CategoryGeeky Stuff

Moving House? Get Organised with this App!

We’re probably moving house at some point this year, hopefully in the Summer.

I have a lot of ‘stuff’ that I need for some reason or other, but likely won’t need often before the move. So I’ve started packing stuff into an array of boxes, plastic trays and other containers.

In my usual geeky style, simply writing the contents of the box in black marker on the side isn’t good enough. So I hunted for some sort of platform or app that could keep track – similar to an inventory management system for a warehouse.

I eventually discovered the free BoxMeUp app. I can login to their platform on my laptop or mobile to add a container, find an item etc, or scan a printed QR code.

BoxMeUp app printed QR code

I have a mixture of boxes – open top types, and rigid plastic trays and some free FedEx/UPS boxes. In some cases, I’ve got the trays stacked 6 high, so it’s convenient to be able to simply add a barcoded label to each. I have an old Dymo LabelWriter 450 I use for this.

The main features include:

  • Create virtual ‘containers’ on their website (desktop or mobile)
  • Assign a location for each ‘container’. Simply scan the barcode and the app will tell you where it should be.
  • Print off a barcoded label to attach to each box
  • Search for the location of a specific item
  • Scan the using their Android app to get a list of the items inside
  • Export full list of items as CSV, with locations, quantity etc

They don’t have an app for iOS (only Android), so I needed to dig out my old Galaxy S3 for this purpose. That said, their website is mobile-friendly, you just can’t use the barcode scanning function without the app.

Having a list of items and locations is also useful for reviewing for things to sell on eBay.

Improve your office productivity with the Luxafor!

When recently looking through Kickstarter, I came across the Luxafor, which is an RGB LED device created with the mission of letting your work colleagues know instantly if you’re available to talk, or if you’re busy concentrating on an important project and don’t want to be disturbed.

You simply attach the Luxafor to the back of your monitor or laptop screen, connect to it by USB or Bluetooth (depending on the version you buy), install a piece of software, and then have the ability to change the colour to green (available), or red (busy). You can also set custom options to have it alert you when you receive an email for example, and  it can also work in conjunction with three different pieces of software (DeskTime, RescueTime, and OfficeTime) in auto-mode.

They have two versions on offer; one which connects via USB, and another which works wirelessly via Bluetooth and has a built-in battery.

Wired (USB) version:

Luxafor_3

Wireless (Bluebooth) version:

Luxafor_6

The wireless version seems to be around twice as expensive, but actually looks much nicer – I’m not a fan of having an extra cable to plug in which then trails up the back of your screen.

The project is live on Kickstarter until 13th February, but the best value backer rewards are likely to run out before then, so be sure to get in early! Check it out – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/914874115/luxafor-your-ultimate-productivity-device.

Server Monitoring Software Compared (New Relic vs. Boundary vs. Server Density vs. NodeQuery)

When it comes to server monitoring, I’m a bit of a geek. Actually, it’s probably accurate to say that the server monitoring applications installed on my VPS use more of the server’s resources than actual web visitors!

So yeah, I probably (definitely) go overboard when it comes to monitoring my VPS.

But if you want to focus on a single monitoring solution, which do you choose? If you’re an enterprise user, and looking to monitor from a hardware or protocol level, Nagios is the industry standard system. However, for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll be looking at SaaS solutions for SME’s and personal users (like me!).

1. New Relic

New Relic Application Monitoring

The first SaaS solution I’ll be covering is New Relic, which focuses on application performance monitoring. This involves looking at monitoring from an app level. Whether your app is built on PHP, Ruby, Node.js, .Net, Java, or Python, they fully support each language.

This said, their growing selection of services includes server monitoring, which is free.

Key Features:

  • Free server monitoring
  • Broad selection of other services

On a side note, New Relic filed for IPO back in November, and are now being traded on the NYSE, with a bright future ahead of them.

2. Boundary

Boundary Server Monitoring

Boundary has a big focus on the network side, with a ‘dashboard’ that can be adjusted to your requirements. For example, if you have a team dedicated to monitoring Apache servers, you can create a dashboard which is solely dedicated to displaying real-time Apache statistics.

Key Features:

  • Monitor up to 10 servers free
  • Customisable dashboards
  • Can monitor AWS instances, making use of AWS CloudWatch. Here’s more info on how their service integrates with AWS
  • Excellent support via live chat and email

If you’ve got a big screen and want it to be full of geeky real-time graphs, Boundary is for you!

3. Server Density

Server Density Server Monitoring

Server Density seems similar to Boundary (mentioned further up this post), but is more customisable in terms of the dashboard.

Key Features:

With 8 different pricing plans ranging from $10 to $500 per month, they aim to cater for all types of users.

4. NodeQuery

NodeQuery Linux Server Monitoring

NodeQuery works well if you want a fairly straightforward and simple dashboard, that covers the hardware side of things. They do a really good job at keeping the UI simple, which can be a hard thing to do.

Key Features:

  • Simple UI
  • In beta stage, so currently free to use

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