Wed. Oct. 28, 2020 – getting closer to Halloween

Cool.  Wet.  Dreary.  Like yesterday.

It never got much warmer than 70F and it started in with a misty drizzle around 4pm.  Generally yucky all day.

I made my pickup on the other side of town.  A couple of preps this time.  There were two deep cycle batteries, very cheap, in unknown condition; a commercial inverter, a couple of gallons of vegetable oil, some PPEs for chainsawing, and some other small items.  I’ll get the batteries on my charger/conditioner today and see how they look.  The inverter needs a good exam too, but it was priced right.

I spent much of the rest of the day fighting to get my security cam software running on linux.  It LOOKED like a straightforward process, but turned out to be a big pain in my backside.  Most of the story is in yesterday’s comments.  Long story short, it’s currently working, and seems much more solid than the windows version.  Unless you have some unusual cameras you just have to use, I’m not recommending iSpy and a roll your own approach at the moment.  I saved about $1000 off the price of a commercial NVR of the same capacity, and I did get to use a mix of cams I already had, but there have been some challenges along the way.  If you don’t want to mess around with it, I can recommend some ‘pro-sumer’ level gear to you.

I find that my biggest use of the cams is to look outside from my desk and see “what’s making that noise out front?”  Most of my clients have expressed the same idea, they use it to look around when they see something.  Breakins and other camera worthy things are thankfully rare.  Checking on the pool, or which diesel truck is idling out front is much more common.  Of course if there is an incident, having the video is a great help.

Today I’m home and working on the same things, plus getting youngest child going on her costume, and working on at least one of my new Halloween displays.  It’s not prepping, or dealing with all the other stuff, but keeping up some normality is important, especially for the kids (and not just mine, but the ones coming to Trick or Treat too.)

These are likely to be the ‘good old times’ if even half the stuff coming down the pike gets here.  On it’s face it sounds extreme- to think that we better make this special or that special, in case we don’t get the chance next time.  But nothing in this world is certain, except that no one gets out alive.  And we BETTER make it special, because whether from civil war, disease, economic collapse, or simple poor health or a traffic accident, we might not get another chance.

Keep stacking.

nick

Tues. Oct. 27, 2020 – Taco Tuesday! Or maybe not.

Cooler and humid.  We’re supposed to get some Fall weather for a few days.  The national forecast also says ‘rain’ or really thundershowers possible.

Monday was mostly overcast depending on your part of town.  Houston is a collection of micro-climates and even the local forecasts aren’t local enough.

I did my pickups, got some gub stuff and some household stuff.  That ate my afternoon by the time I got the stuff and went by my secondary location to drop some of it off.  I brought home some of what I need for my halloween candy dispensing machine too.

Before I left the house though, I went looking for a drive for my NVR pc.  Grabbing some drives from my box-o-random drives, I plugged them in to see what was what.   Two of the 4 were dead- clicks and whines, no platter spin up.   Two were fine, spun right up, partitioned and formatted no issues.  The dead ones were both Seagate, the good ones both WD Caviar Green.  Tiny sample size and old random drives from who knows where, but it was striking.

Had a police chopper orbiting over the neighborhood again too.  Then he went straight up a major street until it ended, then followed another to a point where he orbited, then back to the barn.  Looks like they were watching someone, who ran.  They followed until he ran out of road, watched for a while, then left.    The flight radar website was very helpful.

That led to some playing around with scanners for a while, but nothing productive.  I never did hear any chatter about the chase.

Closer to home I put the motion sensor for the “Driveway Patrol” on the porch and the receiver at my desk.  Even with the camera covering the front porch, I’ve been surprised to find a package waiting on the porch.  I really want to know if someone is at my door.  So I picked one up at an estate auction, and it works great.    Now I see the flashing light when someone approaches the door and I can glance at the camera and respond or not.

Small steps, baby steps, but steps nonetheless.

And I encourage you to take some steps toward your own goals.  Some of those steps should be stacking the stuff you might need later…

 

n

Thur. Oct. 22, 2020 – lots of weird looking dates this month

Cooler, maybe some rain.  Certainly humid.

Almost 10F cooler outside than in my  office when I wrote this late last night.   During the day it got into the low 90s in the sun, but it took longer, and it didn’t stay there very long.  I expect the same today, only there is a bigger chance of rain.

