Sunday, March 30, 2008

another hike, another pile of perceptible art

A hike through neighborhood streets, later than previous weeks, so odd stares from citizens going about their duties like shopping, yard work and play. One gent started air-hosing his walk and then sheepishly spotted me walking toward the puff of air. Not that it would have hurt.

I pick up the strangest stuff.

None of the aluminum I scavenged went into this photo stream. It's all lost objects, things that once had a use to someone but are now trash.

Except that the trash did not make it to the waste stream, it was hidden in plain sight.

dark hour plus

Chronology of house power down.

See: Enlightened Citizens of the World 'in the dark' for Earth Hour

3:55 filmed power meter "before"

3:59 shutdown unix server, vonage dongle, voip wireless phone base. Skipped downstairs hub-dongle buried.

4:02 microwave, coffee machine-skipped stove, fridge and wired phone base. Dongle for kitchen stereo. Unplugged DeWalt cordless radio charger and B&D FireStorm charger.

4:07 Unplugged tv, dvds and laptop charger.

4:27 filmed power meter "after". Hot water heater is on. Dishes? Later.

Before - 8 seconds of power meter - note the radial sweep

[Removed QT video rendered into something unintelligible as it cause RSS faults, as well as Firefox on NetBSD to die suddenly]


About 15 seconds - imperceptible rotation.

[Removed QT video rendered into something unintelligible as it cause RSS faults, as well as Firefox on NetBSD to die suddenly]

And, quiet time with the pets:

Dinner was a can of soup with extras, prepared using my solid fuel powered backpack stove.

I brought the lights back up around 9:30, switched on the heat and the background hum of electronic devices.

To see the videos, try my SDN blog titled "When the music's over ... turn out the lights,"

Friday, March 28, 2008

fone review write

Warning: geeky road ahead!

I copied a bunch of files from my camera to my NetBSD workstation:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 983257 Mar 26 14:30 DSCN2540.JPG
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 1017349 Mar 26 14:39 DSCN2541.JPG
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 1011146 Mar 26 14:39 DSCN2542.JPG
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 1019327 Mar 27 14:37 DSCN2549.JPG
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 1012489 Mar 27 14:38 DSCN2551.JPG
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 977289 Mar 27 14:39 DSCN2552.JPG

And they are transformed:
-rw-r--r-- 1 jim wheel 14 Mar 28 05:07 phone-20.pam
-rw-r--r-- 1 jim wheel 11614481 Mar 28 05:11 phone.pnm
-rw-r--r-- 1 jim wheel 2903632 Mar 28 05:18 phone-2.pam
-rw-r--r-- 1 jim wheel 725919 Mar 28 05:19 phone-4.pam
-rw-r--r-- 1 jim wheel 115785 Mar 28 05:19 phone-10.pam
-rw-r--r-- 1 jim wheel 464457 Mar 28 05:20 phone-5.pam
-rw-r--r-- 1 jim wheel 31872 Mar 28 05:21 phone-4.jpeg

Display preview locally:
bash-3.2$ xli phone-4.jpeg
phone-4.jpeg is a 568x426 JPEG image, color space YCbCr, 3 comps., Huffman coding
Building XImage...done

Notes to self on how I hooked the camera USB cable to the NetBSD PC:
bash-3.2$ cat camer.a
Mar 27 16:51:32 stinky ntpd[1071]: kernel time sync status change 2001
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd: umass1 at uhub2 port 1 configuration 1 interface 0
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd:
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd: umass1: NIKON NIKON DSC COOLPIX L4, rev 1.10/0.00, addr 3
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd: umass1: using ATAPI over Bulk-Only
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd: atapibus1 at umass1: 2 targets
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd: sd4 at atapibus1 drive 0: disk removable
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd: sd4: fabricating a geometry
Mar 27 18:32:57 stinky /netbsd: sd4: 489 MB, 489 cyl, 64 head, 32 sec, 512 bytes/sect x 1002496 sectors
Mar 27 18:33:19 stinky /netbsd: sd4: fabricating a geometry

