"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."


12:50 Wednesday, 2 February 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 70.14°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 9.22mph

The other day, I was visiting with my neighbor and learned that each of us had been ham radio operators as teens. My old callsign was WN2FEB. It just occurred to me then that 2 FEB was Groundhog Day.


Groundhog Day -- Notes From the Underground

07:07 Wednesday, 2 February 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 53.28°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 0mph

It's up. Not much in the way of content, yet, but everything seems to be working.

I struggled a great deal this morning trying to figure out why links from the RSS feed loaded correctly, but the actual permalink on the post itself wouldn't resolve.

Well, it's a long URL and a typo can hide. I even made a TypeIt4Me text expansion for the URL to avoid just this problem, then failed to use it.

Haven't wired up the Apple Notes watched folder yet, but that's on the list. Just wanted to get the site up and running on Groundhog Day, so, mission accomplished.

Another Project

06:21 Monday, 31 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 40.89°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 1.99mph

Just like I have an image library with over 100K images in it, I have an archive of my old blog Groundhog Day with almost 1M words in it.

Thinking about what to do with all the pictures I've taken (delete most of them, it seems), I've been thinking about doing something with all the crap I've written.

I don't intend to "delete, delete, delete," but I wonder if I might mine it for something useful, in a much more concise package, that can be of some value to my kids after I'm gone.

We raise our kids when we're relatively young, and not very wise but blessed by the confidence that ignorance often affords. In other times, where extended families lived under one roof, or in close proximity to one another, I imagine that passing along some of the value of that lived experience might have been a common practice.

Most of Groundhog Day and its predecessor, Time's Shadow, was outward-looking. But some of it included my reflections about things I'd only recently learned in my life. I refrained from writing much about my family and the difficulties we faced; their private suffering wasn't something to be shared with others by me. But I wrote about some of my own struggles, if only obliquely sometimes.

Dad was a blogger late in his life. He had a blog called Sailor Jack that he maintained on Apple's web hosting service Homepage. At some point, feeling his mortality I suppose, he printed all the entries and enclosed them in a 3-ring binder, even making a cover for it! It's in a bookcase next to my desk.

He was a career navy enlisted many, retiring as a YN1 in 1967 after 22 years of service. He got out for a few months after the war, but re-enlisted because he appreciated the relative security of peacetime navy service to the economic uncertainty of strikes and layoffs in the automobile industry in Detroit. I only have the vaguest knowledge of this, because I recall him mentioning it once, we never really discussed it, to my regret.

He was also profoundly anti-war, which I think grew out of his experience in WW II on a tiny ship off Okinawa experiencing kamikaze attacks. (He went into submarines when he re-enlisted after the war. I'd never learned why until he told Mitzi on a FaceTime call, not long before he died. He said he went into submarines because he never wanted to see those planes coming at him from out of the sky again.)

Anyway, I think about all these folks building their "personal knowledge graphs," and I think about my blog. I think about the time I have left, and the vastly different world my children will inherit. I don't have a lot of money to leave them, and I'm not certain the things I've learned will help them navigate the diminished future we're leaving them; but it may be something.

So, another project, as the shadows lengthen.

GHD: Competing Messages: Intermediated

06:16 Monday, 31 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 40.89°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 1.99mph

This was originally written in Groundhog Day on the evening of 9 January 2008. The "Competing Messages" was the tag I associated with posts about the pernicious idea of "markets are conversations." "GHD" denotes posts that originally appeared in Groundhog Day. More about this post later. Or, earlier in reverse chronological order.


Events have conspired to keep me somewhat distracted from writing as much as I'd like, but I have a moment now and I thought I'd try to quickly jot down a couple of thoughts.

Nick Carr was interviewed in Wired recently, and offered something I thought was interesting. He said, "The scariest thing about Stanley Kubrick's vision wasn't that computers started to act like people but that people had started to act like computers. We're beginning to process information as if we're nodes; it's all about the speed of locating and reading data. We're transferring our intelligence into the machine, and the machine is transferring its way of thinking into us."

This is an example of the notion that we shape our tools, and our tools shape us. I'm not sure I think things are exactly the way Nick Carr describes them, that we're "thinking" more like computers, but I do believe that the old adage that says, "to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail," is true. And to a culture with a pervasive computer network, everything looks like something related to a network, including our social relationships.

I think this is troubling, but I don't have time to go into that right now. What I wanted to note was something that occurred to me reading Carr's interview, and Neil Postman's Technopoly. All successful technologies impose some characteristic of their nature or utility on our conception or perception of reality. They, along with our senses, intermediate between reality and perception, shaping the latter, bringing it into being.

One kind of personal example of this in my case is the camera and the internet. I happened to realize this the other day as I was walking Bodhi. It was foggy out, and the fog, in the first dim light of the morning, along with a willow and a crane, created a beautiful scene; and after that first instant of recognition or appreciation, my first thoughts were that I wished I had my camera so I could capture it and share it on the web. But Postman and Carr intruded, and I wondered about what I was missing in those passing moments, with my attention going to my tools and my toys? And I kind of forced myself to stop thinking about the camera, or my failure to bring it along, and instead to simply be in that moment and enjoy what nature had to offer for me.

