Sizing Up Your Read

sizing up books.png
This pic is a screenshot

While e-book shopping the other morning I couldn’t help but notice this image. Why in the world does Bezos & Co. think it necessary to provide a size-comparison of a friggin book as part of their tech-enormity galore? Then again, considering that this corpo-giant is what it is because, well, at this state (iteration) of capitalism run-amok, the day of the scavengers has arrived. So. I guess. Sizing up books seems as good a tech-idear as any.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo Tech Test 1: RPi OMV NAS Is First Step To Freedom?

RPi OMV server
RPi-3B+ OMV NAS (sorry for worstwriter’s lack of photo skills).

Would you believe, dear worst-reader, that I spent the last few weeks reading up on SBC’s (single board computer) because…

  1. these little (miracle) devices are so silly-inexpensive AND extremely useful that I can just keep buying them in order to busy my early-retirement existence,
  2. I already have three of them in full use so why not change-up a bit w/ something different like a Rock64?
  3. I’m all poo-poo on Apple on account it’s going full stupid w/ its iOS Krapp.

But I digress.

As of a few weeks back I now have a rockin’ OpenMediaVault NAS running on a RPi 3B+. Connected to it are 2x2TB USB external HDDs that I’ve had lying around. One of the drives is currently being tested as a TimeMachine backup server for all my Macs–and it’s been working great so-far! FYI, even though I possess the capability of offering TM backups on my ageing MacPro with Apple’s MacOS Server App (and only that app), after various attempts using it, I’ve decided it’s a no-go. TM, Apple Macs, home network, etc., don’t really work well together–even though such a claim is sacrilegious as an Apple fan-boy. The reality is, I have never been able to set up my home network–most likely due to krappy networking of ISP issued home router–so that any of my Macs at any given time can access the network for a TM backup. For whatever reason (beyond my comprehension) there has always been network access issue prohibiting TM from working. Put another way: the MacOS Server App, combined with krappy ISP routers, sucks bat-balls!

The second drive of my OMV NAS has a copy of my digital music library, which is my entry-way to perhaps creating a media server for the future–that will replace my ageing MacPro. To play that music I’m using a RPi3 with a Hifiberry Amp2 connected to it (see pic below). My music player -of-choice is Volumio. FYI, I am currently experiencing the best audio/stereo listening of my life with this set-up. Obviously I’m old school when it comes to listening to music which also means so-called smart speakers are not on my consume-to-survive radar anytime soon! Yeah. Smart speakers suck bat-balls, too.

 

 

(Pics of my 3 RPi’s: w/ OMV (ext HDDs left); w/ Hifiberry DAC+Pro used as a Plex client for work-room TV; w/Hifiberry Amp2 and Volumio.)

I have a third RPi as a RasPlex client which is attached to my TV. FYI we don’t have any sort of TV connection to the outside world. I use the TV as a screen for work (presentations) and for streaming w/ Plex and sometimes AppleTV. I guess that means I’m a cord-cutter. Keep in mind, for the last ten or so years we’ve been an Apple household but recent Apple product announcements (especially from 2018), not to mention the rip-off of iTunes, have convinced me to stay the course in my choice of maintaining my own media library.

The pseudo-tech-test.

The question I’m currently asking is how capable is an SBC? Up to this point, using a RPi 3B+ for NAS, experimenting with old HDDs connected via USB 2.0, figuring out Openmediavault, etc., has proven to be viable. Although skeptical of the RPi’s limited ethernet bandwidth that is dependent on USB 2.0, at this point the system works without flaw. There were some glitches when I used an old duel HDD case set to JBOD. The RPi/OMV was unable to access the drives. Since then I’ve acquired two HDD cases with separate power sources. Such a setup is space consuming and requires lots of electric sockets; luckily I have both in abundance.

Indeed. Linux here I come!

I was on the verge of ordering a Rock64 SBC the other day thinking that the RPi’s network capability was too weak. The Rock64 has true gigabyte ethernet–whereas the RPi, dependent on USB 2.0, has only around a third of that. But then I came to my senses. According to my worst-research the Rock64 might be a bit too much for my NAS needs. Up to now I’ve just gotten over certain learning curves of both the RPi and OMV. And even though I’m not using RPi/OMV for streaming video, it has passed with flying colours both backup networking and audio networking.

