Thursday, June 30, 2016

Exodus And Chill

One minute ago, I cancelled my entire Netflix account.

I was a Netflix member since 2005.

I'm not upset with Netflix or anything. Their premier programming like House of Cards is awesome and I still intend to watch future episodes. Their content is vast and their interface is pretty streamlined. And, it's not entirely economics either since I can still afford it.

But Kodi and the Exodus app has shown me the way.

I used to rankle at the thought of piracy but it's so commonplace now and so easy it starts to make you question your intelligence if you aren't doing it.

I mean, it's not really like the old style definition of piracy or stealing you know. File sharing is just that, sharing. As far as I can tell, no streamer yet has asked me for money. So I equate it to going over to a friends house for Netflix and Chill. We watch Netflix on his TV through his account but I don't pay a subscription. Or if I went to a friends house and we watched his DVD or Blu-Ray. I didn't buy it. Or a friend let me use their ROKU or cable or whatever while they're away from home and I'm house-sitting. These are all free usage situations. It's not even as "grey area" as when I was renting from that guy in Lake Mary and he included "free cable" in my rent (even though it was really just a connection to his cable).

Will the app last forever? Will the "law" crackdown on them? Could I be fined, or worse?

I'll worry about all that another day.

For today, I view free.

The Mildreds

Getting prepared for this weekend's major upgrade, I spent a few hours (yes, I enjoy doing crap like this) making up a spreadsheet listing the specs for each of my Mildreds (PCs) I've owned over the years.

This timeline follows the general growth of the PC since the early 90s quite well since I've upgraded so frequently. Finances and circumstances didn't always mean my PC at any given time was very up-to-date, or even better than the one I had before, but my ownership of at least a PC for almost a quarter of a century has been quite consistent.

Click for larger image

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Creating A Frankenputer

It looks like after much research, I should be able to assemble a new Frankenputer creation after my new video card arrives this upcoming weekend. Since so much is likely to change, she'll be dubbed Mildred XVII.

It'll be XVI, basically, with the, of course, screaming-fast 1070 GPU, but it looks like it'd benefit better from a swap out of its i5 3470 with Mildred XV's i7 2600.

I thought when I got the new gaming rig last September that since the i5 was newer and higher in number it would automatically be better. Not so. In my recent scanning of PassMark results of high-end CPUs, higher number isn't nearly as good as higher model...ie, i7s invariably beat out i5s in almost all cases.

Also, I'm running low on HD space so I think I'll be installing at least one of the two 500GB drives from XV.

Another thing I was worried about was either of my CPUs ability to meet minimum spec requirements for my "soon" to-be-delivered Oculus Rift. Well here's the PassMark ranking for each. Notice the Oculus minimum i5 has a higher number than mine but lower performance.

My best CPU: i7 2600 = 8262
The current rig CPU: i5 3470 = 6565
Oculus Rift recommended minimum: i5 4590 = 5475

I'll report how it goes but it looks like my green glowing monster will be soon jolted to new heights. I'll be sure to appropriately scream out "It's Alive!"

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Still Pertinent And Hilarious

I remember when the Broadway debut of Avenue Q made headlines with its sold-out performances and award winning production I wanted so bad to see it. And when it later had a permanent Las Vegas home I thought it might be the perfect show to see whenever I got there.

But just before I made my first trip out to Vegas, the production there closed and I thought I might never get to see this rip-roaring send up of a Sesame Street-esque neighborhood with muppet-like characters and all, dealing with adult themes of sexuality, relationships, racism and disillusionment.

Luckily it's still performed and was magnificently so done this afternoon by a downtown Orlando troupe I've not heard of before. Mad Cow Theater, right smack-dab in the heart of our City Beautiful, is a small venue but not small in heart and skill. I think I'll become a regular patron for sure.

My $35 admission could easily have been double that and I would have been totally satisfied. The theater itself, though only about a hundred seats or so is perfect for the "every seat is the best seat" model and the seats themselves are actually very comfortable (I'm looking at you Bob Carr and Plaza Live). My only complaint was, as usual, the heat. Yes the oldies were the majority in the audience (can't imagine what they thought of puppets having sex on stage) and we can't get them too cold don't 'cha know.

The singing and acting were on-point.The lighting and sound were phenomenal. The orchestra was superb. What more can I say. I beamed a wide grin from beginning to end. Although...(oh oh)..no, it wasn't such a big thing, but...the second act dragged just a tad. But what made up for it were some really great singing performances which broke away from the faux kiddy-ditty style of many of the songs in the first act.

So many of the themes in the show are still entirely pertinent as well which is amazing since it's 15 about 15 years since its debut. Although the part where they sing about the "Internet is for Porn" is no longer a thing of course, right? I mean, the internet has matured a lot since the early 2000s.

Er, um, NOT!! The internet is still, and forever will be mainly for porn...Hallelujah! What ya think I'm gonna do after this post? Ew...TMI!

The show has a strong LGBT storyline running through it with the surrogate Ernie and Bert puppets (Nicky and Rod) and their complicated, closet-bound relationship. Through the performance they grapple with defining not only their feelings towards each other but especially Rod struggles with self-depreciation and denial but in the end things work out for the boys as they quickly make haste to engage in a winked-at possible threeway with a Nicky look-alike.

The performance wraps with the ultimate reminder that the true purpose in life is to live "For Now" which isn't meant to be shallow, but, as the entirety of the show teaches us, to make decisions and perform acts in our lives to better others, our communities and ourselves which make life enjoyable and fulfilling in all of our "for now" moments.

