AnyDesk – Local is Local

My use of “Remote Desktop Access Software” has a long and storied history. It started years ago with LogMeIn, which is still around, and worked fine, but it no longer [at least to my knowledge] has a Free Option.

But Why Shouldn’t I Pay for Remote Desktop Software?

Here’s a long list of Remote Desktop software. After LogMeIn went behind a paywall, I used TeamViewer for a while, but they did the same thing. I do not use these programs as part of a business. I use them for personal use and to help friends – even before lock-down restrictions – maintain their computers, without pay.

So I need a totally free solution.

But What About Microsoft Remote Desktop?

I have never studied Microsoft Remote Desktop in detail. But my understanding is that it is not “Firewall Friendly”, but is rather designed for experts on both ends who either only use it on their LANS or know how to perform the arcane incantations to spirit connections through Firewalls.

What’s the Big Deal with Firewalls?

In order to be “Firewall Friendly” or in other words to “Allow NAT Traversal” or to Allow Traffic through a Network Address Translation Firewall, requires that the two machines find each other using a server out on the internet somewhere. Here’s where the costs might come in. Just like the Zoom or Discord or other services we use, the traffic must go from one machine, through those servers and then on to the other machine. All the time the connections are open with only 10s of millisecond latency. To be sure, a remote desktop connection has vastly smaller traffic requirements than a zoom call with a half dozen folks.

Continue reading “AnyDesk – Local is Local”

Alienware Aurora R8 – You Have Got to be Kidding

I just saw a review for the new Alienware Aurora R8 and I was shocked. This is a premium system. At least it has a Premium Price and is touted as having Premium Specs. Here’s the review.

Digital Trends Aurora R8.png

Ok. So it’s a mid tower case. Not just a square box, but not like the Alienware Designs of Old to be sure. This case has as few angles as possible, and still have anything but 90 degree angles. Not very exciting. Slightly Trapaziod on some sort of “Stand”.

But things have changed out there since 10 years ago when it was ok to not powder coat your case metal. Everyone is coating “Premium Cases” in black these days. But look at the back of the new Alienware Case!

Digital Trends Aurora R8 Backside.png

Cheap Tin is no longer a Thing DELL. Get with it. Your metal should be powder coated BLACK not just galvanized Tin. Or bare Aluminum? A while back I built a new computer using a Glass case and it cost about $1000 less than this new thing from Alienware. All the parts of the case were coated black. That build cost about $1400 with a nice graphics card, a sweet processor and a nice lit up motherboard and lit up RAM modules. There is no way to show off the interior of this Aurora R8 case since the power supply is folded over the motherboard, which makes the case fatter of course.

But, they can’t even powder coat what shows in the back? Sigh. Why have a black motherboard connection surround if you are going to leave bare metal all around it?

Looks like Alienware is just a meaningless name now. A Brand without Distinction of any kind. Nice going Dell.

Experiments in 4K

Ever the experimenter, I recently got a Samsung 40″ Class MU6300 4K UHD TV. As you can see from the price, I didn’t choose MSRP.  I was just checking what prices were doing on UHD TVs and came across a deal on a refurbished model at almost 50% off.

The first one arrived broken. But I didn’t despair . After calling Walmart customer service, they agreed to ship me another and emailed a return label for the broken one.

Apparently, the first one had been dropped before it was packed since it was in some serious bubble wrap and there was no mark on the box. Oh well. The pictures above were taken when it was plugged in and the damage was not evident when the TV was not plugged in.

Continue reading “Experiments in 4K”

Get Ready for 4K!

My main computer area has four computers, a KVM switch, and it has for a long time had a single 1080 monitor. Recently I was doing some video editing and moved the recently purchased 2K – 2560×1440 – monitor into that area and hooked it up with a separate cable.

There is the network backup machine – lower left – two Alienware cases – with modern Core i-7 upgrades, and a small Core i5 Linux Mint system. All the systems have SSD system drives of course with various large data / video HDs from Western Digital. And of course there is a 1 GBPS 8 port network hub.

