Building A New PC? Ignore The Verge’s How To…

The Verge "How NOT To Build A PC"

I just had the misfortune of watching Stefan Etienne of The Verge demonstrate how to build a gaming PC. I say misfortune because the level of inaccuracies and build errors on display make a mockery of a well-respected tech channel, I’m surprised that it made it past QC to feature on their official YouTube channel.

I will post the video at the bottom of this write-up, here are my thoughts as an experienced PC builder.

0:24: Why do you need to build a PC on a table? I have built all my PC’s on the floor, on a carpet, in fact; and not once have I had a failure due to static shock, JayzTwoCents did a rather silly test, to prove that static shock is not an issue in general for modern components. While on the table scene, those tweezers sure look like zip ties to me, and that anti-static strap is not grounded so it won’t stop any static discharge.

2:25: Motherboards really are not that delicate, sure you could damage a motherboard while installing it, but it’s highly unlikely. As long as you have the motherboard in contact with the stand-offs, you will be fine. If you place the motherboard directly onto the motherboard tray, there is a likelihood of a short, which could kill your motherboard. Oh, are you listening Stefan? it’s called an I/O shield, not a brace.

3:12: 2666mhz RAM is not pretty fast by today’s standards, common speeds are 3000mhz to 3200mhz these days, we have speeds in excess of 4000mhz on the market today, should your hardware support it.

4:32: Notice the RAM as Stefan slots in the GPU, both modules are next to each other. To be able to run dual channel memory, and let’s face it, why would you not want to, there has to be an empty slot between the two DIMM’s. You would normally use the second and fourth slot for two DIMM’s.

5:19: The isolation pads for the power supply are to reduce vibrations through the chassis, not to protect against shorts, Stefan’s argument falls apart as soon as he screws the power supply into the same chassis, it’s still touching metal. Also take note that Stefan installs the power supply with the fan facing inwards, pressed against the back of the motherboard tray, so no cool air, or any airflow for the PSU then.

6:11: While installing the radiator for his AIO cooler, Stefan is using the screws designed to go through the fans into the radiator, where the fans would be mounted in front of the radiator, for example when mounting to the front of the case, not the top, or when implementing a push/pull fan configuration.

7:11: Don’t toss away the CPU socket cover as Stefan did, you’ll need that if you ever need to RMA or want to sell your motherboard in future, put it in the motherboard box for safe keeping. You really don’t need the motherboard installation tool from Asus, just align the triangle on the CPU with the triangle on the socket and gently drop it into place, this works for both LGA and PGA processors.

8:15: If you have a brand new cooler, be it an AIO liquid cooler or air cooler, the pre-applied thermal paste is just fine. If you do want to use a different thermal compound, please clean the pre-applied paste off the cooler cold plate first. I have always used the pre-applied paste on a new cooler and have never had an issue with cooling as long as the cooler is up to the TDP requirements of the CPU. Adding extra thermal paste to the CPU could actually cause an air gap, which is detrimental to cooling performance.

9:04: Finally, what a piss poor cable management job, Stefan has made no attempt to route the cables behind the motherboard tray, which is unforgivable, given the Corsair Crystal Series 280X case, which has a separate compartment for cables and the power supply. This is just plain sloppy and also impedes airflow, albeit slightly, with the air having to navigate a mass of cables to get to the hot components.

No wonder The Verge turned off comments on this particular YouTube video, they knew a shit storm was coming. I would have commented on the video, but as I couldn’t, I wrote this instead!

Update [Sep, 21 2018, 5:28]: It seems the whole Internet taking the piss out of The Verge’s “How we built a $2000 custom gaming PC” video has inspired the channel to take down the video on Youtube.

So, here’s the video, remember, once it’s on the Internet, it’s always on the Internet…

While updating this blog, I noticed another error, in the image at the top of the page, you’ll see that Stefan has neglected to install the thumbscrew in the bottom left of the CPU block, causing uneven pressure to be applied to the CPU’s IHS, which in turn could cause the AIO to perform suboptimally.

One final thought, according to the credits, 13 people worked on that video and not one person thought “there’s something not quite right here?”. That says a lot about The Verge as a publication if that level of fail can get past 13 freaking people, 2.1m subscribers and they don’t have the foggiest idea about PC’s.

