Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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this has been a week

Home Assistant

WHEE! My Home Assistant Blue arrived! I did the migration a couple of days ago, and so far, I'm impressed.

1.) I did not realize the case was metal. Sweet.
2.) It seems to run more smoothly than Home Assistant ran on the Pi, which I'd expect since the Blue was purpose-designed to run Home Assistant.
3.) The resource usage is much better; process temperature is 25% lower and there's a minor but definite increase in speed. And this despite the fact that my Pi ha 8G of RAM and Blue has only 4.

DIY NAS - A New Thing to Do With a Pi

This means that my Pi is now free. Or was, because since it was available, I decided to experiment with diy NAS (network attached storage). Basically, download OpenMediaVault to the Pi, connect my external four-bay enclosure that holds my media to it, and go to town.

I'm still learning OpenMediaVault, so while I did get it working smoothly (with some early annoying hiccups), I want to do some more experimenting before doing a write-up. I'm not married to it, so I am considering trying a few other OSs.

The GUI is nothing to write home about, and while it's very organized, the design choices are sometimes redundant so it feels more cluttered than it actually is.

I admit I'm spoiled: Home Assistant has a gorgeous user interface and that's just the default; most of what you do in Home Assistant is make it even better and more responsive and more customized. If you have an imagination and a vague grasp of any programming or web design, you can do anything.

OpenMediaVault's UI, like DD-WRT's UI (if you're playing the home game, DD-WRT is the open source software you can use for routers), is--not any of that. It's functional and I will say you can tell no one there made the mistake of trying to break barriers or disrupt the system or rebel against convention and do weird shit with javascript and too much time on your hands, and that's something.

It's utilitarian, and like I said, the design is both clear and redundant. On the left is the sidebar, which is divided into sections, and each section name can expand or collapse all items within. On the right is the main screen, and in a narrow header above it, it has an icon of a house (Home). All items in each section are clickable, taking you to their individual pages. Fine so far.

If you click on Home, the main page shows all the sections in rows, and beneath each section name are all the items in that section and their icons. Everything is clickable: section name on the Home Page takes you to the section page, where all the items are listed; item icon on the Home Page takes you to the item page. A bit redundant, but okay; maybe someone fears sidebars and you can minimize it.

Back to the sidebar; same thing. The section name isn't just a name; it's also a link to the section page with all the items, all clickable to their own pages.

On the header just above this, it shows Home in a button, then the Section Name in a second button. If you click an item--either on the sidebar or on the section page--that appear as a third button. Those buttons are also clickable so you can move forward and back, though you never--so far--get more than three deep and if you have the sidebar open, it doesn't matter, but okay.

It's not easy to explain why I find this weird, except I can't work out why you need three (four?) ways on the same screen at the same time to go to the same place. Basically, this design means you are always at most one click deep anywhere, which would be good but you are only one click deep in three separate ways. It's confusing if you don't expect so much redundancy but it's pretty much impossible to get lost.

I can't tell who it was designed for; DD-WRT was made for intermediate to advanced network and programming people (and it shows in the documentation like whoa), while OpenMediaVault seems to be for everyone and anyone, at least as far as GUI You Will Never Get Lost In Really (so far, there's nothing hidden in nooks or crannies or only appears if you know the right places to check on another random page or tucked somewhere random because fucking with users' heads is fun).

But there's some things I'm not sure an average user is going to know to do or know why using the documentation and quickstart, and if their drives already have media on them--aka not blank or brand new--there are some things are going to be baffling as shit--though super easy to fix--but I'll save that for my write-up.


It's an Okay/Apply system. You do an action, click OK, then you have to hit Apply before you do anything else. And almost everything requires it. The first registers the change; the second applies it to the system.

I am not fond of these, but I get why they exist. Most other systems that make me do an OK and Apply is to save time and resources; you can make several changes and click OK for each to store then, and then hit Apply so the system will do all of them at once. On my DD-WRT routers, it was a time saver since each action would take a while individually but massed together much less.

Which I thought this was at first because there's a variable pause between OK and Apply. Long enough for me to want to leave the page and it won't let me and a banner appears at top with Apply. Like, the pause is just long enough that you're ready to go and then BANNER APPLY. Argh.

Then--new and frustrating--after Apply, there's a third check "Do you really want to..." and seriously????? I can get a legal gun* in Texas with less hassle than wanting to have SMART notifications sent to me.

