Redistricting in Washington

January 5, 2012

The Washington State Redistricting Commission completed its work at 9:55 p.m. on December 31, a full 125 minutes before the process would be taken on by the Washington Supreme Court.

I have been worried.  All of the early proposals (save one, a very rare shoutout from me to Slade Gorton!) would have created a very bizarre, conservative district connecting my rural Snohomish home with all the like-minded people of Wenatchee and Yakima and the long imagined Freedom County.  In the end rural King County was awarded this cross-mountain, cross-divide district.  Instead I will move from the 2nd Congressional District (incumbent Rick Larsen, who keeps “urban” Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom county) into the 1st Congressional District (incumbent Jay Inslee running for Governor instead).  Basically upper east side and everything up to the Canadian border this side of the Cascade crest.  Will be interesting to see the mix of candidates that emerge.  Both the Republicans and Democrats on the commission call this arguably the most “balanced” district in the U.S.  Good for them…

All of this saved me with respect to my state legislative district.  I remain in the somewhat rational 44th instead of being popped out to the 39th with loonies like Val Stevens.

Be forewarned if you visit the commission’s web: the pdf maps are horrible.  You will only figure out where you are by downloading the Google Earth layers and zooming in…


Computing Update V

January 5, 2012

This is an addendum to Computing Update IV, part of which detailed Tobae’s adventures with presentation software, aka PowerPoint.  But I forgot to mention an important piece of the puzzle.  She very much wanted to imbed a video from YouTube produced by the Utah Avalanche Center.

To be clear, doing so is a violation of the Terms of Service of You Tube.  You may only use their “embedded player” for showing their content.  In other words, you must show the video in a web browser and to do so be connected to the Internet.

I am quite certain that is not the intent of the Utah Avalanche Center.  They are trying to help people stay out of avalanches and create awareness.  But they have made the poor choice of minimizing their outlay for providing video by using YouTube.  Lesson to all that want their material widely propagated.  Of course YouTube is owned by Google, the “do no evil” company.  Enough said.

Ironically Google will gladly do searches with terms like “capture YouTube video OS X”!  A tremendous number of the tools don’t work; a cat and mouse game?  I leave it to the reader to ponder whether I found one or not.

I know Tobae will do good and do well in the  sans Internet mountain cabin meeting venue.


Computing Updates: IV; Pac 12; Eat Your Peas: II (Really!)

January 2, 2012

Today’s computing update is more about Tobae and less about me.  Other than without son and technogeek Mark at home, I am now her technogeek.

Tobae is an avid backcountry skier and for many years part of the team that teaches the Everett Chapter of the Mountaineers’s avalanche awareness course.  And to keep doing that she needs to take an instructors course from AIARE which she will be doing Wednesday through Friday this week.  And she has assignments, the difficult one being to deliver a five minute lesson using “instructor mediated video clips” with the thought these would be imbedded in PowerPoint and run on “somebody else’s computer”.   I’d never plan on doing such a thing myself!  PC vs Mac and different software versions, what are they thinking?   (Tobae “reassures” me that these are ski guides, not technogeeks, but she is the one doing this, not me…)

So instead of skiing today we spent the day in (okay there were many football games on so that was okay, more on this later).  She studied the huge decks of PowerPoint slides in the instructor resources trying to find some slides to illustrate her topic, the “wind slab” avalanche type, and finding appropriate video.  And around 2 p.m. I help her piece together five slides and an imbedded video in OpenOffice Impress.  For we have never had Microsoft Office on her computer, for her entire use of such functionality is that she keeps a spreadsheet of vertical climb (several 100k feet last year).  Then we saved the presentation on a flash drive in old style PowerPoint (ppt) along with the media file and I tried to look at it on my computer.  Mac PowerPoint 2008 would not read it.  LibreOffice would (I’ve abandoned OpenOffice as have many), but couldn’t save it in a form yet PowerPoint compatible.  Keynote read it and let me save it such that Mac PowerPoint 2008 would read it.  Of course it didn’t behave the same as her slide show, but the video did work.  (That this would be difficult I already knew, see above).  But is was workable and I saved it in many forms (some of which didn’t work at all back on her computer, also see above).  And I took advantage of the Microsoft at Home program afforded by the UW contract to buy Microsoft Office for the Mac 2011 on the cheap and install it on one of our personal computers, hers.  So she has it in the most modern format possible which actually imbeds the video right in the file.  But of course who knows what she will have in the conference room at Stevens Pass!

