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

 

Choosing A Battery Tender For Your Classic Car

If you have read my blog in the past you would know that I picked up my first classic car about six months ago. A 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS! So far it has been a blast to drive and I have been enjoying it every chance I get. However through the month of November I was away for a couple weekends and the weather was poor for the rest so my SS went unused for about 6 weeks. Finally in mid December I had an opportunity to  take the car out only to find the battery was drained and not enough juice left to turn her over. After talking to a few friends that also own classics they recommended I keep the battery topped off with a Battery Tender!

What is a battery tender and why do I need one?

There are a number of devices that can assist you with tending to your battery and starting your car. Continue reading “Choosing A Battery Tender For Your Classic Car”

82 – 87 Monte Carlo Blower Motor Speed Control Repair – Part 2 Blower Motor Relay.

Blower Relay

In my previous post I went though the procedure to change out my Monte Carlo SS blower motor resistor Unfortunately that did not fix the issue and I moved on to the next component in the circuit. The blower motor relay. Again this is an inexpensive part and is worth the investment to repair my classic car.

PARTS

I have to say that I now believe that Amazon carries everything or at least put you in contact with a vendor that has what you need.

Blower Relay
1985 Monte Carlo Blower Relay

Here is a link to the RY20 relay from Standard Motor Products that is an exact replacement to the existing relay. Under $14.00 at Amazon!

Continue reading “82 – 87 Monte Carlo Blower Motor Speed Control Repair – Part 2 Blower Motor Relay.”

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”

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”

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”

Extracting Etsy Product Reviews To CSV File

Etsy is a great platform to sell your handmade wares, however since Etsy has become a publicly traded company they have made some changed that angered some sellers and may have caused them into looking at other venues. Moving to a new online store is like moving into a new home office. You want to take your belongings with you and setup shop in your new place. In Etsy’s case this could include your product listings, order history and even your product reviews.

Easy to move except product reviews!

Etsy is kind enough to provide tools to capture your sales data into a neat CSV file ready to import at your new shop, however the product review section is much more difficult to work with. There is no simple interface to export your reviews to a CSV file.

To capture your product reviews. you could cut and paste each one individually, and if your shop is like mine with over 3,000 reviews it could take days or months to complete this task

I want to help get you your data!

In my opinion you earned the reviews and therefore they belong to you and your shop. Now is it ethical to re-post the reviews at other venues? Can you legally use a customers name? I’m not sure, so what you do with the CSV file I provide to you is, well up to you. My official stance is Etsy product review extraction is purely for archive purposes.

How much does it cost? What do I get?

Each page of product reviews contains about 15 reviews on it. To make payment options simple and affordable to all, see rate chart below. Even at the $25 range it comes out to about .03cents per extracted review

  • 1 – 50 pages $25    (up to 750 reviews)
  • 51 – 100 pages $45 (up to 1500 reviews)
  • 101-200 pages $75 (up to 3000 reviews)
  • 201-500 pages $150 (up to 7500 reviews)
  • 500-1000 pages $200 (up to 15000 reviews)
    Over 1000 pages of reviews (email me!)

    PURCHASE AT THE GEEK GEAR ONLINE STORE

What will the data look like?

The data will be in a CSV file and contain the following

  • Reviewers Name
    (Some older reviews have been set to Anonymous by Etsy)
  • Date of the review
  • Content of the review
  • Item name

Unfortunately the process that I use is unable to capture the star rating. Hopefully all your product reviews are 5 star so it will be simple to add it on!

DOWNLOAD THE SAMPLE DATA HERE

Click the link to download the sample data it will show you the exact format of the data and you can easily manipulate it in Microsoft Excel.

 

 

You’re interested and would like to proceed

Click this link to my online store -> www.geekgearstore.com
Purchase the number of reviews you would like extracted
During check out, include your review page URL from Etsy and shop name.
(https://www.etsy.com/shop/<SHOP NAME>/reviews)

The system takes some time to crawl the pages and extract the reviews, usually I can have the work done in about 24 hours.

PURCHASE AT THE GEEK GEAR ONLINE STORE

Ready to go, just click the link above and you’re on the way. If for some reason I am unable to complete the task, you will be issued a 100% refund!

Questions? email me joe@joeoliveri.com

Thanks again for reading my blog,
Joe

visit the GeekGearStore

RELATED
Is Etsy just another Ebay?
Forced Etsy Payments; Is this a good thing or bad?

 

Weekend Project – 2011-2014 Dodge Charger Backup Camera Replacement

Over the last few months the backup camera on my wife’s 2014 Dodge Charger has been intermittently failing to send picture to the console display. The radio / head unit is functioning normally for climate control functions and AM/FM/ and Satellite is working OK too, so I began to troubleshoot the wiring.

During the troubleshooting process, with the backup camera active I disconnected the unit from the cars wiring harness and then reconnected it. At that point the camera begins transmitting again. (think reboot) The next time the camera is activated it fails once again.

This leads me to believe the unit is bad and needs to be replaced. A call to the Dodge dealership quoted me a price of over $350 for parts and labor. I quickly sourced the part on Amazon for around $197

OEM – Mopar  2011-2014 Dodge Charger / Chrysler 300 Backup Camera – $197 at Amazon

 

Tools you can use:

Continue reading “Weekend Project – 2011-2014 Dodge Charger Backup Camera Replacement”

Fun Desk Clock From Recycled iPhone 5

Technology changes so fast, and we all want the latest gadget, but what is the cost of consuming so much? Big business wants us to keep buying devices, even if the old ones are still good. We wind up with millions of abandoned iPhones, Androids and tablets. Some are recycled responsibly while tens of thousands are just tossed in the trash or the back of your desk draw never to be seen again.   Here is a super simple way to recycle your old iPhone into a great retro looking desk clock.

Recycle Your iPhone into a clock – WHAT YOU NEED

 

I needed a stand for my clock and since my objective was to keep this project as simple and low cost as possible. I started with two 3×5 acrylic photo frames.

 

3×5 acrylic frame. Very low cost, about $5.00 at Amazon

 

You will also need 8 flat rare earth magnets (Neodymium) The stronger the magnets the better. Keep them small and flat, the actual shape round or square does not matter. $14.00 at Amazon

 

A little glue to hold it all together. I tend to like GOOP, but any strong adhesive should do. Goop at Amazon $ 11.00

 

 

The last two items you probably have around the house.

  • A colored spay paint for tinting the acrylic frames, I used black.
  • Some type of counter weight for the back of the stand to give it stability, I used a pair of hard drive spindle motors.
Putting it together

Continue reading “Fun Desk Clock From Recycled iPhone 5”