More reviews/ranting (I am still in temporary housing, I can’t do much fun DIY stuff, but I have been buying things)…
I got a Raspberry Pi model B+ because this new model just came out. I found a good use for it. Many major software company employ USB dongle based DRM on their software, but I don’t want to take home the USB dongle if I take my work-issued laptop home. I wanted to run a “USB device server” inside the company and use the company VPN to access the USB dongle from home. I have a desktop at work but it runs Windows and such software simply doesn’t exist for Windows, but there are options for Linux. I tested out a virtual machine running VirtualHere, and it worked. Knowing it would work, I setup the same software on my new Raspberry Pi, and it works! Although it does take a lot of oddball USB driver reinstalling.
For the Raspberry Pi, I picked up a Rii mini wireless keyboard, and I disassembled it. It is really well built, it uses metal threaded inserts for all the screws, and the PCB is really well supported from the back. I highly recommend it.
I also picked up another Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 (Amazon has these for $15) for use with my work-issued laptop. Still my favorite travel mouse.
If you know what I do for work and for fun, you’ll guess that a good soldering station is extremely important for me. At work, we have a lab room with a Metcal MX-5200 soldering station. This station is somewhat annoying to me. It is worth about $500. It feels like it is designed for an assembly line, but not for a lab (it has one button on it, it is as if Apple designed a soldering iron). The pen is super slim, the silicon cable is flexible and heat resistant, it heats up super fast, and it holds a super steady temperature, all really good, right? But it annoys me because it doesn’t actually have true temperature control. Instead, each tip that you load has a specific calibrated temperature. The tips that is loaded right now is perfectly calibrated for lead-free solder work and so far it’s been working great. But I really miss having custom temperature control for non-standard situations. Thus I conclude that it is great for a place where speed, reliability, and comfort are important, but not for a lab where experimentation happens.
I also got a few Nite Ize S-Biners, because I was a bit frustrated with my regular carbiners due to an incident where I almost lost a key. But the S-Biners are worse, instead of risking losing something when removing another item (when using an ordinary carbiner), now I have to worry about losing something at any moment because of the S-Biner’s design, which allows for the locking mechanism to become lifted from the inside. Also the locking mechanism might not lock at all if it happens to go off to the side, because the thin metal wire of the S-Biner is not as stiff as a carbiner’s solid post. Only the size # 4 model do not suffer from these two problems.