My Non-Essential Computers Are Failing Me.

For some time now, I have been running an old 2012 Mac Mini as an HTPC that streams content from my HP ProLiant G7 MicroServer via plex, and my MicroServer also acts as a NAS for several things. Both of these systems are failing me, but not in a major way, yet.

My Mac Mini has developed some unsavory issues that are becoming detrimental to the previously perfect HTPC setup it once was. It has its uses outside of being an HTPC as it has Logic Pro installed on it, so I can create rough drafts for my music, but it rarely gets used for that these days. But the issues that have cropped up are really starting to get on my nerves. For a start, the WiFi drops out at seemingly random times with no indication as to when it will happen or if it has happened. This can be super annoying when your binge-watching a show and in the middle of a tense episode the WiFi craps out, leading you on a whole season’s worth of time trying to diagnose the issue before you even think to check the WiFi icon in the top bar. The other issue is a way bigger problem as the screen likes to turn green when in full-screen view whilst watching media in both applications and in browsers.

My HomeServer isn’t so bad as it doesn’t exactly have anything wrong with it, it all works fine, or fine when used purely as a NAS. As mentioned, the MicroServer is the single-core, 2.0GHz powerhouse that runs my Plex server which streams up to 4K content around my house with the help of the GTX 670 to assist with encoding. I know, raw energy flows through this system. Well, actually it doesn’t run too well when running 4K content, often taking a while to pull data from the 12TB worth of storage drives, or when two different movies are being streamed to different TVs.

I’m thinking that if both can survive into the new year, it may be time to get an upgrade. I have an old GTX1080 GPU lying around gathering dust, and I buy a bog-standard motherboard to run an Intel Core i3 – 11100 with 16GB of RAM, in a nice little microserver type case with hot-swappable drive bays. I’ll have to see what I can come up with. As for the Mac Mini replacement, I can build another i3 or Ryzen 3 or Ryzen 5 system, something that won’t be too powerful as I can stream games through Steam, but I would like to be able to emulate PS2 games at higher resolutions, which I won’t be able to do through Steam.

BONUS: The little black feet on my MacBook Pro have also fallen off in the last week, so I’ve ordered some new ones. The MacBook itself is fine, although I’m still a little bummed out that I can’t upgrade to macOS Monterey.

Obviously, with all of the shortages in the tech world, these ideas are purely aethereal until I’m actually ready to start planning. I’ll most likely Tweet about it, so follow me up for more tech chat like how I removed a charred DVD drive from a computer because the MOLEX to SATA converter caught fire, as they do.

I Released This Remix On YouTube!

Yes, it’s true. It’s been three years since I released this remix over on my *cough cough* SoundCloud, and ever since its release I’ve been meaning to release it on YouTube. Let’s just say that life got in the way, not to mention a worldwide pandemic that I worked through every day of its duration. Needless to say, I’ve finally found the time to edit a video together and finally release it.

This was made in Logic Pro using some plugins, I don’t know which, it was three years ago and I don’t have the project anymore because I’m a dum-dum that doesn’t make regular backups on his MacBook.

Anyway, I do hope that you enjoy it if it’s your first time hearing it. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it now that it has a video featuring gameplay of the bosses from the game.

I may have been Corona’d…

Since this whole Covid-19 thing kicked off I have been very careful to protect myself and others from it. Last night however, I began showing symptoms.

I’m really frustrated. I have had to self-isolate which means that I can’t go to work, and I have had to go and get tested. Don’t get me wrong, I will do anything to prevent this thing from spreading between me and my immediate family and friends. I have taken so much care…

I got home from work last night, had food, and settled in for the night for some gaming. About an hour later my first symptom, a heavy cough, started which I thoroughly believe/hope is nothing more than a cold. Fast forward to this morning and I wake with the same cough, I feel like I’ve been run over by a train, and my first, most beloved cup of the coffee didn’t really taste of anything. It tasted more like a cup of warm water.

I went to take a Covid-19 test at my local center which was self-administered. I am to self-isolate whilst I wait for my results.

I can’t believe I may have been compromised. I must’ve let my guard down at some point.

Gary and his Demons

Overview

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a huge fan of cartoons and animation, and I will watch anything that someone will recommend to me and anything else that catches my eye. Today, Gary and his Demons caught my eye purely from a clip from the first episode and I just had to find this series.

Gary and his Demons is a series centered around, well, Gary and his demons. More specifically, a guy who is “the chosen one” who works for an organization centered around the removal of demons from society by any means necessary. Gary is a middle-aged, balding, and downtrodden guy who feels trapped by his job and is looking to seize any opportunity to relive his life, despite his job calling him back to the cause.

The series has been surprising to me as I wasn’t really expecting much from it other than a few laughs, but honestly, I was hooked after the first few episodes.

The Story

From the very opening of the first episode, we are met with Gary leading us on one of his adventures to slay a demon. This first interaction teaches a lot about Gary in that he is good at his job, yet somehow also inept and doubts a lot of his choices, as he tracks down his enemy. After doing his deed he is returned to his office only to find that his retirement isn’t going as planned, causing him to spiral out of control alongside his new partner who is definitely too happy to be at work.

