Sunday, October 23, 2016

System Swaps, Seuss Singing and Selling Stuff

The word of the week is frugality.

Oct 17 – We Have a DEAL!

My TurboGrafx16 eBay lot sold last night!

I had a total of four bids, first one within only a few minutes of my posting it and the second one kind of popped my eyes out, as it was from a BIG eBay store with close to a half-million Feedback... they really wanted it!


In the end, the a lot went to a collector in the USA, who as it turns out never had a TurboGrafx16 when he was a kid but really, really wanted one. This was his opportunity to purchase many of the games that he wanted and I'm really pleased that it's going to someone who's not only going to appreciate the vintage system but actually use it on a regular basis.

Plus, I get to add basically what amounts to another paycheque to my income for this year, which isn't too shabby. I did have to spend a few hours this evening packing and repacking the items into a box for shipping, as the unusual sizes of the items( that giant rental case! )meant that I couldn't use a standard-size rectangular box. Eventually I got everything to fit into a sizable cube and filled all the voids around it all with an almost-excessive amount of air bags plus packing peanuts. It cost $160 CDN to send, which was $25 over my estimate, but I had to set a fixed price as eBay's automated ship-cost system didn't want to work for some reason. Good thing the buyer was paying for the shipping!

Now I have more space in my apartment, more money in my bank account, and the buyer is happy, which is a win-win-win situation all around in my opinion.


Oct 18 – Retro Gamepad Bliss $10

One of the reasons I sold my old videogame collection after holding onto it for so many years is that I can now easily play them on an emulator on my Acer tablet.

Such was not always the case, even until recently.

Emulators being what they are, quite often they'll only run a few games properly and then the rest( hundreds or thousands )usually need individual tweaking-  per game - in order to get them working within acceptable performance standards.

So many games, so little time or wrist-capacity left in me...

Only a few months ago, I again searched for an emulator that would let me play my favorite TurboGrafx16 games, and I finally found one that works almost flawlessly with every TG16 game: ColEm, which oddly enough started out as a ColecoVision emulator. I ran a few tests on some of my favorite games like Blazing Lazers and Devil's Crush, and they worked perfectly! So I knew that I didn't have to give up playing those games when the mood took me if I sold them onwards.

However, there was still the matter of controlling the games: unlike a real console system, there's no handy controller to use, just on-screen controls that can be very finicky and art as responsive as an actual controller.

Fortunately, after another search, I managed to locate a decent Bluetooth controller on eBay for a mere $10, which arrived last week. I charged it, set it up and amazingly it worked with almost all the games I tried with only a little tweaking necessary here and there - another success!

What an age we live in...


Oct 19 – Costumes Are Coming!

Halloween is only a few weeks away, and I'm excited!

Well I don't have a particular costume picked out f yet or this year, I will be attending a party in 10 days and I'll have to have something by then. My girlfriend and I went out shopping for costume bits this past weekend and I found a mask that I think will work really well with some other things that I have - stay tuned!

In the meantime, here's some incredible cosplay from last year's ComiCon in Russia... these are some of the best costumes I've ever seen, anywhere:


Oct 20 –  Frugal, not Cheap

I've learned over the years to make the most of every dollar I have.

Very rarely have I simply bought something outright; usually I already know what I want and where the best place is to buy it, and when to make the purchase. This is on top of keeping track of my money to know where everything goes in a month, so that I could have a little left over for any surprises that crop up... or the occasional treat( see tomorrow's entry! )for myself.

It's hard to budget books when I read so quickly... libraries help only so much.

So to share the many ways to save money, here's a few that I use:

  • Staples@work discount store( I sometimes get 4xAA energizer rechargeables for $5.00! ). Even so, I buy my toner on eBay, where I pay about $20 for a high-quality refilled 2000-pg cartridge, 1/4 the cost of even the cheapest Staples refills
  • Mogo.com - you get a free monthly credit report, for no charge whatsoever
  • A Premier membership at NewEgg.ca means never paid the shipping for tech products
  • Amazon.ca recently raised their free shipping threshold to $35 minimum per order, but it's still worth shopping there for some products
  • RedFlagDeals.com is a fantastic place where bargain hunters from all over Canada post their findings for others, helping everyone with their monthly budget
  • websites like Kijiji.ca, UsedVictoria, CraigsList, VarageSale and LetGo are great, as buying local items used means that you don't pay for shipping on top, like eBay. I recently found a very expensive rotatable Samsung computer monitor for just $15 on VarageSale, in perfect condition!
  • ShopBot.ca is another site that lets you comparison shop online, though it's only for new items and has a leaning towards technology / high-tech items
  • BargainMoose.ca is a another great site that's simple to use and comprehensive


On a related note, sometimes I get lucky: today I won the 50-50 draw at work, my first time!

