Make a Solar Power supply

Solar power is a finicky animal.  Yes It's just DC power but it's wildly fluctuating DC power.   Depending on the day, clouds, shadows, etc..  a solar panel can output 20Volts to 5 Volts and everything in between in the matter of seconds.   Plus solar panels are kind of wierd.  you have two voltages and two amperages to think about.   Open circuit and max power.    Max power is where you want to calculate things as I assume with solar power you want as much power you can generate.  But if your load drops off, things will change.   So treating a solar panel like a battery just does not work.

You can buy solar chargers,  But they are designed to charge a battery,  some times you just want a power supply that is somewhat stable, and in my case that is exactly what I want.  a 13.5 volt power supply that replicates a car's electrical system (no your car is not 12 volts, when it's running it's 13.5 or higher.  Go ahead and grab your voltmeter and check.) for a QRP Ham radio portable station that I like to bring camping.   I dont want to carry a battery with me as the radio has a built in battery pack,  but I do want to run off of free solar power during the day as well as charge that internal battery pack.  So I decided to build a very simple regulator power supply to stick to the back of a small solar panel I have.
I bought off of ebay a couple of years ago, several 10 watt small solar panels for $20 each,  I was going to set them up to run a couple of LED lamps in a shed but instead decided this project will be more fun and useful.    They were sold as 12 volt 10 watt panels,  but solar panels dont work that way.  These panels are actually 18 volt 10 Watt peak power panels that have an open circuit voltage of 24 volts.  so depending on the power draw the voltage will change.  These numbers are also under perfect conditions on a clear day.  Reality is that you never ever get perfect conditions.    Add to the whole mix that I want to power a portable HF radio and I need to be careful as to what kind of voltage regulation I want to use.    A switching supply is highly efficient but will generate a TON of RF noise, so I need to use something that is quiet and lives in the DC world.  Linear Regulators are where I needed to go, specifically the good old 7812 regulator from the 78xx series of linear regulators.    These regulators have been around for ever and are available in a 5V 9V 12V and 15V flavors.   But what if I want a different voltage?  well you can do some tricks to make them adjustable, but I like to simply put a couple of diodes on the ground leg to "lift" the ground voltage and fool the regulator.   Diodes do not conduct electricity perfectly, they have some loss, and typically you get from 0.3 to 0.7 volts lost.  I want high power diodes so I am looking at 0.7 volts lost.  Putting two on the ground leg will give me 1.4 volts.   This will lift the 7812 regulator up to 13.4 volts or 13.5 after all losses and rounding. 

But, the 7812 regulator NEEDS 2.5Volts of power higher than the output.  so a 7812 needs 14.5V at a minimum to work properly, adding another 1.5 with the diodes that brings us up to 16V needed at a minimum from the solar panel to work.   Luckily the panel I have runs at 18V at peak power draw so I have 2 volts of safety margin.  I can already hear everyone out there screaming about my choice in voltage regulator,  Yes they waste power.  These old 78XX regulators can waste up to 50% of the power IF the supply voltage is too high.   I am going to be 2 volts higher than what the regulator wants so this should work just fine and only lose about 25% of the power to heat.   I could get away with 1Amp diodes, but I like to over design for safety.  I will never really see 1 amp of power through them unless things go sideways, but it can get close to a half amp if I do not have a load connected to the regulated side.  

Each 7812 an handle about 1.3 amps,  I have two so I can handle more than the 2Amps needed by my radio when it is transmitting at full power.  Again I like a safety margin in my designs. I might want to add a second device, or even use it to charge a couple of cellphones when not used for my radio.  building in some extra capacity means you can use your projects for more tasks in the future without a redesign.  For example, staying at 13.5 volts I can actually use this to charge a lead acid battery, because it's voltage is less than the 13.8/14.0 Volts that a typical lead acid wants for full charge it can not overcharge the battery if left connected.  Granted it will not have the ability to charge a dead car battery, but a very small 12V sealed gel battery will work just fine to even out a partly cloudy day for my radio.  So I do have the option of upgrading the system with a small lead acid or even a LiFePo4 battery that is very tolerant to charging in this way.  Battery charging is it's own animal,  I will not be covering it with this circuit. 


