I just re-watched for the umpteenth time Rymdreglage‘s video where they change their name and call it Ninja Moped. It’s stupidly quirky and dumb and the worst thing ever, but it hits that place that tickles my love for weird things.

Given that I like random name generators (even “analog” ones like this) a whole lot, including the stupid back-of-the-kids-menu story creators that ask you for a noun, verb, adjective, another adjective, a second noun, and so forth before spitting out a ridiculous short story about a panda and a pencil that ate cake and knives together under a pink and yellow sunset, I went on a fun search for name generators. Most that you find are pretty lousy, but a few stand out to me:

Thus, in the name of “giving our band a new name”, I present to you, previously known as “Powell Production Studios Studios” a NEW name known as….

Pickl Pledra Shopio Studios!

Using Donjon’s Markov Generator with the following seed values Pristine Powell Pavel Parked Prince Pickle Pants Play Pleased Poop Phendravi Studios Starry Spicy Slick Snake Shrug Schtik Sigh Stamped Shoopdawoop, I came up with some pretty nice results.

Someone just put me out of my misery.


Custom Splash Screen for Minecraft


Time to play around with the Minecraft splash screen!!

I found this tutorial on which is good at detailing the small, finicky nuances of creating a resource pack to change the Minecraft splash screen. HOWEVER, I found that a lot of the details written there were unclear and slightly overkill.

Also reverse-engineering any of the Menu Panoramas from Vanilla Tweaks revealed everything needed for the file structure of the final images.

Plus, as I run mainly on a self-hosted Spigot server, the actual commands to perform perfectly-aligned teleports did not work. So here I will create a simple step-by-step tutorial.

The Idea

  • Create 6 square images that can be stitched together in a psuedo-spherical panorama.
    • South
    • West
    • North
    • East
    • Straight Up from South
    • Straight Down from South
  • FOV must be set so that image edges blend together perfectly.
  • Minecraft must run in windowed mode, ideally in a square at 1027×1027 resolution or re-scaled after the fact to this output image size.


  • Especially if run manually, it takes time to take six screenshots at six specific angles, meaning clouds and the day-night cycle will shift.
  • If FOV is off or the view is shifted after teleporting, the image edges will be misaligned.
  • An especially high render distance may not load immediately after teleporting, meaning partial builds further away may be janky and half-rendered on one side.
  • I run on Spigot for Minecraft 1.18, which dramatically changes the teleport and requires more complicated /execute as commands.
  • I’m assuming a basic resource pack with pack.png and pack.mcmeta properly configured for your version of Minecraft is already known.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Open Minecraft. In Settings configure to Windowed mode.
  2. Open the screenshots folder in the file explorer.
  3. Take a screenshot using F2 in Minecraft. Click the output .png in the file explorer and check file properties for output resolution.
  4. Carefully adjust the window size and take screenshots until the output resolution of said screenshots are as close to 1027×1027 as possible. If the monitor resolution is too small to accomodate this, simply expand the window to the screen height available, then adjust the width until the output screenshot is perfectly square.
  5. In Minecraft Options, adjust FOV to 90.
  6. In Minecraft Options > Video Settings > Details, set clouds to Off.
  7. Enable cheats/commands if not already (in Singleplayer, open to LAN, and in Multiplayer, /op yourself from the server console).
  8. Run /gamerule doDaylightCycle false
  9. F1 to turn off the interface. Make sure the F3 debug screen is also off.
  10. Run /execute as @p at @s run teleport @s ~ ~ ~ 0 0
  11. Without touching the mouse, take a screenshot with F2.
  12. In the screenshots folder, rename the new image to “panorama_0.png”.
  13. Run /execute as @p at @s run teleport @s ~ ~ ~ 90 0
  14. Take a screenshot and rename the new image to “panorama_1.png”.
  15. Run /execute as @p at @s run teleport @s ~ ~ ~ 180 0
  16. Take a screenshot and rename the new image to “panorama_2.png”.
  17. Run /execute as @p at @s run teleport @s ~ ~ ~ 270 0
  18. Take a screenshot and rename the new image to “panorama_3.png”.
  19. Run /execute as @p at @s run teleport @s ~ ~ ~ 0 -90
  20. Take a screenshot and rename the new image to “panorama_4.png”.
  21. Run /execute as @p at @s run teleport @s ~ ~ ~ 0 90
  22. Take a screenshot and rename the new image to “panorama_5.png”.

