Continuing submitted by
He still came around making trouble, but oddly enough, our little cul-de-sac corner was more-or-less Batshit Crazy-free for the next 34 months.
After that, things sort of calmed down. Well, one of his older boys thought it would be fun to attack Khris, push her off her bike, and try and steal the Uzbek sapphire amulet I had gotten her years earlier.
Khris is not a small girl; she is a corn-fed daughter of the vast cow-pocked hills and rolling pastures of Baja Canada. She didn’t take lightly to some weasely little Arab probably future pole-smokers trying to steal from and assaulting her.
It took more than one punch, but Khris coldcocked the elder of the Guano Insano clan and laid him out so an undertaker could have taken easy measurements. Oh, he was still breathing, but I nevertheless think he was shammin’, playin’ possum until Daddy Dearest could come and rescue him from the rage of wrathful Wisconsinians.
Liam and I were sitting in the porch area of his villa, smoking cigars, drinking our sunrisers, watching the tableau unfold. We both thought Khris handled the situation well, particularly the outcome. The miscreant was out cold’n a foundered mackerel and Khris didn’t heel-stamp him in the chuckle-bits nor curb-stomp his head even though he had initially, and without provocation, punched Khris in the head.
Major stylistic points, Khris.
After 6 or 7 of his offspring rant to alert him, Señor Srībaśita Inasēna came over to shovel his insensible frogspawn up off the tarmac. He was ranting and raving, screaming and splitting the air with threats, dark oaths and other forms of bad noise.
He headed straight for Khris to administer a smackdown, as Khris resolutely held her ground.
I merely stood up and asked Khris if she needed some help.
She replied in the negative, stating that this fool wasn’t going to be much more of a challenge than ‘his idiot kid’
I swear, he went, even more, batshit crazy. However, something clicked and Señor Srībaśita Inasēna looked over his shoulder to see not one, but two near-identical way-more-crazy than he extra-large people standing there, both with cigars and icy cold drinks. He suddenly seemed to experience a spate of total recall how one of the large apparitions said he’d begin him on his journey toward room temperature if he so much as sneered in our direction.
He scooped up his unconscious spawn, muttered something none of us could make out, and scurried back to his loathsome piece of home real estate.
That was more or less the end of our run-ins with Señor Srībaśita Inasēna and his extended tribe.
Swing forward to the late summer. The weather calmed a bit and one’s skin didn’t immediately bubble every time one went out to collect the local morning news-rag. Things were going well for the cul-de-sac; jobs were advancing apace, children were doing well in their various studies, people were, oh what was that word? Ah, yes, happy.
Happy people do fun things.
So, it was decided it was time we have a block party.
Of course, Liam came up with the brilliant idea that we should have a pig roast.
“Umm, Liam”, I ahemed, “In case you forgot, we live in an Arabic Muslim country in the Middle East. Pigs and pork and porcine parts are sort of verboten
around here. “
“Ok, Rock”, Liam laughed, “I know that, you know that, my hat knows that. But we Brits must have our bacon, sausage, and chops. It’s in our DNA. Besides, I can get one flown in through my company; under the wire. I could sneak him over here easily. We’d just have to keep him under wraps until bar-be-que time rolls around. You’re from Texas, so…”
“Adopted native son” I corrected.
“Right”, Liam continued, “But you were from Baja Canada first, so you must know how to cook a whole pig…”
“That right, I do, but…, I said, “…you want to bring a live pig in here, and keep him for a while until we can sort out the cooking necessities. We can’t use the industrial-sized stoves in the rec center at the pool. That’d raise a few eyebrows…”
Es and Cassandra wander over, listen for a bit and exclaim “Are you both out of your tiny, little minds?”
I had to admit, as I poured Liam and myself a refill, that the idea did have a certain ‘Up Yours!’ mouthwatering bacon-scented charm.
So, all four of us sat outside and over beer, vodka, and white wine for the ladies, we brewed up a perhaps passable project for our pig party.
The thing was, I’d be gone offshore for a couple of weeks and the pig would have to live at someone’s villa, under wraps, for that time; which actually escalated to 3 months.
Esme, surprising as always, volunteered to take on the task.
Might have been the white wine talking, but she admitted to missing bacon as well.
“OK, but we’re going to need a bar-be-cue pit. Where and when?” Liam asked.
“I’ll talk to Shiehk Gungan and secure permission for a Hawaiian-style pit bar-be-cue for someone or other’s fake birthday. If we can get Vonn and Honey Bee on board, their villa’s backyard backs up to a tall brick wall bordering the alley behind the City Centre. I could put in a pit there easily, and it would be out of the purview of prying eyes.” I said.
“Good”, Casandra said, “Let me get the gin and tonic makin’s and get Vonn and Honey over here as well as Dane and Dyad. Gonna have a block party, make sure you invite the entire block.”
Over the term of the afternoon, we had our plans.
Liam would secure a pig for us; approximately 200-300 pounds, on the hoof. It’d stay in our backyard under both our sun tarp and Esme Srs.’ care until Pig Killin’ Time. Liam, Vonn, and I would handle that little chore. I’d get permission to ‘dig’ a pit and install the bar-be-cue pit in Honey and Vonn’s back yard. Liam and I would handle the actual roast, and we’d all chip in for charcoal and wood smokin’ chunks, and whatever else we could find.
Dyad said she knew many, many farmers it the area and many had fruit trees, in various stages of repair. Certainly, some of that would smoke up a treat. Persimmon, pomegranate, fig, mango, durian, banana…all the earmarks of a weird pig roast.
So we had a date, a plan and the ingredients for a complete fiasco. Since Sr. Guano Insano was no longer part of the picture, and as we had few interlopers, this might actually work without all of us being tossed into the hoosegow.
I’d liberate a bit of pit diggin’ materials from work, just a small amount of dynamite, C-4, and Primacord; I already had the blasting machines. Vonn and Liam would lay in the charcoal and wood for the actual pig roast and well, Bob’s your uncle.
I went offshore to complete the 12th well on the platform and had to deal with all the logistics, bureaucracy and other sanctioned horseshit that comes with the territory. It took almost exactly 3 weeks, and at that time, Esme’s initial negative reaction to pig-sitting had changed considerably.
She had named the critter and found it to be a rather clever, and even sociable, beast. She even allowed it free reign of our house.
The name she chose was one from an old, endearing structural professor: Prof Pinkus (Prof. Pink-ass).
This was an unforeseen complication.
“Es, remember, “ I said over the phone, “That pig is not a pet. It’s not your buddy. It’s not going shopping with you. It’s going to be the guest of honor at a block party. Perspective, please.”
“Oh, Rock”, Es gushed, “I know that. It just makes it easier to keep up with Prof. Pinkus if you treat him like a pet rather than livestock.”
“Es!”, I yell, “He IS livestock. Soon to be deadstock. Soon to be crisply pit barbequed to a crackly crunch. He’s not your friend, he’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”
“OK, love you too.” Es says, ignoring me, “See you soon. Safe flights. Keep the shiny side up.”
I hang up. “Oh, shit. This does not bode well.” I mused on the flight shoreward.
I have to admit, pigs can be personable animals. Canny, inquisitive, seemingly intelligent. But even so, that does not trump them being delicious, appetizing, and delectable generators of bacon. Prof. Pinkus is going to be ham, bacon, and sausage soon. Not a boon companion.
The next day I ‘dig’ the pit for the barbeque. I used a shovel for exactly 2 minutes and dynamite, C-4, and primacord for a few more. Vonn was astonished that I not only dug a 6’x6’x4’ wide hole in less than an afternoon, but that I did it while smoking a cigar, drinking an, ok, several icy adult beverages, and never even breaking a sweat in the hellish late summer heat.
The Bobcat with the mounted backhoe, which I had ‘borrowed’ from work, helped a little.
Liam wandered over after the pyrotechnics were done. He didn’t care for them as the noise ‘offended his ears’. Truth be told, he had seen enough pyro jobs go south in his line of work and wanted nothing to do with them. I assured him I was a licensed Master Blaster as well as the one and only Motherfucking Pro from Dover
, but it took some time to get him up to speed on the use of explosives for fun and profit.
We let the pit settle, as it was in mostly in desert sand held together with a bit of aeolian clay, or loess. We kept it wet and covered with sheets of canvas. It’d be fine for our pit barbeque in the days hence.
Vonn, Liam and I fabricobbled a cover for the pit which was made of thatched palm fronds supported by ½” pine furring-strips frame along the outer surface. Dane found a hunk of tin stove pipe and we fashioned a nicely workable chimney for the cover. Once the fire was going, and the pig in its new home, we could set the cover over the pit, shovel earth over it to seal it off and use the iris-valve in the chimney to regulate airflow.
