Christmas gifts for geeks (pt 2) Weller soldering iron

Christmas_lights

One gift that geeks undeniably love are tools. The tricky thing is finding ones that not only they don’t have, but also need. I can’t imagine anyone interested in electronics NOT owning a soldering iron, but almost all beginners start out with a really useless $8 radioshack iron. That thing usually has a very blunt tip, is uncomfortable, and is almost never the right temperature. It really is amazing anyone can learn how to solder on one of those. Last year I became the proud owner of a Weller WLC100, and I suggest you do the same.

wellwerwlc100

I’m sure you are wondering what makes this is soldering iron better.
-It’s MUCH more comfortable in your hand
-It has a variable temperature dial so that you can gently heat components.
-It is much more stable on the desk, and it has an orange light on it that lights up whenever the unit is powered (and therefore much less likely to light your shop on fire!)
-And lastly, when you work with it you feel like you are using the proper tool for the job. We have all been in a situation where you are stripping wires with a kitchen knife, or cutting a hole in a box with a plastic fork. Sometimes you need to use the wrong tool for the job, but when you have the perfect tool for the job it really makes the process much more enjoyable.

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automation saved my life!

I’m a big fan of sitting back and watching my computer do mindless things for me. Applescript and photoshop actions are two big things on my list. (Sorry windows users, you’ll have to find some other kind of “glue”)


I just set up a workflow for posting pix that makes me pretty dang happy. I have a droplet made out of photoshop that saves all of my images to a folder on my desktop. It performs an action that converts them all to 300×400 and “saves for web” jpeg medium.


Next up I have an applescript app that uploads any files I drop onto it to my images folder via ftp.


This is what the script looks like.

on open doc
tell application “Fetch”
activate
make new transfer window at beginning with properties {hostname:”ftp.youraddress.com”, username:”username”, password:”password”}
open remote item “directory/to/your/html/image”
put into transfer window “ftp.youraddress.com” item doc
close window “ftp.youraddress.com — image”
end tell
end open

That’s about it. It saves me tons of time, and makes it less of a drag to put pix up, and that probably makes for a more readable blog.


In the future I’m thinking about making part of the applescript generate the code I need in order to post it. Yet another 3 buttons saved per photo. This wysisyg stuff can get real old some times…


I’m also gonna whip up a fetch script to upload videos, and a sorenson squeeze droplet to do auto compressing for me.


Maybe i’ll go so far as to make the folder that photoshop saves to hooked up with a folder action, so I can save a step.

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