So many windmills

So little time. My newest windmill to tilt against is the “legacy”/old email validation software that looks to see if email address end in .com, .edu, .gov, etc. I have a new .email address that I really like, but gets rejected frequently as an invalid email address.

Damn you entropy, damn you!

While I’m at it, I should complain about the horrible web form “lists of options” – with 50 states, birth years, and the list of countries to choose from. What a horrible design! It is so much easier to type in.

And also… Don’t get me started.

piaware, testing..

I have a piaware (raspberry pi based, ADS-B receiver, for tracking aircraft). I’ve had to swap out the SD card three times (it appears to be fried/corrupt – I tried to repair the first one, but have found that just a fresh one does the trick). I was trying to get lower power raspberry pi, so I swapped the original PI 3B for a PI 3A+. The 3A+ is a smaller footprint, single USB (that’s all I need). Same power supply to both the 3A+ and the 3B and I found the 3A+ would fail sometimes. I had to let it boot then plug in the USB/receiver (too much current draw on boot?). The 3A+ worked mostly, but sometimes it would fail-over. After the third SD failure, I just replaced it with a new one. I hit the raspberry web front end after a day, and the ADS-B failed/died. So I just swapped out the pi back to a 3B.

Illustrated Quantified Life

Having conquered the challenge of home music mostly successfully*, on to the next challenge. I’d like a personal dashboard that pulls various feeds – from WaPo headlines, the Suicide Basin hydrograph, our home solar panel generation, Continental Divide GPS map, our seismic and infrasound sensors, etc.. I’m thinking this may be a job for beautiful soup and python to get the updates (some requiring logins, etc) and pull together the information. I haven’t looked at generating dashboards in a while, so this is a good excuse to dust off those neurons.

*I wanted something that I could upload our collection to (including shows from friends that I’ve recorded, all our purchased CDs, etc) and stream to Carrie and me on multiple devices. I’d prefer free, open source, and non-spyware but I was about to get sent out to the doghouse. I tried google music (fails the spyware, and free, and open-source, and also it doesn’t work – I can’t share my uploads with others in my family). It has to work on my Linux box, so Apple music is out (and I also can’t upload and share). I tried google, uploaded music, and found out I can’t share. For now, we settled on Amazon Music unlimited. We’re already a family Prime member, so this wasn’t too bad. We can’t upload our own music still, but it is better than nothing (and better than google or Apple for now). Not ideal, but the best compromise I could find so far.

@NYTimes obits: 254 females, 524 males

Since I started tracking it here, that is 254 females and 524 males featured. #IfYouSeeSomethingSaySomething

I started tracking the obits here on May 14 02017. I’ve missed a few days when on travel, but this represents about 21 months of New York Times obituaries. I’m going to take a break with this – maybe in a decade I’ll check back and see if things have gotten any better.

Today, February 10, there was 2 female and 1 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Catching up, Feb 2, there was 1 female and 4 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Feb 1, there was 2 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 31, there was 0 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 30, there was 1 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 29, there was 1 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 28, there was 4 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times.

On February 3, there was a special obituary section on “remembering the forgotten” – featuring female and minority obituaries. In addition to the 1 female and 1 male in the regular obituary section, the special section featured 7 females and 6 males.

@NYTimes obits: 235 females, 498 males

Today, January 27, there was 0 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Catching up, yesterday, January 26, there was 1 female and 1 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 22, there was 0 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 23, there was 1 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 21, there was 2 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 20, there was 1 female and 1 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 19, there was 0 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 18, there was 2 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Found a way-back January 11, there was 1 female and 5 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Since I started tracking it here, that is 235 females and 498 males featured. #IfYouSeeSomethingSaySomething

(I started tracking the obits here on May 14 02017, but I’ve missed days when on travel.)

@NYTimes obits: 227 females, 476 males

Today, January 16, there was 2 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Catching up, yesterday, January 15, there was 1 female and 4 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 14, there was 2 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 13, there was 2 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 12, there was 1 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 10, there was 1 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 9, there was 2 female and 4 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 8, there was 1 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. January 5, there was 2 female and 1 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Since I started tracking it here, that is 227 females and 476 males featured. #IfYouSeeSomethingSaySomething

(I started tracking the obits here on May 14 02017, but I’ve missed days when on travel.)

More Quantified

Or, the importance of error bars / confidence levels…

Today I received the Airthings Wave to monitor radon (we are in the western US!) – it is bluetooth to my phone at the moment, but I’ll have to see if I can actually log the data more permanently (maybe a raspberry pi bluetooth? WAHOO!). At any rate, it says we have a radon level of <0.3 (or 0.1 pCi/L) with 32% humidity and a temperature of 71F. Our Ambient weather station (about .75 m away) says 69.1F and 28% humidity.. The usual curse of making more than one measurement (means you don’t know which is correct!). At any rate, the radon sensor is going down the sub-stair enclosed area (aka beer basement) and we’ll see how that goes. I’ll have to see if I can get a bluetooth connection to a raspberry pi and do some real data logging.

In that vein, I’ve gotten munin going and have five of the local data loggers (sohpi itself, the picam, the shake, the boom, and the ads-b receiver) all reporting state of health data.

Data! the best way to counter anti-fact politicians..

The quantified self

More the quantified environment. I’ve continued on the SEAMONSTER theme and added lots of instrumentation. Some of that includes a weather station (Ambient, been good), an aircraft tracker (ADS-B), an all-sky meteor camera, a seismometer (or two), an infrasound sensor, and more. I’m currently working on adding a raspberry pi zero-W based webcam and will put some thoughts here.

