Our longtime cat, Giant Kitty, passed away a couple of months ago. She had a good, long life (15 years) and we miss her terribly. We’d decided that we would like still like to have a cat in the house, so we planned to get a rescue cat. Giant Kitty was about 3 years old when she was adopted, and our original plan was to get another adult. We were also open to getting a younger cat, as we thought it would be fun for Jacob to watch a kitten grow into adulthood.
We stopped at the Michigan Humane Society on Saturday and spent some time with the residents. There was a wealth of beautiful animals there, all waiting for loving homes. In the end, we went with Ziggy (née Trucker), whose personality was immediately apparent. He’s a 3-month-old domestic short hair mix. He spent the first few hours hiding behind and under things in my home office, but it didn’t take long for his social nature (and love of wiggly toys) to win out.
I’m often an early adopter when it comes to Apple gear. I picked up my Apple Watch, iPad, and a few other things on launch day. When Apple introduced Airpods in 2016, though, I held back a while, for a few reasons.
Let me get the other disclaimers (the caveats mentioned in my title) out of the way first. If you’re not completely inside the Apple ecosystem, these are probably not for you. Like a lot of Apple products, a lot of their virtues come from their integration with the rest of the ecosystem. If you’re an Android person with a Windows or Linux laptop, keep looking.
If you primarily buy earphones/headphones for audio quality, keep looking. These are (quite) decent as far as earbuds go, but they’ll never sound as good as a set of high-end closed-ear phones.
The solution to my “earpods fit weird in my ears” issue was surprisingly simple.
That said, I finally found a use case that justified picking them up. We live in an open plan house, and I like watching TV at night (really, it’s the only chance I get.) I’ve tried other solutions for balancing the TV volume, but generally speaking I’m either in a situation when I can’t hear programming well enough to enjoy it, or I’m annoying others in the house. The killer feature for Airpods, for me, is that I could pair them at the iCloud account level. This means that after pairing them once on my iPhone, they automagically became accessible from my Apple Watch, my iPad, my MacBook, and, most importantly, my Apple TV. Plop them in your ears, then hold down the play/pause button until the audio output device selector pops up. There is no step 3.
I use them sometimes from my phone (mostly when grocery shopping), but where they’re most useful is at the office (paired to my MacBook Pro) and on the aforementioned Apple TV. Since they’re not completely audio-isolating, they work well in an office where people may actually have need to get your attention, and since you’re sitting down, you’re not really worried about them falling out. They also work surprisingly well for conference calls.
I haven’t even gotten into how clever the charging case is, or how slick and painless it is moving them between your various devices, or how much better the AAC compression sounds than A2DP.
In short, they’re great and I’m very glad I bought them.
I don’t know if AR is “cooler” than VR, but at least you don’t need a stupid looking hunk of geek strapped to your face to try it.
My current obsession is rooibos tea, served with a teaspoon of heavy cream and lightly sugared. Really hits the spot towards the end of the workday.
I’m way older and balder than last time. I also have a 4-year-old, so I’m sitting this one out. It looks like a PyBlosxom plugin would be a Saturday afternoon project or so, but I don’t really have Saturday afternoons free anymore.
Woke last night to the sensation of something scurrying across my abdomen. Swatted instinctively, felt a handful of… something. Carried it into the bathroom, hit the light, and found a dead centipede in my hand.
We really liked the way Jake’s birthday cake (from a little over 2 weeks ago) turned out.
This is adapted from an email I sent to an internal "gadget fan" mailing list at work in response to a question someone asked about controlling lighting electronically.
I went “simple” and I’m pretty happy with it.
I bought this bulb from Amazon.
It’s made in China and sold under several different brand names, most commonly “Flux” and “Magichome.”
You can get the WiFi RGBW version from Amazon (and a domestic seller) for ~$35.
If you feel comfortable shopping via Alibaba (I don’t) you could probably get it for ~$20.
It doesn't do the dumb thing (UPnP on the open internet) so no, my light bulb isn't helping to bring down Twitter.
I can tell Siri to control my lights. Useless, but fun.
More practically, I wrote a Python script that turns on the lamp in my son’s room in the morning and gradually eases him up with subtle color changes.
It kicks off from a cron job running on a Raspberry Pi. (It doesn’t have to be a Pi, of course — any Linux machine or Mac would work.)
I’m sure it could be made to work from Windows, too, but that’s Somebody Else’s Problem. 😁
This gal is enormous, probably almost as big across as a nickel (not counting the legs.) There are always flies buzzing around the bush below this web, so I imagine she eats very well.
I hate flies more than spiders, who generally mind their own business, so I’m not going to bother her.
Micro Center is selling the Raspberry Pi Zero for 99¢ as a loss leader. I bought one, then spent another few bucks for a boot disk and a USB-to-Ethernet adapter and a minimal case. Total investment: about $15.
I’m using it as a Pi-Hole machine.
I bought this sampler back in 1981, when I was 13 years old and had a paper route. It was a double vinyl LP for $2.99, which was quite a steal.
In retrospect, it was a pretty much all over the place musically, but then, so was I.
Someone mentioned this comp on Facebook a few months ago and I ended up looking it up on Discogs.
I decided to try to see how many of the tracks I could track down, 35 years later, and was pleasantly amazed to find that, with only a little work, I was able to find that every track was legally streamable. (Re-assembling this on Spotify, Tidal, or other services is left as an exercise for the reader.)
When you think about it, that’s pretty incredible: a compilation of new artists, selected specifically for their relative obscurity, and 35 years later all of the songs are easily available through the mechanisms most used by modern listeners to play music in their homes and on the go. What are the odds that a slate of 22 catalog artists from 1946 would have been available in 1981?
Set the cart before the horse.
— John Heywood