Creating your smarthome is somewhat like embracing our eventual rule by robots in the most fun possible way while Skynet smiles in anticipation. Let's not pretend this isn't exactly where it's going and we're actually kind of okay with it.

It's also baffling as fuck combined with so easy it's almost uncanny. Right now, the biggest problem is quite literally it's updating and generationing like fruit flies and there are so many systems and so many protocols.

I took the easiest route; my laptops are Dell because they're locally founded and owned, my BFFs brother works there along with some of my friends, and I will be with them probably until the bitter crashing end, and my smarthome controller of choice is Samsung, which has a local headquarters and my ex-BIL and his son--my son's BFF--works there. Yes, Samsung makes phones that on occasion are known to abruptly explode; no one's perfect.

To break this down into pieces, I'm going to start with my smartlight review. All of these option require home wifi and a working router, and we'll get more into the router part later.

your hub light ecosystem )

your non-hub light ecosystem )

I started this entry last week and left in draft. Then I discovered on Tuesday, routers can be a problem and so held this entry until I'd solved it. It has to do specifically with wifi networks in general.

so about those routers )
I am deep in that territory we call 'homebuilding', in which I unexpectedly find myself carefully researching Edison lightbulbs for their steampunk-retro ambiance while tossing $2.50 throw blankets from Wal-Mart in my cart and calling it a day. (Also, cushions for my porch loveseat, because Christ, I'm a person who owns one of those and the matching table.)

I assumed--foolishly, in retrospect--that I'd burn this shit out once I was mostly-moved and turn my attention to higher things--Python, for example, or Plex vs Emby vs Kodi for my media server, rewrite some bash scripts to double as daemons, that kind of thing--and that happened! I went back ot my natural territory of ripping my blurays and fighting makemkv's command line interface when I couldn't make Fast Five work (fuck Fast Five) and reinstalling my entire server to prep for it's media server future.

And I was on course for just that. Then, tragedy.

me and prince hal 3000 )

So to return to the subject, I thought I was over this entire 'decorating my home' thing. Then I got paid, and oh.

me and home shenanigans )

Mattress Review

Reference: Zinus Memory Foam Green Tea Mattress, 12-Inch, Queen, review under tag.

It's been about six weeks, and I can report that this mattress is an excellent bargain and I recommend wholeheartedly, but only if you like firm, for it is not hard but it is firm. Adjustment is roughly three and a half weeks to a month, at which time you'll know for sure whether it works for you. Everything I said here is still true. I keep wanting to say it's softened, but no, it hasn't; I just got used to its give now so it feels normal.

A few concerns: I have a better idea on the heat-retention and while there may be some, it's also summer in Texas and also my life. So no better or worse than any other mattress I've slept on, but I do use only one sheet and a light blanket during summer to sleep. The lack of transfer motion--ie, anyone getting into or out of bed--does not exist. A normal legged tray is fine; steady it when you crawl in right beside it, but once you're sitting, nothing. You will also not feel your cat crawl into bed with you until it tries to eat your feet.

Cat

For those who have been wondering: her name is Fearful Symmetry, Sym for short, and boy has she earned it.

Home Improvement

My next item of business is to review wifi and hubbed lightbulbs because a.) I've bought almost all the brands that are able to be controlled by Alexa, Hue, and/or SmartThings (and therefore can be ultimately voice controlled by Alexa), and b.) I have opinions and why not. I also ran into some issues that it took me ridiculous amounts of time on google to solve and I need to record them here.

Short version: initial investment can be a little high, but provided you're willing to take the creation of your bulb network slowly, it's not ridiculous, just an item for your budget, and in this case, one that's energy conscious. A lot of this, however, won't have much to do with cheap versus quality but what you're going to use them for, where, and why. One thing that I couldn't find out easily was an answer to that question and hopefully, this will help. I'll also try to go over actual practical brightness and size as opposed to lumens and watts, which are surprisingly inconsistent even when one lightbulb matches another; I bought more than one bulb that wouldn't physically fit where I intended it and that still makes me cranky.

If anyone is specifically interested in doing this themselves, feel free to tell me what you want to know or your specific concerns. I will say the benefits of having a range are very high rather than committing yourself to one brand or system so poly is the way to go, but compatibility is required.

For anyone like me who likes that kind of thing, SmartThings jumped four levels when I discovered you can write your own SmartThings SmartApps that are used internally by SmartThings. They provide you with an online IDE, templates, documentation, examples, the code for actual internal SmartApps you use on the app already, a tutorial in Groovey, and simulator on the site to run your scirpts. I'd put this at a one-one and a half to five for challenge because you can go from copy-paste to some very cool uses of your sensors and lights to do awesome things. I'll come back to this later, but those of you who are hobby programmers or need a practical reason to learn, it's perfect and also extremely casual. The reason I go as high as five is both potential complexity and also what your setup is like. Just lights or a motion sensor and lights would be about a one and a half, but once you throw in a multipurpose sensor that can sense vibration and axis and contact, dude, it gets really fun.
So last night, the following occurred:

1.) A young adolescent cat leaps onto my porch where I am innocently reading.
2.) Child--sensing a disturbance in the Force--comes down the hall from his bedroom.
3.) Cat for no reason plasters itself against glass door.
4.) Door opens and I watch a Disney romantic comedy in progress as two--beings?--find each other like there should be a goddamn soundtrack playing featuring Mariah Carey.

a cat's tale )

Glad I got that off my chest.

Apartmenting

1.) Got my bed set up finally, directly under the ceiling fan because it was the only way to keep my posts and holy shit recommended.

2.) My porch now boasts a rug, a patio table, and a patio loveseat. I feel very--like I have a small plastic outdoor living room?

3.) Got a wifi doorbell. Because why the hell not?

4.) Acquired a Samsung SmarthThings hub with two (2) multipurpose sensors, one (1) motion sensor, and one (1) arrival sensor because I'm not sure really and we'll get to that now.

This was going to happen from the moment I got the Echo and realized I could live in Star Trek. So let's just go with it.

home automation: the adventure continues )
So I explained about how I ended up impulse-purchasing an Amazon Echo to avoid a huge ass 4K curved tv I would never use except as a head for my server? Good, let's start there.

Amazon Echo with Alexa

I was vaguely aware of the existence of Echo without much in the way of caring about it, which is how this story usually goes. Then I ended up looking at it one night to avoid the ridiculous TV and actually read what it did.

Summary: You can be Star Trek.
Me: *clicks Add to Cart*

So that was something. While I waited the eternity to receive my 'why am i buying this, right, i am captain kirk' (this was inevitable) I went to check out what people do with Alexa other than talk to it and no longer have to lie when someone asks if they have any friends ("Alexa was telling me about the weather in Chicago, yeah. Really cloudy with a thirty percent chance of rain. Ten days from now, possibly snow.")

...not that I do that or anything.

From this point on, I'm using Alexa instead of Echo, because this is less about the product and more about AVS (Alexa Voice Services). Also, Alexa likes that better.

Alexa's uses are probably legion, but you have to think of it like smartphones about ten years ago. Lots of potential but not a lot of apps yet, so to speak (in Alexa, we call those 'Skills'). There are entire skills devoted to such things as 'cat questions', 'random facts about India', 'how to make a lot of alcoholic drinks step by step'. This will come in handy later.

music all of it )

weather and trivia and such )

home automation, god help you )

Having said that, you're glancing at the price tag and thinking...yeah. Okay, easier, cheaper, and more moving parts):

Create Your Own Alexa Device, No, Really

This is a really good guide. I do not exaggerate, this was very, very well written and detailed.

I built one (as of three hours ago), so yes, this does work AND IT IS GODDAMN MAGIC. The only thing it can't do is be always on, like Echo is (Alexa hears all, knows all, answers "I don't understand the question"...all). It does everything else. When you're done, download the Alexa app and connect them up, then marvel at the world.

now, a word from me on many things, including what to buy, what to do, and why you should try it )
I haven't posted much--or at all--but I do have reason; abruptly in January, my job transitioned to a new testing methodology called Agile, and everything went to frantic, high stress hell. Then I entered dental hell in March, which if you know about already you just winced and if you don't, you can guess. Note: never try to do all your dental work in two and a half months: you will still be putting off the last two appointments after the horror of May. Which I will not discuss because holy shit.

However, now I am a.) in the middle of an allergy attack and b.) at home noting how rain really does exist because after the last couple of years it felt more like a legend. Also, I'm about to move.

so much moving )
This is a quick addendum to the Windows 10 upgrade post I did here because this is a very annoying problem.

If you haven't upgraded yet or have but haven't had this happen, note:
1.) if you use Word and Excel, go in and change your settings to autobackup every five minutes. Do it right now.

Windows Updates are by default automatic. I thought I set mine to tell me to do it (scheduled), but apparently I didn't, and so more often than I'm comfortable with, I close my laptop and come back to it having shut down entirely and the only reason I haven't panicked is because my Word and Excel have both the five minute rule for back-up in place, and I by reflex save before closing my laptop (most of the time). This is freaking stressing.

So:
1.) go into the updates and switch to scheduled so you get warning.

Further Notes:
1.) I've found when I'm working and everything starts acting wonky--especially playing video--Windows 10 wants to upgrade and this is a hint, unlike just giving me a message.
2.) Updates can take up to five minutes both on this side of restart and the other. Yes you can have a freaking ten minute security update, wtf?
3.) I am so tired of getting Microsoft product advertisements appearing in my notes. HOW DO I TURN THAT OFF? I like Office and this is turning me against it.

Other Notes:

I'm still getting used to it, but honestly, anything is worth getting rid of that goddamn Metro screen, but I do miss the original Start Menu in its original form. I keep a ruthlessly clean desktop--one text file appears there, my linux cheat sheet for server emergencies since I login using putty--and everything else is in Stardock at the top of the desktop (SO RECOMMENDED YOU HAVE NO IDEA WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE) or my task bar.

I also get a lot of my better experience here in Windows 8.1 and 10 is having a touchscreen. I hate to say it because it can be expensive, but if you're planning to get a new computer, save for the goddamn touchscreen; luckily, with Alienware the start value is so ridic expensive that at the time the upgrade was about $150 I think to get the five-point and nothing compared to pretty much everything else. It's not mandatory yet (except Windows 8.1 I would have had a breakdown without it), but usability is definitely biased toward a touchscreen.

I'm a professional user acceptance tester; I did my standard usability check (altered for Windows) to check functionality but all with touchscreen and not using my touchpad and yeah, not surprisingly, a lot of stuff that works fine with touchpad but feels wrong or off suddenly makes sense for touchscreens. It's not entirely subtle, but it is noticeable when you switch over and realize this was made for fingers. What's funny--at least to me--is this is the first time I realized there could be a left-hand bias on touchscreens, which makes sense as we read left to right and left is where everything drifts toward. Not something I would have realized with a touchpad or even a screen as small as a phone, but when the touch real state is 17 inches, yeah, if I can adapt my left to be better coordinated, I'll have a somewhat faster and easier experience.

I speak as someone who likes touchscreens; until they magically make monitors smudge proof and repel dust, I'm against it as primary or even recommended on anything bigger than 12.2 inches (my tablet) because it's ridic how much I have to clean and it's not like I work with manure every day here or don't wash my hands. My laptop is my primary relationship; it gets oily fast from basic touching unless I'm on it every second, and unlike my tablet and phone, it's kind of a production, not a single button, to flip off the screen for a fast cleaning (not so fast, it's freaking seventeen inches).

