Saturday, December 31, 2016

Harrah's in Lake Tahoe Nevada SUCKS

My in-laws have been coming to this casino/hotel for well over 25 years. I have been tagging along for almost 10 years. On this New Years Eve at 9:15p, local time, security decided to deny us (4 adults and 3 minor children) passage through the casino to get to the elevators. This was the same exit we had gone through 30 minutes earlier and now security forced us to walk around the building to the valet entrance. And when we attempted to get from the lobby of the hotel to the elevator we were stopped by another security person who [a] asked us for our room key [b] explained that minors were not permitted on the casino floor.... but to get to the elevators one needs to pass 6 slot machines.

The security person was adamant that it was Nevada State Law, however, after reviewing the Nevada Gaming Control Board regulations there is nothing in it about "passing thru" or "right of way". I specifically deals with the operations of the business and participants.... nothing about walking through.

Let me be clear, there may or may not actually be a state law, however, the casino has made a point not to enforce that law or regulation the other 364 days and 20 hours of the year. In fact it was not enforced last year or the year before. Chances are that this was a hotel rul that they decided to make or enforce since the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened across the street and is attracting a whole new crowd.

This will likely be my last year here. There are so many nicer places to go.

UPDATE: I spoke to a supervisor in the security office. The explanation I was given was that the decision to prevent minors from walking through the casino was a "house rule" and that the over ambitious security guard must have been a temp worker who was unfamiliar with the rules.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hike Incline Village

Staying in South Lake Tahoe for 10 days I planned a few hikes. The first hike was a FAIL in that we never got further than 1/10th of a mile. I think it was because of altitude sickness and the trail difficulty. The second hike was easier because I took ibuprofen per the recommendation. (every 6 hours the day before and during the hike.) **be careful there can be side effects. In addition, I hydrated early, ate a protein bar, and had some GU.

Driving from South Lake Tahoe(6300 feet) to Incline Village(8900 feet).

The hike was nearly 2 miles

it was basically a loop with very little slope as this was where the water/logging flume was constructed.

Overlooking Lake Tahoe (from the north looking south)

Just a favorite view of the lake during the drive.

winter hike gear review

I was planning a hike in Nevada's Incline Village. I started researching my gear choices.

Base layer is Columbia base layer with omni-heat in both the shirt and leggings.

The green pants are just some hiking pants that I planned to use in Florida but tried in the winter. The mid layer is a Columbia softshell with omni-heat.

The outer layer is a froggtogg that is waterproof but with no insulation.

Lastly Columbia omni-heat glove liners, american flag schemog, baliclava, and ski gloves.

Lastly I had a CamelBak 18L pack with some essential emergency gear and some basic food.

I tried this setup in a number of different configurations. I found my core temperature swinging in all directions. At one point I was completely soaked. Also I found that it was not comfortable to just stand still. This setup was effective when moving.

My first hike was a FAIL in that we did not get very far and so during the second hike I skipped the outer layer and stuck with the base and mid layer. But since I was moving and generating plenty of heat I found myself venting the extra heat through the collar. The only challenge might be that the midlayer is not very waterproof.

And my only complaint about the CamelBak is that the straps are small.

Monday, December 19, 2016

should I register every domain name that comes to mind?

This would be better served as a survey question hoping that the wisdom of crowds knows something that I don't. So the question is this:

I have a unique business idea at least once a week and the foundation of that initial business idea could be a simple blog or wiki and an eCommerce store. There is something to be said about integrity when all of the brand's assets are tagged with the same custom domain. It invokes some sense of trust.

On the other hand... 1 idea a week, 52 custom domains a year, and 52 new web sites to manage content for. Well, depending on the registrar that could be another $520 in ICANN fees accumulated annually meaning $1040 on year 2. And then there is all the attention and content that each property would require. ... that's 52 web servers, 52 email servers, 52 custom domains... and so on.

But the real downside is what happens when the domains start to expire and what happens to gmail and other assigned accounts. If you have some sort of round robin authentication going on then this could get ugly and fast.

Friday, December 16, 2016

review: esbit fuel and stove

I have not been an Esbit fan and it's been an emotional response since I purchased my first Solo Stove about 8 months ago. After my first burn I realized that the chemicals and tar released by the traditional wood flame was going to cover my pot. Joe does not seem to mind, however, I've also discovered traditional bushcraft and the inflection points are just not available to me. [a] because bushcraft is not really a thing in South Florida [b] I'm finding that hiking is much more enjoyable.

