Working from home? Put that extra monitor to good use!

If you have been mandated by the government to work from home due to the Covid-19 outbreak and would like to be a bit more productive, it may be time to look in the basement or attic for that old monitor you just couldn’t throw away. I personally find it way more productive to work on two or more displays at a time and hopefully you will too.

The portable usb monitor

The simplest way to add an additional screen to your laptop or desktop computer is to plug in a USB portable display. This type of display is easy to install, easy to move from computer to computer, easy to travel with and reasonably priced.

My personal favorite is the ASUS MB169B+ 15.6″ display. 
ASUS Portable Monitor

This display is simple to install, powered by the USB port so there is no power brick to worry about and is super light weight and is about as thick as a pencil. Best part its under $200 at Amazon

The only problem is at the time I wrote this post they were in and out of stock and difficult to find, and if you could find one in stock shipping lead times were over 10 business days.

Recycle the monitor you have

If you don’t want to go out and purchase a second display for you laptop or computer you may be able to simply recycle what you have on hand. The tricky part is making sure you have the correct cables and adapters to connect the monitor to your laptop or workstation.

VGA MONITORS

The oldest of displays would be VGA. The VGA (Video Graphics Array) standard was born in 1987 and was the primary video port on many computers and laptops for 20 years.What VGA Looks like

The port is 15 pins and is usually blue in color. This is a very common connector and most laptops up until a few years ago still had support for VGA displays

DVI MONITORS (DIGITAL – HDMI / D-Port)

As resolutions went higher and higher and we entered the High Definition What DVI looks likedays the displays began shipping with digital connectors called DVI.

DVI is pretty much the standard today among monitors. The DVI signal is compatible with HDMI and D-Port however HDMI can also carry audio!

How do I convert my monitor from X to Y?

By now you have rummaged the basement and found an old display but your not sure how to add it to your laptop. What connectors do you need?

LAPTOP HAS AN HDMI OUTPUT

  • Connect it to an old VGA monitor : HDMI to VGA

    HDMI to VGA, Gold-Plated HDMI to VGA Adapter (Male to Female)
    $9.00 at Amazon

  • Connect it to a DVI monitor:HDMI to DVI

    DVI-D to HDMI Cable
    $11.00 at Amazon

 

  • Connect it to a monitor that support D-Port:HDMI to DPORT

    Display Port to HDMI Cable
    $12.99 at Amazon

You get the idea, DVI, HDMI and D-Port are all pretty much interchangeable with the correct adapter cable. Just take note HDMI and D-Port come in smaller versions too! Click on the images for more information

Micro HDMI
Mini HDMI

 

 

 

Mini Display port

Now you have no excuse, get that old monitor out look at the connection and order the correct adapter to add that second or even third screen to your work at home setup.

Thank you for reading my blog,
Joe

 

Dell Latitude E5550 Battery Replacement

In the office we tend to buy Dell Desktops and Laptops. In my opinion they are no better or worse than any other brand and are priced competitively. Normally we have a 3-4 year cycle moving old equipment out and new equipment in. This one E5550 has been hanging around for whatever reason and was feeling slow. I originally popped the back cover to upgrade to a SSD and noticed the battery was in bad shape and needed to be replaced.

E5550 Battery Replacement

From the looks of it, two of the cells out gassed and have a belly. This is very bad since the battery capacity is obviously reduced. It is also dangerous to the hardware since the added pressure from the battery could damage the system board or cause the case to crack.

E5550 BatteryE5550 Battery

Where to purchase a suitable replacement?

Continue reading “Dell Latitude E5550 Battery Replacement”

Exchange Server Tip – Allow all users to see each others calendar

I work for a mid sized accounting firm and collaboration is an important part of making our group efficient. Mangers need to peer in on their staff calendars and the staff also like to see where there managers are. Exchange calendars are easily shared, however most staff members either don’t know how to do it or forget to allow access.

First step – set up a group in active directory

If you already have a group with all users in it you can simply use that. Otherwise access active directory and create a group (like the one below) and add all your users to it.

(GROUP)-Shared_Calendar
Share your calendar the manual way

You can easily have each user do this in Outlook. Simply access your calendar then click Calendar PermissionsExchange Calendar Permission Continue reading “Exchange Server Tip – Allow all users to see each others calendar”

Does anyone remember the floppy disk punch / notcher?

Floppy disks are all but a memory for most. They have gone the way of the tape cassette and VHS tape. I can remember back in the late 80’s and early 90’s shopping Radio Shack for 5 1/2 disks to feed my Commodore 64 1541 disk drive. The only issue was the 1541 could only write one side of the disk, so the backs of the disks were wasted. Disks were expensive a 3 pack would run $15 or more!

Floppy Disk
Wow Expensive!

 

As luck would have it, a creative person would develop a solution to alleviate some of the pain my 15 year old self was suffering due to my full allowance going to floppy disk procurement.

 

The 5 1/4 Disk Punch!

Continue reading “Does anyone remember the floppy disk punch / notcher?”

Emerson 888 “Atlas” Nevabreak Pocket Radio

I was cleaning out the closet again and stumbled across this Emerson 888 Atlas radio. It was given to me by my grandfather and according to the internet it was released by Emerson in 1958/59.

An over view of the Emerson 888 ATLAS
Atlas 888
The Atlas 888

It is amazing how technology has changed in the last 60 or so years! This radio was capable of tuning the AM band radio stations using 4 AA batteries.

