Samrobb 2020

Well, since Bernie's announced, I might as well, too.  Along with the inevitable GoFundMe campaign.

Some of you may remember that this is not my first time at the rodeo.

A lot has changed in the past couple of years. Not anything in my personal life, mind you. The presidential bar has been lowered like a limbo stick, though, and while I once thought I was - possibly! - Veep material, I now realize that the stars are the limit, and that the old adage is true: ANYBODY can grow up to be President one day.

Anyways. Go ahead and read my policy positions. They haven't changed much at all, except that at this point I think I would whole-heartedly endorse a Constitutional amendment that provides for each member of the House and Senate to receive one one legally-allowed kick inna fork every year from a randomly-selected constituent.

I'm open to discussion on that last point, though. I mean, it could be TWO randomly-selected constituents instead of just one. My mind's not made up yet.

You may note that my previous announcement was tagged "snark".

This one isn't.

Samrobb 2020.Because I'm Not a Complete Frickin' Moron.



Be Mine

I have a few friend who like to post... non-traditional Valentines.

Here's a sample from this year's collection. :)

















Observations on Web Site Data

How compressible is web data? For a recent project of mine...
  • 135 GB of web pages downloaded.
  • 15 GB of actual data extracted.
  • 0.6 GB compressed data archives.
So, about a 25:1 compression ratio for text data.

Derived from the above:
  • 15/135 ~= 10%
So, approximately 90% of the web is crud.

Sturgeon's Law - ask for it by name!

Well, now.

I recently found myself in the position of needing to convert a chunk of my photos (OVER! NINE! THOUSAND!) that were stored in the Mac Photos app from HEIC format into JPG.  All so I could back them up to my Flickr account (which doesn't deal well with HEIC.  Come on, guys. Seriously?)

I was about to give up on the idea of it being simple - or automatable - and start looking at how to install ImageMagick on my Mac, when I came across this amazing and wonderful bit of advice that saved my bacon.
Use sips to quickly, easily—and freely—convert image files
Quite often, I find myself with a number of images (screenshots, typically) that I’ll want to convert from one format to another. If you search the Mac App Store, there are probably 300 apps that will let you do this; many are probably free. You could also use Automator, which has some good image conversion abilities, but can’t (for example) specify the quality of a JPEG conversion.
But the best way I’ve ever found is to use a tool that’s been included with every copy of macOS since the release of Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) in October of 2003: A command line tool called sips. Yes, it requires using Terminal, but it’s quite easy to use. sips can modify one file, or any number of files, converting from one format to another. You can also use sips to resize images, rotate images, and more.
Here's what worked like a peach for me:

  # mkdir -p ~/photo_tmp

  # cd ~/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary

  # for f in $(find . -name '*.HEIC'); do \
      fname="${file##*/}" ; \
      sips -s format jpeg -s formatOptions best \
        "${f}" --out "~/photo_tmp/${fname%HEIC}JPG" ; \
    done

Following that, open the Photos app and import the generated files.  While they will all show as imported today (whenever you do the actual import), Photos is smart enough to pick up the EXIF data in the images and put them in their proper location, chronologically speaking.

I ended up with doubled files as a result - ex, IMG_0001.HEIC and IMG_0001.JPG - but that's fine for me.  I can go back and clean up the HEIC files later if I wan to, and in the meantime, I have what I really wanted - JPG versions of those image files that can be uploaded to Flickr.


Love Thy Enemy

“Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

Whoa

Putting together notes on projects for this year...

... I don't even want to think about how many universes I have dancing in my head right now.

Chromebook

As I mentioned earlier, one of my goals is to walk a bit less, and write a bit more.

(It may not have been stated that way, but that's the way I'm thinking about it :)

With that in mind, I decided that I'd like to have a basic laptop that I can throw in a satchel and haul around with me on my walks. Part of the reason I've really started to enjoy walking is that it gives me time to think and gets my thoughts flowing. So in the past year, I've done more than a little bit of draft writing on my phone as I've been out and about... and, honestly, it's a pain in the patootie.  Even with text-to-speech, it's annoying.

Enter the Lenovo N42 Chromebook.

It's light, seems pretty rugged, and weighs in at just a bit under three and a half pounds.  Not a big deal, really.  A few extra pounds will help me work just a wee bit harder as I go, and I'll have the ability to stop and write for a bit along the way.

More importantly, it's cheap.  I like to walk back alleys.  That's where the interesting stuff is.  I've never been hassled, but if I'm going to be carrying around something, I'd rather it be a cheap Chromebook than a Mac Air or something similar.  Plus, being a Chromebook, it's got sync capabilities with Google Drive, so I can write sans network connection then let everything sync up later when I get back to work or home.

The performance is decent. Some things seem to load slowly in Chrome, but for the most part, it's responsive enough.  I'm writing this update on the Chromebook, in fact.  The keyboard layout is slightly different from a Mac (and even a Wintel machine), but I'm not sure how much of that is the underlying OS, and how much is the fat that everything seems to be running under Chrome.

The keyboard itself is absolutely FABULOUS.  It might turn out to be a flimsy piece of junk that breaks after a few weeks of used, but let me tell you, right now it's absolutely wonderful.  I was worried a LOT about the keyboard.  That and the display are the real reason for buying this thing, and a crappy keyboard would make writing a horrible pain.  As it is, I'm barely even noticing it.  They keys are just right - not too clicky, not too soft, not too stiff.  Since this is a 13" laptop, too, my hands actually fit comfortably on the keyboard.

