Fix this, FedEx

FedEx for some reason has not been honoring my delivery instructions. I sent this to them today:

Good day,

I customized the delivery for the above-referenced tracking number to have the package held with my apartment manager. I was gone all day on the date of delivery, knew I was going to be gone all day, so customized the delivery so that the package — which contained [REDACTED] — could be held safely.

Instead the package was once again left at my front door. Despite “Apartment Office” being set on my profile for the delivery instructions. I even went through additional steps for customizing the reference tracking number and receiving an e-mail confirming the change.

Why are my delivery instructions not being honored? What do I need to do to have it consistently honored?

Share

Marriage can still work

Article: “5 Reasons We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore

Back in 2015, writer Anthony D’Ambrosio penned an article regarding marriage. He gave it a provocative title, which very much over sold the premise therein. The problem today isn’t that marriage doesn’t work, but the landscape has changed so much. Even just through the last 10 years. The trials and tribulations faced by couples today are quite different from in generations past. As an example, previous generations have had access to pornography, just not the instantaneous access that has been available for the last 15 or so years.

But let’s get through his list and find out whether he’s spot on or not.

1. Sex becomes almost non-existent.

Instead, we have sex once every couple weeks, or when it’s time to get pregnant. It becomes this chore. You no longer look at your partner wanting to rip their clothes off, but rather instead, dread the thought. That’s not crazy to you?

From what I could find, the average appears to be several times per month. No two people have sexual desires that line up 100%, and the sexual frequency of one couple may or may not be desirable for another. But what if you feel you’re not getting enough sex? I’ll get to that in a moment.

I also highly doubt that couples today actually “dread the thought” of having sex with their significant other or spouse. Especially taking into account that most couples don’t wait till they are married to have sex. So if they do “dread the thought”, they did so before getting married. Which means they shouldn’t have gotten married.

And any couples that indeed “dread the thought” had better have an open line of communication so they can work out the concern, especially if that concern is because one “let oneself go“.

It’s not just boredom that stops sex from happening. Everywhere you look, there’s pictures of men and women we know half naked — some look better than your husband or wife. So it becomes desirable. It’s in your face every single day and changes your mindset.

There are a number of things that get in the way of intimacy. My wife recently was sick for the better part of a week courtesy of contracting (what we think was) influenza from our niece. There definitely wasn’t any intimacy going with that. Especially since she was staying with said niece and her family at the time, and the influenza extended her stay.

And we’ve had dry spells that seemed to last weeks, and other times we’ve had sex multiple times in a week, sometimes multiple times in a day. In our 30s. It all depends on how things happen.

Obviously there is a problem when sex begins to feel like a chore, where you’re only participating because your partner wants it when you aren’t really into it, regardless of the reason. But it’s a bit of a stretch to call a dry spell “neglecting having sex”. Neglect is not performing when you have a duty and capability. No person has a duty to have sex with their significant other, and no one is entitled to sex merely for being married.

No, seriously, you’re not entitled to it.

Sex is just one part of a relationship, something we are biologically inclined to do, combined with whatever skills we have to make it exciting and pleasurable to each person’s unique… programming.

And ladies, I’ll say this up front as well: never use sex as a reward. No, seriously, don’t do it. Don’t intentionally withhold sex to goad him to do something. Don’t use it as an article of persuasion. And don’t jump to the conclusion that wanting to try something new means he’s unhappy or unsatisfied.

It’s no wonder why insecurities loom so largely these days. You have to be perfect to keep someone attracted to you. Meanwhile, what your lover should really be attracted to is your heart. Maybe if you felt that connection beyond a physical level, would you realize a sexual attraction you’ve never felt before.

And do you know how long it takes to develop that kind of connection? For some, it can happen relatively quick, such as with my wife. For most it can take a while. In some cases it never happens, and those are relationships that should not progress to marriage but too often do.

Insecurities do loom large, but only because people let it happen. And it comes from the false perception of prevalent competition. Modern feminism, hate to say it, plays into this quite a bit. Along with a lot of rhetoric coming out of the social justice crowd — e.g. the “fat acceptance” and “healthy at every size” bullshit. While they won’t flat-out call it competition, the rhetoric plays to that being the thought.

Many times we’ve heard that the prevalence and ready access to online porn is going to destroy sex. Google “porn and sex lives” to find ready hypotheses about how porn will destroy relationships and marriages. While it’s undeniable that it indeed has, to say it’s the cause is a bit of a stretch in my opinion.

Especially since the critique is always levied against men. Never does it seem levied against women who watch porn. And let’s not forget the ready availability of erotica and romance novels that feature guys described like they were chiseled by Aphrodite performing sex acts on women that are physically impossible while reaching her to heights of sexual pleasure beyond the stratosphere. After all, men weren’t the target audience for the Fifty Shades series, and that applies to the movies just as much as the book.

The problem is when a man or woman watches porn as a substitute for being intimate with their partner. Reads romance novels as a substitute for being intimate. Masturbates as a substitute for being intimate. As opposed to also being intimate. Big difference, but one that is often lost or overlooked. Along with, again, the fact that different people have different sexual levels.

Too many people, women primarily, act as if their partner masturbating or watching porn at all means a problem exists, rather than seeing it as the sexual equivalent of snacking between meals. Sure it can become a problem, but it is not one by default. And if one person in the couple is fine with a lesser meal frequency than the other, the other will resort to snacking, especially if the meals aren’t good enough to stave off their… hunger till the next course.

The problem comes when either partner goes elsewhere for the meals because the kitchen at home seems to never be open.

The ready images everywhere reflect we’re no longer a puritanical society that feels the need to hide women (and men, as well) behind garments that leave everything to the imagination. It’s instead all in how we interpret them. And, ironically, they’re being interpreted by a lot of women as “objectification”.

You need not be perfect for your significant other to remain attracted to you. So stop thinking you must. And stop interpreting the ready images around you in that fashion as well. If your husband or boyfriend has a copy of the SI swimsuit edition and you automatically think you must look like the cover girl or he won’t find you attractive anymore, you’re the one with the problem.