One looks at it now, it would almost appear that we knew what we were doing.
Probably nothing was further from the truth.
We needed to ‘season’ the pit, but first, we needed to line the pit with rocks. This serves to hold the heat, and will even out its distribution. But, all we have to use is limestone around here and if limestone ever gets wet, there might be water in the fractures of the rocks. Heat that up to over 1000C
and you’ve got yourself a nifty little bomb.
Of course, this will not do…
So, I get on the phone with several ‘exotic’ marble companies in the big city of Duhu. I call around asking if they might have some scrap sheets of granite, quartzite, granodiorite or marble.
Sure, for a price.
However, there was this one
place where I knew this guy…
He took in huge, and I mean 4m x 5m x 5m blocks of exotic rock from the subcontinent; black granite, “Reaping Equinox’ black and white ‘granite’; most all these ‘granites’ were granodiorites, Inferno Granite, Black Sunset granite sliced thin into façade facing dimension stone, it was absolutely gorgeous in cross-section. However, the best stuff was igneous-metamorphic, tougher than a $2 steak, and just laughed at diamond carbide saw blades.
“Oh, sure now Mr., Dr. Rock”, Mr. Prakash Dongerkerry, the owneoperator of one particular lot I scavenge for Esme’s continuing lapidary hobby, “I’ve got some beauty stuff here for you. But I need some help with these couple of blocks I received from Kerala. Great rock, very pretty, but too tough. Burn out many saws, boss. You can help maybe?”
“Sure, Prak”, I replied, “I can help, no sweat.”
So, next Friday Liam and me, we eased over to the granite factory, C-4, blasting caps and Primacord in hand. Prak was a little apprehensive about using high explosives in a densely populated area, but after Vonn reminded him that he was working with the Motherfucking Pro from Dover
, he relaxed some.
I crawled all over those blocks, marking with orange spray paint the nature fractures, flaws, and features of each block. Asked Prak how he’d like them split, and he indicated parallel to the major axis.
It couldn’t be easier. There was a main body-fracture system normal to the σ1
stress direction. The one’s parallel to the σ2
were minor and nowhere near as clearly developed.
I smooshed some C-4 into a test fracture, primed it and shot it without much ado. It was surprisingly quiet for a detonation. A cute little C-4 POP
A large slab of rock fell off the main block, severed as nicely as a hunk of cold butter from a hot knife.
Prak was thrilled. I only had another 12 or so shots to go.
They all more or less came off as planned. One or two busted when they bounced, even after the addition of old car tires below where I was blasting.
Prak, good to his word, showed us a huge pile of 1.25” thick sawn quartzite slabs that were rejected for mostly cosmetic reasons. It takes a bit of math, a bit of doing, and a lot of C-4 to extract slabs enough to line our fire pit from stem to stern, top to bottom.
Once installed, the pit was a tad less wide, a bit less deep, and a smidge less long, but it was the only Precambrian-quartzite lined bar-be-que pit in this or any other known galaxy.
We celebrated the initial fire up with whiskey and hors-d'oeuvres. I stuck with vodka, ice, lime, citrus stuff, and a Jamaican cigar.
The pit flared from the amount of dry wood we initially used. It burned very quickly into a pile of glowing embers. Now, we added some local lump charcoal and popped on the top, now sporting an exhaust chimney with a rather large, intrinsically-safe, unusually commercial-looking dual-temperature thermometer that somehow just appeared out of the ether.
We took it all the way up to 1,000C.
Although it was designed for ‘low and slow’, we wanted to see how it would perform under alternative conditions.
We let it simmer for a few hours, then decided to kill the fire by closing the iris valve. Thus deprived of oxygen, given a few hours, the pit would be cold to the touch.
The next day, we opened the pit and shoveled out the dead embers. The pit was well and truly cold. Upon examination, it seems that the quartzite had fused to the sand on the outside of the pit. Also, sand had filtered down into the cracks around the pit, like in the corners, along joints, and been fused there as well.
The damn thing would now hold water if we wanted. We had a natural glass-lined fire pit now. We decided to try out some racked & stacked chickens first before we slowly made our way pig-ward.
We staked split chickens out on various levels in the pit. We had worked up a series of adjustable metal frames where we could lay the staked-out poultry. The racks popped right in place and after a couple of hours, hey presto
bar-be-qued peri-peri chicken. And hot-butter roasted chicken. And for the uninitiated, roast chicken with smoked Hungarian paprika and Indian ghee. A real Iron Chef fusion-style mixture.
Liam and I took his Grady White out on the Persian Gulf and managed a couple of dorados, or Mahi, a largish shark, and a couple of kingfish off the deeper shipping banks. Fileted up and tacked in place, we played around with the smoking woods. Mango was just weird. Fig was weirder, almost vinegary; but not terrible. Pomegranate/tangerine tree smoked Mahi, seasoned shark steak, and Kingfish was the hit of the week. So easy, yet so tasty. It went well with Es’ famous Navajo Fry Bread.
We were gaining confidence. Prof. Pinkus’ days were numbered. We decided that the Eid al Fitr would be the time that we’d been preparing our porky pit pig production.
How’s that for cultural sensitivity? Break the Ramadan fast with a pig roast.
about cultural sensitivity.
Anyways, we hemmed and hawed over the methods of dispatching our soon-to-be-delicious 325 pounds of Professor Pinkus.
One wag suggested we have it OD on tranquilizers, trip him out a la
Heath Ledger. Use loads of Nytol®,
oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine."
It was straight out of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers©.
We all agreed it was funny as hell, but that it probably wouldn’t work.
Then we thought we might go all Halal, just slit the pig’s throat with a very sharp knife, and let it bleed out.
Rejected as to being too thrashing, too noisy, too Arabic, and just plain uncivilized.
I thought I could get hold of a 12 gauge shotgun and some Foster Deer slugs. But again, noisy and messy. Besides, I’d have to borrow a shotgun, and that might raise some eyebrows.
We’ve managed to keep Prof. Pinkus under wraps now for almost 3 months. Hate to blow it right before the feasting was to begin.
In the end, all it took was an 18-pound maul and a solid whack to the right side of the head. More sensitive viewers might want to skip a dozen or so paragraphs ahead. Just fair warning™.
I was elected to deliver the coup de grâce
After walloping a bound and gagged Prof. Pinkus upside the head and basically caving in the skull, severing the skull-spinal cord connection at the atlas/axis connection, it was instant lights-out, he felt nothing.
We had already apologized to Prof. Pinkus, and thanked him for his contribution.
Seldom before has lunch ever been so noble.
Prof. Pinkus freezes and collapse, the legs give way, and the neck goes rigid. We picked up the extraordinarily sharp butcher’s knife sitting there, one hand under the chin and pull the head back. The other hand takes the sharp, stout knife under the neck and slices across the neck back to the bone of the vertebrae.
The knife hand loops around to the poll of the head, pushes down and forward while the hand under the chin pulls back and rearwards, so the neck vertebrae connecting tissue cracks. Knife hand back down under the neck, chin hand slides up and a finger hooks into the trachea and slice between the separated vertebrae.
With our previous practice and experience, 10 to 15 seconds from hammer strike to the semi-decapitated head.
Grisly but necessary.
Hanging the beast by its back hocks, well out of sight of any casual interlopers, we bleed the animal out into 5-gallon buckets, saving the precious juice. Vonn and I have visions of homemade blütwurst, blood-n-tongue sausage, and zultze or schwartamaga; lovely, lovely headcheese.
But that’s for later. Vonn gathers the blood in gallon-size freezer zip bags.
Now to scalding the corpse, scraping off the hair and external epidermal debris. We had a tub of boiling water into which Prof. Pinkus went. It was a boring, tedious, annoying repeated dunk-soak-raise-scrape-return until the carcass was clean and smooth and removed of all nasty gunk on the outside.
Now comes the really icky part™,
gutting and scraping out the carcass. Before opening the abdominal cavity, it was required to de-bung the animal. Cut around the anus, go in deep but not too, pull the bunghole out, seal with zip ties, and cut and discard. Now the lower GI tract is sealed from leaking when the rest is removed. We also have to remove the male dangly bits in a similar manner as Prof. Pinkus was a boy hog.
Still hanging, we open the hog from sternum to groin, letting gravity aid us in helping Prof. Pinkus literally spill his guts. Right down into a waiting gut-bucket, or galvanized 50-liter steel tub. The chest region is split open further and the lovely and delicious major organs are singly removed by hand. Heart, liver, kidneys, etc., lungs, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, and a few other organs are discarded.
With that, we open the hog to where it will lay flat on the roasting rack. It is then hosed off and generally cleaned up before we give a good going over.
