Category Archives: My Life

I am really sad today

I would not say that I am depressed, but I am very sad. Perhaps I have finally reached that age where I think the world is going to hell in a hand basket and if everyone would just listen to me, everything would be alright.

I feel old

When I was in my 20’s, I never felt old, when I was in my 30’s I occasionally felt old, when I was in my 40’s I felt old about half the time, now that I am in my 50’s, I feel old most of the time, I am not looking forward to my 60’s.

Writing again

A couple of years ago I set myself to writing a short story. I admit that it was basically porn. The point of the exercise was to write 10,000 words, what I wrote was not particularly important, I just wanted to write a short story and set a couple of goals for myself. I wanted to write 500 words per day culminating in a 10,000 word short story.

I have decided I am going to start this up again. Same parameters, 500 words per day, 10,00 word goal. This time I am writing a near future cyber thriller, or rather I am writing the prelude to a cyber thriller. I am setting up the world and laying out the background of the primary character. I am placing the story in my Alt-80’s CyberPunk setting, it sucked as a GURPS game, but I think it is interesting enough to set some stories in. While the GURPS game took place in the early 2060’s, my story is going to be set in 2017 and will describe some of the events that lead up to the Alt-80’s world of 2063. I am current up to 2000 words, wish me luck.

More site updates

The final part of the website that existed outside of this blog was the Companions of Xarth Wiki, which up to this point was housed within PMWiki. I wanted to bring it into the WordPress framework along with everything else, just for simplicity and continuity. I have been needing to clean it out anyway, there are several half started projects that will never be completed, so I might as well dump it. I have not finished the transition yet, but I think it will be done by tomorrow sometime. At the top you should see a new tab for the CoX Wiki, if you see that I missed something important, let me know.

Edit: Okay, I am not going to get this done before next weekend.

RE: Spring Cleaning

Something else I discovered while spring cleaning. More Phil Foglio.

Site Updates

I had a couple of standalone pages on this site. These pages were basically picture albums that PezWitch wanted done. One memorialized her favorite cat Bunter and the other her Grandmother Ellen. I also had one that posted the pictures I took for Thanksgiving last year. I have migrated these pages to the blog, you should be able to see them under “Picture Albums” Tab at the top.

I also added two new albums, while I was spring cleaning I came across a frame that had multiple pictures of PezWitch from childhood on. None of these pictures had ever been scanned, so I scanned them and added them to the collection. Since I had one for PezWitch, I thought it might be a good idea to have one for myself as well.

 

More TreasureCon

While I am on this TreasureCon kick, I might as well post some pictures.

Meow Kitty!

The Original Hit Girl!

Spring Cleaning

I have been on vacation all week and I spent most of that time doing some long needed spring cleaning. While throwing out old furniture and giving away books by the box, I came across these;

These two drawings were done for PezWitch by Phil Foglio at Treasure Con III in Billings Montana in 1985.

Server Update

The server has been humming along nicely now for the last two weeks. My clever backup scheme seems to have worked perfectly this last weekend. Carnifex.org seems to be back and running smoothly. I suppose it does take a disaster to get me doing the things I should have been doing in the first place. I mean last year I migrated to new hardware and setup everything in virtual machines just for the type of problems I experienced, but because I failed on the follow through,I almost lost the whole shebang.  So lesson learned

Cutting the cable

I canceled my cable TV service today, I also killed the service to my two TiVo’s. This really started last fall when I realized I was forcing myself to watch TV shows I was really not enjoying all that much. Over the last 6 months, the wife has been more and more watching Korean dramas via streaming services like Drama Fever. Neither of us has watched much real network TV in months. A couple of weeks ago I called my provider and reduced my service down, I figured $40 a month is fine and I might come across something I like. A couple of weeks later, I am thinking about it and really, I am still not watching TV, virtually every show I have seen has been on NetFlix, Amazon or Hulu.