And overcoming that requires a healthy dose of regular communication. As well as you getting over yourself.

You need regular communication as well if you feel intimacy is lacking in your relationship. I wrote this in an earlier article in response to a woman who seemed taken aback at her significant other’s idea of role playing with sex:

If you are genuinely unhappy with your sex life, unsatisfied in what you are getting, then dialogue must be opened. After all, your significant other won’t know that you’re unhappy unless you say you are unhappy. And if you are unhappy, there are plenty of suggestions of what can help once the root of the problem is found – which can really only occur with an open dialogue.

2. Finances cripple us

Years ago, it didn’t cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn’t cost $300,000-plus for a home.

It doesn’t cost upwards of $200K for an education even now. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average per-year tuition at a public institution in the United States for the 2014-2015 academic year is about $16 thousand. Not an insignificant sum, and it’s up significantly compared to years past, but certainly not on par with $200 thousand to get a degree. Part of the issue here is the prevalent false belief that you need a college degree to make a decent living in the US.

Homes don’t average $300 thousand either. Here in Kansas City, for under $150 thousand, I can get a decent family size home in a pretty decent part of the city. It all depends on what you’re looking for, and how much you’re willing to spend post-purchase for a fixer. But in most suburban areas, $100 to $125 thousand is about what you should expect for a decent family-size home, with variances based on cost of living and the area where you’re shopping. But $300 thousand isn’t typical in most areas. And if it’s typical in your area, consider moving.

The cost of living was very different than what it is now. You’d be naive to believe this stress doesn’t cause strain on marriages today.

Finances is one of the top-cited reasons for divorce. At the same time, though, it’s typically financial incompatibility that leads to that. But finances getting out of control, typically at the hands of one over the other, can lead to that as well. At the same time the stress that financial difficulties create can develop into the conditions that lead to divorce.

Which is primarily a breakdown of communication. Why do I think that’s going to be a running theme? Perhaps because I’ve brought it up in many of the articles I’ve written on marriage. And once that breakdown occurs, it can be difficult to reverse course, especially if it has already caused damage to the relationship, especially the trust between the couple.

You need to find a job to pay for student loans, a mortgage, utilities, living expenses and a baby. Problem is, it’s extremely difficult to find a job that can provide an income that will help you live comfortably while paying all of these bills — especially not in your mid 20s.

This is so dependent on so many variables as to make it not worth any further consideration.

This strain causes separation between us. It halts us from being able to live life. We’re too busy paying bills to enjoy our youth. Forget going to dinner, you have to pay the mortgage. You’ll have to skip out on an anniversary gift this year because those student loans are due at the end of the month. Vacations? Not happening.

We’re trying to live the way our grandparents and parents did in a world that has put more debt on our plate than ever before. It’s possible, but it puts us in an awful position.

Part of life is being able to live. Not having the finances to do so takes away yet another important aspect of our relationships. It keeps us inside, forced to see the life everyone else is living.

Yes part of life is being able to live. But you need to live within your means and not over-extend yourself. Not doing what I did in my mid to late-20s, fresh out of college, and having more liabilities than annual earnings. Okay, a lot of people live in that situation only because they have a house. I was renting.

And all of that came crashing down when I lost my job.

Be realistic about your situation. Live within your means. It might mean taking a vacation to a small town instead of a big metro. Driving instead of flying. Driving your own vehicle instead of renting. And I’d say to just forget about birthday and anniversary gifts anyway. I’ll just say this: if you think your significant other must buy you something on your birthday, anniversary, or one of the other typical gifting holidays, you need to re-examine your relationship.

3. We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.

I have to agree with the premise in part. Let’s see how he plays it out.

We’ve developed relationships with things, not each other. Ninety-five percent of the personal conversations you have on a daily basis occur through some type of technology. We’ve removed human emotion from our relationships, and we’ve replaced it colorful bubbles.

The digital age is great in so many ways. It’s given us a lot of time back in our day. When I was growing up, talking to someone meant having their phone number, hoping they were home, and taking time out of your day to talk to them while, for the most part, not doing anything else. In part because long distance calls weren’t yet free.

Today you can have a conversation with someone that doesn’t even take place in one consistent block of time. Whether that person is family or friend, or even a complete stranger on a different continent. You can start a conversation today and continue it tomorrow without losing context (mostly), though you do lose the critical non-verbal cues.

It means, largely, that we don’t have to take significant time out of our lives to connect with family and friends. Instead that can happen within the fragmented blocks of time that occur during our day.

Somehow, we’ve learned to get offended by text on a screen, accusing others of being “angry” or “sad” when, in fact, we have no idea what they are feeling. We argue about this — at length.

Again, you lose out on the non-verbal cues when talking online or in any forum that is not face-to-face. This is why “emoticons” were invented very, very early on. The first use of an “emoticon” was actually with Morse Code. And the common smiley and frown emoticons date to 1982 with noted computer scientist Scott Fahlman.

We’ve forgotten how to communicate yet expect healthy marriages. How is it possible to grow and mature together if we barely speak?

Actually we have’t forgotten how to communicate. Instead the mode of common communication has changed, and some are just slow to adapt. It’s possible to have healthy conversations without ever speaking a word through mouth. Indeed our predecessors have done so via letter, and would likely be quite surprised at the speed at which even that kind of communication can occur today.

Instead we reserve our closest relationships to those we have more in-person. Meaning that the person you marry is hopefully someone who will speak to you predominantly face to face instead of predominantly via keypresses.

Years ago, my grandmother wouldn’t hear from my grandfather all day; he was working down at the piers in Brooklyn. But today, if someone doesn’t text you back within 30 minutes, they’re suddenly cheating on you.

Few will automatically conclude infidelity if their significant other doesn’t text back within minutes. And if you are someone who genuinely jumps to infidelity when they don’t respond to your text in what you felt was an “appropriate” amount of time, seek help. Please.

