Kevin C. Wong

April 2020

Trader Joe's Grocery Shopping

Went to Trader Joe's for in-person shopping. There was a line outside but it moved fairly quickly so was inside in about 10 minutes. They were keeping the number of people inside fairly low so for the most part could keep distance.

Shelves were full. No bathroom tissue, instead hand sanitizers, but they only carried one shelf before. Otherwise all the shelves were full and I didn't notice missing items.

Got a couple of salads; premade beef brisket; salmon, pork chops and deboned chicken thighs; a couple of frozen food items; 2 half gallon lactose free milks; 2 x1 dozen eggs; 6 x pasta.

They have every other checkout line open, with new face shields. But two people per checkout, one to bag, so everything still moves quickly especially since there are less people inside.

Overall was ok and maybe because it's a bit more of a specialty store it wasn't half empty.

I saw a mention for as an alternative to Amazon, a site for independent booksellers to band together. But reading the about this is a really weird model.

They're not selling books from independent booksellers. They're actually books from Ingram and giving either 10% of cover price to a common pool distributed to independent booksellers, or giving 30% of cover price to one bookseller if the buyer specifies it. In both cases Ingram should be making enough for a small profit (booksellers buy books at 60% of cover price and if Ingram is a distributor then they buy books at 40% of cover price).

Obviously this is a buy new books model and does not support used books. Also I think local booksellers are losing out. They have to maintain a storefront, people, books they're not actually selling. For basically 10% of cover price or 30% if a customer is loyal enough to specify your store. I also think in general if people are in an actual store they'll buy more books.

So I think this model only benefits virtual booksellers who have no stock. Basically they'd be a front end for Ingram. In the end does not seem to be a benefit for the independent bookseller industry.

Diary - Apr 18 to Apr 24 2020

Sat Apr 18 2020

Sleep 05:15 to 12:15.

  • Ordered a face mask from Etsy, Let's see if this works.

Sun Apr 19 2020

Sleep 06:30 to 12:30.

  • It's annoying when my connection drops to 802.11n. It takes me a while to figure out my Internet is a bit slow.
  • I split out the 5 GHz (802.11ac) network to TGD Fast and renamed the 2.4 GHz (802.11n) to TGD Slow. It's convenient to have them both on the same SSID and let the devices figure it out until those devices choose wrong.

Mon Apr 20 2020

Sleep 06:30 to 12:30.

  • Some work done. Which is better than no work done.

Tue Apr 21 2020

Sleep 03:30 to 11:30.

  • Picked up KFC. Hopefully two $20 fillups last 8 meals.
  • Placed a pickup order at Safeway for Saturday. Let's see if it works.

Wed Apr 22 2020

Sleep 03:30 to 08:30.

  • Woke up and my Farm To Fresh order had arrived. Yay!

Thu Apr 23 2020

Sleep 04:00 to 12:00.

  • NFL Draft starts today.
  • Deadlands 3E is on Kickstarter.
  • Sometimes during a long file copy I get a drive unmounted error. Turns out it's the USB hub which works fine 99% of the time except when I'm doing 100+ GBs of data copy. As a side benefit, attaching one drive to each of my MBP USB ports doubles data transfer speed.

Fri Apr 24 2020

Sleep 05:00 to 09:30.

  • Still I get little work done.
  • Took the secure coding practices refresher. Way light on content and I guess you're supposed to follow up as appropriate but only the refresher is mandatory.

Safeway Pickup Order

I tried placing an order and picking it up from Safeway. When you initiate the order it gives you a pickup timeslot which might affect what you order. It does tell you what they have in the store and what they're out of though since you're placing the order a week ahead it's going to be quite inaccurate and even worse for meat section products.

This is my initial order:

Item Description; Qty.; Est. Total Price
Floridas Natural Juice Orange with Some Pulp Home Squeezed Style Chilled - 89 Fl. Oz.; 2; $12.98
Lactaid Whole Protein - 52 Fl. Oz.; 2; $9.98
Green Giant Steamers Broccoli & Cheese Sauce Sauced - 10 Oz; 2; $5.00
Green Giant Steamers Spinach Creamed Sauced - 10 Oz; 2; $5.00
Green Giant Steamers Vegetables Mixed - 12 Oz; 2; $4.98
Barilla Pasta Penne Gluten Free Box - 12 Oz; 2; $7.38
Barilla Pasta Rotini Veggie Box - 12 Oz; 2; $3.98
Barilla Pasta Spaghetti Thin No. 3 Box - 16 Oz; 2; $3.98
Hinode Rice White Calrose Extra Fancy - 20 Lb; 1; $19.99
Pasta Roni Pasta Angel Hair Butter & Garlic Box - 4.7 Oz; 2; $3.38
Pasta Roni Pasta Shells & White Cheddar Box - 6.2 Oz; 2; $3.38
Ground Beef 80% Lean 20% Fat Value Pack - 3.50 Lbs.; 1; $13.97
Liquid-Plumr Pro-Strength Full Clog Destroyer Plus Urgent Clear - 17 Fl. Oz.; 2; $12.98

Later I added chicken thigh (10 pk) x2 and a couple of other things.

