Monday, November 19, 2018

The Lego database, reboot

The "reboot" seems to be something of a thing in Hollywood these days, and so it only follows that Life would imitate "art" as I reboot my Lego database.

For those who have been following this blog for some time, I think you may be aware of my Lego database project. It is one component of "42", my personal, ultimate repository of those possessions of mine which I have chosen to catalog.

I've just started using Microsoft Office 365, and the Lego data came from Their dataset is very comprehensive, but I don't think I've ever downloaded ANY Lego dataset that was usable by me as downloaded... and this data is no exception.

I mentioned that the data is quite comprehensive, which means it contains things which I don't necessarily need or want. For example, I do not care about any decals, paper or cardboard items, books, or even certain parts of the Lego product line. So, these need to be removed. The data also appears to come from more than one source, and formatting is necessary. Punctuation needs to be removed from many entries, and part names need to be standardized. Some data needs spelling changes- there are cases of the Queen's English being used, so "windscreen" and "tyre" need to be changed to "windshield" and "tire". These are the major changes that need to happen before I can even think about exporting to an Access database. And these are just a few examples.

But, I digress. Here are the numbers as of December 4th.

When I first started out, there were approximately 29,000 records. As of last night, after culling out items which I knew I would not be inventorying, I had 27,164 unique items. When I deduped the group to include ONLY the base part numbers- excluding all decoration variants, I ended up with a working list of 8,747 unique base part numbers. As I copy the part descriptions to the new inventory list, they are being further culled.

I am now at the point where everything must be done by hand. I find myself going back and forth between rebrickable and my flat database, verifying that the part number in the list is a part that I (may) actually own... and want to count. At a certain point, some of the data is subjective, and even though it is valid, I will count a complete assembly rather than, say, a special tile, wheels and tires as separate parts.

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

A very rare Friday night

As I think most readers have surmised by now, I'm an American. And, like it or not, each and every one of us- consciously or not- probably shares some stereotypical "national" behavior with a great number of their kinsmen, whether they choose to admit it or not.

Now, it's Friday night, and normally I would be busy at work doing something job-related. .. but, not tonight, because this is my first official sick day of the year. I say "official" because I had a sick day in October, but as I am eligible for overtime, I made the day up later in the week and was able to score some overtime.

 And this is where "national traits" comes into play.

According to studies I've seen, Americans- even when they are genuinely ill- do not always take sick days. I'm not sure exactly why this is, but apparently it's an "American thing". Many of these same studies suggest that American are loathe to take their full vacation.

I, for one, do my best to avoid taking sick days, unless they are truly necessary- and tonight is one of those nights. But vacation time- it's part of the employment agreement with my employer, and per that agreement, I am entitled to "x" amount of days off per year based upon my tenure with the company. And even though I may not do anything blogworthy on my vacation, I've earned this time off and to not take it would be cheating not just myself, but my family as well.


There is a certain stigma attached to taking certain days off as sick, even if they are legitimate. For example, if one is a Major League Baseball fans (Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox where I live), if you were to take a Monday or Friday off as a sick day, and this day just HAPPENED to be your favorite team's home opener- even if you were really sick, the talk at the water cooler would, of course, infer that you weren't really sick, but attending the game. Likewise, the #2 reason for taking a Friday or Monday off is a big weekend.

Fortunately for me, none of these factors were applicable. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off this past week pretty much because I have vacation days left. But, when I came in Wednesday night, I almost immediately started feeling out of sorts with a major head cold building.  Thursday is our busiest night of the week, and I had a simple plan: take care of the important business, and then go home early.

That was the plan. It was brilliant- except for one thing: there were two other jobs that required MY attention, as we would be short-handed on Friday. So, instead of leaving early, I left late. And when I got home, I went straight to bed.

But before I left work, I spoke to a senior coworker about my situation. Generally speaking, one does not know at the end of a shift if one will need to take the following day off as a sick day. However, she encouraged me to take the sick day, especially as I had taken on two projects that needed to be done before the weekend.

