Category Archives: Travel

Mini to Micro USB adapter

Has a USB Mini-B female socket on one end, and a USB Micro-B male plug on the other.  Plus a little tether so you can connect it to a cable.  With my mix of devices that have mini (battery charger, camera) and micro sockets (phone, nook), I’d have to carry around twice the number of cables.  Now I carry two cables, each with one of these adapters on it.  I also keep one on the car charger.

Gear: Goal0 Guide 10 4AA Battery Recharger

Goal0 Guide 10 4AA Battery Recharger

Background

I saw this on the shelf at Target one day and thought it might be a good contender for a travel battery charger.  I’d been using some crappy ones, and couldn’t find an all in one device.  Basically, I wanted something that would store two or four AA batteries, provide 5 VCD out, optionally have a flashlight, and preferably charge them from a 5 VCD standard USB port.

This one does all of the above.  And does it well.

Construction

The construction is rock solid.  The door doesn’t come open without some effort, and the body is sturdy.  After a month of heavy travel,mine has some scratches, but no cracks or damage.

It stores four AA batteries, and has a removable tray that lets it hold AAA batteries instead.  One gripe is that the tray comes out – I’d prefer they have some sort of flip-down spacer that changes the fit.  If it can be removed, it will get lost. I’ve standardized on AA batteries, so that’s not a huge deal for me, but it’s still annoying.

Unit overview

Specifications

The front face has a switch, a status indicator, a bright white LED light, a USB A Female port, what appears to be an EIAJ-01 coaxial power plug, and a USB Mini-B Female port.

Front face

  • The switch changes the function from off to power out to light.  It will recharge itself in any position, but will not power the output port and the light at the same time.
  • The indicator uses an intuitive red/orange/green system, and a key is on the back. 
  • The bright white LED appears to be a standard 1 W white LED.  It functions great as a convenient flashlight, and should last for about fifteen hours on a full charge (assuming you have 2500 mAh batteries). 
  • The USB A Female port (the kind most computers have for inserting devices, for people who haven’t bothered to learn what the types are in the past fifteen years) functions as an output port.  It spits out 2.5 W (5 V at 0.5 A, exactly to USB spec) when the switch is in the middle position.
  • The coaxial port is for charging.  It didn’t come with an external charger, but other goal zero products use 6.5 v with these connectors for the low power interconnections.  They make several solar charging mats like the Nomad 7M Solar Panel that use that connector and voltage.
  • The USB Mini-B Female port (like you have on your camera or phone, unless it uses the new thin Micro-B standard) is for charging from a USB power source.  They lose some points because it’s not standards-compliant – the device is supposed to negotiate before it draws more than 50 mA or so.  So if it doesn’t charge from your device, it’s not necessarily your device’s fault.  But it’s not like anyone else follows the standards.

Observations

It’s a trickle charger, made to work on 2.5 watts input.  It will take several hours to charge batteries.  That’s inherent to working with low power levels like this.  If you want something faster, get a high current quick charger.  The auto-off works fine, so you can leave it connected to a charging source.

Hook

Oh and it has a neat hook on the back… I have no idea what that’s for.

Conclusion

This meets my criteria for a travel device: compact, uses standard batteries, accepts standard power in, provides standard power out.  It’s not fancy, not expensive, and does its thing reliably.  If you need power or recharging in a portable platform, this might just be the best option out there.

On Southwest Airlines (AKA WN)

Originally Posted by jrpaguia

WN is actually quite cute. She’s no foxy vixen like Cathay but still, there are thousands of guys literally standing in line to get a ride.
WN is (was?) like the low maintenance cool chick who would watch football and talk cars with you. The problem is, as of late, it’s like she’s been hanging around with the Gucci and Prada crowd…as if all of a sudden the Coach stuff isn’t good enough for her anymore.
She’s starting to be a bit more demanding and many fear that RR 2.0 are like the set of implants that will turn our sweet and wholesome Reese Witherspoon into a skanky Lindsey Lohan.