After it dries, the whole gutted critter is washed in wine. Evidently, it’s a French thing according to Honey Bee.
We wrap the hog in burlap, soak it down in cheap-ass wine and let it sleep 24 hours or so in Liam and Cassandra’s freezer chest.
The next day, the fire is started in the fire pit. We have lump charcoal, bucket after bucket of fruit tree chunks soaking in water and probably half a rick of firewood to keep the party going the next 24-36 hours.
We retrieve Prof. Pinkus from his cool, not frozen state, say hello and proceed to arrange him staked to the cooking frame in a belly-down, butterflied posture. Internally, he was well seasoned with dry rub after the obligatory internal rubdown with Napoleon brandy. We placed 40 garlic bulbs, kosher sea salt, olive oil, black pepper, and liberal amounts of Old Bay, to taste beneath him.
So, it was up to me to get the external goo ready for the pig. Kansas City-Style Sauce? Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Piedmont or Lexington-Style Dip? South Carolina-Style Mustard Sauce? Texas-Style Mop or Basting Sauce? Alabama White Sauce? Wisconsin Drunken Religious Experience Sauce?
“Ah, the hell with it!”, I venture, “Sauces come much later. Too early; they caramelize, crystallize, and burn. We’ll go for a good rub instead.”
I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good rub now and again?
Anyways, which fucking rub? Kansas City Rib Rub? Mustard Rub? Spare Rib Rub? Memphis-Style Rib Rub? Porker's Rib Seasoning? Best Odds Rib Rub? Carolina Dry Rub? Texas Dry Rub? Jamaican Jerk Dry Rub? Classic Pork Dry Rub?
Too much choice! Seasoning overload!
I call over everyone involved in this little soiree and instruct them to come up with a rub we can all enjoy. I had to kill and gut the critter, it’s about time I go all Subsurface Manager, and delegate out some parts of this project.
So, over beer, G&T’s, vodka and lime soda and various Froggy wines, ‘my’ crew came up with a rub that was simple, tasty and ironically reflects some of the culinary aspects of the region we’re currently defiling.
• Smoked Hungarian Red paprika
• Brown sugar
• Caster sugar
• Black pepper
• Kosher salt
• Cayenne pepper
• White pepper
• Chili pepper
• Dehydrated garlic
• Dehydrated onion
• Red Cardamom
• Garam masala (Cumin, Coriander, Green and Black Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Bay leaves, Peppercorns, Fennel, Mace, and dried Chilies.)
They went to the co-op, bought buckets of the individual spices and played the rest of the day at getting to that one perfect combination for our resting porker.
I don’t remember the exact breakdown of the proportion of the spices, but whatever it was, it tasted brilliant. Now we had about 8 or 9 pounds of the stuff. We were ready to go.
Prof. Pinkus was set on the cooking rack, belly open and down. He was doused internally once again liberally with cheap Indian Napoleon brandy and secured to the rack atop all the garlic, celeriac root, boudin, and small new potatoes.
He was tied in place with heavy organic hemp twine and had his mouth propped open to facilitate circulation of the pit’s heat and convection. He looked very Pink Floydian. One almost expected him to take flight.
The exterior of the porker was treated to a nice rubdown. I swear I saw him smile once or twice when Honey Bee insisted on a sensual massage to make the resultant meat that much more tender. Olive oil infused with lime oil and garlic after a thorough wash with more brandy. Followed by a liberal rubbing of dry rub.
Finally, ready to go, we tented the porker loosely with industrial-strength silver aluminum foil. The frame with its cargo was lowered and locked into place for at least 24 hours. Probably closer to 36, as we’re going ‘low and slow’.
We take turns, between hands of poker, cribbage, and Schafskopf, as well as numerous G&Ts, Yorshs, and vodka and lime drink cocktails, to check on our prized porker. We kept the temperature right at 2050
F as best we could.
The voluminous smoke coming off the barbeque pit was our one concern. It packed an amazing aroma and filtered around the whole compound, dragging in expectant pikers, leeches, and other forms of human ectoparasites.
We told them we were smoking a whole camel, Texas-style, a la filét de hump
, and wouldn’t be ready for another couple of days; so piss off. That seemed to get rid of all but the most insistent. We finally got rid of him by using a leaf blower and directing a stream of high-velocity roast-pork laden smoke his direction each time we had to add more fuel to the fire.
Time marched on and the time finally came: the deep internal ham’s temperature hit 180 degrees F.
Prof. Pinkus was ready to make his debut. But first, we needed to get him out of the barbeque pit and over to Vonn’s garage to rest a while.
More futzing, more aluminum foil, and more beers later, Prof. Pinkus, in all his delectable roasted glory was cooling out from atop a pair of sawhorses. Of course, he had to rest after his ordeal, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t manage a few samples.
He was done to a turn. It was incredible. Crispy-crunchy-crackly over lean, moist and insanely flavorful meat. Not bad for a bunch of bumbling international mugs on their first Middle Eastern pig-roast pit-roast endeavor.
Everyone made up their own version of sauce for sandwiches and dipping. We decided that we’d never all agree on one sauce, and 4 or 5 on one porker would be just too damn many.
So, please yourself. Just do it, yourself.
Behind closed doors, Liam and I were once again elected to reduce Prof. Pinkus to primary parts. We were hopefully disguising the fact that here sits 185 pounds of delectable roast pork in a very Muslim country on one of their highest holy days.
So it was a bit unnerving when Sheik Gungan showed up and asked: “What was that wonderful aroma?”
We said smoked beef…lamb…camel…turducken…Tyrannosaur
… anything other than what it really was.
He asked for a sample.
What could we do? We couldn’t well refuse now, could we?
We gave him some of the best bits to try.
“Lovely, gents, just lovely. Next time, for reference, more garam masala, and a little more rosemary. I find it really brings out the subtle flavors of pork.” He smiled, wiping his pork-sticky fingers on my HGGTG™
“You old fraud”, we all smiled at once.
“What?”, he shied, raising his eyebrows, “It’s for scientific evaluation purposes. It’s therefore allowed. Now, do you have any cold beer, gin-n-tonics, or vodka and lime, which I’m hearing is very nice together, that I might also scientifically sample?” he smiled toothily through his long white beard.
We had made another powerful friend. Although it cost us one smoked Boston Butt, actually off the shoulder, that’s butcher’s for you, and a half a liter of homemade Texas-style barbeque sauce and another of Esme’s homemade fennel and caraway-infused coleslaw.
Everyone on the cul-de-sac now had a freezer full of pit-roasted pork. The Brits got their sausage once Vonn and Liam figured out how to use the Osterizer®
Stuffing Horn. That was almost as much fun as doing the pit-barbeque. Never leave to Brits what Baja Canadians can better do.
We distributed the bacon and hams, and the rest divided whatever was left. Which was a lot of pit-roasted pig pieces and parts.
The bones made their way into gaily wrapped gifts and were posted anonymously to Mr. Guano Insano. We hoped he appreciated all our effort.
I used Esme’s great-grandmother’s old German recipe for Headcheese. Basically, boiled smoked pork head meat in aspic jelly. With dill pickles. And pickled eggs. With special spices.
Well, I don’t give a shit. We like it.
Anyways, summer slowly slid south and the temperatures during the day got slightly more tolerable. Liam and I decided to forego his boat for a while, as launching and recollecting required us to put Liam’s boat in the water HERE and recover the boat THERE. It was trucked, via road, from the recovery place to the launch place.
It only cost something like US$5 to ship the boat back to the launch area and they actually did a good job hosing and steam cleaning the boat before parking it back in its rental dry dock. These were still the early days before gas was king in Qutur, so things were still ridiculously cheap. There were exactly 3 high rise hotels back then, as compared to the insane silhouette presented by Duhu’s current evening sun.
I had flown over some likely looking flats that might hold snook, grouper, and tarpon on my last flight back from the rig. I translated that onto whatever road maps we could find here, as most everything was a state secret, ground verification was a must.
Liam and I tossed a couple of surf rods, a cooler full of beer and some bait into the back of his new diesel Mitsobitchy Prago™,
and we were off to the north of town, the least developed chunk of Duhu real estate to date.
We drove down a rip-rap
road that was more just a pile of random rocks trucked into the bay area and dumped into something that resembled a straight line.
I was less than confident that we weren’t going swimming today, but Liam relished every bounce, bolt and jolt. He confided in me that one of the big reasons he took the job here in the Middle East was that he’d never in a million years be able to afford a truck like this back in bonny Scotland™.
He confided that he couldn’t have even afforded the fuel for this diesel-slurper back in the UK, it was that dear.
So, down the path we rebound. I was watching the water on both sides of the narrow groin, and saw it was getting deeper, but very slowly. I looked at my GPS and saw that we’d driven some 3.5 km out to sea at this point.