First let's talk about the new Esbit store. I purchased a "Esbit Ultralight Folding Stainless Steel Pot Stand with Tray for Alcohol or Solid Fuel Stoves" and I purchase some "Esbit 1300-Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Tablets for Backpacking, Camping, Emergency Prep, and Hobby, 14-gram, 12-pieces". There is a smaller tab option but I'm not sure what it's used for. It does not generate the same heat at the larger tab.


  • lightweight
  • flexible
  • easily setup
  • almost looks like it provides it's own wind screen
  • silent
  • the edges and the center disk feel like nails on a chalk board
  • I dropped a tab from about 4 feet onto concrete and it fractured a little
  • had a subtle smell
  • did not take first light
  • without a torch light I'm not sure how to light it
  • folded it does not fit in my 500ml cup
  • one tab and 500ml and I only got warm water

nice size flame

The lit of my torch lighter has slots in it. The slots snagged on the disk when I lit the tab. I almost started to panic as I tried to release the lighter without burning my house down.

warmed the water but that was it and warm was warm enough. After the tab was exhausted I dropped a tea bag into the water and let it steep for 5 minutes. The water was still warm enough to be considered hot.

Here is the stove after the burn. Notice the chemical residue. Yuk

Now look at the bottom of the pot. There is black soot. I suppose that when out in the field or on the trail you do not care about these things but after my test I wanted to head back into the house. It's a good think my desk is black so it is transfers I won't see it.

By comparison the canister stove:
  • loud
  • fuel is heavy and voluminous
  • has an off switch
solo wood stove
  • takes time to get fuel
  • dependent on weather conditions
  • soot
  • constant tending the fire(probably not a bad thing)
RUCAS alcohol stove
  • not exactly quiet but not anything like the canister
  • subject to spillage
  • temperature sensitive
  • priming can consume valuable fuel
No matter which stove type or manufacturer you choose it's important to know and understand the rules and laws pertaining to where you are. And regardless, should a fire get out of control you might be responsible for the consequences.

PS: I've watched a number of bushcraft video that I think are very informative. Many of them are "a day in the life" style. But few people realize is that 30 or 60 minute video takes place over 3 or 4 days and there may or may not be 8 hours of daylight. Setting up a campsite at dusk can take 2 to 3 hours specially if you are collecting firewood and making a shelter. Some bushcraft guys make full and proper bush meals which itself takes time. By comparison Super Ultralight hiking suggests you are hiking or sleeping. Choosing to make elaborate meals on the trail or maybe taking a nap some place. Might be better to go with non-cooking food and forego cooking altogether.

I recall my favorite canoe trip. I had a block of cheese and a salami log. Best canoe trip ever.

So what I've learned about the Esbit is that one tab equals 500ml so rehydrating a meal has to be limited to 500ml. and if I want a hot beverage I'll need a second tab. I'm not going to purify water as I did not get a rolling boil. It's not very compact but it is light.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I ordered a new stove

There was a time when I was convinced that an alcohol stove was the way to go and it's possible, depending on the hike, that it might still be the better choice.

For the alcohol stove

  • quiet
  • easily snuffed
  • easily replaced stove - hole puncher and a tuna can

For the canister stove

  • fast boil
  • variable temp
  • windscreen not always needed

For the tab stove

  • quiet
  • light per boil or near boil
  • smaller - one stove has build in windscreen
  • packs small
  • 1 tab is smaller than the equivalent alcohol

In summary, while I'm still thinking about food in terms of calories per ounce I think the same can be said in terms of fuel source and heated water. And as calories can be categorized in protein vs carbs so can the stoves be compared will it boil or just warm.

But there are some real cons too. The biggest complaint of the canister stove is that unless you exactly how much fuel there is in the can you're either carrying around too little or too much. And it's the too much that upsets the UL hikers.

Buying alcohol on the trail is curious. My latest purchase was 1L. So where can I buy 8 ounces and would I really want to pay a premium for that. Then there is the potential for leaks an such.

The tab is said to have a smell since it's a chemical burn. I cannot imagine that would actually effect the task of the water but it is worth testing.

The one real pain of all of these systems is that they are not permitted on airplanes. Sure you can carry the stove but you will not be permitted to carry any fuel. And so I would prefer to have a SOL firetab kit forwarded to me at some postoffice. It's said that all of these fuels are available along the AT, however, the FT is a lot less forgiving.