Throughout the story, it is seen that demons are just an everyday occurrence within the show’s universe. People can appear somewhat nonchalant about demons running past them and there is no kind of coverups done to hide the fact. In one episode Gary and his boss Leslie even go on a recruitment drive to the school in hopes to rustle up some new staff. This whole fact is something that just tickles me. It’s like how the future is depicted to have humans and aliens living together in peace, and it’s just charming to me, albeit not a very peaceful coexistence.

Now from this point of this segment, I will be diving into spoiler territory, so please skip ahead to the next segment.

***SPOILER ZONE***

Continuing into the first episode we see that Gary is becoming unstable because he just wants a simple life after 30 years on the job, and 20 years since his fiance died. As he drinks away his sorrows he goes into the bathroom to end it all using his partner’s gun when he has a vision that prevents him from doing so, and instead, he heads off to save his partner. Skipping ahead to the third episode, we discover what actually happened to his fiance after the demon-killing duo takes down another creature of the damned, leading us on a story told through flashbacks and cheesy finisher lines.

Gary has a dark past, but what is he like now? Well after averting his own suicide, Gary carries on his duties as the chosen one and seeing the wrong in his ways as he tries to keep his life on the rails the only he knows how to, leading him to get himself and his boss tased by the cops, getting emotionally attached to a hero lion demon, becoming a teenager again, getting his brother seduced by a succubus, and infecting his partner with demon toxins, along with much more.

***END OF SPOILERS***

The Animation

The animation was what I was originally doubtful of. It’s basic. The animation is akin to what you would find in early online animations that you would find on New Grounds way back in that day. It’s budget effective animation, but still really well done. The thing about it is that it feels a little bit clunky at first but you get used to it and it isn’t distracting, and that it gets a boost when needed like in fight scenes and crucial moments. Some scenes feel like there can be nothing moving but the character’s mouths and eyes, but honestly, it shows that you can have a great story without unneeded animations going on in the scene.

If you’re the type of person that watches the cartoons for the animation, this may not be the show for you.

The Characters

As I mentioned earlier, each character is unique and they all have their own place in the story which is shown off rather nicely throughout the show.

There are a lot of loveable and fun characters with their own stories that help distract from Gary’s tragic back story throughout the episodes, which I find helps keep the story flowing quite well.

Leslie is a cheery lady and the one in charge of the Demon Ministry. She is trying to put her divorce behind her whilst keeping the ministry working.

Gary’s partner, Hanley, who caused Bloody Mary to kill his childhood friends at a sleepover leading him to work at the ministry. He’s a loveable big guy who is the polar opposite to Gary, sort of the good cop to his bad cop.

Bloody Mary who is trying her hand at human life, putting her demon lifestyle behind her unless called upon by Gary or an unsuspecting bystander seeing if the legend is true. She now acts as an informant for the Demon Ministry.

There are other characters that help demonstrate why Gary is the way he is through revealing parts of their past, and others that just make for really fun side stories in some of the episodes. However, the list of characters is actually a small list, but I find it benefits from having fewer characters as the series allows us to learn more about the characters we currently have, leading to newer characters along the way in what I hope will be a series 2.

Overall

Whilst I have enjoyed watching Gary and his Demons, I do see influence from other shows, however, the influences aren’t obvious. I just can’t shake the feeling that Gary sounds too much like Rick from Rick and Morty. I’m sure just watching a clip of the show, you will agree. Some of Gary’s mannerisms are similar to Rick also, but he doesn’t have as much of an in your face attitude. I find the humor to be good although I only seem to have one good laugh per episode. The story can feel a little predictable at times, and the times where it is unpredictable are honestly where the comedy comes in.

I must say that I have enjoyed watching Gary and his Demons, but it’s not a show I will rave about. It’s fun, and something a little different to what is currently on offer at the moment. I will admit that I wouldn’t mind seeing a season 2, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if VRV were to officially announce it’s cancellation considering it has been out for almost two years and it feels like not many people really know of its existence.

I would recommend it if comedy and tragic storytelling based around demon-slaying sounds appealing to you. It appealed to me as a fan of cartoon animation, so maybe it will appeal to you too. It’s definitely worth the watch if you’re looking for something that isn’t too intensive. It’s great as a background show whilst you’re doing something else in my opinion and served me well as a distraction and it was worthy of me writing about it which definitely says I enjoyed it.

 

My move to Android – A Long Time iOS User Converts to the Lil’ Green Roboto

Anyone that knows me personally or as an internet friend will know that I stand firmly on the fence with most things. Especially technology. I’ve got PCs and Macs, I have PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. But one thing I didn’t have both options for was my phone and tablet. I have been an Apple user for my phone and tablet for a long time.

I bought the iPhone XS Max on release and I have an iPad (2019) with an Apple Pencil, and also an AppleWatch as my wearable, and I didn’t think that would ever change. I was happy with where I was on the iOS ship, but the tides turned and the ship didn’t feel right to ride.

