In which I am very, very, very dumb and not smart

This showed up on my porch this afternoon, apparently because I purchased it? I don’t know why the hell I might have purchased a 3D printer, I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do with a 3D printer, and I don’t know why I went out and bought a little table for it or why I’m putting it together in my office right now, but apparently my lizard brain took a look at the number in my bank account and realized that I’d survived the school year (my kids are gone GONE gONe GoNE) and decided that this was a thing that should happen.

Super. I look forward to printing six more things that will sit pointlessly on a shelf somewhere in my house because I definitely don’t have enough stuff like that.

Fuck.

New hotness, again

Pictured above: my original, loyal Das Keyboard, which provided me with seven years of service before something underneath the left half of the keyboard cracked while I was trying to fish a piece of debris out of it. Underneath: its replacement, which arrived today and is effectively the 2022 model of the same keyboard, except specific for my Mac and also featuring Cherry MX Brown switches instead of the Blues that were in the original keyboard. While I am a big fan of clicky keyboards, and Blue switches are the clickiest keys currently on the market, the fact that my wife and I are still frequently in the office together when one or both of us is in a meeting means that my preferred kind of keyboard is actually kinda rude compared to the standards of way back when I purchased it.

(Discovers, accidentally, that the crescent moon button in the upper right actually puts the computer to sleep. Whoops?)

Anyway, the media stuff has been moved to the top right there, away from the function keys, and I think I actually prefer the volume wheel, and the top layer of the keyboard is actually aluminum instead of plastic, and the riser that lifts the keyboard up to a proper angle is magnetic and has a ruler molded into it for some reason, but other than that, it’s still a keyboard! I’ve only typed the words you’re seeing on the screen right now with it, so it’s not like I’ve put the thing through its paces, but it’s not like it takes a lot of breaking in to decide if you like a keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are still the way to go for me, and I hate wireless keyboards– this one also has a USB 3 hub built into it, so that’s an improvement too, but it means the wire is required– but the key travel and bounce are both pretty damn good and the sound, while not as loud, is still pretty pleasing, and I don’t feel like I’m making a lot of errors while I’m typing, so everything’s doing what my fingers expect them to be doing. I just took a couple of typing tests and they came out at 85 and 91 wpm, which is a trifle slower than I’m used to, but it’ll do.


It is possible that I have made my last student loan payment. Not guaranteed yet, mind you, but possible. My loans have officially been consolidated, meaning that the current worst case scenario is that my payments are eventually around $330 a month instead of the $545 I’ve been paying since 2005. Since the government has my loans now, I’m automatically part of the suspension of payments program that’s been going on for the duration of the pandemic, so I won’t have to make that first payment at the new amount until May.

However, my application to have my loans forgiven through PSLF has already been submitted, too, and that’s supposed to take no more than 90 days for the full review, and once that review happens they’ll find that I’ve made well more than the 100 required qualifying payments. Loan payments start back up on May 22 (assuming that the program isn’t extended again) and that’s more than 90 days away. So while on paper I still owe a shitton of money, I’ll be saving those payments for the next couple of months (and putting them toward my car, which I expect to have paid off very soon) and the loans may very well be officially gone before I actually hit the day where I’d have to start paying the reduced amount.

This … is a real big deal. Real, real big.


Juuuuust in case you’re somehow not aware of it yet, I’ve got this little streaming the video games thing going over on YouTube, and I just started this cool little game called Dandara: Trials of Fear, so if you haven’t checked the channel out you have an exclusive chance to click on this link and then go be my 115th subscriber. C’mon, you know you want to. Even if you don’t really use YouTube all that often. Hell, especially if you don’t use YouTube all that often, because then it doesn’t even throw annoying videos you don’t want into the feed you’re not looking at. Go check it out.

In which you aren’t supposed to suck

I am a fanboy, I admit it: I am typing this post on the most advanced iMac that was available when I bought it; my last several phones have been iPhones, my watch is an Apple Watch, there are at least two if not three iPads in the house (I’ve lost track of one, and we may have recycled it) along with at least two Apple TVs and, if I had brought my work laptop home, which I never do, there would be two MacBooks in the house as well, even though my non-work one needs replacing.

I am so stuck in Apple’s ecosystem that it would require wholesale overhauling of a number of significant aspects of my life in order to properly escape from it. And I mostly don’t want to. But, y’all … this weekend my people got in my damn nerves, and I haven’t quite escaped from Minor Inconvenience Tech Hell just yet and I’m still peeved about it.

To start (and I mean “minor inconvenience” when I say it) Apple Maps decided that it was going to choose a different route to get to my brother’s house than the one I picked. He lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and your options are basically “through the city” or “not through the city,” both of which take about the same amount of time because one is long but fast and the other is shorter but, well, takes you through the city, which means you’re guaranteed to encounter some bumper-to-bumper bullshit on 90/94 somewhere. I haven’t lived in Chicago for going on fifteen years, and there are still some things about living in the city (which I loved, and still do) that I miss damn near every day.

Traffic is not one of them.

Anyway, I realized too late that not only was my phone trying to direct me through the city but it was trying to send me to Lakeshore Drive for some reason, which if you know the city will cause you to raise an eyebrow and if you don’t, well, that’s wrong no matter what route you’re trying to get north with, trust me. At that point I decided that, fuck it, I was going to go rogue, only it turned out that 1) my memory of the city’s highways wasn’t as great as I thought it was and 2) even if I wasn’t heading to LSD just yet I was beyond the point of no return to stay on the Dan Ryan, which meant we got a fun little detour through Chinatown.

