Musings Review

Two Years At NetNumber

As tradition dictates,
once another year passes I must write up my thoughts.

What Did I Learn This Year?

1. My gun affair is not abating. If anything my collecting has increased in
scope, complexity, and intensity. This has been unhelpful in terms of my long
stated and long running goal of retiring early. That said there
have been some nice unexpected benefits. I enjoy the atmosphere at the local
club and this hobby is a good excuse to get outside on occasion. I am hoping to
cool things down a bit this year as my collection rounds out, but I remain
vigilant for new pieces. Right now this happens to be French rifles.
I cannot imagine why

2. Metallic cartridge reloading. Riffing off the above, I was able to reload
small batches of cartridges this year (~200 or so total) in a few differing
calibers. I considered taking a class on this, but instead I got a book and
watched a lot of videos on the subject. This was sufficient to get me going,
but I am still considering a class so I can clarify some of the finer points.
This will be a skill I need to curate as my collecting habits lead me to pieces
with no commercially available ammo. As a collector who shoots everything he
has I will need to be able to “roll my own” as they say.

3. Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects. I used both of these applications
extensively for my April 15th project.
After Effects was definitely required, given all the rotoscoping I had to do,
but I probably could have gotten away with using my old standby, Sony Vegas. I
just wanted to branch out and try some other editing suites to see what they
offered. What I found was I still prefer Sony Vegas, but it was a fun diversion
to see how other applications handle similar tasks. I do like how Premiere
manages effects on video clips though. Luckily, I tend not require a lot of
that so it is no huge loss.

4. I am not a huge racing fan. After dabbling with a Lemons racing team for over a
year I decided that the racing life was not for me and retired. We did have
some success, taking home an Organizer’s Choice award at our
first race
, but I decided that it was just too much of a time and money
sink and I did not have the passion to needed continue. I do however still
follow the team’s progress and some parts of the car mysteriously keep finding
their way to me.

5. Corn tortillas are weak. Flour is the ultimate tortilla. I tried corn
again this year, just in case my taste buds have changed, but I can report they
remain loyal to the one true tortilla.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

1. Civil war reenacting. I mentioned this last year, but I feel more serious
about it this year. That has not translated into any tangible actions yet, but
with the money from the racing team freed up I think the stars are starting to
align. This also lines up nicely with me wanting to go to more reenactments in
general. There are a couple groups in MA I will investigate.

2. Convention Panel Running. Last year I ran a panel at Connecticon on
firearm history and federal law. I think it went well (people showed up) and I
am planning on running it again this
. I am hoping to spread out and bring it to other conventions, but I
accept it can be a hard sell.

3. A new convention somewhere out west (we must go west young beans!). I
think right now we have a good distribution and mix of conventions we go to,
but I would like to rotate in a new one to try. Maybe Gen Con or Anime North in

4. Podcasting. I had so much fun doing this video about my April 15th project that
I would like to do it again. I am not sure about what though or with whom. More
research will be required.

What did I Fail at This Year?

1. Saving money. It is the same refrain as last year. I did increase my
savings rate, but I will need to do better if I want to retire early. So long
as I keep my hobbies though, this is looking doubtful.

2. Cooking. I have felt in a bit of a recipe rut as of late. The problem is
I am too comfortable with my normal standbys so it is hard to branch out.
Oftentimes I will find some new interesting recipe, but I will be intimidated
by the steps or the new ingredients. I think I need to find simpler

3. Lawn care. That said, is it really failing if you do not care about the
outcome? I do occasionally wish the grass looked a little nicer.

4. Home improvement. Last year I said I would work on the downstairs
bathroom. The downstairs bathroom has not been worked on. The mission

Projects Review

Lets Get NASty

I want to talk a bit today about my storage setup, specifically my NAS or
Network Attached Storage. I have been running my system for a little over a
year now and have had no issues so it is a good time to give a brief half
review, half description of setup. I started considering a longer term storage
setup when the available space on my desktop began to dwindle. I am a bit of
“digital hoarder” if you will, constantly butting up against my limit. When
space is so cheap and ubiquitous why throw anything out? The problem with this
is you always need to be increasing your capacity. At the time I was getting my
NAS my several year old external drive had failed, another drive in my desktop
was faltering, and the rest of the case was already filled up with other
drives. I did not want to get rid of my existing drives and I also wanted a
better solution than continuing to lock data to my desktop. Enter the
ReadyNAS 104

The first thing you need to know about NASs (NASes?) is that there are a ton
of models on the market featuring wildly different prices and sets of features.
You will need to determine what you want out of your NAS before you consider
purchasing one. For me I had just two requirements:

1. Four drive slots. This allows for a ton of storage and is very flexible
when it comes to determining your RAID setup. 2. Minimum computational
performance, I do not need my NAS to be a file server or another computer. I
need to put files on it and get files off, that is all.

