Laptop Recommendations

I get asked this question a lot. Like, a WHOLE LOT. Every day.

"What laptop do you use on your show?" or "What laptop do you recommend?"

So I'm writing this blog to answer the age old question about Shannon's laptop.

When it comes to Linux distros, my laptop of choice for 3 years has been a small notebook called an Acer TimelineX with an old 3rd gen i3 processor. I have been using this one for my Hak5 segments for several years. It's very small (I believe 11 inches), compact, and takes a bit of a beating. I've loaded several operating systems on it and it still works to this day. I'm currently thinking about updating to a slightly larger laptop with better battery life and a larger screen / keyboard, though. While this laptop works like a charm for simple processing, it IS old and a bit too small.

I'm thinking about upgrading to the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. It's got an updated processor, high resolution, it's 13 inches but still weighs around 3 pounds (pretty good for toting back and forth from work) and it's damn pretty. I'd probably choose the i3 / non-touch / Windows 7 version because honestly, you don't need touch for playing in the terminal. It's also more expensive than a notebook. With that upgrade will be a price point of at least $1049.99... so there's that.

Here's another one to consider if you're wanting high-end and Apple. A Macbook Air. While I prefer the usefulness of a Windows machine that can ultimately dual boot to a Linux system or vice versa (both needed for my career, and I also grew up with Windows so I know it much better), the Mac line actually derived from the same place as Linux. Why do you think you see so many Macbooks at DEFCON? It IS an option for hackers, but personally not my first choice.

My last choice (and recent favorite) has been the new Acer Aspire S7. Disclaimer: Acer has sent me this model for long-term review. It's an expensive machine, and quite beautiful. This one runs Windows 8 and has a top-of-the-line battery, screen resolution, and processor. It's also very lightweight at under 3 pounds. I currently use this ultrabook for my podcasts on screen and I've gotten very used to the Win8 interface and touchscreen.

I have used all of these machines and I love them all. Eventually new lines will come along and take their place but if you are in the market for a laptop these have been my go-to choices. Obviously they are quite pricey (which is why I haven't upgraded!) and there are cheaper options on the market. Consider your own criteria before buying. What brands you trust, what is important to you (in the day and age of cloud computing, 1TB drives aren't needed for my own ultrabooks), and where will you be going with your laptop.

Oh, and I wasn't paid for this blog, just FYI. These are all my opinions.

StitchFix #6 Review

I'm obsessed with StitchFix and will be getting my fifth box in the mail in a few days. Here is my take on a box from back in May. StitchFix is a site where you tell all about your style and sizing preferences. Then, a stylist will send you five items picked just for you. You can try everything on at home and keep just what you want. The box comes with free shipping both ways, and a 25% discount if you keep all five items. A box costs $20, which goes towards the purchase of anything you keep! When you sign up, share your referall link for a $25 credit! Here is my referral link so you can get an invite: StitchFix.
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StitchFix #4 Review

Have you checked out StitchFix yet? You sign up and select your preferences for size and style. Your stylist (mine is Ishara!) sends you a box of items they've picked for you. The 'styling fee' is $20. Try everything on at your home, then send anything you don't like back. That $20 goes towards whatever you keep, and if you keep all five items you get a 25% discount. Sweet! Let's check out my fourth StitchFix!
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StitchFix #3 Review

I haven't been to the mall in about 3 months and I owe a lot of that to StitchFix. See, I don't have a lot of time to go shopping. But when I do, I spend WAY too much. So to keep myself from spending too much but still get my 'fix' for new clothes, I signed up for StitchFix.

You sign up and select your preferences for size and style. Your stylist (mine is Ishara!) sends you a box of items they've picked for you. The 'styling fee' is $20.

Try everything on at your home, then send anything you don't like back. That $20 goes towards whatever you keep, and if you keep all five items you get a 25% discount. Sweet!

Let's check out my third StitchFix!