The rest is easy:

  1. If necessary, resize all six images to 1027×1027 (VanillaTweaks stores images at this size, and upscaling from the PlanetMinecraft tutorial of 1024×1024 caused some noticeable blurriness once rendered).
  2. If you don’t want an overlay haze, such as the ones VT packs with theirs, create a fully transparent 16×128 image called “panorama_overlay.png”. You MAY also be able to simply omit this completely from the resource pack file structure.
  3. ZIP all six (or seven) png files along with the metadata into the following folder structure:

Copy the new resource pack to .minecraft/resourcepacks/ and enable it within the game, then exit to the title screen to observe the new rotating imagery of awesomeness!

Computer Programming Web

Plex, Synology, Xfinity and Me

For Christmas last year I bought myself a Synology DS920+ NAS. Nice thing, expandable, and so far I’ve been quite happy with it! With the expense of drives and other issues, I have been slowly expanding its capacity from one drive to the maximum of four (without the expansion bay). Additionally, I’ve moved some of my TCP hosting applications to this, and it’s been working pretty well!

Now I live under the umbrella of Xfinity/Comcast where this thing is. I have had many issues, namely with connectivity and a flaky cable, an old Netgear N300 router/modem and a few other things.

I also have been a Plex customer/lifetime Plex Pass holder for over 11 years. But only with the purchase of this NAS have I been able to finally get a server that actually works reliably up and running.

Over the past week, and even sporadically since I’ve imported my media library in January, I’ve had weird connection issues, namely the remote kinds, or the kinds that only crop up when you use the Android app (which forces you to resolve through I did manage to get my custom domain’s certificate changed over (the one this very blog uses). Additionally, I managed to get remote access turned on with a bit of port forwarding, and it seemed to work okay for a while. However if I were to stay on Plex’s “Remote” settings tab, I would see the connection very sporadically drop out and then resolve itself a few seconds/minutes later.

All in all, I haven’t noticed enough problems to really start to complain. I’ve been able to watch and listen to my stuff on my phone and laptop, and that’s all I want. New media I can upload via Samba from the laptop, or over the network using the extraordinarily slow Synology file manager via the web interface.

However, today was the clincher.

I have the entire collection of Harry Potter audiobooks, and in lieu of my normal podcasts during the commute to and from work, I’ve wanted to listen to these instead. Additionally, it’s nice to pull them up from anywhere and listen when I’m working on stuff. All of this on the Android.

Yet this week, PlexAmp, the audio-only client for Plex was unable to access my server at all, even on the local network. Additionally, pulling up the audiobooks through the regular Plex app would work, but shortly after the screen blacked out due to lack of visual content, the audio would pause between tracks, forcing me to unlock the phone after which play would resume almost immediately.

I decided to try and “fix” it today. I figured a good first step was to delete all authorized devices from my Plex account. Except, even despite the warnings, I also deleted the Plex Media Server from my account. Mind you, the server itself was okay. Still running, no problems, but it was no longer tied to my account, and I had no way of recovering it because, well, it’s a NAS.

I found a way to reset the login token in Preferences.xml and did so.

Then I couldn’t even access it via the custom domain connection. UGH..

So I found out how to simulate a connection to the media server as localhost via PuTTY’s SSH tunnels, since an unauthenticated Plex Media Server still lets you access it from localhost. From here, I was able to get to all of my media and, more importantly, the server settings. I was asked to log in, did so, and then received a big orange “Your server is unclaimed. Remote access is not available until you claim the media server.” I found this to mean that I was essentially still locked out, even though I was, in my browser, still logged into Plex.

