WoW – Stayin Alive!

NOT!

OMG, I died about 6 or 8 times tonight. Any group larger than 3 and I’m throwing my life (and repair gold) away. These quests are killing me, literally. For example,  I have to kill a large worm in a cavern (up on Frost??? Ridge) and it has about 4 adds around it. Nope.

Then there’s this guy that I didn’t even attempt. He’s only 1 level above me, but there are 6 adds in the vicinity and a wandering three that may get involve. And he probably hits like a brick on his own…

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So I’m getting a bit sick of dying. It’s almost like the bad old days when I first launched into Burning Crusade.

Now I know my gear isn’t great. I reckon I need to relearn more about my rotation. Those will help. Also, don’t run back into the fight when you’re suffering res sickness, there’s an old tip I had forgotten.

On the plus side I’ve actually used my Hex spell a few times. It helps. A little.

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WoW – Back into it

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 10.47.54 am.pngSo I have resubed, again. I think this is about the third break I have taken from the game, and by far the longest. In October 2016, Mabaho was 96 and not yet finished through Warlords of Draenor. Now it’s February 2018 and we saw the announcement (earlier) of the expac following Legion, which I have not played at all.

Motivated by the eldest Mini Mab, Miss 10, I have been playing with her, supporting her interest in the game. This resub is also enabled by the new iMac being able to support the  game for more than 2 minutes.

WoWScrnShot_021618_203204.jpegThere have been a lot of changes to Mabaho, in rotation and effectiveness. I suddenly feel vulnerable questing, which I haven’t for some time. I can take 1 mob, but 2 troubles me if I don’t get a handle on them. Healing seems almost ineffective as a Enhance Shaman, even self healing. Mana is less important than the new …. err can’t even remember what it’s called.

Spells have changed, that took some sorting.

I’ve also installed a bank in my Garrison which has been nice. I waited a little bit to sort through the bags and bank, finding a Reagents Bank tab that I don’t remember. I also need to investigate some things I’ve never really been sure of, now that we have the collections menu.

Do I need to hold on to stuff just to be able to transmog it? Pets, Mounts and Toys I know I can click on and learn and they disappear usually. But what if they don’t, should I hold them?

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 10.49.31 am.pngThis idea of scaling has me sort of happy. I can run Pumatay with Miss 10’s toons and get xp. But does that mean that Mabaho can quest anywhere in Draenor and the enemy will be a challenge?

So my broad plan is this.

  • Grind Mabaho up to 100. He’s up to 97.5 now
  • Let Miss 10 explore toons as she feels up to and let her pick one. At the moment she is leaning towards a druid. Mess about with some other new toons supporting her (though Pumatay can do this as well). I currently have a lvl 12 Druid partying up with her lvl 12 Hunter.
  • Once decided, purchase Legion for both of us, and use the 100 boost to bring up her toon and a complementary toon from my stable, such as bringing a Healer if she picks a DPS/Tank, picking a Tank/DPS if she picks a Healer, or I guess, two DPS is a viable option, certainly for questing.
  • If Mabaho is to be run through it, then I would likely bring up Magdasal. Maybe switch between the two, running Das when she’s trying to run dungeons and run Mab when questing.
  • Run through Legion together. Up to 110.
  • Purchase the next expac and raise up another toon for each of us. I would probably look at Pumatay (finally) at this point. Now We should have 2 toons each at 110 (Mabaho/Magdasal and Pumatay), and I will have another 90 (Mabango) and another at 100 (Magdasal) or poor Pumatay still at 57….

Seems like a pretty good plan don’t you think? Is it best use of our character level boosts?

Would Miss 10 be better off levelling all the way from 0-110? I don’t really think so, it would be so unmotivating I think.

NAS is restored…

After ordering the wrong HDD last week (I ordered 1TB instead of 2TB) I have received and installed the replacement HDD into the NAS. Overnight it has rebuilt itself and so is back ONLINE 🙂

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Now that this is up and running I can restore the iTunes library that normally resides here. Not sure of the best way to do this. I only need to reimport the movie/TV shows as I’ve switched over to Apple Music (just to experiment).

Either I could reach back into the Time Machine backup and restore the old library files. This is what I have usually done. Alternatively I could reimport the files. I worry that this will lose all the info I have manually typed into the library. They will also ALL import as Home Movies, which will mean ages and ages of updating each one (imagine the TV Series)..

Think I just answered my own question.

