Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Day Of Turkeys

As noted earlier, I decommissioned my Windows XP machine, and migrated to a Windows 7 laptop that was far more capable of handling the new software. The laptop dated to June of last year, and had been quite reliable. It had HDMI out, 8 GB of memory, and a 17 inch screen, quite the looker. Reliable. Until I had migrated the bulk of my data. I suspect that the laptop, which had been used for mobile purposes, had suffered some kind of shock. Video on these models is native to the motherboard, and not replaceable. I had been planning a backup, as soon as I had pruned my massive music files down to size. Just like never missing a chance to go to the bathroom in aviation, one should always back up when time is available. My fault, aggravated by the processor hog process of importing music into I Tunes. Two days. An unbelievable outrage was the necessity of purchasing *gasp* Real Player, to convert the old files on Real's format to conventional ones. Blackmail of the lowest order. These converted files *were* backed up. By the time that was done, I had been pushed into a stupid zone of fatigue, and neglected the backup. Today, first the video failed on the primary monitor, then the laptop's primary monitor refused to return natively. Before I knew it, the boot sectors had gone due to multiple reboots to regain video. The 1080P HDTV used as a monitor may not have been the best choice. The good news is the backup drive is intact, and all the data, except for the current mail folders, and documents, and logs for the radio, and... you get the picture. The bad news is that the laptop drive is corrupt, and all the conventional means of data recovery have failed, including some pretty clever data recovery tools. The cheapest data recovery services are half the cost of a new desktop machine. Fortunately, most of the mail is online, and can be recovered. Same for the music. My financial data and software had been archived to backup, and not restored to the laptop (whew!). It's the radio logs, documents in progress, and things-you-don't-miss-until-gone that are going to hurt. With luck, the drive can be formatted, and the laptop sold with a bare OS. Friday, new PC's will be available. And, ironically, the old E-Machine laptop that I had used to carry around to games was still fully operational. So, that's what I'm using now. It seem to be handling the load. But, it is still a laptop. Meanwhile, it gets to gloat. An old lesson is that one should never use a laptop to do a desktop's job. The new tablets and phones seem to be catching up with the laptops in functionality, so they may get squeezed even further into niche uses, like field tech work (which mine was used for as well). For my eyes sake, today I got myself a new 27 inch dedicated monitor. Wunderbar! I can now see details on the radio monitor's waterfall that were invisible before. And the monitor can stay on, as well as the new keyboard and mouse, so much better than the laptop's. Note: the new keyboard is so much sharper in key response, that my laptop fingers are causing typo's. Don't be surprised if more of them crop up, as I adjust to typing more normally. I can already feel a reduction in eyestrain. Of equal note is that I have been cleaning up more of my debris. Carpet is now visible in the living room. The HDTV that I had been using for a monitor will be going in there. The E-Machine laptop was going to be the media interface for the entertainment center. Now, it's the primary. I fear retribution, if it's relegated to a lesser role again...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Passing of a veteran

If you did not feel the Earth shift on it's axis today, something of great note occurred. My last XP computer, the desktop E-Machine, has been decommissioned. No data has been lost, the drive is still readable, but the old hero controlling my radio array simply could not keep up anymore. Naturally cleaning up was an extraordinary experience. Desktop was actually seen, and cleaned. Wire management and routing was done. Anything that was a possible RFI problem was moved away. My monitor now is in a position that will not cause the need for a chiropractor. The annoying AOC monitor has been identified for EBay. No more will I need to crane my neck to read the waterfall display off of it. A better keyboard was procured, one not filled with years of fast food. I can now sit, eat, and write at my desk, a magnificent accomplishment. Base electrical load was lowered, as years of forgotten power supplies for peripherals were discovered, and removed. A replacement, powered, USB hub has replaced years of collected gender benders. Tomorrow, the real work of sifting all that data begins. Being able to sit, read, and type straight is a great relief. The primary monitor in use only requires one cable, and power. The Acer's own display now serves as the JT-65 and email monitor, a great expanse of real estate, as it is a 17". Many, many minor things can be moved to it. Dual monitors. What a concept. I'd been using them at work for years. Never thought of using them at home. This may lead to a house fit for visitors, at some point. Terrifying.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Observations 9 NOV 2013

This has been an unusual year. Earlier this fall I noted early migrations for birds, but the traditional fall turnover was late. We may rush straight into winter this year. It rained, of course, for Halloween. I should be posting more often. These slight events, noticed, make up a large part of life. Sadly, I've not been riding enough in the wunderbar weather we've had this fall. Staring at spreadsheets all day makes me want to nap, not ride. Bad dog. I have turned on my radios, again. I bought the new version of HRD, installed it on the primary machine, and immediately improved performance. The old e-machine simply isn't cutting it anymore, except for simple browsing. In the last few weeks, I've done some refreshing tech work, getting ready to use the radio for new modes. I have implemented JT-65 and JT-9, at last. Originally, I was dismissive, but now I have come to appreciate the weak signal capacities of these protocols. Although, waiting 47 seconds to send 13 characters is a pain. But the DX results are amazing. I'm now getting Western Australia on my little antenna, on 40 meters! And, the Philippines on 80 meters! Results on 10 meters are nearly as impressive. I can now work DX nearly worldwide on 25 watts. The FCC recently turned down a petition to open 10 meters fully to Techs. That will change, as the ol' boys go SK. Getting all of 12 meters will follow, probably by 2020. One might also see CB/11 meters opened up to hams, as well. Same goes for the Family Radio Service (FRS) on UHF, as the FCC pillages more spectrum for cell phones/data, and has to give up hostages to do so. FRS is more likely to go away, as is 222 MHz. Streaming video is not a big threat to 30 MHz and below, at least not yet. I don't think SSTV is going to catch on anytime soon on IPads... The political board has continued to degenerate. The October meltdown only made the Second Civil War more obvious. Went to a party at my cousin's, deep in Gasconade County. A relaxed, good time, with food, a bonfire, and stars. But no cell phone signal. 74 miles there, in 2 hrs. Scenic hardly describe the drive. Nice time. Back later.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Being A Failed Creative Is Much Less Expensive, Nowadays