You want to know why your grandmother and grandfather just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary? Because they weren’t scrolling through Instagram worrying about what John ate for dinner. They weren’t on Facebook criticizing others. They weren’t on vacation sending Snapchats to their friends.

No.

They were too preoccupied loving and respecting one another. They were talking to each other at dinner, walking with each other holding hands instead of their phones. They weren’t distracted by everything around them. They had dreams and chased them together.

Actually they were preoccupied with living their lives, since that actually took a significant amount of time during the day. Because they didn’t have the modern conveniences that free up so much time to do other things. While we have automatic dishwashers and clothing washers and driers, they were washing dishes and clothing by hand. Advances in food storage and preservation allow us to buy food in bulk and have it last instead of buying one or two days worth because you have to use it quickly. Advances in food preparation and sanitation allow for significant time savings in preparing better meals with a much better degree of safety.

That’s a significant amount of time saved by modern technology and convenience.

Granted with the advances in technology have come a lot of negatives. But the return of significant amounts of time to your day is certainly NOT one of those negatives. It is one of the ways that the first world is very wealthy, and the major indicator that trickle-down economics does work, and capitalism makes everyone better off.

Add into this the fact that our predecessors were also having many more children with the hope that some would make it to adulthood while praying an outbreak didn’t wipe out your entire family. And even with older children helping out, that still takes a significant amount of time out of your day, especially when combined with the household realities of the era and how much time it took to cook meals, clean, and just acquire what you need.

We’re largely not used to that kind of time being available to us. Biologically we aren’t used to being able to sit around and watch television or movies or play games for hours on end. Just as our bodies haven’t adapted to the fact that food is readily available (at least in the first world) with a good nutritional and caloric density, our minds haven’t adapted to this huge availability of time courtesy of modern efficiency and convenience.

Combine modern convenience giving us so much time in our day with ready foods giving a high caloric density, and that pretty much explains the obesity epidemic.

4. Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved.

The premise here is a little faulty. It isn’t that a desire for attention outweighs a desire to be loved. Many, instead, mistake that attention for love.

But [Marilyn Monroe] was a celebrity. And in order to be a successful one, she had to keep all eyes on her. Same holds true for celebrities today. They have to stay in the spotlight or their fame runs out, and they get replaced by the next best thing.

Not always.

The successful celebrities are those who are able to remain famous even after they’ve left the spotlight — e.g. Sean Connery. Or even long after they’ve died — e.g. the aforementioned Marilyn Monroe. The formula varies from one to another, and what works for some won’t work for others. While there are some overlapping elements, each does what they can to maintain their fame. Provided they want it.

Indeed some of the more infamous in recent history arguably didn’t want the fame that came to them. George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony are ready examples, from what I’ve seen. And some of those who’ve been the subjects of various memes also didn’t want that fame.

Social media, however, has given everyone an opportunity to be famous. Attention you couldn’t dream of getting unless you were celebrity is now a selfie away. Post a picture, and thousands of strangers will like it. Wear less clothing, and guess what? More likes.

Apparently lost on the author is the concept of the “fifteen minutes of fame”. While it is far easier today to gain instant fame, whether you want it or not, it is also far more difficult to keep it. Because there is far, far more competition for any spotlight you gain than ever before. This means that you need to go a bit more out of your way to keep any fame you gain, provided you feel it’s worth the effort.

At the same time, that ready competition means the ready desire to judge yourself against others, and others against you, in various means that extend well beyond looks. And that’s largely not healthy.

If you want to love someone, stop seeking attention from everyone because you’ll never be satisfied with the attention from one person.

Same holds true for love.

Love is supposed to be sacred. You can’t love someone when you’re preoccupied with worrying about what others think of you. Whether it be posting pictures on social media, buying homes to compete with others or going on lavish vacations — none of it matters.

And apparently also lost on the author is “keeping up with the Jones’s“. Arguably the only thing that’s different today than 100 years ago when the phrase was coined is who your neighbors are. It’s more than just your literal neighbors, as now your competition has increased to pretty much the entire first world. Only because you’ve let it.

And again, this is certainly not healthy.

5. Social media has invited a few thousand people into bed with you.

What the author has to say with this item is mostly spot on.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing moments of your life. I do it myself. But where do we draw the line? When does it become too much?

Since the introduction of Myspace and later Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, many have used these platforms to share things about their lives. Certainly sharing moments of your life isn’t a problem unto itself. It’s when you go overboard. Security risks aside, much of this sharing is certainly out of a desire for attention, to see how popular one can get online.

Indeed I know people who have enormous connections lists on Facebook. And I doubt highly that those connections are people they have actually met in real life. In my case, I have only two connections on my Facebook profile that I have not actually met in real life. But it is not correct to say I don’t know those two connections. But how many of the connections on your Facebook profile can you say you actually know.

And this is part of the problem: the fact that people are sharing more and more about their lives with people they barely or don’t know. Again, security risks aside, this is really no better than shouting in the public square everything about yourself, basically putting your life out in plain sight. All out of an implicit need to compete.

Would you show complete strangers on the sidewalk pictures of your children? No? Then why are you doing essentially the same thing online? The only thing that’s different is the sidewalk. At least on the public sidewalk you have some control over who immediately sees the pictures. Unless you’re taking advantage of the privacy settings in your social platform of choice, you don’t have nearly as much control. Especially since whatever you post online can be readily downloaded and shared elsewhere without your knowledge or approval — e.g. the individuals who’ve become the subjects behind Internet memes.

We’ve invited strangers into our homes and brought them on dates with us. We’ve shown them our wardrobe, drove with them in our cars, and we even showed them our bathing suits. Might as well pack them a suitcase, too.

The worst part about all this? It’s only going to get worse.

A cursory glance at the publicly-posted media and information on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and the like shows this to be true.

The ever-present feeling of competition with others being only a click away is a challenge not previously faced by previous generations. Only because couples today are making it a challenge.

