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  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 24, 2021

    [Oct 24, 2021]

    Get in the pit

    Days N Daze at the Middle East in Cambridge

    Went to a concert for the first time since COVID. The show was Crazy & The Brains (first punk band I’ve seen use a xylophone), Bridge City Sinners, better explained in their own words:

    And Days N Daze, short one member, but made up for with some mouth trumpet and backup from the previous bands.

    Two notes:

    • I think this was the biggest crowd I’ve been around since the last show I saw at the Middle East, in January of 2020. Go big or go home, I guess.
    • I adore that no one in Cambridge cares about other people at all. It’s already pretty on-brand for New Englanders to ignore other people, but when a person in a skull mask, leather jacket with studs, and a kilt can walk around with no one saying anything, that’s perfect.

    And shoutout to Dan for getting the tickets and convincing me to leave the house. We both acknowledged it’s a lot harder these days.

    Professional

    An iPhone 13 Pro showed up this week. I wasn’t planning on upgrading my XR (it was fine), but the AT&T trade-in for a decent amount of money only to be mind-controlled by them for the rest of your life1 was hard to pass up. Also, the number of cameras. My XR was definitely lacking in Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades energy.

    So far that camera has been great for taking pictures of my child who finds the most adorable faces to make.

    Lorelei smooshing her face

    etc

    Just posting this for posterity, so some day my kid can find this and know that I was good at video games (some times, when other people are bad).


    1. I was just pushed an update (over 5G, of course), that informed me this is not true.
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  • Even Zecora knows to wear a mask!

    [Oct 20, 2021]

    Zecora from My Little Ponies saying she needs to wear a mask to prevent infection

    From My Little Pony - Friends Forever #21 from… October of 2015. Also worth noting when the find the cure, no one (not even Applejack) makes a fuss about how they can’t be forced to take it.

    Which reminded me we watched Six Degrees of Separation last week, and there’s a scene where Will Smith’s character talks about how his father (who he pretends is Sidney Poitier) is going to make a movie version of Cats.

    History repeating, and what not.

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  • They finally remade my 2013 Macbook Pro

    [Oct 19, 2021]

    The very first blog post on this blog is about why I decided to get a Dell instead of a new Macbook Pro. I’m glad to see the new M1 Pro/Max fixes everything. I already bought an M1 Air but someday this touchbar/butterfly workbox will get replaced with one of these, so there’s that to look foward to.

    Also, that Dell I went with was fine. I ended up getting rid of it because I don’t game on PC any more. You’d still be better off with any Dell with a dedicated GPU than a Mac for gaming, even if it will pull down 400 watts of power to run.

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  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 17, 2021

    [Oct 17, 2021]

    Let’s start with a riddle:
    Q: What do a couch and a baby have in common?
    A: If you want one now, you have to wait 10 months.

    The Jordan’s HyperMegaSuperstore

    We purchased an Ikea sectional when we moved into this house not many years ago. It was fine, it filled the space we wanted to fill, but lately it’s become spine-tinglingly uncomfortable1. We went to the Jordan’s superstore which is… definitely not one of my favorite places on Earth, but the combo of nice weather / COVID / and the fact that every scrap of furniture upholstery is sitting in a cargo ship currently lost in the middle of the Pacific meant there was hardly any one there. We ordered some new couches and a chair and they’ll be in our house (🤞) before I die.

    Since it was pretty empty, we took Lorelei to do the crazy indoor ropes course thing they have there. The excitement of it was enough to get her into the harness and up to the first level, but after a few crossings I got two big thumbs down while she held on to one of the landing posts.

    Lorelei running across the ropes course

    After that she came down and did the much closer to Earth version a few thousand times.

    Oktoberfest

    The team got together in Woostah on Monday. This is the third time I’ve seen them IRL since starting at Chewy. The entire team has joined during the COVID lockdown year era.

    A bunch of dudes sitting on a porch.

