Computer Upgrade

Old video cards are… really old. Quadro 2000 card, pre pascal and kepler. They were doing alright for the most part but it was time to get an upgrade. So I got myself an RTX 2080 TI.

Motherboard can handle it.
Power supply is beefy enough.
Case…

Oh for F… sake! Sigh. The card length is fine, just the cooler on top of the card is extending into the drive enclosure area.

I guess I am upgrading the case as well.

New Years Resolutions

Last year I had two resolutions.

  1. Lose weight
  2. Create a program and sell it.

Lose Weight

I actually succeeded in the first. I was 106-7 Kg. I was feeling the weight. Putting on my shoes and socks was a lot harder to do and I was not feeling all that great. The difficulty with weight loss is finding a solution that sticks. Sometimes that solution takes time to sort out. For me it was eating less and exercising more.

Getting into the habit of eating less takes time. Your body craves and sometimes you just have to give into that craving. But in general, if you are eating less, then you are doing well. It is not going on some fad diet. I am eating normally, just less of it. The ‘pain’ in the gut that used to be full of food is something you have to get used to. The body has to adjust to the new regimen and that is the main hurdle to overcome.

Now I am good with the reduced food regimen and not feeling that pain/craving. I’m down to 98 Kg. I am still over the limit that I should be. For 2019 I hope I can get below 95 Kg. Ideally I should be around 85-90. But slowly, I hope to get there.

Create A Program And Sell It

The second resolution did not materialize. The goal was to make a simple financial program. Something to replace a spreadsheet that I was using and found to be pain to use.

I started off by choosing C# as my language. I was thinking of targetting mobile (Android and IOS) and desktop (Windows and MacOSX). So my choice was Xamarin. Half a year goes by, and a rather painful experience just getting some rudimentary framework going and I was done with Xamarin. Not only that but every time the compiler updated itself it would break the build. I google to find a solution, which wastes my time and energy and by the time I am free to code again, I have drained my will to work on the project. I was not enjoying the experience.

So I switched gears. Multiplatform had to be dropped. I restarted using C# again and WPF which limits me to the Windows platform. I got further along than with Xamarin but I still found it was not as enjoyable. UI is better than other UI frameworks but I am still astounded that certain things are still very kludgy and, in my opinion, messed up.

I like C# for the most part but I am not fast in it yet. It is a ton better than C++ but still not ideal. I still prefer C over any of these options.

New Resolutions

Same as last years resolutions. I still may not success with the second one but I will be much happier working in C than in C#, C++, Java, JavaScript, or any other ‘modern’ language that is out there. I may be an old curmudgeon when it comes to computer languages but I will be an happy curmudgeon.

I will be happy if I complete at least one program. The sell requirement may have to be dropped. We will see. I want to actually work on an art/raytracing program instead of the financial and anything else. That is the ultimate program goal.

LG G4 Repaired…

Sent my unlocked LG G4 phone in for repair. The problem with the phone was a boot loop error common with LG G4s and LG extended the warranty (from date of manufacturing, not date of purchase) because of the issue. Unfortunately mine was outside this extended warranty.
 
FutureTel in Markham On., who does the repairs in Canada, initially asked if I wanted to pay $420 to fix the issue. Ah… No. From what I’ve read the repaired units can still suffer from the boot loop issue.  So I wasn’t going to pay more on this phone only to get it back and still not trust it.  Plus, $420!  There are some pretty good replacement phones you can get for that much.
 
They then asked me to phone up LG canada for a CNN#. I get one, give it to FutureTel and luckily they end up fixing it for free anyway. Yay!  Free fix!  But BOO to them for trying to get money from me initially. In my opinion, they should have done this themselves instead of bothering me with trying to get a CNN#.  Customer service apparently not one of their strong suits.  I guess it could have still gone the other way with me still having to pay for the repair which I wasn’t planning to do.
 
I now have my phone back. They apparently just swapped in a new board. Plug in my sim and… F$#*&(@(!!! It’s locked again! So I still can’t used my phone. My unlock code I used before doesn’t work either. Ugh…
 
I hesitate to say this is still a nice phone… My wife’s Nexus 4 which was LG made as well had no problems other than the battery is at the end of it’s life; it is difficult to install a new one yourself. But it seems their flag ship products are not the same robustness. I do not recommend LG.  This experience was more annoying than I expected from an expensive product.

LG G4… Live’s (not so) Good!

Ugh…  This WAS a wonderful phone.  Until just a few minutes ago.  The phone is now and ex-phone.  It has ceased to be!  Montey Python’s dead parrot skit is now running around in my head.

Battery is fine.  100% charge.  Apparently this is a hardware issue and a common one, google bootloop LG G4.  LG doesn’t seem to want to step up to the plate and admit to the issue.

For me, the phone brings up the LG screen and then eventually black/blank screen. I can’t even get to safe mode or to factory reset the phone like some videos show.

I bought the phone in end of November 2015 from Wind.  Unlocked it so I could use it on Fido.  I don’t think I have a warranty on it any more and from what I heard, repairs will only end up being a temporary fix for the problem.  In general, consensus is, get a different phone.