Nike, Colin Kaepernick & The Right Wing

Nike's Colin Kaepernick Advert

Nike has taken a decision to use Colin Kaepernick as their public face of their current advertising campaign. Which has enraged America’s right wing, with some posting videos of themselves destroying their Nike products on social media. Which, in my opinion, is stupid, you’ve already given Nike your money, the company doesn’t care, and you’re giving Nike free publicity, putting them in the public eye.

Colin Kaepernick was thrust into the non-sport following public eye when he decided to take a knee during the national anthem, as a protest against the trend of unarmed African Americans being gunned down by law enforcement. So-called patriots lost their collective minds, saying that he is disrespecting the flag, country, and military, later being shunned by the NFL, despite being one of the best football players.

Kaepernick has sacrificed a lot to make a stand, using his position on the big NFL stage to highlight the plight of his fellow African Americans. In all likelihood, his football career is now over, being effectively blacklisted by the NFL and ostracized by US president Donald J Trump, the orange one calling for NFL team owners to fire any “son of a bitch” player who protested at a campaign rally in September 2017.

The NFL can do whatever it wants, it’s a private company, however, the president calling for athletes to be fired for using their right to free speech, has serious constitutional implications. But, like everything that Trump says or does, nothing will happen, imagine if former president Barack Obama made such a statement in public, the right wing would lose their damn minds, talk about a double standard!

I applaud Nike’s bravery in using Kaepernick for their “Dream Crazy” advertising campaign, see the video at bottom of the page, which clearly has a political overtone. The slogan which Kaepernick speaks in the advert, “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” is a clear reference to Kaepernick’s stance on the field by taking a knee during the national anthem and the consequences of that action.

Some right-wingers have vowed to boycott the brand, and president Trump has tweeted the following;

While others have been burning their Nike products;

Looks like Nike’s gamble has paid off, with online sales of their products rising 31% in the wake of the Kaepernick advert. This is despite, the boycotts, protests, and claims by the president of the United States that Nike is being killed by such boycotts. I always say, like the Target Transgender bathroom policy boycott, the majority of those who say they are going to boycott were never a customer in the first place.

Here is the advert that has divided a nation;

Bad Coding Practices Coming Back to Bite Me In The Ass

Good Coding Practices

I have not been that active in doing web design in recent years. The last time I created a business website was 5 years ago when I created a multi-site WordPress environment for my employer’s communities. Which at the time was great, the initial design was coded well, but over the years, making changes on-the-fly has made a refresh difficult as I had hacked the site with inline styles and code on a per-site basis.

Admittedly, I am behind in regard to responsive and mobile design. If I am honest, I have been lacking the motivation to do much in regard to website design, so I have let it slide, which frankly is not good enough when my job in digital marketing is being harmed by not having mobile-friendly websites.

Earlier, this week I started development of a 100% new template, that would be fully responsive, to deploy across more than 20 websites, but I quickly found that would be impossible due to the hacking of the code over the past five years. I will now have to go back and retroactively fix the previous fixes to standardize the websites across the board, which is going to be time-consuming, to say the least!

I have done one website for a friend recently, which, if I am honest is a hack job as well, I didn’t follow good coding practices, but that is not as important as it is a single website, not multisite, so it’s easy to hack to make it work, and I did it for free, and my friend is happy with the design. But, generally, I should apply good coding practices to every project I take on., if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right!

The plus side of this situation is that I am learning a lot about responsive website design, how to change the layout dynamically based around browser width. breaking down columns to pit on a portrait-oriented phone screen and dynamic sizing of text based on browser width, and above all, I’m enjoying the process.

Finally, a free plug for my friend, James’ website:

Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix 2018

Italian Grand Prix 2018, Lewis Hamilton overtakes Kimi Raikkonen for the race lead

The dream of a Ferrari 1-2 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza disappeared by turn 4 on lap one when Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton made contact going into the Variante della Roggia chicane. Later, things got worse for Ferrari with Kimi Raikkonen becoming the meat in a silver arrows sandwich.

Polesitter Raikkonen made an excellent start, while Vettel tucked in behind, before getting alongside into the first Variante, only to back out of it. This compromised his exit from the chicane, which allowed Hamilton to get a run on him through Curva Grande to be alongside the Ferrari going into the second Variante and the two made contact as Hamilton squeezed and Vettel understeered wide. The net result, Vettel was tipped into a spin, dropping back to 18th, while Hamilton continued on unhindered.