A click of the claim button sat there for a few minutes, then timed out. At one point, I was able to see a barely distinguishable “Unable to claim server” error which quickly disappeared.

Over and over I tried this, tweaking settings, removing my custom domain certificate, replacing it, completely uninstalling Plex from the NAS, reinstalling an old version, all to no avail.

All online resources said that there were essentially three things that could be wrong:

  • Bad/expired user token
  • Improper port forwarding
  • DNS Rebind Protection on the router or ISP

Well, the first two were easily tested and already verified. Just plain removing authentication strings from the Preferences.xml file was what caused this issue in the first place, and I know that port forwarding was working fine on my router, so it had to be something with the DNS.

Besides, whenever I logged into localhost:32400 (via the tunneled SSH remotely), I never saw my profile pictures or anything show up, and all server logs seemed to indicate that during the “claim” process, Plex itself was unable to contact the authentication servers.

I know they were having upstream problems earlier this morning, but indicated that this was working just fine when I checked it. Must be something on my end.

Unfortunately this “DNS Rebind Protection” is not a thing in my N300 router. There is no place I can enter rebind-domain-ok=/ I have no internally running DNS server; I do everything through Cloudflare and my registrar, and Cloudflare doesn’t offer Rebind Protection as far as I know. At least, not for free.

My router does have a standard “manually configure DNS” settings section, though, and months ago I had configured it to (Cloudflare).

Yet this was not working, and doing the same “Claim” process over and over with endless tweaks to Plex and the settings file was getting frustrating.

That’s when I decided to step out just one level and look into the Synology network settings and found… Network > General > Manually Configure DNS Server.

What could it hurt? I’ve been seeing warnings and errors all over Plex for the past 2 hours, and if, for some reason the NAS is contacting Comcast directly even though it’s SUPPOSED to resolve directly with the router and on to Cloudflare, that may still be the issue.

So I switched it to Manual, entered the Cloudflare nameservers there as well, clicked Save, and switched back over to localhost:32400. Back to the General settings tab and lo and behold….it was suddenly Just Working!

I must also note that I’ve been spending the past 3 days adding old DVD rips to my library, none of which had automatically grabbed correct metadata, and which could not be manually matched with an online title for grabbing proper metadata, but instead gave an immediate “nothing found”. All my old media was okay, but none of the new stuff had updated itself like I saw it doing the first few weeks of my running this thing.

Now with the NAS DNS settings properly pointing to Cloudflare, I had no issues matching the new titles.

So if your router doesn’t have access to this DNS Rebind Protection business, but you’re still seeing the “Unable to claim” error and you’ve tried everything, see about manually setting the DNS configuration of your actual server machine; not just hoping it will use the ones in your modem or router like it’s supposed to.

FORCE your stuff to contact Cloudflare or Google or something that won’t screw with you.


Minecraft – Upgrading to a 1.16 Server

Yeah, it’s a big deal with the nether update. Lots of gold farms, lots of new areas, and people are excited to see everything.

However, care must be taken when upgrading to Minecraft 1.16. Lots of posts and videos have been made on how to upgrade a singleplayer world, but even more care must be taken for multiplayer, as you have a lot of other players depending on you, the sysop, to maintain their builds, their contraptions, their stuff.

I myself run a Spigot/Paper server for myself and my inlaws, and the question came up today, “So would you guys like to go explore the new nether biomes on Saturday?”

I had to remind them that, “Hey, Minecraft 1.16 may be out, but Spigot usually takes a few days and Paper is going to be behind THAT, so we may not be able to make this Saturday work. We’re relying on the punctuality of those developers. And even if we do get Spigot or Paper by Saturday, chances are very high that our favorite server plugin, EssentialsX, which gives us the /tpask, /home, and /spawn commands will not have been updated on top of that. I will do everything I can to make sure we can have some fun with new, cool things on Saturday, but I can’t guarantee it.”

