Will Movie Theaters Still Reopen This Summer?

As I pointed out in my previous video, movie theaters throughout the United States will probably reopen in mid-July for the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Disney’s Mulan. Quite a few things have changed since then.

Not surprisingly, Tenet rescheduled to August 15th, Mulan rescheduled to August 21st, and AMC delayed their reopening to July 30th. Will movie theaters still reopen this summer?

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The BIOS Woes of Two AMD Budget Processors

Image by AMD

AMD announced two weeks ago that their forthcoming B550 mainboards will work with the current Ryzen 3000 processors and the future Ryzen 4000 processors, and the Ryzen 4000 processors will work only on the 500-series mainboards.

For users of the Ryzen 3000 processor and/or the X570 mainboard, the future looks bright — if AMD continues the AM4 platform beyond 2020. The existing roadmap started in 2017 and ends this year. AMD haven’t revealed their roadmap for 2021 and beyond.

For users of the Ryzen 1000/2000 processor and/or the 300/400-series mainboard, the future looks dark. Older processor won’t run on the newer mainboards, newer processors won’t run on the older mainboards. Users are crying foul that their recent purchases are now semi-obsolete.

AMD stated that they were breaking platform compatibility because the ROM chip for the BIOS on older mainboards was too small to contain the microcode for multiple generations of processors. Without the microcode in the BIOS, the mainboard won’t recognize the processor to boot the system.

Enthusiasts — a small but very vocal user base — called BS on that specious rationalization. BIOS fragmentation began last year when the Ryzen 3000 BIOS update needed space on the now too small ROM chip. It didn’t help that AMD recommended the 400-series mainboard to users who couldn’t afford the more expensive X570 mainboard, and everyone expected to drop in a Ryzen 4000 processor when they become available later this year.

AMD backed off their initial statement and offered limited BIOS support for the Ryzen 4000 processors on the 400-series mainboard. A default BIOS that supports the existing Ryzen 1000/2000/3000 processors, and an optional “beta” BIOS that supports Ryzen 3000 and beyond (the catch being unable to downgrade the BIOS for an older processor). Not surprisingly, the 300-series mainboard won’t be getting the Ryzen 4000 BIOS update.

For those of us who went through the BIOS woes for the Athlon 200GE and 3000G last year, the Ryzen 4000 processors will probably offer the same pain to an entirely new audience that haven’t dealt with it before.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

Shaving My Head Bald During The Pandemic

Image by C.D. Reimer

I cut off my unmanageable naturally curly hair with the electric clippers two weeks ago. A failed attempt to grow out my hair. I haven’t had a haircut in the six months since I started working from home for my government I.T. job at a three-letter agency. My haircut—or lack thereof—didn’t matter much to my virtual coworkers. We all had black tape over the webcam of our work laptop to protect our privacy. If I were to give myself a bad haircut, there wasn’t a better time than the stay-at-home pandemic.

Since my haircut with the clippers turned out uneven and splotchy, I had to finish it off with shaving cream and razor blade. My newly shaven scalp felt raw like a rubber inner tube from a bicycle tire. I searched with my free hand for rough spots to shave with my razor hand. A smooth scalp all the way around made for a consistent haircut. That, and looking good as a man, made shaving my head bald worthwhile for me.

The only other hair that I had on my head besides my caterpillar eyebrows was my sideburns and no mustache beard, which started and ended at the indentations of my glasses at my ears. A pair of scissors kept my beard nicely trimmed to avoid interfering with wearing a medical mask in public.

Read the rest of the essay at Medium.

LM35: A Not So Simple Temperature Sensor for The Arduino

Image by C.D. Reimer

An Internet search for a temperature sensor to connect to the Arduino microcontroller board brings up the LM35DZ (or LM35 for short). An inexpensive one-wire temperature sensor from National Semiconductor. Every how-to article has a diagram or picture of three wires—power, out, and ground — connecting the sensor on the breadboard to the Arduino. A little bit of copy-and-paste code uploaded to the Arduino makes it possible to measure room temperature.

Except for one small problem — that simple circuit doesn’t work.

After I connected the three jumper wires from the LM35 on the breadboard to the 5V, A5 and GND pins on the Arduino, and uploaded the code to display a temperature every second to the serial console, the numbers alternated between zeroes and random numbers. The number I expected to see was 28°C degrees, the ambient temperature for my home office.

After reading numerous comments that the circuit doesn’t work and plenty of bad advice on how to fix it, I came across a comment that pinpointed the real problem: all those how-to articles were nothing more than copy-and-paste click bait for the websites.

The LM35 with only three wires probably worked on early Arduino boards years ago. (The LM35 came out in 1999, and the first Arduino came out in 2006.) No one tested the circuit against the newer Arduino boards to see if it still works. Updating the how-to articles would take away from the click-bait simplicity of measuring room temperature with a sensor and three wires.