In any event, that's not really what I wanted to note this morning. Instead, a similar thought occurred to me in another context. I've been frustrated for a long time with the underlying conceit behind the notion that "markets are conversations." This metaphorical "framing," has, to me, been one of the most hideous and socially corrosive notions to come along in a very long time. Yet it has been embraced as somehow something that is informed, enlightened, indeed, even liberating and I have consistently failed to understand how anyone could believe that. But now I think I understand.

Economic systems are a form of technology, and as such, they intermediate our perception of reality. Capitalism, or perhaps more accurately, consumerism or commercialism, has been a fantastically "successful" technology, creating vast quantities of financial "wealth." (Along with a significant downside cost we simply dismiss.) It therefore shapes our view of "reality," to include our social interactions, which preceded all our economic theories. So indeed, our social interactions, our "being" as "social beings" is interpreted in an economic "framework," and "being" is ultimately subordinated to the framework of "commerce," hence "markets are conversations." This is not a good thing, but I don't know of a successful competing technological or even metaphorical framework I can impose which might alter the current state of affairs.

Something to think about anyway.

Time to go. Commerce must be served.

PIX: Delete, Delete, Delete

05:48 Monday, 31 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 40.77°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 1.99mph

I've been making admirable progress in pruning my image library. In idle moments, which are many, I grab an iPad and sit down and start swiping. I've gotten rid of over 2,000 images in the last few days. The downside may be that it's using a lot of bandwidth, as Photos downloads the "original" (which, in most cases, is a 3 or 5MP jpeg of a 12 or 16MP original residing on some external hard drive around here) for me to review. It's the end of the month, and apparently I've used 75% of my data allowance and Papa Comcast is warning me not to go over it.

I still keep too many images. How many images of a Blue Heron do I need? An Egret? A Snowy Egret? A Snowy Egret with a Blue Heron and a Canadian Goose? Same thing with roses, spiders and spider webs. It's easier with pure "landscape" shots of my old condo complex. I keep anything with Bodhi in it, even if he's not intended as part of the composition.

I know I'm keeping far too many unremarkable images, but this is likely just the first pass at what will become a continuous effort over time. Eventually, I'll go find the "original-originals" in their external hard drives, and import them into the library, deleting the smaller jpegs. I'll have to re-edit those images, but for many of them, that'll likely be a good thing.

The beat goes on...

OTB: It's Darker Here

07:30 Sunday, 30 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 30.18°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 63% Wind: 0mph

Further to my efforts to increase the amount of frustration and disappointment in my life, I've made the initial steps to launch (ha!) Notes From the Underground. Ideally, if I don't screw this up, it'll go "live" on Groundhog Day, because, of course.

I originally thought I'd maintain the Marmot and the Underground in one Tinderbox file, which is eminently doable. But it creates some opportunities for mix-ups, so I just duplicated the Marmot, renamed it and deleted most of the cruft. The Underground doesn't care about the weather, so that's out.

I can go live with a fairly simple style and structure by just doing exactly what I'm doing here, and I may do that just to get things rolling. But I want to make some changes that will call for a fair amount of trial and error experimentation.

The most interesting thing will be wiring it up to a Notes folder in Apple Notes so I can write posts on an iOS device. I need to do some internal TBX wizardry in the Underground to get those routed to the appropriate container with the requisite nonsense to maintain the structure, which may be nothing at first. The trickiest part will be later, when I create some kind of trigger to automatically "Export to HTML," and have that saved locally. Then I have to teach Forklift to watch that export folder and when it changes, upload the changes to the server.

It seems all theoretically possible, and probably the matter of a few minutes work for someone who knows what they're doing. But I'm figuring this out as I go along; and a short attention span and low frustration level do not make for quick work. So, fits and starts, as usual.

Some things will be much easier. The Underground won't feature images, just text, so there's less effort there. I'm thinking about how to maintain the archive, and I haven't quite figured that out yet. For now, it'll probably just be a dupe of what I'm doing here with different CSS.

You may be wondering why do a separate blog at all, and I ask myself the same thing sometimes.

I've long wanted to do something where I could post from my phone if I had something brief I wanted to get down. Ideally, I'll be able to dictate the post to the phone on a walk. Initial efforts in that regard have been disappointing, and further research is required. So Notes From the Underground began a long time ago as a watched folder, initially with SimpleNote. I didn't do much with it, other than see if Tinderbox would import notes from SimpleNote. It did. Later, after the ability to watch Apple Notes appeared, that became my preferred option.

From there, I've wondered about tenor and tone. This is probably a whole other post, but apparently the Marmot and its predecessor, Groundhog Day, had an overall negative sentiment analysis. I'm not sure what that means yet, except that, yes, what motivates me to write is often being unhappy about something.

That's kind of informed or interfered with what I'm choosing to do here in Nice Marmot. I'm censoring myself, often not posting because I know it'll just be another "negative" post. I don't get any complaints, but, you know. I don't get much feedback at all! (Which is fine. Please, ignorance is bliss.)

Anyway, the tagline for Notes From the Underground will be "It's darker here," and I'll feel like I've given myself permission to be as negative as I want to be. Perhaps I'll be more productive. Perhaps I won't experience the internal double-clutching I experience with the Marmot. Maybe it'll be all for naught and nothing will happen and it'll sit idle like the Marmot did for many months over the years.

Who knows? Time will tell. Anyway, stay tuned. More to follow.

P.S. the National Weather Service "official" temp is 30°F, my weather station is telling me it's 29°F, 3 degrees of frost.

