Notes for April 24-30

A very satisfactory week, at least on a personal level.

Monday, 2023-04-24

Rebooting my desktop, again.

  • Replaced my desktop machine–as in, set up a completely different machine. The is still in use, but I needed to have more visual bandwidth (I’ll write about that sometime in a few weeks).
  • As an indirect offshoot of that, started making a conscious effort to use Stage Manager on a Mac with two very large displays.
  • Did a series of thermal tests on (from moving it about to changing the fan curves) to try to see if it can pass memtest86 continously. I’m guessing the significant temperature difference since I assembled it mid-Winter is enough for it to be unable to cool down right now.
  • Tried out , which is nothing short of amazing. Went out again searching for keyboard-driven window switchers and found –and had completely forgotten about , which I just reinstalled.

Tuesday, 2023-04-25

Bank holiday. I spent it indoors for some unfathomable reason.

  • Fiddled with my server code because I realized the transitions were stopping short of reaching true black, and that it was best to tweak the contrast so that I could get true black (LEDs completely off) in some common cases.
  • Installed a Sonoff ZBMINIL2 for testing–not just with zigbee2mqtt but also to check for fit inside my light switch fittings (they’re standard European stuff, with Legrand switches). So far, so good.
  • Spent entirely too much time hacking together a “proper” version of the Monokai theme for Textastic, which was incredibly cathartic.

Wednesday, 2023-04-26

Roomba herding day. Also, a fair amount of work to go through.

  • Fiddled with KVM on ARM, which is thinner on the ground than hail on a beach.
  • Left running memtest86 all day with an open case, and it was still creeping slowly up to 52oC, but passed three consecutive complete tests. Time to ponder ways to keep it cool with the case closed.
  • Upgraded on my to make a first pass at installing Adaptive Mesh Leveling, and realized I hadn’t listed all the flashing steps anywhere, so I added them to my .

Thursday, 2023-04-27

It was 30oC outside, which is more than I (or my machines) bargained for.

  • Left doing more thermal testing throughout the day. Disabling XMP and fiddling with fan curves lowered temperatures by 5oC with the case open, so I strung out a Noctua NFA6x25 inside it and left it to run. Open case tests always work, closed case tests fail unless XMP is disabled but I don’t like the CPU temps.
  • More desk cleanup. Printed entirely too many KLAMMA clips to tidy cables, which I expect to use over the upcoming long weekend.
  • Investigated additional upgrades to (like replacing the PSU fan with something with higher flow)–but it’s clear to me that most people running i7 12700 CPUs in this case aren’t using all the DIMM slots, and those who are seem to mostly be using lower-end CPUs, so I’m clearly pushing the envelope here. Also, not many people have a server closet like mine.

Friday, 2023-04-28

Reflections on macOS Ventura. Also, the saga continues.

  • Went off in a tangent and made an effort to use Freeform to share some notes between my iPad and the Mac. Feels very much like a poor man’s mind mapping tool–I can’t use it to organize anything but it might well be today’s analog to the original Scrapbook that shipped with Mac OS 6.
  • Pondered my use of Stage Manager over the week. I think Apple’s intent was to make it into a sort of “visual Spaces for the masses”, grouping apps by context/task visually instead of hiding them in a separate space. But it fails utterly at that for serious productivity:
    • It has no keyboard shortcuts whatsoever (switching groups, adding a window to a group, etc., have to be done via the mouse/trackpad/screen).
    • You tend to unwillingly boomerang between sets of apps by accident (like when clicking on a web link in Mail and when you have Safari in your “work” group).
    • There is no real way to persist groups.
    • There is no way to easily search for an open app and switch to that or open a new window without jumping to that group.

I could go on, but to be honest I just went back to using Spaces and .

  • Since XMP is definitely a factor in stability, I whipped up a simple cooler design in to clip 2x40mm fans directly onto the Corsair RAM:
I probably spent more time aligning the grid to look pretty than checking the measurements.

Cables to power the 40mm fans (and possibly even better fans than the ones I already have) will take a while to arrive, so I will be investigating other options in the meantime.

Saturday, 2023-04-27

Major Spring cleaning event, interspersed with testing.

  • Completely disassembled my desk to reclaim usable surface area:
  • Added a new monitor arm to support my (which gives me back 5cm of depth). This is something I’ve wanted to add for a long time–pretty much ever since I got the monitor.
  • Tacked a laptop stand onto an old (re-purposed) monitor arm (which gives me back a 50x50cm square to put notebooks and parts under it, as well as letting me use my Launchpad on weekends).
  • Moved all the computers under the desk, to the I have underneath.
  • Re-cabled the entire thing using the KLAMMA clips I printed during the week.

The goal was to have all the cabling run under the desk and then drop down to just one or two spots on the LACK instead of hanging loose all over the place, and it worked out great, although I’ll be revising it in a few weeks to see if there are any cables under enough tension to stress the clips out of position (one of the bends I had originally planned was too tight):

Cabling in progress. I printed the KLAMMA in PETG scaled down to 75% as well as full size, and both sizes came in handy.

Also, USB-C/Thunderbolt is the future indeed, although you need to mind your cable lengths and buggy Apple Silicon firmware. I now have a lot of inconsequential USB peripherals hanging off the back of monitors (and cable managed there), saving me a lot of hassle, but I have to power down the monitors lest the Mac wake them for no reason while asleep (I blame macOS background services).

  • Since I need enough thermal headroom to make sure can go into my server closet, I decided to take a Dremel to its PSU, remove the grid (which severely restricts airflow) and replace the stock fan with a Noctua NF-A12:
A bit of a hack job, but this makes for a great PWM "chassis" fan.
  • For good measure, I also down-volted the CPU by -100mV.

This had a dramatic effect on CPU temperature (it’s steadily under 40oC after a day of test runs, with a maximum of 46oC) but only time will tell if it’s enough to survive the inside of my closet in 40oC weather.

Not bad for nearly 12 hours of continuous testing.

Sunday, 2023-04-28

Spring cleaning, part 2 of a likely 3.

  • Spent a long while clearing out and dusting the rest of the office.
  • Rebuilt shairport-sync to enable MQTT support and see if I can get artwork showing up on my :
./configure --with-mqtt-client --sysconfdir=/etc --with-alsa \
            --with-avahi --with-ssl=openssl --with-systemd \
  • Installed Studio on rogueone, spelunked on GitHub for a bit and got one of the displays to act as an mirroring target.

It’s not insanely performant (and I suspect the code is more to blame than the hardware), but it can play full-screen YouTube videos pretty well and act as a dedicated presentation display, so that’s another use for it.

I also turned it into a YouTube/TV appliance to watch news, but that was too easy. I’ve been wanting to have “my own” AirPlay mirroring receiver codebase for a long while, and that will open up some fun possibilities once I have time to figure out the media stack again.

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