I won... and what about my shoulder?


Oct 21 – NEW COMPUTER!

It took half the day and I needed some expert help, but it was worth it.

My friend Jordon and I met for a late lunch, then headed to my place to get to work turning my mishmash 'Blue Frankenstein' PC into 2 discrete units, basically taking all of the best parts of the old computer and putting them into a new case that I've had hanging around for about three years now. It's a Zalman Z9 Plus, which I got for the terrific price of $50 and free shipping - woot! I just haven't had any reason to make use of its features until now.

Things went fairly smoothly, and by dinnertime we had most of the components installed into the new system, including the new motherboard which is an MSI 970 Gaming platform and includes such features as 2 high-speeed Crossfire slots, built-in overclocking support, a free RAMdisk program in many other high-end features. All for the price of $130 CDN, which I consider a bargain for the list of things it can do, but mainly it's all about letting me overclock my PhenomII-1090T CPU and run Crossfire cards at something approaching maximum speed. 

Here's the beauty in all her glory, pending some red LED fans arriving from China on the slow boat to replace the blue ones that came with the case years ago:

Isn't she a beauty? I've no name yet, and NOT Frankenstein!

The most nerve-racking moment was plugging in the newer 1tb Win10 SSD drive and turning on the system; would it work? Amazingly, it did! I shouted for joy as the system booted and Jordon got to work updating everything to run with the new motherboard, while I continue to patch together all the other parts into my old Blue Frankenstein case to run as a server.

Unfortunately, we ran into a hiccup: I had a screw loose. Well, lost actually.

Not just any screw, but one of the two that holds the heat sink onto the CPU in the old case: it fell onto the floor and neither of us could find it. ARGH!!! Naturally, it's of a unique size and we can't substitute any other screw, so I'll have to ask around a few shops in town over the next week or two to try and find something that's close - or some similar hardware that can replace it, as otherwise I'll have to buy a replacement CPU heatsink, which annoys the heck out of me, but at least it's not going to be massively expensive. Probably $20-ish... but still.

All in all, we finished around 9 PM, after six hours of intense work with a break for dinner, and I'm a very happy guy: I have a main / gaming PC that should carry me through at least another two years or more of daily use with room to tweak as needed, for a total investment of around $300 all-in. Nice!

I'll be spending the next few days on my hands and knees looking around the place though, for that darn screw!!!


Oct 22 – Seuss Skeletons?

Even the greatest writers sometimes need fate to intervene...

Take Dr. Seuss, for example: it hadn't been for a chance meeting very early in his career, he never would have written the wonderful works that he did and the world would be a poorer place for it.


I take this story out now and then, to dust off as a reminder that as a writer, I just have to put my head down and do the best I can, then let the world find my stories... with a little help along the way, which is how things are for authors nowadays.

Well, it's same for all artists, which is why the term 'starving artists' probably won't go away anytime soon... I mean, this fellow's more starving than most:



Oct 23 – Cranial Ouch

Argh...

I went to bed early last night with a not-quite-migraine headache, which is odd as I didn't have a single twinge during last week's major hurricane which caused a fairly large air pressure variation over the course of a few days.

There's probably some combination of diet and weather changes that are causing my headaches, but I still haven't been able to figure out exactly what that is, though I'm quite grateful that I don't have nearly the headache issues I did when I was living in Ontario 10 years ago.

That being said, a friend of mine posted something just this afternoon that I found very interesting in relation to migraines: they could be caused by bacteria.


While it's interesting, I'll have to spend some time in the near future looking at my diet in relation to migraines, as to date the only food trigger I know of is red wine. Science is a wonderful thing and I'm confident that at some point, I'll be able to reliably manage my migraines, but at least I'm living somewhere where they're not a weekly( or more often, weather-wise )occurrence.


My $20 neoprene brace arrived on Friday, and today I used it to take a walk around the block, with a cane to support my right leg... and it felt okay! So, the plan is to get a ride to work in the AM this week, and walk home, to get in both some much-needed exercise and necessary stretching, while being ultra-mindful of not causing any sort of relapse in either leg. Here's to getting better soon!