MonkeyLinkMega

MonkeyLinkMega and Skippy

Bruh.

Bro. My guy. My dude. Twelve years old, and schooling me on fighting games, slang, and ESPECIALLY rhythm. Quick to point out that he knows more than me about the Nintendo Switch – and he does – and that things are much better now than when I was a kid – which they are.

Monkey is a gamer. Fortnite, Smash Bros, Dead by Daylight, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Warframe, Dauntless, Roblox, Minecraft… if it’s competitive, he’s in there, at the top of his lungs, making it happen.

He’s joined the video game club at his school to spread the digital gospel, and is making them in class, to write a few verses of his own. He likes to stream with me, especially if he gets to teach me one of his games, like Totally Accurate Battle Simulator. (Da Vinci tank for life!)

When things get serious, he wants to be in the know. He likes to be informed; he likes to be involved. He’s stepped up countless times when his mother has needed his help, and is vigilant for me not taking enough care of myself. He learned how to make my coffee, even though he doesn’t like it, just to help out. He cooks with me, too, and makes some serious pesto sauce.

In a couple of months, he’ll be old enough to samurai slice CoryxKenshin’s like button with his own account.

I’m proud of him, and I love him, and my world is better for him being in it. I hope he always remembers that.

A Better Way

The consumer nightmare of Black Friday is not something I enjoy, participate in, or really, condone. From the perspective of the kids’ mom, it’s an opportunity to get the kids Christmas/Yule gifts that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Heck, it’s a way to get stuff for the house that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. And for a long time, we were living so very paycheck-to-paycheck, that I couldn’t argue that.

Cup from Halo Burger

This year, I had the opportunity to head up north, and spend the weekend with my parents and my brother, instead. I jumped on that like Captain America on a live grenade. I spent the drive listening to my still-way-too-far-behind podcast list, and stopped for Halo Burger on the way. It had been WAY too long. They put actual olive slices on their olive burgers, and not some mostly-mayo might-be-one-piece-of-olive-in-it sauce. AND they will swap out any beef patty with turkey! So I had an olive turkey burger with a side of tater tots, and it was all of the yums!

(Just a quick note here, I am fully vaccinated and wear a mask at all times when I’m in public, unless actively eating or drinking. COVID-19 is still out there, so there is still reason to be safe. At the time of this trip, Michigan had the most cases of any state in the U.S., so you bet your butt I was being as safe as possible.)

Grill in snow

When I arrived, the catching up began immediately. We swapped stories, complained about nonsensical TV commercials, talked a little bit of tech, and groused a bit about our various medical conditions.

The next day involved a trip to Suzie’s Brews, some writing, some hanging out with my brother, my sister-in-law, and nephew, and most of all, a birthday dinner for my mom!

Steaks on the grill

My Dad had purchased some truly ridiculous steaks, and we grilled them out in the snow. 1.5 inches thick of tender, marbled steak goodness. We slowly cooked it to medium while Dad and Brother quietly disagreed about flipping often or flipping sparingly. I sipped coffee, breathed in the smell of cooking steak, and just relaxed.

If you know me, you know that relaxing is a challenge to me. Hilariously ironic.

Dad left his on the grill for a bit longer while we let the others rest to somewhere near medium-well. They were AMAZING. Just as good as the conversation, the times spent with my nephew, and the family history that was all around us. The drive back the next day was a little harrowing, as there was some snow and ice, but I made it back okay.

What’s the lesson here? Is it that if you skip Black Friday, you can have great relaxation time with family and high quality steaks?

Maybe.

A Fresh Change

Mint Mobile mailer

Let’s be honest here, my primary motivation to change cell carriers was to save money. I’ve been paying T-Mobile a LOT of money for many, many years. I’ve gotten advertisements for CREDO mobile in the past, and I’ve looked into GoogleFi and Ting. At the time, I was still part of a big family plan, and the other members of the family were not interested in trying out new carriers.

Mint Mobile mailer inside

Now, with the divorce coming down the pipe, switching carriers provides both for an easy billing split and an opportunity for me to try something new. Enter Mint Mobile, and their $15 per month plan. It seemed entirely too good to be true, so I did some research.

They’re on T-Mobile’s network. They use pre-paid plans, and after the introductory period (3 months), you need to sign up for a year at a time to get the $15 per month rate. There’s no contract. There’s no brick-and-mortar store. Ryan Reynolds is one of the owners. (I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t cool.) If you want to bring your current phone to their network, they have a compatibility checker so you can know ahead of time if it’ll work. In fact, they encourage it. Mine was fully compatible, despite its age.

