media computer hell
Tuesday, October 24 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
Our friends Ray and Nancy from down in Old Hurley came up this morning with their dog Jack to meet Charlotte and go for a walk. Usually I don't go for such walks, but today I did. We walked to the end of the Farm Road talking about such things as 3D-printed ceramics and then cut through the forest to the end of the southwest end of the Stick Trail (41.9236N, 74.1106W), a way I haven't gone in years (perhaps in as many as ten years). We continued down the backwards-L-shaped Stick Trail, finding that Tommy, the guy who rides his mountain bikes back there, has been maintaining the trails. He typically doesn't cut fallen trees out of the path but instead builds little ramps allowing him to bike over them; I suppose this makes the path more fun for him.
Ray and Gretchen walked considerably ahead of us with Charlotte, while Nancy and I lagged behind with Neville, who gradually fell behind even us. At some point Nancy told me about a crazy business trip her little sister Linda went on in Mexico City that resulted in one of the entourage being attacked by a guy on a moped while riding in an Uber from the airport. (A window was smashed, but nobody was hurt.)
Back at the house, I made some coffee for Nancy and me (the others don't drink it). Jack had been playing a little too energetically with Charlotte and she seemed on edge with him. Then later she seemed to think he stole one of her toys and she followed him around baring her teeth and biting at the air, though she never actually turned violent. She seems to much prefer Neville's low-energy schtick. At some point she and Neville started gently play-fighting on the couch, biting at each others mouths and moving mostly just their heads and necks.
After Ray and Nancy left and Gretchen went off to teach her prison English classes, I was up in my laboratory and then realized that fucking Charlotte had gone out in the road. I told her not to and got her back, but then within minutes a car had come to a stop in the road. She was back at it again! So I brought her into the house and made it so the pet door would only allow creatures to come inside.
The constant mental effort necessary to track what mischief Charlotte might be getting herself into made it difficult to focus on much today. I felt like I wasn't firing on all cylinders. It rather reminded me of the Kurt Vonnegut short story Gretchen told me about called "Harrison Bergeron," in which intelligent people were made "equal" to those of lesser intelligence by having their trains of thought shattered by sharp noises. Fortunately, though, we'd put enough toys out for Charlotte that she only mildly damaged one thing we might care about, a matchbook made by one of our artist friends.
My brother Don down in Virginia called today with the news that a social worker had taken him to see a potential group home where he might end up. He says our mother Hoagie is running out of money staying in the dementia unit at The Retreat near Fishersville and will likely have to sell off the parcel and trailer where Don now lives. This would require Don getting a new place to live. But he found the potential new accommodations grim. He'd be forced to live in a small room (which he then proceeded to describe as being the size of the tiny bedroom we shared as children as if I had forgotten) and he'd have to share it with some rando. What would become of all the books he'd amassed over the years? There would be no place to put them. I agreed that that didn't sound too great. If I'd had more presence of mind, I would've suggested Don transition to buying digital books. But I don't see him getting any satisfaction from those.
I also had a phone chat with my old boss Alex, the guy who got me the job I was laid off from over the summer. He had a somewhat hare-brained software development idea for me, though I'd have to build it on spec (that is, not being paid). That's probably a bad idea, but it might be beneficial to exercise my software development skills more than I have been of late.
In recent weeks, we've been having increasing trouble with out media computer, the one we use to watch videos downloaded via Bittorrent. It runs a minimal installation of Linux called Libreelec and a media interface system called Kodi. I hadn't updated it in years, since it mostly just worked. But perhaps its occasional network reliability issues would be solved with the latest version. So I'd tried installing that. What a mistake that turned out to be! It turns out that Samba, the Linux technology for reading Windows shares across the network (essential for getting the videos we want to watch), runs like complete garbage in the latest version of Libreelec/Kodi. Some people were saying that I should switch to Network File System or a more recent version of Samba, but I was limited to a specific version of Samba because my file server is DD-WRT on a WiFi router. So then I tried a few other Media-PC operating systems, all of which were somehow much worse then Libreelec/Kodi. (There's something called LinHES, for example, and its interface was so slow and terrible that it made me wail tearlessly.) So for x86/x64 (that is Intelesque PCs) running Linux, Libreelec/Kodi really is the only game in town. The key to using it, though, is to avoid the latest version. The version I'd been using for years was 9.2.6, and it looks like I will be sticking with that.
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