A mainly tech blog that sometimes touches politics and education. I use a Mac so you will hear about that and I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA so you will hear about our upcoming municipal Wi-Fi mesh network. I believe that open source is the only way to build big software so that may come up too. Est. 2004.
Followup to the kitty video posting: What happens with video at Posterous?
Here is what happened when I emailed out my last Posterous kitty post with an attached .m4v video.
It took forever for Posterous to process the video. It took so long—from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.—that I started thinking it just didn't support m4v format. But Posterous handles the situation well and doesn't send out status or blog updates until the processing is done. For anyone that found the video (and "still processing" message) at my Posterous account, it did allow viewing.
Results from my Connected Services
YouTube and Flickr: Posterous processed the video and sent it along, adding it to my accounts.
Tumblr and my PF Hyper Blog: No embedded player. Provides link to download or to view on Posterous. Includes text of my Posterous blog post. I went back to both Tumblr and my blog and added the Youtube embed code.
Facebook: Status update with the embedded video. Includes start of the Posterous blog post and a link back to Posterous to finish reading the post.
When I checked the video in Flickr, I found that a group of tags had been added: cleaning, stretching, cats, cat, licking, cleansing, and lick. I hadn't tagged anything myself and some of the tags were not from my blog post. Checking my Flickr Recent Activity,I found the footprints of that infamous cat and pizza lover, s4xton. Thanks Aaron.
General cuteness in sharing our new kitties' life with you.
Testing video uploads to Posterous. I haven't done this before.
The video should get bundled up and sent to YouTube with an embedded player in Posterous. (Wonder if the video will also go to Flickr.)
The video was taken with my Canon SD850. I saved as a desktop video for the web out of Quicktime to get it smaller. Quality did not seem to suffer very much. It's still hit-or-miss with this video stuff for me.
As some of you know, last year, our cat Marlmalade died. That made us catless after some 35 years and at least seven cats.
Last week, we saw a post in the Seward Community Forum that two kitties needed a good home. We tried to talk our nephew and his wife into becoming cat people with these kitties but they decided they weren't ready yet. So we finally decided to enlarge our family again and invited the kitties to our place.
Here's a first look and I'll have more pictures (and video) up soon.
Somewhat random notes from my first visit to Google Wave.
"A wave is a hosted conversation." (from the Google Wave in Action video) Ah ha. That's a good description. A wave is also boring when you're all alone. Video says you can drag and drop from iPhoto but neglects to mention that you have to install Gears. Wonder if I can do that directly from Flickr.
With Gears installed, I can drag photos from desktop or from iPhoto. I was not able to drag an image from a web page however. Very nice and Waves gives a full-screen display when you click the thumbnail. SHIFT-ENTER closes or opens "blips" which are the things waves are made of.Double-click a blip to reply/edit that blip.You can edit someone else's blip as they are editing it. There was some highlighting indicating the other editor at one point but it went away. There doesn't seem a way to identify who typed what if you are in the same blip. Easy to get lost in a Wave if you are replying to previous blips or editing old ones. Is there a way to manage or sort? Ah ha. Playback mode goes through the wave in chronological order and indicates edits with yellow highlights. I'm using Firefox 3.0x. Friend using Safari. Compatibility seems fine.When you mute a wave you can see it by choosing All from navigation pane. To "unmute," select wave and click the inbox tab. Finding waves with a particular contact: The search box for the inbox area is not useful unless you know the wave email address. It won't give you a hit off the name (unless I'm missing the query term for it). So you would have to look for "pfhyper" for me and not "Peter". You can search on "Peter" from the contact search and the pop-up will reveal recent waves. (Checking Wave help and they mention you can't actually search on names yet.) The Google Wave overview video is telling me I can link waves and publish them to my blog. Do you have to use blogger for that? Ah, you need a gadget or robot or something. Wavety.com has a list of robots and gadgets.
