iPhone X Photography

It has been a while since I’ve posted just photos here without a story, and I guess I’ve just kept that up by writing this intro paragraph, but I wanted to share a few photos taken with the iPhone X camera that impressed me. In most cases, the phone was the only camera I had with me, but that’s not always true. Sometimes I carry my Canon S120 and other times a DSLR, but these are all phone camera shots with some simple editing in Goole Photos (color & cropping essentially).

The Snail

The Snail, Alameda, California
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EasyJet vs Eurostar

As part of our recent trip to the UK we took a three day excursion to Paris to let the kids experience something a little different, and see a new country. It is also a city I love having spent a year living there back in the 1990s.

For various reasons, it worked out simpler for us to fly into Paris from Gatwick on Easyjet, but on the return we had a choice of flying back or taking the high speed Eurostar train. Given that the kids have not experienced high speed rail before, I opted for the train. The timing was also a little better for the kids, getting them home before their normal bedtime, even with the train ride from St Pancras across London and down to East Grinstead, the nearest train station to where we were staying.

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Personal Information

Despite increasing coverage of cases where personal information is stolen, often en masse from large companies, as well as new legislation attempting to limit how much personally identifying information (PII) companies collect to just what they actually need, I am still encountering places that are clearly asking more than they need, and providing no information about how they will protect the information they collect.

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Virgin Economy Delight

Our recent (extended-)family trip to Europe meant booking a group of eight people, including two small kids, for flights from San Francisco to London. Virgin Atlantic has recently split their economy class into three tiers: Light, Classic and Delight. Since eight Premium seats was not an option, we thought we’d try the Economy Delight, and using miles to pay for part of it made it basically the same price as Classic.

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What’s a Platform To Do?

I’ve written a few threaded tweets on this subject this week, the first prior to reading about the special event Facebook held to tell journalists all about the actions they are taking to limit the spread of fake news, or, as I prefer to call it, lies, conspiracy theories and propaganda. That event turned into a PR disaster, but it has revealed a lot more about their thinking and apparent lack of either understanding or commitment to fixing the problem. Tweets, even threaded ones, are not a great place to write detailed thoughts on a subject as complex and important as this, so I am writing it here.

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Alameda Parks & Rec Aquatics

July 11 Update

Each summer we sign our 7 year old up for the Alameda Parks and Rec summer aquatics program at the Encinal High School pool. Usually he does two of the three sessions, covering 6 weeks, with lessons four nights a week. At the end of each session they issue a report card and let the kids know the level they are on.

The Pool

There are actually two pools at Encinal High, a fairly shallow one and one that is set up for lap swimming and diving (it has a spring board in one corner where the depth increases to 12′).The shallower one is heated, and is where most of the classes happen. The deeper one is used by the groups on the higher levels and for treading water by the lower groups (it has a shallow side).

The Lessons

The lessons are relatively small groups (five or six kids per group), and the instructors look like college or high school kids. There seems to be quite a bit of variation in what they actually do between instructors, but they do spend the entire time working with the kids. The last five minutes of each class are a free swim / play time for the kids too which they like.

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Alameda Library Dated Policies

For the most part, the Alameda City library serves its purpose well, but today I encountered something that surprised me given all the other technology the library has deployed. The reality though is that it was not a limitation of the technology at all. It was a dated policy being enforced by librarians with little interest in serving customers. Given the technology already deployed, the experience I had picking up a book reserved in my daughter’s name should never have happened.

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Smarthome / Insteon Customer Support

A week ago today, I was up at 6:30am as normal making lunch for my youngest to take to her pre-school. Typically, when I get to the cooking phase I ask Alexa to turn on the “counter” lights, allowing me to see the stove top without using the high wattage incandescent lights in the hood (aside: I must see if I can get LED replacements for those yet). Somewhat surprisingly, she sat for a few seconds and then said that the Insteon hub the lights were connected to wasn’t responding. That happens sometimes, and I get the Alexa app to search for new devices again and it sorts itself out. Only my phone was still upstairs, so I walked over, switched the lights on myself and forgot about it. Continue reading

MacBook Pro Crashing on Wake

Last week I let my mid-2012 13″ MacBook Pro apply the latest update for Mac OS High Sierra, version 10.13.4. That, it seems, was a mistake.

Ever since that day, when I close the lid and let it sleep for more than a few minutes, it will crash on wake up. The only errors I see in the system logs are regarding com.apple.preference.displays.MirrorDisplays not starting properly. Looking online for the error message [“com.apple.xpc.launchd [1] (com.apple.preference.displays.MirrorDisplays): Service only ran for 0 seconds. Pushing respawn out by 10 seconds.”], I found a number of places reporting that it has been happening to them in various releases of High Sierra. In all the cases I saw, the errors are in the logs and the computer fails to wake up from sleeping.

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Public EV Spaces

One of the things about driving an EV that I noticed very quickly is that the ideal locations for “refueling” infrastructure are totally different to ICE cars. Gas stations are just not the best places for charging stations, and even with the very high speed chargers that some car manufacturers are talking about, I don’t think they ever will be. Instead, the best places are the places (apart from at home), seem to be public parking lots. These are places where EVs spend enough time to pick up meaningful charge, while their drivers are doing something else.

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