    Getting into the Spirt of the Season

    Growing up we had a few people in the neighborhood I trick-or-treated in who would take things too seriously. Like, put on a hockey mask then hide in a leaf pile with an actual chainsaw seriously. So, I’ve always been a fan of more sedate Halloween decorating. A few pumpkins, maybe some sugar skulls, a couple of leaves I failed to rake blown about. Lorelei had a specific request for spider webs this year. Sure, why not. I had to go to Home Depot anyway, so I brought her along, thinking they always have a seasonal display with some decorating stuff in it. Well, apparently the “season” appropriate for October 15th is Christmas. But! It’s 2021, and “thanks” to COVID there are hundreds of empty retail stores out there for Spirit to sink its creepy claws into. So we found one of those, which, amazingly I don’t think I’ve ever been in. They had an entire rack full of decorative spider webs. The store had probably the most people I’ve seen in a retail establishment since the beginning of the the COVID lockdown year era. We passed on the 7+ foot animatronic Baphomet but man for $300 that puts the animatronics in some local theme parks to shame.

    etc

    • Johnny Decimal. I like the idea of it, I’ve been getting better about keeping folder structures the same in any given context, e.g. Things has areas and projects under it, my notes app has the same areas and same projects, the folders under iCloud have the same areas, etc. I like the idea of adding numbers in, if only to remind you that you need an upper limit on how many things you can keep in your head.

    1. Or, I’m getting old. Or it’s both.
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  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 10, 2021

    [Oct 10, 2021]

    Ship it!

    Screenshot of the new design on Chewy.com's Connect with a Vet feature, which I worked on.

    Big release at work this week; it all went well, and our application is much more accessible now, so it feels pretty good! Remember if you ever need an on demand video or text consultation with a veterinarian, Connect With a Vet!

    RTFM (if it exists)

    Three only slightly related thoughts, that mean something to me because I used to write technical instruction manuals for a living.

    1. I installed a blower fan in our gas fireplace this weekend. The description online said it was “pre-wired” and all you had to do was plug it in, but the comments said no, there was more. Some research showed there are three main ways gas fireplace wiring is found: a junction box with cables in it, a junction specifically wired for gas fireplaces (we had this, more later), or just a normal power outlet. The “pre-wired” bit made sense for the normally wired power outlet, but the junction box in our fireplace had a fan outlet which didn’t have power unless two leads were getting a signal from a thermocouple, so the fan only has power when the fireplace is hot. But again, this unit was “pre-wired” so the thermocouple controlled the unit assuming it had power. Anyway, the diagrams included were not helpful, the comments online were not helpful, in the end after pulling some wires apart and realizing that was dumb, I also realized the outlet under our fireplace also had a plug labeled “REM/AUX” which has... always on power. So all I had to do was plug it into that.
    2. For a while I’ve thought it would be nice to associate notes with workouts that are recorded by my watch and saved in Apple Fitness. I’ve had some hacky solutions like sharing the work out to my notes app and adding content there, but I realized this weekend that HealthFit the app that I’ve been using for years to sync my Apple workout bike rides to Strava... has a notes field.
    3. I got a physical copy of Metroid Dread1 this week. Whenever I open a physical game I expect there to be something inside, but there was nothing but the game. Instead someone had to design and code the first (at least) 30 minutes of the game explaining things to the player, instead of just giving them those details in a book along with the game. I’ve played literally every Metroid, I’m just here to shoot blobby aliens and turn into a ball, let me at it!

    etc

    • I said last week it’s spooky season, it’s actually puzzle season. Finished two this week.
    Frida Kahlo puzzle completed.Mystic Maze puzzle competed.

    Frida from eeboo and The Mystic Maze from Magic Puzzle Company.

    • I’m trying out Craft as a replacement for Bear (at home). I do love Bear but I also have a ton of notes that could use lightweight table markup, or rollups, or just putting two things side-by-side, or a quick preview of a PDF... the list goes on. Bear was a replacement for Notion for me, after Notion got too annoying to use offline. Craft borrows (or, steals) a lot from Notion, but it’s a Mac Catalyst app and it works offline, and you can even BYOS (bring your own storage) and save your content in iCloud instead of their cloud2.

    1. I don’t invest in cryptocurrency but I do invest in physical copies of Nintendo games. I think I’ve picked the right horse, assuming the course is a few million miles long.
    2. It’s worth noting since I’m comparing the two that Bear already uses iCloud. It’s also worth noting that Craft has an entire support page on dealing with iCloud because while it’s stable and secure, there’s also a good reason almost every other app has rolled their own cloud storage solution.
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  • Weeknotes for the week ending October 3, 2021

    [Oct 4, 2021]

    It’s October. The wife and I had Friday off, and thought maybe we’d get lunch in Salem. We didn’t really think October 1st, a full 30 days away from Halloween would be an issue, but people take October being spooky season seriously. Instead we ate lunch in town, which is another town that used to be part of Danvers, which is where the “Salem” Witch Trials took place, but don’t tell the tourists that.

    A Leaf on the Wind, and The Good Lord Bird.

