Counting steps, trying to build a pc, a finally some good news…

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I have been wearing this Fitbit fitness tracker for a while now and always wondered just accurate it is. I know it is pretty bad because it often says that I walk when I’m seating in cubicle, when I sleep, or when I play video games. While I don’t have another proper fitness tracker to test it against, though I should be receiving one of the new pebble smart watch some time in September, I do have another device with a built in step counter: a Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo love trying to push gaming in weird direction and one of the ways they did that with the 3DS was the step counter. By walking around with the 3DS in sleep mode, you could earn gold coins, up to 10 a day I believe, that you could use as Virtual currency in certain games. I don’t know how many games actually used that feature, but the only one I have is Lego Star Wars The Clone Wars.

I was Going to walk to get a sandwich anyways so I though I would do an experiment and see how big of a difference there would be between the two. After walking the close to two miles to the sandwich shop I examined the the two counts. The Fitbit Counted 3114 steps while the 3DS counted 2979 steps, A number far closer than I would have expected. Knowing the Fitbit has a tendency to over count, I surprised at how good the step counter on the 3DS was. It is not a very scientific analysis, having only two points of data, but that gives me a good baseline for when I get the pebble watch and maybe any other tracker I might get, like one of those fancy Garmin running GPS enabled watches my parents are using.

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It is no secret that I like to play video games, and one of the most practical platform is obviously the Computer. Games that were made years ago can easily be ran on modern systems, and despite what some people say on the internet, you can upgrade your system every few years for less than say buying a new Apple computer.

The computer I currently have is getting dated. It is an MSI gaming laptop I bought it in summer of 2013. It was pretty good back then bought now, it has a some trouble playing the newest games. I can play the latest DOOM at 45 FPS if I set everything to low but that is not really the best way to play games. It runs this weird bastard Nvidia laptop GPU: a 765m. Maybe it is supposed to be between a 760m and 770m? I guess it does not matter now. My plan was to retire my old and sluggish macbook pro and use while my gaming laptop becomes my workstation and have a new proper gaming PC.

I have been buying part for the past few months in hope of making the best Bang for buck computer, and this is what I ended up designing:

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It would a nice and Compact Mini-ITX computer powered by an Intel I5 6400 CPU and an AMD RX 480 graphic card, with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and an 480 GB SSD. All the hardware cost me only $750 (add $100 for a Windows 10 license) which is a good value for a budget computer. In fact it is barely more expensive than the cheapest Nvidia GTX 1080, their latest flagship gaming card. Building a computer is all that hard as long as you make sure all the components are compatible.

The hardest part of all the assembling process was trying to connect the power cable to the different ports. It is a fairly small case and I have large hands. But with a little bit of patience I was rewarded!

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Look at this beauty! Truly PC master race!

So? How does it perform? Can I finally  run games better than on the old potato of computer? Can I hit the fabled 1000 frames per seconds in Minecraft? Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Yeah, turns out not everything was flawless as I first hoped…

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As you can see from the picture above, there is a massive hole in the back of the case where one should fine the Power supply. It’s not in the computer anymore because it was complete dead, like hopelessly dead. When you turned it on, it would make that distinct electrical buzzing noise of a short circuit and smelled of fried electronic. Looking through the ventilation hole, I found what seems to be the culprit:

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That looks like one of the capacitor for the voltage regulating circuit decided to explode and leak everywhere, making it completely useless, and the most likely source of the failure. Good thing is that Corsair, the manufacturer of the power supply, has a three year warranty on their product which means I’ll get it replaced for free. I guess I’ll have to wait a couple more weeks before I can get my computer up running….

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To wrap things up for this week, how about some good news?

As I might have mentioned in previous blog post, I am contractor from a British contracting firm for a client here in Nebraska. My contract was for two years and that contract is about to come to an end this October. My hope was to become a full time employee here rather than staying a contractor going to another client.