My social world is widening, nowadays, and with it, an awareness that I could get back into writing slush-pile work by PDF publishing. My gaming group is now playing a sci-fi campaign, after a very long run of medieval fantasy. As the unofficial space/aviation lead geek, I've been tasked with making starship, vehicle, and construction designs. It's worked out better than expected. I've been learning a great deal about Roman history, for example, because one adventure required getting a road built. So, some low-quality, generic game aids could be written, and sold for $0.99 each. If it flops, no great loss. No longer do you have to spend your inheritance to get one bad game published (two kids in New Jersey did just that, with Gareth Micheal Skarka running the project). The bar can be raised for John Wick (remember that enfant terrible?) at an incredibly low cost, essentially just time spent. You'll love how I intend to do illustrations, artwork being what it is...

Not Getting Back In The Airplane...

One of the things that is most painful in life, is realizing new limitations. Tripped out as I am over my bicycle, I must reluctantly admit that I have no business getting back into a cockpit. I'm too old. The baseball statisticians, called sabermetricians, track player stats, and note when a player is past his prime. Albert Pujols is beginning his descent. I used to be a pretty good stick-and-rudder guy, but my reflexes and eyesight just won't cut it anymore. Additionally, with all the new restrictions, I can't go buzzing around VFR anymore without interrupting someones fundraiser. It is very hard to pull over at the next convenience store, to hit the latrine, in a small piston single. Arthur C. Clarke famously said that he would wait for the passenger space service to start, and I wholeheartedly agree with him. :)

7.8 MPH!

My average speed. That's 3.48 meters per second, a little over 0.01 Mach. Not the number I used to read, but it feels like Warp 7.8, all the same. The bike shop wizard fixed EVERYTHING. It rides magnificently. GREAT brakes. SMOOTH shifting. My action radius is now over 3 km. Hard to stop saying combat radius. The feeling of liberation on the bicycle is amazing. Additionally, I am now averaging 16 days between filling my gas tank. Problem: My reflexes are not what they used to be. I now have a Vne, Vs, and other limiting airspeeds. There is definitely a yellow range arc on the ASI. Anything above 20 statute, IAS, is redline on the ASI. Fortunately, this is a very forgiving bicycle, and my Vs is quite slow. That makes for a huge white arc on the ASI. Saddlebags are next.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Made It To The Next Target!

Made it both ways to the convenience store, today. That's about 1400 meters, round-trip. The rear brake is fixed. The front derailleur till won't go to 3. The bike is geared in three groups on the front, and seven on the rear. 21 gears possible. Fortunately, the 3 band isn't needed, except at long, flat stretches. At 1-1, just about everything is climbable...2-7 handles most of the short to medium range work. Now, for a shower.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independance Day, Indeed!

I rode my bike today. Got her out of the shed, a little washdown, inflate the tires, adjust the seat. The rear brake has issue, as does the front derailleur, but I patched up enough to work. The old horn has to go. A new speedometer is required. The bike shop is the next stop. Tire pressures held throughout the ride. I rode around the park, and, up back the hill AND driveway under my own power, without dismounting! On a hot July afternoon! I drank water instead of soda on the return. Fortunately, I did not over exert, nor was there any sign of respiratory or cardiac strain. I can now ride daily. This will improve my outlook in so many ways. All it took was the initial effort to get the bike out of the shed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Observations 12 MAY 2013

I'm back. And, I got outside, today. I've lost touch with the outside world, in more ways than one. It's been a strange year. The weather has not co-operated, leaving me with mot much to do but sit inside, and save cash. I have successfully EBayed off a fair amount of my stuff, but more remains. Today, I took the remains of a table, and dead lamps, etc. to the curb for collection. Still employed. Feeling a little down, as the Great Recession is still exerting itself on the job market. As part of the involuntary austerity program, I'm not traveling out of the house much, and it takes an effort just to do ordinary grocery shopping. I should have got out on the bike this weekend, but did not. I'm starting to take the stairs down at work. Seven floors is a reasonable distance, and getting crushed by the stampede floors 5&6 at the end of the day is no fun. I have also discovered that they tend to throw themselves down the out-ramp of the garage, in minivans and SUV's, in kamikaze waves. The garage elevators open onto traffic lanes as well, very dangerous. Never seen a garage like it. Madness. It can take twenty minutes to exit. Stadium East Garage was paradise, compared to this. Classical music is back on the air at 107.3 FM. The Radio Arts Foundation, risen from the ashes of Classic 99, has a 250 watt signal coming off the Maplewood tower. I'm one of the rare listeners with HD in the car, so 96.3-2 FM carrying the same stream is also available. Life got so much better. Traveling in dead silence, had been the somber norm for too long. The BBC just announced a six part Poldark remake, nearly a year after Angharad Rees died. Symbolic? The ISS is in trouble. Politics is a mess. Taking a nap has been a too-attractive alternative. Must get out more.