Might sort the Time Machine Backup of this new iMac out first… what do you say? The fun never ends.

And its a great way to procrastinate TWO assessments…. errr????

[UPDATE]

Actually I think I have a better idea??? Perhaps this is an opportunity to update the NAS itself. I could suck all the data off it (it’s less than 2TB) and then upgrade the OS, wipe the pool etc. Clean it right up, while nothing is really using it.

Not sure…

 

Deed is done.

The decision was made, the transaction complete.

The iMac has been replaced with….

…..

….

 

..

 

another 27″ iMac.

Well I bet that was a surprise.

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Can you tell which is which???  (ok the default wallpaper and the smaller keyboard give it away)

Went out yesterday and bought it from the Apple Store. Using education prices I got a discount and also a set of wireless Beats headphones. JB Hifi could beat the Apple Store prices, but not by much (about $50) but couldn’t throw in the headphones. I didn’t particularly want the headphones but since they are free and worth $400 (retail), why miss out on it. I figure I could use them with the iMac when trying to ignore the Mrs watching her shows on the PC next to me……

I picked up the base 27″ which means a 1TB Hybrid HDD and a basic i5, with a Radeon 570 card. A massive step up in performance when compared to my late 2009 iMac. Not going to win any races, but fine for me. Heck, now I have the first 4K (well 5K) display in the house (our TVs are full HD, not 4K). As long as I can study and I can run videos at full screen, I will be happy (actually I haven’t tested that yet).

First impression was – it’s lighter – I discovered as I picked it up to walk out of the store. Eventually, when getting it home my first impression was the screen is really nice. Initially the brightness was right up, but it was actually the fineness of text and lines of dialog and windows that made the biggest impression on me. When I eventually connected the Dell 27″ 1440 monitor I had with the older iMac, yes, the screen is much nicer in the new iMac.

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Here it is, all set up as dual screen. The Beats are on the desk to the left of the iMac. This shot really hides the difference between the Dell and the iMac.

The next impression is speed. It’s certainly quicker than the older model. I have decided that once its all up and running and I can confirm that everything I want is either moved or backed up, I am intending to wipe and restore the older one. I’m sure it used to be quicker than it is these days.

I decided not to do a restore from the Time Machine. I thought, its time for a bit of a spring clean. So I’ve moved email and photo archives and my current study over and very little else. The rest is available either from backup, NAS or the cloud.

Several hours later I realised that I forgot to copy the iTunes folder and set that up on the to connect to the store on the NAS. Of course, this is after I packed away the old iMac. So now I have all my music downloaded from Apple Music and stored on this iMac, and a big folder on the NAS with nothing pointing to it. Might have to work through that in the next few days. However, I did learn about browsing my Team Machine backup so the old iMac can sit away getting dust as everything I would need is here on the backup disk…. Time Machine scores YET again (really, its one of THE BEST THINGS about OSX).

Of course, in the middle of all of this, one of the NAS drives has died, so I don’t want to do too much copying and working on the NAS until I replace the drive. Got a couple inbound at the moment. Half think I bought an extra last time, but can’t think where I stored it if I did.

Overall, its like the old one has just been refreshed. I don’t think Mrs has even realised, and probably won’t, until she spots the box from the new one under the stairs.

 

So 2017… how did it go.

IMG_2269I thought I had written one of these last year, but I didn’t. It was 2015 as I left Canberra.

So.

About Bikes

IMG_1016The Daytona does stirling service in a task it’s not really designed for… my daily commute. It’s had a couple of problems that have been fixed and just ticked over 50,000km. I have decided to replace it, but not sure when or with what. The front runners are still VFR and Ninja 1000. I also look forward to the possibility of a Sydney-Phillip Is MotoGP trip in the coming year… will I still have the Daytona?

I did get out on the track, one less successfully and a second was very rewarding and I do intend to do some more. I got a couple of hours fun up the Old Pac as well. I’m still slow by comparison, but I enjoy it. Sadly its currently in the shop over my Christmas break as the shifter stopped working properly and of course the parts supplier had already shut for the holidays.

IMG_2302I also discovered after a morning with a Bonneville, that I basically love riding, no matter the bike. There are some bikes I’ve ridden that I’ve liked less than others, but I’ve still liked the actual riding.

About Bike (Bicycles)

Err, they’ve mostly stayed in garage and the suburb, nothing to see here, move along….

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About Bytes

This has mostly had two focus… the limping on of my iMac and several panics as it has almost died. But it lives on as a study device, if not really anything else.

