House 2.0

Its almost hard to believe at this point, but I think its finally happening. As of January 26, 2016, we have officially broken ground and started construction of our new house.

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These are the earliest pictures I can find of our property, during a walk with Cody in fall of 2014:

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Posted in Dog Blog, Home Improvement, House 2.0 | 4 Comments

Happy New Year 2016, and a PSA

Ok, fine, 10 days in, and no “traditional” year end wrap up post and outlook for the new year, or fun pics. We’re hard at work here at casa de AmyTracker. 2015 was another good year for us, and we have a whole lot to look forward to in 2016. We continue to be excited and hopeful about our future. I expect I’ll have some exciting content to post here soon.

However; I think I’ll start out 2016 with a PSA (I expect Kevin is tired of hearing me complain, so I’ll do it here instead:) –  If you are thinking about upgrading to Windows 10, don’t. Just don’t do it. I didn’t know I could dislike Microsoft any more than I already do, but once again, I am disappointed. I’ve been using Win10 now for approximately 3 days, and the buyers remorse is strong. Windows 7 was working great, I should have left it alone. The shortlist of my “upgrade”, which is not exhaustive:

  • My desktop icons re-shuffle into a random order and position on start up, or on returning from sleep mode, or sometimes just randomly DURING USE. Sometimes they re-shuffle on top of one another (yes, seriously). This is turning out to be a lot more obnoxious than I would have guessed if I hadn’t experienced this in person.
  • I had to pay $200+ for Quickbooks, because the version I was using wasn’t compatible on the newer OS. This happens, I get it, but I’m tired of being forced to pay for software upgrades so often. This isn’t the only app I’ve paid for several times already. It also took me half a day (yes, seriously, about 4 hours) to get that one specific app working properly on windows 10, including a tech support call. This app was the worst, but I’ve had trouble with many others. Again, software compatibility problems are expected, but this round was the worst I’ve ever experienced. (Edit – after I re-booted, it stopped working again. I can’t fix it. I need it to work. Intuit programs are obnoxious enough to begin with, but apparently Intuit + Microsoft = the ultimate combination of suck.)
  • Windows forgets I’m using a multiple monitor set up, and won’t detect my other monitors. I can fix it through the control panel, but I shouldn’t have to.
  • Once again, all kinds of settings have been moved, and I have to google where to find them. I also have fewer settings, and can’t fix things I could have before (why is the handling of a multiple monitor display so terrible? really? why can’t I adjust how the screen saver displays so its not stupidly displayed across all three screens?? etc., etc.)
  • My laptop often won’t wake up from sleep mode, and I have to re-boot, which causes my desktop icons to re-arrange themselves, my external monitors to stop working, and a bunch of settings to revert to some other state.
  • The sound doesn’t work. As in, the test sounds from the control panel work, but there is no audio from any sort of media file or online video, etc.
  • My wireless keyboard is flaky. This might be the new laptop, and not Windows 10. I dunno. It’s the same keyboard that worked great with my previous PC.
  • Insert long list of other stuff that broke here, but am too lazy to type out.

Windows has been around for what, 30 years? You suck at your job Microsoft. I’m going to try for another couple of days, and look for more driver updates and such, but if I can’t get a more stable system soon, I’m going to throw out a day and half of work, and go back to windows 7 (and install all those apps, again).

Edit 01/12/2016: I give up. I still can’t get some apps (including Quickbooks to work), or the sound, or any improvement on other generally buggy behavior. Its decided, Windows 10 is a STEAMING PILE OF GARBAGE, and I’m going to back to 7.

 

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Comic of the Day

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Woodsons Mill

Back in October, we took advantage of a beautiful sunny day to ride up to Woodson’s Mill in VA, a historic, working grist mill with two waterwheels.

We talked to the owners about various technical approaches for converting this micro hydro site to produce electricity. Hydropower at this small scale is very hard to pay for, but depending on their interconnection requirements with the utility, they may be able to justify some expense to produce a little power. Mostly, both of us think old grist mills that are still working with shaft powered equipment are neat, and I wanted to share a few photos.

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Sunday afternoon hike at Hanging Rock

Just a handful of pics from today’s outing:

 

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QotD

Text, in case the image link gets broken:

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid people are full of confidence.” – Charles Bukowski

I am absolutely certain that this is true.

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Technology is Hard OK?

This is our life right now:

also this:

P.S. xkcd is the best.

P.P.S. – When I previewed this post, I nearly fell over with laughter…see the title of this post. Then notice the top image running over into the sidebar. I’m not even going to fix that, its too perfect.