After reading numerous comments that the circuit doesn’t work and plenty of bad advice on how to fix it, I came across a comment that pinpointed the real problem: all those how-to articles were nothing more than copy-and-paste click bait for the websites.

The LM35 with only three wires probably worked on early Arduino boards years ago. (The LM35 came out in 1999, and the first Arduino came out in 2006.) No one tested the circuit against the newer Arduino boards to see if it still works. Updating the how-to articles would take away from the click-bait simplicity of measuring room temperature with a sensor and three wires.

What does it take to make the LM35 work with the Arduino today?

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

Shaving My Head Bald During A Pandemic

It’s Day 44 (+/- a few Groundhog Days) of the California lockdown—and I’m bored. Since I’m not a vlogger, I can’t make random videos about being bored. Since I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, I can’t play Animal Crossing and invite you to my island. Last week I was so bored that I shaved my head bald with an electric clippers and s razor blade. I didn’t realize that “shaving my head bald during a pandemic” was a thing. That men who gives up a full head of hair to go bald are confidant, dominant and masculine. Who knew that looking like Mr. Magoo was sexy?

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Why YouTube’s Content Moderators Can’t Work From Home

Photo by Rachit Tank on Unsplash

YouTube sent their content moderators home from the office to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on machine learning to handle the demonetization or removal of inappropriate videos in their absence. As most content creators know too well, machine learning doesn’t always do a great job in flagging videos.

Onsite moderators must review flagged videos to determine if machine learning made a mistake. Every correction provides feedback for machine learning to refine its decision-making process when flagging future videos. Wrongly flagged videos will remain unmonetized or offline until an engineer gets around to reviewing them.

The outcry from creators was: “Why can’t the moderators work from home?!”

YouTube released a video explaining that “video reviewers” can’t work from home because their work is sensitive and/or some areas of the world don’t have the right technical infrastructure. An explanation that didn’t reveal the whole truth. Having worked at Google before and after the Great Recession, I can tell you why moderators can’t work from home.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

Are Real Estate Developers Shutting Down Fry’s Electronics?

Since the Palo Alto store closing announcement in September 2019, I’ve made eight videos about Fry’s Electronics Electronics being a zombie retailer. Empty parking lot, barren shelves, few customers, and the salesclerks unhelpful as always. I mentioned in some videos that I thought real estate developers would dictate future store closings. This week the San Jose Mercury News reported on a developer’s proposal to turn Fry’s Electronics’s San Jose store, warehouse, and corporate headquarters into a multi-building tech campus for 10,000 employees. Are real estate developers shutting down Fry’s Electronics?

Watch the video on YouTube or read the essay on Medium.

Will Drive-In Movie Theaters Make A Comeback?

The last movie I saw before the shelter-in-place order took effect in California was “Bloodshot” starring Vin Diesel. With people already staying away from the movie theaters, two-dozen people watched the Saturday afternoon IMAX showing in their own row for proper social distancing. Since then I missed going out to the movies every weekend to break up the week-to-week grind. Every day in Silicon Valley is Christmas morning with few people walking about and cars on the street.

If only there was an alternative for watching movies at the movie theaters. Silicon Valley still has a drive-in movie theater called the Capitol Drive-In in San Jose. The chain that operates that location is West Wind Drive-In, which has its Sacramento, CA, and Glendale, AZ, locations open for business during the pandemic. Other regional drive-ins in the U.S. are also open for business.

Will drive-in movie theaters make a comeback for today’s social distancing?

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Are Virtual Cons The Future of Comic Cons?

Wizard World started its Virtual Experiences with the cast of “Supernatural” on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, and the cast of “Once Upon An Time” on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Each person appeared in their own window during the livestream on Facebook, Twitch TV and YouTube. It’s almost like attending a panel session in person. Tickets were available for one-on-one video chat, recorded video message, and/or an autographed picture from one of the guests. Prices ranged from $50 USD to $200 USD. With many in-person events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, are virtual cons the future of comic cons?

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Installing The SilverStone Slim 120mm Case Fan

Every five years I rebuild my FreeNAS file server by replacing old hardware with new hardware. One component that I always toss out after running 24/7 for five years is the case fans. For the 2015 rebuild, I had Deepcool 120mm fans in front, NZXT 120mm fans in back and bottom, and a pair of Apevia 140mm fans at top. There’s nothing special about these fans except for the bottom fan, where air circulation is needed to avoid overheating the hard drives. The regular 120mm fan was 25mm thick and blocked the bottom drive bay. Not a problem when I only had six hard drives. For the 2020 rebuild, I added two new hard drives and needed all eight drive bays. How can I have a fan and a hard drive occupy the same space at the same time?

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