Otherwise it has been a few reviews of random stuff like AirPods and Scala Rider gear.

I have also talked about how I study without paper (mostly).

About Study

Nearly the biggest thing in my life this year has been the switch to Masters and two Practical placements that have encouraged me to think I can actually be a competent Primary Teacher AND I enjoy it. I’m currently in the 4th Study Period of the first year. I am on track to finish the whole thing by about March 2019.

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The iMac is in a medically induced coma…

I think that it is finally over for my long suffering iMac. I am considering some form of euthanasia for the poor thing. I’ve shut it down for now.

I’ve had it powered down as I was away for several days, however since restarting it, if left to its own devices it will reboot within about 15 mins. The heatsink (basically all of the rear of the aluminium casing) is very hot, even when all I am doing is some word processing and internet browsing. This is a symptom of the internal problems that are causing the trouble and has been steadily getting worse, certainly over the past 12 months or so. Still it’s fought on for at least 2 years since the problems resurfaced after replacing some internals some months before that (3 years ago maybe?). I suppose it has done pretty well for a 2009 computer.

For now I have returned to the PC, but I will need to replace the iMac. I guess this is the advantage of the way that study is accessed online these days. As long as you keep your work in the cloud, you can switch computers and devices as you desire.

Of course, it’s not all roses on the PC. For reasons I can’t figure out yet, it won’t let me upgrade or reinstall (as I uninstalled it during trouble shooting) Apple iTunes. Makes syncing with the various devices in our house, somewhat problematic. But there is no fear of a shutdown and the SSD is nice and fast….. again, this one is doing well for another 2009 computer, though with some upgrades about 4 years ago.

So a big purchase is expected shortly. I will also need to get a USB-C to HDMI/DP adaptor in order to connect the other screen to the new iMac as it’s currently connected through mini DP on the ’09 iMac. Extra dollars, I’m sure. On the plus side, through Apple Education pricing (which I should qualify for) I can get a set of Beats Wireless Headphones for nothing, worth about $400. Not something I would have chosen for myself, but if they’re giving them away…

With assessments due on Jan 8 and Jan 12 I really don’t need this!

AirPods – A Review

Like many people, I listen to music a lot. I listen in the car, on the bike, around the house (when I don’t get shouted down by the family), studying, walking around town, at work etc. And a fair chunk of that is using earphones. I’m no audiophile, so I’m generally happy with my normal earphones, which at the moment are the ones that came with my iPhones. They sit well in my ear and the cord is a nice length.

But the length isn’t always great, like when I’m working on a computer at home or at work. The cord dangles across the keyboard, or when it’s plugged into the back of the iMac it doesn’t really let me move about much.

So I thought about trying these AirPods out. I figured that as they also work with the iMac at the very least, it will make my study at home more pleasant. At work, I could use them to drown out all the other people’s radios and not have the cord dangling across my keyboard.

As I’m walking down the mall I unpacked the small box and was pleasantly surprised to find them partially charged, so they paired straight away and there I was, using them. I did feel a little self-conscious at first, but you have to realise this. If you put the normal Apple earphones (EarPods?) without the cord, next to the AirPod, they’re actually about the same dimensions, so they only look weird because there’s no cord, not because they are massive. And they are a LOT smaller than some of the Bluetooth phone earpieces that I’ve seen.

They have been really handy over the past month. When using them the range (as long as there are no walls in the way) is up to around 10m, which means I can move around the desk area, or the kitchen with the phone charging in one place, and listen to music without interruption. No cords to dangle over the keyboard or restrain your head.

Swapping between devices is probably the letdown. I vaguely recall Apple saying that they would swap automatically and they don’t. To be honest, I don’t know how you would implement that. Imagine you’re watching a video on your iPad and Facebooking on your phone. You probably wouldn’t want that pop-up video on Facebook to suddenly override the dramatic reveal in the movie.

But swapping is simple. Swipe up on iOS and then from the music widget select the little (almost looks like wifi symbol) and choose your headphones. A few seconds later you’ll hear a tone and the AirPods are now connected. Even on the iMac you select your Bluetooth drop down and connect to your AirPods.

I’ve set one ear to start/stop with a double tap and the other works on Siri. Voice clarity for someone on the other end seems pretty good, even on a busy street. Their volume level does seem a little quieter than the normal EarPods. Battery lasts for a while (several hours) and it’s only a short rest in the case and they have significant charge. I haven’t managed to empty the case yet, so not sure how many charges you’ll get out of that.

