I love to hate the internet

 

“Dad! The internet is down again!” – “The wifi is terrible, my NetfliX keeps stuttering…” – “In my room I can’t even watch YouTube on my Phone and dad wont fiX it!” – “DAD!!!”

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I consider myself a poweruser of the internet and all the things related to it nowadays. I play online games, watch series and movies via NetfliX/HBOgo, read and write my email, browse the web and write my blog, listen to music and follow the news. In our Household we have 4 smartphones, 2 iPads, 1 Surface, 3 laptops, 2 desktops, 2 XboX’s and an Horizon setup boX all hooked up to the internet. Most of them connected via wifi and being used by my wife and me along with our 3 kids. Most of the time there are at least 2, but sometimes up to 5 people connecting and using the wifi signal.

I love the endless posibilities of stuff you can do when you have access to the internet and i cannot imagine our life without it anymore. Ofcourse its not a life treatening thing when the internet is down but to be honest, we do all use it on a daily base one way or the other.

On the other side i hate this way of life as well… Connection to the internet has become a thing to rely on and people have started to take it for granted. When my wife likes to watch tv she turns it on, has instant signal and possibilties to watch a movie or series. She, and many others like her, eXpect the same when she decides to use NetfliX or another streaming service via the internet. When you turn on your device and choose a movie it should show in good quality and without any hickups. Same for the kids when they are trying to find their favorite YouTube channel or try to post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It should work, it should work fast and without interuption when and how they desire. The thing is, it doesnt always work like that and with every other appliance connecting to the router the possibility increases something will happen and it will not work eXactly as desired. That is when everybody starts asking for “DAD!” to fiX it. You are the one with an interest in computers, you know how it works, im just a user, you fiX it!

Those are the moments i would love to turn back time 20 years when using the internet was for geeks like me who were amazed by the possibilities for the future and cried out in joy when there was a problem so we could try to fiX it. Nobody cared if it took an hour, day or weeks because nobody was waiting for us… they made fun of us spending hours behind a non functioning device and declared us fools for having an interest in something so unsignificant as “the internet”…

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From Walk-in-Closet to Office

As you may have noticed these last few months blogging wasn’t really high on my list of priorities. Due to various reasons i haven’t had the time and energy to write about the stuff that has scratched my brain lately but one of those reasons i would like to share with you.

walkinclosetI may or may not have mentioned before that i am redecorating parts of our house. Our youngest son and one of his brothers are moving to other rooms which, ofcourse, needed a total make-over to make them feel like their own. One of the rooms that my one son moved to is a room on the 3rd floor which used to be our storageroom and at the same time the room with an improvised desk and my desktop/gaming computer. At times we even dared to call it “the office” although nothing, besides the computer and a bunch of papers laying around, actually gave that name any right of eXistance. By the time my son moved in the office was gone and from then on both gaming and administration was done at the kitchen table on the laptop. My desktop even moved to my eldest sons bedroom which has been using it ever since.

My wife always intended to create a walk-in-closet out of the small room neXt to our bedroom as soon as she gets the chance. At this time our youngest has moved into his new bedroom leaving this particular room free for a new purpose. It so happens that my wife recently made a career move which gave her the oppertunity to work from home alot and she started feeling the need for some private space to do her work. She soon found out the kitchen table is not the most ideal place to work quietly while the kids are running around. So she shifted her priorities from a walk-in-closet to some fresh new officespace. No complaints from me there!

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We are now at the point of creating ideas for the new office. Besides considering the wallpaper and paint for the walls and window we try to figure out what kind of desk we like, how to create storage space and where to make connections for the computers and equipment. I have my desktop computer (which i will somehow need to reclaim), my laptop as well as my wife’s laptop and the printer. We intend to buy 2 new 24″ monitors and i will see if i can find an easy way to connect both the desktop computer to them as well as the laptops. Also i would like to prepare connections for a television.