Now, a treat.

Before I discovered ramen, this was my goto Friday night bachelor treat. If you can't make it out, it mac 'n' cheese, tuna, corn and mushrooms. This was my bachelor Friday night treat, and I made it tonight! Apart from the sodium, I'd guess it's a pretty healthy meal. The only modification I do to the mac 'n' cheese recipe is to double the milk from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup. You can also add garlic powder, onion powder and celery powder to taste. Yum!

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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

...and I THOUGHT I was a basement A+ man....

It seems that my Dad and I, even though he passed away several years ago, share an affinity for hardware. The difference is that while his hardware was measured in cubic inches, MPH and RPMs, mine is measured CPU, GHz and FLOPS.

He was a back alley mechanic that learned it on the fly, and became a master of the craft. Me? Not so much of an expert, although I've built enough computers, spreadsheets and databases from scratch to be quite confident when opening something up, and I couldn't say how many PCs I've upgraded, rebuilt, etc.

Last Sunday night, though, I ran into something I'd never experienced before.

I'm quite familiar with the care and feeding (and installing) of hard drives (HDD's), and I had one that was way overdue for installing in Great White- my computer, not the 80's hair band. The project  started, though, with speakers. I had decided a while ago to do a peripheral upgrade to the PC prior to the (ouch) MOBO + processor + memory upgrade, so a few peripherals trickled in over the course of several months- HDD, mechanical keyboard, and finally speakers. The keyboard went on the weekend before last, although I still need drivers. I untangled all of the wires, prepared a place and installed the speakers; and cut some antiskid foam to keep everything from sliding all over the place. Mr. T had actually installed the HDD a few weeks ago, so I was all set to visit R-Stats and download the latest version of R, and then download Processing for the Arduino, and maybe start copying a clean- no dupes- version of my music library.

But, first I had to initialize my HDD... initialize? Yup, that was a new one on me. I've wiped, partitioned, formatted, repartitioned, reformatted and even used a hacksaw to remove a HDD from an oddly-configured case. But, I'm not certain that I've ever initialized a drive.

So on a Sunday night, I initialized a drive. Mind you, it wasn't difficult. Just new. Next, the printer. I finally got around to getting a fairly old HP all-in one tested and running again. Well- it prints every color EXCEPT cyan, and wouldn't you JUST know that I'm fresh out of cyan. I empathize with Rowdy Roddy Piper, as I came to print, and chew bubblegum, but I'm all out of ink... yes, yes the reference is pretty weak, but this is a mostly G-rated blog. I also got my social media accounts which had been in hibernation for some time back up and running, but the really big news is...

I found a Lego Master database. It's quite good, but not 100% complete. Then again, even Lego does not have a complete database of their own parts. However, I can get back to the inventory and database.

Now all I have to do is find and organize all of my Lego elements.

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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Going on 31

I used to be quite active on twitter, but a hard drive crash put an end to that. And, I'm sorry to say, a new phone just added to my woes.

So, in lieu of twitter, I've somehow managed to stay active on pinterest....

I know, I know, pinterest is generally considered by outsiders to be the "stay-at-home moms" and "cat lovers" site, and not something "manly" or "professional".

Well, that's completely inaccurate. Pinterest is full of good stuff- programming, Lego, makerspace... the list goes on and on.


This October will be Jennifer's and my 31st marriage anniversary. We've beaten a few of the "odds", I suppose, but at this point you're probably wondering where all of this is going.

Pinterest likes to send suggestions based upon your likes and post and who knows what else, but a few days ago, one of the suggested pins went something like this, "A king should not search for a princess in distress, but rather for a queen who will fight by his side."

I suppose I could have said this from Day 1, but after nearly 31 years, I would not choose to live without this woman.

Happy anniversary to my best friend, my lover and my confidant.

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.


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


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.