Bose warranty = awesome/great customer service

A big part of the sound of Kül d’Sack (one of the bands I play in) is our Bose L1 paired with the Bose Tonematch mixer.

Maine  1  2

The prebaked digital modeling settings for Shure microphones is just great on these Bose devices. The sound quality is uncannily good.

Unfortunately a few gigs back one of the channels on the mixer started exhibiting some static noise. I thought it might have been one of the guitar rigs but over a few weeks the channel noise made it clear that the issue was inside the mixer.

I called Bose, explained the problem and within 90 seconds the customer service rep said he wanted to send me a new unit. I was worried about having to pack mine up and have it repaired. A new unit is much better.

Super-pleased about this whole process and it’s a joy that something that works and sounds so good also has a good company standing behind their product.

WTF? Why does iMessage search suck so bad.

Can’t find a message that I JUST FRICKIN’ SENT a few days ago! Let’s try Googling:

Redditimessage

Well, I’m not the only one!

The inability to use the Messages app on the Mac to search message history is really a nuisance. That, and I’m noticing Spotlight search in general seems to really be crappy lately. I wrote this a while back which seemed to kickstart Spotlight back to life:

sudo mdutil -a -i off
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.metadata.mds.plist
sudo mdutil -a -i on

But it doesn’t work under Mojave. Bummer.

Grove Collaborative

Grove

We use Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for monthly deliveries of household stuff like garbage bags, cleaners, etc. This month though I did some Googling while reviewing our deliveries and found that Grove Collaborative was cheaper on a few products. Just placed an order, we’ll see.

They are a B Corp which makes me feel a little better about supporting them (though, natch, shopping locally/independently would be even better if I had the time). From their about page:

We offer products that are gentler on the earth, prioritize post-consumer materials for packaging, and carbon offset every shipment that goes out our door.

Will try to revisit this next month with an update.

Things + GTD

Thingsapp

Incredible to think that I’ve been using Things for 10 years now. Amazing application and I can not imagine living without it. That said, I’ve only half-heartedly been maintaining/cleaning/pruning my lists in there and it is totally out of control and probably still contains “Someday/Maybe” items from 10 years ago.

Listening to Tim Ferris interview Getting Things Done author, David Allen the other day got me thinking about being a bit more disciplined about my Things lists.

I haven’t actually made any progress. Yet. But I did find a terrific writeup by Johnny Chadda on how he uses Things for GTD. Really excellent writeup with super-useful screenshots. When I do actually make progress on using Things for GTD is will be because of his how to guide.

Electric Vanagon!!!

Ekaefer 1163x654

I’ve got a lot of folks who know that I like VW campers and they’ll send me links from facebook from time to time about VW’s forthcoming electic vans and these are almost always prototypes and may or may not see the light of day but this new announcement from Volkswagen where they’re working with another German company to retrofit Beetles with electric engines represents some real hope that someday I might be able to plug in my Vanagon.

Best Apple Watch App for Running

Part of the problem with Strava’s ubiquity on the workout/app front is that once you start using it you don’t often look around to see what else might be available. That said, I’ve never loved the way strava worked on my Apple Watch so did a little digging and found this amazing gem of an application called WorkOutDoors.

So good. Such a better alternative to Strava.

Especially if you run. Even more so if you adhere to the MAF running method (low heart rate, high cadence).

I’ve been using WorkOutDoors consistently for a few weeks now and it is a joy. It required a bit of tweaking/settings modifications that might be a bit complex for a non-tech savvy person but once I got the settings dialed in, it does exactly what I want it to do, reliably and WAY better than Strava.

WatchStripOverview

The app allows you to configure multiple watch screens for each activity (Running, Cycling, etc.). And you can do those configurations from your phone, so no futzing around with the tiny watch interface.

I only use it for running and created a single screen that shows me:
– cadence
– heart rate
– distance
– pace
– time.

So much density of readable data on that screen!!!! Amazing.

I also set up a couple of alarms so that if my cadence falls below 170 or my heart rate exceed 145 I get some haptic feedback on my wrist. I love it. This app is great. If you run, totally worth trying it out.

Oh, and after you get done with your run you can also very easily press a button and upload the activity to strava. So you’re not cut off from the social part of strava, either.

Journaling and Journalism and Personal Photography

This past weekend we went out with a couple of other New Jersey families to Cranks Around the Campfire.