As a failsafe my plan is to temporarily run the vanilla Mojang server straight-up. We’ll lose performance, and we’ll definitely lose support for the few plugins I run, namely EssentialsX, Dynmap, and DiscordSRV, but we won’t be dead in the water without those.

But this is multiplayer. I can’t magically wave a hand or flip a switch and suddenly we’re playing on 1.16 and everything works still.

Rather, I will need to spend time taking the server down temporarily (which, with only four of us is not a big deal – sometimes we go days without anybody logging in).

Once the server is down, the plan is to make a full folder backup, archive it away as “Final 1.15.2” or something.

Verify Backup Integrity

Optionally I can also take the world, world_the_end, and world_nether folders from the save, create a new 1.15.2 instance with my launcher and copy the save file in as its own world. There are some folder finagling steps that must be done, though.

  • Copy world/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName
  • Copy world_nether/DIM-1/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName/DIM-1
  • Copy world_the_end/DIM1/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName/DIM1

Through some testing, the playerdata/ and level.dat files in the world_the_end/ and world_nether/ folders seem to be either unused or duplicates.

Loading up the server world in singleplayer 1.15.2 should prove that yes, the server save was backed up correctly.

Verify Upgradeability

Once this is confirmed, exit and copy the entire save directory to the 1.16 saves location (if using the Vanilla launcher, this may actually be the same folder and can be loaded with a different version. But if you’re like me and using something like MultiMC, this is an entirely different instance of Minecraft so as to avoid version clashing, and so the save must be copied in full to the v1_16/.minecraft/saves/ folder).

When loading, the warning that “This world was saved in an old version of Minecraft. Upgrading is irreversible. Are you sure!?” Well we’ve already created the backup, so like with every other Minecraft Backup tutorial out there, we just say, “I know what I’m doing! Proceed with upgrade.”

Now the world is loaded in 1.16.x. Open it to a LAN with cheats, fly around, check out key builds and contraptions and confirm that they’re working.

Next travel to the Nether. If you’re like me and have only explored out to, say, (500,500), (-500,-500) that entire area will be deemed nether_wastes, and no ancient debris will be generated down at lower bedrock because …there is nothing to generate. HOWEVER, as I tested and confirmed, generating new chunks by flying past these borders do generate new nether biomes properly.

A newly generated salt flat (Basalt Delta) at (600,-600)
Soul sand valley at (1000,-1000)
Rain in the a Crimson Forest? Only when watching nether chunks generate whilst flying in a straight line into unexplored territory.

Upgrade the Server

So with the key builds listed out to re-verify, run the upgrade. For Spigot and Paper, this should be as simple as

wget -4 -O BuildTools.jar
java -jar BuildTools.jar --rev latest

or downloading paper-<version>.jar and changing the startup script with the new version number, and then just starting up the server like normal.

HOWEVER, if you’re like me and don’t have any essential plugins that will break your entire world if you were to leave them out, consider, at least temporarily downloading server.jar direct from and changing the startup script to load that directly rather than the Spigot or Paper variants.

Once this is done, it will definitely be prudent to log in, op the player or switch into creative and fly around to those various key builds and verify that they’re still functional and uncorrupted.

Vanilla back to CraftBukkit/Spigot/Paper

SpigotMC has not updated to 1.16 yet. Nobody knows how long it will be. It’s lead developer is like so many others – aloof and mysterious. However, it will be presumably updated quickly. It may be today, it may be tomorrow, it may be next month. It’s hard to gauge based on historical evidence.

And PaperMC, while known to be quick with updates, also has to wait for Spigot before it can move forward. However, Paper is also known as a drop-in replacement for Spigot that overlays on top of Spigot’s config files VERY well and only adds its own tweaks for performance. Therefore, reverting to Spigot can likely be done immediately and the re-migrating back to Paper, if there is any delay from their release after Spigot’s, will be extremely straightforward.

