Sunday, 18 October 2015

Workbench, Wages and a Win10 Win

The word of the week is mellifluous.

Oct 12 – Adios, Amiga?

It’s time.

For 20 years, I've hung onto my old Amiga 2000, in the hopes that one day I'll be able to set it up and use it again to play all the wonderful games that I still remember with such fondness. Workbench 1.3 and 3.1, Guru Meditation errors... ah, memories.

However, it's just not going to happen and I have to face the fact that it's just taking up space. Even though it's in perfect working condition, I have to let it go to someone who can make better use of it. I have quite a collection of games with original boxes as well, enough that it's going to be a challenge to ship it to whoever manages to snag it on eBay in the next few weeks or months.

Most of the collection, plus hardware pics and screencaps

I really don't want to sell it, but to be brutally realistic, I also don't want to sit around waiting for games to load up on a system whose CPU runs at a paltry 25mHz. to put that in perspective, my ‘older’ 4-year-old AMD 905e CPU runs at 3.7 gHz, several hundred times faster. And that's without factoring in that many of the games run from floppy disks, or off a first-generation hard disk.

It's unknown if anybody will purchase the Amiga from me, even if I price it's quite reasonably, due to the shipping costs. The Amiga itself weighs over 30 pounds with just a keyboard and mouse, while the 5 boxes of games are about 20 pounds and several feet in all dimensions for everything. I spent too many hours today taking every single Amiga-related bit of hardware and software out of their boxes, laying them out and photographing them to use in the sale listing next weekend. You can see some( not all )of the pictures compiled above.

Hopefully, somebody out there will give it a good home; I certainly did.

Oct 13 – Walmart Wages

When it comes to lifestyle, your job is a critical factor. At least for most people.

If you're working for minimum wage, there's not a lot of lifestyle to be had in terms of financial purchase power. I should know: I've worked for minimum wage too often and for too long in my life and far too recently, I might add.

What is minimum wage mean for employers, however? One word: profit.

For most employers, wages make up anywhere from 30 to 40% of their operating costs, meaning the less they can pay employees, the more margins are available for profit for the business. The larger the company, the more savings can be had by maintaining a lean workforce who are paid as close to possible as a minimum for their industry.

Unsurprisingly extremely large employers, such as Walmart, stand to save the most money by paying their employees the least when it comes to wages. While the following video has been online since the spring of 2015, I haven't seen it before this week and I find it resonates with me on several levels. I do understand that it posits several simplifications in the formula that uses, but all the same, it captures the essence of how profit is king in a modern capitalist society and the pawns are the workers:

Oct 14 – Battlefront Beauty

Oh, to have money to spend on a high-end gaming PC!

There's just one game I want to play right now: Star Wars Battlefront.

It is the most gorgeous game, graphics-wise, and those incredible visuals go a long way towards giving the player the feeling of total immersion in the Star Wars universe. Have a look at this video from the beta, in which a player simply strolls around and does his best to capture the wondrous visual eye candy that can be had inside the confines of this latest entry in the silicon Star Wars universe:

I probably won't be able to reformat and upgrade my main PC until early 2016. Even then, the specs are such for SW: Battlefront that running it at any sort of decent resolution will be a questionable endeavor. But, I may have to try: to be able to realize a childhood dream of being in the Battle Of Hoth, well…

How much is that worth, I ask you?

Oct 15 – At a Book Launch Party!

T’was a fun night to be an author.

Or at least, the friend of an author, as I attended Astra Crompton’s launch of her second book,  Legend Of The Quill. I had a small part in its final version, having given feedback on the last draft for the better part of the last year.

The launch was held at a local coffee shop, Gorge-Ous Coffee, which caters to writers in many ways and was the perfect place to hold the event. All told, about two dozen people were present for the launch, which filled the shop to the maximum.

Astra read for selections from her book, in reverse chronological order and you could have heard a pin drop during each reading, the audience was so attentive. It was a lovely launch and I hope that she'll gain traction from her sales online at places like Amazon so that she can continue working on the other dozen-plus books in her series.

For myself, I hope to have a NYC launch, or perhaps simultaneous launches in several dozen cities… who knows what the future will bring? I just have to work hard to get there!

Oct 16 – Business? Me?

