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Unknown Caller Ad Infinitum

Posted on June 2nd, 2022

Dave!Every morning it happens.

Call after call after call of people I don't know popping up in my notifications. Except my phone doesn't ring through for unidentified callers, so it has zero effect on me. I turned THAT feature on the minute my mom died and I no longer had to wait for doctor calls or emergencies that might have come up.

I don't want to talk to people I know on the phone... but people I don't know? That's a hard pass. If it's critical, they can leave a voicemail...

Recent Spam Calls on my phone

Interesting to note that they are making several calls at once, because most phones allow you to have multiple calls from the same number break through your unknown caller blocking.

But not me, baby.

Anybody I care about getting through to me is in my contacts.

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WTF Tech Wednesday

Posted on May 25th, 2022

Dave!Oh look! I've got some tech crap to beef about, and you get to come along for the ride! If you're in a good mood and don't want it spoiled by my ranting, I'd just skip this entry.

But if you're already raging on your Wednesday, this one's for you!

Apple Mail
Apple is worth billions of dollars, and yet their Mail app is one of the shittiest fucking user experience for any app ever made. And they keep making it worse! This is not hyperbole, it's absolute fact. Setting aside from the fact that Apple took away your ability to select the outgoing SMTP server for those times you need to do that... and setting aside the fact that the notification app icon badges rarely have accurate information (especially in iOS)... and setting aside that sometimes after reading an email and scrolling all the way through it to get it marked as "read" it doesn't actually mark as "read" until you force it... and setting aside that Mail will not SHUT THE FUCK DOWN when you tell your computer to shut down... and setting aside the fact that account management in the desktop app is a horrific shitshow which is split between two separate locations on two separate apps... the absolute worst part of Apple Mail is that YOU CAN'T FUCKING DELETE AN ACCOUNT... EVER! Choosing "Remove Everywhere" so that the account will fucking die does absolutely jack-shit, because the account is automatically added back seconds later. And it doesn't matter if you make the account inactive on all your iCloud devices. It still comes back, and there's NOTHING you can do about it (except make it inactive). I've read that some people have finally managed to delete and account by turning off Cloud Keychain on all their devices, then deleting the account on all devices, then starting the keychain sync again... but it doesn't work for everybody. So WTF Apple? Why the fuck doesn't "Remove Everywhere" actually remove the shit? Obviously I don't give a fuck if other devices are using it (that I don't know about) because if I want it fucking removed EVERYWHERE that includes ALL MY FUCKING DEVICES! This kind of stupid shit is what drives me fucking insane with Apple and their bullshit. Users have zero power over their own settings.

Amazon Alexa
In the beginning, Alexa was a quirky voice assistant that managed to do very little not very well. But then it started adding capabilities, having better voice recognition, and becoming more reliable in its tasks. At that point it became an essential home automation tool that made "life in the future" so very cool. But over the last couple years, Alexa has turned into unreliable bloatware that pisses me off more than anything. Ask an Alexa device to play a song, the device you spoke to acknowledges the command, THEN PLAYS THE FUCKING SONG ON AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DEVICE IN ANOTHER ROOM! How the fuck is this even remotely sensible. I get it if a device in another room hears the command and starts playing there... but that's not what's happening. Then there's the fact that lights will randomly "not be able" to turn off and on by voice command. Then there's the fact that Alexa is constantly telling me about new abilities and features that I couldn't care less about... all while not being able to do the shit that I asked it to do. I have no idea if these many problems are because Amazon no longer gives a shit about Alexa... or if they're concentrating on adding new shit while letting the old shit deteriorate... or the system is so bloated with crap that it's just not able to function. Regardless, I am seriously considering a switch to Google Hub, which has none of these irritating and debilitating issues. At least not yet.

Apple Photos
The only way to force a sync so that any new photos in the cloud are downloaded is to QUIT THE APP AND THEN OPEN IT AGAIN! Why the fuck can't Apple just add a little "sync" button to the toolbar so you aren't doing this stupid, backwards bullshit? And what about the fact that dragging photos out of the app sometimes gets you a JPEG file and sometimes gets you a HEIC file? And what about the fact that sometimes you drag images out of the app and they don't bother to export at all... or export only after Photos sits there like a stupid shit for a minute first? Photos is categorically awful for photo management, and Apple does not give a fuck. Another case of a company with billions of dollars sitting on their stacks of cash instead of using it to update their fucking apps.

AppleTV
Worst user interface ever. Okay, that's probably hyperbole, but it certainly feels like it. If you have anything more than 25 movies or TV shows, navigating is an absolute slog. Unlike Plex (or any other decent media app) which allows you to scroll over to an alphabet directory to skip to a section, AppleTV makes you scroll through every last fucking piece of media you own. I've purchased hundreds of movies and shows... which means if I want to watch Zoolander, I am 100% fucked. Not only do I have to scroll through every other piece of media I own, I have to wait for all the catalog images to load because AppleTV doesn't cash them. Couple all this bullshit with the fact that AppleTV isn't even reliable at playing shit, and one has to wonder why the fuck Apple even bothers.

Apple TouchID
Having TouchID is cool. Not as cool as having FaceID, but still pretty cool. Want to buy something or access private information or enter a password... just touch the fingerprint sensor and your Mac will take care of it for you! Except when it doesn't. Which is often. Despite having TouchID and allowing it to control everything, I still end up having to type fucking passwords every fucking day. When I went to sync my FTP sites just 15 minutes ago, Keychain Access asked me to type my password. Why? What the fuck good is TouchID if it just randomly doesn't work for some random reason? Doesn't anybody at Apple even use a fucking Mac so they can see this? Or do they know about it and just not give a shit?

INSTEON
I am still fucking raw about the home automation company I used, INSTEON, shut down without notice. Luckily I have an independent hub that doesn't rely on their servers, but recently I've found out that all my monitoring devices are randomly failing (this morning I thought that my garage door was open because INSTEON reported it as open, even though it was closed). I understand that you roll the dice and take your chances every time you purchase a cloud-enabled device (may the people behind Feed-and-Go burn in hell for all eternity), but the very least these assholes could do is offer a workaround or give you options so that your devices no longer work.

Boy. My blood pressure is at critical levels and I'm not even half-way through the crap I'm mad about! I'd better stop before I bust a blood vessel or something. As a bonus, I'll have fodder for another WTF Wednesday, if I deem myself healthy enough to write it up.

   

The Canon PRO-100 Printer

Posted on January 28th, 2022

Dave!After my 11-year-old Epson printer died at work, I needed to buy a new one. A printer by HP was out of the question. I will never buy anything from those assholes ever again. Which means it basically comes down to either Epson or Canon. My old Epson was a huge pile of shit. It would clog all the time. It ran through ink in crazy amounts. Sometimes it would just dump ink on the print, ruining it. Prints would fail for random reasons. Printing would abort for random reasons. It was an exercise in utter futility to print anything, and the cost-per-print was sky-high because of all the problems and failures. I hated it. I hated it. I hated it.

But this did not automatically mean I was going to buy from Canon.

I had a Canon printer at home and it was a pile of shit too.

So I started comparing the Canon PRO-1000 and the Epson SC-P900 to see which large-format printer would be the best fit... and how well they were reviewed.

Both got high marks in some areas and low marks in others. Epson was still suffering from constant clogging... but some people had clogging on Canon too. I went back-and-forth between them for hours.

Ultimately what pushed me in favor of the canon were three things...

  • Canon has 80ml tanks whereas Epson only had 50ml. Which is to say that ink is more expensive with Epson (84¢/ml) than Canon (75¢/ml). Both are still fucking insanely pricey, however.
  • Both printers have Matte Black, Photo Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Gray, and Photo Gray inks. Canon adds red and blue. Epson adds violet. Canon's approach is smarter. By having true red and true blue, they open up a world of color fidelity... especially when it comes to reds, oranges, and browns, which are notoriously difficult to reproduce in CMYK. Getting deep reds, purples, and blues with Canon will be a piece of cake, and those are some very important color spaces to fill. Which is why I have no clue why Epson went with violet. That helps purples and deep blues, but does absolutely nothing for reds, oranges, or browns.
  • Out of all the reviews I read, Epson had more problems noted with clogs and paper feed. This was often chalked up to the Epson SC-P900 being small, lightweight, and cheaply constructed. Canon, on the other hand, is built like a frickin' tank.

Canon Pro-1000 Printer.

Canon does have two major cons... you can use roll-stock paper (which I rarely do anyway) and it's a 7-year-old model (Epson is a 3-year-old model). Those were not quite the deal-breakers that the above three points were with Epson.

UNPACKING
Like I said... this thing is a frickin' tank (SEVENTY POUNDS, PEOPLE!). It is massively sized and very heavy thanks to it having many metal components. It barely fit on my Anthro Cart side-table. Which is to say that getting it out of the box is a bit of a challenge. I managed, but it was harder than it should have been thanks to my back getting thrown out two days ago. The box was beat to hell but the printer itself was undamaged.

