05:56 Thursday, 30 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 76.35°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 6.91mph
Put the DJI Mini 2 up this morning. Figuring this workflow (a word I hate) out.
Buttermilk Falls Hike
09:41 Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 84.29°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 4.61mph
Shot a number of these with the Oly OM-D E-M1x. (I think the model name is supposed to be E-M1X, but it looks too much like MIX to my eye.) It was the first OM-D to offer Live ND (neutral density), a computational photography feature, similar to what you can do with a Live Photo in iOS Photos, the "long exposure" edit.
This is the most amount of shooting I've done with the E-M1x, and I'm still getting acquainted with the camera. You can choose to have a simulated view of what the final image will be in the viewfinder as you're shooting. I was using that, but I think I'm going to turn it off. I noticed my framing was consistently off with it on, it's kind of distracting.
The image processor takes advantage of image stabilization to shoot some number of frames sequentially using the electronic shutter, it then merges those images, creating the long exposure effect.
It's probably cliché with falls now, but I like it.
Had the camera lockup on me for the first time. Black screen and viewfinder. Power cycled the camera and nothing. Removed the battery holder and reinserted, nothing. Began to worry and vaguely recalled something about lens contact. Reseated the lens and all was well.
Not sure what's up with that, but it was solid for the remainder of the hike, except it took forever to lock gps again.
09:23 Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 83.53°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 4.61mph
This is from the XZ-1, for a little of that CCD goodness. This was shot at 0520 this morning. I'd been up since about 0300. Wanted to see some stars. You have to wait until past 2200 for the sky to get really dark, and I can hardly keep my eyes open by then. But for some reason, I can get up at 0230!
I should've taken a clue with the issue of reading the SD card under Ventura. We hiked Buttermilk Falls yesterday, and I brought along the Olympus Tough TG6, just in case I saw a cool bug or something. I also like to just grab shots now and then with a different camera.
Anyway, went to import the images yesterday, using the new protocol... Can't read the card!
Oh well, didn't take many with it and never saw any bugs anyway. I'll reformat the card and hopefully have better luck going forward.
08:49 Wednesday, 29 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 80.65°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 83% Wind: 5.75mph
This is the photo I wanted to post yesterday. Shot it with the OM-1 with the 40-150mm/f2.8 zoom. The extra reach isn't helpful, because it's so hard to keep these guys in the frame. But the extra stop of aperture is welcome.
Solved my iCloud problem.
I brought along a couple of USB thumb drives, one a 64GB USB-C drive (USB 3) and the other a tiny USB-A (USB 3) Sandisk Ultrafit with 128GB of storage.
I created a new Photos Library for the trip on the Ultrafit. It was empty, though I recalled that it had an issue with being slow, and that was borne out again last night. It took an hour to import about 700 images. But, it's faster than DSL.
The 64GB drive only has about 32GB free, but for whatever reason, it's much, much faster than the Ultrafit. So for the purposes of this trip, I use Image Capture to import the images into the fast drive. I look those over and delete the obvious clinkers. Then I just import the jpegs into the new Photos on the Ultrafit.
I'm keeping the images smaller, though I suppose I can do better. Max dimension is 2500, but that's probably overkill.
Anyway, up and running, if slowly.
07:32 Tuesday, 28 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.96°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 0mph
I suppose it's easy to dismiss how much we take broadband internet access for granted. Even the term "broadband" is somewhat nebulous today. I supposed there's a specification somewhere, I'd look it up but I'm on DSL and virtually anything is an exercise in frustration.
I use Photos with the system library in iCloud. This doesn't work with DSL. Right now, my Photos library is out of sync with what's on my MBP, and Photos decides to stop trying whenever it feels like it, supposedly out of concern for my battery.
The result seems to be that I can't use the AppleScript workflow that was developed for me. At least, that's what I think the issue may be. It worked yesterday, but it's not working today and the image I'm trying to post isn't in my Photos library on my phone, so it hasn't made it to iCloud yet.
I hate beginning every paragraph with "I...", but here we go.
Tried developing a work-around. Instead of importing images to Photos, where I do pretty much everything, I started using Image Capture to import them to a folder on an external USB drive. I can then look at the images with QuickLook, if it seems promising, I can open it in Preview and then zoom in more than I can with QuickLook (which gets balky after zooming into more than a few images, don't ask me why).
If I like what I see in Preview, I can send it to Photos for editing. This significantly reduces the number of images that would ordinarily be sent to iCloud. When you're shooting sequentially at 20 frames per second, the number of images gets very large, very fast.
But apparently even that is over-taxing my 300 kilobits per second upload speed.
At home, I've got 205Mbps download and 75Mbps upload. Even then, I often get impatient. This is just intolerable.
I'd looked forward to doing what I started to do here, and post images I'd taken here to the marmot, eschewing Twitter and Flickr and so on. Of course, neither of those media sites are solutions either.
Using cellular data would be a solution it T-Mobile had anything approaching decent coverage. I can seem to get 2 bars of LTE down at the dock, but even that is hit or miss.
I don't know what to say. It's very frustrating. First world problem, I know. I guess I'll just enjoy my pictures by myself. It's probably hubris to think anyone else might enjoy them.
But it's also is a cause for reflection, on how much we depend upon network infrastructure, and how our lives would change should it cease to be available.
Something to think about anyway.
12:35 Monday, 27 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 86.59°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 9.22mph
Brought the E-M1x along for this morning's hike at Taughannock Falls state park. Shot this with the Live ND feature. It's a computational photography feature, much like taking a Live Photo with your iPhone and having Photos turn it into a "long exposure."
08:02 Monday, 27 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 78.17°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 1.01mph
I'm on vacation and really intended to stay off Twitter and mostly ignore the news, because there's little I can do about it and it's almost invariably bad.
But I have been trying to keep my email boxes under control, and as I was deleting messages something caught my eye. I followed the link, and now you can too.
It's hard to say I was outraged. Outraged is pretty much my default setting these days. But this was shocking to me in a way that many other outrageous things are not. It's local to where I live, I guess.
