Jen and I ventured out to the AT&T store today to have our individual plans combined into one family plan. Some back of the envelope math revealed that we’ve been paying too much individually when we could combine our bill and get a decent discount. The representative at the store suffered from an annoying speech impediment, so understanding what she was telling us was difficult at least. What we saw on the initial bill changes drastically when the phone company adds all of their taxes and fees and charges and double-secret fines, so our takeaway is that we might save some money, but we might not save a whole lot. It remains to be seen.

While we were there I pulled the trigger on a new 64GB iPhone 6. AT&T has three different ways to buy a phone: the standard subsidy model, the buy-it-outright model, and something they call AT&T Next, which is supposed to be geared towards a two-year upgrade plan, but seemed like bullshit to me. The rep couldn’t explain it well enough for me to understand, so I opted for the subsidy. Of course, they didn’t have a phone for me to take home, so I’ve got to wait until the middle of this week to have it delivered. In the meantime I’m going to have Amazon send me a case, because I’ve heard they’re very easy to drop on their own. Then my trusty, slow 4s will be unlocked and sold on Craigslist, where it looks like I can get anywhere from $125-175 for it. It pays to take care of your equipment.


I sat down with my UMBC advisor on Saturday and went over the synopsis of the class, which seems pretty cut and dry. I’m still a wee bit nervous but I think it’s going to be good. My one worry is the amount of time I’ll need to spend on the road, which is going to take me away from the office at a very busy time. We’ve been going nonstop since last summer, and it’s going to take a lot of work to keep on top of everything.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to brush up on some reading and find some bits of inspiration to offer the class. The heavy hitters will be

Thinking With Type, Ellon Lupton
Designing With Type, James Craig
Canon, Massimo Vignelli

There are many more I want to add here; I need to spend some time going through our library and pick out some other heroes.


Peer Pressure got run up for the first time in two weeks on Saturday, and I took her downtown and back (a short trip). My intention has been to get out into the garage and get some work done on her, but it’s just been too goddamn cold.


I brewed a batch of Conundrum Session IPA last night, which went smooth and easy, up until the point I ran out of ice. I made up the rest of the water amount with our Brita pitcher and set it out on the back porch to cool down for an hour, which did the job pretty well. This batch has 3 oz. of hops, which means the bottom 2″ of the fermenter is nothing but sludge. Hopefully the yeast will kick in tonight and I’ll get a replacement for my current keg going.The Irish Stout hasn’t moved since I brewed it in November, so I’ll transfer that to the secondary this afternoon and clean up the pail. And I think I’ll buy a Hefeweizen kit this week and get that one started so that the kegs are full and fresh when the weather starts warming up.

Date posted: January 19, 2015 | Filed under art/design, brewing, geek | Leave a Comment »

Linda, this one is for you:

Free Han Solo in Carbonite Replica, from Craigslist.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 12.57.34 PM

Date posted: January 15, 2015 | Filed under geek, humor | 1 Comment »

File this under things to do when I’ve got some spare time: Computerworld has a handy article for Removing your personal info from data brokers. Looks like some time and effort is needed, but that’s to be expected.

Date posted: November 30, 2014 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

From the Wirecutter/Sweethome: Helpful Gear for Any Emergency. I found a nice alternative to the $100 tactical flashlight I was recommended, as well as a highly-ranked first aid kit to replace the janky one I’ve had since 2000.

Date posted: November 18, 2014 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it.

No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.

Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment.

No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee.

I’m shocked it’s taken this long to state these ideas so clearly, but YES.

via Net Neutrality: President Obama’s Plan for a Free and Open Internet.

Date posted: November 11, 2014 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I spent some downtime on the train over the last couple of weeks entering numbers into Excel to see where our energy dollars have been going over the last number of years. I have paper statements up until 2010, which is where I stopped (in preparation for scanning and shredding), and I put in our charges for electricity, gas, and the average temperature as provided by BGE. Natural gas prices in the winter have been the biggest cost by far; electricity goes up as we run A/C units but overall it doesn’t see the same peaks and valleys as natural gas.

