Favorite Tech – Pelican Micro Case 1020

I’ve been working lately to try and streamline the tools and methods I use, and I’ve even been fine-tuning the transport of that equipment.

One thing I’ve adopted lately (that I can’t live without) are various sizes of hard plastic water-proof / crush-proof cases made by Pelican Products. Here is one of my favorites:

Pelican Micro Case 1020

There are a plethora of Pelican Micro Cases, and the odd sizes can make it a bit overwhelming (or trial-and-error) to find the right size case. The 1020 Micro Case is the perfect size for 2.5” portable hard drives. It has a rubberized insert in the bottom and a clear lid so you can see what’s inside.

Pelican Micro Case 1020

The drive shown in this picture is a Western Digital 1TB 2.5” USB 2 drive.

Something to note – the Pelican Micro Cases are a bit tall, so they won’t fit that easily in a hard-sided bag. However, if you carry your laptop around in a backpack, this is the perfect way to add some protection.

I’ll highlight some other favorite tech things on the blog, and you’re welcome to share your ideas and tools too!

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Green Gigabit Network Switches

Are your network switches energy efficient? I thought mine were.

A couple of years ago when upgrading my network at home I installed some new 8-port D-Link Green gigabit switches. At the time I was mostly concerned with ‘jumbo packets’ and streaming media, the warranty, and the green stuff was just a nice bonus.

Recently though as I’ve been adding / changing network equipment, I’ve been going through the home network, benchmarking how much power is being used to try and minimize electrical waste. It’s kind of fun in a sad nerdy way.

Today I’m adding another 8-port gigabit switch to my LAN to be used as an iSCSI backbone. I thought about buying another D-Link green switch, but decided to take the scientific approach. Considering that my existing 2-year-old switches were ‘green’ already, this project yielded another big surprise.


D-Link 8-port gigabit green switch #DGS-2208D-Link 8-port desktop green switches
(one upstairs, one downstairs)

  • 8-port
  • 10/100/1000
  • MAC Address Table: 8k
  • Switch Fabric: 16 Gbps
  • Jumbo frame support: up to 9600 Bytes
  • Part #DGS-2208
  • Street Price: about $58
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=495

These switches performed well for me and handled the job of streaming HD content and moving VHD and ISO files across the LAN with no problems. When I bought these switches 2 years ago, the box stated a power savings of up to 80%, which sounded greener to me.

TRENDnet 8-port gigabit green switch #TEG-S80GNEW SWITCH

TRENDnet 8-port desktop green switch
(being added as an iSCSI backbone on the LAN)

In the past, I wasn’t a big fan of TRENDnet. Their blue plastic hardware looked like something made by Fisher Price in the 70’s, but not anymore. These new switches have a sturdy metal housing, and I like them.

These two switches are very ‘apples-to-apples’ in network specs.


I intentionally benchmarked both switches at 75% capacity (6 ports used with 2 ports unused). The reason being, I don’t like to use all the ports in a switch. In case a port goes bad you still have a couple of extra ports left and don’t have to replace the whole maxed-out switch.

On to the test results…

P3 Kill A Watt test with zero ports used (just turning on the switch):

  • D-Link at 0% capacity: 4.7 Watts ($2.91 / year)
  • TRENDnet 0% capacity: 1.1 Watts ($0.68 / year)

P3 Kill A Watt test with six ports used (3 at 1,000 Mbps, 3 at 100 Mbps):

  • D-Link at 75% capacity: 6.2 Watts ($3.84 / year)
  • TRENDnet at 75% capacity: 3.6 Watts ($2.23 / year)

Comparison of 8-port unmanaged 'green' gigabit switches

The TRENDnet 8-port green switch uses about 42% LESS power than the D-Link green switch under the same load (6 ports).

Also, the TRENDnet with 6 computers plugged into it is still using 22% less power than the D-Link with 0 computers plugged in. That’s cool!


  • The D-Link #DGS-2208 is still fairly green and has a better warranty.
  • The TRENDnet #TEG-S80G is greener & cheaper with a shorter warranty.

Both are good switches. I’m only saving about $1.61 in electricity per year on the new switch, so obviously I’m not going to replace the existing D-Links with TRENDnet. But it’s nice to see how much greener things have gotten in just the last 2 years! A 42% greener product over something that is already green is awesome!

Final thought: I considered getting a Netgear #GS108 ($60), which isn’t marketed as a ‘green’ product, yet uses 4.09-4.92 Watts. But the TRENDnet is greener than that and costs $20 less.

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Favorite Tech Friday – Targus 4-Outlet Travel Surge

Targus #APS03US 4-port travel surge protectorProduct: Targus Travel Power Outlets with Surge Protection
Manufacturer: Targus
Part #: APS03US
MSRP: $19.99 US
Street Price: about $15 US
URL: http://www.targus.com/us/productdetail.aspx?regionId=7&sku=APS03US



Fantastic 4-port travel-sized surge protector. Great for sharing power in airports, charging your stuff in hotel rooms, or plugging in for presentations.


  • Illuminated power indicator
  • 4 outlets (most travel models have only 3 outlets)
  • Wide spacing on outlets to accommodate power bricks
  • Rated to 300 joules
  • Clamping voltage 330 volts
  • Super-light (0.5 lbs)
  • Small form factor


  • No on/off switch
  • No USB charging ports
  • Power cord is straight down (45 degree angle would be nicer)
  • Not for international use (220/240 volts – see note below)
  • Warranty is only one-year


This adapter is as light as a travel umbrella and takes up about the same amount of space. It’s so light, I usually forget that it’s in my bag.

If you travel a lot domestically, you know what a pain it is to find a place to plug in and charge all of your gadgets. Unless you’re at a super-power-friendly airport (like PHX) you’re probably unlikely to find multiple open outlets. This has great outlet spacing, it’s very sturdy, and doesn’t get hot when all of the outlets are in use.

Note: If you need a travel 4-port that works internationally with 220/240 volts, check out the Outlets To Go power strip from Monster:
I picked the Targus over the Monster because I don’t need 220 and it’s smaller than the Monster.

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Favorite Tech Friday – IOGEAR External USB-to-DVI

Product: USB 2.0 External DVI Video Card
Manufacturer: IOGEAR
Part #: GUC2020DW6
Retail Price: $99.99 US
Street Price: about $75 US
URL: http://www.iogear.com/product/GUC2020DW6/



The IOGEAR USB 2.0 External DVI Video Card instantly adds an additional high resolution DVI display through your USB 2.0 port. Install the driver, plug the adapter into the USB 2.0 port, plug in your monitor, and you’re ready to go. This is a killer way to add a third (or fourth) monitor to your laptop or desktop PC.


  • No external power source needed
  • Supports a max resolution of 1920×1080
  • Works with XP, Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.4+
  • Supports 32 or 64-bit OS
  • You can plug up to 6 of these into a computer
  • 3-year warranty


  • Fine for 1920×1080 spreadsheets, docs or web, but not HD video
  • Monitors blink for a few moments when coming out of sleep mode
  • Must be plugged into a USB slot (not a non-powered USB hub)


I’m a multi-monitor kind of guy (at least dual-monitors, but sometimes as many as six). You can never have too many monitors, especially when you’re doing research or remote support. Even with a docking station, you’re likely to max out a notebook PC at 2 monitors. These things are awesome! When I want to watch full-screen HD video, I just make sure to park that video player on a monitor that’s physically attached to the ‘high performance’ video card, and not on an a ‘USB’ monitor.

Note: IOGEAR also makes a USB-to-VGA version (#GUC2015V) which is cheaper, but it only goes up to a max resolution of 1280×1024.

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