Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Debugged; Noun

When you wonder why the automation isn't turning off Work focus after you've been home a while, and realize it's using the wrong device's location to geo-fence.

Then add another automation for the same location on another device.

Then can't delete either of these, because your phone and tablet both still show two entries with details from the original automation entry because deleting the automation doesn't do nadda, and your watch doesn't show any automations.

Then you finally say screw it and delete the entire focus.

That's debugged. o(*_*)o

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Dusting off DooM '93 for a refreshing break, I managed to leisurely make it through most of episode 2 before my watch reminded me that I should in fact, get off my fat butt and walk around a bit.

I'm well reminded of how the map designers were often out to get the player. E2M6: Halls of the damned has a rather obtuse layout by modern norms but really good flow for a DooM map. Magic closets unleashing enemies are kind of overused, but it's a pretty nice map.

On DoomMaps: we can see a fair look at the various curves and bends that funnel you towards monsters.

Having survived the dance of shotguns between mobs, painted the halls in plasma and exploding lost souls, and said screw it and chainsawed through hordes of Pinkies, I eventually came across a second exit door guarded by the yellow skull key. It's been long enough since I've played episode 2 that I had no real recollection of this, but of course by that point in the map I was really not surprised when this turns out to be a fake exit door leading to Cacodemons, shotgun guys, lost souls, and other things making the back of my mind shout, "PLASMA, PLASMA!!!"

Confession: when the closet full of demons opened up on the way back to the real exit door, I opted to whip out the chainsaw in order to conserve my plasma cells and chaingun bullets for E2M7.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

So, I've finally decided to give it a shot. For a while I've had some interest in the various sensors Apple Watches have, and due to recent affairs, I pretty much find myself with greater need to be aware of what time it happens to be and whether or not there is a meeting on the agenda. Frankly, I'm tired of walking to the head or the snack bar and checking my phone for the time.

Combining these factors, along with the Xbox Series X continuing to be more Unicorn than not as far as budgeted upgrade paths go, I did something I rarely do: I bought myself an expensive birthday present! With my birthday coming up soon, I decided to pull the trigger and just do it. Something that's not a unicorn always taps that earmarked piece of my savings anyway. Actually, thinking about it, if you discount that time I ended up needing a car near Christmas time, buying a Apple Watch Series 7 is probably the second or the most expensive 'gift' I've ever picked for myself 😃😄😂. In retrospect, it's also the first time I've ever been to an Apple Store, and probably the first time I've gone to a certain nearby mall in a about a decade.

My choice between the SE and S7 is mainly about the sensors; for all other factors I'd rather save on price. Of course, in September there will probably be nice sales if Series 8 lands at the usual time frame but I'm not a Virgo or a Libra. In terms of style being the bland sort, a nice black case and a dark green leather band in 45 mm. Something that fits both my taste and will blend in whether at work or out and about. Might investigate some of the NATO nylon straps and stainless-steel bands on Amazon for variety, but so far, so happy. The leather link uses a magnet clasp that's as easy as Velcro, and more comfortable than the regular sports and leather bands with the usual through hole buckle that I've worn over the years.

This makes the third watch I've owned since about 1999, and the second that I've bought for myself. Remarkably, it's also the most expensive. Back around '99 is when I bought the watch that I used most in my life, for a whole remarkable ten bucks at Walmart. The only other watch I've used since then was a really, really slick hand me down. Until about 2010, I had intermixed between watch and watch less and set it aside sometime after adapting to phones in 2010. I can say that my desire for phones likely peaked somewhere in the middle and has long since waned in favor of tablets.

On the flipside, maybe the three rings will convince me to move my lazy fat ass more often ^_^.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

For work related reasons, I’ve found myself using a Mac for the past two weeks rather than my aging Latitude. Along with whatever the sale related winds happen to be when Stark finally retired, I suppose this will influence whether my next laptop ends up an XPS or a MacBook, lol.

Having adapted an iPad and fiddled around with old-ass PowerBooks, I’m already well aware that Apple has its own standards when it comes to keyboard shortcuts, and that it’s probably as old as anyone else’s :P.

One of the most annoying points of transition for me isn’t the control, option, and command thing — rather it’s the differences in use. For the most part these modifiers are what you’d expect compared to control, alt, and super (windows). The part that will corrupt my muscle memory is some everyday control+shortcuts are control+shortcuts and some are command+shortcuts. Unlike a simple difference in modifier layout: this calls for learning which ones are and aren’t different modifiers; not just different key positions.

