Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Day packs - what are they good for?

I started looking for a few different names for this post because I have a day pack and some very UL gear and it's still not big enough. So what's it really good for? Maybe snacks and water when going to the beach so long as you use a micro towel and not a beach towel.

@JupiterHikes uses a PalantePacks Joey. It's 26L and he does many different types of hikes. What's interesting is that he's confident that where he is going and what he needs will fit in those compact 26L. He's also spent a few extra bucks to make sure he has what he needs and nothing more. Albeit he's added a fanny pack.


Monday, June 24, 2019

too much stuff - what gives you joy?

I'm putting a pack together for an upcoming trip that might afford me some out of doors sleeping. When I first put my pack together I had a hammock and ground tarp setup. Unfortunately my 40L pack was full and now there was no place for me to keep my underwear.

I've stripped my gear to the minimum and I'm happy again... but I miss the hammock.

Friday, June 21, 2019

I'm a hiker do I need a BOB

Hell no you do not need a BOB (Bug out bag). A BOB is also known as a "go bag"... it's a pack you grab on the way out the door when all hell is breaking loose and you need to get to safety and survive for some period of time. That pack should allow you to extend the rule of 3s and the 5Cs. But the question is do you need one?

My quick answer that I posted on a vlog:
from the WTF WAS I THINKING category... forget all this nonsense and look into ultralight and super ultralight hiking. After that it's all about selecting the colors that make you happy... but consider this... bugging out in a military context means you are being hunted by some other force. That could be law enforcement but let's go with the foreign invader, crash of wall street or the zombie apocalypse. If everyone with a bug out bag decided to head for the hills the hills would be pretty crowded.
That said; I live in Florida and we get the occasional hurricane. There are other areas of the country that have other type of disasters and having some comfort while avoiding natural events is a good thing but it's important to note that none of this has lawlessness.

I'm thinking about that woman who was lost in Hawaii... That's just one person and they could not find her for days and she did not have a BOB to improve her survival.  Just plain common sense and good choices. Now ask yourself what would happen if half the island's population went to the forest to hide?

That same presenter made another video... "complete Walmart kit for overnighters". This video makes more sense if you're not a hiker. But even if you are... the rule should be always know where your Walmart is and have a shopping list.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

YTT or Hulu the breakdown

The quick answer... hulu wins but not because it's better... just less bad.

. . .

The life of a cord cutter....

Last night we experienced an outage at Hulu. It was terribly frustrating because it's probably been going on, intermittently, for a couple of days only the hulu app and the web app or customer service "don't know and won't tell". So last night I did a deeper dive into YTT (YouTubeTV) and in my case it's not a good match.

The customer service person I was chatting with at YTT was very helpful. There is so much to know:

- not all LIVE content will be available VOD (video on demand)
- YTT is a proxy or passthru for the live content
- VOD content is uploaded by the networks
- LIVE and VOD as provided cannot skip commercials
- only recorded shows can be skipped
- if you jump into a live show you are supposed to be able to skip back to the start of the show but that did not work for me. But seems counter-intuitive if YTT is merely a proxy
- YTT does not support Amazon Fire so if you have an older TV you are limited in the available appliances and some are better than others.
- people have been reporting that YTT has been substituting VOD for their personal recordings and that means commercials.
- YTT is limited to 3 devices. (needs clarification)

The biggest non-starter is that I have a g-suite or domain account for our family. Unfortunately I cannot do a "family share" meaning that each family member cannot have their own interests and recording catalog.

As for hulu I did not get any confirmation like I did from YTT, however, I imagine it works similarly in terms of the VOD and LIVE streaming... however,

- I can jump into a live show and skip to the beginning
- commercials on recorded shows are automatically skipped if you pay for commercial skip
- hulu has plenty of device support including amazon file and roku.

With hulu, like satellite TV, there are service disruptions.

- the quality of their apps seems limited... when there is a system outage or service degradation they are not transparent. At least when Dish fails you just look for rain.
- there are bugs like profile crossover where my wife's profile is limited to the kids shows
- I'm constantly being asked to login with a password even though the various devices are registered.
- The user experience is just not thought out or professional.

I think there is room for a new player but the cost for entry will be huge.

Friday, June 14, 2019

I see the light

Watching, reading or listening to stories of hikers on the famous trails typically take place in daylight hours. Occasionally there are stories about a night hike here and there. But what I never hear is someone hiking the Big Cypress at night. On the AT, PCT and CDT a hiker can just stop, wrap themselves in a tarp or tent and go to sleep. But in Big Cypress unless it's the dry season or you are on high ground... or you have a hammock then you gotta finish...

But how does that work if your flashlight or headlamp stops working?

Petzel, Vitchelo, Olight

I have several flashlight with different features. Let's start with my least favorite...

The Viitchelo is the worst. I have two models. One with shock cord and two with a strap. The buttons are unreliable. The cap clip is too strong and the lamp too heavy for a boonie had. The clip makes managing the strap very difficult. However the two biggest issues are [1] battery life is different even in the same model [2] the button functions are different even though the lamps share the same form factor. The batteries are the CR2032 and are quite common but not as common as others.