With those requirements you can pretty much be satisfied with things at the
low end of the market, hence the ReadyNAS 104. Your real cost on the low end
here is going to be in drives. I went with four of these
for a total capacity of 16 terabytes. Total (including the NAS) this
ran me $1045.94. You could cheap out here and go for smaller drives or slower
drives. From what I read 5600RPM drives work just as well, albeit slower. I
went max size and max speed because I wanted a long term solution. There were
at the time some rebates, but I do not remember how much they were for. As far
as quality of drives this particular brand came recommended, but other brands
are just as well regarded.

For setup I configured the drives in RAID 5 (~10TBs of space). Take a moment
to read up on the different RAID options here. In my opinion
RAID 5 gives you the best space efficiency (you lose about 1/4 of the capacity
compared to 1/2 in some other configurations) and reasonable fault tolerance
(you can lose one drive and not lose any data). I do not want to lose data, but
then again it is not exactly mission critical. Actually formatting and
configuring the drives takes about a full day so sit tight. After that there is
not much other configuration to be done. Plug it into your router and it should
assign itself a local IP address automatically. It would be wise to configure a
static address in your router’s control panel so its not always changing on
you, but this is not required. You can access your system via its IP and (at
least on Windows) it will appear like one giant network drive.

Of course since your NAS is basically a low powered computer you can run any
number of programs on it. The ReadyNAS people helpfully have a site with some options. I myself jun run
qbittorent for my torrenting needs, but there are some useful apps to be found.
If you are handy with the command line you can SSH into your NAS and do
whatever you want since it runs Linux.

For daily use a NAS is pretty helpful. Transfer times can be slow since I
connect through mine wirelessly, but its not terribly slow. Think a few minutes
for a couple GBs. It is certainly quick enough to stream video from itself to
your computer which is what I primarily use it for. Although when initially
transferring all your files to it I suggest hooking up an external drive. There
are a few USB ports on the back so it can mount drives, but I could not figure
how to connect it physically to my desktop.

In regards to configuration you can mostly roll with stock settings. I
suggest disabling file snap shots, which
can be a bit of a pain
, but will save you a lot of space. I also recommend
enabling SSH access (so you can fiddle with things yourself) and enabling “Disk
Spin Down” to both conserve power and the life of your drives.

Overall a NAS is a little pricey, but it is a convenient way to get a lot of
storage you can access from anywhere in the house. It also allows you to sleep
safe knowing your files are backed up. Granted its not off site, but if your
house burns down you probably have bigger things to concern yourself with.

Review TV

Review:Real Love

Real Love is a six
episode romantic comedy weighing in at about 2.5 hours, about a bunch of
friends living in a Boston apartment a few years out of college. It is not my
usual fare, but it was actually kickstarted
by some people I know so I had to watch it. As such, I am not sure I can be
totally unbiased (honest) with my review, but I will do my best. Some minor
spoilers abound so if you want a pure viewing experience skip to the


Real love is a story about trying to find out whats next. In that sense it
captures the feel of TV shows like Freak and Geeks and
Undeclared. Without
spoiling too much of the plot, we spend most of our time watching the
interaction between Dylan and Beth. The back and forth play between them and
the other characters is funny, but still manages to be poignant at times. There
is a real good sense of characters just trying figure things out which
especially appeals to me. Some of the plot beats I found a little jarring, such
as the early marriage proposal between two characters and the strange closeness
already apparent between Dylan and Beth. I did not know the characters well
enough to understand why they were acting this way early on. Speaking more to
the script there is quite a lot of humor to be found here. A number of jokes
keep reoccurring and seemed to only get funnier the more they happened. I was a
little concerned things would get a bit cheesy, but the writing smartly avoids
these pitfalls and kept things feeling real. The plot moves along briskly,
there are no wasted scenes, and the dialogue is believable and not loaded down
with exposition.


There are four main characters, and three side characters. Of the main
characters my favorite would have to be Dylan. The actor, Patrick Skeyhill,
always manages to capture an otherworldly physicality that is really quite
humorous. He elevates normal scenes to funny scenes with just his comic
actions. Beth, played by Courtland Jones, is the emotional strength of the
series. She brings the gravitas and is a good foil to the general silliness of
Dylan. The other two main characters (played well by Richard Nickerson as Liam
and Jess Corey as Emma) provide a good compliment to each other and push the
plot forward. Jess generally plays it pretty straight, but her husband to be,
Richard, always has a non-sequitur to mix things up.

