Consolidation, digitally speaking.

One of the biggest challenges to downsizing is consolidation. There are going to be items to store, and the accessibility of those items is going to be very limited. There are three things that I have found needlessly take excess room.

The first is paperwork. With few exception (car titles, diplomas, etc), this is fairly easily dealt with if you own a scanner. I have devised a system where I scan a document as PDF to either a temporary location on my computer or on a small USB drive on the scanner (which then gets moved to the temp location on my computer). In the temp location, I run Optical Character Recognition on the files to make them searchable (on MacOS, this is internal but requires a bit to add this ability to Windows, and I have yet to experiment with Linux in this respect). From there, they are synced to my Microsoft OneDrive account to access on all of my devices. The originals? They’re shredded if they have personal information, or simply recycled.

Next is CDs. For us, right now, this isn’t too much of a problem as I’ve already used iTunes and other CD ripping software over the years to make sure we have digital copies of our music. The originals have to be stored in this case, otherwise the digital copies aren’t legal.

The most challenging has to be our DVD collection. Like the CDs, you have to keep the originals, bu they take up much more room. Making digital copies is easy with products such as Handbrake or MakeMKV (the latter of which is what I’ve been using).

Accessing the movies in this case is quite a bit more difficult because 1) the preferable viewing device in this case is a TV, and 2) the video files take up much more digital space compared to CDs. This is where Plex comes in.


Plex is a cross-platform media server and client. Since it has a Linux version for the server, I was able to install it with no problems on my openSUSE Leap server (which I’ll detail in another post). As for client, since we own a Roku Streaming Stick, it was a breeze. The Roku was able to auto-detect the server without issues.

I’ve been ripping the DVDs with my Mac Pro and placing the files on a dedicated hard drive for media on the server. Eventually I’ll put our music collection on it as well since this will make playing music in the RV easy as well.

Unfortunately, I can’t rip our Blu Ray collection since that would require a Blu Ray drive, but perhaps eventually. In the meantime, we’ll have to keep the Blu Ray discs out of storage.

We Found It!

Yesterday Amy and I went “Window Shopping” for an RV, and found exactly what we want/need. For our needs as a family, it would be perfect for us.

Wanna see it? Here it is: a 2017 Keystone Cougar XLite 32FBS. We’re pretty much blown away by it.

Keystone RV 32FBS - NEW floorplan

Notice how it has two bedrooms. The area at the front (right side of the floor plan) would be Jonny’s room. He’d have plenty of space for his toys! Also, if you look at the bedroom in the rear, it has a King Bed. Notice the “wardrobe” pictured. That’s not showing you the best part for me.

Notice the corner area? That’s a perfect spot to set up a work area for me. Of course, I could always use the dinette area as well.

And now… we wait.

We cannot afford the down payment for this yet. It’s part of our plan for the beginning of the new year with our tax refund. However, if you want to help, click on the donate button on the right of this post.

Specs for Mac Pro

A good friend of mine brought up a good point. I need to post the specs for the Mac Pro that I need to trade for a MacBook Pro. So, here they are:

Mac Pro (Early 2008)
2 x 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (Yes, it’s an octa-core!)
Memory: 16GB 800MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5870 1024MB
Storage: 2 x 1TB HDD (Two Terabytes, one each drive)
OS X El Capitan (V 10.11.5)
Monitor: 2 x 23″ Dell
Keyboard: Wireless Apple Bluetooth Keyboard, Wired Apple Keyboard
Mouse: Wireless Mighty Mouse

Two of the rear USB ports don’t work, but that hasn’t been an issue for me since the monitor(s) has/have a 4-port USB hub each.

I primarily use this machine for media production and photography, and it does extremely well. It’s an amazing gaming machine too (when I boot to Windows via Boot Camp for titles not on OS X).

Again, I am looking to trade this for a fairly powerful MacBook Pro, or sell it for enough to buy one. If you’re interested, contact me.

What am I Going to Do With This Thing?

Just like any family that is planning on doing the RV thing full time, we have to severely downsize. For the most part, that will be easy. Amy’s mom called dibs on the bedroom set, her sister called dibs on the dining room table and chairs. Other furniture items will be sold and those things that aren’t gone will be donated.

