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Showing posts from December, 2018

Heavenly Lake Tahoe is a ripoff

Heavenly Lake Tahoe is a ripoff. $80 for a gondola, $39 for tubing, $28 for roller coaster or $48 for all day.

The problem is that it took 30 minutes through the tubing line, 4 minutes up the elevator which is shared with the snowboarder class, and another 4 minutes at the top waiting in line. All for a 20 second tubing ride down the hill.

I years past we have waited to purchase our tickets only for them to run out. For which we typically get a refund but it takes some effort. Now they sell the tickets at the bottom but you have no idea if there is going to be a weather hold.

So besides the speed and composition of the riders on the moving sidewalk they also limit the number of riders with the number of tubes.

Consider that you can still get $80 tickets for Disney and spend the entire day at the park and get way more action. Also, for just a little more money you can get a full day of skiing or a full day of ski lessons.

smart watch?

I'm thinking about buying a smartwatch for hiking... as I do not like wearing watches otherwise. The interesting thing is that if a person is locked into the Apple ecosystem then there is only one choice but the sucky thing about WearOS is that not all the hardware is the same... whether it's water proof/resistance, buttons, scroll sensors, Bluetooth, cell, battery life, and so on. And let's not forget some brands are just stupid expensive. Also, some watches work with and without a phone. (I was in the T-Mobile store and they were selling a $900 watch which was clearly just markup).

Ticwatch
Samsung
Huawei
Casio
LG

And then things get stupid when there are discounts for international models without warranties or even refurbished. Making the purchase is as complicated as buying a phone.

Google pixel slate

I still think the platform rocks but the mere mention of dual booting with Windows makes me cringe. But still while the speed and performance is great with an i7 it's overkill in terms of CPU for the number of tabs and windows open. Having android studio as a dedicated desktop app is dumb when there are so many good IDEs. Also, sadly, ChromeOS still seems a little unstable with various hangs.

do what you are comfortable with

I get the strange feeling that the UL and SUL community is into pack shaming. But why? Or really? Trying to discover these secret motives can be a challenge. I struggle not because I want to spend stupid amounts of money but because I want a little more technical hike and I'm willing to take on some discomfort to get there. (see rule of 3s and 5-Cs of survival).

I like tarp camping but I have yet to do it in the rain. I've watched some ideal tarp configurations but then there was the poncho-tarp flying diamond hung on a bush rather than a tree or a pole. It was awesome. But I hate the bugs no matter what Hadfield says about spiderwebs.


Car buying season begins - short

The lease on both cars is about 4 months away and so the search continues... Yesterday we drove a Maxda CX-9.  Mazda was on my list of cars to test and now that I have put some real miles on the car I'm taking it off depending on how the others compare just on my experience.

car handles nicethe CX-9 has a 3rd row seating but only for the smallest peoplethe console was OK but kinda confusing for a first time user. NAV was uselessnot that I'm a smoker but the lighter socket is good for IQ power and the included 2 port usb was trickle slow to charge our phones.the worst was the sound insulation... I heard everything that came off the tiresthe front seats were very fighter jet like CX-9 is just not a car I would be comfortable with.

ChromeOS or Android

ChromeOS is not Android and to get the exact definition of what they do and how they were you might need to be an expert in those systems. However from a layperson's perspective it might be more simple and yet more blurry at the same time.

Android devices function much the same way as iPads and iPhones. It's actually an OS (operating system), graphical user interface, some vendor required native apps and some 3rd party apps. A lot of the time the apps are nothing but portals into the browser widget API.

ChromeOS is an operating system, graphical user interface, and a browser. Everything that might need to be a native app is exposed through the APIs and is a webapp. In the last few months Google has been experimenting with native Android apps and a native Linux container.

While very similar things can be said about iPad, iPhone; Apple does not have a ChromeBook equivalent even though they have hardware in the same capability. I imagine they could but an iOS  personality on a Ma…

Customer Support Disasters

Converting you phone to use Google Fi takes just a few minutes. They have great software for porting your phone number... but when things go wrong you better plan on spending hours on the phone or waiting for you chat request to start or even to get a response to an email. If you're lucky the person you are talking to knows a thing or two and can either tell you what went wrong or how to fix it. Google employees tend to be pretty smart but it is hit or miss. It would be nice if their analytics knew who was calling and what class employee should be connected to solve the problem.

