Winningest

Yesterday while walking with my favourite scientist I found out about the Merriam Webster Time Traveller page. It allows you to see what words made it into the dictionary in any year, but mostly I’m interested in the year of my birth. Here are the words that the US American dictionary added in 1972:

1972 Words
1972 Words
1972 Words
1972 Words

Accretion disk is pretty cool, as is Gaia. We can also see the change of language to recognise women in the work force with congressperson. Of all of these words though I think winningest is my favourite because it is a terrible word that is used by commentators on the NFL shows that I watch. It makes me cringe every time.

View From The Top

I shared a screen clip from the PS4 on Twitter recently. It shows the view from my current build project and looks towards my beach house.

I’ve got a slightly better version if you can’t get to Twitter.

Beach House View
Beach House View

While the structure I am standing on remains top secret I can talk you through what you can see. The green rectangle in the lower left area is my redstone testing area, it’s where I go to practice or test out builds before taking them to their proper installation place. Directly above this in the picture is Beach Station which is just visible but is made of glass and green concrete so it is quite well hidden. The lump of red in the sea is my nether portal. The monolith of obsidian is a monolith of obsidian. Below the red nether portal is a clump of trees with my beach house hidden just behind them. The small wooden structure in a lagoon is the beach bar and above that is my wood farm with height restriction.

Keep a look out for news and maybe a video of the monster build I’m currently working on. I’m currently trying to decide whether to have an external block on the latest layer and I am not quite sure – maybe it should be glass?

Build Plans

At the beginning of the national lockdown I went out for daily exercises with the kids and they talked constantly about Minecraft and I just nodded along. Then, I decided to join in and at least understand what they were talking about. Now, about half a year later, I still don’t always understand what they are talking about but I do at least get some of it. Our second world is progressing well and the luxury now is that we’ve conquered farming and so are able to devote time to “projects”.

I will confess that I have been using a map application to help with guided mining. While cheating I don’t think this is the worst cheat. I also started showing coordinates on screen which feels a little like cheating, but, not the worst as far as I’m concerned. Recently there have been nether tunnels made to progress around the world faster than my minecart railway from the Meadow to the Beach.

A while back I introduced the world to the HOLE via my YouTube channel. I don’t think I wrote about it on these informative pages but I didn’t really have much of an idea what to do. I think the HOLE took about two weeks to dig playing one to two hours a day. Two hours is my limit before I start getting restless.

The bottom of the HOLE is now layered with glass, there are torches placed at the lowest bedrock level and I have also filled a layer of water at the moment to save me dying if I fall into the HOLE. I might or might not remove the water, I’m not sure yet.

I have started a build project in the HOLE. It is going to take some time. So far I think I have spent about a week on it, playing for one to two hours per day. There are a few issues. The main one is resources. After building for a session I am generally out of particular resources and have to spend the next session building those resources up again. It does give me a break from the project I guess and allows me to think about how to design the next stage. The lowest level of the build was almost done as a proof of concept and it looked so good that I decided to carry on. After about a week of building the whole project started to take shape in my head and I now have most of it loosely planned. I know what I am going to do, it’s just a matter of getting the resources and doing the building.

I guess there will be a grand reveal here and on YouTube. I expect this project to take another two weeks to complete the main section of the build. I think it’ll be another couple of weeks after that to build the extras – such as minecart tracks and redstone components. So, given delays and that a national lockdown seems unlikely, this project looks set to last another month. I can’t wait to show people around the project. I will have to come up with some name for it.

HOLE Teaser
HOLE Teaser

Singles Original Soundtrack – Various

This is a hugely influential album to me. I don’t know when I bought it but I do remember laying on the floor in the dark with sunglasses on listening to Drown. I guess this album helped launch the Seattle scene into the world. I had seen Alice In Chains before and owned albums by them so this was an obvious extension. I have seen the film but I don’t know if I saw that before or after the soundtrack purchase.

Singles Soundtrack.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

This is a very summer album and one that fills me with optimism. So many of the songs have made me happy or stuck in my head. Some of the songs scare me into dark places.

Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns is a song that is beautiful and haunting. This along with Drown makes for disturbed listening. This is an album I would consider putting on in the background of a dinner party. I’m not sure if that means a dinner party would horrify me or whether I consider this album to be one which is ripe for general consumption. I think none of the songs are potentially offensive.

The strange thing about the Seattle sound is that it pretty much leaves me cold now. I love this album and I really enjoy a few albums by Alice but overall a lot of this music didn’t really tingle my spine. Pearl Jam enjoyed massive success but just failed to do it for me. Soundgarden is the same. Nirvana was good fun while it lasted but I’m not an overblown fan and now I see the sound as tiresome. This is a shame but there’s only so much space in my head and heart and while this album sticks like sticky shit most of the rest of the upper north west productions have dripped off.

AV Corner

It’s taken a while, in excess of ten years, but I think I have completed AV Corner to a working situation. All the hot technology sits in a corner underneath shelves and has a somewhat restricted airflow. I have bought two or three small fans in the past to try and encourage circulation of air but they have ALWAYS been too noise and stupid. Let me tell you that any desk fan, USB powered, that claims to be silent – is not. I recently purchased some shelves that worked really well in creating separation between the units and the last thing I wanted was a QUIET fan just to help circulate the air.

I must have been bored at work when I searched for AV Fans. I’m not sure why I hadn’t used that search term before but I had always gone for “silent USB fans”. I found a company that makes fan units for AV cabinets and they had some options that would work for me. That company is AC Infinity. So, the thing is that the options they had that would work for me were less than GBP20 and so well worth giving it a go. I ordered the Multifan S7, from Amazon and waited for it to turn up. I am fully aware that I could have made something like this using some PC components but this one was delivered working and there are somethings I don’t want to do. I did consider using my Raspberry Pi as a fan controller and that is still an option but it would require more time than I have at the moment.

The double fan unit turned up and once unpacked I tested it. The fans were indeed very quiet. I was impressed. All I had to do was decide where to place them and how to power them. I have gone for a fan which draws air from the Amp upwards towards the PS4 with the hope that it will be both a little cooler than they have been and then the second fan is placed as a general circulation device to the right of the system.

Decent Fan System - Finally
Decent Fan System – Finally

Both fans are powered from the NVIDIA Shield Pro USB port. This means that when the TV is on the fans will be on. It is very rare that the amp is on by itself and the Shield turns the TV on so even when playing on the PS4 the Shield is powered up. There is an option to keep the USB port power on even while the Shield isn’t powered up but that’s not necessary. The fans are indeed quiet and with the TV playing at normal volume you can’t hear them. When playing the PS4 it doesn’t matter what the TV volume is the PS4 is running at the noise level of a RB199. I might take the PS4 apart and give it a good clean. I’m curious to see whether it is clogged up or not.

Akira (2020 Reissue)

The other night I made sure I went to the cinema because it was the last time I would be able to go to the Cineworld cinema at Rochester for the foreseeable future. I went out of a sense of duty I guess.

I faced quite a problem in deciding which film to see. When I looked at the listings I noticed that Akira was playing and damn I love that film. But there were also some films I hadn’t seen before and maybe it would be better to see a new film rather than one I’ve seen every decade since the late 1980s. Here’s a list of the potentially shitty films I could have seen; After We Collided, Bill and Ted, Saint Maud, Schemers, The New Mutants. I’d already walked out of Tenet and really didn’t want another attempt to see that. I had a conversation with Smith and decided it would be Akira – my fear was that I would fall asleep but it was definitely better than any other film on that evening.

The last time I saw Akira was with Smith at the British Film Institute and I wrote about it in this communication. Until I just looked up that link I didn’t know how far in the past that film trip was. I do know that pretty much every time I watch the film the ending surprises me because I think my brain blocks it out.