There is one item that will be a little more difficult to deal with, however. I am the owner of an Early 2008 Apple Mac Pro. The previous owner completely tricked it out so it’s fully loaded. It has two 1 Terabyte hard drives, one with Mac OS on it, the other with Windows 10 via BootCamp mostly for gaming and streaming the gaming.

If you’ve never seen one of these machines, here’s a brief description: a gigantic aluminum computer tower. In order to operate it, you need a separate keyboard, mouse, and monitor. External speakers are nice to have, too. It’s a beast of a machine. Here’s the catch:

This thing would have nearly zero place in an RV Travel Trailer.

Here’s the other problem: this is my main media production/photography machine. I could do the photography with a different machine, but the horsepower required for video editing is something I simply cannot replicate with any of my other machines.

Ideally, I’d trade it for a tricked-out Apple MacBook Pro. So, if you’re an owner of a very powerful MacBook Pro and want to trade it for a Mac Pro, I’d be willing to discuss it. I’d even throw in a 23″ Dell Monitor (Two while the second one lasts as it has already been placed for sale), a wireless Apple Keyboard and a wired USB Apple Keyboard. Just contact me by clicking here.

Another option would be to find a travel trailer that includes a desk. I’ve only been able to find one of that kind, and would have to adapt other models. I have, however, found one model that would have an area big enough to put my existing desk, but again, not an ideal option.

If you want to help me solve this predicament, let me know in the comments. If you have a trade, contact me by clicking here. Of course, donations are always accepted by clicking on the GoFundMe link on the sidebar.

The Next Step in the Journey

The great recession hit our family hard, and so did some unfortunate timing.

My wife and I got married in late December of 2006. We have been married for nearly 10 years. When we got married we lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The second bedroom was mostly used for storage.

In August of 2008 we moved to Moscow, Idaho so my wife could pursue her education at the University of Idaho. That year, as you recall, was the start of the Great Recession. To sacrifice for my wife, I left my career doing Church Media Production, and landed a job at the university using my live production skills for videoconferencing solutions while volunteering for the church plant there of the church that I used to work for. The hope was that eventually I would be hired by the staff of the church to work on media production full time. In this time, we lived in a small apartment for family housing at the university.

When the housing bubble burst in December 2008, it became pretty clear that, since giving was down, that I would likely not be hired by the church. Other concerns came across, like the potential elimination of my entire department at the university. We decided to head back to the Spokane WA/Coeur d’Alene area to regroup.

After that time, we bounced from an apartment to a house in Post Falls, Idaho (which was almost sold out from under us) to another apartment. I bounced from customer service job to customer service job to a clerical position. I was let go from the clerical position in what I later found out was a move to outsource the work I was doing to a temp agency.

Soon after, mostly due to mismanagement, the preschool my wife was teaching at closed. We were left without an income and were taken in by my parents in the Seattle, Washington area. There we stayed for a year while I unsuccessfully looked for work. After that year, my wife looked for work and found a preschool teaching position. With her job, we were able to move into an apartment where we have been for over a year now.

I was able to find part-time work back in my career, but this time for a Christian private school. Additionally I have befriended a local entrepreneur and do some production and system administration work for him. I love the work at both places, the latter of which I do from home.

However, the housing bubble burst of the Great Recession had long-reaching effect, along with other issues, of nearly nullifying the chance for us to own a house. However, upon doing our research, that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t own a home; it was time to stop looking at it traditionally.

My wife had been researching tiny homes for some time, but, while practical, they have become so trendy and popular that the prices have gone up beyond what we can afford. We also looked into park model homes, but the prices there are again so steep that payments plus lot rental would be infeasible.

So, we decided that we’re going to buy and move-in to a travel trailer, which would be considerably less expensive when payments and lot rental are factored in. This means we’re going to have to give up a lot of stuff, but we decided it will be good for us. We had to downsize from the house to the apartment and finally to this apartment, so we can sell things we don’t need or give things to family members.

One of the biggest challenges I know I’m going to have to face is what to do with my Early 2008 Apple Mac Pro. It’s a beast of a machine, and I use it for all of my video production work. It also serves as the gaming rig when booted to Windows via Boot Camp.

But more on that later.

So, this blog’s direction is now going to be how to get a creative geek and a teacher (and their 4-year-old son) into an RV. So, stay tuned and join us on the ride.

