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The Case for The New Case

 It's been a long and difficult year for everyone. I've written a lot of draft blog posts that I haven't published because even I can't tolerate my own whining and ranting. This is something different. No politics or current events. Just, "let me tell you about my stuff ." Since we've spent most of 2020 inside, and I've spent a lot more time in front of the computer, I've been tweaking and upgrading my old computer. It's a weird setup that wouldn't work for a lot of people. But it works well for me, and I think it might be worthwhile to document how I ended up with it. 2013: New and Shiny I've been playing with computers since the early 1980s. Most of that time, my primary computer was secondhand, purchased on clearance, or made from scavenged parts.  In 2014, I was finally in a position to buy an entirely new computer that was exactly what I wanted. My three big criteria were: Pretty good at everything. I wanted to be able to buy the
Recent posts

Home networking 102

We've all been stuck at home for the last few months. Out of necessity, many people -- including me -- have improved their home networks to account for working from home and additional video calls to friends and family. Along the way, I made some improvements that helped. If your network still isn't working quite as well as you'd like, here are some things to try. Easy: Put your primary WiFi (wireless internet) Access Point somewhere central The closer you can get your WiFi router to the center of your house or apartment, the better the connection will be for everything else. This is true even if you have a mesh network or Homeplug. Easy: Get as much traffic off of WiFi as possible Most of the time, your biggest network speed limit is the speed from your ISP. But, once you get beyond about 100Mbps or around 10 devices, WiFi limits start to become a problem. Fortunately, there are some ways to deal with this. Use Ethernet when you can. As a rough analogy, thi

The Virus By the Numbers

I'm writing this because there's some really insane stuff that's being said by people who should really know better, and I'm sick of discussing it one post or email at a time. So, this is my One Big Post that I'll point people toward rather than bringing it up again and again. In case you haven't noticed, we're in the middle of a pandemic. Just so that we're all using the same terminology:  The virus is Severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 . It's usually abbreviated SARS-CoV-2. It's a brand new kind of Coronavirus, so for a while, before it had this awkward name, people were calling it "novel coronavirus". (For the non-English speakers and D students, "novel" is another word for "new".) The disease that the virus causes is called Coronavirus Disease 2019 , and it's usually abbreviated COVID-19. It's called that because it was discovered in 2019. This came out of nowhere in China in late

Journal: NAS Migration

This isn't a story with a moral at the end or an exciting tale. It's more of a journal for a project that I recently completed. I'm posting it for my own reference and in case anyone else is considering a similar project. If you're not into the details of computer storage, you might want to skip this one. Not-too-technical Background If you have more than two computers in your house, you've probably run into problems with keeping them backed up and with copying files between computers. Lots of people solve this with an external hard drive or two. Unfortunately, hard drives don't really like being moved around, and portable hard drives are, by definition, moved around a lot. I've also known people who put everything onto an external drive, and then the external drive failed. The right solution to this problem for many people is a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Essentially, it's a small special-purpose computer that's plugged in to the ne

Audio baloney: Vinyl

Since moving to Switzerland, I enjoy visiting the second-hand stores (the locals call them Brockis or Brockenhäuser) because the junk is completely different from what you'd find in US second-hand stores. One thing I noticed right away was that most Brockis have a lot of vinyl records, and I don't recognize most of them. There's a lot of Schlager , Volksmusik ,  Mundart and traditional music that looks interesting. I've been thinking about buying a record player so that I can buy and listen to some of these albums. I've been doing research, and like many audio things, there's a lot of misleading information out there. This meant that rather than just buying a record player and moving on with life, I had to study audio signal processing just to figure out whether I was reading truth or not. Because I wanted to buy a record player, I was particularly interested in the perceived quality of record players and vinyl records. There are a lot of people who claim t

The Chromecast conceptual model

Google makes a device called Chromecast . It's a relatively inexpensive way to turn any TV into a "Smart" TV capable of playing movies or music. It's a clever bit of engineering, but I've run into a few people who have trouble understanding how they work. The key thing to understand is that the Chromecast is the device that's actually receiving and playing the movie (or whatever), and your phone is just the remote. Here's how the process works at a high level: You start watching a video on Youtube 30 seconds in, you decide that you'd like to watch the rest on your TV, so you press the "Cast" button. Your phone stops playing and tells the Chromecast "Get this video directly from Youtube and start playing at the 0:30 mark"  When your phone initially asks the Chromecast to start playing, it also specifies a "default thing" to do when the Chromecast is finished. If the Chromecast is playing a Youtube video, it might

Meta: Social Media

I've been playing around with social media a lot over the last few months. I haven't come to any firm conclusions, but I've come to some "strong suspicions". I might be wrong, but this is where I'm going. First, I need to decouple "people I follow on social media" with "people I like in real life". People seem to change when they're online. Some for the better. Most, very much for the worse . When you're in the same room as other people, you instinctively "read the room" and shut up with your weirder ideas. When you're online, these things flow freely. I realized that I know some very nice people who are either unkind or who promote... non-mainstream theories online. I know a few others who absolutely revel in "stirring shit". They create drama where there was none before, and pull people into arguments with high engagement but very little productive outcome. While I'd gladly buy many of these peopl