In short, so far, I am able to backup three Macs, stream music to my Volumio client and also stream HD audio (96khz-24bit) to my Mac using VLC and then playing that music through a TEAC amp (very loudly) via USB–all at the same time. That means I had multiple devices streaming from the RPi-OMV NAS–with its limited Ethernet–and everything worked great.

OMV sys info.jpg

Conclusion (so-far): there is no need to run out and by a higher-end SBC. At least not yet! As soon as I can figure out how to do it, I’ll install Plex on OMV and then do the same test but with video. Needless to say, I am encouraged so far w/ everything SBC. My limited tech skills are able to fiddle-faddle with these Linux devices and even connect hardware (RPi + Hifiberry) here and there to make things not just work but work really, really well. The main task at hand is to find a viable ersatz for Apple. Why, you ask? Because, well, Apple is seriously starting to suck once again–just like it sucked before Steve Jobs returned. As long as I can easily and conveniently backup my Macs, have access to a file server, and have great audio from my digitised music collection, I can’t imagine having to stick with Apple and it preposterous über-expensive shinny unicorn stuff in the future.

Rant on.

-T

Tourist Advice From A Croatian Olive Grower

Pics:

  • Passed a rock that looked like it had a blood stain and I was riding around without a helmet
  • Three rusted wheelbarrows
  • Charger GX Touring in front of a Croatian village sign
  • The fifth largest Roman Colosseum in the world is in Pula
  • James Joyce was here!

Although unable to snap a few pictures of the olive farm we went to yesterday on account it was raining like crazy, at least we now have eight bottles of delicious Croatian olive oil to take back to Germany, which we will use for salads, flavouring and, as recommended, for toping vanilla ice cream. That’s right, dear worst-reader. Did you get that? That’s the advice from our friendly olive grower after I asked what I should do with olive oil that is too good and too expensive for cooking. She said to get your favourite vanilla ice cream and eat it with a few drops of olive oil on top. Since I’m not a big vanilla fan I immediately asked if it will go well with pistachio ice cream. Although she never tried it with pistachio, she thought it a good idear. Btw, between the olives, the grapes and the truffles–and the things you can do with all three–Istria, Croatia, has got to be one of the finest places to hang out if you’re into all things fine that won’t break the bank. Even though the weather has kind of turned on us the past two days–it rained cats & dogs last night–we’re still enjoying it here. The air is fresh, the views are brilliant and if a neighbour gives you a few fresh Anchovies all you have to do is slightly coat them with flower, add a touch of salt and pepper, and fry them up in olive oil. After the little fish are browned to perfection, all that’s left is to add a fresh salad and glass of local red wine. While enjoying it all, though, I couldn’t help but think of the one more piece of advice we received from a very friendly olive grower.

“Don’t come here in the summer. It’s hell here in the summer. Too many tourists. Too many!” -A Croatian olive grower

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

Speeders Beware

speeding ticket Croatia

I should consider myself lucky, I guess. I mean, if the Croatian police officer with the fine penmanship could read my mind about what I was thinking at the moment I received my first speeding ticket in this really, really, beautiful, picturesque country, I’d be in jail right now. But I kept my cool. I paid my fine by credit card and I moved on heeding the officers warning as he returned my papers and gave me the receipt: “you drive slower now.” Indeed. After driving around Istria for a few hours the other day, on the return to our villa, after about a five kilometre downhill trek, penmanship police officer waved me over at the base of the mountain. Of course I was going too fast. I was driving down a fcuking mountain! Although I can’t remember how many times within that five kilometre downhill stretch the speed-limit changed between 40, 50 and 70 km/h, I was obviously in a 50 zone doing 74 when his speed-gun caught me. Yeah, he was even kind enough to show me the speed gun. Did I mention that I was only a few hundred metres away from the base of the mountain? Oh well. So that’s what they do in Croatia, eh. Be warned those who might come here by car. They wait for the tourists to struggle between engine braking or over-heating your disc brakes and if you let go of either for a just a second or two, perhaps while conversing with someone in the car, the downhill slope of 10-15% degrees will rocket your vehicle to excess before you know it. There were at least four other cars behind me doing the same speed but not one of them was pulled over (Croatian plates?). In fact, at the top of the mountain I was passed by at least two cars doing excessive speeds and not one of them was pulled over at the base. Dumb me, eh, for getting caught and/or not knowing how the police fill the coffers of the state here. Oh well. No hard feelings.