PIX: Practice

06:58 Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 51.12°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 3mph

I have an absurd number of images stored in iCloud, over 100,000. It's not a technical problem, I have plenty of storage, computers are (generally) fast enough to manage them. It's a human problem. What happens to them when I'm gone? Are any of them meaningful to the people I leave behind?

I think some of them will be, perhaps not many. Perhaps some people may find some of them worthwhile because they were meaningful to me.

In any event, it's been kind of on my mind for some time. This morning, as I was making breakfast, the thought occurred to me that it was a bit like climate change. The number of photos in "the cloud" was increasing seemingly without limit, and that I had to slow the rate of increase while simultaneously working to extract images from the cloud.

So, from time to time, though not often enough, when I'm bored, I'll sit on the couch with the M1 MBP and delete images. I've fund that it's helpful to confine my pool of candidates for deletion to a single lens, or a single camera. If I just draw from the entire library, there are a lot of context switches, for lack of a better term, that add some friction to the process. I shoot with a lot of cameras and a lot of lenses, sometimes several in a day. And, of course, most of those images are crap. (See: Sturgeon's Law.)

But it's interesting. I'll see an image that I know is a nothing image. But I'll also recall when I took it, and how amazed I was at how good it turned out. Not "good" in the sense that it was a beautiful or meaningful image, but that it was sharp, well exposed, in focus, with excellent color. It's still hard to delete those, and I delete far too few of them. But I'm getting better at it.

The problem is, I like taking pictures. So I see pictures a lot of the time when I'm out and about. Often, thankfully, I don't have a camera. I almost alway have the iPhone, but I don't experience photography with an iPhone like I do with a camera. Sometimes I'll use it, of course, and it can capture great images; but it's not the same experience for me. I should be grateful for that, I suppose.

Part of it has to do with the fact that I still experience some sense of wonder that I can even do this. Like shooting the moon. I've shot it a gazillion times. But sometimes I'll see it up there, and I'll just have to go get a camera and shoot it. Or someone else will post a pic, and then I have to do it too. This one's from about a week ago:

The moon on 20 January 2022

I mean, it's just ridiculous.

There were 21 images in the library from that effort. I just deleted all the ones except the one you (hopefully) see above. Was it the best? I don't know, they were all pretty damn good. I probably over-sharpened this one. Doesn't matter.

It's just that I'm still amazed at what we can do with cameras these days. Maybe it's not that way for people who grew up with good digital cameras, probably starting about twenty years ago.

I don't know. As problems go, I suppose this is the kind to have. I do know I need to start putting images in albums, and creating books and slideshows with them to share with people.

I was going to title this post Discipline, but I don't have discipline. All I have is practice.

CIN: Munich: The Edge of War

06:12 Tuesday, 25 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 47.28°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 0mph

Mitzi and I watched this movie on Netflix the other night. It takes place during the infamous Munich conference between Germany, Britain, France and Italy, where Czechoslovakia was essentially handed over to Germany, and Chamberlain returned with his "peace in our time" agreement with Hitler.

We both enjoyed the movie, though it is somewhat deliberate in its pace. There is suspense and a twist and I think it's worth watching. The production values are excellent, and Jeremy Irons' portrayal of Chamberlain seems consistent with what I learned in Appeasement, Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill and the Road to War by Tim Bouverie.

There aren't many reviews, but what few there are seem to be harsh. I think at least one reviewer kind of missed the point of the movie, which is perhaps the fault of the writers who adapted the book, and the director.

The movie is not a reconsideration of Chamberlain and his policy. True, there's some closing text about buying time for re-armament, which was completely unnecessary. I don't know if that's a theme in the book by Robert Harris.

The problem is that Chamberlain and that tragic history looms so large in the story that you may be forgiven for thinking it's somehow about Chamberlain. Of course, it's really about the two young men, one British and the other German and how the course of international events profoundly change their views of the world. It's the actions of Chamberlain and Hitler that change the protagonists, and that's the story, not the Munich Agreement. I thought the movie had something important and interesting to say about the idea of hope, as well.

Mark Bernstein has coincidentally just finished reading the book, and has some relevant thoughts.

RND: This and That

06:25 Sunday, 23 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 38.93°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 4mph

Wanted to get in here and post something, so a few quick thoughts and maybe something more a little later.

Football remains a guilty pleasure, though less so than in years past. Especially since my team can't seem to get its act together and it was painful to watch. So I didn't for much of the season, and didn't watch much of anyone else either. Turned it on occasionally as a distraction, but didn't follow the division rankings and rivalries and so on.

But the playoffs have been great! Loved seeing the Bengals beat the Titans, because I'm from Jacksonville and that's something we all love to see. I didn't tune into the NFC game until I saw a tweet about the blocked punt! So I got to watch SF beat Green Bay last night. Ordinarily, that would be a result I wouldn't care about either way. Up until recently, I liked Aaron Rodgers and I've always had some respect for the football heritage and legacy of Green Bay.

But then it turns out Rodgers is some kind of anti-vax, MAGA wing-nut. Which, again, who cares? Except he's Aaron Rodgers and he has an enormous platform to spout that particular brand of divisive, ignorant nonsense and then complain about being "silenced." Well, losing a playoff is a pretty sweet way of de-platforming him, so kudos 'Niners! The fact that it was San Francisco (proverbial home of "leftists") just kind of reminded me that irony is the fifth fundamental force of the universe. (I've waited in vain for many years for my notification from the Nobel Committee for my fundamental contribution to physics.)