I finally found the Tweety robot (made by the Wave team) and installed it. Tweety will display your Twitter stream in Wave and allows you to tweet from Wave. Or at least it will do that when they finish with it. Right now, it will grab your current twitter stream but then not continue updating and you can't post to Twitter.
Check the Wave help forums if you are trying to get gadgets, robots, extensions to work. That's where I found out that Tweety is broken for now. When they get it ready to go, it will be put in the Extension Gallery located in the "Welcome to Google Wave" wave.
For the record, this is how you install the Tweety robot. The instructions may be useful for other robots and gadgets.
Although "agriculture" often means big farm enterprises, it can also simply mean "the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock." I don't think Mr. Pollan objects to that. For him, it's all in the means whereas for Big Ag, it's often more about the ends especially getting the animals to market really fast and increasing profits.
Support rural America! Call a sex chat line today! (AT&T, Google Voice, & Net Neutrality)
Google Voice blocks calls to certain rural areas because of outdated regulations that require the big phone companies to pay access charges to the rural companies when calls are completed in the rural company's phone network. The original idea behind this regulation was to help in sustaining rural phone networks that may not have enough subscribers locally to pay for all their costs. AT&T, Verizon and the rest of the big telcos have no choice about paying these fees. At the moment, Google Voice does have that choice. AT&T is not happy about that and has raised a bogus charge of Google violating net neutrality.
It gets juicier. Some rural carriers figured out a lucrative business getting "popular" chat lines to use their local numbers. Each call that (mostly) men made to the (mostly) women at the chat service resulted in AT&T (Verizon, etc.) paying the access fees. This amounted to a lot of money. Enough money that the rural carrier chould just give the number to the chat service and in some cases kick back some of the wealth. In their defense, the rural carriers point to stimulating local economies, providing local jobs, and American entrepreneurial spirit. (I made up the part about "entrepreneurial spirit." The local jobs would come from potential chat lines and tech help centers located in the rural area.)
Backing up is hard to do: A quick look at my OS X data backup plan
Backing up is hard to do. OS X Time Machine makes it lots easier if you have a dedicated drive connected up to your Mac. But my main machine is a MacBook and I don't have a single workspace in the home where I can leave a hard drive ready to connect. I move around. Also not ready to spend the funds on any wireless backing up.
Second best (for me) is to turn Time Machine off and use on demand. I enable the TM status in my menu for this. Then connect the backup hard drive and choose "Back Up Now" from the menu. I try to do this every evening.
I just bought a 750GB Western Digital My Book drive from Amazon (+-$100). The My Book includes Firewier 400 ports along with USB 2.0 and I need the FW for compatibility with some older computers (an Apple Cube for one). Not crazy about the look and feel of the My Book and sometimes it won't mount immediately which I think has to do with its sleep mode. But I think it will do for the immediate future.
Time Machine is wonderful and restorable if your drive goes bad. It also keeps around old versions of files until you fill up your backup space. For that reason I backup my 150GB drive to a 230GB drive. TM will delete the oldest backup when the drive is full. You can also have it warn you before it deletes.
TM backups aren't bootable. If something goes wrong, you have to restore the backup. I want something bootable so if something goes wrong, I can reboot off the backup drive. SuperDuper ($27.95) accomplishes this and is very fast after the first full backup. It's been upgraded for Snow Leopard. I keep my Super Duper backup on a partition of the 750GB drive. It will only "grow" as big as the internal.
I use to use Carbon Copy Cloner by Mike Bombich and free. I switched to Super Duper because CCC was very slow even when only backing up changed files. I just visited Mr. Bombich's site and I'm curious if he's enhanced performance in the latest version. The site itself is much slicker than before and the ad blurbs make CCC sound pretty slick. I think I'll have to test it out.
There is an excellent user-generated Time Machine FAQ over at the Apple Discussion boards. For one thing, it explained clearly how to move my old Time Machine backup from one disk to another under Leopard (Snow Leopard lets you simply drag-and-drop.)