I showed up, parked in a pickup order space, and called the number. Took a couple of tries and you give them your name and space number. Unfortunately they entered the order on the wrong date and said they'd have it ready later and would email me (it was a text message). Also mentioned very busy because only three people handling online orders.

Meanwhile I saw that there was a line of people to get into the store so they were only letting in a limited number at a time. I didn't see the inside but I kind of assume they're doing the "one route through the store" layout to keep people from mingling.

I went home and my order was ready an hour later (and that's when they charged my credit card). Took a bit longer to call and get an answer (if it rings long enough it goes to an IVR with non-useful options). Person came with my order. I popped the trunk and they put it inside then closed and that was it. No human contact though of course once you get the groceries out wash your hands.

In the end I received:

Barilla Angel Hair protein pasta x2
Pasta Roni Butter & Garlic x2
Floridas Natural Juice Orange Juice 89 oz x2
Ground Beef 80% Lean 20% Fat Value Pack (4 lb)
Starbucks Pike Place Roast 20 oz x2
Liquid-Plumr x2
Green Giant Mixed Vegetables x2
Green Giant Broccoli and Cheese x2

On the plus side I'm set for coffee and at least got a good amount of meat. Lots of orange juice is nice too. On the minus side no milk means I have a half gallon that needs to last 1-1/2 weeks. No rice is also worrisome as I'm running pretty low.

Drobo Hard Drive Upgrade Plan

With Comcast pausing data caps I've been downloading an awful lot of stuff the last month and my Drobo filled up. I offloaded data to some spare old hard hard drives but I think it's time to upgrade my Drobo internal hard drives.

Currently it's: 2 x 4 TB + 6 TB + 2 x 8 TB for 20 TB usable storage (with the rest going to RAID redundancy).

I was thinking of getting 5 x 18 TB to max out the 64 TB usable storage (64 TB due to that's how much Drobo OS can handle). But their latest support doc (Aug 2017) says that 14 TB hard drives are the largest tested.

And actually I may have been computing this wrong. If we look at the capacity calculator, 5 x 14 TB = 70 TB but about 63.66 TB raw capacity. So if the Drobo RAID stuff is done in one volume by the OS then this is the max and the 50.84 TB useful storage is also the max.

Once that is decided, looking at their drive selector page they have four options:

Seagate Barracuda Pro (14 TB, Desktop, $440)
Seagate Ironwolf Pro (14 TB, NAS, $480)
WD Red (14 TB, NAS, $500)
WD Red Pro (14 TB, NAS, $570)

WD Red is what I use. They're 5400 rpm and write speed is not great. I think I want 7200 rpm drives. With the recent reveal that Western Digital slips SMR drives into WD Red channel I guess I'll try Seagate Ironwolf Pro. CMR drives are traditional while SMR drives are cheaper but require read/writes to be serialized as much as possible (i.e. if you have multiple threads doing read/write it's going to be much slower than CMR). This requires a special driver.

I'll probably buy a set next month from B & H.

Diary - Apr 11 to Apr 17 2020

Sat Apr 11 2020

Sleep 06:45 to 12:15.

  • I looked at and it seems like a good free solution. Lots of character sheets (which can have scripts to drive values and rolls) even a couple for GURPS.
  • Still need to get off my ass and stop watching so much Twitch.

Sun Apr 12 2020

Sleep 05:50 to 12:30.

  • BotezLive 12 hour stream kills my day.
  • Will try starting end of night routines at 22:00 no matter who is streaming. That way when stream is done I'm ready to immediately go to sleep.

Mon Apr 13 2020

Sleep 02:00 to 07:30. 1 hour nap.

  • Went and got two pizzas from Zachary's from San Ramon. Half baked, will cook one tomorrow.
  • Gotta admit 90 minutes of driving was quite nice. There was actually a fair amount of traffic at 15:00. Maybe a quarter of normal which is a lot -- normally there'd be traffic jams instead it was a good number of cars and flowing smoothly.

Tue Apr 14 2020

Sleep 03:00 to 09:30. 1 hour nap, 30 min nap.