Turned the heat on for the first time this winter. Got down to 65°F in the house, and that's just a bit chilly.

The house is a little interesting, thermodynamically. The stucco seems to act as an enormous (relatively) damper on the warming and cooling cycle. Insulation seems to do little, since the stucco is physically in contact with the framing, which is physically connected to the drywall.

This is all anecdotal because I haven't looked at the data, and will likely remain so since I'm lazy like that. In the spring (even in the winter, lately) the heat pump won't begin cooling until later in the morning or early afternoon, after the sun has warmed the south side of the house, and it'll keep running until late into the night as the stucco continues to conduct heat into the house. If you were to step outside the front door (on the north side of the house), you can feel the heat radiating from the stucco, late into the night.

We've had some very warm days this winter, December was one of the warmest on record. But because the sun angle is much lower in the winter, the south side of the house is in shadow part of the day and doesn't get as much direct sunlight. (Not so, the array on the roof, happily.) It gets enough to keep the house from cooling enough to require heat though. In the summer months, the south side of the house gets sun nearly all day long and warms accordingly; and we can pretty much expect that the heat pump will be running throughout the day, though the duty-cycle decreases somewhat in the early hours of the morning.

I think there would be some advantage to deprecate stucco as a building material. It's problematic for any number of reasons anyway, being partly made of cement and cracking with subsequent water intrusion being two important ones. Its thermal properties being another. I don't hold out any hope for that kind of enlightened thinking. This is Florida, after all.

It's been pretty cold and pretty solidly overcast the past two days, so the house has been cooling steadily, finally reaching the aforementioned 65°F when Mitzi asked me to please turn on the heat. (I don't control the heat, she just hasn't learned how to work the thermostat.)

Cold though it may be, seeing Tennessee and Green Bay defeated yesterday warmed my heart.

PIX: Launch

06:15 Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 39.83°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 0mph

Living near the east coast in Florida affords the opportunity to observe a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center when conditions are favorable. I've seen a number of shuttle launches, and an increasing number of Falcon 9 launches.

The shuttle was easy to observe day or night because of the enormous exhaust trail from the SRBs. The Falcon 9 is hard to near-impossible to see in daytime from my location. But at night, it's quite visible.

Last night was crystal clear, so I figured I'd try to get another shot. I used the OM-D E-M1 Mk3 with an mZuiko 17mm/f1.2 at f1.6. It's a brighter, sharper lens and I wanted to get more star trails. I use the Live Composite feature to capture the light trail from the rocket as well as the star trails. There are bright street lights that I try to leave out of the frame, but still capture most of the trajectory. Last night's was the oddest one I've seen so far. I expect they're all different to one degree or another, depending on the planned orbit. Anyway, here are four shots I've gotten since I've lived here:

Last night:

Photograph of Falcon 9 launch on 18 January 2022

On April 23, 2021 with the E-M10 Mk4 and the 17mm/f1.8 prime at f1.8:

Photograph of Falcon 9 launch on 23 April 2021

November 15, 2020 with the Olympus E-PL10 and the 12mm/f2.0 prime at f2:

Photograph of Falcon 9 launch on 15 November 2020

This is the first one I've found after we moved here. It's from January 6, 2020 with the OM-D EM-1 Mk2 with the 12-40mm/f2.8 zoom at f2.8. It's probably the best overall.

Photograph of Falcon 9 launch on 6 January 2020

(This layout leaves something to be desired. I'll try and figure that out later. Maybe.)

I used the 12mm focal length at first because I wasn't certain where the rocket would appear in the frame. After the first two, I knew it would appear right about where that first street light is, so I used the 17mm and tried to leave the street light just below the frame, but the glare intrudes anyway. I think I'll try 14mm (28mm effective focal length relative to a 35mm "full frame" sensor) next time, keep the street in the frame and see how that looks. I have two tripods, so I could set up two cameras with slightly different framing and see what works.

Anyway, an amusing diversion from the depressing issues of the day.

SCI: Small World

10:36 Sunday, 16 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 59.85°F Pressure: 999hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 4mph

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption made the news yesterday. In twitter, I saw reports of weather stations detecting the the effect of the shockwave in a transient spike in air pressure all around the world.

So I checked my little station and saw it recorded it as well. The cursor marks the local time (0925) when it passed my location.

Pretty cool.

iPhone screenshot of the Ambient Weather app graph display of atmospheric pressure)

PIX: Red Sky at Morning

10:20 Sunday, 16 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 59.67°F Pressure: 1000hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 8.01mph

This is a 5-image panorama from the DJI Mini 2 camera. When I opened the bedroom curtains yesterday morning, the wall of the house next door was red. I got dressed quickly, stuck a charged battery in the drone and went out back.

Just barely made it in time, these things don't last very long. For larger images like this, I think I'll just copy and paste the embed link from Flickr. I'm lazy like that.

Red Sky at Morning

CIN: Midnight

04:34 Wednesday, 12 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 57.7°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 1.01mph

Mitzi and I watched Midnight last night. If you follow the link to Apple's movie store, the description contains a spoiler. Fortunately, I'd either not read the description, or did it so long ago when I bought the movie, that I'd forgotten it. Humphrey Bogart plays a supporting role, which brought it to my attention, and it has a nice plot twist to open the third act.

