Computers

Don’t we all just love computers? Of course we do. You’re reading this on one right now. Yes, even if it’s on your phone or a tablet. They’re all computers. No matter how small.

So I bought a Raspberry Pi. I don’t have any major plans for it, but I got it because it’s neat and small. Like, palm of my hand small. In a case. It’s not particularly powerful but it’s good enough to sort of run a web browser. I’m writing this entry on it right now.

It’s also the only computer I have that runs RiscOS. Not that it matters to the majority of you (probably). Right now, though, I’m using Raspbian, which is a Pi version of Linux.

You might think that would be enough for me. You’d be wrong. You see, long ago, back in the 1990s, there was an operating system called BeOS. I’ve always liked playing with different operating systems. Even before the concept of an operating system was general knowledge.

See, back in the old days, computers were different from each other. Ataris were different than Apples which were different than Commodore 64s, which were different from Commodore PETS, which were different from TRS-80s, which were different from Radio Shack Color Computers, which were different from… Well, the list goes on and on. Some used the same processors and some used different (6502, Z80, 6800, 68000, 8088, etc.) processors. But they all had different ways of doing things. And I thought it was great.

And then there were basically two processors: Intel’s x86 and Motorola’s 68000 families. Granted, there were actually a lot more but they weren’t for the general masses and home computers. Later, it was a choice between an x86 or a PowerPC.

And then it was generally x86, whether you get one from Intel or AMD. And the choice of operating systems boiled down to Windows or MacOS.

Then BeOS rolled around. Originally written for the AT&T Hobbit processors, it was then ported to the PowerPC and then, finally, to the x86. When that happened, I bought a copy and started using it. And I loved it because it was way better than Windows 95 at the time. But Be Inc. was a small company thrown in the waters of the big sharks of Microsoft and Apple and, eventually, they went out of business.

Around that time, a group of people got together with the idea of re-creating BeOS. Writing a new operating system from the ground up that would look, act, and feel like BeOS. It would even, they promised, be able to run software written for BeOS right out of the box (so to speak).

Years and years and years later, that operating system (which is now called Haiku) has reached a stable and usable state. Really, I say ‘years’ a lot but you have to understand that this is a labor of love being worked on by very few people so it’s remarkable it’s still around and even more remarkable that it’s usable.

These days we’re still stuck with just the x86 (and the 64-bit version) processors. But we have a choice of three operating systems (for the most part): Windows, macOS, and Linux.

However, because of the tiny computers that have become very popular, the tiny computers that we use to text to each other, play games, watch videos, and, sometimes, call people, another processor has become very popular: ARM. Now, some people are creating tiny desktops that use ARM processors.

I thought it would be totally neat to run Haiku on the Pi, but right now it doesn’t work on ARM processors, which the Pi uses. I can’t run it on my other computers because there’s also an issue with booting on systems with UEFI, which is the modern replacement for BIOS. Neither of which I’m going to explain right now.

So what can I do? I started wondering if anyone made a super tiny Pi-sized computer that ran an x86/x86_64 processor. Because that would be super awesome. Haiku doesn’t need a lot of horsepower, so something small, like an Atom, would work pretty well. If it was small enough I could even screw it onto the back of a monitor and have my own neato All-In-One Haiku system.

Should be pretty easy, right?

Sadly, when I start trying to figure out what to do nothing is easy. First it started on which processor to go with: Atom, Celeron, or Pentium (I know, right? Surprised the hell out of me). Then it was memory: 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB. Or should I get something that could be upgraded and start with 4GB and then go up if I need to? Complicated web pages can be brutal on memory and the best (that I’ve found) web browser for Haiku is iffy, anyway. Trying to figure all this out caused the price to go up. And up. Until I was in the price range of a small (but not Pi small) Intel Core i3 system.

And, to top it all off, these are all modern systems with UEFI so I’ll probably run into the same problem I already have.

That’s where I currently sit. Nowhere, really.

 

 

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Mall (again)

I went to a mall the other day. I don’t have much reasons to go to one, since I do almost all of my non-grocery shopping online. The only mall that I go to with any regularity is a huge outside mall that’s more like a small town than a shopping mall. Which is pretty neat, in a way. And also kind of scary. I mean, it’s got apartments there. People actually live ‘inside’ the shopping mall.

The mall I went to this time was a traditional ‘inside’ mall. You know, a large building with a lot of stores inside of it. Usually with a ‘food court’ in there. But no dwellings (that I know of; I suppose there could be people living in the dark hallway that run behind the stores, but that would probably be unofficial).

I wanted to go to this mall because ThinkGeek opened a store there and I thought it would be nice to drop in and see what kind of knick-knacks and paddy-whacks they had. I didn’t bother to look to see where, in the mall, the store was so I could do some wandering around and general gawking.

