Archives September 2020

Keeping Sane in 2020

Seriously, what a mess of a year. So many fun summer activities my wife and I look forward to every year, just GONE. Car shows, concerts, musicals, dinners out with friends, pool parties, family get-togethers, birthday parties, just all gone. We usually try and hit at least 1 or 2 summer shows, whether it is a Breaking Benjamin concert, or Phantom of the Opera at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis. We’ve basically lost what feels like a year to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The scary part is that it has only been 6 months, and there is no realistic end really in sight. I don’t know how things return to normal with out a vaccine, which as of right now doesn’t exist. It just plain old sucks. You have to at least try and retain some forms of normalcy. My wife and I even went out to eat a meal for the first time since March. We’re only dining outdoors, but it was a nice change of pace, even if it’s still not normal. We also are fortunate enough to have family access to a condo down in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, so we took the kids down there for a long weekend before school started back up (all remote learning for now).  That was definitely a nice break from the mundane routine of sitting at home. Also, never underestimate what some online retail therapy can do for yah (also the reason you’re going to see some more flashlight posts from me, my hobby got a little carried away during lockdown). It gives you something to look forward to, and something to enjoy when it arrives.

I guess I’m just saying to try and enjoy the smaller things that break up the routine that you’d normally take for granted. There aren’t many upsides at all to this situation, but maybe that could be one of them; appreciating the smaller things that would have just been another day before.

I hope everyone is staying safe, and I look forward to returning to normalcy as much as you. Hopefully that can be soon?

Retro Gaming on Odroid Handhelds

Having spent my childhood in the late 80’s through the 90’s, a large part of me and my friends past time was playing video games. My family was all-in on Nintendo, starting with getting the NES for Christmas. I have fond memories of staying up with my Dad, watching him play The Legend of Zelda. Watching him bomb walls and burn bushes looking for secret shops and rewards, figuring out the dungeon puzzles, and just enjoying the game in general. My Dad wouldn’t really go on to be a gamer, aside from a handful of NES games like Mario, Adventures of Lolo, and a few others. However, I would carry the torch through the Game Boy, SNES, GBC, N64, GBA, and so on to this day really. I’m still a big Nintendo fan and have a 3DS XL and a Switch, both with a decent library of games.  However, the games from my childhood, now deemed “retro” (as much as that makes me feel old), will always have a certain nostalgic aspect to them that I will always enjoy.

One of the best ways I have found in recent years to enjoy my retro gaming has been small open-source handhelds that can play large libraries of games.  I have gone through a few different models, but I always seem to come back to the Odroid line, produced by a South Korean company called Hard Kernel. They seem to strike a great balance of affordability, functionality, and quality hardware. They are also a bit DIY in that they don’t come assembled. You purchase the kit, then build it your self. I found this to be a rather enjoyable experience.

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First site redesign, ever!

13 years is a long time, especially for something to exist on the internet. 13 years ago this October I launched this WordPress powered blog and began mashing out random rants, raves, musings, pictures, and the occasional helpful bit of information.  This site launched on WordPress 2-point-something in 2007, and I have used the same OLD theme ever since then.  The backend has been maintained and I run the latest WordPress 5 release, but the front end has remained steadfast.  I’m a creature of habit in a lot of ways, and that combined with my free time being at a premium these days resulted in the same theme for 13 years. Over the years sticking with the same old style WP theme created some growing pains, but it was always just easier to patch or hack around an issue than redesign. Today that changes and I am launching a whole new look for my blog. Not out of any particular necessity, but more so I think it’s finally time to grow up a bit. It is time for a cleaner look, and a website with a responsive design that actually looks good on mobile devices. Using a modern theme will also make the site much easier to maintain/change/customize going forward, as well as avoid an potential issues that could crop up in future backend updates.  Really, running the same front end for 13 years, and it still being 99% functional from an ever-changing backend is pretty damn impressive to me. Kudos WordPress, kudos.  All of the original features and my long history of posts are still here and still at the same url’s, so everything should function more or less how it did before. It just looks a whole lot nicer now. I’ve even got a couple new blog posts planned out that I will hopefully be posting soon, so stay tuned!