SitRep

Extra super busy with the start of the Fall semester, so I’m a day or two behind on this post. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath.

  • I’ve moved the Minecraft PE server from a Raspberry Pi to my Mac Mini. It’s way less fickle, and seems to put virtually no load on the Mini at all, so… yeah. Better.
  • With my recently free Raspberry Pi 3 B+, I’ve installed RetroPie. That’s a vintage video game emulator, and it’s pretty sweet. I’ve been playing SNES and N64 games pretty easily (though for some reason my Pi froze and struggled to play Doom on N64- I’ll have to look into that).
  • I’m moving my newsletter tool from tinyletter to SubStack. I’m not thrilled about doing that- it’s a bother and one more thing to do, but there’s been noise & rumors about tinyletter getting shut down so… yeah. SubStack is pretty nice, it seems- and it supports the ability to monetize. I’m not going that way, mind you.
  • I’m looking to carve out some time early this autumn to finally finish work on the studio. The rack needs to get built, and I might as well build two room dividers while I’m at it. It’ll be nice to have the space finished.
  • I’m still playing on Mastodon- but I’m not finding it (or twitter, honestly) very compelling right now. I’m toying with the idea of dropping both. Maybe. And with twitter talking about some god-awful thread function and even-worse-awful online indicator? Yeah. We’ll see how that goes.

SitRep

Updates abound.

I’m starting to settle in on the design of some room dividers for the office- I don’t want to wall myself off from the world, but being able to hide the cozy coupes littering my basement might be a good thing. Currently thinking about two of them (one in whiteboard, one in cork). I’d like to have the whiteboard also be magnetic, but that’s a pain to source (according to my research thus far).

I’m back on mastodon.cloud (and mastodon.social and mastodon.xyz, while I’m at it…). It’s still weird, and I’m still not sure about finding people to follow, hashtags, and the like. Trying to read a federated timeline is like drinking from a fire hose, and I want better filtering for it, but… yeah. I’ll need to read up more. Still: twitter is… not great. @jack seems really, really ok with nazis (and whatever horrors invade the platform), and I’m increasingly less sure I need that in my life.

I’ve grown less than thrilled with my Raspberry Pi Minecraft PE server. When it’s working, it’s great. But we lose power here sometimes, and the server would… not behave on reboot. So: looking for a new/different/better solution. Also worth noting: there may not be a better solution.

I’ve been beginning to question if my current use of social media is actually improving my quality of life or not- I left Facebook years and years ago, and I’ve never really regretted it. There are parts of Instagram I still like, but I’m feeling less-than-great about the competitive nature of likes and followers and whatnot. Ditto with twitter, I think- so I’m spending some time thinking about what I actually want out of those platforms (if anything), and what (other) tools I can use to generate those outcomes (on my own terms).

I use more than one computer at home- that should be no surprise if you’ve followed along with the manifestations of the studio. But: I really only have one keyboard I like right now, and I hate unplugging/plugging to move stuff back and forth. So: I found a four-port USB2 hub that does switching- there are four “ins” on one side and two “outs” on the other, and a button to toggle between the “outs.” Now I have my keyboard and mouse (and a webcam or two) that can easily bounce between the two desktop computers. Totally worth it if you have a complicated-ish computer rig.

SitRep

Rested! I should point out that I never do these in any sort of order, so don’t read into that or anything.

  • I’m spending some time looking into a rack solution for bikes on one of our cars. I need to be able to carry 5 bikes for now, with provisions for a tandem eventually. Likely a combination of roof and hitch mount.
  • I’m looking at moving my mountain bike drivetrain from 8spd to 11spd. It was last meaningfully updated in 2004, and 8spd was old then. It’s likely time- I’ve just done the cranks/bb/chainring, so it’d be chain, cassette, shifter, and derailleur. Likely Shimano XT, for any bike dorks reading.
  • I’ve got a stack of clothes that need altering/updating/repair, so it’s time to get the sewing machine out and get working again. You’ll be shocked to hear I’m thinking about shoulder bags again.
  • Working on some sketches/plans for room dividers for the studio. It’s a bit room, and being able to partition it a bit would be pretty useful (and also as backgrounds when I do web calls…), so I’m putting a bit of thought in here with these. I’d like them to be useful, too, so likely two: one whiteboard and one cork board. I’d like the whiteboard to be magnetic, too.
  • I got to spend some time playing with some Adafruit goodies while I was away- they’re super neat. I’m starting to have some ideas about what I can do with some of them, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming projects.

SitRep

Updates abound.