SETUP
Removing all the packing tapes and installing the 12 cartridges wasn't a big deal... though it was time consuming. The screen on the printer guides you through the process of aligning the heads, filling the lines, and all that stuff. No problem there. But then you get to the printer drivers. The included CD only has Windows drivers... no Mac drivers. You have to download them from the web. And here's where everything went to shit. My Safari browser corrected CANON.COM to CANNON.COM (with two N's). This sent me to a third-party site with a phone number where a tech support asshole wanted me to install remote-access software so they could have full control of my computer. Naturally I told them to go fuck themselves, and was able to figure out that my browser was autocorrecting CANON to CANNON. Once I got there, I still couldn't get my installers working and called authentic Canon support for help. 42 minutes later a guy emailed me a URL to get the Mac CUPS drivers in just a couple minutes and I was on my way.

OPERATION
Canon instructions are shit. Their drivers are shit. Everything about operating the printer is shit. Nothing "just works." You have to Google everything in order to understand what the hell you're supposed to be doing. Take the paper, for example. I bought authentic Canon 17×22 semi-gloss paper. But 17×22 is not listed in the driver. I looked on the paper packaging and included spec sheet to see what I am supposed to select to use it and was offered nothing. And so I had to go through each and every weird-ass paper configuration until I found that "C" was the paper size I was looking for. C. Why the fuck Canon can't put that on the fucking paper box... or include the actual paper dimensions in the driver is a total damn mystery. This is not rocket science here. Once I figured out what paper setting I needed, the printer operates like any other printer for the Mac.

PRINTS
Overall, the prints you can get out of this thing are stunning. Reds in my projects have never printed well. I would always get this weird-ish faux-red that doesn't look like true red at all. But not with the Pro-1000. Canon prints serious reds. Blues are likewise very pretty. I expected this to happen since Canon has independent red and blue inks to work with. Where things fall apart is in greens. Since there is no green ink, the printer has to mix cyan (or blue) and yellow to get it. And that will never result in a vibrant green. When I investigated this, the conjecture seems to be something like "Well, green in nature isn't a very vivid green, so you shouldn't need to print it." Which is so categorically absurd as to be laughable. I have photos with ridiculously saturated natural greens (Ireland is filled with them). And this says nothing about photos I have with greens that are outside of nature. Like things that are painted bright-green. Or plastics which have deep green hues in them. How am I supposed to print those? Green exists, and it's a mystery as to why Canon nor Epson did something so you can print with it.

EXPENSES
Since I've had the printer for only one day, I have no idea if I will end up dealing with the clogs and other disasters that makes Epson printers so horrifically expensive to own. I sure hope not. Because wasting a print due to printer failure is one of those things that sends my blood pressure to the absolute limit. When setting up a new printer, you blow through half-a-tank of each color before you can print a single thing. Canon also blows through 2/3 of the capacity of the "maintenance cartridge" which collects the ink from head cleaning and borderless printing and stuff. This wouldn't be bad... they only retail for $14 or so... except they are out of stock most everywhere I looked (even at Canon.com). Since you cannot print without this item, not having replacements is essentially turning your $1400 printer into a massive doorstop, and that's is absolutely nuts. Another item which drives up cost is the "chroma optimizer" cartridge. This is a clear coating which evens out your print so that areas of high ink concentration don't look different from those with low ink concentration. It also makes colors look richer, more defined, and adds greater contrast (black in particular) because reflected light is taken down a bit. You seriously want it on your prints because it makes them look so much better. But since it covers the entire image (unlike the inks), you have to buy a lot of it. I'm already running low and I just got the printer today! Fortunately, it's $5 cheaper than ink... $55 instead of $60... so I guess that's a plus.

CONCLUSION
This is not a great printer. But it's a good one that can make some very pretty photo prints. And I'm guessing I will be much happier with it than I ever was with the dumpster fire that was the Epson I previously had. If Canon is interested in having a great printer, here's where they need to go with the next model...