Newbie to used BMW ownership: Realities and falsehoods of buying and owning a used BMW.

I did it, I took the plunge and jumped from domestics and "economy brands" to full on BMW ownership.  I don't make brand new BMW kind of income, so I am one of those icky dirty plebs that buy used,  and not even "Certified Preowned" used, but Under $12 Grand high mileage used.   That's right I bought a 8 year old over 100,000 mile AS-IS BMW.   I can already hear people screaming out there in the internet as to the error of my ways,  and all of them are completely wrong.

First let's get some facts about buying a used BMW.   First,  Carfax is 100% worthless for anything in a premium brand.  BMW does not report anything to Carfax, and from what I learned, neither does Audi, Mercedes, VW, etc..  In fact it seems that Carfax is pretty darn useless outside of showing if the car was completely totaled.  So do not waste your time with a carfax....  the BMW dealerships do have a full service history on the car,  but they do not want to give it to you.  Used car buyers are the bane of BMW and they will use some BS like "protecting the security of the previous owner" for the reason to not tell you what was done to the car.  You have a better chance of getting the information after you buy it, but no way in hell is any BMW dealer going to give you any of that information before you buy a car.  BMW dealers hate used car buyers, so get used to being treated like a 3rd class citizen when you go to one. If you are very lucky you live near an honest dealer and you will find someone to work with.

So you need to do one of two things.   either pay to have the car fully  inspected at a BMW dealer, About $450.00 or if you are actually skilled at vehicle maintenance and repair look it over yourself or with a friend that is very good at cars.   BMW cars are not magical unicorns, they are 100% identical in the important parts to a ford, toyota, honda.  The engine has pistons that go up and down, they have a transmission that is pretty much the same as all other car's transmissions, and they have electrical systems with undersized wires compared to american cars.  But are identical to Japanese cars.   when you look at the different systems they are not special, just a little different and need some different tools.   Even the computer system can be managed by a home shade-tree mechanic if you are willing to learn.  Lastly BMW makes service interval claims that are outlandish.  15,000 miles for oil changes are fine for a 3 year old car coming off lease.  7500 miles are more realistic.  BMW service intervals are set to lower costs for dealerships as the first 4 years all service is "free".

Your next stop is edmunds and kelly blue book.  Look up the car's year and mileage with condition.  THAT is what you should pay,  any cars listed higher than that price should be showroom new condition or ultra rare like a 1982 M1.  Sadly a lot of sellers do not want to admit do the depreciation BMW has, walk away from those people with their car listed with a high selling price.

So listen to the car,  when started cold what does it do?  is there any engine ticks that go away after it warms up?   a high mileage engine may have those noises and the ticks that disappear are fine.  Ticks that do NOT go away are a worry.  how does the exhaust smell? gas? oil?  get an ODB-II code reader and read the codes, both stored and pending.  is there any?  etc...  Brake fluid, does it look clean and new?  this one is highly important.   Coolant is it a clean clear blue or is it grey?   Oil color and condition is harder as there is no dipstick anymore on BMW engines. you can open the filter housing on top but you might cause a leak if you do as the o-ring should be replaced every time it's opened.  Be wary if they don't have proof of recent service like oil changes. But also look at the rest of the car how was it maintained?  s it full of dents as if the owner did not care and let it get knocked around?  this is a red flag that the previous owners did not care about the car so may have missed service.  does the interior look new or is it ragged and dirty?  again a red flag that the car was not cared about.  The car is going to have some wear, the leather in the drivers seat will not be perfect,  dirty carpet, etc.  BMW Steering wheel plastic pieces are coated with a very low grade rubberized plastic that shows wear fast. So those are normal to see a lot of wear on.  Are all the tools in the tool slots or tool kit? is the spare still there (if the car has a spare) Look for the jack is it the real jack? Don't go looking for the BMW first aid kit or safety kit.  Those are removed before importing due to US regulations.  Do not be afraid to ask the seller to lower the price for anything wrong.  BMW's lose value rapidly.  My 2007 X3 sold new for $49,900  It's now worth $11,500 and anything wrong like AC not working you need to instantly remove $2500-$3000 from the selling price as that is how much it will take to have it fixed.  Also do not be afraid of walking away from it. there are 10,000 more just like it out there. Dont fall in love with a specific car as that will be your doom. If anything just does not feel right to you, walk away from that car there are many many more out there in better shape, everything working, or with full service proof in hand.   One last thing I check that is a tell tale that the frontend had some major work.  Check the headlight alignment.  if they are aiming very low, someone had the frontend completely disassembled or had to replace the headlamps, this is a HUGE red flag if they don't admit it was in a major accident and had the front end repaired.  Also a 120,000 mile car with no stone chips in the hood is a telltale of front end repairs unless the owner has proof they had a shop do paint repair, some shops are really good and can fix stone chips to nearly invisible.