Going East, day three, launch and lost

Didn’t sleep much last night, but got up in plenty of time to see the launch.  Ran into the jacksons, kittles, and a rask.  Cell data service died, as did my plan to stream nasa tv leading up to it.  Oh well.  The launch was pretty much super – a night launch in all but name.  It was preceded by an ISS flyover, and the sun hit the contrail as it rose and led to visual awesomeness.

 

So after the launch I filled up my auxiliary tank again, and it overflowed again.  I need to look into that capacity thing.  Then I drove south.  I had a line on a hotshot load to tally, but the shipper abandoned it.  I made it to Vero before I decided to stop and see the beach.  Spent a couple of hours at the beach, pulled back to a Lowes and worked on my truck.  Pulled three injectors for inspection, but all seemed well.  She worked better after that, and I found a leaky fuel line in the back that might be related to the performance issues.  I’ll fix it tomorrow.

I started going south again just to see how far I’d get, but pulled off at Indio.  I saw a van stopped with the hood up so I stopped to help.  I met the Jarrett family, their engine died and they needed a tow and a lift.  Had a nice little adventure involving ferrying some of them to a gas station, then taking them back to Vero so they could get the van fixed and get a motel.  Now I’m in Vero again about to drift to sleep.  Maybe I’ll get that boat shipping job.  That would be super, and pay decently.

Going East, day one

So I picked up Buc (the dog I’m taking to Florida as cargo) yesterday so I could get off early today.  And I did.  I left Pearland through thick fog that smelled of azaleas.  It was kinda sad to have to leave it behind. 

The drive out through East Texas and Louisiana was exactly as it has been the hundred other times I’ve made it.  Hit rain going into mississippi and had to slow down for a bit.  On a hill in Mobile my auxilary tank sucked in air and I had to run on diesel till I got out of the city.  I filled the auxiliary tank back up… and it overflowed.  I guess I had about 30 gallons left in it.  Got a nice mess in the back of my truck for my trouble, and made a mess of myself.  On the bright side, the Arby’s where I stopped let me drain their grease trap, and I completely filled the now empty drum up with oil to settle.  I’ll be doing just fine on fuel for most of the week.

I took 331 down from IH-10 to try to get into a park for the night, but it was full.  I drove through grayson beach and seaside and everything in between to see the sights.  I finally stopped at a little public access point just off 98 somewhere east of Seaside.  I’m glad I did – the camera won’t get it, but there’s bioluminescent algae in the water, so the waves are shining bright blue green.  Buc loved the beach, but was scared of the water.  He slept for most of the driving, and when he was awake he preferred to stare at me or the back of the seat.

We’re down for bed now.  Buc is snoring.

Next trip, seeing the shuttle launch in Florida

I heard last week that the launch was postponed until 5 April and decided I had to go see it.  I’m spending the week at home, fine tuning the truck and prepping for the trip.  I’ll need at least 150 gal of fuel for the whole trip, but that shouldn’t be too hard to get.  I have at least 100 gal of it on hand.

Now here’s where it gets fun.  I’ve been trolling uship.com for bids to undercut.  Not having to pay for fuel makes hauling loads a LOT cheaper.  I already got a bid on taking someone’s dog the whole way with me.  If I get the other two prime jobs I undercut, I’ll also be able to take a couch and a boat.  That will pay for a lot of fun on the trip.  It looks like a ton of people I know are going to go see the launch too.  That might make for a fun week.

The plan is to leave early Saturday, get there mid Sunday, and see things go down at sunrise on Monday.  More later.

fourth day on the road… austin and interviews

I woke up in Seguin, behind some hotel.  There was woods behind me, which was good, because I didn’t feel like moving till after eight.  My knee was STILL killing me after bashing it sunday night.  Eventually I got going and headed up to san marcos.  Somewhere north of Geronimo, the engine felt sluggish from wet stacking, so I floored it… and blew off an intake pipe.  I limped to a parking lot and got that put on, then I stopped at tractor supply in SM to get a spare fuel filter.  Running on half settled veggie oil is rough on the filters.  As I was filling back up with some half settled oil, a San Marcos PD cruiser pulled up next to me.  He got out, eyed my truck over, and said “how are you doing sir?”  I proceeded to crap my pance while pleasantly replying “great thanks, and you?” He said “doing well thanks” and went on inside.  I’ve been pulled over several times on suspicion of draining tanks for diesel, but the smell probably convinced him that I was either not pumping diesel, or too nasty to bother with. Then I headed on up to Austin.

