Helpful Shipping Website – ShipGooder

When shipping a numerous variety of products across the US, it’s usually very time-consuming to check shipping prices on various sites (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc). While searching for a website that might be able to compare multiple shipping companies, I came across ShipGooder. This site is so easy to use, it saves me a ton of time and effort when trying to compare various rates for shipping. They also recently upgraded a bit so that you don’t need to enter a full street address. Now you can simply enter city/state/zip along with the package details. If you’re in the business of shipping (and don’t have your own API built), check out ShipGooder and give it a go!

Soles4Souls – Donate used shoes!

The site Soles4Souls takes donated used shoes and provides them to families and individuals around the world. At this point, they have already donated 26 million pairs of shoes over their 10-year history. They even take half pairs, in hopes that they will match them up one day in the future.

This charitable organization helps to provide shoes (and clothing) during global disasters. Mainly formed after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Soles4Souls looks to help the immediate needs of people in disaster zones. Surprisingly, they are also taking excess shoes and clothing and working to help micro-enterprises. These businesses receive a steady supply of high-quality/low cost product, and help to bring people and their families out of poverty.

So if you’re doing some fall cleanouts, look to donate to Soles4Souls. While their main drop-off locations are a bit further away from Boston, you can ship 5 pairs (or more) to their distribution centers. They will also provide a tax receipt for charitable donations.

Happy Sys Admin Day!

Hopefully all the sys admins out there enjoyed the 17th Sys Admin Appreciation Day! Maybe some folks at work got you some gifts or free coffee and food?

To “celebrate”, I’m providing a link to download Microsoft’s ‘Account Lockout Status’ tool. This nifty little executable can be run on any Windows domain controller to find the status of a specific user account. It provides the number of bad password attempts, the date/time of the last bad attempt, and the date/time that the password was reset for the user. It has definitely proven helpful when starting the adventure in finding out why a user is always locking out from systems. Hopefully you find this helpful!

Check your Apple product warranty

Apple provides a convenient site to check the warranty status of your Apple product (includes iPhones, iPods, iPads, and MacBooks). Just navigate here and you’ll be able to punch in your serial number of your product and get the make/model and warranty status.

Quickly find uptime of Windows server

When trying to figure out the uptime of a Windows server, there is no clear cut answer when looking at Task Manager or in the Control Panel. To quickly find out the uptime, do the following:

  1. click ‘Start’
  2. type ‘cmd’ (without quotes)
  3. click the Command Prompt application
  4. once in the app, type ‘net stats server’ and press Enter
  5. in the results that populate, look for the line starting with ‘Statistics since…’ and you should see a date and time next to it. That is the last time that the computer booted up.

That’s it…a nice, quick and easy tutorial to get that (what seems to be hidden) Windows server uptime!

Polystyrene ban effects

Polystyrene foam has been heavily used in a variety of industries to save costs and offer an easy solution to many problems. Shipping companies use bulk amounts to pad their items while shipping, while many restaurants hand out polystyrene containers for “to-go” orders.

Brookline had passed a ban on the material back in December 2013 with a waiver for some businesses lasting until May 2014. There was an outcry from local businesses that the ban would really add to their business costs, which would most likely pass onto the consumer over time.

As of late, there have been many new products that are both compostable and much cheaper than their counterparts from a few years ago. Many of them are plant-based and only cost a small percentage more than polystyrene solutions (that percentage narrows even more when buying in bulk). Many shipping vendors are turning to cardboard as their solution to not using polystyrene foam. Hopefully over more time, we will see compostable products become even cheaper as the demand continues to increase.

At this time, Boston e-Cycle does re-use some polystyrene foam to ship out items across the nation. We have also recently implemented a push to notify the final recipient to search out alternatives to disposing of the polystyrene foam (a simple message can sometimes go a long way).

Clothing donations – undergarments

I’ve long wondered what happens to clothing donations, especially now that I know that I can donate clean undergarments (underwear, bras, lingerie, etc). Yes, if you did not know already, there are a ton of donation bins that accept clean/non-soiled undergarments, and even some local Goodwill locations will accept them.

There is also a service through The Bra Recyclers that will accept gently used bras and will get them to the less fortunate that cannot afford bras. Some readers have mentioned using the bra pads as shoe liners to absorb sweat and cushion your feet. Even for undergarments that are a little more worn but clean, donation bin providers tend to take these and shred them for the fibers. They can then re-sell these massive amounts of fiber to the fiber industry, and help fund their operations.

So for the next time you clean out your old undies or bras, make sure to give them a quick wash & dry, and donate them to a good cause.