“Liam”, I said, “That’s a fuck of a long way to reverse.”
“Ah, Rock”, Liam assured me, “ No worries, Doctor. It’s all a loop. We can just drive our way out of any trouble.”
I remained unconvinced.
We came to a breach in the ‘jetty’. There was some heavy marine equipment mounted on barges. They were working a large cut, ostensibly for cargo ships to pass through. There was to be a swing-bridge built after they cleared the channel, but with all these loose rocks, it was putting paid to their scheme.
We parked and wandered over to who appeared to be the head guy.
“G’Day”, “Liam says, “What’ the big fucking holdup? We’ve got fish to catch, mate.”
Liam had previously spent a few years down in Australia as if it didn’t show.
“Oh, hello”, the natty clad black man said, “We’re having a bit of a time with loose rocks here. Supposed to be angular to lock in place, but by the time they get here from the quarry, they’re a sharp as bowling balls.”
I introduced myself and Liam as he was back in the boot snaking a beer. The black feller introduced himself as Zafir Djaballah, a civil engineer late from Algeria.
“So”, I said to Zafir, “If I’ve got this straight, you cut a channel and want to line it with rip rap. But the rocks won’t stay put. How deep are you cutting and what’s the size of the channel?”
“Oh, 35’ east-west, 15’ north-south. About 15 meters deep.” He relates.
“And the road metal? Where’s that from?” I ask.
“Arabia”, he tells us, “They quarry it there and transport it here. It’s costly, but that’s about the only option we have.”
Liam looks to Zafir. “Hey, Zafir?”, Liam asks, “Y’ken who this guy is?” as he points to me.
Zafir shakes his head “I just met Dr. Rock.”
“That’s not all who he is”, Liam smiles widely, “That, my friend, is the Motherfucking Pro from Dover! If he can’t fix your little problem, he can damn sure make it go away…”
Zafir looks to me as if to ask: “What the fuck, sir?”
“Well, Zafir, “ I say, “I’m a bit of a dab hand with explosives. This sounds like a really simple problem. Drill a grid of 2 meter centered holes, and prime them with a waterproof explosive. Detonate together electrically and there you go. Channel dug and already filled with angular limestone blocks. Easy-peasy.”
Zafir looks over the water and puzzles and puzzles.
“But sir’, he says, “Where would I find such explosives and such expertise?”
“Well…for starters”, I said, “You could ask me.”
He leads us over to a company trailer, where Liam and I drank beers, smoked cigars and told the superintendent of our plans. The Egyptian superintendent, Qaaid al-Zahra, later ‘Randy’ (Quaid?…never mind) scrutinized all our identification. He was actually very impressed when he came across my Blaster’s credentials.
“Doctor”, Qaaid said, “I do like your plan. The drilling is no problem, the problem is obtaining the explosives.”
“Look, Qaaid”, I said, “Leave that to me. You’re working for a government company, I’m working for a government company. What difference does it make? How long to drill the grid of holes Liam and I laid out?”
“Oh, probably about a week”, Qaaid said.
“OK, how about this?”, I said, “Liam and I will be back out here unless the weather’s being stupid and we’ll set and prime the charges? After which, we’ll make certain everything’s green and blow this little project for you?”
“If you can, Inshallah.”, Qaaid said.
“Even if we’re out of shallah”, I said back to Randy.
That Sunday, after Liam backed us down the 3.6 km or bouncy un-turn-around-able path he drove us out on, I ordered some Kinepax™ liquid binaries, as it came in easy-to-use 1-meter threaded lengths in various diameters. Qaaid was drilling 3.5” diameter holes, so the 3.00” nominal OD threaded length would be a breeze. I ordered a couple of spools of shock tube, comb connectors, deflectors, and tie-ins, and a 25 kilo box of ‘Elephant Shit’.
We make sure each hole was blown clean with a high-pressure water hose. Since the water here was only 8 meters deep, we could get by with regular lightweight skin diving gear. I could leave my wetsuit, diver’s helmet and all that heavy-duty ice-diving gear at home for this trip.
Liam and I would pre-form the charges, each exactly 6 meters in length, to match the depth of the drilled holes. Individual 1-meter units just screwed together, pin and box style, it was the utmost in simplicity. Rather like Seismogel™, but packed a considerably higher wallop. All told, we would be setting off some 36 nodal points, each 6 meters deep with 6 meters of binary which weighed 5.3 kg/meter.
Turn the crank and we’d be planting approximately 1,145 kilograms or 2,524 pounds of high-energy binary explosive.
Hmph. A new personal record.
Like Guinness even cared.
So, once we got the high sign from Randy that the shot holes had been drilled and cleaned, the next part of the project was up to us.
We were both PADI-certified. Liam had done some oilfield related diving in the North Sea some years ago. I was a veteran of the Ice Wars from the days of Future Passed back in Baja Canada.
The waters here were calm, gin-clear, and warm.
The dives here weren’t work, this was a paid vacation.
I had liberated a trailer for all our pyrotechnics and Liam was elected to use his Prago as the tow vehicle. We bounded our way out to the Liam’s Pass, as we had dubbed it, with a work trailer containing some 2,750 pounds of high powered, binary explosives bouncing behind. I also had all my explosives paraphernalia there as well: new waterproof galvanometer, which in and of itself, is rather the achievement. Pliers, spare batteries, couple pair of blaster’s tools, the usual.
Lia and I had our dive gear in the back of his Prago.
A couple of single tanks, backpacks, regulators, hoses, and a few belts full of divers weights.
These must have been of Islamic origin as they are specifically prohibited by the Bible. Deuteronomy 25:13, “Thou shalt not have on thy belt divers weights, a great and a small.” And Proverbs 20:23, “Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
Why there should be proscriptions against SCUBA gear in ancient, desert-dwelling, shepherding Iron Age writings is what keeps Biblical Scholars up at night.
Although I agree, a false balance underwater keeps your Swimmer’s Ear from healing up.
At the pass, we park and call over for a half-dozen ‘helpers’. They were nominal employees of the company, but more indentured servants. Today, they were going to earn their water wings. We had a couple of large pneumatic rafts that we’d use to transport he charges to their final water resting site but damned if Liam and I are going to swim laps every time we needed to set a new charge.
So, indoctrination and Explosives For Dummies.
Safety first, second and last.
Who here can swim?
You guys can stay. OK, the rest of you blokes, bugger off.
Here’s the deal, Sparky. There are 36 lengths of Kinestix with primers already set. Those go last, as that’s where I tie in to detonate. The rest of the 1-meter long tubes are identical. Pin on one end, box on the other. Thread them together and use a single ‘O-ring’ between each. Snug them up good and tight, but don’t go too crazy. Those are binary liquids, and I’ll give them a good smack with a hammer before they go into the hole. I really only have to do the last one as once initiated, these liquids can mix in milliseconds, but I’m all for safety and doing things right the first time.
OK, so, one raft will carry the 36 initiators, that is, the last bits to go. The other rafts will carry the 5-meter long strings of connected explosives. Liam and I will be down on bottom and you guys just stay up on surface, dog paddling or treading water, but slowly feeding the lengths of tubing down to us. When you reach an end, pop on one of the other lengths, the one with the primer.
To be continued.
On September 6 at IFA, press released their first reports about our collaboration project with Intel: XMG FUSION 15. Community Links:
The following key facts have already been revealed:
- Collaboration with Intel SPG, inventor of the NUC
- 15.6" case with Thin Bezel and AZ91D magnesium alloy
- Only 1.89kg light and 20mm thin
- 93.48Wh battery capacity with 8 hours runtime (1080p Youtube via WLAN)
- Mechanical keyboard with silent switches, known from XMG NEO
- Glass touchpad
- Intel Core i7-9750H
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q or GTX 1660 Ti
- Up to 64GB RAM and 2x m.2 SSD
- 144Hz IPS display
- Thunderbolt 3, WiFi 6, LAN, Card Reader, USB 3.1 Gen2
- Freely configurable in BTO fashion on www.bestware.com
Prices and availability will be announced on September 17. → Countdown to xmg.gg Teaser Trailer on YouTube: XMG FUSION 15 Laptop | A Design Collaboration with Intel We look forward to your questions and your feedback!
XMG FUSION 15 - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
This FAQ represents Q&A's over the last few days here. Fellow redditor u/iterateandgit
was so kind to help me putting this document together. Big shout out to him please! The FAQ will be further extended over the coming days and weeks. Please keep the questions coming!
Sales, Shipping, Warranty
Q: Are you going to sell this on Amazon in the EU?
