Standing at my Varidesk

The last time I tried standing at my desk was a bit of a makeshift affair. I piled up books on either side of a plank of wood for my keyboard and mouse to rest on, with another pile of books for the monitor. It worked, but it wasn’t pretty, it was a bit unstable, and it wasn’t flexible. When I got tired later in the day or evening I couldn’t sit down and type without lugging around a bunch of graphic novels and copies of National Geographic.

So, last December I bought a Varidesk Pro Plus. There aren’t many sellers in Ireland but I bought mine here. Prices are expensive compared to the US but they’re imported from there I think so there’s VAT, import duty and all the associated costs of bringing things across the Atlantic.

Varidesk Pro Plus

The desk can be raised and lowered easily, that’s the best thing about it. It also rests on your existing desk so you don’t have to get rid of that. I can fit my office chair under the desk when I’m standing, which is great because my office is a tiny home-office. I was worried about the space for my keyboard and mouse because I use a split Microsoft keyboard but I shouldn’t have. It fits comfortably. The mouse has plenty of room too. The area for that is about 24x19cm, or large enough to rest a 9″ iPad. I’ve never had a problem with my mouse bumping against the keyboard for want of more space.

The only negative I can think of is that you need to take care of cables when lowering or raising the desk. Sometimes my monitor cable will get caught between the desk and a raised portion of my original desk at the back, and I have an old USB2 hub for my keyboard and mouse that occasionally gets caught under the desk. Those are very minor issues. I also use foldback clips to secure cables on to the desk which really helps too.

It does show the dust badly sometimes, especially when caught in sunlight like the photo above. In reality the dust is a lot easier to ignore, especially when you have a load of documents or stuff sitting on top of it. :)

There are a few video reviews of the desk out there, here’s a good one. It’s well worth buying if you’re sitting at a desk all day!

How did Apollo get to the Moon?

It’s extraordinary that people haven’t been back to the Moon in my lifetime. I can only imagine the excitement of the first Moon landing, although from what I’ve read the later missions the general public wasn’t that interested in it. Still, the Apollo missions were an amazing feat of engineering, science and bravery.

Apollo 11's Lunar Module, Eagle with Buzz Aldrin in foreground.
Apollo 11’s Lunar Module, Eagle with Buzz Aldrin in foreground.

Over the last few days I’ve been listening to two episodes of the Omega Tau Podcast:

Both episodes are interviews with David Woods, author of the book How Apollo Flew to the Moon and full of fascinating detail. They’re well worth a listen.

If you thought flying to the Mun in Kerbal Space Program was hard just wait ’til you hear about everything they accomplished using 1960’s technology. While they did have computer assisted landing procedures when they got to their destination I bet it was no Mechjeb! There is the FASA mod for the game, adding 300 new parts, including a Lunar lander! Here’s a video (and Reddit thread) of it in action, although I’m upset that he left someone on the Mun..

As luck would have it, last night I saw that Ars Technica published 45 years after Apollo 13: Ars looks at what went wrong and why a few days ago. Another interesting read, contrasting what the film “Apollo 13″ showed to reality. Useful and insightful comments too, including more book recommendations. I have plenty of reading ahead of me.

(Thanks to Adam Heckler’s post I found out about Omega Tau, it’s quickly turning out to be one of my favourite podcasts!)

WP Super Cache 1.4.4

WP Super Cache is a full page caching plugin for WordPress. It creates static pages that are served quickly by the web server.

Light Trails in Blarney

Over the weekend there was a flurry of excitement as not one, but two releases of the plugin were made in quick succession. The second to fix a bug introduced in the first. I’m very sorry about that.

WP Super Cache 1.4.3 fixed a security bug in the cache file listing section of the plugin settings page. A carefully crafted query by a third party would cause an XSS in the file listing. While serious, the owner of the blog cannot be tricked into loading the file listing page by way of an image or public link as a nonce is required to load it. The attacker would have to ask the blog owner to visit the cache listing page manually. Thanks to Marc Montpas from Sucuri for reporting that.

WP Super Cache 1.4.4 fixed a bug introduced in the previous version where queries with GET parameters caused a fatal error. Thanks to webaware on the WordPress.org forums for reporting that and including a patch to fix it.

If you’re using an older version of WP Super Cache you’re encourage to upgrade to 1.4.4 as soon as you can.

How’s that separation of church and state going then?

We live in a secular democracy but a few days of the year you’d hardly know it. I don’t count Christmas as that’s really the most consumer driven spendfest of money and consumption ever. Good Friday is one of those days though and it’s made all the more obvious when you go into any shop in Ireland today:

Supervalu

Supervalu

You can’t buy alcoholic drinks today in Ireland, but that’s alright because anyone who cared was out last night at the off-license getting their tins and bottles for the party tonight. There’ll be some sore heads tomorrow!

As the Rubber Bandits so eloquently put it,

Make sure ye don’t drink alcohol today. There was a lad nailed to a cross in the late Iron age and he’s his own father. The two of them will set you on fire after you die if you drink cans. Just to be extra safe; our government, which is comprised of rational adults has written this into the law so you can’t buy cans anyway. It’s grand, don’t worry though. You can eat big chocolate eggs on sunday. This is because the lad who was his own father from the late Iron age didn’t die after all. So you can eat the chocolate eggs then because of that.

Looking forward to Sunday, no lie. Yummy Chocolate.

Sabermod on the Galaxy S II

The ageing Samsung Galaxy S II still has plenty of life in it. It runs Minecraft PE and Terraria perfectly well!

Slimsaber

It might be old, but there are still developers hacking at it and releasing firmware upgrades with modern versions of Android. I decided to try this unofficial build of Slimkat i9100 Sabermod. My previous install barfed and half the apps on it disappeared somehow!

Sabermod installed easily. I already had TWRP installed so it was only a matter of installing the various zip files through it. Give it a go if you have this old phone, especially if you’ve never messed around with ROMs and have this phone lying around. The usual caveats apply. YMMV and you might soft-brick your phone.