601 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2018-10-09 15:50:33)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Jerry's new show, Bravo Play-by-Play had it's "season-finale" in its third episode last night.  Not sure what that means.  I watched it.  It wasn't what I expected.  I think they don't need all the co-hosts.

Has anyone watched CARTER?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Yes, I watched all 10 episodes.  Not a bad show.  I like the simple "Who done it?" approach that keeps you paying attention. Reminds me of shows from the 80's.

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I haven't seen the show. I'm not even sure where to find it...


quick search...


Ah. Yeah, I don't watch much Bravo. But reading the description, it sounds a bit like The Grinder. smile

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

hallge73 wrote:

Yes, I watched all 10 episodes.  Not a bad show.  I like the simple "Who done it?" approach that keeps you paying attention. Reminds me of shows from the 80's.

Thanks. I saw a couple of episodes.  Not a crime show fan, so could not stick with it.

Informant wrote:

I haven't seen the show. I'm not even sure where to find it...


quick search...


Ah. Yeah, I don't watch much Bravo. But reading the description, it sounds a bit like The Grinder.

It's actually on WGNAmerica in the states.  In Canada, it's on a networked named Bravo (no relation to the Bravo U.S)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

So, I bought SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES on DVD when it first came out. But recently, I wanted to show my niece "The Guardian" despite her reluctance and was stymied when the DVD was scratched! I think that paper sleeve container simply doesn't protect the discs. To replace it, I... well, I don't want to buy SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES on DVD once again.

It looks like I could get SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON off eBay for ten bucks. But... I feel so angry towards Season 3. Even in recent years, it has found new ways to offend: in 2016, SLIDERS REBORN was the *second* highest viewed section on EarthPrime.com. That's right, my writing, my scripts, were second in popularity only to... the third season episode guide on the site. It rankled and offended so deeply and I feel everything in me crying out in rage when I go to buy SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON. What to do, fellow fans?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Do they sell it per episode on streaming services?

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

From the instant messaging archives:

TRANSMODIAR: "Are you really okay with me rewriting your episode reviews?"

ME: "I really like all these jokes you add to my reviews. I think you should rewrite everything I write."

TRANSMODIAR: "Just sent you a new review, check it out."

ME: "Sure, just let me dry off first."

TRANSMODIAR: "Dry off?"

ME: "Yes, I'm wet."

TRANSMODIAR: "Why are you wet?"

ME: "I was in the bath."

TRANSMODIAR: "Good to know."

**

TRANSMODIAR: " -- and I've set a schedule on the site for the next round of stuff, take a look."

ME: "Sure, but I'm not logged into the CMS on my tablet; let me get out of the bath first."

TRANSMODIAR: "Wait -- you're NAKED right now?"

ME: "Yeah, I always take a bath this time of the day and catch up on my messages."

TRANSMODIAR: "Okay then."

**

TRANSMODIAR: " -- and I said I wanted it in my personnel file that that person coming after me was COMPLETELY CRAZY."

ME: "You've led quite a life."

TRANSMODIAR: "Did you ever read my political blog?"

ME: "I bookmarked it on my laptop; let me get out of the bath and I'll re-read it. I remember you having a lot of truther style conspiracies."

TRANSMODIAR: "Again with the bath!"

ME: "What?"

TRANSMODIAR: "I do NOT need to know that you're in the bath! I don't need to know that you're naked when we're instant messaging!"

ME: "Oh."

TRANSMODIAR: "Oh, check out the website preview for the REBORN section in the redesigned site layout when you're dry and wearing clothes."

ME: "I'm looking at it now and crying."

TRANSMODIAR: "What? WHY ARE YOU CRYING?"

ME: "The SLIDERS REBORN section. It's beautiful. It's a dream come true. Thank you."

TRANSMODIAR: "You're welcome. Look, we can talk about SLIDERS REBORN and whatever you want; just don't tell me when you're taking a bath. I don't need to know."

ME: "Okay."

**

TRANSMODIAR: "What're you up to right now?"

ME: "I cannot tell you."

TRANSMODIAR: "What are you doing, burying a dead body?"

ME: "No."

TRANSMODIAR: "Then why can't you tell me?"

ME: "You said not to tell you."

TRANSMODIAR: "Are you taking a bath right now?!"

ME: "You said you didn't want to know! Why are you asking?"

TRANSMODIAR: "I'm sure you're doing SOMETHING ELSE as well!"

ME: "Yeah, I'm looking at flights to San Francisco."

TRANSMODIAR: "You visiting family or friends or something?"

ME: "No, I was thinking I'd go for a week, see the sights and write in landmarks and geographical references for the SLIDERS REBORN scripts."

TRANSMODIAR: "You are out of your god-damn mind."

ME: "What?"

TRANSMODIAR: "Don't fly to San Francisco for fanfic! Just use Google Maps!"

ME: "Oh, okay. I suppose you're right."

TRANSMODIAR: "Are you still in the bath?"

ME: "You said not to tell you. Why are you asking?"

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I would like to watch a show about the two of you traveling in an old VW van and solving mysteries.

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I dunno. I feel like the format requires that he and I aren't actually in physical proximity, just texting each other.

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ireactions wrote:

So, I bought SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES on DVD when it first came out. But recently, I wanted to show my niece "The Guardian" despite her reluctance and was stymied when the DVD was scratched! I think that paper sleeve container simply doesn't protect the discs. To replace it, I... well, I don't want to buy SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES on DVD once again.

It looks like I could get SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON off eBay for ten bucks. But... I feel so angry towards Season 3. Even in recent years, it has found new ways to offend: in 2016, SLIDERS REBORN was the *second* highest viewed section on EarthPrime.com. That's right, my writing, my scripts, were second in popularity only to... the third season episode guide on the site. It rankled and offended so deeply and I feel everything in me crying out in rage when I go to buy SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON. What to do, fellow fans?

I ordered Season 3 off eBay for $7.81, but then -- well, I was converting some old PC game discs to ISO files for hard drive storage. One disc wouldn't copy, but then I gave it a cleaning using a cloth dampened with lens cleaning fluid and it worked. It occurred to me to do the same with the inoperative Season 3 disc rather than just using water -- and now "The Guardian" is playing fine off the DVD. I've asked the eBay seller to cancel the order and hopefully they'll do it or I'll have the dubious honour of owning two sets of the season from hell.

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....... anybody want a DVD box set of SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON?

After the Mill Creek envelopes for the discs proved inadequate, I moved the discs into a book shaped disc album. I guess I could swap out the Mill Creek discs of Season 3 and replace them with the Universal release with its (marginally) better video quality (as the Mill Creek discs were even more compressed than the Universal release to fit the episodes into fewer discarded). If I ever want to watch “The Guardian,” “Double Cross” or “Murder Most Foul,” it’d be less blurry than what I had before.

Anybody want the Mill Creek Season 3 discs?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

And now for Tech Talk, with Quinn Mallory:

I've never had much use for a smartwatch, but I did have use for a fitness watch for tracking my steps, heartrate, sleeping patterns, calories burned, etc.. When the world was going nuts over the Apple Watch, I instead got an open box Fitbit Blaze which didn't have apps. You couldn't answer texts or talk on the phone -- it was just a fitness tracker that had a colourful screen that snapped into a wrist-strap and helped me figure out how much I could allow myself to eat. Fitbit released the Ionic, a square and huge smartwatch with a discrete GPS and a development platform for apps that were... not awesome. Fitbit released the Versa, a rounded and compact smartwatch that relied on the phone for GPS and had a development platform for apps that were still... not awesome.

I was content with my somewhat clunky but oddly charming Fitbit Blaze -- until a new announcement of Fitbit OS 3.0 for the Ionic and Versa with a new app for the Versa that could monitor your physical readings when you were sick and then, in the future, warn you of an impending illness so that you could take preventative measures via extra sleep, vitamins and herbal supplements. I immediately ran out and bought a Fitbit Versa for this feature. Only to discover -- this app, Achu, isn't an app for the watch. It's a (hideous) clockface. And the data the Achu uses to offer its assessments (on this clock face) is actually gathered by an Android app tracking your Fitbit readings -- and Achu would have worked just as well with the Fitbit Blaze.

......................... anyway. I sold the Fitbit Blaze for 53.2 % of the money it cost to buy the Versa.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

And now for Tech Talk with Quinn Mallory:

I remember the exact moment I gave up on the Moto G5 Plus smartphone. I was making a two hour drive down an express highway when the podcast player went dead while Google Maps was guiding me towards my destination. Watching the road, I swiped my finger across the fingerprint sensor to switch to the previous foreground app -- the podcasts -- so that I could hit play. In mid-switch, the phone proceeded to shut down Google Maps. I think what it came down to was that 2 GB of RAM just wasn't enough for Android to multitask anymore. The phone had been lagging a bit until an Android update at which point the Moto G5 Plus dispensed with freezing, unresponsive UI performances by simply quitting apps.

So I sold it. That and fifty bucks bought me a refurbished, slightly scuffed, mildly chipped Samsung S7 with 4 GB of RAM and state of the art flagship hardware from 2016. It's pretty good and the camera might liberate me from carrying DSLRs and camcorders going forward -- but a few things alarm me.

The first is that the phone has a subtly curved edge around the screen. The result is that tempered glass protectors either don't attach securely or attach but create distortions of air pockets down the sides of the screen. The only workable screen protection so far has been a gel-film protector that adheres to the screen with liquid and can curve to fit the rounded surface -- and such protectors guard against scratches but offer no real drop protection. I didn't realize the phone lacked a flat design suited to tempered glass and I've dropped my phone a lot over the years.

I recall shattering the screen on my Samsung Galaxy S3 twice in my pre-tempered glass days. However, it occurs to me that the S3 used Gorilla Glass 2. The S7 uses Gorilla Glass 4 which is estimated to be six times less breakable and scratchable than Gorilla Glass 2, so maybe the stronger glass, my protective film and the TPU case can handle my life. That said, I've used gel-film with liquid installs on my tablets. They adhere permanently to flat surfaces. On the curved surfaces like the rears of my tablets, however, they've always peeled loose over time. The curve on the S7 screen is so subtle and slight I didn't notice it until I tried to apply a tempered glass protector, though -- maybe it'll hold.

If it peels off, however, I'll have to turn to my last resort -- a liquid screen protection fluid that supposedly applies a microscopic coating to glass to guard against scuffs and scratches and (in theory) drops. But for all I know, it could be mineral water in those tubes.

The other thing that weirds me out is how crazy heated the phone got. My Moto G5 Plus had a metal backing (on a plastic frame) and always felt cool; the S7 got really warm as it was downloading Google Play app updates. Eventually, I found the battery settings and switched on the CPU limiter. I also turned off the Always On display because I'm nervous that that's a recipe for burn-in. The screen offers a 1440 resolution but lets you dial it down to 1080 and 720. I set the screen to 720 pixels wide and... couldn't tell the difference between that and the highest resolution, so I left it on low if only to take it easy on the graphics processor. The phone has cooled now, but for an hour or so, I was wondering if it would burst into flame like a Note 7.

I had to connect the phone to my computer to activate immersive mode and hide the status bar to prevent burn-in. Samsung has kindly opened up themes for their Android build, so I chose a Google Pixel style theme and installed Nova Launcher which mimics the Google app launcher and also installed Google Messages, Calendar and Clock. The software looks like a Pixel now.

Informant, do you have the option of changing the resolution on your Note and can you tell the difference?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Apologies for my slow replies... I've been pretty sick since just before Christmas, so I haven't been online very much.

I don't have a lot of experience with changing the resolution of my screen. I have a good battery, so I keep it turned up and it lasts me all day. However, I just did a quick toggle, just to see the difference, and I have to say that there is a noticeable change in text. The lower resolution almost looked like I needed a better prescription for my glasses. And, of course, video is very different in higher resolutions.

If you're not used to the higher resolution and you don't notice any fuzziness, you're probably fine with keeping it low. However, since I always have it turned up to the max resolution, turning it down to the lowest setting did make a big difference. I didn't try a middle setting, and I only tried this for a few seconds. It's hardly an in-depth study.

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I'm sorry you've not been well. What's going on with you? And your brother? And your father? And your curse of MacGyver?

**

I suspect that the lower resolution is a problem on a Note 8 because you have a 6.3 inch screen. I have a 5.1 inch screen and 720 pixels is still a lot of pixels.

Do you have any status bar burn in? Or burn in from the Always On Display and the navigation bar? Or is the slight pixel shifting that Samsung programmed in adequate for preventing burn in? The S7 uses capacitive buttons without a navigation bar, but I've disabled Always On and the status bar.

It's pretty great to have 4GB of RAM. I'd accepted that my Moto G5 Plus needed me to run the lite versions of Facebook and Messenger and constantly having to clear the RAM and close all apps and restart at night so it'd be smoother in the morning. The S7 doesn't need any kind of maintenance that can't be set and forgotten.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I just have the flu, I think. My theory is that I've just been so stressed out for the past year, and physically/emotionally drained for a while now that my plan to take some time off around Christmas gave my body an excuse to just give up for a while. I'm getting better though, just in time to get back to some stressful work. smile

I used to walk my dog in order to clear my head and gather my thoughts for writing, but he died a while back and my only remaining dog hates walks.  I'm now working on a new way to sort of focus my brain (I usually have about a dozen trains of thought screaming in my head at any given moment, making it hard to focus on one), so maybe I'll actually be able to write again soon.

As for my family, they're all doing more or less well. I did give my brother the flu though. Oops. smile


Okay, phone stuff...

I don't see any burn-in. My nav bar disappears after a few seconds if I'm not using it, and my status bar changes color, depending on what's on the screen. The always-on display seems fine too.