While the pattern is pretty straight forward for application specific shortcuts, e.g., cntrl+t to open a tab will almost always be cmd+t instead and changing tabs remains the control+tab of a PC; it’s the cursor movements for hopping by words and lines with the arrow keys that are harder to muscle memory. Those feel to have much less rime to reason to me. To balance that out, macOS comes with a version of vim pre-installed!

My relationship to Mac OSX was mostly focused on the unix layer. BSD with bits of GNU, and a little fruit on the side. Apple’s GUI itself never interested me much when I was getting deeper into computers.

As a consequence: I find the macOS window manager very “Different”, but surprisingly interesting. An early source of confusion for me was control+up versus control+down. One of these effectively shows the windows on the desktop and one of these effectively shows the windows for the current application. That’s the key.

macOS’s window manager is decidedly modern but it has rather classic notions!

Another source of such confusion is differences between cmd+tab and cmd+`, a distinction between applications and windows quickly becomes a “Huh” when you start having handfuls of terminal windows intermixed with handfuls and handfuls of other application windows. If I hadn’t played with the classic MacOS, I’m not sure I would have figured that distinction out as quick since no modern platform really does the difference between application window group and windows of the current application that way.

Actually, it’s surprising how much macOS has retained from the ‘90s and ‘80s era system software. Both in spirit and in direct function. While at the same time embracing UNIX, which typically takes a more “PC” approach to things once you leap from minicomputers to microcomputers.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Taking Greek inspiration for lunch, I'm reminded of one of the things I love about living in the US: the food! I remember a German friend describing our approach to eating as a giant "Salad bowl" because you can find a little bit of everything in America.

Being a nation made up of immigrants, people of course brought their tastes in cooking along. It's like if there is anything we can all gather around and enjoy together: it's food. Different families may have different preferences in baking bread, but it's still in breaking bread together that we find joy.

In terms of cuisine, traditionally "American food" is not that different from western European countries. In fact, I'm pretty sure a Frenchman just rolled over in his grave somewhere at that very thought :^o). The subtleties of cooking in such countries are often lost upon us, IMHO. Which makes sense given that so many early colonists came from Europe, and the concepts of cooking came along with them and then mingled together and became adapted to what the home cooks had to work with. The same is often true of other island nations and former territories.

As time moved on more and more delicious food has become common. I find it somewhat amusing that whenever people here are on the search for food, it often is discussed in terms of a type of food (e.g., sandwiches; fried chicken; etc), or in terms of ethnicity (e.g., Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai) that best describes what they are in the mood for. In my area: there's a particularly broad range of food to choose from. We always end up adapting what we cook to what is available to work with, but what form it takes is always shaped by some point of reference.

Growing up, I was fortunate that ma went with a broad range of food. My mother's cooking was heavily influenced both by our shared ancestry and the people we knew. My mother learned to cook from her grandmother, who didn't even speak English. Obviously, Italian food was a big thing to them -- as a child, arguably the pallet of her parents and grandparents were the biggest influences. That had both positive and negatives for my mom, such as the war between her and her mother about the definition of gravy and the occasional horrors of her family eating whatever her grandfather brought home. At the same time, she also loved dinner with friends and neighbors. That could be mean anything, and as a side effect my mother's pallet was far broader than our ancestors. I in turn, benefited from this very much, lol.

It's also kind of funny that often the best home cooks are named grandma, in whatever language the terms of endearment may take.

Note to self: I should definitely make ma's spinach lasagna when the holiday season comes around.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

I’ve always been a collection of oxymorons. Or, as a fan of Oscar, I prefer to say “I am an ox AND a moron!”; although sometimes I find it intriguing how that works out in practice.

Viewing plans for the weekend include both Eraser and Emily In Paris, which is probably a wide apart as you can get for genres.

On the flip side while Eraser is as technologically silly as it gets, and the CGI and compositing shots haven’t held up that great, it’s still as entertaining a collection of bullets and explosions as I remember.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Ahh, it’s been a busy few weeks.

As such I mainly have two core objectives right now.

First is what I refer to as “Drool on the couch”. Rest and relaxation in the manner of Home Simpson. Except for me that tends to look more like Netflix or video games than a beer.

Second is to catch up on my backlog. Things that need to get sorted but don’t always make it into the week. Not to mention trying to get a headstart.

Actually, I find it kind of bemusing that grocery shopping is usually scheduled in terms of when the dogs food and snacks are getting due for refill, or when my own snack pool thins out 😋