At Boskone in Boston this Weekend

This is our second time going into Boston for the Boskone con. Last time we had Alyssa along.

I attended a couple of panel discussions today so far and its reminding me why its worth coming here. It does seem that the number of sessions that I’m interested in this time is smaller than last. The sessions I’ve been in have had their through provoking aspects though…and that’s worth the price of  admission right there.

The panel on fairy tales and their modern reinterpretation had Jane Yolen on it and she is generally insightful. I was particularly struck by the break between the world before infinite copyrights and the one after. We can reinterpret/spin/play with fairy tales in large part because they are out of copyright. Once we pass that magic and largely unmoving boundary, everything is off of the table. I expect to write a bit more on this later.

Later in the morning I went to a panel on technology and its potential issues with Charlie Stross on the panel. He did a wonderful job of pulling the discussion away from a strict AI focus and on a broader slate of issues. It is often hard to pull ones gaze away from the flashy stuff and realize that changes in transportation and the garment industry could be just as transformative (sometime more as they strike at more foundational aspects of our lives) as the flashy, new tech bits.

Politics on Disney Cruising Sites

I just dropped my connection to

It was interesting…their title banner claimed 50000 members while facebook showed them just over 47000 so perhaps their behavior is already having an impact.

The site has a policy of ‘no political posts’. A member posted a pro-Trump picture on the site (a group appears to have hung a pro-Trump sign over the side of  one of the ships). When other members pointed it out, the admins stated that pro-Trump material was not (in their eyes) political but any protest related material would be considered political and removed. At that point they closed commenting on the post.

I visit Disney sites to see pictures of places that make me happy and images of happy people. I do not expect pictures with a political spin to be present but if they are I expect all sides to be represented and discussion to ensue. Any site with a posted set of rules that chooses to enforce those rules only when the admins whim directs isn’t doing its job properly.

I would encourage others to follow my lead and leave this group. There are plenty of well managed Disney related sites out there that aren’t pushing an agenda.

A friend just told me that this is an ‘under the radar’ commercial site as well. Selling product while pretending to be a fan site. Steer clear!

RAVPower RP-WD02 Appears DOA

Feeling a bit disappointed as the travel router I ordered seems to be dead on arrival. It has been on the charger for around 48 hours now. The charging light is still blinking and the power button does nothing even when pressed and held for far longer than the manual indicates. It got quite warm when I first plugged it into the charger (an Anker multi-port charger that I use for most things that need USB power) but by 24 hours in it was at a reasonable temperature.

I’ve tried pushing the factory reset button and that does nothing. I’ve unplugged and replugged several times (and tried the power button when unplugged). When I plug it back in, the charging LED turns red and blinks quickly for a few seconds and then we’re back to slow blinking green.

I’m almost certainly going to send this back to Amazon at this point. I’m inclined to try an exchange as the feature set on the device really does meet my needs. I had been hoping to try this out with the setup I intend to bring along next vacation…and perhaps I will be able to with its replacement…

I’ll post when the new one comes in and talk about whether it works and how it performs…

Lighter Transfer Gear for Vacation Trips

Trying to slim down my vacation gear. Not going to go too far because the SLR and lenses aren’t optional, but I’m hoping to leave my core-i7 laptop behind while still maintaining the ability to transfer pictures to storage hard drives at the end of each day.

I always have my Pixel-C tablet along for a variety of uses and mostly wind up on that device for routine email or web checks. I’m hoping to use it as my display device using RDP and a wireless travel router.

My Pixel-C tablet.

I just bought a small travel router that also has a reserve battery function and micro SD reader that should allow the tablet and the computer to see each other (and to see the internet as well I’m expecting).

So far the new router has been charging (and getting a bit warmer than I like, but it is the first charge) so I haven’t had a chance to try it out. It uses an app on phones and tablets. I’m expecting that it will also connect to a windows PC if everything is set up correctly.

Intel NUC 6i5

I’ll be using the Intel NUC that normally acts as my ‘test target’ for software sandbox work at home. Its small, decently fast and has four USB ports and a full sized HDMI with wireless and bluetooth built in. As long as it can connect to the travel router I expect everything should work out reasonably.

The final pieces in the puzzle are a rather nice bluetooth keyboard and mouse. These should give me options…I can use the NUC with the room television and associate the keyboard and mouse directly with the NUC or I can use the tablet over RDP and connect the input devices to the tablet.







Our trip to Boscon next weekend will likely act as a dry run (assuming I can get everything set up to my satisfaction before then). Should be interesting and allow a slightly smaller footprint along the way. An additional bonus here is that I like this new bluetooth keyboard much better than the older one I’ve used for travel blogging in the past. It has a nice heft to it and the keys are pleasant to type on. Should make the occasional blog post along the way much nicer to put together.


Saw the Live Stream of the ‘Rivers of Light’ Soft Open

Looked great and giving animal kingdom a night time show should make that park a bigger experience. Looking forward to seeing the show in person and with my SLR in tow.

DIsney theme parks always  boost my spirits, even here in the slow and cold part of the winter. I’m currently kitting up for our DIsbey vacation in May. Going to hit the parks, do a short cruise (two days at castaway key, yay) and then return to the parks for a short stretch.

Lorna has done her usual, masterful job of putting all of the details together. I’m looking at lightening the hardware load a bit. I normally wind up hauling my laptop along with us to transfer pictures from CF and SD cards to a pair of external drives at the end of each day. I have an Intel NUC that I use as a ‘test target’ for software stuff. I’m hoping that I can use the NUC with my tablet (remote desktop) or the TV in the room and a bluetooth keyboard and mouse in place of the laptop.