Daughter one got on the right bus twice yesterday and got where she was supposed to be first try.  Nice change of pace :-/   She’s still adjusting to being at school all day.  She says “it’s exhausting”.   Daughter two likes virtual better than in person, but is getting bored being chained to the lappy.  The district (passing the buck to the state) has managed to crush the best aspect of remote learning by requiring the kids to stay in sight of the lappy camera for their  required time.  No more finishing your work and taking out a book… no  more working ahead either- by diktat of the district.

I managed to sell a couple of items on ebay, so I’ve got shipping to do today.  One is easy, just a medium flat rate box.   The other is sensitive and going to Germany, so needs a sturdy and large box.  I hope I got the weight right, for the buyer’s sake.  He’s pre-paying for the shipping based on what I had in the listing.  I was offering free shipping so I didn’t worry too much about the weight I listed.  Hmm.  I wonder what happens if it weighs more than I thought? Never came up before.  Nice to have some items selling though.

Spent a bunch of time getting some stuff ready to list.  It ate more time than I thought, so I still don’t have my NVR running on linux.   It’s running under windows, even if I can’t see the live cam view, it is still saving the video files so I’ve got coverage if something happens.  I got really used to just glancing up to see what’s going on outside though.  I can still access the stream from the cameras individually, it just takes another couple of steps.   Carry that task over to today.


Not much movement on the campaign trail, given the explosive nature of the allegations against the Bidens.  There must be some frantic activity behind closed doors.  If the stuff in the emails is true, and no one seems to be saying it’s not, then the only way to avoid jail is to win the Presidency, or hope that being the failed candidate is a shield, like it was for Hillarity.   Or fake a medical issue and then retire to ‘spend more time with family.’

Uncertainty is not good for markets.  The markets and the ‘financialization’ of our economy have gotten us into a lot of trouble and will likely get us into more.  I feel better with food in the freezer and a big pile of stuff to use if the going gets tough.  I think it’s probably a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’, so keep stacking.

n

 

 

Wed. Oct. 21, 2020 – busy at home today

Cooler, cold front supposed to be coming in, and I can’t wait.

It was very humid but a bit cooler yesterday.  That made it nice for most of the day.  It was a bit too warm in the afternoon for me to wear my LA Police Gear Covert Casual Shirt.  I don’t know why but it’s the hottest shirt I own, short of flannel.  The idea is great- longer tail and hem, snaps instead of buttons, pattern to break up any ‘printing’… all details that are well executed and aimed at concealed handgun carriers.  Unfortunately, I broil in the shirt.  Oh well, maybe it’ll be cool enough next month.

Today’s agenda includes the computer work I didn’t get done yesterday which is mainly getting the PC I use with my security cams completely switched over to linux.   If that goes well, maybe I’ll get my NAS out of the safe and run some backups.

At some point, in the interest of reducing clutter (for my wife) I want to start ripping all my bluray and dvd movies.  Anyone who has built a home media library, I’d like to hear about what you did and if you like the result. Also, what you use to access it.  It’s something I can do in between other things, just feeding disks into  a machine while working at my desk.  I think it’s a massive undertaking, but I might as well get started.

I’ve also got to get more stuff out of the house.  I did get a few more things listed, and even got a lowball offer one item.  SO MUCH more to go though.

Socially, there is Halloween coming too.  With the rain, I haven’t done any more decor, but I did decide what I want to do to keep my distance from the little disease bags that come begging…  I think I can do it with a minimum of effort, using stuff I already have.  Just have to dress it up a bit.  I want to do at least one of the new elements I’ve been planning for a couple of years to the displays too.  I’ve got everything I need for an awesome 3D Eye of Sauron.  I haven’t picked a spot for it or put all the elements together yet.  I still have a couple of days to do something.   I think it’s REALLY important to continue participating in the social and cultural milieu especially as things get bad.  Not ‘band on the Titanic’ bad, but I want to keep the normal traditions going as much as possible.  It’s our culture that needs to be preserved.

Add in the normal ‘kids are home’ and domestic bliss activities, along with my never ending list of cleaning and organizing, and my day should be full.