This incident, coupled with STR’s Brendan Hartley and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson making contact off the line brought out the safety car, which helped Vettel as he could make a stop for running repairs and join the back of the snake. The restart produced some overtaking for the lead, not one, but two; Hamilton got a run on race leader, Raikkonen down the main straight to take the lead into the turn 1 chicane, only for Raikkonen to come back at him through the turn 3 sweeper to reclaim the lead into the turn 4 chicane.

It was a disappointing day for Daniel Ricciardo, who ground to a halt on lap 25 with smoke pouring out the back of his Red Bull, which we obviously thought was a power unit failure, but, it was later revealed that it was a clutch issue, not engine related. Which, I guess is some consolation, as the Aussie took the new C spec Renault power unit for the Italian Grand Prix while suffering a significant grid penalty, starting near the back. Daniel has not had much luck recently, retiring from four of the last six Grand Prix.

Vettel was making a great recovery drive after his clash with Hamilton on lap 1, the German making up 12 places, running in sixth place. Meanwhile, Mercedes duped Ferrari into pitting Raikkonen to cover a non-existent Mercedes stop, clearly, Mercedes came out into the pits to fool Ferrari into making a stop, and it worked a treat as the Ferrari driver came out behind Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas who had not stopped. Clearly, the plan was for Bottas to back Raikkonen into the clutches of Hamilton.

The Mercedes strategy worked perfectly, Bottas and his very wide Mercedes forced Raikkonen to take more life out of his soft tires than he would have liked, trying to pass his fellow Finn. Bottas stayed out for 16 extra laps before stopping for fresh rubber, allowing for Hamilton to pit on lap 29 and slot in behind Raikkonen, at one point, there were just 1 1/2 seconds between Bottas, Raikkonen, and Hamilton. By this time, Raikkonen was struggling with his blistered tires, succumbing to Hamilton’s pressure on lap 45.

Max Verstappen’s petulant side reared its ugly head again, after colliding with Bottas as the Finn attempted to pass the Dutchman. Verstappen clearly moved across on Bottas as the Finn was alongside, not giving Bottas enough space, the Finnish driver was on the white line delineating the track limits when the two banged wheels. Verstappen refused to acknowledge his mistake, to his own detriment, continuing to lose time by fighting Bottas, demoting him from 3rd to 5th after his 5 second time penalty.

HAAS’ Romain Grosjean, who took the chequered flag in sixth place was disqualified for running with an illegal floor, which promoted Sergey Sirotkin into the top 10, which meant a double points score for the struggling Williams F1 team, it’s only 9th and 10th, but for Williams, that must feel like a win, the British team had only scored two points from the first 13 races, both points scored by Canadian Lance Stroll.

Some talking points; the Mercedes dummy pit-stop, my understanding is that it is against the sporting regulations to be in the pit lane unless a pit stop is imminent. I’m no expert on the rules, but, I have heard that the rule is sufficiently vague to allow teams to fake a stop and not ‘technically’ be in breach of the rules. Mercedes have used this tactic a number of times, with zero accountability or punishment, so that either suggests that Mercedes is being given a pass or have managed to stay within the grey area.

Second thing, Mercedes use of Bottas, the clear #2 driver at Mercedes, being used to deliberately back the Ferrari into the clutches of Hamilton. It is against the rules to deliberately block an opponent, however, Bottas was going fast enough to not allow Raikkonen to pass, but slow enough to allow Hamilton to cruise up to the back of the Ferrari. I’m sure Ferrari fans will be livid with Mercedes actions, but it’s all within the rules and I’m sure that Ferrari would have done the same if the roles were reversed.

Finally, Verstappen, he really is his own worse enemy, to be clear, I don’t think he deliberately collided with Bottas, I think he misjudged the space. But, his attitude when the somewhat lenient 5 second time penalty was handed down was frankly, childlike, costing himself and Red Bull two valuable points. The sensible thing to do was to allow Bottas to pass, then hang onto the back of the Finn, trying to keep five seconds between himself and Vettel’s Ferrari, which would be very doable as Bottas was much faster.

This result allowed Briton, Hamilton to extend his lead to 30 points over Vettel, while Mercedes constructors title lead has been extended to 25 points, I really hope that Ferrari can bounce back and keep the fight alive and not fade away like they did during the 2017 season gifting Mercedes both titles.

