Floating day

Today has been what I would call a “Floating day”, or a day in which nothing and everything got done because I floated between various things rather than tunnel visioned on a specific activity.

This morning saw me finally setting up my nano leaf light panels near the reading nook, which amounts to about half of my hexagon shaped panels. It remains to be seen if they will stay up, or come down, but as long as the drywall and the paint is fine then I’ll be happy enough. The command tabs are probably stronger than the vendor’s original sticky pads.

Insert a bit of zombie slaying and various odds and ends, like cursing giving into double-points weekend on my Kindle reading list, and it wasn’t a bad afternoon either. But the real plan was to take out some meat to warm up and read for a bit. A nice sit, a nice read, and the panels are still on the wall 😅

For dinner, I decided to make something that I haven’t made in ages: Salisbury steak. In the great debate of sides, I ended up making home mashed potatoes and roast broccoli because the potatoes need using up and I’ve got plenty of both. Augmenting this plan was sautéing some onions to set aside, and then making a pan sauce to finish the meat in. Sadly, in my aim to avoid leftover sauce it reduced to nothing by the time the meat was finished, but the Salisbury steak came out perfecto 😘. Nice crusting on the outside and tender on the inside.

Follow it up with a bit of wine while I finish cleaning the kitchen, and I’m inclined to call it a success just the same. All in all, I’ve gotten “Nothing” done as it were but “Plenty” got done, so I’m still contented. More importantly, with it being about -9 C outside this morning: I stayed the fuck in doors!

Normalization ftw

There’s several upsides on standardizing on cables and devices when possible. In my case, that’s been braided (i.e., tangle free) USB-C cables rated for 100W charging when the cables are long and comparable 10 Gbit/s or faster rated cables when they’re short.

One of these upsides is “Ahh, it’ll charge a laptop!” when paring a suitable charger with any of my longer cables. These cables are usually poor on data speed but superb at power delivery, which is often what I want when the desired cable is measured in meters, which is also when I really want tangle free….lol.

Another is knowing that when I grab a smaller cable, it’s going to be good enough to feed I/O devices like a NVMe based SSD or any SATA thing I’ve still got handy. Aptly, most of these short cables either came with NVMe enclosures rated for 10 Gbit/s USB connectivity or are in fact Thunderbolt 3/4 cables rated for both 40 Gbit/s connectivity and 100W charging.

Increasingly, when the cables are short I’m aiming for 40 Gbit/s + 100W unless they’re packaged with something. The downside is that Thunderbolt cables are costly and have limited cable lengths, but generally are sufficient for ‘all the USB things’ once you’ve groaned at the bill. If I find myself buying a short cable these days, I’ll save up for a Thunderbolt for future proofing because more and more of my devices support either Thunderbolt or USB at 40 Gbit/s.

For devices in general, I’ve been swinging for USB-C 10 Gbit/s for a while now. Things like motherboards, drive enclosures and external drives, USB hubs and PCI-E expansion cards are chosen based on this. This choice was made based on the rise of the NVMe external drive, and the fact that such a cable will be no problemo when pared with my older gear that maxes out at USB 3.0 or SATA speeds.

Similarly for chargers, the rare time that I buy a charger, I’ve generally aimed for the 90~100W scenario. In the sense that most of my devices will happily charge from a 45W or 65W charger, and the hungriest ship with a 90W charger.

Is this excessive? Not really. Why? Well, let’s see… my primary machine has 40G ports, my gaming machine has 10G ports and a card with 40G ports. SteamDeck has a 10G port and my file server has an expansion card with 10G ports.

Much like USB-A and MicroUSB-B has become relegated to specialized and rare things around here over the past decade, so has 5 Gbit/s connectivity begun to age out of the herd ;).

Oh, Christmas Tree!

When I was moving, I had decided to toss the small tree that I typically setup on my kitchen counter; apartment space being a premium, and dogs being mischievous, that worked well. But for the past couple years, I’ve had it on my list to replace it since it was wearing out from over a decade of use.

It being my first Christmas here, I opted to go with a more normal sized tree. And seriously, I forgot how much work it is to fluff up a full sized tree.