A fake drive appears:
bash-3.2# less messages
bash-3.2# disklabel sd4
# /dev/rsd4d:
type: ATAPI
label: fictitious
flags: removable
bytes/sector: 512
sectors/track: 32
tracks/cylinder: 64
sectors/cylinder: 2048
cylinders: 489
total sectors: 1002496
rpm: 3600
interleave: 1
trackskew: 0
cylinderskew: 0
headswitch: 0 # microseconds
track-to-track seek: 0 # microseconds
drivedata: 0

5 partitions:
# size offset fstype [fsize bsize cpg/sgs]
d: 1002496 0 unused 0 0 # (Cyl. 0 - 489*)
e: 1002263 233 MSDOS # (Cyl. 0*- 489*)
disklabel: boot block size 0
disklabel: super block size 0

Connect it up (preview earlier)
bash-3.2# mount -tmsdos -r /dev/sd4e /usb

Copy and demo:
bash-3.2# cp -p /usb/DCIM/110NIKON/DSCN254* .
bash-3.2# file DSCN2552.JPG
DSCN2552.JPG: JPEG image data, EXIF standard
bash-3.2# xli DSCN2552.JPG
DSCN2552.JPG is a 2272x1704 JPEG image, color space YCbCr, 3 comps., Huffman coding
Building XImage...done

Done with drive - save energy:
bash-3.2# umount /usb

bash-3.2$ jpegtopnm phone.pnm
bash-3.2$ pnmscale -reduce 4 phone.pnm >phone-4.pam
bash-3.2$ ppmtojpeg phone-4.pam >phone-4.jpeg

Check sizes:
bash-3.2$ xli -ident DSCN2552.JPG
DSCN2552.JPG is a 2272x1704 JPEG image, color space YCbCr, 3 comps., Huffman coding
bash-3.2$ xli -ident phone-4.pam
phone-4.pam is a 568x426 Raw PPM image with 256 levels
bash-3.2$ xli -ident phone-4.jpeg
phone-4.jpeg is a 568x426 JPEG image, color space YCbCr, 3 comps., Huffman coding

I had tried pamscale but it faulted. The pnmscale worked.

All this, to get a camera shot of the new phone working. I thought about going to a room with parallel mirrors, but others might not get it.

With the post earlier today as a snurl, I got this compliment from Al - @folknology:

@jspath55 dam your more geek than I am!!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

27mar08 [aka fone]

I can't quite see how this will fit. Typing on a little keyboard to post to a blog. While it is qwerty. a number of keys are missing, like tilde, escape and equals sign.

= = = =
The above was all I managed to type on my new Samsung smart phone before I gave up. It will take some getting use to before I could consider myself productive. So many bells and whistles, literally.

The screen shot is from my first experiment with downloaded program - pocketputty. It's running Lynx in an xterm windows over an SSH connection to one my my NetBSD boxes. The program works fine, I guess. I'm still getting familiar with the keys, or lack of, and the pop virtual keys. I learned to work a handspring, so I can get this.

It connects to the internet with ease, in fact, without being asked. I needed to force it to use my home wireless instead of the toll call.

The extended battery lasted most of the work day yesterday, which is a bad sign long term. It doesn't charge while on the USB, and the AC charger uses the same port.

Tethering (using the phone as a modem) worked once, after 40 minutes with work and Verizon support, but after that the USB cable turned into a boat anchor line. Another marathon with the help desk is in the cards today.

No escape key, no tilde, no this that or the other.

But nice colors.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Global warming articles in Scientific American

I'm keeping my subscription to SciAm. Every month there is more news and scientifically supported theories and opinions that scares the willies out of me. Here are a couple online links related to actions I'm trying to take to cut down my energy overeating.

"... 'green building[s]' ... represents only 2 percent of the commercial edifices in the U.S. and 0.3 percent of new homes."