Italian Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:16:54.484
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +8.705
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +14.066
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +16.151
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +18.208
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +57.761
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +58.678
8. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +78.140
9. Lance Stroll (Williams) +1 LAP
10. Sergey Sirotkin (Williams) +1 LAP

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix 2018

Fernando Alonso flies over the top of Charles LeClerc at the start of the Belgian GP 2018

The second half of the 2018 Formula 1 season started with a whimper, the only bang was Fernando Alonso’s McLaren banging on the top of Sauber driver, Charles LeClerc’s HALO. But, we can take some positives from the race, Ferrari looks to be a match for Mercedes in terms of speed and handling, so we could be on for a real title fight to the end of the season, barring any Ferrari ‘tactical’ errors.

Speaking of Ferrari ‘tactical’ errors, seriously, why the hell did the Maranello based team not have Kimi Raikkonen on track in the last three minutes of qualifying? The last-minute shuffle in a rain-hit qualifying session cost Ferrari and Raikkonen dear, starting from the third row instead of the first or second row.

The start of the race was spectacular, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg got his braking all wrong into La Source, rear-ending Alonso’s McLaren, which in turn went flying over the top of LeClerc’s Sauber, knocking off Daniel Ricciardo’s rear wing in the process, which caused Ricciardo to puncture Raikkonen’s right rear tire. This incident caused a safety car period, but before the SC was on track, Sebastian Vettel got better drive out of Raidillon, getting alongside pole sitter Hamilton to make the pass for the lead into Les Combes.

The first corner incident resulted in five drivers being out of the race, Hulkenberg, Alonso, and LeClerc were immediately out, with Ricciardo and Raikkonen out of the race later due to damage sustained in the incident. Although I think that Red Bull elected to save the power unit as Ricciardo was trundling around at the back almost two laps down, due to the time it took to replace his rear wing in the pit garage.

Then snoredom kicked in as the race died on its arse, the only upsides were Valtteri Bottas recovering to 4th from the back of the grid after taking some pain for a power unit change and Max Verstappen battling to 3rd place, passing the new entry, Racing Point Force India duo, who took advantage of Ferrari and Red Bull sleeping in qualifying, making it an all pink second row on the grid. Hamilton never looked like he could challenge the Ferrari of Vettel, eventually settling for 2nd place and 18 points, minimizing the pain.

When you go to Spa Francorchamps and the racing is this dull, questions have to be asked. The DRS zone down the Kemmel Straight made overtakes like a highway pass, the pass was done way before the corner, with the overtaking car back on the racing line before the braking zone. I would give the Belgian GP 2018 a 4/10 and that’s being generous, Bottas’ and Verstappen’s overtakes made it bearable.

It could have been more interesting if we had Danny Ric and the Iceman in the mix, but Red Bull and Ferrari took the pain of DNF’s because they stayed in the pits while others were out on a drying track in qualifying 3, bettering their times, putting them in harms way when kamikaze pilot Hulkenberg launched himself into the pack at turn 1. But, we have to give credit to Hulkenberg for holding his hands up and squarely taking the blame earning himself a 10 place grid drop for Monza this upcoming weekend.

The gap between Hamilton and Vettel in the drivers championship has been reduced to 17 points, but due to Ferrari’s brain fade in Q3, Ferrari fall a further five points adrift in the constructors championship.

Belgian Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:26:50.253
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +11.061
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +31.372
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +68.605
5. Sergio Perez (Force India) +71.023
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +79.520
7. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +85.953
8. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +87.639
9. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +105.892
10. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1 LAP

Back 2 School, 2018/19 Edition

Back 2 School 2018

After 13 weeks of summer vacation for the kids, yes, that’s right, you heard that correctly, 13 freaking weeks; when I was at school in the 80s/90s, we got six weeks for summer, my two kids, one freshman in high school, and one 3rd grader are back to school and the silence in my house is deafening.

I’m happy that the kids are back in school for my own sanity and also their chances of staying alive (joke, btw). But, the enrollment process and getting them started has been troublesome, especially for my 14-year-old son, who started high school this year. Information about what is required for enrollment and the upcoming school year has been non-existent from USD259 and his new school, Wichita West High.

