Archive for the Products Category

Review: Kingston DataTraveller 100 G3 Pen Drive

Posted in Products with tags on March 9, 2018 by itnerd

You can never have enough USB pen drives around as they come in handy. Case in point the Kingston DataTraveller 100 G3 pen drive.


This one is 16GB, but you can get them in sizes from 8GB all the way to 128GB. Though I cannot find the 8GB model in any store that I visited. So expect 16GB to be the floor.


It’s a USB 3.0 pen drive made of plastic that uses a cap-less design for convenience and the sliding mechanism works well. The back side of the drive has a loop for lanyards. A key chain won’t fit here which I think would be the more typical use case. It’s physically very small. From a performance standpoint, it’s very average. I measured the drive’s performance at 42 MB/s read and 15 MB/s write. In other words, there are faster drives out there. However, what it has going for it is price. I picked this one up for $8.99 CDN. But you can drop $64.99 on a 128GB drive and there are sizes in between these two extremes. If you need a cheap drive and high performance isn’t a factor, check this drive out.



In Depth: Revolar

Posted in Products with tags on January 27, 2018 by itnerd

In the age of #TimesUp and #MeToo, a product came to my attention that I think that very relevant to the times we live in. Called Revolar, it is a discreet button type device that’s synced to your smartphone (it supports iOS and Android smarphones) that you can wear to get yourself out of unwanted situations.


You can press it once to let your contact list know that you got to your destiantion safely. Press it twice in a row and your phone rings until you answer it, which is a great way to get yourself out of a crappy date or some other uncomfortable situation. It also has real-time GPS tracking for your contact list to see where you are in case you need help. Press it three times consecutively in an emergency and the police are contacted, and GPS is tracking your every move. This in short creates multiple ways for you  to be safe.

Here’s a video for Revolar in action:

Revolar is the brainchild of Jackie Ros and her co-founder Andrea Perdomo. Both have had negative experiences that drove them to make a product to allow one to feel safe in any situation. The reality is that:

  • Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted
  • 1 in 4 women & 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted in the U.S.
  • Hate crimes against minorities have gone up by 67% in the last two years

With stats like that, you can see why a device like Revolar is valuable. There are two versions of the Revolar. The Classic which is $40 USD, the Instinct which is $80 USD. I am pretty sure that there’s someone in your life that could use Revolar. Thus I would recommend considering this product to keep them safe.

Review: goTenna Mesh

Posted in Products with tags on January 27, 2018 by itnerd

Today I tested a really interesting device that has the potential to make a difference to anyone who reads this. the device is the goTenna Mesh.


The goTenna Mesh is a device that lets you create a private network to send and receive text message as well as location data with your cell phone. Here’s the cool trick: It does this without your cell phone being connected to a cellular network. It does this by operating on the 902-928MHz band in North America. That allows two or more of these devices to allow for communication. The more part is the key because the more of these devices that you have, the more of a mesh network that you can create. That means you can extend the range of roughly 4 miles to something much broader. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and leverages the goTenna app that you can get for iOS and Android. It has a battery that lasts 24 hours and takes an hour to recharge via a microUSB connection. It’s watertight and has a couple of straps for you to hang it off your backpack for example.

Now, all of this sounds very interesting. So to test this, set up one goTenna Mesh on an Android phone, another on my wife’s iPhone, and I took a third one with me on a walk to a local park while my wife remained in our condo. The idea was that I would turn off the cellular data connectivity along with WiFi and then send and receive messages until I was out of range. Now this is an urban area where there are lots of tall buildings. Plus I was walking to a park that was in the opposite side of my condo building. Thus I was fully expecting to not get a whole lot of range out of the goTenna Mesh. But I was in for a bit of a surprise. I was able to get 0.8 miles away before I was out of range. That doesn’t sound impressive, but given all those factors, that’s actually quite good.

The next thing that I did was walked back to roughly 0.6 miles away from my wife and dropped a third goTenna Mesh unit to test the ability to create a mesh network. I simply had to turn it on and hide it someplace. That allowed me to get 1.2 miles away from home before I was out of range. Thus it is easy to imagine that if there were a bunch of these in a geographic area, you could be miles away from another person and still communicate with them. On top of that, if you were in a more open area, you could easily get much more range from each device. That’s not just theory, there is a community of goTenna Mesh users that are growing. When I checked the network map, this is what I saw:

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.07.11 PM

Clearly, if the goTenna Mesh catches on, it’s very easy to see that this could be useful as an alternate means of communication that doesn’t involve your cellular provider, such as in the event of an emergency. There are other use cases that the company illustrates that show how compelling the product is.

A word about the messages that I was sending and receiving. Everything is encrypted end-to-end. You can choose whether your messages are reaching a specific individual, a group of people, or all Mesh users nearby. On top of that, if your goTenna Mesh unit relays a message, you won’t be able to see it. You can also send your location data along with a map. But strangely, you cannot send photos.