There is a simple rule here.  Never ever use any advanced feature of any presentation program and expect portability.  Ever!

Now to football.  Today was the “January 1 is Sunday” version of New Year Day.  TSN (Canadian cable channel “The Sports Network”) shows some content from ESPN.  We enjoyed the Georgia-Michigan State game.  Tobae is from Georgia, enough said.  But did the Rose Bowl follow?  No.  Or the Fiesta Bowl?  No.  I was reduced to our desperation system.  Finally finding my notes on how to create a proxy through Mark’s hacked router in Menlo Park, using the Firefox “Advanced > Network” to connect to it, and using the ESPN privilege of his cable provider we were able to watch both games.  Tobae had a year of trail-breaking with her friend Tim riding on Oregon-Wisconsin.  Sorry Badgers and sorry Tim, I was pulling for you.  I had to go with Stanford to honor Mark’s girl friend Christie, but I’m sure Miles Logsdon is quite happy with the outcome and that will have to do.  Why neither of these Pac 12 teams could put up points like the Huskies remains a mystery!

So how does this all connect with Eat Your Peas?  I believe I have come on the solution to the lack of a functional US Congress!  While Canada may not have ESPN, they have mastered the art of votes of no confidence and rapid fire elections.  Thus the simplest solution to my need for ESPN while in Whistler and my desire for a functional Congress is to have Canada invade and annex the US.  No longer would Rick Perry have to worry about his gaffes about Canadian oil being domestic, no more “rights” and “sovereign content” issues around material on Canadian cable, and no need to wait more than 90 days to replace Congress when it doesn’t do it job.


Eat Your Peas I

December 15, 2011

I actually liked peas, not an especially picky eater as a kid.  But you get the point.  So did President Obama when he chided Congress in mid-July that there were budgetary issues to deal with (that one was the debt ceiling) and that he wouldn’t let them off the hook (which in the end he did).  And sure enough the resulting super committee failed in its work.  At that time he said no point putting it off six months, “pull off the Band-Aid…eat your peas”.  Eat your peas.  Supper isn’t over yet.  Will it ever be?

Case in point is not the large issue this week.  Rather, my anger yesterday over a press release from my U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA 2) taking credit for delaying the closure of the Everett, WA mail sorting center for six months.  Many others in Congress were doing the same and this is uniformly how the Postmaster General chose to deal with the pile of letters.  At the same time, USPO is taking in about 93 cents for every dollar it spends.  No sensible business would do this, at least for very long.  Certainly not put it off six months (see above, getting the thread?).  The USPO fix ought to be simple:  their revenue is a user fee.  A one cent increase for a first class stamp in early January?  Make it five cents.

(This is just what I wrote to Rick on the super-duper e-mail system Congress has put in place that checks my address again my nine digit zip code as authentication to communicate with my elected representative.  At least give me a cookie so I just do that once?)

Arguably, this Congress is the worse ever.   Both sides (even though one is right, whoops, correct!).  So is there room in the center for the “Eat Your Peas” party?   With enough strength to let both edges continue to hold breath, turn blue in the face, and pass out?


Computing Updates: III

November 9, 2011

Computing Updates: III?  I’ve not been careful in creating this thread, but Computing Updates: I, was named A Clean Install of Windows XP and Computing Updates: II was named Computing Updates.  Got it?  I’ll do better in the future.  This is not work solely for “Tags”.

Firefox 5,6,7.  The too frequent, very visible, updates are out of control.  But worst, I have much more frequent crashes.  Enough that I have adopted Chrome.  It of course updates at a similar pace.  But they are invisible!  This is not a sound approach, but at least Chrome doesn’t crash once a hour.  Nice run with me Mozilla (dating back to the earliest days of Netscape), but the crash reporting had become intolerable.  May reverse this course, but time will tell.  (I see in my RSS feed I need to deal with Firefox 8; Chrome has not crashed as of yet.)