"... New York City emits roughly the same amount of GHGs as the entire country of Ireland and contributes 1 percent of total U.S. emissions ..."

from Scientific American Online

The hard copy has an article called "Digital Diet" concerning the information industry and the huge increases in heating and cooling requirements to slake our data thirst. I googled "Google Energy Conservation" just now and got 8 hits. Sad but true.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

shed renovation wrap up

Saturday I traipsed back to Home Depot, waited patiently for 15 minutes to get a quart of custom mixed outdoor acrylic paint. $15. Sigh.

Back home, start painting with my favorite 3 inch brush. Just makes it into the quart paint can. The color doesn't match as well as I wanted--Kathy picked a darker shade than I did--but too late to change that. I managed to cover the new plywood and then head back up the top side older faded color before the can ran dry. Next time I'll need to get a gallon mixed, which will probably set me back $40 or so.

Double checked the age of tools listed in the prior blog. Found 2 google hits for my inherited circular saw (Craftsman model 336.27963). One on - the poster needed a new cord, same as I did when I brought my unit from my parent's house. Except I took mine to Hodge's Hardware, 850 Middle River Road, and they connected a new cable, same as they did for the big drill press.

The other hit I got was an Ebay auction - starting price was $10. Probably needs a new cord, and a blade to boot. Mine has a nice new DeWalt blade, and while the saw is heavy, it has good torque - 8 amps. Theirs was stamped 3/59; mine is 6-58. They also had a chipped knob, although I'd avoid the duct tape route.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

shed renovation

Wind, weather, water caused my work shed to have serious damage, not to mention ants, squirrels and the occasional mouse family. I had piled firewood next to it, which trapped moisture and attracted termites. After a new roof jazzed up the top last year, I needed to fix up the side with the most damage.

Home Depot carried the right 8-inch fake panel plywood, and was able to rip the 4x8 foot sheet into 4 2x4 sheets, easy for carrying and pretty close to the size of the damaged area. Their paint mixing computer had crashed overnight, so after an hour of patient waiting, browsing and strolling, I skipped the final required material for now.

  • Plywood $25
  • Outer corner (oak) $16
  • Adhesive $3
  • Gloves $8
  • Galvanized 6 penny common nails $4
I took photos along the way. The most challenging part was that the shed is not level or plumb, and joining a series of 4 foot seams was tricky. Taking out the old plywood went fairly easily, and at first I thought the cuts were pretty straight. I knew I would have gaps, which was why I got construction adhesive rather than plan caulk. The older upper layer is a little warped outward , so it looks like there won't be a shelf for rain to be directed inside.

To get the thumbnail index shot above, I used the NetPBM graphics package. The manual said there is a pamundice utility, but all that the latest NetBSD package built was pamdice. So I settled for pnmindex. With 12 shots at 1MB each, that's a lot of bandwidth. After chopping out the text with Xpaint, the thumbnail graphic is under 30 KB. Shows a lot for so few bytes.

  • Black & Decker jig saw (ca. 2000)
  • Black & Decker 7 1/4 in. circular saw (ca. 1973)
  • Craftsman 6 1/2 in circular saw (ca. 1958)
  • Stanley 20 oz claw hammer (ca 1980)
  • Ace Hardware 4 foot level (?)
  • Black & Decker Workmate (ca 1980)

Still need to paint it before spring rains!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

electric rates

I wrote about "My Carbon Footprint at Home" on an SAP SDN blog in January 2008 after getting positive reinforcement for an earlier blog on "CSR and me." In the former story, I tersely recounted my electric bill record keeping, mentioning an Excel spreadsheet, and then There were a couple comments on the blog, and more on Twitter, which alas, are fading into the woodwork. I know Eddy De Clercq said his use in Belgium is dramatically lower than ours (mine) here in the U.S.

I'd like to share a few threads in this blog:

  • How my electric bill looks, and what this means to consumer conservation
  • What I've done to control my energy use, and thus carbon emissions, and dollars out of my pocket
  • How to use the editgrid tool, and why this is important.

