a jaunty little webcam!
refresh this page for updated image
links! links! links!
send me a note!
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    an idyllwild weather clam!

    Our gal, The Idyllwild Weather Clam thinks that it will rain again today.

    Tuesday 22 August 2017
    Currently at 4:54 AM 57°


    Up to the minute now-casting provided by: Idyllwild Weather Clam Mega-Skyview Ultra-Precision Doppler 160000 Super Computron Forecast in Full Spectrum HD

    Entries in tech (30)

    Friday
    Mar242017

    The American Experiment: Testing The Low Values Edition

    A lovely centered picture of a my driveway
    Friends,

    Whether it's stripping healthcare out of a healthcare bill because it's too generous, hunting bears while they're hibernating, or removing online privacy protections so ISPs can make a dollar, the majority party in this United States Congress has been busy. Why do they hate people, sleeping bear cubs and people? Because there is a dollar to be made, and your modern Republican Party is chock full of people who have no interest in you.

    I propose that while we bide our time until they can be voted out of power, we have a little fun at their donor's expense: keep as many browser windows open and search for as many different things as your computer will allow. Let's work together to make our browsing and search histories worthless!

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Tuesday
    Jan312017

    The Magic Of Webcammery!

    A lovely centered picture of the computer room
    Friends,

    Over the weekend, I replaced the old webcam server with a not nearly as old webcam server and the results so far have been better than I'd hoped. The new server is more responsive, has more storage, and should be able to stay up and running more consistently. Plus, it's a nice way to keep technology up and running and useful that some Cupertino-based computer companies have deemed obsolete.

    During the transition, I temporarily lost one of the primary cameras, but I added a new one that's taking great pictures. Now you can see what the neighbors are up to during most of the day and some of the night.

    That's not creepy, is it?

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Monday
    Jan232017

    Programming Note: Webcam Issues

    A lovely centered picture of the computer room
    Friends,

    Just a brief note to let you know that the webcam server at the Damp Dog Lodge has gone down and it may be the end of the line for the old gal. The machine is almost 15 years old, which is nearly 400 in computer years, so it might be time to put it out to pasture.

    The good news is that our crack team of engineers is working on the case and we should have a replacement ready to go in a few days.

    All we have to do is figure out what this knob does...

    Your best pal in the whole wide world,

    - bob
    Friday
    May132016

    Jaunty Little McBlogface

    Friends,

    You may recall the sad saga of Boaty McBoatface, which I won't retell here, but now Google has released their artificial intelligence engine to open source. The natural English language parser?

    Parsey McParseface.

    My Friday is made.

    Your best pal in the whole world,

    - bob

    Monday
    May022016

    One Half AA?



    Friends,

    I'm sorry to report this morning that a) Southern California Edison is not very good at the whole consistently providing electricity thing and that b) the trusty old Power Macintosh that provides images for the Jaunty Little Webcam did not survive the last extended outage. The good news is that I think the problem with the Mac is its geriatric clock battery which is no longer charging and not keeping the clock alive. Wake On LAN and Restart After Power Outage? Yeah, they're handled by the clock.

    The good news is that replacement batteries are cheap. The bad news is they won't show up until the end of the week, so we're sunk until then. Save a good thought for the old Macintosh that she'll live to see another day, won't you?

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Jun172015

    In Defense Of Yesterday's Technology

     

    Friends,

    I've been a subscriber to a single wireless phone carrier for twelve years, which is absurd when you think about it. Who hasn't switched and flopped between carriers to get the best price or the best signal or to take advantage of a last gasp deal (Hello, T-Mobile!). I was finally able to take advantage of my, erm, loyalty yesterday and also a giant multinational corporation hoping to clear last year's phone model out of the channel to get an iPhone 6 for nothing down. Also, the payments on the new phone with the deal are lower than the old phone, so the monthly is lower. That's the financials, but what about the hardware?

    Brilliant. The camera is lovely, the processor is very fast and migration of data from the old to the new model was reasonably quick when directly connected to the desktop through iTunes. It's bigger than the older phone, but it still fits in a front jeans pocket.

