Weekly Wrap Up (01.14.2024 to 01.20.2024)

Hey yo, not dead, just busy mostly. I forget if I mentioned it at all before, but starting right off at the beginning of the year I started doing some night classes through a work deal, so that has been eating up a lot of time. They run 3 nights a week for like 5 hours. The last one is on Tuesday though, so that will be over, until the next one I’ve signed up for at the end of February.

The class currently is a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Administrator) prep class. I am pretty sure it also includes taking the exam at least once. It’s a Zoom class with an actual instructor, none of this self-paced online class stuff, like I normally do. It’s kind of weird being in a class like this, it’s been a while since I had an actual in-person class of any kind. My training for work was kind of that, I think I had a very brief Cloud Computing one a few years ago, and other than that was in college, back 20+ years ago.

It’s interesting, I already know some of it or know the general idea of some of it. My overall Achilles heel on this sort of thing is I am very very bad at “Industry jargon”. I can tell you the dookicky connects to the whoosits and I understand the what and the why of it doing it’s thing, but when it comes to actual terminology, I tend to lose it a bit. This is on a bit of a sliding scale though for how actually relevant it is. If the jargon is relevant and meaningful, I can usually remember it, when you get off into things like, corporate inspiring double speak jargon, I completely glaze over and don’t even hear it.

The future class and a third that I am on a waitlist for because it may already be full, will be much more interesting I think. And much more in line with any sort of potential “career pivot” in the future (look at me, using jargon like a pro!). The one I’m signed up for is Pen Testing for Cybersecurity, and the one I’m on the waitlist for is prep for some cybersecurity exam.

Notice I can’t remember the names of these certs, because, for the most part, certs fall into that “out there abstract jargon” area. It’s like this weird, pay-to-win gray area between self-paced learning and an actual university-level diploma or some sort of official license. I actually have the latter two, FWIW, a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and I am (I think) a licensed Engineering Intern (I think it doesn’t expire). If I ever got a job working under a Professional Engineer, after 5 years I could take another test and become a licensed Professional Engineer.

Anyway, aside from class stuff, the most exciting recent developments has been with my car. Two things, one, for at least a year now, the heating/cooling has been out of whack. I mostly just sort of dealt with it. I tried a few things, like changing some fuses and relays, adding coolant, etc. I finally scheduled with a mechanic to get it checked, and I suspected a leak in the coolant line, which it was. But, a week ago, a week before the mechanic was scheduled, we got this horrible winter storm and the battery died died. I’m actually not sure I’ve ever changed the battery in this car, I probably have though. It’s 9 years old now, give or take, and just under 100,000 miles.

This battery thing wouldn’t have been a huge issue except that one, it’s been freezing ass cold out, which makes it hard to get outside and pull the old one out. And two, I’ve been taking the above-mentioned night classes, which eats up the daylight time I had. I think Tuesday, after work, I pulled the old battery out, Wednesday I took it over to AutoZone on my lunch break to get checked. It was dead dead as expected. The AutoZone tech, looked up the new battery, and then suggested I could “pay quite a bit less elsewhere” and suggested a few other places in town. Which was nice of him, though I don’t think he quite understood his job.

Anyway, Thursday, the day before my car appointment, I went to a local battery shop around the corner from work, the first suggested place to go. Online reviews said it was the best place in town and they sell Exide batteries for very affordable prices. Irritatingly, they were closed, they were supposed to be open, according to the signage, but the door was locked and no one was around. So I rushed over to the second option, at the farm store a bit farther away. Got the new battery, stuck it in, and sure enough, car started just fine.

Then Friday I got the heating fixed, and it’s quite nice to have heat again in my car. There was a leak in the temperature sensor housing area. Cost a couple hundred for the part and then another couple hundred for labor, but it was overall about what I had hoped to pay. The place seemed decent as well, so I’ll have to go there if possible in the future when I need a mechanic. My old mechanic is down in Pana where I used to live, and my wife’s father, who was also a mechanic and did some work on our vehicles, passed away a few years ago.

