Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Felt B16 2014 Triathlon Bike

I recently picked up my first Triathlon bike.  I got a pretty good deal off of craigslist.  The bike pretty much looked new.  Here are the things I've changed:
- New bike tape
- iPhone 6 stem cap mount (waterproof)
- Right side water bottle cage
- ISM PR 1.0 saddle
- Power bank for longer rides (fits in the fuelbox)
- Aero fuelbox
- Feedback bike stand
- Cycelops trainer skewer to work with my trainer
- Wahoo Blue SC (pulled off my Trek)
- Aluminum presta valve caps
- Shimano PD-R550 pedals
- I use Roadbike Pro app as my cycling computer along with the Wahoo sensors.

Everything is installed and ready to go.  Next, I plan to use the Bike Fast Fit app and do an initial fitting by myself and see how that goes.  After that I'll finally be able to spend some quality saddle time with my new toy.  This is my first ISM saddle but since amazon offered free returns on this model I decided to give it a try.  If it doesn't work out I still have my old selle italia saddle that I like for the most part.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Run your own personal cloud server (owncloud)

So what do you do when you have gigabit internet symmetric and loads of hard drive space?  You start finding ways to start using some of that capacity.  So I've been looking to setup my own cloud server to just more easily access my files in general and maybe share files with some close friends and family.  I didn't want to go through some third party and I didn't want to have to worry about any file size or space limitations.  I searched around and owncloud seems to be the most popular.  It's also free and open source.  It's also linux based.  They have a live demo on their site if you want to play around with it first.

While you can install it in windows using xampp there seems to be some limitations that way.  So I took this as an opportunity to play around with linux a bit more.  In the downloads section under the appliances tab you'll find vm images ready to run (based on ubuntu 14.04).  I used the OVA image and imported it into virtualbox.  I kept it at 2gb ram but upped the cpu to 2 cores and changed networking to bridged.

I recommend using ssh (putty) instead the virtualbox console to work in since you get copy and paste that way and don't have to install the guest additions.

Setup wasn't too bad but my linux is pretty rusty and I haven't messed with apache much.  First thing was to give it a fixed internal ip address from my router then add that ip and my domain to the trusted_domains section in:
You will have to become root (sudo -i) to get to that directory.
I like using pico/nano for my editor.

To get windows shares going you just need to install smbclient first using apt-get
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install smbclient
After that just go enable the external storage app.

To get rid of the php5-apcu warning:
Just uncomment the trusty-backports lines in the sources.list file and then you just use apt-get to install php5-apcu/trust-backports

Changing the default ports was slightly trickier but I got it all working and installed my own ssl certificates too to get rid of the self signed warnings.  I had to change ports because my windows iis web servier vm is already using 80 and 443.  Setup your port forward in your router and you should be good to go.

change ports in:

installing your free startssl cert:
You'll need to make sure these lines are in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/self-signed-ssl
SSLCertificateFile /etc/ssl/2_yourdomain.cert
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/yourdomain.key
SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/ssl/1_root_bundle.crt

Overall, I had fun getting this setup and so far it's been running pretty great.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Expand Your Storage Space of Your Retina Macbook Pro

One thing I really miss about the older pre Retina macbook pro's was the ability to easily upgrade memory and disk storage.  As long as you had the proper torx screwdriver you can just swap out the hard drive for a big SSD.  When I sold my old mid 2010 15" mbp for a mid 2014 15" retina mbp I opted for the 500gb ssd.  It was plenty of space until I started getting into mobile development using xamarin.  I like coding in visual studio running on windows 10 inside vmware fusion.  I was really starting to gobble up a lot of space with my windows vm.

There are a few solutions that take advantage of the built in SD card slot that when inserted it is flush with the edge of the slot and doesn't stick out.  Transcend makes the JetDrive which has the flash built in but I opted for the BASEQI aluminum microSD Adapter for MacBook Pro 15" Retina for $25.  It's basically micro sdxc to SD adapter but it's much shorter than usual.  When fully inserted it is completely flush with the rest of the macbook.  I run my finger over the slot and NOTHING sticks out.  There is a tiny groove cut into the edge of the adapter big just enough for a finger nail to get in but the idea is you just insert it and leave it.  I paired it with a 200GB Sandisk Ultra micro sdxc card for $90.  I went with this solution for the added flexibility.  Maybe you already have a micro sd card to use or maybe they will come out with a bigger or faster one in the future.

