2017’s End

It was a busy year.

I spent the year doing this stuff:

Life:
Our son had his second birthday and started pre-school. Our daughter turned 15 and started high school! We are definitely still budgeting. We got a new car. We placed 120 orders on Amazon in 2017. I put 5,047 miles on my Mazda CX-7. We are still members of the Saint Louis Zoo, got a yearly pass to Grant’s Farm, and members of the Magic House. We’ve renewed all but The Magic House for 2018. It was the year of the yard and house around here.

Our old deck was taking up a large portion of the yard and becoming overgrown.

So, we had it removed and put up a fence on the north side of the yard.

We were initially going to create a soft playground surface with mulch and so seeded up to the division fence. Seed came in amazingly and then an area was damaged by concrete installation. 🙁

Ultimately, we decided to finish the rest with sod.

Then, we put this monolith up on the sodded area. Also, you can see we stained the fence. My grass looks brown here. We had a hard summer, but it rebounded in the fall beautifully.

We put in two new slabs of concrete.

We painted the house from a gross yellow to a nice taupe.

We also got new gutters and had a grape trellis installed for this coming year. I’ve secured new grow boxes for 2018 and will have a huge garden with automated watering! We even got a new grill, gas and permanently mounted in the ground. Our little plot of paradise gets better every year.

My wife and I both got new jobs! She is now a VP at a large banking company and I now work IT for our local school district. Our QoL is much better!

Travel:
In January, we took the kids to Walt Disney World. My wife took our son to Treasure Island with her mom and sister in October for some beach time. In December, I took our daughter to Florida to visit my parents in Vero Beach and for one day at Disney World. We rode the new rides in Pandora at Animal Kingdom!

Tech, Software & Gaming:
I’m still using Arq to backup the house. My work-provided Google Drive is currently holding 752 GB from all machines.

Wife got a new Macbook Air. We replaced the Amazon Echo Dot with a Google Home Mini. I had to put a new HDD in my iMac as the original failed. We got a new Nikon D5600 DSLR. I got an Apple Watch 3 LTE and it’s honestly the BEST piece of tech I have purchased in a long time. After having one, I cannot believe I lived for so long without one. I built a new media server, on which we are running Plex, Sonarr, and Radarr. In my initial config, I used Linux. I never got the hang of it with it’s strange permission requirements for drives and ultimately switched to Windows 10 Pro. It’s been rock solid and pretty hands-free. I’m very happy with the set up and the lack of maintenance required. It just works!

I am still playing The Long Dark. At 2017’s end, I had 796 hours logged. As of now, I have 997 hrs on record.

I also spent the year playing Inside, Emily is Away, Emily is Away Too (AIM chat simulator games. holy crap. want more.), Stardew Valley (137 hrs), Factorio (84 hrs), and The Flame in the Flood on PC. I got a Nintendo Switch and played Breath of the Wild (152 hrs), Super Mario Odyssey, Stardew Valley, Golf Story, Mario Kart 8, and Overcooked co-op.

TV:
Atypical
Blue Planet II
Dark
The Handmaid’s Tale
Mr. Robot
Planet Earth II
Red Oaks

Music:
I got heavily into vinyl, though I have been a major slacker updating my vinyl collection page. I hope to get them all cataloged soon. My favorite acquired records are Jazz Loves Disney (vols 1 and 2) and Ray Conniff’s We Wish You A Merry Christmas, which is the album my dad played for us growing up.

Books:
I’m still using my Kindle Voyage & Calibre to read.

2017 was a great year. Big plans for 2018.

Server

We’ve been hobbling along with a Mac Mini as our PleX server for the past few years. I’m becoming quite a data hoarder and the poor Mini can’t keep up with my appetite so it was time to move to something a little more serious. I built JDM_WAAAT’s “Thread-Runner” config and hope to migrate my data this weekend.