I took a big step today towards financial independence: I’m setting up a business.

Today I had a meeting with my credit union to discuss the feasibility of starting my own home business, with a small loan to get me going in the next few months.

It would be a based on the purchase of a Glowforge in the next week, to use for laser cutting / etching services on a small scale. I would be focusing on several specific markets locally, with an eye towards expanding into the rest of the province and eventually across Canada. With any luck and a whole lot of hard work, I may be even able to reach the point where I will have steady international sales.

Understandably, I've been very busy for the last two weeks putting together a comprehensive business plan. Not having written one before, it was a struggle to stay focused while presenting relevant data and numbers to support my suggested endeavor. Nevertheless I think I succeeded in creating a solid plan that presents an excellent case for making a go at my getting ahead financially.

The meeting at the credit union went very well, with several of the staff commenting on how well I had crafted my business plan and an interesting note, how much of a difference character makes in loan decisions - something I hadn't known and so I'm grateful I had the character of myself to present to them today.

I'll be on pins and needles for the next week, while I await their decision. There is a time constraint involved, in that the initial pre-order( with a substantial discount! )for the Glowforge ends on October 24, so the timing is a little tight. I'm hopeful that things will come through before then and that I'll be able to make the first purchase for my business out of an approved loan.

Wish me luck!

Oct 17 – Finished Prime

Well, that didn’t take long…

About six weeks ago, I started watching Transformers Prime in earnest on Netflix. I'd dabbled in the series a year ago when I first saw was available on Netflix, but only recently did the stories really start to resonate with me; the writing on the show is fantastic, as I've mentioned before and the voice acting is stellar - I hadn't known that both Ernie Hudson and Markie Post were part of the cast.

Watching it at home and on my phone( over wifi, darn data limits… )I continued to be impressed by the show's quality and depth. Not to mention the gorgeous HD graphics gracing every frame.

Today I watched the final episode and it did not disappoint! Everything wrapped up fairly nicely, with an eye towards a possible continuance of the series in different directions. I do have to say I wasn't sure how they would top themselves, so to speak, considering the action that has gone on in the plot lines over the course of the three seasons. It really felt satisfying to end the series today.

In viewing Transformers Prime, I was once again reminded of the thousands of hours of television that I'd like to get around to watching, shows that I have saved on my computer or listed on Netflix. It's amusing to think that I could spend several years just watching television while at the moment I don't have cable, nor do I have the time to indulge such an admittedly luxurious habit.

Maybe in five or 10 years; I should still have all my saved DVD’s then. Considering that at last count, my digitize files from my DVD collection were pushing 3 TB in size, I've had to find some room on multiple drives to fit it all in.

On what media that's all going to be archived on five years hence from now, I have no idea…

Oct 18 – Upgrades

It worked!

Months ago, I attempted to install Windows 10 on both my desktop and laptop, with no success on either. While I understood why the installation on my desktop didn’t work due to various software issues with Windows, I was perplexed as to why my laptop failed to upgrade. Several calls to Microsoft tech support didn't resolve the issue and so I shelved it. 

Until today.

On a whim, I started up the Windows 10 installation program and to my delight, it got further than it ever had on the previous three attempts, showing me this screen:

After only a few minutes, with the laptop having rebooted three or four times, Windows 10 stated that it was installed – huzzah! A little poking around confirmed that everything was working properly; with the usual driver updates aside, it looks like my laptop is better than new!

I'll have to play with Win10 for the next few weeks to see how exactly it's better than the much-maligned Windows 8.1, which I actually didn't mind all that much since I didn't use the tiled Metro interface at all. I'm hoping that it will extend battery life as well as help the system seem speedier with the updated OS and generally extend the usable lifetime of the laptop, which says it doesn't have discrete graphics I don't use as a gaming machine so much as a general-purpose computer.

Definitely a win today!

This is the earliest blog post ever, having worked on it starting well before lunch as I've lot more to do before I go to bed. Oddly, I haven't heard a siren go by all day, which is really unusual for where I live so I'm really enjoying the relative quiet. There's been the usual traffic noise, including motorcycles, but for the most part it's been a relaxing day sitting here doing work on the computer. It's going to be a busy week up ahead, with three different meetings of my writing group as well as awaiting news about my business loan application. See you next week!