Saturday, July 30, 2022

 A second experiment: 44 grams of coffee (about 6 spoons of beans) to 800 ml of coffee for 4 minutes. A nice bold coffee, but without that kite flying value of the previous stump water experiment.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

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!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

There’s plenty of reasons why I prefer Alexa to Siri and Google Assistant as far as digital voice things go.

One of those reasons is that when I address Alexa, the closest device tends to be the one that responds. Makes sense for something that has to listen for a key word.

Now, by contrast there is Siri. I can raise my watch to my face and address Siri with some request. But instead of processing this, my phone or tablet across room takes over and of course can’t here a damned thing that I’m saying. I’ve experienced this with my phone and tablet enough to know a work around for that is to put your phone screen down as a STFU indicator, because obviously the device the user is interacting with isn’t the one the user obviously wants to use by default.

Or, you know, just do the sane thing, Apple. It’s not rocket science.

Looking around for a markdown editer, because sometimes even I like something snazzier than vi^1, I came across an interesting blog post: On Apps and Coffee - iA.

iA Writer is an application that I had glossed over when I first got my iPad and filed away as a "Remember for later". Imagine my surprise, that it actually supports other platforms. But anyhow, moving on.

I think the author makes an interesting point that apps are not coffee but coffee machines. Much the way that to the old world, computers are office tools not just a way to warm up a cold candy bar out of the office vending machine.

In general, as a consumer: I tend to avoid subscriptionware as a rule of thumb. I'm spending enough money on things like video streaming services that I don't often accept this for software. Or should we say, if your quaint (or even truly awesome sauce) app costs $30/month (or even 40¢ a month) then I'm probably going to keep on scrolling. You've got to be something I use excessively or offer some major value, not just fill a personal niche.

Unlike most consumers however, I tend to be quite willing to pay for good software. As a programmer, I understand the effort that goes into making great software more than most users. Further when I encounter good software that solves my problems, I can see the value metric—how much time is this saving me versus developing my own solution? Yeah. That's a thing. In my experience, people are either willing to pay for a good product or they weren't going to give you jack shit no matter how much effort it takes to pirate it.

People often forget that the one who produced the product also has to eat, not just slurp a coffee. One of the reasons why I've never opted to sell my software, is the profitability is keyed to unit sales. How many apps do you need to sell to buy a coffee? Yeah. Subscriptions are an easier sell when you're renting access to something. Cloud storage and media libraries make easier sells than say, an address book or a mail client. I've seen a few modern models, based on progressive unlock: a few dollars for features here, a few dollars for features there, if you actually want the nice to haves or support the developer. The one I think that makes the most sense to me, as a consumer, is a model like Working Copy. Full cost of the app to unlock the pro features, and future features for up to a year. After which an upgrade cost is pertinent.

I kind of love iA's analogy hat apps aren't like coffee but like coffee makers. Whether you buy the $25 coffee maker at Walmart or the $25,000 imported espresso machine, you're going to periodically have to deal with the costs of service. For a coffee maker this is an expense like coffee beans and k-cups. For software, this is the cost of someone maintaining the software and periodically developing new features. You know what? Never underestimate the cost of maintainence unless you're willing to coax a 20-year old computer into powering up just so you can run some piece of software that hasn't been updated in forever. Whether you're acquiring software from an indy developer, helping maintain it yourself as a open source contributor, or you're licensing it from an enterprise with more money than your entire family combined, it's not free to deal with maintaining software over a long term.

Be it our mental models or our monetary worlds, I'm not really sure a good solution exists. But apps definitely aren't coffee: apps are the coffee makers. Also remember, coffee makers eventually need replacement and that may look like a trip to Amazon or Walmart some bleary eyed morningπŸ˜‚



  1. Actually, the ease of previewing is one of the reasons I've enjoyed using VS Code the past couple years. But I still need the vim plugin πŸ˜ƒ

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Ahh, sweet, sweet solace of NOT hearing the USB enumeration sound all the fscking time! Swapping the Anker all the things hub out for a simple USB-C that has two pair each of USB-A and USB-C ports resolves the grumbles.

Functionally, I think this is kind of preferable because the extra pieces of the Anker hub that refuse the enumerate when connected to my ASMedia controller, are only needed for the laptop side. I.e., HDMI, Ethernet, and USB-PD. For the tower, I only need the USB ports coalesced into a one cable swap over.

I've also been thinking for a while now about Stark's successor. When I built Rimuru last year, I chose the name for three main reasons.