The description also says it's restored from a pristine 35mm print. Well, I'm going to have to re-download it again and see if that's true, because the movie we watched last night didn't appear restored at all, and the print didn't approach "pristine." The audio was often hard to make out, and it isn't closed captioned.

But I still enjoyed it because of the strange cinematography. It was made in 1934, but it seemed older than that in terms of the camera movements, framing and editing. It was interesting, though it didn't seem especially well done.

Mystery solved after I read the description this morning:

A visually interesting film, director Chester Erskine has fashioned MIDNIGHT (a.k.a. Call It Murder) after the German films of the 1920s.

We did enjoy the movie, and I think Bogart fans might as well, though he's not on screen very much.

It was also interesting to me to think about the fact that this movie is nearly 90 years old.

(And "CIN" is, for now, the TLA for "movie.")

OTB: Rewind

04:18 Wednesday, 12 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 57.83°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 1.01mph

The three-letter prefixes are a convention I used sporadically in Groundhog Day, chiefly to identify posts dealing with specific topics, mostly Battlestar Galactica (BSG). In the weekly Tinderbox meet-ups, I learned that a convention like this can help make text links to other notes quickly and efficiently.

I'm not certain I'll do that, but maybe. In any event, I like the convention so I'm working on my own. PIX is a photography post, PHI is philosophy, TBX is Tinderbox, GHD is a Groundhog Day oldie and OTB is "On the Blogs," or a post about a blog post I want to commend to your attention.

Today's is the consistent pleasure of Atlas Minor.

GHD: 2007 More Keynote Thoughts

05:24 Tuesday, 11 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 45.95°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 1.99mph

The following day, I responded to something Chuq Von Rospach wrote at his blog, which is no longer available as far as I can tell. The links are preserved as they were, but they don't really work. The transient nature of all phenomena and all that...


Chuqi says, "Apple stopped being JUST a computer company a while back."

No duh.

The point is, Steve is now "changing the face" of Apple. The point is, how many dollars Apple brings in in revenue from Macs compared to iPods is no longer relevant. The point is, Apple will no longer be directly comparable to Dell or HP/Compaq. Maybe Microsoft, but then MS has to decide if it wants to be a software company or a hardware company. Apple has always been a hardware company that understands good software. Microsoft has, ever since the Mac, always been chasing Apple in terms of identity. It may have won the "OS Wars," but it still doesn't know who it is, because it really wants to be Apple.

I wonder if we haven't seen the last "Macworld," and will next year's show be called something including the word "Apple?"

I still think the phone is a large risk, but it's a high-value risk so I don't think it's necessarily a bad one. One problem is the unreasonable expectations attached to Apple products, promoted by Apple marketing and its "passionate users." The ability of some high attention-earning, attention-seeking, self-appointed, self-aggrandizing, consumer advocates (read: "bloggers") to direct negative attention to the product, should it fail to deliver in any area, adds to that risk. The product seems to be pushing many edges of the envelope, as the Newton did, but that won't mean anyone will cut it any slack. There are some people who are only too eager to see Apple stumble in the marketplace, and aren't above giving them a shove if they see the opportunity.

So I think it's an interesting development in the Apple/Jobs narrative. If the phone works well, I'll definitely consider buying one. But mostly this is going to be interesting from the standpoint of the Apple/Jobs narrative.

The Apple-TV "requirements" say it requires a widescreen TV. That pretty clearly implies it won't work on standard definition 4:3 sets, like my plebeian 27" JVC. That would kind of be a drag. His Steveness said it was "optimized" for widescreen, but "optimized" doesn't mean "doesn't work" with anything else. So I will be interested in hearing more about that.

Also somewhat interesting, and disappointing, is that the USB port on the AppleTV doesn't seem to support an external storage device of some kind. At this point, I'm wondering if there isn't a better case to be made buying an HDTV with a DVI input, and using a Mac Mini instead of the AppleTV? Not sure, I'll have to see how this shakes out.

Speaking of Mac Minis, hopefully we'll get a Core 2 Duo Mini with 802.11n support here in the near future too.

Truthfully, I'd read some speculation that Apple would be announcing a line of Apple-branded hi-def TVs, with AppleTV built in. Had that been the case, I was prepared to go ahead and add to my crushing consumer debt load and buy one. As it is, I'll wait and see if the AppleTV works with my "scum of the earth" set first, and test the waters with it if it does.


2022 Update: Macworld Expo trade shows ceased in 2009.

GHD: 2007 Macworld Keynote Thoughts

05:20 Tuesday, 11 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 45.95°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 1.99mph

These were my thoughts on 1/09/2007, after the announcement of the iPhone at MacWorld:


The following is what I shared with an e-mail correspondent earlier this afternoon, after correcting some grammatical errors, and some editing for a bit more clarity:

It's clear this was about Jobs changing the face of Apple ("Inc." not "Computer"). That's why he basically blew off talking about the Mac right at the beginning.

This has been kind of a trend for some time, given the success of the iPod, but the mobile phone market is obviously orders of magnitude larger, and success in that market would really mark the transition of Apple, Incorporated, into a broader consumer electronics company, with the cachet of say, Sony, whose star seems to be somewhat in decline of late. But it would enhance his reputation - and his legacy, if his mortality is on his mind these days - as an entrepreneur, and probably eclipse that of Bill Gates, the size of their respective fortunes notwithstanding. I think this is what drives Jobs. Not just his "art," but proving to everyone who ever doubted him, and all his critics, that they were wrong. Of course, this brings hubris to mind, and those whom the gods would destroy they first...