This troupe does a Q&A session with the audience after the show which I didn't stay for...it's very late in my night you know...maybe next time. But I did contribute $20 to a charity they took up collection for as we made our exit, the Zebra Foundation for Youth which helps in providing support programs for young LGBT+ individuals. So perfect a cause, especially for our city right now.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Virtually Possible

After much research, I staked my claim today in the VR world and bought a new video card and a VR headset. It should be enough to fully immerse me in the digital 3-D realm. And at over $1000 total, it better be.

The card is the brand-spankin'-new (ie, just released 15 days ago) NVIDIA GTX 1070 ($429.99). Here's how it rates on Passmark. Notice my current card (orange star), a GTX 760 and how much better this new one's gonna be (blue star). Oh shnikie! No game shall be played in anything but ULTRA.


Here's the glossy spec card of the card for all to gaze in awe upon:


And the nitty gritty specs:


The VR headset...well, the Vibe did have its merits. I really want 360 degree immersion and that Google Tilt Brush application looks just, well, freaking awesome indeed. But my room's too small and I'm not putting my rig in the living room so....oh, and there's the $200 price difference too...I went with the Oculus Rift ($599).


The card will arrive from Newegg in about a week. The Rift, well, the order says TBD but the website suggests August. So I got plenty of wait time.

I feel like a kid anxiously waiting for Christmas.:)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I'm Part Of Visual History Now?


So I see that news sites have been using the above Getty Image stock photo taken last Sunday night as a representation of the crowd at the candlelight vigil. I think of Getty Images as the modern-day version of LIFE magazine photos in the 20th century.

If you look close, you can see me in this crowd. I'm the bald guy in glasses partially hidden by the "LOVE" sign. I'm right above the "E".



Ric, Zach, John and Savannah are there too. All pretty much in the center of the pic.

Wild.

Monday, June 20, 2016

#OrlandoStrong

Last night Ric and I joined up with Zach and his BF John  and then met up with Zach's friend Savannah and her daughter Ari. Together we were six of the estimated 50,000 people who turned out to honor the memory of the victims of the Pulse tragedy as well as express our enduring devotion to the unity of our our diverse and proud Orlando community.


The above pic was taken at last night's event by a former coworker I worked with at Symantec almost a decade ago. Since he's still a Facebook friend, I was able to see this on his page. We've not been in touch since 2008. If you had really great vision, you'd be able to see I'm among the crowd just to the right of center. No, I don't see me, I just know by the juxtaposition of the landmarks that I'm somewhere in there.

But it just goes to show you, how interconnected we are. A person I last had dealings with so long ago had a near brush with me in the present because we are one enduring community.

Having gone to this event right after a work night, I was a bit bleary eyed but maintained alertness throughout. Awesome hardly conveys the true scope of the vigil. The smattering of a late afternoon shower as the bulk of participants were starting to assemble at the park brought forth, beautifully and appropriately enough, a bright rainbow in the sky which seemed to be directly above the park.

We positioned ourselves after a bit of maneuvering right in front of the half-shell stage (albeit several yards back behind the fir tree-rimmed burm that rises to the rear of the actual performance area seating) as seen in the photo and via the loudspeakers we heard luminary after luminary espouse their affection for the friends and family of the victims as well (and perhaps pointedly so) as the greater Orlando LGBTQ community as a whole.

As dusk fell, our collective lights shined as thousands and thousands of candles formed what surely, from the perspective of the helicopters hovering above, looked like an enormous illuminated wreath encircling the entire lake with twinkling lights of love.

The victims names were read out, one by one and I saw and heard many cries of pain, but hopefully of gratitude as well for this awesome turnout in their honor.

I'm so glad I attended since I'd been so down in the dumps about so many things, but especially the cruelty of this crime and a reinforced attitude of despair for all mankind. But this event did much to nullify a lot of those feelings and got me feeling like this ol' world of ours might just have a chance after all. Like a candle flame in the slight wind of last night, it's hard to keep this light from being snuffed out, but I guess I'll give it a try.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Speechless

What can I say?

This has been my response to the question of why I've not posted anything in a while. And the horrors of this weekend only serve to reinforce that answer.

Working the night shift does more to a person like myself with social awkwardness issues to further distance me from the rest of humanity. It's not just a job, it's a lifestyle. One in which isolation and disorientation to almost all other people becomes easier if not preferred.

Add to the mix my possibly genetic misanthropy (I have a theory), my enduring physical disabilities limiting most activities (I'm not going to hop on a bike and join Ric on his treks), my hardcore beliefs in atheism and existentialism and, of course, my alcoholism and well, I'm not too keen on belting out "Kumbaya" in a hand-holding circle any time soon.

The fact I work in the field of mental illness is yet another layer of alienation. Over the years in my experience, I've learned there's a razor thin line separating sanity from the alternative. And part of me questions whether anyone is truly sane. Maybe, just maybe, evolution of our species favoring the hyper-development of our brains has "progressed" too far and for the past few millennia we've started going "over the top" to the point where we're now all fucked. We're all born with a degree of insanity and there's no turning back. Evolution is not always favorable to the ultimate survival of an organism. Many times, history has shown, it's been a species' downfall leading it directly to extinction.

I sit here still reeling from the Pulse nightclub massacre here in my hometown and I just don't know what to say.

I kinda just want to lie in bed and sleep. Sleep for hours, days, weeks, years. Sleep until nothing matters anymore. Until nothing can hurt me anymore.

Oh don't worry. This isn't me surrendering. I'm not about to lie down and die. But I'm also not going to scream out for revenge. These two responses to stress can both lead down a path to self-destruction. But I can't think of an appropriate coping action right now. I'll leave that intelligent option to be posited by others out there. I know they're there. Some of us are still only mildly insane and can lead the way for the others of us. I hope. I can only hope. Is it too much to hope for?