Category Archives: tech

hot water 101

This is a net pic of a ham radio transceiver I had starting when I was in junior high.

Heathkit HW-101. It was nicknamed the “Hot Water 101” because it had 20 vacuum tubes in it which made heat roar out the top. It sucked a lot of ‘lectricity. I built it from a kit. It was known as a moderately shitty rig that had problems with having a drifty VFO (tuner).

I had my little “shack” in my parent’s unheated basement. On cold winter mornings, I could warm my hands on the top of the rig.

I’d get up at 5 AM on many school mornings (how many school kids did that?) so I could have a couple of hours on the radio before leaving. Sometimes it was dramatic: cold, still dark out, talking to other operators all over the world, some of which I got to know, including many in those “forbidden” countries, like the former USSR.

American teenager had a fondness for “forbidden” international friendships which translated well over to Internet decades later. Good hobby.

I also did a lot of “phone patching.” Phone calls could be piped through shortwave radio saving enormous, often prohibitive, international charges. Quality was low but tolerable. I often did this for military ships at sea (service people calling home), immigrants needing some audible love from back home, etc. Drama sometimes went through my radio: new baby, death in the family. I had to listen in to know when to transmit and receive. Parties on the line were instructed to say “over” whenever they wanted the other person to talk.

As an often dejected teenager, this gave me some value.

google one vpn

Can a VPN by Google be taken seriously, or should it be laughed out of town? An e-mail today is the first I’ve heard of it.

I won’t be needing it because it only works on mobile, not on desktop, and one must have a fairly expensive plan with Google to get it.

experiences with linux flatpacks and snaps are unpleasant

A browser I used to like to use was GNOME Web, AKA Epiphany. It is now available as flatpack only, which ruined it, I guess. It went from fast and sleek to a hard drive churning dog with horrible UI (user interface) and features missing. I’m thinking these alternative packaging systems are not good, but what do I know.

Same for Chromium browser. Installing from snap makes the UI bad. I’d rather have the full Chrome browser directly from Google than the current Chromium installed as snap.

It will have to be quite compelling before I install from flatpack or snap going forward.

linux mint xfce

Whenever I install a new computer operating system, the main test is how fast can it open up that “special” directory with 20 thousand pics and other media files in it.

One must be able to page through the media without hesitation or hard drive thrash.

old portable tv

I saw this “portable” television yesterday in an antique store.

it really is portable, but that’s back when the definition of portable meant “could probably be lifted by one strong person.”

Them things were heavy. Lots of vacuum tubes and a tremendous transformer.

Airline Portable Television. I’ve never heard of that brand before. It’s rather attractively designed.

finally got a webcam during the shortage

Since the pandemic started months ago, webcams have been sold out most places or priced up by multiples because so many people needed them for the Zoom conferences and other things.

I didn’t have a camera for my big old desktop computer where I have a comfortable desk and chair for long meetings. For months I have used a Wyze Wi-Fi surveillance camera adapted for USB streaming by swapping out the firmware. It was nice of the manufacturer’s developers to provide that solution, but the camera not being designed for conferencing left medium results.

I was able to finally get a better webcam this weekend, a camera designed for the purpose. Nicer.

Wyze: the white cube, worked OK for streaming. Better than not having a camera. More suited for surveillance by Wi-Fi.

Angetube 920: the black one. Inexpensive, designed for conferencing, more than adequate. “The webcam works with Windows/Mac OS/Android/Linux/Chrome OS and Ubuntu.”

So there!

streaming tv question, why no adverts this time

I don’t understand the hows and whys. A series I watched on TNT played commercial free when I streamed it by browser. If I watched it through the provider set-top box, it has commercials. Some networks, it doesn’t matter, you get adverts regardless of method.

The TV/Internet provider I have participates in something called TV2GO. There is a list of networks that are available this way. To view TNT, I go to the TNT site list of the episodes. Click “sign in” with the provided box, then get sent over to the TV provider’s site for credentialing. TV provider sends an auth token back to TNT, then video reloads commercial free and in full. Stream that to a device (Chromecast, etc.), and it’s great.

I don’t understand the dropping of adverts, nice as it is.

On Linux computers, a good browser choice for casting to a device is the Vivaldi one. Even though it’s based on the Chromium browser, it avoids me having to install Google Chrome, or Chromium.

proton e-mail and vpn hong kong

This situation is murky with a lot of actors. I’m not sure how Proton can be sure of the right thing. I’ll keep using the ones I already have that are not flirting with empire.

chinese takeaway

It has been fun reading reviews of TikTok on Google Play Store. Many are about like this, “I’d not considered using it until the White House went nutso over it, now I want it.”

I feel the same about Huawei. I’d get one in a heartbeat, but I’m set on mobile right now.

WH just upset that somebody else might be getting some data without 5-Eyes having first dibs.


This is often very good radio. This morning, classic Disco, Beach, and more. All part of the #tildeverse


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