I mean, it cost 15-20 minutes, maybe, while I got back on the highway I wanted to be on, so again: minor inconvenience, but I didn’t want to be driving through the West Loop yesterday one way or another, and if my phone had taken me though the route I chose rather than the route it thought was a good idea, this wouldn’t have happened.

The second thing was an ongoing sync issue with Apple Music and iTunes, and if you’ve ever had to deal with that particular slice of bullshit you can probably understand the vast aggravation and high dudgeon I’ve spent most of the last two days in whenever I had a moment where fuck with my phone became a possibility; ie, any time I was not covered in flour or sleeping. I think I’ve solved that problem finally as of about 20 minutes ago, but we’ll see if it shows up again tomorrow where the only tracks I can listen to from this album are the three preorder tracks. (This happens every time I preorder an album, which I’m done doing. It’s digital files. You can’t run out. No more preordering.)

Anyway.

There’s some more Elden Ring live-streaming coming tonight, from 10:00 until 1:00 AM or until I have the sense to go the fuck to bed, whichever comes first, with a full post of my thoughts coming probably tomorrow. The short version: Don’t expect to talk to me in March. I have shit to do.

I need tech help

Does anyone know what the best way to check referrers to a post is? I have one that’s been sort of blowing up over the last month, to the point where something has to be linking to it from somewhere, and I’d love to be able to see where from, but WordPress’ referral logs aren’t being helpful at all.

In other news … there is no other news. I finished The Hidden Palace last night, which is the sequel to The Golem and the Jinni, my favorite book of 2013, and while I enjoyed it I don’t have enough to say to review it. That’s all I’ve got at the moment.

First World Problems

This is not a post about my stupid YouTube channel, although I’m not gonna lie: it’s related. Part of the reason I started the channel with Little Nightmares II specifically is that LNII is a game that isn’t especially challenging on either my PS5 or my computer. I wanted to start off with Sekiro, but I couldn’t get the Elgato and the computer to play nice with each other, and any time I tried to stream or record anything complicated it came off really blurry and ugly with tons of frame drops and stuff like that. Little Nightmares II recorded very smoothly, so I figured I’d start with that, and then I embarked upon this ridiculous stream of minor and major upgrades to my system to get everything working the way I wanted. New HDMI cables were the first move– I have learned so much about cables in the last two weeks that it’s flat-out absurd. I had already been looking for an excuse to upgrade my desktop’s memory, since it shipped with only 8gb, so I fixed that next, upgrading to 40gb. When that didn’t make any difference, I spent last night researching the USB standard.

And … Christ.

Long story short: there are a mess of overlapping standards for USB, both the ports and the cables, and then there’s Apple’s own answer to USB, which is the Thunderbolt standard, and even that has a couple of different versions out there. As it works out, my computer has a spare Thunderbolt port available, which supposedly can push 40gb a second? That’s … a lot, so I decided to upgrade the USB cable today.

And I don’t think the story’s funny enough to recount in full, but doing that required the following steps:

  • Ordering a proper 6′ cable from Target to pick up in-store, then getting an email an hour later that they didn’t have the cable after all, sorry about that;
  • Ordering the same cable in 3′ length from Target to pick up in-store, then getting an email an hour later that they didn’t have the cable after all, sorry about that;
  • Ordering a 6′ cable from Staples to pick up in-store, then buying it and noticing in the parking lot that it was clearly not the right cable, as it advertised “up to” 500mb per second, and I don’t know how much you know about computer measurements but 40gb is literally eighty times faster than that;
  • Deciding I did not have the willpower to return the cable today (I’ll do it tomorrow) and checking Target again to see if they had a specifically Thunderbolt cable, as I realized that that was going to be something completely different;
  • Getting a yes, according to their website;
  • Going to Target and discovering that 1) they did have the cable I wanted; 2) the cable I wanted wasn’t the cable I wanted, as Apple sells both a USB-C male-male cable that isn’t rated for Thunderbolt speeds and one that is, and that one of those is called a USB-C cable and the other is called a Thunderbolt (USB-C) cable;
  • Ordering one from the Apple store on the other side of town for pick up in-store, then realizing they want appointments for in-store pick up and calling the store to 1) make sure they had the cable before driving across town and 2) making sure that I can actually come get the damn thing before my appointment, because I was doing all this while the boy was at camp and the earliest available appointment was right when I’d have to be picking him up;
  • Driving to the mall and picking up my cable, and then getting home and having just enough time to make sure it worked and did what I wanted it to before having to go pick the boy up. I’m quite happy to report that it looks like I’m going to be able to stream and/or record basically anything I want now, although there’s still some weird color issues with Sekiro that I haven’t figured out yet.

Slightly separate issue: the Apple store also has curbside pick-up, and in fact has designated parking spots in the mall parking lot for same, but the Apple store itself is deep enough inside the mall that getting to it from (I think) the closest available external door(*) is a 5-minute walk. Not a lot in the long term, but I wouldn’t want to be the employee who got tasked with spending all fucking day lugging shit from the store to those two parking spots. Not without, like, a Segway or something like that. It’s not remotely as hot here as it is in a lot of the country (particularly the West Coast) right now, but it’s about as humid as I’ve ever experienced, and that would be an “I quit” moment real quick for me, particularly since you know those curbside pick-up people are going to be impatient as hell.

(*) I mean, it would have to be, right? That’s where the parking spaces were. Surely they wouldn’t put their designated curbside spots next to the second closest door, although that might be giving mall management too much credit.