A: We are working on getting the product up and running on Amazon. But our own BTO shop at www.bestware.com
will always be our primary sales channel and will be the only one where you can customize and configure memory, storage, OS, extend your warranty and pick other options.
Q: Do you offer student discounts or other sales compaigns like black friday?
A: In general, we don't offer student discounts. Sales campaigns are planned just in time, depending on stock level and cannot be announced early. If you want to keep up to date about sales campaigns, please subscribe to our newsletter
Q: Do you ship to the UK? Can I pay in GBP?
A: We ship to the UK - the pricing will be in EUR, so your bank will do the conversion. Warranty services will be available from UK, shipping to Germany. Currently, in the single markets, these resturn shipments are free for the end-user. In the worst case there might be additional customs fees for shipping.
Q: What warranty options do you offer?
A: All our laptops come with 2 year warranty. Warranty repairs in the first 6 months are promised to be done within 48 hours (+shipping). Both the "instant repair" service and the warranty itself can be extended to up to 3 years.
Q: Do you sell outside of Europe?
A: We are able to ship anywhere, but warranty for customers outside the region would always involve additional customs cost and paperwork for sending the laptop back to Germany in the rare event of an RMA. There is currently no agreement to let other Local OEMs (like Eluktronics in the US) carry the warranty for XMG customers and vice-versa. Some parts are customized (in our case the LCD lid and the keyboard) and it won't be easy to agree on how to share handling fees etc. - so I wouldn't expect a global warranty anytime soon.
Hardware, Specs, Thermals
Q: What is the difference between XMG FUSION 15 and other laptops based on Intel's reference design?
A: The hardware of the barebone will be identical. Other Local OEMs might use different parts for RAM and SSDs. Our branding and service/warranty options might be different. We apply our own set of performance profiles in the Control Center. This will rebalance the differentiation between Silent, Balanced and Enthusiast modes.
Q: What is the TGP of the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q?
A: Officially, it is 80W in Balanced profile and 90W in Enthusiast profile. You can toggle between these modes in real-time with a dedicated mode switch button. Inofficially, the TGP can go up to 115W in Enthusiast profile thanks to the Overboost mechanic, working in the background. However, those 115W may only be sustained until the system has reached thermal saturation, i.e. when the GPU is approaching the GPU Temperature Target of 75°C.
Q: Can I upgrade the storage and memory after I buy?
A: On storage: The laptop has two m.2 PCI-Express SSD slots. This will give you currently up to 4 TB of SSD storage. There is no 2.5" HDD slot available. Instead, the battery is enlarged to 93.48Wh. You can see pictures of the interior layouts here
On memory: the laptop has two SO-DIMM DDR4 memory sockets. You can chose during BTO configuration, if you want to occupy both of them when you order the product. We recommend running the laptop in Dual Channel for high-performance usage.
Q: How easy is to upgrade and repair this laptop?
A: Here are the key facts:
- Only 10 chassis screws on the bottom plate.
- All chassis screws are identical size and length. (no risk of mixing them up during re-assembly)
- All chassis screws are directly exposed, not behind any rubber feet.
- No "warranty void if seal is broken" stickers.
- Bottom case can be removed very easily without any prying opening tools.
- Keyboard does not need to be removed to access internals.
- m.2 screws are already in their socket.
- Battery is attached with screws, not glued.
- Fans can be cleaned and (if needed) replaced without removing the heatpipes.
We would give this a solid 8 out of 10 which is pretty high for such a thin&light design. The 2 remaining points are substracted for BGA CPU and GPU, which is unfortunately unavoidable in such a thin design.
Q: Does it support Windows Hello?
A: A Fingerprint-Reader is not available, but the HD webcam comes with Infrared and supports Windows Hello.
Q: Can I get a smaller, lighter charger for this laptop?
A: XMG FUSION 15 requires a 230W power adaptor to provide full performance. If you max out CPU and GPU with furmark and prime, the 230W adapter will be fully utilized.
There are currently two compatible 230W adapters. They have different dimensions but similar weight. Please refer to this comparison table: XMG FUSION 15 Power Supply Comparsion Table
Includes shop links. Will be updated with precise weight numbers in the next few days. I also included 120W, 150W and 180W in this table. They all share the same plug (5.5/2.5,, diameter, 12.5mm length). But 120W and 150W are only rated for 19V but the laptop expect 19.5V. Usually this will be compensated by tolerance but we haven't tested how a system would behave under long-term usage with such an adaptor.
In theory, 120W to 180W are enough for charing the laptop and for browsing/web/media. Even a full CPU stress test could easily be handled. But as soon as you use CPU and GPU together, you'll run into the bottleneck and your performance will be reduced.
These 5 pictures show only the relevant 230W chargers.
- Top: 230W Chicony A17-230P1A for XMG NEO.
- Bottom: 230W FSP230-AJAN3 from XMG FUSION 15 (Intel Original)
Again, the weight is about the same.
Q: Is it possible to boot and run the laptop while the lid is kept closed?
A: Closing the lid under load is not recommended because it will limit the airflow and have a bad effect on keyboard and screen. The laptop likes to take air in from the keycaps. With lid closed, the performance might be limited due to reaching temp targets earlier.
Q: Can I get the laptop without the XMG logo? I will be using it in public presentations and I would not like any brand names visible.
A: We cannot ship without XMG logo, but you can use a dbrand skins to cover our logo. We have not yet decided if we want to invest into integrating XMG FUSION 15 into the dbrand shop. But you can already buy 100% compatible skins by using the page of the Eluktronics MAG-15 at dbrand
. The chassis dimensions are exactly the same. Please be aware: you have to manually select the option "No Logo Cutout"
if you want to buy these skins for your XMG FUSION 15. According to dbrand, there will be most likely no import fees
when ordering from the EU as long as the order is below 100€
. Check this thread
Q: Will you offer thermal paste upgrades like Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut or Liquid Metal?
A: Our ODMs are using silicon-based, high-performance thermal compund from international manufacturers like Shin-Etsu (Japan) and M.G. (USA). Intel is using MG-860 in this reference design.
These products are used in the industrial sector, so they have no publicly known brand name. Nevertheless, their high thermal conductivity and guaranteed durability provide optimal and long-lasting cooling of your high-performance laptop. The thermal compounds are applied and sealed automatically by the vendor of the thermal components. They are applied in a highly controlled, standardized manner and provide the best balance of thermal performance, production tolerance and product lifetime.
We are considering offering an upgrade to Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut due to popular demand. Will keep you posted on that.
Q: Could you please provide an estimate for how much regular usage (~10 browser tabs + some IDE) battery backup would this have? Will there be any way to trade-off battery backup with performance?
A: Battery life vs. peak performance can be traded off by using the "Silent" performance profile. You can switch between profiles using a dedicated button on the machine. Your scenario (10 tabs + some IDE) sounds like mostly reading and writing. I would estimate to get at least 7 hours of solid battery life in such a scenario, maybe more. We have achieved 8 hours in 1080p Youtube streaming on WiFi with 50% screen brightness. Adblock and NoScript helps to keep your idle browser tabs in check.
I/O Ports, Peripherals
Q: Why are there not more USB-A 3.1 Gen2 or even USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports?
A: USB-A 3.1 Gen1 is basically the same as USB 3.0. There aren't a lot of USB-A devices that support more than USB 3.0 speed. Faster devices typically use USB-C connectors and can be used on Thunderbolt 3, which is down-compatible to USB-C 3.1 Gen2. One of the USB-A ports actually supports Gen2 speed.
For the following remarks, please keep in mind that I am not an Intel rep, so everything is based on our own experience.
The mainboard design and the I/O port decisions have been made by Intel. Feedback and requests from LOEM customers have been taken into consideration. We would assume that USB 3.2. Gen2x2 (20 Gbit/s) was not considered to be important enough to safe space for 3rd party IC (integrated circuits) on the motherboard. Right now, all the USB ports and Thunderbolts are supplied by Intel's own IC, so they have full control over the hardware, firmware and driver stack and over power saving and performance control. The more IC you add, the higher your Idle power consumption will be, plus adding potential compatibility or speed issues as it often happens with 1st generation 3rd party USB implementations. I very well remember from my own experience the support stories during the first years of USB 3.0, before it was supported in the Intel chipset. On the one hand, Intel is aiming high in terms of performance and convenience, on the other hand: support and reliability still seem to be Intel's goal #1. Thus they seem to play it safe where they deem it to be reasonable.
Intel is gearing up for USB 4.0 and next-gen Thunderbolt. USB 3.2 2x2 is probably treated as little more than a roadmap accident. Peripheral vendors might see it the same way.
Q: Do you support charging over USB-C/Thunderbolt? Does it support docking stations?