Make sure you get the right model of BASEQI that matches your model mbp.  For me it was the 504A.  Also, there are no sleep issues with this adapter.  It's properly mounted every time.

If you sync 1password with dropbox and you move your dropbox folder you will need to start over with an empty vault.  Also, make sure you quit 1password and 1password mini (click the little gear in the top right corner) before moving your dropbox folder.  

Performance was better than I expected.  Just make sure you format it in HSF+ Journaled (guid) for the best compatibility.  I had some issues with games being on the sd card when it  was exFat.  You can expect about 15MB/s write and around 90MB/s read.  Playing games off of it worked great.  I tried guild wards 2, world of warcraft, and game of thrones and they all loaded up pretty fast.  It's also a great place to sync your dropbox files too.

Highly Recommended!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nyko Data Bank (PS4)

Nyko Data Bank Pics

So I got my PS4 back on launch day and even before first boot I swapped the internal drive with a 1.5TB.  At the time that was the largest readily available 2.5" 9.5mm hard drive.  Today, you can get bigger drives but still not as big as 3.5" desktop hard drives.  Unlike the Wii U and XBOX One you can't use an external USB hard drive to run games off of.  Enter the Nyko Data Bank which I picked up at Amazon for $40.

There have been solutions before wiring up 3.5" external enclosures with esata to the internal sata port on the ps4 but they weren't very elegant and you had to deal with the enclosure being on a separate power switch.  So you had to make sure the hard drive was on before the ps4.

Enter the data bank which is a pretty well integrated solution.  It consists of a plastic sata sled pass through in the shape of an internal 2.5" hdd along with the bracket around it.  That routes the sata data/power upward at a 90 degree angle.  Then, you have a replacement cover that houses the 3.5" hdd and a little ribbon cable that routes the sata from the sled up to the back of the enclosure.  Power is pulled from the plug and then passes through to the ps4 so everything powers up together.  Overall, it's a pretty elegant solution.

It comes packaged with some pretty detailed instructions but here are some nice instructions on swapping the hard drive.   So with the latest ps4 2.50 firmware they added a backup/restore function that basically images your hdd to an external usb hard drive and then let you restore form that.  It sounded perfect because then you don't have to re-download all your games.  I have close to 900GB of data.
WARNING: DO NOT USE THE BACKUP/RESTORE FUNCTION IN FIRMWARE 2.50.  It's currently very buggy.  I spent about 12 hours backing up and another 7 restoring.  It looked like everything went OK but then the ps4 started having all sorts of odd issues:
- Most of my games were corrupt and couldn't start.  Deleting and re-downloading the game would cause CE-38612-0 error and would prevent any game from starting.
- Non responsive controls
- Putting the ps4 into sleep mode would crash it.
- No amount of restarting, unplugging, or database rebuilding would help.
- Tried turning off internet connection which didn't help.
I finally had to re-initialize and reinstall from scratch clean after first manually backing up each individual game's save files to a usb flash drive.  Don't forget to sync your trophies and backup any video or screen captures you want to save.  After configuring all my settings and logging into PSN I re-downloaded The Witcher 3 and everything was working fine.  Now, I'm trying to re-download all my games which is going to take a few days.  It's a real PITA and sony needs to get this fixed pronto.  FYI, you can queue P.T. to re-download but it will fail with an error.  Oh well, I guess I lost that game demo.

I installed this 4TB seagate SSHD which is one of their new hybrid drives.  It does seem a bit faster on load times.  I'll know better once I repeatedly load a game a few times.

Some possible drawbacks:
- Heat.  I'm not sure but I think it might add some heat.  As a bonus you move the hard drive completely outside of the ps4 but that 3.5" hard drive does generate a bit of heat.  The thing is passive so there are no additional fans.
- Bluetooth performance seems to be a bit worse but I'm not 100% sure on this.  This giant enclosure sitting on top of your ps4 might be inhibiting the bluetooth signal SLIGHTLY.  I'm still testing.  I don't really notice any issues while playing games but only in the cross media bar.  That might be because I'm trying to download and install my entire digital library of games though.