* That is hyperbole, but honestly, not very much. And the fact I have to say its hyperbole demonstrates that.

In Closing

I got it up and running, scrubbed Plex and added all my media from new home NAS, and gotta give credit, Plex plays smoother, faster, with a lot less hiccups than playing from my external attached as a share on my router. This is not a bad alternative to buying a NAS; I'll do a price breakdown when I do the write-up, but not including hard drives, I'd say around $250 or less.


We're a little over two thirds through the semester; in Intro to Computing, provided I finish at least three more of the four assignments and get full credit on each, I should have an A (if I do all of them and get full credit, I also get an A along with a glow of accomplishment).

Programming Fundamentals is chancier; I have an A right now, but that only includes my first four projects and my first exam; there are two projects ungraded, one I'm doing now, four more projects in the future, and two more exams. My first exam was an 83.75, which was upsetting (I studied for that one), but provided I get a perfect score on all my projects, I can afford a minimum of 67 on each of the other two exams. Which, hopefully, it won't come to that, but I seriously studied for that test (I took notes and reviewed them, even) and as he hasn't yet released the test for us to review what we missed, I still don't know what all I got wrong and that's haunting me. And not making it easy to prepare for the second exam, either.

Finished registering for the summer semester for six hours and fighting myself not to try for nine hours until fall. I mapped out my degree assuming nine hours a semester spring and fall with six in summer, but I want to try and go to 12 per semester within the next eighteen months.

It's not the workload that worries me, actually; I can do it and pass (very probably), but this time, I want to do it with As, and not just an A, but a dramatic A, like a 96-100 in each class across the board.

Educationally Speaking

When I was in high school and college the first (and second) time around, I was never sure that I could do it and was constantly surprised when I did, and not surprised at all when I got a B or even a C; I didn't like it, but the ways of the grades and my brain were mysterious and I had no idea why I couldn't just sit and study and have that actually work and instead have to depend on my ability to learn fast in gulps and short bursts of short term memorization. Back then, I couldn't even take good notes: I either reproduced the book or lecture (until I literally couldn't concentrate a second longer, which was often) or all the wrong things; I could not work out the alchemy of how you decided what mattered and for that matter, how the fuck anyone could stare at that Wall of Text Textbook and learn anything.

Truthfully, until now, I really genuinely did not realize the extent of a.) my ADHD and b.) the effects of medication. Back in 2007 when I went back for a semester, I noticed a difference--this was right after I was medicated--but I got an incredible promotion after one semester and learning that job took all my attention for a while.

When I started this semester, it was pretty much how I started every semester; hopeful but resigned to a best 'better than last time maybe?' I downloaded a program for notetaking (and eventually started using it, but that's skipping ahead), and as these classes are pure online without online or RL class times, read my syllabus carefully, got my online text books (I love love love online textbooks now), and settled in to read productively or die trying. Honestly, I half-expected the latter to become a real possibility, because sometimes, textbooks are really fucking boring.

Now, an ADHD Sidebar

For those with ADHD, 'boredom' is not just about a lack of interest or entertainment in what we're doing/watching/reading/etc. It's almost impossible to explain because truthfully, we have no context for the idea of 'boredom' as just 'a feeling you feel'; it's more like a state we're thrust into and have to work to get out of and sometimes has no basis in 'feeling'.

It wasn't until I was medicated for several years that I found out the feeling and the state were two separate things.

When people tell us to keep going when we say we're bored, they're assuming 'boredom' means 'not entertaining enough', a personal feeling that we can power through and we're just being lazy. Most of the time, though, 'boredom' is both a feeling and a brain state; when my brain gets bored with something, it just stops taking input from it. I can stare at that book and painfully read every word but I won't remember it afterward, and I don't mean 'the next day' or 'an hour later' but 'the next sentence in this paragraph'. It does not go into short term memory; it will not be stored in long term; I will remember nothing but being bored and hating everything no matter how much I try. I have tested this extensively.

Yes, it's possible to power through that...sometimes; high urgency and panic gives us adrenaline dumps which is also why a lot of us test incredibly well on exam days after a sleepless night but fuck up our homework or projects. Unless you happen to have a supply of adrenaline to shoot up, you cannot induce that kind of panic that gets high (short term) recall on a daily basis and honestly, you really shouldn't; a few years of that and your heart will not be happy.

Also, a lifetime doing that means the law of diminishing results is a thing; when you have to get into a high stress state regularly to do things like 'finish homework' or 'do your job' or 'a surprising number of life things' then not surprisingly, your body starts to adapt.

And for kicks, sometimes, we don't 'feel' bored; in fact, we're doing something/reading something/watching something we love. We can still get a brain nope out; our brains treat 'reading this book I've been waiting for months for/episode 3 of Falcon and the Winter Soldier/building a robot dog' as 'watching paint dry' and boom, no crying Bucky for you, bitch. It happens a lot less with medication, but it still does happen, which is why I haven't seen 3 and 4 and I'm kinda pissed about that.

For me, while medicated, boredom as feeling and boredom as brain state are separate things--and even now, I cannot tell you how bizarre it still is to me that boredom can exist as only a feeling without an immediate termination of engagement--but they can still happen, both separately and together. Just not nearly as often: as in, I can now tell the difference between living regular life and being bored and not assume they're usually synonymous, which is still something of a revelation.

Even medicated, there are still limits, all of the above can and will happen, but one of the many (so many) benefits is that most of the time, we can now anticipate when it's going to happen and prepare. And we can strategize.

Back to School

Yes, reading textbooks is still sometimes boring--not always, but yeah--but it's not a showstopper now; my brain doesn't disengage suddenly and refuse to re-engage for a variable length of time or a state of panic (and to make this clear, that is really fucking new). I know there are limits, so I plan for them ahead of time (something that before meds, I also had no idea how to do because ADHD's executive function disorder assures nothing is ever easy).

I plan for my brain's response, which I know far far too well; I can't just read, I need to 'do'. So first, I do a read-through of the chapter (or even section depending on length) that isn't a read at all but a very very very fast skim. That's to get a.) section breaks b.) chapter breaks, c.) if there are tables, code examples, etc, and d.) do a fast and dirty mental split of Total To Read to get Total To Read Now. And also to see how the chapter is organized with headers and sections because I need that for my notes.

Then I open my notetaking program. I selected for 'bells and whistles, all of them'.

Notion is all bells and whistles; it's chock full of cool shit like 'formatting' and 'page breaks' and 'insert table' and 'insert code' and 'header 1, 2, 3' and 'all the colors and text sizes and fonts'. It has templates, specifically templates for notes for classes.

And while I read, I take notes with different font decorations, different colors, different headers, reproduce a bit of code; the text may be boring, but formatting is incredibly fun and looks neat, and that shit can put off brain nope out no matter how dry the text or how repetitive. Now granted, my programming class was less of a problem that I'd feel bored reading--it's programming, I wanted to read every word--but Intro to computing...yeah.

And I stop at the end of every marked section (Chapter 6.1, 6.2) and unless I'm super engaged (programming), I get up, get something to drink, and start the next section.

For videos, I make sure closed captioning or text is on so I can read while listening; for reasons I don't quite get, I don't respond well to video/audio only; it doesn't stick unless it's instructional (I'm doing something like building a server or rewiring something dangerous; it sticks then. Mostly).

Note: except memorizing lyrics in music, but that a.) isn't a conscious process and b.) I can't consciously recall them without the song triggering recall and even then, it's--weird. Which is why I can sing (badly) in (what really isn't actual) Korean due to K-Pop and have no idea a.) what I'm singing or b.) that I'm singing, and no, I won't be singing anything vaguely relate to the Korean language because my brain didn't memorize 'words' so much as 'discrete groups of sounds'. I can assure you no one including those who speak Korean will understand a word I'm saying.)

However, combine audio/video with captioning or text (my grandmother in my teens needed closed captioning on all the time; it wasn't until my mid-twenties I realized there was a reason other than habit I always turned it on and also why I preferred subs to dubs like a lot).

Even studying my notes is easier: not only does all the formatting draw my attention, but I highlight while I read, or fix my personal notes style for consistency by bolding all the functions or putting asides in italics or basically, any 'do' that can be combined with 'read'.

So yeah, this time, I want A's; I want to turn in projects that exceed not just minimum but maximum requirements and involve many bells and whistles; I want to perpetually have read a chapter or two ahead before class and be overprepared for any assignment; I don't just want to get through class but learn and I mean learn everything.

I mean, I always wanted those things, but now, I think I can actually do them. I live in hope, anyway, and that's new, too. Posted at Dreamwidth: | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments
Tags: jenn's life, my relationship with electronics, school

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