Staycation- All I Ever Wanted…

Today I am starting my 11 day vacation. I booked this time off in January as a “back-up” trip to Disneyland when I realized that July’s trip may get affected. And July’s trip did get affected. But so did my back-up dates. So now I am having a Staycation.

Today will be an ever increasing lazy day of sleeping and napping. Over the next few days the rest of my family still has school, online courses and work. I will have the freedom to do whatever I want. You know what that means…

That means time to get really invested in my 3D printing! Download files, prepare the files, print the files, curse that there is a failure, reprint the files, sand the print, paint the print, sand the print, paint, assemble the print, print another file, fail at that and reprint it… the list goes on. But I will have all the time in the world (or at least daylight hours) to work on my prints.

Since I am a Star Wars fan- I actually intend to print a life size droid. This week will give me a good jumpstart on my first one. I suspect it will take me the better half of the year to really get an R2 unit put together. So I may start with something smaller or easier. Yes- I plan on having a few droids built. Don’t tell my wife.

Having time for me is going to be nice. It’s been a very long time since I’ve really focused on what I want. Usually I put the family first and enjoy the ride. We will still hang out this weekend together, but during the week- that will be my time. Or rather, my 3D printer’s time.

3D Printer Part 3: Wanting More

My list of possible 3D builds keeps growing. My family and a few friends have some requests that I plan on making. I also plan to do some 3D prints for donating to people’s betterment.

For me- I mostly want to do movie prop replicas. There’s something profound about building and owning a piece from a film. To me it feels as if I am a part of something bigger.

It also hits the nostalgia feels. I mean, honestly- who wouldn’t want a Proton Pack to fight ghosts back in the 80’s? Or open a can of shaving cream to find dinosaur embryos? Or find out who really shot first when you hold a Han Solo blaster?

I worry that it’ll be a rabbit hole of unfinished projects and a desire to own bigger and better printers. From the forums I am on, it seems that is the way of the 3D modeler. I have already been obsessing about getting another print going. I just need to wait for my spools of plastic to arrive.

I always love creating and making things to display and show off for fun. I shall accept my fate for my new found hobby. I only hope my wife and family also accept this burden I have bestowed upon myself.

You have been warned! When I obsess about something, I beat it into the ground. Just like a new song that I like. It falls into repeat for weeks on end. Or perhaps this will be similar to my love of disco. A variety of fun dance moves and love songs.

Spotty Wifi

Today it seemed that our wifi suddenly went spotty. No reason at all. It just decided to crap out and reconnect. I love being connected to the world, so those three minutes were really tough. There were also tough because they happened a few times.

Since getting Google Nest wifi we have rarely had issues. We also upgraded our internet plan a couple of weeks back in order to get us faster speeds and connect more devices. So it was strange that our wifi was choosing not to connect.

Restarts all around! All devices and routers. Seems like our problem was just as simple as Turning it off and on again.

Yay! Time to stream more shows!

3D Printer Part 2: Building On The Obsession

Back in May 2018, I wrote about wanting a 3D Printer. 3D Printer Part 1: The Obsession It really did become an obsession. Where I joined numerous Facebook groups, watched tons of videos reviewing 3D printers, even got so far as putting one in my Amazon Cart. But I could never get myself to own one.

Until Now.

A few weeks back I was talking with my friend, Matt Harding about how I still want a 3D printer. Turned out he has a coworker that was also enjoying 3D printing. So much so that he owns numerous printers. His coworker also had one that he was kind enough to donate to me in order to fulfill my obsession.

I cannot thank my friend enough for his help in getting me a 3D Printer. I look forward to getting it running and attempting my first 3D Printing of… pretty much anything. Which will probably be a test print to level the bed.

But who cares? I now possess a 3D printer! Let’s get this thing making stuff!

Time For A Tech Break

Getting the family ready for a camping trip is challenging. Even if you’re only gone for a couple of days, it takes hours to get packed up. No matter how much you tell everybody when you want to leave, you always fall behind.

