All posts by Nick

Light Throw

I decided to pick up a “thrower” style flashlight, or a spotlight as some may call them. All of my previous flashlights were general or flood-style lights. Sure, they could throw some light a decent distance, but they were mostly just general use.  This is one of my first real “special” use case lights, and I mostly got it just for fun, not necessarily because I had a real use case for it.  I picked up the Noctigon K1, also from Intl-Outdoor, the same guy who makes my venerable D4v2. This light’s one purpose is to throw light as far as it possibly can. It does this by using a very small flat LED, and a very deep and polished smooth reflector. This focuses the emitted light in to a very narrow beam.

 

It isn’t super high lumen, peaking at about 1000 lumens, but it focuses 90% of that 1000 lumens on a very concentrated spot.  This means that the light can travel very far, nearly a mile in the case of this light. At the K1’s price point, this is very impressive. I have been playing around with it for a couple weeks now and it’s got a certain giggle-factor to it when you realize how far away you can light stuff up.  Just remember to not point it at any neighbor’s houses, you don’t want to annoy anyone when you’re playing around. Light responsibly 🙂

Brighter Isn’t Always Better

I’ve got some big lumen flashlights, 5000 lumens in a soda-can sized light, and 4300 lumens in a pocket sized light. The massive lumens are just awesome outside. I can light stuff up 2 football fields length away with ease, and that is a lot of fun. Something I didn’t really anticipate though is the utility sub-lumen modes provide.  I’m talking modes that are under 1 lumen, very dim light.

My Emisar D4v2 from Intl-Outdoor is my currently favorite daily-carry light due to its wide versatility and brightness ramping ability, going anywhere from sub-lumens up to 4300+ lumens. This pocket-able light has quick shortcuts to the lowest possible lumen output it can do, less than a lumen, and I’ve found just as many uses for just a tiny amount of light as I have a blast of turbo mode. Need to get up or check something in the middle of the night? Sub-lumens provide the perfect amount of light to see where you’re going with out blowing out your eyes. Need just a bit of light on the back of a TV to find a reset button a few inches from where you’re looking, again, perfect amount of light. The versatility of a light that can do sub-lumens to thousands, and any brightness in between should really not be underestimated. I have carried various flashlights for many years, but this one’s ease of hitting a sub-lumen level with one press of the button makes it a mode I’ve found more use for lately than I ever had before.

 

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.

Read More

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!

Crowd funding sites have transitioned to full on scams

Seriously, avoid any crowd-funded sites. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and even things like GoFundMe are hosting full on scams these days.  Some years ago there used to be legit projects and I backed a few and got what I expected.  I’ve only ever had one project not finish, but that’s the risk going in.  However, these days there are straight up scams running unchecked on all of these sites.  I haven’t backed anything in quite some time and have decided I will never be backing anything on these types of sites again.  They have lost all credibility in my opinion.

Pi-hole users are the worst

I’ve noticed a new phenomenon in recent times where a user of a certain product, be it a nas, a switch, a ip camera, wireless ap, or anything else really, posts up questioning why X device is making X number of repeated DNS requests.  Just shut the hell up, seriously. This is normal behavior, it’s how DNS works. The device makes a request and the caching DNS server replies with the answer. This is how DNS has always worked, but these dim bulbs have been given a light in the window to the inner workings of DNS and have suddenly crapped their diapers about it. Also, the thought of offloading a critical network service like DNS to a $30 device is horrifying to me.  But then again, like I said, Pi-hole users are the worst.