I’ve wanted to go to this mountain biking/camping/family-friendly event for a few years now but each year it has coincided with our annual pilgrimage up to New England in the VW to go swimming in various lakes. This year though, we didn’t do our annual summer trip so we were in NJ and were available. So a few months ago we organized with a few other families to attend.

So glad we did. It was a blast. Not quite as fun as wandering around in Vermont or Maine in the Vanagon for a couple of weeks but a great way to sleep outdoors and ride bikes and hang together as a family unit and bid the summer goodbye.

As I was going through my pictures from the weekend though I was a bit disappointed with the photos that I shot. Even though I brought my Fuji with me instead of relying on my iPhone, I still wasn’t very happy with my photos. Some were technically good but I didn’t really capture the context.

Which gets me thinking about the food writing I did and the advice the editor gave me about photos I took to accompany my articles: capture as much information as possible. That is great advice, even for taking pictures of family trips. Maybe even especially when taking pictures of family trips.

I am so grateful for the stint I did writing over at PieHole. For one thing, it made me soooo much better at being comfortable asking people questions. Interviewing a couple of people a week for a year or so can really get you out of your head/shell and more comfortable just approaching anyone and asking them about themselves.

And the thing is that people really like to talk about themselves. Until I did the food writing gig I was always uncomfortable asking people questions because I didn’t want to intrude. So that’s one thing.

But then there was the whole photography end of the food writing gig. I wanted to take technically correct photos of food. But that didn’t serve the journalism. Instead what I learned was taking pictures of people doing things they loved, interacting with tools or places they knew well–that’s a much better way to take a photo.

Unfortunately I have gotten rusty on both of these fronts:

  • I’m not asking strangers enough questions and
  • I’m not approaching my personal photography with the same need-for-context that I did back when I was writing food stories.

Just a note to self to try a bit harder here!

Credit Card Confusion

First off, here’s this from an interesting read over at The Week:

In brief, payment card companies are piggybacking on public systems and guarantees to gouge the American public, especially with credit cards. They act as middlemen, skimming fees off transactions and using their size to bully businesses into accepting their terms — who then raise prices on all consumers. The associated profits, both for Visa and company and the issuing banks, are effectively a tax on everything Americans pay for.

Also, two other credit card facts I learned this weekend:

  • KMart doesn’t accept American Express
  • Audible (despite being owned by Amazon), doesn’t accept the Amazon Store Card.

iOS Shortcut to upload photo to WordPress & Instagram

I am trying to reduce the friction of posting photos to my site from my phone. In the process I thought it might be useful to simultaneously upload photos to my Instagram profile at the same time as my site.

Over the past year I’ve cobbled together a bunch of pieces to make this process work and it’s never been super-reliable in part because sometimes shortcuts likes to upload a .heic file instead of a jpeg.

##Heic file error

By default, the iPhone stores images in the .heic format. It seems that once you edit a photo on the iPhone it is then saved back to the library as a .jpeg. But I don’t want to have to edit a photo just to ensure that it will upload through the shortcut correctly.

What I’ve realized is that when you do anything with a photo using the share icon, iOS also converts the photo to a .jpeg.

As such, calling the shortcut through the share icon from the Photos library instead of calling the shortcut and then selecting the photo seems to get this whole thing working pretty consistently.

I can’t take credit for this shortcut working as good as it does. I pulled most of it from a website that, sadly, google can no longer find. I have no idea why. In any case, if you’d like to try it out, here is a link to my version shortcut.

You will need the WordPress iOS app installed on your phone for the shortcut to work.

Fuji X70. Not a portable X series.

Fuji X70

I have been loving my Fuji XE2s since I bought it off of Amazon a couple of years ago. It takes some of the best photos of any camera I’ve ever owned and is a joy to use in every way (manual dials for ISO, Shutter Speed, aperture. So nice!).

Except it doesn’t fit in my pocket. Which means I hardly ever take it with me.

But when I scroll through iPhone I can always tell the FujiFilm pics from the iPhone photos. It’s night and day.

No matter how good the iPhone camera software and lenses get, the iPhone will never consistently match what comes out of the Fuji series cameras. Sure, in certain situations the iPhone takes great photos but sometimes it’s just meh. The fuji cameras just give me more consistently better shots.

So last year I picked up a FujiFilm X70, hoping it would give me the best of both worlds: the great look of the out-of-camera jpegs from the FujiFilm XE2s with those awesome film simulations and also fit in my pocket.