  • I’ve taken some time off from building things recently- I’ve been in a fix and tie-up-loose-ends zone, and while that feels good, it’s likely time to get back to cranking out projects. I can only focus on studio infrastructure for so long.
  • The new antenna setup for the SDR is up and running, and I can (finally) hear stations! Yay! I’m listening to NWS right now. Of course, I saw a super neat Raspberry Pi & Touchscreen version of this setup, so that was pretty tempting…
  • The mountain bike got a new crankset- it’s lovely. It’s the first external bearning crankset I’ve ever owned- I know, I know, I’m two decades late. I didn’t really think I’d be able to feel a difference, but it’s totally stiffer. Sadly, it throws the chain, now, so I’ve got a chainguide incoming later today. And replacement bearings for my old bottom bracket are incoming, too, and that means I can get the gravel bike up and running again. And I’ve got some excellent solid gold bidons (water bottles) coming from the obviously excellent Gladys Bike Shop.
  • I’m going on vacation in a bit, so I’m trying to finish gearing up for that. Camera odds and ends, diving masks, sun block, etc. It’s almost as if there’s no end to the madness.

 

SitRep

Updates abound.

  • I finally got my road bike back up and running- broken spoke fixed and both tires swapped over for new wider/lighter/not cracked rubber. I haven’t been able to take it out, mind you- the weather has been garbage for two weeks straight- but it’s ready. Though the saddle has some discoloration- I’m not sure what’s happened there.
  • A new crankset, bb, and chainring for my mountain bike should show up today. I’m stealing the current bottom bracket from my mountain bike and installing it on my gravel bike, so the mountain bike needed some new parts. Nothing too special (Shimano XT, if you’re wondering), but it’ll also let me swap some cranks out on my wife’s (amazing) burrito slayer.
  • Camera parts continue to come together. After far too long, I’ve decided to standardize my camera mounts around a Manfrotto 200PL plate system- so I’ve been (slowly) amassing enough of the plates and mounts to cover most of my gear.
  • I finally did some video work too- just for practice. I’m feeling better about getting myself comfortable with the new camera (and lenses, and codecs and whatnot), so it’s good to have some stuff come out of camera looking pretty good, and then be able to process it nicely. Progress!

SitRep

Mid summer.

  • Road bike is fixed. A call to the builder confirmed my suspicions- the frame, built in the late 90’s as a full-blown race bike was built with what his notes say were “minimal” clearances. He was certain I could get a 25c tire through (which is still better than my current 23’s), and he thought maybe, depending, I might be able to squeeze a 28c through- but I wouldn’t know until I tried and there were too many variables to wager a guess. So: I ordered some 26’s (that should come today), and that should do the trick. I wasn’t willing to wager $200 on tires that might not fit, so 26 seemed like a decent place to start. I fixed the broken rear spoke, too- it was nice to get the new spoke in there, bring it up to tension, and have the rear wheel come right back into true. I might have built those wheels properly 20 years ago.
  • Tracking down a re-foam kit for old loudspeakers is… annoying. They exist, but they’re a pita to get ordered and shipped and all that. So: on the list, but trying to find the most elegant solution.
  • Looking at power management solutions for the rack system (again). I’ve got the 120v AC power mostly dealt with- planned, anyway. But the 5v DC USB powered stuff needs to be sorted out, too. While it’s convenient that so many things are USB powered, it’s annoying to have an endless array of tiny power supplies eating up space on a power strip. To that end, I’ve had good luck with Ankler PowerPorts (they do 120 AC to 5v DC with 6 ports), and the two I have are fully occupied, so… it’s looking like I’ll need a third to deal with the stuff in the rack. And some more USB micro cables, too.
  • I’m about ready to start devoting some time to that new video series I mentioned a few weeks ago- building out a proper full-sized set of videos about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I’m pretty excited to work on something like this for the first time in a while, and I’m also wary of putting work out into the public like this (as it’s always rough on the ego).

SitRep

Back at it.

  • I broke a spoke and flatted on my road bike yesterday, so now I need to fix the wheel and deal with tires. The rubber on that bike is pretty old, and while it looked to be in ok shape, it has some cracks and signs of age- so that’s likely to be  a new set of tires. I need to find out how large a tire that bike will fit, so I’m going to try to get in contact with the builder and see what he can tell me. Ideally, I’ll be able to fit a set of Compass 26c (or, maybe 28c) extralight tires. Maybe even a second set for the gravel bike (they have a 26″ x 1.8″ and 26″ x 2.3″ I’ve had my eye on…)
  • My Raspberry Pi 3 B+ came, and it’s up and running a Minecraft PE server. Setting up a Minecraft server on a RasPi should be easy, but because my kids play the PE variation of the game (via iOS devices instead of desktops), the sever software is more obscure, and finding a version that will run on a Pi is… annoying. Regardless, it seems to be working. Now I need to look into plugins and whatnot.
  • The “new” stereo is up and running. As per usual with me, there are things to work out, but for right now it seems to be working ok. It looks like the speaker’s woofers will need re-foaming, but I’ll get that sorted.
  • My Software Defined Radio came- it’s super neat to be able to listen to all manner of stuff floating around the airwaves. In theory, anyway, as my antenna is pretty small and I’m not finding many signals I can actually hear. I’m working on a better solution, so we’ll see.
  • I still need to build my rack mount for my office. I don’t want to rehash all the things that have gotten in the way, but there’s just been no time to get it all done. Soon, I hope, as it’s nearly the only thing between me and a finished studio.

