Sunday, June 3, 2018

Music Without an Agenda

I can't speak for anyone else, but when I have music going  on my computer, its generally for a purpose. I NEVER shuffle my music, because my music collection- although conventional- is rather eclectic. Now, before you walk away, realize that this admission is akin to admitting that "jeans day" at work is having the ability to wear jeans. Just like everyone else.

However, THIS blog is about being contrarian in the face of conventionality or trends.

After a LOT of years, I've decided to build a computer for myself. In the past, we've built computers for Jennifer and Mr. T, and now its my turn.  I suppose the first question is, "Why build a computer"?

Well, for starters, because I CAN.  On a certain level, PC building is a lot of fun. On a more personal level, its a bonding experience for Mr. T and I.

At this point, I need to make a note about this particular build. After having three PCs die on me during this year, I decided it was time for a NEW PC. So, I spent a month or two researching cases.

Eh?

Yes, you read that correctly. I spent a few months researching cases.  Why, you may ask.

Well Jennifer's PC was one of our first builds, and it was a "bare-bones" kit which included everything needed to have a running PC- all that was needed on the purchaser's end was a few additional parts, an operating system and assembly. As Mr. T puts it, "building a computer is a lot like making something out of Legos. Very expensive Legos". Then, he specced out an I5-based computer for himself, and we built it. In the interim, I've had several PCs die on me (apologies to readers who less blessed- this is TRULY a 1st world "problem". Having said that, though, by "1st world standards" my family is comparatively not particularly wealthy- we just look for the best value we can find.

Of the 3 PCs that died on me this year, two were ancient boxes which I purchased some years ago as refurbs- and they were at least a few years old then. And honestly, they served me well. The third, however, was my laptop, which suffered a harddrive (HDD) crash. After that, the power supply died. This was the only one of the three worth salvaging. As much as I really like my Lenovo laptop, I need a desktop- something with a large screen (or two) which I can crunch numbers on and look at data. And play some games.

So, after a few months of research, I had narrowed my choice of cases down to a few. Mr. T had envisioned this build as a small case with a small ITX motherboard. After doing some research, I decided that the ITX had too many limitations, and  decided to "go big or go home".

In the course of my research, I eventually narrowed my choices down to two, both Thermaltake offerings: the Core X5 tempered glass, and the core X9.  Both are MASSIVE cases by any standard.

In the end, I decided to go with the  Thermaltake Core X9 Core Snow edition.  Now, the picture at the right shows the case in its shipping carton. For reference, we have four cats, and the cat tree behind the case is six feet (~2M) tall.

Snow Edition? Yes, I paid extra to get a white case... ~30 USD, actually. And why? Jennifer and I had this discussion, and after all of his resistance, Mr. T stepped up in my defense., saying , "This is his build. He's going to be the one looking at it for the next several years." And beside that, there is a very practical reason for white: when building, its harder to lose things!

So, I bought a white case. But, unlike a lot of the DIY PC folks who put their builds up on youtube, my pockets are neither deep or wide. The case is just the 1st step. One of the things that Mr. T gave me grief over during the initial planning stages was the inclusion of a Raspberry Pi in the case. I didn't have a specific scenario, but thought that the inclusion of a Pi in a large case would be schweet!





Saturday, May 5, 2018

5-2, IF

Yes,

Aware- it's almost exactly six months since I wrote anything... and even longer since I published anything.

Until certain things change, I'm not at liberty to discuss things- one of which is my frequency of publication.

I'm going to take this opportunity to welcome those of you around the globe who have waited for a new installment of this blog. I hope your patience is rewarded.

So for those both new and old, this blog is about data... although it takes frequent and random side journeys! Today may be one of those side journeys, so strap yourselves in... we're going KETO!

Well, not just yet, anyway. JJ's friend had suggested a keto diet a month or so ago-- she is experiencing carb-related health issues, and this was her polite, Asian way of saying we were fat. In point of fact, she was actually just being polite, and looking for some diet buddies.

However, I've done a modified keto diet before, and lost a metric ton of weight without really breaking a sweat. As I have a good idea of what I'm getting into this time, I'm easing into it this go round.

For starters, the goofy title of this post is actually the regimen I've been following for the past two weeks. IF= intermittent fast, and 5-2 is days on fast, and days off. So, from Monday to Friday, I'm doing a 16 hour fast, with 8 hours of "regular" eating at the end of the fast. Today is officially the end of the second week of the fast, and I've got to say that it hasn't been as difficult as I would have thought, and this is primarily because of my nonstandard work schedule.

During my "normal" workweek, most of my calories are consumed at work. I've had to make a few adjustments to what was my previous norm, but after my 1st weigh-in, I had really positive results. I discussed this briefly with someone I know who is familiar with metabolic processes, and he and I agreed that the unusually initial high loss was probably water weight. However, its still cool!