I can’t even begin to make a prediction about the current Presidential race, but I don’t see how Sleepy Joe can avoid the taint of what’s coming out involving his son and family.  If it was Trump’s son in Hunter’s place, the mob would be screaming for his blood, not making excuses and trying to discredit the revelations or bury them.  The world has gone mad, with the population gone bi-polar.  I try to sit on the fulcrum and watch both sides move up and down, but I know which side I’d declare for if I had to.  I put up my Thin Blue Line flag last night, even if it gets me on some lefty’s list.  It’s not very grey man, but then I normally fly the Stars and Strips, and the Lone Star, so adding a flag isn’t much of an additional statement.  They already know where my sympathies lie.

I’m trying to get my house in order, and make room for more stacks… I’ll suggest that if you haven’t started putting some by, it’ll cost you more at this point, but it will likely be invaluable later.  Get started.  Keep going.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

Tues. Oct. 20, 2020 – 10-20-2020 huh.

Cooler and wet.  Maybe some sunshine later.

Got rain and humidity yesterday.  Lots of both.  It kept me inside, since I was home with my student, and my wife was at the office.

So I decided it was time to mess with upgrading my NVR computer and software.  I was running ispy Agent on win10.  I am very tired of windows updating and killing my recording.  Agent has a version for linux….   well.   I updated agent and it failed to restart, so I had my motivation.

I also needed to add a much bigger hard drive, which has just been sitting here waiting for a good time.  Putting the UPS that’s sitting here in line with that pc has been on the list for a while.  Fractal.  That’s my to do list.

Had to clear a spot for the UPS and that meant vacuuming up the dust bunnies.  Then it wasn’t charged so I got to listen to that beeping for a while.  Pulled the pc and opened it up.  Blew it out.  I had installed the second 4TB drive with zip ties.  I don’t remember doing it, but I guess I did.  There isn’t any second drive cage in this little HP midsize case.  So where would the new 8TB go?  Pliers.  Case mod.  Foam and zip tie.  I fit the 4TB in tighter and strapped the 8 to it.  It’s pretty clean if a bit tight.  Budget models are technically expandable, but they (probably rightly) don’t really think anyone will.  Still would have been nice to have the drive cage included.  I noticed I still have a ram slot open.  I’ll have to look at filling that.

Why leave the 4TB drive?  Mainly as a place to archive any interesting video.

Formatted the 8TB drive under windows, made sure the Agent software really was borked by the update.  Inserted USB stick and booted to Mint.  Decided to just install it as a dual boot, but couldn’t.   The stock Dell drive has like a thousand partitions hidden on it– well at least 4.  Mint couldn’t or wouldn’t figure out how to just install alongside windows (even though that was a choice) and I couldn’t figure out what the heck I needed to do.  So I decided to try installing the Agent software on the live distro…

Which actually worked, after some cut and paste errors, and some user error on my part.  Remember that I’m just really sitting here monkey punching the keyboard.  But after several tries, I got it installed and started.  And it works.  It’s pegging all 8 cores, but the video is smooth and clear.  I did quickly run out of disk space, because the default install uses the same drive for storage, and there just wasn’t any space.  That’s when  I tried to point it at my new 8TB drive.  Sorry Charley, read only file system.  After poking at it, doing what seemed logical and watching it LOOK like it changed the permissions, it still didn’t really.

I shut off recording for the night, and have been just watching to see if the server is stable, which was my other issue with the software running on windows. (agent runs as a server, you interact with it using a browser.)   It’s always disconnecting from the server and I get a blank screen rather than the camera views.  So far it’s been stable and hasn’t disconnected yet.

Today I’ll be swapping the main drive for a blank and installing Mint for real.  I’ll have to reinstall all the codecs, software, and settings but hopefully that will be good and stable for a long time after that.

I might boot back to windows to do the file deleting and space clearing I want to do  on the 4TB first, just because I’m more familiar with it.

All in all it’s more messing around than I wanted, but MS is making it increasingly clear that they consider your pc to be theirs and they’ll do what they want, whenever they want.  I don’t care for that.

I’ve also got to pick up a couple of things today.  Wife is working from home so she can watch the younger one while I go out.

More household stuff from the auctions.    I’ve created a monster.