I have talked to manager about my interest in becoming a full time employee but he never told any specifics  about what or when things would happen. Then earlier this week, I got wind that some of the other contractor that were working at another location where let go of before the end their contract. That got me slightly worried, but that fear was short lived. Yesterday, first thing in the morning my manager came to me and asked if I had time to talk with one of the directors. This was a brief discussion about them proposing me a senior programing position at the company. This made me very happy especially the proposed pay that would be about 45% more than I am currently paid!

Nothing starts a weekend better than news of a massive salary upgrade!

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Catching up on the previous weeks…

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Oh man has it been a while he it wrote on this blog… and it not like I have some epic excuse like “I was undercover trying to get my hand on the early copy of No Man’s Sky!” or “I went on a trip to the arctic and there was no internet!”. No, I was just to lazy to write anything.

I think that might just be because work has been more of a slog then usual lately. The design analyst I am currently working with is not quite as good as the one I used to work with. Brenda, the design analyst that I worked with of back office project, had almost 25 years in the company and made very clean designs. The changes were highlighted, there clear comment on what needed to changed, deleted or inserted and there were rarely any errors. The guy I am working with isn’t as experienced and his design can be a bit lacking. He only sporadically highlights what changes needs to be done, when sometimes there are multiple similar changes to multiple module, he simply copy paste the same paragraph over and over without correcting the variable names, and sometimes his design is plain wrong.

In the project I’m currently working on has a new file definition for a new input file for a program, the file has 320 character per record but the design he wrote only allocates for 160 characters. Several of the new field that were supposed to be added actually already exists. the most infuriating part of the design was where he simply pasted 20 lines of codes and made a single edit but did not indicate it at all. It took me a good half hour to spot the one change for what should have taken all of five minutes had he simply highlighted those three characters…

What is his reason for what I would consider to be sloppy work? The design is merely pseudo code,and that as long I can figure it out myself it’s fine…

Now it not the worst design I have ever seen (that honor is for a project I worked on for another team, where not a single line of the design was correct…) but as far as I can tell, he is the only design analyst who works that way. Most, if not all, the designs that involved multiple teams are all very detailed and thorough while his are not always complete.

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Not everything is all sad and down beat however! That is because I finally started going to a proper gym regularly and I hurt all over… Well, not exactly all over, this week it’s mostly in the shoulders and last week I couldn’t bend my knees anymore.

Since I am currently training for the Omaha half marathon, I figured it would be a good idea to sign up at gym and get some proper tips on some workout routine to shed some weight in the long run. I found one that right by the office, meaning that I can go and workout right after seating on my ass for eight hours in front of a computer. They have plenty of machines to use, group classes you can simply show up for and they give a couple free sessions with a personal trainer to get you started when you sign up. The price to keep the personal trainer is quite steep so I might skip on the personal trainer after the last session.

I  am foreseeing several afternoon of sore muscle but you know what they say: no pain, no gain.

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I finally started playing Pokemon Go, and it’s Ok i guess… Don’t get me wrong, it is quite fun to go around looking for Pokemons to catch and all but other than that, it feels a bit shallow at the moment. All the RPG elements from the classic games had to have been thrown out for pretty obvious reasons but that makes evolving your Pokemon so much more tedious. You need to capture a hundred Magikarps to get a Gyarados? I’ll probably pass for now. The Pokestops seemed like a good idea, but it seems like a bit hit and miss. In New York City, I hear they are pretty much every where, while here in Nebraska, they are quite some distance away from each other. That means that getting things like Pokeballs and eggs a bit harder.

I am more than happy to walk the distance, I am training for the half marathon after all, but having the app always running is a bit annoying, especially when no Pokemon show up for miles. A couple weekend ago, I went on a “short” 5 mile walk to get some stuff from Walgreens. I figured that I would be able to find some new Pokemons along the way or maybe hatch an from a Pokestop. Not a single Pokemon showed up on either leg of the trip. It showed that there were some around me but a single one appeared on any where near me!

More recently, the app has developed a tendency to be entirely blank. none of the gyms or Pokestops are there and not a single Pokemon in vicinity. I understand that the app is still essentially in beta, but there was so much hype around the game that it is hard not to feel disappointed a bit. I just cannot fathom how people got so addicted to this game…

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