That said, the only time I ever saw significant burn-in was on one of my brother's old phones, and even that was only noticable on pure white screens. Because of this, I've not been too concerned with things like the always-on feature. I do keep my home screen background pure black though, to save a little bit of battery (since unused pixels are turned off). So even if I did get burn-in, I don't have many complex images that would be burned in.

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

And now, for Tech Talk with Quinn Mallory:

I adore coffee and have always been fascinated by Keurig coffee pod machines. I have, however, refused to buy one because the cost of coffee pods versus the cost of drip coffee was unworkable -- although, I confess, I ruin a LOT of coffee. Sometimes, the paper filters collapse inside the coffeemaker and the brew is filled with grounds. Sometimes, I miscalculate the water to ground coffee ratio and end up with too strong or too weak a result.

And, when wandering through my thrift store, I spotted a Keurig machine for $20 which was far more tenable than the $120 or so cost of most of these machines. So I bought it and bought some refillable pods as well (four for $15).

I got home and was horrified to discover: the reason this machine cost $20 is because it was made when Keurig tried to prevent customers from using coffee pods from manufacturers who hadn't paid Keurig a licensing fee by including a scanner that looks for infrared ink on licensed pods. The machine will refuse to begin the brewing process if the scanner detects a pod without the infrared ink made by a company that didn't want to pay Keurig licensing fees for putting hot water through ground coffee.

I grimly refunded my refillable pods and bought a single official Keurig refillable pod for an insane $20 -- if only to make sure the machine worked. It did. But this annoyed me so much that I started looking at hacks to overturn the DRM restrictions. Some hacks involved buying a licensed pod and taping the infrared inked label to the scanner lens, some involved using neon marker or neon-coloured adhesive paper and a clip.

One involved disassembling the machine, locating the cable that sent data from the scanner to the processor and cutting it to permanently bypass the DRM protocol. I felt Quinn Mallory would do the last one, so I took apart my Keurig 2.0, cut the wire and promptly lost the screws needed to reassemble it and spent some time on my hands and knees locating them on the floor.

Anyway. I guess I'll go run some descaling solution through the machine. Who knows what's been through it?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Yeah, I hacked my Keurig too. Clipped that stupid wire, and also placed a magnet inside the machine, which granted me more control over the brewing features on my specific model. Don't know which model you have, but you should look into the magnet thing and see if it's an option for you.

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I’ve read some reports that the magnet can damage the internal carafe sensor, so I decided to hold off. I did disassemble the upper lid on the K400 and found the two wires that, if looped together, tricks the machine into thinking that a carafe is present. However, I didn’t have a wire stripper on hand.

I also don’t buy pod-packed coffee, only reusable pods, and I’ve yet to find a locally sold carafe-sized pod. The official reusable k-cup only brews 12 ounces of coffee at the most. And the only locked function in the menu that I see is for brewing carafes. Also, the Keurig 2.0 carafe is an insane $40 and buying one reusable coffee pod for $20 was already pushing it.

I think, now that the machine is unlocked, I’ll buy the four-pack of refillable coffee pods for $15 and if I need to make coffee for guests, I’ll pre-load those pods and load them in one after another.

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I think we have similar models, but I'm not sure.

Without the magnet, my machine can brew 10 ounces at the most. With the magnet, I could fill up to a 16 ounce mug. True, that might make it taste watered down, but with the right coffee, I think it can work. Especially with the "strong" setting that I always use. Typically, I make a 12 ounce cup, which isn't an option without the magnet. The entire menu is different for me, once I put the magnet in. I've been doing that for a couple of years now, without any problems with the machine.

I haven't purchased a carafe either. I have another coffee maker for "real" coffee, so I only use the Keurig for my quick cups, usually later in the day. My local grocery store sometimes has a good sale on their giant boxes of store-brand coffee, and I've experimented with some to find the ones that work for me. Again, not as good as coffee from my larger, slower, better coffee maker, but passable. Not as bad as some of the other cheap brands that I've tried. I have some reusable pods too, but I usually find another sale/clearance deal on the big boxes of coffee before I need to use the refillable k-cups.

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

My machine allows me to brew 16 ounces, but I see what's going on here. Because, pre-wirecutting, the Keurig 2.0 didn't accept common refillable pods, I bought the official Keurig My K-Cup Universal Reusable Filter ( https://www.keurig.ca/accessories/my-k- … sal-filter ). This reusable pod has about twice the height of a standard coffee pod and when you insert it into the pod basket, it lowers the latch and retracts needle (which a normal-sized pod won't do). The Keurig 2.0 detects that a larger-than-normal pod has been inserted and unlocks the 16 ounce option.

I bought four of the standard size, non-Keurig brand refillable pods today and put one in. These pods aren't long enough to trigger the latch and retract the needle, so the machine detects a normal size pod and limits you to 10 ounces. However, I tried putting the official pod in but without the lid, instead dropping in the smaller pod into the larger pod casing. This unlocked the 16 ounce brew option as well.

Anyway. If you've got a magnet in there doing the same thing as the larger pod, I think you're fine. As for me -- even my largest travel mug can only hold 10 ounces of coffee with enough space left for cream.

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Yeah, whatever does the job smile

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I made mini hamburgers for lunch today following a White Castle-esque recipe. I actually do order mini hamburgers in restaurants sometimes so that I can hear someone's voice saying, "Sliders." I've always joked that SLIDERS should be revived with Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo running a hamburger joint that specializes in miniature burgers.

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When visiting my niece at her house:

INT. FRONT HALL - DAY

Ib is walking through the hall when he accidentally barefoot kicks a HARDCOVER BOOK lying on the floor. He looks down and shrieks.

IB: "Gaahhhhhhh!!!!"

Lauren dashes down the stairs.

LAUREN: "What!? What!? What?!" (surveying the scene) "Did you kick the book? I told Mom not to leave it lying around -- "

IB: (pointing a shaking finger at the book cover) "He killed Dad!"

Lauren stares at Ib, looks down at the book and picks it up. The cover reads THANKS A LOT MR. KIBBLEWHITE: MY STORY, by Roger Daltrey.

LAUREN: "Uh. Your dad's not dead and... wait, is this about that time travel show?"

IB: "You KNOW it's not a time travel show. I think you call it that just to annoy me a little."

LAUREN: "Only a little, but I notice it annoys you a lot. Was Roger Daltrey on SLIDERS?"

IB: "Uh. Yeah. He plays this crazy US colonel who sucks the wise Professor's brain out and shoots him dead and then the Professor's corpse is left on a planet that explodes."

Lauren winces at the description and studies the book cover.

LAUREN: "My mom bought this book as a gift for someone, but then she wanted to read it first. I wouldn't really expect this guy to be playing a psycho killer."

IB: "Yeah, I don't know what his deal was -- he was on LOIS AND CLARK, also playing another slasher type character. He's not very good at playing villains. In real life, he's a drunk, affable goofball, but the only time I ever saw him playing a drunk, affable goofball was on HIGHLANDER."

LAUREN: "Well, he's a musician."

IB: "Are you saying that all musicians are drunk, affable goofballs?"

LAUREN: (thinking on this) "Yeah!"

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Every once in awhile, I come across a product that I must not only appreciate for my own use but also share with you all for its utlity and revolutionary design. This is not one of those times.

Recently, my sister fried my laptop. She was visiting and she plugged a space heater into the same power bar I use to fuel a 10-year-old laptop I keep plugged into a TV to run streaming services and play local files off an external hard drive. The heater blew the circuit and the laptop no longer powers on. She offered to replace it, but I mentally began calculating how much of her property I’ve destroyed during our association and it seemed best to stop thinking about it while I was not ahead.

I bought a used Chromecast, thinking I could use it with my streaming services and periodically copy locally stored video files to my iPad and stream them to the living room TV. But I was disappointed to find that some video files like my AVI backups of SLIDERS DVDs and my MKV conversions of STAR WARS fan restorations didn’t stream well; the video apps couldn’t handle decoding and casting the file to the TV. I bought a refurbished blu-ray player only to find it couldn’t decode those video files either (despite loudly advertising its ability to do so on the box).

I went to the tech store and began looking at racks and racks of open box Android TV boxes. “These are all garbage,” a salesman told me miserably, gesturing at a small wall of returned, open-box Android boxes. “They are too slow to run streaming services and there is no real market for good ones; most people just buy a smart TV.” My TV, however, is just a 40 inch monitor bought eight years ago.

Anyway. I figured that even a low-powered Android box could handle local video playback. I brought one home, plugged it into the TV — and there’s something quite surreal about seeing Android 4.4, an ancient phone interface stretched to tablet size and then stretched again to fill a TV screen. This MyGica ATV380 is. so underpowered that it lagged and froze until I uninstalled most of the built-in apps. The machine encourages you to use with a remote controller’s arrow keys to move a cursor about a touchscreen interface that’s on a TV. I had to plug in a wireless mouse instead. The built-in video player couldn’t decode a lot of my video formats.

The best that can be said: the manufacturer left the Android interface under their launcher untouched, so I was able to install a personalized homescreen, a file explorer and a video app with the right codecs. It definitely doesn’t have the power to stream Netflix well, and even if it did, it’d be the Android app blown up to a TV screen with the need to use a mouse. But it can play locally stored 1080p video files; the Chromecast can handle screening services and the blu-ray player — well, I only have like seven blu-rays and a bunch of DVDs. And I bought everything used or refurbished, so it cost under a hundred bucks.

Anyway. Android TV boxes are stupid. Android is for phones and the software and hardware on these devices are a joke. I think most people should just get a wifi-enabled TV with streaming service apps built in as well as USB ports for hard drives.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I have a smart TV, but I probably do most of my streaming through my Roku. It has more apps/channels available and it's easier to upgrade over time than a TV. I've been using Roku devices for about ten years now. I'd definitely recommend them, and there are good deals on them pretty often.

I have one of their boxes, not one of the streaming sticks. I can't vouch for the sticks.

Please be informed that the political, scientific, sociological, economic and legal views expressed in Informant's posts and social media accounts do not reflect any consensus of Sliders.tv.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I thought about getting a Roku streaming stick or box, but I couldn't tell if they could access a USB drive and a used Chromecast was cheaper. My niece has a Samsung TV and the Netflix interface is so slow and laggy and the wifi hardware so poor that she just uses the XBox X to play video files and streaming services.

As a kid, I had one box to handle TV signals and one VHS player. Now I have a blu-ray player that's very good at playing blu-ray and DVD but awkward or non-functional for playing video files and it has no streaming function. I have a Chromecast that's very good for streaming services if accompanied by a tablet but useless for locally stored video. And I have an Android TV that should technically be good for any Android app, streaming or not, but it kept lagging and freezing just trying to download and install apps. The only thing it can do well is play locally stored video files.

I admit that the user experience doesn't really matter so long as the video files play, but make no mistake, this Android box is a piece of crap and the salesman told me that it was the cheapest of the three he hated least. I wonder if there exists a machine that can do blu-ray/DVD and also streaming services and also play locally stored videos and there probably is, but it also probably costs more than $100 whereas these three items cost about $80.

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Roku has a variety of different products. The one I've been looking at for my next upgrade is the Roku Ultra (currently $99, but it was about half that price around Black Friday). I don't think that it plays AVI files, but it does have a USB port, for local playback, so there's always the option of converting files to a supported format, if you don't mind the long process of doing so (find a converter that can batch process and I suppose you could set up several conversions at a time)

My Samsung smart TV works pretty well. I guess it comes down to the model, since the technology is always progressing. I can even mirror my Note 8 screen on my TV without any trouble.

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Re: Personal Status Updates!

Samsung is urgently exiting the blu-ray player market:
https://www.denofgeek.com/us/culture/27 … ay-players

Hmm. Well, I have to say, the prices on blu-ray players are INSANE. When my sister fried the living room laptop I used as a home theatre system for the TV, I was looking around. A new blu-ray player at Best Buy cost $225 USD. I had to go searching with refurbished stores and open box models before finding a sensible $35 USD model (open box with no wifi functions). I only have a few blu-rays (Seasons 1, 2, 4 and 5 of CHUCK, Seasons 8 - 9 of SMALLVILLE). And I don't see myself buying any more. The average new release on blu-ray disc at Best Buy starts at $25 USD.

In an era of all-you-can-view subscriptions with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and in a market of $40 Chromecasts and Rokus, it doesn't make financial sense to spend $25 on a single home viewing experience or more than $60 on blu-ray players that you can only count on to play blu-ray and DVD. Sony's latest $250 wifi blu-ray players only promise support for Netflix and YouTube. It's terrible value for the money.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I watched SLIDERS in IMAX! Sort of.

In COMMUNITY's sixth season, Jeff Winger declares that virtual reality is lame. I didn't doubt it, but I didn't know that for a fact. Jeff's issue with VR was the absurd complications and exertions to perform simple tasks like copying files. In his view, there was no need for a computer system to resemble a real-world environment.

Arguably true, but VR also hopes to be like a STAR TREK holodeck, so when I saw a Samsung Gear VR headset for $20 (you slide a Samsung phone into the goggles), I decided I would like to find out for sure. I'm not much of a gamer, but I thought it'd be neat to try watching TV shows on a simulated IMAX screen in virtual reality.

It's extremely lame. Despite the high resolution of my Samsung S7 phone, the magnified lenses of the VR goggles inflate the phone's screen image and create an unfortunate screen door effect; you can see the space between the pixels. You feel like you're in an IMAX theatre -- except the screen is like a low-res cathode ray tube.

