Hi, I'm Johnathan

I'm a Digital Designer

Last updated 1 week ago
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Last updated 1 week ago

Let's start the post off with a musical number. Shawn James wrote this song some years ago, and it's actually grown on me since I saw the Reveal Trailer for The Last of Us Part 2. It's a really heavy song - and recently my taste in music has taken a darker, more sombre tone. Not to mention The Last of Us remains one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time for me. It's right there beside that first 'room' of The Legend of Zelda on the NES, that opening sequence of MegaMan X, the three corridors of Quake, that first castle fly-by in Super Mario 64...



So, with the completion of the Cloud Citizen project; I've got an idea that I think I'll start blogging about - hopefully keeping a public blog of it will hold me a little more accountable to myself; about continual self-improvement. There are three core pillars (of which there are innumerable sub-categories) which I view myself wanting to continually improve:

  • Health
  • Home
  • Work

So, over the next few weeks and months, I'll be looking into making a few regular posts that'll follow along those topics. My next project that I'll be blogging about is Project EDC which acts as something of a compliment to the results of Cloud Citizen.


So recently, I replaced my mum's iPhone 5S with the iPhone 6 Plus I owned prior to my Samsung Galaxy Note 8. She was thrilled to have a larger screen, and a faster phone. Now, all I need is a way to port her mobile number across to an Optus SIM so I can data pool with her just in case she needs to head to out.

I out of curiosity, decided to try using the iPhone 5S as my main every day driver phone.

What I've always hated about the recent smartphone craze, is the need for larger screens, and bigger footprints for more power. I don't suffer a long commute (I'm blessed with a carpark space in the middle of Sydney CBD, and I drive for my commute into the city), and it's rare for me to be far enough away from a PC, tablet, or laptop that would require me to use my phone as the primary device.

I noted quietly the uses I have for my phone:

  • Calls
  • Messages (including SMS, and digital web-based messaging)
  • Maps
  • Occasionally reading
  • Music listening
  • Making a wifi hotspot

And that's about it. I don't exactly use my phone for media consumption, gaming or any kind of productivity really. So, my phone needs are quite a lot lower than your average smartphone enthusiast.

The downsides so far:

  • The phone carked it this morning and I had to reboot it to get it working properly, it's only my second day using this phone so I wonder if it's the phone with a hardware issue?
  • The phone's antenna isn't as powerful as the Note 8's - I still get amazing coverage, but there is a noticeable reception bar difference sometimes.

The pros so far:

  • Siri works really well for me. It lets me make calls while I'm driving, and that's about it. The simplicity just works well for me.
  • I can operate the phone very comfortably with one hand
  • It's one of the last iPhone SKUs with a headphone jack

At the moment, the iPhone 5S is meeting all my needs. In fact, I may end up selling the Note 8 if I reach the end of a few weeks and don't find myself wanting the Note 8 anymore as a phone. :o


So, I'm going into the final month of probation at my current job; my project Cloud Citizen deployment has actually already started upgrading and now I'm moving from a laptop system to a desktop system to host my personal cloud services. The machine itself is a gaming-grade desktop, running Windows 10 Professional, and I'll be enabling Docker on it to provide additional services I might need.

Specifications

  • AMD Ryzen 7 1800+ CPU (3.6GHz)
  • 16GB DDR4 16-18-18-36 3200MHz RAM
  • 2 x 10TB HGST 7200RPM HDDs with 256MB Cache
  • 1 x 250GB Samsung Pro M2 SSD
  • ASUS Turbo Geforce 1070 GTX 8GB Card

It's significantly more powerful than my laptop, with enough resources to last me a couple of years I'm hoping. It's sitting in an old Fractal Design Core 1000 case (circa 2008) that's really, just barely holding together, haha! I'm using the AMD Wraith Max from my recent home desktop upgrade (AMD Ryzen 7 2700+) to cool the Ryzen 7. It seems to be working extremely well!

It's all in the Services

So, unlike the laptop implementation of my Cloud core for Cloud Citizen, I'm going to be rolling out services on JT-CXS almost entirely exclusively for myself, and provide provisional, temporary access to others as needed. I'll be running a number of consistent apps that passed muster when I was running on the more fiddly JT-NXS system.