You also need to hit the forums and learn what the common failures are.  My BMW X3 the water pump will fail by 100,000 miles.  It's so guaranteed of a failure that BMW even has it as a item on the suggested replacement schedule.   For example all BMW 4WD/AWD vehicles will have the plastic gear strip out on the Transfer case that selects power transfer.  BMW does not sell this tiny $30.00 gear, instead they will sell you a $1200 transfer case selector assembly, this is another guaranteed failure.   Panoramic sunroofs fail a lot due to another plastic gear and nobody actually cleaning and lubricating the sunroof mechanisms yearly.  Learn what to expect as common failures on the BMW you are looking at, look at the solutions as well.  Also remember that only the people that complain will post,  the people that have perfect running cars that ran trouble free for 500,000 miles will not post on the forums about problems.  BMW actually has a reputation for being very reliable, their inline 6cyl engines are known to be indestructible if they are taken care of.  Little things like the power seats, heated steering wheels, auto dim mirrors, radios and navigation fail all the time, those are no big deal as a dead radio will not leave you stranded.

Lastly do not believe that you have to use special BMW fluids for your car. BMW simply relabeled common products that meet the standards they  were looking for.   Castrol 0W30 synthetic  is the BMW special 5W30 needed for many of their cars, places like rock auto can get you BMW filters for significantly less than the dealership, so if you want to change your oil yourself, you can do it in your driveway for $45.00 instead of the $165.00 the dealership charges.  And that is where BMW get's its reputation for being expensive.  The dealerships charge close to $300 an hour for labor because most BMW owners will not bat an eye at anything under $2000 for service on their cars. As a Poor BMW enthusiast  you have to do most of your own work. By learning skills, getting the manuals and getting the tools needed you can save tens of thousands of dollars and actually afford to drive a car that really is the "ultimate driving machine".


Selling your soul; my first step into the Microsoft Surface eco system

I am a Tech Geek.  I have been a tablet user far longer than almost everyone as I started with a Dauphin DTR1, the very first tablet computer back in 1994.  It was impractical in every way but in other ways it was incredibly functional and obvious that it was the way of the future.  From that point I have used pretty much every tablet ever made, and I was overjoyed when Apple got it right with the ipad.  The UI being designed from the ground up to be touch based solved all the problems that others before it had.  Windows 3.11 for pen computing, Windows for Tablets, Windows XP all worked but were clunky in every way as you kept running into keyboard and precision pointer needs.  the iPad solved all those and with Android hot on the heels created some of the best tablets we have ever had in the history of computing.  Android and iOS both created very useable and smooth interfaces that changed the world and brought us the true Star Trek data pad we all have seen and wanted.