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QotD

“I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air—that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave. . . .In any dispute between a citizen and the government, it is my instinct to side with the citizen . . . I am against all efforts to make men virtuous by law.”
― H.L. Mencken

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2015 Blue Ridge Trail

So we finally got around to riding the rest of the Blue Ridge Trail (BRT).  We hadn’t actually taken any overnight moto trips since our epic Alaska adventure last summer, so by late summer this year, we were ready to do some riding. As soon as the oppressive and humid summer heat broke for a spell, we impulsively loaded the bikes  and headed out for territory just out of reach of our usual day rides. Our timing was excellent; we had beautiful, not-too-hot, sunny, and low humidity weather for a few days of moto-camping and off-road riding at elevation in Jefferson and George Washington National Forests.

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8/13/2015 – 209 mi, Home to the BRT, headed north

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Posted in 2009 Honda CRF230L, 2015 Blue Ridge Trail, Blue Ridge Trail, Dualsport - Off Pavement, Motorcycles + | Leave a comment

Digital Apollo

Quest oculus non vide, cor non delet
What the eye does not see, the heart does not regret
“A lot happens that we are not telling you about.”
– Opening lines of Apollo software source code
(Quote at the opening of chapter 7)

Digital Apollo is a really great book by the way.

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Horse pics of the day

“I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.”  – It turns out that horses apply that expression literally. Who knew. (Probably people who know more about horses than I do). I feel bad that the flies must be bothering them, but its awfully cute to see them giving each other back scratches.

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More on driverless cars

Great TED talk on autonomous driving.

 

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QotD

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
― H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

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A little camping trip

Avoid this intense heat by going up into the mountains! Pretty fun for a first camping trip and visit to the mountains for this Florida boy; campfire and hot dogs and smores, a hiking trip the next day with family, and ice cream at the end. The family photo group shot was blurry, so disappointing.

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River Rats

It must be summer; look at this crew out for a little paddle on the river.

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Citizenfour

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ― Benjamin Franklin

I would modify that quote to say the illusion of safety.

If you haven’t seen the documentary Citizenfour, you should. If you don’t think that the issues brought to light by Edward Snowden are some of the most important issues of our time, then you aren’t paying attention. We, as in humans on earth, for the first time in history, have to answer the question of whether its ok to have effectively omniscient government(s). (Answer; no it isn’t).

The NSA (and others) built the the panopticon (with our tax dollars, in secret, and then lied about it to congress). There is currently no legislative or judicial oversight (you know, checks and balances). The information they are gathering on everyone (with no requirement for warrants or even presumption that you did anything wrong) is potentially one of the greatest tools for oppression ever created. Right now, all we’re depending upon is the goodwill of those wielding that power that it won’t be abused. That’s not good enough.

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QotD

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Cornerspeed at VIR

It’s time to share another incredibly fun motorcycle experience: Kevin and I attended the Cornerspeed riding school recently, which is held on track at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Neither of us had ridden on a track before this school, and we were both a bit nervous about what we were getting into.

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Me chasing Kevin on track at VIR

The TL:DR version is that Cornerspeed is an excellent riding school that puts on a first class event, and I can recommend it without reservation as an advanced street riding/intro to racing school. If you are a street rider with at least a moderate level of experience (this class is NOT for beginners), then you will definitely learn something and improve your riding technique by attending this school. While the class is a bit more race oriented than I need, its intended to improve overall riding technique, working on skills that translate very well off the track. (Its ok; racing is what Aaron Stevenson knows, and clearly loves, and has an amazing ability to teach.) I would say most street riders of a fairly wide range of skill levels will get something useful from this class; until you’ve made it into the advanced group at track days, Cornerspeed has something to teach you. Even then, unless you are a high level pro-racer, you WILL learn something about how to ride a motorcycle from Aaron Stevenson.

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Posted in 2012 Ducati Monster 696, Moto Classes, Motorcycles + | 3 Comments

Scenic Ride

A few pics from a recent ride in Jefferson National Forest, which included a few miles of unpaved forest roads:

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QotD

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction” – Albert Einstein

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MotoMark1 Maximum Control Level 1

A few years ago I set an informal goal to take one moto riding skills class every year. I started with Cornerspin in 2012 (which set the expectations mighty high for excellent moto riding class experiences, plus Kevin took that with me as well), and I took Lee Park’s Total Control in 2013 (which I also found worthwhile).  Then I dropped the ball in 2014 and didn’t make time to take a class.

I’ve gotten more organized about moto classes for 2015; I spent a recent Saturday taking the MotoMark1 Maximum Control Level 1 class.  Its another parking lot class to work on technique, but with emphasis on the really slow speed stuff, which riders know is often the most difficult to execute in the real world.  Drills involved cone weaves and u-turns, and the instructors are motor officers, who often teach other law enforcement. If you want to get into moto gymkhana, this is a good class to take.

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APOD

Neat APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) yesterday:

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Images of a sunset on Earth and on Mars, more explanation here.

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QotD

An amazing prediction for 1926:

“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole.  We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance.  Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.” – An interview with Nikola Tesla by John B. Kennedy, Colliers, January 30, 1926

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Spring

One of our dogwood trees is really putting on a show these last couple of weeks:

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Quote of the Day

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” ― Winston Churchill

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