Briefly, if you don't care to follow the link, a few years ago, Jacksonville's city government, largely the mayor, decided that it might be wise to sell off the city's publicly owned utility, JEA.
In any other context, this might be a legitimate question to ponder, but that's not what took place.
We'll likely never know exactly how all this transpired, but at some point Mayor Lenny Curry, who had higher ambitions for political office, decided that the proceeds from the sale of JEA would allow him to establish his legacy as a great mayor, solving many of Jacksonville's financial problems in the short term, and giving a huge source of money to "build something that lasts."
So Lenny fired the board of directors of the city's "independent authorities" (JEA, JaxPort, the airport authority and a bunch of others), that itself was unprecedented. Usually board members are allowed to complete their regular terms when a new administration takes office. But there was no legal obstacle to asking all of them for their resignations.
He installed his own people, surprise, with a particular focus on JEA. Because one of his hand-picked board members, Aaron Zahn, later went on to become CEO of JEA, despite having exactly zero experience in the public utility business. What he did have was a sketchy background.
The whiff of something underhanded was in the air, and the local media started digging. The good news is, these idiots who think they're so clever really are their own worst enemies. The whole JEA scam might have been pulled off, were it not for Zahn's greed and that of the people who surrounded him. They worked up a little performance bonus plan that promised to make them all fabulously wealthy if the sale went through. And the sale would have gone through, were it not for this get-rich-quick scheme, which predictably involved fraud.
Nate Monroe is an outstanding writer, and has a pretty sharp way with words, as in, cutting. This pissed off the powers that be, one of which being the planned buyer, FPL.
We didn't know to what extent FPL would go to try to silence local media criticism, but it apparently involved secret surveillance of Monroe over many months, presumably to dig up dirt to discredit or silence him.
FPL has also been implicated in fake candidate schemes in Florida, where phony candidates are put on the ballot with no intention of winning, only of siphoning votes from Democratic candidates with similar names. Dark money funds direct mail campaigns to confuse the electorate, and in at least one case, the scheme worked well enough to cost the Dem the election.
Florida is a fetid swamp of corruption. It often has been, maybe it always has been; but it's especially bad today, with emerging authoritarian and prospective presidential candidate Ron DeSantis as governor.
Fascism has a home, and it's in Florida.
I'll Take It To Go
06:57 Monday, 27 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 74.17°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 4.61mph
Spent part of yesterday down on the dock with the OMDS OM-1 with the mZuiko 12-100mm/f4 on it. I may try using the 40-150mm/f2.8 later today, but it's really hard to keep the birds in the frame at anything approaching 100mm.
Another item I meant to bring but forgot (Hence, the utility of lists.) was the red-dot sight.
I'd say that the OM-1 was a lot livelier in terms of grabbing focus, but the targets remain the biggest challenge.
But both cameras were far more successful at getting good captures than I'd been two years ago with the E-M1 Mk2.
I need more practice. The gear is fine.
Swallow in flight
12:01 Sunday, 26 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 86.2°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 7mph
Shot this sitting on the dock yesterday afternoon with the Olympus OM-D E-M1x and the 12-100mm/f4 zoom. Used the bird recognition auto-focus, which requires continuous auto-focus with tracking. It was a bit hit or miss, but these birds are fast and highly maneuverable.
Also, posting this from the dock using my iPhone as a hot spot. Had more than the usual difficulty getting the MBP to pair with the iPhone, but finally got it squared away.
It's warm and breezy and I'm enjoying the sound of the water lapping away on the shore.
Note to Self:
10:12 Sunday, 26 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 84.52°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 5.99mph
Don't go on vacation with a beta version of the OS on your only computer.
I've seldom had problems using developer betas of Mac OS. Ventura has been mostly benign, but I've encountered a new problem today that's a bit of a puzzler.
I use a USB-C hub to give me access to an SD card reader and USB-A ports. Ventura adds a layer of peripheral security, wherein you may require authorization before a connected peripheral functions.
Well, I successfully used my Satechi USB-C hub to import photos from the SD card in my Panasonic Lumix LX7. I just now tried to import images from my Olympus XZ-1. It failed from the SD card reader, and it failed when I connected the camera to the USB-A port, a method that was always a kind of fail-safe.
I brought two USB-C hubs with me, the second is a HyperDrive HD28C. It too failed to mount the SD card either in the reader or via a connection to the camera.
I went into system settings and turned off the requirement to approve peripheral connections and rebooted the MBP M1. No change.
System Report shows the card reader with the card inserted on the USB bus with both hubs, but Finder won't mount the volume. So I'm at a loss to understand what the issue may be.
I just tried the 64GB SD card from the LX7 and that mounts just fine. The 64GB card in the LX7 is formatted as ExFAT with content shown as Windows_NTFS. The 16GB card in the XZ-1 is FAT32 formatted with content shown as Windows_FAT_32. I suspect that's the issue, though I don't know.
I think I'll try Disk Utility and see what I can do.
Update: Weirdness continues, but a solution perhaps.
Disk Utility saw the SD card and refused to mount it. First Aid said there was nothing wrong with it. I tried to create a disk image of it to save the limited number of photos I've already taken. "Connection refused by host."
Okay, we'll try the nuclear option. I reformatted the 16GB card as ExFAT and put it in the XZ-1. The XZ-1 can't see it. Hmm... Well, nothing for it, I went back to Disk Utility and reformatted the card again as FAT32. Card mounted and the XZ-1 can record to it.
So I'm not sure what the issue was, but it appears as though I have a card that can be read by both the MBP M1 and the XZ-1 now. Lost some nice shots I took this morning, but c'est la vie.
The beat goes on...
From the Deck
07:18 Sunday, 26 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.58°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 9.22mph
A disclaimer first, I'm not claiming this is a great shot. I'm pretty happy with it, but then, I don't know what I'm doing.
This was shot early this morning, handheld, using the OMDS OM-1 and the mZuiko 8mm/f1.8 fisheye. 10s exposure at f1.8, edited in Photos.