But for me it has always been a slight miss, I do some things with computers that 99% of the world does not.  Tuning and troubleshooting motorcycles and cars via the ODB-II interface simply has no real software or hardware options on Android Tablets or Apple iPads.  Same goes for Ham Radio software as well as what I use for my profession as an AV programmer.   It is getting better, but 3 years later I still need software and apps  that Android and iOS just do not have, so I need to return to the Windows Ecosystem.  That means a Microsoft Surface Pro, and after research the Pro 3 is not worth the money, but you can get from several sources Microsoft Refurbished Pro 1 tablets for around $350.00 in like new shape.  Ok, I'll take the risk on one at that price, at worst I can install Ubuntu on it and have a linux tablet to earn some nerd street cred.  NewEgg had some refurbs so I ordered one.   At first glance this "old and fat" surface is not bad at all, the screen is incredibly clear and easy to read even at it's 10.2" size,  I do like the true 16:9 aspect ratio more than the apple standard.   But I cant play with it yet, just like the Xbox One experience I have to wait a few hours while it downloads and installs about 900,000 updates.   it seems that microsoft never updates their internal image files to include any updates, so devices that get refurbished get installed the oldest possible OS image available.  That means waiting for downloads, updates, reboots, more downloads, updates, reboots...  it sure looks nice while its updating..... and the updates are forced, I tried to install some software from the store before updating... but everything complained that I was out of date and only after updating will I be able to install software.   Knowing that this is the typical Microsoft Operating standard, I complied.....  3 hours later and it's still updating, this time around it's on update 73 of 108.

It is now 6 actual hours later and I have updated the tablet enough to install windows 8.1 update.  That only took another hour and now the tablet is useable.  Yes it's still the horribly outdated old Surface Pro 1 but it's 100% useful.  Sadly it suffers from all the problems I have experienced with previous Windows on Tablets iterations.   99% of all software out there is not designed for a tablet and is klunky, including internet explorer.  Microsoft still has a long way to go with their on screen keyboard, it covers up what you are trying to type in and is freakishly huge.  It's nice to type on, but honestly taking up 50% of the screen is just nuts.  Sadly microsoft is typical and you can not download and install a better keyboard.  This is the #1 reason why everyone buys the $160 keyboard cover.   Windows 8.1 is actually brilliant on a touchscreen device, that same interface when used with a mouse makes people want to murder puppies.  After learning some of the strange UI quirks, like the start boxes will not show the menu options until you let go of them it's fairly easy to get around.   I understand that I inflict this klunkyness on myself by getting the pro and the full OS.  and to be honest, Windows 8/8.1 is massively better than Linux is in the tablet/touchscreen world.  I have never understood why there has not been a touch based windows manager ever made for Linux/BSD.

Build quality is nothing like an ipad,  it just feels cheap, and that kick stand really needs to go away, yet microsoft tried to tout it as a reason to get it in their ads.... very odd.   Using this tablet for the Car ODB-II scanning and performance tuning will work just fine, in fact it will be a lot more convenient as you can get a suction cup window mount for a tablet so it can stick there on the dashboard while I drive and collect data.    ECM programming on the motorcycle will also be a lot easier, although I know the screen will be completely unreadable when outside in the sun.  But where I am really excited is that my ham radio hobby I can now run all the digital modes with standard desktop software.   Yes it will have uses at work as well, I will be able to just grab the tablet and do some basic tweaking or uploading to a customers Crestron system without having to break out the laptop, as well as use some of the really good acoustic room tuning software that you need a full PC for.

 Would I buy a Surface Pro 3 for the $1299 to $1499 price point?   Nope,  this is just not worth the price of a premium high end laptop without the processing power and expandability, they really should have been priced the same as the iPad.  What would I pay extra for?  get rid of the kick stand (yes that again) and make it 1mm thicker to deliver a replaceable battery and a door to access the mSATA SSD drive for upgrading.  Hack if they used a decent engineer, the back panel would side off after a couple of screws removed and allow you to release the front plate and LCD to deliver some repairability.  Yes I know that the ipad is not really repairable, but it's $399 and not $1299.  at $1299 I want at least the illusion of repairability or upgradability.  Overall I am happy with my purchase, it's fast as any i5 laptop and the 4gb of ram is plenty for every task I throw at it.  the 64 gig of space is in reality less than 30gb because the OS and the recovery partition takes up all of that.  I'll be installing a 64gig MicroSD card for file storage.  and when I get bored with it, I may even try to set it up to dual boot linux/windows so I can impress the Linux nerds at work with an Ubuntu Tablet.

Installing Linux on a HP media home server (X310)

I was given a broken HP media home server model X310 by a customer after it failed.  Windows home server is not the most stable thing in the world and it was what had the problem along with a hard drive failure.  So I decided,  let's try to install linux and make it a real server.