Perhaps envy is in our genes.

Marriage is sacred. It is the most beautiful sacrament and has tremendous promise for those fortunate enough to experience it.

No, marriage isn’t sacred. And people really need to stop believing it is. Because by believing marriage is sacred, whether a sacrament of God or what have you, you are establishing expectations and restrictions over your relationship and marriage. Marriage isn’t anything magical or sacred. It isn’t a fairy tale.

It’s a piece of paper and vows. Two people who, hopefully, already are committed to each other tying themselves together with legal rope. Nothing more. And we really need to stop acting as if it is anything more.

Share

Desert Sapphire – one year later

My wife and I drove out to the Las Vegas metro to revisit Desert Sapphire, the custom external water cooled build that I built for a friend of my wife’s. The system was due for maintenance, and as the owner doesn’t know how to maintain the loop, I declared a vacation at work to drive out.

I expected to be driving out to flush the loop, change out the soft tubing, and fill it with fresh coolant. That’s not exactly what ended up happening.

Green tubing?

I expected to be replacing the soft tubing. I didn’t expect to find this.

How exactly does Tygon tubing turn green when you’re using a coolant with an anti-corrosive and anti-microbial? And it’s hard to tell if this is green from chlorophyll or copper. Looking at pictures of copper patinas, I’m leaning toward the latter. Either way, it means the coolant should’ve been changed a lot sooner than this. The tubing was also strangely softer than before.

I stopped using Tygon not long after Desert Sapphire was done simply because it seemed to lose its “softness” too quickly. I’ve instead swapped to exclusively using PrimoChill’s soft tubing.

So that was used this round. PrimoChill Primoflex Advanced LRT. UV Blue. I intended to use clear tubing, but couldn’t get ahold of it in time. I naively thought Micro Center would have it in stock, and an earlier order to Performance PCs didn’t include it either since I, again, naively thought I’d be able to get it at Micro Center. And I didn’t think the Performance PCs order would ship and arrive before departing for Las Vegas.

But the coolant is staying the same. Everything else is staying the same on the system. This revisit was about maintenance, not upgrades.

Tearing down and rebuilding

So tearing the system down was relatively straightforward. As was draining it. I’ve had a lot of practice courtesy of having my own external water cooling setup.

I decided to not do the external setup this time, instead moving everything internal. Given the temperatures, I didn’t think it to be much of a risk. The power supply, however, meant there wouldn’t be room for a lower radiator like in Absinthe. Instead there was room only for a front and top.

And rather than use a double-120mm radiator on the top, I paid a visit to OutletPC to acquire a triple-120mm radiator. Specifically the XS-PC EX360. The same radiator I used in my radiator box. Along with a few more fittings.

This setup takes him from 6x120mm to 5x120mm, which is still overkill for an i7-5820k and a GTX 980. Heck just the triple-120mm would likely be overkill.

I used 30lb Gorilla tape to stick the pump to the bottom of the chassis. The rest was just a straightforward water cooling loop. Which given what I’ve done with Absinthe and Mira, and what I originally built as Desert Sapphire, that’s certainly unusual.

Now the chassis also doesn’t look so barren. At least there’s something filling in the space between the mainboard and front panel, even if it’s just the reservoir and pump.

Share

Another pass by Mira – V

In looking at the article hits, I’m now leaning toward creating a couple project summary articles, basically TL;DR versions of the build logs I have.

First though is a revisit of Mira and the radiator box system I have. Mainly I was concerned with creating a different method for hooking up the tubing at the same time I was replacing the tubing. I didn’t want long pieces of tubing snaking over to the radiator box, but something a little more… direct.

Recall that the inspiration for this project is AntVenom’s video regarding his basement water cooling project. In that project, he ran the coolant (just plain distilled water with copper sulfate) through two long copper pipes into his basement.

I live in an apartment, so I obviously can’t do what he did. But I can take the concepts and still apply them. First a parts layout (with Home Depot item numbers):

  • 2 x ½” Type M copper pipe – 24″ (311316)
  • 4 x SharkBite ½” push-to-connect to ½” FIP drop-ear elbows (300833)
  • #10×1″ wood screws to secure elbow fittings
  • 4 x ½” MIP to ⅜” barb (149408)

I want the external tubing out of the way of the power cables, primarily, since the previous setup had them crossing over both power cables.

So why not just use longer lengths of tubing? Where’s the fun in that? In all seriousness, this is a much more direct solution to the concern without having something else that needs to be tied away. Sure it would’ve been less expensive to use tubing and just have pipe hangers tying them down.

But it would’ve used a lot of tubing as well. As it stands, I went through about more than half a 10′ coil of PrimoChill Primoflex Advanced LRT with all the tubing in this setup. Including the tubing inside the radiator box and H440. Trying to use tubing for all of it, in place of the copper pipes andlong enough I could tie it out of the way, likely would’ve used all of a 10′ coil, if not more. And that tubing isn’t cheap — 27 USD for 10′ online, 32 USD at my local Micro Center.

Plus I kind of like showing what can be done with water cooling.

The screw mounts are one nice feature of drop-ear elbow fittings. On these fittings specifically, they’re large enough for a #10 wood or machine screw. No need for additional pipe mount brackets. Just two of those for each pipe, plus two barbs.

I could easily see this setup with longer pipes to relocate the radiator box away from the H440. Such as below it. Having the H440 sitting on top of my desk with the the radiator box sitting on a small table or apparatus below my desk. The only concern there would be whether the D5 Vario could handle that setup. And I doubt it. But stronger pumps exist: D5 Strong, and the PMP-420 or PMP-500 from Koolance.

But there’s still more to come!

In the latest iteration, I added a temperature probe to the return line on the top radiator. This probe is from an XS-PC temperature display combination, and is by coincidence in an XS-PC T-fitting I’ve had for a while. I don’t have it connected yet as I have no way of mounting it in the radiator box. Plus it runs on the 5V line on a standard 4-pin Molex, and the power brick only supplies 12V. So I need another voltage converter. And some means of connecting all of that up.

