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?
Burgers were roasted, corn was eaten, little boys played with bubbles.
We’ve got a ton of them, and more every day. Better make some homemade spaghetti sauce or something.
Over the years, I’ve had various boxes around the house that you could consider a home server. Often, these were just my desktop machine doing double duty. Occasionally, they’d be some old semi-retired tower machine shoved under a spare table, gobbling frightening amounts of electricity with spinning drives and cooling fans making way too much noise.
It’s really funny to think that this ~$50 guy is really just as powerful as the >$100,000 “medium iron” HP-UX box I was sysadmining barely more than a decade and a half ago.
These handled the typical home server tasks: holding photos, music, backups, whatever. Serving media inside the house. For many years, this very weblog lived on home servers. With the advent of ubiquitous cloud storage, I’ve outsourced most of these tasks.
It’s still useful to keep some of these things within the home network. What doesn’t really make sense anymore is devoting floor space and lots of watts to some ugly, oversized tower.
Earlier this year I finally bought my first Raspberry Pi system. They’re basically teeny tiny Unix boxes (roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes) for hobbyists. They basically pack a smartphone-level SoC on a small board that can be deployed with minimal fanfare for all sorts of applications.
Every now and then, you need to stress test your tools.
The old landing page for this domain had been pretty much unchanged since the 1990s. The logo was gif file I’d created in (no joke) 1994. The original logo was done in Adobe Illustrator, but at some point I lost the master. The page was all done with tables, and in an age of large, high-DPI screens (and small mobile ones), it looked increasingly ridiculous.
I spent 5 minutes (seriously, and 3 of those were checking style tag syntax on w3.org) in my text editor and created a new version that uses CSS and SVG and should look fine in every modern browser, desktop and mobile. I didn’t bother using hacks to make it work in IE < 10 because, sorry, IDGAF.
I took the opportunity to tighten the tracking and make the grunge slightly less obnoxious. I hope it’s still identifiably itself:
Of course, now that we can render vectors in web browsers I made it freely scale with the page size.
You can see the end result here.
At some point I’ll redo the blog layout too. Baby steps.
I don’t know if this is useful at all if you don’t subscribe to Apple Music, but I wanted to see how their new(ish) embedding/linking tools work. It’s also an excuse to share a few songs from what has been my favorite record label for a few years now, Ghost Box Records.
There’s this older playground in Allen Park, kinda wedged between a subdivision and some train tracks. There’s a ball field in one corner.
It’s not a Modern Safety Playground™, no, not at all. There’s rust and the heights of the slides and swings are… challenging. I’ll tell you, though, that The Boy loved this slide like none other I’ve ever seen him on.
I think the first time Bud Wade cut my hair I was probably 8 years old or so. He started cutting hair as a teenager in a basement on (I think) 9th Street in Ecorse. While my Dad still lived in Ecorse, he’d get haircuts there, too.
This isn’t the first time Jake’s had a haircut, but it’s the first time he’s been to Bud’s Barber Shop.
One of the best things about having a very little kid as an older parent is getting to re-experience all the most fun parts of childhood: getting a new toy, visiting Santa and the Easter Bunny, etc.
The little guy will be coming home from nursery school to see this one, and I can’t wait.
I’m probably the last Mac owner in the world to switch to a Retina MBP. My problem has been that Macs stay useful for so long — my previous machine was over 5 years old, and quite honestly, still works fine. It really only had one real limtation — it maxed out at 8GB of RAM, which made it uncomfortably tight when I needed to run virtual machines on it.
Compute-wise, I went from
It’s enough of an improvement to feel during everyday use, especially when I’m doing a lot of things at the same time (I gained 2 compute cores and a lot of cache, and the built-in SSD is much faster than the third-party one I installed in the old machine.)
Honestly, though, the biggest difference is the screen. The gorgeous, gorgeous screen. Combined with subpixel anti-aliasing, I’ve never seen a sharper display.
… The Anarchists’ [national] anthem is an international anthem that
consists of 365 raspberries blown in very quick succession to the tune
of “Camptown Races”. Nobody has to stand up for it, nobody has to
listen to it, and, even better, nobody has to play it.
— Mike Harding, “The Armchair Anarchist’s Almanac”