This makes me sad and angry.  Tech wise the phone was great.  Shame that it is now an expensive piece of tech junk.  Thankfully I’m not without a phone.  Recently I bought my wife a new Google Pixel to replace a Google Nexus 4 which seemed to be starting to act up.  She hasn’t yet moved to the new phone so looks like it will be my new phone and she’ll get a different one later when she finally gets fed up with the Nexus 4’s frustrations.  Rather pathetic lifespan.  Didn’t want to or need to upgrade the phone yet.

Sort of miss the rock solidness of my super simple Nokia ‘un-smart’ phone.  Hell my ACER Liquide was better except it needed a new battery.

President Trump…

I was sort of right.  If he became president there would be a lot of comedy coming from it.

The sad part is, it is really disturbing.

The good part is, Trump may actually be draining the swamp.  What?  Ok, not directly but by exposing the swamp to the voters so that hopefully the voters will be, ahem, smart enough to turf them from office the next time around.  I know I am asking a lot of the voting public in the US and there are always some who are very committed to the idea that Trump is a good thing; but then that is what happens with politics, religion and similar.  Some people stick to their beliefs and not even a flood of contrary true facts will sway them.  But let us hope the rest of the nation wises up.

Scammer, Phisher, whatever…

chriscrofts31@gmail.com

The above email owner is apparently a scammer/phisher. Probably got my cell number from hacking Kijiji where my ad is placed.

First got a cryptic text from

Text: +1 918-984-4356
Hello, Hope your TextBook still up for sale??reply to chriscrofts31@gmail.com pls no text email only…Trade Paperbacks, Graphic Novels, Single Issues

I thought a little weird although I know some software does behave poorly so I gave the benefit of the doubt and asked for clarification which books he was interested in the Kijiji ad.

Reply:
Can you assure me that i will not be disappointed with it. I’m ready to pay your asking price and to be honest the issue is that am currently out of town for my newly secure Job. So kindly get back to me with your PayPal email address so that i can proceed with the payment asap with your cell number so as for me to use it to text you immediately am done with the payment. I want you to know that i have arrange for a Pick up agent coming for the pick up after the payment clears into your account.

Um… Creepy and still didn’t answer my question on which books he wanted.  And seriously, “Pick up agent”? Some googling and I see this…

scam alert: interac email transfer reversal? personal info phishing? from Calgary

So end of conversation. Bit bucket he goes.

I still have some books left that I’m still trying to sell though.  :/

http://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-details.html?requestSource=b&adId=1204558364&siteLocale=en_CA

15% Foreign Buyer Tax…

Just recently BC instituted a 15% tax for foreign buyers of property purchases.  And now you have the predictable reaction from real estate agents that it has suddenly become much harder to sell.

For one, that might be true but it is way to early to tell what the long term effect of the change will be.  All the belly aching that is happening now is just a knee jerk reaction to the new situation.

I do agree that the ‘retroactive’ nature of the new tax is a bit of a dick move by the government.  Any deal that was in negotiation should have been grandfathered in.  For something that costs this much money, suddenly having to add 15% to your already stretched budget is not going to go over well.

However, will this 15% tax really have that much an effect?  Maybe.  Hard to say at the moment.  Until other provinces adopt the same sort of tax Vancouver may see a decline in housing prices.  The problem is, is 15% loss in money a big enough deterrent for these buyers.  Vancouver is hugely Asian so there is still quite an attraction to owning here for that foreign market.  We will lose some sales to Toronto but I think we will still be influenced by the Asian market even with the new tax.  They will just factor the new tax into their pricing and we still end up with a spiraling market again.

A lot of these buyers are trying to put their wealth offshore, out of reach from their local government.  They are already losing some of that capital in our market before the tax, so buying in our market after the tax is just a different sort or loss.

My guess is that the prices here may drop to less than 15% from other markets.  Then at least the benefits of buying here versus there are about the same.  The loses will be about the same.

So a place that used to cost 1,000,000 here before the tax may sell now for 850,000 instead.  Which is still utterly out of reach for a lot of people.  However I figure that if Toronto had a similar place for 1,000,000 then the place in Vancouver would still fetch over 900,000 for the same buyer due to Vancouver’s higher attraction for said buyer.

Will this change things?  A lot of people are hoping it will.  I am one of them but the pessimist in me is saying do not count on it.

Automatic billing…

I find automatic billing to be annoying.  Yes there are services that I find that automatic billing is important.  My internet connection, my phone, stuff that I use everyday for years on end.  I will call these ‘non-optional’ services.  But when it comes to optional services, services that I do not need or will not use 365 days a year, it does not make sense.

Some time ago my company has asked us to start taking courses, whether it be online or from some university or college.  Ok, fine, lets leave out the fact that it has to be done on ‘our’ personal unpaid time and not done on work time, which is another gripe.  So I have been looking around at some of the sites.