  1. Rimuru is rather overpowered and became a demon lord. 
    1. Centauri was built for a 5-year machine and nearly lasted the decade before her retirement.
    2. So, I was specing the replacement based on 10-years of service life and planning ahead for multiple refits.
  2. Aside from being largely new hardware: Rimuru's key design factors are based on Centauri's design processes.
    1. You could say that Centauri's design was reincarnated as a modern PC.
  3. Obviously, I rather like That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime.

As such, I have a feeling that if Stark's successor is from either of the laptop series that I envision, it seems that Shion would be a great host name for my next laptop. Because Shion is Rimuru's first secretary, prone to solving problems with brute force, and tends to get him into trouble πŸ˜„.

In a somewhat similar convention, my iPhone SE 2020 was nicknamed Benimaru because I bought the red model and my transition from Android to iPhone, was not unlike the time Benimaru and the ogres showed up in Tempest all pissed off and ready for a fight. My devices are usually given a hostname based on whatever comes to mind relatively quickly in terms of the device's personality. But once in a while, ideas pop up ahead of time.

Friday, July 15, 2022

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.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Evidence that Windows NT is in fact, the most annoying operating system when it comes to USB, or that me, USB, and Microsoft just don't mix well += 1.

So, for the day I've been rather perturbed that about every ten minutes or so, Rimuru makes the USB enumeration sounds.

Running Device Manager in "Devices by connection" mode allows me to obtain a decent tree view of USB things. Fucking with cables like a mad man allows using the process of elimination to determine what the actual fuck device or port causes this.

Interesting to me, after process of elimination across all ports on my motherboard's Intel controller and the twin ports on my ASMedia controller, I've figured out something interesting about my new Anker hub.

When connected to the ASMedia (directly or extension) the onboard network port shows up as Unknown USB Device (Device Descriptor Request Failed). Likewise, if you insert a memory card into either card slot, no driver letter appears, and it starts making USB enumeration sounds like a mother fucker. Looks like two ports on an NS1081 USB flash card controller judging by the device manager but doesn't work. Connect something to the Gigabit port and it does not even light up past the hubs power up cycle. This is true even if nothing is connected to the hub's USB ports, so that it's a straight shot to the controller's C port and as minimal a downstream power draw as physically possible (i.e., only the hub's power LED, network port or sd port).

By contrast, connect the hub to my motherboard's front USB-C port and instead of Unknown USB Device (Device Descriptor Request Failed) that entry becomes a typical AIX based USB Ethernet port. Didn't try the card slots when connected to the Intel controller, but I imagine they would work in that configuration.

So, this boils down to when connected to the Intel controller the hub works just fine and when connected to the ASMedia controller, the bridge chips on the hub don't work.

Also, by contrast if I swap in one of the HooToo USB-C hubs that are so ubiquitous on Amazon, it just works fine regardless of which USB controller it is connected to.

Yeah. Pretty much by down, I don't really care which vendor is the problem child here. Fuck'em all.

BASB Categories of Intention and my digital brain

A while back, I came across Tiago Forte and his Building a Second Brain concept by way of a YouTuber channel that I follow. Watching a related playlist, Pick Your Digital Notes App: Step-by-Step Walkthrough also generated some interesting food for thought.

For the most part, I tend to apply a huge grain of salt or a tune out and keep walking relationship towards productivity, task, and time management systems. In my case, I was both interested in a little more detail in favor of deciding which side of my crap sifter that lands on and the rather lenghly list of notes apps referenced being cataloged by style.

In context, my long-term use of Evernote as my digital brain can be classified as the Librarian architype that Tiago mentions. I was quite amused, actually, how Evernote and that mentality went together in his playlist πŸ˜„.

But there's another concept of BASB stuff I've seen that's kind of curious to me at the higher level. Here's an excerpt from one of my notes:

Categories of intention

  1. Tasks
    1. Actionable priorities separate from other stuff.
  2. Read/Watch Later
    1. Yeah, right.
  3. Projects
    1. Goals and deadline
    2. Longer term.
  4. Areas
    1. Important to spend and time on but no specific deadline.
  5. Resources
    1. Hang on to stuff.
    2. Collect knowledge, etc.
  6. Archives
Tiago Forte suggests these as notes. I envision them as notebook stacks, or notebooks that require a sea of tags.

Periodically, I try to re-evaluate and "Clean up" how information is stored, or "Filed away". In thinking about how my notebooks have become laid out, I realized that most of my notebooks are largely one of these architypes categorized by some greater context to narrow the scope to what I am looking for during search.

One of the reasons I came to appreciate Evernote and, in many ways, modern applications in general, is a greater focus on data rather than files. This is why for example, as I've grown older the structure of my data has become less like an "Anally organized tree of fine-grained stuff" and more like a flat and wide breath of collections.

