Andrew Jorgensen

It's better than bad, it's good!

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
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––  
Alan Freed, Webmaster  
PunxsutawneyPhil.com / Groundhog.org America's Second Favorite Holiday!  
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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.

Slim Wallet Reviews

December 14, 2013 Update: I’ve just posted a review of SlimFold Wallets , a new Tyvek wallet that I’m kind of giddy about.

Your wallet itself—without contents—could be adding significantly to the bulk in your pocket. As mentioned in a previous post this is something I care a lot about. In this post I review some of the thinnest wallets available.

All-Ett Billfolds

All-Ett sells The World’s Thinnest Wallet . If that claim isn’t 100% true it’s very very close. Their signature wallet features two of the best approaches to slimming your wallet: thinner material and a split deck.

All-Ett uses ripstop nylon, the same fabric power kites are made of. Ripstop nylon is incredibly thin and light for its strength. Four layers of the material (the entire bulk of the wallet) only add up to about 1mm. Seams and stitching make it add up a bit more here and there but your cards and cash will add a good deal more. Two drawbacks to the material are that it can make a slight crinkling noise when bent and can wear small holes over time at the corners of your cards (though it won’t rip).

The World's Thinnest Wallet

The arrangement of the cards means that already, just by splitting the deck, your wallet is half as thick as it was. Cards are inserted horizontally so they don’t fall out when the wallet is closed. The material is a bit slick so you may need to be careful when opening your wallet.

Most of All-Ett’s products are also offered with a very thin, high quality leather exterior adding less than 1.5mm total. They also come in a recycled material which has a softer, less crinkly, less slippery feel but is about 3 times as thick as the ripstop. Still that’s only about 3mm, probably a lot thinner than what you’re carrying now, and you can help save the planet.

I am a big fan of All-Ett. I keep my lesser used cards in their original wallet in my organizer. I also own a card case which unfortunately is not large enough for credit cards, it was designed with business cards in mind.

Big Skinny

The thing that really struck me about Big Skinny is that their tri-fold (normally the fattest wallet design possible) is nearly as thin (8mm) when loaded with everything I normally carry (admittedly not much) as the leather card case I used to carry when it was completely empty (7mm). And that includes features, like a clear ID pocket and several overlapping pockets, you’d normally expect in a standard tri-fold. If you’re looking to replace your standard leather wallet with a better model but aren’t ready to radically change the contents of your pockets Big Skinny is probably your best option. These wallets still look great when loaded up with cash, receipts, and 30 or so cards.

Big Skinny has clearly spent some time thinking about the problems a wallet is supposed to solve. The nylon microfiber material they use is more flexible than ripstop and has a softer feel. It’s water resistant and machine washable. Their designs also make more sense. The Super Skinny, for example, also uses the split deck approach but orients your cards so that the wallet will bend only on the same axis as your cash. That’s a little hard to explain so compare the photos of the All-Ett above and the Super Skinny below. With the All-Ett your cash will get folded once and then bent along the other axis as the wallet flexes in your pocket.

The orientation of your cards also means a higher chance some of them could slip out but Big Skinny addresses this with a rubbery coating on the inside that grips your cards for you. My younger brother has been carrying the one pictured above for a while and tells me his cards still slip out sometimes. It does have this super cool hidden pocket behind the ID pocket though.

I carry the multi-pocket bi-fold because I like the dimensions and I can fit my wallet pen in the space just above the clear ID pocket. Let me add emphasis here: This is my every day carry wallet.

The one thing I don’t like about Big Skinny is the sewn-on rubber label they put on the outside. They say it provides a place to grip the otherwise slippery exterior but they could have accomplished the same with a printed label and it just doesn’t jive with the “every millimeter counts” mantra (the label itself is 1mm thick).

Money-band

“As simple as possible, but not any simpler.” The Money-band is a wide rubber band specially sized to go lengthwise around your cards (and cash if you don’t mind folding) and hold them securely. It works as advertised and the minimalism should appeal to many of you.

I confess I hoped it would be made of some higher quality material, silicone maybe. My initial suspicion that this was a re-branded broccoli rubber band from the produce section proved false, but if you want to give the concept a try without shelling out $4 the broccoli-band will hold your cards width-wise instead and give you that depression-era waste not want not satisfaction.

Disclaimer: Each of these manufacturers sent me samples of their products in exchange for links to their sites. I have personally used each of the products reviewed for at least a day, and in some cases weeks. Measurements were taken with a cheap caliper from Harbor Freight (some rounding applied).

Please comment if you would like to suggest another wallet for me to review!