Given the relatively safe environment, I decided to use some of my mother’s nicer Disney ornaments that haven’t been put up since she was alive, for fear they would get broken. In the same vein, I incorporated my father’s Christmas balls as well (damn, that just doesn’t sound right 😅). They haven’t been put up in at least thirty years, and I have no recollection of them being put up since I was very young. Rather there were so many of dad’s balls broken (oi, oi) in the 1990s and 2000s that we spent most of the past few decades trying to keep them from being further destroyed in storage. Much to my surprise, only one ball was broken when I inspected the box earlier this year.

An open question is what I want to do about the star. It fits this size tree much nicer than the old one meter tall tree, but the connector for the lights isn’t the old style plug. Therefore, my options are leave the star unlit or run an extension cord halfway down the tree.

Ahh, it’s been a decent day

Saturday’s walk, rather wiped me out to the point that I could barely sleep from the pain in my feet. It wasn’t so bad afterwards but by the end of the day, it wasn’t pretty. About three weeks ago, I noticed that my boots are worn enough that the right outsole has cracked all the way through, such that you can flex it enough to stick fingers through to the sock if you try 😲. For me, that’s actually not so bad, given my history with footwear from before I started to wear boots, but still means new ones are overdue.

In retrospect, going for a 2.5 km walk in the park was probably not the brightest idea, even if my feet haven’t been paining me as part of my regular days. But just the same, after spending Sunday trying to actively stay off my feet to recover, I think buying new boots has gone from “Yeah, I should plan on that” status to “Do I want to do that over vacation” status. Soaking my feet also made a good opportunity to catch up on my reading for the weekend.

Today, on the positive side, I’ve felt well enough to be mostly unencumbered. Sore enough that I wouldn’t be inclined to go for a long walk, but normal enough not to be bothered. To the point that farting around the computer, I didn’t have any problems making routine trips downstairs to refill my water, rather than keeping a canteen handy.

Taking advantage of the day off, I decided to start on early on dinner plans that I drafted yesterday. Mirepoix (carrots, celery, onions), a few leftover mushrooms, and some ground sausage made in the fashion of beef stew using stock and seasonings. I had bought the celery planning on such a meal, but had yet to go for it. Figured, best do it while the carrots and onions were still good.

While such a stew can be accelerated by preparing the vegetables the night ahead, simmering soups and stews aren’t an expeditious cooking experience. Which means more time spent standing in the kitchen, lol.

Networks and Pizza

Having finally merged some code that’s been stuck in my craw, I decided on a mini-celebration: pizza and eggplant parmigiana, although sadly I forgot about the beer in the fridge. Oh, well; it’ll be there to go with the leftovers 😋.

On the flip side, I think it’s almost time to declare Zeta an operational battle station.

The first problem was I/O performance. Her predecessor, Cream had been pressed into sharing its Wi-FI with Rimuru, leaving the SMB shares on Cream only accessible via wireless clients. Having fished out the aerials that came with Rimuru’s Motherboard 2.0, that solved that connectivity gotcha. But not the simple fact that the file server and the clients are within a meter or two of each other, and the access point is across the house! As much as I suspect a mesh system will be the upgrade path for my network, I’m not replacing that router until it dies or Wi-Fi 7 is ready to rock.

Thus, my shiny new file server was only achieving about 5 MB/s connectivity with my Mac and PC on the other side of the L-shaped monster. Now, I’ve never expected big things of Samba compared to NT’s SMB stack, but Samba’s got waaaay better performance than that and so does Zeta’s hand me down platter drives. My solution to this problem? Gigabit!

At first, I attempted to solve this problem using the combination of libvirt and pfSense. But, I didn’t have much luck getting the bridging to work in order to have a VM on the host be a router while the client functions as the physical. In the end, I discarded this idea and configured Zeta to function as the router for my little local IPv6 network. Yeah, that’s right: I said IPv6, baby! Since this is a local network intended to join Zeta (server), Shion (Mac), and Rimuru (PC) and the occasional other machine, I opted to set this up as IPv6. There’s no real need for IPv4 in my desk’s wired LAN. Maybe I’ll enable IPv4, so I can jack old PowerBook G3 into the switch since MacOS 9.x probably lacks IPv6 support the way Sonoma lacks AppleTalk support 🤣.

Configuring things was pretty easy. A little bit of radvd to enable the Router Advertisement and Router Solicitation issues and for good measure, setup DHCPv6 as an insurance policy, and configured the Ethernet port with the desired address and itself as the gateway. In the future, I may try setting up BIND, so I can have DNS A records map to Zeta’s IPv4 address on the household Wi-Fi and AAAA records map to Zeta’s IPv6 on the desk’s Ethernet, or perhaps even separate domains. But I’m a little hesitant of taking out DNS whenever I reboot the server.