The phone appeals to me, but I see some potential problems. I'm going to guess that five hours of "talk/browsing" time is optimistic. Power consumption on that thing has got to be high, and the signature Jobs' small form factor limits the size of the battery in the device, so I'm guessing battery life is going to be any early complaint.

Basing the platform on OS X has some potentially very significant advantages, but it also imposes some vulnerabilities. How many people are going to be diligent about installing security patches on their phones? Plus, if it is successful, the relative ubiquity of the phone makes OS X a much more tempting, high-value proposition for the bad guys.

Hopefully everything stored on the device is encrypted in some fashion, a la File Vault or something. I'd hate to think about losing that thing.

Finally, how well is that screen going to work in sunlight? If everything is based on seeing the bit-mapped screen, and it's washed out or hard to read in sunlight, that's going to be a problem for everyone.

Then there are the usual Apple problems of blemishes, and if everything isn't "perfect" some people get very incensed.

So this seems like a high-risk proposition for Apple. It's not a cheap phone by any means, and people are going to expect a lot from it. If it fails to deliver, or if it just fails to gain traction in the marketplace, I think it will take much of the shine off of Apple's current reputation. On the other hand, it does significantly advance the state of the art, and it will drive competitors to offer similar capabilities.

I am more interested in the TV device at the moment, and possibly the Airport Extreme. I'm running on an .11b router now, and that seems to work fine for most of what I do. But I have been buying TV shows and a couple of movies from iTMS, and streaming them to my television seems like a good idea.

What we didn't hear about was a new widescreen video iPod, or anything about iWork, iLife, or Leopard. So my guess is there will be an event in February or March to announce some new hardware and software releases. My guess is there will be a speed-bump of some kind for the entire Mac line, and possibly a new laptop, as well as a strictly video iPod. (Who wants to watch a movie on their phone? They'd run the battery down! Plus, only 8GB of storage doesn't leave much room for video. There's another iPod in the wings, I'm pretty sure.)

So, for better or worse, Apple's fortunes are tied to Jobs' ego and psychology. I'm hoping the phone is a success, but I have reservations.

PHI: What, me worry?

07:25 Monday, 10 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 60.31°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 96% Wind: 5.75mph

It's still a relatively new year, but I'm struggling to determine what resolution may be required to right the ship that is my interior state.

Is it wiser to ignore the flow of current events, and experience what bliss ignorance may afford? Should I simply limit my consumption of news, and try to remain engaged at whatever exceedingly insignificant level I can?

Perhaps the problem isn't the news, but what I think about it?

Because this is a problem.

I don't have an answer yet.

I try to recall the wisdom of the Chinese farmer's father.

We shall see.

PIX: Photos Discontents

06:22 Friday, 7 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 61.54°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 1.01mph

Jack Baty's been blogging about his photo management workflow, and since I don't want to write about how utterly corrupt the state of Florida is, I figured I'd offer a few thoughts about some of my recent experiences with Apple's Photos app.

Years ago, I used Aperture to manage my image library, so when Jack says one of the advantages of Photos is that he'd be likely to still be using it a decade from now, don't count on it.

Photos was a dumbed-down version of iPhoto and couldn't hold a candle to Aperture. But it was ubiquitous in terms of Apple devices, it offered cloud storage, synchronization across devices, and most of the most frequently used adjustments. Also, Aperture was going to eventually stop working. So after a few years of remaining with Aperture after it became officially unsupported, I made the transition to Photos.

Photos has improved significantly over the years, although there remain a few inexplicable omissions. For one, Smart Albums aren't supported in iOS. You can now search on exif data though, so that is mitigated somewhat. I use Smart Albums to collect images by focal length, camera body, and lens. Not everyone would find that useful, but it's been helpful to me.

Photos now displays exif data in iOS, which was formerly an inexplicable omission. The larger iPads are great for photo editing, but I couldn't look at the exif data so see things like what white balance I used if it looked off, or was I seeing motion blur (shutter speed) or was focus off? Perhaps both. (To be clear, Photos only displays the bare minimum of exif data. So if you want lens serial numbers and the like, you'll need another app.)

MacOS Photos gained extensions so you could make round-trip edits in various apps without exporting an image, editing it in some app, and re-importing it into Photos with those edits now baked-in to the image. This has probably been the single biggest improvement to Photos since its launch. You can't do some things, yet, like image stacking or stitching; but I don't do those very often. (Let me qualify this by saying that I haven't found a way to do those things. Perhaps they exist. What I do now is export the images I wish to stack or stitch to the desktop and proceed in the relevant app from there. These are inherently "destructive" edits anyway.)

In Monterey, there's been some weirdness with the display of exif data. Sometimes the focal length doesn't show up. It's still present, as the images will appear in the relevant smart album or in a search, but the field is blank on the Info pane. I expect that's a bug that will be addressed at some point.

I had recent hiccup with an app I use a lot, Topaz Sharpen AI. I expect the same issue applies to DeNoise AI, but I didn't update that app after I experienced the problem with Sharpen. Although Topaz doesn't offer Photos extensions per se, and older App Store program for Photos, External Editors (which pre-dated extensions being added to Photos) still works and you can round-trip an image to the Topaz apps that way, with all the edits being non-destructive, so you can still revert to the original if you want to start over.

Anyway, the most recent update to Sharpen AI broke the external editor feature. I was able to find a previous version and revert back to one that did work; but since I'm not a frequent visitor to the support forum, I didn't realize I could do that for some weeks.

For the most part, Photos has turned into a suitable replacement for Aperture. There are still a lot of things Aperture did that Photos does not, and I'm not certain that all of those omissions are covered by app extensions. But those were mainly for professional photographers, and I don't suffer for their absence.

What Do You Invite Into Your Home Screen?

08:59 Monday, 3 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 52.83°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 67% Wind: 5.99mph

I've deleted the Apple News widget from my Home Screen. As I was doing so, it seemed to suggest I could tailor it to specific topics. I didn't choose to explore whether that was an option or not. I just knew I was tired of seeing bad news every time I picked up my phone.

Inspired a bit by Rob Fahrni's tweet yesterday.

I'm not suggesting that I don't wish to read "bad news." Just that I don't want to see it every single time I lift up my phone, which I probably do far too much anyway.

What Can't Be Measured

08:35 Monday, 3 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 53.53°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 7mph

Can't say I know much about the mind behind Atlas Minor, James A. Reeves, but I enjoy reading his journal. This post resonated with me.

Perhaps because I'm still somewhat enamored with "data." What's the temperature? How much power are we making? How much are we using? How many calories did I supposedly burn today?

The conventional wisdom seems to be "If you don't measure it, it doesn't matter."

All this "data processing" capacity is like a big hammer that makes everything look like a nail.

By only thinking about the things we can measure, we're not thinking about the things that really matter.

Maybe what really matters can't be measured.

Anyway, a bit of thought-provoking delight in today's RSS feed.

PIX: Lazy Man's Astrophotography

10:57 Sunday, 2 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.45°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 1.99mph

Speaking of being lazy, here's something I tried the other night that kind of made me happy. I wouldn't post something like this in a photography forum, because it's not up to the very high standards of many of the kinds of people who happen to frequent those places. Let me just tell those of you who may be unfamiliar with astrophotography, this is not an example of good astrophotography.

But if you're a lazy person, it's still pretty cool.

Some time ago, I read about people using the Olympus E-M1 Mk3's handheld high-resolution mode from a tripod to do astrophotography. So I had it in my feeble little mind that I could try that too. I have an E-M1 Mk3. I have a tripod. What could go wrong?

Well, I should have had more modest ambitions. I stuck my mZuiko 40-150mm/f2.8 Pro lens on the camera, used Photo Pills to figure out how long I could keep the shutter open and still have sharp stars, zoomed to 150mm, pointed it at the Orion nebula, (Heh, had typed "nubula." Guess 'cause I'm a "noob.") set the camera to manual mode and handheld high res and let 'er rip!

Dreams dashed upon the rocks of despair again. I suspect, I'm not certain, that the focal length may have been too long. It kind of worked at shorter focal lengths, but it struggled with aligning the stars.

Oh well, I figured I was out there, I'd try something else. I had smudgy stars, astro is very demanding on a lens and the 40-150 is a respectably sharp lens. Stopped it down to f3.2, then went a little crazy. Turned on the digital teleconverter mode, where the camera crops the center 5MP image and upsizes it to 20MP, giving you, effectively, a 20MP image at 300mm focal length (four-thirds, 600mm effective focal length full frame). Went to electronic shutter and just clicked a bunch of images in drive mode.

Came back in, loaded them into Photos. Picked what I thought was the best of the lot and exported them to the desktop. Imported those into Affinity Photo and used its astrophotography stacking feature, which I had never used before and just kind of bumbled my way through it. (It doesn't work exactly like ordinary stacking, or pano mode, etc. The trickiest part was just figuring out how to get the images into the stacker.)

Anyway, something came out the other end. I imported that back into Photos and then tweaked that to make it look like something you'd see through a telescope, and here's what I got:

Photograph of the Orion Nebula (not a particularly good one)

Here's an example of just a single frame:

Single frame of the Orion Nebula before stacking

These images are the same size, covering the same part of the sky, but you can see how much larger the nebula is in the stacked image. Not much detail, but not bad for a lazy man who doesn't know what he's doing.

I'll try and figure out how to do it a little better, as long as I don't have to work too hard to do it.

TBX: Maintenance Note

09:59 Sunday, 2 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 72.54°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 5.01mph

Close readers of the Marmot (there may be a few of you), might have noticed a glitch yesterday, or this morning with regard to the permalinks not working properly. There were two issues I had neglected to address in the switchover to calendar year 2022.

The first was some boilerplate in the page export template that formed the permalinks, where I neglected to change from 2021 to 2022. I had made a "mental note," to do that some time ago, I should have made a Tinderbox note in the Marmot to remind me!

The second was a convention I ignored was in naming the monthly archive file. I use an underscore in lieu of a space. I don't know, but I suspect file systems, servers and browsers are all capable enough to handle spaces in URLs; but it's been mostly my habit to use the underscore, and I failed to observe that convention in the name for the January 2022 archive. All's well now.

Jack Baty is a Tinderbox blogger, and he recently gave me a nice compliment at the Eastgate Tinderbox Forum. This morning he posted about the experience of using Tinderbox as a blogging application. Jack asks, "Is it too complicated?"