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StitchFix #2 Review

I'm obsessed with StitchFix and will be getting my fifth box in the mail in a few days. Here is my take on a box from back in May. StitchFix is a site where you tell all about your style and sizing preferences. Then, a stylist will send you five items picked just for you. You can try everything on at home and keep just what you want. The box comes with free shipping both ways, and a 25% discount if you keep all five items. A box costs $20, which goes towards the purchase of anything you keep! When you sign up, share your referall link for a $25 credit! Here is my referral link so you can get an invite: StitchFix.
Read More

Why I Hate Shipping With USPS and Paypal

I apologize for the very LONG blog post, but I want to inform everyone out there of the screwy ways these companies do business! USPS, the United States Postal Service, recently screwed me out of about $300 due to the too-quick reaction of Paypal and the lazy shipping carrier service. So let me explain: I sell stuff on eBay all the time, and usually I don't have a problem shipping with USPS. I use an online stamps company for shipping, which is cheaper than buying stamps from the post office. I also use an insurance company to insure all my USPS boxes and I do all of my packaging labor at home. I avoid standing in line at the post office at all costs. I'm lucky that the USPS office near my home is just a quick walk away and I know the usual employee by name. She has always told me to just drop off my packages at her desk and she would scan them all in bulk. That way, I can skip the line, drop off my packages, and get back to my daily business. Not only is she incredibly nice, but very helpful too!
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Thank You For Your Support

If you've seen my last two blog posts, you know my Papa JD was in the hospital with a rare disease called AIP. He passed away on May 18th. Given that most folks who get AIP live for about 1.5 months, it goes without saying that my grandfather was strong and willing to live. He survived for almost a year.

My entire family misses him greatly, but I'm also very fortunate I was able to say goodbye to him a few months ago. We shared a few conversations and some laughs. He was in high spirits all the way to his last day. It was his choice to depart, and he waited until he was ready. 

I love you Papa JD.

Grandpa JD Is In High Spirits!

I just wanted to update you with a quick note about my grandpa!

He is in the 'step-down' unit from ICU and is able to walk the halls and get around on his own. He has been having some trouble with the diaphram under his new lung, and the transplant team is going to send him home when they feel he'll be safe on a ventilator at night on his own. He'll still need oxygen 24-7 and continue medications and exercise. Because he is just starting to recover, the transplant team feels his diaphram will need about six months to become active enough, and we're all hoping he can get out of the hospital during that six month period.

If he comes home soon, he'll require a hospital room full of equipment, home health and possibly a private nurse on call.

Since the whole procedure is ongoing, and my grandparents insurance or medicare does not foot anything close to the whole bill, they are still accepting donations for his transplant fund. 

You can still help in a few ways:

Make checks payable to: HelpHOPELive
Note in memo section: In honor of J D Longfellow
Please send to: HelpHOPE Live
2 Radnor Corporate Center
100 Matsonford Road, Suite 100
Radnor, PA 19087 USA


Go HERE to make a credit card donation! (tax deductible donation)

or Make a PayPal Donation through me (I'll send you a personal thank you!)


Grandpa JD Needs a Lung Transplant!

UPDATE:

Now accepting Paypal Donations!

Several folks have asked me to accept paypal donations, so I have created a Donation Button strictly to be used for my grandpa's donors. When I receive payments in my PayPal account, I'll forward these donations to HelpHOPELive and send you a copy of the receipt.

Thank you again to the generous friends across the globe who are helping raise funds for my grandpa's medical expenses. He has a long road ahead of him and every bit helps.

 

Have you every grown up knowing someone all your life- someone that you respect and care about, who you love deeply, and you want to be just like them when you grow up?

That's my grandpa for me. My "Papa" JD has always been lively. He's happy, makes jokes, and has this great full laugh that makes everyone around him smile. He loved his two cats and would happily let us hold them whenever my siblings and I visited the grandparent's house. He cared for those kitties like they were his kids.

My Papa has a couple of little fishing boats, and taught me how to net little bait, fish for Spanish Mackeral and Black Bass, and even how to find good places to leave crab pots so we would have a delicious meal of blue crab at the end of an awesome day hanging out on his boat in the middle of the ocean. 

When I was a little kid, JD taught me a little about golfing, so now I know what the heck is going on in that darn game.

But the one thing that stands out to me is that Papa cares about his family. My grandma and he are so happy together, and such a sweet couple. I love seeing them together. I want to be like them when I'm a senior citizen- still smiling the way I did the day I got married.

He cares about himself too. JD's not the kind of guy who smoked his whole like or drinks every night. In fact, I don't recall seeing him smoke at all!