I’ll be having the plate to mount the display custom cut likely via Ponoko. I’ll have it cut for two displays, one for the return from the system and the other for the return from the radiator.

Overclocking the CPU

On the Sabertooth X99, I had the BIOS “auto-overclock” the CPU using the TPU feature. Specifically I set it to “TPU II”, which set the boost to 4.1GHz (originally 3.6GHz). For coolant in the system, I’m using distilled water treated with PrimoChill’s Liquid Utopia, which comes with the retail packaging of the PrimoChill Advanced LRT tubing.

Under load with another Handbrake encoding, the CPU topped out at 57°C on the hottest core, but typically held steady a few degrees lower. Running a combined Furmark with Handbrake, the CPU got up near 60°C during that test but didn’t touch it, while the GPU never went above 38°C.

  • Unigine Valley (Extreme HD): 4326 [4239]
  • Unigine Heaven (1080p, everything maxed): 2612 [2612]
  • 3DMark Firestrike: 16936 [16461], Graphics: 20101 [20109]
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 40476 [38902], Graphics: 66493 [66747]
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 36567 [33628], Graphics: 129069 [129349]

Original benchmarks in blue. The graphics scores on 3DMark were within margin of error over previous scores. The Heaven score is identical to previous, but that’s due to Heaven not being very CPU bound. I observed such when running it after upgrading to the X99 platform while retaining my GTX 770s. All other scores saw a boost.

I could probably overclock it beyond 4.1GHz. But that would also raise the temperatures, likely well into the 60sC. Which would push me to up the pump and fan speeds to compensate. Which would add noise to what I intend to be a quiet, yet high performing setup.

Share

10 gigabit home network – Summary

If you want to bring 10GbE into your home network, and keep it on a low budget, you really don’t need all that much.

First question to ask: how many computers are you connecting together? If you’re wanting to connect just two systems, you need just two network interface cards and a cable to connect them. Any more than that and you’ll need a switch.

Network interface cards (NICs)

eBay is where you’ll find the NICs for very cheap. Most of the surplus cards available are Mellanox. But you need to be a little careful about what cards you buy. Some part numbers may give you trouble, as these are rebranded cards even though they have the Mellanox chipset. Stick to Mellanox part numbers where you can.

For single-port Mellanox 10GbE cards, look for part number MNPA19-XTR. I’ve had good luck with Part No. 81Y1541, which is an IBM rebrand, I believe.

Mellanox cards are not supported under FreeBSD as of when I write this. So if one of your target upgrades is a FreeNAS system, look instead for the Chelsio S320 or S310. The S320 is basically a dual-port S310. And from my experience you’ll have better luck finding the S320.

One other thing to bear in mind as well: single-port cards require an available PCI-Express 2.0 slot running at x4 or better. The Chelsio S310 and S320 are PCI-Express 1.0a cards, and require a slot running at x8 or better.

Cables and transceivers

You basically have just two options here: direct-attached copper and optical fiber. While most videos and articles on this push you toward direct-attached copper (and some eBay listings for NICs include one), consider optical fiber instead. It’s just better in many regards. And if you want to connect systems that are more than 10m apart (by cable distance, not linear distance), it’s pretty much your only option.

You’ll need 10GBase-SR transceivers, two for each cable. You can find these on eBay as well, and some SFP+ cards listed may come with one already. These transceivers use LC-to-LC duplex optical fiber. I’ll provide parts options below.

Switch

Right now you can find a good SFP+ 10GbE switch on eBay: Quanta LB6M. It runs for 250 USD or less, with varying shipping cost depending on seller. This is really the only inexpensive 10GbE switch available on the market from what I’ve found. Brand new, other 10GbE SFP+ switches start at around 750 USD.

My setup

I have four systems connected to a 10GbE network: Absinthe, Mira, Nasira, and my Z600 virtualization server.

I use 30m cables to connect Absinthe and Mira to the switch. Nasira and the Z600 use only 1m cables.

Purchase options

If you have any questions about parts or 10GbE in general, leave a comment below.

Share

All whites are racist

On Facebook you’ve probably seen floating around a list of how Trump is making America great again. The list is kind of tongue-in-cheek, and asserts that the discontent for Trump will lead people to being more politically active. I did take issue with several of the points, however, and left this comment when a connection “shared” it:

A lot of these points are misrepresentations. There are still massive misconceptions to how the Federal government works. Racism isn’t dead, but it’s level is extremely exaggerated to where “all white people are racist”. The ACA is a lot more than insurance. People still don’t understand the totality of how Hitler rose to power, only bullet points made by people with agendas. Many words have completely lost their meaning and punch from overuse and misdefinition.

Another connection to that connection challenged me:

I’m curious where you are reading that “all white people are racist” because I haven’t heard anybody making that statement.

After a couple additional comments, I offered to provide references when I had a chance, and this also gives me a chance to determine just how widespread that idea has become. Or at least gain an idea since I’m not about to comb through all of Google’s search results.

I first encountered the “All whites are racist” sentiment several years ago, though I can’t recall where. At that time, one could rightly call it “fringe” and “radical”. But it was gaining traction even then. My first encounter with that came not long after my first encounters with identity politics within atheist circles, the zenith of which can be traced back to “Elevatorgate”.

So how widespread is the belief that all whites are racist? Let’s start with a Google search of the phrase “all whites are racist” (without quotes). Google Trends shows interest peaked in mid-October last year, around the same time that a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison started a shop on Etsy to sell hoodies, one of which had the phrase “All White People Are Racist”.

I’ll limit what I provide here to just the United States.

On October 14, KFOR-4, the NBC affiliate out of Oklahoma City published an article in which a Norman, OK, teacher said during a lecture “To be white is to be racist, period.” The incident was picked up by other media sources around the country.