The KVM switch is many years old and is DVI, not even HDMI. It has served well and faithfully, but it’s time for an upgrade.

Some research indicated that IOGear has recently come out with a 4K, Displayport, 2 Monitor KVM switch, so it’s time for an upgrade. This switch is $599 MSRP on the IOGear site, but it’s only $442 on Newegg. Hurray. Update: See below. It’s all working now.

Continue reading “Get Ready for 4K!”

Discord – Great Audio / Text Chat

Discord Audio / Text Chat

Discord is an audio / text chat app aimed at gamers. And it is way better than skype, teamspeak, ventrilo or mumble. Look at what it does when you share a link? It reads the page and provides a summary in the chat window. If you hit a wordpress post, then the featured image and first paragraph are fetched. Wiki fetches the first paragraph of the article. There is probably some standard web interface to ask a website for a summary. I don’t know. But this just works great.

Discord is very easy to set up, and works in a browser window or as  desktop application on Windows or Mac and on your phone with apps for IOS and Android.

Why should we put up with lousy apps that haven’t changed in years, like Skype Teamspeak, and Ventrilo. Even Open Source programs like Mumble are hopelessly out of date and clunky. Continue reading “Discord – Great Audio / Text Chat”

Switching to a Laser Printer

Epson Artisan 1430 – Out of Ink I Didn’t Use

I’m tired of putting up with ink-jet printers. Shortly after moving to Oregon I was taking lots of pictures and printing some of them to put up around the house. I purchased an Epson Stylus Photo 1400, a very nice printer. Large format with DVD printing. I used it to print some very nice large format photos, as large as 13 x 19, and many DVDs. After about 5 years it developed a problem where the black ink was bleeding into the yellow so the output was smeared with black. But it would print black fine. I still have it, but I haven’t used it in years. I then purchased an Epson Artisan 1430, which is the replacement for the SP 1400, and again it produced very high quality photos, many large format and DVDs. Continue reading “Switching to a Laser Printer”

GTX 1060 – OMG It’s Cool

Big Lights

Just got my GTX 1060 Founder’s Edition. BTW, I couldn’t buy it using FireFox. Oddly the Buy Now buttons were dead on the site with Firefox. Finally I bought it using Windows 10 Edge.

The card comes packed like a fine watch. Here is the packaging.

Enjoy yours too,


Allods – I’ll Give It a Pass – Again

Allods Priden Race of Wolves

I played Allods back in 2011 when gPotato had it, and it was pretty clunky. Since then it has gotten much better. It no longer feels clunky. Let’s talk about the good news first. Here is an album of recent pictures from the game.

There is an interesting race that is unlike anything I’ve seen in other games. The Gibberlings are three characters, which you can design individually as you create them. But they act as one in the world. Here is a Gibberling family which are druids, with their pet squirrel.

Gibberlings are Three as One
Gibberlings are Three as One


The graphics look better than Wow – at least better than the historic places of Wow. The character models are better than the old Wow models, but not as good as the new Wow character models.

Continue reading “Allods – I’ll Give It a Pass – Again”

Windows 10 – Upgrading another system


BTW, I have no idea why this system shows an Alienware Logo in the System Control Panel. I have completely swapped out the guts of this system and reinstalled a new copy of Windows 7.

I just upgraded this system to Windows 10 using the DVD burned last time and did the following steps:

  • Backup everything on the system drive from C:\Users\Yournamehere\My Documents etc., if not to another system, at least to one of the data drives.
  • Uninstall any crufty old programs that I’m not going to need in the new world.
  • Reboot
  • Make a record of all the things you have installed by taking screenshots of the “Programs and Features” control panel list.
  • Download the latest Nvidia drivers for the card for both Win 7 x64 and Win 10 x64.
  • Update the [Nvidia 560ti in this case] driver to the latest and greatest for Win 7 x64.
  • Reboot
  • Run setup from the Windows 10 DVD.

Continue reading “Windows 10 – Upgrading another system”