thingelstad

Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Category: Techie (page 1 of 37)

See ya Reddit

I’ve never been an active user of Reddit. I have an account because I tend to make accounts at websites I go to. I deleted it today. All the controversy at Reddit got me thinking more about this site. Relevant links:

Apple Watch Arrived

I ordered my Apple Watch on launch day and opted for the stainless steel with link bracelet. It was back ordered 4-6 weeks and yesterday it arrived. Yes, I was pretty excited to play with it!

The initial impression of it was great. I’ve worn a Rolex GMT Master II for about 15 years. I opted for this Apple Watch because it was the most similar in look, weight and feel to that. The heft and feel of the Apple Watch holds every bit as much respect as the substantially more expensive Rolex. As something that feels good on my wrist and looks great it passes.

The rest of this experience is about software and that will take time to have opinions on. I’m going to note some of my hopes here to compare to in a future post.

  1. I hope to check my phone less.
  2. I’m very interested in the better health data.
  3. Eager to use OmniFocus on this; I’m a heavy user of this and having it on my wrist has great potential.
  4. Explore new experiences with apps and glances.

Will be fun to explore this new ecosystem.

Personal Drone Camera

We are absolutely living in the future. Watch this video.

SaneBox Week

A couple of weeks ago I started using SaneBox to help me manage my email. I love the weekly report that it sends me, including the graph of email I’ve received. This is from my personal mailbox.

“New” Cable?

We got rid of cable TV a long time ago. Over 6 years ago actually, and technically we got rid of satellite TV. Every TV we have has an Apple TV attached to it and we still have one OTA TiVo Roamio we use to grab TV for free, the way nature intended it to be.

We do subscribe though to some services. I recently activated the 1-week free trial for HBO NOW. I’m impressed by the programming and it’s appealing to have access to the HBO original programming. We end up buying some of it in iTunes anyway. Maybe I’ll finally catch the Game of Thrones fever.

It feels like the “new” cable is forming.

Netflix + Hulu + HBO NOW

It’s not quiet the ala carte of show-by-show programming, but definitely a whole new world.

I find it notable that my kids can both pick out the Netflix anywhere, but they have no idea what NBC, CBS, ABC or FOX are.

Apple Watch Ordered

Apple Watch Stainless Steel 42mm

After some debate I placed my order at 3:56am CT for the Apple Watch. I’m eagerly looking forward to experiencing a new user experience and brand new category of device. I went with the 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Link Bracelet.

Wanted: Dropcam Window Mount

I’ve had a Dropcam now for several months and I really like the device. It is super simple to setup, has a very small and manageable form factor and it is one of those things that “just works”. I have it setup in our house pointing at the garage and alley with 7-day continuous video recording and motion detection. We live in South Minneapolis and garage theft is a common occurrence. The Dropcam keeps an eye 24×7 on activity around our garage and through our alley.

The biggest challenge I had was figuring out where to mount it. It has a really nice metal stand that provides a lot of options, but we have it placed in a bay window and there just wasn’t any place I really had an option to screw the mount into. I finally decided to use some double-stick tape and attach it to the window.

IMG_2362.JPG

Once I did this it really struck me how nice it would be if Dropcam made a proper window mount for the camera. The camera itself is relatively light and fairly thin. It is like a small hockey puck that sits in the metal stand. It could easily be set directly onto a window.

IMG_2361.JPG

I have to think a lot of Dropcam units end up pointing at the outside through a window. This mount I did works okay, but has some real shortcomings that a proper mount would remove.

Dropcam Window Mount

Here is what I wish I could exchange US currency with Dropcam to have.

  1. A circular mount that attaches to a window with suction cups (probably 4 or 6 suction cups). Imagine something that is shaped like a ring flash and holds the Dropcam in the middle.
  2. The mount should allow a degree of swivel to the Dropcam itself so that it can be mounted directly on the glass, but still allow pointing the Dropcam a number of degrees one way of the other.
  3. A little cable management to route the USB power cable in a way that limits the impact of a tug on the cable on the direction the camera is pointed.
  4. It should shield against ambient light in the room. This is the biggest issue with my mount. Since there is about 1″ of space between the glass and the camera, at night when the lights are turned on in the room a reflection bounces off the glass and into the camera which messes up the picture but more importantly the camera detects it as motion so you get a false positive of motion.

That is easily a $20 to $30 add-on that would be a “no brainer” for many installations.

Twitter Spam #NFL

If you have a Twitter account, or have many like I do I’m guessing you got this email from Twitter. I sure hope the NFL paid them a pretty penny to annoy all their users.