    Before attempting lunch on Friday I went out for a bike ride. One of my favorite things when mountain biking is unintentionally sneaking up on wildlife, slipping through the trees quickly and quietly enough that they don’t notice you until you’re close, and then they jump and run off. Happened with a few deer, but the treat was a Pileated woodpecker jumping off a tree and flying in front of me for a few hundred feet.

    Deer in the woods. Seems hungry. Find the deer. Someday I’ll have a phone with a telephoto lens.

    Related, an article I read this week about the Ivory-billed woodpecker being declared extinct. As a kid I had a t-shirt that was treated so that when it was cool the silhouettes of dozens of animals were on it, and when it got hot, they disappeared. This wasn’t even a commentary on global warming, it was just — hey, stop tearing down the places these animals live. But, they’re probably all gone now.

    By some estimates, populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have declined by almost 70 percent on average since 1970. It’s the reason you tend to see fewer bugs on your windshield when driving cross-country and hear less birdsong when hiking through the forest.

    Also how many animals died to make a t-shirt treated with some heat sensitive chemical. I am not a biozoologist but I want to say the Earth having almost 70% fewer types of things living on it is bad.

    Everything is crap

    There’s just so much crap being offered for sale or rent today — so much that we’re expected to spend money on and like even though it’s incompetently or carelessly made.

    From Snake and Ladders by way of Rhoneisms. We’ve been looking at furniture lately and:

    1. You can’t even get it because supply chains are fucked.
    2. It’s nearly impossible to distinguish crap from not-crap. Furniture brands are spun up out of the ether to repackage the same item at different price tiers, and with so many of the stores going all online, the details of the quality of the fabric, stitching, construction, are passed off to the reviews of previous buyers, who may or may not be real.

    I take back that everything is crap, but the paradox of choice only serves to make me think that, by default, something is crap unless proven otherwise.

    etc

    If you follow me on RSS (or, simply look at the post below this one), you might have seen some odd things pop up. For a while I’ve wanted to be able to post to here “like Twitter”, i.e. from my phone and as easily as possible. The entire site is driven from Markdown files in Git, so I hooked up a Netlify function to take in a JSON POST body and send the picture to an S3 bucket and the content to Github as a new commit on main, and an iOS Shortcut to export a photo from Photos and allow me to append some text to it. And it works! Mostly! I don’t delete my mistakes, so if you click on “permalink” on the post below it, uh, goes nowhere. Once it goes somewhere I’ll write up some details on how it works.

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  • Jake is a cat

    [Sep 30, 2021]

    Jake is a cat

    test

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  • Weeknotes for the week ending September 26, 2021

    [Sep 26, 2021]

    iOS 15

    I upgraded all of my iDevices to iOS15 (or… whatever their equivalents are called. tvOS/HomeOS something-point-oh). A few quick notes:

    • The hassle of micro-services, in your own home!: I had a home automation that was set to turn the lights on at 7:30am. When I set it up, it worked! Later, it stopped working. The lights would turn on at 10:30am. Clearly a timezone issue, but from what? Not my phone, the Hue app and hub seemed to think it was in the same location as us. I checked the HomePod, also EST, updated it and it started working at 7:30am again. Until this week, when it went back to 10:30am. I finally figured out that the Apple TV was set to its original Cupertino time zone (why, though?) and depending on some magical cloud logic the Homepod and Apple TV would switch off being the “home hub”.
    • Don’t remind me: I used to run the iOS betas on my iPad. I used to use Apple Notes and Reminders. That is, until one iOS update required redoing the Reminders database, and the Reminders app was out of sync between my devices until a new version of iOS and MacOS were released. That was years ago, and yet that remains a problem today. You added tags to your reminders and made a smart list? Neat, you can see them on your Mac in a few months. Maybe, assuming MacOS releases on time. It’s worth it to use 3rd party replacements for both of those apps because you’ll at least get major updates across platforms all at once. It is insane to me that Apple still ties minor software updates to major OS releases. I will acknowledge that they gave us Safari 15 early, but the system browser being tied to the operating system was a bad idea 20 years ago so let’s not be too impressed.

    Beyond those gripes, there’s a ton of low level quality of life improvements. The new maps font is nice. Widgets on the iPad are great (although I wonder why it took an extra release to get them), and the redesigned multitasking UI makes it much more usable. The UI team working on the Weather app is amazing.

