A strong cup of coffee

Last year, I had ordered a French press and a nice burr hand grinder. Made a dandy cup of coffee, but I found that typically, it took too long to grind up a few cups worth of beans. So, sadly, it hasn’t seen much use lately.

Well, given my recent temptations to either buy an espresso machine or a new Keurig, I decided to try investing in an experiment. See, the problem with the hand crank is after a few minutes of dire need for coffee it’s exhausting, lol. The problem with an electric of course is defined in dollars.

In looking for a decent grinder that doesn’t cost too much to dub an experiment, and carefully avoiding several espresso machines, I came across a Shardor based grinder that was both cheap enough to at least call an expensive experiment at about $40, plus on sale for about 40% off (~$24) making it about as cheap as any coffee grinder with a motor in it. It’s even a Burr based model and small enough for an afternoon or weekend supply of coffee. While it arrived yesterday, I’ve been too busy and frankly, after dark isn’t a great time for a cup of cafinated joy.

This morning, I basically had to skip food and drink for other errands. Needless to say, I was pretty ready to try out the new grinder.  About 8 spoonfuls of beans and about 800 ml later, I have me some pretty good coffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Damn, that’s a nice cup of coffee!

Musings of an aging nerd

Having transitioned from “Gahh, no space!” to compact, so far the new desk is working out fairly well. If nothing else, it’s certainly nice to feel like I’ve got some desk space.

Because of the change up, I’ve been thinking of migrating Nerine’s charging point from my headboard to my desk, since it’s usually bedtime when I put my tablet on charge and that’s really the only time, I use my phone at home. My headboard’s been the charging station for ages, both due to convenience and the lack of desk space.

Actually, working off that metric and the dual desktop/laptop setup where usually my tablet is guarding my left flank anyway, I’m starting to think of my desk setup as the “Gateway station” where starships go in transient. Plus, the grey slab with technology sprouting out of it rather reminds me more of the space station in Aliens than any of the pocket-sized classes of Star Destroyer.

So far, my evil desk replacement plan has gone relatively well.

The riser that came with my new desk places the monitor too high for my tastes, and was kind of edge to edge. To compensate, I’ve replaced it with a decent monitor arm. In general: I tend to prefer my monitors lower when they’re larger / further away and high up there when they’re smaller / closer. My goal was to open room under neath for a laptop to be docked not change the monitor positioning.

On the flip side, my LG was pretty darn painless to replace its integrated stand with the arm. Using the arm also gives me better cable management and unlike the un-adjustable one my monitor came with; I could always add binder clips to it. Hehe.

Speaking of binder clips: since I had to rewire all the things, I added a pair to the back of my desk. One to the left to keep the monitor’s power brick from moving around and one to the right to retain the incoming Ethernet cable. I also fed my mouse and probably speaker data cables through it before routing accordingly.

To facilitate fast swapping between Rimuru and a laptop, I got myself a fancy USB-C hub. The USB-A hub affixed to monitor via velcro is now connected to one of its USB-A ports and my speaker is in its USB-C data port. Mouse, web camera, and Xbox adapter are in the USB-A hub on the monitor. Pretty much fetch an HDMI cable and network cable out of the closet and it’s a one cable swap to my work MBP, and a second cable for its charger. 

Because the hub’s cable can’t reach Rimuru’s 10 Gbit/s USB-C card and the 5 Gbit/s hub on the monitor was barely reaching one of Rimuru’s motherboard USB-A ports, the solution was a 10 Gbit/s USB-C extension cable running from his expansion card to the hub. That extension cable is retained by the same binder clip as the monitor’s power supply, so it won’t fall off between the narrow gap between desk and wall when swapping cables. ‘Cuz I know how that goes ;).

To facilitate this “All the things follow one cable” plan creates a bottle neck but considering that this bottle neck is a 10 Gbit/s, I don’t really mind. Most of my USB-A peripherals have limited power and data requirements. We’re talking about whether the 1080p web cam or the simple speakers draw more juice. Not trying to power a spinning hard drive and a desk lamp.

An added benefit of this novel approach is I’ve worked around an annoying problem.

Back when my first USB floppy drive went bork-bork, I had a spell where some of Rimuru’s USB-A ports seemed dead, then went back to working. In the months (~year) since then most of his ports behave in a way that makes me believe that most of the fuses are blown. As a consequence, peripherals have generally been moved to the USB-A hub on the monitor and it connected to one of the still good ports on the motherboard’s I/O panel.