Now that I'm on the fitness train, I want to see how far it will take me.

I have a coworker who's a fellow foodie, and we both agreed that its just plain wrong to throw out food- even if its ramen! So, keto is still a way off, but some carb restriction is doable.

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sep 5

Its my birthday, so here's the obligatory birthday post.

Wait- is there even such a thing???

IDK- I'm 50+, and I don't feel or act 30+. Or act 30+.

So anyway, I've been thinking of THAT song recently.... you know, the Lesley Gore song.  No particular reason, especially since that that song has nothing to do with me or my life.

But anyway, I suppose that since its my birthday I'm allowed to reminisce randomly on 50+ years of life.

For those of you who know IRL, I'm bloody well on the way to... 60. FUARK.

I can't accept that on a certain level.

Happy birthday to me.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

3 months between posts?

Intentions are a lot like opinions and other things... everyone's got 'em.

I really enjoy blogging. I enjoy writing fiction as well, although I've yet to complete more than a few chapters of any novel I've ever attempted. My good e-buddy Jesse (who is an ACTUAL, published author) has offered me some good advice and admonishment a few times regarding the care and feeding of novels, but so far all I've managed is a bit of weak writing on that front. And I'm not being self-deprecating- I'm just being honest based on what I've written vs what I like to read.

Even so, my blog has languished. Three months in internet time is like, what, two Ice Ages?

Not unexpectedly, the blog has a different title than the one originally imagined- it was originally going to be something like "I've never met a tool I didn't like" or "That tool just might work for this job". Common sense won out, and I offer a mea culpa instead of something clever.

...and here's where the tools come in. A while back, I installed a dual monitor mounting system and mounted a pair of identical LG 23" monitors to it. The original configuration also had a pair of Trendnet KVMs to switch between four HP/Compaq business-class minitowers. It was a nice setup but the PCs were not particularly power efficient (or cool: four PCs under a desk can throw out some serious BTUs!).

So, for some time, I've been running just one of the PCs, and the desk space where the other keyboard used to be is now the home of my laptop.

However, a few weeks ago I noticed that one of the monitors was leaning. I pushed it back into its proper position, but it just sort of wilted back down, with the screen generally point to the desk. Upon closer examination, I discovered the problem was a screw that had somehow worked itself loose. I'm not sure how exactly this had transpired, as it has not been in use for months.

To make a quite long story short, if you have a multi-monitor setup, it might not hurt to check the tension of the fasteners in the hardware.

It's been some time, but the Lego database is finally being actively developed again... hopefully with a "permanent" basis this time.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

If you've got a LinkedIn profile, this post is for YOU!

Mr. T is an avid gamer- there's quite honestly no other word for it. He also dabbles a bit with designing accessories such as clothing and armor for games like Team Fortress. He uses GIMP, Blender and a few other nice pieces of freeware that are quite commonly employed in the world of game design. He also uses terms like "procedurally generated" as part of his normal speech.

And this has exactly "what" to do with this blog?

Well, procedurally generated is generally a gaming term, but more specifically its a coding or programming term. If you're a gamer you're probably familiar with this term, but if you're not, consider a normal search on Google or Amazon. Let's say you're looking for a certain kind of cheese. Google and Amazon will both display results based upon your previous browsing history, other surfers' previous history AND general popularity. When I typed "c" into my browser, "complex" was the 1st Google result, and Amazon returned nothing. "ch" in the browser gave me "chicagotribune" while Amazon returned "charcoal". To get "cheese" out of Google, I had to type "cheese" + space); Amazon only needed "chee" to get me to cheese.

I told you all of that to tell you this: I have two drafts that I want to publish, but both of them are once again on the backburner- this time because of an observation I had whilst surfing contact suggestions on LinkedIn. Hence, it is not uncommon for my blog's subject matter to be procedurally generated after a fashion.

As in a previous post from July of 2016, I'd like to talk a bit about professional deportment. Last time I addressed email addresses specifically, but also addressed data quality. Today I'd like to get more personal and address your LinkedIn profile with some brutal honesty which I hope will help your online presence look a bit (well, a metric ***ton) better: it's your mug.

*I'm not sure about other parts of the world, but in American English, your "mug" is a colloquialism that can mean your portrait (as in, your mugshot- the photo the police take of you when you are apprehended). And, once again, it does not imply in any way that you've ever run afoul of the law- it's just a casual way of saying "your picture"- or selfie.

Apologies- for once- to my American audience: this blog is read in over fifty countries, of which the vast majority do not speak English as their 1st language, and many have to be transliterated. Trust me, as someone who has been formally exposed to over half a dozen languages: idioms and colloquialisms do NOT translate gracefully or accurately!

