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Status Report

The apartment was finished and I’m now enjoying the company of relatives who escaped the vicissitudes of a never ending winter in upstate New York.

I will be checking in, but most of the time I will be engaging in conversations with real people in ‘meat space’ AKA ‘real life’.

18 comments

1 Kryten42 { 05.03.18 at 10:42 am }

Excellent! Enjoy it whilst you can m8. The internet should still exist when you’re ready. Maybe… 😉 🙄

2 Bryan { 05.03.18 at 10:57 pm }

You mean it can exist without me?! 😯

3 Kryten42 { 05.05.18 at 5:12 am }

I know it exists without me. NBN reconnects or drops out 2-6 times a day. They are “investigating”. Been 2 weeks so far. *shrug*

4 Bryan { 05.05.18 at 8:38 pm }

Yeah, but you aren’t paying US$100/month for the crappy service like you would in the US.

5 Kryten42 { 05.12.18 at 3:35 am }

Trouble DOES come in 3’s! As well as the ongoing & worsening NBN issue, it now drops out very often, like 4-6 times an hour @ peak times! SO I suspect it’s a serious congestion related issue probably with the local hub that was replaced a few months ago when we lost connection for almost 2 weeks when the old one died! Paying anything more than $10/mth for this shitty NBN is a total rip off! I lodged (yet another) formal complaint with the Telco Ombudsman with all details, log’s & communications with ISP & NBN Co., which of course will do SFA!

My Mobile died a couple days ago. I was expecting it. Almost 4 YO and the battery was getting harder to charge & not lasting long. Like almost all mobiles now, not user replaceable. As it happened, the one I was looking at was on special. I tried to order a new one, but my payment processor I use requires an SMS code verification to process an order! Ahhhhhhhhrgh!! Had to dig out my old landline & crappy cheap NBN modem that has a VoIP port & call their customer service to do it manually. (My ASUS doesn’t have one & I never use the landline anyway!)

I decided to spring an extra $51 for a full 5 yr replacement warranty extension!

https://www.kogan.com/au/buy/kogan-agora-8-plus-combo-pack/

I also decided to buy a Seagate 6TB Backup Plus Hub for myself as Kogan had a Friday special on it for $60 off & free shipping plus I had a $25 gift voucher they gave me 6 months ago I was saving for a *rainy day* & it’s pouring! I have a couple external’s, but they are slow & small capacity. A 1 TB USB 2 & a 2 TB USB 3 but it has a slow HDD. This new one is quite fast according to reviews & has a built-in USB 3.0 hub which will be handy. That was $168 with discounts & free shipping. I remember paying over $200 for my slow old 1 TB USB 2 external!

On top of that, right before the mobile died, I got an SMS from some debt collection agency to contact them ASAP. Which i can’t do now until I get my new mobile. *shrug* No idea what they want, I don’t owe any money, except an $11 water bill which I paid yesterday. I did have some problem with PayPal a couple weeks ago when they made a payment for an account I cancelled a few Months ago for $180 (over US $220 with the crappy exchange rate). They made the payment but I refused to put funds in the account to cover it. They finally agreed they screwed up a few days ago & reversed it.

And health sux. Nothing really new there! *shrug*

6 Bryan { 05.12.18 at 10:30 pm }

How did you piss off the gods of electronics that they would visit you with so much grief? Damn, they really have it in for you, making increased backup capability very wise and necessary.

That looks like a nice phone at a good price. When I went to a ‘smartphone’, had already been gifted with an iPad, so I went with an iPhone SE for compatibility. The SE has a small screen which reduces the overall size to something I can carry in a belt case. I had a Samsung slider with a qwerty keyboard, but the keyboard and phone were beginning to separate.

My visitors gifted me with an Amazon Echo and a Raspberry Pi 3B+. The Echo is useful for the news and background music. The new Pi doesn’t seem to like Ubuntu Mate, so I may have to wait for a software update. The Raspbian Debian is OK but the Mate has all of standard software included.