Note was created in Tinderbox using AppleScript.
I downsized the image, and I have some more work to do in that regard, especially given my current bandwidth limitations.
06:19 Sunday, 26 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.78°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 9.22mph
Last leg of the trip was mostly pleasant. Mitzi had a couple of miles of threading a needle. Pennsylvania was doing some work on one lane of the turnpike, and placed a seemingly endless series of little domino-like traffic cones essentially into the right side of the left lane, while the left side of the left lane was a concrete barrier. A real test for keeping your eyes focused straight ahead.
Other than that, and the fact that Rt. 81 is in rougher shape than I recall recently, it was an easy drive.
We switched drivers just before we got into New York and Mitzi started working on a grocery list. She said she wanted to stop if we saw a produce stand. I tend to get tunnel vision and just want to press on to our objective. But she spotted a produce market and we pulled over and were well rewarded for the diversion.
I told her it was awfully early in the season for anything local, but I was wrong. Many growers around here use greenhouses, and there was a fair assortment of fresh produce, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, potatoes and garlic. Mitzi was thrilled.
One of the good things about returning to the same area, if not the same place, a number of times (this is our fifth) is that you become familiar enough with the locality that you don't waste much time figuring out where to get food, lunch, etc.
Our check-in time was 2:00 pm and we were running about 90 minutes ahead of schedule. Despite our successful produce stop, we still had a list of provisions we wanted to get so we wouldn't have to go out again after we checked in. (More about that in a moment.) One of the things we really love around here is a bakery/sandwich place called College Town Bagels. And there's a CTB right next to a P&C grocery story. (There's also an antique store in the same shopping center, which I like!)
And as luck or careful planning would have it, that shopping center was right on our way.
We had a great lunch, I picked up a couple of loaves of fresh bread, Mitzi got a half dozen bagels. She went to P&C while I popped into the antique shop. Or so I thought, I turned around and Mitzi was in the store with me! She didn't stay long, but wanted to see what was available.
I'd bought three slide rules there two years ago. They only had one yesterday and, while it was interesting, its condition kept me from buying it. I did pick up a couple of old wooden rulers. I was hoping for some old radios, but no such luck.
I went over to P&C and helped Mitzi finish the shopping and then headed on to our rented house.
Technically, it's "on the lake." As a practical matter, it's across the road from the lake, with a steep set of stairs down to the dock. But it's lovely. And huge.
But the first thing we noticed as we pulled into the driveway was an outdoor electrical receptacle! I flipped the RAV4 around so it's receptacle was on the same side and after we unloaded the car, we plugged it in to recharge. Gas is nearly $5 a gallon here in New York, but we'll need very little during our stay, at least here on the lake.
The house is huge and lovely, bigger than the place we'd rented before on the winery. There is a view overlooking the lake, and we have neighbors on three sides, though there's a decent amount of separation.
What we don't have is a lot of the modern networked amenities we're accustomed to. At the winery place, there was no internet service. So I relied on using my phone as a hot spot, even upgrading my AT&T service to allow "unlimited" data use. Here, the owner has internet access, but I'm pretty sure it's DSL. About 5Mbps downstream 300Kbps upstream. Since most of my photos live in the cloud, that's going to be problematic.
What might have been a solution, using the iPhone as a hot spot, is also problematic. Since I left AT&T because they supported right-wing, antidemocratic, pro-fascist OAN, and joined Mitzi on T-Mobile, I've had spotty cell coverage. So it is here. There's a spot in the living room where I can get one bar, but most of the house is a dead zone. I can get two bars of LTE down at the dock. I may bring the laptop down there and try my luck.
I may also switch back to AT&T, because T-Mobile's coverage, while great in large urban areas, is very spotty elsewhere. I hate to do it, but given this experience and our experience out west last spring, you just don't get to take advantage of all the capabilities of the phone without a network that can support it.
I suspect most of the places around the lake don't have cable, and therefore must rely on DSL or perhaps Elon Musk's Starlink. But for now I guess it's "party like it's 1999."
The dock is wonderful. Newly constructed with a covered area. Barn swallows have taken up residence there and didn't much care for our presence yesterday. That was the case at the winery place as well, so I'll get some practice trying to photograph Barn Swallows in fight. Got a couple yesterday that might be keepers.
Mitzi got in the water yesterday, said it was cold be she got used to it. I'll probably get in today ("He said, confidently."), I did bring a pair of trunks.
Despite our stated desire not to have to get back into the car after we'd checked in, Mitzi got into the car and drove about a mile down the road to a winery. What's the point of vacationing in wine country without getting some? The car was already at about half capacity, so that little jaunt used no gas. We plugged it back in and the battery is fully charged now, we can pretty much go to any of the places we like to go around here and never use gas.
We were tired last night so we went to bed early, before the stars were out. Sunset was at 2045. I got up around 0200 to see what the sky looked like. Took a few shots. I'll post one later if I can.
I've been off Twitter since we left, only uploading a screenshot of the weather app showing it was 99°F in North Carolina where we'd stopped for gas. My email blew up when the Roe decision was announced. But, for the most part, I've been successfully avoiding all the political news.
Mitzi's brother and sister-in-law arrive in a couple of days. And maybe her daughter and son-in-law with their newborn, though that's very much up in the air. For now though, we have the place to ourselves.
I plan to enjoy it.
06:51 Saturday, 25 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 82.45°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 9.22mph
Last leg of the trek north. Spent the night before last in Ocean City, Maryland. Stayed at a B&B recently purchased by a young couple, our reservation overlapped the previous owners. Place was built in 1927. It was fine for one night, and it was charming in a way. I feel a little anxious for the young couple that bought it. Place is going to need a lot of maintenance.
The boardwalk was interesting. Busy. Looked as though it had been recently renovated. The usual kinds of attractions and retailers. We went north from our place on 5th street, eventually winding up at an Italian restaurant, DaVinci's. We took a chance on it and it was a very nice surprise. Although it doesn't look like much, the food is excellent. Not inexpensive, but not outrageous either.