The Bill

Below are a bunch of graphics, most from scanned images of our home electric bill, but the later ones generated live from online data. The oldest bills that I have from BGE included a rolling 13 month chart, generated after our first bill. Starting in 1995, the bar charts switch from solid to outline shape, no doubt to save the cost of ink or toner.

The bill format has changed twice since this earlier one, so the visual feedback of energy use pattern went away on the first revision, in January 1997. The replacement was a 3 line comparison of the prior month, and the same month a year before. This Electric Usage Profile has remained to today. I am used to crunching numbers all day at work, so this is easy for me, but somehow I think most consumers are inclined to look at the number following the dollar sign.

Earlier versions listed temperature separately from the electric use; later versions show kWH and average monthly temperatures on the same line. The intent is to tell you whether you used more because it was colder (or hotter), or if you just weren't paying attention and left the iron on all month.

If you look at the average daily use charts, you might notice that the Y-axis, for maximum use, has been auto-scaled each month. Assuming this chart was still being produced, it would make it hard to see where changes in behavior, or in efficiency of furnaces or air cooling units had altered. That's part of the reason I am transcribing from the bills to online web pages.

Oh, yeah, the last chart below shows our electric rates in Maryland. Instead of our bills climbing with energy costs over the last decade, we had frozen, even reduced charges (no pun intended) from 1999 to 2005. Then, the rate caps came off and away we went. I'm not going to chart the amount of my bills. If you really want to know, you can probably do the math. Or, let editgrid take care of it.

Cutting back

Hopefully the big investment I made in a new heat pump in August 2007 is starting to show returns. It's either that, or pushing the thermostat down to 62 degrees F. for as long as Kathy can stand it.

I haven't been able to fool editgrid into reversing the chronological order on my charts, so as I add each new month's information onto the top row, it is charted on the left side, not the right. Now that I have the bill for February 2008, I can see a lowered peak for this past winter compared to prior years.

Is this lower because of the heat pump, pushing the thermostat, or a warmer winter? I thought I'd be able to tell more graphing average daily use against average temperature, but it is not so clear. I probably need a formula using "degree days", which BGE supplied a long time ago but probably abandoned to obscurity.

Edit grid

I found out about on Twitter. It isn't Google, but it seems to have a viable business model where you pay to share edit rights with others, but publishing single-owner pages is free. The interface works great from IE or Firefox, and there are innumerable great web features possible. As you can see below, I simply add a link to a generated image URL, and live data shows up on my web page.

For example:

<img src="" />

The data

Temperatures 1993 - 1996 (November readings, December bills)

Electric use per billing period (1994-1997, 2007)







Electric daily use (1993-1996)

I signed up for an online account at, but I have not found any useful features there, such as digital displays of my energy use, temperature charts, etc. I can get a copy of my bill, but it is in a crippled PDF format that does not allow copying. What good it that. Matthias Z.!?

Energy use by month from 2007 though the present (older data is to the right):

Electric use March (meter period roughly Feb 9 - Mar 11)

Electric use February (meter period roughly Jan 9 - Feb 9)

Recap of electric energy costs from BGE (Constellation Energy utility)

More details on electric use at my house:

sunday stroll garbage pickup

Another day, another hike

Last week's hike includes a map with photo links. This week's hike will have nearly the same interface, plus explanations so I can repeat this feat next time with less memory scratching.

[pictures above are in]
[not this one below]

I didn't collect much junk this walk, just a bit of plastic, aluminum and one steel bottle cap. Oh, and I almost missed the dead battery when nearly home. It is well corroded, but the cylindrical shape triggered a weak synapse ("pick me up").