SitRep

Whoops! I managed to blow up my bandwidth for last month, so this site was inaccessible for a few days. I’m back, now. Updates!

  • I’ve gone through the media files for this site and thinned things out a bit- I foolishly left some photos at pretty high resolution (and thus larger file sizes…), so I’m hoping that’ll do the trick and keep bandwidth under control this month.
  • I’ve been ill, so my riding has been pretty much nil for last couple of weeks- and now the weather is super-duper hot-and-humid, so… yeah. Biking is frustratingly on hold for a bit as I recover.
  • As always, I’m an adaptor away from greatness: I was recently gifted a vintage NAD amp/receiver with some Boston Acoustics speakers, and those have becoming my new office sound system- but, as would always be the case, I’m short a pair of slightly obscure adaptors to make the final connections work. Typical.
  • My kids are starting to play a bit more Minecraft- and now they want to play together in-game. That’s pretty easy at first- they all play on iOS, and the can see local games. But it’s fickle and requires the host to always be in the game- they’d like to share a game a be able to work on it whenever. So: I’ve a Raspberry Pi inbound to be built up as a local Minecraft server. Should do the trick.
  • I’m still writing my newsletter. I just sent out #93 a couple of days ago, and (as per usual with newsletters) I had a few people immediately unsubscribe. That’s how it is- I get that. It’s just a drag to see your subscriber count creep slowly down every time you actually send something out. I’m trying to figure out what my goals for that newsletter are (or even what my purpose for it is). Am I writing it for me? Am I writing it for some imagined audience?

SitRep

It’s been a long hard week. I’ve had to make some difficult decisions, I’ve gotten sick, and the wind-down of the school year for my family is always rough. Regardless, it’s officially summer now, so let’s do an update.

  • The studio is starting to break in nicely. The overall design is one thing, but it’s when the space reacts to heavy use that the details start to come out. The SD card reader mounted to a shelf, the USB switch to move some of the peripherals from one machine to another easily, the mounts for the webcams… all that starts to solidify. An finer example- I’ve got a birds-eye view webcam over my analog desk. That camera is mounted (via a Manfrotto plate system) to a SuperClamp that’s gripping the overhead shelf. It means I can either use the webcam there, or with a flick of a lever, swap the camera to a proper video camera (or still, for that matter) to shoot higher end video. Fast, easy, and versatile.
  • I’ve begun some work on a proper update to my most popular YouTube videos. Years ago, I made a short series of videos about Lord of the Flies, and it’s time to update them. It will be a project for the next couple of months- and after those videos, I’m hoping to make a set for Catcher in the Rye. After that, who knows. But my better half and I are starting to break down the segments and outline the topics, so it’ll still be a while until you actually see any of them. But I’m working on it.
  • This site has been eating through it’s bandwidth this month- there was a pretty hefty spike in viewership, and at the same time I put up some uncharacteristically media-heavy posts. I’ve redone the media for those (a bit smarter with the jpeg compression is all), so that should help.

SitRep

Here’s where things stand:

  • I’m in a small holding pattern on the custom rack cabinet build for the studio- it’s really just a matter of finding the time/weather combo to make it happen. It’s likely a one or two day build, but those two circles in the Venn diagram just haven’t aligned, yet. Some of the power management I was waiting for is there, though, so that’s one less holdup on the buildout (when the cabinet is done).
  • I found an excellent solution to storing large format art that’s not framed. I’d nearly resigned myself to needing to hunt down a map file (and find a place to put that), but I’d been stalling (as they’re expensive and bulky). Through sheer dumb luck I’ve stumbled across a method that involves hanging the work off stringers- and it’s totally something I can build.
  • I’ve been working on a streaming setup- I don’t really know why, but it seemed like a good idea? Anyway, I’ve found that my Mac Mini I’ve hot rodded still doesn’t quite have the horsepower to deal with three HD cameras at the same time, so… it’s also patched into the xserve (which I mostly leave off, these days, as it’s loud and power hungry… but when you need horsepower, it’s got it (still!)).
  • I haven’t been filming a lot recently- there have been too many other projects on the front burner, and something(s) had to give. I’m trying to get back to that, now- as well as putting some time on on my still photography. I’ve been away from it for a little while, and video and still have always been good at pushing some creativity back into my routine, which has obvious benefits elsewhere. The gallery of one of my bikes in the previous post would be the very start of this project.