However. The SLIDERS DVDs are extremely poor quality transfers with a shocking lack of detail and a very blurry image quality. And, when I put my DVD rips on my phone and watch them in the VR cinema, the screen door pixelation obscures the lousy bitrate and overcompressed picture. Gear VR video makes low-res, substandard SD versions of 90s television look acceptable on a massive CRT-esque screen. I watched "As Time Goes By" in an IMAX theatre setting. I watched "The Guardian" in an IMAX theatre setting. With a Gear VR visor and high-bass Bluetooth headphones.

Well. That was worth twenty bucks. :-)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I bought a new TV. I’m starting to realize that as TVs get better, SLIDERS DVDs look worse. The first TV that I ever bought was a 32-inch 720p Samsung with gorgeous backlighting, saturation and black levels. SLIDERS looked solid with my PS3 upscaling the video to 720p thanks to the great contrast and colour.

A couple years later, my mother’s old CRT TV blew, so I gave her my Samsung and graduated to a 39-inch 1080p Dynex (a generic Best Buy brand). After a bit of calibration, it was alright — the higher resolution gave it a bit of a boost over the Samsung, but the black levels were a step down, the colours less rich, and SLIDERS on this screen looked a bit fuzzier, not because the TV was poorer but because the larger scale showed the flaws more.

And now, eight years later, my mother’s insistence on leaving her TV switched on and paused while she goes out for the day has led to hideous burn-in and backlight damage. In contrast, my 39-inch Dynex looks perfect. I gave her my 39-inch and bought a new RCA 55-inch 4K TV.

It’s okay. I was a bit alarmed at first at an odd cloud of grayness over any dark images on the TV — it’s LED clouding — but lightly brushing against the clouding with a microfiber cloth removed it completely. More disturbing were the various patches of darkness against white images, but the THX calibration tool let me reduce it from distracting to unremarkable with backlight and contrast adjustments. It's a low-quality, budget TV, but with some calibration, the results are good: the colour and the contrast are amazing.

The darkened libraries of SHADOWHUNTERS look dark while still being able to see the individual shelves and tables; the sands of STAR WARS look sun-drenched but never oversaturated. It was neat to realize that this high contrast, perfectly lit image might not be the filmmakers' intention and to set the enhancements to a midpoint.

Unfortunately, regardless of the settings, my SLIDERS DVDs look ghastly on this modern TV. There are jagged edges around all the people against the backgrounds. I switched off the dynamic contrast enhancements and lowered the sharpness and the result was another fuzzy, ugly image. The image gives the impression of watching the episode through the wrong pair of glasses. What was acceptable as standard definition upscaled on a 39-inch screen is unwatchable on a 55-inch screen.

It’s unfortunate. SLIDERS is no longer something I want to watch on my TV; it’s become a show to watch on a 10-inch tablet because it looks so awful in the home theatre. It’s kind of astonishing to me that the standard definition DEEP SPACE NINE looks adequate on my TV while SLIDERS, likely produced on similar materials, is a visual abomination and not because of the film or video quality but because Mill Creek overcompressed the episodes on too few discs.

DEEP SPACE NINE's standard definition detail can be upscaled; the SLIDERS DVDs have no detail to upscale. Fourteen discs is too few for 88 episodes; it should have been a minimum of 24 discs.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

ireactions wrote:

I bought a new TV. I’m starting to realize that as TVs get better, SLIDERS DVDs look worse. The first TV that I ever bought was a 32-inch 720p Samsung with gorgeous backlighting, saturation and black levels. SLIDERS looked solid with my PS3 upscaling the video to 720p thanks to the great contrast and colour.

A couple years later, my mother’s old CRT TV blew, so I gave her my Samsung and graduated to a 39-inch 1080p Dynex (a generic Best Buy brand). After a bit of calibration, it was alright — the higher resolution gave it a bit of a boost over the Samsung, but the black levels were a step down, the colours less rich, and SLIDERS on this screen looked a bit fuzzier, not because the TV was poorer but because the larger scale showed the flaws more.

And now, eight years later, my mother’s insistence on leaving her TV switched on and paused while she goes out for the day has led to hideous burn-in and backlight damage. In contrast, my 39-inch Dynex looks perfect. I gave her my 39-inch and bought a new RCA 55-inch 4K TV.

It’s okay. I was a bit alarmed at first at an odd cloud of grayness over any dark images on the TV — it’s LED clouding — but lightly brushing against the clouding with a microfiber cloth removed it completely. More disturbing were the various patches of darkness against white images, but the THX calibration tool let me reduce it from distracting to unremarkable with backlight and contrast adjustments. It's a low-quality, budget TV, but with some calibration, the results are good: the colour and the contrast are amazing.

The darkened libraries of SHADOWHUNTERS look dark while still being able to see the individual shelves and tables; the sands of STAR WARS look sun-drenched but never oversaturated. It was neat to realize that this high contrast, perfectly lit image might not be the filmmakers' intention and to set the enhancements to a midpoint.

Unfortunately, regardless of the settings, my SLIDERS DVDs look ghastly on this modern TV. There are jagged edges around all the people against the backgrounds. I switched off the dynamic contrast enhancements and lowered the sharpness and the result was another fuzzy, ugly image. The image gives the impression of watching the episode through the wrong pair of glasses. What was acceptable as standard definition upscaled on a 39-inch screen is unwatchable on a 55-inch screen.

It’s unfortunate. SLIDERS is no longer something I want to watch on my TV; it’s become a show to watch on a 10-inch tablet because it looks so awful in the home theatre. It’s kind of astonishing to me that the standard definition DEEP SPACE NINE looks adequate on my TV while SLIDERS, likely produced on similar materials, is a visual abomination and not because of the film or video quality but because Mill Creek overcompressed the episodes on too few discs.

DEEP SPACE NINE's standard definition detail can be upscaled; the SLIDERS DVDs have no detail to upscale. Fourteen discs is too few for 88 episodes; it should have been a minimum of 24 discs.

It's funny you mention that.  I have a small old tube 4:3 tv in which the dvds look pretty good.  As they don't expose the issues, and also have no black bars.

I was able to get the pilot looking fantastic with an XBox One that upscales, a smart tv with it's own technology to upgrade the picture, and then using open source software to do a faux hd conversion.  I am not sure how the non-pilot episodes would perform under those circumstances though since it's a more compressed source.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I'd like you to put a Mill Creek SLIDERS disc through your Xbox One and smart TV and let us know the results. I'm sure they're terrible. You can't upscale standard definition detail to faux high def without having some SD level detail to upscale in the first place.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

ireactions wrote:

I'd like you to put a Mill Creek SLIDERS disc through your Xbox One and smart TV and let us know the results. I'm sure they're terrible. You can't upscale standard definition detail to faux high def without having some SD level detail to upscale in the first place.

I will give it a shot.  I've never been to upset about Mill Creek's product, however, because I don't think their product was aimed at big fans (like a collector's edition, or a first-run of the complete series might).  I think it was just a wal-mart, casual audience release ("hey, i remember that show!  oh it's only 20 bucks for the whole series? OK!").  Where DVD releases go to die after their studios have fully monetized the official, first-run releases.

The hardest thing is watching older titles, with smaller audiences, get the HD treatment.  Because they don't have special effects, and were often edited on film. 

Looking back, I wish someone had captured The Hub broadcasts somehow, because they seemed to be upscale and the cleanest image we had seen.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

To our Texans.  Meet JRD this month

https://texaspinball.com/tpf/mordor-is-a-long-way-away/

https://www.visitfrisco.com/media/cvb-r … t/tpf2019/

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I'm sort of... going on a somewhat restrictive diet. I meant to see AQUAMAN and CAPTAIN MARVEL in theatres, but the day came and I felt I would be better off failing to understand Javascript and JQuery. I want to log onto TrekBBS to share thoughts on DISCOVERY, but I put them here so that I'll get fewer responses and won't get drawn too much into fantasy. I want to up my intake of reality and consume less fiction. Pierce on COMMUNITY once advised, "Start a family, find someone to share your life with -- that and learning about computers are two things you can't knock out at the end." Well, I have my niece and an assortment of platonic female friends. I think I need to understand computers or at least fail to do so after prolonged effort.

I was also averaging one date a week, but I've shut my online dating profile down. I just don't feel I have anything to offer the dating world until I really understand how to code instead of knowing just enough to build my own Wordpress theme and have it blow up in my face. I know I could just ask Transmodiar, but he shouldn't be doing what I need to do myself.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

For reasons I can't remember relating to Razor Gillette from "The Young and the Relentless," the Gillette commercial about toxic masculinity, and the hilarious outcry against it, I wrote up a cost assessment of various shaving products I've tried, then forgot all about it until I was going through my scratchpad app today. The response to the Gillette commercial from various angry men feeling threatened by the idea that bullying and sexual harassment are bad led to the hashtag #getwokegobroke, a complaint that Gillette products are too expensive.

I think I wrote the below to sort out how much Gillette products cost each year, but I can't recall how it relates to the Razor character at all.

Rotary Electric Razor (Philips)
I've found that rotary razors with their rounded, rotating blades, provide at best a perfunctory shave. They leave the face with a low level of stubble and the results are that the user goes from unshaven to slightly less unshaven. The only point on which I can recommend them: they don't irritate sensitive skin and as their ineffectual nature makes them exceedingly gentle. I keep a cheap $10 in my desk at work, though, so that if I need to go from my office to an evening event and want to look morning-fresh, I quickly can go from unshaven to slightly less unshaven.

You'd spend about $40 a year on replacing the shaving head annually plus the $60 - $140 for a long lasting shaving unit itself.

Gillette Disposable Sensor Dual Blade Razors
These manual cartridge razors are an adequate single use product. Most of these lack modern razor technology: lubrication strips, pivoting razor heads to adjust to the contours of the face or microfins to press the skin down smooth for the blades. They provide one shave, but after that, the blades are dull and shouldn't be used again or they'll tug at facial hair and cut up the skin.

You'd spend about $365 a year on this as these single use blades amount to about $1 each.

Gillette Fusion5 ProShield Power Razor
This manual cartridge razor is the pinnacle of shaving technology: detachable razor heads for easy replacement. Dual lubrication strips. A pivoting shaving head that goes left/right and up/down for all contours of the face. A comb to catch hair and direct it into the blades. A motor in the handle that creates soft pulses in the razor head to increase cutting and sooth the face. And five blades, allowing an initial blade to catch the hair, the subsequent blade to cut it, and for the process to repeated three times where a dual blade razor does it once.

It's too big. I shave best by raking the razor against the grain of my facial hair, creating the smoothest results. But a five blade razor is so large that I can't use it to shave the skin between my mouth and nose; the head occupies the entire surface area of the space I'm trying to shave. I have no space to move it.

The Fusion5 includes a "precision trimmer," a single blade on the edge, but it keeps giving me shaving cuts because the trimmer has no lubricating strip or microfins. The micropulses ensure a gentle touch to the razor, but unless I want to grow a mustache (and I don't), the Fusion5 is too big.

You'd spend about $45 a year on replacement blades plus $15 for the handle (which comes with one blade).

Gillette Triple Blade Safety Razor
The company actually sells a wide range of disposable and cartridge-detachable triple bladed razors. The gentlest is the disposable Sensor 3 Sensitive. The sharpest is the cartridge-replaceable Mach 3. The Sensor 3 Sensitive has a stronger lubricration strip; the Mach 3 lasts longer and has sharper blades, and three blade razors work best for me in being small enough to maneuver in smaller spots on my face and offering a close shave.

However, in order to make the best use of these triple blades, it requires small, precise blade strokes to produce a stubble free face. The Sensor 3 stays sharp for about 10 shaves per blade and the Mach 3 for 15, so it's important to have a regular supply as continuing to use dulled razors leads to cuts. The sharpness of the blades and the lubricating strips allow shavers to use cheap shaving foam instead of pricier lubricating gels; the skin needs a protective layer of foam, but the blades don't need much extra layering to glide across the face.

You'd spend about $45 a year on the Sensor 3 Sensitive razors or about $40 a year on the Mach 3 refill cartridges plus $8 for the handle (which comes with three blades).

Gillette Shaving Foam
It works great with manual razors, it's super inexpensive at $3 -5 a can every three months (so, $20 a year) and it's very reliable.

Braun Series 3 Electric Foil Shaver
A foil shaver has motorized blades going left and right instead of in the circles of a rotary shaver. The Series 3 is one of the cheapest, and it's pleasingly effective, especially when combined with shaving gel. It provides a very close shave that's just as clean as triple blade manual shaving and the shaving head is advertised to last for a year and a half. It's much faster than manual shaving, but it's harsher on the skin than manual and rotary razors. To avoid skin irritation, it needs to be combined with high lubrication shaving gel; the light and inexpensive foam that works fine with manual blades don't provide enough protection. Definitely the most convenient option.

You'd spend $17 a year on a replacement head (really $25 - $26 over eighteen months) and $40 for the shaving unit.

Gillette Fusion5 Shaving Gel
This gel is thicker than Gillette's foam and it adds a high level of cushioning that Gillette's blades don't really need, but Braun's electric foil shavers definitely do. There's a great cooling effect to offset any irritation from an electric razor. It's $4 a can for about a two month supply, so that's $24 a year.

I prefer to use triple bladed razors and foam, but I generally can't. I'm always in a hurry on weekday mornings, so I use the electric foil (not Gillette) and depend on the gel (Gillette) to protect my skin from the foil blades. Spending two minutes on shaving instead of five gets me out the door sooner and helps me beat the traffic.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I tried Gillette Skinguard, a new razor with only two blades, dual lubrication strips and two skinguards between each blade to flatten the skin to create more distance from the blades. It's quite impressive. Because my facial hair grows flat against my skin, I have to shave against the grain or the blades glide right over the stubble and leave it untouched, but there can be tugging, pulling and tiny cuts where the hair has been almost yanked out. The Skinguard, however, has absolutely no discomfort whatsoever and creates the same results as a Mach3 blade, and it feels like I ran a piece of smooth plastic over my face.