If you look these up online, everyone says you have to buy an expensive $80 device to get the VGA and keyboard available so you can install linux.   This is complete hogwash if you want to install ubuntu linux.  All you need is a PC you can install the hard drive in to install ubuntu server and make a few tweaks.

Download ubuntu server, I chose 32 bit as these boxes don't have more than 4gig of ram in them. Make a USB bootable stick for it (I used  Linux Live creator as I am lazy and used a windows machine to make the stick.)  or you can burn a CD/DVD to install the server OS on the target hard drive.   After you make the disc, open up the PC you will use as the surrogate and disconnect all hard drives.  Now plug your target drive into the machine and set it someplace safe, and run the full install of Ubuntu server.  let it complete, and configure your network eth0 as you like it.  I chose a .10 address for mine.

Finish,  reboot and check if it's ok in the surrogate machine.   Good? now shutdown and install the disk in the HP mini home server and boot it up. give it about 10 minutes and then give up trying to ping it.   It's not going to work.  What we need is the Ubuntu install to detect and save the information we need for the mac address of the ethernet connection in the little server box.  Remove the drive and re-hook it to the surrogate...  boot to your ubuntu install and log in

edit the following file....


 /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules


You will see the following......

# This file was automatically generated by the /lib/udev/write_net_rules

# program, run by the persistent-net-generator.rules rules file.
#
# You can modify it, as long as you keep each rule on a single
# line, and change only the value of the NAME= key.


SUBSYSTEM=="net", ACTION=="add", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTR{address}=="00:66:FF:0f:63:ef", ATTR{dev_id}=="0x0", ATTR{type}=="1", KERNEL=="eth*", NAME="eth0"

SUBSYSTEM=="net", ACTION=="add", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTR{address}=="00:FF:2d:FE:88:ef", ATTR{dev_id}=="0x0", ATTR{type}=="1", KERNEL=="eth*", NAME="eth1"

You might see more, but the very last entry is the network card in your HP home server.  change ETH0's mac address to match the last entry.   Now delete all entries except for  ETH0, save and shutdown.

Remove the drive, install it in your HP home server and boot.  Enjoy a linux home server that puts Microsoft Home server to shame. and spend the $80 you saved by not buying that "debugging cable" that all the HP home server forums say you need to buy to install linux.

Now how about those front panel LED's?  they dont work under linux.    
https://github.com/merelin/mediasmartserverd is where you can find the fix for that, I had to compile it and install it by hand,  which is not bad after you get gcc and G++ installed.  I copied it into /opt and added it as a daemon in my init.d and all seems to be running fine on my X310

I also wanted to add the "web based" easy control panel to further simulate an appliance instead of just having a raw Ubuntu server.  so I installed  http://ajenti.org/  if you follow their instructions for ubuntu server it's quite painless except it doesnt work under 14.10....    https://github.com/Eugeny/ajenti/issues/618 has the information that fixes the issue.    Now I have a nice click and drool user interface to my server, and I even installed kernel updates to the server through it with just a couple of clicks.  Remember; if you make kernel changes under ubuntu, the GRUB bootloader will not auto run on the next boot.  Your server will be stuck at a boot screen until you plug in a usb keyboard and press enter.   once it finally boots, then check the grub config and run update-grub to get things back to normal again. I am unsure as to why this happens, It seems that some versions of grub freak out and dont follow the timeout setting on the first boot after they have been reconfigured.



D-Link IP camera hacking.

Recently I got my hands on a few Dlink cameras, specifically the DCS-930L for $19.00 each on Black Monday sales.   Toying around with them, they are better than the China cameras even though they are  only standard def.  But they don't send my video back to China, so that is a plus!

I wanted to access the video streams and the Image streams for my own nefarious uses, as in images for my desktop at work, and to view the cameras from my phone when I am away to satisfy my paranoia that the Cats are not plotting against me with the garden Gnomes.

If you ask D-Link, the cameras can't do anything and you MUST use their software.  They lie, you can access it.