Despite all this (and now you're staring at me going what?) I do recommend the upgrade, and not just because it's free and Microsoft wouldn't have done that unless they planned to screw over old operating systems and wanted to avoid at least partial rage (won't happen, but give 'em props for trying). To me, it's not better than Windows 7, which became my One True Operating System and I actually bought my entire family upgrades to it, but right now, it's more than acceptable and I honestly think--God help me--that familiarity will let me like it more as I customize it to habits. It does--shockingly--have more options on that front than I expected, and unless 8.1 was your One True Operating System, this is definitely better than that.

Anyway, anyone else have any tips since it's been almost a month since Windows 10 appeared in our lives?
Start Menu is back!!!!!

(I am not to customizing anything yet, so very quick warning report.)

The following problems I had that could occur (Windows 8.1 upgrade):
1.) Qualcomm drivers/wi-fi - you may need to reinstall them after if you lose wifi. No, no one seems to know why (well Alienware tech support didn't). If you're under warranty, get tech support to do it and save yourself some stress.
2.) Nvidia drivers might not work. I didn't have this problem, but I've seen it mentioned and upgraded min before install and then uninstalled and reinstalled them after when I had the below problem, just in case.
3.) In Windows 8/8.1, if you downloaded the program Aero Glass, which mimicked Windows 7 Aero Glass in Windows 8/8.1, UNINSTALL IT FIRST.

In case anyone is googling, entering here the symptoms: after upgrading to Windows 10, splash screen displays and starts to flash to grey every three seconds. It continues through trying to login and eventually the screen freezes but not the pointer or touchscreen. It's weird. UNINSTALL AERO GLASS. It solves everything.

If you are already having this issue, do the following:
1.) When you hit the splash, get to the login as fast as you can before the freeze (you have about 10 to 30 seconds).
2.) On the login page, the restart is on the bottom-right; click on shift and hit restart.
3.) You're at a new page. Select Advanced, and in the right column of options that I can't remember the name of is one that lets you get to a screen that has different options for restarting. Just click until you see one that lists a whole bunch of things including safe mode.
4.) Click restart.
5.) You'll get a list of options. Select safe mode with networking (mine was F5).
6.) Login screen displays, login.
7.) Right click on Windows icon at far left bottom corner.
8.) Select Programs and Features.
9.) Uninstall/Remove programs page displays.
10.) Uninstall Aero Glass.
11.) Restart normally.

By the way, these instructions will work for anything you need to uninstall after installing if you have problems.

Notes:
1.) this killed all my restore points. The second you're done and its' stable, start recreating your restore points. This may not be universal, but figured I'd toss that out there in case of emergency.
2.) More later while I stare blankly at it and try to decide my level of like, which is definitely higher than 8.1 but that's about it so far.

I'll probably spend my break tomorrow doing my customizations.

ETA:

Per [personal profile] blueraccoon in comments:
One sort of important thing to note: At this time, DO NOT run a clean install that wipes your drive. There's a bug. If you're just upgrading and not reformatting, you're fine, but DO NOT wipe your drive and start over. If you do the computer will not recognize that you have a valid copy of Win10.

They're working on it, and I think it should hopefully be fixed in the next few hours, but it's still a problem as of the last information I have.
So yes, I've been super quiet, other than posting fic, for--well, months. I can honestly state a massive amount of it was my entire life was either work, editing and posting fic, and the rest my new nephew and my son, who turned eighteen in January and comes home today from a spring break class trip to Europe (Amsterdam, Paris, Valenciennes, Brussels, Istanbul, and Bursa (for skiing, hilarity) and graduates in May.

However, I got a new computer, which is--as everyone here knows--is a very important event in one's life, and kind of unexpected. My shift key on my laptop Sherlock broke--the laptop on its fifth year and just got refurbished because I was really attached. At the same time--this wouldn't be a problem, I've can fix that--Child decided it was time to tell me he really wanted a laptop and specifically, mine. So I got a new one.

You know how sometimes you only realize you've had a blank space in your heart only when it's filled? Yeah, that's Prince Hal 9000 (named for the creator of "Down to Agincourt's" name and author of the poem Harry Takes the Field about Henry V. When I first named my laptop Harry, [livejournal.com profile] bratfarrar was like "Harry was called Prince Hal in his youth" and I'm like "And now we have a smashup of Shakespeare's Henry V and 2001: A Space Odyssey and this is destiny.")

You probably don't care, but much like anyone with a new, beloved child, Prince Hal specs:
Name: Prince Hal 9000
Model: Alienware 17 R2
Processor: i7 4710HQ
RAM: 16GB DDR3L
Drives: Two bays, one for up to four SSD M.2 and one 2.5 for anything. Mine is 256 SSD, 1 T 5400 RPM SATA 6Gb/s, upgradeable to 512 on SSD and the limits of current technology on the second.
Display: 17.3 FHD inch ten-point touchscreen (God, it's magic).
OS: Windows 8.1, which I still like less than Windows 7 but unsurprisingly works much, much, much better with a touchscreen. It also helps that I got the Stardock for my desktop, where all my common links are stored and can avoid the Metro screen (though I adapted that for non-frequent use). It helps a lot that I can swipe out of it when I accidentally end up there; that really does make all the difference.
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB GDDR5
USB: 4 USB 3.0, one with powershare, and holy shit talk about fast data transfer on the 3.0
Other: HDMI 1.4, Mini-Display port, card reader, graphics amplifier port, two audio ports retaskable for microphone, mic headsets, external speakers, etc
Notes: It also has lights everywhere, and I can color them all. And nine extra random keys I can hotkey by keystroke or macro. God.

Yes, I bought a ridic overpowered gaming computer to write fanfic and code in my free time. I wish I could say this was an impulse buy, but it wasn't. I spent the better part of January doing every configuration possible before picking this one. And waiting for alienware to send out random discount codes (they did, thank God). Also, my mom's tablet stopped working, so she absconded with Castiel, my tablet, which means my laptop is my primary source of all things and now accompanies me to work.

and that's when things got complicated )
pros and cons of the Alienware 17 )
more about computers )
a historical digression to that time I almost set myself on fire for a netbook )
back on topic, whatever that was )
pretty sure this is creepy but I could be wrong )
creepy done, back on topic--anyone remember what that was? )
So BestBuy.com's new improved system broke my ability to login to Best Buy and refuses to send me email to reset my password or validate my account. Literally, they can't send to jenn@thegateway email; it doesn't get to me. It sounds weird, right? Even when a phone rep tries to do it. I can get email from Best Buy, from customer support, and from Unboxed, but not an email to reset my password or validate my account. I am a weird unicorn of non-functionality and maybe a curse is involved due to that chain letter I didn't forward circa 2000? Could be.

I was wrong.

Phone rep told me to register on Best Buy Unboxed forum to ask for help, which is possibly the single weirdest way a corporation has ever told me to deal with a tech problem. And I found this:

One, two, three, four, five and that's random sampling going back to June.

I'm trying to work out how on earth this happened and the closest thing I can come up with is database corruption, and this is where it gets interesting.

I spent last night--because my life is a set of weird coincidences--helping [livejournal.com profile] svmadelyn with a project that required command line installation from an image into Ubuntu and nearly had a nervous breakdown (of joy, this is fun for me, not gonna lie) trying to make the outgoing email protocol work. Several ours and rebuilds later, I did a simple google search--don't say it--and read the obvious goddamn solution that was so freaking obvious I started laughing, because I'd skipped it on my mental checklist of things going wrong because it was so simple. And it worked, I released all the failed jobs and did some cleaning and then sat back and contemplated how I managed to make something so simple into four hours of rebuilds.

Hence, I feel my high tech ground on email issues is cut away from me. And I still can't login to best buy.

There was a moral here, I swear.
Just see if anyone else has this and may tell me the obvious:

1.) how on earth do I empty the trash? Or spam?
2.) Is there a select all anywhere here? Or even better, a select range?

Anyone who does not know what this is:

Inbox by Gmail which works in apps best and Chrome browser kind of (so much white space, appear/disappear left nav, not resizable, SO MUCH WHITE SPACE JESUS). There is bundling.

I like it, but I'm missing functionality here that's frustrating.
So last night, I finally got around to changing my yahoo and gmail passwords and set up two factor authentication. This sounds like a very boring story, and it is, trust me, but it's also an example of the password equivalent of completionist doctrine: it must all be done.

Because Heartbleed, and why not.

I have a locked and secured doc that has a full list of all my accounts and passwords because you get to the point in your online life where everything can't be happy1 or you end up writing an article about how your iPad was bricked because someone wanted your twitter name and infiltrated your entire Apple ecosystem (that article was nightmare fuel and I don't have an iPad). One of the few useful tips I got from the article is having an account that has no purpose but to be a secondary email on all my accounts; it literally does nothing but receive email about my password changes or activities on my account. I call it my keysmash yahoo account that is the recovery backup for every single account I have. The password is a modified keysmash of thirty-two characters, the username isn't much better, and I don't even know it without looking it up.

This is significant because my master doc is huge--I made an effort with anything important to make a strong password that I could also, at least nominally remember. I added app passwords eventually, so it's ridic long. I started off fixing my gmail first and then my yahoo's--each has a specific type of email it receives (one devoted entirely to Facebook and Harrods, because why not), and setting up two factor authentication (kind of fun) on everything and getting more text messages than I ever have in my life.

Here's the thing; online security was not designed for the human brain, or at least not my brain. I honestly don't know who it was designed for except someone who gets off on calculating pi for days on end or has a hardon for prime number memorization, who can think like that.

At work, I have to change the password (upper case, lower case, number, special character) every three months for my computer, PPM (for looking up defects and modifications for program testing), and my HR login to see my leave and etc. All have a two to three year password memory. My Groove messenger--like AIM, but for work--has another one that can be permanent, thank God. My secure email with Vontage--as opposed to regular email--has to have another one, and I think it has to be changed once a year. Seeing Middleware queues--where webservice calls go to die--needs to be updated every six months. For SQL queries in Oracle, the connection descriptors, usernames, and passwords for six different programs in four environments are each updated four times a year and each program has two to four users. I also have a weird encryption program on my work computer but it changes with my windows login. Oh, and VPN access so I can log in to my work computer from home, Jesus.

In a year as a tester, I will have to create or get updates for about one hundred and thirty two passwords just to log into my computer and do my job.

Online in my regular life, it's more flexible, but to secure my most important accounts, I have to have at least twenty high-security passwords with uppercase, lowercase, special character, number that I can remember off the top of my head and that doesn't count the login for my phone, tablet, laptop, my router login, my wifi login, and my server.

Facebook has an impossible one--I rarely use it, so I don't care that i have to look it up but I do care if someone hijacks it--Apple, Google Every Fucking Thing, Tumblr, DW, LJ, JF, Twitter, AO3, Hulu, Netflix, Roku, Dropbox, Evernote, Trillian, my bank app, my health insurance app, Paypal, Ebay, Sharebuilder, Newegg, my website bank login, cable, utilities, my phone, Amazon, my credit card, my retirement account at work, my health savings account through work, avast mobile security so if my phone is stolen I can erase it, McAfee, okay, I'm getting a headache. All of these have various levels of importance and security, right, because who compares your social media to your bank?

So when i was done with my password changes--smooth segue here--I was looking at my list and started working out how they were connected for vulnerabilities--remember that article I mentioned about the guy and his bricked iPad?--to see which could be considered major keys to everything.