Recommended if you don't mind going through all the hassle to install this thing, migrate your data, and re-downloading all your software.  It really is a big pain but I think it is worth it in the end.

UPDATE 6/16/2015:
NOT RECOMMENDED.  Apparently the current ps4 firmware (2.50) isn't completely happy with volumes greater than 2TB.  It will crash when you sleep it consistently.  Reading the reviews on amazon I'm not the only one.  It's possible the backup/restore would work on a smaller hard drive but I don't know for sure right now.  Well, this kind of defeats the entire purpose of the device and Nyko should have been clearer on this point.  Even though technically nothing is wrong with the enclosure it's still kind of pointless to buy it now until a new firmware that plays nice with larger volumes comes out.  So now I have to decide either to swap back to my old hard drive and return the data bank (or keep it around until it's properly supported) or live with shutting down the ps4 everytime and keep my fingers crossed this gets fixed in future firmware update.  I think I'm going to swap back to my internal drive

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bloodborne (PS4)

Got my first platinum trophy:

Final stats (level 152):

57 hours:

WARNING: Expect some spoilers especially locations and bosses.

Every year there is usually one or two games that really stand out.  Last year it was Shadow of Mordor which I 100% it.  This year so far it's definitely Bloodborne.  This is the first game on anything playstation that I got 100% of all the trophies.  I even completed NG+ (new game plus).  I own all the souls game but Bloodborne is the first one I ever played.  The reviews and opinions of friends were so positive I just had to give it a shot.

