Given that we’re not really going anywhere these days, the cars have hardly been driven. I think I’ve put more miles on the Scout than the other two cars combined—it’s a miracle the Accord still starts (note to self: go start the Accord.) We took a drive in the CR-V on Friday and I was shocked at how rough it was running at startup. It’s got 130K on the odometer, and we’ve been taking good care of it, but it’s due for some serious maintenance. I had it in for new tires last year and the tech showed me the bushings and lower control arms are worn out in the front suspension. I’m sure there are other issues that need to be handled, but I’m going to start with some super-easy things I can show Finley: the spark plugs and air filters. I’ve never done this in either Honda, as they come from the factory with iridium 100K-mile plugs, but this is long overdue. I’m clearly not used to modern engines because I went hunting for plug wires online to no avail and then realized the CR-V uses coil packs instead of wires.
It rained all day Saturday so I putzed around the house. In the basement, I culled two rubbermaid tubs full of UMBC paperwork and projects to the recycling pile. Given that they haven’t called me in a year to teach and we’re pretty sure classes will be online for the immediate future, I figured it was safe to ditch 9/10 of this stuff; all of those students have graduated and there’s no need to keep a paper trail for any grading complaints. Now I can move some stuff from the office down there to clean up my workspace.
There’s a lot of legacy electronic equipment, cameras, and computer gear I’ll clearly never use again that’s also taking up space. While I like having collections of that kind of stuff, it’s just piling up around here and I need to clear it out from underfoot. I have a hard time doing stuff like this when I hear I might need that ____ someday in the back of my head. There have been more times than not when that packrat mentality has saved me time and money—but there’s only so much room downstairs.
Another thing I’ve been meaning to get to is backing up photos from 2019. They’ve sitting on an external drive on my desk but I’m out of space on the server in the basement and they’ve never been backed up to our Amazon Photo account. I set up a workflow in Lightroom to go through the 2019 catalog and export JPGs of all those files (many of them are in RAW format, which Amazon doesn’t like). Then I uploaded them to Amazon, ready to be catalogued this coming week. It’s clear I need to increase the storage on the basement server as well.
My tastes in beer have moved to the citrusy, which is good because there’s a flood of “hazy IPA’s” on the market. This strain of IPA takes its name not from added citrus (that would be a shandy) but from particular breeds of hops added late in the boil and then in the fermentation cycle, which react with the yeast and add a citrusy flavor without being sickeningly sweet. The shelves are saturated with choice, so I’m going through them as much as I can. My current favorites are Stone’s Tangerine Express and Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing. I’m getting low in the fridge, so I’ll have to go out tomorrow night to restock.
I thought I might be able to get to my homebrew kit on Sunday afternoon, but time just got away from me. Jen has convinced me the new 5-gallon batch I brewed needs to be dumped down the sink, as I don’t enjoy it enough to drink it—which breaks my heart.
Hey, finally some good news. ICANN vetoed the sale of the .org registry to a private equity firm today, which keeps the registry as a non-profit vehicle. As with all private equity deals, the sale threatened to saddle the registry with up-front debt, thus requiring a giant rate hike handed down to all domain-holders to try and pay off that debt. Nobody really knows who Ethos Capital is, or who owns them, or what their plans were. But some digging uncovered a likely motive:
Financial experts soon warned that an unusual structure of six different shell companies built around Ethos Capital, all of which had been registered on the same day and just days before they approached the Internet Society to acquire the registry, looked like an asset-stripping arrangement that would potentially leave the crucial registry deeply in debt and .org owners paying the price.
I’m glad the Attorney General of California stepped in so aggressively, but it’s a fucking shame at how fast ICANN was ready to sell us up the river.
The coughy sore-throat lung butter illness that was sweeping through work hit me on Tuesday like a ton of bricks; what started out as a tickle in the back of my throat has progressed to a full-on cold and cough and ache. I’m guzzling off-brand Dayquil like it’s a can of La Croix. On the positive side, my voice has dropped three octaves, so I’m the bantamweight Barry White. I hopped on a work call the other day and several of my co-workers didn’t know who I was when I started talking. I should change my voicemail recording while I can.
We’re mostly prepared for Christmas here; what’s left to do is wrap presents and prepare for the big day. We’ve got a couple of cool Advent activities planned until then, and I’m working from home as many days as possible.