The tide was quite high as I drove along the esplanade and I parked in my usual area where there are plenty of spaces but slightly further from the entrance doors. My current parking policy is to park away from entrances and walk, it’s far less stress than finding somewhere close. I had cinema food as dinner – a hot dog, some popcorn and a bag of minstrels, might as well make the most of my last trip. I think I would have liked a massive ice cream but the thought of diabetes kept niggling in the back of my head. After watching the film I would normally rate it on IMDB, but I’ve rated Akira before. The rating system defines that this is a 10/10 film because I have seen it multiple times, bought it on multiple formats and also been to see it at the cinema more than once.

I love this film. It packs so much social commentary into its storyline that it always impresses me. There is always something that happens every time I see this that means the overall movie makes more sense. Except the end. I’m not sure the end every really makes sense to me. I know what is happening but I’m surprised every time.

When I walked out of the cinema I had a real feeling of loss. It felt like the end of an era. I’ve spent so long in that place and have used it as a refuge from my own thoughts at times that I feel a real personal connection with that collection of bricks. I will be sad if it doesn’t open again. I will have to try and find a new cinema and escape venue.

Silver And Gold – A.S.a.P

Way back in the past Adrian Smith decided to leave Iron Maiden and do his own thing. This was a little sad for me as I had always preferred Smith to Murray for some reason and I wondered what Maiden would do to replace him. Smith then went on to produce this solo album and I bought it, except that I didn’t really. At some point Jannick Gers joined Maiden and then Smith came back so now they have three guitarists. Not a classic line up but the longest running line up I guess.

Smith released the single Silver And Gold from the album Silver And Gold and I went to Our Price in the Harvey Centre in Harlow to buy the single on CD. In those days people weren’t trusted to browse real CDs and so the cases were in the shop and the CDs were kept in cardboard wallets in the back of the shop. I guess we were all thieving bastards back then. I took my CD case for the single up to the counter and the person went to the back to get the music disk. Once I’d paid my money and left the shop I looked inside the case and would you believe it?, the shop person had put the CD for the same named album in the case instead of the single CD. I had won “shopping”!

As an album this is, for me, OK. I don’t listen to it often and while I don’t mind it, it’s not something I normally seek out. Sometimes while I write these I have the album playing in the background but I couldn’t even be bothered to do that this time!

Shout At The Devil – Mötley Crüe

I’m pretty sure that a friend of mine, Mark Hodges, gave me this on tape initially. I expect that at some point I went and bought the album but I don’t have my usual clarity on personal album history with this one. I remember liking the Crüe from Girls, Girls, Girls onwards. All that 80s metal came at the right time for my teenage years when humans seem to make most of their musical brain connections. There might be a PhD in there somewhere, I know people ten years older than me who either really love the 70s rock – Pink Floyd – or Ska or Punk, the link between those formative years of brain changing chemistry and the music that rebels at that time seem strong.

I do enjoy this album, I love that trashy L.A. sound but these days I feel slightly embarrassed at the obvious sexism within the industry and songs. I don’t necessarily think that these bands were socially unaware I just think that the zeitgeist was a pretty bad place. Until a few years ago I would have said that the world was heading in the right direction and becoming more tolerant of differences but I’m not so sure now. Hatred seems on the rise and it saddens me. Maybe the only silver lining will be the eventual destruction of most of the population through climate change. Perhaps then those that remain will be able to rebuild a fairer society.

Every Mötley Crüe album has a shit song. It’s almost as though they do it deliberately. There’s Nona on GGG and this album has God Bless The Children Of The Beast. These additions seem to be short songs and utterly terrible. I don’t know why they did it. I’m not sure I care but skip these songs I will.

ShoutattheDevilCD2.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

Have you seen a bunch of men look more scary? The overtly heterosexual band Mötley Crüe going out of their way to shock and horrify the older generations while endearing themselves to the youth of the time by rebelling and scaring the baby boomers. This stuff freaked people out! They thought all this loud music was caused by the devil and tearing their children away from their control. A small secret is that all children seek to provoke and find themselves, they aim to select something to make them different, make them stand out, make them original. The irony of this is that we’ve all been there and some of us tolerate it while others condemn. I’m always curious to see how the next generation finds their “thing”. I’m old enough to have been around the block a few times and have seen the rebellion time and time again. Maybe my professional life helps keep me informed also? The close contact with the next set of teenagers and hearing about how they get their identity. It’s just a shame so many of them seem greedy and a bit “tory”.

