children of dune - leto 1

universal remote

So I am always in search of working universal remotes for my mom and myself because it's guaranteed you will lose or break it and a lot of TVs now don't come with any physical buttons or a limited selection.

I've been using the Logitech elite; hideously expensive, but it worked with literally all my media. I love it, it was definitely worth the money. But I wanted one for my TV in my room specifically and also get one for my mom, since the grandkids (and uh her kids) lose teh remotes like a lot.

I found this: BroadLink RM4 pro IR RF Hub - $47.99

It's not a remote per se: it's a wifi hub you put by your TV that translates your phone commands in the app to IR/RF for your devices.

What you do is plug it in, get it on your wifi network, download the app, then in the app, say add a device. Then you use your existing remote and the pre-installed codes to basically recreate your remote in the app. It then creates a neat little interface for each device, some more elaborate than others. So far, it works on my Samsung TV--though that's a gimme--and my Polk Command Bar. If the preinstalled codes don't work or don't have the functionality you need, you use your existing remote to show the command for the hub to learn and replicate. For my Polk Command Bar, I added HDMI switching since it has two HDMI ports, and lowered my stress considerably since I hate having only one remote for that.

Going through the device list, however, this isn't limited to TVs/entertainment. It apparently can do this with anything that has a remote, either RF or IR. I haven't tested that yet but I'm hunting up my old remotes now just to see.

It interfaces directly with Alexa and Google Assistant, and Home Assistant, among others.

On Broadlink's Website:
Device and Specs


1.) wifi controlled devices work; bluetooth-only, not so much. There are workarounds for that (a lot, actually), but it's something to consider. My NVIDIA Shield TV is going to take some work, in other words and I'll post when I get it working. However, it looks like all the most common devices and brands are represented, and for my Polk soundbar, there was community support as well ('unofficial' community created codes are also in the app).

2.) there is a distance factor like with any remote or wifi. Generally you probably need to be in the same room whenever possible to use it.

There are actually several versions of Broadlink's universal remote; I picked this one because it had the widest range so I could check if it would be a good fit for my mom and also be able to control my Polk Soundbar if I lost the remote (it is also an Alexa device, but I consider voice control of my soundbar a secondary way to control, not primary).

I'm mostly reccing this because of ratings, universality, and price. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments
children of dune - leto 1

home assistant has released its own open source hub

Due to so much current stress I've been skipping out on my posting here. I really am not feeling doing an update on life at this time, but I want to spread this far and wide.

I talked about starting to use open source Home Assistant for my home automation needs with a Raspberry Pi. since then I updated to an 8 GB Pi and added booting from an SSD.

Now there's something a thousand times better: Home Assistant Blue - $150

This is Home Assistant's own Automation Hub built by them. You do not need to build anything, like a Pi; it's a single board computer with 4 USB hubs, 1 ethernet, 1 HDMI, with a 128 eMMC hard drive and 4G RAM with Home Assistant pre-installed and a very cool blue case.

It's plug and play. Literally, you plug it in and turn it on; that's it.

Below the cut is a copy of my tumblr post on a reblog about open source that breaks down everything you need to know

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Home Assistant also has addons for running your own DNS server, DHCP server, database, Samba, HDMI CEC scanner, SSH, code editors, ABD server, Tor, encryptors, Plex, and I think the equivalent of pi hole (either official or community) and that's just to start. It can do kind of everything.

Official Stuff
Official Integrations
Official Add-Ons

Community Supported (non-official):

The number of community integrations you can get in HACS are an order of magnitude more than the official and then there's the UI stuff. And then there's the ones not even in HACS yet which you can find if you just google "Home assistant" and "Your Thing" which are like--well, a lot lot lot.

If I can get enough people interested in trying, I want to start a DW comm where people can ask questions, post tutorials, code, or just get support and help. It can be intimidating to start something like this, but help and support make everything easier and fun, and I'd love love love to work with/help/talk/support and/or be main venting person to anyone who jumps in. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments
children of dune - leto 1

thanksgiving planning

So the Thanksgiving Menu is complete and I'd like to take this opportunity to plug Paprika 3 app if you were a fan of Pepperplate. It has a recipe browser powered by google and so far can download almost any recipe anywhere.