Walked off dinner and went back to our room. Tried to watch the latest Dr. Strange installment. Kept buffering and the TV would change inputs on its own every now and then, and the audio was ridiculous. If you turned it up enough to hear the dialog over the window AC, the effects scenes would shake the walls. Got the gist of it though. Meh.
The group in the house next door was up partying past 2:00 a.m. Mitzi slept right through it.
Got up early the next morning and walked south. Weather wasn't great, wouldn't have seen the sunrise if we'd been up for it anyway. But the beach was mostly empty and the boardwalk was largely just exercise people, bicyclists and the public works people who clean up.
We'd planned to spend part of the day in Ocean City, but the clouds were moving in and it didn't seem like it offered much so we got in the car and went on our way.
Mitzi looked at the map and decided that Wilmington, Delaware would be a nice place to stop and have a late lunch, check out this riverwalk they'd created. Good call. Had lunch at a seafood place, Big Fish something, and spent a couple of hours walking up and down the river. Weather was beautiful and it was a lovely place.
Back on the road at 3:00 p.m. We only had 79 miles to go, but Siri was showing it would take about two hours and fifteen minutes. Ended up taking over two and a half hours. At one point, Siri announced "Accident ahead, save 20 minutes by taking an alternate route." It gives you about 15 seconds to decide, and it doesn't give you any sort of preview of the route it planned, so I rolled the dice and agreed to take the alternate route.
In hindsight, I think it was a mistake. It may ultimately have saved us some time, we'll never know. But the route was absurd. We drove through little side roads, never spending more than a mile and a half on any one, often turning within 600 feet of making the previous turn. All on two-lane roads with hills and blind curves and 30mph limits. And it seems as if there were more than a few people getting routing advice from Apple Maps, though the number diminished as the absurdity went on.
We finally got back on 476 and ended up in stop and go traffic due to a construction lane merge that wasn't shown on the route. All in all, it was pretty stressful and unsatisfactory.
About three hours left to go. We've never gone this way before, so I have no idea what traffic may be like. It's Saturday, so hopefully it'll just be weekend traffic. We go through Binghamton, but we're not going to stop. Check-in isn't until two, so we'll probably just stop in Ithaca, have lunch and walk around.
All in all, it hasn't been bad taking this "scenic route." Yesterday was a pain, but for the most part it's been benign. We'll be spending a week in Kingston, NY at the end of our vacation, and then we're doing a forced march two days home. It seems like we'll have to pass through this congested northeast corridor again, so I'm not looking forward to that. We'll see. No sense worrying about it now.
Weather Recording Will Be Unreliable
18:02 Wednesday, 22 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 89.17°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 56% Wind: 5.99mph
The marmot is set up to report weather conditions at its permanent woodchuck hole. So while these posts may be from on the road, the weather conditions reflect Ponte Vedra.
I may, or may not (probably not), look into changing that.
17:41 Wednesday, 22 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 89.71°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 54% Wind: 16.11mph
Mitzi and I hit the road this morning and we're in Smithfield, North Carolina this evening. Got the marmot up and running on the 13" M1 MBP running a beta of MacOS Ventura. Forklift is logged into the server and I should be able to do everything here that I do at home. I have to set up the sync feature on Forklift, but I think that's doable.
I'm hoping to stay off Twitter for the next few weeks. I'll have to satisfy my craving for novelty with RSS feeds, DP Review forums and Apple News.
I think I'm easing into the acceptance stage of becoming an old man. The adaptive cruise control on the RAV4 was a help. I set it at the speed limit and just stayed in the right lane until I got behind a semi going uphill. Mitzi subscribes to Sirius, so we set it on a Motown station and I just cruised along and let traffic pass me.
Georgia Patrol was out in force though. I think I saw more cops on 95 in Georgia than I have in years, and they were pulling people over left and right. Fine with me.
We stopped at a rest area in South Carolina, had a nice picnic lunch.
Tomorrow we're stopping in the Tidewater area to visit an attraction or two, and a Naval Academy classmate's nonprofit. He runs a shop where at-risk youth learn to build and sail wooden boats. Pretty cool, looking forward to seeing it.
Then over the 20-mile bridge and up the DELMARVA peninsula on our way to Ocean City for another pit stop.
Well, let's see if this thing really works... More to follow.
One More Thing
09:21 Monday, 20 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 83.3°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 11.5mph
My internet of things issue seems to be resolved for now, though I don't have a great deal of confidence.
I'll worry about that next month.
09:05 Monday, 20 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 82.49°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 5.99mph
Just a couple of more tweaks, but the previous post was created entirely by AppleScript using Photos and Tinderbox.
Right now, I'm still running from Script Debugger because, well, attention to detail and all that.
I'd hoped to do this yesterday, but got overtaken by events and I really have other things I should be doing right now, but I just wanted to get this done.
My first attempt failed because in my Sandbox mockup, the script didn't seem to need or want the .tbx file extension on the document name. So I omitted it in the production script.
It wanted the .tbx extension.
Second attempt failed. Gah!
Stepping through Script Debugger, it's failing at finding the path of the new note. I don't see anything obvious.
Take a breath.
Okay, I head over to the forum to ask for help. I didn't want to upload the marmot for people to poke at, so I tried describing what I was observing as I ran Script Debugger. Then I realized I could make a screen recording and perhaps they could see what I was missing.
So I set up Quicktime Player to record the screen with narration. Hit record and start the little demo.
As I'm walking my potential viewers through what I'm observing, I finally observed what was right before my eyes the whole time!
I omitted the 2022 from the June archive note. Because of course it's June 2022!
Attention to detail. It'll get you every time.
Anyway, a few things left. I'm beginning to think I may be able to automate the whole workflow, such that I just select a photo I want to post and then start the automation and the whole thing proceeds hands-off from there. From Photos to the marmot on the web, just like IG or Twitter.
But, kind of exciting.