  • Larger ink tanks. 80ml is better (and cheaper) than Epson's 50ml tanks, but you're still paying for more plastic than ink, and that's shitty. One day somebody is going to come along with refillable tanks on a high-quality photo printer (they already have this for standard printers) and 100% eat Epson's and Canon's lunch. And I will laugh my fucking ass off as Epson/Canon sales plummet). And why not make the "color optimizer" cartridge be double-the-size of the ink tanks since you use so much of it? Operating costs for this machine are crazy-expensive. Do better.
  • Add green ink. Seriously. You've already got 12 tanks, what's one more? Especially when it means that you'll FINALLY be able to cover a decent color gamut. Thanks for red and blue ink. That's awesome. But the puzzle isn't complete and won't be until I can print vivid greens.
  • Include Macintosh drivers with your printers.
  • For the love of God... make a printer driver that allows people to select paper sizes without having to resort to trial-and-error. Especially since you don't label your papers with the size-name that your driver calls them. It is categorically stupid that I have to fucking mention this to you.
  • Show a photo of what your OFFICIAL website looks like on your instruction papers so people won't be fooled into contacting a fraudulent site. I ended up at a shitty scammer site even though I know how "Canon" is supposed to be spelled. It's not your fault that asshole scammers are preying on people... but it is 100% your fault that you're not doing more to warn people about it (especially when you have a non-standard company name that can get auto-corrected).
  • Put a little bit of effort into keeping genuine Canon replacement parts in stock. You warn people not to use third-party parts because they may damage the printer, but what the fuck else are they supposed to do if you can't even get parts direct from Canon? Don't blame your customers for buying third-party if you're not going to bother having the authentic stuff available.
  • Why is auto color-calibration not a thing? It would be a minimal cost to add a spectrometer to your high-end printers so that they could self-calibrate the color, so why don't you? This is no-brainer stuff here.

And that's that. If you are looking for one of the best professional photo printers on the market that can handle 17×22 paper, then this is probably already on your short-list. If I run into any new information as time goes by, this is where I'll put it.

   

Technological Timeline

Posted on December 17th, 2021

Dave!Being born in 1966 puts me in a unique position in time... technologically speaking.

I was there for the birth of computing. I was there for the birth of personal computing. And the internet. And MP3 players. And video games. And mobile phones. And smart phones. And so-on and so-on. In many ways, this is a very cool thing, because people born after me don't know of a world without the stuff we have today. It's also a bad thing because I'll be dead before the unimaginably cool stuff is ever invented.

Oh well.

Looking back I can remember outlandish pre-modern-technology shit that kids today would completely balk at. People existed without a mobile phone? Without internet ON your phone? That's crazy!

Recently I saw a video about the ol' PDA days and it all came rushing back to me. Personal Data Assistants were a huge deal when they debuted (computing in your pocket!) and I was an early adopter. I had the Apple Newton, the Palm Pilot, the Handspring Visor, the iPaq, the Treo, and even the Sony CLIE (my favorite of the bunch, which was PalmOS-based) and the Sony MagicLink. And the minute a new one would debut with even cooler features I would sell my old one and get it.

Eventually they didn't really go anywhere so I gave up on PDAs. I just wasn't using them.

Then the iPhone came along, and the rest is history. Bye bye PDA, hello smart phone.

Two companies that have been mostly lost in the tome of modern technology I remember fondly. And there's some cool videos on YouTube that will give you a taste why I feel that way.

The first is General Magic (the people behind the Sony MagicLink)... sorry the music trounces over the people speaking, it's annoying as fuck, but this documentary is awesome...

And the second is a new interview doc about Handspring (the people behind the Visor and Treo...

Now we're at that lull stage where technology is coasting. My iPhone gets faster and has a better camera every year, but nothing truly new is happening. But that next leap is coming soon. Maybe it will be Apple's wearable glasses? I dunno. But I hope I'm alive to see it!

Because I look forward to the generation who cannot comprehend a time before computer chip brain implants. YOU HAD TO TYPE STUFF ON A SCREEN TO ACCESS THE INTERNET?!? THAT'S CRAZY!

Indeed it was.

But I had a fun time watching all that technology happening in Real Time.

   

The Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien is Shit

Posted on December 3rd, 2021

Dave!It's Friday night and I am not going to bed until I fix all the stuff that got busted on Blogography!

Okay. That may have been a presumptuous statement. Four hours later and it seems like I'm causing more problems than I'm fixing. Which seems to be par for the course when it comes to the technology in my life. And I do mean ALL the technology in my life! Heck, even Alexa has betrayed me... as she's now failing to control my Hue lights for some reason!

But the biggest problem for me right now is my home WiFi.

For a while now I've suspected that I have some unauthorized devices on my network. Usually what I'd do is temporarily lock down my internet to known devices until I figure out what's going on. Either the unauthorized devices will drop off and I'll get a note they tried to connect... or there's aome internet "thing" around here that I forgot to write down which will stop working and I'll know what it is that way. Either way, the problem is solved.