The news isn’t getting any better.  Biden would be cooked, resigning in disgrace if he weren’t their only hope to defeat Orangeman.  They literally can’t acknowledge that he’s crooked because of what they’ve got invested in him emotionally.  HE can bow out, but I don’t think he will.  I do expect a rash of single vehicle crashes, and overdose/suicide/mystery deaths.  I expect some other distractions too.

Stay away from crowds.  And keep stacking.

 

nick

Friday, 22 June 2012

07:50 – I had one of those days yesterday that was, as Pournelle says, eaten by locusts. At the end of the day, I’d worked hard all day but felt as though I hadn’t accomplished much.

In retrospect, though, I guess I actually did accomplish a fair amount. It was just that it was a bunch of small stuff. I processed orders and shipped a couple of kits, answered in detail several queries about kits, did more research on shipping to Canada, reviewed the Preface for the forensics book, did final assembly of a dozen chemistry kits to add to inventory, made up boxes and started assembly on a new batch of 30 chemistry kits, downloaded and burned the current version of Linux Mint, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Speaking of Linux Mint, I really have to do something about my main office system. It’s quite elderly, although still fast. (It’s an Intel Core2 Quad Q9650.) But it’s running Ubuntu 9.04, which hasn’t been supported for a long time. This system was scheduled for replacement 18 months ago, but I never got around to it. Barbara’s old system failed, and the only system we had available at the time was the six-core Core i7-980X box that we built as the Extreme System for the 3rd edition of Building the Perfect PC. That one that was to be my new system, but she’s using it now. Meanwhile, my den system has also failed. That was the mini-ITX system we built for the book, and I need to do something about it as well.

So I think I’ll order a replacement Intel Atom motherboard/processor for the den system, rebuild it, and convert it to Barbara’s system. (She mainly does web browsing and email on that system, so the six-core system she’s using now is gross overkill.) I’ll then do a quick refurb on Barbara’s current system and convert it to my new main office system and retire the current one to stand-by status. To replace the den system, I’ll just build a microtower system with a low-power processor.


11:04 – I just ordered an Intel D2700MUD Atom motherboard/processor combo and a 2GBx2 Crucial memory kit for it. I wasn’t about to order anything ever again from NewEgg, so I searched Amazon.com. Amazon didn’t stock that board, but several of their vendors did. I decided to order from PC Rush, which had a large number of excellent reviews. Their price, including free shipping, was $85.55.

I added the item to my cart and then searched the PC Rush storefront for compatible memory. Compared to NewEgg’s search system, Amazon’s sucks. I wasn’t able to find any compatible memory on the Amazon PC Rush storefront. Or perhaps I could have, if I’d been willing to scroll through 300 pages of items from that storefront. So I Googled PC Rush, went to their site, and added the BOXD2700MUD to my cart. Then I went over to the Crucial website and used their configurator to search for compatible memory for that board. It returned only one hit, on the CT2KIT25664BC1067 2GBx2 kit, for $29.99 with free shipping. So I went back to the PC Rush site, which also had that kit, but for $36. I added it to my cart anyway, figuring it was worth the $6 difference to have to place only one order. But when I added that memory kit to my cart (which already contained the motherboard with free shipping), my shipping cost went to $16 for ground shipping. Geez. So I deleted the memory kit from my cart and submitted the order for the motherboard only. It took me about two minutes to order the memory kit on the Crucial site, and saved me $22.

My first thought was to install this motherboard and memory in my mini-ITX den system, but I think instead I may install it in a new Antec Sonata or other micro-tower case–I have plenty of those sitting around–and put it in Barbara’s office to replace that six-core system. The Atom is much, much slower than the Core i7 she has now, but she probably won’t even notice the difference using the system for web browsing and email. I, on the other hand, need as much CPU as possible for doing stuff like video production. I’ll just pull her hard drive from the big system and put it in the new one. Then, with a quick upgrade to the current Linux Mint, she’ll be good to go. I’ll do a quick clean/re-furb on the six-core system, put in a 3 TB drive (which has been sitting on my desk for months now), and rebuild my main system. My current system will go under the desk, not plugged into anything, and sit there moldering in case I need an emergency replacement. Then I’ll probably order another D2700MUD and memory for it and use those to upgrade my den system.


