Month: April 2016

Reading: Practical Electronics for Inventor, 4th Edition

The book is by Paul Scherz and  Simon Monk. Covers some deep theory of electronics which I love.

But quick, who are Kirchoff, Norton, Ohm and Thevenin. – They were the once who advanced the knowledge of power, current, voltage and resistance in a circuit. They died in order in 1887, 1983, 1854 and 1926. So of the group only two lived into the 20th century. The remainder were 19th century men.

So I wonder what greats in the field of electronics we’ll see in the 21st century. I’d nominate Dave Jones of the EEVBlog. He’s exposed me to plenty of electronic theory.

Plus there’s the Signal Path Blog, then there’s Kevin Darrah, etc. All helping to expand my theoretical side of electronics.

Reading: Velvet Rage

Ok, I’m only about 15% into the book and I find myself almost completely disagreeing with the author and his premise.

He essentially says:

a) We gay people are wounded.

b) We’re good at fashion and design

c) That it’s self hatred that drives the rage.

Well I’ve been marking the kindle version up with notes, such as:

On page 22: Except some of us aren’t wounded

On page 24 where the author states “What makes the wound of shame so destructive? To experience such shame, particularly during our childhood and and adolescent years, prevents us from developing a strong sense of self”

My comment was “Want to wager on that? Try growing up Italian-American . Plenty of sense of self there and if you don’t think so, I’ll knock your fucking block off.”

I’ve never been that much a pansy   – in one part of the book when he says we’re good at fashion and design I noted “I’m an information technology specialist with a concentration of information security – I wouldn’t know fashion or culture if it bit me, but I do know politics very well. ”


SkyBell v2 setup part II

Well – after I got the damned thing to join my Wifi network by using my Kindle Fire HD6 tablet I quit the app and then fired it up on my phone. Logged in and boom, snap it works.

The thing is pretty slick. The night view via infrared is way cool. Plus it has full two way audio. So I’m just waiting to say, when someone rings the doorbell – STEP AWAY FROM THE DOOR!

Life so far in the 21st century is pretty cool. Doorbells with video and audio capability for only $119, electric cars finally breaking through the $30K mark. And wonder of wonder we might be complete off fossil fuels within the next decade. To paraphrase the old Timbuk3 song, the future’s so bright you almost have to wear shades.

Skybell v2 setup

So I bought a Skybell v2 – it’s a special doorbell that replaces the ancient button by the door and brings it into the 21st century. I paid $119 for it which is considerably less than other advanced doorbell buttons.

Installation was pretty easy. They provide the mounting plates and even the gel wiring crimps and screws. Pop your old doorbell off, hook the two wires up and you’re off. Now they say you can download the app to your phone. My phone doesn’t like the app or vice versa. And I got the bronze version. And it’s got infrared too – That’s the little white spot above. And obligatory – Marvin the Paranoid Android ditty on infrared:

Now the world has gone to bed,
Darkness won't engulf my head,
I can see by infrared,
How I hate the night.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
Try to count electric sheep,
Sweet dream wishes you can keep,
How I hate the night.

81oy74y70el-_sy355_Could not get the device to register on my phone. Drives me batty. However I will never admit defeat – so I thought what other Android based device can I install this app on. Grabbed my Kindle Fire HD6 and downloaded the SkyBell v2 APK, installed it and presto – works perfectly when I turn WiFi on. In uninstalled the app from my phone. One of the things I’m doing this weekend is getting an upgrade on that anyhow. This SGH-T599N has been pretty good – but it’s showing it’s age and is having capability problems.

But the SkyBell v2 is really nice – wide angle lens so you see EVERYTHING. And you can even take snapshots with the app.

Diana Ross 2016-04-14

Day before tax day (Mine are done already) and this evening we went to see Diana Ross. The opening act was Rhonda Ross, daughter of Diana Ross who btw if you didn’t know spent four years here in Providence going to Brown University and also has a six year old kid making Ms. Ross the elder a grandmother.

One notable thing – it was definitely an older crowd at this concert. Really older – for instance we saw one guy with a walker, one who was wheeled in a wheelchair, and I was fully expecting to see an oxygen tank or a stretcher at some point. Alas no such came to pass.