I had been reading that, thanks to on-line stores like Amazon, malls were dead. This mall was not. It did not even appear to be on life support. I had wanted to drop in at the food court to see what kind of mall food I could get for lunch, but it was so crammed with people I decided to move on.

When I finally found ThinkGeek, I was a bit disappointed. It’s a very small store and didn’t have as many gewgaws in it as I was hoping for. I guess they can’t carry everything that the website has, but I was hoping for other things. So, sadly, I did not load up on pop culture junk.

But, you know, that’s just me. The other people there seemed to be enjoying it quite a lot.

Mall

Long ago there were a lot of little stores that sold various things and were owned and run by people. Sure, there were larger stores that sold various things under one roof and they were not run by individuals. These were called “department” stores, presumably because they had “departments” for different things; a housewares department, women’s clothes department, and so on.

Then one day, huge behemoths showed up and they contained department stores and smaller stores that were run by, I dunno, corporations, I guess. They were chain stores, you see.

These were called shopping malls. They did a pretty good job of doing in the small mom & pop stores because they were numerous and close by and it was more convenient for people to go to one location to blow their paychecks on music, videogames, and trendy clothes.

In addition, most malls also had ‘food courts’ where a lot of chain food places were set up so people could eat and shop at the same time.

I miss malls. To me, they are totally 80s things because I spent so much time in them. It was a place that you could (in theory) go for free, spend hours hanging out with friends and going to the arcade or looking at toys in toy stores. Or checking out the latest computer games in the stores that had computers set up for demos and stuff.

It was fun, in its own way. Malls influenced a generation, what with malls showing up in movies, a sneaker company making sneakers specifically design for walking around a mall and who knows what else.

Then, one day, the mall conglomerates were sitting around a big table chortling at how they were making a bunch of money and putting smaller stores out of business and, while they were chortling, Amazon was on the rise.

The last time I was in a mall about half the storefronts were empty. The big building, once bustling with people and noise, was now quiet with only a few people walking around. The glory days far behind. One day these building will be completely empty and I wonder what the hell will become of them. Will they be torn down? Re-purposed for something else? Giant roller skating rinks?

Skating rinks were fun, too, if you liked loud disco type music and arcade games. I don’t miss those quite as much, but they were pretty interesting.

Cook

I once worked with a person who hated to eat. He felt that it was a waste of time that could be spent doing other things. If he could, he said, take a pill that would give him everything he needed, he would rather do that.

I, on the other hand, love to eat. While other people look at Star Trek and wish they had a Holodeck or, maybe, a teleport, I wish I had a food replicator.

If I had a food replicator I’d be asking for all manner of dishes. Plain ones. Exotic ones. Simple ones. Super complex ones. I’d be eating so damn much you’d need a teleporter just to get me into the next room.

It’s not because I can’t cook — I can. I’m actually pretty good at it. I just don’t like spending a lot of time doing it. Most of the time I just throw something in the oven and let it cook it itself.

On weekends, though, I’ll take the time. I’m a big fan of “one bowl’ meals; soups, stews, casseroles and the like. Anything I can just toss in a bowl and eat while watching TV.

Every once in a while I’ll think about doing a cooking blog. I could post my recipes for super simple meals that take about ten minutes to make. It wouldn’t really work, though, because I just use whatever I have on hand and I never measure anything out.

For instance, here’s my recipe for hamburger soup:

1) Brown some ground beef in a large pot. Logically, one pound would do but I always end up making two pounds. The 80% stuff.
2) Do you have any frozen vegetables? Yes? Toss them in the pot. Wait, did you drain the ground beef? Did I tell you to? Now put back all that grease.
3) Got any canned beans laying around? Throw them in the pot, too. I don’t bother draining or rinsing them.
4) Do you have any room left in the pot? Usually I don’t, but if you do put some water in there until it’s above the contents. Or the rim. Whichever comes first.
5) Do you have any herbs and spices? Throw them in there, too. I generally like cumin, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion salt, salt, pepper… Hell, whatever I have usually goes in. Use your eye to figure out how much. And use your nose, too.
6) Cook over medium heat until it’s hot.
7) Eat up!
8) If you have leftovers, toss ‘em in the fridge. When you eat more tomorrow you can scrape off the layer of grease. Or let it flavor up the next bowl!

So, you see, not very good so I end up not making a cooking blog. It’s kind of a disappointment seeing how much money other people are making off of it. Cook books, Walmart product lines… I’d like in on that action, too, but all my stuff would probably be made in China and break after the first use.

 

New

I bought a new keyboard. So now I feel like I want to write something to use this spiffy new keyboard.

But I don’t know what to write about. I thought about writing about technology and stuff, but who wants to read about that?

I’ve actually bought a lot of new things lately. It’s all part of my plan to get rid of a lot of things and clean out my space and minimize. In retrospect, I can see how buying a lot of new things doesn’t really fit in with minimizing. Unless I get rid of my old stuff. Which I’m working on. I promise.