Think they are bad? Try and get into Apple's customer service. They employ fanboys and girls and they do not know crap. For example we bought a new iPhone at a store and used the Citizens One zero interest program to go from a iPhone 6 to a 7... and it only get's worse from there. Citizens Once put me on hold for an hour trying to get into Apple support, after the second person at apple answered th…

Are you at risk?

Watching a video about keto and carnivore diets the presenter made several claims. The first was that statins might not be helpful and in fact your problems might be diabetes. He's a doctor but he could be a quack too. Tough to call.

Another interesting idea is that our risk for a long life can be determined by the ratio of your waist to height and that it's a better indicator than things like BMI.  So take your waist measurement at your belly button and divide it by your height. (cm in in doe not matter). He says you're healthy if the ration is less than 50%. 
w / h < .50 If you're less than 50% then you are ok.

How smart is that phone really?

I'm configuring my Android phone and for the first time in a long time it's asking me for all sorts of config questions. I do not mind the questions all that much because I've elected not to restore the backup in order to prevent bugs or battery suck from entering my phone.

I'd like to say I answered all the questions but I don't believe it. Every so often the phone starts asking more new questions. In the meantime there was some configuration that I needed to do

fingerprintpattern unlock and visibilitya shit-ton of security and OS updates Let me interrupt this list to say that I went to the battery configuration.  The battery was first charged 265 days ago, has been on for 4 hours and has 56% battery left with 4 hours remaining. I do not like those numbers but I seem to be stuck with them for now. moto jesturesringtoneWiFi accessBluetooth headsetBluetooth connection to my laptopBluetooth connection to my car is not complete yet... not going outside yethotspot and pa…

Rick Case VM

DO NOT BUY OR LEASE FROM Rick Case Volkswagen. When I leased my car there was a prepaid service addendum in the contract. The car has 20,000 original miles and has been a total LEMON from the start. Now they tell me the service is not covered and I have to pay for it. Granted it is only $75 but if you consider it was baked into the lease then I likely paid interest for that over the life of the lease. I have had similar service issues at Rick Case Honda so it seems that the apple is not falling far from the tree. Sure... buyer beware and I should have been aware of the details... but let's be real. Do you ever read the terms and conditions ever time you install some software, use some service or accept the cookies policy?

Not all Google Pixel laptops are the same

Last night Seth Myers told a joke about Apple producing a car... Paraphrased: Buying a car from Apple in 2019 means having to buy a replacement in 2020. Believe me he tells it better than I do. But the point is valid. Apple has a history of making previous models of it's devices obsolete in a short time after you buy it. What makes that worse is that if you do not buy it when it comes out the shelf life is already diminished and you're still paying full price.


I have a Google Chromebook Pixel. I don't remember exactly when I purchased it but it was the top of the line with the current i7 processor, 16GB RAM and 64GB SSD. This sucker hums. It was awesome before and still today.  It's worn well. The selling point was that Google used the best hardware for the best user experience.



Nice. Right?

Well here we are a few years later Google ships new machines... the Pixelbook and now the Slate. I purchased a Slate because Google seemed to promise Linux containers, native Linux…

Android development

There are a few models for Android development... traditional PC or Mac development computers with emulated targets, USB connected targets and WiFi connected targets.  Recently Google selectively added linux containers to it's ChromeOS lineup and made it possible to run Android Studio.

Unfortunately there is little consistent parity between the ChromeOS and traditional development environments. That means in order to get some development going on my ChromeOS Pixel Slate I'm relegated to put the target in developer mode and connect it with WiFi or BETA USB.  Crap!

Since I do not have a target to test and I do not want to convert my personal phone as it creates other security challenges I'll have to purchase a dev phone... but then my next question is how does the WiFi bonding work when in a hotel or a place where WiFi is not that available?