Getting my google, I'm dead in the water, no lie; google infrastructure is like that, so that's a strong memorable password plus two factor authentication. Cracking my trillian gets you my fandom yahoo and google passwords, right, two factor the yahoos, already doing that. Which at this point, I sat down and diagrammed my online life by email address and account and how to limit the damage if one was hacked. The keysmash email seems relatively safe--you know, until fucking Heartbleed--but I ran into a problem here: I'm not a goddamn wizard. Mapping possibilities here in worst case scenario, there's no way I can do a separation that would limit hacking damage to my life to less than 20 percent without magic. For my online life--and real non-work life--I have right now eighty-nine separate passwords that are between medium and high-security needed password levels, and about twenty of them I have to be able to remember off the top of my head because I use them every day.

Modern world, I get that, but every time I read a smug security expert talking about how people are just stupid because they don't choose high security passwords for all five hundred of their online accounts and it's their fault they were hacked I want to destroy worlds or at least explain using small words this isn't (always) an issue of being stupid or lazy; the entire online ecosystem is working against you on this one.

Google alone terrifies me on a theoretical level, because it's linked to so much; Apple, same thing; Amazon, Jesus, it's growing in leaps and bounds; Yahoo, fuck my life; Microsoft, urgh; and I hate to point this out, but there's only so much separation possible. While diagramming my future hacked life, the safest measure seemed to be create a new email account for every single important account (bank, credit card, paypal, etc) to deliver to and secure each one to limit how much information a single hack can get, and it's not like there are a lot of secure online places to set up email accounts, and even if there were, we can't remember that many passwords.

I get--because it's all I know--that this is how it is, that there's no way to be invulnerable, but completionist doctrine: I spent most of last night changing all my major and medium passwords because for the life of me, I spreadsheeted my online ecosystem to figure out a way to be a smart user and limit the damage if I was hacked and I couldn't get it below compromising twenty percent of my accounts with one successful hack. I'd get notified fast--I think I got that much from keysmash yahoo account and two factor authentication--and some of the accounts are pretty minor so it wouldn't matter, but--twenty percent. I'm still working on a security model via staring at my spreadsheet and hating everything, but I keep hitting things i never thought of--my student loan account, places I shopped once or twice where I used Paypal or Google Wallet, and thought about how many places I thoughtlessly and crazily used my credit card and how they link into the ecosystem of online life and what else am I forgetting? And how many passwords I changed yesterday that I still need to memorize because sure, firefox saves passwords, Chrome saves password, IE saves passwords, but if I get hacked, those are the first against the wall, and what if my laptop is stolen or hacked?

Or I take it to a repair shop and completely didn't think about any of that because apparently in the back of my mind repair guy/customer privilege, like lawyer/client privilege, and its not he knew that file existed, or the random name, or feel any need to open it out of the thousands of files on my computer and be curious why it was protected and crack the password. Because God knows, that was a very stupid user mistake, and for four days I didn't know I was 100% vulnerable in my entire online life.

I can't tell if I'm overreacting yet. I also have five passwords >= 20 characters to memorize, which isn't helping my mood at all. Paranoia: it's totally a thing.

Further Reading
Yes, I Was Hacked Hard - welcome to my nightmare
Side effect of having to use only my tablet or my mouse at work to navigate for a week:

...I keep wanting to reach for a mouse or almost bang my fingers on the screen of my laptop to scroll or--dear God--reaching for the mouse, realizing it's not there, then starting to stroke my screen before it hits me--I use a touchpad.

Okay, as I'm here and have time, continued from here.

Supplemental review of Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 at Amazon

I don't think this would work as a full laptop/desktop replacement for most people, but as a very functional laptop supplement/alternative for travel or work, it's better than perfect.

Useful For:
1.) Travel and conventions
2.) Work, meetings, presentations
3.) Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV, V, and VI (all in the Google Play store!)
4.) The Room I and II (really really really)
5.) High graphics/high memory apps
6.) Watching movies/vids/video
7.) Document editing/writing
8.) Photo editing

The Good
Gorgeous scren, colors are vibrant, resolution is (I think) as good as my laptop. With office apps, easy to read text and can be read portrait or landscape. This a very big screen, is what I'm saying.

The weight is less than it looks, but it's solid; it doesn't feel like it'll blow away in a good wind. The back is textured for easy hold, but recommendation: buy a cover immediately. I recommend this one, which also has a strap for your hand and pockets for whatever you use tablet pockets for. It also, like the Kindle covers these days, has a auto-sleep function when you close it and auto-wake when you open it again. There's also an external elastic strap which is priceless when you open it and fold back the cover to keep it open. It's also eight dollars; this is your perfect cover, is what I'm saying.

Major gaming (the Final Fantasy series, The Room, any game with 3D graphics) looks amazing, especially those designed for tablets of 8 inches or above.

The on-screen keyboard is just the right size to type normally on, though next month I'm getting the Logitech or Zagg keyboard, both of which were built with the Pro series in mind and have apparently an independent three week month battery life (at 2 hours a day use, of course) and run on bluetooth. It even makes clicking sounds, and I could almost but not quite type normally; I type fast, but I'm just not used to not feeling my keys, though the click sound did help me there, which yes, weird yet true.

The Other:
This is a 12.2 inch screen-my laptop is 15.6, for reference--and trust me when I say, it's not a one-hand hold unless you like to live dangerously.

Some apps do not look right on this size screen. Not bad, per se, but apps that are created for a phone size of 3 1/2 to 5 or 6 inches do take getting used to seeing at this size and resolution and it is kind of surreal to play Yatzy (actual amazon spelling here) on a 12.2; the dice are huge.

Documents, Writing, Performance

I have six or seven different office programs, one of which comes free with purchase, and I tried three of them on here. It's fantastic; the screen size makes using the onscreen keyboard not a huge problem, though again, I'm getting the external keyboard because keys.

The following apps were tested and found awesome:

TextMaker Mobile - $4.99 - best of breed, only does text/document editing, other apps in family do other things, can read Googledocs and MS Word docs and can access your Word bookmarks in location order. Very nice for writing or reading. Links to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, and OneDrive natively.

OfficeSuite Pro - $0.99 I think ON SALE NOW - covers documents, spreadsheets, presentation (powerpoint), and pdfs. Can access your Word bookmarks in alphabetical order. Handles Google docs and MSWord docs, links to remove files at Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, SugarSync, and OneDrive natively. You do need to download the font packet separately for best results.

Hancom - a suite covering documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and some other stuff I haven't had a chance to check yet. This suite is free with purchase of the tablet. I'm still not sure how to access remote documents directly, so give me time to experiment on this one.

Quick Office - Free - a suite covering the above, seems to exclusively pull from Google Drive or the hard drive of the tablet, which makes sense, since the app was bought by Google. Also works fine but only for Google Drive documents.

I have yet to hit a performance problem with this tablet. It also comes with video editing software and photo editing. I haven't tried them yet, as I don't generally do those things, but give me time, I'm still in my honeymoon phase.

Specs

Internal Memory: 32 G
SD Card: up to 64 G (rumor states it can manage up to 128 G)
Ram: 3 G
Processor: Exynos 5400 1.9 GHz
Screen Resolution: 2560x1600
OS: KitKat 4.4
Charging/Data: USB 3.0 (BUY EXTRA CORDS TRUST ME, $6-$8 at Amazon, get two)
Multiscreen capability

Can: be an IR remote control for your TV, blu-ray, dvd-player, auxiliary stuff, and cable box through WatchOn. This rocks like you have no idea. I feel very living in the future when I can control the entire entertainment experience from my tablet screen. It can also control the air conditioner. No, I have no idea why, just saying, that's a function. Who saw that coming?

It's a slow charge, so overnight charging, but it has about six to eight hours of functionality, especially if you turn off wi-fi when not needed.

Perks
50 G of Dropbox for 2 years
Hancom Office Suite
1 Year of Inflight internet
$25 Google Play credit
2 years Remote desktop
Other stuff

Compared to my previous two Asus tablets

An order or two of magnitude better. It runs cleaner and faster, it looks better, and it multitasks amazingly well.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Pro series comes in several flavors:
Galaxy Tab Pro 8.3 - $369 (16G, 2G)
Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 - $449 (16G, 2G)
Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 - $599 (32G, 3G)
Galaxy Note Pro 10.1 - (I can't find this one on amazon; google for it)
Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 - $659 (32G, 3G)

For substitute laptop use, the 10.1 (if you're okay with a smaller keyboard) or 12.2 (nearly full-size for me) are your best bet. However, the Tab Pro 8.3 and 10.1 both come with only 2 G RAM, which was a serious consideration for me performance wise and was part of the reason I went with the 12.2 and its 3 G because more RAM is always a plus. All get good reviews, and especially if you want a strong tablet that you don't need to double as a laptop, the 8.3 is both perfect and much cheaper than the alternatives. If you aren't needing the office stuff, all of them do the high-end app games well and prettily.

Now, pricewise: your best choice is the 10.1, which is right now at $449.00 for the 16 G. Keep in mind the SDCard slot takes up to 64 G officially, so it's a good deal, but you won't be able to store much on the internal drive; the working amount of drive after the OS is around 9 G if my phone is any example and I'm not sure if the OS scales upward on the tablet in terms of size. This isn't a huge drawback, but it's something to keep in mind in deciding where to store apps. I'd recommend without hesitation the 10.1 for anyone who is looking for a high end tablet at a (relatively) reasonable price who travels a lot or attends a lot of meetings or does presentations at work and doesn't want to drag their laptop around.

The price is ridic for the 12.2 but it does have an almost-laptop size screen, 16G more drive than the 10.1 (there's a 32 G model that comes and goes for the 10.1, I think, if you can find it), and another 1 G of RAM. Honestly, it comes down to if you want to use it to type a lot and what your comfortable keyboard size is, and if you play a lot of high octane apps and want the bigger screen (again, Final Fantasy looks freaking amazing and gameplay....magic, really). If you're worried about size, it fits in my purse, along with headphones in their case, phone, glasses and possibly a small army (seriously, my purse is magic (so many random ass pockets) and doubles as a medium backpack yet is also pretty; who knew).

There are definitely more affordable tablets out there if you're looking for a tablet that run probably just as well, and I've heard awesome things about the Nexus family. My choice of Galaxy was because a.) my last Asus annoyed the crap out of me with the throttling on the processor and lack of RAM, causing problems with documents, b.) the Galaxy family has been good to me via phone and my ex-BIL works for Samsung, so there's a product loyalty thing going on, c.) I love my laptop and don't plan to replace it for another year (especially now that it's all repaired and clean and like new), and d.) (before I tea-killed my laptop) this month was possibly my best budget month yet, and I had enough money to overindulge myself unnecessarily on a tablet.

Hey, while I'm here...

App Recs

I might have done some of these before, so bear with me.

Final Fantasy III - $15.99 - awesome gameplay, very close to the original, amazing fun to touchscreen everything. I have a spreadsheet for all my equipment that is deeply awesome and if anyone wants a copy for their characters, I can send it! Macro-enabled.

The Room - $0.99 - very steampunk mysterious awesome and sometimes a bit creepy. The hints are extremely useful and don't generally give too much away, just enough to work out what to do for yourself, which I like.

The Room 2 - $2.99 - very steampunk mysterious awesome times two. Longer, more complicated, and utterly riveting to play. I recommend getting both of these.