For instance, since I’m all alone there’s no sense having a flatware service for six. So I bought a set for one. Now, I just have to get rid of my old flatware and I’ll be minimized. See? And then hope I don’t need an extra spoon for something.

Because even though I have a service for six, there’s a lot of things missing. For instance, I only have two of the big spoons. I don’t know what happened to the other four. They’re probably around somewhere, but where? Under the couch? Why would they be there? I don’t know.

So I have a bunch of junk and mismatched things that I really want to get rid of. I don’t have time, though. Me. A person who has nothing going on in life besides working has no time to organize and minimize. Isn’t that sad? Thank you for understanding.

I like writing. Part of writing is having tools that make you feel like writing. So I buy keyboards. Nice, mechanical, keyboards that make clacky noises when I type and makes me feel like I’m doing something productive. I also like pens. And paper. But I do most writing on the computer so a keyboard it is!

Not bad for someone who’s not a writer.

I use Windows and… What’s it called now? MacOS? macOS? Whatever. I prefer to use the Apple when writing. I don’t know why, I just do. Mostly I use Windows for watching media and playing games. For the gritty act of writing, though, it’s macOS all the way. That’s the reason why I want a 5K iMac. Well, that and the photography. Which I also don’t do anymore.

Hmmm. I need to re-consider some life choices.

Sex

I make a pretty good living. I live alone. I spend the majority of my time alone, in fact. Every once in a while I’ll think that I should get a Real Doll.

A Real Doll, if you don’t know, is, well, a sex doll. Unlike the inflatable ones that bob along with a look of perpetual surprise, Real Dolls look kind of human. At least, if you’re not looking too closely it looks like a real person. And they’ve got a sort of skeleton so they’re posable. And life size.

My apartment is small. Very small. Sometimes the maintainance people come in for whatever reason. Like, inspections or whatever. Usually I have a few hours notice, but sometimes an emergency comes up.

I wonder how embarrasing it would be to have a Real Doll sitting around when they came by. I guess I could shove it in the closet; there’s barely enough room for that. Or maybe I could leave it out sitting on the couch (in clothes). Maybe that would freak ‘em out.

As long as they didn’t use it. That would be kind of gross. And disappointing. I mean, if I spend a lot of money on a sex doll, I expect it to be faithful to me. Is that too much to ask?

Sure, I know what you’re thinking. I’m just a super horny guy willing to pay money for a person-looking mannequin to get his rocks off. But it’s not just about that. No, it’s a bit worse and it makes me question my sanity a little bit.

It would be nice, see, to have someone else around. Even if she didn’t talk much. Or move much. And, hopefully given the situation, didn’t talk very much. She could even be in the bed as I slept which seems like it would be better than having a big bed all to myself.

I would not take her out to dinner or a movie. Or put her in the car so I can use the carpool lane. She would strictly be a homebody. That seems a bit sane, yes? Maybe?

Much like anything else I think about buying, it’ll never happen. I have a hard time ponying up the money for a computer I want, I’m not going to spend twice as much for something like that.

Age

I don’t like to brag or show off. No, it’s true. Whenever I do, something is apt to go wrong. Like, if I had someone in the car with me and was all like, “Check out how fast this car takes off from a stoplight,” then, when I hit the gas something would happen to make me look foolish. Like the transmission falling out. Or pistons shooting up through the hood. Stuff like that.

I’ve been a bit quiet lately because I’ve had some health issues. They cropped up right after I mentioned that I still had, at least, decent health. So, there you go. It’s nothing serious (so far that I know about), but it’s one thing that’s followed by something else that’s found that requires another visit to a different doctor, etc, etc, etc.

I went to a dermatologist yesterday to see about a mole. Everyone was nice to me. Really nice. The dermatologist herself treated me as if I were some kind of celebrity and kept saying how nice it was to meet me. She was cute. She was younger than me.

And that’s when you start to feel really old. Not just that everyone else is younger than you, but that people are nice to you. I wonder if I were ten, fifteen, years younger if she would have treated me the same (assuming that she was the same age). I think people tend to forget that, despite a large age difference, people still have an active sex drive and that it’s fairly common for older people to find younger people attractive.

I’m still waiting for the announcement that ‘they’ have figured out how to extend life and keep people looking younger longer. I actually don’t think it’s that far out; maybe not in my lifetime, but maybe not much longer than that. Which would figure.

But age is weird, anyway. Living from birth to age 30 seems like a really long time. Living from 30 to 60… yeah, it doesn’t seem that long at all. For most of your life you’re old, which is why it’s amusing to us to watch the younger generation act all high and mighty. Like thinking old people shouldn’t be on the Internet. Or lording over their mastery of SnapChat. Whatever that is.

That’s the way it goes, though.