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.
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.
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 Cover:
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.
I decided to read through all the essays Paul Graham has written. The only issue is the format of the essays, which is web-based. I figured it will take me a while, and I prefer to read in ePub format since it is neatly laid out on my phone and remembers where I left off. Fortunately, I found a GitHub project where you can get Paul’s up-to-date essays in different formats and even find the code for a DIY solution.
After 8 years of working on the MacBook Pro 2012 model, it was time to switch to something more modern. There were a few reasons for switching to a new MacBook Pro, but the main one was the lack of power. The Intel i5 with 2 cores wasn’t cutting it anymore. Despite being on an outdated macOS, newer software and updates were becoming more demanding, while other software became absolute with no prospects for updates.
I consider myself lucky because I managed to avoid some of the worst ideas that Apple introduced in their laptops over the past few years, such as the butterfly keyboard, Touch Bar, and the lack of ports in the pro lineup. However, it seems that MacBook Pros have become more expensive. Additionally, it’s no longer possible to buy a modest laptop and upgrade the RAM and storage later when component prices drop. I purchased the base model of the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2023 with 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage. Based on my calculations, this laptop should serve me well for next 10 years, or so I hope, based on my previous experience. Nevertheless, it still feels a little strange to make the jump from the MacBook Pro 2012 to the MacBook Pro 2023.
Now, let’s address the obvious. The new MacBook Pro 2023 is faster, lighter, better, and overall more impressive, especially in audible area. However, it feels like I haven’t really changed laptops. The keyboard is slightly different, and the trackpad is bigger, but somehow it feels very similar to the old MacBook Pro. The finger position is the same, the controls are similar enough, and the feedback is familiar. It’s different, yet somehow the same, and I really like that. Speaking of the keyboard, the functional keys are bigger, and I think it’s a good idea. At the very least, I enjoy having larger keys. One noticeable improvement that I can’t ignore is the built-in speakers. The speakers are loud, really loud, to the point where it’s uncomfortable for me. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yeah, the built-in speakers are too loud for me. Maybe I’m getting older and/or used to listening to quiet music on my Sony XM4 headphones. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t change the fact that the new MacBook Pro’s built-in speakers are very good and definitely a lot louder than those of my old MacBook Pro.
Software migration from macOS Mojave to macOS Ventura went surprisingly well. A few apps stopped working due to the unsupported OS, which I expected. You can only drag along old apps for so long before giving up, wrapping them in Docker or something similar and continuing to use them. Well, I haven’t gone that far, but I’m really considering the option. The new macOS doesn’t allow user data to be located in the root, and I’m guilty of doing so. Nonetheless, the data can be moved. However, I did encounter some challenges with the transition from iTunes to the new Music app. Previously, iTunes managed all my media, including audiobooks. Unfortunately, the “improved” Music app no longer takes care of audiobooks. After the migration, my audiobooks were conveniently forgotten, and I had to manually clean up and move them to the “Books” app. Another issue arose with the “Contacts” app. After the migration, it doubled its size and duplicated all contact cards. The management of contacts and cards has been rather poor for years, and it seems Apple is aware of the problem. As a result, the “Contacts” app now includes options like “Look for duplicates” and “Merge Selected Cards,” which saved my sanity. I’ve had the unpleasant experience of manually cleaning up duplicates and merging contacts before, and let me tell you, it’s no fun. One of my favorite features of the new macOS is “background sounds,” found under Accessibility -> Audio settings. This feature allows you to set up background noise while you work, which is awesome. I often play a quiet melody to help me focus, and now macOS provides the convenience.
The new MacBook Pro can support two external displays, which is awesome. Although I’m not sure when I’ll take advantage of this feature, as a single 34-inch display is sufficient for my needs. Interestingly, my old MacBook Pro was also able to handle a 34-inch display, so there doesn’t seem to be a significant advantage in this regard. However, the new MacBook Pro converts GarageBand files to MP3 about 3-4 times faster, even though the bouncing speed hasn’t changed significantly. It’s worth noting that I run my MacBook Pro in low power mode all the time. I prioritized low heat and low power consumption. Even in low power mode, the hardware is quite impressive. Everything is snappy, quick, and doesn’t seem to encounter any issues so far. I understand that over time, as hardware ages and software becomes more demanding, the laptop will start to slow down. I’ve been down this road many times before, but for now, I’m impressed.
Overall, I’m impressed with the laptop and very happy that Apple has returned to delivering proper pro-line hardware with power, ports, a simple keyboard, and no gimmicks. Everything feels very familiar, although there are some differences here and there. But overall, it feels like I haven’t really changed much; macOS has gained a few features and started working very fast. I don’t think I could ask for much more than that.
Running a home server is kind of a hobby with some benefits. I’ve been doing it for almost two decades, starting out with a Windows machine put together from old parts. Then I upgraded, upgraded some more, and at some point, I ended up with a Mac mini G4 (ah, good times) and finally a Mac mini server 2011, which I purchased around 2014-2015.
I ended up with Apple equipment because it was a good compromise between money, my needs, and my skills. At the time, I was pretty fed up with Windows and wanted to use Linux but fell short on skills. Besides, back in the day, Apple was quite serious about server equipment and server OS – they had separate CDs with server OS – yep, CDs! Unfortunately, that didn’t last, and nearly a decade later, Apple started losing interest in it. After another decade, Apple no longer had server OS or interest in servers.