They are pricey, and I haven’t looked at any other Bluetooth headsets to compare.

Overall I have found the lack of cords as by far the best part of them. They are quieter with somewhat less bass than the regular iPhone earphones

Last Legs?

The iMac is starting to reboot often. Started this afternoon sometime. It seems to realise that it can’t wake from sleep so it reboots (and then can’t find the bluetooth keyboard). Happened about 4 times this evening.

I’ve removed the BT keyboard and I’ll see how that goes.

Next, I’m going to duplicate the Time Machine process on a new HDD.

Then I’ll look at a full rebuild, it’s probably well overdue anyway.

After that, if it is still occurring, I’ll have to consider retirement. Considering it’s a mid-2009 iMac, having lasted 8 years isn’t too bad.

Update: So after removing the BT keyboard and the Magic Trackpad (so now its the normal keyboard andMagic Mouse) the iMac has been behaving properly again. She fights on….. I wonder when the next iMac update is, 6 months away at least I expect. Not going to look at the iMac Pro, not required.

Paperless Study on iPad

I stumbled across the following YouTube channel, Paperless Student, while I was looking for a solution to a problem with PDFs on the iPad. It inspired me to write this post describing what I do to organise and carry out my study. This is a really long post so go ahead to the next page in your RSS feed if this isn’t of interest to you.

I am studying my degree via distance learning, with all of my lectures and assessments provided and submitted across the internet. I wanted to be able to study wherever I went, without having to lug textbooks or spending much money on stuff,  like a new laptop. I already had an iPad and wanted to see if I could use that as a focus, with minimal expenditure. I generally DO NOT use the iPad when I’m at home as I use a multiscreen iMac there. Though sometimes I use both at once, you can never have too many screens!

BUT, I have not been able to go completely paperless. I am studying Teaching, so that has required me to do some things on paper, visual arts, for example. In these cases, I have had to use paper or create objects, outside of the computer, but these have ended up in videos or images which have been submitted online.

Distance Learning

In some ways, it’s a little easier than if I was attending University as all of the information is already online for me. I view and respond in my own time. The teachers have generally provided a list of readings, usually including the textbook, perhaps some links to videos or websites of interest. I don’t know how I would go trying to take notes in class, live. Though the Apple Pencil and Stylus has already worked well in work meetings.

The university uses a system called Blackboard to provide these lessons. Alongside the pages providing each week’s topic, or assessment details etc, there is also a discussion board and the provision to join live tutorials (or view the recording). It is a little behind in its design and layout, however, it is pretty functional.

 

Assessments are submitted through this portal, and it also provides access to the university’s library. Obviously, library items that are physical cannot be read through the portal, but thousands of articles and readings are available online.

My Setup

I use the following software on the iPad. I’ll list them with a brief description, then give you some more details on how I use them further down.

  • Safari – Used to read all of the lectures.
  • OneNote – This is the core note-taking software that I use.
  • Word – This is used for writing my assessments.
  • Vitalsource Bookshelf – here are my textbooks
  • Stylus – this is a software keyboard that you can write and it converts to text (OCR)
  • Apple Pencil
  • Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard.

Using this and one or two speciality applications for particular assessments I can do 90% of my work on the iPad. The little bit left, I can still remain paperless, but I usually switch to my iMac. I expect that I could get the appropriate software (mostly creating PDFs and editing video) on the iPad, but it is already on the iMac and these are uncommon tasks.

OneNote

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Microsoft provides this free. This links in well as the university provides us with an Office365 subscription and OneDrive space. I use a single notebook for each course (in this case Master of Teaching). I split that into a tab for each unit (so Practical Placement 1, Teaching Arts in Primary School, etc). Then pages as I require, including subpages. Usually each week’s notes, lectures and questions get a single page.

I copy the weekly lesson information from the Safari page into OneNote. This allows me to access it offline and it means I have it saved for after the unit is completed. It also allows me to write notes immediately alongside or below questions posed in the text. This is just copied straight from Safari. OneNote also allows the inclusion of links to videos and webpages so these are not lost when I copy.

I did use the Bluetooth keyboard almost exclusively, but since switching to an iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, I’ve started to use the Stylus system more. I will still use the keyboard when I want to do lots of typing, but sometimes I can’t or don’t want to have as big a setup as this (such as doing some study when I’m in a work meeting!), or I just have a couple of things to write I will use the Pencil.