A: The Thunderbolt 3 port in Intel's reference design does not support charging. As you probably know, the 100W limit would not be enough to power the whole system and it would make the mainboard more complex to combine two different ways of charging. Intel consciously opted against it and will probably do so again on future high-end gaming/studio models.
The USB-C/Thunderbolt port supports Dual-Link DisplayPort signals, directly connected to the NVIDIA Graphics. This makes proper docking station usage very convenient. The user still needs to connect the external power adaptor. Both ports (Thunderbolt and DC-in) are in the back of the laptop, making the whole setup appear very neat on the desk.
Q: How many PCIe lanes does the Thunderbolt 3 provide? Are they connected to CPU or Chipset?
A: XMG FUSION 15 supports Thunderbolt 3 with 4 lanes of PCIe 3.0. The lanes come from the chipset because all of the CPU lanes (x16) are fully occupied by the dedicated NVIDIA graphics. We are not aware of any side-effects of running Thunderbolt from the chipset. It is common practice for high-end laptops with high-end graphics. The Thunderbolt solution is of course fully validated and certified by Intel's Thunderbolt labs.
Q: Does it have a standby USB to power USB devices without turning on the laptop?
A: Yes, the USB-A port on the left side supports this feature.
Q: Which LCD panel is being used? Are there plans for 1440p or 4K panels in the laptop? How about PWM flickering?
A: The panel is BOE NV156FHM-N4G. It is currently not known if the panel will change in later batches. This depends on logistics and stock. At any rate, the panel key specs will remain the same. There are currently no plans to offer resolutions above FHD in the current generation of this laptop.
There are very wide ranges on reports of Backlight Brightness PWM control on this panel in different laptops. Ranging from 200Hz to 1000Hz to no PWM at all - all on the same panel model number. Intel informs us that there are many factors (e.g. freq., display driver, BIOS settings implementation, type of dimmers & compatibility with the driver etc.) that impacts the quality of panel dimming performance. To Intel's knowledge, no kind of flickering has been reported during the validation process. Furthermore, first hands-on data from Notebookcheck indicates that no PWM
occurs on this panel. With a DSLR test (multiple burst shots at 1/4000s exposure time) I can confirm that there is not a single frame of brightness dipping or black screen, not even at minimum LCD brightness. Hence, we can confirm: BOE NV156FHM-N4G in XMG FUSION 15 (with Intel) does not use PWM for backlight control.
Q: Some BTO shops, for an additional fee, manually pick out display panels with the least back-light bleed. Do you offer that? Even better, do you do that without the extra fee?
A: Intel has validated this design to avoid backlight bleed as much as possible. Currently no plans to do further binning. All dozens of MP samples we have seen so far have been exceptionally good.
Q: I'm coming from a 13" MacBook with Retina display. How am I going to fare with this 15.6" FHD screen in content creation?
A: If you got used to editing high-res visual content (photography, artwork) on your 13inch retina, things will change. On the one hand, your canvas will be larger and more convenient and ergonomic to work with. On the other hand, you will find yourself zooming in more often in order to make out fine-detail. Assuming that you have sharp 20:20 vision.
As it is, the screen resolution and specs are not planned to change within the lifetime of this product. The first realistic time-window for a refresh would be whenever Intel is releasing the next "H" series CPU generation. But even then, an upgrade on resolution will not be guaranteed. Comparison:
|Laptop ||Resolution ||Pixel per inch ||dot pitch |
|13.3" MacBook Pro Retina (late 2013) ||2560x1600 ||226.98 PPI ||0.1119mm |
|15.6" XMG FUSION 15 (late 2019) ||1920x1080 ||141.21 PPI ||0.1799mm |
To compare: 141.21 is ~62% from 226.98. This represents the the metric difference in pixel density and peak sharpness between these two models.
If you know the diagonal size and resolution of your screen, you can make this comparison yourself with the DPI/PPI calculator
Keyboard, Backlight, Switches, Layout
Q: What can you tell us about the mechanical keyboard of XMG FUSION 15?
A: The keyboard has already been reviewed in our XMG NEO series as being more crisp than typical membrane keyboards. Most reviewers attested it a very good score, both for gaming and for writing long texts.
The keyboard backlight can be configured per-key. Default mode is all white.
Keyboard Switch Specs:
- 2mm travel distance
- 60g actuation force
- 1000Hz polling frequency
- Rated for up to 20 million keystrokes
Having no frame around the keycaps actually helps the thermals. The fans can pull in additional air from the top. This improves airflow and helps to keep the keyboard temperature at low levels during gaming. It also prevents long-term RMA issues on the keyboard. This specific keyboard switch is already in its 3rd generation and very mature by now.
Q: Is it possible to dampen the mechanical keyboard with o-rings?
A: The switch design does not lend itself to further dampening. The switch mechanic is too complex and has more moving parts than cherry. The 2mm travel distance also plays a role in not allowing more dampening.
For reference, please use this video
(Youtube). We compared XMG NEO with another membrane-type keyboard. XMG NEO and FUSION share the same keyboard mechanics with the silent tactile switch and the same sound profile.
Q: Do you have LED keyboard backlight on the secondary key function, like Fn key icons?
A: Please have a look at this picture
- Taken with full keyboard backlight brightness
- In totally dark room
- Edited in Lightroom (reduced highlights) to reflect the way it really looks to the human eye
- F10 seems to have a slightly different color temperature than F8/F9 in this picture. This is due to the angle, open aperature and chromatic abberation of my camera. In real-life, all per-key LEDs behave identically to one another.
Btw, my working sample has blank keycaps. I took the 3 printed keycaps (F8, F9, F10) from a different sample just to demonstrate the Fn lighting for this picture.
- Fn modifier key is on the left between Ctrl and WinKey
- the Fn function don't have seperate backlight, but they benefit from the main per-key backlight
- the position of the LED is centered above the mechanical switch. That's why the upper portion of the key is brighter than the lower portion. That's why in our layout, the primary function of each key is always located at the center top.
In my assesment, the Fn function symbols are clearly visible from the backlight in a dark room. A user should have no difficulty to recognize the icon and reach its function.
Q: Which keyboard layouts do you offer in the EU?
A: The following layouts are available, in alphabetic order: Belgium, Czech, Danish, Dvorak German, Dvorak US, Estonia, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish for Typists, Portuguese, Russia Latin, Slovakish, Spanish, Swedish / Finnish, Swiss, Turkish, UK, US International (ISO)All these layouts are based on the ISO matrix. See differences between ANSI vs. ISO here
Q: Do you support Linux and dual-boot on XMG FUSION 15?
A: We are in discussion to sell XMG FUSION 15 over Tuxedo with official Linux support. It might take 1 or 2 months to get this running.
Q: Which LAN, Audio and WiFi card vendors will be used? Asking for a friend.
A: From our HWiNFO64 report
. (Google Drive link) LAN:
RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 [PCI\VEN_10EC&DEV_8168&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_15]Audio:
Intel(R) Smart Sound Technology (Intel(R) SST) Audio Controller [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_A348&SUBSYS_20868086&REV_10]WiFi:
Intel(R) Wi-Fi 6 AX200 [PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2723&SUBSYS_00848086&REV_1A], can be replaced.
For more information, please check the linked report file.
Q: What would you say are the advantages and differences with other laptops due to the fact the laptop was designed in collaboration with Intel?
A: Disclaimer: I am \
not* an Intel rep. The following remarks are based on my personal experience and opinion.*
- Very strict quality control on all levels. I can't quote numbers due to NDA, but Intel NUC has extremely low RMA rates, compared to average PC mainboards and systems. Intel is driven by strict internal regulation that strifes for perfection - this applies to the whole chassis, assembly and firmware, not only the mainboard. There are also certain regulations in place, for example in terms of electro-magnetic regulation and skin temperatures. The rating label is littered with regulatory seals from every region of the world, making this laptop especially safe to use.
- Access to high-quality material: we have not seen any Gaming Laptops based on Magnesium alloy yet, especially not in the ODM/LOEM ecosystem. The battery cells are also much more dense than what we usually see. Intel has the buying power and the vision to not settle for mediocre parts.
- Down-to-earth design: Intel has made this reference design for the ODM/LOEM eco-system. The design does not try to follow any specific corporate identity, thus it does not have any unneccessary "bling bling" like all the others have. Even the Razer Blade with it's sleek shape is quite obnoxious (iny my oppinion) with it's big backlit green snake logo. With XMG FUSION however, we can continue our typical style of "Undercover Gaming".
- Security: you can expect stellar support in terms of BIOS and Firmware (TPM, Management Engine) updates whenever any security issues are found. This might also apply to global brands, but ODM/LOEM systems have not always been so quick to react. This is due to the huge fragmentation/customizations in ODM/LOEM systems. Intel however does now allow any fragmentation: every LOEM partner is getting the same firmware. There are many hooks for configurations in this firmware, but the source code / binaries are always the same. This makes support much easier down the line.