The side characters play effective roles in support of the plot. Eddie,
played by, Nick Wakely has a deep thundering accent and his strange thought
trains always keep the scenes he is in light. Adam, Beth’s boyfriend for most
of the film, is perhaps a bit too earnest, but that makes his deadpan line
delivery all the more funny. Finally Cara, portrayed by Katie O’Connor, is
perfect in her role as the crazy ex-girlfriend of Dylan. Her manic delivery and
borderline crazy voice provides a real believable edge to her character which
she uses to good effect.


You can see the indie roots most clearly in the technical aspects of the
film. The film quality is generally good, but scenes with a lot of light
suffer. Windows and doors to the outside are often bathed in high intensity
light. It looks odd and it was distracting. In addition I think some of the
characters lines were overdubbed in post and it did not sound good. It was not
super noticeable, but I did notice it.

In general I liked the score, I am not much of a musical fan so it is kind
of hard to judge this aspect of it, but I thought it complimented the emotional
feel of the scenes nicely. That said sometimes it felt like the music was too
overwhelming. Some scenes would have been better if the music was less obvious
or quieter. Shot selection was pretty standard, nothing too creative. One of
the few times Real Love gets clever is the pan from midday to a night time
party scene. It is smartly used and makes the transition slick. I would have
liked to see some smoother cuts, as most of time the camera just seemed to
bounce from character to character.


If you buy the special edition DVD (which I did), you get all six episodes,
the prologue, the soundtrack, and two audio commentary tracks. I have listened
to some of both commentary tracks and they provide good insight and more
laughs. I wish the DVD had included the deleted scenes and shorts they mention
in the commentary, but that might have required another DVD so it is not a big
deal. The case insert is good quality and its simple design looks nice on the


I liked this film, It had important things to say about life after college
and it was funny enough to not take itself so serious all the time. You can buy
it via their store.

Back of the box quote: “Real good, real funny, worth your money.”

Anime Review

Review: Knights of Sidonia (Season 1)

The very first review on the blog! This show just completed its run so here
are some thoughts on it in the form of a review. Be prepared for some light

Knights of
is a 12 episode space mecha following the pursuits of Nagate
Tanikaze as he and others try and defend their massive colony/seed ship the
Sidonia from the inscrutable Gauna. As such this is mostly an action anime in
the same vein as Attack on Titan or The Pilot’s Love Song. Let us get to the


A lively show, the plot starts fast and the pace is pretty steady
throughout. This is a show about people struggling to survive in a harsh
environment against an implacable enemy and as such very little time is spent
on fluff. Viewers of Attack on Titan will find much they are already familiar
with. This season does not have an overarching plot, but instead has a few mini
arcs throughout. Overall things are hard to predict and the suspense is high
enough to keep you looking forward to the next episode.

Setting and Characters

As far as anime goes, the settings is farm fresh. Not many animes are set in
space these days and furthermore not many pay service to the realities of
operating in a vacuum. Sidonia does and in a big way. Major plot points revolve
around the physics of acceleration and the difficulties in regards to resources
of running a society in a closed environment. Characters are probably Sidonia’s
weakest point. Our main antagonist is a bit plain both emotionally and back
story wise. The supporting characters (other pilots, officers) are a little
better, but some fulfill your standard anime tropes : rival to the main
protagonist, bubbly girl classmate, etc.

Animation Quality

The animation quality is high, but viewers may be put off by the heavy use
of CGI for characters and the mecha themselves. I do not mind, but if you found
Arpeggio of Blue
hard to watch because of this, you should probably give this show a
pass. If this does not bother you then enjoy the high quality visuals on
display here. The Sidonia looks fantastic, clearly this ship has been an
evolving home for a desperate people for many hundreds of years. The mechs
themselves are well thought out and their cockpits are the most sensible I have
ever seen. Battle scenes are lush, dynamic, and well choreographed.


High marks in this category. The OP is a nice mix between orchestral
military theme and high energy JPop. The ED is restrained and brooding and
always a good finish to an episode. Music throughout the series complements the
action or the drama well, but nothing ever stood out for me. Sound effects wise
Knights of Sidonia has a knack for capturing just the right mechanical effects.
Consequently all the mechs, ships, machines sound great. Voice work is pretty
standard, no one seemed off their game. I do award high marks to the voice
actor of the captain who just seemed a bit better than everybody else.


This is a well done show. If you like mechs, SciFi, or Attack on Titan give
it a watch. If you do not like it by episode four you can probably drop it. I
award it 18 lead bricks out of five oddly situated bear characters.