    All that said, there are some problems. My laptop is from (late) 2007 and has been rejuvinated with a RAM and hybrid hard drive (part SSD, part spinning disks) upgrade, but still can't run the latest version of Mac OS X. That means that it has been excluded from the great cloudiverse. It can't share data with the new phone, iPad, or the desktop machine if I turn iCloud on. Apple makes an app (or application, if you will) that allows Windows machines to access iCloud storage, but you can't do that on old Macs. Perfectly functional Macs.

    Perfectly functional Intel-based machines are out. The Power PC machines, like the G4 Cube, Power Mac, Powerbook G3s and iBooks (before iBooks was an e-book purchasing app, or application, if you will) are still running, but out of luck in this ecosystem. Surely you don't want to toss these machines in the bin since they have a lot of useful life left doing the things that most people want to do, like browsing the web or checking email, so making these machines obsolete seems like a waste.

    There are lots of ways around this file sharing problem, like Dropbox, and local file sharing, but the many old machines on my network deserve something better. They've built the company, or at least the ethos of the company, so why not cut them a little slack?

    I know why, but that's the subject of the next piece.

    Your pal,

    - bob

     

    Friday
    Nov152013

    Goodbye, Blogger


    So long, weirdos.

    Friends,

    It's been a very long time and we've had a lot of laughs, but it's time to finally bid the Jaunty Little Blog at Blogger farewell. Their interface isn't playing nice with the tools I use every day, Google has made it very clear in revisions to their terms of service that content I post can be sold by them however they see fit, and maintaining two sites has been a real impediment to my willingness to post new content. Something had to give and Google has made the decision for me. The nice people at Squarespace, on the other hand, have been generous with their support (maybe because I'm paying them a nominal fee) and their tools work all the time, unlike the advertising behemoth that Google has become.

    I'll miss the old site a little only due to nostalgia, but there's more cool stuff to come at therieau.com, so please take the time and follow me over there. You won't necessarily be glad you did, but you'll be sad if you don't.

    Good night Blogger.

    Your best pal in the entire world,

    - bob

    Friday
    Oct112013

    Difficulties, Technical and Otherwise

     

    Friends,

    Quite a lot has transpired since the last post in mid-September. Well, it's the last post that you can see. There are a bunch of posts hiding in a tin, buried in the basement of this blog that we can never talk about if I wish to remain employed. Sort of screedy, kinda stabby. The less said about them, the better.

    What I do know is that a bunch of things just aren't working right now. The webcam is failing to upload due to a server configuration issue (bad certificate?) so the last picture you see is from the morning before the earliest snowfall I can remember. No snow pictures for you, I'm afraid. There are plenty on the internet though, just do a search. You'll be okay.

    Also, for some damn reason, The Idyllwild Weather Clam is unable to update her spot on the Blogger clone of this site. Maybe it's time to finally pack it in over there and redirect to Squarespace. They were great when we started this hot mess, but it seems that functionality is slowly falling away. Maybe Google's losing interest in Blogger. That wouldn't be surprising.

    More later today...

    - bob

    Monday
    Aug152011

    An Ad Agency Buys A Handheld Radio Manufacturer

     

    Friends,

    News came out this morning that Google is buying Motorola Mobility (the smartphone arm of Motorola) for twelve and a half billion dollars. That's a premium over how Motorola shares were valued last Friday and carries with it, I think, the overwhelming odor of desperation.

    Of course, everybody's making a happy announcement about the sale, like how the synergistic metrics between the longtime global partner teams are now forming a more tightly integrated new paradigm, or somesuch, but doesn't this mean that Google is now directly competing with LG, HTC, Samsung and all the other Android handset manufacturers? And won't those same highly valued partners continue to wonder how Google is sandbagging every time an Android release comes out? If this is a reaction to the Nortel patent grab of a couple weeks ago by Apple, Microsoft and others, it seems to me that it's a bit like putting out a camp fire by urinating on it without warning all the other campers to pull their marshmallows out first.