- I can't name many, of course. But I would say the strict validation also makes the partnership less flexible from a product management perspective. There is no plan currently to phase-in any 4K or 300Hz screen (FHD/144Hz ought to be enough for everyone this year) or any Core i9 in this system. Other ODMs might be more open for costly modifications based on low quantities. Intel however has streamlined their production and logistics in a way that gives us (the LOEM) very short lead times and competitive pricing, but will not allow any short-notice upgrades or customizations.
Q: Will there be a 17 inch version?
A: We can neither confirm nor deny plans for a 17 inch version at this point.
[to be continued]
This is an overly long opinion piece and a kinda vicious rant. But I have to get this off my chest because at this point in time I am lost for words to describe the incredible thing that is Brexit, therefore I'm interested in the opinion of British and other non-British people. For a couple of months now I've been watching in awe several times a month how the House of Commons, your parliament, the elected representatives of the British people, have taken up the shovel and started digging. It is a strange and surreal experience, like standing next to burning orphanage: It is horrible but I can't stop watching. Mere days ago HoC voted down every single proposal to at least mitigate some of the damage and there has not been any outburst of common sense, a thing the British always were famous for, since. To be blunt, for me it was the straw that broke the camels back. submitted by
I am a German and I don't know whether my views reflect a majority or minority. I'm an engineer in the chemical industry and I have travelled to Britain often during the last 15 years. I strolled trough the countryside, I visited the big cities, I have been surprised about the excellent restaurants even in places I'd never have expected (namely the "Old School Restaurant" on the Isle of Skye. If you are there, have yourself a treat and pay it a visit!). I have met a lot of wonderful people during my visits to Britain, both on holiday and on business travels. I like Britain. A lot.
And therefore it is hard to see her leave EU. To me Brexit came not so much as a shock but as a situation forcing a decision on my part too. It is sad to be left by and have to abandon you as an EU member, but it won't break my heart and in their current state neither the government nor parliament, nor the people of the UK look as if they could contribute to the EU in any meaningful way.
Every single person I know thinks and most newspapers state about the offical stance of your government that it relfects a situation in which both the people as a whole and the government of the UK either don't know what can realistically be achieved or don't know what they really want at all. All polls show significant support for either side with still only relatively narrow majorities. HoC sessions during the last weeks embody this problem. It is the most undesireable state of affairs in the current situation. Regardless of your future relationship with the EU, roughly half your population will be deeply unhappy. There is no unequivocal Will Of The People.
The blame game has already begun and since a huge part of your population has been swallowing untrue or at least grossly exaggerated anti-EU-crap for decades I have no hope that a significant portion of those will see through the lies. I fully expect roughly half the British to blame EU for the shitshow Brexit their government put together. If fully expect HoC to reflect that blame. And therefore in my opinion in the long run it is best for EU if UK is out as quickly as possible (but prefarble when EU is ready and europhile British have set their plans for movement to EU in motion).
After the first vote in the House of Commons I watched it became clear to me that the majority of MP's don't give two single fucks about a workable solution. I don't know whether it is mostly party politics, personal animosities, cognitive dissonance, sheer incompetence or a mélange of everything. At this point in time UK is not governed well and her people are not represented by men and women capable of managing a task like withdrawing from EU. I feel sad but finally a thought that has lurked around somewhere in the background all the time has now come to the forefront: I don't want a second referndum. I don't want UK revoking A50 at the eleventh hour.
I don't want UK inside EU. I want her out. I want her out for good.
This is neither funny nor amusing. It will affect me negatively personally because I like travelling to Britain and therefore I've given it a lot of thought. It's a hard decission. It comes with a lot of problems for everyone involved. It will make us all poorer, it will make UK prone to falling prey to American and Chinese interests. It will weaken EU politically. But still I want UK out of EU. This situation is forcing a decission as binary as the initial referendum was: In or Out. As we say in Germany: Halbschwanger gibt's nicht (you can't be half-pregnant).
Two years ago I would have been happy had HMG decided that it were in their best interest to abandon the exit and HoC had supported that decision. But two years ago the world was vastly different. Only few companies had set their plans for relocation out of UK in motion, the war rethoric wasn't as widespread and a working cross-party solution seemed at least not impossible.
In my view the most crucial mistake your government made was thinking of the negotiation as a game of poker or a haggle at the bazar. I would call that the layman's approach to negotiation because I often meet it. Laymen tend to think negatiation means being secretive, playing tough and who blinks first loses - but that is not how it's done in the real world. In the real world negotiators are well prepared with data and know the strengths and weaknesses of their counterparts and their own. They use their leverage to assert compromise, not dominance. Instead of consulting actual business negotiators or senior civil servants HMG and many influential people like the ERG thought playing tough and not blinking first were viable strategies. They never really tried to assess what possibillities were on the table and what could realistically be achieved. That's why to this day, not two weaks away from the cliff-edge, no open debate about what kind of Brexit HMG should persue was held in Britain. And that's why they so fundamentally misunderstood how the EU operates and do so to this very day.
They have failed to grasp that EU is first and formost an entity driven by procedure. This is a neccessity to ensure that two dozon chicks waddle at least roughly in the same direction. Therefore EUs insistance on a clear structuring of the leave process. Even in 2019 HMG have tried to negotiate with individual countries or shift the goal posts and even today they are still baffled that this approach didn't turn out well.
This goes much deeper than just the Brexit negotiatons: One of the frequent criticisms of EU is that the members could never agree on anything or constantly veto each other for parochial reasons. But in practice they do agree and don't veto each other most of the time and a lot of things get done. The stance of EU during the entire Brexit process has been consistent, clear and unanimous. EU won't blink. EU will do what her representatives say. EU has one of the most efficient bureaucracies in the world - 60.000 civil servants in Brussels and Strassbourg may be a lot of people in absolute terms but the city of München alone has roughly 40.000 civil servants and the city of Hamburg has 100.000 so in relative terms it is not even that large.
They have failed to realise that on a world scale the EU practically is Europe. Even without UK she contains about 60 % of the citizens, 80 % of GDP and practically all the political weight on the continent. Every single country not being a member is extremely closely aligned. Norway and Switzerland for that matter are all but members without voting rights. Even Belarus and Russia have lots of treaties and despite all the sabre rattling of the past two decades get along with each other pretty well in the long run. Unless Britain can be towed across the atlantic to the Americas there is no way in the world that the continent will not be her most important political and economic partner. Sheer geographic proximity is still and for the foreseable future will probably continue to be the most important factor when it comes to trade and alliences.
They have failed to realise that Devide And Conquer won't work. It should have been clear at the very beginning of negotiations when PM May travelled to half a dozen EU countries she hoped to negotiate with sperately only to be told that the negotiations had to be conducted with the EU, not Austria, France, Germany, etc. Many people say that this was going to show first and foremost, that the British government after 40 years of membership still have no clue about the meaning and the inner workings of the EU despite being a highly influential member. I have heard people opine that at some point in time HMG started to believe their own spin about EU being hopelessly devided all the time. Sadly I too think this assessment is acurate.
They have failed to realise that the four freedoms are the single market and for nearly all practical purposes the single market is the EU. They are are not negotiable because abandoning one of them would be the end of the single market and consequently the EU. And regardless to your opinion on whether the EU is overall positive or negative, no one in their right mind can realistically expect the EU to tear up herself.
They have grossly overestimated their importance for the continental industry. I'm an engineer in the chemical industry and our approach to brexit can be summed up like this: It's a shame but if you must, please leave in an orderly fashion. You will be missed but ultimately the EU is of more importance to us because it's the bigger market to sell to and buy from, the bigger economic area and the vastly more powerful political entity. If you leave in an orderly fashion there will be some disturbances but ultimately your industry will still be valuable. If you crash out there will be a period of trouble and disorder after which a lot of business will be gone. So please avoid that on all cost. Again keep in mind: Losing you will be expensive but losing the EU will be desastrous. So be in no doubt as to the seriousness of your position.
They have failed to understand continental and particularly French and German foreign policy after world war II. By far the most important topic for our foreign policy is keeping peace with our neighbours and deepen our economic and cultural interactions in order to cement this peace. This is in fact where the whole project of a united Europe started from in the early 1950's, when French foreign minister Schuman and German chancellor Adenauer signed a treaty about Franco-German coal and steel production that quickly morphed into the ECSC, than the EEC and ultimately the EU. With the very first paragraph of the Treaty of Rome stating exactly that. A lot of British people still think EU started as a pure trade community but that is wrong. As early as 1951 the ECSC contained the seeds of all the departments, bodies and organs of todays EU.