But, alas, my THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FUCKING DOLLAR ROUTER... the AmpliFi Alien from Ubiquiti... is a steaming pile of shit that lacks even the most basic features that my cheaper Google Wifi mesh network had included. Hell, you can't even see the IP addresses and MAC addresses for your device list. You have to click on them twice to get that. Insanity. And don't get me started about the complete lack of features on the router itself. For THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FUCKING DOLLARS I'd expect the absolute bare minimum... like a persistent list of devices that attempted to connect... or MAC address blocking... or separate passwords when you separate out the different bands into their own SSID...or ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING that helps you with basic WiFi functionality or security.

But nope.

I ended up ordering a "Fing Box" to add the basic security features that Ubiquity doesn't feel the need to add to their pricey shit. From what I can tell, neither the app or the router has gotten any kind of features added since I've owned it. Which has been what... two years now?

I'm sure there's purchases I've regretted more than the Alien... but this has got to be in the top ten. Probably top five.

So let this post get indexed by Google as a warning to others looking to buy it. You can thank me for saving you the anguish later.

   

Bullet Sunday 740

Posted on November 28th, 2021

Dave!Since I'm back from my Thanksgiving adventure, I might as well bullet up the internet... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Past Midnight! Fly By Midnight is my favorite band of 2021... and they never disappoint. This live broadcast is wonderful...

I cannot believe that I didn't even know they even existed until a couple months ago. The music industry is weird.

   
• Mata WHAT?! Okay. I know it will get better. I understand this. But right now? No thanks. The "metaverse" looks awful...

Maybe for an occasional chat, but I don't want to live here.

   
• InstaGreat! Oh nothing... just InstaCart making my Thanksgiving be great by doing God's work...

Alas, Instacart isn't quite so accessible when I'm at home... but across the mountains I absolutely love that a few clicks is all it takes to get whatever you need brought right to your door!

   
• DavidLL! Six calls. SIX FUCKING CALLS to U.S. Bank to try and get my name correct on my account. Surely I am not the only "II" to ever have an account at US Bank?? But despite SIX CALLS, my account is still fucked up. My name is David Simmer II. Not David II Simmer. Not David Simmer LL. Not DavidL Simmer. Not DavidSimmer LL. AND NOT DAVID L LL!! Jesus Christ... what the fuck does it take? How hard is this? Apparently it's equivalent to fucking brain surgery that it's STILL NOT RIGHT after SIX FUCKING CALLS!!! Forget having nice, kind customer service agents. I want a total asshole who will ACTUALLY. GET. THE. JOB. DONE!

US Bank can't get my name right.

The fifth time I literally walked them through it... "The first name box should be DAVID, the last name box should be SIMMER, the suffix box should be TWO CAPITAL I's to get II. I don't use my middle name and would prefer not to have it left blank, but if you insist, the middle name box should say LEWIS. Didn't make any difference. Still got it wrong.

   
• Dope Soap! I see Ice-T in the new Tide Pod commercials and try very hard to remember that he had a music career before he went into acting... and pushing soap. Which is a far cry from when he was pushing dope, which was definitely not cleaned by soap...

I don't play when it comes to my dope
I check my lyrics close, like with a microscope
I don't clean'em up with no ivory soap
I leave'em hard and pure, hope that you can cope
Because you might O.D. if you overdrive

Tide Pods... the soap that's dope!

   
• Spidey 4, 5, 6! Rumor has it that Sony has backed up a dump truck full of cash to Tom Holland's house for another trilogy of Spider-Man movies. This makes me very, very happy. While ultimately I'm looking forward to Miles Morales taking over the role, I think that Peter Parker has some stories left to tell. Besides, they can always do a Miles Morales movie, then have worlds merge in Spider-Man 6 as a nice hand-off kind of thing.

   
• A Mother's Love! And, lastly, I had no idea that this happened... The Open Christmas Letter.

   
Enjoy those fleeting shopping days until Christmas!

   

MacBook MacDebt

Posted on October 25th, 2021

Dave!And so I did something I swore I wasn't going to do... go into debt again.

The only reason I can afford the latest model iPhone is because of Apple's "iPhone Upgrade Program" which charges you a monthly fee and allows you to trade in your phone for a new model every year. To buy the thing outright when it costs over $1000 is money I don't have. Essentially it's leasing with an option to own, and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Alas, there's no such "upgrade program" for my MacBook Pro, which costs over three times what an iPhone does.

Which means I have to put money aside whenever I can and save for a new model, which takes three to five years. And this is fine. MacBooks now-a-days are plenty powerful enough to go that long, so I just accept that this is my only option and move on with life.