    - bob

    P.S. I use the first generation Motorola Droid for work and am as impressed by it as this guy.

    UPDATE: Super creepy and eerily similar plaudits for the marriage here. We welcome the news!

    Tuesday
    May102011

    This Seems Bad

    Friends,

    This stinks. A real virus out in the wild for Macintosh? Really? For reals? Don't sign up for any antivirus software for the Mac just yet. Even they don't know how to deal with this at the moment, so don't throw money at folks out of panic. Here at our Secret Alpine Laboratory, we've been working on a timer to let you know exactly when to panic. Not yet, my pretties. Not yet.

    Just be careful out there people.

    - bob


    UPDATE: Here's a non-hysterical list of antivirus and malware-ratting-out software for the Mac from Lifehacker. I'm going to run some free stuff for a little while to see if it doesn't stink too bad and I'll let you know how that turns out. This whole think stinks, kinda like the Russian mob telling you that you have to start wearing briefs under your kilt.

    Monday
    May092011

    Another Good Use Of Bandwidth

    Friends,

    It seemed like a good idea when my hours at The Festival of Dirt were cut in half to go out and get a new job. The job numbers are looking up, I hear. Plus, the Great Recession (as we're calling it now) is finally over. Good news! Nifty! Should be a piece of cake to find new employment!

    Well dear readers, this has not been the case. I've submitted resumes for positions that are essentially what I do now and for jobs that I would love to do, but I haven't heard from anybody except spammers who will rewrite my resume for a fee or provide me with a sure-fire job finding toolkit, also for a fee. I find this infuriating on two levels, as I'm sure you do. The end goal of my job search isn't actually to give other people money (which seems intuitive, but when you're busy being evil, maybe you miss the simple stuff) nor is it to provide personal information to a mailing list instead of an employer. This country's economy has gone through a very rough patch, but that's no excuse to prey on the desperate.

    Speaking of desperate though, if I'm going to embark on Plan B, to get some freelance work to make up the other half of my salary, my poor website would need a refresh. You remember the old, tired, iWeb template site, don't you? No?

     

    It was pretty simple and I didn't update it very often, so nobody showed up. The hit count was low and very few people gave it a second thought, but that's about to change!

    The new site, pictured at the top, is better in every way. It has pages and links, which makes it a proper website. A picture of the Mighty Jeepster is now on every page to lend some much-needed dynamism. The webcam is still there, plus there are now colored rectangles, which make it more modern. Also, the web development software I'm now using has some settings that make the thing render differently depending on the browser you're using, which I hadn't intended.

    Overall, it's really great and you should visit!

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Thursday
    Jan132011

    Hello, My Name Is Betty. How May I Help You?

    Friends,

    This fine photo showed up on Cult of Mac this morning and it brightened my day. Seriously, how is Apple's market share still 10%?

    - bob

    ATTRIBUTION UPDATE: Yes, this great picture came from the Cult of Mac blog, but where did they find it? It was taken by Anita and Amit Vachharajani (both of them? -ed Yes, both. Shhh.) while on a trip to Tamil Nadu. If you have the chance, please go visit their blog about "books, babies, life, and everything in between." That's a lot of ground to cover, but they seem to make a bold effort to cover it all. Thank you Amit and Anita!

    Friday
    Jul232010

    The 25th Anniversary of Amiga

     

    Friends,

    On this day in 1985, the Commodore Amiga 1000 was first introduced to the public (although some say it was actually on the 24th, who are we to pick nits?). As personal computers go, it represented simultaneously a stunning a achievement with its multitasking operating system and custom chips while also being pretty low rent with its whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM.

     

    I had a long and mostly happy time with my Amiga 1200, incompatibilities and slow development from Commodore and later the subsequent flaky owners of the brand aside. I even convinced my friend to purchase an Amiga 2000 for some R&D work many moons ago. With the custom chips Denise, Agnes and Paula serving up sweet for the time video, seeming unlimited memory, and eight bit audio; there was nothing these machines couldn't do.

    Except connect to cheap PC hard drives, or this world wide web thing. Or send decent output to a laser printer.

