Tag Archives: hardware

Rat King Dongle


Over the last year or two there’s been a preponderance of posts and even blogs (e.g. here, here, here) dedicated to nerds and the gear they carry. At their worst, this is navel-gazing and brand-bragging of the most banal sort. At its best, it can be a way to share useful hacks.

Because I get a ton of comments on it, I’d like to present my (unfortunately-named) Rat King Dongle in the spirit of the latter.

  1. USB key drive
  2. Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA
  3. Mini DisplayPort-to-DVI
  4. Mini USB-to-USB
  5. iPod cable
  6. Buckle (clips into laptop bag)

That last part is important: find a keychain or something that’ll let you clip all these cables together. I’ve got a combination of zip ties, binder clips, and the wires themselves clipped in. Optimally you want the keychain (or whatever) to clip into a bag—even if this ungodly mass of cables falls out of the bag-pocket, its still secure.

I’ve found this to be incredibly helpful in preventing me from losing dongles because they’re no longer a single Tiny Little Thing that can get lost. Even better, when people borrow a dongle, they give it back: there’s very little ambiguity about What The Hell Is This Giant Mass Of Cables And Who Does It Belong To?, unlike single dongles which are more easily misplaced. (I’ve also added a “reward if returned” label with my “jonathanpberger” email address).

tl;dr: zip-tie all your dongles together and they’ll be harder to lose.


Why I Want to Work at a Treadmill Desk

So it turns out that if you’re sedentary (read: sit at a computer for a living), exercise doesn’t mitigate the risk of heart disease. Scary! That’s why I got pretty excited when I saw the treadmill desk made by the fine folks at Instructables. It turns out that tons of people buy treadmills and never use them, so you can find them for a bargain on Craigs List. After that its just a matter of putting together a few surfaces for your keyboard and monitor, and you’re good to go.


The epiphany is about 24 seconds into the video. First we see Eric working at his treadmill desk. Then the camera pans to his wife Sarah, also working at a treadmill desk. And here’s the kicker: a baby is strapped to Sarah’s back, and the baby looks wildly happy. That’s when it hit me: we spent thousands of years strapped to our mamas’ backs, walking across the savannah. Of course this makes sense. So much of modern life is about the mis-fit between the life we’re built for (hunting, gathering, fleeing saber-toothed tigers) and the life we lead (wake, shower, office, tv, bed). Treadmill desks seem like a reasonable step back towards a day-to-day routine that fits our bodies and keeps us healthy.