Given that today’s exchange rate was US$1 = Aus$1.33, that is a horrible exchange rate. Of course none of my local banks would give better than US$1 = Aus$1.1. They would be making a 25% profit on a Aus$1=US$1 conversion rate.

Getting old is not for wimps.

7 Kryten42 { 05.13.18 at 2:34 am }

It is a good phone for the price on special. Plus the free tempered glass screen protector & case are a nice addition (normally about $50). Only issue I have with it is the cheap bastards only put a USB 2 port! Oh well… At least they listened to all us whingers of their previous models & increased RAM to 4 GB & storage to 32 GB. I have a 64 GB uSD card for it from my dead phone (I transferred all my app’s & data too it a couple weeks ago!) I had a hunch… 😉 😀

Yeah, iPhone to go with an iPad makes sense for you. Even though I despise Apple now with a passion as they are proving to be a bigger bunch of crooks than even M$!

I’ve heard good things about the Echo. 🙂 I haven’t touched my Pi for Months. Just had too much crap to deal with. And my brain hasn’t been… working right to play with things like that. Been gaming on my PC a lot, playing increasingly complex games to exercise my mind. Was tiring for awhile, but I persevered. Now it’s actually getting fun again & I’m making choices & decisions much faster than a few Months ago. So I guess my self-therapy is working. Also been making a lot of fresh fruit/veg smoothies & eating a lot more fish. Increasing my Vit B’s & C, A, DHA/EPA, Omega 3 etc. Not a miracle *cure*, it takes time. Seems to be paying off now, which is helping my mental state. 🙂 Proof is the crap of the past week just made me shrug & sigh & think “Typical. Screw it!” 😆

My fave games currently are:

* Grim Dawn (LOVE this game! And the developers LISTEN to the users! Great for when I feel annoyed at some government fool & need to vent!)
* Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – I finally decided to get the Necromancer expansion on a 50% off sale a few Months ago. Gave me a reason to play this again. It’s actually a fun character & they added a few new map areas & other things players wanted. Battle.net STILL sux though! Can’t play it with my current Internet issues! It’s online only, even in single player. Idiots.
* DOOM (also great for when I feel annoyed at some fool!)
* Life is Strange: Before the Storm (this is very interesting “choice and consequence” driven narrative adventure with several endings dependent upon choices made. Also have (and finished) the previous Life is Strange. Wasn’t sure about these @ first, but I can see why they have such a huge & loyal following! I have to say this sequel feels rushed & is shorter than the original game. Still, it’s not bad.
* The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition,
* Titan Quest: Ragnarok Anniversary Edition,
* Battlefield (1, 3, 4 & Hardline. Mainly playing BF 1, which is actually the newest release!)
* Dragon Age: Inquisition,
* Asassin’s Creed IV – Black Flag (I have all the AC series but this is the one I enjoy most),
* Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst (an excellent 3D platformer style game that has helped improve my eye-hand coordination & mental acuity! Things happen fast & suddenly! Was frustrating @ first, now it’s fun!)
* Endless Space 2 (This is a huge space based game, a kind of strategic space opera, with beautiful graphic’s & music & a lot of DLC’s & options to choose from! Will take some time to play the whole thing.)

Occasionally play:
* Tomb Raider (the 2013 remake. I have the entire HUGE Collection bundle. I like this one best so far),
* Batman Arkham series: Arkham Asylum GOTY (Game Of The Year) Edition, Arkham City GOTY Edition, Arkham Origins, and Arkham Knight Premium Edition (this is huge with over 30 DLC’s)

And for fun & a laugh: The Book of Unwritten Tales series (1, 2 & The Critter Chronicles). Basically, an Adventure style series with a big dose of humor! 😀

So, that pretty much is my day done! Totally given up on starting a new biz. Cancelled all my subscriptions & annual renewable services, though I have kept 3 domains reg’d. Two are good names that are increasingly worth more money. Basically an investment! One is my Kryten42 domain. I still have a bunch of Lifetime subscriptions… Maybe some time from now I’ll change my mind. *shrug* We’ll see.