  • Finally used the Yubikey I was issued last year (maybe even a full year ago). It's to access the customer cloud network for working on customer bugs and I haven't had to do it since my manager usually does it during HQ time.

Wed Apr 15 2020

Sleep 05:00 to 12:30. Slept through my alarm...

  • New iPhone SE announced. 4.7" iPhone 8-size (compared to old SE's 4" screen). $550 for 256 GB (which I would get because not all my music fits in 128 GB).

Thu Apr 16 2020

Sleep 04:00 to 10:30.

  • Christopher dropped off dishwasher detergent pods, enough for five years I think.
  • Have not really gotten anything done this week. Misc work but not my main tasks.

Fri Apr 17 2020

Sleep 10:30 to 15:30.

Replacement Wireless Router?

I bought my Airport Time Capsule mid-2016 and it may be dying. Or it might be the cable modem. Or something else. Though I guess wireless base station is it because sometimes it kicks out every connected device.

What I need in a router:

  • 802.11ac support, tri-band which is faster. Do I really need max speed? It does come in useful when doing Time Machine backups over the air. Though then again what will I use for a Time Machine backup drive?
  • Attached printer via USB. Although I suppose I could move the printer to the computer area.
  • 3+ Ethernet ports for server, Ooma Teleo, Hue base station.
  • Good management software would be a plus. I liked the Airport Utility but you couldn't really get any data on who was connected and how much bandwidth they were using.

Apple Store only has mesh wireless routers. You can buy the base and use it alone though maybe you're paying for extras you'll never use. Anyways they sell 3:

Netgear Orbi ($260) - which has a built-in cable modem, kind of sexy. No USB port.
Linksys Velop ($180 for Tri-Band version) - another router that is a nice white rectangle. Only two ethernet ports (and one will be for a cable modem) and no USB ports.
Linksys MR8300 ($180) - looks like a more normal (ugly?) router with four antennae. USB port is for expansion not for connecting a hard drive or printer.

So looks like none of these are quite what I need.

The next place to look is Wirecutter and they have a Best Wi-Fi Router and Best Wi-Fi Mesh-Networking Kits. Top pick for Wi-Fi Router is TP-Link Archer A20 ($200). Tri-Band with 6 antennas, 4 ethernet ports, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, quad core processor with 512 MB RAM. Supports Time Machine, has a VPN server (OpenVPN or PPTP), can share fires over the Internet using ftp (?!?), has an iOS app to control the network remotely.

Actually looks like a pretty cool product. Only drawback is it's a Chinese company.

Apple Hardware Upgrade Timeline

Let's expand on my last post where I mentioned my Apple hardware replacement schedule:

iPhone SE - bought Jun 2017
iPad Pro - bought Sep 2017
MacBook Pro - bought May 2015
Mac mini - bought Feb 2018

Replacement Schedule

MacBook Pro - mid 2021
iPad Pro - mid 2022
iPhone SE - mid 2023
Mac mini - mid 2024


I want it more of a six-year replacement cycle and I want to stagger it to every 18 months so I can keep watching Apple TV+.

MacBook Pro - mid 2021. This obviously has to be first. I'm hoping for a MBP using an Apple CPU. Maxed out it's $7k which would be the most expensive Mac I've ever bought.

iPhone SE - end 2022. $650. This needs be replaced in between the two expensive items and I'd rather not put off a new iPad to 2024.

iPad Pro - mid 2024. 11" 1TB for $1550, + Apple Pencil 2Gen and Magic Keyboard it's more like $2200. I'm currently using a 10.5" which I think is a good size.

Mac mini - end 2025. The last hardware to update and it's good to have #2 and #4 be the less expensive hardware purchases. Problem is this will have to be the server that either doesn't run macOS Server 5.6 (i.e. the last good one) or it'll run it within a VM. Then again maybe buy real server software or something as that will be more up to date. A mid/upper model with not max ram but max ssd is $2.5k.

Diary - Apr 04 to Apr 10 2020

Sat Apr 04 2020

Sleep 06:30 to 13:15.

  • Got two grocery deliveries (three bags) courtesy of Steph. Most important, more coffee and milk.

Sun Apr 05 2020

Sleep 05:15 to 12:15.

  • Long day of streams means I got no work done. Sigh.

Mon Apr 06 2020

Sleep 21:15 to 03:15. 1 hour nap.

  • Signed up for Farm Fresh To You. Trying biweekly small box of fruits. 20% corporate discount for first five orders. You can also add meats, dairy and other things to an order. Hopefully I actually get the orders.

Tue Apr 07 2020

Sleep 05:15 to 12:30.