If you want to see what shocks the “grown ups” then have a look at the Daily Mail and see what they show of the younger generation. I suspect it’s all about the drugs and parties, especially for the DM because then they can show pictures of young ladies behaving bad and there’s nothing the older DM reader likes more than looking at pictures of young ladies behaving badly. This also goes for the Daily Telegraph. To some extent I think it comes down to the oldies being jealous of the care-free days that they lost and won’t find again. All that awaits is the slow degeneration of bodies into permanently aching lumps of meat before death and so those in charge of society get upset at what they have lost.

I enjoy this album and would recommend it to any of you.

Radiating, Convecting and Blown

Back during my self-isolation period in March I had a shift around in the lounge / entertainment room. I wrote about it in this communication. A part of the entertainment system that has always bothered me is tech-corner. In this corner of the room there are a number of heat producing devices all stacked but separated by two layers of Lego bricks.

Entertainment Corner [asymmetric]
Entertainment Corner [asymmetric]

There is an AV-Amp, the PS4, a Blu-Ray player, PSVR interface ,Nvidia Shield TV Pro and ancillaries. The AV-Amp gets quite warm just by being powered up and the PS4 sounds like a Harrier hovering straight above the house. I have spent occasional minutes searching online for a “stacking system” or something to make this whole collection on electronics a little more stable. Two days ago I tried again and search for hi-fi stands. This produced no helpful results but did lead me to looking at computer monitor stands and laptop stands. I went and found the tape measure and chose a product which seemed like it would do the job well.

Yesterday the stands arrived and I installed them into Tech Corner.

Aeration Stands
Aeration Stands

Although it looks as though there is a large gap above the amp – there is – but the whole point of this was to spread out the devices more. The Blu-Ray player is rarely used, but it works better as a disc player than the PS4 and so will maintain its position in the corner for now. Most movies are either streamed through the internet connection or via the LAN from the NAS Drive. The PS4 now has more radiating space and hopefully air circulation around the corner will be improved. A few years ago I had a small fan in the far corner to push the air around and I might consider that again, if I can find a silent one. It doesn’t need to be a powerful fan, just strong enough to push some of the hot air out of this cave.

The devices in the photograph are slightly different from the March picture. Top to bottom they are:

Blu-Ray Player
250GB SSD – expansion drive for the PS4, to the right of PS4
USB-C hub – for the PS4
PS4
LAN Switch – grey, to the back
AV-Amp – Sony STRDN1080
NVIDIA Shield TV Pro – now “standing” to the left of the Amp
PSVR interface – bottom right
Bloody cables are all over the place, caused by length of cables not matching dimensions of room.

Broken Black Magic Mirror

Every now and then I go through the process of making sure that all the devices in the house are up-to-date and running the latest software. It takes a while, especially some of the more esoteric devices I have, but by the end of it I am happy in the knowledge that everything should be working on the latest standards.

I recently did this with the two Raspberry Pis that I have in the house. One is in the loft and it runs a simple ADS-B receiver sending data to an aggregation site where I am able to track aircraft. The other Pi is in the dining room and was running some Magic Mirror software which took a long time to sort out. I wrote some communications about it. It was good fun doing that coding and trying to get it working how I wanted.

The update I performed on the Pi in the dining room failed. I don’t know why. When I performed a restart the Pi gave me its equivalent of the Blue Screen Of Death and then asked which version of OS I would like to install. Somehow the update screwed up the Pi enough for it to decide to reinstall its OS. This wiped out all the MagicMirror programming I had completed and now I’m lost.

Do I go through the process of the MM again? Do I try to search for a back-up [which I can’t remember doing] and then just install that again or should I start from scratch? Maybe I should try to find something else for the Pi to do? The MM project was fun but not something that I really used a lot. The TV in the dining room is rarely turned on. Maybe I’ll try and find another data aggregation program to install. I don’t know. I just know I want to do something.