It's a fair question. I would say that there's a learning curve in whatever blogging platform one cares to use. Some are steeper than others, and they all come with trade-offs and compromises. My early experience with editthispage.com, Radio Userland and Tumblr persuaded me that I was far better off running my own show on server space that I paid for, with a URL that I controlled. (I can't say "owned. You can never "own" a domain name, about the most you can do is pay rent for it.)

Tinderbox is complicated, but it's not too complicated. I am a fundamentally lazy man, with a low threshold for frustration. If I can blog in Tinderbox, anyone can. This morning's little exercise in, "Why isn't this page loading?" being but the most recent example of the small tax one pays to run the whole show. (Apart from all the wizardry going on behind the scenes at your hosting service.)

As Jack notes, once you get something set up in Tinderbox, it's just another black box. Make your entry. Press a button. It's done. It's when you change something that a bit of complication sets in. Or a lot of complication, depending on your ambition.

I'm a man of modest ambitions, not all lazy men are. So I (usually) make small changes. And I can usually tolerate the frustrations and irritations that sometimes accompany getting them to work. But the best part is, there is a wealth of assistance available, not least of all from the developer himself, Mark Bernstein, as well as his crew of able assistants and collaborators at the Forum or from Mark Anderson at ATBRef.

I'll be sitting in on another Tinderbox meetup today. There's usually one every weekend. I seldom have anything to contribute, but I do enjoy seeing what others are doing with Tinderbox (it's far more than blogging), and learning by osmosis along the way. There is a nice community around this application, which has its own modest rewards.

Finally, there's a Winterfest promotional special underway for a number of independent Mac applications, and Tinderbox is one of them. So if you're looking for an opportunity to explore Tinderbox in greater depth (the demo limits the number of notes you can edit), you can save some coin by taking advantage of this promotional offer.

2021 Energy Report

08:45 Sunday, 2 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 69.22°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 3mph

Cleaning up my Downloads folder, I discovered a .csv file that I'd obtained from the Tesla app on my phone back in November. It prompted me to get one for the complete calendar year of 2021. I dumped it into Numbers and did some summary calculations. A screenshot is below:

Screenshot of Numbers spreadsheet data

Mitzi received the Toyota RAV4 Prime at the end of August, so you'll see the increase in our electrical consumption with the use of a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The RAV4 Prime has a nominal battery range of 42 miles. Mitzi's daily commute was roughly 44 miles, so by the time she got home each night, the battery was depleted and recharging began after solar production had largely finished for the day. That is to say, we've been recharging the RAV4 from the Powerwalls.

The RAV4 battery is roughly, I think, 19KWh and the two Powerwalls store roughly 26KWh. So depending on how much AC we used throughout the evening and night, we often were on utility power by morning before solar production ramped up.

Mitzi has retired (again), and we'll be driving a lot less. I plan to install a 220v outlet and buy a 220v charger for the car, which will recharge it in about 5 hours instead of the roughly 11 hours for a complete recharge. For the most part, I don't think we'll be driving enough daily to completely deplete the battery, so we should be able to mostly recharge directly from the array, but vagaries of weather and time of travel factor in as well.

By inspection, it appears that even if Mitzi were to continue working and doing her daily commute for another year, we would have been a net energy producer, with our high production months in March, April and May before the worst cooling requirements begin.

We're by no means, "net-zero" CO2 in our energy use. We'll still use some gasoline for longer drives, we use propane for the grill, and of course, we fly. But we're far closer to a sustainable energy consumption than at any time heretofore. In the grand scheme of things, it probably makes very little difference to the fate of our climate.

But it helps me sleep better at night.

A New Year

13:10 Saturday, 1 January 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 80.74°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 5.01mph

Well, let's see if I can get the year off to a good start here in the woodchuck hole.

Had dinner with the next door neighbors last night. Disappointed to learn they're moving. Not far, though. Probably just a couple miles away in another Del Webb property in Nocatee. We're living in Del Webb Ponte Vedra, which is located in Nocatee. They'll be living in Del Webb Nocatee. Tell me that won't be confusing! They need a bigger home to accommodate visiting family.

But they're not leaving until March, so we'll enjoy their company until then; and we'll continue to do so after they move, just not as frequently.

Came home and watched the latest episode of The Expanse, which continues to satisfy. I'll miss most of these characters once it's over.

An old friend asked me yesterday if I'd join her in the Jacksonville Beach "Polar Plunge." Yes, it is Florida, and there's little "polar" about it, but we've done it before several times, though not in recent years. My first reaction was to decline, but I changed my mind and I'm glad I did. The first time we did it was a decade ago, and it was good to see her again. And there is something refreshing about jumping into the ocean on the first day of the new year. Clears the head, if nothing else.

Day started foggy, but it eventually cleared. Water was refreshingly chilly, but not cold. She had a condo on the beach when we did it the first time, and a bunch of us repaired to her place afterward for breakfast and mimosas. Neither of us live where we did before, so we said goodbye on the sand and each went our own way. The RAV4 Prime made the 32 mile trip there and back with battery to spare.

Came home, called Mitzi and then called Mom, did a few chores and then this. And I'll think I'll leave it there for now while I go create a folder on the server for another year of the marmot.

Jacksonville Beach, Florida. January 1, 2022. Fog on a flat sea.