That said, Spigot plugins are ALSO subject to waiting for the SpigotMC core release. And plugins are even less predictable than Spigot itself! With no sarcasm, it may be months of waiting for something like Dynmap or EssentialsX to become available. A bit of hunting for some hidden beta ore pre-releases of these plugins may be available somewhere, but it will be prudent to re-add them carefully.

So as soon as Spigot updates, the plan is to carefully follow the previous backup plan. One cannot be too careful with these sorts of things. It would be wise to first revert to Spigot/Paper, making sure the server is up to date, and starting it plugin-free. Once everything is started, it will be a fairly straightforward, though possibly lengthy process to re-download new versions of plugins, load them in one at a time, restart the server, verify that they work, all of that.

Dynmap with the new Nether

This is gonna be nasty. With so many new blocks and new terrains I have very low hopes that Dynmap’s developers will be able to get something out very fast. From my sketchy knowledge of how Dynmap works, they will probably want to generate new shaders for the nether, and possibly new perspectives given that the nether is now more honeycombed than ever before, what with “vertical biomes” having been introduced.

The v0.3 branch is their default, and there seems to be no other one that has any recent developments or any telltale naming that would indicate one could self-compile it for 1.16. However, when it does finally become available, I’ve written a gist that explains my techniques of mapping the Nether Roof which also has a few steps on how to re-render an entire map from scratch, make changes in situ, cancel and re-start a render again.


Not much of a conclusion, as I’m only halfway through this process at the moment. I want to give SpigotMC a chance to become updated before I go whole hog and run this thing from Vanilla for the next week and a half. If they I don’t have a good, solid server version from Spigot or Paper, I will plan on switching temporarily to Vanilla.

Life Writing

My Vicci, Part 2

Let’s see if I can finish some more of this six months after the fact.

That last “I love you” was the last I heard. I waited all day to hear something, assuming Ivy would be able to get my number or contact me eventually, or that Vicci was just super quiet because she was undergoing emergency heart surgery or something.

I even had my volunteer team at church pray for her that evening around 6pm.

After I got home, I realized I had a message from someone in NV via Facebook telling me that she found me on Instagram via my sister who was more active and not so anonymous, and to please contact Ivy at such-and-such number, that they were trying to get ahold of me all day.

I called immediately and was asked, “Are you with anybody right now?” My heart refused to sink, and I said, “No… but please go on.”

And I heard the words, “We lost Vicci today.”

Her next words are a bit of a blur, though I understood that as soon as Ivy arrived, she went about taking care of cats for the day, gathering up a few things, continually checking with Vicci as she tried to figure out how to get her to the car and the ER.

Then she heard, “Oh God,” rushed in and found Vic gasping for breath, convulsing, and quickly asked, “Do I need to call an ambulance!?” She got a nod, and in 5 minutes paramedics were on the spot, performing CPR, trying to get her calmed down, wheeling in a gurney, and carting her out.

An hour and a half later, Ivy, still at the house, got the call that they made it to the hospital, but they were not able to stabilize her.

This conversation ended with me pacing frantically up and down my hallway, not able to think, not wanting to breathe myself… Ivy asked me if I had family I could be with. I said yes, but it was an hour’s drive. She said, “Please don’t let yourself be alone, but please be careful.”

I thanked her and kept pacing. Calling my mom, I tried to explain everything in tears. She said to get over there, that she could send Dad to get me. I told her I just needed a little bit to calm down, pack a bug-out bag, feed the fish.

On the drive there, before I could call Mom, my sister and her husband called.