Oh, and I got a new phone at the start of the year, I don’t think I mentioned the phone yet. I went with a 2023 Motorola Edge+. I’ll post more on that later, maybe, probably.

My Computing Journey – Part 4 – Going Online

The next phase of my computing journey would have been in High School. I am pretty sure this machine was some kind of Pentium, I don’t know a lot of the details beyond that. Like I mentioned last week, some of the specific details get a bit hazy for a bit here, though the next round is decidedly not hazy again.

While the main computer was still technically the family computer, I ended up with one of the older machines in my room at one point as well. There are a few key defining moments of this era in my computing cycle. I got a bit more experience dealing with computer hardware. I bought a 2.5 GB drive for the family PC because I needed more space. Which would lead to some fun because Windows 95/98 didn’t support a drive larger than 2GB. I actually don’t remember if I partitioned it or if it just, had .5GB unused.

I also got a ZIP100 Drive sometime around this time as well. These were like disks, but “huge” at 100MB each. I spent my own money on both of these things. I guess it was sort of the start of my digital hoarding life. I had a lot of disposable income around this time because I started working at McDonald’s at 16. Aside from the $20 each paycheck or two to fill my gas tank, I spent the rest on whatever. Usually VHS movies, CDs, and VHS Anime tapes. Sometimes expensive computer hardware. I had 10 of those ZIP disks and they cost me $100.

The bigger moment of this era was going online.

It was all done with dial-up, so it tied up the phone line and was slow slow slow. My dad worked for the phone company so our internet was through Ameritech, or SBC, or whatever it was called at the time. I had other outlets though, that I could use on my bedroom PC. I remember three specifically. One was some sort of message board for IUPUI, the university, though I was not in college at the time. Another was this dial-in BBS system for the Illinois Education system. My friends and I would post there and use the chat system. It was at that time I learned that things are not always as anonymous as one might think when this dude came to me at school one day and told me to stop talking to his girlfriend over the system.

How did he know that “Bevis” was me?? The world may never know.

I also posted some stories there that are, sadly, lost to time and the ether of the internet.

Lastly was this MUD, or MUCK, I don’t know which it was. I know I could dial in, and it was this text based RPG thing. You could go around town, or go down in a dungeon deeper and deeper. I never really left the town, but I became extremely rich. I found a bug of sorts. I believe the process was something like…

  • Go to the inn.
  • Murder all of the sleeping player characters
  • Take and sell their possessions
  • Give the gold to an alt
  • Wait a day
  • All of the dead PCs would be revived
  • Wash, rinse repeat.

After I amassed enough wealth, I had enough money to buy the “fancy room” that had dragon guards. No one was going to be murdering ME in my sleep.

Aside rom these side escapades, there was the “real internet.” I spent a lot of time browsing all sorts of websites about video games and anime. Eventually, I started my own couple of pages on GeoCities as well. At the time using Microsoft Page, an early WYSIWYG editor.

I also downloaded videos and music, though they were hard to find at the time. There was no Spotify or even places to buy wave files at the time. For anything large, it meant starting it before bed, and letting it run for hours to download. There were special programs you could use to pause and resume large downloads.

It was all the start of something amazing and wonderful in this perfect digital world of the Internet.

Totally Not Wildcard Wednesday!

It’s time again for Wildcard Wednesdays! Ok no, I’m not actually calling this that. I have mentioned, I love alliteration and “theme days” but that’s kind of dumb. I have been using Wednesday as a sort of wildcard day to write about “whatever”. I created a vague “schedule” for Blaugust, as part of a way to keep myself motivated.

  • Sunday – Personal Series post
  • Monday – Youtube Videos
  • Tuesday – Blaugust related post
  • Wednesday – Wildcard Wednesday!!! (NO!)
  • Thursday – Code project, or some project, maybe, at least something “techy”
  • Friday – Music Album (I was already doing this)
  • Saturday – Journal/Weekly Wrap Up

The problem now is that I’ve started this little discussion about the blog itself, so now I’m kind of locked in, because if I start talking about something deeper well, it’s awkward. The original sort of idea was to use this space, on Wednesdays, to just write about more serious topics, thoughts on world issues and politics. I’m still kind of apprehensive about adding that sort of content here. I’m not really sure why, because I talk about it, about everywhere else.