**

I'm in the process of converting my Fade In scripts for SLIDERS REBORN into Google Docs which will be much easier for people to read on mobile phones. I keep finding uncorrected typos and plotholes as I go. "Reunion" has Quinn running from the police with a bag of illicit peanuts. But later in the script, it's established that via his 2015 slide system, a vortex will automatically find him wherever he is on a parallel world once the window is ready, with or without the timer, and return him home. So why does he run? Why not just surrender to the cops and let the vortex extract him from the back of a cop car or a holding cell? I wrote this script and I cannot answer this question except to say at the time, my thinking was, "It's a SLIDERS script; it has to have a chase scene."

Re: Personal Status Updates!

So I know we talked a bit about my wife and me trying to have a kid.  Well, I wanted to announce that last week, she gave birth to our daughter!  Just wanted you guys to know that 1) so you didn't feel so bad about what happened before and 2) so you won't worry if I'm not here as much in the next few weeks smile

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Well, congratulations. But just in case, I'm going to start writing an essay on Top Ten Contributions From Slider_Quinn21.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Awesome!  Is she named Wade or Quinn?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

So I know we talked a bit about my wife and me trying to have a kid.  Well, I wanted to announce that last week, she gave birth to our daughter!  Just wanted you guys to know that 1) so you didn't feel so bad about what happened before and 2) so you won't worry if I'm not here as much in the next few weeks smile

Wow!  Congratulations!  Hope you are enjoying fatherhood!

Re: Personal Status Updates!

It's been really great so far!  I think we lucked out with a pretty great little girl.

And I tried to sell Quinn really hard, but I was vetoed smile

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

So I know we talked a bit about my wife and me trying to have a kid.  Well, I wanted to announce that last week, she gave birth to our daughter!  Just wanted you guys to know that 1) so you didn't feel so bad about what happened before and 2) so you won't worry if I'm not here as much in the next few weeks smile

Congratulations!

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

645 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2019-12-01 11:01:36)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

It's been really great so far!  I think we lucked out with a pretty great little girl.

And I tried to sell Quinn really hard, but I was vetoed smile

smile

The great thing about sliders is so many unisex names.  Quinn. Wade.  Tracy. 

Mallory.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

From the SUPERNATURAL thread:

Grizzlor wrote:

S15 has been good so far.  It's a shame Informant has vanished, as they FINALLY brought back brother Adam from the cage!

ireactions wrote:

I’ll respond to this when my Chromebook laptop arrives in the mail. I’m currently down to a tablet for leisure computing; I’ve had to rip all entertainment and social media out of my Windows desktop to focus on Work. And I can’t do long form message board posts on an iPad.

Transmodiar wrote:
ireactions wrote:

I’ll respond to this when my Chromebook laptop arrives in the mail. I’m currently down to a tablet for leisure computing; I’ve had to rip all entertainment and social media out of my Windows desktop to focus on Work. And I can’t do long form message board posts on an iPad.

Important, urgent information. smile

ireactions wrote:

Well, I think it's somewhat relevant that I have bought a new computer for the sole purpose of posting on this message board. (It cost two figures and it's been held up at customs.)

Transmodiar wrote:

Two figures? I'll take a Chromebook for that price point!

See? It's important information and clearly somewhat urgent.

It's a Samsung Chromebook 3 with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Found it on eBay with the search filters set to look up Chromebooks less than $100 and new (ha!), open box or manufacturer refurbished. I found an open box one. I'm still seeing a bunch on eBay in the $50 - 90 USD range, but with 16GB of storage.

Although God knows what will arrive in the mail: I'm told it's being held in Erlanger, Kentucky on suspicion of containing hazardous materials. For all I know, it contained an intelligent living flame or penicillin or a disc containing the unredacted Constitution or a super-intelligent snake or an anti-Kromagg virus or contraband coffee. This is as much as I can stand to type on an iPad.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

So I know we talked a bit about my wife and me trying to have a kid.  Well, I wanted to announce that last week, she gave birth to our daughter!  Just wanted you guys to know that 1) so you didn't feel so bad about what happened before and 2) so you won't worry if I'm not here as much in the next few weeks smile

Congrats!  Just read this obviously.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

And now for tech talk, with Quinn Mallory:

Zero Sum: Recently bought a Samsung Chromebook 3 for exactly $0. That's right, $0. It was very strange: I ordered a lightly used 32GB model on eBay and received a lightly used 16GB model. When I contacted the seller, she promptly replied, "It said no returns in my ad! You don't like it, too bad! No refund!" I contacted eBay and they reminded the seller that the eBay Money Back Guarantee requires that items be correctly described in ads or any seller's no return policy is overruled and that she should either provide a refund or a prepaid shipping label.

Refusal: The seller replied to us, "You knew when you bought it there were no returns! You're not getting a refund! If it's 16GB instead of 32GB, that's not my fault! eBay autofilled the listing!" eBay advised that she provide a prepaid return label to which she answered, "He wants to return it! He pays for shipping!"

Refund: eBay promptly took the seller's funds out of her PayPal account and gave me a full refund and told me that as the seller refused to provide return shipping, I should keep the Chromebook and do what I liked with it. The seller then contacted me. "You return my laptop or I SUE!" she wrote. "And if it's not in perfect condition, I sue!"

Review: As she was threatening to sue either way, I decided to start enjoying my new $0 laptop which, being $0, has to be evaluated on a very different scale. That said, even if free, the laptop's twisted neumatic screen was an abomination. It had an anti-glare coating that created a hideous rainbow grain pattern. The frosted surface also boasted dull, washed out colours and the colour black often looked like a distorted rainbow or gray. The 16GB of storage was a potential problem as after installing apps and a Linux virtual machine, I had 5GB left.

Performance: However, because a Chromebook doesn't run programs, its performance on an Intel Celeron N3060 and an eMMC drive is astonishing.  It boots instantly. It logs in instantly. It opens 'programs' instantly because it doesn't really run anything other than the Chrome web browser and all the programs are progressive web apps in browser windows that can have the browser toolbars or not have them. Any web page can become an app in the app menu.

I don't know that you'll be creating AVATAR on this thing, but it's the perfect machine for social media and correspondence. And the battery life! It lasts 10 hours on a single charge! My last laptop, a Surface Pro 3, only made it to 3 - 4 hours! This all made the Chromebook worth keeping.

Retrofitting: I opened up the display and took out the monitor and put in an IPS screen I bought off eBay. Suddenly, colours were crisp and sharp and while it's a 1366x768 panel, at 11.6 inches, the lower resolution doesn't seem to be that distant from the 1080p panel of my TV or my desktop monitor. I put in a 128GB microSD card and while it can't hold app data, it can store downloaded files.

Storage: The 5GB of storage doesn't seem to be a problem when all my documents and spreadsheets are stored in the cloud. That said, I'm looking forward to a future Chrome OS update allowing me to reduce the Linux install size from 3GB to 1.8GB.

Apps: I do need some office productivity apps. I was able to, via the Linux virtual machine, install LibreOffice so that I can work with Microsoft Office files. Text in Android apps look like a blurry mess on this machine (and I've read that they look ridiculous on most Chromebooks), but I did install an Android video player for multimedia playback. Aside from that, I'm just using web pages and web apps like Google Docs.

Remote Access: The only thing that's really been a failure -- I thought a Chromebook could let me log into my Windows 10 desktop remotely from anywhere and use the desktop's i7 and 16GB of RAM and 4GB Nvidia GPU in the smaller form factor of the 11.6 inch Chromebook.

But unless I'm on my home network, the remote access is so slow, delayed and filled with pauses that it's unusable. Thankfully, the Chromebook has Linux and Linux has LibreOffice.

Value: I'm seeing a lot of high end Chromebooks for $700 - $1,500 USD and I'm not sure web apps are worth that kind of money or that blurry Android apps would be all that great. But as a used $0 - $90 item, the Samsung Chromebook 3 at 16GB is pretty perfect for sending emails and instant messages to my friends and the family members I still talk to, for jotting down notes (even offline) and posting on this board. The desktop, I'm reserving for more Serious Work like video editing and design and scripts. The Chromebook is for plain text typing and social media.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Sounds like Ebay didn't have much patience with the seller.  The seller definitely seems pretty obnoxious about it all but I could imagine it was frustrating for her if their listing tool provided the wrong spec and she assumed it to be correct.

You'd think they would have at least warned her that if she didn't provide the return label, she'd lose the full value of the sale.

She definitely handled it poorly but ebay could have at least given her a heads up as not everyone has the funds to lose a sale like that.

And Ebay should make it clear with their list tool, especially for products that can have variants, that the specs might not match and the seller should review them.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

She definitely handled it poorly but ebay could have at least given her a heads up as not everyone has the funds to lose a sale like that.

I can assure you that I warned her and did so before asking eBay to intervene. I sent her a message quoting passages from eBay's specific policies, including:

  • "Even if you specify no returns accepted, under the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the buyer can still return an item if it doesn’t match the listing description"

  • "In some instances, we may not require that an item be returned to the seller"

  • "For example: if the return request was opened because the item was not as described"

  • "Or if the seller did not provide a return shipping label"

  • "This User Agreement, the Mobile Application Terms of Use, and all policies and additional terms posted on and in our sites, applications, tools and services (collectively "Services") set out the terms on which eBay offers you access to and use of our Services."

I seriously doubt she didn't know she was selling a 16GB item as 32GB because she refused to apologize for it and insisted that she wasn't responsible for the accuracy of her own ad when eBay policy is pretty clear that ads have to be correct. I think she was angry that she got caught. And angry to discover that selecting "No returns accepted" would not prevent consequences for fraud.

I told her that she could either give me a partial refund to cover the cost of a microSD expansion or she'd pay out the cost of the sale, the cost of the shipping, and the cost of the return shipping. She refused, shrieking, "No returns! No refund!" I reset and reboxed the laptop for a return and contacted eBay.

After eBay refunded me and told me to keep the item, I told both eBay and the seller that I'd still return her laptop even though eBay's terms no longer required me to do so. I just needed a prepaid shipping label.

She replied, "He wants to return it! He pays for shipping!" eBay responded to say, "We advise you not to pay for the shipping." She responded to say that she'd sue if I didn't return the laptop and would sue after I returned it if she wasn't happy with its condition.

At this point, I ran out of patience and had a lot of data entry to work on, so I decided to reopen the box and get to work on my $0 laptop and not worry about this person who seemed pathologically incapable of taking responsibility for her mistakes or taking action to amend them and who thought it was a good idea to threaten me when I had (a) the money (b) the item and (c) less and less reason to return either with each new threat.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

ireactions wrote:
RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

She definitely handled it poorly but ebay could have at least given her a heads up as not everyone has the funds to lose a sale like that.

I can assure you that I warned her and did so before asking eBay to intervene. I sent her a message quoting passages from eBay's specific policies, including:

  • "Even if you specify no returns accepted, under the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the buyer can still return an item if it doesn’t match the listing description"

  • "In some instances, we may not require that an item be returned to the seller"

  • "For example: if the return request was opened because the item was not as described"

  • "Or if the seller did not provide a return shipping label"

  • "This User Agreement, the Mobile Application Terms of Use, and all policies and additional terms posted on and in our sites, applications, tools and services (collectively "Services") set out the terms on which eBay offers you access to and use of our Services."

I seriously doubt she didn't know she was selling a 16GB item as 32GB because she refused to apologize for it and insisted that she wasn't responsible for the accuracy of her own ad when eBay policy is pretty clear that ads have to be correct. I think she was angry that she got caught. And angry to discover that selecting "No returns accepted" would not prevent consequences for fraud.

I told her that she could either give me a partial refund to cover the cost of a microSD expansion or she'd pay out the cost of the sale, the cost of the shipping, and the cost of the return shipping. She refused, shrieking, "No returns! No refund!" I reset and reboxed the laptop for a return and contacted eBay.

After eBay refunded me and told me to keep the item, I told both eBay and the seller that I'd still return her laptop even though eBay's terms no longer required me to do so. I just needed a prepaid shipping label.

She replied, "He wants to return it! He pays for shipping!" eBay responded to say, "We advise you not to pay for the shipping." She responded to say that she'd sue if I didn't return the laptop and would sue after I returned it if she wasn't happy with its condition.

At this point, I ran out of patience and had a lot of data entry to work on, so I decided to reopen the box and get to work on my $0 laptop and not worry about this person who seemed pathologically incapable of taking responsibility for her mistakes or taking action to amend them and who thought it was a good idea to threaten me when I had (a) the money (b) the item and (c) less and less reason to return either with each new threat.

Sorry to hear that.  Some people are entirely unreasonable.  And though it's not common to run into them, you never know what you're gonna get with these sorts of things.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I went eight days without internet and only dial-up speed on my phone. I may never be the same again.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Dinner with one of my favourite actresses over Zoom! Wait, hang on. Recently had to fire someone. Everyone got promoted. Dinner with my favourite actress over Zoom!

ELLIE: "Dinner over Zoom! Is this new for you?"

IB: "It is indeed, but I take comfort in knowing that we'll have exactly the amount of physical contact that we do when we eat together in person."

ELLIE: "Haha!"

IB: "Oh, I have to ask you -- have you recently joined a -- " (makes air quotes) " -- pyramid scheme, self-actualization program, potentiality unlocking process or anything that might be construed as a cult?"

ELLIE: (air quotes) "No. I've just been working on my self-tapes. Did one today!"