I spent the morning in the gym, especially getting a hot shower, then hade a late breakfast/lunch while reviewing for a tech skills screening.  Then I met up with Will and we went bike shopping.  He wanted some gay road bike to ride around town in.  Well we got him sized at a shop but they didn’t have anything he liked.  Kyndall gave me a couple of pep talks through the day which were pretty helpful despite me playing cool.

Had the interview while on a break from looking for bikes with will at a gelato shop.  Had some chocolate orange gelato that was awesome.  Aced the interview, which was a tech screening in the form of the interviewer asking questions and me answering.  I finally had to guess at some obscure out of date active directory question from about seven years ago, and he said “well it was about time you got one wrong”.  I think kyndall was almost proud of me.

After that, will and I stopped for a drink at spider house.  Then we went and tried to find where his bike was for sale, and eventually did.  There were two slight women selling said bike – I think they were intimidated by two rough looking guys coming up just after dark to look at it.  It didn’t help that as soon as he got his hands on it, Will rode off down the street.  I then proclaimed to the two women that I would stay as collateral.  They got a lot less nervous at that point.  So Will came back, and actually paid for his purchase in cashy money, and all were happy as we left to dine on burgers with R.

After the delicious burgers, we deposited R at their home and went to wash my clothes and talk about beer.  We sat in Ruthylicious (my truck), drinking beer, and watching downloaded episodes of no reservations.  We drank too much beer.  I switched my clothes to the dryer, then we drank more beer, and watched another episode.  The clothes finished about ten minutes before the mat closed.  I quickly folded them and stuffed them back in my case, then we sat in my truck and drank more beer.  The guy in the laundromat closed up and turned off the lights… we sat and drank more beer.  A few minutes after that, a flatbed wrecker pulled into the lot and idled right behind my truck for a while.  Will and I talked it out, and he decided that the driver was going to tow us or the car next to us – but he couldn’t get that car with us parked where we were.  So we waited.  Then we were out of beer.  We talked some more, and decided that Will would stay with the idling truck while I went next door to the convenience store to get more beer.  I strapped my Glock back on my side and sauntered on in. Now, even with my messed up knee, I don’t have much of a limp, but I wasn’t wearing a belt, and I’ve recently lost about fifteen pounds, so my jeans weren’t quite staying up on their own.  I somehow managed to get through the store with my right hand holding my shirt down and over my gun held up and my left hand carrying beer, getting out money, and paying.  I’m almost certain the cashier knew exactly what I was doing with my right hand, and to his credit he didn’t so much as flinch.  Of course I paid for my beer with a smile and walked out the door like a model customer.  So I went back out to the truck, and the wrecker was still there.  I sat with my gun in hand ready to defend my life, liberty, and mobile sovereign property (hey, any motor vehicle with sleeping area is considered “residential property” under Texas penal code).  Finally the frustrated wrecker driver drove off.  I secured my handgun and cracked a beer in celebration.

After more beer, we drove back to will’s place.  Of course I couldn’t stay there.  R is working on a paper all night.  So will and I proceeded to drink more beer in my truck (are you seeing a theme here?) while parked in the lot next door.  It was packed, except for the big mud pit in the middle of it.  Being me, I turned on the four wheel drive, and pulled right into the middle of the mud pit.  We finished another six pack of tall boys while watching no reservations.  Will, thoroughly drunk, decided it was time for bed.  He opened his door, and almost stepped down into two feet of mud.  We had a good laugh, then I backed out of the pit and let him stumble on home.  Then I pulled back into the middle of it.

So here I sit, about midnight, in my truck, after drinking too much lone star, surrounded by mud, and about to sleep in my back seat.  God Bless Texas.