    Thankfully, there are still weirdos out there selling parts and software for the old girl. There are even folks willing to, for nostalgia's sake, invest a little time to open up the case to peek inside.

    I still have my old 1200 stored in a place of prominence in a milk crate in the garage. It's a great idea, of course, because you never know when the hackers will bring down your internets and your shiny multi-core ordenadors. Maybe we'll fire up the Amigas and our 14.4k modems to get it all put back together again. And we'll call our new service Delphi...

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Jul142010

    A Quick Question In Which I Ask About Emergency Communications

     

    Friends,

    There's a nifty article at physorg.com about turning existing mobile phones into their own network during emergencies when the local infrastructure has gone down. Apparently, it can be as simple as turning on the WiFi radios in smartphones and allowing them to find each other to set up an ad hoc network automatically. These guys would definitely be interested in something like that, but it remains to be seen if these guys would. 

    Would you be up for installing a bit of software on your phone (even if you had to pay for it) to enable it to be a node in an emergency communications network? How much would you be willing to pay? A buck? Five?

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Jun232010

    Tech Blort: In The Future, Things Will Occur Tomorrow!

    Friends,

    It's time to throw a bunch of random bits together and call it a legitimate post. I know you're excited about this, so let's not delay one more second...

    • Stuntbook! - A couple of years ago, my dear friend was told by the geniuses at the Apple Store Genius Bar that the hard drive in her Powerbook was toast. Beyond repair. Nothing they could do but try to salvage as much data off of the thing as possible. "Horrors!" she thought, and wondered what to do. The geniuses suggested that the best course of action would be to buy a new, faster Macbook. So she did.

      Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. She offered the dead computer to me. "If you can fix it, it's yours." I issued two commands (guess what they were for ten bonus points and a chance at the lightning round!) and restored the existing hard drive in about an hour. Didn't really matter though, since I'd already purchased a great big new hard drive. Installation took an hour or so, migrating the everything from the poor little iBook took half the night, sharing a year of photographs with the big machine took half a day. This brings us much closer to podcastville.
    • Entourage stinks - Let's say that you were going to use Microsoft Entourage 2008 to read your mail on an Exchange server. And let's also assume that had to synchronize somewhere around 8,000 messages over a T1 line. How long should that take? A half hour? Maybe one whole hour? Try twenty hours. Cripes.
    • Too bright! - Some people say that staring at a bright screen late at night disrupts your sleep rhythms and causes other weird health problems, like vampirism and unnatural attraction to exposed lightbulbs. F.Lux is a little utility for Mac, Windows and Linux to automatically dim and change the color temperature of your display during evening hours. I've installed it, but I haven't had it running long enough to see if it works. If you have, please drop a note in the comments.
    • Google Maps for Android now includes transit times - Why do I care? I'm going on a little vacation this weekend and have opted to not rent a car. This very act makes me kinda nervous (because, you know, no car), but I'm going to try to rely on public transportation. Maybe Google can help me get around. Maybe it's all still in beta. Sigh.


    Back in a couple days,

    - bob

    Thursday
    Apr292010

    Handwriting Recognition

    No, not the sauce.
    This should work out well.

    Friends,

    HP, the former Hewlett-Packard, has just announced their purchase of beleaguered cellphone manufacturer Palm. Some might say that this billion and a half dollar purchase is likely to go as smoothly as the Compaq merger. Others seem to think that it's merely a patent grab so HP can build a tablet that can compete with Apple's iPad. Personally, I think the stars have truly aligned to bless this marriage. How do I know?

    Well, today is rapper Master P's birthday. And in "H" news, it's also the birthday of Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth's lead singer Johann Hegg. These are signs, people.

    Everything is going to be just fine.

    - bob

    Sunday
    Apr252010

    Facialtome Diaries: Today's Young Youth Edition

    What do we want? Our beautiful lives handed to us on a platter! When do we want it? C'mon, really? Friends,

    Remember when you were a college freshman? When you had stars in your eyes? When you were going to take the world by the horns unconcerned about getting gored? Sometimes I see that people on the Facebook need some help, especially in my area of expertise. One of those people is my Facebook friend who is the daughter of my friends who has embarked on taking herself way too seriously at a liberal arts college back East.