So yesterday I went out and bought a set of old fashioned rabbit ears and surprise, I get 6 channels, pretty clear. Most of the channels are PBS stations, but I also get an ABC affiliate as well. I also bought a cheap DVR on Amazon to record the odd show, like Masterpiece Theater. I got one for $30, all I need to add is a USB storage device, I have like 6 laying around here of various sizes.

Today, I drove to the cable company and did the deed, I decided to in instead of calling for two reasons, first I had to turn in the M-Cards anyway and second I figured if I called, they would try to talk me out of it, if I go in, there would be 10 people behind me waiting and the person waiting on me would have no interest in delaying the line. I was basically right, I was out in less than 10 minutes.

Once that was done, I called TiVo and told them I no longer had cable and they obliged me very quickly by cancelling my service and not asking any questions. The TiVo service was costing me $40 a month, $20 for each box. The cable prior to my downgrading it was costing me $180 a month, including internet. My bill should now be around $65 for just the internet. That is a nice savings of $155 per month. I don’t think I am going to miss it much.

Server is still down

My server system is still in the shop being fixed. I was sort of waiting for it to post anything meaningful, but I think it is going to there a while longer.

I think I missed my calling in life. I should buy broken Commodore 64’s, repair them and then resell them. I think I could make some money on this and I seem to have a knack for it. For the last year I have been restoring and upgrading a C64 I bought on Ebay last August while the wife was away. This week I fixed the final piece, which was the 1541 disk drive. Last year when I got it, the drive worked for about 20 minutes before it stopped. Since then it has been a low priority because I had a SD2IEC device, which allowed me to run programs off an SD card. This week, I decided to try again and I noticed, the drive powered on and even the red drive light lit up like it was trying to read the disk. So I pulled it apart and noticed the drive head looked really grungy from years of reading floppies. So I cleaned the head with some alcohol and a Q-tip. While I was in there, I re-seated the ROM chips, figuring it could not hurt. When I got it back together, it worked magnificently. I am now waiting on a “Y” splitter cable so I can use it and the SD2IEC together. I know the 1541 has a pass through port on the back, but cable lengths and desk positioning make it impossible to use, therefore splitter.  So now the work is done and I have a fully operational C64.

One of the great services I found for the C64 community is CommodoreServer.com, they are an online service that allows you to sign on over the internet and use disks stored there. It is a very cool service provided free, although you can donate and get some premium services. It is a bit weird to get hooked up, but once you have figured it out, its fine.

LOAD “V-1541″,8,1
SYS 49152
NEW
OPEN2,2,2
PRINT#2,”ATDTCOMMODORESERVER.COM:1541”
CLOSE2
LOAD “@USERNAME,XXXX”,2
LOAD “CSMENU”,2
RUN

I know, it looks cryptic, but it works. This does requires some sort of network to serial conversion, I use the WiModem and it works perfectly. for some slightly more detailed instructions, try here.

The C64 stuff has distracted me a bit from my Oculus Rift. Considering it cost me way more the C64 did, I suppose I should pay more attention to it, and I promise I will as I go along. But the big thing that has been weighing on me about it, is just how far along we really are not on virtual reality. In this regard, I think technology has really failed to live up to its potential. When you think about it, we have had all of this technology for at least a decade, but we are now just getting first generation hardware. When I think about this, there really is no particular reason why I should not have had one of these in 2007 and I might even argue it was possible in 1997. Okay, processors and video cards were not what they are today, but look at what people accomplished with the C64’s in their time, I look at those old demos and I am amazed at what they accomplished with 64 KB of RAM. Why was it not possible to produce even crude VR with 500 Mhz processors with 512 MB of RAM or how about 2 Ghz processors with 4 GB of RAM? Yes I acknowledge that small LCD screens we use for Cell phones were not all that developed in 1997, but how about in 2007?