But Apple did something financially smart (for them) and financially not-smart (for me). Right after you read all about the new MacBook Pro laptops, they have this...

Get a credit for a new MacBook Pro with a trade-in and earn 3% cash-back when you buy with Apple Card.

Now, I naturally assumed that my two-year-old MacBook Pro with an antiquated Intel chip would be worth almost nothing... $500 if I were lucky. So I didn't even bother to check. But I did want to take a look at my Apple Card to find out if I got my 3% cash back when I bought my new M1 iMac. Turns out I did. But then I noticed something that I hadn't anticipated. A surprise of the best possible kind... My Apple Cash card is the last card in my Apple Wallet, so I never see it. And it turns out I had Real Money sitting on it... $1312.48

Without realizing it, I had already saved up over 1/3 the amount needed to buy a new MacBook Pro.

So now I was very interested in how much money Apple would give me for my old Intel Apple MacBook Pro. Another surprise of the best possible kind... Apple would give me $1,210.00 for it. Far, far more than I was expecting.

And so here I am sitting on $2,522.48 that I didn't even realize.

So now it was time to crunch the numbers.

My dream MacBook Pro (M1 MAX with 64GB memory and 1TB storage) costs $3,899.00 plus tax plus $400 for three years of AppleCare coverage. $4,299. HA! Yeah, coming up with the additional $1,776.52 needed might as well have been $20,000. But what if I drop down to 32GB of memory, saving $400? That's double what I have now. Doing that means I'm at $1,376.52 needed. That's still a massive heap of cash. But how much for a monthly payment? After trade-in, it's $224 a month (including tax and AppleCare)... but 3% Apple Card cash-back brings it down to $217 a month. Which is to say that my $1,312.48 in Apple Cash covers six months of payments, during with time I can scrape together four more payments. That's ten out of the twelve payments covered. Factoring in my tax refund money for the final two payments... annnnnd... DONE!

I use my MacBook Pro for work whenever I'm home. Several hours a day every day. And if I ever start traveling again, I use it constantly. The benefits of going into debt to get a newer model outweighed my desire to not be saddled with debt...

  • The far better M1 chip will allow me to work faster, doing more work in the same amount of time.
  • Annoying problems... like trying to find an SD card dongle to load photos I take for work... are eliminated since there's an SD card slot built-in.
  • That stupid fucking TouchBar, which I hate to use because I have to stop everything I'm doing and angle my MacBook towards me so I can see what I'm press on the damn thing, is finally gone... replaced with REAL KEYS I can actually memorize.

Also? The thing will take a month to ship, which means another month to save money for the payments, which means those four payments at the end will be less of a burden. I may not end up eating nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles after all!

Worth it.

If, for no other reason, to get rid of that stupid fucking productivity-killing TouchBar.

I'd eat peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles for a year just to get rid of that idiotic shit.

And so... here I am. Looking to see if there's a sale on peanut butter and bread. If there is, then maybe I can start saving for those payments early!

   

Mainstream Metal is Coming

Posted on July 16th, 2021

Dave!Yesterday Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands was there for the opening of the "Smart Bridge" in Amsterdam, which was 3D printed.

Out of metal.

They used computer-programmed welding robots to print the bridge layer by layer until the structure was complete...

It's gorgeous...


Photo from TheMayor.eu... photographer not credited

But it's also frightening, as it means the technology to print with metal is here and will only get more refined and precise in the future. At which time the technology will get cheaper and will make its way into our homes. At which time people can start printing firearms. Something I have been talking about for a decade now.

I don't know what the solution is to stopping gun violence (or any violence, really). But in a fast-approaching era where anybody can print the parts and assemble a fully-automatic weapon in their basement from plans they find on the internet... we'd better figure it out. Education programs. Mental health programs. Empathy programs. Poverty-ending programs. Marginalization-ending programs. Something. Anything. Our governing bodies may want to look into stuff like that before we get to the point where banning guns is a futile gesture that comes too late (as if we're not already there... that genie is out of the bottle).

People who intend harm will always have access to weapons. And their weapon of choice could end up being something terrible that we can't even conceive of right now. That's how fast technology is moving. Staying ahead of it is essential, but current solutions always revolve around escalating the violence. And it's not working.

Evidence of that is all around you every day.

   

I’m Sure It Happens to Every Guy

Posted on May 1st, 2021

Dave!My old 65" television weighed 70 pounds (or something like that). I can easily lift 70 pounds, but being able to lift it up a wall and be able to get it attached to the mount without breaking it? Probably not. It's just too big and awkward to see what I'm doing. So after Walmart took my money for installation, then canceled my installation, I assumed I would need help because surely my new 65" television would weigh the same, wouldn't it? Apparently not. When I went to move it out of my living room until I could get somebody to help, I didn't scoot the big box... I tried picking it up by the straps. And it did not weigh no 70 pounds. So I looked up the specs. It only weighed 47-1/2 pounds!