  • Most games show the home screen with all these functions that are locked until you level up. It just makes the game seem too complex right off. Why not hide them until a player can use them?

Wed Apr 08 2020

Sleep 04:00 to 11:30.

  • Received two grocery orders from Steph. One was Good Eggs which I guess is a prepared meals company.

Thu Apr 09 2020

Sleep 04:15 to 11:15.

  • After watching Alexandra grind Raid for 9 hours with advice from chat and Gerbs I decided to download Raid again and try it out.
  • Alexandra bought the $30 beginner pack right off, got one of the best legendary characters and made it look easy.

Fri Apr 10 2020

Sleep 06:00 to 14:30.

  • Rebalancing my Twitch downloads to other hard drives. I have 2-1/2 TB of videos in about a year.
  • I'm going to need to upgrade my Drobo hard drives. Still waiting for Western Digital 18 TB drives to be in full production.

iPhone SE 2020

Apple announced the new iPhone SE (2nd generation) which is bigger, about the size of an iPhone 8, with a 4.7" screen. A13 Bionic chip, same as in iPhone 11, though how many cores or speed is not noted. One 12MP camera back, 7MP camera front, Touch ID, up to 256 GB ($550).

I bought my iPhone SE June 2017 but it was completely replaced October 2019. So I think it should last me two years before the battery starts degrading. If I can keep it for another two years (unlikely) then it'd be nice to wait until mid 2023 for a new iPhone.

Hmm, I bought my current iPad September 2017 so it'd be bad to replace it in the same year as my iPhone. Let me think...

iPhone SE - bought Jun 2017
iPad Pro - bought Sep 2017
MacBook Pro - bought May 2015
Mac mini - bought Feb 2018

Replacement Schedule

MacBook Pro - mid 2021
iPad Pro - mid 2022
iPhone SE - mid 2023
Mac mini - mid 2024

So 6 years to replace except iPad Pro which will be in 5.

Isolation Contact List

Here I will keep track of people I've contacted in case I get sick.

Sat Mar 21 - Deliver from Amazon Prime (Whole Foods)
Sun Mar 29 - Delivery from Amici's San Mateo.
Thu Apr 02 - Went to KFC and picked up order via drivethru about 18:00.
Sat Apr 04 - Delivery from Instacart (Mollie Stone's). Delivery from Draeger's (Instacart?).
Wed Apr 08 - Delivery from Good Eggs. Delivery from Instacart (Mollie Stone's).
Thu 09 or Fri Apr 10 - Christopher drops off some bathroom tissue.
Mon Apr 13 - Pick up pizza from Zachary's San Ramon about 15:10.
Thu Apr 16 - Christopher dropped off a bag of supplies almost midnight.
Mon Apr 20 - Christopher dropped off a slice of cherry pie, about 23:00.
Tue Apr 21 - Went to KFC and picked up order via drivethru about 14:30.
Wed Apr 22 - Got Farm Fresh to You box dropped off this morning at front door.
Sat Apr 25 - Picked up grocery online order from Safeway, about 17:00.
Tue Apr 28 - Received Instacart order from Costco, about 17:30.
Thu Apr 30 - Went to Trader Joe's (1820-22 S Grant St) and bought groceries in the afternoon.
Sat May 02 - Received a box from Good Eggs
Tue May 05 - Walked to Fed Ex store (121 E 4th Ave) to pick up package about 14:30.
Wed May 06 - Received box from Farm Fresh To You
Tue May 12 - Zachary's about 13:00 for pre-ordered take out pizzas.
Wed May 20 - Received box from Farm Fresh to You
Thu May 21 - Picked up KFC about 12:15 (950 El Camino KFC)
Mon May 25 - Received Good Eggs order at 19:50.
Wed May 27? - Christopher and son stopped by and we talked. CJr got too close a couple of times.
Wed Jun 03 - Received Farm Fresh to You order
Sat Jun 06 - Safeway grocery shopping about 06:00.
Tue Jun 09 - received ups package, did not see deliverer
Wed Jun 10 - received ups package, did not see deliverer
Thu Jun 11 - Picked up KFC about 19:00 (950 El Camino)
Sun Jun 14 - My brother drops off some pie in the evening.
Mon Jun 15 - Dentist cleaning visit, Kevin T Dowd, in Pleasant Hill, 15:00. Guest hygienist since Chris was out.
Sat Jun 20 - Grocery shopping, Safeway 1655 El Camino Real, 08:15.
Sat Jun 27 - Picked up Pizza from Zachary's San Ramon about 16:00.
Tue Jul 07 - Picked up KFC about 19:30 (950 El Camino KFC)
Sat Jul 11 - Grocery shopping, Safeway 1655 El Camino Real, 06:45.
Thu Jul 23 - Picked up KFC about 15:30 (950 El Camino KFC)
Thu Jul 30 - Safeway (1655 El Camino Real) grocery shopping about 22:15.
Sun Aug 02 - Christopher dropped off some groceries and we talked. About 21:30.

