Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gear trading

Wow. I just finished over two weeks of selling a lot of my tech gear, partially just to trade it for more. This has been a long time in coming. In buying stuff... I suffer from "mission creep" where I keep adding more and more. At some point I need to clear out the excess and do a bit of a reset.

I sold my 27" 5K iMac, iPad Air 2, early-2015 MacBook, 4 pairs of headphones, and 2 headphone amps. I used eBay for the bigger-ticket items and Craigslist for the lower-value ones.

To replace this stuff, I bought a new 2017 MacBook. Essentially, the new MacBook is replacing my iMac, iPad and old MacBook. My old headphones and headphone amps had already been replaced by a couple pair of Apple AirPods.

My wife and I also swapped out our Series 0 Apple Watches for the latest Series 3 w/LTE. And I did a scheduled phone upgrade from the iPhone 6S Plus to the iPhone 8 Plus. (my wife is holding out for the iPhone X)

I also sprung for a Nintendo Switch and a few games. We have a Wii U that has been obsoleted. For now we're keeping both. The Switch goes in my office.

This all pretty much happened with no money out of pocket. I've been really wanting to downsize my gear for a long time. I finally did it. In spite of the fact that I believe everyone I know would have probably advised me against it. And yes, when you sell used items you certainly take a hit. But Apple stuff has pretty good resale value. And some money for the old stuff is better than no money.

Of course the biggest change for me is getting used to the 12" screen on the MacBook compared to the gorgeous 27" 5K screen that I had on the iMac. But part of the goal here was to decrease the role that computers have in my life. Yes, having a computer is a fact of life. But I have decided that I wish to embrace a form of "minimalism" to where these things don't have more of a role than they need to.

I also think that having my only computer able to go anywhere with me is a bit liberating. No longer will I feel tied to my desk because I feel compelled to "enjoy" my desktop computer. The highest level of functionality I have is now completely mobile. I didn't really use my old MacBook that much because it was always a compromise when compared to the iMac that was sitting right there on my desk. It's now no longer a matter of choosing. I have one iOS device and one macOS device. Problem solved.

First-world problems... yeah sorry. Although it's a big change to my little world.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Well that didn't last long

A couple months ago I bought a wireless speaker from Harman/Kardon called the Onyx. That speaker has now failed on me. I am beyond the refund window, so Harman/Kardon was going to replace it. Well, honestly I wasn't that impressed. So I had another idea.

After I'd initially ordered that speaker, I noticed that Harman/Kardon is still selling the Soundsticks 2.1 setup (pictured below). I used to have a set like these when I bought my first Mac back in 2002. So there is some sense of nostalgia. 

The Soundsticks happened to be exactly the same price as the Onyx. So I talked them into sending me the Soundsticks to replace the failed Onyx. Yes, it's possible they chose style over substance. But I believe this 2.1 setup will out-perform the Onyx.



Friday, June 9, 2017

In search of good sound

I just got a new wireless speaker for my desk at home. I wasn't necessarily in the market for one... but this popped up in my twitter feed as a "deal". I recognize Harman/Kardon as a quality audio brand. And it was discounted about $350 off regular price. I think one could safely say it was originally overpriced. But after the discount it's probably just about right. One selling point for me... it has Airplay built in. So I can play to it from my computer or my phone, seamlessly and lossless.



Monday, May 8, 2017

Apple all the way...

I'm not sure why I did it. Perhaps it had something to do with an app on my iPhone that would allow import of a photo... but only from my Apple photo app... not my Google Drive. But I figured I'd be better off being completely in the Apple ecosystem.

I just spent the last 24 hours or so migrating all my data from Google Drive back over to the Apple iCloud. And at the very last, I even moved all my Gmail mail and contacts over to Apple's email service. This is something I was pretty sure I would never do.

So now I am 100% back on the Apple ecosystem. I never really thought I would go back to the Apple iCloud email. The main drawback it has... I can't send email as if I'm at my own domain. Gmail allows that. At one time this was pretty important to me. I own three domains and I want to be able to send email as-if from those domains. But I figured what the heck. I suppose I can live with elden.f@icloud.com. So that's the address my email will be from from now on.

I suppose I should have less hassle now. Everything is Apple. I'm no longer connected to anything Google on my devices and/or computers. I still have some Google docs. And I really like Google docs. But what I have left there are pretty much just backups of stuff I've migrated back over to the iCloud.

In theory things should be pretty nice doing the 100% Apple thing. We'll see. I know that it's not the absolute best cloud service out there, but I think it should be alright. Sometimes the path of less hassle is the best.

Friday, April 14, 2017

VMware

I've been a little bored lately. And my allowance fund has been building for awhile. So I decided to spring for VMware for my iMac along with a memory upgrade to make it a workable thing.

My iMac (which is the latest higher-end model) only came with 8GB of RAM. Some of the iMac models are not even upgradable. Mine is. I had four slots with only two used. At any rate, I replaced my two 4GB sticks with four 8GB sticks for a total of 32GB. That should be enough for some virtual machine fun.

I now have 12 different operating systems installed in VMware. I bought a license for Windows 10... the rest are all Linux. Oh, and FreeBSD just for kicks.

Not sure what I'm going to do with these except just play around. One thing I learned from my previous experience with ChromeOS. And that is, if you have all your data in the cloud, pretty much any computer is a ChromeBook/ChromeBox. That's because if you have a browser, you have everything right there, regardless of the operating system you happen to be running. So any of these operating systems will serve me equally well, as long as I use a browser that supports my LastPass password manager.

Actually, I find macOS to be pretty sweet. And I really have no need to use anything else. It's all just for grins I suppose.



Saturday, April 1, 2017

Node radio revisited

I will say, messing with the Baofeng 888 radios was a major pain. The main problem was actually getting the second radio from the seller (KD8MST). And when I finally did get it, it didn't work correctly. So I disassembled both my new (non-working) radio and my old (working) radio to see what the difference was in the wiring.

Both these radios were modified and a cable was wired into the circuit boards to facilitate use as a node radio. I opened them up and sent pictures of the wiring to the seller in hopes that he could identify the problem. He didn't see any problem, but confessed he may have used the wrong pin-out on the other end of the cable.

The problem I had... once I disassembled these two radios... I could not get them back together. So I simply tossed them both in the trash and wrote the whole thing off as a failed experiment.

I went back to my trusty Alinco node radio with my DB9 A/B switch. Everything is working great. There are only two minor inconveniences.

1) I need to switch back and forth between nodes (having only one node radio to share between nodes instead of each node having it's own radio).

2) I need to remember to switch on my muffin fan when I'm connected up to something in order to keep the Alinco cool in case the system I'm connected to gets busy. However I did replace my previous fan with one that is now less noisy.

The Baofeng node radio idea really was an experiment. The first one I had worked great. But as I pointed out to KD8MST, my tolerance level for frustration on these things is quite low. I just don't need the grief. And while the Baofeng solution was much cheaper than what I was using before... I already had a working solution that was perfectly acceptable.

I am truly an "appliance operator" type ham. I want things to just work. I'm not in it that much for the tinkering, but more for the communication aspect. I enjoy having a good conversation. And having a chat with someone you don't know can be interesting, fun, and also good practice.