Seven Months Later

Wow. I can’t believe I haven’t posted in seven months. Way too long. Normally I’d delete the blog and start over, but… meh.

Looking at my last blog post, I had just switched to Windows from Linux and Windows Phone from Android. After that time, I can say that I’ve been pretty happy. However, I do see problems on the horizon, specifically with Windows Phone.

The one thing that kept me on Windows Phone so long was the idea that Windows 10 Mobile was eventually coming. It was coming in December. December came and went. No Windows 10.

Then it was coming in January. January came and went. No Windows 10.

Now it’s coming in February… see where this is going?

Besides that, I’m running into compatibility issues and workflow issues that used to never be a problem on Android. So, very soon, I’m switching back to Android.

Now for the rest of the updates:

Back in early July I had the privilege of meeting Chris Pirillo. And from there it was all downhill. Kidding. Chris and I have formed a great friendship. I’ve become his production assistant, doing a lot of behind-the-scenes processing of his videos and podcast. It has been an absolute blast. He even helped me, albeit inadvertently, rekindle my love for Star Wars. Or maybe it was intentional. He’s a tricky guy, that Gnome.

Also, I landed a part-time job with a private Christian school being the primary person of contact for their audio/video production needs.

Anyhow, that’s all I’ve got for now. Thank you all for following!


I’m done. (a rant)

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been doing some soul searching. If you’ve followed me for a long time, you know that I tend to err on the side of frugality. I choose photography equipment and other forms of technology based on what’s going to give me the most bang for my buck, and become what I need as opposed to what has all the bells and whistles.

Take my car for instance. I drive a 1999 Chrysler 300M. It’s considered a “Luxury Sports Sedan”. It has tons of bells and whistles, but nothing in terms of what one might call “modern technology.” For instance, no Bluetooth or GPS navigation. However, there are other solutions for that. For Bluetooth connectivity to my phone, I use a Bluetooth tape adapter. I start the car, and the tape adapter turns on and connects to my phone. From there, I can stream music or whatever. For GPS navigation, I have my phone on a suction cup mount to my windshield. Oh, and I got the car for dirt cheap.

Speaking of my phone, that has been a real cost cutter lately. Recently, as part of my soul searching, I decided to abandon Android and as many Google services as I can. This is twofold: 1) I’m just tired of Google/Android. Don’t know why. 2) I could save money by switching from a Nexus 5 to a different device on my T-Mobile JUMP plan. I also upgraded my wife to the same phone, and she absolutely loves it.

So what device did I get? A Windows Phone. Specifically, a Microsoft Lumia 640.
If you’re a Linux enthusiast that follows me, you’re probably about ready to flame me for supporting such an “evil” company as Microsoft. Well, there’s a few reasons why I might want to support Microsoft.

  • The first one is that I’m starting to take more and more of a liking to their products. I think Windows 10, just around the corner, is a fantastic compromise between the feel of Windows 7 and 8. It’s pushing toward the future while not completely abandoning the past.
  • Additionally, what makes Google any better? They’re slowly decreasing their openness in terms of software, while Microsoft is slowly increasing. Many are skeptical of this change in Microsoft, but I think it’s at least an attempt at turning a new leaf. In my faith, which I’m sure many of you don’t share, people deserve second chances. Microsoft is people. If you get down to it, all companies are people.

Finally, Microsoft is a significant part of the local economy where I live. I’m a fan of helping the local economy grow. That’s what brings jobs. We all know jobs are important.

Additionally, I have switched from Linux distributions being my daily driver to Windows. Again, several reasons for this.