I know the thing is big and awkward, but surely I can manage by myself if it weighs under 50 pounds?

So last night I took down my old TV and my old mount. Installed my new mount. Then gave it a try.

Not going to lie... there was a point that I felt like I might drop it as I tried to hang it on the tiny little centering tab because I couldn't see what the heck I was doing and was trying to feel my way. But after a few minutes I felt a "pop" and there it was. I quickly screwed it in place and I was done!

But not really.

The pricey Sony mount I got which was built specifically for my television didn't allow the cables to come through the middle of the wall like my old one. If I wanted to hide my cables in the wall (and I absolutely did) I would need to cut new holes in my wall off to the side.

Fortunately I already had a punch-cut drywall blade for just such an occasion!

And the nice part about doing it myself is that I give a crap about doing good work. So unlike the "professionally installed" boxes which are all wonky and crooked, I could take the time to do the job right and make sure that my cuts are clean, level, and precise...

A hole being cut in my drywall for the cable box.

I was too tired to run the cables in the wall, so I saved that for this morning.

And then... WAAAAAHHH! My optical cable wasn't long enough! Don't you hate it when your cable comes up short? This has never happened before. I've always had PLENTY of cable to get the job done in the past! But I'm sure this happens to lots of guys and isn't a big deal. Fortunately, in this case, I can just go get a longer cable. Even more fortunate, my local Target actually had one (and only one!) in stock. From there it was pretty easy to run my cables in the wall, hook my soundbar back up, then clean up the mess. Easy peasy...

My new television hanging on the wall.

Surprisingly, everything is working perfectly. Even better than before, actually, because the audio system on the new TV works far, far better with my SONOS home theater... and the picture quality is better too.

But here's the bonus to it all. Sony uses GoogleTV to power their sets. It is a MASSIVE LEAP ahead of the shitty interface on my old busted Samsung. And it has AppleTV as an app, so I don't even have to power on my external AppleTV box! Every streaming service I use is inside my TV as an app now. That's really, really nice. Could not be happier with my new television. Even video games look great! Now all that's left to do is patch the old hole in my wall. And install my bias lighting. But I'll do that next week. I've had enough home improvement for this week.

But who knows how I'll feel tomorrow?

   

Bullet Sunday 711 FAIL WEEK!

Posted on April 25th, 2021

Dave!Life sucks, but don't expect a reprieve from the suckage THIS Sunday... because a Very Special Technology All-Fail Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Mojang! The only video game I want to play lately is Minecraft Dungeons. It's a fun dungeon-crawler that's accessible to play because the difficulty is selectable for each level. You can go harder than your character-power if you want a challenge... or easier if you just want something to do that won't stress you out. In lieu of a LEGO dungeon crawler, it's exactly what I need...

Screen capture of Minecraft Dungeons showing a battle in progress.

EXCEPT... I bought it for Nintendo Switch so I have the option of playing it on my television or taking it with me as a portable. The problem is that Mojang did a shitty job of the Switch conversion, so it's jerky and rough if things get even a little bit intense... especially on a television. This is absurd. FAR more complicated games, like Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Diablo III, don't have this problem. Bad enough that Mojang did such a poor job... but to not allow players to decrease resolution and frame-rate settings so they can have a playable game is kinda unforgivable. With the new DLC packs I just bought, it's even more critical that Mojang get off their asses and improve the translation for Switch or, at the very least let us turn the specs down so it plays well.

   
• Mojang Deux! And while we're at it... why does Minecraft Dungeons crash so often? It happens most when I am playing the Daily Trial, which means all the parameters change when I have to restart and begin the level all over again. That SUCKS. Let me go back to the saved game so I can keep going! But instead it's see a Daily Trial game you like, start to play, crash, then you can't get the same game back. Also... why is the online network capabilities so abysmal? Most times when I resume a game, it wants to go back to the Main Menu so it can connect to the Microsoft Network (again), then gives me an error, then allows me on. It's almost to the point where I wish I could afford an Xbox so I'd have a platform that Mojang/Microsoft gives a shit about. Except I don't think that cross-platform saves are available (even though cross-platform playing is), so that may not even help.