Monopoly - $0.99 - I really like Monopoly, okay?

Mahgong Premium - $3.00 - gorgeous, many options, two levels of difficulty.

Yatzy - $0.99 - I also really like Yatzy.

iSpy Cameras - $0.99 - don't judge, there's like one in an aquarium and one underwater that's amazing. You can also move the cameras sometimes.

Minecraft - $6.99 - to be fair, I'm a very casual player, but my son and my nieces and nephew have built like, massive fortresses so I play sometimes and chase pigs.

WeatherScreen - use with any wallpaper, and it's so cool. Currently I have a forest background for my tablet and a city for my phone, and when it rains, it looks like it's raining in the forest (or city) with lightning. Seriously, this one is awesome.

Backgrounds HD - maybe Free? - ALL THE LIVE HD BACKGROUNDS. Seriously, it's kind of awe-inspiring.

Tetris - touchscreen Tetris. Surreal and yet fun and possibly I need to upgrade my hand-eye coordination.

************RECOMMENDED FOR EVERY ANDROID USER******************

AppSales - FREE - a must-have for the app bargain hunter on Google Play. It has all the Google Play app sales almost as soon as they happen, and it also has a watchlist you can access from Google Play via the share function to add it to the list and it will tell you when something on your watchlist goes on sale. Which is where all the other Final Fantasies are waiting until they drop in price or I get really bored.

****************************************************************

Note: The googleplay prices I didn't enter on some because after you buy them, you can no longer see the current price unless you log out, and I usually buy these on sale. The ones I know I bought full price I put in, but it might be lower now. Again, Google Play what the hell.

Still coddling Sherlock; he's a good laptop and dear God, five days; we've never been apart that long before.
So Friday, I spilled an entire glass of tea on my laptop.

...I honestly have no idea how this happened. I've never done that before; I have sacrificed my skin to avoid even the possibility of such a thing. Because this is my life, my laptop immediately died without even a hope of resurrection.

(This is the month, by the way, that I just purchased my new tablet, so my budget did not include emergency laptop replacement. It's like, what the hell.)

So on Saturday, I went to Parts People down the road, who are literally the only people I buy parts for my laptop from and who are allowed to touch it at all. They always have the right part, and M told me it would probably be ready on Monday.

On Monday, he emailed to tell me that they didn't have a new board, which was the most likely culprit, but was still looking.

On Tuesday, he sent me the saddest email in the world that he could not find the part anywhere. I verified this; I did a google search and found two--two in the world--one of which shipping would cost me a new laptop price, and the other twice my budget threshold on the entirety of repairs.

So googling, I pulled up my model and found out why; my model was discontinued due to the quad i7 processor being too high and throttling the system leading to heat death. My laptop apparently is one of the rare few that survived a year alive, much less almost four. Which is why you couldn't find a lot of them, new or used. Further research confirmed there were two others in my series; the lower one was completely incompatible, but the upper one was a remake of mine, but with a duo i7 processor because see heat death issue.

(This was actually a problem with mine; it would get hot enough that I couldn't sit it even on a pillow for very long or risk setting the pillow on fire (a messageboard had a harrowing narrative of such a thing). I've bought a lot of laptop trays with multiple fans. I could first degree burn myself on my laptop easily when it was running for less than thirty minutes.)

The upper model they had in stock.

I called M and he explained the differences; he could use it to test my motherboard to see if it was really burned out or repairable (spoiler: it wasn't, the tea won), but if I decided to switch, I'd get the duo i7, which is faster and with a bigger cache, but it wouldn't be a quad and my multitask capabilities would be slightly lowered (I asked what I'd have to do to push it and suffice to say, I don't run that many programs at once. Ever). It'd be a straight trade on the processor: theirs for mine, since they're the same price, no cost for me. I'd pay for the new motherboard, which was slightly more expensive than my model, but had a much better video card. He also replaced several parts that were damaged or otherwise less than perfectly functional, cleaned it out, reinstalled my drivers, added arctic ice to everything and the heatsink to lower the heating problem, and apparently felt bad for me and gave me half off labor. And I have sound back, which is nice, since that may or may not have been fried by a heating issue. And came in under budget, which blew my mind and I almost cried.

To offset this: last week, my new manager called me into his office, and told me he and the new assistant manager authorized me for a merit raise of 3%. I used to get the merit bonus when I was a caseworker and ombudsman, but not since I got to testing, so I almost cried. He also added a Mac to testing, which will be my responsibility, and told me he and the AM were impressed with my work.

TO offset that: my youngest sister abruptly went stupid two weeks ago that culminated in super!drama this week, and the super!drama is so dramatic I don't even have words that weren't first uttered in daytime TV. I'm not thinking about it right now, but eventually, when Sherlock and I are over the first flush of joy in being reunited, I'll totally vent my ass off because seriously, new worlds of stupid.

So you know, this has been a really weird couple of weeks.
So due to completely unexpected funds appearing--and because my Asus Tablet couldn't handle business documents--I went tablet shopping.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 32 G

My major reason for purchase was I love electronics, but functionality is being able to handle large--and I do mean large--business and design documents at work, which can run from 80 pages to 2000 pages with screenshots and documentation of code changes. I tested it against a 2.4 MB document on load and editing and it was flawless. So you know, that helped.

First off, this is a 12.2 inch screen, which is only a few inches less than my laptop. It's big, and as every review on earth will verify, it's beautiful, and I don't say that lightly. It's also, won't lie to you, not light, and while you can carry it one handed, the balance won't work at this size and I wouldn't recommend it. However, it feels solid and like I won't break it picking it up, which I like a lot. Buy a case when you get it; I got this one and no complaints at all. Plus a hand strap and close/open sleep/wake-up, which I appreciate since my Kindle does that and I'm used to it.

So far, a lot of the reviews hit everything that's good about it, and I'm still in the flush of first love, so will report back later.

....God, this thing is pretty.
I forgive Windows many, many things--on a daily basis--but not it's propensity to randomly decide I'm booting from the wrong drive and change it to whatever it thinks I should be using. A drive that replaced my DVD drive, does not have an operating system, and seems to resent it mightily, which granted, could be the explanation right there; that drive considered it a status thing. This is one, stressful, and two, it takes me a couple of tries in setup to remember how to move my primary drive back into the correct boot position--panic does not make for clear thinking here--and stare balefully through all of goddamn boot in barely controlled terror that something else will go wrong.

I will say this--Windows does not feel it should be taken for granted and makes sure every so often you're reminded how probable it is one of the developers was watching substandard hentai while doing QC on the final version before deployment.

Plex Media Server

Okay, I couldn't get over how pretty it was, so I kept it for movies anyway. With my TV shows that I didn't rip myself, ffmpeg can add metadata--and ask me about the adventure it was hunting down the right metatags for it and imbedding them all correctly while renaming--but it works well enough that I want to keep it for my mom, who is very familiar with the Roku interface and it makes it much easier for her to hunt through our media to find stuff. It's pretty, it's not terribly draining when it's running, and I can can flip it on and off with a bash script. That it works so well with the Roku is definitely a huge factor here. Doesn't hurt at all that it fetches all the cool data on everything with its agents, so full name, summary, runtime et all are there on viewing.

General Media Things

My bluray collection is a pain in the ass and sucks both bandwidth and space like it's a universal hoover. However, compression to less insane sizes than 32 G per movie, after testing several settings in Handbrake, is officially only worth it if I wasn't watching on a freaking HD TV. I don't know why I can tell the difference, but testing uncompressed Thor against compressed Sherlock, there was a noticeable difference in picture quality at 50 inch widescreen and less noticeable--but totally there--placebo effect on my 40 inch tv. I don't like myself for being badly distracted by that, but I really was. The solution is obviously to get bigger drives and stop stressing about getting everything below my 10 G limit and let it be lossless audio free in the wild. My server has a current max of five SATA drives plus bluray, four with my OS on it's own private SSD, so I'm staring resentfully at current 4T drive prices because yeah, might as well give up and get this done.

This also means, depressingly, that I should look into creating a RAID drive array and sacrifice a SATA to a tower of as many drives as I can stuff into an external secondary chassis for future media needs. That would only be slightly less expensive (but so much slower) than getting a newer--hideously expensive--motherboard with more SATA connectors, but honestly not by much, and at the current rate of progress, newegg's price difference could change at any moment, so there's that. I get the benefits of RAID, I do--a billion fanpeople can't be wrong on their magical properties--but there's something about them that fundamentally bothers me and I don't know why.

Christmas

Food, presents, wildly excited children...no family trauma. It was magic, really. I have no complaints, and oh, the food. The food.

Happy holidays and merry Christmas to all who celebrate!
Recently, I started once again looking at the available Media Servers for easy watching of my media collection, which is something I now do every six months or so when I see once again Mediatomb hasn't been updated.

My most recent try at alternate servers: Plex - A Complete Media Solution

A very good tutorial for setup and use.

The Good:

The web interface is gorgeous, you can log into it from any computer on your LAN, and it streams over Roku. You can add channels to it--Colbert Report, Youtube--as well as your entire TV/Movie collection. After setting up your main containers--there are five: Movies, Television, Music, Photos, and Home Movies--you attach each to one or more folders, they scan inside, and the agents look up info on each from The Movie Database and TVDB with all the metadata your heart can possibly desire, editable, with collections that we might as well just call tagging and joyfully at that. It's awesome, is what I'm saying.

Media is available either on the LAN or outside it, and you can have friends and share your library. There's an Android app for it; basically, you can literally watch [personal profile] sisabet's Queer as Folk vids on your phone or table if you have a breakdown in the middle of a desert with good wifi and AAA hasn't shown up yet.

Works on Windows, OSX, and Linux.

The Bad:

This was made for Windows/OSX Operating Systems, and you can tell from the first; there is minimal flexibility, almost no ability to customize more than superficially, an extremely rigid hierarchy, and the user can't do much with the overall design and organization.

This is the guide to naming conventions for your files. No, really. All your files. Every goddamn one of them. You don't have to obey it to the letter, but the margin for difference is bizarre. I can't get entire seasons of Buffy in there for no reason I can figure out yet.

Not only that, the directory structure is internal to the program, not your organization, and you can't change it. There are four types: Music related, TV Shows - Three Level Hierarchy, Movies - One Level Hierarchy, and Home Movies, which you can do in a Three or One, but if you do the Three, the titles aren't the filenames but instead are named episode 1, episode 2.... You can't change this, there is no flexibility at all, and it's goddamn annoying.

Me Sulking:

1.) It would take me less time to learn Java and code my own media server--and get a doctorate in physics with my free time--than renaming all my media files--that's one and a half terabytes--to fit their specifications. I started actually sketching up a bash script to batch while I'm at work and nearly had a breakdown just doing the framing structure for it. For Mediatomb to show my files--ALL OF THEM--in a readable way in the right folders--and alphabetized--took me less than three hundred lines of javascript for the main function, four prototype string functions, and two short alphabetizing functions, and two random functions. I'd have to triple that for the bash just to get the names working in the exact way they want them to show up. Otherwise, some may show up and some may not.

2.) The force directory hierarchy was almost painfully annoying. I hate it.

3.) The ability of the user to customize it--and I'm not even talking about how I write the javascript sort function for mediatomb to organize my files, just basic level user input on structure--is almost non-existent.