Given that whatever the warranty status and pain in the assery of that might be, it’s probably a good thing my Real Focus on connectivity has been USB-C stuff, it’s probably a good thing that I bought that 10 Gbit/s expansion card for two more C ports. Considering the fuses are probably under the big ass heat sinkage and tiny as !@#$ to desoldier and replace, I’m going with definitely was a good plan to buy that expansion card.

Moving things to my one cable swap all the equipment plan kind of removes this problem. But to cope with it, I’m thinking of two more changes. Another hub on the back of the monitor that keeps the mouse/camera from sticking out the side, and a 5 Gbit/s expansion card to put some A ports where my motherboard’s PCI-E x1 slot is available. Since 10 Gbit/s requires an x4 slot, that’s already consumed by my USB-C expansion card.

Ahh, the joy of computers. Fuck them all.

Desk Plans

For the first time in quite a few years, I’m planning on a different desk setup at home. Actually, for the first time in about 16 years, I’m buying a new desk as part of the plan.

The small desk that I use has been slighted modified to suit my preference for keyboard on slab over its slide out keyboard tray. But otherwise, it’s about the same desk my mom bought about 20 years ago when we got a Pentium 4. Making the migration away from keyboard trays, and frankly having held up much better, is why it replaced my desk that I bought about 16 years ago when I got my own personal computer.

Here’s what I’m envisioning:

  1. A slab style desk about 40″ wide.
  2. Monitor riser to hold the big ass monitor.
  3. Laptop docked under the riser.
  4. Speakers to either side.
  5. Some means of swapping between tower and laptop.
For the desk part of this equation, I’m looking at this gaming desk. It’s close enough in dimensions to my mom’s old desk that I don’t think Corky will notice it encourching on his beloved bedside corner unless the cupholder falls off and hits him in the snoop or I spill a drink on his head. The included riser should be just enough to handle my monitor’s stand, and I could probably go with one of those arms if that doesn’t work out.
This should allow sliding my development Latitude or my work MacBook Pro under the riser, and in theory, maybe I can get away from the annoyance of the monitor leg being under my mouse pad 😂.
Having a slab of comparable dimension should maintain the benefit of having the room to the side for my laptop / phone / whatever the crap I’m working on but put it at the same height as my desk instead of being a “Lowered” shelf the size of a PC shelf. The lack of a place to stow my PC other than on the slab means that Rimuru will probably end up on a little rolly stand of his own, or that I’ll duct tape some cardboard together to make one.
The part that I haven’t quite figured out is device swapping.
On the back of my monitor there are strips of Velcro affixing a Gigabit switch and a USB hub. On the top is my webcam and behind are my speakers jacked into one of the dual USB-C 10 GBit/s ports on Rimuru’s expansion card.
Stack has a Dell docking station that solves most problems of interfacing if it fits but won’t be able to share much. Whether I replace it with a shiny XPS or a Mac someday, my next laptop is going to have USB-C ports much as this was a design requirement when I built Rimuru! Since most of my gear is either Bluetooth (keyboard, headphones) or USB-A (mouse, webcam, USB-A hub, Xbox controller adapter) it would be relatively easy to swap from desktop to laptop as desired by using a USB-C hub because the only Bluetooth device switching around is one with multiple device pairings. The sticky one is that my speakers require a USB-C for their data connection to actually work. The only solution I’ve been able to figure on so far, is one of the few hubs readily available that has both USB-A and USB-C ports. I figure that most connections of interest can be routed to such a hub, along with display/network for the laptop. Personally, I would prefer something like the 4-port USB-A hub on my monitor but as a 4-port USB-C hub, but those are still harder to find as most vendors are C-to-A style hubs and most have short cable lengths. The alternative would be having to switch my speakers between USB-C input and Bluetooth mode, which isn’t totally convenient since they would still need Rimuru to be powered on, making USB the better deal for toggling between devices.
A tricky part of this is the cable length such a hub. That effectively means that cable swaps would require running a USB-C to C extension cable from Rimuru to the hub and swapping the hub between that extension cable and whatever Stark’s successor is. And probably hoping that the new desk or riser lets me put binder clips on the back for cable retention, to keep the cable for falling off, lol.
Well, at least that is my concept for right now.

Operation New Coat

Ordinarily, I wear the same black light all year jacket that I’ve worn for so many years… I was already wearing it in photos 17 years ago. After so many years, it’s gotten a bit thinner and worn in places that I’ve worried someday it’ll fall apart. But it’s fit that sweet spot of a coat that is light enough to wear when it’s chilly outside and warm enough that when it’s insufficient: switching to thermal shirts or multiple layers is both a solution and recommended anyway, lol. Like my hat, it handles wind and rain well enough that I rarely need an umbrella. Actually, I’ve rarely used an umbrella or a dedicated raincoat for at least a decade now because my jacket is close enough for 70% of my rainy weather needs not just keeping warm. I love my jacket because it made a pretty effective wind breaker in its youth and remains an all year ’round coat.