They didn’t know what to say, but they offered to put me up as well, that they were heartbroken for me, that they didn’t know if it was too soon, but that they knew that I was so good for her. I told them my thoughts, my fears on her eternal soul, that …is there even any chance that I could pray for God to give her one more chance even NOW. Andy had the best words:

I think that these are the mysteries that God keeps from us. We always ask these questions, but we get no clear answers because He wants us to trust Him. If He is truly a loving Father, He has our best in mind, and NOTHING He does will be for our harm. With that trust, sometimes all we can do is say, “We won’t know until we’re there ourselves,” and at that moment, we will be given that understanding, and everything will make sense.

It was a sleepless night at my parents’. Sunday my sister invited me over. I took them up on it, talked with them, tried my best to calm down.

I was in frequent contact with Ivy, who told me that they had the family down from Cedar City, UT to look at things, that she had Vicci’s mom there, that they were really at a loss because nobody could find a will and everyone was trying to frantically figure out the legalese of probate and such. I told her I didn’t know if I could get off of work to come help, but I absolutely knew I had to make something happen.

I stayed with Andrea and Andy on Sunday night, a bit more restful, but not great.

Monday I went into work, having emailed the upper management with the details and that I may need to be taking some vacation to take care of things.

They were shocked, supportive, and said, “When you figure out what you need to do, just go. Go take care of it. We’ll be here when you get back.”

In the middle of they day, I got a call from Ivy saying, “We REALLY need your help here. The family is unable to function and we’re making very little progress with decisions.” I said I’d try to take care of it, and wracked my brain on how I could scrounge up some money when I realized I had a round-trip ticket for January 1st. Some research revealed that I could get a credit refund for almost the exact amount that a one-way trip would cost, and I would just worry about the return trip when I figured out what I was doing and how long I needed to stay in Vegas.

That night, I packed up from Andrea’s and had Dad take me to the airport. Monday night I was landing in Vegas and meeting with Ivy and Vicci’s mom, Julia. A quick trip left us at the house with the cats and a lot of memories, but no Vicci.

And this is the point at which I’ll stop for now. We’ll see if in six months I’ll be able to put in ANOTHER large portion of this story, though things are becoming easier to deal with emotionally.

Computer Games Graphics Minecraft

Shaders in MultiMC Minecraft

Gathering all of the resources of the Internet, I finally pinned down the technique to install an Optifine shader in an instance of Minecraft from the MultiMC launcher. Specifically since I started playing again in a major way from v1.14.4, installing mods is not as simple as it used to be, and Optifine is no exception, especially when it comes to a third-party launcher like MultiMC.



In the vanilla launcher create an “installation” of the Minecraft version for which you are running the shader. In my case this is 1.14.4.

Run the new installation to download that version of Minecraft from, then exit.

If it hasn’t already downloaded minecraft.jar for this version, it will do so, and then launch the game.

Quit this instance of Minecraft.

Having the Optifine jar downloaded (in this case, it would be named OptiFine_1.14.4_HD_U_F5.jar), run it directly by either double clicking it or invoking it from a command line.

If you were to continue using the vanilla launcher, you could click the Install button. However we’re using MultiMC, so we want to Extract, which will give us the actual drop-in mod jar that we can load into MultiMC.

At this point, we now have two files for Optifine: the original installer and the new “OptiFine_1.14.4_HD_U_F5_MOD.jar”.

Open MultiMC and create a new instance, picking the same Minecraft version as before.

Once created click the “Edit Instance” button and move to the Version tab from the left.

Click the “Install Fabric” button on the right and choose the latest version it will allow. Fabric Loader will be added to the list of versions for this instance.

At this point, move to the Loader Mods tab in the instance window. Click the Add button and locate your Optifabric jar as well as the OptiFine_*_MOD.jar extracted from the previous step. These two mods should now be visible in the Loader Mods list.

Click the Launch button at the bottom. At this point if you had your file explorer open to this MultiMC instance, you would notice as Optifine is being loaded for the first time a few folders are being created and the console giving you a nice, verbose output.

After a point, Minecraft will launch as expected, though it will now include Fabric with the version and display the OptiFine mod to indicate that it was loaded successfully.