It may seem odd to pack up the necessities of life in order to live outside temporarily. But I like camping. Most of my technology stays behind. Obviously I keep my phone for pictures and music. But the connection to the outside world via the interwebs is severed.

I like taking mental breaks always from the world. It keeps me sane. Plus I love the outdoors. I almost don’t need to leave our home as we have a lush and beautiful yard that seems to go on forever. We own an acre of solitude, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and suburbs.

Taking a break from technology is important. I appreciate the world a little more when we do go away. A chance to see the natural wonders out there.

Google Nest Wifi

My wife had Google Nest Wifi delivered to our home today. I thought for sure it would take a long time to set up. I was wrong. It took under 15 minutes including unboxing.

As usual, I was excited to have new tech in the house. My kids are stoked as well to have Google Assistant at their fingertips from almost anywhere in the house. We can also play music through the speakers in the WiFi Points.

We don’t have a Spotify, Youtube Music or Google Music account. So there wasn’t any option to really “skip” or choose songs. But I was able to choose a genre or style. I started by requesting Queen. Then moved on to Ska. And wow, I really enjoy Ska, who knew?

I’d be more excited about the idea that instead of saying “Ok Google” I could say “COMPUTER” like I am living in the Star Trek universe. But at least there’s some music to enjoy, and I love tech, maybe one day we will be closer to the Star Trek life.

Catered Ads

Doing internet searches can have an unwanted side effect. The bots track what you search and cater “Ad Preferences” online. These bots are supposed to be clever and track your ip. I’ve run into something unique though on our home internet.

My wife works from home for an online company called Shopify. She is what they call a “Customer Success Guru”. She is often looking at people’s sites in order to assist them. This has created an adverse effect to our home internet. We are getting ads “catered” to us that have nothing to do with what we are really interested in. It also happens on our phones/ iPads when we connect to our house WiFi.

Now instead of just scrolling and ignoring regular ads, we have ads popping up in Facebook or Instagram that are completely whacky. I never knew there was so many plush toy, jewelry and led lights that people could buy. But the sex toys and lawn furniture had me worried that I was spending too much time looking at porn.

In the end, it’s kind of interesting that the online computer world doesn’t know what my interests are. Just some strange logarithm trying to cater sales to customers but failing miserably.

Computer Animation

I’ve always loved computer animation. Back in 1982 “Tron” came out and changed the film industry. Shortly after was “The Last Starfighter” in 1984.

Then in the 1990’s, one of my favorite artsy styles of the animation came out with a mix of music and creativity- “Beyond The Mind’s Eye” showcased the future of computer animation. Shortly after- some of the scenes were used in “The Lawnmower Man”. This was a couple of years before “Toy Story”.

The late 90’s had “The Matrix” making people question reality. Side note: In 2003 I picked up a metallic holographic style poster for the sequel and had it framed.

Back in 2010, we enjoyed Flynn’s Arcade in Disneyland. A throwback of the arcade from the 80’s film “Tron” and a segue into the sequel.

The art style of computer animation has come a long way in four decades. Seeing some of the older shows proves how far film has gotten.

What are your favorite computer rendered films?

Emotional for Electronics

At work I was having a discussion about old electronics and if you can have an emotional attachment to them. My coworker’s wife says she is emotionally attached to her old tv. Now this isn’t some retro 60’s or even 80’s tv. It’s a run of the mill plasma tv from a decade ago. The type of tv that can be upgraded to a larger screen and higher hd quality for a couple hundred dollars. But she wants to keep the tv and my coworker doesn’t understand the emotional attachment she has for it. But I can *almost* relate.

I asked my coworker what about an old Nintendo or an N64? He said those are okay to have sentimental attachments to because they bring back nostalgic memories. But an iPhone 5 that you played Angry Birds on for hours- that’s a throw away electronic device like a tv.

So at what point does something generate a value or desire to be kept if it’s no longer used or obsolete?

I feel it is more what the owner associates with the item. I went through numerous cassette players and CD players in my life- yet I have grown a fondness to my daughter’s record player. I sometimes think about an old telephone alarm clock my parents had back in the 80’s and the sound of it ringing- but I would never want it now. But I still have memories of it. I have an upright arcade machine that only goes on four or five days a year, but I’m not ready to part with it.

In the end I figure if you like your device and can’t part with it- keep it and don’t let someone tell you that you’re wrong. Sometimes an emotional bond is created and is tough to severe.

What Does $1000 Look Like?

Recently I finished a set off doors for our home. I’m really happy with the results. But it got me thinking about how $1000 can look differently every time. With each and every purchase or experience being worthwhile.

I treated my wife to a night out on the town at a spa and hotel. We needed that time off. Wedgewood Hotel and Spa

We bought tickets to Queen for the five of us. Such an amazing show. Queen

We now have a back up generator for when the power goes out. Like it does every year… sometimes for days on end.

My son got a pair of Long Track Speed Skates. Chasing that Olympic Dream! Fastest Ice

We bought a couple of kayaks and accessories. Gotta stay in shape as we grow older. Kayak Adventure

That’s all from this year. In the past- a thousand dollars bought three iPad Minis, or a video game system and accessories, or tickets to Disneyland, even a new mattress…

Like they say, a thousand here and thousand there- pretty soon it adds up to real money.

I’m starting to feel broke. Maybe it’s time to slow down on the spending. The kids need a post secondary education. A thousand bucks might buy a couple of textbooks.

Internet Rabbit Hole

When the Internet first took off in my life it was… slow. With emails and text based websites being all that was available. By my mid twenties it was getting faster. This brought on FLASH animation and a genre of uselessness. As animation got better and the Internet expanded, actual videos were beginning to surface along with YouTube.

Yearning for faster download speeds and better quality images also happened. Upgrading computer video and sound cards became a frequent habit. With these upgrades came “The Void.” The bad habit of viewing anything and everything sucking you into a Rabbit Hole which was hard to break free from.

Long nights and obsessive behaviors took over. Mouse clicks and search engines. Wasted time. Sharing links in order to have your friends follow suit. Then came Smart Phones. Take the addiction with you…

Maybe I’m a bit cynical looking back on the advancements. Some of it is uselessness showcasing as “informative”. I’ve found that if there’s something you want to search out, chances are it’s in the World Wide Web. From bits of song lyrics to the benefits of eating dirt, or building an oversized Nerf Gun to buying a deed to some land on the moon. There’s is a vast uselessness available to be consumed.

Uselessness is one way to describe it all. But it’s also entertaining. Going online sparks the imagination and encourages us to travel, eat healthier, and exercise more. I can’t imagine a world without the Internet. Nor can I imagine an Internet world that is heavily policed and controlled- but I know it is. Someone, somewhere is saving us from ourselves while still manipulating what we purchase.

I think this blog post spiraled out of control. Time to end it. Until tomorrow when I’ll likely discuss my life again.

Scrolled Life

Sometimes I scroll through the photos on my phone to find a great image or two for my blog. My days off or vacations are filled with tons of pictures. As I slide the bar along the bottom of my pictures, I see the images forming a film strip “Stop Motion” of my memories.

I must’ve spent a good hour last night “Rewinding” through my memories. When I got my first video iPod back in 2006 it did the same thing but with the click wheel. Back in 2006 this feature reminded me of a scene from The Last Starfighter. I love how life imitates art in many ways.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was using tablet computers back in the early 90’s. Nowadays everyone has one- even kids. I love how humanity keeps moving forward in their tech. Even back in the late 80’s I remember news reports of electric cars and the constraints that came with them. Now these types of cars are everywhere.

I’m waiting for VR and augmented reality to be more prevalent in our lives. Perhaps one day I’ll be scrolling through my memories by waving my hand in the air.

Or the chip implanted in my brain will project from my mechanical eye and show my memories in a hologram form.

Whatever the future tech holds- I’m sure I’ll be happy with it and it’ll all be the new normal.

Screen Time Stats

My iPhone updates me every week about my “Screen Time”. I didn’t pay much attention to it until this morning. Curiosity had me examining it more closely.

These are my stats for this week. 29+ hours staring at my phone. More than one entire day this week. “Social Networking” took half of this. Granted, I’d like to think that it’s because of Christmas and New Year’s and my desire to see how friends are doing. But I fear that number may be closer to reality than I want to admit. I spend more time watching videos and reading memes than seeing how my friends are really doing. On average I spent two hours per day on various social media.

Four and a half hours were spent on “Productivity”. WordPress took up a little over two hours. While calculator, email, and banking took up the rest. What surprised me was “Creativity” was so low. Meaning I wasn’t taking or editing photos very much this week.

Since I have now seen some of these stats and paid more attention to them, I think it’s time to adjust my focus. The iPhone allows me to set daily limits on everything. For now, I am slashing my social media time in half. Perhaps this will make me focus more on “Creativity”.

Putting down the phone is something my wife would like us to do as a family more often. We tend to eat meals without the phone, but once that’s done- out come the devices. Same when we are watching tv or movies. Not a lot of interaction with one another. I’d like to see what my wife’s and daughter’s stats are this week. Maybe as a family we can work together to knock down our screen time usage.

Have you ever looked at your device stats? Does it make you want to change?

Data Hogs

A few days ago, my cellular provider informed me that we were about to reach our data limit. Actually, I was notified on July 20th and our data cycle resets August 3rd… I could not figure out how this was possible, since for months we barely hit our allotment. Between four iPhones, we share 12GB.

I checked our usage and found the culprits. Our youngest daughter had gone through over 5GB on her own in under three weeks. While our oldest had only used about 800MB. My wife had used 1GB. I had used over 4.5GB.

A story of two sisters who are very different data users:

Our oldest keeps her phone on airplane mode most of the time. She also has it set up to connect to WiFi all the time. She has conditioned herself to only go on social media when on WiFi as well which keeps her data usage low. She’s been doing this for a few years now- since her first phone.

Our youngest daughter has no concept of how much she uses her phone. She also doesn’t pay attention to whether she is on WiFi or not. This summer, she hasn’t been anywhere that requires her to be online. Turns out, while she was in our backyard sharing Instagram pictures and watching YouTube, she was never connected to our WiFi. She had been using data the entire time. And watching videos in full HD. I had to have a little talk with her about this and hopefully she will correct her behavior.

My wife works from home and hardly uses data. She likes to do comparison shopping in real-time when we are out. She does still play Pokémon Go and only checks social media when bored. I tend to use data far more frequently. I’ve always hovered around the 4GB range. But I use my phone for work quite often. Checking email, looking at maps, connecting with coworkers, that sort of thing. I also use social media a lot. That’s my crutch.

So for the past few days, I have shut off all data access to everyone. The biggest results I have found is that iMessage only works on WiFi now and Siri can’t figure out how to make a handsfree call when I drive. These are things I can live without for a couple more days. As we discuss as a family how to move forward with our shared data plan.

This could be interesting…

Please feel free to share any tips or advice on limiting our data consumption. I’m sure there are ways to still enjoy the cyber world…

My Technology Is Listening to Me… And Getting It Wrong.

Last night I tried to tell my son Theory that I loved him. Because that’s what you do when it’s time to say goodnight. I just tried to say it all cool like. You know, just kind of throw it out there.

“Hey Theory.”

“I love you.”

Aww. Easy Dad speak to a 12 year old son, right? Not according to the phone in my pocket. She answered me suddenly after a beep:

Aw man. What should’ve been a simple response from my son, “love you too” turned into a mean statement from my iPhone. I then began to ask Siri if she could pronounce “Theory”. Then I asked her to pronounce “Siri”. Then I asked her to find my son. So she did:

You see, my technology listens to me. Even when I don’t want it to.

Sometimes it gets it right, sometimes it doesn’t.

3D Printer- Part 1: The Obsession

I’ve been wanting to buy a 3D Printer for a few years now. I even became convinced that I could justify its existence in my life. Hey honey- Looks like I’ll need to reprint more flower pots! I’ll have that ready in about a week. But why don’t I just hit the Home Depot and spend $2 on some?

Once I almost spent some money on a pancake printer! What the heck is wrong with me? I know- it’s the excitement of making something out of almost nothing is kinda cool. Just an image in a program, some heated plastic and a few hours later- there it is: a plastic replica of something.

3D Printers have gotten better lately. After years of obsessing, studying and watching every video review- I think it may be time to get one. The model I want is the CR-10. It looks like a good printer with good reviews and a decent price point. My only worries- I’ll get bored and have an expensive paperweight or it will end up as annoying as a regular printer.

You know what I’m talking about. The paper printer at work that randomly stops working. Or the printer at home that refuses to print in black and white because one of the ink toners is low. I imagine that it could get frustrating partway through a 3D print only to have it flake out towards the end. Troubleshooting things like that are the part that makes me leery about going too cheap.

But hey, maybe I could print off my own 3D money in the end!

The Dystopian Now

I have always loved Dystopian Future stories, shows, and movies. Books such as “1984and “A Handmaid’s Tale” were great reads and I wrote a bit about it here: Dystopian Life.

Movies like “The Matrix” , “Brazil” , “Blade Runner” and even “The Fifth Element” show a technological gritty society. Always gloomy and wet with momentary rays of sunshine that bring forth a quick smile on one of the characters. I’m currently in the process of watching “Altered Carbon” on Netflix. Darker than most dystopian shows, but still very riveting.

Here we are, on the cusp of the new millennium, and I feel we are already in a Dystopian world. I drive into Vancouver for work and home again- a dreary wet world stuck in traffic. My vehicle’s dashboard has a screen showing me the radio station I am listening to or I can switch to navigation or many other options. My cellphone connects through my car as well. I can use voice commands to send and read messages or actually talk to people. My car warns me if I’m too close to another car or if one is in my blind spot.

That’s just my drive home. At home, my phone controls the music and media I play in three different areas around the house. Music from anywhere in the world can pump through my home. Nearly every electronic device can be connected. My wife has a Fitbit and it watches her heart rate and counts her steps. It connects to her cellphone and connects with other people as well.

So yes, I think we live in a Dystopian world. The future is now. Rain and technology- that’s my daily life.

Adapt or be left behind

I mentioned a few months ago that I love Technology.  Sometimes I absolutely loathe it.  Today is a prime example.  I was ready to kill my printer much like in the scene from Office Space.  But, it wasn’t the printer’s fault.  It was my lack of understanding of what was miscommunicating inside my home computer.


Simply put: I had used an older program to create labels for my wife a couple of years back.  I tried to run it on the original program.  I couldn’t open said program because my Windows operating system had updated and I was on my wife’s user not knowing where she kept anything.  Finally finding the “Label File”  I loaded it into the old program.  Seemed ok so far minus a hiccup or two opening the file.  Time to click print.  And…

Our printer was now showing an error on its tiny little screen telling me that it needed an alignment.  What?  Since when did it suddenly need an alignment?  I asked my wife if this was why she needed me to print the labels.  She said she printed something earlier with no issues.  Great.  Now it’s my inability to print.  

Off goes the printer.  On goes the printer.  

Still needs an alignment, but a computer prompt showed up allowing me to bypass it.  Ok.  Time to print.  Buzz, whir, click, printing has commenced.

For f***s sake!

The image isn’t anywhere near being aligned to the sticker labels.  ARGH!  Ok.  Wait a sec… I see the problem.  No it wasn’t that the printer needed an alignment.  I just needed to open the image in yet another program.  A few moments of the computer calculating and bringing up the right program.  Ah.  This looks better.  Print attempt number 3.

Holy crap.  The image is now too dark.

Better walk away Josef.  Walk away.

*************

Ok.  Took a poop, now back to the computer.  Ah, here we go.  Edit background image to 75% transparency.  Print attempt number 4.

SUCCESS


People in IT: thank you for doing a wonderful job.  However, when I am at home and ready to kill anyone within ten feet of me, computers can truly irk me.

The good old days of computing.


Don’t even get me started on iOS 10 for my iPhone.  It’s one of those things that always seems to happen.  You get used to an operating system, set it all up nicely the way you like it, and…. UPDATE.  I’m all for moving forward.  I used to live for the newest versions of Windows ever since ’95.  


What happened you ask?  Well, I have grown up and don’t have as much downtime to relearn each and every new software upgrade.  I am now picking and choosing when and what I need to learn.  I am afraid that one day, I’ll be left behind in the technological department.  

But hey, that’s probably when I’ll be taking regular naps and recounting the old days and talk about how wonderful they were in my blog.  

Crap.  That day is now upon me.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

As much as I love technology it also pisses my off.  My hatred comes from the fact that bugs and failures happen far too often as technology gets older.  This means that you need to upgrade more often.  

 

Even in the future, nothing works.

 

If/when humanity gets integrated with technology, I would hope that this would be sorted out.  I’d love to get an ocular implant to allow me to view the Internet without a screen.  Or have nanobots injected into my blood stream to combat cancer or strengthen my muscles.  These are all very strong possibilities in our lifetime.  I fear that if nanobots glitch out, they could make a mess of people, taking over their bodies uncontrollably like the end scene from Akira.
 

Look at me! I’m huge!

 

In this day and age all we do is turn a computer or videogame system off and on to reboot the software.  This usually resolves the issues.  I’m not ready to get rebooted on a regular basis if something screws up.  Already my body is deteriorating as I get older.  Damage has been incurred to my body/mind (both accidentally and purposefully, mind you) and the idea of getting a reboot scares me.

Chances are, the next time I get shut down, there won’t be a chance of getting fired up again.  So for now, I need to make sure everything is running at peak performance in order to prevent malfunction.

Technology 

I live for technology.  The iPhone in my hand, using the free wifi offered inside of a building, as I write this while watching my kids skate just blows me away.  There are numerous other people here (including small children) with laptops, iPads, smart phones, wearable tech, all accepting of it as a way of life.  I don’t see it as a dumbing down of our society.  Sure, I could put down my phone, have a conversation with a stranger, maybe even pay attention to my children, but why?  We don’t live in the dark ages any more.

I had my first computer and learned how to use BASIC by around age six.

You’re so BASIC.

A few years later at age thirteen, my computer could connect with other computers through a dial up 2400 Baud Modem.  It was already a step above the film WarGames.

By age seventeen, I owned a pager.  No reason for it, I just wanted one.  It’s now in a landfill somewhere is my guess.

 

Beep me sometime.

Then I got a cellphone.  It had snake on it.  That was about it.  But it was reliable.  I’ve gone through about five or six different models now, replacing it every four to five years.  Technology has come a long way and I love every bit of it.

I’ll be the first to admit, technology has been sneaky.  We willingly allow GPS to track our moves through our devices.  There are cameras just about everywhere watching our every move.  Drones, GoPros, smartphones, dashcams, who needs Big Brother when we do it to ourselves?  Sure you can argue about privacy, but if you’re doing something wrong, the law won’t care about your privacy.

I’m not afraid of what the future brings. I’m sure more good is on the way.  Perhaps one day there will be ocular implants instead of screens.  Perhaps one day there will medical advances through nanotechnology.  Perhaps one day there will be a way to keep our consciousness alive in a virtual reality setting.  Perhaps there will come a time where we plug in like the Matrix.

As long as the bugs are worked out, sign me up for Josef V2.0 and allow me to see where the world goes.  Technology doesn’t scare me.  I fully embrace it.