Well, the X70 fits in my pocket and it sort of gives the film simulations but there’s just something about the lack of the view finder that makes using the X70 lose some of that fuji magic that you get from their other X series cameras. I brought it around with me but never enjoyed holding it and using it the way I do my XE2s.

So I sold it on ebay a couple of weeks ago and am now going to try to bring my XE2s with me more regularly. I took off the super 35mm 1.4 lens that I usually use and put on the pancake 27 2.8 to bring the form factor down a bit. I love that 35mm lens but it makes the camera even bulkier. The 27 makes it about the same exaxt form factor as the X100. If I can demonstrate to myself that I can reliably bring the XE2s around with this lens then maybe for Christmas I’ll see if Santa can bring me the X100. Stay tuned!

Bad news from Apple

What’s up Apple? Is writing code not as creative an endeavor as music or design?

I was a PC/Linux user for ages before I purchased my first Mac (the G4 quicksilver tower, I think was my first one). And the only reason I bought that Mac was because of OS X was really just a great UI over BSD. Were it not for the ability to fire up a command prompt and have BASH at my fingertips running along side the native Mac apps, I would probably still be running Linux.

Moreover, having a shell and scripting languages like Python installed on Mac OS by default means that when my kid wanted to learn some Python beyond what he was learning through school, it was easy to show him how to run Python scripts on his MacBook. The ease of firing off scripts felt like Apple, who likes to encourage the “making” side of technology, considered “making” scripts on par with “making” movies or graphics or any of the other creative outputs that a Mac could be used for.

Now Apple has announced (in what seems like a really bad move) they are dropping the scripting runtimes from Mac OS. Meaning, by default there won’t be any Python or Perl or Ruby. I have so many little scripts in my ~/bin directory that rely on these languages (mostly Python).

Yanking these runtimes out of Catalina gives the impression that Apple doesn’t consider making scripts on par with making drum loops in Garage Band. I’d argue they’re both pretty damn creative outputs and Apple is denying its users the creative tools they’ve come to rely on.

Installing Velo Orange Fenders on Surly Midnight Special

I installed these fenders less than 48-hours before departing for an extended bike camping trip along the Erie Canal in upstate NY. The forecast called for rain and boy am I glad I got these installed. Did a great job keeping the rain and mud from spraying all over me, my bike and my gear. I probably over-torqued a few of these bolts out of fear of stuff falling apart mid-ride but everything stayed assembled, nothing came loose and I love these fenders on this bike. [Note, if you want to see my 30-day review of the Midnight Special, head over to my family/special needs travel site, AllTogetherOutThere.]

There were a few things not covered in the instruction manual from Velo Orange that I’ve noted below

fender install
Finished Product

Go to the hardware store and buy the bolt/nut/washer combo that you’ll need to go through the hole on your front fork as if you were mounting brakes on the center of the fork. You will not be able to install fenders without this bolt and it is not included with the fenders:

fender install
I happened to have the correct length bolt and a suitable lock nut in my box of miscellany.

Continue reading “Installing Velo Orange Fenders on Surly Midnight Special”

Replace Multiple Occurrences of a string or char in SQL Server

It is unbelievable to me that Microsoft SQL Server does not support regular expressions. In the absences of regex, replacing multiple occurrences of the same string/char becomes super tedious. You can nest multiple Replace() statements which gets ugly and impossible to read and you have to know exactly how many multiple occurrences there are. But for a current project I have to replace all line breaks in a column.
Here’s how I did it:

WHILE EXISTS(SELECT * FROM #yourtable WHERE (Comments like '%'+char(10)+'%')) --note I knew that char(10) and char(13) always occurred next to each other and in an effort to speed up this loop got rid of the char(13) filter
BEGIN

  UPDATE #yourtable
  SET Comments=REPLACE(Comments,char(10),' ')
  WHERE (Comments like '%'+char(10)+' %')
 
   UPDATE #yourtable
  SET Comments=REPLACE(Comments,char(13),' ')
  WHERE (Comments like '%'+char(13)+' %')
 
    -- again you can probably do this in one statment but I was hoping to speed it up by simplifying the where statements. 
 
END

There are no doubt a dozen ways to optimize this but it seems to have worked and didn’t take forever. Good luck out there, folks, working with a “modern” RDMS that doesn’t support regex.