So, there I was on LinkedIn. I had received an invitation to connect with someone in my field, and I accepted it. Once I did this, LinkedIn offered a slate of its own recommendations, procedurally generated by my existing network, career field, and who knows what else!

As I am IRL decidedly NOT a social butterfly, I welcome the LinkedIn suggestions and peruse them. Here's where it gets real and if you've skimmed down wondering when the wall of words would end, swallow your beverage and START READING NOW.

Gentle readers, I've had tons of sales training, and yet (for a number of unrelated reasons) I stink at sales. One thing I remember, though, that was common to all of this sales training, is this: we buy from folks like us, or ones that we like. I do not like generic silhouettes, nor will I connect with them. After all (and this is true) I am terrible with names. If I cannot connect a name with a face, I cannot make a connection. If Nikola Tesla, H.G.Wells, Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson had all sent me LinkedIn connection requests multiple times, and all they had for an avi was the default silhouette, I would decline them every time. Lesson 1 is: put up a real picture.

There's a caveat here, though: occasionally, a portrait may be TMI. There may be very good legal or safety reasons for omitting a portrait. In this case, you'll need to be creative if you desire a social media presence of any sort, but please... avoid the default silhouette!

Lesson 2: Your picture should be you. Unless you have some real issues as noted in the caveat following Lesson 1, put your picture here.

Lesson 3: Your picture should somehow communicate your personality, your passion, or your profession. For professional men, I don't think you can ever go wrong with a suit... or something that infers that you came to the office in a suit, but by 10 in the morning the jacket and tie were gone and the sleeves were rolled up. If you're C-level, you have license to go either way. For professional women, I'm sorry, I have little advice because the three-piece suit is not standard women's attire... I think. OTOH, if you're a working professional in a specialized field, wear the eye protection or hardhat or hearing protection or operate a specialized piece of equipment. My picture is a bit silly- but prized. Although its not a great picture, it was taken by a coworker with my camera, it really reflects my personality, and I like it.

Lesson 4: Your picture should not be an afterthought. You've invested time into creating your LinkedIn profile- why use cheap wallpaper? See lesson 3 regarding my picture. But... the idea here is about pictures that probably should not be used in a LinkedIn profile. So, don't reuse badly cropped photos of ANYTHING. Don't use prom photos (yes, I've seen 'em), wedding photos (ditto), graduation/seminar photos (uh-huh), photos with bad flash, poorly lit studio shots that obviously show you're seated in front of a pretty backdrop, obvious bad selfies, photos with your complexion/skin tone unfavorably illuminated. Ladies especially: attire or photo angle that emphasizes a particular feature (noses, etc) or sexualizes your portrait. When in doubt, have a disinterested (honest) third party check it out.

"But," you might say, "it's only LinkedIn."

According to a recent report, LinkedIn has 467 million members. Only China and India are more "populous". The whole world is looking at your mug, my friend.

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.








Monday, January 9, 2017

The 3 (or so) faces of I.T.

As previously mentioned here, I did some network upgrades over the course of the holidays which were actually just completed  on Thursday morning (1/5/17, or 5.1.17 outside of North America), The end result is a faster SOHO network. The work is not quite yet done, but so far the end users are not gathering up tar, chicken feathers and kindling....

I ran into an interesting topic with our older son, Big D.  While we were hooking up various computers on the Steam Link, Mr T and I noted that Big D's box had the greatest lag on the network with the exception of my little corner- and my corner was expected. A quick analysis of his situation revealed a simple answer: of all of the known segments of the network, he was at the end of what I can determine is the longest piece of copper in the house. The problem is the location of his PC. Due to our upgrades, I have a spare switch that I could add and create a new segment, but I'm not certain that it would be beneficial.

Of course, this conundrum got me to thinking about I.T. from a higher level. Normally, when most of us (who are in some sort of business) think of I.T. ("information technology"), we generally think of our local I.T. person or the voice on the other end of the phone at the help desk. I'd like you to expand your I.T. horizons for a moment and consider what Dr. Sheldon Cooper might intellectually view I.T. as.

On the one hand, they are there to take care of your systems- computers, mice, printers.

On another level, they might fix your connectivity issues- basically, network problems.

A little deeper- they might even be able to deal with your data issues- backup and restore.

Finally, at my level (SOHO), I do that for everyone, plus ensure uptime, backups and data integrity.

At the SOHO level, one needs not only provide backup, but justify the cost of backup- as well as support the backup. Mind you. I'm not complaining. One problem a SOHO I.T. person shares with his or her counterparts in the business world is making a business case for a capital expenditure- in other words, "Do we really need this shiny gadget?"

Additionally, I (as a data-driven fellow) need storage. Just as a reminder, the unifying theme of this blog is data. I've lost metric **** (French- *****), German (********), Slavic languages (*****) tons of data due to recent crashes.I'm hoping that our new NAS (network attached storage) with 2x3TB HHDs will ameliorate this situation.