At this point, all of the Optifine options are available in Options/Video Settings both from the start screen and from in-game.

Assuming you are running a version of Optifine that supports shaders (in preview versions this may be grayed out to indicate that support for Shaders has not yet been implemented and tested to a level that sp614x has re-enabled it), click the Shaders button.

Initially only two selections are available: OFF and (internal).

The internal shader does offer a few more options by ungreying all of the buttons on the right-hand side of the shader selection window, but leaving all of those options on default displays a fairly typical Minecraft render.

To load the new shader (in this case Sonic Ether), you do not need to exit Minecraft!! Download the shader pack from the website, saving the entire ZIP file into some location.

Restore the MultiMC launcher window. If the Instance editor is also open, switch to the Version tab and click the “Open .minecraft” button at the bottom right.

Navigate into the “shaderpacks” folder from .minecraft and copy-paste in.

Switch back to Minecraft. should have appeared in the Shaders selection window. Again, Minecraft does not need to be restarted manually. The entry in this window will simply appear as soon as Optifine has detected the presence of the file in the shaderpacks directory.

Click on it the new entry and watch as Minecraft performs a soft reload of the window. The Shader Options button will now be ungreyed, and a few different settings can be tweaked from here, but at this point, SEUS should be running from your MultiMC instance when the world is loaded!

For example, the Lighting & Shadows/Shadow Resolution=4096 improve the overall sharpness of the shadows cast.

Shadow Resolution = 1024
Shadow Resolution = 2048
Shadow Resolution = 4096

Left clicking these options will increase their value, while right clicking will decrease them. Additionally, the hover tooltips display what they are, though many are advanced and should probably be researched and experimented with before tweaking dramatically in one direction or the other.

Anyway, this is my first time using this, and I’m definitely looking forward to playing around with it!!


Life Writing

My Vicci, Part 1

December 7, 2019 I experienced what I never thought I would so early in life. My girlfriend of five years passed away suddenly due to respiratory and heart failure in her home in Las Vegas.

She had stayed home from sick the day before because she could not catch her breath and didn’t feel like she could function at work. I told her that this sounded like the same symptoms my dad went through when he had his heart attack.

The next morning, she messaged me early asking if I could call and talk because she was lying in a pool of her own sweat having a massive panic attack over the possibility of said heart attack symptoms. I immediately called and we talked for a good hour and a half with the sole purpose of just calming her down. During this time she dozed off, but I could hear on the phone her labored breathing and was tempted at one point to even call 911 and have them redirect me to the Henderson emergency services.

She woke up and we started talking again, and she eventually asked how my dad managed to handle a heart attack and asked to hear all the details. I gave them freely, telling her that once they had him, they hooked him up to every machine and had him stable within a half hour and were super awesome about it.

This eventually convinced her that she should just pony up the $400 copay for the ER, call her friend Ivy, and have her come over to take her in.

Ivy was unavailable initially, so we talked for another half hour. Eventually she said, “Ivy is on her way over,” and then ten minutes after that, “Ivy is here. I’ll try to keep you informed. I love you.”

Electronics Life

CB Radio

I got all inspired when I went camping with my brother-in-law in September. His friend from Fort Collins has a fully tricked out off-road vehicle complete with a CB radio. Well, I got excited about that because, since the late 90’s we’ve had my grandfather’s old Ford van, and he was big on CB, having a camper and secretly being a tech nerd before it was cool. I still have his mobile CB radio, which we tried out at the end of this camping trip.

Except I can’t seem to get it to work. It turns on, it hisses, and the squelch feature seems to work to some extent, but I get absolutely zero variation in the noise, even when moving the little 3-foot whip antenna around, mounting on the truck roof for grounding, and everything else I could think of.