   
• Apple Watch! Apple Watch is both genius and stupid at the same time. The main reason I bought it was to track my sleep and hopefully get better insight into how I sleep so I can get better rest. Apple Watch doesn't really do much of that, even though it's got all the sensors and crap to do all of that (it can't even keep track of multiple sleep sessions in a 24 hour period!). The Sleep app they give you is complete shit, which is why I bought the fantastic AutoSleep app for $4. It is phenomenal, and what Apple should have included. And, surprise! It will automatically log multiple sleep sessions and doesn't require you to manually set a sleep window. It's just class all the way through...

Jenny & Jake

One thing I'm trying to do is experiment with going to bed earlier. Last night I decided to go to bed at 9:00pm, but Apple Watch kept me awake because the display is on. "Hey Siri, good night.""Hey Siri, turn off the display.""Hey Siri, how do I turn off the Apple Watch display?" — And of course none of that works because Siri is a fucking idiot. My blood pressure rising because I can't find a way to put the watch to sleep or tell it's I'm going to bed in the shitty Sleep app, I have to Google that shit on my iPhone and eventually find out that there's a "Theater Mode" that I can turn on. Jesus. For a company that prides itself on making technology easy to use... Apple sure fucked up this part. Might want to look into actually making Siri be useful.

   
• Ubiquiti! When my old WiFi router died, I wanted to buy a future-proof model with excellent WiFi 6 capability. I landed on the Amplifi Alien because Ubiquiti has such an amazing reputation. It was $380, but I figured it would be worth the insane investment if I could hang onto it for 5 or 6 years...

Turns out that NOPE, it really isn't worth the money. Mostly because the built-in firewall is total shit, and there's no way to do the most simple shit like blacklist IP addresses or block countries or anything. THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DOLLARS AND YOU CAN'T BLACKLIST AN IP ADDRESS?? Jesus. What a fucking turd of a router. What's worse? You can't add a third-party device like a Firewalla because it's not compatible with the Alien and, of course, the Alien has no configuration options so you can make it compatible. Thinking of buying a new WiFi router? Avoid the Amplifi Alien at all costs. Overpriced trash with minimal configurability and a pathetic feature set.

   
• Samsung! I am still feeling very raw that my seriously expensive Samsung television died after just five years. And the fact that there are NO repair parts available and I have to go to the secondary market in order to find them... at a highly inflated price, of course... is typical of a manufacturer who counts on their products being disposible. They want them to fail so they can sell you a new one. Well, I may be having to buy a new television, but it sure as fuck ain't going to be from Samsung.

   
• PARAMOUNT+! When CBS became Paramount+, there was a special offer to go ad-free for the price of ad-enabled if you bought a year. I did it, because there's a lot of stuff on the streaming service I liked. Problem is? A lot of their older stuff WILL NOT STREAM. New shows? Yes. Old shows? Rarely. Sometimes it will work on a laptop, iPad, and iPhone if you have no ad-blocker, allow pop-ups, don't use a VPN, and turn off every conceivable protection to your network. But even then it's a crapshoot. But here's the thing... it NEVER works on my AppleTV. Old episodes of Ink Master or Drag Race or whatever? NOPE! And it's so fucking stupid. I don't have to turn off all my protection shit when I stream from Netflix, Discovery+, AppleTV+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Philo, or any other service I use all the time... only Paramount+. What a bunch of fucking assholes. And OF COURSE when you write to their customer support they have you jump through hoops that don't do shit. If ALL MY OTHER streaming services work, maybe it's YOU. If new shows from your network stream fine, but old shows don't, maybe it's YOU. I will not be resubscribing when my year runs out.

   
• QNAP! This past week QNAP, the makers of my NAS (Network Attached Storage) had some kind of vulnerability which allowed malware/ransomeware hackers to install a program on everybody's NAS drives which encrypted all their files. The only way to get your files back is to pay $500+ to the hackers and they would give you the encryption key. I didn't pay them shit because I have redundant offline backups of all my data (which is harder than it should be because QNAP has a shitty, SHITTY fucking backup app)...

I just deleted all the encrypted files and replaced them with the original. No big deal. After that, I installed a bunch of new stuff on my NAS (including a firewall) to (hopefully) avoid new problems. But here's my beef... WHY THE FUCK DOESN'T QNAP HELP CUSTOMERS UNDERSTAND HOW TO SECURE THEIR DATA AGAINST THESE ATTACKS BETTER? Everything with them is far more complicated than it needs to be, and their customers are paying the price for it. Looking for a NAS? Thinking of buying QNAP? AVOID! AVOID! AVOID!

   
And that's it for stuff that sucks on this fine Sunday.

   

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