Rant on.

T

Labin E-Bike Tour And Testing Limits

My better half surprised me with some R&R that includes e-biking. Since I’m staying at one of the higher elevations as my e-bike starting point, heed this: you’re either going up or your going down any given surface when riding an e-bike in Labin, Croatia. Other than the backyard where you rest your machine, or the beach where you stare at the euro-bikini-chicks (the flat area in the graph below), there’s no surface here that is NOT going up or down. I suppose that’s not such a bad thing if you’ve got the right e-bike–or if you’re a bit younger and not suffering from too much wine and too many truffles with noodles. With that in mind, hats off to my boys and gals at Riese & Müller–my favourite bike maker in the whole world. And since I’m not the great photo-maker (I am worst-photographer), let me share a few worst-words on what I’ve just experienced.

I just finished the hardest 4-5km bike trek I’ve ever been on. The whole ride was about 17km. Of course, this isn’t an issue of endurance or physical stamina (I have neither), it is instead a testament to what I consider to be one of the most difficult surfaces I’ve ever ridden on and the only bike I’d ever do it on again. As you may (or may not) note in the pics above, the two pics that show the trail and the gravel road are what you must face here if/when you leave paved roads. The trail, btw, (the one with the red sign) I haven’t done as of the writing of this worst-post–but I’ll get to it soon enough. The gravel road, on the other hand, I just finished riding UP. As you may (or may not) note in the pic below, that area where “Rocks, boulders and bears” is indicated is pretty much a pseudo-road filled with baseball and softball sized rocks that goes for about 3.5km… UP! The area approaching the serpintine (see the map) has grades of (I’m guessing) 20% before and after it. I didn’t make it up the front of the serpentine without having to get off the bike due to lack of control on the rocky surface. But I made it up the back after having learned/adjusted a bit how to navigate under e-bike power over the large and loose rocks. The average grade of the entire distance of the hill is about 7-12%. Would I ever attempt this without e-bike power? Only if I stop drinking wine and eating truffles. But then, if that happens, I wouldn’t be in Labin, Croatia. Or?

17km ebike trek Croatia

Although it only took me about half an hour to make it up the hill (Rocks, boulders and bears side of the graph above), and I plan on doing it again for practice, I’ve never before experienced my bike in this type of environment. This bike is so well built that I enjoyed feeling the tires gorging on the edges of rocks. The Bosch CX motor was brilliant in assisting me and not allowing any overcompensation with wild pedal kicking due to the rocky, loose surface. Also, I noticed for the first time how the Bosch computer was telling me when to up or down shift. In fact, for the past 5000km I thought the shifting indicators of the computer didn’t even work because this bike has a derailleur. Goodness knows, the “mountain biking” I’ve done up to now, which has been mostly in and around Wuppertal and Solingen, Germany, doesn’t compare to this rocky Croatian surface. With that in mind, I really feel as though I’ve finally tested my Charger GX to its limits. After riding just under 100km in this area as of this post, the bike is rattling, humming and weirding out on me as never before. But not one thing has snapped off, broke or come loose. Can’t wait to get back on it and find new trails tomorrow.

Note: The pic with my bike and the Adriatic Sea in the far background should provide some perspective on how high we are. The 3-4KM ride is up the side of the hill (cause it’s not quite a mountain yet, is it).

Keep up the good work R&M!

Rant and worst-ride on, baby.

T

PS The reason the grey Ortlieb bag is strapped to the top of the rear rack is because they jostle and bang around too much when hung on the side. Seriously rough surfaces here.

First Time In Croatia

Although there are lots of Das Volk out there that don’t mind long car drives, I ain’t one of them. So. On our way to Istria, Croatia, for a bit of R&R we stopped for two nights in Salzburg. Perhaps more on Salzburg later. Exhausted from the drive from Salzburg to Istria, we eventually found our way driving up and through winding, barely paved road-ways to a luscious Tuscany-like villa with heated pool and a view of the Adriatic that is to die for (pic not included YET). The only problem is the heated pool can’t get heated enough with the chilly fall winds that have suddenly turned on. In fact, after one or two tries and my better-half catching a cold we’ve given up on swimming in here. But enough bitchin’ and moaning (ranting).