IB: "Oh thank God. Otherwise, I'd think that dress was for my benefit."

ELLIE: "Aren't you wearing a suit right now?"

IB: "It's a sport jacket!"

ELLIE: "I am so sorry for not knowing the difference as I can tell that really matters to you."

IB: "It makes me feel like we're in a restaurant instead of eating delivered meals."

ELLIE: "Yeah, always use the environment to assume your role."

IB: "Oh, Jezebel tells me that all my favourite actresses will be deprived of their usual botox injections and fillers and that the lines in their faces will start to deepen and their faces will be more sunken. Are you experiencing any of that and do you need sympathy?"

ELLiE: "No. And no. I figure you'll come up with some magic skin care routine for me."

IB: "Thank you, I will take you off the list, Ellie."

ELLIE: "Who's Ellie?"

IB: "Oh, I just have to call you that once for the transcript so Slider_Quinn21 won't know who you are and have to guess."

ELLIE: "Is this about that TV show you like? The one about time travellers?"

IB: "You KNOW it's not about time travellers! I think you say that just to annoy me a little."

ELLIE: "Yeah!" (snickering) "But your niece and I notice it annoys you a lot."

Re: Personal Status Updates!

ireactions wrote:

ELLIE: "Is this about that TV show you like? The one about time travellers?"

https://s-marketwatch-com.cdn.ampproject.org/i/s/s.marketwatch.com/public/resources/images/MW-IG176_DocBro_ZH_20200508152409.jpg

lol - you two sound like a lot of fun!  smile

Re: Personal Status Updates!

An actress knows who I am!  I'm not even going to try and guess now! smile

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Informant once remarked that I had more tech accidents than anyone he'd ever met. It was true: I smashed my Samsung S3 screen on three separate occasions, dropped my Samsung Note 8 tablet into a bucket of water, cracked my iPad screen -- but then low-cost tempered glass protectors came onto the eBay market. I would crack my Samsung S7 phone's screen protector 2 - 3 times a year and smash my iPad screen protector once a year -- but the $7 glass protectors and the plastic case would absorb any impact and leave the device underneath unscathed.

But recently -- my Samsung S7 case tore open after a drop on some sharp-edged rocks. I got a new case, ordered a new protector -- and discovered that the raised edge of the case would always slip UNDER the tempered glass protector and raise it off the screen. The thin-edged case I'd found before was no longer on sale. An edge-less case was available -- except that this new case no longer held the screen protector in place. The S7 has a curved edge to the screen. Adhesive is only on the edge of the protector to prevent distortion on the illuminated display. Without the thin-edged case to hold the protector down, it had a tendency to fly off every time I dropped the phone. Liquid also got under the protector every time I wiped the phone down with disinfectant, causing the glass to fall off the screen. I went from losing three screen protectors a year to losing three a month.

And my new iPad tempered glass screen protectors seemed to be slightly wider and thicker than previous models -- and would also not fit within the confines of the plastic case. I could apply the protector, but then I'd put on the case and it would raise the protector and sweep it off the screen.

I've found one last set of iPad screen protectors that fit under the case -- and the seller has sold out at this point, so if I smash these last three, there will be no more 360 degree protection on the tablet. There are liquid screen protectors that supposedly add a layer of silicon dioxide, but I have some of that on my watch and that hasn't prevented fine scratches. That said, my iPad rarely leaves my carpeted home these days, so I'm not too worried.

It's the phone that worries me. I've had to stop buying tempered glass protectors for my Samsung S7; it's too expensive to buy a new one every week. I'm down to my last two. After that, I have a hydrogel protector lined up. It is a layer of flexible plastic. The adhesive side of it is made sticky by spraying it with water and then sliding it onto the screen where it can bond to the curved edges of the device. It looks good and it has a thinly sponge-like surface that can 'heal' from scratches, but there is only limited impact protection. At this point, it seems likely that the phone will break soon once the last glass protector falls off and the hydrogel fails.

But I could be wrong. I'm basing this bleak prediction on my constantly breaking my Samsung S3 phone, but the screen on that had Gorilla Glass 2. The Samsung S7 has Gorilla Glass 4 which is (supposedly) eight times more resistant to breakage than the S3. I've never tested this as I always had tempered glass as a loss leader.

Protecting phones and tablets has become difficult: cases are being made more and more cheaply to increase margins, so the precise engineering and fit of previous years to allow a screen protector to fit on seamlessly is absent and even if it were, my iPad from 2017 and my phone from 2016 are unlikely to have new accessories designed for its protection.

Tempered glass depends on flat surfaces for strong adhesion; curved screens prevent this. Part of this is manufacturers wanting to create fragile products that need to be replaced, part of it is manufacturers trying to make generic slabs of rectangular glass seem more distinctive amidst a lot of competition.

I think my next phone needs to be something with a flat, uncurved screen even if it has a poorer camera or a weaker processor. Or it needs to have a readily available case that has a built in protector.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Grizzlor? What's Nicole Eggert like? I've always wondered.

**

Found a new case for the Samsung S7! Very thin. So thin that it doesn't intrude on a tempered glass protector and doesn't peel it off, so I got a new set of tempered glass protectors and the first of this new batch has lasted five weeks and counting. Since I could be sure to keep the phone intact through drops and falls now, I got a battery replacement and now have to keep the Samsung S7 for the next three years to justify the expense. Locked in now!

**

I haven't been to the dentist in seven months as they shut down when my April cleaning was scheduled and rebooked to August. Six weeks ago, I looked in the mirror and was shocked by the savage brown stains across my front teeth. And with my bottom teeth, surfaces unmarred by stains were also disturbingly translucent as though the enamel and dentin had eroded from too much citric acid in soda. I was horrified. I put on some Crest Whitestrips and I could see they would slowly remove the stains over the course of a 10 day treatment, but stain removal wouldn't address how my bottom teeth were rapidly becoming transparent.

I switched from an anticavity toothpaste to an enamel rebuilding toothpaste and switched from an antibacterial mouthwash to a fluoride mouthwash. Neither promised to do anything other than "reharden" worn enamel and were advertised as preventatives for translucent teeth. I switched to drinking my sugarless fruit sodas (and their citric acid) from a steel straw, rinsed my mouth with mouthwash after every cup of coffee -- but again, all this was to prevent what had already happened.

Desperate and six weeks from my dental appointment, I began taking collagen, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D supplements which were supposedly helpful for remineralizing teeth on dubious health and lifestyle websites. It was a long shot as most dentists' websites declare that one enamel is eroded, it can't be restored.

But I've been taking the pills for six weeks and looking now -- my teeth are recovering. I have a dental appointment for tomorrow, and as of today, the translucency in my teeth has filled back in by about half. The translucency isn't even visible unless I'm right against the mirror.

I'm always very suspicious of wellness articles written by people who can only offer anecdotal evidence and this single experience is no less anecdotal, but it's worked out. Hopefully, with a few more months of ongoing supplementation and fluoride use, my teeth will be fully restored.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

On turkeys:

My favourite actress, last year, gave me a bit of a crash course in Turkeyology, explaining to me that cooking a turkey requires a bit more thought and preparation than a chicken.

Turkeys are MASSIVE. These are 20 pound birds. And, being poultry, they are extremely difficult to prepare safely and edibly. A twenty pound bird will not cook evenly in an oven. But poultry must be fully cooked or the bacterial load is toxic to the point of severe illness if not deadly. However, the low fat content of a turkey means that cooking all the flesh thoroughly will result in a dry, overdone, tasteless, unpleasant result with all the moisture content roasted out of the bird.

In addition, turkey is easily contaminated; it has a lot of surface area for bacterial growth that quickly spread to the entire body. And a frozen turkey must be defrosted while still remaining well-below room temperature to prevent bacterial growth; the huge volume and the need to keep it refrigerated even when it's no longer frozen solid means it takes a huge amount of fridge space.

Roast chickens have given home cooking enthusiasts the severe misimpression that roasting a bird is simply a matter of defrosting it in a microwave, throwing it into an oven and coming back an hour or two later to slice and serve it. That does not work for a turkey. While the principles of cooking a turkey are similar to a chicken, a turkey requires a greater degree of preparation and continual attention to ensure a good outcome. The best way to produce a tasty turkey is to determine when dinner is to be served and then work out the steps in reverse order.

A 20 pound turkey will take about four days to defrost inside a fridge and won't fit into a microwave. In addition, a frozen turkey will have dried out significantly from its time on ice and roasting will further remove all the moisture that makes it enjoyable.

A defrosted turkey needs to be submerged for a day in a solution of salt water to break down the proteins and soften the meat, while staying refrigerated during the entire time. This requires some preparation of the necessary space and containers to hold and soak the bird.

Afterwards, the turkey then needs to be dried for another day while still keeping it inside the fridge to prevent bacterial contagion. The salt water must dry off to ensure crisp skin. And then, the turkey must be cooked within the next 1 - 2 days, so scheduling is paramount.

Prior to roasting, the oven must be preheated so that you can season the bird with a rub of butter, mixing powder, herbs and spices, stuff it with water-heavy vegetables and get it under heating elements before the bird warms to room temperature and risks poisoning you and your dining companions. A 20 pound bird roasting for 20 minutes per pound needs about six and a half hours to cook. But that's not the end of it. Even a brined turkey will turn out too dry if roasted without treatment.

A turkey in the oven must have fluid injected into the inner cavity every 20 minutes after the first hour of roasting. This will restore the moisture that's being cooked out of it by the oven. That fluid is best a combination of fat and poultry broth, kept just below boiling point to prevent solidification and ready to be distributed to the chicken in precisely the right state to be absorbed by the meat. And in the last third of the cooking time, the upper skin should be covered by foil to prevent drying and retain crispness while continuing to add fluid.

Turkey doesn't have to be the dry, tasteless cardboard it's infamous for being, but it requires considerable thought to preparation, scheduling and space to cook safely and serve effectively. It's not something you can throw in a microwave and toss in an oven. You have to start thawing the turkey a week in advance and line up all the subsequent steps. I know I've made murder mysteries a task to be taken very seriously, but that's fiction and an improperly stored or cooked turkey could actually kill you.

Anyway. I told my sisters that I would roast this year's Canadian Thanksgiving turkey, but they would have to handle EVERYTHING else. I will not be stopped except by salmonella. My meat thermometer is ready. May God protect those who dine on fowl, and may God protect our troops.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

And now for Tech Talk, with Quinn Mallory:

The charging port in my Samsung S7 phone has been a bit loose, but rather than fixing it, I started looking online for a wireless charging stand. But I decided to check in at the local dollar store where they were selling $3 wireless charging pads and I decided to go with that even if it would take over three hours to recharge from 0 - 100. It charges while I sleep, so it doesn't need to be fast.

**

My iPad battery has been less than awesome lately for watching Netflix in bed or while doing otherwise-tedious data entry at my desktop workstation. But rather than replace the battery, I decided to get a couple 10 feet iPad charging cables, also from the dollar store, so that the tablet can just stay plugged it when being used in places where it's at maximum brightness for hours.

**

My Samsung Chromebook 3 came with an awful TN monitor that was grainy and washed and distorted at even the slightest angle. I ordered a higher contrast IPS screen and it looks the same no matter what angle at which you view the monitor. Except the first one I got had white spots across any black backgrounds. I reported it and their customer service had me package up the screen and send it back to them in exchange for a new one. Which also had white spots across any black background. I reported it and their customer service had me package up the screen and send it back to them in exchange for a new one. Which had blue puddles across any white background. I reported it and their customer service had me package up the screen and send it back to them in exchange for a new one. Which had gray puddles across the lower half of the screen. I reported it and their customer service had me package up the screen and send it back to them in exchange for a new one. Which had white spots across any black colours. I reported it and their customer service had me package up the screen and send it back to them in exchange for a new one. Which was finally okay oh my God I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life exchanging this screen.

**

My mother informed me that she missed being able to play DVDs on her TV because even though she has a home theatre PC running Windows 10 on her television with a wireless mouse and remote for streaming services, she has a small collection of discs. I gave her my external DVD drive for her PC and then started looking for a replacement. There were a lot of cheap external DVD drives on the market for the occasional occasion when I need to burn or open a disc -- but I decided to get myself an external blu-ray drive that can also write data to blank blu-rays so that I would never, ever, ever have to upgrade my optical drive again.

**

RAM is going on sale. My 'gaming' laptop originally came with 4GB of RAM (dear God) and a spinning hard disk (which made it a bit hopeless for gaming even if I really bought it for photo and video editing). I opened it up and upgraded the internals to 8GB of RAM and a small 128GB NVMe solid state drive (while leaving the spinning drive in for storage). I'm wondering about buying another 8GB of RAM to boost the computer to 16GB for a slightly smoother Adobe Creative Suite experience, but I'm also remembering how intricate and annoying it was to open up the laptop to get the new drive and memory in and how if I'm going to go through that again, I might as well bring the RAM up to 32GB and never have to open up the laptop again.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Transmodiar recently did something for me that I really appreciated.

My favourite actress... has not always been my favourite actress. It's a title, not a person; different people have held it. Before the incumbent, there was someone else. A friend who was also my favourite actress. I'll call her... Emma Stone. (She's not Emma Stone.) Emma Stone lived about an hour and a half away from my city. I'd regularly drive to visit her to have dinner and spend the evening talking about the art of acting, which, as a socially awkward man, I really benefit from hearing about. Then I'd come home.

Emma Stone was one of my favourite people and I was very proud of and grateful for our friendship and I lived for when I got to see her. In 2019, she had to cancel a lot of our evenings due to some family obligations and work emergencies, but it was alright -- she was going to be in my city that summer to perform her show. Also, she'd said I could build her website for her new show and I was excited to get a new portfolio piece (although I was going to ask her boyfriend, a brilliant graphic designer, to make the posters and animations).