We’ll start with my son, Conner, who is the high school freshman, we went to the school to enroll instead of doing it online, as registration needs to be completed at the school, which, in my opinion, makes online enrollment superfluous. We spent more than 2 hours at West High enrolling my son in school, most of that time was queuing at each station, not to mention, zero instruction on the online portion.

Then, this past Tuesday, we knew it was orientation day for freshmen students, but we could not find any information on the start and end times. The West High website, just said orientation day, and to contact the specific school for times, which is daft as I was on the specific website for West High. We tried to call West several times over a week period, and even tried to call the USD259 school district, no response.

We tried one final time to call on Tuesday morning, still no-one picked up the phone, so I drove my son the 7 miles to West for 8am, which is the normal start time for regular school days, which seemed to be the correct time, before going inside with my son to actually communicate with a real person as no-one is answering the phones at either the school district or school itself, not even a voicemail box was offered.

Moving onto my daughter, Alya, who is now a third grader, I enrolled her and paid online, but of course, I still had to go to the school, which again, negates the purpose to online enrollment. The instructions from online enrollment, made it sound like I had to go to the school, sign a few pieces of paper and that would be it. Nope, it was the same station-based thing like West, so I spent more than an hour there.

That hour could have been doubled if it wasn’t for the school book-keeper asking me and a few other parents if we needed to talk to the person at the final, which was actually the first station. I skipped onto station 2 because of the line of parents for station 1. The book-keeper took our paperwork, as we didn’t need to talk to the person at station 1 so we could leave as the wait for station 1 was significant.

The struggle was worth it, both kids are enrolled and have finished their first week of school and seem to be settling in well, especially our freshman student, who is also a high functioning autistic person, so transitions can be hard for him, but he has not talked about any issues thus far, so we are good.

My AT&T Customer / Tech Support Experience!

AT&T Fiber Support

Four months ago, almost to the day, I switched from Cox Communications to AT&T for my Internet, I had ‘cut the cord’ in regard to TV 2 years previous, there’s nothing on cable TV for me anymore, certainly not at $170 a month. Anyway, you can read all about why I switched from Cox Communications to AT&T here.

Last Monday, July 30, 2018, when I arrived back from enrolling my son in high school at about 7:30pm, I sat down at my computer and it warned me that I was connected to my network, but had no Internet. So, I got on my phone, used the AT&T app to check for outages and there was an outage in my area, so I left it there, expecting the Internet to be working before the evening was out, but by midnight, it was still down.

I waited a little  longer, trying to fall asleep, but, by 2am, being unable to sleep as per normal for my insomniac self, I decided to call AT&T technical support after noticing the red ‘Alarm’ light was illuminated on the AT&T Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which after some research I found that the red alarm light means no optical light signal was reaching the ONT, which explains why my Internet was not working.

During the call, the AT&T tech support rep went through the usual, unplug, restart routine they have to do, being a former tech support rep myself, I realize that sometimes its as simple as a, in my best Roy from The IT Crowd voice, “have you tried turning it off and on again?” to fix a variety of issues. Obviously, I had tried these steps already, but the reps have to go through it regardless of whether I had already done it.

It soon became apparent that something was broken outside of my home, so the rep said that there is no point testing the modem as there was no optical signal reaching my ONT box. So, we moved into scheduling a tech visit and the initial slot she could find was over 36 hours away, which obviously won’t work for me. I explained that I work from home and need the Internet to work, she looked again for a priority slot and found a slot between 2 – 4pm, the next day, July 31, 2018, which I immediately accepted.

The technician arrived at 3pm, the halfway point of the arrival window. When he rang my doorbell, he said, I think I have already fixed the issue, which I knew he had done, as my internet suddenly popped back online. He explained that the fiber cable inside the AT&T box on the outside of my home was broken, which was the old style fiber cable, he simply replaced it with the newer, stronger fiber cable.

I constantly hear how terrible AT&T customer service is, but four months in, my experience has been very different, I really have no complaints, even while dealing with AT&T, on my mother-in-law’s behalf, my experience has been positive. Hopefully, it stays that way and, as importantly, AT&T don’t start throttling traffic from certain providers, as they are entitled to do since the net neutrality rules were rolled back by Ajit Pai’s FCC, If this experience changes, I can assure you that I will write about it on myblog-online.

UNEMPLOYED IV! Time To Breath In And Tighten Our Belts

No Job, No Money, Now What?