VMware Fusion 4.  I’ve long used VMware Fusion as my way of using a Windows app, Quicken, that is so much better than the OS X equivalent.  (Probably should have done the same thing for Quickbooks, but didn’t.)  But as I’ve returned to the classroom, I need ArcGIS Desktop.  Only a Windows app.  First I decided to bring Fusion up to date, by upgrading from 3.x to 4.x.  That worked with little pain, though I decided not to “migrate” my Windows XP virtual machine to “take advantage of features in this version”. And then in the updated Fusion, I used the UW license to install Windows 7.  Much faster than the “Clean Install of Windows XP” I thought until the 75 patches appeared.  Eventaully it seems quite stalled on #43.  And I mean stalled. Typical Windows, I disovered a hidden window asking for permission for a particular step.  And finally while I should have figured this out more quickly,  my office network is heavily firewalled and I needed to attach directly to the UW network for just a few seconds to activate Windows.  All is well now.

Then ArcGIS Desktop.  Proceeded smoothly, thankful though for some  notes to guide through some of the obscure dialogs.

OS X never takes this kind of time…


OmniFocus Multi-focussed

October 22, 2011

I’m in Whistler today for a meeting of the council of our strata (US readers, condo association).  Was a must-do with a coming special assessment after 11 years of benign budgetary issues.  I drove up last night and could go home this evening, but there is a Husky game to watch.  So early tomorrow.  And after all I have bandwidth here.  And with bandwidth, I can be much more effective in getting things done.

Which leads to OmniFocus, perhaps the best known software of the Seattle-based OmniGroup and my way of Getting Things Done (GTD).  In a too rare act of using “Context”, I found a significant task at Whistler:  “Master French Onion Soup”.  This has been lingering for ~18 months.  And master in this instance means actually make it for the first time, which might then lead to improving and mastering.

This recipe seemed like a fine starting point, lots of 5-stars.  I read perhaps 20 of the 395 reviews.  The idea this would take 65 minutes seemed wrong from the outset, but a reviewer had suggested considerably longer times.  I found 45 minutes with the onions, 20 minutes reducing, and 10 minutes with the flour step about right and it is now simmering.  Somebody suggested I let it rest after simmering for several hours, then finish it off.  As excellent as this advice might be, it is my dinner and I plan to eat it at half-time.  I tasted about 30 minutes ago and added some pepper, but I think I’ll like the result.

The last piece of multi-focus is watching the Stanford-Washington game (and doing dueling commentary with Casey Rose on FB.) As I type this sentence Stanford 31-Washington 14.  I bet (well better said regret) that our commentary slows down.


My Life With Garmin, Part 2

July 25, 2011

It has been ~6 months since I last posted on this topic, mostly because I have been flummoxed with trying to work honestly with Garmin’s locking techniques for maps I own and simply want to combine on one card.  Perhaps their entire approach will deserve attention on the Inspector General of the World blog.  Time will tell…

While seemingly on topic, but not:  I was very excited and pleased by the team finish of Garmin-Cervelo in Tour de France and the success of several individual riders, among them Tyler Farrar for his stage 3 win.  Alas, the HTC setup for Cavendish is beyond compare.  Watching the last two minutes of stage 21 and listening to Phil and Paul as Thor peels off really makes the point.

But this isn’t about biking.  It is about my struggle to download “Alaska Enhanced Topography” that I purchased from Garmin, for Tobae and my upcoming Alaska trip.  I tried several times on Friday, always seemingly stopped midstream.  Eventually I sent a note to Garmin Technical Support which gave me an answer.  The only way to achieve success is to have a card in a card reader, not the device itself, which is an eTrex Vista HCx, and let the transfer to the device itself fail!  Then I would have an option to write to the card reader.  Even though there is never a diagnostic that tells one this when having the card in the device and seeing plenty of open space.  Nor is there an FAQ on the Garmin web.  Nor does one get any knowledge from Googling all sensible combinations of words.  So as I finish n+1 transfers of 1.7 Gb of data on my office connection at ~1.1 MB/sec, I will post this if the transfer is successful.  Then to home, to bed, and to Vancouver for a couple of days.

May this post help somebody.  I rarely use tags, but this one is tagged Garmin.  Love/Hate!