And girl sitting immediately to the right of us let one fly – god damned it’s true. They say women’s farts smell worse and this one was pretty ripe.

And Keyron swore he smelt Ben Gay on someone walking by us. Too funny. But I guess if you do the math if the elder Ms. Ross is 72, then some of the crowd might very well be in their 80’s. I feel like a fucking youngster in a crowd like that and I’m in my damned 50’s.

And you could spot the ‘sisters’ in the crowd – when a couple of what I’d call Ross’s gay anthems played they were up and dancing away, making spectacles of themselves. Keyron spotted it right away.


And here’s the divine Ms. Ross in action – well a still of her.

Got to say it, for 72 years old she puts on a hell of a show. Alas I wish I had seen her in the heyday of the 1980’s. But my musical tastes from them were more P-Funk and Jazz.

When you single handedly save the company you work for

So a bit after lunch today my systems guy instant messages me to look at the Rackspace tickets. There’s one in there warning of non-payment.

I log onto Rackspace and sure enough, $20,000 in unpaid fees. We live and die by Rackspace. All of the company’s major services are on Rackspace Cloud. So I escalated the issue by forwarding it to my boss, and my team. I also went and spoke to the controller and let her know that several of our products could potentially go dark if this wasn’t paid. That would certainly have spelt certain death of the company I work for so she took it seriously.

But my boss – I notified him at 13:34 hours that he needed to touch base with the controller vis the issue on Rackspace. He didn’t respond back to me despite my sending several instant messages to him regarding the situation. Finally at 15:33 hours he calls me – and I ask if he’s approved the payment. He says he thought he had. I call bovine effluent. Anyway got him talking to the Controller and the invoice were approved for payment. Payment will go out via ACH transfer first thing in the morning.

And more interestingly – the boss said he was in meetings all afternoon. If I were in his position and he had his I.T. Leader/Manager tell him to get in  touch with the controller regarding payment of a Rackspace invoice I’d have excused myself from the meeting and made the phone call. But he didn’t do that. Now I don’t want to narc on him to the CEO, but I’m really on the fence. My boss doesn’t know it yet, but he owes me big time. Why? Because the efforts I had to make to raise this alarm and get this squared away consumed a very big part of my day. So depending on how he tries to cover for it tomorrow – that will determine whether or not I mention it to the CEO.



Stupid User Tricks

Where I work we have several remote people. And as such we have some that I will call computer challenged to the maximum. It’s so bad that the office mate and I were talking about actually suggesting they use a basic computer knowledge test to people.

The test would involve logging in, opening Word, composing a document, then opening Gmail in the web, and even MS Outlook and having them send the document to an email address we provide.

But the number one we get from two remote users. They never power their laptops down or lock it – and then an update gets pushed, machines reboots and presto they forgot their password.

Or better – a user takes their laptop, cell phone and jetpack to a bar in Brooklyn – NYC. Yeah it got stolen. But the best part is policy requires a police report before we’ll order replacements of the phone and jetpack. So I get an email form the leader of the guys division saying they’ll get him new stuff policy be damned. I let the guy who does the purchasing know they’re going to try that and that we needed a unified front on this.

But the best part – the user asked if he could file the police report in Massachusetts. I had to explain that law enforcement didn’t work that way, that each department is it’s own separate entity.

These are just two examples of the stupidity we deal with on a day to day basis. I’m seriously considering compiling the best ones into a book. With any luck it would be a best seller on the New York Times list.

Microsoft: Way to scare people

So this morning I was looking at my computer clock. Something was off – namely the time had set itself one hour ahead. “That’s odd” I thought. I know I had setup NTP or Network Time Protocol on my Windows 10 machine.

Couldn’t see the problem before I left for work. But I mentioned it to co-worker and said “I bet it’s because it’s using Microsoft’s NTP server.”

I was correct. Got home and change it to NIST time servers and presto change-o voila – the time is once again scarily accurate.

I further wonder – how many other people are running Windows 10 with NTP turned on and using Microsoft time servers and had the same problem?

I also wonder – could it be that the Microsoft IP I blocked a couple months back be their NTP server? Nah – it’s not.