I spent over $8k building this new PC a couple years ago (though that included the NAS, networking gear & peripherals). I finally get to use it as it was intended.

Also still converting my old video CD’s, DVD’s & BR disks to 1080p HD HEVC MKV files, which was the other purpose I built this for (HEVC is a high-compression format that maxes out the 4 core/8 thread CPU @ 4.7 GHz & the 32 GB RAM. I designed it for that, the CPU core temp’s never get above 54C, well under max spec. & excellent for an overclocked 4GHz CPU @ 1.32V. With a fast system, including the fast 512 GB 950 PRO NVMe SSD, I can rip & convert between 42-65 FPS. So I am pleased about that.) Nice to know I can still do something right!

8 Bryan { 05.13.18 at 8:14 pm }

The Apple stuff is a matter of Facetime links with my brothers and their families. Apple is definitely trying to enslave their customers, especially when it comes to batteries and repairs in general. I got a case for the SE before the SE arrived because I have seen too many cracked screens and I have in a belt case, not my pocket.

The Pi is definitely a faster way to get on the ‘Net than waiting for Win10 to boot up 😉

The only problem I’ve encountered is when I say a word than contains ‘LEX’ like flexible. the Echo may think I said Alexa. I also have family with names very similar to Alexa. That should go away with more training.

I use simple games to distract me while I’m trying to solve a problem. I keep the surface level of my mind busy while the problem gewts solved in the background. Games do help you exercise ‘the little grey cells’.

Data conversions are a necessary step in preservation that the US government is very bad at. We are losing records every day because the equipment that can read the media is becoming obsolete. You would find playing an 8-track cartridge or a DAT a difficult if not impossible quest.

9 Kryten42 { 05.14.18 at 1:47 pm }

Same with me re problem solving distraction. I still play Mahjong & Solsuite Solitaire for that. 😀

I have hundreds of movies & TV series & thousands of music CD’s. In standard formats, they take up a hell of a lot of space! HEVC reduces a DVD/BR video by about 65% or more (depending on the video.) I also rip out all the ad’s & other garbage of course. 🙂

I think my earliest TV series is “Car 54 Where Are You” from 1961. I have movies starting from the 20’s (though I’ve been buying remastered versions when they become available). 🙂

Also a lot of documentaries & comedy shows (like the entire TDS series & Last Week Tonight & several Aussie, UK & other US shows).

This was one of his best show’s this year.
John Oliver Rips Into ‘Total Moron’ Michael Cohen Over Consulting Scandal

Texas Instruments were the first to develop a speech synthesis/recognition chip-set in the 80’s. I built a speech board for the BBC B+, which was basically my prototype dev system back then, for several good reasons. It was actually pretty good for the time. I even sent s/w back to TI that I developed for it. Sadly, they decided to dump it. They said there wasn’t much future in it! I bet they regret that, and other short-sighted decisions, now! *shrug*

10 Bryan { 05.14.18 at 9:03 pm }

Car 54 was only on for two seasons. I saw a few of the first season episodes on Long Island, but was in Texas for the second season. The checkered past of a military brat.

Yes, finding space for all of our ‘stuff’ is a problem when you get older. That’s why I buy e-books instead of real books any more – no place to put them.

John Oliver has become a new favorite along with Samantha Bee. They go for the kill, not the wounding.

TI was a puzzle. They made some nice hardware, but they didn’t hang around long enough for people to discover how good it was. The TI Pro was the best MS-DOS graphics box available for a long time but people didn’t notice.Good products but bad marketing.

11 Kryten42 { 05.16.18 at 2:03 am }

Yeah, but back then most TV series like Car 54 had over 30 episodes per season. Now it’s about 18-20.

As well as limited space, the cost of paper books has priced them out of my reach.