When it gets really cold and windy during the winter it’s layer duty. Typically, I will add a heavy-duty fleece and a scarf that I’m pretty sure is a few decades older than I am. The over the head fleece is bothersome and ineffective against water, but as a second layer over my regular jacket it works damn well until the wind warrants thermal underwear.

The other day, Amazon’s prime deal of the day just happened to be Wantdo Men’s Waterproof 3 in 1 Ski Jacket Warm Winter Coat Windproof Snowboarding Jackets with Detachable Puffer Coat for about 20% off its current pricing. It aligns well enough with what I’ve been thinking of in a new coat for several years, and priced as “Yeah, let’s give it a shot” while the sale lasts.

So far, this is looking to be a success!

Material wise it seems like it should handle water slightly better than my old jacket; certainly, no worse. Especially given that by wearing it since circa high school: my normal jacket isn’t getting any thicker or more water resistant with age. The removable “Puffer” liner looks like on its own and zipped into the main jacket, should replace use cases where I either switch to heavy-duty fleece or wear it over my old jacket. The change from a mesh lining to warm and cozy might make it less all-year wear than my old coat, but we’ll see.

Kind of happy to see that the zippers are far from the weakest point. My old jacket, shall we say fits in that gap between decent zippers either last almost forever or make you wonder about the value of replacing them. Not sure if the various draw string pieces will hold up any better than my old jacket, but I can live with that.

A sweet boon is that the cuffs are fitted with Velcro tabs that can be used to batten down the cuffs. I’ve been stuck for years having to make do with gloves and mittens as the only pseudo-work-around when it gets windy as **** out. That the hood zips to the back of the neck and Veclros under the collar bands is nice. Typically, I’ll prefer my Boonie hat to wearing my old jacket’s hood because of superior range of head movement. Except when it is brutally cold in which case I’m putting the hood up, hat on, and wrapping a scarf around the hood, lol. So mostly, it just serves as something to snag on or tell which end of the jacket is which, or an aide for the rare days when I forget my hat and it starts to rain.

Something that remains to be seen is whether or not the pockets will be kickass or useless. My old jacket’s pockets are good enough for storing gloves or snot rags but aren’t safe for things like my phone that don’t take kindly to bouncing off concrete nor reliable for holding things that you can’t have fallen out unnoticed. The zip shut pockets are both deeper than my old jackets, ideal for keeping the free hand warm while walking the dogs. Plus, the zipped breast pocket would be a good way to store my phone for such occasions because my BDU trousers aren’t very convenient for that.

All in all, not the worst ~$66 bucks I’ve ever spent.

Simple solutions to simple problems

When I moved, I ran two cables around the room. One to behind the headboard as a spare in case I re-arrange the room someday, and another to the corner my desk is on. My desk and bed being along the same wall with desk and headboard at opposite corners.

One of the things that has irked me all these years is how much of a tight fit this is. To pull my desktop forward to access the cables: I’ve had to yank the Ethernet. Very annoying. On the flipside when screwing with old computers, sometimes Ethernet is a better deal than Wi-Fi. Thus the cable under the headboard has been handy. Give or take that I usually end up wearing out my knees since the headboard isn’t handy, and the dog takes my spot while I’m putzing with computers.

Finally I’ve caved in any decided there shall be a gigabit switch at my desk instead of a direct connection to my gateway across the room.

Since the $20 TP-Link 8-port gigabit switches I replaced some old HPs^, I opted for one of these TP-Link Lightwaves, It’s rare that I need more than one port at my desk, and space is at a far greater premium than ports^^. Damned thing is tiny as can be. I envision its mounting place to be Velcro to the back of my monitor, but for now a simple picture hanger provides an immediate solution.

And for good measure of testing: Rimiru streaming Netflix from its 1 Gbit/s Ethernet while my PowerBook G3 runs off its 10 Mbit/s Ethernet for grabbing some floppy images for the ‘ol Duo.

^ HP makes some good switches. These worked great as long as you didn’t do a lot of multicast, but had a bigger problem. Turn off a computer and all ports would experience batshit packet loss until you turn that machine back on or unplug it from the switch. Weird.

^^Unlike at work where there’s more space and far more equipment. My home is a more wireless network centric place :P.

In the course of my life, often the solutions to problems have been “Put your back into it!”. Either because power tools are expensive, or it’s something I’ll probably use once every several years at best.