Istria is gorgeous. Can’t recommend it enough. Even though you have to drive to get around, if you stay in the outer hills, as opposed to a village or resort hotel, there’s very little traffic–other than a few minor delays due to road work–to stop you from getting around. The only problem is, once you start driving around and looking at all the little walled-in, mini-towns built waaaaay back atop rolling forever hills (mini-mountains?), like Motovun (above), you’ll want to stop at them all.

And then there is the food. Or should I say: the truffles. If you like gorging on truffles, this is the place to be. I only wonder how long it’s gonna last as an affordable place to hang out for a week or two and eat this delicatessen–as opposed to how expensive it is in Italy or France. If you find the right place along one of them hill roads, all you need is a few Euros for plate of perfectly cooked noodles in a butter-wine sauce and then topped with dark truffle shavings (above). The cats seem to know what they’re begging for under your table, too.

And by-the-buy, check out the arrogant über corporate message from LA Times when I was trying to read up on some #SCOTUS bull$hit this morning. Even though the message is trying to be sympathetic and show interest in problem solving, any rational mind knows that what they’re really trying to say is that my grand & missed United Mistakes of #Americant is having a hard time getting-on with the EU’s attempt at reigning in on digital greed and abuse. The whole point of what the EU is trying to do (I hope!) is to right a long standing wrong–as long as the attempt is about users being the ones to decide what happens with their data. FB, Twitter and even the LA Times have no business whatsoever thinking they can own and manipulate what I do on the Interwebnets. That’s right, baby. You may own your software, you may own your website, but if you put it out there on a public network–which is what the Interwebnets is–then you have no right to own, sell or manipulate my data–even if it’s going through your website (or software).

Or something like that.

Rant on.

-T

How Do The Oh So Very Few Convince The Many?

There you are, dear worst-reader. You’re right in the middle of a mob. Pitch forks, shovels, maybe a few axes here and there, and let’s not forget the tiki-torches. They’re all waving around your head as you try to speak some sense into the crowd. Does it work? Of course not. This is #Americant! Fcuk Yeah! So your head is cut-off and your body is quartered by tying it to monster trucks at a Mississippi mud rally. Out of pure spite your head is placed on a stick and the grand children Republican Senators and a few from the mob are all given rusty darts to throw at it. For those kids who actually hit the head and the dart sticks, they get a greed t-shirt and greed hat that reads, that’s right, you guessed it, #MAGA.

With the above in mind, how the heck can anyone take this NYT brilliant tech-savvy online article seriously? I mean, come on. I’m mid-fifties and I grew up in and around the Washington DC area–albeit the lower middle class area. #Trump has been around in my life since I can remember. In fact, weren’t there at least two other times in the 80s and 90s–before one could google it?–when the issues addressed in the brilliant online article linked to below (yeah, the tech behind its multimedia presentation is gaga-cool!) show #Trump–now President Stupid–as a swindling con-man? And that’s not even the reason no one should take this article seriously. Indeed. President Stupid should not be taken seriously is the real deal. And not just because of his dubious family connections to sub-par NYC wealth. What need be taken serious is the reality that #Trump represents exactly what most #Americants are and how they’ve lived their do-nothing lives post WW2–the whole historic deal culminating in yet another anti-democratic election. And let’s not forget how my grand, beloved and missed united mistakes of #Americant squandered what should have been the benefit of having won a/the ridiculous Cold War. Generational greed-mongers riding the laurels of others. Time to learn it. And now school is in session, biatches.

Trump is all-truth in #Americant today. The NYT article (below) really shoots the $hit about not just #Trump but what every American (except worst-moi, of course) would do in a heart beat, if given the chance–to make a friggin buck. Perhaps that’s his only genius. Doing the best he could with the chances bequeathed him? That he was unable to make something worthwhile with his cheating, con-man, grifter wealth is nothing but a sad, sordid story. And now you’ve made him President (albeit Stupid). But that’s going too deep, eh? And so. This is what happens when you take advantage of so much stupid and then realise you’ll never run out of stupid–unlike oil, living-standards, nature, human rights, etc. Way to go conservatives, GOP, neo-liberals (corporate Dems) and all those voters who don’t mind grabbing everything by the pu$$y because, well, most a$$hole middle-classers can. Right #SCOTUS suckers?

But I digress.

Good luck, suckers.

Rant on.

T

Link that motivated this post: