The Last Jedi Calleth

If there was ever any doubt that I am just a kid in the wrinkly body of some old guy, I got my ticket to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi this Saturday. I waited till Saturday because a) I have to get up to go to work during the week, and b) I don't like crazy crowds. Moderate crowds I can handle, but those first night crowds - uh, no thanks.
My son-in-law sniffs at me because I liked The Force Awakens too, and I don't care. My wife thinks I am just a twit, or possibly descending into senility - but she indulges me and does not rag on me too hard. At least she knows where I am, and what I am spending my pocket money on.
Roll on Saturday!

A Newbie's Cryptomining Comments

This is a short update to my fumbling foray into the strange world of cryptomining. Not a technical post by any means, just a few thoughts and comments on the process so far from a newbie perspective, in case any of you are contemplating this sort of thing (or are just curious).
The process I am involved in is known as "pool mining", which is a little like using a computer for something like "folding@home" or "SETI@home". You are essentially offering your computer horsepower to participate in complex calculations to help with the creation of Bitcoin, or some other form of cryptocurrency.

A Cryptomining Catastrophe

Here is an example of how life sometimes just has a bit of fun with you.
I mentioned very recently that I was going to try my hand at mining cryptocurrency - it's done with one or more high-power video cards, and you can make a little bit of money by doing so, depending on various things.
Anyway the VERY DAY I got my spiffy new mining-ready video card on the doorstep, the site I was going to use in the mining process was hacked (and supposedly lost the equivalent of over $60 million dollars).

What to do? I was very close to returning the as-yet-unopened video card and just writing the whole episode off as a fever dream; but there is more than one way to skin a cat, and after a wee bit of soul-searching I pressed on and used another service. It was a little more of a pain to setup (convenience was one of NiceHash's attractions to "newbies" like me), but not horribly so.
Apparently the whole cryptocash thing is a bit more like the Wild West than I thought...

Mulling My Minor Mining Move

So I took a first couple of steps into trying my hand (or my GPU) at mining for cryptocurrency. Not all the hardware is set up yet, I just built the basic platform today and ordered a suitable video card.

No multi-GPU extravaganza here like the image below, this is really just a home-built PC that can be re-purposed as a semi-decent gaming PC if and when this all blows up in my face. Bear in mind folks, I know *just* enough about this to get myself into hot water.
I am not one to throw a few hundred bucks around lightly; there was much hand-wringing, I can assure you. I have no illusion of making big profits either. If I can make enough for gas money, over and above the cost of the equipment and electricity, I will be well pleased.
From what I have researched, that modest goal *should* be possible - but with the volatility in the whole field, who really knows? I'd just hate to think that in a couple of years I would be thinking, "You know, I really should have looked into th…

Terragen 4 For Free

Terragen is a terrain generator; you can design and model digital landscapes that can appear startlingly realistic. The landscapes can feature water, clouds, rocks, grass and other types of plants and so on. This and other software like it are actually used in movies and TV. It may sound geeky and dull, but if you have ever created a "world", it's quite a thing to see and enjoy.
I first became aware of Terragen several years ago, with the original version of the software. It was surprisingly easy to use and actually rendered quite quickly even on the slower PCs back then. "Rendering" is the final step of the creation process, where the computer takes the scene you design and actually "draws" the final image.

R.I.P. Linux Journal

Linux Journal has chugged along since 1994, but has now finally ran out of steam. The Journal ceased publication as of December 1, 2017 simply through a lack of funds, according to the announcement. The simple fact is that we’ve run out of money, and options along with it. We never had a wealthy corporate parent or deep pockets of our own, and that made us an anomaly among publishers, from start to finish. While we got to be good at flying close to the ground for a long time, we lost what little elevation we had in November, when the scale finally tipped irrevocably to the negative. Even though I did not read it often (and am therefore a part of the problem, in a sense), it's always a bit sad to see an established product like this go under.

Roku Express - My Two Small Reservations

The inexpensive Roku Express almost appears to be a no-brainer as either a cheap intro to the world of streaming video, or as a sweet addition for that second TV that you have been meaning to hook up.

At around $30, that is a great price point - I would try almost anything for $30! It even comes with an HDMI cable. My only two (slight) reservations are that it connects via Wi-Fi only, and it has an infrared remote (rather than the Bluetooth one).
I personally have a thing against streaming video over Wi-Fi, and we have a Roku model that has an IR remote. That is about the only thing I dislike about our Roku; you have to be a bit of a sharpshooter to use that thing.
Still, a very well-priced product for most of us.
Roku Express at Amazon