It boasted 8 transistors, and said it was a pocket radio. Pocket? It is way too large to fit in any pocket. Think Mr. Spock’s tricorder. The radio came with a leather carry case with a strap. Continue reading “Emerson 888 “Atlas” Nevabreak Pocket Radio”

Best Desktop PC Battery Backup

Depending on where you live in the world continuous power without disruption can be an issue. Here in the United States we are lucky to have a power grid that works great most of the time. However, on occasion equipment fails and your power can be disrupted. Do you need a Battery Backup to help keep things running in the event of a failure?

Battery backups have been around for many years and come in many different sizes and capacities. In this article I would like to focus on the backup you would use for your desktop PC.

TOP BATTERY BACKUP CHOICE:

Over the years I have found APC to be the superior choice in battery backup systems. They make very large units to cover the server room and small units to backup the desk top environment as well.

Think of a backup unit as an emergency spare tire that will allow you to safely pull over to the shoulder. When sizing a unit, it should give you sufficient time to save your work and shutdown gracefully.

APC Battery BackupI have found this particular unit – APC BE600M1 600VA to be perfect for desktop workstations. 5 outlets are battery backed, while 2 are surge protected only. This will give you plenty of room for your PC, multi monitors, router and wifi. In my testing 600VA can keep the average PC running for an additional 15min after the power has failed. Plus the unit is very affordable running for under $60 at Amazon. The best part is this unit features a USB port than can keep your phone or tablet topped off during the power failure!
Continue reading “Best Desktop PC Battery Backup”

Repair A Mouse With A Broken USB Cable

Recently a coworker of mine purchased a Logitech M500 corded mouse on Amazon. Its relatively inexpensive at $24.99 and perfect for office use.  As you can see from the image below, its a nice size mouse with a few extra buttons. I believe Logitech has been selling them for years.

Now I get why amazon has frustration free packing!

The mouse came in retail packing and upon cutting open the sealed packing he accidentally cut the USB connection off the mouse. He immediately tossed the mouse in the trash and proceeded to order a second. I saw this and said, hey don’t toss the mouse, let me attempt a repair.

Easy Mouse Repair

I considered soldering the wire back together, but that would prove to be messy and there would be a large bulge close to the base of the mouse. My second idea was simply to replace the entire USB cable from an older mouse that was sitting in my parts bin.

STEP 1 – Open the mouse

The Logitech M500 has the screws hiding under the 4 pads on the bottom of the mouse. Remove the 4 pads carefully and set aside. Then remove the 4 black screws to gain access to the mouse.

 

 

Carefully pry the top of the mouse away from the base to revile the internal components .

Continue reading “Repair A Mouse With A Broken USB Cable”

Father’s Day Round Up! Great Gift Ideas For Dad

Father’s Day is approaching again and if you’re like me I always wonder what would be a good gift for Dad. There have been years where a bottle of wine was the gift of choice, or maybe a couple of dress shirts. How boring! Hopefully your Dad is as great as mine and not only deserves a fun cool gift, but would also appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas!

Is your Dad into computers? Maybe a fun USB drive would be the perfect gift? Low cost, yet thoughtful!

16GB Mercedes-Benz USB Flash Drive in the style of a Car Key!
$12.99 GeekGearStore.com

This is a very cool gift for Dad, especially if he drives a Benz and enjoys electronic gadgets. On sale at GeekGearStore.com $12.99 Continue reading “Father’s Day Round Up! Great Gift Ideas For Dad”

Protect Your Internal Network With A LOW COST Honey Pot

It would appear that more and more companies and home users are becoming victim to bad actors intruding on their network. Weather it be a targeted attack or drive by malware, network security is a hot topic in today’s IT landscape. In this article I will describe how you can build a low cost Honey Pot that can help alert you to an intrusion before its too late.

What is a Honey Pot?

In simple terms a Honey Pot is a device  on your network that looks appetizing to a hacker.  Like drawing a bear to a pot of honey. This device will advertise services that appear vulnerable and maybe draw an attacker in for further investigation. At a minimum it can simply be used as an internal “trip wire” to alert you someone poking around.

Why does a honey pot work?

Stop Hackers WIth A Honey PotI’m Joe hacker and I have just installed malware on one of your employees workstations. I have quickly gained access and I am now able to execute code and commands. What is the first thing I’m going to do? If you said start poking around you would be correct. After I look for anything of value on my host computer I will quickly begin scanning the subnet looking for hosts that are alive. I will also begin mapping the network for services that are possibly vulnerable to attack. This is where the Honey Pot fits in. It has been patiently siting on your network waiting for someone to direct a packet of data in its direction and alert you to possible trouble.

I’m in! How much does a honey pot cost?

Continue reading “Protect Your Internal Network With A LOW COST Honey Pot”

Help My Laptop Has Really Poor WiFi Performance!

I am the proud owner of a new Dell 5290 2-in-1 laptop and its actually pretty cool. Touch screen, detachable keyboard and pen put together in a nice package for me to take my work on the go. Shortly after configuring the laptop and applying the latest Windows updates I notice the WiFi performance to be really poor. The laptop was almost unusable. My first thought was maybe the laptop chip-set was having an issue with my Ubiquity Access points, but this was NOT the case.

Why do I have poor WiFi performance?

I ran a speed test to see how bad the throughput was.

As you can see from the image above the download speed is less than 1Mbps while the upload speed is close to 100Mbs. What is going on here and how do I fix this? Continue reading “Help My Laptop Has Really Poor WiFi Performance!”