Finally, as Sir Richard Starkey once quipped, "I've got blisters on me fingers!" I don't really, but I always try to throw in what I hope is a clever little segue near the end of the blog.

I'm certain that I've mentioned in at least a few blogs that I'm not in the habit of making New Year's Resolutions... have no fear, I'm not changing. However, the convenience of January 1st as a sort of milepost of Life is something which is not to be wasted. With the network fairly squared away, I now have time to do some programming/coding.

Before I go any further, "programming" and  "coding" are the same thing in this context. With my discovery of  things like STEMthe Hour of Code and the Maker Movement, I was once "back in the game" of something I had experimented with- only to discard decades ago.

Out first computer was a Commodore Colt, an XT compatible machine. One day, I discovered that I could make programs in a language called GW BASIC. Having a bit of experience with BASIC, I found a book on GW-BASIC and tried my hand at programming.  I don't recall exactly what the problem was, but the author(s) were so cavalier and asinine in their assumptions about their target audience (that would be folks wanting to learn GW BASIC) that they made a BOATload (where B=S, L=H, A=I and D=T) of assumptions, which made their book useless. Thanks to these dweeb losers, it took me over 20 years to get back to programming.

However, I eventually came back to programming, and in 2017 I hope to become familiar with Visual Basic 2015. Thanks to a free Microsoft version of of Visual Studio Community, I have access to Visual Basic 2015, as well as a few other programming languages. We'll see how it goes.

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

MMXVII

I've always liked Roman numerals.For those unfamiliar, I'll save you a few seconds of searching: this post is titled "2017" in Roman numerals.

So, this is my first "official" post of 2017, and as I was looking at my blog stats earlier, I noted with pleasure and amazement that I had acquired a reader in... MONGOLIA! It ranked up there in amazement with my first African reader!

Now, I hope no one is thinking that I'm some... I'm not sure- fill-in-the-blank person from North America. Quite the opposite- I'm a casual writer who has, over the course of a few short years, had the privilege to have his stuff read in ~50 countries around the globe. And a fair percentage- if not an outright majority- do not claim English as their native tongue. So to all of my readers, old and new, I wish you a Happy New Year, Thank You and WELCOME to my blog... my little corner of the internet!

For those completely new to this blog, it has more of a "unifying theme" rather than a plot, theme or storyline. I try to keep it a safe place- no vulgarity or situations requiring the reader to agree or disagree with any political, moral or religious opinion. It sounds a bit like milk toast, but honestly, this blog is nothing more than my attempt to tell a few stories, chronicle some events and just communicate what Life looks like through my eyes... and the unifying theme is the Secret Underground Lair (SUL).

I'll reveal what is surely a pretty poorly kept secret: the SUL is a room in the basement of a modest home in the NW suburbs of Chicago (GO CUBS!). Our home is also the location of the Dungeon. our physical fitness training area- currently overrun by clutter. The rest of the basement is not named, with the exception of the Pantry, which currently is home to some chicken stock, canned tomatoes and a few other edible sundries.

The SUL is an office area, walled off from the rest of the basement and accessible by a door which has a bell on a string (we have four cats- three have learned how to use the bell. The 4th doesn't care). During our waking hours, Mr. T and I conduct business here. We pretty much sit kitty corner and back to back of each other. Both of our areas of control are in a fair amount of disarray, although the office is starting to come together. I'm not one of those folks who makes New Year's Resolutions, but I'm thinking that this will be the year when we FINALLY get the office in shape. We've made a few small steps already, discarding a few things and doing some organizing.

On the negative side, we're 18 months (at least) behind on this project.

I've noticed that Life seems to be a project, and the SUL is a great microcosm of this concept. I've already replaced some older Cat 5e cabling which was throttling network performance- I have one more switch on the way which will take care of a few other issues. I also have two older PCs which I'm thinking of adding a second gigabit NIC (network interface card)- which would theoretically double available bandwidth and throughput to the PCs. That's a question for later.

The last paragraph is a good example of my unifying theme. I shoot for data, but as I'm a hands-on SOHO I.T. guy, you'll often seen see speeds and feeds here. I hope everyone reading this will continue, possibly looking at some of my previous posts, and hopefully returning for more!

Lastly, I'm hoping we can dye the elephant this week.

????????

A year or so ago, I bought a plush elephant from a local retailer. I eventually also purchased a bottle of yellow dye. Why? Hadoop, of course! The unifying theme of this blog really is DATA... well, it tries.

It's time to put this to bed. I've read lots of articles, posts and blogs that were difficult to read, simply because they were presented as the dreaded "walls of text". No fear here- I try to keep my paragraphs short. I hope you've enjoyed this overview/review- please come back again!

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.