So, the planned menu for Child and I (subject to change by ingredient missing, laziness):
Brined Whole Turkey
Baked Spiral Cut Ham
Apricot Glaze with Herb Butter
Green Bean Casserole with Bacon and Gruyere
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Sweet Potato Casserole
Baked Parmesan Cream Corn
Pea Salad
World's Best Key Lime Pie
Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Yeah, at least two of the side dishes won't make it, but I can make them this weekend to go with the leftover turkey. That's part of the fun of Thanksgiving; the leftovers and the cooking of other dishes to go with the leftovers.

The only one that's really new to me is the Baked Parmesan Cream Corn; the turkey and glaze are my standard favorites to make, the pie I used to make a lot, pea salad is standard in my family, the ham just need to be warmed, and the rest are fancy variations on common dishes I've made or helped make. The biggest problem has been hunting down some of the ingredients, the last delivery of which is coming this morning along with both cooking milk and drinking milk and eating butter (as opposed to cooking butter). We do no blur lines during Thanksgiving.

Though I am kind of sulky that Mill King milk is not available right now. Mill King is state-local (though yeah Texas is a big state) and is pasteurized but is not homogenized so it's overall slightly heavier than standard milk and cream floats in it and tends to gather on the sides and on top. The first time I got it, Child was horrified--it looked bad! Floating bits!--but hands-down it makes the best hot chocolate and chocolate milk you can imagine. Just rich enough but not too heavy and doesn't throw the balance off like cream or half-and-half do if you add them (unless you're one of those people who's really good at mixing them).

Last grocery order should be delivered soon. I should probably get ready for that. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments
children of dune - leto 1

the time has come for a new laptop

So I ordered a new laptop and am starting prep to refurbish this one for my mom.

The new laptop (name pending) is a Dell XPS 17 9700, upgraded to 32 GB RAM and a 4K touchscreen. I left the drive alone since I'm upgrading it myself to a much faster Samsung Pro 980, but happily, unlike Manhattan, this laptop has two M.2 drives and I seriously, seriously missed having that option.

Manhattan, my current laptop, is a Dell XPS 15 9575 Two-In-One with a 4K touchscreen; the screen folds backward 360 degrees into a very weirdly shaped tablet and you can write/draw on it with a pen. This is a lot of fun, but among my acquaintance, all the artistic types had a blast playing with it. And drew me pictures, some of which can be viewed by non-me company.

This option is not available for the XPS 17s, depressingly. I will miss it.

Why 2 in 1's Are Awesome (It's Not What You Think!)

I recommend this style for every laptop on earth, but not necessarily for the tablet option.

The tablet functionality wasn't bad and in fact could be useful if you like to make handwritten notes or basically any reason you like to use a tablet. The tricky part is the size; this is a widescreen laptop; 3840 by 2160 or 16:9. In the vertical, it's unwieldy as fuck and I don't mean weight (though yeah, that too); it's just not the right proportions for a tablet when you shift to the vertical. However, some may be fine with that, and anyway, that's not why I think this is brilliant innovation.

It was being able to open the laptop screen as wide as I wanted.

Most laptops open to just over or under 135 degrees then stop. As it turns out, my most functional working angle is closer to 145-150 degrees.

I've opened it to a full one-eighty when I was working and I needed to sit very straight; I had to lift my hands a little for keyboard but not as much as if it were just barely passed the 90 degrees most laptop screens allow. With one of my laptop stands, I generally have the screen at 145 degrees from the keyboard; it's much easier to sit straight (or straight-ish) if I can have the screen at near eye-level and the keyboard at nearer-hand level.

Which really just begs the question: why for the love of God are laptops still limiting opening angle to roughly 135 degrees or less? Even if you don't need a full 360 degree bend (which make it look like your screen is on top and your keyboard is on bottom), a 180 degree is super useful (see above).