Services

  • Plex - personal media streaming and organisation
  • Ubooquity - personal eBook/Manga library resource
  • Parsec - 60fps 1080p gaming streaming to my devices at home, and on-the-go
  • Jump Desktop - iOS compatible desktop streaming at high FPS

Primary Roles

Cloud Citizen's new machine - JT-CXS - still maintains it's role of being my core computer, to enable me to work remotely from anywhere with a reasonably fast internet connection. It should let me:

  • Develop software projects (Git, Visual Studio Code, Git Bash, Sublime Text, WinSCP)
  • Plan the software projects and ideas I have (Zenkit, Visio)
  • Work on Documents, and Publications (Office)
  • Work on Media Production and Development (Adobe Creative Cloud)

All in all, with the extra grunt this machine provides - I'm really looking forward to being less restricted in all the things I can do over a cloud connection; and really, start looking towards using my iPad or ultralight notebook as my primary physical device.

An Every Day Carry (EDC) Kit

So - with my gadgets, I'm hoping to eventually reconstruct an EDC Kit that I can use to travel with. It's all a little interconnected really - the investment in Cloud Computing means I can offset the processing power I need on-the-go; and make a lighter EDC kit for myself so that I can catch public transport, and manage myself when I'm out and about - which in turn means I'm more likely to use my car less (thus lessening my carbon footprint, and saving some dollars in the bank).

As the final component of Project Cloud Citizen - I think it's pleasing to say that in this final week, a device has surfaced (from when I was cleaning my room and assembling a shiny new wardrobe system) that provides an answer to the gaming shortcomings I had previously by basing myself entirely on an iPad!

My EDC is very technical and work focused - and the three primary pieces of equipment in it, are the GPD-WIN, my iPad, and my journal. These are discussed below.

Introducing the GPD-WIN

For solely gaming - the GPD-WIN is the device I'll use.

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It was a perfect solution to being able to carry a device everywhere that'd let me game via the built-in Xbox Controller, and if need be, I could plug in a keyboard and mouse!

So, a couple of years ago, I bought a GPD-WIN, to try and carry around a pocket console for emulation and on-the-go coding, etc. Now at the time, I didn't have JT-CXS to offload all the GPU processing to, so I was limited in the extreme to whatever the GPD-WIN itself could handle. Which really, was pretty much nothing beyond PS2 ROMs.

However, the device was capable of running Windows 10, and while that left next to nothing for storage, I didn't need the storage - I could use the device as a thin-client for access to JT-CXS. It was a perfect solution to being able to carry a device everywhere that'd let me game via the built-in Xbox Controller, and if need be, I could plug in a keyboard and mouse! This meant that whilst I'm out and about and on-the-move, I had full access to my Game Libraries, and could play most modern games (and by a stretch I could use the terrible joystick-mouse mode, to play non-WASD games such as Civilization VI).

The iPad, that old workhorse

My iPad is a pretty special solution - it's the entry-level iPad Pro 9.7-inch from 2017, and surprisingly, it's been extremely helpful, despite a lack of 4G. When I get a chance to upgrade, I will be sure to get a device with Cellular capabilities.

The iPad will primarily be used for:

  • Coding on-the-go
  • Browser/Media Consumption
  • Design + Planning
  • Forex trading and financial management

The Bujo (Bullet Journal)

Bullet Journalling has changed my life. Seriously, it's become a day-to-day system that helps me manage and self-reflect on a level that no digital system has ever been able to achieve. It's a simple (or as complex as you want) system of writing a daily log in a book that helps you compartmentalise and keep track of all the crap that's flying around in your life. I'll probably blog a bit more about this later on, but here's the intro 'how-to' video:


I use the Moleskine Soft Squared Notebook (L) to keep my Bujo in order; expensive, but I love the feel of the book in general, and its simple, unassuming, no-nonsense design. In fact, I've just made a note to myself to start working on buying more of these notebooks so I don't run out in the future.


And so we come to the end of Project Cloud Citizen. Sure there are tweaks and fixes needed, but for the overall part I'm able to travel around with a newly organised EDC bag, and perform all the duties and tech work I need, without breaking a sweat, or being chained down to a desk now. It's not complete freedom, it's just usingi the power of the cloud to extend that 'leash' I have to my work, so that I can move around and enjoy what I need, whever I need.


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