New computer

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A few weeks ago, I built a new gaming computer. My long-suffering Lenovo y510p laptop was around 7 years old, and while it’s a great gaming laptop, these things don’t last forever.

I had been having trouble with it for a couple of years. Certain games would make it overheat and crash, but I just didn’t play those games and turned settings down and got by. But last year, I reached the point where the number of games that I wanted to play, but couldn’t, was higher than those that  I could play.

So I built a new machine. I had thought about buying one instead of building, but you save so much money building, which meant fewer months of saving up money. And today, the last piece came in: a new keyboard. Subsequently, I’m writing a blog post.

  • Intel Core i5-8600k 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor
  • Asus – Prime Z370-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
  • G.Skill – Trident Z 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
  • Crucial – MX300 525GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive
  • Seagate – Barracuda 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
  • Gigabyte – GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6GB WINDFORCE OC 6G Video Card
  • Phanteks – Enthoo Pro M Tempered Glass (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case
  • EVGA – SuperNOVA G3 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
  • ASUS Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM
  • Ducky Shine 6 keyboard
  • Microsoft – Windows 10 Home

I’m super pleased. I decided not to get the highest-end video card, and I haven’t yet upgraded my monitor. I plan to get a new monitor later this year because mine is going dim after however-many-years it has been. But the video card needs no upgrade, as it turns out. I’m running everything on maximum settings, and I even have some add-ons installed for Elder Scrolls Online that make it even prettier, and I’m getting at least 60 FPS in everything. This has been an unmitigated success.

The only challenge that I ran into is that my external hard drive was corrupted. It looked like it still worked, but when I tried to transfer all of our photos to the new computer, it failed. Thankfully, I had everything backed up through Carbonite, and they had backed up before whatever/whenever it was that the external got corrupted, so I was able to restore everything going back to 2005. That would have been pretty heartbreaking to lose all of our pictures.

Now I just need to get used to this keyboard. I’m still managing around 90 words per minute, but I’m making a lot more errors than I would like. I do enjoy the feel and responsiveness of it though, and I look forward to doing more writing with it. It is higher profile than I’m used to so I may need to get a wrist rest.

 

Migrating from WordPress Server to WordPress.com

Last year, when my site on Bluehost came up for renewal, I decided that I ought to migrate to WordPress.com to save some money. I’ve been spending around $133 per year for my domains, hosting, and storage, and I just don’t blog enough to justify that anymore. Paying Bluehost was worth it to move off the server that used to run on a computer in my living room, but it’s not worth it anymore, especially because my sites have been going down multiple times a day.

I have been working on migrating to WordPress.com for the last week or so. I first had to roll back a test migration, which took a surprisingly long amount of time; all the pages and posts had to be deleted, and the process kept timing out. Then, I had to re-migrate everything so this site had the latest posts from both mstublefield.com and meta-manage.com.

I get one free domain with the cheapest plan here on WP (which was $36 instead of $133 for the year), so I’m letting meta-manage.com go.

Don’t expect any more frequent blogging than I have been doing… but know that things are going fantastically at Adaptavist. I’ll likely publish here in March to point you at some of the stuff we’ll be releasing then.

Review of Plantronics Voyager 5200 bluetooth headset

When I was looking for a new headset to travel with, I did a lot of research but had trouble finding good, live demos. I finally settled on the Plantronics Voyager 5200 and I’m pretty pleased with it. I’ve had a few problems with Bluejeans and Zoom, but only once with Zoom, and it’s great with Skype, my phone, and Discord.

I paid for this headset myself and didn’t receive any payment or free stuff for this review. I just wanted to provide an example of how well this headset works in a noisy environment.

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Thinking about switching from iOS to Android

I’ve had an Android phone for a while now, and I got an iPad two years ago. I really like the iPad and mostly use it for reading comics, Reddit, handling email and instant messages, watching movies while traveling by plane,  and gaming when I’m traveling. But I discovered earlier this week that all of the apps I use that used to be iOS-only are now available on Android as well, and it has me thinking about switching.

Now I have an even more compelling reason to switch. I’m currently in a hotel in San Jose and my iPad can’t connect to VPN, though my MacBook and Android phone can. After a bit of research, I learned that the app I use for VPN has a wide range of methods for creating a secured connection on most devices, but iOS really restricts its options. Put simply, I can’t use VPN on my iPad at this hotel because of how they authenticate wifi access, but I can use VPN on Android just fine because it has more paths for securing the connection.

This seems ludicrous, but that’s where we’re at. iOS is preventing me from having an encrypted connection at a hotel.

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Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Writing

Remember that thing I wrote about writing, and how it is bad for me, and how I wasn’t going to do it much anymore?

One of my coworkers encouraged me to try Dragon NaturallySpeaking, so I gave it a go last weekend and this weekend, and I’m liking it pretty well. I find that it takes me about half as long to compose and complete a blog post compared to typing, and reducing the amount of time involved makes the whole exercise a lot more palatable.

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Recently read: Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market

This is a fascinating article that I recommend if you’re involved in any way with higher education, STEM, or immigration discussions. In short, we’ve been told for years that there is more demand for good STEM graduates than the United States can meet, and that our students are, on average, poor when compared with other countries. This report from the Economic Policy Institute indicates that:

  1. There are more than enough highly qualified domestic STEM graduates, but
  2. For whatever reason, they cannot find jobs in IT or STEM, potentially because
    1. Wages aren’t high enough and they can find a better paying job outside of STEM, or
    2. They simply weren’t hired, and meanwhile
  3. The number of guestwork visas to import STEM workers from other countries continues to increase, despite #1

Within IT, what it really comes down to is that while we have plenty of people who can do the work in the USA, we don’t have people who are willing to work for the same amount of money that these jobs paid in 1990, and a lot of the jobs have dropped back to 1990-level wages… while the price of goods and services has increased (due to inflation).

I love seeing actual research and evidence on these sorts of topics. For me personally, I’ve felt that the reason companies have had trouble getting the staff they want/need is because they’ve been clamoring for STEM graduates, but then the STEM graduates apply for jobs and their communication skills are lacking…. That what the CEOs and the companies actually want are people with a strong liberal arts background who can handle the STEM work. If you look at the education of a lot of CEOs, it’s actually in the liberal arts, and so they find the STEM graduates inadequate because those graduates aren’t similar enough to themselves (the CEOs and managers).

My off-the-cuff hypothesis is undermined by this report, though, which indicates that the problem isn’t that companies aren’t hiring domestic IT graduates due to their poor communication skills, but rather that most IT graduates discover they can make more money outside of their anticipated field. (The article states that about ~50% of IT graduates choose a job outside their anticipated field while ~33% couldn’t find a job within IT at all.)