I knew would see her soon enough. I looked forward to it. And I accepted her cancellations because I knew I'd see her when she was in town. I didn't see her when she was in town; she told me she'd make plans with me, texted me when she got into town to say we'd make plans, then promptly ignored every message I sent asking her when was free.

I didn't think anything of it; she was busy, we had two weeks. But when she had four days left before she left town, I asked her to please pick a time. She picked one. Then she withdrew it, saying she was busy. She said maybe it would be easier to do a group hang on the Friday before she left town. I said that'd be fine, where and when? She promptly did not answer.

I got a message from her on her second-last day in town. It was a list of the plays she planned to see before she flew out. She said I could see them with her. I reviewed the list and determined that if I went to any of them, it would be only for the dubious privilege of sitting next to her in the dark in silence; she would be moving to the next venue so urgently that we'd never have any conversation. I said no. I think this was the exact moment when I realized this friendship was over.

But I did review her schedule and arrange for us to 'accidentally' run into each other shortly before she left town. She asked me if I was enjoying the festival. I ignored the question and told her that I'd let her know when her website was ready. Then I got the hell out of there.

Emma Stone sent me a message saying she was sorry, that she'd been distracted during her time in town, that her brain had been such a mess she could not plan anything. She said it was hard because she was in town to work and her boyfriend and cousin had been staying with her in her rented accommodation during the festival and they had all wanted time with her. She said that she knew it felt like our friendship no longer mattered to her and she promised it wasn't true.

I told her it was fine. But it wasn't fine.

She told me she would like to make plans when she was back from her tour and I said that would be fine too. But it wasn't fine. I knew even as I said things were fine that I could never sign up again for another two weeks of wondering why I wasn't worth a half-hour or a text to let me know it wasn't happening. Wondering why a supposed friend thought it was alright to have me wait for her right up to the day after she left town.

I built the site for her new play and began reviewing candidates for a new favourite actress. Because while I strike out regularly and hilariously on romantic dates, I do really well with platonic female friendship. Women have always treated me as one of the girls. (This is also part of why I strike out so often on dates.) If I needed a female friend to hang out with me to talk about acting and Emma Stone couldn't be counted on to show, well, there were plenty of people who'd be up for taking her spot, and they'd put in the minimum effort to keep it. There would be at least thirty or forty applicants.

(Alright, FINE. There were three.)

I identified someone suitably chatty, eccentric and talented. I will refer to her as Felicia Day. (It's not Felicia Day.) I asked her if she would like to be my sexlessly platonic friend with whom I'd have long dinners to talk about the art of acting before going home (separately).

I said I also really liked how she would let me know when she was busy fundraising or rehearsing or needed time with her boyfriend and wouldn't be available for anywhere from 3 - 90 days, how she sometimes asked me for help with projects and would be silent and unconversational but also clear that it was a work request and not a social call but that there would be a social activity within 5 - 25 business days. I said I saw our relationship being that of adoptive sisters like Kara and Alex Danvers on SUPERGIRL.

"That would really work for me," said Felicia.

I sent Emma Stone her website credentials, hosting and back-end passwords and a lengthy instruction manual so that I would never have to work with her to make any updates or changes to her website afterwards when she finished the play it was to promote and might want to change it to promote another. I directed her to change the passwords and assured her she could do all the updates alone. I'd felt indebted to her even after everything; I told myself that my debt was settled.

Emma Stone texted me to say she'd be in town for another theatre festival and would I like to make plans to see her? I wrote back Jesus no, that I wasn't putting myself through another round of waiting for someone who wasn't coming, that I'd chosen somebody else to be my platonic favourite actress friend, and that I was sure she'd be fine without my friendship seeing as she was obviously in demand and had her boyfriend and her family and plenty of important friends who were apparently worth her time and that she would clearly thrive with or without me in her life and also that the hosting on her website was paid up for the next two years.

Emma Stone sent me a response. A text message. It was very long. I did not read it. I was afraid to. Perhaps her text would be aggressive and cruel (although I've never known her to be), perhaps it would be gentle and kind -- but I knew it wouldn't make me feel better and I declined to look at it except on occasion with my glasses off. I'd then close the text without reading it and every time I did that, it felt like savagery, like violence, like slamming a fist into someone's face.

I kept thinking I'd read it when I wasn't busy, when I had time to be hurt and paralyzed -- but I finally realized that there was never going to be a good time for that kind of grief.

Finally, I told Transmodiar everything. I told him of how this was weighing on me still. Making me sad over a year after the original incident. I told him that the unread text message was haunting me. I felt like I had to read it eventually, but I would never want to. And I asked him to give me permission to delete the text unread, to never look at it, and to let it take up no more of my life or the flash memory on my phone.

Transmodiar wrote:

I give you permission.

It's been months of radio silence on both your parts. No point in ripping the scab off the wound if you don't intend to revisit the situation. You've got a new friend. Invest that time and energy on them.

I know how it goes, but when you get to my age you just accept that people flow in and out of your life, and there's no use investing anxiety and concern on people who aren't around any more.

I deleted the message. Along with all of Emma Stone's previous messages. Because Transmodiar said I could. He gave me permission to let go of all the exhaustion and loss and frustration and dented self-worth and anxious confusion and seething exasperation. He reminded me that I had places to be, people who were waiting on me, obligations to uphold and a lot reasons to put all this in the ground, leave it behind and move forward.

Transmodiar wrote:

You'll get shit done -- and you also have a bunch of weird friends in your weird orbit. You're a weird guy with weird friends and it's wonderful -- you're going to be fine.

Thank you.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

So, let's talk turkey (again). My obsession with roasting turkeys comes from my favourite actress whom I'll persist in calling Felicia Day (it's not Felicia Day).

I've always hated turkey. It's cardboard protein. And when Felicia invited me to her annual turkey roast off competition, I was not keen. But my friend was in a competition. She asked me for my support. I never refuse to give that. I showed up, brought desserts, expected dinner by 7 PM and planned to head home by 10 PM as it was a work night.

We hit 8 PM and the turkeys still weren't ready, I let everyone at the gathering know that I would be leaving in two hours, but that it wasn't because I was bored or didn't like them -- they were all so nice to me and friendly -- but it was a work night. Felicia apologized to me, saying the turkey wouldn't be ready by the time I left. And I left the dinner party without dinner.

It was okay. I understood completely. I had observed that Felicia's competition had started late. Because she got out of work later than expected. It was clear to me from observing her efforts: turkeys were too damn big to be cooked inside a couple hours; that she had to repeatedly baste it every 20 minutes. Which loses heat from the oven. I could see that increasing the heat wouldn't cook the bird faster; it would simply burn and dry it when it needed to be cooked moderately and evenly.

When Felicia had time to speak to me, she explained the intricacies of defrosting a 20 pound turkey safely without killing anyone who ate it, the importance of adding moisture back into it as it cooked over the course of 6 - 8 hours, the desperate call for water-heavy vegetables, the critical need to have the turkey elevated -- I could see her struggling to get dinner together before I left; I could see her failing. I assured her that I understood.

And the evening wasn't wasted; I learned a lot from watching her roast a turkey and explain the process to me. I'm glad I was there. My niece is glad I was there; she thought my first Christmas turkey ever last year, inspired by Felicia, was splendid. My sisters are glad I was there; they said this year's Thanksgiving bird was perfectly cooked, moist and even throughout. No, I didn't get to enjoy any dinner at Felicia's turkey dinner competition. But it wasn't for lack of trying and there is no one I won't excuse from their failures if they tried.

Every year, I roast three turkeys, one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, one just because. It takes a week of preparation and I have to station myself by the oven from morning to evening to baste while referring back to the mental notes I made watching Felicia roast her bird (which are actual notes now as I wrote it all down the next morning). I make turkey to remind myself that trying counts.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I'm not an anti-masker. Masks are important. I wear masks. I get angry when others don't. A few days ago, an unmasked man got into the elevator in my building and pressed the button for the eighth floor. Furious, I got off the elevator at the ground floor and then pressed the buttons for floors 2 - 7 before I left to be annoying and slow him down.

That said, I feel that these blue disposable surgical masks might be borderline useless. They are fine for containing droplets in the wearer and lowering the risk of them infecting others. But I doubt they protect the wearer. These masks sit rather loosely. They don't seal the area around the nose and mouth. The material is quite thin meaning they tear easily or dissolve if dampened and I suspect that droplets would pass through and get from the outside in. And I can easily rip just from taking them off.

I have a box of these by the door to my apartment as a backup to my backup, but I don't use them.

For reasons I never got to the bottom of, I found a small supply of N95 masks in my storage space. These rounded, thick masks are made of one for polypropylene plastic polymer with an electrostatic charge that can supposedly catch and filter out 95 per cent of airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns. They have a metal band that bends over the nose for the right fit. They also have double straps of yellow elastic form an extremely tight seal around the nose and mouth -- but they are so tight that the pressure to the back of my head from the elastics is actually quite painful.

The mask I prefer to use is a KN95 mask of the same material, but with a triangular design and earloops to make it seal firmly but not uncomfortably. The KN95 mask is a bit fragile, however, in that a few times, the earloop has torn off the mask itself. In addition, these masks are difficult to wash: laundering or spraying them with disinfectant will destroy the electrostatic charge. The solution is to let the mask sit unused for 72 hours after a wearing; I've been wearing one a day and putting it in a sealed plastic box for the three days before putting it back in the rotation. The material's thick enough for multiple wearings.

And the mask I have as a backup is a cloth mask. It seems like a small step up from a disposable surgical mask, made of cloth rather than the almost tissue like surgical mask material. But it concerns me that there is no metal band or elastic to form a firm seal over the nose and mouth. There's a slight gap and I have doubts about how much protection such a mask can offer. The advantage of this mask is that, unlike a disposable or a KN95, it can be washed in a laundry machine or sprayed with disinfectant and not lose what ever (scant) protective qualities it has.

These ones aren't ideal, but I keep two on hand by my front door, one in my shoulder bag and one in my car as they can be disinfected and reused quickly if I'm short on KN95s. I've also used double-sided tape to attach thin activated carbon filters to the interiors of these masks to add a little more protection -- and I've been adding them to my KN95s as well (because why not).

Anyway. I wouldn't go out without wearing one of these masks; I wouldn't go to a Biden celebration party in the streets even if I wore one of these masks, and I certainly wouldn't drink from any bottles being passed around.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

And now for Tech Talk, with Quinn Mallory:

For the longest time, my niece was understandably furious with me for buying what were essentially netbooks: little $200 tablet-laptops with 10.1 or 11.6 inch touchscreens that could detach from the keyboard and Atom or Celeron processors that could only be used for light office work and web browsing. I used them for word processing and messaging and spreadsheets and website maintenance when I didn't want to be at by (very powerful) desktop computer and wanted to work at the library or the living room or at a friend's house.

My niece would be mad because these machines always failed within a year: they would stop powering on. The charging ports would break. They would inexplicably get the display stuck upside down. Wifi wouldn't work when Bluetooth was on. The keyboard would start inputting random characters. The touchpads would fail. "Stop buying these pieces of junk and get a good laptop!" she'd shriek at me.

I'd protest, "I don't need a good laptop. I have a great desktop with an i7 processor and 32GB of RAM and two solid state drives -- " (really a laptop permanently plugged into a monitor and keyboard and mouse that's too heavy to move around much). "I just need a small laptop for work on the go."

"BUT YOU HAVE TO BUY ONE EVERY YEAR!" she howled at me. There was a long period where, after the last netbook failed, I simply got a keyboard for my iPad. And this past year, with all the work from home, I've come to depend on a Chromebook to tether me to work when wandering away from my desktop.

The Chromebook, a Samsung Chromebook 3 with a matte IPS screen (that I had to install myself) was great -- but with the shift to working from home, I realized that all the (limited) Chrome apps and (slow) Remote Desktop access didn't replace my need for a Windows 10 laptop that could run LibreOffice and Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. Despite working from home, I often had to go to different rooms for Reasons and I needed a small laptop to keep work with me. I didn't need anything fancy, just something light in hand and on the wallet -- preferably one that fell within the stipend that my job had granted me to buy some hardware for working from home. But how would I avoid all the previous pitfalls?

QUINN: "You know what your problem's been?"

ME: "Being a cheapskate when it comes to buying a secondary laptop? Being a weirdo who needs a secondary laptop?"

QUINN: "I'm not going to confirm or contradict that -- except to say you've bought laptops that were trying to be tablets and tablets that were trying to be laptops and it isn't working. I mean, look at the Egyptian timer: instead of just trying to be a tracker-trigger for the next window to open a gateway, it became a reverse homing beacon, a coordinate repository, a sacred object in a funeral ritual, an express train to Los Angeles -- and it kept glitching and seizing because the hardware got overstretched. Just choose one specific use-case. You need a laptop within a price point. So get a laptop within the price point. Don't try to get a laptop that's also a tablet."

I was reviewing all the laptop options at an electronics chain called Canada Computers where I'd bought all my previous one year wonder tablet-laptops (this was when they were still offering in-store purchasing amidst social distancing). I went over to their small and light laptops and noticed that, as always, there was a stack of 'open box' / 'refurbished' laptop boxes stacked under the display counter, as there had been every year that I'd bought a cheap laptop from them that lasted a year.

QUINN: "You know what this means?"

ME: "Discount prices from buying a refurbished item? Yes!"

QUINN: "No, you moron. There have to be like TWENTY of these open box laptops. That means people bought them, hated them and returned them. Pretty much every laptop in this store has at least four open box laptops; that means this shop is selling garbage that people just bring back. Did you buy all your old laptops here?"

