Thursday, September 22, 2022

NO OUTRAGE?

A few days ago a man got into a political argument with a teenager. The man subsequently ran the teen over with his vehicle killing him. The killer claimed he felt 'threatened' by the youth who he characterized as a right-wing extremist. The teenager had no weapons on him. The murderer was charged with vehicular homicide and released on $50,000 bond. In an article yesterday, he claimed that he wanted his life to go on as normal, after all, he has a job, a family, and a life. My question is this, where is the outrage over a man killing a teenager because the teen held an opposing political view? Where are the riots and screaming mobs, or are these only reserved for a particular group of people in this country?

This man does not deserve to have his life go on as normal. He should face the same intense pressure and scrutiny as Derek Chauvin and Kyle Ritter had to go through. The media should be on this person's doorstep probing his politics, religion, ethics, background, mental health, etc. But there is no outrage, after all, it was a white man killing a white teen who happened to hold conservative beliefs.

Shannon Brandt, by his own admission, murdered eighteen year old Cayler Ellingson in cold blood. This wasn't just vehicular homicide, it was premeditated murder. Mr. Brandt planned and executed this violent crime with full knowledge and intent of what he was doing. Cayler Ellingson had not pulled a weapon, and had not attempted to attack Mr. Brandt, so there is no 'stand-your-ground' excuse here.

At this time Shannon Brandt is walking around, a free man, living his life. Cayler Ellingson is dead. He will never go to college, have a job, fall in love or raise his own family. Mr. Brandt made sure that Cayler Elliingson would never be able to do any of these things. So, I ask again, where is the outrage?

Stay safe and watch out for the Shannon Brandts out there.


KM


Friday, July 1, 2022

3D PRINTER REVIEW – ELEGOO NEPTUNE 2S

 

I have decided to do an in-depth review of the aforementioned ELEGOO NEPTUNE 2S 3D printer. This is the first 3D printer that I’ve owned and operated. I will be reviewing the printer based on several criteria:

1.    Delivery (does it come within the time-frame stated by the company.)

2.    Packaging (does the product come undamaged and is the packaging sufficient to protect it.)

3.    Ease of assembly

4.    Ease of setup

5.    Ease of Part Prep

6.    Printing

7.    Speed of printing

8.    Noise

9.    Final product produced

10.Customer Service

My rating system is:

One Star – Very Poor, Run, don’t walk away from this.

Two Stars – Poor, not at all recommended.

Three Stars – Fair, there will be challenges you have to overcome.

Four Stars – Good, I can recommend the product.

Five Stars – Excellent, this is highly recommended.

For item one (1) delivery, the product was promised within five to seven business days based upon the shipping criteria that I gave them (free shipping.) The product was delivered late on day four, so they exceeded the expectation.

My rating on Delivery…Five-Stars.

The item came in a heavy cardboard box, undamaged, with soft foam packing cut-out to hold the individual pieces. I consider it well protected. Expectation here was met.

My rating on Packaging…Five-Stars.

We come not to item three, ease of assembly. This is where things go just a little off the rails. First, you need to understand that this printer comes only partially assembled. You are expected to do a lot of the assembly yourself. All well-and-good as this is one of the reasons that the cost of the unit is so low ($190 if you buy directly from Elegoo.) There are problems here though that Elegoo should address.

First is the User Manual that comes with the unit in the box. This is a terrible document and isn’t much help for someone who has never put one of these together before. The pamphlet is mostly pictures with confusing dialog. It is actually obvious that an engineer helped put this booklet together, not thinking about the novice. Fortunately, Elegoo was wise enough to include an assembly video on the TF card that comes with the unit. This is far more helpful when it comes to instructing you on how things go together. The problem here is that the video shows things going together at two, three, or four times the speed that they actually do. I found myself replaying sections time after time. This brings me to the second problem with assembly of the printer.