To access the video stream, use the following URL

http://username:password@192.168.1.1:80/video/mjpg.cgi 

if you want the audio stream....

http://username:password@192.168.1.1:80/video/audio.cgi  (Only about 30 seconds at a time)

to grab a simple single image shot use the following URL

http://username:password@192.168.1.1:80/image.jpg

Obviously change the username:password and ip address with your information.  the :80 is the port so if you have 5 of these like I do, you can do NAT routing and get all 5 visible through the firewall at the same time.

Do not expect a lot of video quality, they have tiny Circa 2004 cellphone cameras in them and they have awful low light capabilities.  but for as cheap as they are and are wifi..  well worth it.

I did have an issue getting them to work with WPA2-PSK, so I set up a segregated lan on WEP that can't access anything but the internet.  The chances of someone hacking my wifi are near zero,  I cant even get wifi signal outside the house.

What if you want a wide angle image? well find the cheapie magnetic cellphone lense kits on ebay. you stick on a metal ring and the lens sticks to that.  Voila! Wide angle and telephoto options.

So if you want some nice disposable and hackable IP cameras,  The DCS-930L is at a low enough price that you can hack away without fear. I need to try and fit one inside a old dome camera body to make them useable for outside under the eave.

Lastly, be 100% sure you change the admin password to something hard to guess and NOT a dictionary word.  when you put these on the internet or tunnel ports for the image and video you also open up the admin interface because D-link is dumb and does not use a different port for the video, audio, and image.  Also be sure to upgrade the firmware to the latest, there is a major bug in earlier firmware that allows someone to retrieve the whole configuration without authentication and the config file contains passwords in clean ascii.

If you want to secure these but use them as a webcam for public use,  put them behind a raspberry pi that uses wget to retrieve the photos and then re-hosts them up securely.  Plus you can use some processing on the raspi to clean up the image, add text overlay, etc....




People panic really easily, Don't let their panic infect your life.

It seems that we have an Ebola case in Texas, and here I am, way up here in Michigan and people are already getting gripped by panic.  People typically do not think very rationally when they are concerned or worried.  Add to that Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt  whipped up by sensationalism media and you have a really good recipe for people to freak out and start hoarding things.  And once that happens it will snowball with others doing it just because it's happening.  If another case is found in Texas you can bet it will trigger panic that will cause disruptions.

I have seen this first hand several times in my life,  Most recently was last winter and the fear whipped up about a "Snowmageddon" snow storm causing people to clean out store shelves and a run on gasoline.  The storm turned out to be nothing, but the Weather channel and local channels worked that fear as hard as they could for ratings.   Anyone that had the sense to double check and go to the NOAA weather website could see that it was not that bad.  But it dod not stop the cascading effect to have store shelves empty, street traffic before the storm to be insane, and gas stations jacking the price up with lines around the corner.  But the same happened back on 9/11  People freaking out all over the place here in Michigan for no real reason, none of them directly were in danger.

Yes Ebola is scary.   Yes it's deadly.  but you have a better chance of choking on your doughnut on the way to work and dying in a fiery crash tomorrow morning than you do getting Ebola.   Unless you are currently in Africa or Lived with this guy in Texas.

So DONT PANIC...  if you really want to do something, go buy 12 cans of baked beans and a couple packs of toilet paper.

The only thing you really have to prepare for right now  is if people panic what will it do to you.  If you live where you get groceries every day on the way home from work,  people freaking out will interrupt your food supply.  So get enough to  wait out the insanity and keep it on hand.   Keep your car topped up in gas so you can go a few days without buying gas when it's jacked up in price and people are lined up for no real reason.

Why you should not buy an Xbox One

This is based on my personal experience with the new console in my internet situation.  I honestly believe that this is a trend that has probably infected all the other new gaming platforms or will shortly and only get worse.  And yes this is completely a first world problems rant, but also an indication that change is not always a good thing.