ME: "Yeah."

QUINN: "This store is your problem. You need to go somewhere else."

ME: "But the refurbished discount! So entrancing!"

QUINN: "Stop! Back away from that pricetag! I swear to God, if you buy a computer from this disaster fire of a retailer, I will have to hate you. I will hate you on a physical level if you do this."

A Best Buy had opened up the road, so to review my options and went there, and noticed that the majority of the laptops were much more expensive than the ones at Canada Computers and where Canada Computers had 5 - 6 cheap little laptops (and numerous returns piled up on the floor), Best Buy had exactly ONE cheap little laptop for sale.

QUINN: "Now, Best Buy's not the be-all, end-all of computer hardware. If you want RAM or flash memory or solid state drives or enclosures or cases or fans, that's clearly Canada Computers' bread and butter. But Best Buy -- they sell consumer gear, not hobbyist hardware. Best Buy sells preassembled units and they're not going to stock lemons that they have to take back; they only have worthwhile merchandise because showroom space is valuable."

I bought the cheap little 11.6 laptop from Best Buy and it's been precisely what it needs to be. It's slow, but I've disabled all non-essential Windows services to keep it from freezing and but a secondary machine doesn't need to be a speed demon so long as it's capable of opening any and all Windows 10 applications. The battery lasts 10 hours. The wifi and bluetooth haven't glitched, the keyboard hasn't gone haywire, the touchpad works. I was getting bad laptops before because I was going to a bad store for laptops whereas Best Buy, having survived the Amazon apocalypse on retail through price matching and raising the scale of the Geek Squad and being hyperselective in what they show in their show room, has somehow survived and also thrived.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I start a new job this week so I will probably not be around as much the next week or so. Just in case y’all get nervous about why I’m not here smile

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Incredible! It must be hard to get a new job in a pandemic. Congratulations!

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I was recruited for this job so it wasn't too hard.  But I'm sure it'll be busy.  First week was good, though.

Thank you!

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I'm still not back here yet for reasons of a migraine (ow ow ow) and my building being unable to repair its air conditioning system until the end of June (some Quinn Mallory-esque thinking is in order now to avoid death should a heat wave hit).

Re: Personal Status Updates!

*sigh* My condo management recently informed all owners: they are behind in repairing the air conditioning system and don't expect to have functioning air conditioning until the last week of June. My life for the last few days has been setting up a network of fans in each room of the homestead. My windows aren't going to support an exhaust hose for portable air conditioners, unfortunately. I've also learned that tower fans aren't really that great; I have three; the expensive one is great, but the mid-range ones are weak and narrow. The best fan I've found is a small seven inch air circulator fan; a room with two on the floor on either end and angled upwards provides a good breeze and good coverage.

There's a neat gimmick out there called evaporative coolers which are essentially cool mist humidifiers with a fan to offer cooling relief. Unfortunately, all the ones on the market seem to be total garbage: they have weak fans (because they need space for the humidifier), they have small water reservoirs (because they need space for the fan), they are difficult to clean and a breeding ground for mold (because the filters have to be tightly packed into a small unit). However, I like the concept and have set up fans with filter-free (and easily cleaned) cool mist humidifiers in front of the fans to create a breeze chilled water vapour in some of the hotter rooms. The fan and the humidifier have to be pointed directly at me and it won't work if I have company, but that won't happen for another 3 - 4 months.

Hopefully, I'll make it to the end of June this way without melting.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

A metal or glass bowl filled with ice in front of the fan works about as well

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I agree, but I picked out the Honeywell HUL535 cool mist humidifier. It stores 4.5 liters of water and can run for about 12 hours at full blast, so I only need to refill the tank twice a day.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Howdy, howdy!

It's been a while.  I'm maintaining my promise tp myself that I wouldn't do any sort of extracurricular activities on my work computer with my new job.  The problem being that my personal laptop broke and is probably beyond fixing.  My wife and I want to get a new one to share, but we're terrible at making decisions for things we'll share.  So I have a laptop that won't close (trying to close it is ripping the screen off) and she has a super old one. With the baby and everything else, I only pull out the laptop once a week for our weekly budget.

But I think I'm going to start opening up a bit and using this site on my work computer.  Part of the problem is that I shared my screen during a meeting (a small unimportant meeting but still a meeting) and mindlessly traveled here.  Apparently no one saw my screen and only one person thought something was off but I didn't want to risk anything at my new job.  It's too good a job to risk anything like that.

The other hiccup is that we're having another baby.  Due next month.  So my life will probably end up more chaotic than it was. 

But I still love you guys and I'll keep trying to make it work.  Don't worry about me and be patient.  Quinn always shows back up smile

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Well, work is very important. Our employers are paying us, and if the renumeration is sufficient for our labour and a living wage, then we owe them our undivided attention for the hours in which they're paying us.

Is there a way for you to set up a separate user profile on your work laptop? One for Work and one for Leisure?

Failing that, could you have one browser exclusively for Personal Pursuits and confine any and all non-work activities to that browser alone?

I myself actually have three separate web browsers on my home computer: one for Work, one that's permanently logged into any retail and social media accounts, and one for Research (so that my searches can't be tracked to any accounts to which I'm logged in).

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I'm just going to break my rule.  It's been long enough, and hopefully I can be less careless.

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welcome back! and yes, be careful.

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I still think having one browser for Leisure and only Leisure is best.

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The other hiccup is that we're having another baby.  Due next month.  So my life will probably end up more chaotic than it was.

Congratulations, Slider_Quinn21!

I guess a good solution might be to clear your browser history after your done using the computer so no one sees your lesuire stuff.

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ireactions wrote:

Recently bought a Samsung Chromebook 3 for exactly $0. That's right, $0. It was very strange: I ordered a lightly used 32GB model on eBay and received a lightly used 16GB model. When I contacted the seller, she promptly replied, "It said no returns in my ad! You don't like it, too bad! No refund!" eBay promptly took the seller's funds out of her PayPal account and gave me a full refund and told me that as the seller refused to provide return shipping, I should keep the Chromebook and do what I liked with it.

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

She definitely handled it poorly but ebay could have at least given her a heads up as not everyone has the funds to lose a sale like that.

ireactions wrote:

I can assure you that I warned her and did so before asking eBay to intervene. I sent her a message quoting passages from eBay's specific policies, including:

  • "Even if you specify no returns accepted, under the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the buyer can still return an item if it doesn’t match the listing description"

  • "In some instances, we may not require that an item be returned to the seller"

  • "For example: if the return request was opened because the item was not as described"

  • "Or if the seller did not provide a return shipping label"

  • "This User Agreement, the Mobile Application Terms of Use, and all policies and additional terms posted on and in our sites, applications, tools and services (collectively "Services") set out the terms on which eBay offers you access to and use of our Services."

RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan wrote:

Sorry to hear that.  Some people are entirely unreasonable.  And though it's not common to run into them, you never know what you're gonna get with these sorts of things.

Last Christmas, I bought some Tiles off eBay. Or at least I thought I had; two weeks after payment, I still hadn't received them. I filed a concern with the seller. The seller told me that the post office had inexplicably returned the package to him and that he would resend it. One week later, I still hadn't received them, sent the seller another message -- and eBay simply refunded me. I didn't ask them to do that. I didn't ask them to do anything; I never asked eBay to get involved, but my message caused the transaction to be red-flagged.

A few days after that, the Tiles did arrive in the mail which I could of course have kept for free, but as I had received the Tiles, I contacted the seller and transferred his money back to him. I left him positive feedback. And I contacted eBay and asked that they remove any warning from his account as his item had arrived.

I feel safe buying anything off eBay because eBay clearly has zero support for sellers and is clearly eager to take any opportunity to refund buyers, but I can see how this system could be abused by buyers.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I feel safe buying anything off eBay because eBay clearly has zero support for sellers and is clearly eager to take any opportunity to refund buyers, but I can see how this system could be abused by buyers.

Yea there as some abusive buyers from what I understand but it's probably a one percent or less incidence rate.

I once got screwed by a merchant as a buyer.  I never took it up with eBay support.  Waited too long.  I thought he'd act like a reasonable person but it's incredible the things people are willing to justify themselves.  I am sure that happens with buyers too who decide they don't want something.

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What happened?

I once lost $15 on a charging cable for an old netbook that didn't fit. I can't remember why I didn't get a refund; it's possible that eBay's guarantee wasn't what it used to be. It was back in 2008.

I can see how it would be easy to abuse the eBay Money Back Guarantee. I would like to tell you that I don't out of some moral objection, but the truth is that it doesn't make strategic sense.

I could have kept the Tiles and my refund. But it would have been shortsighted because this seller has other products I will want to purchase in the future at well below the retail price. If I'd kept his product and his money, he would likely have pre-emptively blocked me from ever purchasing anything from him again or been driven off the platform for supposedly failing to deliver.

I recently bought a laptop off eBay for pennies on the dollar. It arrived with a damaged E-key hanging loose off the keyboard. I photographed the issue filed for a return; the seller, a distributor of refurbished equipment, asked me to close the return at which point they would provide me with a prepaid shipping label to return their hardware at which point they'd refund me.

It's possible the seller misunderstands how returns work. If the buyer closes the return, they cannot reopen it and they are no longer protected by eBay's guarantee of a full refund should the item fail to match the description, and the return case being open does not in any way prevent the seller from issuing a prepaid shipping label. But it's also possible that the seller is trying to get me to close the return so that they can keep my money and I'm stuck with a laptop that has a broken keyboard.

It's also also possible that the seller has every intention of refunding me but will take any chance to get a return closed because eBay has proven to have a hair trigger with refunding buyers so that buyers keep buying.

I could likely manipulate the situation and protest that they are encouraging me to close the return before supplying shipping. Since they claim I need to close the return before they supply shipping, I could stall for three business days at which point eBay would refund me and allow me to keep the laptop (since the seller didn't provide shipping). I'd spend a little of that refund on getting the keyboard replaced at a local repair shop).

But this would be incredibly foolish because this seller has an incredible selection of refurbished hardware at shockingly low prices, a pretty decent reputation for issuing exchanges on damaged goods, and they clearly have additional quantities of the laptop I want.

Also, in both cases, these sellers have my home address and my name and phone number. It's not a great idea to rob people who literally know where you live. When buying things off eBay, I generally stick to items within my country (Canada) and there are a lot of eBay sellers selling refurbished electronics who are situated in or around my city, purchased from offices or retailers trying to get rid of returns.

I've told the refurbished laptop sellers that, since they're located in my city, we can meet at their retail store and do an exchange for an undamaged laptop and if the replacement is in good working order, I'll close the return.

However, I have the feeling that a lot of non-buyer buyers might use this advantage to buy goods, claim they're damaged, stall the return process, then keep the refund and the product. Of course, they might regret that if they ever want to buy anything from that seller in the future or if the seller is within driving distance of their homes or might conceivably have friends with baseball bats who live near them.

(But that Chromebook seller refused to pay for return shipping, she was a hopeless case.)

680 (edited by RussianCabbie_Lotteryfan 2021-10-24 12:10:32)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

ireactions wrote:

What happened?

the guy said he couldn't send me something yet  (it was some music that had delayed its release date) and i said i'd wait and then he never sent it months later, after i followed up to remind him of this.

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Got my COVID booster today!

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YES!

I would like a third dose, but my province is only giving them to people with serious health issues right now.

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I should be getting my covid booster and flu shot sometime tomorrow myself. Yay!

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Didja get 'em?

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ireactions wrote:

Didja get 'em?

Almost there. I found out at the last minute that the nearest pharmacy locations in my area don't have any appointments for the vaccines. (ugh). That kind of put a wrench in my plans.

And the new location I have to get to is quite a bit of a ways away.

Gonna have to plan logistically so I can do it this week during work. That and I have to plan to bring someone else along too. I really don't want to wait any longer.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Can y'all recommend me a laptop for my wife and I?  It doesn't need to be anything fancy - all we'll use it for is standard web browsing, storing family photos, and using Microsoft Office.  No gaming, no streaming, nothing else.

My wife would prefer it not be a Mac, mostly because it's harder to use Excel on a Mac with the keyboard shortcuts being different.

I know nothing of computers - both our laptops are both old, and we just want a sensible replacement?  Something that will do what we need and not need to be replaced every couple years (mostly, for me at least, because I feel like it's a pain in the ass to move things over).

Re: Personal Status Updates!

What's your budget?

I'm glad you asked this question, I've been meaning to draft something about computers and calculated misery.

The Expensive Side of Cheap Computers: I spent a lot of my life buying 'cheap' computers thinking I didn't need anything fancy for web browsing and word processing and such, only to discover that these computers would break down and needed to be replaced at a rate of one a year and after buying three, I reached the point where I would have been better off putting the money spent on three bad laptops into buying one good one. An inexpensive computer can, through poor quality control or lousy manufacturing, cost you more than a pricier model or prove unusable.

Calculated Misery: Past cheap computers I've bought had quirks like dust getting under the screen. Or a touchpad that would become unresponsive every 4 - 5 minutes. Or a display that would get stuck in the upside down orientation. Or a spacebar that would stop producing spaces. Or wifi that would switch off if bluetooth were on. When manufacturers aim to hit a low price point, they don't bother to ensure that their hardware functions, thinking customers will be reluctant to refund something that cost so little and grudgingly tolerate it, or that the customer will even return it and buy a more expensive model from them. The term for this is "calculated misery," deliberately making a product difficult to use so that the customer will feel inclined to spend more money for basic functionality. There are entire lines of processors and storage drives and motherboards designed specifically for laptops intended to produce calculated misery.