There are six different size screws (all hex head) and five different size hex wrenches to go with them. This, along with a couple of different crescent wrenches with three sizes. There are also six different sized connector ends that have to be plugged-in in various places, one so small that I had to use tweezers to get it lined up. Most of you reading this probably know that I am a Lean/Six Sigma Senior Master Black Belt. I can tell you that the concept of Design For Assembly (DFA) was nowhere present when this model printer was on the drafting table. It honestly is not that hard to set up to use a common screw (two at most) and a common connector (again, two at most.) In fact, it isn’t that hard to set it up that NO screws are needed, but that is advanced DFA and I would have been ecstatic with some of the basics. I want to make sure that you understand I have taught and implemented Design For Assembly/Design For Manufacturing at multiple companies in several countries including the USA, Mexico, Canada, France, Switzerland, and China. DFA/DFM has reduced costs for these companies by as much as 50%.

Finally, with the assembly, they leave you to figure out that little tricks you need to know to make things go together properly all on your own. Things like, keeping the nuts at the very end of the screws when putting the filament holder on. The problem is, these aren’t things that are just ‘good to know,’ they’re critical to getting the unit put together properly.

My rating on Ease of Assembly…Two-Stars.

Let’s move on to Ease of Setup. This was another area that needs some improvement. There are a couple of basic things that need to be done before you can start printing. One of the most important is leveling the bed (the area where the part sits as it is being made.) You would think this is pretty straight forward and, if you live in backwards-world, it probably is. Under the bed are four ‘wheels’ to help level the bed. Where I come from, when you turn a wheel right, you would expect something to go in or up…not the case here, this actually lowers the bed in that corner. I suppose if you are left-handed, this might be pretty cool, but according to Wikipedia, roughly 90% of the human population is right-handed. Again, a DFA issue. Once you figure that out, it is pretty smooth sailing for leveling the bed.

There can also be issues with the bed ‘wobbling.’ This is taken care of by adjusting some nuts under the bed…nuts that are ridiculously tight. I had some real fears that I was going to break something on the printer I had to pull so hard. Some simple adjustment knobs for this would have been nice, but maybe it would have added some cost to the unit as well. Once we are past these problems the basic setup is pretty much done.

My rating on Ease of Setup…Three-Stars.

Part prep is an important part of 3D printinig. In order to 3D print a part, you somehow have to get that part design into the printer. The Elegoo Neptune 2S does this through the use of a piece of software called Cura and a TF card. What Cura does is look for your model in a variety of formats (.stl, .gltf, .obj, etc.) and lets you manipulate size and orientation and then ‘slice’ your model. Slicing is putting the model into a series of ‘slices’ that the printer can use to build a part file in Gcode. This file can then be transferred to the TF card so it can be plugged into the printer for use. Seems simple enough. Except…there doesn’t appear to be anyway for you to manipulate other important data directly in the Cura program initially. Information like nozzle and bed temperatures. This is ‘hidden’ in a bar above the viewing stage. The manual for the Elegoo version of the Cura program is online (I had to search for it myself.)

 

Once the part is loaded into the Cura program, which is easy to do, slicing it is as simple as pushing a button. You then can load the sliced part back onto the TF card for use. I had to make sure that it was loaded onto the top menu or the printer could not find the part (you cannot load it into a file folder, at least I couldn’t, and have the printer find it.)

 

My rating for Part Prep…Three 1/2 Stars.

 

Printing the part, I initially had some issues. For some reason, the part would begin to print and then, after a few minutes, the entire thing would move on the bed ruining the printing. I went back and double-checked that the bed was level (a VERY big deal) but it made no difference. I then tried to contact Elegoo about it and what I should do, I will get to that later. Rather than waiting for an answer back, I resorted to asking a group on Discord that I am a member of. After describing the problem and my settings, I was told that my nozzle temperature was a little too cold and how to make the adjustment. I did this and, sure enough, the part stayed in place.

 

I rate Printing at…Four Stars.