I live where you have limited internet choices, like a lot of Americans do  You have either Comcast or Frontier DSL.  Both here have so over sold their data, that from 4pm to 1am your internet speeds drop down to near dial up speeds.   I have actually resorted to using an LTE 4G USB dongle to record my podcasts as it's a lot faster and far more stable than the other options for internet access.  But this also means that the "next gen" of videogame consoles are a complete failure.  They require an always on high speed connection while playing or to even buy a game.   I recently bought an XboxOne and Forza 5, and after setting up my new purchase I had to wait 24 hours to play a game on it.   The XboxOne on it's own took 2 hours to update it's self when first turned on.  Then the game download of 20gig of data was needed to even play the $60.00 video game on this $500 game platform.

So I try to pass it off as an anomaly...  new platform needed major updates, and Turn 10, the company that makes the Forza series may have had a major update...    But no,  it's a trend that is getting worse.   titanfall needs a ton of always on data and is unplayable on any connection that is less than 10meg down and 1 meg up.... so DSL is not useable....  The same for the new Destiny game.. etc..  Plus these gigantic Games take 50gb on the tiny 500gb drive that Microsoft though was a good idea.    I have $120 burning a hole in my pocket as I want to buy a couple of new games, but nothing exists out there that I want to play because it's either online multi-player only (no interest in battling potty mouth 13 year olds)  or the game requires massive data incoming and outgoing to play it.   Microsoft is losing my money because I'll just spend it on Beer and Buffalo Wings instead.  It get's worse...  I try to buy a different game,   Wolfinstien: New world order and discover it as well is a blank disk that simply tells the machine to download 51gigabytes making it impossible for someone on DSL to play the game for 2 days.  And this same problem is noted all over the place,  http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/05/20/the-misadventures-of-trying-to-play-wolfenstein-the-new-order-via-ps4-digital-download/ for example talks about this problem on the PS4 so it seems that all the new game consoles completely and utterly suck if you want to play a game you just bought.  You have to wait a few days for it to finally get around to downloading it's self and taking up a huge chunk of the paltry 380GB left on your 500Gb hard drive. 

Update: I just bought and tried Wolfenstein: new order yesterday and I could not get it to install even after letting it download for 1 day straight.  Plus the forums are full of people complaining it will not install right and have to delete it and re-try several times.  No thanks;  glad  GameStop has a no questions return policy to return junk games like that.

So it seems that if you do not have the highest tier of internet and live in a city that is large enough to have full internet speeds at 8pm at night, your gaming experience on the current gaming systems will suffer.  And god help you if you live rural and have Hughes-net satellite internet.  I am in the demographic that the game companies really want to keep.  A game player that actually has money to spend on this frivolous past time,   I use it as a de-stresser when I can not be out on my motorcycle.  But I also advise a lot of people on technology purchases and I have to warn people away from the XboxOne if they live in a rural setting or anywhere your internet provider has oversold the available bandwidth, which seems to be most of them.

I guess I need to think about getting rid of my video game habit and dump the money into vintage BMW bikes......  Anyone know how to read German technical manuals?

Change is Scary : That feeling is always the same, the Anxiety of changing jobs.

I did not sleep well last night,  tossing and turning my mind would not stop running and thinking.  Just a few days before I was chased down by the executive of a large company here in town, asking if I was interested in listening to what they had to say.  This is not the first time I have been headhunted, but I did not expect it this time around.  I met with them, and was told early in the meeting, "let's get to the point,  we think you are a fantastic fit for our company and you need to give us a number you can not refuse.  What will it take to get you to work for us?"  Ok, that one is new. Never had someone 30 minutes into a meeting cut to the chase and say that point blank.  I really appreciate not wasting time, and when a company does not screw around they really get my interest.