My wife has been ‘let go’ from her job for the fourth time in 3 1/2 years, this time because the company she worked for is downsizing, selling off a bunch of their properties. It was only a part-time job, which brought in about $650-700/month, but money was already tight after launching a photography business, so this sudden decrease in income puts us in dire straits, I could really use some ‘money for nothing’.

Unlike previous job losses, we are not drowning in a mountain of debt, thanks to the funds I received from my fathers estate, but there are some debts that we really cannot afford with this job loss, one is a car loan, luckily it is a small loan, less than $140/month and a Best Buy credit card, which has a required $125/month payment to avoid 29.9% interest charges when the promotional interest free period ends.

I’m really angry with myself, as, at the time of purchase, we had the cash to buy the wife’s new (used) car and washer and dryer outright. But I let my wife talk me into putting these items on credit instead of using cash from savings, which is now gone. We have zero savings just 4 months after these purchases, and I am at a loss to where the majority of the money went, other than paying off new credit card balances.

The net result as the title suggests I have immediately canceled anything that is not essential, like the Playstation VUE streaming TV service, Spotify, WWE Network, StreamVia VPN, and Audible subscription (my wife is not going to be happy with me), leaving us with Netflix and Hulu Plus. In truth, we can’t really afford that either, but we can’t just sit in this house in silence with two kids to keep entertained.

There are some business expenses, like our website, Email, Adobe photography suite and insurance that we need to keep. At least we own our camera gear, I insisted that we pay for this in cash, I don’t want to be facing repossession of our camera equipment, that would be disastrous, it’s hard to run a photography business without camera gear. After nine months, we need the business to start paying back our close to $15,000 investment, selling everything and giving up on the business is a real possibility.

I could ramble on for paragraphs about this, but I will leave it here. Suffice to say, one of two things need to happen, my wife needs to find new employment or business significantly picks up on the photography front. My income alone is below what is needed to support my family, I can keep a roof over our head and the lights on, but not feed and clothe all four of us, much to the detriment of my mental state.

Formula 1 German Grand Prix 2018

German Grand Prix 2018

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel threw away a certain victory with a rookie error in slippery conditions at the Hockenheimring, while Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton rode his luck avoiding a potential time penalty to snatch victory, after starting from 14th due to a technical issue in qualifying 1 on Saturday afternoon.

There really wasn’t much in the way of action during the first 40 laps, including the start. Hamilton made his way through the field rapidly with his superior Mercedes car, the British driver was up to 4th place by lap 15 courtesy of a few cars stopping ahead of him. Meanwhile, Ricciardo, who started from dead last after an engine change, had made his way up to 6th before suffering a race-ending mechanical issue.

It started getting interesting after lap 43 when it started to rain, Mercedes made a decision to pit Hamilton for his only stop, switching him onto the ultra soft tires as the rain was isolated to the turn 6 area of the track at that time. A number of drivers, notably, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen switched onto intermediate wet tires, which really didn’t pay off for the Dutchman as the track was not wet enough, having to switch back onto slick tires just two laps later, costing him a potential podium in the process.

Then, disaster struck for Ferrari with Vettel making, what has to be considered a rookie error sliding off the track and into the barrier at the SachsKurve, ending his race while out in the lead, which resulted in a safety car, directly causing the race to turn on its head, while Bottas and Raikkonen pitted for fresh ultra soft tires, Hamilton aborted his pitstop at the last moment, driving across the grass from the pitlane to inherit the lead of the race, which was a fortuitous side effect of Mercedes radio comms confusion.

During the safety car restart on lap 58, Bottas was all over the back of Hamilton challenging for a lap before the Finn was instructed by the team to hold station. Bottas, playing the good #2 driver complied allowing Hamilton to pull away by almost 5 seconds by the end of the race, just nine short laps later. Mercedes clearly fearing a penalty for Hamilton cutting back onto the track from the pitlane, which is a breach of the sporting regulations, gave Hamilton the hurry up as the track dried out in the closing laps.

It wouldn’t be Formula 1 without some sort of controversy, and the German Grand Prix was no different. Lewis Hamilton’s aborted pit stop was a breach of Appendix L Chapter IV Article 4c of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, but a simple reprimand was the [non-]punishment for the Mercedes driver, due to the confusion over the team radio, and the fact that this breach was under safety car conditions.