That’s when I decided to “invest” in a Monkey Ward 775 CB radio. I’m assuming this is probably also a mobile model due to the u-bracket on the top. However I’m looking up how to make a home-brew antenna for this, and I’m guessing it’s the 3-foot whip that makes a mobile station mobile. Maybe a base station has more features and such, but I’m new at this anyway!

However, the issues I have at the moment are crippling: The radio came with a power input cable of two wires and two tab connectors, a keyed microphone, and a user manual. That’s it.

So I need to come up with a proper power connection of 12VDC, and somehow create an antenna that will work and be ideal while still not violating the HOA covenants of not having anything over the roofline of the house. Additionally an 8-Ohm speaker or headphone converter may be necessary if the keyed microphone doesn’t also have something built in.

But on to antennas! I found this website from the Thunder Mountain Radio Group. They say that ideally, a base station antenna for CB frequencies needs to be around 102 inches (a quarter wavelength of ~11 meters). And this is not a single whip antenna, but a combination of two antennas in a dipole arrangement, each at 102 inches.

That’s 8.5 feet of wire extending from a center point where 50-ohm coax is connected and runs all the way back to the actual base station radio.

My idea when it comes to this antenna – since I’m not permitted to mount this thing so high up that I’d be able to talk to people in Denver, how about I instead run the antenna wires horizontally beneath the top bar of the vinyl fence that runs along the side of my property? It’s actually kinda perfect – minimal metal to screw up the signal, and sort of out of the way of everything else except for a few aspen trees. It’s not THAT ideal, but it’s at least something better than a 3-foot whip. The only other solution I could think of would be to take the rig all the way to work and mount it on the roof there. I know Steve at Mountain States Electronics has always had a nice setup of his own. Maybe I could talk down the block to him.

Then comes the coax. I am thinking standard 50-foot RG-58 spool, which I can buy with UHF connectors pre-installed for $17 on Amazon. Or I could get a single connector from Digikey, a spool of RG-58 for $20, and make my own.

Web Youtube

The Reddit Thing

Yesterday I got a notification from Youtube stating that COPPA/Made for Kids was being forced come January. I’ve largely ignored these messages, as my channel is not that big, not very expansive, and not terribly interesting. However, when these settings apply to everyone, and I am a member of everyone, well, maybe it’d be worth paying attention to.

And boy, was it worth it! The Made for Kids deal coming through Youtube does a number of things to videos which I imagine more money-minded people will care about more:

  1. Only child-friendly ads/no ads
  2. No comments
  3. No watch later

I read a few articles and watched a few videos on what counts as “Made for Kids,” I realized a lot of my stuff actually does count, even if I didn’t actually make it for kids. What comes to mind are my old LEGO animations, Minecraft sessions, and a short Disney Christmas clip that was uploaded as a ‘check out this 30 second clip encouraging duck cannibalism’. My account isn’t largely going to drag the kiddies in by the bucketloads, but there are some things. Therefore, I’ve taken Youtube’s instruction to mark my channel as “NOT Made for Kids,” but will piecemeal the few videos that are, and deal with it.

Well, the ad-nerfing I don’t care about, as I don’t monetize my channel at all. But commenting? That’s the biggest deal to me. Since I don’t care as much with “view counts”, comments are really the biggest dopamine rush that Youtube will provide for me on my stuff. Namely that Donald Duck Christmas clip.

So what did I decide to try to do? I started a subreddit at!

Besides, I like to reserve my “brand” of PPSStudios anywhere I can. So why not just squat on that page if anything?

Right now, it’s marked as completely private, so nothing should be visible (even though 8 people were lurking around last I checked), but eventually my grand plan is to drop in a link and direct video viewers to that page via an end screen and video description on every Youtube video.

Or perhaps for my Dungeon World campaign on another Youtube channel, there can be some conversations there. I don’t know.

Is there a Reddit replacement for the WordPress Comments system? Sorta like Disqus?

I’ll have to think on this.

For now, though, feel free to check in sometime when I’ve got a little time to set it up!!