On the flip side, thanks to the lack of fuckwittery, Samba and the SMB stacks on Mac and NT just handles this case fine. Navigating to \\ZETA or smb://ZETA while jacked into the local Ethernet switch nets me about 80 to 115 MB/s, or roughly how fast you can spew data over a Gigabit link to SATA powered things. Seems that the SMB stacks are smart enough to prefer the local Ethernet, but something more DNS aware is how to fix cases like SSH.

The next phase has been setting up the virtual machine environment, which will probably replace the Parallel’s VMs I sometimes spin up on my Mac and the WSL2 environments on my PC. For this, it basically amounted to setting up a bridge interface with the same IP information and using Zeta’s Ethernet port as its bridge port. Then setting the virtual machine’s second interface to bridge to LAN, so that it can be routable over the local switch.

Thus, Shion, Rimuru -> Zeta works. Shion, Rimuru, Zeta -> some VM on Zeta works. Muhuahuaha!

Eggs and power tools

Breakfast

While the handiwork of just about any Japanese housewife would put mine to shame, I do think that this morning’s experiment at tamogoyaki is the best success yet.

The key I’m finding is to be sure to add thin enough layer of the egg mixture that it cooks fairly evenly and quickly, so that it’s easily rolled before the pan facing side gets too brown. Adding a small amount of egg is a lot easier when you don’t almost cook your thumb off the heat radiating from the pan 😅. On the flip side the square shape of a tamogoyaki pan and a spatula near the same size, does make it pretty darn easy to roll the omelette over. That’s pretty much the difference between a tamogoyaki pan and a small skillet: it’s square instead of round.

Power tools

My follow up project for the day was to investigate the wiring on the light switches by my garage. There’s two switches there, one that controls the hallway lighting and one that controls the main lighting in the garage itself. In general, I’m tempted to replace the classic flick switches in my home with slider switches like my apartment had, or simple rocker switches because I kind of like the newer types. A few with Alexa control would be nice but aren’t a big deal thanks to electrical code mandated multiway switches. But for the hallway there where it is the only switch, I’m interested in putting a motion sensor in place so that it’s easy to have that lighting ‘on’ when useful and not constantly forget to turn it on in the first place, or off.

Popping the breaker and getting my tester out because I’m more cautious with mains electricity, it looks like both these switches are the classic two wires and a ground. So that will probably curtail that idea more than finding a suitable two gang plate would. Occupancy sensor type stuff I’ve seen tends to require a neutral third wire. I’m really not surprised though, this house is relatively young but it’s not that young a building.

In retrospect, I should have unscrewed the left switch instead of the right, in order to get a better look at the wiring coming into the box, but for now I have enough information to satisfy my research. Finding it rather a pain in my ass to unscrew the switch itself and that one screw refused to drive far enough to get the front plate to rest flat, I finally caved into that reoccurring thought that groans, “Damn it, I should just buy a drill”, in the back of my head whenever I do things like this. A short ride to the Home Depot later, I now have a cordless drill and impact driver as well as the switch’s plate properly in place. That should take care of my thermostat plans and help with tasks involving light switches and furniture assembly!

I find it kind of curious that I’m accustomed to dealing with low voltage electronics but I find myself far more paranoid when it involves household mains electricity. But not as curious as the fact that power tools make me far more self conscious than handling firearms would. Firearms tend to put holes through things and civilian weapons are limited to the semi automatic variety. Power tools also tend to put holes through things, but have the potential to keep going and typically have less safe guards built in than a pistol or carbine does. Making them far more dangerous to handle IMHO. I was kind of amused at the instructions warning against hitting the trigger when picking up or slinging the drill with the battery still in place.

On the positive side, I suppose the safety concepts are similar enough. It’s just while a dumb ass with a firearm may neglectfully reach out and perforate someone or something at a distance, a dumbass with a power tool is more likely to make like the chainsaw scene from Dawn of the Dead’s finale. I like to think that I may be ignorant or foolish at times, but I try to be a responsible schmuck rather than a true dumbass.

Around the house

Thanks to grandpa’s ladder and how long it takes the rice cooker to go, I’ve finally gotten around to hanging some pictures. The seller didn’t bother to remove and patch everything, and as someone who hates hanging stuff: I’ve found the pre-existing points for mounting and hanging stuff especially convenient!

