1712 Blog December 2017

December 2017

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Sat 12/30/17 2:44pm # | tweet this

Year End

Only one more day to go in 2017.

Currently there is an oppressive amount of cold and snow outside.

Jennifer has been off work for the holiday week, and thatís been a great break to the routine.

I tried to use the Surface Pro with my multiple monitors in the office to less than stellar results yesterday. Not sure if my problem is Windows 10, The Surface Pro itself, or just the DisplayPort adapter cord I was using, but itís something Iíll need to tinker more with. I did have better luck using a DisplayPort to VGA adapter on one of the smaller VGA monitors, but that had itís own issues involving differing screen scaling and different mouse travel rates along the horizontal and vertical axis as well as between screens. Something to tinker with, but also to make me rethink my use of our office space, especially if I donít recreate my previous desktop multi-monitor environment with my new Surface Pro centered computing setup.

Despite the comments above about the Surface Pro, I have been really digging it this past month. I have a small cart for it between the kitchen and living room, and it continues to work great for staying in proximity of the toddler while he is playing.

Caught up on a weekís worth of Youtube video subscriptions this morning. Blew through them fairly quickly. Itís a lighter week, due to the holidays, but also in much the same way I burned out a bit on the sheer volume of CW DC shows last year, Iím getting a little burned out on the single-Youtube-reviewer/commentator-format that dominates so much of Youtube.

I intended to write much more today, but just not feeling like commenting on much more for now.

I want to hear your

Thu 12/28/17 6:24pm # | tweet this

Condense and Declutter

I sortof have one new year's resolution of sorts, and it's to condense and declutter my basement, and reconfigure our office. I especially have always been bad about holding onto things I don't really need. Having a toddler in the house is now a third person rapidly accumulating stuff as well.

It's not a weekend project. More like something I plan to tackle over the course of the winter-- one plastic storage bin at a time.

Wish me luck.

I want to hear your

Wed 12/27/17 12:13pm # | tweet this

Pixel Buds

Jenn got me Pixel Buds for Christmas. They werenít really on my radar or something I was expecting to get. She had bought a pair for herself a a month ago, and since she goes running, and to the office daily, I thought they were a great idea in that environment but with my being home most of the day surrounded by Echos and Google Homeís I didnít think Iíd get as much use out of them.

So far though, Iíve used them while shoveling, with my Daydream VR headset and just sitting around the livingroom in general, and am enjoying them more than I thought I would.

One nice feature of their design, the way they sit in your ear, you can easily hear other things going on in the room while you are playing music or podcasts on them. This is a key feature when a toddler is also playing in the same room and asking you questions every 5 minutes.

Receiving notifications on them is interesting. I like the chirp that goes off in your ear when you get a message, and a double tap of the right earbud to listen to the message is nice. Replying by voice works well too. Triaging a bunch of messages on the buds isnít really as efficient as doing the same number on a smartwatch though, but it works well for light numbers of notifications.

Google Assistant works well on them too. Simply tapping and holding the bud to ask questions and start actions, is nicer than saying "hey Google" all the time too.

Since both Jenn and I both have them, I think they may work well for point to point calling while at the zoo or museums or such. I had hoped the Onyx Communicator badges would do that last year but those really needed strong consistent Wifi or 4G, and were rarely practical in real world environments. I'm looking forward to trying these out on our next day trip though since you can use them with voice calling, messaging, and regular phone and 3G environments.

Overall, a really nice gift Iím enjoying so far.

I want to hear your

Sat 12/09/17 10:50am # | tweet this

3D Printed Christopher Reeves Head

First 6Ē action figure head Iíve printed on my newer 3D printer. Model from Thingiverse. I scaled it down 20% or so. It works. The print holds enough detail that this is certainly doable for action figures.

Biggest issue is going to be finding a small place or tray to leave paints set up in, so that I can work on painting these things when I get a free moment here or there.

This still furthers the extensional question of collecting things when you almost have a Star Trek style replicator, albeit a slower process of digital sculpt, 3d print, & paint.

This isnít completely new, there are talented people out there who custom sculpt these things in clay and sculpty and do castings, but the digital workflow makes this whole process a lot faster.

I want to hear your

Fri 12/08/17 10:22pm # | tweet this

A change to action figure collecting

I printed a half an Ewok today. Twice. It was a file I downloaded from Thingiverse.