So far its looking promising. We’re going into Boston next weekend for Boscon and I’m expecting to use that as a dry run. Ideally I won’t need to use the hotel TV as a display (I can’t really count on having access to the HDMI connector) and can use my Pixel-C tablet instead.

I may try to put together some software to facilitate this process. I’ve tended to use either the desktop explorer or lightroom to transfer files. A small C# or C++ application (or service) that looks for the appropriate drives and then transfers the pictures automatically would be a pretty nice thing. I’ll probably also try to dig up my copy of the Canon application for manipulating images as I’m not going to transfer my lightroom license to the NUC.



Fixing my portable generator

Sometime since last winter, something heavy smashed the 240V breaker on the side of my portable generator. I’ve just spent some quality time trying to find a replacement. Home depot has nothing of the sort (no huge surprise). The generac website was a little helpful, but offered no clear way to order the breaker. I’ve sent a message to them using their ‘contact us’ link and I’m hoping they’ll be willing to help.

The worrisome bit is that their parts section lists the entire electrical

The Generator

box as a single part number. I’m expecting that all of the wiring, outlets and breakers in there are going to cost much more than I’m willing to pay for just the breaker. If necessary, I’ll wind up in DigiKey or somewhere similar finding a breaker whose ratings are close enough and whose physical mounting options can be made to work. I’d much rather buy the right breaker from Generac if possible.

Continue reading Fixing my portable generator

Picked up Federation Commander

I’ve been realizing that if I want to find people to play boardgames with, I need to be looking at somewhat less heavyweight games than the stuff I played in college with friends who had also been playing for years. I just picked up a copy of Federation Commander which is a lighter weight take on Star Fleet Battles. Hoping this will make it possible to setup some gaming and perhaps work up to the more complex Star Trek themed games (and others). I’ve got a broader library, but many of the games I loved years ago are now far out of print. We’ll see what the new year brings…hoping to find time and an opponent or two…

I have the Klingon Border version on order but from a slower source (this one was available with Amazon Prime so quick). I think that the Klingon/Federation match up is a little less complex and expect that will make for a better introductory scenario once it arrives.

TomTom Start GPS Appears to be no longer supported…

Looks as if our ‘new’ GPS (a TomTom Start Classic) has reached ‘end of life’ for its lifetime updates. I tried downloading new maps and the app kept restarting with ‘critical update required’. Every time it restarted it gave me the same message (and showed updates available but not accessible in the window behind). I finally found a notice that this model is no longer supported and a suggestion that I look at newer models.

I’m unsurprised by the slightly screwy definition of ‘lifetime’ that TomTom uses but not happy. Lifetime to them is defined as ‘until we decide to drop support’ so the lifetime could end at any time.

I’m seriously considering looking at cell phone mounts and options to use my phone directly as a GPS. The newer TomTom GPS devices cost around $150.00 and use phone data for traffic information so I’m not at all sure that they’re a good match for our needs going forward.

Looking to Play Some Board Games Soon

I played board wargames and role playing games (AD&D and many others) during high school and college. Once I graduated, life
became too complicated and distances to friends who played became too far to keep up.Since then, many of the games I enjoyed have gone away though I still have copies of quite a few. Some including Star Fleet Battles and StarFire are still out there (and the RPG world seems to continue to flourish).

I’ve actually updatedmy Star Fleet Battles (tactical) and Federation and Empire (strategic) sets recently. I’m also getting the core game set for Federation Commander as a simplified introduction to the game system. I am realizing that however much I enjoyed the full sized games, introducing friends who haven’t played them to the rules sets would be a bit much. The faster playing, less complex federation commander seems like a good starter as do the introductory rules from ADB. 

I also have quite a few games where components have been spread around the house as I’ve looked at getting them out to use in the past and never gotten to playing. I’ll be looking at doing things over the next year or so if I can find opponents, time and opportunity. Gaming online seems like the ideal solution for some of these games as the play times can be long but the copyright issues loom large for anything that I don’t create from scratch myself. We’ll see what happens on that front.

Various Games RPGs and Other Stuff…


Most of the Boardgames and SFB

A Wonderful XMas Now Completed…

…and we slide down into the cold, dark part of the year…

Alyssa is home (and has been since before XMas and will be until the New Year rolls in). Her boyfriend Jonathan visited over XMas and he’s delightful.

We spent XMas eve at my sister’s house with most of the rest of my siblings and their families (Mark is in Colorado but texted in 🙂 ). Seems as if everyone is doing pretty well to very well. I’m delighted that things are looking good as we begin 2017.

The Christmas decorations have officially been taken down and the tree is on the porch, waiting to be hauled into the woods for its final disposition. This has never been my favorite part of the year as the joy and excitement of Christmas ebbs and there is only New Years before we hit the cold and dark months of January and February. Spring seems far away and it is time to huddle together and do things that don’t involve the outdoors (no skiers here really).

I am looking forward to moving some of my technical sandbox projects forward. I’m putting together the database definitions for the file management tool I’ve had in the works for some time now. I’ve got the VR system up and running in the basement and now need to hit the OpenGL books to start writing code. I have the office in some semblance of order and the Intuos tablet ready to practice some drawing. Plenty to do (aside from work which is plenty busy).

I’ll be off work until next Tuesday as KMC has the whole week between XMas and New Years off this year. Lys is home so I don’t know how much technical stuff will get done (but then I’d rather spend family time while I can). She’ll be heading back to Great Lakes and hold pending C school on the second.