    Hitchin’ a ride

    2014 Subaru Forester with the bumper removed for a hitch install.

    I put a trailer hitch on our Forester on Saturday. I wanted a hitch mount rack for the new bike - it’s way too long and heavy for me to easily get on and off the roof rack, but that necessitated having a hitch to put the hitch rack on first. I decided to do it myself because sometimes I enjoy working on cars, and I found a version of the install that that involved no drilling, only wrenching. Some thoughts:

    • I used to work on cars a lot. I used to be under my first car (a Subaru WRX) all the time, to the point where almost nothing on that car was original. I used to throw it up on jack stands, hip check the car to make sure it wouldn’t fall off, then dive under it. I would never, ever consider that these days. Somewhere between that car and this car I had cars where I did work on them because it was “cheaper” and messed things up (in occasionally catastrophic ways). These days I stick to easy bolt-on or rewire improvements.
    • If you’re not someone who works on cars: modern cars are a frame and 40,000 plastic clips holding the body on and that’s it. I had my daughter come out and help put the bumper back on, at first she thought I had broken something (not a bad guess), then she assumed it was much too heavy for her to pick up, then she picked it up and noticed that it was “wobbling all over!”. I let her slap it into the clips along the edges and use a socket wrench to put in the two (!) bolts that hold it on.
    • I ended up getting a rockymounts MonoRail Solo. Like everything bike related there were a ton of options and most of them weren’t in stock. I like this one because it only holds one bike. For some reason bike rack designers think everyone rides with friends and they drive to the trails together.

    Stop, don’t shop

    • I’ve given up on Stop and Shop. I go there because it’s close, and during the pandemic they had lots of self checkout lanes so you could get in and out pretty quick. But now they’ve done something to the self checkout lanes that basically goes like this:

      1. Ring item.
      2. Open bag to put place item in.
      3. Place item in bag.
      4. Error that there is an unscanned item in the bagging area.

    It’s… it’s the bag. Why would I put something in the bagging area and not put it in a bag? I don’t know what shit update they pushed recently that made this start happening but the only solution is to either pile everything into the 2’x1’ bagging area and bag it at the end, or get someone to wave their card at the machine every time you add a new bag.

    And before you’re like “well it’s Stop and Shop, what do you expect” let me tell you the developers who made that change and the ones who write car automation software differ only in ambition, not intelligence.

    etc

    At some point I’m going to write something about how being a Tech Director for 6 months has gone. It’s gone well so maybe I should just leave it at that and save the rest of the psychopath’s playground (LinkedIn).

    • We’ve had a little snake hanging out in our backyard. Lorelei and I went out this evening to see if we could find it. We didn’t, instead we found… baby snakes!

    Baby snake

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  • A fresh coat of paint

    [Sep 24, 2021]

    With Safari 15 supporting browser chrome colors, I thought I’d throw a fresh coat of paint on the site. I made dark mode work again as well, although I think there are some pieces missing. If only I’d made a styleguide for the site instead of throwing everything together as I thought of it.

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  • Weeknotes for the week ending September 19, 2021

    [Sep 19, 2021]

    This week, summed up in two short scenes with my daughter.

    Reading is fundamental

    Scene: Local restaurant, on the outdoor patio. A rare family dinner outside the house because the grandparents were visiting before they set off on a cross-country train ride.

    👨: What do you want to eat here?
    👧: Hot dog!
    👨: Are hot dogs on the menu?
    👧: I dunno?
    👨: Read the menu and see if you can find hot dogs.
    👧: I can’t read!
    👨: Yes you can, look at the menu and pick out something.
    👧: Pizza! Ice cream! Waffles!

    Later, outside after dusk. My father and daughter are talking about stars in the sky.

    👧: Can I see your phone, I want to know what star that is.
    👨: Opens Sky Guide, hands over phone.
    👧: Oh, it’s Jupiter.
    👨: How do you know?
    👧: Points at screen. Ju-pi-ter. It says Jupiter.
    👨: Picks up daughter by shoulders, turns her 45 degrees.
    👨: What about that one over there?
    👧: Venus!
    👨: So you... can read?
    👧: Noooooooooooooooo

    🦈

    Scene: at Stage Fort Park, down on the “boardwalk” looking at the ocean.

    👧: Look, a shark!
    👨: I don’t think there are sharks here.
    👧: It’s right there!
    👨: It’s probably just a ro… oh it is a shark.
    Sandshark in the water near Stage Fort Park in Gloucester

    etc

    • I’ve used Magnet for window management on MacOS for a long time, but it turns out there’s a free option called Rectangle that works just as well, and you can install it via Homebrew, which is extra great because I have zero interest in using Mac App store apps on my work Mac.
    • I went too long before getting my coffee this morning (we picked up breakfast on the car ride over to aforementioned shark park), and the coffee was weak compared to what I make at home. Took a while to recover. Maybe I should have gotten onlyfunctionalwith.coffee instead.
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