Computing Hardware 2015

Samsung ATIV Book 9 PlusIt seems like I change operating systems like most people change shoes. I’ll go from Windows to various versions of linux on a monthly basis. About 18 months ago, I wrote a post about my computing hardware for 2014. It’s now May of 2015 instead of November of 2013 and I figured its time to update that hardware list again.

The big changes are in my main laptop for personal use, and my mobile phone. I dislike calling it a phone, but that’s what most people still call their mobile devices, so… what the heck, right?

On the laptop front, I’ve gone with a Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. This model has an Intel Broadwell Core i7, 256GB SSD, and a 3200×1800 touch display. It’s the nicest laptop I’ve ever bought, and it should last for quite some time. Especially considering that my old Sony Vaio is still a viable machine to this day. I’ve updated that Core i3 laptop with a 128GB SSD and have Ubuntu running on that.

Google Nexus 6 UnboxingTowards the end of last year I upgraded my mobile device from a Google Nexus 5 to a Google Nexus 6. Yes, yes, it is big. However, that was what I was looking for in any case. The great thing about these larger format phones (that is, larger than 5″ screens) is that they start to replace smaller tablet devices and thereby reduce the number of devices a person may want to carry. Now, I don’t make a habit of carrying my tablet at the same time as my laptop, but it has happened on rare occasions in the past. Moreover, having that larger screen allows me to see more of a document, email, web page, or video, etc… It makes the device even more usable and functional for me.

HP Chromebook 11Along with the new laptop and mobile, I’m still using my HP Chromebook 11 that I wrote about last time, my Google Nexus 7 (2013) and that Sony Vaio with Ubuntu that I mentioned as well. Each has their uses that highlight their strengths. Sometimes it really is nice to sit back with the Nexus 7 and read a book. That Chromebook is great to toss in a saddlebag of my motorcycle and head out for coffee. Other times, I need the open flexibility of linux, and of course the all around utility and stability of Windows 10 (I’m a geek, so yes I’m a Windows Insider) to do just about everything else.

So there we are, I’m pretty happy with the new Samsung laptop. It’s my first true Ultrabook, and has a lot more power than I expected.

The interesting thing that’s happening at the same time, is the transformation that Microsoft has been going through. Windows 10, even at this pre-release stage, is impressive in its stability and functionality from a long time user standpoint. In addition, Office 365 and the amount of space included for OneDrive makes using Microsoft software services not only viable, but fun again. That is a huge change from even a year ago and makes up a number of reasons why I’m sticking with Windows this time around.

Mobile Power

A nifty gift my wife got me for Christmas last year was a mobile power pack. This one has an integrated solar charging grid along with a plethora of charging options for multiple devices. You see, I’ve been looking for a mobile power solution for the last couple months, and had thought of one of the larger LimeFuel devices in the 24K mAh range. My wife got me two gifts, they are getting a post each, after reading Josh Cullen’s extensive guide she knew exactly what to get me, tune into my next post!

PowerAdd Apollo ProThere are a number of these kinds of mobile power packs out on the market. Some more expensive than others, and I was looking for a quality device, with a few charging options for multiple devices. Apparently, my wife was picking up on this and found one with a twist that I hadn’t even thought of: Solar charging!

Enter the PowerAdd Apollo Pro

The beauty of this power pack is two-fold. First is the obvious feature that covers the front of the device. The solar panel incorporated in the Apollo Pro is a great feature to have. However, this small panel doesn’t make for speedy solar charging. Rather, it merely supplements a trickle charge to the existing reserve on the power pack. It really needs to be charged from an AC outlet before being used. It can charge from the solar panel, but it would take over 48 hours to top it off, so supplemental trickle charging is the key aspect to that feature.

PowerAdd Apollo Pro KitThe second feature is the multiple charging options. This power pack not only charges standard USB devices a single port, but also includes a set of multiple charging tips with a selectable high-output 12/16/19 volt port designed for charging laptops. Yeah, that’s right – laptops.

The battery in this unit stores 23,000 mAh worth of power. Compare that to your average 3,000 mAh smartphone or 5,600 mAh tablet battery, and figure out how many charges you have from a fully charged unit! Figure that you can ‘top off’ the charge on the unit itself from the solar panel, and you’ll have multiple charges for several of your mobile devices while away from a power outlet.

In any case, there are a number of options for mobile power supplies these days, and I’m looking forward to being able to using this unit for some adventures throughout 2015 the rest of the year.

Playlist – U2 Live!

A few months ago I shared a playlist called Darker Shade of Lunacy, and I said I’d share a few more playlists as I finished putting them together. The truth is that I get them done when I damn well feel like it.

So this one for live U2 tracks has been done for several weeks, but I finally made time to share it with you. Frankly, with U2 you can’t go wrong with arranging them in whatever order you like. In this case, I’ve attempted to arrange them chronologically. You can judge how well I’ve done. Also, since U2 doesn’t have a lot of live albums out there, they tend to be from a handful, and mostly follow how they’re laid out on those albums.

In any case, I’ve tweaked the arrangement to my liking and thought I’d share them with you. I happen to use Google Play Music, and that’s where the following links to.

U2 Live! - Google Play Music Playlist

Title: U2 Live!

Description: My favorite U2 live tracks arranged mostly chronologically to my liking. Enjoy!

Playlist – Darker Shade of Lunacy

So like pretty much like everyone, I’ve got a few favorite playlists that I’ve been perfecting for awhile and I wanted to share them with anyone interested. Be forewarned, I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, so much of my music taste runs to classic rock, 80’s pop, and a bit of hair metal.

This is the first playlist I’ll share, though I have several more. After creating this one a couple years ago, I recently began refining it to fit the overall theme that I originally had for it.


Title: Darker Shade of Lunacy

Description: A collection of moody, heavy, sometimes dark but rocking tunes that, though they cover the better part of four decades, seem to meld together with a constant theme.

A Motorcycle and a Tent

A motorcycle and a tent

That’s all I really need.

To travel the world and experience new places.

See the countryside, and breath deep the fresh air.

Grow in knowledge as well as hope.

To dream and to live out my dreams.

That’s all I really need.

A motorcycle and a tent.

Independence Day 2014

Old Glory, Patriotic Rustic Peeling American Flag, The Stars & Stripes, Red, White, Blue, on Wood

Happy 4th of July!

I absolutely love finding versions of our flag that exist all around the country. I’ve seen this picture many times, but thought I’d share it this year. Finding truthfully represented versions of our flag painted on barns and shops or signs is pretty cool to see. Especially the one’s that have a little age on them. Not sure why, but it makes them even more endearing to me. Maybe it’s because everything on the Internet is just a little to precise, a little to perfect. We all look better with a little age on us.

Happy Birthday America!

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via Compfight cc

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