When I took my laptop apart after I got it (to upgrade the hard drive also because I always take my laptops apart when I get them before anything goes wrong so the first time isn't when I'm stressed), I paid attention to how the cables thread from the body to the monitor to make a 360 degree bend work; suffice to say, it's not particularly dramatic or lifechanging; you use hollow hinges to thread the wires through. It's not easy to do it--yes, I did test that, I always take apart my laptops to the base so I know where everything is and how it connects--but it's not hard, just delicate. t didn't take special equipment or magic; like, in a pinch, you might get some tweezers to help move or two, but that's also because I have an intermittent tremble in my right hand.

This is a huge improvement on the way non-2 in 1 laptops work in that the cables are far better protected threading through the hollow hinge itself; no danger a cord that wasn't affixed right will eventually slip due to normal daily activity and get caught on the hinge when opening or closing and be cut (and yes, that happens even if you never opened your case and moved things around). I can definitely see room for improvement, but from a internal cable management perspective, this shit is the boobs. This also allows thicker, more resilient cabling if they'd consider that; the hair-thin ones that are so fragile breathing on them is worrisome should be a thing of the past.

(I have been watching the Big Foot ep of Psych and now I really want to use that in public. Everything cool for the foreseeable future shall be 'the boobs'.)

Preparation Is Key

So far, the only thing on Manhattan needs cosmetically is a new keyboard, but honestly, I think replacing the keyboard and touchpad (basically the entire front panel) is going to be the best option because if there are problems with either, at this point, I wouldn't notice as I've been using it so long it would be a forgotten quirk my hands know.

I am really, desperately going to miss opening my laptop to whatever angle I want, but I take consolation that my mom is going to love this laptop more than possibly her children.

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Upgrades and Repairs

So I'm prepping now for the upgrade as well as the handoff.

In general, I pick the easiest method;

1.) Buy (or use an existing) portable drive and copy the OS partition and move the Data partition.

The OS partition will be factory reset so it doesn't matter what I leave there, but Data partition is my private data and my brain gets weird about that. I cannot make myself reformat the Data partition while I can see data on it, even after copying it to the portable drive and seeing it there. But if I move the data from the Data partition to the portable hard drive, it's fine; the Data partition is now empty and I can format it.

2.) Copy relevant data to new laptop from portable drive

3.) Move all data from portable drive to the backup partition on Watson Server under computer name (Manhattan) and date of transfer then forget it exists unless something goes wrong.

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This has been an infodump of my brain today. Carry on as you will. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments
children of dune - leto 1

psych - a monologue on one of my favorite episodes

I actually love Psych more than I'm comfortable with sometimes. It has some yikes parts (the 00's have a lot of that), but it also had a main character that the show had no problem making fun of for being ridiculous even when he was right and a main female character/love interest that about a season in they realize hey, we should develop her into a person which is depressingly rare. It also has Gus, which no other show has and really should.

It has some of the most ridiculous plotlines that shouldn't work in any sane world but do, because their main characters are Shawn and Gus and they're crazy.

(Seriously, the vampire ep alone is one no other non-supernatural show could hope to pull off with other than 'really bad why are you doing this?', but you add in Shawn and Gus? Of course they believe that woman is a vampire; have you met them?)

I will argue to the end of the world that Psyche's 4.16 "Mr Yin Presents" is one of the most beautifully done episodes of Psyche (maybe the best, tbh), a strong contender for among excellent TV in general, and one of the most interesting and well done in the very often boring/stupid/sometimes traumatizing "serial killers are among us" genre. I've actually gone back several times to just rewatch it; it's just really, really well put-together on the plot level and the emotional fallout level, and that's rare.

I say this as someone who enjoys the serial killer genre; they are almost all boring as hell, overelaborate to the point of stupid, full of ridiculously dumb plotholes, and end up stupid, or in some cases, all of that and traumatic and gross. This would maybe work if the serial killer was supposed to be dumb, but no; this bullshit is always supposed to be unparalleled genius. And everyone eats the stupid cookies before it starts.

This is because shows generally misjudge what the audience wants to see; we are not, in general, here for the gross and horrifying murder of innocent people--that's what horror movies and Criminal Minds are for (though CM used to be less that); we're here for the weird-ass elaborate plotlines, weird motivations, and time limits with astronomical stakes and smart people versus smart people running down the clock.

