Igor Bubelov
About Blog Notes Photos

December 2021

Notes ยท Jan 3, 2022

Table of Contents

Road Trips

I was never a car guy, but I’m starting to enjoy some aspects of car ownership, such as being able to have long car trips with reasonable comfort. The comfort thing required some adjustments like installing a tonneau cover and finding a way to keep my food and drinks cold. There a plenty of car fridges on the market, but they tend to be either bad or expensive. The one I was recommended to buy is currently priced at almost $2,000. That’s a good motivation to look for the alternative and cheaper options, such as portable cooler boxes. I must admit, I didn’t have high expectations when I ordered a $100 locally produced cooler box, but this thing actually works, and it works surprisingly well. It can keep stuff cool for a few days while laying in the back of a truck driving in a tropical climate. It looks like Some road trip comforts can be pretty cheap.

Vineyards in Thailand

I like drinking vine occasionally, although I usually drink beer. There are a few decent breweries in Thailand, but I didn’t really expect to stumble on a vineyard here, which is exactly what happened a few days ago.

Illustration

It’s not a big vineyard, but it’s in operation for more than 20 years already, and it looks like it’s totally possible to make a good vine in tropics. I liked the vine selection enough to order a couple of bottles.

Illustration

Those grapes will be ripe in February, but no one really knows how long the plant will last. In Europe, grape can easily live for over a hundred years, but we don’t really have any data for Thailand.

Moderna

Finally, I was able to get my first Moderna shot. There were a few side effects, but nothing serious so far. Finding a second shot will be quite an adventure, maybe I will need to go to another city or buy someone else’s place in a queue.

Mechanical Keyboards

We can’t really take it for granted that market forces will always improve the quality of every product. There is a compromise to be made between product price and product quality, and that’s exactly what happened with keyboards. My first PC was a Pentium 4 with a Genius keyboard. They served me well for many years, and it kind of became a baseline for evaluating all computers and peripherals in the future. Newer CPUs were always better, SSDs felt like magic compared to HDDs, GPUs kept improving. We had a lot of incremental improvements pretty much everywhere.

The keyboards didn’t change that much though, and it’s not because there is nothing left to improve. Sure, laptops had to be more creative with space, and they popularized so-called “scissor” switches, which actually feels like a noticeable improvement, but it’s nothing to write home about. In the past few years, I noticed that some of my friends started to mention mechanical keyboards, so I decided to give those things a try. It turned out, there are three kinds of mechanical key switches: linear, tactile and clicky, and the right choice is a matter of personal preference. It’s generally a good idea to try all of them and decide which one is more comfortable for you. Personally, I had to buy two keyboards with different switches because it was hard to make a final decision.

My initial impression is very good, and I’m thinking about buying this keyboard in the future:

https://system76.com/accessories/launch

It’s a bit pricey, but it’s open source, and it’s Linux-first.

PinePhone Keyboard

This keyboard looks really promising, and it can also triple PinePhone’s lifespan on a single charge. I wouldn’t hurry to buy it though, since software support is still lacking.

https://www.pine64.org/2021/12/31/happy-new-year-the-keyboard-and-cases-are-here/

PinePhone Batteries

I needed an extra battery for my PinePhone, and I was surprised that it works fine with Samsung J7 batteries which can be ordered for $3 apiece here in Thailand.

SD Card Lifespan

I had to install a few CCTV cameras recently, and all of them had SD card slots. Although SD cards are super convenient, they aren’t known for high durability. Debugging a system with failing SD card is hell, since SD cards tend to die slowly and silently. Tools like F3 might help, but storage is usually the least expected suspect when the system starts to misbehave, and I ended up spending hours trying to figure out what’s wrong with the system before checking its SD card. The lack of TBW counters and other metadata doesn’t help either.

That said, I really wanted to find a durable SD card, because writing video 24/7 is a tough workload for those little things. It turns out, there are plenty of “durable” and “industrial grade” SD cards on the market. They are relatively expensive, and they usually lack A1 marking, which means that you have to sacrifice random IO performance in order to get sequential IO endurance. Apparently, there is no such thing as a universal SD card. They all may look the same and have the same size, but it’s very important to pick the one which is suitable for your particular workload.

I’m looking for a good replacement for my PS4 and buying PS5 or Xbox isn’t an option due to their closed nature and user-hostile policies. Steam Deck isn’t shipped yet and cloud streaming has even more issues than the platforms like PS and Xbox. Streaming by itself sounds like a good idea, if it’s done from my own hardware and if the network latency is low. That’s precisely what Steam Link is doing, so I decided to try it. It has a client for my Android TV, and it took me just a few minutes to hook it up with my Linux PC. I need more time to figure out if it will be a good replacement for consoles but the results are decent so far.

Pixel 6 and Android 12

I miss that bottom navigation panel, but otherwise Android 12 and Pixel 6 feel pleasant. The camera is superb as usual, the battery life is average, and the screen is pretty good.

Game: Wasteland 3

I haven’t played previous Wasteland games, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Luckily for me, this game happen to have pretty much everything that I like: post-apocalyptic setting, turn-based combat, lots of RPG elements, open world and endless quests filled with dark humor. I didn’t finish it yet, but I’m looking forward to doing that after my road trip is over.

Game: Civilization 6

I’m glad to see that new Civilization games had managed to keep their core DNA while improving and innovating where necessary. The balance feels a bit odd, but it was always like that, and it seems to be an unsolvable issue.

Game: Far Cry

My first Far Cry game was Far Cry 5 and I enjoyed it. It also sparked my interest in this whole series, so I’ve decided to start from the very beginning: the original Far Cry. The game aged well, and it also runs smoothly on Linux in 4K. The graphics looks a bit dated indeed, but it doesn’t look too ancient. I remember trying this game in school, but I lost interest in it in a few minutes. Probably, something has changed in my game preferences since that time. I never really liked FPS games, so that might explain why I wasn’t interested in the first Far Cry games. Far Cry 5 is barely a shooter, it is a mix of many genres. The original Far Cry feels more like a classical FPS: no open world, no weapon mods, no commerce or RPG elements, no crafting, etc. In other words, it’s a bit more limited than the games I used to play, but it was a great experience nevertheless.