- I heard it was hard but I wasn't sure what to expect.  I mean I beat Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox so I kind of had an idea.  What I didn't except was how punishing the starting area would be.  There was no easing you in the game.  I banged my head for a good solid 2 hours.  I even beat the executioner guy which didn't even drop a blood gemstone (I think it's like 50% chance).  I have to say don't be scared away by the difficulty.  This game is mostly fair and you do get better over time.  You can see it in the results.  It's just so incredibly rewarding when you beat a particularly difficult area or boss.  I soloed every boss battle all through the main game, NG+, and chalice dungeons except for the NG+ version of Shadows of Yharnam since I wanted to test out co-op.  Man, that made the fight trivial.  So if you are having a hard time don't be afraid to ring that bell.  It's your game and your money.  Play it however you want.
- I ended up choosing the axe.  After I got use to its timing I loved it.  I used it pretty much all the time only briefly experimenting with Ludwig's Holy Blade, Blades of Mercy, and Tonitrus.  I stuck to the pistol mostly.  So when picking your main weapon you want to consider other things than just raw damage scaling.  Timing is very important as in how long attacks take to swing or charge up or how frequently you can attack.  This also ties into how stamina efficient the move set is.  Spacing and reach is important too.  Finally, what I think is really critical is stagger and knock down.  This allows you to create space and give you time to heal, disengage, or just run away if need to be.  It gives you options during combat.  I found the axe a really good mix of all the above things (mostly in 2 hand mode) but every weapon is viable in this game so just find one that matches your desired style and then build you character around it.  I went for mostly a pure strength build while keeping an eye on soft and hard stat break points.
- The pistol and the blunderbuss is a bit of a toss up.  Pistol is a bit faster but the blunderbuss has a wide spread so it's easier to hit your target especially a fast moving one.  At first it seems like you could never miss when you are locked on target but in alter enemies especially the quick ones they can definitely dodge your shots.  I was two handed axe most of the time so I didn't gun parry all that much except on a few encounters.
- Learning to work within the limits of the camera is a whole challenge by itself.  Learn which bosses where it's better to fight locked on or unlocked.  For most fights I stayed locked.
- I used every resource available to beat this game.  Knowing what you need to do and executing it are still very different things.  Here are some of my favorite resources:
Fextralife wiki: This site has everything like detailed maps, weapons, npc quests, trophies, chalice dungeon info, etc.  I especially like this progression table.  It gives you a great idea of what to tackle next and what is optional without much spoilers.
- Nice world map that shows lanterns and how all the areas are connected.
- Amazing 90 page lore document.  Kotaku UK also has a nice shorter summary.  Yeah, I really had no idea what was going on when I finished the first time so these lore articles really helped.
- The basic combat loop is just really tight and satisfying.  The sound your weapon makes as it digs into flesh, the blood, all of it just makes this a gory but satisfying experience.  The dodging mechanic works well and requires good timing.  The health recovery system promotes aggressive tactics.  The bosses have reasonable tells in their attack animations that you can learn and for the most part don't require super human reflexes to dodge (though a few do).
- I understand the design decisions about losing your blood echoes permanently if you die a 2nd time without recovering them first.  It does create quite a bit of tension.  My life is stressful enough without added stress from games.  Plus, I hate losing progress.  So I sort of save cheated.  I had 2 usb flash drives hooked up to my ps4.  The cool part of bloodborne is you can pretty much save anywhere at anytime and it remembers the exact position and state of the game.  So if I complete a particularly hard section of a game or I'm at a boss for the first time and I need to practice on it I save my game by exiting to the title screen then backup the save game to a usb flash drive.  Then, if I die I can just restore my last save game from usb back to system.  It's also nice to use when learning a new boss and you just burned through 100 blood vials learning the fight.  Instead of having to farm those back I can just restore my save once I've learned the boss and beat it without burning through too many of my consumables.  Hey, the game/system lets you do it so I'm going to use every advantage possible.  Too bad the game doesn't allow you to have multiple saves per character.  There's still incentive to do well because the load times are pretty bad.  It was better after the latest patch but still pretty bad for such a death heavy game.
- I'm usually not a completionist but on this game I was.  There were a few things I missed on the first play through that I had to pick up on NG+.  You might want to review all the NPC quests especially ones dealing with covenants.  There is usually a strict order of things and there are specific events that will prevent you from completing quests if you hadn't already completed previous steps.
- If you want all 3 endings you might want to read up on that and what is required.  You'll also want to create a save backup before the point of no return if you want to easily get all 3 ending trophies without having to play through multiple times.
- I missed some of the hunter tools in the late stages.  I would review those and see if you missed any before you cross the point of no return.  You're there when ummm everything is on fire.
- You won't get all the weapons either until you do the chalice dungeons.
 - There is exactly one blood rock in the main game that lets you upgrade a weapon from +9 to +10.
- You can get another blood rock in some depth 5 root chalice dungeons but you have to pretty much finish the chalice dungeons to unlock that.  It's a pretty big time commitment.
- There is one living string in the main play through that is important if you plan to do the chalice dungeons.
- The non-root chalice dungeons are NOT random and there is a pretty strict linear progression.  I would recommend saving depth 3 and greater for NG+.  The end goal is to kill the queen.  On step 6 most people say Isz is easier than Lower Loran so that's what I did.
- So I found a few bosses particularly difficult.
- Cleric gave me some trouble since it was my first experience with a souls game boss.
- Blood starved beast was heard and taught me to gun parry.
- Martyr Logarius was probably the hardest boss for me in the main game.
- All of defiled chalice dungeon was really really hard.  It was the hardest part of the entire game for me.
- The queen was actually pretty easy.
- One of the main things insight does is make the game harder (lower resistance to frenzy, enemies have new abilities) on multiples of 15.  So if you want to keep the game as "easiest" as possible keep your insight below 15.  I'm a wuss so I just bought bolt or fire paper to keep my insight around 11 at all times.
- Out of the 57 hrs of play time about 3 hrs was probably dedicated to echo farming to help put me a bit ahead of the level curve.  I really didn't start farming until first floor lecture building (works from the side room too which is they way I prefer to do it).  Lower mensis near the lantern isn't a bad spot either.  I also farmed a bit in layer 1 Great Pthumeru Ihyll Chalice.  Right at the lantern there is a big dude you can kill.  With all 3 moon runes equipped I made about 33K echoes per run.  Just use bold hunter's mark and repeat.
- The hand lantern affects stamina.  Actually, a few things do.

Highly recommended.  I can definitely see this being my game of the year.  It's a system seller IMO. I think I'm done.  I don't have any real desire to grind root chalice dungeons or do pvp.  I guess I'll start working my way backwards through the rest of the souls games.

Toward the end of my first play through I decided to start saving some of my boss fights to youtube.  Obviously these are pretty spoilerly.  Here they are in the order that I got them.