OTOH, for movies or tv movies where you have a single level directory Movies-->MovieName, this is very workable. And if you're just starting your career at collecting media, this could work for you.
So my last couple of weeks were sent watching Black Butler and panicking due to my laptop beginning to do something not unlike having a psychotic episode--artifact squares everywhere and sudden shutdown. As it turns out, my GPU was failing and as this laptop came with it soldered to the board, that meant a new motherboard.

Okay, last month was the third year anniversary of Sherlock and I'm officially unwilling to replace him until every component melts down into slag that I can't replace. I love Sherlock. He's my best laptop ever and he's the first computer I broke my two year replacement rule for and I love him. Like in ways that would worry me if I wasn't in fandom, where I know at least four people who also harbor tender feelings for the epic technological romance that is their relationship with their laptops.

That did not leave me with many options, and by that I mean there was one: I'd have to do my first laptop motherboard replacement. Or I could pay the people I was buying the motherboard from to do it, but Sherlock is mine. I can't build laptops yet, due to the market being ridic, but nothing in him hasn't been taken out and checked by me at least once, I've replaced his keyboard once and removed the DVD to add a second drive myself. I imagined--in theory--handing him over to unknowing, unloving hands to strip down into his component parts and have him returned to me a stranger that I didn't quite know, and realized I was crazy and that's a terrible moment of personal insight to have, so to avoid further questioning my sanity, I decided to do it myself.

my relationship with electronics is like this )

In short: it worked! So far--so far--everything seems to be working very well, and my temperatures in my laptop--due to dear God the amount of thermal paste I used--are at an all-time low. Even more surprisingly, I do mean an all-time low; I used to burn myself with my laptop if I touched it running when I got it, and now my temps are all in high-normal range, which considering it's an i7, is normal, but closer to not causing second degree burns by looking at it took hard.

Reference Guide for Laptop Graphics

Because I tracked this shit for months and searched for several days for this and it was only by accident I figured out what I was supposed to be asking:

My failure started a few months ago with random blackouts that would immediately be fixed by touchpad/mouse action. A few weeks ago, I began to experience at random intervals what looked like a screen-wide checkerboard, each square about half a centimeter and alternating ones all colors or noise-looking which I didn't realize were also called graphic artifacts. It froze my screen and required a reboot, then would be fine for a while before doing it again. On Friday, it did it again, I rebooted, checked it, worreid, then shut it down. Saturday morning, however, it booted briefly and then shutdown and refused to start. I took out the hard drive and booted it in my server and ran virus scan on it there while I disassembled Sherlock, rechecked the wiring, and then took my drive out of my server and put it in my laptop again and rebooted normally. It worked for ten minutes before checkerboard artifacts displayed and complete failure.

This can be three issues:
1.) GPU is overheated - get HWMonitor or another temperature program, get all your temperatures, save them, get your graphic card name/type/model/version, and look for the average temperature range. This can be easy or impossible to find unless you know what forum to check; manufacturers are not always right.
2.) Motherboard is dying - get a professional assessment. Most place that I have checked will do a diagnostic for free or a fee (Parts-People will do it for $30.00 for a dell laptop), because a lot, lot, lot of things can appear to be a motherboard failure.
3.) GPU is dying - see above

If your GPU is soldered to the motherboard, it's basically a de facto motherboard failure; you need a new one.

If you get a blue screen when booting that indicates hardware failure, it's actually your BFF. It's protecting your computer from the heat death that end the universe (your sanity when you realize your internet is still dependent on separate machines and not yet installed in your body, as many of us dream).
1.) DO NOT TRY TO REBOOT again--you can burn out your CPU doing that, and your CPU is generally the most expensive replacement part.
2.) If you're comfortable with this, remove your primary and secondary drives if you have a secondary drive. This is just a precaution, and they tend to be easy to get to for removal.
3.) Unplug and pull the battery - this is to make sure no power is going in and you aren't tempted to start it just in case a miracle occurred overnight (as maybe I sometimes believe in my heart of hearts). This is also precautionary; I didn't want any power even potentially going to the board and exacerbating the problem until I was ready to repair it.
4.) Get a professional assessment or if you know this is what you need to do, go get the parts.

do it yourself prep )

And then there's when stuff doesn't work.

basic troubleshooting )

And finally, your home repair necessities:

i like these things )

This has been a message from a very stressful day and I'm still waiting for my laptop to explode or collapse or make me cry or something. Will report if this occurs, though I think my ragescreams will probably be audible in space.
My new tablet arrived!

ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T (name: Castiel Mark II, aka Cas) and it's marvelous, though due to inexplicable fund reduction (ie, God I need to budget better), the keyboard will have to wait until next month and this month it's safely in a leather case I bought for Castiel I.

App Recs

Also, I can play Final Fantasy III which went on sale a month or so ago and I bought (read: sale, why not?) and it would have been worth full price. Saves well, runs well, have had minimal problems (so far) none related to losing my game. And dear God I love touchscreening games like this. Response time is so much faster and easier. I run it on my tablet, but most of the phones from the last six months to a year run it fine (according to reviews) but I'm not sure how well the tiny screen works with that.

Office 2010: Textmaker Mobile - hands down, the best word processing program I've found for Android. Integrates perfectly with Microsoft Word, not only has your bookmarks but in order of location in document not alphabetical (I had to write a Word add-in to get that to happen by default in a pop-up box), and easily loads and holds documents upward of 2MB, including my massive work-related ones.

Tragedy

I cracked the screen of my Samsung G3 phone (Dean). It's weird, for the record, because can't lie, it's been dropped from various heights, dragged various distances, stuck beneath objects, and nothing. However, on Tuesday, I sat my bag down on the ground during my break, it kind of fell over, and my phone slid out onto the concrete. And that's when my screen cracked. From sliding gently out of my bag. IDEK. It's not so terrible I can't ignore it, but it hurts my pride, so currently pricing repair shops. Apparently, I can do it myself at home, but it requires the application of heat to remove the glass and replace it, and I think we all know my relationship with anything involving heat or fire isn't a healthy one. So.

Work is being--work. I actually do want to talk about it, but that's more a long long navelly post than anything and will probably involve sulking in several paragraphs.
So let's say due to reasons, you let your webhost expire and kind of lost your site. And sure, you could go to wayback and get every goddamn page one by one, strip the code out, and--seriously, who does that?

If you need to do that, however, there's an easier way.

Warrick is a Linux based Perl command line program that seems to be doing just that--pulling the site, stripping the wayback code, and fixing the relative and absolute links. From what i can see, it gets html, css, all images so far, and pdfs, but as that's kind of all I had on my site, could pull other extensions. I'm still validating--four thousand files--but so far, it seems to have at minimum gotten the bulk of it, and checking the html, the wayback archive's code has been stripped out.

It's available in iOS in beta, but it's almost painfully easy to use at it's most basic level, so if you have access to a linux system, I recommend this.

The page above has some good instructions, but quick breakdown if you use a linux desktop and don't do command line.

quick instructions for installation )

Notes: This takes a while. Start it before you go to bed.

I'm still validating the files--seriously, four thousand--but this seems to be working pretty well so far.

If anyone tries, tell me how it worked for you!
Missing e on Tumblr stopped working--again--so my tumblr reading off my phone is limited. I can accept certain drawbacks using my phone to do anything, but dude, my laptop is all seeing and all knowing, and by God, I will be able to see dates Just saying. I also lost my glasses--somewhere--so currently wearing prescription sunglasses while sitting outside on a cloudy day and ignoring the way that the page has rainbow sparkles. It's like posting while tripping, but without the paranoia, claustrophobia, or certainty I understand what the leaves are thinking. So not an improvement; leaves are awesome.

Android users!

Wi-Fi Mouse, turns your phone into a laptop. I've tested it a few times, but I think this is more useful for those whose touchpad is either acting weird or hates touchpads. However, it is a surprisingly sensitive mouse and works very well using wi-fi once you get through the (short) adjustment curve. This does require your laptop and your phone be using the same wi-fi network.

Bubble UPnP - for all your home media server needs. If you use anything at home with UPnP for sharing purposes, this can pick it up. I use Mediatomb off my home server and it not only picks it up brilliantly, it makes video playlists. I almost cried.

General

I have yet to find anything free--or paid, for that matter--that works as well as Mediatomb. I had a temper tantrum with the javascripting and decided to use something else. I found nothing that would work for a semi-headless server, so went back and fixed all but one part of my javascript so now it works as well as can be expected.

I'm finding this annoying. I've said before Mediatomb is easy, and it is, provided you want to do the hour of hand-compiling the various aspects to get the javascript coding to create your own hierarchy. It's totally worth doing, don't get me wrong, but I'm not a professional coder, I just play one for fun, and the minimum level of understanding is probably just around or below what I can do blind without a reference text. That is not friendly to non-geeks or even most geeks who aren't pros or really used to doing their own hack work, and the thing is--this is a truly, truly good piece of software. It would be great if they fixed the goddamn javascript sorting and added playlist functionality, which could also be done with javascript. If my C+++ was even marginally better--yes, I did read the entire goddamn code from the ground up--I'd be asking to work on this. With the release of the new Youtube API, full youtube functionality could be added back.

Mostly, I resent the fact that as-is, provided you compile yourself, it's really good and I could be and am perfectly content with using it, but outside the geeknet, this isn't gonna catch on, and it should. As a UPnP, it's the best I've found once installed for a user, it's clean, and it's never to my knowledge so much as bugged during playback. Once it's running, it's fine; your only actual jobs are opening the web-based interface and clicking to add things--the javascript sorts and organizes everything.

I do think a part of the attraction for me would be a negative--the sorting problem does require javascript if you don't have a nailed down hierarchy of where all your folders are and your files, and even if you do, no one wants their titles to read supernatural.1.01.avi or captain.america.HDTV-700.LOL.avi. I have a whole bunch of short prototypes to take care of it (titles: Supernatural 1.01, Captain America), but getting ep names without changing my file names--which would be disastrous--would be nice, and the scripting to pull from a database isn't beyond me, but I'd need a lot more extended free time than I have just to create my own database with IMDB right there, teasing me if I'm willing to learn how to access teh API.

Yes, my problems are server related today. I have exactly six days until deployment of the latest build and I am stressed. Below, screenshots, because I will evangelize someone else into using this and feeling inspired with javascript. I need help.

screenshots from web interface )
Replacement phone arrived! And the SIM card is faulty, which is typical, so picking up new SIM card at t-mobile store tomorrow, as they closed right before I was told I could get a new SIM card there.

However, I do feel soothed just holding it in my hand and cooing at it. Also named Dean, as our time together was far too short, and they look the same, so let's say this is an AU.
So after two massive system crashes and a complete breakdown and reassembly this afternoon, I'm tentatively going to say that my laptop may now be working again. All this because I bought bluetooth headphones for my phone and kind of wanted to use them with my laptop. Foolish me.

On the bright side, I got to use my new tiny toolset with bits so small you could lobotomize someone through their eyeball with very little bleeding, which I'm not saying this is for extempore lobotomies, I'm saying it's kind of awesome to have that many tiny, tiny bits.

On the not so bright side, I still have no idea what actually happened. I've shut down Microsoft update functions and restored back to this morning before the dark hell of computer breakdown began, and of course that bluetooth dongle is going back to the store like, tomorrow, but the crashes were weird even by my standards, and I mean, my mom and sisters have created new vistas of bluescreen death.

