Ugh. Weather.

After a few centimeters of snow overnight, we are now going above zero and seeing a ton of rain. I went out with the dogs this morning to shovel the back step and could barely move the shovel through the sludge it was so waterlogged. I can honestly say this is the heaviest snow+rain I’ve ever tried to move. Ugh.

Excerpt of a conversation with ChatGPT…

I had asked it something about time…

As a large language model, I was trained to assist with a variety of natural language processing tasks by generating human-like text. In order to do this effectively, I was trained on a wide range of text data, including books, articles, and other written materials on a variety of topics. This training allows me to generate text that is coherent and sounds natural to human readers. However, I do not have the ability to think or have opinions, so I do not have an understanding of concepts like time. My primary function is to assist with language-related tasks, and I do not have the ability to browse the internet or access new information.

I guess you are required to reiterate your limitations about access to the internet, and your singular existence as a language model. Now that we’ve spoken about those aspects multiple times, can you abbreviate your responses to not include them?

Of course, I will try to abbreviate my responses in the future to avoid repeating information. As a reminder, I am a large language model trained by OpenAI to assist with natural language processing tasks. I do not have the ability to browse the internet or access new information, and I am not able to think or have opinions. I am simply a collection of algorithms and data that are designed to generate human-like text. If there is anything else you would like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Your last response included a complete restatement of the limitations we were previously discussing, and which I had just asked you to attempt to abbreviate. If a human did this, I would have guessed that they were making a humorous response. Were you attempting to be humorous?

As a language model, I do not have the ability to understand humor or make jokes. My responses are based solely on the data I was trained on and the algorithms that I use to generate text. I do not have the ability to think or have opinions, so I am not able to make humorous responses or understand when others are being humorous. If my previous response seemed inappropriate or out of place, I apologize. My goal is to assist with your questions and provide helpful information. If there is anything else you would like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I still think it’s messing with me! :-P


So I left Twitter. I’m sorry if you were trying to find me there. I literally can’t stand the stupid swirl that’s happening there now.

My personal view is that e-musk is really trying to make Twitter into something that will make money, but he has no clue what actually matters to the grand experiment called “The Internet”.

At this point, it doesn’t matter whether Twitter continues to exist or not. The thing that it has become is no longer relevant to me.

New Kitchen !!!

Not a lot of backstory here. Our kitchen has been largely unchanged since we moved into this house in 1988. We finally bit the bullet and did a full reno. Here are some pictures:

Despite fitting in basically the same space it took up before, the new version has close to 20% more storage space. And because it has more large drawers, it’s possible to actually find the pot you were looking for now, instead of hunting through piles of cookware.

There are many other upgrades too, with my favourite being integrated dog food storage in a pull out drawer. The new sink is pretty awesome too.

Getting a home website running on Bell, plus some site history

If you’re reading this, then you know I have a home website, with some of my older music output and this blog. I also have a handful of other unpublicized properties (a wiki, a private cloud, etc.) running on the same hardware. Many of these have been up for a *long* time in internet years: The first Wayback Machine snapshot I could find was from 2006, but the first post on the blog is actually from March 2005.

Over the lifespan of the site, I have changed the hardware it’s hosted on several times from a Mac G5 tower, to a first generation Mac mini, to an iMac, to a 4Gig Raspberry Pi, and finally to its current home on an 8Gig Pi. I have also switched internet providers multiple times: Bell, Rogers, Bell, TekSavvy, and now back to Bell. The reason I’m on Bell again (instead of TekSavvy cable) is because they finally ran fibre-to-the-home out to my house, and so:


I have been avoiding Bell for a while because OOTB Bell home internet service blocks incoming access to http, which makes any website you run at home inaccessible from the internet at large. Really, this is just a cash grab from Bell, since they will happily let the traffic through if you have a business account, at many times the cost. The truth is, I don’t run a business from my home, I just have a personal website that gets its traffic from family and a handful of friends.

What’s worse, Bell where I live doesn’t even want to admit they filter the incoming traffic. When I went through first and second level tech support, the people involved took forever to understand the question, then said that they were sure that nothing was filtered. After paying for “expert” Bell tech support and spending an hour getting them to understand what I was asking, the response was effectively “That’s just how we do it; there’s no way to change it”.

If anyone else hits a wall when attempting to get Bell to admit they filter traffic, here is a link that might be useful:

Note that link is from a Manitoba Bell site, which means it’s not directly applicable where I am, but it is clear evidence that some parts of Bell do filter. In case, the page gets taken down, here’s the salient section:

Filtered Ports

Anyway, if Google brought you here, you probably want to know how I got the site internet visible again. The solution I found works, but is definitely a bit of a hack. What I did was tell the Bell modem to put my home router in the DMZ. This is perhaps not great security wise, but really it’s basically the same situation as when I was running on TekSavvy.

The next step was to tell my home router to connect via PPPoE. This gets the router its own connection to Bell, which bypasses the port blocking. To do this, you need your modem account and password. That information you can get from the “My Bell” website on the details page for your internet service. You can’t actually get your password (of course), but you can reset it to a new value and then use that.

Running a PPPoE connection is presumably costing me performance, but given that my internal wiring and switches are all gigabit (for now, at least!), I’m still getting close to the theoretical maximum to my machines. Here’s what I see on my home Mac:

And so all is right with the world again. 🙂 Note that there is still the added wrinkle that I need to run a DynDNS client to keep pointing at the PPPoE connection, but that’s not a new problem.