Another advantage of OneNote is that it syncs quickly and completely across every platform I use. I can access my notes on iPhone, iPad, iMac, PC and I think even Online (but my work systems don’t let me access OneDrive at work – still I suppose I should be working anyway!)

Vitalsource Bookshelf

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WOW, eTEXTBOOKS are so awesome. So far my success in finding the correct ebook version of the prescribed text has been 100%, but I dread the day when this doesn’t work. So far they have also been compatible with Vitalsource’s Bookshelf application. Currently I have about 9 texts in my iPad and my iPhone. Imagine carrying that pile of books to work everyday! I’d need a second motorcycle (I need one anyway though!).

The next two advantages of etext are ease of searching (and Bookshelf allows you to search each book or your entire library) and highlighting/notetaking. Just as you might (I was NEVER one to do this) get out your highlighter as you’re reading – you can do just that in Bookshelf. Then you can read through the list of highlights/notes and find what you were looking for, without having to read the whole book. And these sync across devices/web access.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 09.53.06This is great for writing assignments. You can quickly find references, even across multiple textbooks. And by having other books available, you can build a better assignment by providing multiple sources. For example, even while using the Creative Technologies text, I can quickly switch into searching and referencing a text on Educational Psychology or Assessment Techniques. And I can do this even when I am not at home as I have all the texts with me.

Lastly, eTexts tend to be cheaper than purchasing new. Most are lifetime though I’ve noticed a couple are 5 or 10 year “rentals”.

Other Pieces of the Puzzle.

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The Apple Pencil was initially pretty disappointing actually. I found that I was only using it to make the selection of text in texts easier. It was also handy for sketching and brainstorming in OneNote, however by adding Stylus OCR Keyboard, it’s really starting to shine. I almost feel as if the iPad is finally as easy to use as my ancient Palm devices were (I really got used to writing quickly in Palm’s Graffiti)

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Blackboard, the system the university uses, has recently updated its applications (I suspect the impending release of iOS 11 and it’s lack of support for 32bit applications was the catalyst). I really only use it if I want to join in the online class discussions when I’m not at home (where I would do it on my iMac).

Difficulties, Current Issues

Submitting assessments – I’ve only done this once on the iPad. Blackboard’s submission portal would only accept files from the PC, or from Google’s Drive or Dropbox. Not the OneDrive that they provide for us (go figure that!). The iPad doesn’t have a “Files” (wait and see with OS11 and the Files application), but you can select things from your iCloud. I can’t remember exactly how I did it, but I saved my OneDrive file to iCloud (I think through Pages on the iPad) and then uploaded from there into Blackboard. It was complicated, but the assessment was due (on Christmas Eve no less!) and I was on an overseas holiday, so I couldn’t just get onto the iMac.

Highlighting PDFs – Currently, if I open a PDF in Safari (from the university library) I can save it into iBooks. However, once there, I can’t highlight any of the text. I’m writing this on the 17 September and on 20 September (I guess 21 September down under) iOS 11 is released and one of the new things they have added is the Markup feature. In iBooks, it appears that you will be able to highlight text. I will pause my hunt for a solution to this until after I upgrade to that.

*this is how I stumbled across Paperless Student in the first place.

Word on iPad vs Word on Desktop – There are a few formatting features that are either not available on the iPad version or just more difficult to use. Subsequently, I tend to finalise my assessments (usually it’s about formatting the reference list, they have a particular indent setup they require). This is where I also convert to PDF and sometimes put several PDF together. I think that there are probably ways I could do this on the iPad, but I don’t (haven’t yet anyway) need to. I am still paperless, but just not locked into the iPad. It also links into being easier to submit from here too.

Last words

I may not have headed down this path if I already had a light notebook but I haven’t owned a laptop for about 8 or 9 years. I’ve occasionally considered it, but I converted from Palm to iPad (long before I had an iPhone) with the release of the first iPad and haven’t really been convinced to go back to a laptop. I will admit that in some cases, if I’d had a MacBook (or Air) I would have found things easier, but then somethings, such as built-in cellular, and the stylus input are a distinct advantage for the iPad.

I store all my assessments and work on OneDrive, however I also keep a copy on my iMac (which is also backed up through Time Machine). I figure that between me and Microsoft, I’m unlikely to lose an assessment in those critical panicked few minutes around submission!

Paperless wasn’t the goal, having all my notes and references available in a small package that I could easily take to work or on travel was the goal. Paperless is a happy side-effect.