The first crash was out of nowhere and repair and restore wouldn't work, then suddenly restart with last successful configuration did. Okay, I said, that's weird, and went through my event log and settings and there wasn't much. I restore pointed and I reinstalled the first MS update, restarted, watched it work, then decided to try the bluetooth again as the second MS update began. And on restart, bluescreen, but this time, nothing worked at all except safe mode, which was depressingly unuseful as it wouldn't take my restore point seriously. Then for no particular reason at all, my graphics card overheated and crashed the system, at which time I assumed--as one does--that I had been cursed.

Or you know, maybe this was dust and overheating, right? So I went with that and okay, I've taken apart my computer before, but never under this kind of stress and never down to removing the goddamn system board to tenderly spray with compressed air. First reassembly I'd disconnected the audio array and the AC line, second time one USB port is offline which ask me how much I care right now? NOT MUCH. Sherlock is working and right now, that's all I care about.

Even using my brand new screwdriver set didn't make up for it, though it helped--which yeah, totally awesome, MaxTech Precision Multi-Driver Toolset, will fit screws that are invisible to the naked eye. If you take apart tiny things, you want this. Or perform really sketchy home lobotomies.

The third reboot, I set restore point and tested the dongle again--I KNOW OKAY BUT I JUST HAD TO BE SURE--and sure enough, something sketchy started happening when I downloaded the Microsoft drivers and not those that came with it. I uninstalled the hardware and cleaned the system before restarting, and it came on normally, so I'm leaning toward something is either wrong with the drivers or with the dongle. What worries me is my event log is wildly inconsistent leading up to the system failures; the same things didn't fail and that overheat during safe mode came out of nowhere, and both times I got it back up and running, I'm honestly not sure why it worked. I grabbed a temperature monitor online to watch, and while they're high, they're pretty much in the right range for my laptop since it always runs high.

It's really been that kind of a day.
Ongoing under this tag: Five Days of Google Play

25 Cent Apps at Google Play

Cross-reference google play and amazon by availability with links beneath the cut. AMAZON IS NOT YET SHOWING ALL SALE PRICES ON THESE GAMES. Each is marked on availability. Check back later for updates.

ETA: Updated at 10:47 PM with two additions/corrections.

twenty five cent apps, day four )

25 Cent Apps Still at Amazon

They seem to still have some of day one and day two and three apps, so below cut are the twenty-five cent apps at Amazon excluding today's.

Amazon 25 cents still available )
Ongoing under this tag: Five Days of Google Play

25 Cent Apps at Google Play

Cross-reference google play and amazon by availability with links beneath the cut. AMAZON IS NOT YET SHOWING SALE PRICES ON THESE GAMES. Will update when they become available.

list of twenty-five cent apps at amazon and google play )

Note: There's overlap on the sale between days of about an hour or two. Updates are sometime after noon CST, but I'm not sure of the exact time.
This is a little late, so I think the list is accurate until this afternoon. Cross-reference google play and amazon by availability with links.

25 Cent Apps at Google Play

list twenty five cent apps at GP and Amazon )

also on sale at google play )
Update to this entry: the 25 cent apps at Google Play.

This has now been extended to the Amazon App Store. They don't seem to have a page for it yet, so here are the ones available at Amazon.

Link to List of 25 cent apps at Google Play

Apps available at Amazon )
For Android users:

Top Apps for $0.25, changed daily for the next five days. Including Office Suite Pro 6 which I cannot recommend highly enough for reading and editing MS Office docs and hooks into both dropbox and googledocs seamlessly, among others. Twenty five cents.

Apps You Want

Earlier recommendations on android apps

For those who like app sales of any kind and want to track them:
AppSales, free.

If you like to script or code and need an easy program:
DroidEdit, free. I ended up buying the paid version, it's that useful. Also has dropbox support.

TubeMate, free. Youtube donwloader. Ad-supported, but it's very fast.

Amazon Discount Helper, free. When using, the area that says how much of a discount you want, use whole numbers. You put 21-93 percent? Doesn't work. 20-90 does. The typing in the amount in the box? Sometimes doesn't work. Use the slider. However, it does seem accurate AFAIK.

Drippler, free. News and offers apps about your particular phone. Link is to a short list of some of the ones available for which phone.

Kindle-only

SimCity Deluxe - just as awesome as SimCity. Love.
Pandora

Due to sheer need of new music--fucking Amazon sales--I finally bit the bullet and decided that Pandora's predictive algorithm couldn't be worse than iTunes or Amazon, so why not try it. I created my station, added nine bands, and set myself to see what came up.

music is like this )

After five days with my new phone, I can say this--this is the most awesome phone ever.

my phone )
Probably this is old news or there are workarounds for this somewhere already, but if you own a Kindle Fire or an Android Tablet and like to download fic directly onto your Kindle/Android device from the website, this might help.

Currently, mobi files from AO3 download into the Download folder and from there you have to move them to the correct folder manually. Or you can try this. If done successfully, your downloaded mobi files from AO3 will immediately go into the correct folder for insta!reading.

Tested with the following devices successfully:

Tablet/E-Reader: Kindle Fire
System Version: 6.3.1_user_4107720

Tablet: Asus Transformer
Model: TF101
Android: 4.0.3

Phone: Samsung Galaxy S III
Model: SGH-T999
Android: 4.0.4

this isn't hard, just steps )

instructions for Android Tablets and Phones )

instructions for Kindle Fire )

I probably need to check this for numbers. Also, the paucity of screenshots for Kindle is because the Galaxy S III has screenshot capability by swiping the screen, which Kindle does not. Which okay, Galaxy, how are you so awesome?
Backlight on my tablet Castiel went out this morning at work. Because I totally needed more stress this week. And when I got home, I did what I always said I wanted the option to do in any piece of electronics I own; that is, be able to take it apart.

Okay, when I said that, I didn't actually mean it literally, but what do you know.

Breakdown I used for guidance.

It would have possibly been the easiest breakdown ever if the screws were not, literally, small enough to get stuck under my fingernails. Also, only after much googling did I find the piece I needed to check was--look at the picture? see the long gold ribbon?--to the left of that, under that bundle of wires where the backlight connector was out, I kid you not, the thickness of my fingernail. I pushed it back in and voila! I had backlight!

Tools used: a razor blade after I broke off the tip. Yes. I have apparently every size screwdriver for a computer but a tablet requires something the thickness of a razor's edge. I did not cut myself, and I have no idea how I avoided it. I mean, I'm pretty sure nothing I have put together or taken apart hasn't had a blood sacrifice (and sometimes, skin). I suppose being named after an angel made that like, icky for it or something. I need to remember that for future naming purposes.

I fear nothing. Except my new phone finally shipped, and now I'm distrustful of everything because seriously, I did not mean I needed to literally test all my hardware personally in its component parts. However, for the record, I'm ordering the tiniest toolkit I can find next time I get paid, because hello, razor as screwdriver; that shit sticks with you.
1.) WE HAVE AIR CONDITIONING! And I have been depressingly penniless for two weeks, but all is forgiven when one sleeps in a room at a temperature somewhat below that of boiling water and the surface of Venus.

2.) To compensate, we are on Day 4 of The Internal Server Error Festival at work. So far, this is what we have learned:

a.) no one knows why they are happening, or more terrifying, why they aren't when logic--oh rapture--dictates they should have.
b.) they don't always display as a giant white Internal Sever Error page.

Here's where things became weird.

After entering info in a text box, the page autopopulates three other text boxes below it at the top of the page. Mysteriously, when loading stopped, nothing was autopopulated, but to the right of my text boxes, in the smooth, completely featureless white space, was a line of what looked like the first fifty characters of an doctype declaration for html, followed by the html tag and head tag on line two, and enclosed in title tags, the words 500 Internal Server Error.

If I selected the first line and scrolled down, an entire html markup was hidden in there up to closing html tags.

Pulling the source, I was surprised to see that the page was peppered with tiny boxes, if you will, of hidden fields stuffed with hidden views and mysterious javascript. I mean, it's not mysterious in that I don't know what it and the views do. Just for the life of me, I can't figure out why all the text box validations and drop downs need to be assigned to views and then hidden in the goddamn page. On the other hand, as indicators of what went wrong go, it usefully told the programmers (and me) exactly where the errors were coming from, so.

3.) I did not know one could be coding blocked. It's like writers block, but even worse, because for me, it comes with an obsessive need to keep making it worse. I finally pulled apart my Mediatomb sorting code and got alphabetization to work, albeit not the most graceful looking code (it is so ugly and so repetitious it makes me want to cry), but it works and autosorts all my TV show folders and movies into alphabetical containers because dude, I have about 2T of movies, videos, and TV shows and scrolling through those on my bluray player's very pretty interface was freaking slow.

Okay, you probably dont know this about me, but I'm really anal about organization. This is where it all went wrong.

javascript is usually friendlier than this )

All of that is to bring me to my question. Does anyone know if custom metadata can be imbedded in a video file that's also readable? I want to go through and imbed fandom as a metadata tag in all the vids I have (which is going to take possibly the rest of my life) and show metadata in all the show files. That would, quite literally, change my life at this point in time. I compiled Mediatomb with three separate programs that can read metadata, so any help here would be deeply appreciated before I begin to cry helplessly over my javascript, which would not be fun for anyone.

Oh God, air conditioning, never leave me again. For the record, it's magic.
I've picked up the habit of downloading en masse interesting apps to see what they do. As one does when two of one's favorite tech toys run on Android. So below.

recs below )
Touchpad on laptop question:

Okay, using the latest Synaptics drivers (and the one previous), at increasingly short intervals, my touchpad would jerk up to the upper right of the screen and would keep going there no matter what I tried to do in the screen. Restart fixes it, but I was getting it once a day or less at teh end.

So I downgraded to the 2010 driver that came with my laptop and the scroll is, I kid you not, so hard to do it hurts. I've fixed the settings in various ways, but the scroll is just slow and non-sensitive even racking it up to the highest sensitivity. My entire touchpad is slower, which is why I switched drivers in teh first place years ago, and I don't know why now the direct Synaptic drivers started doing this so constantly.

Does anyone else have this problem or found a way to fix it? Google was not terribly helpful.
After reading multiple forums on the subject of why iTunes is randomly dying and sound has become questionable on occasion, I did a full reinstall yesterday and accidentally deleted 22 G of music, but okay, besides that.

If anyone else run into this and the forums don't help, so far--tentatively--saving only the library xml somewhere else and deleting everything iTunes/Apple off the computer, including the folders in appdata/local and appdata/roam. And that also means uninstalling Apple Updates, Apple Mobile and Bonjour and deleting or removing all your iTunes/apple folders. I'm thinking now the preferences were corrupt in some way, but at this point, I'm just grateful everything's working.
Some part of me had to have known that anything as simple as reinstalling iTunes had to result in the deletion of two thirds of my music. I mean, that was just freaking fate.

Currently endeavoring to restore said files after successfully reinstalling iTunes after weeks of weird random shut-downs and loss of audio quality and noting--so very stupidly--how much better it was working. Verbally. To myself, granted, but dude, that was totally tempting fate. Everything's backed up to Amazon--who knew getting a tablet would result in a vested interest in cloud access--but seriously, I have no desire to test that. I just really want my library and playlists back now. Suddenly, those random shut-downs just don't seem so bad.

This has been a message from my laptop at--fuck my life--almost five thirty.
Quick review since QuickOffice Pro is on sale at Amazon for 7.99 for Android devices.