I’m not even really talking about necessarily direct “left and right” political talk, more just general, “society is going to shit” and “climate crisis” sort of talk. Though a lot of this is hard to discuss without at least mentioning politics because somehow the concept of “for the betterment of everyone” has become a political issue. It’s also all become incredibly entwined with religious identity. I mean, the history of mankind is littered with people doing shitty things in the name of religion, so it really should not be a surprise.

Personally, I’m a bit out on the whole with religion. I like to think I am a bit more, “spiritual” than “religious,” if that makes sense. I have not regularly attended church in over 20 years, possibly 25 at this point. I do kind of find the idea of a sort of, community group like a church to be somewhat appealing, I just don’t care for all the bull shit surrounding it. There’s a meme out there from some Tweets, where someone says something like “How does an atheist know the difference between right and wrong”, and the response is something like, “If you need the fear of eternal damnation to do good, you’re not good.”

It’s also increasingly just, perverted, to serve this weird agenda of keeping the population docile and shameful of having literally any enjoyment in life. It’s weird. It’s used to put down so many people, and people doing things that in the end, don’t affect anyone else. Most often these days against LGBT folks, but often others.

What I like to say in response to this sometimes is, “Stop passing judgment over people in the name of God. If there is a God, that’s his job to decide, not yours.”

Basically, stop shitting on people in the name of religion. It’s a bad look. This is just one of many reasons that people are increasingly shunning religions, especially old-school shame-based religions.

Oops, looks like I did it, and did it anyway, I posted a society based rant after all.

My Computing Journey – Part 3 – The x86 Era

This actually get a bit hazy here for actual computer models, and I spent a bit of time browsing through Vintage Packard Bell machines to see if I could figure out which machines cover this era of my computing. This would have been somewhere between 1991 and 1995, give or take a bit, after we moved across town when I was 11-12-ish and before we moved to Indiana for a bit when I was 14-15ish. I am not positive if there were one or two PCs in this era, there was either one 286 (for sure, for reasons I’ll touch on) and possibly later a 486. For simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to refer to this as one PC, that was a 286. If for some reason you’re keeping score, and notice something that doesn’t match for a 286, then well, assume there was a 486 in there.

I am pretty sure it was this PC though (not my picture, and that PC is filthy.).

Why am I so confident there was a 286?

That’s simple, Doom. At one point during this time frame, and for some weird reason, I have a lot of strong memories of this whole night and event, a bunch of my friends and I spent the night over at one of their homes. I know we played a lot of Jurassic Park on the SEGA Genesis because it was way cool that you could play as a Raptor and go around killing dudes. I remember we played a lot of Hero’s Quest, because we were super into Hero’s Quest at this time. I remember that they all got stoned, though I did not because I wasn’t really into that, though it’s likely I ended up “secondhand stoned” if that’s even a thing. Whatever the case, I remember that at one point someone got a bit upset at me because they were using a Bob Dylan CD I had brought for “rosin” which I still don’t know what that is, but I noticed my CD was dirty so I cleaned it off.

And the next day, we all went to the mall for a few hours, because that’s what you did when malls were still popular. After some careful thought and consideration, I decided to spend some of my allowance money on this cool looking game, Doom, or at least, the shareware Doom. It was basically like Wolfenstein 3D, except better, and I loved playing Wolfenstein. Then later, when I went to play it, I discovered the concept of “minimum computer requirements”. Because Doom needed a 386 PC. In the store I had decided that “Eh, it’ll work anyway.” Then it did not. Maybe if I were more computer savvy at the time I could have managed to make it work somehow, but in the end I think I just gave it to a friend who did have a better computer, or at least, let him install and use it.

Speaking of buying computer games. Though I had played plenty of computer games, it was around this time (possibly before actually) that I bought, with my own money, my first computer game. I had bought some console and handheld games, but this would be my first personal purchase of a PC game, with a game called War Eagles. War Eagles was a World War 1 plane dogfight simulator. No take-offs or landings, just fly in a biplane around shooting machine guns at biplanes.