Yeah, I like Sam Bee too! She even followed me back on Twitter. I retweet some of her tweets. I have 1,722 followers now, mostly good genuine people. I joined a few US resistance groups. They like my unabashed snark & commentary! 😉 😆

I block many fools or tell the others not to follow me if they are not someone I’m interested in, like RWNJ’s, religious nuts, companies trying to get their numbers up who sell stuff I think is garbage or a con (I report those too. Had a few accounts killed). Also the myriad sexbots etc! 😆

TI were always bad at marketing! They could be bigger than Intel now. They had the first single-chip 32bit DSP in ’85. After signing a strict NDA, they gave me one of their few prototype chips to use in our new control system project. Two years later, they decided to cancel it! So, i never used TI again except for their basic components that had large sales. They just couldn’t be trusted with new components. Same with NatSemi too. Their 32032 CPU was brilliant! But they allowed Intel & Motorola to spread FUD and they just gave up eventually, though they did release the more advanced 32332 for a time, which was the one I wanted to use, then the 32532 (mainly improved performance and reliability). But they delayed production & only produced limited runs and the NS reputation tanked. They were technically superior (especially with the single chip support products: 32081 FPU, 32082 MMU, 32202 Interrupt controller & 32203 DMA Controller) to anything Motorola/Intel had. One of it’s biggest features for me & our project was that it fully supported multi-tasking on a relatively small board, which the others didn’t or not very well. We ended up using the 68030 & 40, which weren’t nearly as good, and the expensive Inmos Transputer T800. But we had no choice. *shrug*

12 Kryten42 { 05.16.18 at 2:38 am }

Hmmm… Been thinking about the NS32332 CPU I wanted for our new controller. It was being designed to control a new Plasma cutting machine. The plasma torch had been made by a German company years before, but hadn’t been implemented due to the constraints of physics. Plasma has mass & therefore inertia. So, to use in a cutting system at any reasonable speed (we were aiming for a minimum of 10cm/min on 2-4″ steel plate), a lot of rapid calculations & high-speed real-time control of the motors would be involved. The NS32332 CPU was the only CPU capable of interfacing (via the very rare NS32310) with the powerful Weitek FPA which was the only Floating-point calculation unit capable of the performance we needed. We had to create our own interface to the Motorola 68k CPU’s, which required several added components & software, increasing complexity, cost & development time. NS did finally release a CPU called Swordfish aimed at embedded systems like our’s in 1990, but that was 4 years too late for us. The guy that developed Swordfish, Donald Alpert whom I’d spoken too a few times, got fed up with NS when they decided to drop Swordfish & left to join Intel & managed the team that designed the Pentium. That was the end of NS in the CPU market.

That project was the reason I bought the BBC B+. It had several co-processor (or second processor as it was called) options including Z80 (which we used for controlling the stepper motors) & the NS32016. With it’s vast range & support of programming languages, it was a very good prototyping system. 🙂

13 Bryan { 05.16.18 at 10:10 pm }

Back in the day Microsoft’s big seller was a CP/M card for the Apple II that people used for WordStar and other business programs. An Apple II and the card were cheaper and more widely available than CP/M boxes that didn’t arrive in kit form. As far as the micros were concerned, people were looking for applications more than particular hardware. Well written software can cover a multitude of sins in the hardware. Later there were Intel and Motorola processor cards available.

The BBC Micro was a nice little box that I didn’t see until after its big period was over. It shared similarities with the Apple II series including its processor. Its accessories were definitely more ‘stylish’ than the Apple. Woz was an engineer, not a designer.

It was really annoying that so many good semiconductor manufacturers surrendered the micro market to intel and Motorola.