 

Print speed is highly dependent upon the size of the part you are printing the amount of ‘fill’ you are putting into the part (typically set at 15%,) and, I assume, the quality of the part, though I haven’t found a separate setting for this. I printed a part that was approximately twice the size of a normal miniature (my daughter wanted a unicorn) which took about an hour and a half. I consider that fairly fast. Actual miniatures can vary from fifteen minutes to a half hour. I have seen and heard about other printers and how long it takes, so I consider the Elegoo fast.

 

I rate Print Speed at…Five Stars.

 

The Noise that the Elegoo Neptune 2S makes is minimal. In fact, it is the quietest printer I have encountered to-date (we had a 3D printer at one of my work places and the noise would drive you nuts after a while.)

 

I rate Noise at…Five Stars.

 

We finally come to Final Product Produced. The printer does make a nice part. The parts require a lot of trimming as the base is too wide and there are a lot of stringers. Overall, though, if you keep an eye on what it being made, you can get a really nice part off of the machine. Like all filament printers, it will not give you very fine detail, but it does as good a job as any parts I have seen from filament printers. There is one problem, and it is not an unusual one for any printer.

 

Getting the part off of the bed is difficult. This seems a little ironic after the initial problem of not getting it to stay in place. There are some ‘tricks’ that help. One is to heat the bed to about 70 degrees C and then use a can of compressed air on the part to cool just the part. You can then use a good flat spatula to get the part up. Just be careful as these parts are fairly fragile.

 

I am going to rate Final Product Produced at…Four Stars.

 

I need to talk about Elegoo customer service. This is what drags the overall rating down the most. The only way to Elegoo is through their email client. This means that you are going to have to wait hours (at least) before you hear back from them. When you are in the middle of a problem, you really don’t have that kind of time. I asked them about the problem of the part not staying in place on the bed. The response (several hours after I was done) was to clean the bed with alcohol and level it. This was actually an incorrect response since the solution was to increase the nozzle temperature. Imagine if I had to go back and forth with, “That didn’t work.” “Well try this.” It would have been ridiculous considering the time factor involved. This is always the issue when you are dealing with customer service located either in a different country or massively different time zone.

 

The only way that can see to overcome some of these problems is a better trouble-shooting section in their manual (they have one, but it doesn’t cover a lot of the eventualities possible) or online. I have had to help create these types of systems, so I know it can be done.

 

I am going to have to rate Customer Service at…One 1/2 stars.

 

My overall rating for the Elegoo Neptune 2S printer is 3.8 stars.

 

It is probably a decent printer for someone just getting into 3D printing, but there are obvious issues that Elegoo should address.

 

Since, as you know, I am careful about copyrights, I am only going to include a couple of pictures of finished products and not the printer itself.

 

Have fun, stay safe!

 

KM

 



 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

THE SUPREME COURT DECISION

 

One of the most stunning lies people are being told about the recent decision which overturns the previous one on Roe vs. Wade is that abortion is now illegal. That is NOT TRUE. The decision by the Supreme Court turns the matter back over to the individual states which is where it originally resided. A huge part of the problem, of course, is the way that this is being presented in the media.

 

Let’s start with the decision and what it really means. Each state can now enact its own laws concerning a woman’s reproductive rights. Roughly half of the states have or are going to make it harder or impossible for a woman to get an abortion there. At least a quarter of the states are going to make it easier. Almost no one is likely to use common sense about it. If you have read any of my previous posts, you already know my stance on abortion, but I am going to try my best to leave that out and just talk about the reality here.

 

We have a media that is inflaming the public and helping to incite riots and death threats. This is patently illegal, but we cannot expect the Department of Justice to act on it since it is currently being used as a tool of the radical left. The radical left wants abortion to be available to any woman (no, sorry, men can’t have babies) at any time for any reason. The Supreme Court has said, okay, no problem, but that’s up to the state you are in to decide. Essentially, what the court has said is, there is NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO ABORTION, and they are correct. Read the Constitution and you will find there is nothing in there about it. Instead, you will find that all people have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It doesn’t say you can decide to end a life or that you are guaranteed to be happy. That just isn’t in there or any of the amendments.