I was unsure about moving from iOS, so I bought a budget Android phone. I went for a Motorola G8 Power and I really enjoyed the experience, well, except for the camera. I planned to just test the waters with Android but I found that when I swapped my SIM card back into my iPhone that it was shortlived. I carried my iPhone with me even though I wasn’t using it simply for the camera, but even still I used the terrible camera on my Moto G8 Power, primarily because anything I snapped I would typically upload to Twitter or Instagram straight away.

The camera was just so bad that I was tempted to move back to my iPhone but I just couldn’t, I felt compelled to stay on the green side. I was going through some serious turmoil.

An opportunity arose that I just could pass up and I round up receiving a Samsung Galaxy S10+. This was it. I had everything I needed in an Android phone. I reset the Moto G8 Power and sold it on. I turned the iPhone off and put it in a drawer, and I haven’t looked back since.

It has been one month since I received the S10+ and I am super happy with it. I have a heavily customised launcher, the always-on display which is something I feel iOS definitely needs, and I am comfortable with my experience.

What caused me to turn sides? I was given access to the developer beta of iOS 14 from a friend, and while I found it different, I wasn’t happy with it. The widgets can be useful but are very broken and lacking. I do not like the new App Library feature at all as it feels like a sub-home screen on the home screen and it feels pointless. The issues with iOS extend into macOS Big Sur. As a matter of fact, I cannot stand Big Sur and after a week I had formatted my SSD and reinstalled Mojave.

Big Sur feels like some kind of Linux distro. I hate that the icons next to the clock have such a huge amount of padding between them. The icons feel like a graphic designer’s first project. The entire feeling of Big Sur feels off overall.

I guess what I mean to say is that I don’t like the direction that Apple is going with their new software, and the fact that Android is still as open as ever, and honestly, it’s in it’s the finest form yet.

Will I ever go back to the iPhone? I don’t know. I’m enjoying the feel of Android, especially on a premium device. I could go further with this discussion. A lot of the points were glossed over, and there’s much more I could talk about, but I will ask you to comment below, or Tweet at me, or start a discussion on my Discord server.

It’s been a long while…

I’m now officially all moved in and settled in my new home. A lot has happened, a lot has changed. My living room looks awesome and super cozy and geeky. I’ve built a second PC to replace my Raspberry Pi as my emulation system, and I have two 8bitdo receivers set up for that split-screen amazement. The PC isn’t that great but it does exactly what I need it to.

Today I started emptying out my office ready for a big redo. Gonna set up a corner desk, get a bookshelf set up to store my 3D printers and painting stuff on, and set up some nice lights. I’m totally excited about this office redo to be finished so I can make more use of my office, and I plan to get back onto some of the hobbies that I haven’t had a chance to get back to properly for the past year. So you can expect to see some more Battledoods coming soon, more game music remixes, and regular streams.

What a time to be alive!

At the time of writing this, I can confirm that I have missed the Sony presentation about the PlayStation 5. In all truth, I have been watching another live stream that is far more important than which console is going to be better in the next generation. I have electronically attended the graduation of one of the greatest friends that I’ve never met.

I’m so happy that despite the near 4000 miles, I got to witness the graduation of someone who, despite never having met in person, I would be proud to call my brother. I am so proud of you Jeremy. It has been an honor to witness you passing an amazing moment in your life. I just wish that I could’ve been there in person as we were discussing this time last year, but to actually watch you walk to the stage and pick up your certificates was so humbling and filled me full of pride.

I’ve got to admit that I am incredibly jealous. For me, school just kind of ended. We had a crumby prom which was more like a social gathering and sucked. Regardless, I wish you all the luck in the world moving forward and I hope you find joy and happiness in everything you do.

From your brother from another mother, and from across the pond, Happy Graduation.

What a time to be alive.

 

60% Complete

The move has been progressing rather nicely. I’ve managed to bring around 90% of my games, consoles, and other stuff. A lot of furniture has been brought over too leaving just a few bookcases and a couch waiting to be brought over. I’m quite happy with the progress made so far but there is still a lot to do in terms of unpacking in, but still, five days to move almost 23 years of life (and junk) from one house to another is still good.

So my new living room is looking good so far, although I’m not happy with how my TV area is set up and it will probably get changed around and have some new furniture bought. I do appear to be missing a bunch of PS4 games and my entire PS1 collection, however, I haven’t yet gone through all of the boxes yet.

My office/streaming area is underway too but I am debating on the three monitor setup as I hardly ever used the third monitor.

I’ve got to admit that I’m very excited to get the last few bits moved to the new place.

I also managed to get a great deal on my internet. I called my provider and told them I was moving homes and they got me the same package that I had previously, and it was half the cost of what I was paying, but I have to wait until next Wednesday until they activate my line. In the meantime, I am using my phone as a hotspot thanks to the awesome package I have with my mobile provider giving me unlimited data, but it’s far from ideal and somewhat of a pain in the ass.

I should dig out my PS4 and carry on with my Spider-Man playthrough, but I will just stick to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s funny, actually. New Horizons. Hmm. The name seems fitting of my current situation.