  1. I really have 13 Twitter accounts? Well, not really. @VeloTweets, @thinglesBot, @SenateTweets and @Wikinosh are accounts I’ve deleted. Odd Twitter, why do you send email to deleted accounts?
  2. I’ve now unsubscribed 13 accounts from this type of message, which I think I did already, but maybe “#NFL promotions” is a new type of message I have to unsubscribe from?
  3. Couldn’t Twitter at least have done some looking at my feed and realized I don’t follow anything football, never tweet about football or show any interest in this?

Supporting the Open Internet

“It’s only an illusion that the Internet appears to be open…” — Dave Winer

As we approach the end-of-the-year many of us start thinking about charitable donations. There are many, many great causes out there that deserve our support. I think it is critical that we consider supporting the digital future that we want as part of our giving. There is nothing fundamental about the Internet that insures free and open speech will occur. In fact, the Internet if left to the wrong interests can be the most monitored, tracked and near totalitarian environment we have ever seen. If you are curious to read more on this, I highly recommend The Master Switch by Tim Wu. Great book.

We know that the Internet will continue to be a growing part of our lives. There are organizations that are working hard to make sure the Internet is the kind of place I want in my life. If the Internet is just Facebook tracking cookies and advertisements like a mall, we have failed. Supporting these organizations is one way to help this cause!

Electronic Frontier Foundation


The EFF was founded in 1990 and has been the champion of digital rights since. In many ways I think of the EFF as the “ACLU of the Internet”. They have both a legal and advocacy organization. They are pushing for the expansion of encryption technology online. They support causes like open and free access to WiFi networks. They continue to help Tor.

Donate here! Wikipedia’s EFF page is a great background.

Creative Commons


Creative Commons is all about creating a copyright framework that allows for the sharing of content in a way that content creators want. My blog is creative commons licensed making it easy for people to remix and share the content here. Larry Lessig is the founder of creative commons and he does a better job than I ever could explaining why Creative Commons, and the commons as a whole, is critical to our culture. You should watch his TED talk on Laws that Choke Creativity.

Donate here! Wikipedia’s page on Creative Commons is a great background.

Wikipedia


I often suggest that Wikipedia is the most amazing thing to be born of the Internet. It could never exist in any other way. The depth and quality of content is amazing, but the ethos of it is even more amazing. Wikipedia is run by the Wikimedia Foundation which runs hundreds of other wikis as well. They also open source all of the software behind Wikipedia called MediaWiki. MediaWiki is used by tens of thousands of sites on the Internet to host new and interesting content, including the software that organizations as provocative as WikiLeaks use. (My project WikiApiary tracks a large percentage of all MediaWiki sites in the world!)

Donate here! Not surprisingly, Wikipedia’s own page on Wikipedia is a great background.

Internet Archive

iu
The Internet Archive has been working to archive a growing part of the Internet over time. It is the place where the history of the Internet is being recorded. It is also the place where you can find a huge amount of media that is no longer in copyright. The goal of the Internet Archive I think is often something that we forget about in the digital world. We think that the Internet is permanent, but it’s only as permanent as we make it. The Internet Archive gives me hope that hundreds of years from now people will still be able to read the blog post you are reading right now.

Donate here! The Wikipedia page on Internet Archive is a great background.

As an aside, we spend so much time focusing on the billionaires of the Internet behind services like Facebook and Twitter. Think of these names: Larry LessigJohn GilmoreJohn Perry BarlowMitch Kapor, Richard StallmanBrewster KahleJimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. These people deserve as much space in our minds.

Question2Answer Number Captcha

I’ve been using Question2Answer for a number of years now to power Ask Planet Kubb. I like Question2Answer because it is simple to run, uses a standard PHP + MySQL setup and can even be used in a multi-site farm configuration easy enough. However, I’ve been frustrated by it’s ability to manage spam registrations.

Question2Answer has built in support for ReCaptcha and it has a plugin method to use other anti-spam measures. I’ve used ReCaptcha for a while, but it results in 4 to 10 spam registrations a day. I tried switching to the Q2A Logical Captcha by amiyasahu which uses Text Captcha. I even submitted a pull request to properly salt the captchas. But this resulted in 3-4 times the spam registrations as ReCaptcha! Ouch!

I decided to apply the same type of spam defense I’ve successfully used for MediaWiki and early results are great. It uses the Numbers_Words PHP package to spell out a number of nine digits and then ask the user to identify the number in a specific position. The question looks like this:

screenshot

This works really well. You can grab q2a-number-captcha and git clone it for your own use.

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