14:07 – With the exception of Angela Merkel, eurozone “leaders” are delusional. Here’s yet another example. At today’s summit of the Big Four (Germany, France, Italy, and Spain) leaders, those leaders spent their time discussing a “growth pact”. The summit was followed by a press conference. A typical headline is something like “Europe’s Big Four Agree €130 billion stimulus package, 1% of EU GNP”. All hail the €130 billion growth package. The problem is, it’s not a €130 billion package; it’s a €10 billion package. That is, only €10 billion is “new money”. The rest is imaginary–leveraging that €10 billion to €60 billion using accounting smoke and mirrors and demonstrably false assumptions–or money that’s already been spoken for and allocated. The eurozone leaders, including unfortunately Merkel, seem convinced that the markets are stupid. The markets will shrug this off, just as they shrugged off the so-called €100 billion Spanish bailout, which hasn’t even been requested yet, let alone approved, let alone paid.

Meanwhile, we keep seeing articles about Merkel coming under pressure. Merkel is not under any pressure. There’s nothing the EU, the IMF, the US, or anyone else can do to force her to pay the outstanding debts of the rest of the eurozone. Her voters across the political spectrum don’t want her to do it. She doesn’t want to do it. She’s not going to do it. Even if she were inclined to do it, the German constitution prohibits her from doing it. And even if she ignored her own convictions and the German constitution, German citizens would crucify her if she did it, perhaps literally. It’s just not going to happen. And yet it’s the only hope for the eurozone, which is why everyone keeps talking about it as though there’s even the tiniest probability of it occurring.

Seven years without Windows

The last time I ran Windows was seven years ago today. On 4 July 2004, I removed Windows from my systems, declaring Independence Day in more ways than one.

Since then, I’ve run Linux exclusively. For the first year or so, I ran Xandros, which was a training-wheels version of Linux that became moribund soon after the company signed a deal with Microsoft. At that point, I immediately removed Xandros from my systems and installed Ubuntu/Kubuntu, which I’ve been running ever since.

I’d actually had Linux installed on some of my systems since the late 1990’s, but only servers. By 2004, desktop Linux had made sufficient progress that I decided I was ready to take the plunge.

It was never about price. As someone who wrote computer books for O’Reilly, I could simply call Wagg-Ed and they’d send me free copies of whatever Microsoft products I asked for. I abandoned Windows because it was–and reportedly still is–insecure, buggy, and unstable. Serious bugs went unfixed for literally years, and an entire anti-malware industry had grown around protecting Windows from its own inherent security holes.

Linux, on the other hand, was and is rock-solid stable and inherently secure. (In seven years of using Linux, I’ve yet to install any kind of AV software or malware scanner; it’s simply not needed.) Linux bugs were and are fixed very quickly, usually within literally hours of being discovered or reported.

Of course, abandoning Windows also meant abandoning MS Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer, and other Windows-only applications. No great loss, as it turned out. In fact, it was a major gain. OOo Writer did everything I needed to do, and it’s never once eaten one of my documents, which happened regularly with Word. Kompozer was an adequate replacement for FrontPage, and Kmail/Kontact was noticeably superior to Outlook, which corrupted its database more than once and frequently forgot to notify when I’d set reminders. Firefox was worlds ahead of Internet Explorer. In terms of core productivity apps, Linux had everything I needed and those apps were generally at least as good as and often better than the Windows apps they replaced.

The same was true of other apps such as video and audio players, disc-burning software, backup software, and so on. Each time I needed to do something new with Linux, I found there was at least one good app and often several to choose from.

When I started shooting DV video to post on YouTube, I was a bit concerned. Prevailing wisdom was that Windows apps for video production were decent, Apple apps were superb and Linux apps were primitive and lacked function. That turned out not to be the case.

While I was playing around with video editing, my editor was kind enough to lend me a Mac Mini with iMovie installed. My first impression was that it was easy to use mainly because it didn’t do much, and that was confirmed as I used it more. It simply wouldn’t do several things that I wanted to do.

There were one or two Linux apps that resembled iMovie, both in ease-of-use and lack of functionality, but I eventually settled on an industrial-strength video editor called Cinelerra. Industrial-strength as in powerful enough to be used by commercial video production companies, including major film studios. But Cinelerra is also simple enough to use for basic functions that I never felt the need to look any further.

So, here I am after seven Windows-free years. I’ve never looked back.