So, how is the service, really? I can’t comment on their 5G service or coverage, because my phone doesn’t support it. Their 4G LTE service, on the other hand, is just as stable as T-Mobile was. That’s unsurprising, I guess, because Mint uses T-Mobile’s network. The app they use to make the switch, to track data usage, and to make changes to your plan, is simple, straightforward, and a pleasure to use. Did you hear that? An app! That’s a pleasure for this old guy to use! I might be overstating, but IT IS A MIRACLE! EXCLAMATION POINT!

I’ve nearly completed my first month of service, and I can say that the biggest drain on my data usage is using my phone as a hotspot. When the kids want to DJ from a tablet on a car ride, or when I’m outside the laundromat, the data gets drained pretty quickly. I’m not sure what exceptions were going on with my T-Mobile plan that allowed me to get away with less usage before, but I know they had a few labyrinthine “what actually counts as data usage” rules in place.

Would I recommend this service? Yes, if you’re trying to save money, I definitely recommend it. BUT, be knowledgeable about how much data you’re using beforehand, so you don’t get any surprises. Would I mind upgrading to the next plan up for more data? Not at all, as I’d still be saving a ridiculous amount of money every month in comparison with T-Mobile.

Project Computron

Autobot Computron

Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary friends across the spectrum, this new project, which I’ve dubbed Project Computron, is a meta-project. That’s right! It’s a project that will enable other projects!

Since work is pushing us to learn and use Kubernetes, I have decided that I am going to set up a cluster here at home. But, to have a cluster, I will need multiple machines! And a better wireless setup between my flat (second floor) and where the servers live (the basement). So! First step of prep is to set up a second machine. Well, I’ve been wanting to set up a PeerTube server for a while, so let’s just build that. Behold! My Mastadon toots on my progress!

And with that, the server is ready to go.

What’s a Glimesh?

Short answer, it’s a streaming platform, modeled after Beam/Mixer, which is in its alpha phase of development.

Long answer, here’s what it says on their website:

Glimesh logo

Glimesh is the next generation streaming platform built by the community for the community. We know establishing a following is hard, and the hours are long. Our platform focuses on increasing discoverability for content creators and implementing the latest in streaming technology to level the playing field. We understand the importance of interaction between content creators and their fans, and we’re dedicated to innovating new ways to bring communities closer together.

https://glimesh.tv/about

Why is that something that I’m talking to you about? Well, you may remember how I have irritated is has made me to stream on the major platforms over the past few years. If no, here’s the saga up to this point:

Here are the alternative streaming platforms that I’ve tried:

The platform is in active development, and the developers have both a coherent roadmap and a firm idea of what they want the platform to be. They are resistant to corporate ownership and cryptocurrency schemes. The alpha software that they’ve rolled out is more solid than Twitch, for the features they’ve implemented. After my previous attempts to move, it seemed too good to be true.

Then, you know, Twitch did Twitch things.

So, of course, I made the move. I tested for a month or two, one night a week, and then I fully moved over. I can always move back, if this one ends up being a lemon as well. So far, I’ve been super pleased with the platform every time I’ve streamed there. If you want to join my friends and I, we’ll be here:

https://glimesh.tv/skipfordj

Come on over on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and on the weekend!

You talk TV?

It’s been pretty easy not buying new Transformers lately. I’d like to say that it was an example of willpower, or a flexing of my massive self-control. Or, maybe, I’d diverted my desire to buy toys into a selfless focus on my children. Yeah, I’d like to say all that.

I can’t, though. There simply haven’t been any interesting ones on the shelves lately. Like everything else, it’s likely been impacted by the supply chain difficulties and labor shortage across the board. (And when I say labor shortage, what I mean is that as of today, 718,681 Americans have died of COVID-19 in the past two years. This isn’t politics, this is a fact.) So, when I saw a whole new shipment of toys in my local Meijer, I let myself get a little bit hopeful.

Studio Series Wreck-Gar in box

Lo and behold, there were racks of new Transformers on the shelves! Now, we’ve already established that I am pretty picky when it comes to which bits of plastic and die-cast metal I’ll spend my greenbacks on. But when I saw three Studio Series 1986 boxes on the top shelf, I may have startled my kids with and excited squee. MAY HAVE. You can’t prove anything. Meijer had two Sweeps… and a Wreck-Gar.

