Another PeeCee has moved in…

Back when I was mining Bitcoins I actually gathered a few.  At some point I wanted to play a couple Steam games that were only on Windows.  So I bought a real inexpensive CyberPower desktop.  Older i3 chip, GTX640 card, etc.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great machine but any of todays game I have to run at the lowest of settings to even get “good” performance.

Most of the games I want to play now do have Mac clients but looking at the entire Mac lineup, all of the machines have “game-sucky” video cards.  Built Intel stuff and what not.  The only Mac I could get into with the Mac Pro and I was not going to shell out for that.  So I hobbled along with my i3 desktop.

A month or so ago PC machines started to come out with the newest Nvidia cards and I started to see reasonable price Laptops with a real gamer setup.  I started looking around and reviewing and ended up focused on the Asus ROG GL502 line of laptops.

  • Model:  GL502VM-DB71
  • CPU:  Intel Core i7 – 6700HQ 2.6 GHz
  • Screen:  15.6 FHD Display (G-Sync)
  • Memory:  16GB DDR4
  • Video:  GeForce 1060
  • Video Memory:  6GB DDR5
  • Drive:  1TB SATA Drive

So looking at those specs, the video card and the G-SYNC display are the bright spots.  With that Video Card I can play all of the current games at their highest settings and still stay above 60 FPS.  The G-SYNC display works specifically with the Nvidia card and it cuts out all of the stuttering in the display.  For example, if you sit in a detailed scene and pan around, you’ll notice that the display stutters as it tries to keep up with the data.  With G-SYNC this doesn’t happen; smooth as butter!!!!

So out of the box this Asus ROG is $1399 and is a full on gaming laptop.  Cool design, keyboard and all. I had to make a few modifications that were purely my choice but I think pushed this over the edge.

First I installed a 128GB NVME SSD flash card in it.  It has an open slot for one and this things is damn fast!  I moved the Windows OS (C drive) to this and now this machine boots up from fully powered off in about 6-7 seconds.

Next removed the 1TB SATA drive and replaced it with SATA SSD drive.  This is where I stored the games and apps (D drive).  It’s not as fast as the NVME drive but it’s a lot faster then a regular drive.

So all in all I spent about $1500 on this laptop and there is nothing in the Apple lineup that I can get that even slightly approaches this machine for performance.  Also I now have the advantage of having a quality machine for Unity and other development as well.  Now I love the MacOS, I’m typing this on my MacBook Air and use these machines day in and day out.  But Apple better get their shit together on their traditional Desktop and Laptop products.  I’m glad my iPhone is with me and love playing around with our Apple TV but other products are encroaching in my house.

  • (2) Kindles
  • (1) Amazon Echo
  • (1) Desktop PC
  • (1) Laptop PC
  • (Boat load) of Raspberry Pis

Minecraft – Survival Mode Starter

I play a lot of Minecraft with my daughter.  She always plays in Creative mode while I prefer Survival mode.  After a couple of years I realize that I have a pattern that I follow that works in getting started.  

Getting established is the first thing.

1. Go pound down a couple of trees and get some wood.  Turn that would into boards and create a Crafting table.

2. Near where you started, Build a simple house.  5w x 5d x 3h is fine.  Space is tight, so put your crafting table as one of the wall blocks.  And don’t forget to give yourself a door.

3. Craft yourself some wood tools.  (4) pickaxes, (2) shovels, (2) axes, (1) hoe.

4. Torches would be nice but without coal from mining, you can create coal from a wood block.  If you can get (20) of them then you should be set.

So at this point you have a safe house and you can easily survive the night.  Next up is getting food and upgrading your tools.

1. If you are lucky to have a lot of animals around (chicken, cow, etc) then go a hunting and get some food resources.

2. I always start out a basic farm plot so I can get some wheat.  A 6 x 6 plot will do.  Get some seeds by whacking a lot of grass.  You need (36) of them to fill your plot.  As you harvest them, they will give you wheat and in a pinch you can simply make bread to keep your food count high. 

Once you have your food and your shelter covered you are now surviving.  Gradually expand things and do more as you can.  Since you don’t want to be outside at night, I typically mine in the evening and farm/hunt in the day.

I will typically mine from my house straight down in a spiral pattern.  So my house becomes a mining shack.  Once you start finding Coal and Iron you can really start to expand.  Keep you mine well lit.  If you skimp then you will be faced with Monster spawns.