Google Pixel Slate - day 1 review

It's still not a great day for my Google Pixel Slate. The starting point should be a better understanding about the hardware and the compatibility of the hardware but Google is not good at that as they have already demonstrated. But now one full day into this machine I have some impressions and ideas as to how useful it's going to be.
The First Boot This was fine. You have to respond to all the usual ChromeOS questions. Nothing out of the ordinary here. However, I have noticed that after I shutdown the machine that pressing the power button does not cause the machine to wake or respond immediately. There is a 4-plus second delay and there is no feedback to know whether or not you have kicked the power. So I have found myself click click clicking the power button until I just give up. Keyboard The keyboard has a great feel. The rounded keys have caused some reviewers to complain but that's silly. The extra space between keys just means that you need a little more precision …

installing atom editor on ChromeOS Linux

It's simple and easy once you have a ChromeOS Linux prompt.

First launch your browser and download the atom deb from their website: http://atom.io

Copy the file from the user download folder to the Linux folder.

Then with the open window or a new window execute the command
sudo apt install --fix-broken ./atom-amd64.deb and 'y' when prompted

When the prompt returns change to the project directory that you want to edit and type 'atom'. That will load the atom editor in the background... and you can begin coding.

have a nice day

Flutter development on Pixel Slate - part 2

I just read a reddit post. Seems like the author got it to work.  His position was that he had to be in DEV mode. I'm not sure what that means because while it's not the first time I've heard this said none of the tutorials make it a required step.  Also there is this confusion between VM Acceleration and not.

There is NO WAY I'm going to go mobile with a devmode chromeos device. That's a security fail of the highest order.

So for the moment development on a slate is a fail unless you just want to use a linux mode editor like vscode.  Still a fail.

Flutter Development with Google Pixel Slate

This is the first post on the subject as I work my way through installation, setup, and first project. The first thing I have discovered is that the current suite of official and unofficial documents and articles are out of date and incomplete. They talk about everything from choosing the right Chromebook to developer mode. There's also confusion about android studio, android sdk, and vscode ... and it's a mess.
anyone who has authoritative links should reply here My initial attempt was a failure as I could not get the emulator working. I ended up going in and out of developer mode and upon my last return to stable mode I was forced to perform a complete powerwash. That's a pain because now I have to reinstall all of my VPN certs etc... not everything is sync'd

And so we begin...

ChromeOS no QOS

I just powerwashed my Google Pixel Slate because it was in developer mode and I'm not convinced that it's required for my work... I'm about to start some Flutter development and I/we've decided that ChromeOS offers the right touch of security, performance, and features.

But while ChromeOS was performing it's initial sync after powerwash I paired my bluetooth headset and started to stream some music... but while the sync was in progress the stream was starved for bandwidth. It's hard to believe that someone decided that QOS was not important here.

If you're a person who waits for the install to complete you'd never know the difference and if you were a power user or just someone who thought it was a good idea to play some music while the sync was in progress then you'd have a crappy experience to report.

Yet another strike against google. Where do they get their product managers? Too much inbreeding?

Stallman - Libre

For some reason this is the season of Stallman. Richard Stallman seems to be making the media rounds. He likes to talk about free as in Libre not as in $$$. Some of that makes sense and I suppose in order not to dilute the mission he has to be as far to the side as he needs to be. BUT...
Stallman was giving an interview to David Parkman when they started talking about not using Skype to do a remote interview because as one side had Skype insisting on it meant forcing the other side to use it and it was 100% proprietary. Along with all the privacy issues. (no longer talking about Libre)
And so I'm sitting in front of my Chromebox (read closed linux) when I get an email receipt from Apple. I have a subscription for something called Music Match that I have not needed since I gave up on Apple products 3-4 years ago. I kept paying the subscription because for some silly reason.
Sitting here, wanting to cancel it, I realized it ain't gonna be easy. I no longer have any working Apple…

Everything but the bagel - Seasong

Amazon Prime is not the bargain that we all think.

I bought this 3-pack on Amazon thinking it was at least close to the actual price. With Prime I should not have to pay for shipping. YAY!



And compared to the individual bottle that seemed like a bargain.


And compared to other places on the web it might even seem like a bargain.

But that's CRAP!

My wife used the entire bottle of Everything seasoning and I was pissed as I was about to make some bagels.... Later that week she went to TJ and purchased several ET bottles as it's an uncommon road trip... In the store the ET seasoning costs $1.99.


