Critical Mass

Critical Mass is the continuation of the Delta-V storyline. The focus now shifts from the journey home to a rescue operation. To save their crew mates, the team must also save the world. It is gripping and entertaining to follow. What intrigues and bothers me is the notion that the environmental crisis on Earth is inevitable, and the only solution is to consume and build more using resources available only in space. While I understand that this is just a plot, it resonates chillingly with our current state of affairs, which is one of the reasons I appreciate Daniel Suarez’s work.

Just to step aside for a moment, yesterday I was thinking about Daniel’s book “Kill Decision”, which I read about 11 years ago. It’s striking how, less than a decade later, we have “killer drones.” Anyone following the Ukrainian war knows about the thousands of drones, both small and large, flying over the battlefield. Although we have not yet reached the point of swarms and autonomous machine decision-making, we are getting closer.

Returning to Critical Mass, while I enjoyed it, I found the first book (Delta-V) a bit more thrilling, perhaps due to the adventure of going to space. Critical Mass feels more predictable, even though the author has left room for surprises and twists. I also feel there is a lack of technological elaboration, especially concerning cryptocurrency. When reading about non-existent fictional technology, providing details is challenging. However, when the technology already exists, it’s a shame not to delve into it. But this is just my selfish desire. Overall, it is an enjoyable book, though I wonder if I will pick it up again in the future.

In a nutshell:
+: Pleasant read
+: Realistic feel of near-future tech
+: Fair continuation of the previous book
+/: Some technologies could have been explored more
-: Less thrilling than the previous book
=: Critical Mass is a nice book and hard to pass up after diving into Delta-V. However, it is less thrilling, and the tech isn’t elaborated as much as I would like. Overall, a nice read.

Title: Critical Mass
Author: Daniel Suarez

Cycles, Life & Death

Everyone is different; all of us mutate slightly in different ways, and we don’t all come out identical—well, at least most humans don’t. This bundle of differences is called humanity. I guess that’s what makes it fun—a randomness factor. For some reason, I’ve never liked cycles. In a way, cycles annoy me. The irony is that over time I started to embrace routine, but not for the sake of it, but rather due to an aging body.

20 years ago, I got a gig at a car parts factory, working the night shift, packing plastic parts and cleaning floors when it was slow. The job sucked; I didn’t like working nights and going to sleep when everyone was out and about. But what bothered me the most was the job itself—the endless repetition of the same steps, over and over again, all night long and the next night and the next. It seemed like an endless cycle of doing exactly the same things over and over again.

Although I enjoy video games, the reason I don’t tend to play a lot (besides not having enough free time) is the repetitive cycle. Yes, different cycles and repetitions with a different combination of red, green, and blue on the screen, yet with sufficiently different cycles to get me bored or annoyed. There are only so many times I can go on a quest to kill 10 boars or whichever virtual animal is demanded by a virtual quest giver. Now I’m not complaining about games; I do enjoy them—I played Diablo repeatedly—I just want to point out my own personal mutation for lack of a better word.

Life itself seems annoying; it is repetitive cycles with a different given at each new start. You are 10, so you need to do this and that. You made it to 20 – education time, 30 – family time, 40 – wealth gathering time, 50 – health…, 60 – retirement… and so on. The illustration is crude but has some merit to it. Does it have to go that way? Well… no. There are different ways life can be played or be played out. Hey, remember: “live fast, die young”? – it is a viable option too. If I had a choice, I would probably go to the other extreme; let’s do the whole life thing for a few hundred years and then decide.

Human time constraints seem to put us into well-defined, optimized, and seemingly inescapable cycles. Each cycle presents its challenges, and there’s never enough time. Ricardo Semler had an interesting idea about working less and spending more time on ourselves early on and not waiting for retirement when the body is broken and tired. His arguments and ideas were very convincing! As much as I would love to implement that, I do not live in theory; bills are due, time is running, and food should be on the table. So cycles continue… meanwhile, we miss moments, and before you know it, people near and dear start to die off.