 

So, my question is, what is the purpose of the rioting, vicious protests, and death threats? Shouldn’t these people be directing their energies at making sure their state will have the access to abortion that they want? That won’t happen by using the tactics that they are, that will happen by putting the people in power that they will do their will. Unfortunately, reason isn’t something that works with radicals.

 

Please understand that I am in no way advocating for abortion in any form. I am simply stating the way to go about making the change you want now. But also understand that the media has lied about what the court has said, and the President of the United States has lied about what the court has said.

 

Telling Congress to pass a law about abortion will be worthless in the end. Even if it were to pass, it would be challenged back in the Supreme Court and struck down. That isn’t a prediction, it’s a fact.

 

I have recently seen a number of corporations that say they are going to provide free help for those that want an abortion but are now in a state where they can’t get one. I guess that’s okay if those corporations are willing to take the consequences (expect boycotts and even some lawsuits.)

 

I do see the odd hypocrisy on both sides of this. The far left wants the ability to abort even up to (and in some case AFTER) birth but is against capital punishment. The far right wants no abortion but wants to be able to execute criminals for certain crimes. In the end, what you believe is up to you.

 

I know that this post won’t really change your mind on anything, you will go on believing and supporting whatever position you have. But I do hope that at least it gets you thinking.

 

Stay well, stay safe,

 

KM

Saturday, June 18, 2022

WE WENT TO BUY A CAR...

 

As many of you are already aware, a couple of years ago we moved away from my beloved lake in Georgia and are now living in central Texas. Very recently we began shopping for a new vehicle. After much research we decided the Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy. This is a top-of-the-line SUV. And so, the adventure begins.

 

We now live near Fort Hood in Texas and the closest Hyundai dealership to us is in Killeen Texas We went there several times looking at the vehicles. There was a nice young lady assisting us who shall remain nameless since this is about the dealership and not the person. We, naturally, wanted to know the ‘out the door’ price of the Palisade that we had chosen. The sticker price was listed, and we knew that much. As we were walking back into the dealership to get final pricing, the young lady informed us that there was an automatic $5000.00 up-charge because the vehicle is hard to find right now. WHAT? Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.

 

We pay cash for our vehicles because we do not believe in carrying any debt. That means we do not finance our cars. While you might think a dealer would appreciate this, the exact opposite is true. Financing is pure gravy to the dealer as they make money off of your interest, so they don’t like it when you don’t finance. When we told the young lady this and she ‘went to her manager’ for the final pricing on the vehicle, it came back with an ADDITIONAL $10,000.00 of already applied add-ons. We are now talking $15,000.00 over the sticker price. We walked out. I won’t play that kind of game, no item is worth it. I could be wrong, but to my eye this looks like a classic bait-and-switch. You list a price on the car and then suddenly it is $15,000.00 more, even if you don’t want their ‘extras’ Ah, but the best is yet to come.

 

There are other dealerships within about a 50-mile radius of us. After several web searches, phone calls and texts, we found that at least FOUR other dealerships did not play these games for the EXACT SAME VEHICLE. We decided to go to one of these, Southpoint Hyundai in Austin Texas. The price was precisely what we expected, no ridiculous add-ons, no mysterious up-charges. The people there worked hard to secure our business and make sure that we, as customers, were happy. I’m sure you can guess where we decided to buy the car.

 

You are the customer, you have choices, and you have a voice. Do NOT believe that simply because one dealership decides to add ‘extra charges’ that are NOT on the sticker of the car that you have to accept it. There is no reason to be so desperate that you have to settle for less than being treated fairly. The difference between the Hyundai dealer in Killeen and Southpoint Hyundai is night and day, honesty versus whatever you want to call what the Hyundai dealer in Killeen is doing.

 

Stay safe, be wise.