Google Fi is out and T-Mobile is in

After a almost a week on Google Fi I'm going to T-Mobile. Being a Google fanboy I was hoping for a better experience that never materialized. First my wife's iPhone voicemail never worked like on ATTSecond, I'm only receiving some of my incoming calls as I have google hangouts on multiple devices and they all ring except the phone.third, just last night I read that WiFi is counted in the data used.The cost of Fi for 2 phones is $135 plus tax; where the T-Mobile cost is $120 tax included.T-Mobile does not charge for Nextflix and gives you some Gogo air time, and international is still dirt cheap.

does Linux really suck because of containers?

It's all fun and games until Microsoft does a "catch and kill" aka "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish". But really.... containers? So long as there is a scratch base image docker is nothing more than a tools that consolidates jail or chroot ideas. Clearly the problem with containers that include OS functionality is that you get all that other cruft with it. Make a better chroot/jail, make docker go away.

where did netflix go?

I just received a new Google Slate and while I previously believed that all I needed was a username and password to sync my install between machines it almost worked. For example... missed NETFLIX. es, there is an Android version and yes there is a web version.... but there was a ChromeOS App too. And I miss it.


Linux Sucks

This guy does this "Linux Sucks" presentation year after year... last year was supposed to be the last... and he lied.  This year is supposed to be the last.... maybe.


He makes some very good points about WHY and I have to agree as it's history repeating itself. Immediately after watching this you should go donate to FreeBSD and OpenBSD. If Microsoft has it's way Linux will be unusable in 5 years.

https://www.freebsd.org/https://www.openbsd.org/ While I hate to admit it, and I'm frustrated with the VMware example, the GPL should be applied to corporations and the BSD license to good actors.

software lab - in a box - update

FreeNAS 11.2.0 is a mess. They are moving the UI from a legacy based on Django to whatever new framework they selected. There are plenty of holes in the features and functionality. Taking a fresh install and trying to deploy the gitlab plugin was a total mess. Worse yet there was no upgrade path for gitlab. This left me with the general feeling that a NAS is just that and nothing more.

Therefore, the new plan is a NAS with iSCSI connected to VMware with a dedicated gitlab ISO or container instance. Then install the other systems.

Fad alert - bulletproof coffee or butter coffee

I have a sample pack of this stuff called know brainer. I've tried the 3 coffee and 1 hot chocolate flavor packets and it's been a meh experience. I imagine I'd get the same experience by just adding a pat of butter to my coffee. But while they call it grass fed butter the coffee does develop a grass or fibrous type chew. I do not matter it much so long as it works.

Looking at my inventory I decided to see what I would for an upcoming trip and that's when I discovered the FAIL. 14 packets for $29 Ghee and MCT. 30 servings for $30 just the MCT, What a mess!

The When Harry met Sally class of meal customization already drives me crazy... why would I want to hear:

got any gheewhat about some grass fed butter for thathave you seen my MCT These remind me of the skip that either Robin Williams or Steve Martin did about the "half calf latte".  Just not for me.

software lab in a box - step 1

I've been fumbling around with chickens and eggs to figure out how to deploy a good software development lab and production environment. There is a constant battle between management and developers to provide good enough security, disaster recover, usability; as every three legged stool has.

Developers want to be trusted with the keys to the space shuttle but we know that kids like to take cars for joy rides and while some joy rides end without being caught there are others that end in disaster. Furthermore, moving something from the lab to production should require study and validation. And the fox should not be watching the hen house. (see any vampire or zombie movie)

So, in the beginning of the deployment there is the big-bang or bootstrap. That starts in three places. [1]  basic hardware like desktops and laptops with the usual configuration [2] software starting with communications like email and messaging. Somewhere in (1) and (2) you have to buy server hardware like mail se…

KISS your cellphone

About 5 years ago I worked, remotely, for a Swedish software company and on several occasions I worked on site for extended periods. Programmers at this company did not have desk phones. The company provided the smallest possible Sony Android smart phone possible insuring that the employees would take them everywhere. And that's what we did. Map, email, SMS, and phone... that's all it did and all we needed. Granted this predated facebook's popularity, however, a phone is a phone and what manager wants their employees taking selfies while at a standup meeting?
What do you REALLY need your phone to do? Give a price to that idle time... How many bloggers, vloggers, really make money ... we only hear about selfies and lost jobs. Viral memes are rare.