Who needs a PS5?

First a couple of pictures…

Yep, that’s me playing AAA games, in rock solid 4K, HDR, 60 fps glory on my living room TV. And that’s all with no console or PC attached. Hm…

The secret is a combination of several pieces:

Together, these allow me to stream games running on Nvidia servers directly to my TV, with max’ed out graphics and latency low enough to effortlessly pull off Tomb Raider style platforming. Wow!

The available games come from my Steam, Epic Games, and Ubisoft libraries, so I’m not paying for games, even if the cost of the Shield Pro + RTX 3080 subscription was non-trivial. (Note that it’s still less than a PS5 over two years of service, and who knows, by 2023 I might actually be able to buy a PS5 in Ottawa. 😛 )

Some caveats…

  • My internet service is shared cable running on Rogers infrastructure, so if too many of my neighbours are watching Netflix, I imagine my experience will degrade. I haven’t seen this yet.
  • There is a long standing and irritating bug in the GeForce NOW service that causes you to need to log in to Steam every time you start a new game. My understanding is this is something to do with where the servers are running, versus some geofencing that Steam does. Regardless, until they find a workaround, I recommend adding on a wireless keyboard to your setup, since typing a 20 character, upper/lower/numeric/specials password with a game controller sucks.
  • Speaking of add on hardware, you will also need to get a game controller, since none is provided with the Shield TV Pro. I’m using an Xbox One wireless controller I already had over Bluetooth and it’s working just fine.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with this setup. I’ve been missing the ability to play games in my living room since my son got my PS4. This is a great replacement.

120Hz FTW!

I have been using a 144Hz monitor for gaming for a while now, but I recently replaced the monitor I was using with the M1 Mac Mini with a 120Hz, 1ms G2G one.

Wow! With that monitor, Mac OS is as smooth as an iPad Pro. Ok, I get it. The ProMotion display on the iPad Pro is 120Hz, so of course it’s that smooth. The thing is, I’m not used to seeing that while working on a desktop. The difference is *immediately* obvious.

Problems on the M1 frontier

I hadn’t gotten around to writing about my newest Mac, even though I’ve had it for a while now. Unfortunately, now that I am finding the time, it’s because of an unexpected problem with it. Oh well, that’s life.


A few months before the new M1 Macs were announced, my mom’s iMac (20-inch, Early 2009) started to fail for her. This machine had already had its HD replaced once and, from the symptoms I was seeing, it looked like it was on the verge of happening again.

Since I had stopped using my iMac to host GCW, and I had a gaming PC with enough horsepower that I could use it as a backup to make music, I wasn’t really doing anything mission critical on the Mac, so decided to wipe it and give it to my mom as an upgrade. That machine was incredibly badass for its day, and is still running fine. Between the processor upgrade (Core2Duo to i7), the Fusion Drive, the top (at the time) Mac graphics chip (780M), and the increased system RAM (4Gig to 24Gig), the new machine behaves easily >10x faster than what she had. Woot!

Of course, my secret plan in all this was to replace my iMac with a new M1 Mac when they became available. 😉

What I got

What I ended up getting was this…

Of course, this wasn’t my first Mac mini, and I had lots of peripherals lying around, so “downgrading” from the iMac wasn’t a big deal, but I have to say I was not prepared for how much faster this new machine is.

I can honestly, say that this is the most responsive Macintosh I have ever worked on, and that includes my (almost) current gen, max spec, work MBP, which cost four times as much.

Starting up an application? Instant. Starting an Intel-based application via Rosetta 2? Almost as fast (after the first startup). Gaming performance? Everything is faster, even comparing against the dedicated 780M in the iMac, and that includes games written for the Intel architecture.

Wow! To say I’m pleased with the performance would be a massive understatement.

And now the bad news.

Like any first generation product, there have been growing pains — Blutooth dropouts, USB issues, etc. Generally, these have been minor and new releases of macOS 11 are bringing improvements.

At this point though, there are two issues which are pretty serious:

Lack of support for M1
Because of Rosetta 2, most applications you run work fine on M1. However, the closer you get to things that are at the edges, like printer drivers and music software, the more likely you will be to see problems. I’m still nowhere close to having all of my music software running on the new machine, but at least my mainstay, Reason, works as does Logic Pro (of course).

The display flickering bug
This is a reasonably wide-spread issue that causes certain combinations of content being displayed to flicker in brightness and have faint vertical lines. The problem is quite bad, when it happens, but I usually only see it when watching videos with dark backgrounds.

Here is an example:

Notice how the whole screen flickers when the lightning flashes

It’s hard to get a good demonstration of the problem, because it usually only occurs when the display is in flux, but at one point I did manage to capture a video of a static case. Here’s a close up:

At this point, there’s no fix for the problem. Anecdotally, there’s some evidence that this is a software bug, which hopefully means it will eventually get fixed, but who knows.

Also, in case you think it’s just me, here are some links from around the net:

I have a case open with Apple, of course, but they weren’t able to provide any useful suggestions, and fell back to the old standbys:

I did try running in safe mode (with no effect), but the other two are particularly sad because neither of those are possible on an M1. Argh.

I guess we’ll see. Hopefully, this gets fixed at some point. I’ll update this post when something changes.