Guild HB-1 Pickup Teardown

Today I tear apart a vintage Guild HB-1 pickup. Why would I do such a thing to one of my favorite pickups? For the same reason that I used to take the phones apart when I was a kid in the ’70s: to see how it works.

Don’t worry, this pic of a pure unmolested ’70s Guild HB-1 in mint condition with its unused ring, perfect springs and screws is not the pickup I dismantled. Doing that would make me a monster. (more…)

Batch Photo Resize with Mac OSX Automator

I have a constant need to resize photos, often hundreds or even thousands at a time. Additionally, I require that when resizing, I keep the original file separate from the smaller, resized file. There are many ways to resize files on the Mac, but with the advent of file versioning, most of them convert the existing file which I didn’t want.

My requirements were simple: Resize a directory or selection of photos, all to the same size (1600 pixels on the longest side), placing the resized photos into a subdirectory called, “Web” while leaving the originals untouched. I wanted this specific set of steps because I had previously been using a wonderful Windows program called Thumbnailer that let me do just that. Thumbnailer was the only program that I still needed Windows for, and I desperately wanted to stop using Windows, so I came up with this Automator script which is much simpler to use. Here’s how you can make one just like it. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 29. Newf Net

When we first decided to get a Newfoundland dog, we scoured the bookstores and quickly discovered that there were precious few quality books on the breed. The Internet was just starting to take off and the dot com boom was in full swing so we focused our energies trying to find quality information on-line.  Our Internet searches uncovered an email list called Newf-L which was short for the Newfoundland Mailing List.

An Internet mailing list allowed one person to send email to “the list” by sending to a single email address. The email address was a server which then resent the email to everyone that had subscribed to the list. Forums were still in their infancy, and blogs did not yet exist because this was the still the dark ages of the late 90’s when people used dial-up modems.  Back then, email lists were still a pretty common means of information sharing for on-line communities. (more…)

Cozy Tales: 25. Remote Control

Back before the days of wedded bliss, having dogs, or even the existence of DVD players, I had come into some money and bought a very nice 27” JVC TV and a matching VCR. Each of these items had cost me over $800 and at the time were about the most expensive things I had ever bought. By the time we had Cozy and Daisy living with us, these devices were each probably eight years old, but since High Definition television was still many years away, they were both still used daily. Used, I might add, with a certain amount of nerdy pride since they were still pretty great devices.

The VCR was a top of the line model (circa 1989) that had a wonderful remote control including a large LCD screen that kept the time so you could program the VCR when the power failed. The remote had two levels of buttons with a very cool plastic door that would open to reveal an additional level of controls. It was a masterful piece of geek technology that I really enjoyed using. It was a remote among remotes. It was sublime. (more…)

Diamond X50 Antenna Camouflage

After many years of my wife resisting the addition of a ham radio antenna on the side of our house (I have a nice 7-band off-center fed dipole in the woods), she finally relented. Since I didn’t want to disturb the thin veneer of domestic tranquility by installing a garish monstrosity, I decided to alter my bright white Diamond X50 antenna with the most upscale dressing such that any style-consious wife would be sure to adore: leaf-pattern camouflage! (more…)

The Yellow Box of Power

After Hurricane Sandy, I became slightly obsessed with alternative power, but focused most of my energy on generators, always remembering that I can only store so much gas. The natural alternative to engines and gasoline is solar power, but I wasn’t sure I was looking for a whole-house solution since we don’t have room for batteries and I’m not a fan of selling my surplus energy back to the power company. An idea for a portable solar solution rattled around in my head for years, and while studying for my Amateur Radio Extra Class license exam (K2GAD/AE!), plans started to germinate that resulted in what you see here. I present to you the Internet unveiling of The Yellow Box of Power.

The Yellow Box of Power is a very yellow Pelican box (size 1550) loaded up with 36 amp-hours of 12-volt battery capacity that can be charged by way of normal 120V household power or through one or more solar panels. It is mostly self-contained, is completely portable, will charge laptops and phones, run a ham radio station, or just light up a room. It will even float! Actually, it won’t float for long since I cut a bunch of holes in the side, but it’s pretty darn water resistant. Read on to learn how I made it after a quick rant about the term solar generator(more…)

Building a Virtual Lab with Arista vEOS and VirtualBox

It’s no secret that I love Arista switches. When I wrote Arista Warrior, I was lucky enough to have a loaner switch from Arista in my home lab, but sadly they made me give it back. Since Arista is a relative newcomer to the world of Networking, there isn’t a pile of used Arista gear on eBay, so I can’t build a killer lab at home without spending thousands of dollars. As much as I love Arista switches, I’d rather spend my spare cash on guitars my wife and kids.

Understanding the plight of cash-strapped networking guys the world over, Arista has released a virtual-machine-ready version of their fabulous switch operating system, EOS. Currently this is only available to existing Arista customers, so see your Arista sales rep to get a copy. Please don’t ask me for a copy, since I will not send you a copy no matter how much you beg. Arista has hinted that they may release this into the general population, in which case I may build a Virtual Box appliance to share. Until then, you’ll need to read on and build it yourself. (more…)

Arista Warrior

Arista Warrior Book
I am proud to report that I have finished the first draft of my new book, Arista Warrior. With the tagline, A real-world guide to understanding Arista switches and EOS, this will be the first published book about Arista switches that contains all original information. It should be available for purchase by November of 2012. (Edit: now available for pre-order from!)

If you’re not familiar with Arista switches, I urge you to give them a look. I discovered them while doing a vendor comparison study for a client, and believe it or not, I only found about them because the other vendors kept mentioning them. After visiting their headquarters and meeting the people behind the technology, I was impressed. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m not easily impressed, so I figured there was something special going on, but it seemed like the world hadn’t yet caught on. I immediately contacted my editor and proposed the idea that has become this book. Roughly a year later, here we are. (more…)

Network Warrior, Second Edition

I’m excited to report that the second edition of Network Warrior is in the final stages of production and should be hitting the shelves of your favorite bookstore soon.

My goal in writing the second edition of Network Warrior was to make the new book even better than the first edition. I wanted to include as much new stuff as possible, but I also wanted to refine the original material to make it more current and accurate. I didn’t remove much information, except to replace it with newer or better examples.

What’s new in the second edition of Network Warrior? Here’s a bulleted list: (more…)

My Fragile Dead Kindle

I liked my Kindle. At least for the 30-some hours it worked. The screen suddenly stopped working as shown in the included pictures. I tried rebooting it through the menu and by holding the power switch on for 15 seconds. Neither technique solved my Kindle screen woes. The Kindle seemed to function fine. The menus worked and my computer saw it as a drive when connected via the USB cable, but the screen was toast. (more…)