So I thought it over, did some research as to what the national median for my career salary was and added 15% to compensate for my skills and experience, actually did some backdoor investigation on the company through friends that knew people that worked there or knew others that knew someone that worked there.   Turnover rate is very low, and everyone loved working there...   That is a good sign.  I spent the rest of the weekend fighting over the number  to ask for in my head,  Is it too high?  is it too low?  it cant be too low, you did the math and research...  But if they chased me down they are willing to pay...  ARRGH!  I decided that being honest was better than greed so I stuck with median +15%  It felt fair and was significantly more than I was making now so it will make a big difference.  I sent them the number,  plus asking for 3 weeks of vacation to start out..   I'm not a entry level employee, I need the vacation time.  They got back to me in 2 days with "Yes! we will send you the official offer ASAP."  My first though was , "crap, I should have asked for more"  but honestly I realized they also knew what the right number is,  any company worth a darn will know you can not keep employees by paying them peanuts, they knew what the national median was and they could see that I was only asking for a bit more and why.   So my research probably paid off. If I was hiring someone I would look at what they ask for as a salary as to their level of honesty and self worth.  Someone coming in asking for the moon either has no idea of their worth or is greedy, at least in my mind that is how it would work.

This is when the elation sets in,  Holy crap I have a lot more money!  new desk in a fancy building! big company with a big name has more clout!  Until the actual offer shows up.   Yes it is exactly as they said, except with a few small modifications..  3 weeks of vacation turns into 2 weeks and 1 week of "personal time"  (sick days)  Ok, I can  accept that.  Some of the wording is vague, but that starts the doubt machine...  What do they mean by that?  Etc...   And honestly it's boilerplate,  the company is not out to screw you on day one.  I had my wife read it over and she said it all looks great, so I accept their offer and that is when I went to bed.  This morning was numb, I got out of bed just  as the alarm went off. I stood in the shower for 10 minutes still thinking, Is this the right decision? At work I am top dog, proven that I know my stuff. The new place I am the new guy who has no credibility other than what others have said.  What if I am not a good fit with others? what if my coding style is not "acceptable".   The butterflies start to flutter. I get dressed still cant get the worries out of my mind. I keep pushing the doubt back down. It's the uncertainty. that is causing me to worry, I am sure of that. I get dressed, get coffee and grab the keys to the company van.. I need to clean this thing out.

The drive in gets worse, the closer I get to work the more the butterflies flutter. I think of all the friends I made there and how I will not see them daily anymore.. Change  is scary.  I pull in the parking lot and one of the installers that I really get along with is pulling out, I fill him in on my decision, I get a lot of congratulations from him, but the butterflies are in full force. I almost feel a little sick at this point,  time to go in and get this over with.  Asking my boss, " can we talk a minute" is almost surreal, he has no clue that I am about to give him my resignation. the butterflies are fluttering like mad, I need to get this over with right now.  And it hits me....  This is the tipping point, after this meeting there is no going back.   I mention the great opportunity I have been offered, and that I am resigning, he start with the idea of a counter offer but I stop him cold with, "You cant afford to keep me. I was given an offer that the company just can not afford to match."  And I am right,  I was one of the highest paid employees here, nearly doubling my salary would have caused a lot of issues.  I was congratulated although I can see on his face that I just caused a storm of hell for the company.   This is the busiest time of the year, and I just reduced the programming department staff down to 1 person and one trainee.

I have resigned from 5 jobs in my lifetime, and all of them feel the same way, you are unsure of what you are doing, you get your head full of doubts, you worry.  This is normal, humans are designed to fear change.  the comfort of know what will happen day by day is what we desire and a job change is a huge disruption to our lives.  we step WAY outside out comfort zone when we do this and it's normal to feel doubt.  What IF,  How About....  "Dang it I like the comfort of the same thing every day...  why are you changing that!",  your brain is basically screaming at you.  The way to combat this is during your decision process make a list of the positives and negatives.  Logic is what wins the argument with feelings and your primal brain.  It will not stop the gut feelings and worries. I sit here with my stomach flipping right now as I write this, and the feeling will not go away until I start the new job and see that my worries are all unsubstantiated.   Until I see that my new co-workers at the new job are actually nice people, that everyone says "hi!" and "welcome" with big smiles on their faces... my stomach and brain will fight me with worry and doubt. Job change is actually very stressful for people, it is right up there with death and divorce in stress levels.  The anxiety is completely normal and is what will keep people from making changes to better themselves.

I will still miss my friends here though...  It's funny, you spend more interactive time with your co-workers than you do with your family. Becoming attached to the workplace and the people you see every single day and the fear of changing that is a large part of the worry in your gut.  It is OK to miss everyone, they will miss you too.