Repeat after me: “I will buy a drill.”

Then go buy a drill.

Honestly at this point, the only negative I can see is the dogs might swap from offering emotional support to running for cover. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on what you’re working on.

Revisiting the problem of sending custom alarm tones to iOS, this time around I opted to save myself some pain. The first thing I did was locate where I stuffed my audio file; the second was plug my iPhone in to iTunes. Because when you utter enough profanities doing a thing it tends to leave a mark 😛.

I’ve been thinking for a while of setting a new alarm for the weekends. Presently, Misty’s morning meds rely on the fact that I’m usually awake around that time and if not, Corky makes sure I am; much as he made sure my mother didn’t dose off instead of testing her sugar in the morning. Habitually waking up around the same time has been useful, but lacks fail safes. Thus the alarm clock.

During the week it’s kind of wrapped around my trifecta of alarms. One to wake me up, so I can’t sleep through the others; one to tell me to get my ass out of bed; and the third to tell me I better damned get my ass out of bed if there isn’t a tooth brush in my mouth yet 😲. Each of these have different tones to help know the pattern. Normally on the weekend there’s just a late alarm in place to make sure I don’t literally sleep the day away, and I’m usually up long before then.

In thinking about whether I want to put the extra alarm on my phone or my tablet, the notion hit me. Separate device, separate why the frak am I waking up reason. I might even migrate that time slot from tablet to phone during the week as further reinforcement that it’s time for Misty’s meds.

As such the time frame overlaps with the first weekday alarm, as that’s the most convenient time to give Misty her meds, and bribe Corky into letting me go back to sleep. Peanut butter is important here, lol. In much the same vain: I’m inclined to use the same alarm tone for the same time of day and purpose.

That just so happens to be the protagonist’s morning alarm from Pixel Fade’s Ace Academy. Which is a heck of a lot more pleasant to wake up to than the 90 dB alarm clock I had as a kid, lol.

While my afternoon could probably be summed up by Star Wars; Squadrons, Willow was incredibly smart and took a sublimly comfortable nap.

I planned ahead what my cooking schedule would look like, so I wouldn’t have to worry much about defrosting time, prep, cooking, or resting times. Likewise the order to do things. Momma did teach me a thing or two in the kitchen 👍. Willow on the other hand stole the show for cuteness.

Growing up my my mother only made turkey once a year, and decided if she was working so hard: she was going to make a huge turkey. Whether it was four of us, or two of us, what that really meant was an average of 22 lbs of bird every thanksgiving. Every year, I’d usually make light of that, lol. Left to my own devices sometimes I don’t even make turkey for thanksgiving.

Since it’s just me, and three hungry dogs: I opted to get the smallest turkey breast I could find. Still too damned much food, lol. Combined with the side dishes, I’m pretty sure that I could have fed another three people.

One of the things my brother’s first marriage brought into our family traditions was green bean casserole. Something that yet survives, and fills bellies. When you’re choking down turkey for weeks, you learn to appreciate the sides, lol.

The family sized package of four cheese mashed potatoes was definitely a good plan. Kroger turkey gravy on the other hand is some of the most salty gravy I’ve ever tasted. Compared to my mother’s thanksgiving plans, my selection of food is rather modest and simple. She often made so much, you could probably have fed the neighborhood for a day instead of us for weeks.

Needless to say, my solution to the holiday resulted in a very full belly. Despite ample pre-dinner snackage, Willow tried to steal turkey twice. It’s probably a good thing I kept their share towards the edge, lol.

The hungry minions were very well fed with their share of turkey. Which is kind of special, because I rarely will make turkey. They really, really love turkey and chicken; and Willow is especially inclined to pilfer fish.

Plus I had bought a can of something yummy for their post dinner treat.

We are all full now. But they will forget this whenever I reach for the cake I baked last night….

 When the weather reports shifted towards flash flood and river flood warnings, I was rather less concerned. Since the local terrain can handle quite a bit of water, and I’m not that close to the river.

Water simply collects by the fence, whether it runs off down the road or much more typically from our gutters down a slight slope towards the fence.

When it started to sound like someone up ended a lake, and dumped it overhead: I figured the slope out towards the fence would be pretty flooded this morning.

Willow was rather less enthused by this, as her favorite walking spot only has a couple meters of dry space between here and the fence.

Needless to say she took a shorter walk this morning than normal, lol.

This stands in stark contrast to plenty of places I’ve seen in Georgia where the angles of drainage feel more inverted. So I’ve long been happy that overflow collects down there instead offs my doorstep, lol