The olight is a good light and I mostly use it when I walk the dog or I'm wandering around the house looking for things under beds. The clip is mainly meant for a pocket or a belt or maybe a ball cap but not a boonie. It has two lumen settings but no red. The high setting is good to 100 feet but does not have a focus ring. But this one is metal and therefore heavy. Also the replacement batteries are AAA and so they are more common.

The Petzel's are pretty good. Between the e-lite and the Bindi I pretty most of my use-cases covered but do I really want to carry two lamps? And what about my other use-cases? But there is a lot going on here...
  • the elite comes with a red case. Sure I will find it in my pack or belt but the fit is poor.
  • The elite output is 50 lumens for 12 hours from 2x CR2032.
  • The description for the elite includes "emergency" so I'm not sure it's good for every day use.
  • The Bindi power consumption is no where near the elite even computing the averages
  • The Bindi is not waterproof. That probably because the micro USB port.
  • The elite is somewhat waterproof (3 feet for 30 minutes)
  • The worst part of the Bindi is the button.
I do not want to dump the Bindi or the elite but the real champ here is this one.

I do not know the real manufacturer's name because it seems to be re-branded under many different names. This particular model:
  • Output is not great - 550 lumens on high - 30 min - 15 lumens - 3 hrs.
  • will clip on my boonie
  • great on a key ring
  • charges in 45 minutes
  • mostly waterproof

What a crazy set of decisions! Only the Petzel elite has enough juice for at lease one complete night hike or disaster at MAX lumens. But if the Batteries die in the middle of the mission then what? On a moonless night you're replacing the batteries in the dark and you better have plenty of them. Also, if you're looking in the pack for batteries then another headlamp makes the most sense because you probably need to be hands-free. I could make a stronger case for a second elite.

Monday, June 10, 2019

How fast is fast enough?

There was a time when I would download many GB and possibly TB of videos all for the purpose of binge watching an entire series over many seasons. Now that Netflix, Prime Video and no hulu fill most of that need every is streamed. So what sort of speed do I need in the house?



It's not that difficult of a question and there are some generalities you can apply. How many HD or 4K TVs? Are you actually downloading big things?

So; since I no longer download I do not need the big pipes. What I really need is symmetrical speeds (same upload and download) and reliability. Since the later is impossible to predict but can be implemented with multiple vendors and load balancing that's what I did. The former is possible from both ATT and Comcast so both boxes checked.

As for speed... there are 4 people in the house... but let's assume one guest... so there could be 5 streams going at once. HD needs about 8Mbps per stream for a grand total of 45Mbps. And if that were a 4K stream then basically multiple by 4x. That get's me to 200Gbps. Add 100Gbps for headroom, computers, phone and iPad uploads and downloads and you're in the 300-400Gbps.

What's amazing is that my 3 ISP configuration at 300Gbps per service with hulu and HBO costs less than 1 ISP 1G with a HD TV and my Tivo.

And here is the proof... While it's not exactly 30 days it is telling...


350GB = 2,800Gb... even at a full 1Gbps that would be about 46 minutes. What would we do with the remaining 30 days and 23 hours and 15 minutes?

ATT has an interesting pricing.


For $100 you get unlimited data and 1Gbps data rate. And if you want to throttle down to 300Mbps for $90 you are capped at 1TB per month.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Google Cloud Computing Outage

If you're complaining about the outage yesterday then you're an id10t. I just read the byline on TechCrunch and the author and editors clearly do not understand the options and why the occasional cloud infrastructure outage is simply not that big of a deal.



Simply put you get what you pay for and diversity is king.

First of all there is nothing capable of 100% availability. Just look at all of the loopholes in the six sigma specification. Second the more reliable or the more clicks you want to capture closest to an "event" the more it will cost to reconcile those last events; Just as your creditcard's provider. And more of that cost will have to be passed on to the customer.

Sure, it sucks when a system goes down and even worse when it's a system you or great number of people rely on. But your transaction is not any more or less important than anyone else's... And this is not a call to move your services in-house. If these systems were in-house [a] would you be able to prevent this from happening? [b] could you detect it any faster? [c] wold you be able to resolve it any faster? [d] what do you tell your customers?

[a] would you be able to prevent this from happening? -- It just depends on how much you want to spend waiting for the 1000 year event or is the 500 year even good enough. And the solution may be weaker letting it ride.

[b] could you detect it any faster? -- unlikely. Cloud providers continue to instrument their systems and they are looking or the 1000 year events. Big outages have big costs in terms of reputation, ability to raise prices, restore customer faith.

[c] would you be able to resolve it any faster? -- not unless you started hiring world class SREs and they do not come cheap.

[d] what do you tell your customers? -- if it's your hardware you have to dance and if it's the cloud provider (providing it's reputable) then you get to blame someone else and you can justify it based on cost to the customer.

Interestingly... in the creditcard business there is an agreement between mastercard and visa that if one or the other has a systemwide outage that they can rely on the other to carry their transactions.

Also, consider that after years of Microsoft Blue Screen Of Death and so may viruses that people still buy, install and upgrade Microsoft products.

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 ...