Besides all these ideas we have not decided anything yet though so any suggestions and eXamples are welcome. Maybe you have some ideas we can use or consider? If so we would love to hear them so please leave a comment below! I will promise to keep you up to date on the progress…

Single Ant1-1

 

Things dont break alone

You might recognise the event when something in your household breaks down and not long after something else follows? The most common eXample is the washing/laundrymachine and after replacing it the dryer breaks down and needs to be replaced as well…

Such a streak of bad luck seems to be happening to us lately. A couple months ago our car broke down for the 100th time in 2 years (we needed to have it pulled away for the 5th time since we bought it) but we are so getting used to that we’re not even surprised anymore. What annoys me more is my laptop that seems to have given up on me last weekend and that is one thing i cannot miss since we are in the process of renovating some rooms and therefor i have parked my desktop computer in my sons room. He is quite thrilled with that since he is now able to play some games on this PC in his room but i feel kind of like missing a limb!

The laptop i was working on AND playing my games on since my desktop is temporarily in use by my son is a 3-years old but quite decent HP G6 (i7, 4gb with a dedicated GPU R7670m) that plays my games fairly well… Since about half a year though it started eXperiencing heat issues for which i had it checked out at the local computer store. First time i brought it in they cleaned it and put on new cooling paste which worked for about a month untill it started to shut down again. The second time they discovered that the heatsink was broken and therefor it couldnt direct the heat out of my laptop correctly. Because the laptop had a dedicated GPU it has a rather unusual heatsink and we found out it couldnt be ordered via the official channels anymore. HP stopped producing it and they had none in stock anymore but via some obscure website we found a seller in China. After a 30 day delivery time we did actually recieve the part and i must say we were a bit surprised since we kind of gave up hope on it being delivered. The laptop was fiXed and worked fine again… For 2 months… Since last weekend it shuts down again and i tried several things but im afraid its overheating again and honesty i dont want to spend anymore money on repairs…

For my son i am putting together a desktop computer from spare parts i have laying around… Or at least that was the plan! I had put together my old AMD64-3500, 2gb ram, R3850 but then the videocard gave up on me. I had another card laying around, a Radeon X850 but we found out my son couldnt even play Minecraft on the system with that card so i started replacing stuff and one thing led to another…

I bought a budget videocard but one that would be able to play games at a decent framerate, a Radeon r7 270X and decided to order 8GB ram with it as well. I did accidently order ddr3 ram which doesnt fit on the old motherboard is was using so afterwards i decided to find a decent (again budget) motherboard and processor for him as well to replace his old ones with. So at that point i got him an Asus motherboard with an AMD A4-6300 processor, 8gb ram and a Radeon R7 270X videocard… And there are no IDE connectors on the new board so the choice for a new SSD HD was made and completed his system. It ended up better than my current desktop system but it looks like there is one hurdle to overcome.

I installed Windows10 on the new system and made my son very happy with his own computer… Untill it started showing bluescreens and error messages about drivers that are causing issues! At this point im still testing and searching for which driver is causing the issue and untill i find out my own desktop remains in his room, leaving me without a computer and now even without a laptop!

Long story short, i have gotten my 7 years old Acer laptop back on the kitchen table with a faulty spacebar which makes it unusable for write large amounts of teXts (like blogposts) but at least give me the opportunity to fill  in my taX papers and even lets me play a game of Diablo… 2…

Please bare with me, blogposts will be a bit low  but ill be saving my ideas for better times. If you like to help me either intelectual, technical or financial… Just sent me a message 😉

Edit: At this moment as im publishing this blogpost i have just recieved my new laptop!

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PiXelhunting Eastereggs

 

PixelAnt

An Easter Egg is an hidden joke in games, movies, cd/Dvd’s or books. Just like real easter eggs they are hidden and you have to go look for it to find them. With the introduction of the internet the search for Easter Eggs have gotten a whole lot easier since you can just look them up and if your lucky you will most probably also find a video of how to find the hidden joke.

Some of the funniest Easter Eggs i know of are the appearance of RD2D (the funny Star Wars robot) in the 2009 and 2013 Star Trek movies as well as in hieroglyphs in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the lost Arc. In the GTA: Vice City videogame there was a hidden room with an actual easter egg on a pedestal and in Day of the Tenticle if you played as Bernard you could play an other computer game on a certain computer ingame… the whole game of Maniac Mansion! There are also plenty hidden tracks on various music albums when you leave it on after the cv/dvd ends and some famous hidden messages could be find on vinyl records by playing them backwards.

PiXelhunting originates from the oldstyle point-and-click adventures (videogames) in which you needed to click on a particular spot on your screen to pick up or activate an object. These objects could vary in size and if the developer made the item small enough you were actually looking for a dot (piXel) on your screen to click to be able to go on with the game… that searching for the right piXel is also known as piXelhunting. It was known to be implemented to make the game more difficult or at least to have the player spent time playing the game since searching for piXels among thousands of others could be very time consuming. It was also a very easy way to hide Easter Eggs into a videogame but not the most original way i must add. As much as i like to find Easter Eggs in the games i play, especially with funny references to other games, the devs or funny jokes made in these hidden secrets, i do hate it when the developers hides the Easter Egg behind a certain piXel making the Easter Egg hunt a PiXelhunt instead.    Single Ant1-1

Can you tell me if you have ever encountered a cool or funny Easter Egg on an album, in a movie or videogame?

Scammed!

Scam

Have you ever recieved email about a huge inherritage from a long lost aunt in Nigeria or sweepstakes winnings you never participated in? Most of these require you to transfer an amount of money first to cover eXpenses before they can sent you the small fortune that you are being promised. Most people know not to react to these massages and the request to sent money first scares off most people but there will still be people who will try and sadly enough never see their money nor the promised fortune ever again.

Another scam you are being warned for are phishing e-mails in which they try to retrieve (login/password or creditcard) information from you. Usually they sent e-mails, presumably looking like they are from companies, websites and banks you are familiar with. They mention a reason to log into the service of the company/bank/game and ask you to do so via a link in the email. This link will take you to a website very simular to the original website and once you (try to) log in they retrieve that information from you. When you try to log into the valid website or service you find out they changed the login info and emptied your account or belongings. Sometimes they try to make some eXtra money by telling you to pay a fee to retrieve your account only to find out, after paying, that they stripped all of the belongings to that account already.

Over the years on social media i have also regularly seen warnings for what i call “creative scams”. Let me give you an eXample. One of these warnings tell us about keychains being handed out at gasstations or conveniencestores for free. They are told to contain a tracking device with which the criminal will follow you to see where you live. When you leave the house they can keep track of you so they can break in and keep an eye on you returning home. This message, which is known to circulate in several languages and countries already dating back to 2008 and originate from South Africa. It is a fake trick since these tracking devices have never actually been varified by official police notifications (although at one point the Belgium police has been said to have also spread the original (fake) message) and if you think about it, it would be a very costly and inefficiënt method to eXcecute. When they follow you after handing you the device there is no need to track you and it would be really cost-inefficiënt to give away dozens of high-tech devices to accomodate simple burglaries which have always taken place succesfully with just some common sense and a bit of haste!

ScamMail

Today i spoke to someone that has been scammed this weekend with a trick that im familiar with as well… Ive seen the warnings for this scam on social media several times and i know its true since they tried the same trick on me and my wife several times but luckily we knew about the warnings. It happened to this person as followed: his wife got a phonecall from an english speaking person with a clearly Indian accent stating he is an employer from Microsoft and they have discovered that (one of) your computers at home is infected with a virus, it contains an illegal copy of Windows or another reason why they want you to follow some steps. They asked to turn on the computer and connect to a certain service giving them access to your computer. With this aquantance they let them install some programs to “fiX” their computer and they had to pay €20 euro’s for that via some direct payment service. The transactions flawed a couple of times resulting in several “tries” and after that they were told to leave the computer turned off for at least a day. Not long after they found out their bankaccount was stripped with almost €3000 taken from them. Apperantly the several “tries” were meant to transfer several amounts of money (1X €2500, 1X €375 and several times €20) from their account! To show you how bold these scammers are please listen to what happened neXt.

Later that day they found out that the bank tried to contact them due to suspicious transactions from their bankaccount. Because of this the bank blocked the transaction of €2500. Lucky for the couple that got scammed but the scammer probably was not amused by this chain of events. Therefor they had the courage to contact the couple again the neXt day telling them that they, Microsoft, had made a mistake and would like to transfer back the money that was “mistakenly” taken from their account! Luckily they did not listen to the man anymore since refunding meant they had to log in again and hand over access to their computer yet another time. Even after telling him to stop he had the nerve to call back 7 times!

Ofcourse the couple is in the proces of trying to get their money back and having their statement taken by the police but i doubt they will ever get to the people behind these vile scams. To me it shows that eventhough most of these scams are quite obvious and everyone should by now know about these attempts to get hold of your personal information, there are still people who are unaware or easy to pursuade. And if so, it is also possible that even you or me will eventually fall for one of their tricks. Can we prevent this? Just be carefull and keep thinking, does it sound too good to be true? Then it probably is. Never open email from unknown sources or if you do at least never open the attachments that come with it. The people that are trying to scam you rely on the few that are unaware or inattentive to rake in their “earnings”… So the best advice i can offer you is to always be cautious and please warn others to pay attention. That is why i also wanted to tell you about the previous to show you that it is not always something that happens to others but it can one day happen to any one of us!

UitroepSpider

Time is of the essence

There are days that feel like they never end and then there are days that just fly by… Sometimes there are even weeks that seem to pass without anyone noticing and to be honest that is how i felt this morning.

TimeClockSpiderAnt
After a long weekend the kids needed to go to school again and my wife and i off to work. Mornings are hectic enough and that is pretty common in our household but somehow this morning seemed to pass with the blink of an eye. Off to work where time also seemed to pass twice as quickly as normal, resulting in doing only half the things i planned to do… Leaving me with an unsattisfying feeling and the intention to make up for it tomorrow eventhough i already know it wont happen because the day is already planned and new challenges will arise.

Reading back at some of the blogposts i made these last few weeks (where did i get time to do that!?!) i noticed the post about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality… Very eXciting stuff and predicted to become a major thing in our foreseable future. If i can make a quick suggestion however i would like to ask to also implement a time-management switch into these VR and AR solutions giving me the opportunity for a littlebit more control over my time well-spent. Maybe even better yet, make a whole new device to manipulate time in RL (Real Life)! This might just be the neXt big thing after VR/AR, now only a thing of the future but hey, how long ago did we say that about color tv, 3D movies and Virtual Reality? The future is now and time management is near…

…After a good nights sleep because i have to be ready and awake again tomorrow for a busy agenda awaits me…!!!

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Chromecast


Sometimes i read about gadgets and think i should get it… The Chromecast is one of those gadgets i have been planning to get from the moment i read about it but only until today i decided to actually go out and grab me one.

Just a quick checkup online showed the device is already on its second version with a new design and the biggest change being the improved antenna supporting 802.11ac wireless.

I have just been able to do a quick testrun and installed it on my livingroom tv… Got the device working but got chased away immidiately by my kids waiting to use the XBoX and made me go to the bedroom tv where i plugged it in. There i couldnt get the connections right untill i reset to factory settings and reinstalled and it works like a charm now. I guess ill be turning in early tonight to play around a littlebit…!

Any of you that has any eXperience with the Chromecast (old or new) that can give me a few tips and tricks on the device?

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