Thingiverse file quality varies, like Youtube video quality varies. Some files print well, some files donít print as well. You download a file, you roll the dice, you takes your chances. For me, the combination of this Ewok, my slicer and my printer just didnít want to play nicely. Both times I printed the file failed at the 42mm mark. I tried a half dozen ways to reslice and reprint the remaining 34mm, but for whatever reason, my printer didn;t like that part of the model and kept choking on it.

Ah well. Thatís the way the Ewok crumbles.

I have however printed several figure things lately that have worked well. Ninja Turtles, Porgs, Droids, and others, enough to see the near future coming.

At some point soonish someone is going to optimize one of those video game character creation engines for use in creating 3D character models optimized for 3D printing and the hobby of action figure collecting is going to go through a shift.

Sure the 25 points of articulation in a modern Marvel Legends figure is not going to be worth the hassle for most people to print soon, but a 5 point (classic Star Wars figure) or even a 9 point articulation figure, like a DC Basics figure will be pretty achievable with the right software helping assist creation of the joints.

A typical 6in figure takes approximately 4 hours to print with a standard FDM printer. Which means, if the right action figure creation software gets created, a hobbyist could print a figure a day for less than a $1 in filament. So, maybe the hobbyist spends an hour or two designing the figure, sets it to print overnight and then the next day, assembles ands paints the figure. An enthusiast could create 3 or 4 figures a week like this without being too fanatical, with negligible materials cost and a modest amount of time per week.

If people share the files from this character creation software, and download other peopleís custom takes on popular characters, they could easily print a dozen a week. Painting is still slower at one or two a day, but after a year, it wouldnít be that hard to fill oneís shelves with a couple hundred figuresó even if one doesnít get around to painting them all.

The downside to this, while almost anyone will be able to print these figures, only a percentage will be really good at painting them fast, but it will be an interesting change in the action figure collecting hobby.

I want to hear your

Tue 12/05/17 8:42pm # | tweet this

Random Non-Sequiters

Spent some time reading my past yearís December blog pages today. Even if noone else reads this site anymore, I get value out of it by going back and getting a snapshot of what I was thinking about at different points over the last 14 years.

In a lot of ways the things Iíve written about on this blog have been fairly consistent these past 5 years especially (I mean other than having a kid during that time. ;) ). Periodically I do a sort of current state of tech status update. Looks like the closest, most recent one, of these Iíve done was in May. Most of what I wrote there at the middle of the year, mostly rings true for me today as well.

Social media continues to get worse, for a variety of reasons. Facebook and Twitter are likely in permanent decline, they could pull out of it, but I doubt it. Not sure if there will be one big thing to replace them though. The ubiquity of those two services may have been a blip in time, and returning to a bunch of disconnected smaller pockets might be the more natural state for this sort of thing.

One thing this past year that has changed for me is how much Youtube subscriptions have replaced blogs and websites for my news and interests. Although, I still prefer text and images, the sortof folks that would have blogged 10 years ago have, in the last few years, migrated to running Youtube channels instead. Thatís where the hobbyist and enthusiast content is now.

This year I got into 360 VR Camera use. Still a forward thinking technology right now. Capture of images/video is at an acceptable level. Sharing of them, however, is still fairly awkwardó and general adoption is very low at the moment. But itís really only year one or two for this right now. I would have waited but I wanted images and video of my toddler for the future, so I was motivated to be an early adopter.

I got my second 3D printer a couple months ago. Itís much more professionally constructed than the earlier one I got a few years ago. Less like a hobbyist workshop tool and more like a hobbyist appliance. Weíre probably at year 2 or 3 of this before we get to year 10 where the tech is really having a disruptive influence on the culture in general. Itís less about the printers and more about groups of people getting up to speed on sculpting and 3D CAD software. That growing skill development is happening out there though.

Voice assistant speakers have continued to be useful for me this year. Not sure when I got the Amazon Echo and Home Minió sometime in 2016, so itís been over a year with both. The Google Home has been especially useful for voice controlling large Youtube playlists cast to the TV as well as playing music for my son.

I got a Surface Pro recently. Making a more mobile/tablet/laptop-like device my main computer is new for me, I was a holdout using a desktop as my main machine, much much longer than most. The mobility, if only around the house, suits my current situation better now than anchoring myself to the office. Again, many people made the switch to laptops as their primary machine a decade ago, but itís a change to my workflow this year nonetheless.

While not a gamer myself, I continue to be impressed by the Nintendo Switch my wife plays on. Like the Surface above for computing, the Switch really feels like a desktop to laptop evolution for gaming. Itís a great form factor, working equally well around the house, on the go, and in the living room.