A quick search shows that motion is still a maintained piece of code and can do what I want (I haven’t used that in about a decade – I was pleased to find it!). With all these sensors (and Torsten’s complaints about network ping times, as well as occasional network flakiness), it is time to get back some SOH (state of health) monitoring tools. rrdtool is what I used back in the day – I found it at the top of my search so it appears to still be alive. (pet peeve – the web pages I first found didn’t have date/time stamp, so who really knows..) Plenty of tools have been built on top of rrdtool, but it looks like rrdtool is still a good foundation (in my searching, I did see reference to YARW (yet another religious war) about different versions of rrdtool).

motion on the raspberry pi seems the thing for the webcam. I’m taking a stab at rrdtool. Perhaps moving to python/rrdtool? I’ll take a look at that – back a decade ago, we used perl to run the rrdtool infrastructure. Maybe I’ll track the progress here – and perhaps get a fancy modern dashboard going as part of this quantified environment..

@NYTimes obits: 213 females, 455 males

Today, January 4, there was 0 female and 5 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Catching up, yesterday, January 3, there was 0 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 26, there was 1 female and 1 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 25, there was 1 female and 1 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 24, there was 2 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 23, there was 0 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 22, there was 0 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 21, there was 2 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 20, there was 0 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 19, there was 1 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 18, there was 0 female and 2 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. December 17, there was 1 female and 3 male featured obituaries in the New York Times. Since I started tracking it here, that is 213 females and 455 males featured. #IfYouSeeSomethingSaySomething

(I started tracking the obits here on May 14 02017, but I’ve missed days when on travel.)

Reclaiming social – an experiment in progress

I recently (three weeks ago, Nov 1) cold turkey quit facebook and twitter. I also tried to become less tied to google. Here’s my thoughts and stories on that so far.

Bottom line – so far, so good. I do miss about 5% of FB.

Why? Jaron Lanier’s “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” (see below) was the catalyst. But I’ve been considering this for many months. Jaron’s book helped me distill my reasons:

  1.  Social media had a negative impact on the 2016 presidential election.  It provided a tool that was exploited by both foreign and domestic groups trying to influence the election.
  2. Social media is not as good as it should be.  It has been hijacked by advertising (see WSJ article below) which drives (on steroids!) the filter bubbles.  By actively disengaging, I hope that we can motivate Silicon Valley to “step it up” and find a better model for social media.  (The “BUMMER” business model that Jaron discusses.)
  3. I used social media to keep in touch with people (fantastic! and I miss that) and events but also as a “go to” distraction while waiting in line, sitting at the airport, etc.  This ate up useful creative thinking time and became a negative feedback (sucking up more and more time).
  4. Social media is “just a tool” and tools are not inherently good or bad.  Tools can be used for good or bad and can be well designed or poorly designed.  At this time, the way I was using social media (or being used by social media..) was more bad than good (that’s my hypothesis, that I’m testing out..).

How am I implementing it?  I  quit going to FB and twitter (This blog does still auto-publish to twitter.  I haven’t turned that off yet, still pondering.)  I didn’t delete my account or the app on my phone, I just don’t use them.  This has freed up a surprisingly significant amount of both time and attention.  As for google, in the past I had all my email forwarding to google and used their interface.  I changed the forwarding to my talus-and-heavner.com address which has a decent webmail and IMAP interface from dreamhost.  I started rebuilding spam filters and need to get more aggressive about that (google did pretty good at that).  I did backup all my gmail (~20GB) and google contacts (and imported the contacts in my t-h email) as an mbox so I can search that.  I switched my browser from chrome to firefox.  I switched my search tool from google to duck, duck, go.  I have used gmail about 5 times to search up an email/contact – I have the app on my phone still, but moved it from bottom bar to buried in a folder.

Various sources and thoughts on this from this month:

 Jaron Lanier’s “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” was the catalyst.  I recommend you read it.  The ten arguments are critically important and have at least significant merit and are worth seriously considering.  The final thought from the book is “Note that I didn’t name this book Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right now and Keeping Them Deleted Forever.  After you experiment, you’ll know yourself better.  Then decide.”

The Nov 14 Wall Street Journal article on “Beware the ‘Free’ Internet” (yes, behind their paywall, but the key plot below illustrates that FB, twitter, and google (alphabet) derive almost all of their revenue from advertising.  So they are motivated to drive filter bubbles and track users (sub-optimal social media motivation in my view):

IMG_2489

The Nov 16 Science Friday discussion on “You Are How You Read” – deep reading is still a critical skill, even in our era of information overload/bombardment and the requirement of skimming.  I recommend the 17 minute discussion, but (yes, ironically..) to summarize for you: “These days, we experience most of what we read online, and that has made us excellent skimmers and multitaskers. But we’ve gotten worse at the kind of reading that requires critical thinking and analysis, referred to as “deep reading.””  FB/twitter drive the “tl;dr” (too long; didn’t read) and skimming/multi-tasking.

The Nov 20 Marketplace “Make Me Smart” podcast on “How do you get out of your echo chamber?” Again, summary: “It’s tough to admit you have a filter bubble, and even harder to break out of it. But we all live in one: Social networks are programmed to serve up content they think will appeal to you, and that can create a feedback loop that keeps diverse voices out of your media diet. So what can you do?” Jon Keegan’s WSJ look at “Blue Feed, Red Feed” is a great side by side look at the filter bubbles we live in.   It is interesting to here both Molly and Kai talk about their social media usage – and when they turn it off / take it a break.

I use aggressive ad blockers and anti-trackers in my browser and router.  I’ll keep that up and turn it up – clearing cookies regularly, etc.

My conclusion (to date, still evolving!) – social media tools could be fantastic.  They have a great role in connecting us and sharing ideas – some of the original idealism around the internet itself.  However, our tools have been subverted by the advertising model and made us the product, not the beneficiaries of these tools.  We need to remain aware of this and find ways to change it.