    Eventually the reality of this world will surely catch up to her and deal her the soul-crushing blow it dealt the rest of us. In the meanwhile, this exchange happened today...

    Liberal Arts College Freshman: Does anyone have an old school Polaroid camera that they would love to give me? If so, I will be forever and eternally grateful.
    Friend Of Freshman: ebay has some nice one for under 5 bucks. Mine was .99 cents
    Your Humble Author: You can have my Polaroid 800, but this might make more sense. Just download Polardroid on your Mac and use it to modify your digital photos for totally blown-out, over-saturated pics...
    http://www.poladroid.net/

    Liberal Arts College Freshman:
    1) I don't have a Mac. I don't really think Mac is an ethical company so I try not to buy from them.
    2) I don't have a digital camera because I don't personally think digital photography is the best artist art form when it comes to photos.
    3) I want a Polaroid camera because they are history and after that scare awhile back when they said they were going to stop making Polaroid film, I decided to invest.
    Thanks for the suggestion though!

    Apple isn't an ethical company. Not as ethical as, say, Microsoft or HP. There's that. But digital photography isn't an art form compared to a Polaroid?

    Ah, youth. You kids are so screwed.

    - bob

    Wednesday
    Apr142010

    World Goes Round In Circles

    Ladies and gentlemen, that's the joy of pure, life-like video quality...
    Nothing tape-delayed about her excitement!

    Friends,

    On this day in 1956, Ampex demonstrated the first videotape recorder at the NAB show in Chicago (what? not in Vegas? -ed Las Vegas hadn't been invented yet.). Immediately following this development, people on the west coast started losing a lot of sleep. Soon after that, Apple released the iPad so people could watch movies and television shows anywhere. (um, there were some important developments in between those two inventions, weren't there? -ed I think so, but mostly pet rocks and fuel injection. It's all a blur.)

    - bob

    P.S. Yes, I know the picture isn't of a VXR-1000. I only found one good one and I didn't think it'd scale very easily.

    Tuesday
    Mar092010

    Sympathy for Microsoft Office

    Why do girls love Atari computer camp?
    Why? In the name of all that's right, why? click to embiggen.

    Friends,

    I decided a little while ago to hold hold office hours for staff here at the Festival of Dirt, just like your professors at the Universidad de Monos Chillando did to help you out with your coursework way back when. The first session yesterday was lightly attended, even though I billed it as "the most fun you're likely to have today." Maybe next time I should bring treats.

    - bob

    P.S. Any tips on how to make Powerpoint interesting? Or, more to the point, any tips on how to discuss Powerpoint without a flaming pentagram spontaneously forming on the floor and a gaping hole to the darkest reaches of damnation opening up? Thanks in advance for your help!

    UPDATE: Why do girls like any sort of computer camp? Because of this:

    Your bling got blung.

    Sigh.

    from The Daily What via BoingBoing. Thanks!

    Tuesday
    Jan052010

    Planet? No, It Just Kinda Happened.

    Actual artist's interpretation of a similar event before either of them occurred.
    Friends,

    Yesterday, NASA and JPL announced that the Kepler space telescope had discovered five planets outside of our solar system. This is good news if you took JPL in your Fantasy Number of Planets league and good news for folks already tired of this year's cold weather. According to astronomers, the planets range in temperature between 2,200 and 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. No more shoveling the driveway!

    Scientists at JPL have documented their assumptions...
    Sure, the telescope's mission is to find planets that we can move to when things get too dicey here (I'm moving to the planet where playing Hip Hop or rap is a capital crime), and the announcement seems a bit apologetic for finding screaming hot planets Kepler 4b through 8b first, but I'm thrilled by the news. It's the first step in the "too hot, too cold, just right" triumvirate, and at the rate they're going, we'll be moving off this rock by 2012.

    Well, you'll be moving off this rock. Right?

    - bob