Update on Seward Co-op Annual Meeting
It was a tight election race for the Seward board of directors on Tuesday evening. Alas, I was short by some number of votes and won't be at the table in the next year. Thanks to all who voted for me. There's always next year.
Incumbents ruled with current board chair David Hoffman-Dachelet and Miriam Holsinger getting reelected. The third spot went to Seward employee Allison Meyer. (Allison served as the employee director this past year but ran at-large this year.) Greg Gustafson is the new employee director. Check the announcement here.
Some notes on the Co-op's health...
We have grown from 4,700 members to 6,300 members since January and continue to grow at the rate of 100 members per month
We have 50% growth in sales since January with 34.8% of our sales from local food
We created 55 new jobs for a total of 175 employees
The food at the meeting was excellent as usual including wonderful dessert treats at the table and a personal chocolate bar from Equal Exchange Chocolates. Adam Wozniak's band provided some great jazz music as we dined. (Find Adam on Facebook and MySpace.)
So become a member of the Co-op and you can join us for dinner next year (and vote for me!). It's a one-time $75 payment.
Unsummit: Pete & Jeff Talk Net Neutrality & Censorship
Jeff Pesek and I are facilitating the Net Neutrality discussion at the Unsummit (@unsummit) at Minneapolis Central Library on Saturday, Oct. 10. We're scheduled for 10:40 in the Pohlad Room.
I'm working on the description of our session for posting to the Unsummit site. Here's what I have so far.
Net Neutrality & Censorship
Net neutrality has become a big deal since FCC Chair Julius Genachowski spoke in favor of it last month. How would net neutrality hurt or help the Internets as we know them? Will it be the end of innovation and the free net markets? Will a non-neutral net allow AT&T to spoon feed us "approved" data and censor what they don't like? Will a neutral net allow Google to dominate the world?
What the heck is "net neutrality" anyway?
Join us in a lively (and respectful) discussion on neutrality and whether it will help or hinder the Net.
Comments? Wonder if I can do the link to Genachowski's speech.
Join Mary and I at the Seward Co-op Annual Meeting for an awesome dinner (and consider voting for pfhyper!)
You do need to be a member. Cost is $75 and it lasts a lifetime. The dinner is truly awesome and costs $5 (with tix in advance, $15 day of the meeting). It will be held next Tuesday, October 6, from 6-8 p.m. at Augsburg College, 720 22nd Ave., Christensen Center Commons, 3rd Floor.
After you become a member, you get to vote in some new board directors. I'm a former board director and I'm running for a spot this year. Read my candidate statement below and please consider voting for me.
Describe your experience with cooperatives. My wife and I have been members and employees of Seward Co-op, and we have lived in Seward Neighborhood for 30 years. I am a former editor and publisher of the co-op’s earlier newsletter, “Whole Wheat News.” I served on Seward Co-op’s board of directors in the ’90s and helped plan for the last new store on west Franklin Avenue. We have shopped almost exclusively at Seward for 30 years. We were also active in Seward Cooperative Daycare when we were raising our daughter.
Summarize your business experience. I have many years of business experience both in running my own successful computer consulting business (PF Hyper, based in Seward Neighborhood) and in sitting on the co-op’s board of directors during the last expansion to a new store. I have tracked budgets, allocated resources and planned major projects.