A two pack of goTenna Mesh units is $249 CAD. This technology looks very promising. And based on the use cases that I read about make it very compelling for those who go off grid, or just want a safety net in case the worst happens.

In Depth: NEMS

Posted in Products with tags on December 30, 2017 by itnerd

One of the things that I have to do is troubleshoot network issues. In the past, I’ve used a virtual machine running Wireshark, or more recently I’ve been using this on may MacBook Pro. Both are useful for situations where a network issue was pretty clear and easily found. But the problem with both these solutions is that if I am hunting for something that isn’t easily found, or I have to catch it in the act so to speak, they’re impractical. I would have to set either of these on something that the customer owns. The same is true if I want to set it up for constant monitoring of a network to make sure that it is running as it should.

Enter NEMS which is short for Nagios Enterprise Monitoring Server. It is a pre-configured and ready-to-deploy Nagios Core image designed to run on the Raspberry Pi 3 micro computer which can be found on Amazon for just over $50 CDN. Making it a cheap and easy way to set up network monitoring for networks big and small.

NEMS watches hosts and services that you specify and alerts you when things go wrong on your network. For example, I was having problems on my home network accessing my mail server. Since the traffic to and from my mail server is encrypted, I used NEMS to isolate that traffic on my network and I was able to see that the traffic was being altered by by the router that I was using at the time which my mail server was rejecting because it had been altered. That allowed me to take action and replace the router. In short, NEMS gave me a very easy and quick way to figure out an issue that would have puzzled me for days. But besides trying to figure out odd issues on your network, you can be alerted if your server’s hard drive is getting full, if your web site goes down, or if your server room is getting warm. That way you can take action before things get critical.

The project is run by Robbie Ferguson, President Category5 TV Network. I spoke to him recently and he’s a big believer in trying to push down this sort of technology which used to be available only to big companies down to anyone who needs it. He’s thought this through from a setup and deployment standpoint, so if you have a basic understanding of how networks work, and you have an adventurous streak, you don’t need someone like me to deploy NEMS. Or if you’re someone like me who troubleshoots networks among other things, I can deploy this solution and give my clients enterprise grade network monitoring for next to nothing.

If you’re responsible for a network, or you have a a strange network issue, I’d suggest grabbing a Raspberry Pi and a copy of NEMS. From my experience, you’ll understand what is going on when it comes to what’s on your network, which will allow you to better manage and troubleshoot it.

The IT Nerd Award For The Best SUV Of 2017 Goes To: 2017 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD

Posted in Products with tags on December 29, 2017 by itnerd


Mazda has seriously raised the bar when it comes to the compact SUV segment when they rolled out the 2017 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD. It handled great, which was a given seeing as we’re talking about Mazda. It sips gas, which is again a given seeing as this is a Mazda. But they seriously amped up the style both internally and externally. In terms of the former, it has an outstanding interior. In fact, it’s so good that luxury car brands may want to take a look at it as the could likely take some lessons from Mazda as it is simply that good. The compact SUV segment is highly competitive. But Mazda has managed to have a product that is not only good enough to make them king of the hill at the moment, but one that is an IT Nerd Award winner as well for 2017.

The IT Nerd Award For The Best Car Of 2017 Goes To: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Ultimate

Posted in Products with tags on December 28, 2017 by itnerd


Every time I review a vehicle from Hyundai, I walk away impressed. It started with the Genesis… Long before they spun that off as a separate brand. Then the Tucson impressed me so much that I bought one. And both of those vehicles won IT Nerd Awards. Now it’s the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Ultimate turn to continue that tradition. What the Korean company has come up with is a hot hatch that challenges VW and its famed GTI in pretty much every area and leaves a grin on your face that is so large, it will be seen from space. On top of that, they have some cool infotainment tech on board in the form of BlueLink. In short, it really fits the definition of what a hot hatch should be at a price point that is accessible to those who are looking for a car in this category. For those reasons, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Ultimate is very much a worthy winner of an IT Nerd Award for 2017.

The IT Nerd Award For The Best Accessory Of 2017 Goes To: Rogers Smart Drive By ZTE

Posted in Products with tags , on December 27, 2017 by itnerd


I have to admit that this was a very competitive category which had a lot of strong contenders in it. But in the end, I went with Rogers Smart Drive which is made by ZTE. The reason being is that this device brings smart car tech to any car. Installation is trivially easy and you get WiFi, location services for your car, monitoring of things like fuel economy, fuel level, and if there are any diagnostic trouble codes that the car has, and alerts if you car has been hit or if someone is trying to break into it. And you get all of this info on your iOS or Android device. The price point is a winner as well as the costs to buy the device and the monthly data charges are well within the reach of most. I will note that ZTE has also partnered with Telus and Bell to bring the same device to their networks. Regardless of which one you choose, this is a worthy winner of an IT Nerd Award for 2017.