  • Better integration with my phone. This is minor, but I like it.
  • I’m sick and tired of all the infighting. The most recent kerfuffle between Ubuntu and Kubuntu is a prime example of horrible community management. As someone whose very core is community and leadership, this bugs me to no end.
  • I’m sick of elitist attitudes of people who run certain distributions such as Arch. Sadly, whether or not you think you have the attitude, I’ve notice it changes people who run it over time to becoming bigoted with the Arch Way.
  • This leaves me with Fedora and openSUSE. I cannot decide to which community I’d like to join and make my primary distribution. I find both distros equally good, and both communities equally good. But, I cannot decide between the two. I’d rather not have the decision at all.
  • I’m also quite sick of the “Free Software” crowd. Here’s the thing: I can only partially decipher code, and can’t code my way out of a paper bag aside from making a few clunky bash scripts. So, the freedom to read the code and modify it to my liking simply doesn’t apply to me. I’ve always been under the philosophy of “use what works for you”, not what everyone thinks you should use. At one point in time in my life, that was Windows. Then it became OS X. Then it became Linux. Now, it’s transitioning back to Windows. I use what works best for me. Period. I don’t care if I’m “sacrificing my freedom.”
  • My main reason for switching to Linux was for futureproofing. That doesn’t quite apply anymore. With Windows 10 being free for people with a license, I don’t have to worry about not having the right operating system for software. That said, I will be keeping a Linux install on my system to tinker with, as a backup plan if I’m wrong, and because there are some tools I use on Linux that are not available on Windows (Shocker!). I could change my mind on this one. I reserve the right to change my mind on anything at any time.
  • And finally, and most importantly, for many people Linux is a religion and an idol that people worship. They build their lives and obsess over it. In fact, for a while, that was me. But I’m a Christian, and I refuse to let any idol get in the way of my God any longer. Many people will say that I’m not enlightened and don’t know the science disproving the existence of God. To that, I say you’re wrong, and you’re the unenlightened one. But what have I got to lose? If I’m wrong, no big deal. I’ve led a great life and have done my part to help others. If I’m right, then there are profound ramifications for non-believers. I would say that atheists have the most to lose.

With that said, use what works best for you. As for me, I’m done. I’m done with the drama, I’m done with the hype, and I’m done with the stress. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

That said, I’ve learned a lot from Linux. I’ve learned more about how operating systems work and more about how computers work in general, and I’ll greatly benefit.

Departing The Colony

I guess it was never made clear, but I wanted to mention that back in early March, I stepped-down from producing for Jupiter Broadcasting. I love the work they do, and the crew is top-notch. I met some great people in my year with JB, and it was a very fun ride.

That said, there was some confusion with my latest announcement of potentially launching my own podcast on my GoFundMe Campaign. This was to be something of my own doing without Jupiter Broadcasting. The only reason they were even mentioned originally in the campaign page (mention is since deleted) is because of my year-long volunteer/internship. While I did want to explore the possiblity of partnering with JB on this, JB has chosen not to support me in that endeavor, and that’s completely okay.

Also, the primary purpose of the GoFundMe Campaign is to support my family, not start a podcast. That one is far from even planning stages at this point. It would be cool to do, but the planning for a podcast hasn’t even begun.

So, with that, I am making it clear that my affiliation with Jupiter Broadcasting is no more. I enjoyed helping while I could, but priorities had to change. I wish Chris Fisher and crew success in their future endeavors.


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Accidentally AWESOME!

Mountainside Images

Earlier today, I was looking outside at my parents’ cherry tree and noticed some pretty good lighting on its blossoms. I decided to grab my camera and take some pictures, noting due to the sun to reduce my ISO to 100 and make sure my aperture was nice and open for the effect I was going for. Since it’s a fairly tall tree, I decided to opt for my 75-300mm lens.

What I forgot to do was change my white balance. I had it set for the tungsten/incandescent lighting. I thought, “no big deal, I’m shooting in RAW, I’ll fix it in processing.”

When I saw the result of my mistake, I realized that would be an even bigger mistake to try to fix it. So, a little contrast adjustment, a little noise reduction, a little sharpness, and an awesome picture. From “oops” to “WOW!”

This was the first shot…

View original post 17 more words

Tree on a Farm

Mountainside Images

When you see an image, it’s really easy to take your camera, point, and click. For a landscape photographer, such as myself, it’s point, pray, and click if you’re in a hurry, as I was with this photo.

I really wish I had been able to set-up my tripod, but my family was on the move and waiting for me. Sometimes, you just don’t have enough time to get the shot you want. If I had the time, I would’ve setup my tripod, closed my aperture more (achieving a deeper depth-of-field), and lengthened the shutter speed. This would’ve allowed for a sharper photo, especially with the wheat field in the background. The ISO was at 200 and the shutter speed was set to 1/4000, so clearly I had some room to work with on this if I had the time.

As it is, I was able to increase the contrast…

View original post 86 more words