Last Moon of Spring
09:00 Monday, 20 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 82.49°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 5.99mph
Allow Me to Digress
08:00 Sunday, 19 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 78.46°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 3mph
I had a different sort of plan for this morning, but plans often don't work out. I got distracted by a repeating wifi issue with one of my "internet of things" devices, one which happens to be relatively important. I thought I had it fixed, but it keeps repeating, so a more thorough approach is necessary and I don't have time for that now.
But as a result of this morning's effort in futility, I don't have time for the other things I'd planned to do either.
Happily, a walk always seems to help put things back into perspective.
We're about to go on vacation. When we get back next month, I'm going to undertake a little project with Tinderbox to try and bring some order and sanity to what I somewhat ironically refer to as our "smart house."
There are a plethora of devices connected to our network, and they all require passwords and so on. For the most part, they all "just work." But, occasionally, "stuff happens."
So, to help me figure out what's going on, I think I'm going to make a floor plan of the house and use it as a background in a map view of a Tinderbox document for the house.
And then I'm going to create a note for each device on the network. Each note will contain all the relevant bits of information, except possibly the password. (Note to self: Does Hook link to passwords in Keychain Manager?)
One piece of data will be a record of the RSSI (received signal strength indicator) figure for the device, on at least the day I created the note. It may not be a strictly accurate figure, because I'll be getting it from my iPhone, not the device itself. But it'll be a benchmark and if that device ever acts up, I can look at the RSSI on my phone at the device and see if there's been a decrease in signal strength.
At least, I hope I can.
RF energy propagation is a dynamic thing. It's interesting. I can listen to an HD station from my local public radio station if I'm sitting at my office desk as I am now. If I sit in my recliner in my office, about five feet to the right and behind me, I lose that signal. The recliner is in a corner between the two windows in the office. I can still get the FM analog broadcast, but there's enough data loss in the digital signal that the radio won't decode it, it just goes mute.
As we move things about in the house I don't know that it doesn't sometimes affect the wifi signal. The device I'm struggling with is working, but it's become intermittent. I don't understand exactly how it's designed to work, because I thought that if it's just the signal going in and out, it'd just reconnect automatically when it received the signal. But it just goes offline and I have to "talk" to it to get it to get back online. So I'll need to look into how the device is supposed to behave, which probably means talking to the vendor, because it's not in their documentation.
I'm disinclined to believe that there's something wrong with the device, if they fail, they usually just fail completely. It's in a remote part of the house, so I think it may be a signal strength issue. I recently added an Airport Express I had lying around to try to extend the coverage in the garage, and everything worked as reliably as before; but now I'm wondering.
Anyway, I despair that everything is getting far too complex. Certainly, my patience and tolerance for fiddling with these things isn't what it was when I was a younger man, and I didn't have as many of them as I do today either. It's likely that my unhappiness is, as usual, entirely of my own creation.
I recall a little "poster" an officer who enjoyed Apple II computers as much as I did made, with his computer, back in 1983:
"With my personal computer I can now do, much faster, things I never had to do at all before."
Welp. Let me amend the above. Apparently Apple, in its infinite wisdom, doesn't allow apps to display the RSSI of the wifi signal. All the apps do is measure network speed. Jesus.
A little later...
I can use the MacBook Pro, and the figure I get is the same as another device on the network that does report RSSI from that location, so that's good to know. The other device isn't mobile.
Just Enough to Feel Stupid
08:10 Saturday, 18 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 80.02°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 8.05mph
I'm not a programmer, a "coder." I know a little bit about programming. I've certainly read a lot about it. Took a course called "Calculus with computers" my plebe year at the Naval Academy. That was two 5-hour "D"s I never really recovered from. Many years later I took a 100-level programming course in Pascal. I actually enjoyed that. And, I spent many years typing in Applesoft BASIC programs from magazines in one of the many Apple IIs I've owned over the years.
So, I know a little bit about programming. And most of it is probably more than 30 years old.
One of the things I kinda know about programming is that data, the stuff you want the program to work on, has a type. Computers are not smart, so you have to be very explicit in what you're telling them to do, so they have to know what kind of thing it is you want them to work on.
Examples of types are integers, floating point numbers, strings, arrays and so on. Now, I'm going to be talking out my butt here, because, as I said, I'm not a programmer and what little I know is obsolete.
I have the impression that the people who develop programming languages have a goal to make it easier for people. One of the ways they've tried to make it easier is to be less strict, less explicit about things like data types. They're trying to make the compilers and interpreters smart enough to look at the data and figure out what it is themselves. And, who knows? Maybe that's working?
Well, one of my problems getting my head around AppleScript is that it's intended to be almost conversational, human readable. But to me, that just means the computer and I just end up talking past each other.
I kinda/sorta understand objects, they're a data structure and they have various characteristics, called properties, and they all have a type. But since we're so sophisticated now, we don't always say stuff like "string" (which is, usually, text or numbers to be treated as text), we say "text." Okay. Well, now we don't have "arrays" anymore, we have "lists."
I grew up learning about arrays, arrays have a data structure that includes the index value, where or what element of the array you want to work on, and that index value was usually assigned to a variable so you could manipulate it, so the big thing about arrays was the index variables.
Well, again, AppleScript kind of fools you being so conversational. In my case, I had Photos, the app, which is an object. And it contains a bunch of other objects, like folders and albums. But does it contain "photos"? No, it contains "media items," another object. And in media item, was the data I wanted to put into a note in Tinderbox.
So, how to tell Photos what media item I wanted the data from? Well, one way seems to be to just tell it the name of the media item. With >100K images, that takes a certain amount of time to locate. But we're used to selecting data in our apps to copy, paste, export, delete and so on. And so there's an object called a selection. Perfect!
"AppleScript! Do some stuff to the selection!" (Almost typed Applesoft!)
And, of course, nothing happens. Which is why I really don't do more of this kind of thing.
It seems possible, it seems reasonable, it seems like it should work. I must be doing something wrong.
[Omit lengthy description of emotional turmoil that ensues.]
Turns out selection is of type list. In hindsight, I can see where this makes sense. You can select multiple objects and regardless of the number, it's still just the selection.
But AppleScript needs to be told how I want to process this list. I didn't know I had a list. I just had a media item that was my selection.