Apple is going to lose

There was a time I was a contrarian because I hated Microsoft as they were the 600 pound gorilla in the zoo. Granted they made a lot of people a lot of money I was never one of them.

Now the baton has been passed to Apple and it's only worse. Scott Galloway of L2Inc talks about the big four and specifically chides Apple for being the "getting laid factor" associated with iPhone ownership.

A few years ago I bought my wife an iPhone. We used some ATT program so that we only paid a portion of the cost every month. Then a year or two after that she broke it or we upgraded it through a program at an Apple store. Somehow in all of that we ended up making payments to Citizen One and apparently the original payments to ATT fell short. So we have one phone and two payments.

I would never have caught the problem unless I had not changed my service to Google Fi.

Apple is trying to force it's customers into a very expensive loyalty play through lock in. Whether it's laptops,…

Marriott hack

What does the Marriott hack mean to you? Most people probably do not care but if you have a business that depends on various public systems and services it should signal a lot!

It's easy for talking heads to view the breach as simply about the data. And in the case maybe it is. However, consider what it costs Google or AWS to run their operation for a day. They have oodles of dedicated systems that they use internally and externally. "We" typically think about the cost of decryption in man-centuries based on available compute and then talk about the cost as if someone has to pay for it.
There is some hacker allegory about the cost having to be only slightly higher than the benefit gained by the hack... or something like that. But ask the question what would happen if every computer in the world suddenly started reverse engineering the god-particle of decryption? If they had to pay for it then it might never happen, however, if every poned system on the planet started wor…

Makin' Koffee

There is something gratifying about boiling water with a camp stove, watching the flames, and then stirring in the coffee.


I like a hot cup of coffee but I hate it when I burn my lips on the cup. I previously complained about titanium but this time it's aluminium.

While I'm complaining let's talk about the Vargo stoves pictured above. In a previous post I was talking about keeping it light and small. This kit would pack down small and was capable of different fuels. Since then I discovered a few things.

In this configuration [a] the base does not break the wind well enough. [b] due to the design of the folding base it does not lock into place and could fall apart.

Another problem is that the instructions suggest that you have to fill the stove with enough fuel to essentially overflow the central fill reservoir. This is so the stove's Ti gets hot and gasifies the fuel through the jets. This is a problem because [a] a full tank runs longer than one boil, depending and [b…

what's for breakfast -- cook kit

Over the years I've had a number of cook kits. I've watched in awe of Andrew Skirka's Chili and Fritos. I've boiled water for coffee, reheated pasta for my kids, made breakfast and so on. One thing I've done is complained about people who go minimalist on their cook kit and I get particularly grumpy about people with aluminium pot covers. On the one hand I'm apologizing and the other I'm not. It's complicated.

I have many stoves. small word burning stove, isobutone stove, 4 different alcohol stoves and a fuel tab stove. They each have their own problems....

Wood/twig stove - these stoves are great and great fun. The challenge is always having or finding dry wood and a safe and permissible place to flame up.

isobutane - these stoves are simply easy. But depending where you are hiking you might not be able to locate fuel. In many ways they are specialized. Certain general camping fuels can be found but still rare. The worst offense is that this stove make…

Bivy Choices

Bivy and tarp are still my preferred shelter and while I have several I still keep track of what's going on. Also in some cases they just do not fit. SAD. In my browser tab order here are the models I'm tracking. Keep in mind I'm biased away from just in time manufacturing or long lead times. Keep in mind these are high-tech 3-season variations of what the military intended.

Two things that bother me about the different models is that the manufacturers are not consistent with the measurements. Sometimes it's width and others it's girth. Sometimes in the same brand. And then they get all wrapped up with height and so on. There are also two general designs. The "tent" where the roof is raised up off the body with shock cord and then there is the sock or bag with or without a headnet or cordage to keep the net off your head.

MLD Bug Bivy $125, 6.5oz, 27in at the chest, NO size options, NO custom (MLD offers a "bivy 2" which has the same size but mo…