Site Updates - Mar 01 to Apr 04 2020


Mar 02 iOS - Warriors of Waterdeep (2018) [/]
Mar 04 Movie - This Is Not What I Expected (2017) [+]
Mar 06 Spot Reviews - Sachi Suchi [/], The Coldest Game (2019) [-], NetNewsWire 5 (2020) [/]
Mar 09 GURPS Zombies (2013) [+]
Mar 11 Movie - The Andromeda Strain (1971) [+]
Mar 13 Spot Reviews - Cfood Crush [-], Subway Surfers [-]. Conan the Barbarian (2011) [/]
Mar 16 Ultra Tiny Epic Galaxies (2015) [+]
Mar 18 Movie - Code 8 (2019) [+]
Mar 20 Spot Reviews - Mr and Mrs Smith (2005) [+], Episode: Choose Your Story [/], Twitch/ChelsieMonica [/]
Mar 23 GURPS Mars Attacks (2016) [+]
Mar 25 Apple TV+ - See s1 (2019) [+]
Mar 27 Spot Reviews - Helvetica (2017) [/], Armello (2018) [/], Twitch/JapaneseTutor [/]
Mar 30 iOS Game - Fire Emblem Heroes [/]
Apr 01 Apple TV+ - Dickinson (2019) [+]
Apr 03 Spot Reviews - Trader Joe's Palak Paneer [+], Crossy Road [/], Raid: Shadow Legends [-]

Diary - Mar 28 to Apr 03 2020

Sat Mar 28 2020

Sleep 05:30 to 11:30.

  • Maria (PhotoChess) mentioned that Russia is closing their borders. Here's a story:

Sun Mar 29 2020

Sleep 03:30 to 11:45.

  • Ordered Amici's for delivery: 2 med pizzas and a family salad (for later). First restaurant food I've had in 19 days. I was getting such a craving for fried chicken but not sure how I'd get it delivered.
  • I placed the order at like 03:00 for delivery at 11:45 and almost slept through it. Must have really needed sleep.

Mon Mar 30 2020

Sleep 03:45 to 07:45. 11:30 to 14:30.

  • Worked a full day, so good start.

Tue Mar 31 2020

Sleep 03:30 to 12:00.

  • A second day of work. Looking ok.
  • With everybody at home there is so much Twitch streaming going on it's crazy.

Wed Apr 01 2020

Sleep 04:00 to 07:15. 10:30 to 14:15.

  • Late night knowledge call + coffee + early morning knowledge call means not much sleep.
  • Bay Area shelter in place extended through May 03. Yeah, it was going to happen but still a bit depressing.

Thu Apr 02 2020

Sleep 02:30 to 12:30.

  • Logged into Wells Fargo to make my mortgage payment. They have it setup so you can apply for payment suspension during COVID crisis (though I assume interest still accrues). Not that I need it so I'll keep making my payments.

Fri Apr 03 2020

Sleep 04:30 to 09:30.

  • Rearranged some Twitch follows: -kkam, -chaedoc, -harstar_, -andreabotez, +annacramling, +hashtagchess, +annamaja, +naycir. Four channels that rarely stream with four channels that stream frequently so it's been a lot the last couple of weeks.

Adding a Bank Account

I wanted to add money to my Roth IRA account. It's still setup with my old bank so I tried adding my new bank. But you have to confirm with a text message or phone number which is my home number and I still don't have a phone.

Some options:

  1. Transfer money to old bank and use funds from there. But I'm trying to never use my old bank until I'm certain I can close the account.
  2. Buy a new phone (either an Ooma phone or a regular phone) which I need to do eventually but then again I've gone two years without a home phone so it's not that needed.
  3. Sign up for Ooma premium which allows incoming calls to the Ooma app (or Call Forwarding to my cell phone) but it's $10 per month.

I went with the third option. There is a one month trial so I'll cancel in three weeks. And if I need to do something like this again spending $10 is fine. BTW Ooma app phone quality was fine though maybe not as good as a regular cell phone.

Anyways I added the new bank account then went to change my day phone to my cell phone so this doesn't happen again. But now changing contact info the confirmation is text message, phone call, or email. So I did email and quickly changed my info. There's a bit of an experience mismatch there.