Contradictory

So, I’ve spent today dinking. After getting myself onto the yoga mat this morning* I ran out to the shops for coffee and thence to our storage unit to retrieve the soldering iron. John pointed out that I was being an idiot. I’d assumed that just because the key tester arrived assembled with the keys in a particular orientation that the orientation they were in was correct.

And the irritating not-quite-rightness of it, and need to bend several of the other keys slightly to get them to fit (along with other people’s comments about the keys not fitting well) made me foolishly continue down this path of wrongitude. John pointed out that it might well fit if rotated through 90 degrees.

Which, with much less bending, it did.

So today with my iron in hand I did some of the neatest soldering I’ve done for years.

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Which allowed me to produce my keytester/numpad:

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At the moment I’m pretty settled on Gateron Brown. I’d like clicky, but I’m aware that beyond the fact it would probably drive Kathryn nuts, all the clickies are slightly stiffer. And I’m aware that my fingers are pretty knackered from years and years of computer abuse, and found the M eventually hurt to use for long periods. And while I know that’s 80g of pressure (or there abouts) vs 50g for the lightest of the clickys, the Gateron Brown is around 45g of pressure. This I know because having picked the key I liked I looked up my two favourites (Gateron Brown and Blue). And while the Gateron isn’t quite as highly rated as the Cherry Brown, it’s pretty close and the price is much better.

And honestly? I seemed to prefer it in my blind test.

So. I did that. I also fixed the surge protector that I picked up from goodwill last year, which when I finally got it apart (more brute force) turned out to be just a disconnected wire (it looked connected, but pulling on it revealed that it was just floating in the hole).

And then… my Pinebook arrived.

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When they say it’s for tinkerers, they weren’t kidding. I ordered the larger 64G eMMC and did wonder whether it would come with it installed. It doesn’t. So my first act was to pull the back off (which requires a spudger, incidentally) to install the replacement eMMC.

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It then booted into Android, which was confusing, because it said it would boot into Linux.

….so now I’m installing Linux.

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It’s also playing music through its little tinny speakers. First thoughts – the screen is remarkably acceptable, the keyboard’s also remarkably good, the weight distribution is pretty terrible (everything’s at the back of the case, so it wants to tip over backwards), the touchpad is also pretty awful (whenever I try and click on something I end up clicking slightly below where I want to I realized that is true if I use the “clicky” on the touchpad, but if I just use the tap on the touchpad, that works fine). But I have to say, it’s pretty crazy – I mean, with shipping and everything it’s a usable laptop for $170.

It’s nice and light too. And while the screen’s no-where near as bright as my macbook, it’s perfectly usable.

Anyhow.

I’m also thinking that I need to disassemble my macbook and see if renewing the heatsink good and cleaning out the processor heatsink will make it happier. It’s been running at 70-80+ degrees pretty much continuously recently, which is “not ideal”. I realized that while I’ve cleaned out the fans and ducts many times, I don’t think I’ve ever pulled the processor heatsink off (since it requires unscrewing and replacing heatsink gunk)… so I think that might be a job I need to do.

Incidentally, my Pinebook came with *the best* sticker

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Of course, all of this – this is one of the weird dichotomies of living here. I have ‘more’ disposable income, despite the health insurance costs being way higher, despite food being more expensive. I suspect that because heathcare costs are so insane here**, nurses are paid way more here than in the UK. And because of that I can buy toys that I’d not really be able to buy in the UK. However, all of that falls apart if either of us gets sick. And the healthcare costs are so astronomical that while it’s worth having a good chunk saved up – if one of us gets really sick, then it’d pretty much be curtains, because neither of us earns that much.

At any rate, I’m enjoying the toys while I can. Hell, my dad died before he got to enjoy any of the toys or perks of retirement (he died before retiring), so it is always hard for me to think “I’ll save for a long retirement”. Working in the ED probably doesn’t help with that.

Anyhow, I’ve spent a chunk of today thinking about the weirdness of it all. About how I miss the UK, but wouldn’t want to be there at the moment. About friends and family. About how lucky I am to be dinking on a laptop I bought because, well, I thought it might be interesting.

And it is***.

I wish there was a port of RISC OS for it though.

Then I could truly live my childhood dream of having an Acorn A4. Kinda.

*I’m pretty pleased with myself for both keeping up with doing yoga and for practicing Norwegian – I’m generally very poor at committing to activities long term, even if I enjoy them, so… for me to haul myself onto and off the mat at least 3 days a week is an oddity – and I’m up to about 600 words of Norwegian, which I suppose puts me somewhere around the a three year old.

** So, I checked, and nurses in various European countries are also paid way more than in the UK. I have no idea why then. Probably because the UK doesn’t really value nursing. They saythey value nursing, but clearly they actually value financial people.

*** I wrote about half of this post on it, now I’ve got it running, the VPN working, all sorts of fun and games it’s been. But for all that, running this lightweight version of Linux? It’s remarkably usable.