For the living room, I’ve put up three of the four paintings up. Aptly, these are my grandfather’s artistry and it was his ladder that went to the process of putting them up and using a level to get them hanging straight.

In the small framed space by the door, I’ve opted to put one of the christ pictures, since I kind of think of this space as conceptually like a kamidana and the next best candidate is a picture of mom and dad from the ‘60s that is more easily put else where.

I’ve already setup my “Hunting thropy” in the study. At a previous job, when we were cleaning out old office spaces, I had come across a nice framed rendering of one of their early mainframe systems. After helping the facilities guy send more than a few related things to his blue and green offices out back, I opted to keep that for myself instead of seeing it join the refuse. I may include some of my 8” floppy diskettes into the decore as well, but I’m not sure how well they will hold up on my study’s shelves.

Now that I have some awesome nightstands, I’ve taken the time to launder more of my grandmother’s doily’s, so that the tops have an accent that matches my dresser across the room. Being a pain in the ass, I also cut EZ-Liners to protect the drawers. Decided to break out a few of the plastic flowers I had saved from cleaning out my mother’s things, and incorporate these as well to please the eye.

Perhaps, I’m kind of odd. Traditionally, decoration and ornamentation is something that you prioritize showing to other people. Where you lead your guests, usually often get the most attention to decore. I’m not really that way. I don’t tend to have many house guests and have little desire to show off to others. Rather, I choose to focus decorating places that *I will enjoy* and frequent. So, for example my study and bedroom and kitchen have gotten far more prioritization than places like my living and dining room.

Thank GOD, I don’t live next to an IKEA.

Odds, ends, and a varied day

Today, I decided to take an easier path and go out for some errands and ended up exploring a bit. Sadly, being a stupid schelp, by the time I opted for lunch, I was about ready to chew the steering wheel.

On the positive side I did have a large breakfast, not that my skills at making tamogoyaki are worth much. Finally caving in and buying myself the pan for it after all these years seems to have yielded a superb little all purpose non stick pan with spatchula. Which is nice because making eggs are about the only time I really prefer nonstick style pans, as such most of my other cookware is stainless steel or cast iron.

Sounds like some kind of stone infused non stick coating and an induction pad so it’ll work on any stove top. But really for me, it’s the case that A.) It isn’t a pain to clean after making eggs, B.) It’s probably got more even heat distribution than most of my pots, and C.) the square shape of a tamogoyaki pan can be useful. After quite a few years of going nah, I shouldn’t splurge, or nah, I don’t have cabinet space, I finally said fuck it and indulged in this long term desire. They’re not expensive nor too specialized, but when you have an apartment sized kitchen every square centimeter of storage is precious.

Which reminds me of grandpa’s ladder. For the last 30 years it’s been fairly unnecessary in that the step stool we bought in the 2000s was both tall enough and far easier to store. Let’s just say that it’s been so rarely needed in apartments that it’s more my “Better to have a rope and not need a rope than need a rope and not have it” attitude that’s hung on to it, as I’m a bit less sentimental stuff horder like than my momma was. I’m finding that grandpa’s ladder is quite darn handy to have around a house, where things like ceiling fans, smoke detectors, and light fixtures are often located too high for a simple step stool. And I’m not inclined to tea kettle off a chair either.

Towels redux

I’m not sure if this is evidence that I have been getting more particular about tidying as I age, or that if I had a wife: she would have buried me in the yard by now for driving her mad with such actions. Also, I blame Google search results and Mari Kondo for inspiring this solution.

Standing towels

The brown towel being used to dry stuff is representative of most of my kitchen towels, basically from the ‘last’ time I had moved. The red was originally meant to rotate with them but rather spent most of its life in my changing closet towel shelf. This time it’s ended up my front line towel for hand washing. I forget how old the white one is, but it was found in the utilities and got a trip through the washer with the rest before being appointed mess duty.

Hmm, this makes me wonder if the coffee tray repurposed from organizing my bathroom counter (drawers ftw!) might make a useful towel wrangling, or if it’s better reserved for my red tea set.

Two yeses and a no

No, I didn’t need to buy new kitchen towels.

Yes, I bought these because they’re pretty.

Yes, all my old kitchen towels are pretty as a brick through a window.