On June 8, 2016, United Church of Christ published an article on “white privilege” which said of whites, “Recognize that you’re still racist. No matter what.” Around that same time, Media For Justice posted an article also saying, plainly, “All whites are racist.

At Pomona College in Claremont, California, a poster was raised called “How to be a White Ally” that said, “Understand that you are white, so it is inevitable that you have unconsciously learned racism. Your unearned advantage must be acknowledged and your racism unlearned.”

Going back further to January 2015, AlterNet also published an article with the blatant headline, “Yes, All White People Are Racists — Now Let’s Do Something About It“. In March 2015, a Michigan blog called “State of Opportunity” wrote an article with the headline “Why all white people are racist, but can’t handle being called racist: the theory or white fragility“. It was espoused by a State Senator in Nebraska. Jennifer Morber of Quartz said that science says whites are “probably racist”.

And it’s even graced the New York Times. So the idea is definitely widespread, and likely gaining further ground.

So what is going on behind all of this? Why are all whites suddenly being labeled “racists”, even if individual whites have never had a racist thought to their recollection?

It comes in part from racism being redefined by the hard left. The dictionary defines racism two ways. The first evokes images of the KKK and Nazi Germany: “hatred or intolerance of another race or races”. The second is a little more elaborate:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

But that’s not how it’s being used anymore. Instead bigotry in general is being defined as “prejudice plus power”. The “power” component is what is key. And that definition is being used to shelter minorities and women from accusations of racism and sexism, respectively. That women by definition cannot be sexist due to “patriarchy”, and blacks cannot be racist by definition because of… slavery and segregation.

On YouTube, Roaming Millennial has a good overview and rebuttal to that concept:

Speaking of YouTube, that is easily where the idea that all whites are racist is gaining the greatest amount of ground. Indeed one of the more recent examples was with MTV and their video “Dear White Guys” (since taken down, mirror available here), in which one actor says quite clearly, “And just because you have black friends doesn’t mean you’re not racist. You can be racist with black friends!” Ugh…

But the idea isn’t new. And according to the National Association of Scholars, the twin ideas of “all whites are racist” and “only whites can be racist” can be traced to the University of Delaware in 2007, but the idea of explicitly excluding blacks from the definition of racism goes back further.

So I think that’s all I really need to show here. I think I’ve established that the idea is taken seriously by a not-insignificant number of people.

Share

Another pass by Mira – IV

Last we left off, I said I was going to change out the pump and make some other modifications to the radiator box. One of the modifications includes a more stable reservoir mount:

Full disclosure: I support Singularity Computers through their Patreon.

I purchased this initially for a large distributed computing build. But since that project is going in a different direction, I thought it’d be best instead to use this mount here in the radiator box. It’ll be a hell of a lot more stable than trying to use the standard EK reservoir mount with UN Z2 brackets. And it’ll look better as well.

Plus the silicon inserts will help prevent some vibration transfer to the chassis. And the use of additional silicon washers between the mount and radiators should damp it further. In the previous iteration I mentioned vibration transfer from the pump to the reservoir.

I swapped the Koolance D5 Strong (PMP-450S) for the Koolance D5 Vario (PMP-450) in the same housing. Virtually everything else remained the same in the radiator box. For now at least. I was only concerned at this point with getting the pump swapped. I made the reservoir mount swap simply because I needed to disassemble the setup when another EK fitting decided to leak. More on that later.

I set the pump at level 3 running at 12V and turned the fans up to 7.5V. And it runs very quiet, virtually inaudible sitting not even a yard from it.

As expected there was vibration transfer from the pump to the bottom panel, but it is significantly reduced from the D5 Strong and didn’t radiate out to the edges of the panel and to the sides of the box. Overall definitely a win.

Temperature testing

Ambient temperature was 76°F (24.4°C). Coolant was distilled water with a few drops of copper sulfate.

For the GTX 1070, the power target was maxed out in EVGA Precision XOC but the clocks not modified. I again ran Furmark for 30 minutes. Temperatures touched 38°C, but held steady at 37°C. This is only a touch warmer than with the D5 Strong at 12V. Before swapping the pump, I actually spent a day the previous weekend playing Doom (2016). The graphics card never hit 40°C, and the game was running for, easily, nearly 10 hours straight when accounting for breaks (the pause menu isn’t exactly stressful).

So this gives me reason to believe I can do something like that again.

For the CPU test, I again ran a Handbrake video conversion that lasted over 20 minutes. The hottest core touched at 45°C, as did the package temperature. Like the previous test, none of the cores held at their max temperature, instead holding around 40°C or 41°C. Occasionally touching a couple degrees higher, but never for long. So the temperatures on the CPU were a few degrees higher than with the D5 Strong.

So overall, as expected, the temperatures were a little higher than with the D5 Strong. But the Vario is noticeably quieter than the Strong, especially at level 3, which is about middle on strength with the pump.

Overclocking

To overclock the graphics card, I set EVGA’s Precision XOC to a manual voltage/frequency curve and had it auto-detect. This allowed for a boost clock of 2126 MHz, a nice boost over the original boost clock of 1987 MHz (advertised boost clock for this card is 1784 MHz). I added 500MHz to the memory after getting driver crashes at 550MHz. I’m not interested in dialing it in any further.

Previous benchmark scores without the overclock are in blue. During benchmark testing, the core temperature never reached 40°C.

  • Unigine Heaven (1080p, everything maxed): 2612 [2428]
  • Unigine Valley (Extreme HD): 4239 [3909]
  • 3DMark Fire Strike: 16461 [15780], Graphics: 20109 [18942]
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 38902 [38362], Graphics: 66747 [63835]
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 33628 [33322], Graphics: 129349 [121253]

I’ll look at overclocking the CPU later to see how far I can go and how the temperatures look. Currently it typically sits at a clock speed of 3.6GHz.

Coming soon…

About the only thing really left to do is change out the tubing and perhaps some better cable management. Along with probably figuring out a way to mount bulkhead fittings in the H440.