VR, is something I long term continue to be bullish on, even though it continues to just be a niche, smaller than 3D printing for the public at large I think. AR may have the buzz of the moment, and it will have a niche, but I think VR in the long run will be the more useful of the two sibling technologies.

In July 2016 I wrote about collecting and piles, I still think about, and deal with, that topic a lot, thereís a certain amount of clutter management that collecting, a toddler, and Amazon Prime makes an ongoing ďthingĒ. This will continue for me I think.

At the bottom of that same May post, I mentioned above, I said the following:

As to changes for the past year. Less naps now equals less time during the day for me. But my son is much more interactive, intentionally funny, and doesn't try to eat things he shouldn't or fall off of things as much now, so that's more fun too. The rolling 2 month sense of change are more like rolling 4 month changes now and are more gradual and less disruptive to my routine.

The rolling 2 month changes was a thing for the first 18 months or so, but since then itís much more gradual, things with a toddler at 2 years 10 months still change a lot but itís subtler now and I find myself thinking in 6 month or year chunks again.

All for now, maybe a post or two more to come before yearís end.

I want to hear your

Sat 12/02/17 4:45pm # | tweet this

Political and cultural rambling

Last night at 2am, the Republican Senate voted to increase taxes on pretty much everyone and give the richest 1%, 1.5 trillion more dollars. The fact that this is their only major legislative accomplishment this year isnít surprising. I find it somewhat surprising that it took them all year to get around to doing it though. And itís worth noting that thereís still a small chance that the whole thing implodes during the reconciliation process with the House, but at the moment, itís unlikely to unwind during that process.

After a year of this administration and Congress, itís hard to stay on red alert 24/7. One can hope that the Republicans will lose big in 2018, but there is still a lot of time between now and then. Even if the Democrats regain Congress, I think they are unlikely to re-raise taxes on the rich once they do. Thereís little difference between Democrats and Republicans on matters of big business, thereís really just a difference on how fast the two parties want to burn the place down.

I donít mean to create a false equivalence, as there isnít one to be had. Democratic politicians are bad, but Republican politicians are just evil. You should always vote for bad over evil.

Republican politicians want the rich to get richer, full stop, that is their only platform. You canít get a majority win with 1% of the votes though, so they do give lip service to those that have authoritarian religious beliefs. That gets them to 25% or so. Then thereís another 10 to 15% that think they will be rich themselves one day, if only the government didnít tax them, and that gets the Repubs to 40% or so. Gerrymandering and the rules that favor more representation for less populous, less educated states, makes up the difference, allowing them to generally win with less than a majority.

Democrats have their own problems, sure Republican politicians are actively trying to kill poor people if it saves them a buck, they are evil that way. But current Democrats still think Big Business is the way to go too. Democrats believe that Business just needs to be regulated. Big Business answers both parties, by doing the most logical thing, get so big, they canít be ignored, seriously regulated to any detriment, or allowed to fail.

Democrats do at least believe in a minimum wage. Neither party has any concept of a maximum wage. The progressive tax rate used to be high enough to sort of impose a defacto maximum wage, of sorts, and even then we had massive inequality whereby the super rich still got to feel super rich. Thereís always someone that wants to be richer no matter how rich they are, and many of those people are extremely motivated.

Today, there is no conversation in our society around ďhow much is enoughĒ. Only half the population even believes in a minimum standard of living of some sort. For those that believe theoretically in a minimum wage of some sort, most largely expect that if things get really bad for a person they should turn to their immediate family for help. And good luck to you if you donít have family or friends that can afford to help you.

Much of America wants to exterminate, or at the very least, ghetto, the poor and minorities and remake a country for upper middle class whites serving the ultra rich. Thatís a cultural issue that Republicans favor, and the Democrats donít favor, but donít really oppose either, mostly the Democratic stance is everyone should have equal access to education, and thereby through hard work, should be allowed through merit into the upperclass. The Democrats donít want to lift up the poor though, they just want the poor to feel like, they had a shot and if things didnít work out it was because they blew it and they should accept their lot in life.

Itís a difference that one party cares about appearances more than the other.

Again, the two parties arenít equivalent, if you donít own a private jet, Democrats are still your best bet, but they are still not a great choice, they are just better than the Republicans who are literally trying to kill you.

Blah, enough rambling, none of this makes any difference, if you are reading this and you are over the age of 25, your opinions on these things are likely fixed in stone already anyway.

I want to hear your

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