Those endless cycles of being busy, accomplishing things that seem meaningless now. If only we had more time, more time to make educated choices, more time to figure out priorities, more experience to understand what’s important to ourselves. Perhaps one day we may get more time, but for now, the only thing is to dispense it conservatively.

A year with Bialetti

It’s been over a year since I purchased my Bialetti moka pot, and let’s be honest, my initial impressions were full of critiques regarding the build quality and price. Now, I’m not taking those critiques back, but credit is due where it’s due. I’ve been using the Bialetti moka every day for over a year, and I’ve been very happy. Nothing has failed, there have been no problems, and the coffee comes out great. Moreover, as time ticks by, the pot has started to feel somehow special to me. Combined with the brand, it makes me wonder if I’ll still be making coffee with it 20 years from now.


It’s fun to be back in a large city, but it feels less thrilling somehow, perhaps because of the ‘been there, done that’ feeling, or maybe because I’m older now and have a child, which limits the fun options.

I haven’t been to Chicago in 13 years, yet it remains largely the same, at least downtown does. It makes me think about how human construction transcends time—13 years is a lot for me but nothing for the city. We managed to go see the Field Museum and it was exactly the same as it was 13 years ago; moreover, the food carts outside the museum have stayed in the same locations. It’s strange to look at a structure and wonder how a human being 200 years from now will view it. Yet, that is exactly what is, or will be, happening. It’s a very strange feeling indeed.

A few takeaways from the trip: my 7-year-old gets tired and bored too quickly, so wandering around all day is out of the question, and forget about spending any meaningful amount of time in any museum. The aquarium is horribly overpriced; the Toledo Zoo offers a better aquatic experience. The Gilmore Car Museum is very nice—I would love to visit it again and spend more time there. The Art Institute of Chicago seems a lot bigger than Detroit’s. Tryzub – really nice Ukrainian restaurant.

2 Years Since the Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine

It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. I figured that after the initial shock, the West would ramp up military support and quickly deal with the occupiers. However, that didn’t happen. Moreover, Ukraine is once again at a crossroads, with Iran, North Korea, and China providing support/weapons to the occupiers, while Europe continues to drag its feet, and the USA has fallen into inaction. I think the world is learning from this, and the unfortunate lesson is: the West is perceived as weak and easily disrupted. As long as a dictator can hold out, lobby, and flood the media with disinformation at comparatively low costs, any kind of crime will go unpunished.

Last year, Ukraine performed a counter-offensive. While expectations were sky-high, the results were underwhelming. I can’t help but wonder: how exactly was Ukraine supposed to perform an overwhelming counter-offensive in the first place? Let me break down my confusion: first, the counter-offensive was heavily advertised as if it were some kind of Super Bowl commercial at the end of times. I really didn’t understand the purpose of that. Then, Western weapons were delayed but finally arrived:

  • About 14 British Challenger 2 tanks
  • About 31 American Abrams tanks (but downgraded in capability)
  • About 80 tanks provided by various countries were Leopard 2s
  • About 88 tanks provided by various countries were Leopard 1s

In total, slightly over 200 tanks, considering I didn’t mention other variations of the Leopard 2, and I don’t consider the French AMX-10 RC as a battle tank. There was no aviation, no ATACMS, and a limited supply of long-range missiles such as Storm Shadow (Germany is still withholding Taurus missiles). Now, the list of shortcomings can be continued, but the picture is quite clear: 200 tanks versus fortified defenses and a few thousand Soviet tanks. Does that make any sense? But what makes me laugh (sadly) is the fact that Ukraine seems to receive, in bulk, only old tanks — for example, the Leopard 1. Really? Yes, it was modified in the ’80s, but… 88 tanks that were designed in the late ’50s.

So, to sum up my confusion: we give Ukraine old equipment and/or modern equipment in limited quantities and expect overwhelming results? I don’t know how this computes in anyone’s head. I really hope there is a winning strategy and that the West will eventually start acting as if it means it.