How to map your hike:
  • Get a panoramio account
  • Download google earth
  • Use API with iframe such as < iframe src="" height="300" width="400" > < /iframe >
    • lt is latitude. It's a pain switching between minutes seconds and decimals, but there you are. ln is longitude
    • z is zoom. lower is closer to the ground
    • user is your panoramio account id
    • k is the map type ("kind of"). this one is map only, no terrain.
    • a is er,
    • tab is the, er, well I guess you don't need this.
Official help:

I jiggled the height and width as well as the lat/lon to center the mini-panorama to include only pictures from this hike, not others from prior days. I assume if I take later pictures in this vicinity they will appear in the frame, so I hope they are good ones!

Maybe next time I'll try an overlay map with my shots plus someone else's. Leaving out the user id will do this, but I'd want to see only selected levels.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008

long walk, part 2, imagined art

Above images are uploaded to Panoramio; visible pending review. Click for big pictures. Panoramio API test follows.

Below images are not uploaded there, as they don't rate. Nothing to click. Move on.

A hike goes south

The walk kept getting postponed as every time it looked like it was clearing up a new burst of rain came down. At 3:00 PM the skies were blue, so I set out.

The weather predicted high winds, and then rain later Saturday night.

My path was easy except for a hundred yards or so where there was no shoulder on the 2 lane road. Once I got past that onto Earls Beach Road I knew I'd be fine since there was little traffic on that dead end road.

I stopped to take marker photos to upload later to Google Earth via Panoramio. Most of the delay was waiting for traffic breaks, but I still ended up with vehicles in some shots.

The daffodil shot is a few days prior to blooms, or maybe 2 weeks, depending on weather. These bunches are in the woods near the end of the road.

The News American delivery box is an antique, as that newspaper folded over 20 years ago.

The sunburst appeared as I passed the halfway point, showing an ominous cloud bank building. I had taken off my coat as it was warm on the first couple miles. When those clouds appeared the wind picked up to gusts of 40-50 miles per hour.

The box of shot was roadside trash, sitting next to several others scattered in the ditch, but I had no easy way to clean it up. I still had thoughts of stopping at the store.

The last picture in this series shows the front passing overhead. A couple minutes later it was hailing and raining.

I put my coat back on. The 5 mile walk took about 90 minutes.

long walk, part 1, found art

Planned a 5 mile hike on Saturday, but it rained in buckets all morning. I left home around 3:30, planning to walk for 90 minutes.

Found the usual recyclables, but only picked up flattened aluminum cans to stuff in the pack side pockets, as I intended to hit the store on the way home and wanted to leave room for edibles, avoiding excess sugar and bugs. I could have filled the day pack many times over.

First found art almost missed, but stopped to retrieve it. A CD- RW, missing huge media spots, with the unlikely title "chick hits." An homage to "chick flicks" I assume, but without a large investment in a data recovery service it is impossible to guess what genre this means.

The second item was a largish sign, of the oval variety recently multiplying to all manner of fan worship. Rather than the standard paper with adhesive, this one is the vinyl refrigerator "magnet" style, so it must have slipped off a vehicle seriously torquing around the corner I found it. I'd offer it to a football fan, but I think the weathered patina it has achieved may be taken as vandalism rather than allegiance.

I took photos, so part 2 should contain reproductions, or perhaps pointers to other artist renderings.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rented a car lately? Would you like carbon offsets with that?

I needed to rent a car this week, and was pleasantly surprised to see a no-nonsense carbon offset option. What does this mean to "business as usual?"

So, my SAP SDN blog:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

hike to get provisions; found art

Mini CD of Legendary Racing Moments, brought by Prilosec, hosted by Mike Joy.

Broken ball point pen by Giant A-1 Bonus Bucks.

Flattened yellow Hot Wheel size car body.

Plastic porthole from indeterminate larger toy.

Round vinyl decal with globular shards of safety windshield glass still attached to the reverse side. Scanned image was of the unattached side, so post-processing included mirror reversal and contrast enhancement. Text reads "LANSING CAR ASSEMBLY [GM] UAW Local 602, Local 652 QUALITY BUILT AUTOMOBILES FROM THE CAPITOL OF MICHIGAN".