This time period was also my first experience with Windows and a computer with a Hard Drive. I am pretty sure it was 20 or 40mb. That’s MEGA with an M, not GIGA with a G. Just enough to install a few games, so they didn’t need to be run off of floppy drives. I don’t know the details, but I remember my dad installed some program called Stacker that would increase the drive space. But I still had to go through hoops occasionally of installing and uninstalling games. I believe the largest single game I had around this time was one of the Interplay Star Trek games, which had several install disks.

Windows would have been 3.0 and maybe later 3.11 for Workgroups. It was neat but you still had to dump back out to DOS to run a lot of games. The main thing I remember about Windows was playing around in Paint drawing things.

I also got my first experience with computer hardware and upgrades around this time frame. I can’t imagine why, I must have asked for it at the time, because at least one of my friends had a better computer, but for Christmas one year I got a SoundBlaster soundcard. So everything would sound cool with actual speakers. It also came with this super neat (for the time) talking parrot program.

This time period also had some exposure to Apple computers and the Apple IIe (which was quite data at the time). We started having computer classes in Middle School, which had these in the classroom. Most of this time was spent playing educational games, like Number Munchers and Word Munchers. We also had a typing speed program and I remember finding a bug in it where you could basically hold a key, I forget which, maybe like + or = or something, and it would count the letter as correct, so you could just, hold in that key and get something ridiculous like 200 words per minute.

Eventually, after we moved to Indiana sometime, when my parents upgraded the home PC to a Pentium (spoilers for next week), this machine became my first “in my room personal pc”. It also at some point gained an external dial-up modem. I’ll get more into all that next week though, because dialing in on this computer would be secondary to using the other PC.

Blaugust 2023 – Introduction Week

There isn’t a hard schedule or any real requirements for Blaugust, it’s literally just an excuse that people can use to write blog posts. The timing feels really great though considering social media seems to be starting to collapse on itself and maybe people are more primed for “personal blogging”. Week two is “introduction week”. Since the month started last week on Tuesday and my post then pretty much met the “Welcome to Blaugust” theme, I figure today I could go ahead and keep up with that with an introduction post.

I’ve written plenty of introductions in the past, and a lot of this all may already be covered on my About Page, if it’s up to date. I tend to get a bit rambling on these sorts of things so I’ll do my best to keep it down, it just feels like there is a lot to cover and a lot of it could easily be it’s own blog post or blog post series.

I am, Josh Miller, aka Ramen Junkie. I like to push the “fun fact” that I have been “Ramen Junkie” for more of my life than I have not been Ramen Junkie. People often shorten it to simply “Ramen”. I’ve been called “Ramen” in real life by real people in person. I originally started using the name online back in the late 90s on Usenet, most often in alt.games.final-fantasy or alt.toys.transformers, but elsewhere on Usenet as well, I was really big on Usenet back in the day. I am also the duly elected “Supreme Dictator for Life” of alt.games.final-fantasy.

I have run into a few other Ramen Junkies, though the only two notable ones are on Something Awful’s forums, that isn’t me. And more notable, is Ivan Orkin, who runs several actual Ramen shops and is RamenJunkie on Instagram, and I think X-box. I say X-box because when I tried to reset the password, the domain attached was clearly “ramenjunkie.com” and dude has that domain. If I ever get out to New York, i hope to go to his place there and maybe meet him. Just for fun.

I was going to move on, but I wanted to also add that the name has several sorts of origins, like a Marvel hero. One, Ramen is “cheap hacker food”, so being a ramen junkie seemed cool at the time. I also do like Ramen, and regularly make ramen for meals, both instant (of a wide variety, I like trying new ones) and more homemade with custom broth and noodles and ingredients. The other (true) origin was that I wanted to make a slightly more “trollish” name on Usenet, at the time I had been posting as Lord Chaos, and part of why I picked “Ramen” was because many people who were not Japanese would post using Japanese names from anime. Ramen was an intentionally shitty take on people with usernames like “Shinji” and “Tenchi” and “Usagi”.