Many pointed to a similar infraction by Kimi Raikkonen a few years back, in Baku was given a 5-second time penalty for a similar infraction, but race director, Charlie Whiting, differentiated the Hamilton infraction because Raikkonen had performed the same maneuver on a ‘green flag’ track.

Personally, I am getting sick and tired of the inconsistencies in stewardship at race events. I’m not a fan of Hamilton or Vettel, in fact, I have a healthy dislike for both of their personalities. So, I don’t have a dog in the race,  but the fact that Hamilton and Vettel have gotten away with insignificant penalties for rule-breaking, while drivers not in the championship hunt get hit with more severe penalties is outrageous, making a mockery of the sporting regulations, it’s time for an overhaul of the decision-making process.

That said, it was Vettel running out of talent at the sachscurve that ultimately allowed Hamilton to win, the infraction only happened because Vettel put his Ferrari in the wall, yes, conditions were tricky, but nothing a 4-time world champion shouldn’t be able to handle. The net result is that the drivers’ title has taken a massive swing back in Hamilton’s favor thanks to Vettel’s lapse in concentration. Hamilton now has a 17 point lead over Vettel and Mercedes move back ahead in the constructors’ championship.

German Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:32:29.845
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +4.535
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +6.732
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +7.654
5. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +26.609
6. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +28.871
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +30.556
8. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +31.750
9. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +32.362
10. Brendan Hartley (Toro Rosso) +34.197

Why Require Gross Income For Assistance Vs Net Income?

Empty Pockets

It’s that time of year again, kids are back to school in a few weeks and I’m applying for reduced rate meals at school because meals are expensive. For my two kids, based on 20 school days a month, meals will cost $92/mo. With reduced rate meals, that comes down to $16, which was a lifeline during the 2017/18 school year, however, my wife started a part-time job, which puts us $389/yr over the income limit.

Now, if we actually took home $45,344 a year, I would not complain, but we lose 16% of our income in federal and state taxes, plus mandatory medical insurance, which is another 9.7% of our combined income, even after the ACA subsidy. After taxes and insurance, our net income is just $33,691, a difference of $11,653, which unless you’re a millionaire, is not an insignificant amount of money.

I have applied for reduced rate school meals anyway, hoping that the bureaucrats won’t be petty over $389 a year.  To put that into perspective, that’s just $7.48 a week, and the full price school meals will cost $23/week without the financial assistance. But, I’m not hopeful, bureaucrats are petty by nature.

PANIC OVER! I was handed information for the 2017/18 school year, not the 2018/19 school year, we just about scrape under the 2018/19 income limit for reduced cost school meals. But, my point still stands, why do we, as a country, calculate eligibility from gross income without factoring in such things as rent/mortgage costs, electricity, water is also not free, for us that is an average of $330 – $350/mo.

I work in the home rental field, so I know how much average rent costs in the city where I live, and for a 3 bedroom home, which you would need for a family like mine, two adults, a 13-year-old boy, and an 8-year-old girl, is $911/mo; we pay a little more than that, $925/mo for a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home, the fourth bedroom acts as my office as I work from home, which saves me a little money on travel costs.

Moving onto travel, most people have to travel to work, which, where I live is car-dependent, public transport is somewhat limited if you work outside of the central city area. So we can factor in car loan payments, insurance and fuel costs, which for us comes to roughly $480/mo with rising gas prices.

Then, we come to groceries, which weigh in at $650 – $800/mo, we could shop cheaper, but we want our kids to have a well-balanced diet, which costs more, this is why so many families suffer from obesity, there is a direct link between lower incomes and obesity, because unhealthy processed food is cheap.

Finally, we have school costs with many schools moving to a uniform based system, meaning parents have to find another $150 per child, maybe twice a school year to buy uniforms, plus stationery supplies for school, which could easily add another $100 + registration fees, albeit a one time fee per school year.

If you add all of the above together, it comes to over $30,000 a year. I understand that some people have to live with much less, but in our case, where I get a good salary for the area, and we still have to struggle financially. We don’t lead an extravagant lifestyle, in fact, we barely go out, maybe 8-10 times a year, I only eat one meal a day, I rarely drink alcohol, I don’t smoke and we’re still barely making it.

To summarize, it’s a broken system when a dollar amount is taken as a basis for assistance, which the person being judged will never see in their [virtual] wallet. We should also take into account basic living costs, people don’t have their whole income after tax to spend on whatever takes their fancy.