My config and cost:

ComponentDescriptionUsed /NewCost
CasePhanteks Enthoo ProNew$80
MotherboardS2600CP Intel LGA2011Used$140
Processors2x Intel Xeon Processor E5-2650Used$105
CPU Coolers2x Arctic Alpine 20New$37.50
RAM32 GB DDR3Used$62
SSDSanDisk Ultra IIUsed$0
HDDs4x 2TB WD RE Enterprise HDDsUsed$160
PSUEVGA - 80 PLUS 600W ATXNew$35
CablesSATA Cables & PSU SplitterNew$16.50
Case Fans5x Arctic F12New$25
Operating SystemLinux Mint$0
Total$661

As you can see, a lot of the major components were purchased used which I sourced primarily via eBay. There’s a lot of power (16 cores / 32 threads) and a bit of storage (9TB). It’s quite a build at a very reasonable cost. Assembly was easy. The Phentoo case is amazing. I really like the HDD cages (no screws required) and the cable management behind the motherboard. I encountered two minor hiccups and was able to resolve them quickly. The machine was booting to EFI and required disabling in BIOS to boot to USB and the NIC was not enabled, also resolved with a quick BIOS switch.

I’ll be running it headless and administering via Muximux and running PleX, SABnzbd+, Sonarr, and Radarr. I’m going to cheat and use AtoMic Toolkit to get it all done. The SSD will host the OS and metadata/thumbnails for speed and I’ll throw the data to the HDDs. The Western Digital HDDs are enterprise/data center certified and rated 1.2 million hours MTBF. Impressive!

After migrating data, I’ll be backing up using Duplicati to my unlimited Google Drive.

I’m really interested to see what else I do with this box. It should be all we need for several years (save for a few more HDDs)!

CX-5 Zoom Zoom

About a month ago, my wife totaled her car. She was driving a well-appointed Ford Fusion that we bought right before our son was born to replace her decaying Honda Accord. I had a love/hate relationship with the Ford. I loved its features and room, but I absolutely hated the way it drove. It was a very quick car, but I could never get used to its handling or very abrupt braking. Truth be told, after I learned she was ok, I was happy the car would be out of our lives. So, we went car shopping and were within days of purchasing a fully-loaded 2018 Subaru Outback. I really really liked the Outback after taking it for a test drive and put a deposit down on a new one coming in off the truck in the color my wife liked (that I didn’t like, but I’m sure you know how that goes.)

On a whim, one Saturday last month, while waiting for the Outback to come in, we decided to stop into Mazda and take a look at the CX-5 and CX-9. Let’s hop off on a tangent here, really quickly. I love Mazdas. I have owned several. My first car was a ’96 Protege. I then owned a ’03 Protege, a ’07 Mazda3 hatchback, and my current car is a 2010 CX-7. I told my wife, after the accident, “We can finally get that new CX-5!” I had been trying to convince her for over a year to dump the Ford and get a CX-5. Ok, back to the dealership. The CX-9 is a really nice car. It’s huge and has three rows, but to get it loaded with all of the features I wanted would have pushed upwards of $45k.

Enter the CX-5. We test drove the CX-5 and my wife immediately fell in love. I knew the Subaru was off the table the second she sat in the seat. Her face lit up and we both remarked how the car drives exactly my CX-7. So, we drove a 2017.5 pin-striped Snowflake White Pearl Mica AWD Grand Touring CX-5 with Premium Package off the lot. Navigation, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear heated seats(!), heads up display, Bose audio. Oh man. This car is sexy.

Oh Mazda, I can’t believe I was ever going to cheat on you with a Subaru. What am I? Some kind of Subaru-driving lesbian? Pssshhhh. (No offense to Subaru drivers, lesbians, or Subaru-driving lesbians).

Zoom zoom!

Breath of the Wild

I recently got a Nintendo Switch and have been spending hours and hours playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I am sucked into this open world and count the minutes until I am free to play again. I have played the majority of the Zelda series, including the Legend of Zelda, Zelda II, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time (swoon), Majora’s Mask (swoon), Wind Waker (swoon), Four Swords, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.

There’s something magical about Breath of the Wild, though. It’s the open world, ability to do just about anything you dream of, the slated DLCs, massive map, complex dungeons, weapons system, numerous side quests, cooking system, clothing upgradability, and the numerous shrines. I paraglided and mounted a wild horse without touching the ground! I love this game. I love the format of the Switch. Zelda is back!

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