Anyway, it’s just sort of stuck.

So now, moving on, the blog itself. I’ve always enjoyed just, writing. My first real website was on Geocities, and though it didn’t have a proper “blog engine”, it has a “blog format” made with manually coded and edited HTML pages. For a while I was using SHTML, which had a mechanism to embed a header and footer page so things could be universal across the site. That first site was The Chaos Xone (The X is for Xtreem!), because in the 90s, Xs were cool. Unlike some folks, I eventually moved on from the cool X. For while I had a second, fairly popular website called “The Geocities Pokemon Center” with all you needed to know about Pokemon Red and Blue.

From Geocities I went to Livejournal, and the name “Lameazoid“, a name chosen because it sounded a bit like “Freakazoid” but also had a sort of retro and self-depreciating undertone to it. For a while I also had a site hosted on my college’s computer hosting, because they provided web space to students, this was sort of the start of a split between having a personal blog and a fun blog. Eventually I landed on WordPress.com, and later with self hosting WordPress on a server of my own with its own domain name, at Lameazoid.com.

Lameazoid kind of stalled out for me, partially because I kept trying to make it more structured. I wanted someplace to put “personal blogs” that didn’t quite fit the “theme” of Lameazoid. At one point I had all my blogging there, but basically, I wanted a personal blog again, where nothing mattered and I could just, post what I wanted. That ended up becoming this blog, [Blogging Intensifies], which has stuck pretty well. It’s a play on the meme [XXXXX Intensifies], which is why it gets stylized with the brackets. I sometimes abbreviate it as [BI]

I’ve always had side blogs, and I have a bad habit of starting up new blogs and then just, folding the content elsewhere and deleting the blog. Sometimes I used WordPress, and sometimes I would try Blogger. Here is a list, of what I can remember, with the name, general content, and where the posts ended up, if anywhere.

  • Livejournal – General posting, Games, Reviews, etc – Ended up all over, though mostly archived due to low quality
  • Snapshot of the Mind – Personal blog on WordPress – Archived or maybe on [BI]
  • Pen to Paper – A writing-focused blog on WordPress – Archived mostly.
  • My BLARG – Shitposting blog on WordPress – Archived
  • OSAF (Opinion Stated as Fact) – A political commentary blog – Most of this has been archived because those opinions were shitty

I know there are more. I probably have a list somewhere.

I suppose more important for an introduction post, is interests. It would almost be easier to list what I am NOT interested in (sportsball) than what I am interested in. Lameazoid has always primarily been about my interest in video games and toys, with a side of comics and movies sprinkled in. My main hobbies are playing video games, of all sorts, and collecting toys, of all sorts. I also like to just create, in general, which is where a lot of the other content comes from, and these days, gets thrown here, on [BI]. Mostly these days I create code, but I also used to write a few stories and draw some, and I actually kind of want to get back to that at some point. I imagine I’m a bit rusty these days, it’s been probably 20 years since I did any of that seriously. I like taking photos and like to think I am ok-ish at it.

I also have always enjoyed music, though more recently, I’ve actually been more openly EXPLORING music, which is why currently this blog gets a fair amount of music-related content. Because it’s one of my current passion interests.

I also enjoy learning and trying new things. I learn to code (constantly). I learn languages (Spanish and Norwegian currently). I am trying to learn the Piano (and absolutely 1000% failing at actually trying). I want to get back into drawing and learn to get better at it. This is all content that sometimes I will talk about here, mostly, as i mentioned, it’s a place where there are no stakes and I can just write about whatever.

It occurs to me that I have written an awful lot about myself, but not a lot about ME. I actually don’t often but for the sake of completionism. I’m (as of this post) 43 years old. I live in a small city in the middle of Illinois. I’m married, going on 16 years now, and I have 3 stepkids who are all adults now, though they still live with us. They all have some sort of (varying) health issues, and my wife used to blog about it herself on her own site. I work in technology for a large company, and have worked on the back-end technical part of Television for around 18 years now. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, though I had considered Journalism.

I am generally a bit of a “jack of all trades” type, pretty good at a lot, master of little, that sort of thing.