I think the issue here is probably one of low expectations, back in the 80’s technology, computers specifically were going to change the world, and they did, but not as radically as they should have. I have always said, games drive computer technology advancements, but for some reason, in the 90’s we got caught in doing other things with computers, they became communications devices and tools we used to get work done and they stopped being fun, they stopped being life changing, we took our eye off the ball. Back when Doom originally came out, we loved the game, because that is what we wanted our computers to do, we wanted to walk around in virtual worlds and have experiences the real world could never produce, we wanted out computers to provide us with an interface we could interact with, but somewhere along the road someone somewhere decided, no one wanted that. Instead of Operating Systems we could build worlds on, we got databases, spreadsheets, word possessors and web browsers. We have computers today in 2017 that really don’t work much differently than they did in 1997.

So the server is down again

Well fuck.

RE: Website reconstruction work

I have finished going through all my old blog posts looking for missing pictures. I believe I have gotten them all. If I still had the picture, I uploaded it again, if I did not have it, but got it off the internet, I tried to find the original picture and barring that, I uploaded something close to it. If I could not replace the picture at all, I simply replaced it with picture not available. As I said yesterday, if you come across one please let me know so I can fix it.

Edit: Oh and yes, for those of you who noticed, I did delete all of the old political posts I made, but I did that last November.

Website reconstruction work

So I spent some time today going through my blog looking for missing pictures. I have found a lot of them. If I have the picture, I am re-uploading them, if I don’t have the picture or I cannot find where I got it from on the internet, I am replacing it with “Picture no longer available”. This is probably going to take a while to complete, if you come accross an old post with a broken picture or link, let me know and I will fix it up as soon as I can.

Thanks

Maybe its time for a fresh start?

So now that I have a new fresh blog, maybe its time to throw away the old one. The problem with the old one was it has been moving from host to host for nearly 10 years. This movement has not been kind and many of the links are dead, and many images no longer show up. Plus I have not really update the look either, I pretty much used the same zBench theme for the last 7 or 8 years at least. And of course I have not really been posting much recently, depending instead on Facebook and Twitter to a lesser extent to express myself, those things are fine, but they are very transactional in nature. The other thing to consider is whether or not to keep the other content that I maintained. I have a couple of online galleries of some family pictures, I also maintained a wiki for my game group. As with my blog, most of it was outdated, rarely was any new content added and I don’t think there was anything there I considered must keep information.

I have not completely made up my mind, but I think I am leaning in that direction.

Hello world!

So my regular site is down. About a week ago I went about doing my weekly maintenance on it and I found I could not access it via secure shell or VNC. I pulled out an old monitor and keyboard, low and behold the bastard was not posting. I could have done the troubleshooting myself, but decided it was not worth the trouble and took it to a repair shop to figure it out. In the meantime I installed a quick and dirty VM on my main box and here we ware.

2016: Well that kinda sucked

Well what can I say 2016 was a pretty fucked up year. While my personal life had a couple of bumps in the road, it was really nothing any adult middle aged person can’t handle without too much in the way of problems. The rest of the world on the other hand seemed to be bent on starting dumpster fires everywhere.

For my own personal bumps, my mother had a stroke forcing me to return to Montana for a few days. My mother is doing better, but PezWitch had to stay in Montana for 5 weeks to help out my family while she recovered. This made for a rather stressful summer and I was a bit lonely while she was gone.

Every year brings the deaths of prominent and beloved people, this year was especially bad with Prince, David Bowie and Carrie Fisher passing on. All of these people impacted my life in one way or another and to varying degrees. Carrie Fisher was especially saddening, while her career basically peaked at the age of 21, many of her problems were brought on by mental illness and drug addiction. I can only imagine what she would have accomplished if someone had stepped in when she was 25 rather than 45.

All in all it has been a rough year, but as always, I am optimistic for the the new one.

 

Stoddard Family Siblings

stoddard-siblings-merged

The old picture was taken in the late 60’s, I am thinking 68 or 69 because I cannot be more than 6 in that picture. The newer picture was taken this last Thanksgiving. I am posting this here for posterity sake.