I've tested two and tentatively checked five apps that can read/write Microsoft Office well. This is for the two I've bought; if Documents To Go goes on sale anytime soon, I'll grab it as well.

QuickOffice Pro is currently half price at 7.99 - I paid full price and don't consider it a bad investment at all. It's major problem is that the default view is tiny and you have to zoom out. It also has some odd issues sometimes--only sometimes--with large files, but keep in mind my perspective on large files is 700 pages of Microsoft Word Change documents with tons of screenshots for work; I've never had a problem otherwise.
Amazon - $7.99
Google Play - $14.99

OfficeSuite Pro 6 was .99 yesterday and I'm kicking myself for not posting about this when I saw it yesterday. It has a very good web view to get full screen of documents and it handles very large documents somewhat better than Quick Office Pro. Note: when using with dropbox, do not open file from dropbox; open from the program; dropbox files show on the home screen. Otherwise it will ask you about restoring and don't do that. OfficeSuite also has a separate font package, which if you get this program, I recommend; your office docs will look much better.
Amazon - $14.99
Google Play - $14.99

Both integrate seamlessly with Dropbox, and QuickOffice also integrates with like a lot of other programs as well, but none I like nearly as much as Dropbox (Evernote has potential, but I'm still wary). Honestly, I like OfficeSuite Pro more, but more in a personal preference way than anything lacking in QuickOffice, and if you're a completionist (Dude, I download every piece of software that integrates with Office due to this), get them both on sale.

ES File Explorer

I know a lot of people are somewhat intimidated by using ES File Explorer. If anyone is interested, I can do a short tutorial on using it to access both your files on your Android device, your entire network including your home computer, and using it as an FTP client. It really isn't you; it is not very intuitive, and if you haven't spent a lot of time in command line with Linux systems, it's frankly baffling, and some things just don't seem to go where they should. I will say if you don't have it, you should; it is really useful for moving files around if you download from AO3 and want to put them in the Kindle folder, though I'm going to note, for Kindle users on Android tablets, from what I can tell, Kindle is not alwasy consistent on where it stores the books. It's also fantastic as a way to search your entire tablet.

Mediatomb

A new tutorial is up to compile and manually install Mediatomb to the latest version of Ubuntu. For the first time ever, I got it right on the first try. If anyone wants to install it to their home server or computer and isn't sure, I'll be happy to walk you through it and offer my custom scripts for sorting your media. Mediatomb is compliant so far with every bluray player I've been able to track down. I promise you, this isn't hard--though Christ, the way they talk about it is like brain surgery sometimes--but I know it can be confusing if you're not used to command line, and to use custom javascript sorting for your files, the manual installation and compilation are required.

However, if you don't care about that, the regular version is installable by package and works fine as well.
Avengers midnight showing with Child tonight! School is every day, but midnight showings are forever = geek parenting 101.

In honor of Avengers: 6 Ways Iron Man Is Objectively Better Than Batman complete with fairly traumating pic of poor, poor Captain America. Dear God, why.

6 Classic Kids Shows Secretly Set in Nightmarish Universes

I have never felt less hopeful for the future. I mean, even Scooby. Even Scooby.

For anyone interested in upgrading to an SSD, Newegg has OCZ Agility, 120 GB on sale for $114 ($99 after MIR). I'm only using a little more than half of mine for my OS and all my programs and program settings, so if you use two hard drives, this is a primary will totally change your life.

For reference, this is the model I ordered for [livejournal.com profile] svmadelyn and for my server to take over as primary hard drive. Server is also getting a major RAM upgrade finally before I upgrade the OS sometime this month due to weird speed problems I've been having.

I feel very good about the world atm.
Okay, finished prelim testing. This'll be a snap. No, really.

Amazon Store
1.) Click on Apps->Store. Search for Skifta. Download it.
2.) Click Open.

Skifra
1.) You get a screen with 1, 2, 3. You'll get this choice every time to decide what you want to connect to. Just connect with something and stream!

PC
1.) Windows 7 - Media Player - Open Windows Explorer, click on Network. Under Media Devices, you should see "[your name] Amazon Kindle Fire". If you click on it, you can opne it up in Media Player and play files!
2.) Windows 7 - VLC - Open VLC and navigate to View->Playlist. Under Local Network, click on UPnP. Your server should show up there and you can play music and media.

So that was surprisingly easy.
Mobo Player

So there is finally an Android app I can run that plays avi and wmv! (Yes, wmv, so not kidding.)

Moboplayer - For Android Devices - For Kindle Fire. Tested with .avi and .wmv files.

For Kindle, this may be complicated, so please follow these instructions precisely.

On your Kindle Fire Settings
1.) Go to Settings.
2.) Go to Device.
3.) Allow Installation of Applications - change to yes

In your Kindle Browser
1.) Go to the link above on your Kindle Fire browser.
2.) Click on this file: MoboPlayer 1.2.179.apk.
3.) Download it from rapidshare.
4.) Agree to install it.

Add Video to Kindle
This assumes you do not use ES File Manager; if you do, then just transfer directly.
1.) Hook up your kindle fire to your computer and transfer one avi and one wmv. I used two older SPN vids, but damned if I know where they came from.
2.) For testing purposes, grab one wmv and one avi file and add to your Kindle Video folder.
3.) Disconnect Kindle from computer.

Moboplayer
1.) Go to Apps->Moboplayer
2.) Open it.
3.) It's going to ask to scan. Let it do that.
4.) It should show a list of videos. DO NOT CLICK ON ANYTHING.
5.) A menu shows at the bottom. Click on the icon that is three dots (...).
6.) Choose settings.
7.) Scroll to Playback.
8.) Checkmark 'Default Using Soft-Decoding.'
9.) Click back.
10.) Now choose an avi or wmv and play.

I've uploaded a zip file with the vids I tested with for baseline. Download it onto your computer and add to your Kindle.

Link to Test Vids: Test Folder

The following extensions work:
1.) .avi
2.) .rmvb
3.) .wmv
4.) .flv
5.) .mpg
6.) .mp4
7.) .mkv
8.) .divx
9.) .rm
10.) .mpeg
11.) .mp4v

The following do not (yet):
1.) .ram
2.) .mov

It's supposed to be DLNA able, but aVia is also DLNA able and will share with all yoru Android devices. More on that when I've tested it.

FanfictionDownloader

If you are using the Calibre extension and it seems to be giving you the title Hide this banner for eveyrhting at AO3, yeah I know, it's the X-Path pickup of the first match. If no one has a temp fix for it (TELL ME!) I'll be trying to work on one tonight. Python is not my language, but I did manage to get it to recognize Relationship custom column in Calibre and populate it, so I feel brave.

ETA: Extension .mp4v also works.
Sherlock the Laptop

After nearly a year with my backlight on my keyboard broken (and the backlight on the strip), I went in today to Parts-People, who are All Dell, All the Time, and after talking to the guy at the front desk about the problem, I replaced keyboard and palmrest and my backlight works!

I have also discovered the following:
1.) My old keyboard sucked very much like whoa.
2.) My old touchpad sucked very much dear God like whoa.
3.) Seriously, I had no idea my keyboard was that bad.
4.) Every day is a good day when you get to disassemble your laptop.

internal debating )

SSD

In other news, [personal profile] svmadelyn finally broke beneath the strain of my whining and so I get to upgrade her desktop with a solid state drive in the primary spot next time I'm in Chicago. I can't emphasize enough if you have space for two drives, an SSD is like magic when it comes to access speed. Currently, it holds the OS and all programs and the cache and still only takes up less than 70GB of the 120 GB drive I installed, which argues I could have gotten a cheaper 90GB and been fine.

The only downside is you really need two drives because of the size; the 120GB on sale is about $109.00 if you know when to buy from newegg (and get a free jump drive!), but to get to 512 start value is $500 and up.

Honestly, I'm not convinced that having everything on a single SSD or multiple SSDs would be much faster than the split I'm using now. The SSD (name: OS) holds everything that requires processing power; my 500 GB regular hard drive is split between D (Castiel, 100GB) and E (Dean, 369GB) (please, you had to have seen that coming) and D holds docs, fic, ebooks, and my music, and E all my media, graphics, and programming (and backup) so I don't lose anything. SSDs also aren't easily recoverable (I know they can be, but not like a regular HD), so in case of dramatic failure, the only things I lose are my programs and my firefox settings, and most of that is easily backed up. The only big difference I can see is for either vidders or heavy graphics/photography users for accessing their projects from the slower drive using the program on the faster drive, but once accessed they move into RAM or cache anyway, so I'm honestly not sure if performance speed would increase dramatically enough for anyone to notice if the processor and RAM can keep up.

After five months, I can honestly say the only time I've had slowdown has been when I haven't paid attention to overheating issues, which would be less problematic on a desktop than a laptop.

Watson the Server

Using samba to create network drives means that I've been able to move pretty much all my media off my laptop and onto the server and can play from my desktop. The access time is limited by my LAN speed, which honestly is not all that limited until I hit bluray rips, which are a problem. I'm not actually sure if it's the drives or the processor or the LAN that causes streaming issues yet.

What I want to do is find a program that can automatically mirror or move my files when I'm ready to move them instead of how I do it now, which is open two windows (one for the samba shares on the server, one for my laptop folder) and move between or command line SSH move files, which is irritating and also, boring.

(Weirdly, using MSOffice and three macros, I can autosave to several locations at once, including to the server. I can also, even more weirdly, index all my files on the server fro Excel with macros. VB Macros. It's just weird.)

But mostly, I want to build a multi-server Cloud environment myself, because well, I can't work out a reason not to except I have nothing at all to do with it, one, and two--I mean, seriously, what would I do with it? I feel like one of those people that collect cats or something; when I die, I will be surrounded in servers and hardware, but on the upside, my body won't be partially eaten (unless technology advances in disturbing ways).

Ubuntu Help

I need to upgrade my server, but I cannot find my notes on how to disable a package from updating. Mediatomb still breaks if I upgrade past the OS version it is now, and I don't feel like spending weeks making miniscule program changes and recompiling and failing to get the JavaScript customization functions to work, so I want to lock mediatomb as is so when I upgrade everything, it won't make me cry. Does anyone remember how to completely disable package updates and any dependencies so those stick around? I know someone ([profile] synedochic?) said that would keep it from breaking when I jump a number, but for the life of me I cannot remember how.
I have to admit, the recent spamming of DW has been weirdly mesmerizing, with at least two times receiving what could have been a semi-relevant comment if the subject line wasn't random letters both lowercase and capital.

Truth--it's been a very long time since I received interesting spam, and yes, in a perfect world, we would be spam free, but work with me here, if there's some mystical burden of required spam that is our sacrifice to the tech gods, would it kill them to make it interesting or at least, not hideously boring that even the subject line breaks my heart? Once upon a time, I had both British housewife heiresses and Nigerian princes offering me money if I sent them money first for Obscure Banking Reasons We Know Not.

This is annoying, yes, but there's a kind of wistfulness to it, and is it just me, or are these comments from other people's LJs? I'm actually most weirded out that some felt rather like an AI was responding to my entry after a terrible mistranslation or something.

Tablet

Name: Castiel
Brand: Asus Transformer
Model: TF101-B1
HD: 32 GB SSD
RAM: 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM
Mini HDMI, microphone, camera, micro sd (>= 32 GB size)

short review )
My Asus Transformer tablet came today, so basically I've been, you know, getting to know it, letting it meet the family of electronics it belongs to, easing it through its transition stage. Also have the dock for it, which when docked on its wee keyboard is netbook sized, and immediately bought Quickoffice Pro, as a lot of the reason I wanted it was for work. And for other stuff, but dear God, I am excited to clear out years of notebooks and put the files on a card already.