 

KM

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

THE QUESTIONS I HAVE

 

I live in Texas and yesterday a true tragedy happened here. Children were murdered at an elementary school about 200 miles from me. As per the usual, the first thing that the Left did was immediately scream for gun control. The president of this country didn’t even sympathize with the families first, no, the first thing he did was talk about guns. This whole event has given me a lot of questions.

 

Question 1: The Left is the party that wants abortion legalized everywhere and at any time. Even late-term abortions (i.e., killing the child as it is being born.) So, why are they so upset about young children being killed at all? Isn’t that essentially what they want anyway, to make all the decisions about our children, including killing them at any point?

 

Question 2: What do you mean by gun control? California has strict gun control. Chicago has strict gun control. New York has strict gun control. Has it helped there? Or do you mean gun confiscation so that only criminals, police, and the military have guns? Pushing for more background checks seems pointless since that system is already in place. I am going to admit that to stop selling the scary black guns, like was done years ago, might cut down on the number of people killed in a single instance, but will it stop these incidents altogether? My honest take on it is that politicians hate the idea of citizens owning guns because they are afraid for their own skins, which is exactly what the framers of the Constitution had in mind.

 

Question 3: The person who murdered these innocents posted pictures of his guns and wrote things on social media to indicate that they were going to do something. He texted a young woman that he was about to take some kind of action. Supposedly, the district was monitoring social media looking for these kinds of things. What happened, why wasn’t he caught before he could act? Who failed to do their job?

 

Question 4: How did he get into the school? Most of the schools I know, at least around here, are nearly impossible to get into without a lot of scrutiny or a battering ram. Even the playgrounds are fenced with locks on the gates. The guy had two very obvious weapons, how did he get close enough to the children to do what he did?

 

There are going to be an almost unbelievable number of conspiracy theories about this. Most will be about it being a distraction from what is going on right now or about to happen to swaying elections one way or the other. I believe that the simplest answer is probably the correct one, this kid was a nut-case with a gun who wanted to impress a girl and, in his delusional mind, figured this would do it.

 

Let’s all get it through our heads, there is no one-size-fits all answer to this. Rushing to put in more laws that are only go to make it harder for LAW ABIDING CITIZENS rather than the criminals and the insane does nothing. Talking about mental health does nothing when you can’t identify who is going to be the one. Talk about arming resource officers in the schools only works if they are going to stand their ground and take the person out immediately. Arming teachers only works if they are willing to do something that goes completely against their instincts, shoot, what is basically, another child. Attempting to take away all the guns in this country will only lead to more deaths, that is just a fact.

 

Maybe it’s time we looked at what and how places that never seem to be victims of these types of tragedies manage to do it. Maybe it’s time to turn our vast technological knowledge to methods of protection and defense in our schools. If we use our intelligence rather than our emotions it might barely be possible to prevent this from ever happening again.

 

While the Left may curse me for it (yes, they actually said ‘f**k your prayers’ to the Republicans), my prayers go out to the parents of the children that have perished or been wounded.

 

KM

Sunday, May 22, 2022

BUSINESS AND ACTIVISM

 

I have discussed this before but, apparently, it bears another review. I recently pulled my support from a site that I had been with almost from its inception. As many of you know I ‘game’ and the site is a support site for gamers. It is called dScryb and I have recommended it before in this Blog. Unfortunately, I can no longer do so. In fact, I recommend that you no longer subscribe at all.

 

The problem isn’t that they are any less supportive in what they do for gamers, the problem is that they have decided that it is necessary to become social activists while they do so. The issue I have has nothing to do with WHAT they want you to support (they are soliciting donations,) it has to do with the fact that they are doing it at all.

 

I am sure that when they put together their ‘package’ to support the cause they are pushing it never crossed their minds that what they were doing was political in nature. However, that is exactly what it is. Let me be very clear, I don’t care if it is a ‘left-wing’ or ‘right-wing’ cause, if you are in business to sell something that is NOT related to that cause, you are doing your customers a disservice, and I have no interest in supporting you. Your ‘job’ is to generate a profit for your business, not push an agenda.