First days of no social media

So I am a few days into going cold turkey on social media. I think the wife feels a bit put out that I am not there to be entertained by her. For me it has not really been too bad, but I do have to admit that I do feel a bit cut off and isolated. On the other hand I seem to have a lot more time on my hands. Instead of going to Twitter and Facebook, I am going to other websites, in many cases sites I have not visited in years, reading up on RPG’s, comic books and computers. I am also researching secure Linux distros and brushing up on my penetration testing skills. I think my next step is going to be killing all the stupid TV shows I have been forcing myself to watch.

RE: Facebook and Me

Facebook, well really all social media, and I have always had a tenuous relationship. I mean I almost always have to force myself to post anything with any consistency. Lately I have found myself self censoring, basically not responding to things other people posted because I didn’t really want to stir the pot. When I would post things to stir the pot, I found basically everyone else is self censoring as well. So then the question becomes what do I need social media for?

The obvious answer here is so I can stay in touch with friends and family. This makes sense on face value, Facebook lets me keep track on people in more or less real time. Going back to my first paragraph, if I am self censoring and everyone I know is self censoring, then we are not really having any sort of real dialog. All we are really using the platform for is to send targeted messages to each other. Okay, I have an email address for that and a phone number that receives text messages. So then I am back to the question what do I need social media for?

PezWitch uses social media as a way to express herself. She posts pictures and video’s on a near daily basis. Much of this stuff is very creative and fun to do, I can see why she does it. My hobbies are very different though, I play dungeons & dragons, read comic books and mess with computers. This blog is very much an expression of those hobbies. For the most part I enjoy posting here because I know the people who come here do so to specifically read what I am writing and people who don’t like it rarely come back and that is alright with me. Posting stuff on Twitter there is a 100% chance someone whom you do not know and has no business reading your posts is going to read something they don’t like and freak out. Here its nice and quiet, its just me writing about things I enjoy doing and if someone gets stupid, I delete their comments and block their IP address. Once again I am back to the question of do I really need social media?

Sigh!

At this moment in time, I really fucking hate my life.

Call from my future self

I got a call yesterday, the caller ID said it was from me. I assume this is me from the future trying to contact me in the present and provide me with some important bit of information like some lottery numbers, a hot stock tip or when the zombie apocalypse will start. I happened to be in a meeting and could not answer it. I figured future me would leave voice mail, what I found out is future me is as much of an asshole as I am, he didn’t leave a message.

The Headless Horsemen

Today, I finally got around to figuring out how to run my VMs at startup, rather than having to start them manually each time. This allows me to run the server completely headless now, with no keyboard, mouse or monitor. I control the system using either secure shell for a command line or VNC if I happen to need the desktop for something. I suppose at this point, I could remove X Windows (Xorg) from the server and manage it purely from the command line, but frankly, I am old and I do not like to mess around with stuff that much anymore. So there you go, a server as god intended it to be.

server0

As you can see, I am nowhere near putting a decent load on it. I originally thought I would need 32 GB of RAM, but looking at this, I think 16 GB is maybe a bit overkill. I may set it up to run my Windows 7 VM automatically so it is always available, but frankly, I use Windows so little, I am not sure its worth the effort.

Things my Grand Niece Learned Last Week

My Niece brought out an ice cream sandwich and told me it would cost me $5, I offered her $1, I was perfectly willing to go to $3, she held fast at $5, I went and got my own ice cream sandwich, I then offered her 50 cents for the  ice cream sandwich she had.

The lesson learned; “Never refuse to negotiate with an Italian.”

Wrapping up vacation

So here I am on the tail end of my vacation. I got a lot of tech stuff done. Here is a snapshot of the inside of the server I built earlier this week.

server0

Building it was mildly entertaining, it certainly was not enough of a challenge to make me want to do it again. Normally, I prefer to let Dell build my machines for me. All in one warranties being the primary reason and just not having to fuck with anything being the second reason. I decided to build this one because I had some specialized requirements that I was not going to get from an off the shelf machine and besides, I needed to contribute to PezWitch’s place of employment, which is where I purchased the parts and assembled it. I will say this, after building the machine and spending several hours getting it up and running my virtual machines, I do have a mild sense of accomplishment.