I have actually taken a few courses at Coursera.org.  So far it has been generally positive.  The courses are free unless you want some certificate of completion and then you pay for the course.  You pay per course.  Brilliant!  I like that model.  Pay for what I want.  I will be continuing paying for courses with them.  The courses are not that cheap but it looks like the instructors do make an effort.  Coursera.org has been hit and miss though.  One course was incredibly poorly run where the instructor was not even following his own course timeline.  I felt bad berating him to keep him honest.  There were many students who were missing deadlines and getting zeros because of it.  The software has been changing a lot as well.  Some growing pains in all.  Their customer support seems to be pretty good.

At work a manager suggested Pluralsight.com.  Pay a subscription fee for unlimited access to all course material.  Sounds like a deal except that you will be automatically billed every month if you use the service or not.  Hrm…  The cost is way more per month than Netflix and if I was subscribing to Netflix I suspect I would use it way more than Pluralsight.  The good news with Pluralsight is that with an MSDN subscription at work I get free access to 30 ‘tutorials’ (I hesitate in calling them courses since all a course is, is a collection of videos) for about 30 days or a year.  Conflicting information.  No need for adding my credit card information and such.  So this trial is giving me an insight on how good the tutorials really are at Pluralsight.  They are pretty good the ones that I have seen so far.  The interface is a bit annoying.  In order to get to the free courses via MSDN I have to go to my account settings to find them.

Another option I am getting in my email is Lynda.com which is related to Linkedin.com.  “Try a 30 day free trial!”  Ok, sign up, get to step three which is asking for my credit card information…  WHY?  “So we can bill you after the free trial is over.”  They warn you but this but I still find this dishonest.  It is not exactly free.  You have to give up your payment information before you have a chance to evaluate whether or not they are deserving of that information.

Plus, who has ever signed up for a trial period with the reasonable expectation of not continuing with the service.  Meaning, you signed up to evaluate whether or not the service is going to be good for you.  I have, and as you may expect, I forgot when it was to expire and got dinged for it.  Usually with little or no warning by the service that, “hey, your trial will be up in X days.  Make a decision before then!”  Lynda.com.  Take your ‘free’ offer and shove it.  Seriously.  Be nice and not shaft people when they forget.  Just offer the free trial without billing information and just lock out the user until they are willing to pay.  It should not be that hard to program that up.

I will never sign up to an ‘optional’ service that auto renews a subscription.  Never.  Most magazines do not do that, although some have the option, it is ‘opt in’ not ‘opt out’ as in the case of Lynda.com and Pluralsight.com.

Game Controllers

I do not play too many games but there is one on the windows machine that I recently got that has me hooked.  Although it needs a controller.

I have a USB game controller from Logitech but it is horrible.  D pad likes doing diagonals when I want to move in one direction.  The analog sticks are not balanced, when the sticks are centered, windows reports they are off center, and I cannot seem to fix that.

I also have these lovely PlayStation 3 Dual Shock 3 controllers that are mostly sitting idle.  I thought it would be a fairly simple matter to get these hooked up to and running on my Win 7 64Bit machine.  A good bunch of hours later and I’m giving up.

Sometimes as a programmer I wish I knew a bit about device driver programming.  Maybe I could figure out what the deal is with these controllers.

Computer Woes

The problem does not happen often but every now and then it happens.  The computer cannot find the boot drive.  Huh!?  Why?  I honestly do not know.  The bios simply forgets that the boot drive is an SSD drive on the SATA3 connections.  It defaults back to one of the Regular HD drives on the SATA2 connections and predictably boot fails since this drive is not a boot drive.  Fairly simple fix…  for me.  When Denise wanted to use the machine she was stuck.  And there was no way I was going to successfully talk her through the procedure to get into the bios and reset the boot drive sequence.  So as a result.  Denise could not use the computer which had her most recent work on it.

This brings me to a bit of a gripe.  The SSD and the HD drives in question are all SATA3 rated.  However the SSD drives simply refuse to work on the SATA2 ports.  I do not know if this is the SSD drive’s fault or if it is something to do with the motherboard’s chipset not knowing how to handle the SSD drive properly.  Initially I was thinking of putting the SSD drive on the SATA2 ports and leaving the HD drive on the SATA3 port.  SSD on a SATA2 port would have been more than fine since all it is really doing is being a boot drive an not much else.  But that plan was scuttled because of the above problem.  So now I get this boot sequence issue every now and then.

I would not doubt it is the motherboard.  I bought it when SATA3 and USB3 was just starting to get popular so it is possible that the chipsets are not 100% with newer drives like the SSD.  However I did not expect the SSD to fail on something that should have been more solid and standard like the SATA2 ports.  All in all, pain in the ass.  Stupid computers.

This is not the first incompatibility I have hit so far.  I have a Thermaltake BlacX5G USB SATA hard drive device.  It does not like dealing with certain hard drives.  I have a HP 1536 multi-function printer, it does not like certain USB ports on the computer.  Lots of frustrating hours lost trying to figure out these problems that really should not have been an issue.

SSD drive is a Samsung 850 EVO, HD drive is a Western Digital WD6402AAEX, Motherboard is an ASUS Sabertooth X58.  ASUS has been pretty good all in all but I have found, when thinking about it, that they have always caused some subtle problems for me.  Nothing ever serious that makes the computer totally unusable or a pain to use but still, minor nigglies that can sometimes annoy.