USB Missile LauncherWhat do you get for the geek who has everything? Of course! Their very own USB Missile Launcher! But is it really worth it? Yes! Read on and find out why.

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

Pros:

  • Roughly 12 foot range
  • Accurate within a foot or two even at range
  • 180 degree pan
  • Limited but reasonable tilt control (about 30 degrees above to five degrees below level)
  • Fires three darts one at a time
  • Soft foam darts are safe around the office
  • High quality molded plastic construction
  • Free Mac software better than included PC software

Cons:

  • Couple second delay between clicking “Fire” and actual launch
  • Batteries required (3xAA)
  • Included software does not allow for simultaneous pan and tilt (movign diagonally)

Details:

Launcher in boxThe USB Missile Launcher came to me from the folks at KlearGear.com who have quite a line of toys and gadgets appropriate for the office. They sell the USB Missile Launcher for $55 which I consider a fair price for a toy this cool.

It comes quite attractively packed… the type of thing that you wouldn’t be able to keep on shelves in the right locations. It would make the perfect trade-show giveaway for the same reasons. Have a stack of three or four of these at your booth and you’ll get some attention (hell, at the price just give away a dozen.)

The USB Missile Launcher was equally impressive out of the box. The unit quickly pans through 180 degrees and tilts about 35 degrees. The PC software that ships with the unit is limited to only moving in one direction at a time, while the free Mac software allows movement in two directions.

You can fire one missile at a time and the missiles shoot out with surprising speed, propelled by a small spring which is compressed when you load the missiles. Both software versions suffer from a second or two delay when firing. I have a feeling this is a limitation of the device, but it’s the only major flaw in what is otherwise a great piece of office artillery.

The launcher is solidly constructed and the darts have held up well for me. There is nothing with the unit or on the KlearGear site about replacement missiles, but I’m sure if there’s a demand they’ll become available.

Conclusions:

This is a great office toy and would be a great gift idea for anyone who regularly engages in cubicle warfare. At a cost of $55 from KlearGear.com the USB Missile Launcher is one of the most unique toys you could get someone this holiday season.

I had hoped to get a couple videos up of the launcher but haven’t been able to get any I’m happy with. Perhaps it’s time for a new digital camera.

Thanks to the folks at KlearGear.com for giving me the chance to evaluate the USB Missile Launcher.

cubicle, warfare, office, office toy, office humor, work, fun, usb, robot, robotic, computer, toy

Leo Laporte reported today that there would be no TWiT (This Week in Tech) podcast for the next couple weeks and he’s not sure what the future of the show will be:

I’ll decide what happens to TWiT, the show, when I come back, but at this point it looks like it’s on life support and the heart monitor is flatlining.

Leo already has over 100 comments on the story which is only a few hours old. While I don’t envy him the hours he’ll likely spend reading the comments, I love the show so much I had to add my two cents worth:

Leo,

I know how exhausting it can be to keep pouring your heart into something while others treat it as a hobby.

But, that’s what it is to some. I learned a long time ago, while managing student workers, that it’s important to remember what a job, project, podcast (or is that netcast) means to the others involved, not just what it means to you.

It sounds like you still want to do TWiT, and the tech news isn’t going to stop coming. Consider how you could re-engage some of the other twits. Is there a better time for others? Would a shorter format be easier? Are there topics they want to cover that you don’t normally hit on?

As much as I’m a big fan of the current TWiT regulars there are plenty of people out there with opinions. Perhaps you need a larger pool of regulars. When I want to play poker I always invite twice as many people as I want to have play knowing half will cancel for some (completely valid) reason or another.

Is it a TWiT without Patrick and John? I think so. Maybe just a different TWiT. You’ve got an established name, a big audience and even a sponsor. Why start something completely new when you’ve got these things going for you?

But, on a completely selfish level, please, please, please, please, PLEASE don’t stop making TWiT, and thank you and all the other twits for making so many great episodes.

Jon

technology, computer, news, information technology

Here’s a review of the mkdir command and the often overlooked -p option from Easy Linux Commands by Terry Clark and I.

Creating New Directories

The mkdir (make directory) command is used to create a new directory. The directory to be created can be referenced via an absolute path or via a relative path starting with the current working directory.

Make a directory using an absolute path:

$ ls
examples
$ mkdir /home/tclark/new_dir1
$ ls
examples new_dir1

Make a directory using a relative path:

$ mkdir new_dir2
$ ls
examples new_dir1 new_dir2

The –p (parent) option allows creation of a complete directory branch when parent directories do not yet exist. This will actually create both the parent directory and subdirectory specified. In our example that means the new_dir3 and sub_dir3 are both created with a single command.

Make a new directory with a subdirectory using the –p option:

$ mkdir -p new_dir3/sub_dir3
$ ls
examples new_dir1 new_dir2 new_dir3
$ ls new_dir3
sub_dir3

Of course you can also list more than one directory to create with a single mkdir command.

Easy Linux CommandsFor more tips like this check out my book Easy Linux Commands, only $19.95 from Rampant TechPress.

Buy it now!


unix, linux, system administration, sysadmin

Cube at GoogleI can’t believe that in the midst of finishing up at one job, starting another and trying to bang out a couple chapters in my book I almost missed this awesome post from positivesharing.com.

Alexander has compiled a list of 10 seeeeeriously cool workplaces including Pixar, Google, Redbull and many more.

It’s astounding how little attention most employers pay to the environment their employees work in. A good environment will do wonders for morale, retention, creativity, collaboration and countless other facets of your business.

My workspace is still emerging but the great part is I now work from home so I have full control.

office, cubicle, work environment

Don Burleson has recently posted an interesting article on How to become an Oracle Guru.

He stresses that hard work and keeping an eye out for new opportunities are key, and they are. From my experience I would add one more thing to that:

Make a point to fully understand everything you do. Sure, you may know what the oracle listener does and how to start and stop it, but if you don’t understand it you won’t be able to troubleshoot it. You may know when to apply a bitmapped index, but do you know why?

This depth of knowledge is what has set me apart from other IT professionals I’ve worked with. It speeds development and troubleshooting and time after time has made me the go-to guy when people have questions.

How do you get to this technological point of enlightenment? Start at the bottom. I took several computer science classes as an undergraduate. They weren’t at a top university, hell I didn’t even get good grades in most of them, but I was there every day listening to understand. Even just an introductory computer science course, if you’ve never had one, can fill in some background on how searches, queues, logic, hardware and software all work.

After college I worked as a Solaris administrator. That gave me a strong foundation in UNIX and since I displayed a good understanding of UNIX, less than a year after becomming a sys-admin I was slated to become a DBA as one of the companies other DBAs left.

So, now that I’ve rambled on for a bit, what was my point? If you take the time to understand every step, not just slap together a solution, you will generate solutions which are more robust. When you make mistakes you will be in a much better position to learn from them.

My only other peice of advice is resist the urge to cut corners. Do everything you do as well as you possibly can. If you need help, get it. If the project takes longer than expected, fine. Everything you put out there reflects on you as a professional. I like to say “I’d rather not do a job than do a job poorly.”

professional development, oracle, dba, information technology

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