"Mr. Yin Presents" is the second in the Yin/Yang trilogy. The first is interesting and fun and fantastic set up; the third is the stupidest thing on TV possibly ever and you lose nothing in the show if you just skip it forever and pretend there are only two. I promise, you'll be happier that way.

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Note: the third ep makes everything dumber and then makes no sense whatsoever combined with speechifying villain who is breathtakingly dumb but presented to be smart (??????). Worse, it manages make the first two Yin/Yang eps make no sense and wrecks the best parts of why the eps worked and then burned everything down the rest. It's just so dumb. So very, very, very dumb. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments
children of dune - leto 1

chuck: i have seen all of it now

In continuing stay-at-home avoidance of watching anything new, I went to watch Chuck.

Full disclosure: I didn't get much past season one the first time around: I think early season two. So as it turns out, that's why all my memories were so positive and pleasant.

If you haven't watched, this may encompass the experience: I finally understand what it means to hatewatch.

I thought it was a voluntary process, like, you can stop if you don't like it. No, it's not; you can't stop, how quaint of anyone to think so. There's just some grim form of geas or some shit--I don't know, do I look like an evil witch who does this to people?--that drives you onward and downward into the bowels of hell.

The worst thing is: this was insane enough that it could have been my favorite show.

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This has been a vent. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments
children of dune - leto 1

Dune 2021 - I am really liking this.

So full disclosure: I saw Dune 1984 when I was eleven, read the books when I was twelve, understood them much later.

Excluding Children of Dune miniseries from this comparison.

Dune 1984 is my standard and yes it's--yeah insert quite a bit here--but it's gorgeous and it looks and feels like epic scifi in the very epic future. Whatever the fuck was going on with the script (cocaine probably?) David Lynch created a visual spectacle that pretty much makes you not care wtf was going on. Gurney, Stilgar, the Emperor, and Beast Rabban were incredibly good casting and Baron Harkonnen is fucking legendary and memorable.

The miniseries, though way more accurate, suffered from both some very weird choices of color (I always remember it as orange even though it wasn't actually all orange), some very weird acting choices, and some very questionable choices of actors: Chani was maybe the only flawless choice and outdid Dune 1984 by a mile.

That said: I cannot deny that Kyle McLachlan as Paul Atreides worked very well--about ten times better than the miniseries--but also has the same problem: both actors were old to play Paul and I don't mean chronological age; both visually and how they're performed, they acted like full adults and Paul--well, wasn't.

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children of dune - leto 1

it's already thursday?

So news:

1.) I let Child get a snake. Yeah.

He was sort of owed it, tbh. After I hurt my back and up to today, he's taken over most of the housework and cooking. It's not that I can't now, but that I have to be very moderate in how often I bend over or carry anything since part of the problem is my posture is still in progress. So yes: snake.

It's a tiny ball python he named Belt, a thematic companion to his tiny lizard Boots and the psycho iguana who lives in my room that I can't remember the name of. This is my life: there is a snake in the apartment.

2.) For comfort, I'm rewatching select Spartacus scenes (aka anything Agron and Nasir and/or men fighting with swords). I recommend this form of therapy very heartily. Can't lie, I can happily watch Agron (or like, the entire cast) walk around in loincloths or naked or sweat through battle.

Say what you like about modern warfare improvements, the clothing sucks, as in, people wear way too much. I see no reason bazookas are incompatible with a Roman kilt or comfortable loincloth, maybe some strategically applied oil.

I have to admit, however, how often the actors were allowed to eat. I'm guessing on alternate days?

Agron and Nasir playlist for anyone who needs that kind of thing in their lives (everyone?).

Adding my favorite vid: Leave Me Blind by Mary Bell - warning for fast, fast cutting like a lot, so if you're sensitive to that, be aware now. Not super explicitly violent, but putting out a whee for inclusion of Nasir's grief-driven fight scene.

Beautiful choice of clips, fantastic narrative, and I love the building up of tension to the climax. But again, this is all fast cuts.

Adding because I'm watching it in repeat: 1:43 to 2:04 is impressive as hell. The clipping leading to it from 1:31 is good and hits paydirt at 1:43 like no one's business. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments