Desktop is up and running.

So my Blackbird desktop is running like a charm, in the end I had to change the CPU for the X version of the Ryzen 5 1600 because Amazon didn’t carry the standard 1600.
The Ryzen 5 1600X is a brutal CPU and I won’t say more. Anyone who buys Intel these days is losing money big time but thats my opinion.

Right now I’m using my Nvidia GT740 with 2Gb DDR5 to do the GPU honors because I need to buy a good GPU to pair with the Ryzen.
After talking with a pal of mine I’m leaning over to the AMD radeon RX series with at least 6 Gb of VRAM, being price, support for Linux and specs the main reason I will change back to Radeon. GPUs are expensive and I want a decent one so I will need to save some money for it, if all goes smoothly I’ll buy it in January because Christmas is coming and I don’t want late or lost parcels.

Because the GPU will be power hungry I’ll need to buy a good power supply or I’ll have stability problems. The one I got is starting to show some age signs on the caps. This sucks but PSUs are very important so I’ll probably buy a branded one from Corsair or Cooler Master with a minimum of 750W.

Storage wise I got a “problem” like I always did.
I don’t like to put all my eggs in the same basket so I got 5 storage mediums on the desktop. Yes, I know this stresses the PSU power rails.
I got 2 drives dedicated to operating systems and 3 for storage. Besides that I got 1 external drive for backups, plus several 2,5″ HDD I have with several backups of the backup. I’m not paranoid, I just don’t want to lose the family photos.
I know I should buy a new 240Gb SSD for the Win10 partition but my wallet isn’t happy about that, so for now it’s in the back burner.

RAM is still on the menu, and I’ll continue to update the motherboard with more modules. If all goes as planned I’ll have 32 GB soon after I buy the GPU.

Because I’m a audio enthusiast and these things matter a bit, I should note that my desktop is not silent but it’s quite tolerable with five fans doing their job:
– 1 for the CPU radiator that takes fresh air from outside the enclosure. Almost silent even in heavy loads.
– 2 silent 12cm fans that push air from the front to the back of the enclosure to remove the hot air of the CPU radiator.
– 1 small noisy fan for the GPU, most of the noise comes from this bastard.
– 1 fan on PSU that takes air from the bottom of the case and pushes it outside. This position of the PSU was one of the reasons I bought this enclosure.

I think the noise will come down when I buy a GPU with 12cm fans, most of it comes from the small fan the GT 740 has.

Final words..for now at least.
My old Core2 Quad will serve my kids as soon as new parts arrive for the Blackbird, right now it’s stored in the attic. It will be their school PC because I’m against disposing of good old tech, maybe thats why it survived so much time.
I’ll make a small update on the state of the desktop probably when I buy the GPU.

Improving self-taught English.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

First of all I should say there isn’t a silver bullet to solve all problems one must face to learn beyond the basic English. Save yourself a boring reading if you are looking for that on this post.
To master and learn a language is no easy task and I admit both my Portuguese and English could be way better if my education was higher and the environment where I was born nurtured it from the very beginning.

When I was younger I hated school with all my heart, so much that after the basic required by my country I went to work for my father. My first job required a “hands on” skill learning and no need for language skills.
Sure that I was well paid for doing my job after I mastered it, but I should have continued school and was dumb for not doing so, because my English and Portuguese could be way better right now.
So without much options and with a new full-time job, I had the need to at least improve my English because it was a important skill at my new work, thus I started to learn English and I continue to this day.

I’m not the best example of a student. I’m lazy as hell, my grammar sucks, the structure of my writing is wrong most of the time, even so I keep going because one day I’ll be a better writer.
There is a Russian artist by the nickname Dzikawa that often says on her Twitch streams “Just Do it!”, besides referring to a fun viral video of Shia LaBeouf screaming “Just do it” at full lung power, she is also saying that people should try and try again until their practice becomes second nature. I agree with this because even an old dog like me can learn a trick or two with enough practice.

I already wrote on my blog how I buy things on eBay, in fact I also use it to find good English books to use as reference when I’m writing for this blog.
For example anything by Oxford is good, The Times style and usage guide book is a must have even if a bit impractical.
Just avoid any legalese related books unless you are a lawyer or want to be one!

If possible read in English whenever you can. My writing skills developed after reading a lot of English novels and biographies.
You’ll start to be aware of little details and even correcting some things that seem a bit off or strange when you read them out loud.
Always read stuff you truly enjoy, because that way you’ll have a reason to push your studies forward.
Don’t like reading books or magazines?
Read websites, blogs and go to chat rooms where English language natives hang around.

Disable subtitles on movies and series and above all don’t hear dubbed stuff, to learn English one needs to know the spoken language and translate it in real time, the best way to do it besides movies/series is to practice with real people, in that regard I’m lucky because I got a job which allows me to practice all the time.
Most cities have workshops and groups of people who gather to help and learn new languages, so it might be a good starting point if one isn’t shy.
Having friends abroad is also a good way to improve both spoken and written English, you will be forced to reach out and understand them.

Last but also important, if you are European you will probably learn British English at school but be exposed to American movies and series. Nothing can be done to avoid this so speedway/motorway, color and colour between many other options will have to be dealt sooner or later if you want to write in English. Choose a country and stick with it.

On a last thought about this subject, English teachers are the best ones to correct and point you on the right path, cherish them.
Learning alone is boring so find someone to write to and practice with if possible.

Spotify, so I was wrong.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

A little disclaimer, I’m not being paid by Spotify or have any kind of commercial deal with them, I pay my subscriptions from my pocket.

I love the physical medium, after all I still avidly collect CDs and already shared that I think streaming services hurt the music industry in the long run.
After some heavy resistance I subscribed to Spotify Premium, even if it goes against some preconceived opinions I got about streaming services, stuff like:
1. I’ll never ever own the music.
2. Streaming wastes my smartphone data plan if I’m not careful.
3. Artists are not paid enough by Spotify.
4. Subscription services make music disposable.

To the above I had to consider after some resistance:
1. I also watch YouTube and will never own that content.
2. Ok, at least in Premium one can download the songs to hear later and that’s a nice touch to save my short data plan.
3. I’m sure it surely beats having their music downloaded for free on the internet.
4. Well, if you love music it will never be disposable.

So why the hell did I start using Spotify Premium after all?
– The free option sucks hard if you enjoy choosing the music you want to hear. It’s ok if you need a radio like option. Premium is the way to go if you want to control the music.
– The quality is way better in Premium, I’m an audio enthusiast after all.
– I don’t need to change CDs to put some music for my kids, choosing music was never so easy and my kids love it. 5 hours of Disney songs…just press play.
– I got a stand alone application for Linux, thus I don’t need to store music on the tiny SSDs my laptops use.
– It’s possible to use a smartphone to control what other device plays from any place in the world thus making Spotify Premium the best remote control in the world.
– It’s a fun way of knowing about new artists.

Less attractive things.
– Some albums are not available.
– Some artists still refuse to let Spotify stream their stuff, and I totally respect that.
– It’s a service so it can change prices or even be terminated.

Again I don’t make money from saying good things about Spotify, I just think it’s a really cool way to enjoy music without too much work from the end user.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my CD and Lossless collection but sometimes I just need to have some music handy without too much worry about changing CDs.
As a plus it sure beats using Youtube.

And so it begins…update on the desktop.

By Cephas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Some days ago I wrote that I would build another desktop computer, so today I updated that post to reflect some unforeseen changes, specially the compatibility with the RAM which seems to be an issue with some motherboards, including mine.

The update was also necessary because I  have purchased most of the base of the system, the final piece will be the Ryzen CPU.
Sure I still have some money to spend in the GPU, RAM, PSU and SSD but those can wait a little.

Some lose thoughts about the build:
The CPU had some strange problems with Linux, AMD is now solving some of the shitstorm with some microcode patches and whatnot.
I might be biased because I’m gonna buy one, but the AMD Ryzen is one hell of a CPU, seems Intel finally moved their ass and started fighting back, the CPU wars are back and I like it!

The DDR4 RAM support for the Ryzen is a mess, I had to actually buy HyperX because there is so much conflicting information around the forums and DIY community, looks like if you buy a RAM module which isn’t approved by the manufacture company your chances of getting a no go at boot are very high, add that to the Ryzen picky nature when overclocking and it’s a pain for DIYers.

I love videogames, I don’t consider myself a hardcore gamer because I don’t spend hours gaming every day, but I do love to play my stuff specially RPGs like the Witcher and Elder Scrolls series.
The problem of having a decent CPU is that you really need a decent GPU to come in to the fray when you want your videogame fix.
Right now the AMD GPUs are out of the question, even if I like them very much.
NVIDIA has better support for Linux and I use Linux for everything besides gaming so this is KO even before the match starts. I’m now considering the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1060 by Gigabyte and Asus, both present a bottleneck when paired with the Ryzen CPU I intend to buy.

In terms of storage I need a SSD for Windows 10 but I’m still on the edge if I should go M.2 or SATA, I’ll research a bit more first.

On a nerdy note I have a name for the desktop, it will be called Blackbird because I love both the bird and airplane. Deal with it I’m a nerd…

Wi-Fi USB adapters that work with Ubuntu based distros.

One of the things that bugs me a lot about using Ubuntu and all other distros based on it like Pop!_OS is the fact some USB Wi-FI adapters don’t work out of the box, so I’ll share two that work fine with the 17.04 release. Your mileage may vary from distro to distro as in all things GNU/Linux.

RT5370First and before all, see if your current adapter isn’t having connection problems because of the feature bug that keeps changing the MAC address. Developers call it a privacy feature, I call it a Wi-Fi adapter shitstorm from hell that broke stuff.

Please also note that I got BOTH of these adapters to work after disabling that so called privacy feature, follow the link I shared above for directions. You’ll need to use the terminal but it’s easy stuff compared with some other options around.

The first and cheapest 150Mbps adapter that works is the small Robotsky Ralink RT5370, you can get it at various online shops.
The antenna is not removable but it’s fairly small to carry around.
It’s compatible with the IEEE 802.11b/g/n standards, just don’t expect amazing range.
I use it with my netbook, in fact I removed the problematic internal Wi-Fi adapter and now only carry this one with me.
The second USB adapter I use is the huge 150Mbps Atheros AR9271, search for it online and buy the model in the photo (note the design on the lid). It has the same network specs as the Ralink one but the antenna is removable and it’s huge, I totally recommend this adapter for use with desktops or in areas with bad reception. It’s more expensive than my first option but it’s still worth it.

For now these are the only adapters I use with my Linux distros, if by chance I buy more I’ll add them to this list, but please understand that sometimes factories change the specs and chipset of the adapters. Because mine were bough of ebay I don’t have version numbers to share but it’s better than nothing at all.
All the best and I hope this helps, give a like or comment if it did! I’ll be very happy.