Print

The downward trend in 2010 is interesting, and I’d like to see where that goes if I add data from 2011 onward, or if it’s an anomaly of some kind. Guess I’ve got to see if BGE will let me download bills from that far backwards or not…

Date posted: November 4, 2014 | Filed under geek, house | Leave a Comment »

I loaded Yosemite onto my work laptop yesterday morning, figuring it would make a great test case for the rest of the machines I run (my home laptop, Jen’s laptop, a workstation under my desk, client machines, etc.) and overall it’s pretty nice. My work laptop is a Retina 13″ with an SSD, so installation took about 10 minutes and everything looks wonderful. It seems to be fast, there’s no performance hit with anything I can see, and all my apps seem to be running just fine (Adobe Creative Cloud, CS6, Office 2011, and a handful of utility apps I depend upon). The real test will be the aforementioned laptops–my home machine is an early 2010 model MacBook Pro which might not like as many of the visual improvements in Yosemite.


If you like data visualization, this book is like drinking from a firehouse.

Amazon delivered my copy of Information is Beautiful this morning, and I can testify, it is, indeed, beautiful. An entire book of charts, graphs, and visuals well-designed and displayed, about a huge range of subjects. Go to the site, absorb some of the work, and buy the book. It’s well worth the money.


Monday night I went out to the garage and started running wire to the ceiling for overhead lighting. Currently it’s a mishmash of plugin fluorescent fixtures scrounged from my old job run off extension cords, and I’ve dreamed of simply having a switch next to the door to light the space since we moved in. I ran wire from the panel to a new switchbox near the door and then started fishing wire up to the ceiling, then stopped because I wanted to make sure I was running the wire correctly. It’s looking like I’m on the right track based on this diagram, so I’ll continue getting things in place in preparation for buying the fixtures and a new breaker.

Date posted: October 22, 2014 | Filed under apple, art/design, geek, projects | Leave a Comment »

I shot another video interview this week at work, in less than optimal conditions (about 3 hours of advance notice, overcast weather) and it turned out pretty well. I’m getting the video portion dialed in, having practiced a lot on my own and helping my friend Dave shoot an event last week. The audio is the thing that’s bugging me. I’ve got the subjects miked up correctly, feeding into a high-quality recorder, but the results aren’t what I was expecting.

IMG_5690

The audio I got today was low quality. So bad, in fact, that I was afraid I’d made a technical mistake and was pulling the audio in from the built-in mic on the recorder and not the lav mic on my subject. (In order to boost recording levels on the Zoom H4N, you have to select the input device before changes will stick, and I was afraid I’d switched the inputs). I futzed with the levels in Final Cut Pro but didn’t like the results, and brought the original clip into Audacity to boost the levels, clean the garbage out, and split the signal. Once I’d done that the results were much cleaner and I was ready to sync it to video.

So, I’ve got to run some tests on my recorders to see what the issue is. I have a Roland R-09 as a backup, so I’m going to do a 1-1 comparison on recording levels to see what’s what.

Date posted: October 17, 2014 | Filed under geek, WRI | Leave a Comment »

I got an email a couple of days ago about my Flickr Pro account. It’s time to renew my account, which is fine; I’ve been a member for nine years and I’m very happy overall with Flickr as a service. In years past I’ve been able to renew it with no problem, but 2014 is different. Apparently they’ve gone to some kind of “wallet” construct for their payment services, which means they want to store your payment information (um…OK) and tie it to your account. Mind you, this is a Flickr wallet. Here’s the issue: There’s no way to apply my card to the bill. When I enter my card information (correctly) into the wallet, I get the cryptic message: “There was an error.”

So, tell me what I’m supposed to do, Yahoo. Do I put my credit card in again? (Did that. Twice. Didn’t work).

Do I click on the Order History links? (they don’t do a fucking thing).

Do I go to Yahoo and log in there and attempt to find my billing information and clear it up there? (Ha, that’s a goddamn joke. I can barely find the “Log In” button, let alone any billing information. And when I did find a link to the billing page, after a goddamn Google search, they had all my old invoices but not the new one).

Here are a couple of entry-level, UI 101, common sense suggestions to the wizards at Yahoo:

  • When there’s an error, tell me clearly what the problem is.
  • Don’t fuck with best practices, especially when it comes to important stuff like payments.
  • Give me some information about what I can do to fix it so that I can give you my money.

So I have to call someone and sit on hold and try to clear it up tomorrow. Stupid fucks.

Date posted: October 16, 2014 | Filed under geek | 3 Comments »

A “golden key” is just another, more pleasant, word for a backdoor—something that allows people access to your data without going through you directly. This backdoor would, by design, allow Apple and Google to view your password-protected files if they received a subpoena or some other government directive.

I don’t allow my local police department to have a key to my house, “just in case”, nor would I ever. Neither should a corporation own a key to my personal data. This shit has to stop.

Date posted: October 9, 2014 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | 2 Comments »