I’ve been running the Mac mini on OS X 10.13 “High Sierra” for the past six years, past all the releases that no longer support “old” hardware, and I guess quite insecurely. Luckily, I don’t expose my server to the outside world. One of the biggest reliefs was Docker, which allowed me to expand the capability of “High Sierra” and prolong its service. Anyone who has ever used OS X knows it’s really easy to use features and services – smooth sailing. But the moment you want something that doesn’t come with OS X, get ready for some pain and uphill battles – for example, built-in Apache with a PHP module. Fortunately, Docker sidesteps all of that.
Unfortunately, this year, good times came to an end – Docker received a breaking update, and old Docker could no longer find/download new Docker images. Considering Apple releases a new OS every single year, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to support Docker development for a 5-year-old “High Sierra.” So, the time for a tough decision came.
Should I buy another Apple hardware or simply move to Linux and see how far I can get with Ubuntu LTS (Long-Term Support)? I wasn’t keen on buying a new Mac mini – the upfront cost of $1200 is something to consider carefully. The used option is a bit tricky since the Mac mini 2018 is already out of OS X support and, at the same time, can’t be upgraded – on the chip storage. So, I can buy a used pre-2018 Mac mini – which is out of support and hope that Docker will be working fine for a while. Gambling is not my strong suit. Besides, the long-term goal is to move to Linux and different hardware (perhaps Raspberry PI) – so user-friendly Ubuntu it is.
Before installing Ubuntu, I had one last gift to give my already old Mac mini server – SSD drives all around (main and secondary drive). The main drive in the mini was so old that the paper sticker started disintegrating into dust in my hand – an impressive 12 years of service, considering it started giving some trouble recently. The Ubuntu installation was straightforward, and the OS runs fast, blazing fast. I guess 4 cores i7 and 16 gigs of RAM is still a pretty decent setup.
Overall migration went ok, I managed to hit lots of troubles with data transfer, but it was my own mistake – I didn’t prepare, and in my deep ignorance, I thought that Linux and OS X file systems know how to talk to each other properly. Then naturally, I hit issues with permissions and some other small stuff. Once file permissions got straightened out, the only big hiccup was Samba service – which as I learned 6 hours later, does NOT advertise its presence on the local network, like OS X does – silly but yeah. Everything else was more or less ok, thanks to a friend of mine, who knows his way around Linux. I managed to complete the entire migration from start to end in 3 days. Not a bad result, considering I spent nearly one day on data transfer and another day fighting for nothing with Samba service – well, you live you learn.
I’m very excited about Ubuntu; after nearly 2 decades, I’m finally on Linux for my home server. I can definitely say that Ubuntu has progressed a long way. I don’t recall it being this well-refined out of the box before. I’m sure I’ll have to learn some more about Linux and go down to the command line and edit configs with Nano, but hey, in some cases, it is easier than OS X. For example, crontab is so easy I had to ask a friend a couple of times to make sure that I didn’t need to do anything else (OS X requires more work to achieve the same). Backups on Ubuntu are pretty good as well, especially I got impressed by Timeshift. It needs a little bit of configuration out of the box, but it looks a lot more powerful than Time Machine – I mean you make a snapshot, then mess with the OS as much as you want, and then you can rollback everything, including OS updates and configurations – wonderful.
Anyways, the last upgrade to my Mac mini server 2011 is complete, and now I’m wondering how far will it make it. Will it last another couple of years or all the way to its 20th birthday and perhaps beyond? Time will tell.
Recently, I purchased a Bialetti moka pot and was somewhat disappointed. However, I was pretty determined to have a nice Bialetti moka pot, so I ordered another one – a 9-cup size. I really wanted to see if I was unlucky with the first one and hoping the second one would not have any blemishes, and the pressure release valve would not be too close to the handle.
Well, I received the second pot:
Okay, so the bottom piece is very nicely done, and the top piece doesn’t have any blemishes this time around. Now the safety release valve is about 90 degrees away from the handle once you close the pot tightly. I guess it would be good to have the valve at 180 degrees away, but it doesn’t look like Bialetti is measuring or trying to keep the valve at any particular location.
My impression of Bialetti didn’t improve much based on two samples. I figured the Bialetti moka pot could use some quality improvements! Objectively, the pot does not worth the money, and Bialetti sells based on marketing and legacy, meaning you are largely paying for marketing and not Italian-made quality.
My advice: if you just want a moka pot, don’t waste your money. Buy some other brand at a competitive price. If you are like me, who wants some part of the legacy, buy Bialetti in-person so you can inspect the pot before you purchase it, or purchase online but make sure you can actually return the item if you get a crappy one.
I recently discovered the Moka pot and liked it so much that I decided to purchase a real Italian-made Bialetti Moka pot. After a couple of hours of research, I discovered that Bialetti only makes two Moka pots in Italy, the 6 and 9 cup ones. No problem, I wanted the 9 cup pot to share coffee with friends and family. I purchased the pot off Amazon and received it after several days.
I was very happy to see that the Bialetti Moka pot was indeed made in Italy, as I had paid a premium of $67 Canadian. The bottom part of the pot is very nicely casted and machined, and I’m very happy with it. However, that’s where the good news ends. The top part of the pot is less than ideal, with some blemishes, and the safety valve is located uncomfortably close to the handle. In case of an issue when the safety valve opens to release hot steam, I’ll have to grab it by the handle and hope the steam will not burn my hand, which is not ideal at all.
Now, I could buy a Moka pot for $20 at any mall, but I wanted to get the original premium pot from Italy and got a somewhat dubious product. Honestly, it’s a bit disappointing. I mean, Bialetti has been making Moka pots for decades. Is it so much to ask to have a quality product at par with the premium price?