They have failed to grasp that while we don't want you to leave we won't fight to keep you in. We have no obligation to help you beyond what is in our best interest. We don't want to punish you but we won't let you keep your benefits when leaving. The responsibility of the EU is first and foremost to the members of the EU - which you aren't going to be anymore soon. We will do our best to make the EU a success - it is your own responsibility to make Britain a success. We will do everything we can to ensure that EU comes out of this mess in the best possible way. If along that way Uk also comes out in the best possible way, we will all be pleased. If UK sinks into chaos we won't be pleased at all but again: Being successful out of EU is UK's responsibility. Please keep that in mind: We are not against you. We are for us.
They don't understand why the members of the EU stand firm in the current situation. There's an expression so German there isn't a proper english idiom: "Pack schlägt sich, Pack verträgt sich" which means that, whereas members of a group are prone to fight with each other, they are equally prone to make peace again quickly, especially when confronted with a sitatuation concerning the group as a whole. A situation, for instance, like Brexit. Many people in Brtain grossly overestimate the problems of member states, particularly their problems with the EU.
They have overestimated the anti-EU sentiment on the continent. While it is true that a lot of people are openly critical or even against EU there is no mainstream party openly campaigning for their country to leave anymore. Even in France, Germany and Italy the tone of that parties has considerably mellowed. In Britain anti-EU fringe is mainstream politics and has been for as long as I can remember. Goverments of France, Germany, etc. are dealing with their political extremists but in blaming the EU for every decission of British politics (No ID cards, low taxes, low regulation, lack of industrial policy, privatising vital assets, crushing workers rights, etc.) successive British governments have actively persued anti-EU populsim and in effect executed anti-EU agendas by chosing to leave the EU. You don't have to be affraid of a rise of a new fringe party or a rebirth of UKIP, because you have the Conservative Party and the anti-EU wing of Labour. Even without UKIP and the like anit-EU sentiment is a strong force in your political environment.
Successive British governments have loudly blamed the EU for politics completely within their realm of responsibility. Even further: They have loudly embraced the anti-immigrant and anti-EU crowd while at the same time doing exactly the opposite: You are governed by the same PM who sent Vans saying "Go Home!" through high-immigration boroughs and oversaw the windrush scandal while doing bugger all to excersise any meaningful form of control over immigration (COMPLETE for non-EU- and VAST for EU-immigration). You are governed by the very party that kept blaming the EU for any interior British problems despite the fact that they were home grown. Examples: EU regulation on immigration has been written largly by British lawmakers in the 1990. Immigration doesn't need to be unrestricted under EU regulation. It is your government that chose for 25 years not to excersise their options. The large disparity in income has nothing to do with EU regulation - in fact Britain always has been a pain in the ass when it comes to further regulation and strengthening workers rights (Remember how Thatcher crushed the Unions?).
Going full turbo-capitalism and trying to pull off a Singapore most likely is also no realistic option because an area state like UK is significantly different to a city state. Dropping all tariffs would probably either destroy the remaining manufacturing or forcing much harsher conditions on British workers. In addition the national distribution of wealth would be even more shifted towards the large cities, because the one top-tier world class industry UK has is financial services which are overwhelmingly provided by firms in those large cities.
Your government tried to negotiate with individual EU countries dozens of times during the last 2,5 years and was denied every single time. Of course politicians clad the message in fine talking along the lines of "Of course we are looking forward to mutally attractive trade aggreements after Britain leaves the EU" or "We are prepared to basically copy the agreements that be" but I am quite certain that the very moment after Britains departure has been in force, she will be swarmed by cohorts of negotiators from basically every conutry in the world saying things along the lines of "Of course we would like to have the basically same deal. Juuuuuust some minor adjustments here and there and here too and, oh, also over there. And that point we surely can drop at all but this one we'd like to discuss a little further...".
Please keep in mind that for close to three years now UK has been loudly announcing to the world that after four decades of discussion she was unable to agree on a clear idea of what her position in the world should look like after Brexit. The referendum was almost three years ago. And still the question has not been answered by UK. Surely many individual opinions float around but HMG haven't managed to form a coherent strategy by taking them into due account. Instead you got soundbites like "Brexit Means Brexit" and "Will Of The People" and "We voted to leave" without defining what options to persue. The rest of the world know this. They can see it with their very eyes and hear it with their very ears. They've been watching! They've been taking notes! I am absolutely certain that whole branches of the civil services of all the major and emerging nations are working overtime to review all the treaties they now have with EU in order to find items they could renegotiate to their advantage with UK. For the last three years private and public executives have taken notice of the negotiation process and how UK conducted herself in contrast to EU. Be in no doubt which entity is regarded as the more professional, better prepared, reasonable, stable and united one. Especially after the latest parliamentary sessions.
In my opinion Britain at this point in time has a MASSIVE problem with herself, exemplified through the division amongst MP of either party, parliament as a whole, subgroups in HMG and a public that is roughly split in half over the question of Brexit. In my humble opinion the damage UK in her current state could inflict on EU as a whole in the immediate future is far greater than she could as a third country, even after a hard Brexit. Surely, A50 could be revoked tomorrow but there is no way in the world to undo the effects of Brexit. In her current state Britain as an EU member would likely sent outright EU enemies to the European Parliament. She would be a pain int the ass in any future decission and discussion - even if HMG would want to stay in EU in the goodest of faiths the rift running through the public and the HoC would still be there and continue to be a ball and chain to anything the EU27 would want to get done. Im totally absolutely positively certain that not five years after a possible revokation of A50 the PM would arrive in Brussels for renegotiation of UKs terms of membership. I am equally certain British politicians of either party would continue to shift the blame for their unpopular decissions on EU (that British press will do so is a given regardless of the outcome of Brexit). There is deep disparity between the city and the countryside, the poor people and the rich, the well educated and the not well educated. As far as I can see far deeper than for instance in France, Germany or Italy. If UK government won't be able to fix this they (I'm pretty sure they won't) will look for a scapegoat and this will most likely be EU. Therefore I don't want British MEP. I don't want people of a country leaving EU in the near future to have seats and influence or even sabotage decisions in the European Parliament. I particularly don't want the likes of Farage there. I don't want EU hampared by pointless obstruction of MEP who won't have to live with the consequences.
It is, in my humble opinion, positively bat-shit crazy to consider the party that is now in government, the party that went full steam austerity, the party that is home to the most vicious desaster capitalists currently influencing British politics, the party that it is even deeper rooted by private networks than my garden is by the blackberry on the adjacent meadow, the very party that has achieved next to nothing in almost three years time will champion a new soically sound domestic policy improving the lives of the poor and precarious after having left EU.
It is, again in my humble opinion, at least very naive to assume that the current opposition, lead by a life-long anti-EU campaigner and with a strong anti-EU wing of her own, having not taken a clear stance on whether to be in favour or against Brexit, under the constraints the loss of all those international treaties will pose, can implement even a small portion of their proposed legislation with success.
And thusly, as a German and EU citizen who wants as little fallout from your internal problems as possible to go down over the rest of Europe, I want you out of EU. Obviously neither HMG nor HoC nor a sizable part of the public can be trusted to rely on EU for anything but her being a whipping girl for her internal struggles and unpopular decissions. I don't suspect this to stop, change or even gain significant backlash in the next years.
This is not only recognized by little old me, but certainly by decission makers all around the globe. UK, once upon a time the mightiest and most adored nation in the world, home to the finest scientists, industries and ruler over a quarter of the earths surface not hundred years ago, will soon have cut herself off one of the biggest, richest and most powerful blocs in the world. UK will than govern roughly 1/100 of world population, less than 1/100 of military personnel, 2 % of wealth without any meaningful treaty, besides her NATO membership, to anyone anymore. She will be on her own. A ship on the high seas with a crew that can't even set a course after years of discussion. Please keep in mind that on the world scale UK, when anything besides financial services is considered, is a high-wage-low-productivity country. Practically all your industries are heavily dependend on, and heavily aligned to frictionless trade. Domestic farming for instance provides UK people with locally produced food (People everywhere love to eat "homegrown"), manufacturing often provides well paid work outside the big cities and in rural areas. Without the political power of EU and the hundreds of treaties with other countries she provides, UK is sigificantly weakening the prospects of her remaining industries.
This is not news. A lot of people in UK know this. A lot of people all around the globe know this. I still hope that there can be an agreement found in the next week, but with each day going by it looks less likely to me. Still a lot of people can't imagine what sort fo havoc a No-Deal Brexit is bound to wreak but I fear they are going to be in for a serious reality check very soon. It is a cold world after all.
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