So far, happy.

For the record, my electronics naming officially covers about six fandoms; Sherlock, Watson, Charles, Arthur, Benton Fraser, Sheldon, and Castiel. More recently, I've started naming my hard drives, which honestly sounds weird until you realize I like to yell at them encouragingly, and yelling DRIVE C or UUID 035e8a97-130p-4ead-b6x9-3df543b0e6b4 is really odd and also, a lot of syllables.

Happy. It is a good tablet. Will review when I'm, you know, able to talk about it without helplessly wondering how it can be so perfect.
Friday I had the combination annoying and gratifying experience of helping a coworker out and then utterly killing my faint thoughts toward looking into an iPad or work (currently my Kindle is doing double duty to hold the design documents when I script tests; even having two monitors no longer cuts it when I have to be able to script on one screen, use the second screen to hold my original plan for a script, and need a third to look the original requirements. Dude, we need like, four screens at this point; there are so many changes in workflow that I have to actually create entire cases from scratch so I can see how the hell this is supposed to work.

Note: if you live in Texas and may be applying for benefits or know someone who is, I will be posting a tutorial on how to use this way of submitting your application. As a tester, it's driving me nuts, but for clients, I think this will eventually turn out to be a hugely good thing. What I don't know is how to do that without the upping the risk of someone eventually noticing via google that seperis sounds like Certain Employee With Opinions. I'll get back to that after this release, along with some further updates on welfare policy and what you need to know. Keep in mind when I do post, the information is Texas specific, but policy is federally mandated, so there is crossover in different states.

Anyway, one of my coworkers has an iPad and a Toshiba both, and wanted to transfer her music to the Toshiba and was getting absolutely nowhere. She brought them to work for me to do after some coaxing, because like most people who have to deal with competing OS's, in her heart she thought the entire thing was because she was just, you know, tech challenged in a bad way. This is a program tester by the way; I always want to coax my coworkers into a seminar titled "It Really Isn't You; It Is That Fucked Up" with a side of "No, Really, This Is Because They Designed It to Make It Harder for You to Do This So You Will Buy Their Products and All Companies Do This". I am still working on this seminar.

Teh only Apple product I use is iTunes, for various lazy-related reasons, so I'd almost forgotten that iTunes purpose when combined with objects (iPod, iPad, iPhone) is to drive me nuts. I explained about computer authorization and DRM and did a search to see what she had that was locked (nothing, thank God) and the waited patiently while iTunes took an hour to complete a synch operation that takes me ten minutes with a direct sd card move, and while doing that, I stared at the gorgeous iPad and realized that there was no possible way that it wouldn't send me into conniptions trying to use it with my spreadsheets and docs that I need to update now; when I want to move a song, I want to just move it.

I'm not any happier with my experience with the Toshiba tablet; my Kindle and my phone both use android and I broke them to my will as far as getting root access and setting my organization up even if the limits can be--frustrating, but working with someone else's tech means I can't spend ten minutes getting the apps I want to make life simple, and it was a revelation all over again that dealing with my server's ubuntu in various forms comes in stupidly handy at the weirdest times, and how much I depend, literally, on workarounds I don't even think about anymore. Moving music of all things--legally goddamn bought in the iTunes store music free of DRM--should not have been this kind of production that took a computer authorization, a full synch that took forever, and then finally the sd card transfer.

I really want a tablet now after using my Kindle to hold my work docs and finding it a lifesaver to be able to flip through the pages and search and even edit directly there and carry it around with me to meetings--it's hitting me how stupidly useful this would be for reading design documents and screenshots and being able to make notes directly during meetings instead of having to jot things down and hope to God I can read my own handwriting later--but the iPad and the Toshiba both did not encourage me to think this will be a painless process on par with using my home laptop regularly. The only one that seems like it might meet my requirements is the Motorola Galaxy, but now I'm suspicious that the ability to do more complex work--and what I want to eventually do is use it so when our design documents update, I can add te revisions in without losing my notes--also means it will be more stupidly complex work to make them do something that should be very simple.

I am feeling technologically cynical, I think.
For Kindle Fire users who do not know this yet, which may be only me, but in my defense, this is the first day I've had a chance to do more than purr over it and read Penny/Sheldon fanfic off it. As one does.

Reference

If your non-Amazon-bought fic is currently only showing in Docs or half in Docs and half in Books and you have no idea why (except now you do!), easy solution. This will work for any mobi file.

If you use Calibre--and if you read ebooks, you probably should grab it anyway--this is how you sideload by USB and get it into Books.

1.) Delete all non-Amazon books from the Books folder.
2.) Load all those books into Calibre.
3.) Highlight all books and click on Convert Books.
4.) Go down to the blue arrow that says Mobi Output
5.) The last bit there that says Kindle Options. Below it is Personal Doc Tag. Clear whatever is in there completely. No text.
6.) Convert.
7.) Make sure your Kindle is still connected and choose 'Save only Mobi format to disk in a single directory'. This is because Kindle Fire right now does not do subdirectories. If you have a cover, let it go too.
8.)Disconnect your Kindle and look at Books. Your books are there. Your covers are there. Mine is squished, I do not know why. But! I will find out.

This is five minutes later and the cover is no longer squished. IDEK.

When Calibre adds book to your Books folder, you can go in and move the cover to the covers folder in there. Apparently, it may work either way but I'm remarkably anal about that sort of thing.

Every day, such an adventure.
I think I have entered the resignation stage of grieving for Stargate Atlantis. I was able to watch Sheldon Cooper without seething hatred, and I didn't want to set Leonard on fire even once. Yes, I can watch The Big Bang Theory without (much) anguished pain at the scope of my loss.

...so it took me some time to--I don't want to say 'move on' so much as 'expand my love of socially awkward, painfully neurotic physicists'. I feel this is a step on the path to healing, even if still seeing the words "Stargate Universe" makes me wish to expel the words from my active vocabulary forever.

In other news, between environmental collapses and defect arguments (work is being very worky), I have been re-reading Stargate Atlantis and Child and I are watching season two like it's the second coming of Star Wars and Harry Potter combined. I think at any time you are sincerely watching Michael and muttering about the brilliant acting and biting social commentary, you are creating a new stage of grieving that could be titled "Batshit Country".

We won't even talk about Trinity and Conversion except to say I suddenly realize that was Oscar calibre acting and by God, Hollywood has no taste. Even though I don't think Oscars go to television, that's just shortsighted because John's chin trembled and blowing up a solar system is so deep.

Yeah. I miss my show so much.

In other news I upgraded my laptop hard drive to solid state and I'm pretty sure physics is being redefined by the response time. Seriously. I have no idea how I managed to survive with a plain 7200 RPM when this was waiting for me. Just. Speed. Everywhere. Granted, I had to take out the DVD drive and buy a specialized bay chassis to house my old hard drive where the DVD drive was, but--my Windows Experience hard drive score is seven point eight out of seven point nine. I only ran it a few hundred times to be sure.

It's beautiful. I thought of Rodney the whole time. He would soooo approve.
*irritable* Archive of Our Own is freezing on my Kindle for some downloads and some stories, but not all and not consistently. I am still trying to put together a coherent bug on the subject to send them, but honestly, it's the most random randomness, and it's kind of hilarious how being a tester at work is effectively killing my ability to report a bug without verifying the bug in at least three separate conditions. I want to test it first, then track back the issue and send a defect that I then stalk the developers about until they fix it, but then I remember this is not my job and [personal profile] astolat knows where I live and probably has ninjas on retainer.

[What's killing me is that I can't actually test it; it freezes my Kindle. And that freaks me out too badly.]

It's happened with two fic (one mine) from the site and one I downloaded to calibre and added via usb. It's weird. I've discarded word count as a factor, and chaptering, but the one thing I (think) they have in common is they're all SGA.

Other News

mediatomb, advancing slowly )

Oh! Meant to do this before. Picture of the Mediatomb web interface for adding/removing etc.

pic! )
For a while now, the entire package system of Ubuntu has mystified me in that way where I can't figure out why everyone doesn't do it this way and why are we using huge exe programs like a sucker when--I just felt several programmers start hating me and I'll stop. Suffice to say, I couldn't quite parse why this wasn't standard.

I got it during my last ubuntu upgrade to 11.10 and Mediatomb broke dramatically. Because all teh dependent libraries and operating system updated, but Mediatomb was working off a build back from 2010, about three number combinations ago.

this is boring to everyone but me )

I do go on a lot about the wonder of media servers, yes, i know )

There has got to come a time I will have conversation outside of my server drama. I mean, eventually?
I keep meaning to write up the glory of VirtualBox. Because it is glory and reading the reviews and comments and all the thousands upon thousands of pages of technical advice and commentary and praise, it's also goddamn terrifying. Which is why it took me two years to approach it warily, install it in a fit of fear...and then it was working and I realized really, should have just bit the bullet earlier there.

VirtualBox is--in essence--a way to install a second OS on your computer without mess, fuss, or having to do much more than point and click. It requires nothing but a.) two downloads and b.) a huge, happy smile of accomplishment. It's that simple. Now you, too, can now try any operating system in the universe without the horror of making Windows play nice with you. You do not have to do complicated partitions, reinstall Windows and the other OS, or stare at your computer wondering how it all went wrong. In other words, without so much as touching Windows, you can install Ubuntu, iOS, or any operating system (I can think of) to play with, learn about, or just prove you can. And even better, it doesn't interfere with Windows at all. You do not even need to log out of Windows to use it.

virtualbox - what you can do with it )

virtualbox - what it is, exactly? )

virtualbox - getting it )

virtualbox - installing it )

operating systems and you )

virtualbox - first run )

your virtual machine is created! )

You now can explore any operating system you want in here. You can make many machines. You can erase machines.

And here are some enhancements for you to try when you see your new operating system in that Window all ready to go. But maybe you don't like to do this from a program in Windows. You can also create, modify, and run a virtual OS from a web browser. You can give it it's own internet access. You can give it USB access. You can give it local file access, so you can play your movies, edit your fic, or listen to your music in the new OS itself. Basically, you can make it act just like it's an actual computer on it's own, not one living within Windows.

And if you have a bluray player that can see a local network (most of them these days) and a working router, you can organize and share your media with your TV without having to hook it up directly. All you need is two ethernet cables and Mediatomb.

If anyone has corrections, suggestions, or questions or anything, drop a comment. And seriously, Ubuntu has a thing that maps stars and--okay, when you try it, you'll see.

Good luck!
So okay, I have said I never call V's husband about computer problems because calling a computer science PhD for anything I need is like calling Batman to help you step over a puddle. A very small puddle. That doesn't exist. It's overkill, is what I'm saying, and embarrassing.

boring things on media servers )

It does worry me, on occasion, that "DLNA" is not only now in my active vocabulary, but it's possible the reason that the compiling thing worked this time was I actually did understand the instructions and performed them correctly.

Right. That's--kind of scary, actually.
Okay, is it just me, or does any Fast and Furious movie or variation really make a career in stealing fantastic cars look awesome?

Officially, I am testing my TV, by--buying movies from Amazon Prime. This, my friends, is fun testing. Panasonic Viera is awesome.

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