Which leads me to this:

My Papa JD needs our help.

In July 2012 he myseryously fell ill to a rare version of pneumonia that usually only a small percentage live from, unless they get a lung transplant. This disease has kept him in the hospital since August, and he's only been able to leave the hospital a few times since then to just go outside. To be precise, he hasn't been outside since August 24. He received a right side lung transplant and at first everything looked fine, but a failing diaphragm has kept him in the ICU. Now, the doctors have decided that he needs a completion transplant- a new left lung as well. Luckily, JD is a strong person, and young enough to survive the procedure.

Unfortunately though, Medicare and insurance is running out and my grandparents will soon be paying for the thousands of dollars in medical expenses out of pocket. My grandmother has been by his side- every day- since he was first admitted. She is learning about the medical needs for my grandpa, and has relocated to a rental apartment owned by the hospital. So, not only will they owe expenses for being in the hospital, but also rent, medications, follow-up care, therapy, etc. Getting a transplant is insanely expensive, but it's life saving.

To help ease the burden of these on-going medical expenses, a fundraising campaign in JD’s honor has been established with HelpHOPELive, a nonprofit organization that has been assisting the transplant community for 30 years. All contributions are tax-deductible, are held by HelpHOPELive in the South Atlantic Lung Transplant Fund, and are administered by HelpHOPELive for transplant-related expenses only. Any size gift will be so appreciated. We're relying on the caring and giving hearts of family and friends, and even a few dollars helps.

So I'm asking for your help for my grandfather, who is way too young to not be a part of my life, and still has so much to live for. I'm currently planning my wedding, and as any girl dreaming of her big day would say- I want my Nana and Papa to be there.

I know a lot of folks won't be able to help, and if thats the case, just get the word out. A share here and a repost there, and eventually word will travel worldwide.

But if you can send a donation, even if it is a few dollars, please do! Here is all the information you need:

 


Make checks payable to: HelpHOPELive
Note in memo section: In honor of J D Longfellow
Please send to: HelpHOPE Live
2 Radnor Corporate Center
100 Matsonford Road, Suite 100
Radnor, PA 19087


Go HERE to make a credit card donation!

I am appealing to you on JD’s behalf and ask that you thoughtfully consider making a donation today. From my family to yours, thank you and God bless.

 


Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. This campaign is administered by HelpHOPELive, a 501© (3) nonprofit providing fundraising assistance to transplant and catastrophic injury patients. Information: 800-642-8399

Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 888.830.4989. The license is not an endorsement by the state.

To those that have donated and shared my posts across social networks- THANK YOU! My grandmother is beginning to see donations come in, and we appreciate and thank you so much for helping. Although I cannot say what their goal is because the expenses are ongoing, I do know a few of my friends and fans have donated and I'm so grateful to each of you for your help.

Love always,

Shannon Morse

Busy, Busy, Busy!

This past month has been extremely busy! Luckily, though, I'm loving each and every minute of it. I recently got the open position as the new producer of Before You Buy on TWiT.TV and I'm up in Petaluma part time managing that new role. This is an exciting opportunity to work with a new group of core tech enthusiasts and grow my own career as a journalist and entertainer. When I'm up at the TWiT headquarters, I'll be wrangling gadgets for the show, guest hosting when asked, reviewing products every week, and producing the show. It sounds like a lot, but it's very fun and manageable with my organization skills.

A few folks have asked me if I was leaving Hak5 when I started producing BYB, and I'm still hosting the show just like normal. Now, I'm hosting/ producing Hak5, HakTip, Before You Buy, Bite Club Show, and (soon!) Threat Wire. So even though I'm starting new endeavors I'm still sticking to my roots with Hak5 and learning as much as I can about the world of security. We have plenty to look forward to in the next year, and I'm actually excited to go to work during the week. :)

Meet The Internet Video Stars: Hak5 & TechnoBuffalo

This was so much fun to do. Veronica Henry, a talented freelance writer, contacted me to do a piece about Hak5 and my job.

Her questions really brought out my passions for technology and entertainment, and I hope my answers help upcoming individuals that want to start doing video podcasts.

You can read the full article here:

Meet The Internet Video Stars: Hak5 & TechnoBuffalo