the surcharge?

You could add 2.75% to arrive at $102.75, but then when Square takes their cut you only get $99.92. You lost 8¢! That’s because 2.75% of $102.75 is more than $2.75. So let’s get our maths in a row and fix it!

We’re looking for the value x such that x-x*2.75%=y where y is the amount you want to end up with. Simplify that using algebra and you get x*97.25%=y or rather x=y*1/97.25% or x=y*102.8277635%. For you folks without a % on your calculator that’s x=y*1.028277635.

The generalized solution for finding what you should surcharge, compared to what you are being surcharged is x=1/(1-y)-1.

In the $100 range we can drop some of those extra digits to arrive at a surcharge of 2.83%. Since we rounded up this keeps you safe in the $1,000 range too.

Of cource it’s easier to calculate a surcharge of 3%, but that makes you a bit of a jerk. On the other hand you could take the 8¢ hit and call it even, or go down to 2% and share the cost more evenly.