About rsts11

Big data integrator/evangelist I suppose. Formerly a deep generalist sysadmin and team lead, still a coffee guru, and who knows what else...

Quick Take: When your Plantronics Savi headset starts to give out

[This is the first of a category of “quick take” posts that should be shorter and more frequent than the long, drawn-out, deeply detailed posts I usually procrastinate for weeks on. Let me know what you think of this format as a supplement to the usual volumes.]

I’ve used the Plantronics Savi W740/W745 headset on my work phone and PC for almost three years.

The Savi W740 (currently $234 on Amazon) is a three-connection (PC via USB, Cell phone via Bluetooth, Desk phone via various methods) DECT wireless monaural headset with charging station and pretty good range. I can usually get 100-150 feet though the entire depth of our house into the front yard and almost to the street without dropping the headset connection.

The Savi W745 (pictured above) is a Savi W740 with a battery charging module rather than the headset-only charging module. Oddly it’s about the same price as I write this post, $227 on Amazon, although the prices vary from day to day, or if an accessory like the headset lifter is included. Note that the model W740-M and W745-M are optimized for Microsoft softphones; I don’t use Lync or the like so I didn’t try those.

You can upgrade the W740 to the W745 using the 84601-01 charger, which also comes with an extra battery (currently $35 on Amazon). You can also buy the 84598-01 replacement battery for about $24 on Amazon, or $22 with Subscribe and Save. I replaced mine after two years; your mileage may vary.

The headset unit is the same WH500 unit between the two models.

One thing I really liked about this headset was the “unlimited talk time” when you use a second battery. It takes less than five seconds to change out the battery, and while the headset loses audio, your call doesn’t drop, and can be resumed once the new battery is recognized. With about 4 hours of battery life per battery, you can make it through an entire day of meetings and calls without losing your connection. You might lose your mind, but that’s beyond phone technology to fix.

After using the W745 for almost three years, I started to experience an odd failure in the headset. When I would push the rocker switch “down” to reduce volume, I would get a scratchy sound and the headset connection (not the call) would drop. After about five seconds it would beep and reconnect. Future use of the down switch on the same call would be fine, but on the next call or audio session the first “down” would drop the headset link briefly. This was the case for PC and desk phone connection.

I had an exchange with Plantronics customer support, and while the “try another headset, and then try another base” wasn’t the most efficient troubleshooting, I was able to borrow a headset and found that the problem “went away.”

At this point, I can replace just the headset (with the 83356-01 / WH500 Spare Headset, pictured above right, $120 at Amazon) rather than the entire $200+ assembly.

I do have a couple of used Jabra headsets around that I may give a try to (either a Jabra PRO 9460, $200 on Amazon, or a Jabra PRO 9470, around $240 on Amazon). although I’ll need a new “electronic handset” or EHS cable to let the headset system control the switchhook on the phone. 

Have you had good (or other) experiences with any current multi-connection wireless headsets? Please share them in the comments below.

Disclosure: While my desk phone is manufactured and provided by my employer, and while Plantronics has provided me with two personal headsets at past events (the 5200 in 2017 in a drawing and the 6200 in 2018 as a “trade-up”), the headsets mentioned in this post were purchased by me and paid for out of my own pocket.

 

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Restaurant surcharges and hotel resort fees – disingenuity in action (via rsts11travel)

[Your author Robert here… I was pondering whether this was more soft topics for my tech blog, or travel. I’ll crosspost, since I think it applies to both. And it sat around in my draft folder for about six months, but it’s still valid today.]

I recently dined with my honey at a local chain steakhouse. I’ve been going there as often as weekly for over a decade. We’ve gone less frequently in the last couple of years thanks to Nom Burger, but still once a month give or take.

Their prices have been sneaking up over the years. The dinner for two combo they have has gone from under $40 to $65 as I recall, although coupons still bring it down. Some of the choices have become added-cost items, so if you want a wedge salad, that’s an extra buck, and if you’re lucky it won’t be smaller than it was last month.

But the thing that annoyed me was the 3% “minimum wage surcharge” that was stickered onto the menu and was slapped on the bill.

Read the rest at rsts11travel.com here.