 

Honestly, I don’t care if you go on a site and express your views, I see it on FB and Twitter all the time. I do care if I have paid for a service and that service now includes what I essentially believe to be a political commercial with a specific viewpoint.

 

I know that there will be many of you who do not agree with me from both sides, and that’s okay. If you DO agree with me though, I highly recommend that you voice your displeasure with companies that do this. They need to understand that if you have paid for something, you don’t expect to be subjected to their personal biases as a part of that purchase.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

KM

Saturday, March 19, 2022

CRIMEA RIVER

 

(Russia formally annexed Crimea on March 18, but the UN says it’s still part of Ukraine)

 

So far these are the ‘conspiracy theories’ I’ve heard about the war in the Ukraine:

1.     It’s about freeing some of the eight million children that go missing each year and destroying the ‘bad guys’ who do it.

2.     It’s about destroying the evidence of Biden misdeeds.

3.     It’s to destroy the covert bio and chemical weapons that have been created and are stored there (some have been hidden in the nuclear plants, that’s why they are targeted.)

4.     It’s all just to distract us from the mess that Joe Biden and the Dems in Congress have made of the country.

 

Honestly, I don’t care which one you pick, those of you who believe that Putin is really a ‘white hat’ or even a ‘gray hat’ don’t know who and what he is. Putin only acts in Putin’s self interest and nothing more. He may very well be doing one of the above, but only if it is advantageous to him in some way. Let’s start with Putin’s real background.

 

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin started his career as an intelligence office with the KGB in Soviet Russia. In July 1998 Pres. Boris Yeltsin made Putin director of the Federal Security Service which was the successor to the KGB after the Soviet Union fell. Putin was an unknown until he launched a major operation against the secessionist rebels in Chechnya. After that, his popularity soared. On December 31, 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly announced his resignation and named Putin acting president.

 

That last should be the REAL grist for conspiracy theorists. What would make Yeltsin resign like that, hmmm?

 

Now consider, almost all of the former KGB officers didn’t just evaporate. What they did, was go into an occupation that allowed them to utilize the skills that they had honed for so long. They became the infamous Russian Mafia. Do you believe that Putin was unaware of what his long-time associates and friends were doing? Do you think he didn’t give his tacit approval?

 

Vladimir Putin is and always has been a ruthless thug bent on obtaining power over others. The KGB maintained power through fear, pain, and murder. How many times have we heard about Putin having his rivals jailed or killed? I don’t care how many times he has protested his innocence, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. So, I ask you conspiracy theorists, why would you believe that this thug is anything but what he has always proven himself to be?

 

Do I believe that the government of the Ukraine is a guilt-free bunch of innocents who stand for all that’s right in the world? Nope. They are as corrupt as any government (including our own) that has ever existed in Europe, and worse than most. This is why I won’t take sides in this war.

 

I do sympathize with those who are really innocent, the common people who are caught up in a conflict that can be blamed on both sides AND foreign interference. The men, women, and children that are being maimed and dying.

 

Do I believe that Putin would go nuclear? There is only one reason I can think of that he would do such a thing. If he were dying, I believe that Mr. Putin would have no qualms about taking the rest of the world with him. Do I believe the Mr. Biden is a coward and unable to stand up to this international bully? Absolutely, I do. If Biden wants to see Putin back down, all he has to do is order our readiness stance to Defense Condition Two. Mr. Putin’s spies here will tell him within minutes that the U.S. is warming up its silos. You can put money on it that there would suddenly be a flurry of nice, calm political negotiations between our two countries.

 

As for the Ukraine, they can drive the invader out. They just need a decent leader that understands both strategy and tactics and isn’t depending on others to bail them out. Someone please loan them The Book of Five Rings and The Art of War.

 

Oh, and for the 62% of Democrats that would flee our country if we were invaded, please leave now. The only thing you are good for is cannon fodder anyway.

 

If you are living in fear of what comes next, don’t. Tomorrow will be here, and the next day after that.

 

KM