Apple Watch… 30 days in…

On Black Friday, I finally pulled the trigger and bought an Apple Watch. I got the 42mm Sport – Midnight Blue band and Gold.  I haven’t worn a watch for 10+ years.  I have a collection of watches and they sit very nicely in a display case but never felt the need to wear them.  I’ve had this Apple Watch on for most of the 30 days and here is what I’ve found so far:

  • Being able to respond to calls and messages on it is great!  I always leave my phone in my office but having the watch ring and ping me is great.  Not to mention all the times the phone is buried in my bag or coat and I can’t hear it.
  • Battery life is about 2 days with normal use.  That means every other night you need to leave it on the charger.
  • Apps are “ok”.  Nothing to write home about.  Outside of being to get at stuff in a pinch, I haven’t found them all that useful.
  • The band and fit is really nice.  I have thinner wrists and the watch came with a smaller band.  The texture of the sport band is very comfortable and doesn’t cause sweat or discomfort.

So, right now you can get the sport 42mm models for about $300 from places like Target (gift card rebate of 100) or Best Buy.  Is it worth $300???  For me, I’m happy with the purchase, for others… probably not.  If you are really looking for an extension to your phone then I say go for it.  Otherwise, I’d wait and see what version 2 has to offer.

Black Friday – SUCCESS!

Had a lot of shopping to get done and I did most of it from my desk at home.  Amazon, Target, Toys R’ Us and eBay were great.  I saw that both Best Buy and Target had sales on Apple Watches.  I’ve been eyeballing the Gold Sport Model with the Midnight Blue bands.  Target had it at regular price but gave a $100 Target Gift Card.  Best Buy had it on sale for $50 off ($350).  I would have preferred to get it from Target but they didn’t have the gold/midnight in stock and Best Buy did.  Now I just have to get used to the watch telling me it’s time to stand up.  :)

MacBook Air or iPad Pro???

The iPad Pro was release and it is very interesting but I’m not sure what to do.  I currently, in addition to my work laptop, carry around an 11″ MacBook Air and a pair of iPhones (work and personal).  I work for a financial institution with a lot of restrictions so I do a lot to keep my personal equipment separate. While at work, when I’m using my MacBook Air, I connect it via my iPhone as a hot spot.  It’s not the optimal solution but it works and it is safe.

The MacBook is 5+ years old and it runs like a champ.  Never anything too heavy on it, I use it to keep organized.  I’m a particular fan of Things from Cultured Code.  I like it, they have a great product across the multiple Apple products.  Most, probably around 90%, of what I use this system for, I could do on an iPad.  I used to have an iPad until my son cracked his and he inherited mine.  :)

I know that both the new MacBook Air and the iPad Pro will end up around the same as far as costs.  It really comes down to how it will fit with my uses.  Am I one of those people that the iPad Pro makes sense?  I’m not sure but it is what I’m going to start looking at.  I won’t be ready to get one until the 2nd revision comes out.

The TUBE is dead – day 12 of Apple Stories

Steve declared the floppy drive dead.  Steve declared the CRT dead.  And eventually Steve would declare the CD/DVD drive dead as well.  At this point in time I got into custom building PCs and built my first PC system from scratch.  I also cleared the deck on most of the systems I owned and eventually end up buying a flat white iMac.  I believe this was still in the G5 series of things as well.  This was an interesting time with OS X being built on top of BSD, me really getting into Linux and starting to hate everything Windows.

One thing to note, I still have yet to purchase a “brand new” system since back when I got my PowerMac 6100.  When I look to purchase a system I still go to Apple’s refurbished site and buy from there.  I’ve never had issues with the systems I’ve bought and it’s a pretty good price for the items.

Ti-99/4a meet Mac – day 11 of Apple Stories

At this time, earlier 2000’s, I still had my PC, my TI-99/4a system, my PowerMac WGS server, and iMac DV.  I was at a Salvation Army shop and I found an older Mac 5300 system.  This is one of those All-in-one system but the great part was that I could pipe in the video from my TI-99 and basically not lose any room.  I was in a small basement room that was used as my office, so space was very tight.

All along I kept finding refugee systems and used them in some creative way.  Even as I type this article, I just found a great deal on an Apple IIe system that I just purchased and will soon be on its way into my hands.

Welcome Back Steve – day 10 of Apple Stories

Steve was back and everything “i” was coming out.  I still had my PC but I started running Apple equipment on a regular basis.  When OS X hit, I was hooked again.  First I started out with a Sage colored iMac SE unit.  I got my wife an iBook a little later as well.  I’m also very proud to say that I got my wife an original 10GB iPod when they came out.  I had a minidisc player and it sucked!

I remember having this one direct client community piece of software where you could log on and leech all of the older and cooler Mac based games and programs.  It was awesome!


The Dark Ages – day 9 of Apple Stories

I broke down…  With work and everything I decided to pickup a PC based system.  The game selection was so big and I started to play Ultima Online.  You can’t fault me for playing UO.  18+ years later and I still play it today.  But there was hope…

I still wanted to play around with a Mac and I was getting into Linux based systems.  I ran into Yellow Dog Linux and it supported Macintosh based systems.  I played around with a couple of used one but I finally ended up on a PowerMac 8550/200.  I had YDL running on this for some time and ended up cutting my teeth on running a website, database and what not.