So it seems, despite being called a list and not an array, the language cares first about its position or index value within the list (array). If you don't tell it how you want to deal with the index, or give it some way to deal with the index, it just stares at you and blinks. (I guess that's not even possible. "Gives you a blank look." Happy now?)
But if you tell it repeat, hah! Then it's happy! Okay, it starts with the first item in the list and goes until it gets to the last one. If it's only one, it's only one! And for oldsters like me, AppleScript doesn't have a zeroeth element, the index always begins at 1. (In Applesoft BASIC, you would dimension an array (tell the interpreter how much space to reserve in memory), but it always started counting at zero. So a 10-element array would have index values from 0 to 9. If you didn't know that, you'd try to address the 10th element of the array with an index variable set to the number 10 and you'd get an error. "Out of range," I think. Can't recall.) (And there was an unmatched paren there just now. Fixed it. But, attention to detail is another aspect of programming that challenges me.)
So, big lesson is still to really pay attention to data types, and don't be fooled by the "conversational" bullshit.
In this way, I think these languages kind of make programming less accessible. But I'm just a grumpy old man.
Anyway, my little script works now. Mostly. Have one thing left to sort out and I'll put it into production.
06:09 Saturday, 18 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 78.76°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 9.22mph
Note that it is nearly 79°F outside this morning. That's partly because it's a bit cloudy, so radiative cooling is less effective. It also means I can't get a handheld hi-res shot of the moon this morning.
That temperature is from the National Weather Service, I just checked my home Wx station, and it's 77°F here, so "Yay!" I guess.
We bought a Fluke IR thermometer to measure the temperature of a pizza stone in a little propane pizza oven we bought. I've been using it lately to measure the temperature of the exterior of the house. It's possible that the readings may be a little off because I don't know exactly what the emissivity of these surfaces are, but they're close enough and I'm really just interested in the differences.
When I step outside the front door in the evening, I'm immediately hit with heat radiating from the walls of the house. You can tell it's not just the air temp, it's the radiative cooling of the stucco walls.
So I was curious the other day, and in the late afternoon, after the sun been shining on those walls for a while, I took some measurements. The wall proper is painted a dark reddish color, while the trim is an off white. The wall measured 135°F, the lighter trim 110°, a 25 degree difference!
The interior wall of the garage on the opposite side was 95°, while the air in the garage was 94°, so there's fairly good agreement between two different sensors. The interior of the wall inside the house was 84°, while the air temperature was 77°, which is what the thermostat is set at.
The walls are insulated, so they seem to be doing a fairly decent job, slowing heat transfer from the exterior wall to the interior. The reason why the house must be actively cooled is because insulation alone doesn't do enough. Without the AC, the interior of the outside walls of the house would be the same as the garage, 95° and what the AC is doing is removing the heat that's being radiated into the house from the interior of the outside walls.
So while the AC cools the air to 77°, the walls remain at 84/85° radiating that heat into the interior, so the air temperature rises and the AC comes on to cool it back down.
To me, the AC runs a lot. It's an efficient unit, but it has a big job to do. If the exterior was painted a lighter color, it wouldn't have to work as hard. What I don't know is how much of a difference it would make. I'm inclined to believe it would be fairly significant.
I mentioned this to Mitzi, that we might think about repainting the house a lighter color whenever it comes time to repaint. She wasn't pleased, she loves the color of the house, which is something I really don't care about.
I think building codes should be revised to mandate painting homes in hot and sunny regions lighter, more reflective colors.
Got the Moderna booster on Thursday. My three previous vaccine doses were all the Pfizer product, I decided to get a Moderna booster on the chance that a different product might offer an enhanced level of protection, though neither is especially effective against Omicron.
None of the Pfizer doses left me with any noteworthy side effects. I think my arm was sore on the third one. Moderna was a different story. Didn't sleep well at all Thursday night, headache and general achiness (evidently, that's not a word). Friday was similar, though Tylenol took much of the edge off. Feeling normal today. But, grateful for the booster, whatever help it offers.
That's it for now. A walk is waiting for me.
As I Was Saying
18:51 Wednesday, 15 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 88.95°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 10.36mph
Since Mitzi isn't here, she's up in DC with her newest grandson, and my temporary houseguest, Dozer, my neighbor's dog, has gone home, I guess I'll talk to you. I'm tired of Twitter today.
I watched a movie called, Their Finest last night. I'd link to, I don't know, something, but everything is just so commercial now.
So I just did a Get Info on the file in the AppleTV app on my Mac, then used TextSniper to grab some relevant text I can reformat:
Their Finest, directed by Lone Scherfig, starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, written by Gaby Chiappe.
A 2017 drama from BBC Films
Then I copied this from the general information screen in the AppleTV app:
"The year is 1940, London. With the nation bowed down by war, the British ministry turns to propaganda films to boost morale at home. Realizing their films could use 'a woman's touch,' the British Ministry of Information hires Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) as scriptwriter in charge of writing the female dialogue. Although her artist husband looks down on her job, Catrin's natural flair quickly gets her noticed by cynical, witty lead scriptwriter Buckley (Sam Claflin). Catrin and Buckley set out to make an epic feature film based on the Dunkirk rescue starring the gloriously vain, former matinee idol Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy). As bombs are dropping all around them, Catrin, Buckley and their colorful cast and crew work furiously to make film that will warm the hearts of the nation."
Yeah, I'd call it more like a romantic dramedy. It was good, and Bill Nighy had some great lines. If you watch movies with closed captions turned on, you'll laugh when it says "Jet fighters roar overhead."
It's good. Not too much to bear in these overwrought times. A worthwhile diversion with some good performances.
Night before last I rented Last Looks. Usually, I pass on anything with Mel Gibson in it, just because I can't watch him without thinking about who he is. But he's not the lead, so it was tolerable, and it was a $.99 rental.
"Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam) is an ex-LAPD superstar who left the force and now lives a life of simplicity and solitude deep in the woods. Alistair Pinch (Mel Gibson) is an eccentric actor who spends his days drunk on the set of his TV show. When Pinch's wife is found dead, he is the prime suspect and Waldo is convinced to come out of retirement to investigate what happened. The case finds Waldo contending with gangsters, Hollywood executives and pre-school teachers, all in pursuit of clearing Pinch's name or confirming his guilt."
It was entertaining. I hadn't figured out whodunit, but I confess, I wasn't paying especially close attention. But another amusing diversion, if you're in need of either.
Some Assembly Required
18:07 Wednesday, 15 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 89.62°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 5.99mph
Sometimes, things that seem like they ought to be easy are really kind of hard. You can see the big pieces, and you know how they ought to work, but there are a lot of little tiny pieces, well, small pieces anyway, that have to get put together just so, for the thing to work.
One thing about programming, I don't care what language, it demands a lot of attention to detail. When you spend most of your day just pointing and clicking, that isn't a skillset that gets exercised.
And then there are these little idiosyncratic quirks that seem to exist just to bug you, because you have to account for them somehow.
What I'm trying to accomplish is to build a little custom workflow that will take an image from my Photos library, export it to a folder, and then automatically generate a note in Tinderbox with all the necessary html already written for me. About the only thing I'd have to do is enter some text beneath the photo (more about that in a second, so hold that thought), hit Export and then tell Forklift to sync the site's local folders with the server.
It may be premature, but I think I've got most of the pieces working. At least, I'm getting the computer to do some things for me that I haven't been able to do before. In pieces, not the whole chain.
One idiosyncrasy that bugs me is Photos changes the filename suffix of an exported photo from .jpg to .jpeg. So if you use AppleScript to grab the filename from Photos, and stick it in a variable that you can send to another app, that'll be the correct filename for the image as it came from the camera. But when you tell Photos to use the filename as the filename for the exported photo, that filename will not be the correct filename as it came from the camera. The camera uses the three letter extension ".jpg" and Photos just does its own thing and appends a four letter ".jpeg" extension to the exported file.
Now, I can fix this with a little Hazel re-name action, or I could do with with a Folder Action from AppleScript, but it's just one more moving part that might fail one day.
It's fits and starts with this stuff. I spent most of Monday working on this, thinking I'd just stick with it until it was done. Mostly it was an exercise in frustration.
One little breakthrough in that "attention to detail" thing is that in an object-oriented model, first you tell the app, then you tell the document, then you tell the note in the document.
Otherwise the document just looks at you like, "You talkin' to me? I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're saying."
Pounding on the keyboard is kind of like raising your voice. Works about as well.
So now I just do a little bit and then quit. I'd say I'm about 60% of the way there, but I'm sure it's a Pareto thing, the last 40% will probably take forever.
Anyway, those two test images are huge, so the page loads slowly. That's something I'll pay more attention to later. Just know I know.
And the beat goes on...
Oh, almost forgot. So, Photos gives you the option to put a Caption in an image, which, naturally the AppleScript dictionary for Photos calls a description, because of course it does. Accessible html calls for "alt" text, a description (there's that word again) of the image for text-to-speech page readers for the visually impaired.
I'm not certain how useful or helpful my descriptions will be, but since I can access that text programmatically through AppleScript, that'll become the alt text in the html that gets assembled.
I expect that sometimes I'll just post a picture and maybe it should speak for itself. Since most of my stuff isn't that good, I'll probably offer some excuses for it in the text of the note. Which I don't mind. At least I'm not writing all that fiddly html nonsense that demands attention to detail.
18:01 Wednesday, 15 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 90.54°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 9.22mph
Another exercise to try to figure out the best way to do this...
11:55 Wednesday, 15 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 89.89°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 63% Wind: 1.99mph
A little exercise to try to remember how to post an image here.
06:10 Tuesday, 14 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 78.46°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 8.05mph
June 14th? My experience of time is becoming a blur.
I'll note that it's 78°F outside at 6:00 a.m. I'm looking forward to heading up to Cayuga Lake in a week or so.
Spent a good deal of Sunday and Monday playing around in Script Debugger, trying to cobble together a workflow to make posting pics here at the Marmot as simple as it is from a share sheet in Photos. I'm making progress, but it's tricky and often frustrating.
Less frustrating than reading the news though. So that's nice.
Mitzi's up in DC with her newest grandson. I'm looking after my neighbor's dog while they're up in New York, burying her father.
Well, I'd better get a walk in before the sun gets too high.
12:57 Saturday, 11 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 89.2°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 63% Wind: 12.66mph
This is assembled from a long Twitter thread I posted some time ago, prompted by the matter of faithlessness on the part of many of our elected representatives. I figured I'd assemble it into a post. It's been edited, something which is difficult in a twitter thread. It's not great writing by any stretch. Just didn't want it to disappear in the twitterverse.
Finally, this never appeared on the home page, as I just got around to exporting it today, the 14th of June, Flag Day.
An oath is intended to be a kind of firewall. A barrier between your duty and your base instincts. It’s taken publicly, to add a measure of social pressure. But none of that means anything if people don’t know that, if there is no value placed on an oath, a solemn promise.
It’s one of those things we take for granted. We think we know what it means, though we’ve never really had to think about it. Mostly we associate it with giving testimony in a court of law. Or maybe a marriage vow.
And not all oaths have the same scope, the same ramifications.
Betraying a marriage vow is a personal failing or betrayal. The consequences are limited to your family; and they’re largely who you're accountable to, and God, maybe, if you’re a believer.
Betraying an oath of office, is a much larger failing, a greater betrayal. If oaths matter
Of course nobody’s born knowing this. I took an oath to become a midshipman at 18 years of age in 1975. I knew what the words meant, but did I know what the oath meant? No. How could I?
I took it again four years later, did it have greater meaning for me then? Nope.
Never really thought about it. Too busy with being a 22-year-old, worrying about what came next, figuring out how to execute my orders. None of that required reflecting on my commissioning oath. Busy!
No. “Meaning” doesn’t exist. We have to make it. Sure, there’s a certain information content we understand. But meaning must be wrestled into existence. If you don’t make the effort, things have no meaning.