What do you believe are the primary challenges facing the co-op today, and how can you help Seward Co-op to meet those challenges? I believe the primary challenge facing the co-op and all small businesses today is a national—and global—economy in disarray. As the problems with mortgages and foreclosures play out over the next few years, the co-op must budget its resources carefully and watch for trends and falling profits. The board must stay vigilant as to how this is affecting our sales and the bottom line. I believe education is a key component in keeping our current members shopping at the co-op and in securing new members. The co-op currently does an excellent job with education and should continue this progress. We should look for ways to reach out beyond current membership and start conversations about sustainable agriculture, organics, and cooperative economics. We should also expand this discussion to the health care issue, as good nutrition is intrinsically linked to good health. The Internet is an excellent tool for education, and I have experience both with web develop- ment and social networking. Finally, we need to support the community we live in. Seward Co-op is already doing this well with the Seward Co-op Community Fund, the Eat Local initiative, and donations to the Groveland Food Shelf among other efforts. These efforts should be continued and expanded during this current economic downturn to even better meet our mission of sustaining a healthy community.
Why do you want to serve on Seward Co-op’s Board of Directors? Simply put, as a longtime Seward resident—including raising my daughter here and now shopping at the co-op with my three grandsons—I have a very personal interest in Seward Co-op continuing as a strong and viable busi- ness. I think I have skills and ideas that will help in this process.
How could the co-op better serve its members? The best way for the co-op to serve its members is to stay healthy and in- crease efficiencies to provide our food at competitive prices. A healthy and committed board will greatly aid in this effort. I would like to be a member of that board.
Minneapolis Unwired: Test the Wi-Fi System for Free!
First some background: Minneapolis is blessed with a municipal Wi-Fi network owned and operated by US Internet's (USI) USI Wireless (USIW) group. The City is the anchor tenant on the network. Businesses and residents of Minneapolis can purchase accounts and it's arguably the cheapest way to get broadband in Minneapolis. (It does give us a third choice for broadband which is one more than most cities.) Because of all the blogging I've done about the system, I'm often asked what I think of the service.
You don't have to ask me; you can check it out for yourself. As part of the community benefits in the Minneapolis-USI contract, USI has paid for a "Civic Garden." The Garden consists of community and City of Minneapolis sites. You can access the Wi-Fi network via the Civic Garden for free and browse. If access speeds are satisfactory, they should only get better once you have the USIW Ruckus modem which boosts the signal. Let's go through how you can access and test the system.
Find the access point. On the Mac, you can pop down a menu that shows all the wireless access points in range (see picture). On the PC, you can open a window that shows you the same. (Sorry, I'm a Mac guy so I don't have a PC picture.) The SSID or identifying name will be "USI Wireless," "City of Minneapolis Public Wi-Fi," or "Welcome to Minneapolis." (That last one is rare but I've seen it.) Once you see it, connect to that network and open your browser.
Wi-Fi Menu on the Mac
Your browser will open to the USIW terms of service. Read them and accept. (If you don't accept, that will be the end of your testing.)
Once you have accepted the agreements, you are at the Civic Garden.
You can browse a variety of community sites or use the "Get City of Minneapolis News" link to access the City's site.
If you are unable to even see the USIW network in your home (stucco homes are very problematic), try access from outdoors, even walking up and down the block. You can see the USIW antennas on electric poles—some look like kegs and others are flat panels. (The picture at the top of my blog is the keg style.) If you get access outside, inside access may be acceptable once you buy or lease one of the booster (Ruckus) devices from USIW. If there is no access inside or outside, let USIW know and see if they can do anything. Your mileage will vary. There are problem ("challenge") areas in the City where you just can't get a signal.
USIW now sends a technician installer person out for every install whether you think they need to come to your house or not. They charge $25 for this. I've heard there is currently a wait period of a week or so.
I'm not a USIW subscriber (yet). I do get a good signal where I live without any special antennas or devices to boost reception.
The Wi-Fi spectrum is subject to all kinds of interference including microwave ovens, cordless phones, and other Wi-Fi access points. Trees with leaves will also cause interference so your reception will usually be better during our Minnesota winters. Sometimes your signal just goes away or gets so weak as to resemble the old days of the dial-up modems.
Good luck. I hope these instructions are clear and if they aren't, please let me know how I can improve them. Also I'd like to know your experiences if you test the system and whether or not you decide to subscribe to USIW.