NOTE it has been suggested that a full boil is not really needed to re-hydrate meals. That also needs some testing. Certainly this is true of mashed potatoes as the flakes re-hydrate quickly where Mac N Cheese requires more time and that means heat too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

pricing or features of the casio pathfinder

This is just my way of expressing my frustration with Casio. Their Pathfinder watch has about 200 models that it sells through different channels so that the stores can set their pricing and not have to match pricing based on model number. Just like the TV manufacturers. And so trying to fin the right price and exact feature set has proved to be impossible as prices range from $40 to over $200 depending on google and amazon.


is computer programming a talent or labor

BBC World's Business Daily is running a story on brexit, the effect on the tech center in London, and the opportunity for the rest of the EU to cherry-pick.

The reporter asked various entrepreneurs and tech executives about the ease by which they spawned their business, where they would scale and the availability of "talent".

I struggle with this generalization for several reasons. First and foremost many of the programmers that I came up with saw it as work or just a job. There was no vision or passion. Secondly, having been close to senior management in various startups the adjective "talent" was reserved for the first few key new hires while "labor" was reserved for those transient hires who joined later and were mostly needed to perform repetitive or laborious tasks that the "talent" deemed less important.

Human resources people want to make policy and negotiate employment contracts. HR does not want to deal with job descriptions and placing adverts. They outsource that to labor consultants not necessarily talent consultants.

Back in May 2015 I designed and built a reporting engine based on concepts from meta programming, domain specific languages, flow based programming, and  CI/CD. Shortly after the completion of the core system I started writing reports. In 18 months I have written about 900 adhoc reports and about 100 recurring reports covering everything from payments, financials, inventory, monitoring, validation and compliance.... and so I have transitioned from talent to labor [albeit very productive labor].

Monday, December 5, 2016

review - SOL thermal bivy

It's soft and warm but not so strong.

this tear is on the side where the velcro side opening meets the stitched side. Frankly examining the bivy's exterior leads me to believe that the reflective coating or the underlying material is not as uniform as one might want. Than again, I suppose I could loose a few pounds.

Friday, December 2, 2016

review SOL Duct Tape

SOL sells 500 foot rolls of duct tape as a component of a survival kit.

it's not quite 2 inches wide and not as thick either.

the packaging shows that there is no core which suggests the last few inches are going to be hard to use... so it's not quite 50 usable feet.

I thought I could make my own using Gorilla tape from Home Depot and a core from a dog poop bag roll. The tape is about 2 inches wide and the cores are a little thicker.

I spooled a few feet of tape onto my core. It took some doing to start it properly and then wind it without creases or bubbles.

PS: I also manged to cut mu finger and bleed all over the carpet when I cut the tape from the role. I'm a dumbass.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review - Google Home vs Amazon Tap

I was originally introduced to Alexa at a friends house where they had an Amazon Echo (tethered for power) in the kitchen. I was intrigued by the audio quality and the non-trivial depth of responses. So after some investigation I made my first Alexa purchase - Amazon Tap.

One nice feature of the tethered models is that Alexa is voice activated "Alexa..." where the Amazon Tap requires the operator to tap the microphone button. The echo and tap models have nice sound and volume where the dot is weaker.

Recently we ware watching tv when a Google Home advert played. One thing that caught our attention was the ability to ask google to translate or answer in different languages. Granted it was a pretty superficial demo but I placed our order right away.

Amazon Tap - $99, WiFi, smartphone app, Battery, requires Amazon Prime account $99/yr with limited access to music. Amazon offers two music subscriptions... $7.99/mo individual, $14.99/mo family.

Google Home - $99, WiFi, smartphone app, Since I have an android phone with a FREE custom domain it worked out of the box. Since I listen to google music on my phone and computer I already had an unlimited Google Music account $9.99/mo (I consider this a push because I already had the service)

The Alexa smartphone app is kinda smoke and mirrors. It's clear that Alexa was meant to capture spontaneous purchases and the app was either the way to consummate the request or give the user a way to be reminded of some search or media that might have been requested. It's clearly about up-selling.

Google Home's smartphone app seems more about the experience and less about selling although it is a portal to media and apps. But I have yet to see Google's app tell me about the price of toilet paper.

One criticism I have for this type of device is that [a] it leaks personal information [b] supports one primary user... so it's not multi tenant. The personal info leakage happens when you ask for calendar or contact info. There may also be access to previous purchases or even email... I shudder to think that there is a "read email" command. Google Home will also share search history with your browser across all devices... yikes.

Needs some killer features
- multi tenant
- voice recognition
- sync play on multiple devices including chromecast (google home has this)

another bad day for open source

One of the hallmarks of a good open source project is just how complicated it is to install, configure and maintain. Happily gitlab and the ...