What gives me hope is the Ukrainian people who continue fighting despite the overwhelming odds. While some are at the front, others bring supplies, build drones, design new equipment, and more. This makes me believe that, at the end of the day, the forces of light will prevail. Ukraine will defeat this horrible evil.


The last time I wrote about Daniel Suarez’s book was nearly a decade ago (Influx), even though I revisit Daemon and Freedom TM every so often. I don’t consider myself a fan, but I do check on Daniel’s books periodically.

I guess I really missed Daniel’s writing, so it was time for a new book. I skipped over “Change Agent” and jumped to “Delta-V”; I guess I really wanted something “out of this world.” While half of the story is set on earth, the other half is set in space. I wish the author spent more story time in space, but missing all of the groundwork, struggles, training, and building relationships that got developed on earth is important to the rest of the story. Regardless, the space part came out a bit rushed and a bit superficial. While the story provides some thrilling and unexpected turns, those moments are slightly dull and short-lived.

Even though I have a couple of axes to grind, overall the story is good. I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end. I couldn’t let the book go; I just wanted to keep on going. One of the trademarks of Daniel’s SciFi is the proximity to not-so-far-away reality. Yes, it is still a plot of imagination and science fiction, but it is just close enough to contemporary technologies to give you the feel of near-future possibility, which, in turn, makes it feel more realistic. In addition, the author provides enough technical details to make technology feel real and not an abstract concept, such as “wormhole engines.” Reading the book makes me want to learn more about the science behind diving, planetary alignment, and space technologies, and in my book, the promotion of curiosity is a solid sign of the author’s good writing.

In a nutshell:
+: Pleasant read
+: Can’t put the book down
+: Feels realistic due to proximity to contemporary technology
+: Promotes curiosity towards described science and technology
-: Some thrilling parts are slightly dull and short-lived
=: Daniel keeps this traditional trademark of “near-future” SciFi with a good space story that is hard to put down.

Title: Delta-V
Author: Daniel Suarez

UniFi Dream Router

A couple of weeks ago, my router (MikroTik hAP ac3) decided to quit, and I ended up needing a replacement as soon as possible. The MikroTik was a nice router; I don’t blame it for its early demise (I have reason to believe I might have misconfigured it). However, I wasn’t going to buy another MikroTik – it is just slightly more of a headache than I would like.

My initial idea was to go back to TP-Link or Linksys but only with OpenWRT firmware. However, a buddy of mine suggested going with the UniFi Dream Router. He uses UniFi equipment in his office, and it has proven to be better and more stable than MikroTik. Now, $200 for a router is a bit much, but then again, it is not out of the ordinary – some “gaming” routers are priced even higher. So, I figured I’d give it a go.

Now, I have a particular need for my router – it must be stable. I have about 14-16 devices online on average; I work from home and run my personal small server, so a stable network and internet are a must. My limited previous experience showed that some “home” routers are not very stable – network slowdowns, Wi-Fi devices sometimes disconnect, and some routers seem to need a hard reboot once per week. In this regard, MikroTik proved to be very stable (with a tiny caveat with my iPhone), until it wasn’t.

At this point, my benchmark is MikroTik, and even though the UniFi Dream Router has been running for only 2 weeks, it seems to be very good. The Dream Router costs twice as much as the hAP ac3, but it’s definitely worth it (so far). UniFi is a lot easier to configure; it has a very nice and easy-to-use web UI, graphs, stats, logs, and an overall solid feel. I know stability is not something that can be measured in 2 weeks, so let’s wait and see.

Now, as much as I would love to praise and hop around with the Dream Router, I have a couple of complaints. First and most annoying to me is the initial setup – here, UniFi must do something. On the initial setup, the Dream Router MUST have an internet connection; otherwise, you can’t set it up! In my case, it is impossible without having a backup router. I have a PPPoE configuration with a username and password to connect to the internet. So out of the box, the Dream Router can’t be set up with PPPoE configuration because it needs to connect to the internet to set itself up first. No internet => no Dream Router => no router => no internet… This is a horrible situation for a home/small office setting. The next complaint is still about the initial setup, which requires a mobile device – my question is why? Why do you need a mobile device to set up a router? What if you don’t have one? Or you have one but can’t install the UniFi app on it? Again, the Dream Router becomes a Dream Brick. I think UniFi needs to address those concerns.