Cue a second startling of the kids, and an intense debate on whether or not I should spend money on the ONE copy of the figure that I was most excited for in the entire Studio Series line. So, yes, I bought it.

Studio Series Wreck Gar vehicle mode

This toy does not disappoint. Its transformation is intuitive enough that I was able to transform from vehicle to robot modes and back without using the instructions the second time around. The detail is amazing. The tires are slightly different sizes, there is a speedometer and tachometer, the handlebars look like handlebars, the gas tank and saddlebags are convincing enough. His spinny axe has a place to stow in vehicle mode, and he’s even got a kickstand that is hidden away perfectly in robot mode. To quote my youngest son, “Dad, there’s no kibble. Like, NONE.”

Studio Series Wreck Gar robot mode

Joints are plentiful and tight, except for one of the 360 degree waist joints, which is a little too loose. The wheels and the axe fit snugly in all of the places that they’re supposed to. Transformation is smooth, and there are no moments when I feel like I need to break the toy just to get it to do the thing. The wheels roll over carpet and upholstery just fine, though don’t on wood floors and desks. (I, mean, c’mon, off-roading nubs!) Best of all, it’s designed so that if you have two of them, one in robot mode can ride one in motorcycle mode, just like the movie!

I have always been in awe of the Junkions‘ ability to repair themselves and others with nothing but the junk on their planet. As an adult, I’ve definitely come to prefer used things to new, and prefer repairing to replacing. I can’t say that it was directly inspired by Wreck-Gar and his friends, but with the number of times I’ve re-watched that movie, I can’t rule it out, either.

So, right down to the nipple guns, this figure hits all of the nostalgia points, in alphabetical order. It’s a toy of good make and significantly more detail than I’m used to for its price point. I highly recommend it!

[Fan Fiction] Iteration SkipfordJ

SkipfordJ NMS

Divergent Korvax designated SkipfordJ was dedicating most of their processor cycles to pondering while they managed incoming and outgoing freighter missions. Their fleet was modest, but provided more than enough profit to please the Gek aboard their capital ship.

Their bases were expanding across three galaxies, and their knowledgebase expanded as quickly as they explored. This generated a satisfaction that might be described as “happiness” by the organic Travellers they had encountered.

SkipfordJ still envied the Korvax that remained connected to the Convergence, and thus were one with the Atlas. They knew, however, that their status as a Traveller, and everything that they’d learned about the Atlas, made that impossible. As SkipfordJ had no memories of being one with their people’s hive mind, they were unable to weigh the benefits of each state of being against each other.

Additionally, their learning continued along routes that would otherwise be forbidden. The “authentic” AtlasPass v3 that they’d received from another Traveller had allowed access to information about the Atlas’ creation, its purpose, and the circumstances that led to its current state.

16 16 16 16

There was currently no way to determine how long it would take inside the multiverse for sixteen minutes to pass for the Atlas. Dedicating processor cycles to the effort would be a waste of resources until more data became available. So, SkipfordJ would do what they had always done. Collect data.

The giant ring structures that hinted at Sentinel malfunction would likely be a worthwhile target for complimentary research. The degradation of the Atlas was likely the cause of both the thinner barriers between universes and the increasingly erratic behavior of the Sentinels.

Oh, how they longed to share historical and experiential data with Nada. Ever since they’d met, SkipfordJ had wondered about the sheer volume of multiversal data that Nada must possess. What had Nada been able to analyze? What conclusions had they come to? How much had been forgotten as their anomalous space station carried them from universe to universe to universe?

SkipfordJ sent completed mission orders to each of the frigate captains, and watched them each engage their warp engines, destined for different locations in this galaxy. It was time to collect, sort, aggregate, and analyze.

Visiting

I visited friends today. I made a trip to Lansing to drop off some stuffs and hang with some good people. Oh, and let’s not forget the coffee and the food. So good.

It was difficult, and ultimately really, really worth it, to come out of my apartment and spend time with people outside of my usual bubble. My tendency to hermit is strong, and it’s been enhanced by the pandemic. I think spending time out and about for my mid-week visits with the kids made this trip much easier than it could have been.

I was able to fit in visiting with three different people, my favorite chicken strip joint, sushi, and three hours of driving (round trip), and still got home before 10. All without feeling rushed! While my social batteries feel drained, I also feel refreshed.

This feels like a win.