Specifications: While you may consider your computing demands modest, the truth is that cheap computers can be too weak even for web browsing and word processing. I have thought as you have in the past, buying Intel Atom / Pentium / Core M processor computers with 4 GB of RAM and eMMC or spinning drives, thinking I didn't need better. Then I'd discover these machines would freeze up loading web pages. Or that when typing, there would be a 1/3 delay between my finger tapping the keyboard. Or they would crash when running word processing software because of poor driver support.

Minimums: Despite your humble intentions, nobody in 2021 should buiy a computer that isn't at the very least: an Intel i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and a solid state drive (SSD). Intel Core Ms, Pentiums and Atoms are not fast enough to run Windows properly. 4GB of RAM is not enough to run meet a web browser's memory demands reliably. A spinning hard drive or an eMMC drive (cheap flash memory) is not quick enough to load applications responsively.

You can get decent AMD processors, but I'm not sufficiently familiar with AMD's product line to know which ones are okay and which ones are designed for calculated misery.

Storage: The SSD should have at least 128GB. That's not a lot for all your family photos, but it's enough to store and run Windows programs and you can store personal files on an external drive (which can be spinning). Make sure it can run Windows 11 which is coming soon.

Refurbished Computers: I've had some good(ish) experiences with buying refurbished computers off eBay. One time, what I received wasn't what was advertised; I got a refund. It's guaranteed by eBay. Another time, I got a great deal on a business laptop that arrived with a broken keyboard; I got a guaranteed exchange, but the replacement had a severely worn battery that had to be replaced. It was still a great deal, but it was troublesome and might be difficult for someone who doesn't live near a trustworthy computer repair shop that can supply and install replacement laptop batteries. At full price, this model would have cost several thousand dollars; I was able to get it for a mid three figures -- but not everyone will go to maximum effort for maximum computing and minimum cost. Not everyone will take two weeks to get the laptop, another three to get it exchanged and another week to get the new battery.

Retailers: For the average person who knows nothing about computers, your best buy is likely a Best Buy. It's more expensive than buying refurbished, but that might be best because Best Buy is a retailer that's thrived in a retail apocalypse for two reasons: they do price matching to compete with online retailers. And due to the price of retail floorspace and the need to keep products going out, Best Buy does its very, very best to avoid selling brands and products that are prone to defects.

They don't want customers constantly returning items due to buyer's remorse over buying a low quality product at a low price; they try to only sell products that are likely to leave their stores and create such buyer satisfaction that the product will never come back. That said, Best Buy can't catch everything; my Fitbit watch went dead and one laptop I bought from them cracked open when I opened it. This brings us to our next subject --

Extended Warranties: The internet is filled with articles telling you that extended warranties from big box stores are not worth it, that it's cheaper to find independent repair services. However, this is highly situational and dependent on hardware. Best Buy's return policy is that you have 15 days to get a refund on your laptop. The manufacturer will generally offer a one year warranty, but Best Buy may not facilitate returns and exchanges after the 15 days, leaving you to the calculated misery of having to set up a delivery with the manufacturer and a lengthy period without your computer.

An extended warranty can get you up to three years where you can get a refund or exchange at the store. And it can cost several hundred dollars in addition to the cost of the laptop. This extended warranty is only for hardware failure, not accidental damage.

I find it grossly exploitative for any retailer to charge you for the right to get an exchange or refund for a defective item that they've sold to you. If it won't last, they shouldn't sell it; if they sell it and it fails, they should refund or exchange it within one year, not 15 days. But the reality is that sometimes, the extended warranty may be the best option for the product or the customer.

Repairability: Some laptops are modular and designed for easy replacement of storage drives, screens, keyboards, wifi and bluetooth modules, etc.. Some laptops have all the hardware soldered onto the motherboard and may be impossible to repair, only exchanged. Not every customer can tell the difference; not every customer lives near repair stores that would be cheaper than a Geek Squad plan; not every customer can identify a capable repair service and an inept and overpriced one.

Anyway. Here's the Best Buy listing for what meets my standards:
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage … Categories

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Thank you!  That's super helpful!

My wife and I have a similar philosophy.  We are willing to pay a little bit more for something that will last longer.  We both drive 2010/2011 cars still, and our current laptops are at least 5-6 years old so we'd like something that won't be like a disposable computer.  We take care of the things that last long.

ireactions wrote:

What's your budget?

The ones you listed were the right range.  Do you have a preferred brand or something you've had success with?

ireactions wrote:

Storage: The SSD should have at least 128GB. That's not a lot for all your family photos, but it's enough to store and run Windows programs and you can store personal files on an external drive (which can be spinning). Make sure it can run Windows 11 which is coming soon.

The photos thing was a recent request she added, and it's not something I'm familiar with (I'm a computer dummy and happy to admit that). I have years worth of photos and videos on my phone and I think I have 63 GB of photos (I think, I'm a dummy).  So what would be "a lot" for all our family photos?  My phone is 256 GB, so is that enough?

Or is an external drive the better route?

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I have been mildly impressed with Microsoft's hardware. I had a Surface 3 for awhile. I had a Surface Pro 3 for awhile. My aunt has a Surface Pro 4.

I've never had a Surface Laptop Go laptop, but the reviews were modestly impressive, mostly taking issue with the original $900 USD price being way too much for an i5 processor and 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Those are specs for a budget performer, so the price was really more for the lightweight form factor. However, the $550 that Best Buy is charging for it now is pretty reasonable. That's probably the best value on the table here.
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft- … Id=6428996

The Geek Squad warranty for this item is also interesting: it actually covers accidental damage protection. The price is a bit high for that, but it looks like you could take it scuba diving and still be entitled to one replacement.

As for storage: if you boosted the Surface Laptop Go from 128GB to 256GB, it's another $150 USD. That seems unnecessary; you could just store your files on a $45 external hard drive with 1,204GB / 1TB.
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/wd-easysto … Id=6406515

690 (edited by QuinnSlidr 2021-11-20 15:59:21)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I've been pretty impressed with the LG Gram laptop I got 1.5 years ago. It's been quite long-lasting and has done really well for what it is. It's not top of the line but it's not el-cheapo either.

Nice, thin, lightweight, but also durable and very capable.

[EDIT to include specs]

It is the 17Z990-R.AAS8U1. Specs include:

17" 2560 x 1600 display
Intel 8th Gen Core i7 1.3 GHz
16 GB RAM
512 GB SSD
Up to 19.5 hour battery life

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Update: my vaccines are now scheduled. Yay! Both Covid booster and flu shot scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I have really been impressed by the reviews of the LG Gram, but I see it going anywhere from $1,000 - $1,700 USD even with the older models. That seems a bit much even for a 15 - 17 inch screen in a three pound laptop body.

Yay! Vaccination! Every time someone gets vaccinated, an anti-vaxxer has a nervous breakdown.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

For me, the plus about the LG Grams that I like is they do come with SSDs. And the quality of the screen is quite great for that kind of laptop. I guess there are always trade-offs in what you need/want/expect based on your specific situation. I wouldn't use it to play video games, but for daily work it suits me just fine.

Hehehehe re: anti-vaxxers. Let them all have nervous breakdowns.

694 (edited by ireactions 2021-11-21 20:40:28)

Re: Personal Status Updates!

QuinnSlidr wrote:

For me, the plus about the LG Grams that I like is they do come with SSDs. And the quality of the screen is quite great for that kind of laptop. I guess there are always trade-offs in what you need/want/expect based on your specific situation. I wouldn't use it to play video games, but for daily work it suits me just fine.

The reviews for your model are very impressive. The thought of an incredibly lightweight 17 inch laptop screen is amazing.

I find that the market these days is split between eMMC drives and SSDs. I buy most of my hardware at deep discounts from stores that offer refurbished items that were usually released 2 - 3 years ago and none of them have spinning hard drives except for the ones running Windows 8 (they're refurbished). eMMC is ghastly, though, so laggy and slow that a spinning HDD would actually be better. eMMC storage leads to slow startup, programs taking so long to load you wonder if they ever will.

I have two laptops. One is a heavy (and cheap) gaming laptop with an i7 processor, 32GB of RAM and a 1 GB graphics card. that used to have a 256GB SSD for the operating system and programs and a 1TB HDD for storing media. I ultimately replaced the HDD with another 1TB SSD so that I could install games on it and keep the 256GB SSD just for the OS and office programs. It's permanently plugged into my desktop monitor. It is my personal laptop and I use it for work, especially video and graphics editing.

It's great, but since getting it, it became clear that in addition to a desktop workstation, I needed a lightweight laptop that I could carry around from room to room. The search for this mobile companion took quite a few years. Failed candidates included:

The Asus Transformer T100 Chi, a 10.1 inch laptop that weighed 2.4 pounds. It had an Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB eMMC drive. This computer was a disaster: dust got under the screen, bluetooth would disable wifi, the touchpad would freeze up, the screen orientation would go upside down, the keyboard would disconnect and eventually, the charging port broke.

I got a Windows Surface 3 with the same specs. While I liked the 10.8 inch screen and 2 pound form factor, there came a point where I gave up on it; it was when I was typing in Notepad and noticed that there was half a second between me hitting the keys and the letters appeared on the screen. It was time to move on. I sold it.

I got a Windows Surface Pro 3 with a 12 inch screen, 2.1 pounds, an i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of memory. I loved it. Greatest lightweight computer I'd ever owned. I banged it into a wall and twisted the speaker grill and it looked hideous. I sold it.

I had a Samsung Chromebook 3 for awhile, but there came a point when I needed Windows office productivity software.

I had an HP Elitebook 1030 G1, a 2.25 pounder with a 12.1 inch screen, an Intel Core M processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. While I was okay with it, the Core M processor was slow; websites always froze up for 2 - 3 seconds before loading, programs lagged before opening, etc.. Also, the touchpad didn't depress; there was no click. It was designed to have no tactile response, only a speaker-played click. The touchpad was odd, often reading a left click when I wanted a right click. There came a point when the battery was dead. I was told that the battery could be replaced for $150... and I just didn't think this Core M computer with its performance was worth $100 to get back into working order. I handed this model over to an electronics recycling service.

Anyway. My secondary laptop now is my work laptop, but I got to choose and customize it and will be able to pay the office to keep it if I so choose. It is a moderately lightweight 3 pound laptop with a 13 inch screen, a low-end Intel i5 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 255GB SSD. This one is more like your LG Gram and I use it solely for personal endeavours like typing all my emails and social media posts. I guess get more done with my personal laptop for work because it's plugged into an ultrawide monitor and I complete more projects when I have more screen space.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Thank you!! I've had my fair share of hybrids. Whenever I've had a hybrid, there has always been at least one feature of Windows 10 that either 1. Doesn't work, or 2. is severely truncated beyond usability.

By hybrid, I mean a blend between a laptop device and another device (usually a tablet).

Before the pandemic, it was a fantastic work horse for work conferences. I am looking forward to being able to do conferences again   soon (hopefully we will see some end of this pandemic in 2022) and will be taking my LG laptop for sure.

Update: I am now fully boosted with my third Moderna shot. Yay! Also got my flu shot, so I am set for the winter season this year.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

If anyone wants to learn how to build a filtration system as another factor to mitigate potential lingering covid in a closed environment, it's actually not that hard.  Fan, some filters, a box, duct tape.  I am sure Quinn and Arturo would have come up with something like this if not for penicillin!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEn2xzlvrdo
https://www.wired.com/story/could-a-jan … -covid-19/
https://www.texairfilters.com/iaq-resea … r-cleaner/

Re: Personal Status Updates!

QuinnSlidr wrote:

Thank you!! I've had my fair share of hybrids. Whenever I've had a hybrid, there has always been at least one feature of Windows 10 that either 1. Doesn't work, or 2. is severely truncated beyond usability.

By hybrid, I mean a blend between a laptop device and another device (usually a tablet).

I suspect the problem with Windows tablets is poor driver authoring and support. Windows is designed to work on the widest range of hardware possible and it's generally done well with keyboards, touchpads, external mouse control, microphones, wifi and such. However, I've found Bluetooth on Windows machines to be shaky and unreliable.

Windows tablets introduced a touchscreen and it all went to hell. Suddenly, Windows machines needed drivers for a gyroscope and a touch interface and, unlike keyboards and such, there was still way too much variability across manufacturers and no standards for these components and drivers. Even my Surface tablet had a tendency to crash at random times and the Microsoft Store's tablet-driven apps were constantly freezing up. Windows is a keyboard and mouse platform.

QuinnSlidr wrote:

Update: I am now fully boosted with my third Moderna shot. Yay! Also got my flu shot, so I am set for the winter season this year.

Yes! I don't qualify for one until December 15. It'll have been six months since my second dose. I did get my flu shot, though.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

With the new variant, I'm considering waiting until the new version of the vaccine comes out (Pfizer said they could make one in a matter of a couple of months) instead of the booster.  I was planning on waiting until January either way.

Re: Personal Status Updates!

I don't want this post to contribute to vaccine hesitancy, so I won't quote the above.

Just to inform: The CDC does recommend that everyone 18+ get boosted *now* and not to wait.

*steps off soapbox*

Re: Personal Status Updates!

Well, I think Slider_Quinn21 is just waiting until six months after his second dose. If an improved vaccine is announced and scheduled for six months and 2.23 weeks after his second dose (my personal tipping point), that might (might!) make sense. SQ21 got his second dose and he is not an anti-vaxxer; if he's holding out, it's because he's looking to get maximum shielding from his shot. I am not a doctor; I cannot evaluate that strategy except to say it's not from a place of mistrust for vaccines.

I don't qualify for a third dose for another two weeks; my mother doesn't qualify for another nine days. I'm not going to wait and I've informed my mother that she's not waiting either.