Ringing in The New Year
Well, 2019 has finally arrived and it's time to get back to work and get things going again. This past holiday season, we decided to drive up to Timmins, Ontario where our daughter is now living. It was the first long trip we made with our dog Sunny and we had to consult with our veterinarian beforehand due to him having some anxiety issues in vehicles. Given that the drive to Timmins is about 8 hours, we had some concerns that he would have some major problems making it that far. The vet gave us some Trazodone and said it would make him sleep most of the time. The vet couldn't have been more wrong. Sunny stayed awake the whole time and stood up in his bed looking out the window the whole trip. When we did finally make it to Timmins, Sunny was extremely excited to see our daughter's dog Willow and spent the next couple of hours playing with her before finally hitting the point of exhaustion and falling asleep in his bed. My sister-in-law from Halifax had also flown in to Ottawa to make the trip with us up north for Christmas. Other than the bone chilling temperatures in Timmins, it was a great trip and it was nice to spend Christmas somewhere else for the first time since we moved to Ottawa in 2000.
Back at It
But now it's time for reality and getting back to work. I have several websites to develop and have been busy working at outlines to get them going. Some of the domains I have been hanging onto for several years trying to think of the best ways to develop them as well as how I can monetize them to bring in some money to pay for the hosting, design, etc. I also want to get back to doing some photography and have a couple of locations I am working on getting to soon. It's been awhile since I have been out just to shoot some photos, I will be getting the cameras out this week and getting them cleaned and ready for some action in the near future.
Last month, we had to put down one of our cats and that proved to be very difficult. We had gotten Ozzy when he was just 8 weeks old from a breeder of purebred Bengals just outside of Quebec City back in 2010. I had bought Ozzy for my wife's birthday that year and I still remember making the 6-hour drive to go pick him up on January 15th of that year and the long drive back with Ozzy crying the whole way while I was navigating through a snowstorm at night to get back to Ottawa. Back on November 8th of last year, Ozzy collapsed and was unable to breath. My wife contacted a neighbor as I was out of town at the time, and they brought Ozzy to an emergency veterinarian office a few blocks from our home. Ozzy was put on oxygen and was given some steroids, but they were unsure what exactly was wrong with him. We were told it could be asthma or it could be a heart condition as he had a significant heart murmur. For the next 3 weeks, we gave him the medications he was prescribed, and he seemed to be improving. But then, he collapsed once again, and it was clear upon viewing the episode myself that this was not asthma, but more likely heart failure.
He had a couple more episodes over the next few days and we made the decision that we couldn't let him suffer any longer as he was. I have to say after seeing what he was going through that he was one tough cat. The decision to euthanize wasn't easy, but we believe we made the right decision as he was not a cat that would take his medications without a fight and obviously, he was very sick. At the end he stayed in the basement near the litter box and would only come upstairs to eat, which was the one thing he absolutely loved doing. He was very overweight, which did not make his health issues any better. I picked up his ashes on December 21st, just a couple of days before we left for Timmins, and that was very hard for my wife to see the urn and the ashes of the pet she says was the best birthday gift she had ever gotten.
New Computer Build
One issue that kept coming up last year when I was working on websites as well as some photography projects, was my desktop computer getting slower and slower. I had bought the computer back in 2012 and at that time, it was the one of the best that HP offered. It had an AMD 6 core processor and 8 GB of RAM, which at that time was twice the amount most computers were being sold with. It also had a high-end Radeon graphics card which allowed it to chew through any games of the time with relative ease. However, with programs getting larger and requiring more processing power, it was starting to show its age. It was still opening Adobe Lightroom fairly quickly and I could do most photo editing jobs that I needed to do. If I opened Photoshop at the same time however, it would start showing its age and it would get slower with the more work you threw at it. It would still work well for some games, like World of Warcraft, but not so good for games like Call of Duty Black Ops, which requires a good graphics card along with a better processor and lots of RAM. It would load and start up COD, but it just wouldn't run the way the game should, and the graphics were not good at all.
I picked up all the parts I needed to build a new computer, which included an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X processor, 32 GB of 3000 Hz RAM and a Radeon RX 580 graphics card, a 750-watt power supply, and a 1 TB SSD drive by Western Digital. I put it all in a Fractal case and repurposed by Blu-Ray writer from my previous system so that I could read and write to media if needed. The processor and graphics card can both be overclocked, but I doubt that will ever be a need. The system is lightning fast and exceptionally quiet. I did put in extra fans thinking that the system could get potentially hot, but so far, the fans rarely spin and only get audible when playing COD with all the settings maxed out. It will definitely be a good system for web development as well as photo and video editing and of course, playing and recording guitar. For recording music, I picked a motherboard that had high-end audio components. I'm hoping that I can run my audio interface at the lowest possible settings to get near zero latency. My old system had to be run with buffer settings at 96 samples, which is still good, but it did get some crackling occasionally. I'm hoping I can run this new system at 16 samples for those programs that go lower than 24 samples. I have tried video with my Logitech C920 webcam and it easily does 1080p at 60fps without even making a hiccup.
Hitting This Full Time
So, working on websites will now be my fulltime job along with some music and video projects I have planned. I may also start dabbling in podcasts which will be associated with the websites. I have setup Dragon Naturally Speaking on my new computer, so I hope that I will be able to use voice dictation for most of the content I need to write as I tend to get tendonitis from using a keyboard several hours a day. Voice dictation seems like the way to go when you have a large amount of content to create and need to get things done quickly. I will need to take several breaks during the day as my back bothers me sitting for long periods as well. But, having a dog gives me an excuse to get up and go outside for a walk occasionally throughout the day. The dog is happy to sit in the chair I put beside the window for those times I feel like getting in some reading. I have to work with the window open as my office is upstairs and desktop computers tend to throw a lot of heat. Even when it's -15C outside and the window is open, it still gets warm. We'll see how things go this summer when it's hot outside and the air conditioning isn't able to keep up. Could be challenging.
Too Many Cats
And to make matters worse, our 19-year-old cat doesn't stop crying. We aren't sure why he is constantly crying and have thought it could be because he is hungry or wants attention, but both of those scenarios seem to be wrong. He does stop when he goes down for a nap, but when he's awake, he hardly stops crying. Even the dog is getting fed up with listening to it. It seems to have started after we put the other cat down and I'm starting to think that he misses the other cat and is crying for him. The oldest female cat since we put the other one down has become afraid of going into the basement to use the litter box and we had to move the box upstairs. Why the cats started acting the way they do since we put down Ozzy is going to require some research on my part to learn why. The youngest cat, which is also a female, but only a year and a half old, seems to be going about life as she had before we put Ozzy down.
Enough rambling. Hope that everyone had a great time during the holiday season and got some much-deserved rest. I still have some work to do on my new computer, such as getting the rest of the software installed and making a disc image and setting up a backup plan. There's nothing worse than coming to a computer that won't boot and having to replace a drive and having no image or backups to work with. It can take days to get a computer up and running the way you want it to. So my next task is getting that backup and image done.