Or they can mean anything. “If you don’t stand for something, you’re gonna fall for anything .”
And nobody can tell you what something means. You have to figure it out for yourself.
Oh, they’ll try; but at best, it’s a guide. Kinda like this pointless thread. Again, meaning doesn’t exist until you make it. Life itself is inherently meaningless.
It’s in the conscious act of living that we bring meaning to life. And we’re pretty unconscious these days.
But, if you’re lucky, if you live long enough, if you realize that thing inside your skull has some purpose other than troubling you, you might figure it out as you go along. That’s what I did.
That’s why I say that introspection is a subversive act.
A lot of folks would really not have people spend much time thinking about the meaning of things, the meaning of their lives.
They’d rather just tell you. Easier to get you to behave, fall in line, do the things that they want you to do.
They definitely don’t want people thinking about what an oath means. Let alone ideas about “the public interest,” or the “public trust.”
Those things don’t exist either. They’re abstractions, they exist only in our minds, and then only insofar as we’re mindful of them.
But we’re not mindful much these days. Not conscious. In fact, being “woke” is a pejorative! Amazing.
So, consciousness, mindfulness, they're essential to making meaning.
But how do you actually “make” meaning?
Well, you actually, physically make it. By your actions. Your choices.
What’s that about? Turns out, if you think about it a lot, the only power in life is the power to choose. Most of our behavior is habituated. Thinking requires a lot of energy, and you couldn’t make it out of bed in the morning if you had to think about every little step.
(So make good habits.)
But there are moments in your life, many it turns out, when you can make a choice, you can exercise your power.
You don’t always have to. You can just go with the habituated response, there usually is one.
But that’s a choice too.
So if you make a conscious choice, or a habituated one, you’re making meaning. Even if it means very little, or nothing. A conscious choice is more meaningful, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. I mean, many people often regret some of their conscious choices.
We call those, “mistakes.” But chances are, you can make fewer mistakes with practice and proper preparation.
Jesus, this is getting long.
Anyway, preparation is what you believe in, your values. They don’t exist either. They’re abstractions.
They only exist insofar as they inform your choices, your actions. So, again, it pays to think about them so you know what they are so they can help you make the meaning you want in your life.
This action, informed by your values, your beliefs, is called “keeping faith.”
The binding opposites that form the harmony of existence, the yin and yang of conscious apprehension of self-consciousness are faith and fear. One says yes, the other says no. All of existence is the negation of nothingness, an affirmation, an act of faith.
Being and nothingness.
Faith and fear.
What do you believe? What does that mean? If your beliefs don’t inform your actions, do they mean anything?
An oath is a solemn promise. Does it mean anything?
That’s up to you.
Finally (hopefully), love is faith in action. The first derivative of faith.
Courage is love in action, the second derivative of faith. (I like math.)
Honor is made (action) from faith, love and courage.
If you don’t have those, you have no honor. Your life, means little.
The good news is, as long as you’re breathing, you have a choice.
You have the power to make your life meaningful.
Many do far worse, embracing fear and anger and hate.
But, I’m an authority on nothing. I made all this shit up.
Do your own thinking.
06:36 Friday, 10 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 75.87°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 8.05mph
The previous post should be filed under "Blinding Glimpses of the Obvious."
And, it's 76°F outside! (Humidity? A moist 91%)
Yeesh. Here we go again.
04:51 Friday, 10 June 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 76.84°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 10.36mph
I watched the January 6 hearing last night. I think they did a good job putting together a comprehensive picture of the immediate events leading up to the attempted coup by Donald Trump and his lackeys. I was impressed by Liz Cheney.
That's about it for my hot take. Instead, I'm going to write about something that's been on my mind a lot lately, both because of national events, but especially because of local ones.
Mitzi and I have been watching the Ken Burns documentary about the Roosevelts. It's very good. And we've both been doing a lot of reading about history, American and German, in my case. And it's disquieting to observe the types of people and personalities attracted to politics. It seems to attract mainly two kinds of people. There's a third, but I think they're, at most, about 20% of the people seeking public office, perhaps less.
The first are people with a strong personal ambition to make a name for themselves. By that I mean they seem to want their identities to be widely known and, hopefully, respected. They're driven by ego and something else in their character that craves public attention and recognition.
The second group are really attracted to power. They want power for themselves or, for some, to be in the presence of power, in order to be perceived as someone with influence. It's not the achievement of office, it's the trappings of authority of office.
There's really very little difference between them, other than the ones who crave power seem to be the ones who are more ruthless, less constrained by considerations other than the practical limitations to acquiring and exercising power; things like ethics, or the law. How they use their power seems to define how they're regarded in their time and by history. Those are not always congruent.
The third group includes people who seem to have a genuine wish to be of service. People who see an issue of public interest, and want to help address it, because they find it personally rewarding or interesting. It's less a question of personal ambition, or a desire for power, more one of seeing something that needs or ought to be done, and believing they have the ability and opportunity to help do it. Ego and ambition are necessary, as is the authority of office; but they aren't the central, driving motivation.
To be sure, all politicians share similar elements, in different proportions, but that makes an important difference.
You don't succeed in politics without a powerful ego that can not only withstand public attention, but thrive in it. You don't succeed in politics without exercising authority in some way to reward the people who helped you achieve office. You don't succeed in politics without making it clear to those who can help you that you will help them. And the people who "help" you succeed in politics are usually not the voters.
I think it's possible, perhaps likely, that those who are motivated more by personal ambition, or by a wish to be of public service, will ultimately become people driven by power.
Maybe most of them do.
Not all politicians are leaders. All public offices have a leadership role, but it seems most politicians fail to recognize it. The presidency is probably the only office that seems to have an intrinsic leadership element. Even so, I'd say few presidents have been genuine leaders. Leadership is risky business.
This is probably not news to anyone who has paid attention to history or politics. I seldom did, and when I did, it was superficially. Current events have given us all a lot to reflect upon.
That's all for now.