Experimenting with Intel Optane at home with the Intel NUC 7th Generation PC

Welcome back to rsts11 for the summer. We’ve got a lot to cover in the next few weeks.

I haven’t really done a build report in a while, so when I realized I was getting double-dinged for high power usage, I started looking around for ways to save power. One was my desktop PC, which while very nice (with 8 dimm slots and lots of features I don’t use), is using around 250-300W for a 3rd gen core i7 processor.

I decided, based on availability and curiosity, to build out a 7th gen Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) PC, which conveniently supports Intel Optane memory. You can read a lot about the Optane technology, but in this application it’s a turbo-charged cache for internal storage. The newer NUCs support it in place of a more conventional m.2/NVMe SSD (used alongside a 2.5″ SSD or HDD), and of course you can use it as an overpriced SSD if you don’t want to use the Optane software.

See my earlier post about an Intel NUC for use with VMware. That NUC is currently running Ubuntu and Splunk for training in the home lab.

I’ll take you through the build manifest and process, and then we’ll look at benchmarks for five configuration permutations.

Build manifest and current prices (July 6, 2018)

  • Intel NUC (NUC7i7BNH) tall mini PC, $450 at Amazon
  • (Optional: NUC kit with preinstalled 16GB Optane module, $489 at Amazon)
  • Intel Optane Memory flash module (16GB $34 – $39 at Amazon, 32GB $58 for Prime members or $72 otherwise at Amazon)
  • Crucial CT2K16G4SFD824A 32GB DDR4 memory kit is currently $310 (it was $172 when I bought it a year and a half ago, ouch).
  • HGST Travelstar 7K1000 1TB 7200rpm SATA drive is $57.
  • Seagate FireCuda 2TB SSHD is $92, with the 1TB version available for $60.
  • Keyboard, mouse, USB flash drive for Windows install, and living room television with HDMI were already in house, but if you’ve read this far, you probably have them and/or know how to choose them. After installation you can use a Logitech Unifying device or a Bluetooth device, but for installation I’d suggest a USB cabled device.
  • Windows 10 Professional can be had for $150 give or take. The actual software can be downloaded from Microsoft but you will need a license key if building a new system without entitlement.

You’re looking at about $1,000 for the full system at today’s prices. If you don’t need 32GB of RAM, stepping down to 16GB should save you at least $100. Continue reading

Travel tips and links for your summer conference season – 2018 edition

After a relatively sedentary winter/spring, I’ve started traveling again, and will be headed to Cisco Live in Orlando next month as well as the Cisco global sales kickoff in August in Las Vegas if all goes well.

2014-05-19 rob-smh-clus

Disclosure: I work for Cisco and will be attending Cisco Live as an employee and speaker. however, nothing in this post is endorsed, reviewed, or even necessarily noticed by my employer or the event staff.

I posted some tips and tricks a year ago on rsts11travel, with a focus on Las Vegas. A lot of the advice there is still relevant. In this post I’ll focus on hotel promotions you should look into, as well as some new product recommendations (with affiliate links, so you can help with my gadget addiction and hosting fees).

Continue reading

Weird Stuff Warehouse closed this weekend

I probably should’ve had more of a teaser title, but it’s still a bit of a shock, so you get the bottom line in the title. After 32 years, Weird Stuff Warehouse is closing this Sunday.

Updates at the end. This post has been updated multiple times since publication.

Also see the unfortunate news from Halted here: HSC Electronics will be halted early next year

If this is your first time here, please do take a look around. I’ve written about gear I’ve bought at WeirdStuff, but there’s a lot more here, from system builds and hardware, Psycho Overkill Home Office technology, and then there’s rsts11travel which breaks out my travel and related adventures and discoveries.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-14,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

For techies who’ve lived in or heard of Silicon Valley anytime in the last 30 years, you probably already know Weird Stuff Warehouse very well.

Ars Technica wrote about them in 2013. The Six Fifty posted last year. Atlas Obscura got a post just last month apparently. You can see an archive of people’s Weird Stuff posts on Instagram here.

And over three decades after they opened up, serving businesses that wanted to get rid of no-longer-needed stuff as well as individuals who “needed” that stuff, Weird Stuff Warehouse is closing its doors at the end of business on Sunday, April 8, 2018. Continue reading