14 Kryten42 { 05.23.18 at 11:47 am }

I liked CP/M & MP/M. I did some work for ICL on a dual 8086 server for MP/M. Could handle 16 terminals easily. Then ICL went belly up! Oh well…

Got my new Mobile on Monday. It’s better than I expected! How rare is that?! 😆

I had to laugh when I went to put the screen protector on. Came in a very colorful wooden box (some kind of high density particle board about 5mm thick), proudly labeled “Explosion-proof Super Strength Oleophobic Tempered Glass Film. Made to 9H standard, processing with tiny cracked particles which can prevent the screen burst.”

The protective *case* is a gel type elastic plastic that has slightly raised edges around the screen. It’s supposedly quite shock absorbent. But given my luck recently, I decided not to test it! I suppose, given that same luck, I’ll find out how good it is one day.

I suspect English isn’t their first language. 😉 Then again… given education standards now, it could be!

I even get 3 bars on the 4G network here! Only got 1 on my old phone. Starts up a lot faster & the display is soooo much better! 1920 x 1080 5.5″. Curiously, though it’s wider & taller, it’s slimmer & lighter than my old one. The battery is 2950 mAh vs. 2100 mAh & definitely takes longer to discharge. Came with Android 7 (Nougat) upgradable to 8. Has a fingerprint reader on the back easily accessible and is better than several I’ve tried!

So, though it was annoying @ the time, I’m kinda glad my old phone died! I paid a little extra (AU$51) for a 5 yr warranty on this one, which is supposed to cover the battery also. I guess I’ll find out one day! 😉 *shrug*

15 Bryan { 05.23.18 at 8:52 pm }

The wannanty that covers the battery is cheap. Apple wants about $80 to replace a battery. Sounds like you got a great deal.

I used MP/M on Southwest Technical Products systems in the 1970s. They have good gear that did what most people wanted, wordprocessing and spreadsheets, but companies went for the Apple II with Z-80 cards solutions until the IBM-PC came out. Lotus 123 was the real driver behind the PC sales. Applications sell hardware.

I’m fighting with Ubuntu over changing the cursor size. I change the size, but it reverts back every time I reboot. PITA. Still looking for the ‘one config that rules them all…”

16 Kryten42 { 05.25.18 at 2:05 am }

😆 I have my little battles with Linux also. But they are minor & usually easily fixed compared to ANY version of Windoze!

I’ve had enough with W10 to the point where I just bought an upgrade to my VMware Workstation Pro 12 (linux), to v14.1.2. I got a nice discount from my fave Corp. reseller (where I got my W10 LTSB keys & NAS/Network gear). AU$179. I’ll run it on CentOS & run W10 & W7. They have improved it a great deal performance wise. They gave me a 90-day guarantee that if it has any problems with what I need from Win, they’ll give me a full refund. I guess I’ll find out. 😀

17 Badtux { 05.25.18 at 2:17 am }

I used an Altos with MP/M. It did bank-switched multi-tasking of four users and was used as the accounting system for a small chain of computer stores until that chain went bankrupt. Each store had a terminal that attached (via RS232 modems for the remote systems) to the Altos, and it had a 10 megabyte hard drive to hold all the data. It was an interesting piece of hardware, but had the same limits as most MP/M systems of the day. I almost took it home with me when that chain went out of business and all the junk in the store got trashed out by the new owner (who was a friend of mine and thus was willing to give me anything he didn’t want out of all that junk), but then it was, “what am I going to do with an 80 pound obsolete boat anchor anyhow?”.

30 years later I brought home another 80 pound obsolete boat anchor, but the difference between then and now is that an 8 year old server is still quite usable today (especially after I pumped it up to 96gb of RAM and twin 3.06ghz hexacore processors), while in 1988, an 8 year old server was utterly obsolete.

18 Bryan { 05.25.18 at 5:24 pm }

Currently I’m I’m looking at DVD burner software for bootable disks from .iso files and for a decent Windows partitioning software.

I’m thinking of keep the Win 10 install on a partion, rather than the entire 1TB disk, and the load linux flavors to see what I what to standardize on. Lnux has all of these tools, but Windows is pathetic.

Altos was a big player for quite a while, Badtux, but things and the market moved on.