The display is nothing to write home about, but it is perfectly serviceable for doing text editing.  Battery life looks like it's going to be pretty good, too.  I started off plugged in until I got to a full charge, then unplugged to see how well the battery lasts.  It's been about three hours of playing around so far, and the battery meter is telling me I'm at 88% with 11:25 left to go until I run out of power.  That's pretty sweet.

Speaking of playing... the thing that sold me on a Chromebook was the number of available minimalist writing editors available for it.  Anything that will let me do text editing would be fine, to be honest.  My plan is to bang out some drafts, save them to Google Drive, then yank them into Scrivener for organizing, cleanup and editing.  Heck, I could do all that (and have done that in the past, in fact!) as Blogger drafts.  Having something a little more sophisticated than a basic text editor would be nice, though, so I spent the evening installing and trying out a few.

The built-in Text editor is just that.  Looks a lot like Notebook with a little bit more oomph to it.  If you're comfortable with that sort of thing, and are looking for absolutely minimal setup, that's probably all you'd need.  I was interested in finding something just a wee bit more featureful, though.

Caret looks like a great little programming editor.  I've used Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code, and Caret is very similar.  I honestly didn't want a programmer's editor, though.  Don't ask me why.  Maybe because it feels too much like the tools I used day to day for work.  I'm sure I could write in it, of course, but when I pop open something with that look and feel, my mind immediately goes to code.  That's not what I want in this case.

Next in line I was going to try Writer.  I saw a lot of recommendations for it, but it a quick look at some comments about it showed that they use their own servers for storage.  To be very honest, I'm not comfortable with that.  I've had some recent personal experiences  where a change in ownership of a company has made getting backups of archival data difficult.  You can export data if you buy the Pro version, but... you know what?  No. I want something that will save to Google drive.  I've already got my Drive synced to 3-4 different places, so even if Google decides I can't access it anymore, I at least have backups.  I'll stick with that setup, thank you.

I ended up trying another editor called Calmly Writer.  Very nice, minimalist, with just enough configuration options (including white-on-black text mode) that I felt like I could make it just what I wanted without feeling overwhelmed by options.  It has the option to save in a bunch of different formats, including plain text, which is pretty much just what I want.  So I took it for a spin, wrote a few hundred words, then said, "That'll do, pig.  That'll do."

The very last thing I did was install Linux.

Yes, you can install Linux on a Chromebook now, alongside the Chrome OS... or on top of it, if you want to think of it that way. An install of Debian Linux runs in a container on top of Chrome OS, and you can start it just like any other app.  It comes set up with a bunch of the usual suspects, including ssh and vim.  That was completely unexpected, and very nice.  I've got a couple of things I do outside of work to help administer existing web sites for a couple of non-profits, and having the ability to do it from this little Chromebook is really appealing.

So, that's the state of the world.  Happy cheap little rugged Chromebook makes me happy.  Because writing, and Linux.

... but mostly writing.  Which is what I need to be doing now.  Time to take this thing out for an extended trial... :)

The Walking Man Walks On By...

December 29th, 2018.

That day's walk was five and a half miles.

Which put me at 2020 miles for the year.  My lovely wife was with me for 370 of them, including the last dozen miles. I could never have done it without her encouragement.

A special thank you to Dawn, Bob, Marcia, David, Jon, Martin, Debbie, Aaron, Amy, Michelle, and so many others who were a constant source of encouragement.

Plus a VERY special thank you to Lori, Sarah, Cheri and the rest fo the folks down at Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea for keeping me caffeinated throughout all my travels

Some stats:
  • Walked 338/363 days this year.
  • Average of 5.97 miles per day.
  • Twenty-nine days walking at the Pittsburgh Mills mall.
  • Sixteen days where I did 10+ miles.
  • Five pairs of shoes.
  • Two half-marathons.
  • Over 18,000 photos.
  • Over 1,000 photos of abandoned clothing.
  • Shed 15 pounds, and went through two new belts.
Goals for next year?
  1. Walk in 19 new locations for 2019.
  2. Lose 19 pounds in 2019 - get down to 180.
  3. Write 190k words in 2019 - 3700 words per week.
As an adjunct to #3, I intend to finish a novel this year, and publish it; either indie, or trad.

One way or another.

Here's to 2019!

Testing

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04 January 2019

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Lost Word

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Lost Word

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Lost Word
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Lost Word

Walking Man

So, I've been walking this year.

A lot.

Earlier this year, I decided that my goal for this year would be to try and walk 2018 miles in 2018.

As of today, I'm on my fifth pair of shoes for the year, and I have just a little bit under 100 miles to go to reach that goal.

As of tomorrow - if I can get out and do my daily walk as planned - I will have walked twice as much this year as I have last year.  Including running two (official) half marathons, and walking several unofficial "What the heck, let's see fi we can do 13 miles today" hikes.

I don't want to walk nearly as much next year.  I'm happy that I set myself a hard goal, and very happy that I'm going to meet it... but walking 5+ miles every day gets old fast.  I do like to take a longer walk every now and then, but I think I will enjoy my time much more if I don't have to focus on mileage.

So I think my goal for 2019 will be to walk in 19 new cities.  That should actually be pretty easy - I think I've managed a good two dozen different locations outside of Pittsburgh proper this year, just looking for new places to wander.

When I first started walking last year, I was doing it for my health.  Now, I'm doing it because it's a habit, and because I enjoy visiting new places and taking pictures of interesting things along the way.  I've been posting my photographs on Facebook, but I've been experimenting with using Flickr instead these days.  If you'd like to take a look, you can find me there as Walking Samrobb.