Monday, February 17, 2014

Got the Time

The problem with blogging, for me, is not a lack of content. Anyone without kids knows there's an infinite wealth of drivel waiting to spew for from any parent at the slightest provocation. There's also a bit of self-consciousness, I suppose, about where we happen to fall in the ongoing discussion about the division of wealth in this country. Not self-conscious enough to confine myself to driving a Geo Metro or something like that, but it's there. Really, the problem is there are a lot of things I have to or want to do, and only so much time to do them.

One of the things I rarely make time to do is exercise. Bringing the latest car into the family, not knowing whether it'll go up or down the ramps in the parking garage at work, and knowing that the engine won't warm up on the commute, I've finally managed to start commuting by bike again. I biked to and from work three days out of the five last week, plus one day of just biking into work. The remaining day, I did take the new car, as it needed an alignment. My timing was particularly good here, as I picked Plague Week in the office, and probably shouldn't have gone in on Friday. Odds are, I'm not going to be better enough to go in tomorrow, but at least I'm feeling functional again. Other than the illness, biking hasn't been so bad, although I'm still waiting for mid-drive electric bikes to be locally available to help deal with the last block of two of the trip home.

So far, I'm satisfied with the car. The two things I recall not caring so much for in the last one have been fixed. I ordered this one without a sunroof, and without the separate shift paddles. The paddles were fine on the last one, but they meant not having any controls on the wheel, which was inconvenient. With this one, I'm a little sad that I can't use the programmable button on the wheel to toggle Sport mode on and off, but the center console has been revised so I suspect I'll soon be able to find that button without looking down. The updated display feels more modern, the rear seats are amenable to car seats, and the low speed turning radius is surprising. I can't speak much to the handling or performance until Saturday, but it's given me no reason to doubt it'll be at least as capable as the last one.

Someone I worked with the Bay Area was recently bitten by the Porsche bug. In talking through the manual vs. PDK debate, I realized that there's a similar argument to be made about the changes in the handling between the earlier cars and the new ones. I haven't driven a 964 or a 993, but I'd say that I struggle to feel what's going on with the 996 on an autocross course nearly as well as I could with my old '72 911T. So, for this season, we'll see how much a bit of technology can help out.

Technology hasn't been entirely friendly on other fronts. My desktop at home died a few months ago, and it's taken a while to cobble something back together. I tried a low power machine from Shuttle, and after RMAing two consecutive ones after ordering enough parts to swap around and test at work to make sure it was their product, I wound up with an Intel NUC box. I've been happy with the performance, but I haven't figured out how to coax any sound out of it. I've seen instructions for this for Windows, and people who have hacked something together for MacOS, but not Linux yet. I may give SteamOS a try, or break down sooner rather than later in buying a gaming PC for myself. I have managed to offload all the auxiliary stuff my machine was doing to a Raspberry Pi, and have a spare that used to serve Moira's music, for the next time something goes wrong. The biggest complication has been that it doesn't hold a 3.5" internal drive, so reassembling a canonical music directory from all the various backups. I thought I had a good one, but letting MusicBrainz Picard created a few hours of work sorting things back out. Going through that, I did finally learn how to type in umlauts, so that was something. For the next pass of trying to automate the management of this, I'll be trying python instead of perl. I considered skipping ahead to go, but there are no libraries yet for handling ID3v2 flags, and trying to do that as my first programming project in a new language sounds like torture. Just reading the documentation around ID3v2 is bad enough. I think I'm actually farther along than I've been with this before. We'll see if I get as far as successfully making it through the m4a files, which have been largely opaque to me up to now. Perhaps if I had time to just listen to them all, but that's about where we came in...