I’m also not too thrilled with the fitting arrangement between the radiators. In taking the radiator box apart to change out the reservoir mount and pump, another of the EK fittings sprung a leak on the rotary assembly. I had a spare on hand (I bought two the last time this happened in case I needed to replace both at that time) so I didn’t need to make an emergency trip to Micro Center.

In swapping out the fittings, I made sure this time to not make the same mistake. I left loose the sealing collar on the SLI fittings until I had the radiator panel installed. This should avoid any potential stress on the rotary fittings that led to two of them leaking.

I want a better option.

The only better option, though, is a circular tubing bend. The diagram for the radiator puts the fittings at 15mm plus the distance between the fan screws. Which on the panel that distance would be 30mm. So 45mm (~1.75 in) between the fittings on center. I have a tubing bender for copper, but that has a center-line radius of 38mm, meaning a 180 bend center-line bend diameter of ~76mm (3 in).

So like a lot of this project, my option appears to be… going custom.

And this is in part the fault of the radiators I selected. In doing some math on the AlphaCool ST30 (of which I have two triple-120mm sitting around), the center distance between the fittings would be a hair over 2″. But I have another option that could prove fruitful that I’ll look to later.

Share

Impeachment is NOT a political tool

From the Constitution of the United States at Article II, Section 4:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

So far there have been only two Presidents subjected to impeachment: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Johnson was impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act, which was a law passed against Johnson’s veto to ensure that Republican allies stayed on the President’s Cabinet and attempted to limit his ability to remove those officers. Clinton was impeached on several counts related to his deposition during the Paula Jones lawsuit, including perjury which is a felony practically everywhere in the United States.

Yet before Trump was even sworn in, many were considering impeachment as a means of getting him out of power quickly. Not for anything he actually did, but only because Democrats didn’t want him in office. In other words, it was little more than a political hissy-fit by those who didn’t like the fact their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost.

On Facebook I left this observation a few days before Trump’s inauguration:

Impeachment is supposed to be for “high crimes and misdemeanors” committed while in office. And while the definition of that rests with the House of Representatives, it’s not a power to be thrown around just because. It doesn’t matter if Pence is favored by Republicans. They’d be risking losing their majorities if they just willy-nilly impeached Trump the moment he stepped into office.

Democrats are looking for any way to keep the will of the States from becoming reality. They tried lobbying the electors, and that didn’t work. They tried objecting to the electoral college count, and that failed. Democrats, specifically Maxine Waters, are the ones leading the calls for impeachment. It’s a last ditch effort, the Hail Mary play from the opposing goal line, the long bomb thrown out of the end zone. Impeach him before he has any chance to do anything.

Impeaching the President of the United States is a serious matter. And is to be used for serious matters. That is why the language of the Constitution says “high crimes and misdemeanors”. In other words, the President should only be impeached for demonstrated violations of the law. And impeachment being brought up with Trump before he was even inaugurated shows that, at least to Democrats, impeachment is a political tool.

But then the left has been screaming “impeachment” ever since Clinton was actually impeached. They screamed it with Bush, so no surprise they’re now screaming it with Trump.

Again, though, impeachment is not a political tool. It is a serious tool for serious matters, and should only be used for serious matters. Johnson was impeached because he was continually interfering with the Republican-led Congress, and his alleged violation of the Tenure of Office Act gave them what they needed to impeach him. Johnson had he highest veto percentage and highest veto override percentage as well. And with Bush, it seemed every little thing he did or said should’ve resulted in impeachment articles according to Democrats.

And now with Trump, apparently the mere fact he won the White House is an impeachable offense.

Share

Adjusting the recipe

Bitfenix specifications for the Spectre Pro place them at the upper-end of what would be considered silent. They’re rated 18.9 dB(A) for the 120mm, 22.8 db(A) for the 140mm. Put six (6) of the 120mm and three (3) of the 140mm in a full tower chassis with radiators, sit only a couple meters or less from it, and they are noticeably loud. A little north of 30 dB(A) if my calculations are correct, not including turbulence from the radiators.

I knew this from my previous personal build, Beta Orionis (β Ori). That system featured a water-cool assembly with copper tubing also using Bitfenix Spectre Pro fans. Though the fans were easily drowned out by my headphones.

But I wanted to quiet the system. At the time, the only reasonable option I had was undervolting them — running them at less than 12V — and I bought an inexpensive circuit board for that purpose. Hovering the fans at around 9V allowed the system to run virtually inaudible, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the temperatures.

And the pursuit of a quiet build led me to building an external radiator box. I’m very nearly there.

In a recent, now abandoned project, I discovered 120mm fans with specifications very similar to the Bitfenix Spectre Pro with two exceptions: slightly better airflow and reduced noise. The Nanoxia Deep Silence 120mm fans are the quietest 120mm fans I found that still provide 60 CFM. The 1300RPM 120mm fans are rated at 14.2 dB(A), and the 1100RPM 140mm fans are rated at 14.4 db(A). Having a not-insignificant number of these fans still won’t be whisper quiet, but they’ll be significantly quieter than the Bitfenix fans.

The two fans on the bottom radiator were not replaced as doing so would require draining and partly dismantling the plumbing. And I forgot to order one additional fan to replace the fan in the drive bays. That will come later, and the bottom fans will be replaced at the next loop maintenance.

Share

Rack mount HDD enclosure — final and retrospective

Since the articles for this project are still getting hits, I figured it’s time to follow-up and talk about what ultimately happened with this project.

In short: nothing really happened with it. I’m not sure if it was the SATA port multiplier, or the eSATA controller or cable, but for some reason it just didn’t want to stay stable.

But I did keep to using an external eSATA hard drive as my primary drive instead of relying on something inside the case. This was in part due to the amount of water-cooling that was inside the chassis, the Corsair Obsidian 750D.