Where younger me might have viewed a structure like ~/Documents/Papers/General Knowledge Domain/Refined Knowledge Domain/Some Computer Science" to be useful, contemporary me is just pissed off by the excessive nesting. I don't want to spend my time organizing or finding, I want to spend my time using and storing information. So, by contrast, contemporary me would simply store such a PostScript file in my "Programming" notebook, attach tags for any relevant languages, and consider creating tags for the knowledge domain if and only if it's likely key to being able to find the information again. That is to say, if I'm trying to narrow the hundreds of notes in my Programming notebook or searching across my entire Evernote, I might create a tag. In the area where I started to collect lots of digital information, tags were already quite the fad; one in which I have a relatively negative view towards after years of [ab]using tags.

Thus, presently my notebooks are relatively flat making it easy to glance and guess where stuff goes or should be found. Tags are for useful things only. No more debating which notebook is more specific -- it's either a high-level context, or it's not a notebook! This is why for example, my Programming stack of "XYZ Programming" and "XYZ Software" notebooks were merged into Programming and Software notebooks and all the XYZ became tags or were simply unimportant. Part of why this works really well, is that computers have come a fair way past the old 'find where | grep pattern' way of searching for data, but we still think in those terms whatever our tools for finding and grepping hae become.

My notebooks like Programming, Games, Hardware, Formats & Notations, Mathematics & Science, Linguistics, Food, Photography; are all notebooks in the domain of "Resources", in terms of the above categories of intention. Whereas notebooks like Clipped Articles and Image Scrapbook would be considered Archives and notebooks such as Travel and Financial, would-be areas. Since I store a whole lot of stuff in Evernote, it really is like a library of resources and areas of focus, as well as other intentions.

I kind of like this notion of categories of intention. I may have to give it some thought both into my next great data cleanup and the relationship between tools that I utilize.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

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.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

On one hand it was a little early for lunch. On the other hand, I've basically been physically active since I woke up at 0730'ish. So, I'm going with a notion from one of my favorite visual novels, that having expanded a lot of calories and having no good reason to wait: you naturally eat lunch, early.

Which also makes me realize that I haven't had any coffee yet. Therefore, it's time to make coffee while I update my journal ;).

Because I'm weird, I like pickles on the side. Because I'll eat at least half the bag otherwise, I'm smart enough to put chips on the side too. And who needs a few bits of tomato leftover just because you were one piece of ham shy of another wrap.

Think I've found a pattern that works really well for me in terms of making a sandwich wrap. These are made by:

  • One slice of American cheese
    • Broken into smaller strips and lined up so that it's smaller than half a slice deep.
    • Starting about 1 centimeter below the edge of the tortilla.
  • Three slices of salami
    • Simply, a thin layer of cold drier cold cuts.
    • These are nice sandwich sized and thin sliced, so it takes that many to fill a layer.
  • Enough leafy greens to fit between my fingers and palm.
    • I'm more inclined towards greens like arugula, spinach, chard, etc.
    • Thinly layered.
  • A swing of sauce.
    • In this case, ranch dressing.
    • Often, I'll use horse radish sauce, or whatever salad dressing I'm in the mood for.
  • A few chunks of tomato.
    • Romas are easily chopped into chunks a bit larger than a fingernail in length and three or four tossed in the middle.
    • Adds more crunch and variety to my diet.
    • Which works because I don't like to eat a tomato, but I do like tomato in stuff.
  • One slice of hot honey ham
    • Simply, a second layer of cold cuts to help hold it together.
  • One slice of Cheddar cheese.
    • Broken into strips and positioned similarly.
    • I like two kinds of cheese for flavor and tend to shop that way to compensate for the odds that one will become midnight snacking instead of sandwich fixings.
  • Roll the burrito sized tortilla up, press to help keep it shut, and optionally slice in half.
I've been following variations on this pattern for a while and like how this turns out. Putting the cheese on the outside seems to help bind it together, as the softer cheeses will melt relatively quickly. Putting the cold cuts between the cheese and the watery bits seems to keep it tidy and less likely to spew out.

For me, I find that bread often goes bad before I can work through a loaf unless I go on quite the sandwich kick. Wrapping up a tortilla on the other hand, is at least no less healthy than my taste in breads, and easily tossed in a refrigerator bin with the cold cuts and cheeses.

From a healthier prospect, I should probably have skipped one of these halves. Not sure if it's due to this morning's exercise or the more sating approach to filling a sandwich wrap, but I found this to be quite a lunch. In either case, Misty would have been happy to eat the other half!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

For a while now, I've meant to get a thing of Altoids. Both because of all the cool projects I've encountered over the years that would fit in one and wondering what they taste like. Not bad actually.

That said, I found it curious that the curiously strong mints can be smelled through the cellophane wrapped tin, lol.