Just a little step back to MikroTik, it doesn’t need the internet for the initial setup; however, if you reset it (via the button), then you must have an Ethernet cable and Winbox. Not the best idea, but in comparison to the UniFi Dream Router, you can get MikroTik going without the internet. But both still require Ethernet in the above scenarios.

Back to the Dream Router – as much as it is a router, it is more than that. The Dream Router has an SD card slot, willing and ready to connect UniFi cameras and other UniFi devices. I think it is a nice product integration, something that might bring additional business and let users integrate into the UniFi ecosystem. I can’t help but wonder if a standalone, single-purpose router (with WiFi) would have been a better and cheaper solution. I suspect that idea might not be very appealing from a business perspective, but I can’t shake the feeling that the Dream Router is some kind of gateway into the UniFi ecosystem.

At this point, that’s all of my complaints. So far, the Dream Router has been performing very well, but again, it’s only been a couple of weeks, so let’s wait and see.

Misspent Youth

I picked up the book because it is a prequel to Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga, and I love those books. “Misspent Youth” is a short story that takes place before rejuvenation and memory crystals. The story is well-written and pleasant, but that’s about it.

While I love most of the work done by Peter Hamilton, there are books that I don’t enjoy as much as others, and “Fallen Dragon” springs to mind. Unfortunately, “Misspent Youth” is added to the list today. The story feels more like futuristic romantic drama rather than science fiction, but that’s not the main issue. The primary problem is the lack of twists and plots. It feels like the story just lacks the punch.

I’m not sure where the author was going with the book. It doesn’t add or remove any value from the rest of the Commonwealth Saga, perhaps just slightly disappointing if you have expectations. But overall, if you go in without expectations, then you will enjoy it.

In a nutshell:
+: Easy going
+: Short
+/-: No expectations, no disappointments
-: Lacks twists and plots
-: No punch to the story
=: Nice short story, but that’s it.

Title: Misspent Youth
Author: Peter Hamilton

MikroTik hAP ac3 – final words

I began using my MikroTik router three years ago, and yesterday, it started causing problems. The trouble initially emerged with the SMB protocol, as the router refused to route SMB traffic within the local network. After performing a hard reboot, SMB traffic started routing, but HTTP/HTTPS traffic through NAT to my server stopped routing. Another hard reboot resolved the HTTP traffic issue, but SMB and Remote Desktop traffic remained nonfunctional within the local network. However, after updating the software to version 6.49.10, the situation worsened. SMB and Remote Desktop traffic still couldn’t route, and on top of that, WinBox failed to connect to the router. Web and SSH access were unresponsive as well.

I’m not entirely sure about the root cause of these issues, but at least the internet connection is currently working. I must admit that I won’t be replacing my MikroTik router with another MikroTik device. The main reason is the learning curve and my familiarity with WinBox. Initially, I opted for MikroTik due to its affordability and reliability, both of which have served me well. The only drawback was that my iPhone occasionally experienced WiFi dropouts and took some time to reconnect. However, aside from that, all 14 devices constantly connected via WiFi worked smoothly. A lifespan of only three years is disappointing, but I assume the device might be defective or experiencing an issue that isn’t typical of MikroTik devices.

When I chose MikroTik, I had hoped to invest time in learning about networking and how to operate a MikroTik router. Unfortunately, I never found the time or interest to delve deeper into it. A friend helped with the initial router configuration, and I mostly left it as is, except for configuring some eye-catching traffic graphs. I still don’t have the time or motivation to learn more about it, given my other priorities. To be honest, I view the router as an appliance, and my next router will likely reflect that perspective.