So ultimately I gave up on this project. There were too many additional complicating factors that, conspiring together, would not allow this project to function the way I hoped. The last update to this project was posted almost 2 years ago. The four WD Blue 1TB hard drives are now inside my primary system, in a chassis that properly supports a multi-HDD setup: the NZXT H440. The 60mm Noctua fans were moved to other systems, including a NAS I built into a 3U chassis.

And the custom chassis currently sits around empty while I decide what to do with it. I have a couple ideas in mind, and I might see if Protocase can cut just a new front and back for this for when I do repurpose it.

In short this project turned out to be an exercise in overthinking with heavy doses of inadequate research and consideration for other options. A heavy desire to do something custom overrode any consideration for whether that was the best course.

Back to the beginning

The path to this project started with an experiment on whether an external eSATA enclosure could be used as a boot device. I had little reason to think it wouldn’t work, but I couldn’t find an answer to the question by anyone who’d actually done it. I speculated that no one considered trying it or those who did just never wrote about it. And it worked.

Not too long thereafter, I ordered an external RAID 1 enclosure for Absinthe. That freed up a ton of space inside the case and made cable management significantly easier. Absinthe has since been upgraded a few times and uses an M.2 SSD as its primary storage, requiring no cables. The external enclosure is currently unused, but that might change soon to give my wife an alternative for storing her games library.

As I’ve said before, the only way to make cable management easier is by reducing cable bulk in the case.

It did not come without trade-offs. As I mentioned in the article I wrote on it, you are moving cable bulk from inside to outside your system. You’re still reducing it, as you need only one data and power cable, whereas inside the case you needed one data cable per drive and at least one power harness.

The enclosure I bought for my system (not Absinthe) was somewhat problematic. In the aim of moving toward a more robust solution, I purchased two additional single-drive external enclosures to set up in RAID 1 through the SIIG SATA RAID card I had. From observations, I speculated doing that with 4 drives in a RAID 10, but I didn’t want 4 individual external enclosures. I needed to consolidate it to one to keep the cable bulk on the desk to a minimum.

There are 4-drive cabinets available, including a 4-drive version of the RAID cabinet I bought for my wife, but I also decided I wanted to do something custom. Not really for any particular reason,  but kind of just for the hell of it.

Rack mounting

The main benefit of rack mounting hardware is consolidation. In one cabinet of however many rack units of height, you can have several systems all together in one vertical space, with a PDU or surge suppressor powering all of it.

Prior to the this project, my storage requirements were quite simple: RAID 1. 1TB hard drives are dirt cheap, and 1TB is more storage than most realistically need for a typical computer (I realize requirements do vary). My wife’s system has seen too many hard drives die from unusual circumstances that I wanted to take precautions such that should that occur again, I’d at least be able to recover her system without having to go through hours of reinstalling the OS, drivers and other things, along with days of her reinstalling her games and other stuff. RAID 1 was the easiest solution: two drives that are mirrored.

Again, though, the prices of HDDs didn’t escape my notice, so I decided to up the ante for my system by bumping up to RAID 10, which is two RAID 1 arrays with a RAID 0 running across those (image from Wikipedia):

RAID 10

This provides throughput second only to RAID 0, while adding the redundancy of RAID 1, and is recommended over RAID 5 as well due to the increased robustness of the array, among other reasons.

But then, how to house it? I didn’t want to buy or build a 4-drive cabinet for all of this, though I easily could have. I just really wanted to so something custom, so I started researching ideas. I kind of felt like Adam Savage when he talked about all of the research he did with regard to the Dodo that eventually culminated in him creating a Dodo skeleton purely from his research and notes.

The fact I was now starting to delve heavily into rack mount projects and enclosures also pushed me in that direction, mainly because there wasn’t much available for a 19″ rack that met my requirements at the time I started the project (late 2014 into 2015). While trying to figure out what I needed to go custom, I kept looking for available options, because there’s no point recreating what someone else has already done.

Since then, I’ve built a NAS, and that project illuminated a few potential options I didn’t previously consider.

The end result

So back to the original question: was it worth it? That depends on how you measure. I learned a lot going through all of this. I discovered a few things I didn’t know were available.

But the aftermath of a project is what allows you to discover whether you were overthinking things compared to your other options. And in that, I’d have to say the project actually was not worth the time and money spent.

The actual quote for just the enclosure at the time of the order was $355 according to Protocase. I got lucky in that I got an erroneous quote during a glitch in their system, so was able to get mine cut and shipped for a little under $200. One thing that might have cut down on overall expense would’ve been using essentially creating a mesh layout, but that probably would’ve increased the cost of the enclosure by more than the cost of the 60mm fans due to the extra machine time that would’ve been needed. A couple giant cutouts in which you’d install mesh of your own would likely be much better if you don’t want the fans.

So for $355, what is available off the shelf? A lot.

While designing the enclosure, I still kept a watch out for something suitable. I discovered two enclosures that would’ve been perfect but due to availability: Addonics R14ES and R1R2ES. Both were priced at under $300 and came with the interface card, fans and power supply.

One item I pointed out earlier was the 4-drive 1U rack mount enclosure by iStarUSA that is currently available through Amazon for around $300. It also comes with a power supply and fans (only 2x40mm in the rear). I’d need to add the port multiplier and SATA cables. The Addonics and iStarUSA enclosures also allow for easy hot-swap.

So in the end, I continued with the custom enclosure only due to a glitch in their system. Protocase very easily could’ve decided to not honor the price I was quoted — in which case you would’ve read about it here.

But beyond that, your better off looking for something off the shelf that can be used outright or adapted rather than going with something custom. If you don’t want to go with the iStarUSA chassis listed above or any other iStarUSA option, you can find a used rack chassis and adapt that. If you need it for desktop use instead of a rack, find a chassis with removable ears. Then just add hot-swap bays (optional), a port multiplier, and a power supply.

Basically as I’ve said in another build log, exhaust off-the-shelf options before going custom. And to be ready to abandon your custom option if a better off-the-shelf option presents itself.

Again, this project was an exercise in overthinking and inadequate research and consideration.

Share