Well, this is great. Apparently the folks who bought Flickr sent out an appeal to Pro users (I didn’t see it; must have wound up in my spam folder) asking us for help finding new paying members, stating that the service isn’t paying for itself. I shudder at the thought of finding and replacing all of the photos I’ve embedded from there on this blog; the number is in the thousands, easily. And, I don’t know where I’d move them to.
Oh, this is fucking swell. ICANN, the people that have overseen the .ORG subdomain since it was founded, eliminated price caps for domain owners after asking for public comment on a proposed new contract. While most of the comments appeared to be in favor of keeping price caps, they eliminated them in the new contract and promptly sold the registry to a private equity firm. The new owners swear they’re going to only raise the price 10% a year. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.
Update: I’m moving this out into the main feed, because it directly affects the registry of this website. As it turns out, Ethos Capital is owned by three billionaire Republican families. The EFF has a page with information about what we can do, and there’s a petition to sign. What this might do to stop things, I have no idea.
I spend almost two hours getting to and from work every day, time subtracted from my life that I don’t care to total up, because that figure would make me seriously question my own mortality and then I’d probably want to jump off a bridge. Most of this time is spent sitting on a train, but there’s a lot of other time I spend by myself getting to or from somewhere. I generally choose to fill this time listening to podcasts or music, so having proper headphones is a must. Unfortunately I’ve been skimping on this for years. I’ve mostly been using Apple’s standard earbuds, in their various models, and I guess they work fine. I can hear what I’m listening to, unless I’m under a plane or next to a bus or mowing the lawn, and I can stop, start, and adjust the volume of whatever I’m listening to.
I’m also constantly yanking on the cord as I’m walking, pulling a messenger bag over my head, or working around the house. The dog likes to hook her paw on the cord and yank them out of my ears as I’m putting her leash on. The cord catches on desks, toolboxes, bannisters, and doorknobs. And because they get pulled on all the time, the wires are getting frayed; I’ve got two pairs where the mic/sound control pad doesn’t work anymore, and another where the plug connection is weakened so that it triggers my phone to randomly stop/start/skip whatever I’m playing.
I bought an older set of “wireless” headphones made by Anker several years ago, which were actually two earbuds wired together, and they work pretty good. My two beefs with them were that the cord that connected them was getting caught on my clothes almost as much as an earbud cord, and the fact that they didn’t have a microphone to take calls. They work, and the battery life is pretty good, but they spent a lot of time at the bottom of my bag getting tangled on other stuff.
I see people walking through Union Station wearing AirPods as a matter of course. They are, by all reports, fantastic, but I was wondering if I could find an alternative that wasn’t as spendy but just as reliable. What I settled on was Anker’s Soundcore Life P2, which I got on deep sale through Amazon for a quarter the price of AirPods. They’re a set of noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds that have most of the features AirPods do.
They fit my ears perfectly right out of the box, although they have five other pairs of rubber buds that can be fitted for people with dainty little ears or giant horse flaps. Each one has a small button on the side to turn the unit on or trigger several functions, which I haven’t mastered yet: on/off, start/stop, take a call, talk to Siri. The sound is fantastic. Bass is full, and the highs are crisp, but I also get a full range of midtones. It’s a wide range of sound that I’m not used to after years of tinny earbuds. It’s lovely to walk through the noisy platform area of Union Station next to idling diesel engines and not have to cover my ears to hear what’s playing, and they act as relatively decent noise protection when they’re off.
I used them to call my Mom on Sunday night, and while it worked, I found the experience strange. Because the earbuds had closed off my ear canals, I felt like I was talking inside my own head, as if I’d been talking to her with my fingers in my ears. I found it so distracting, I switched over to a set of wired earbuds to finish the call. Apple announced the AirPod Pro three days after I ordered my Ankers, which are built similarly. I read with interest about the Transparency Mode feature, where you can set them to listen to the surrounding noise, and I wondered what that added to the experience, but I get it now that I’ve been on a call: Transparency Mode opens the outside world back up so that you don’t sound like you’re talking inside a SCUBA mask.
Overall, I’m happy with these, and though I won’t be taking calls with them often (I’ll have to keep my earbuds wound up in my bag for those occasions) I’m cord-free and noise cancelled.
LEGO has just announced their new Imperial Star Destroyer set, clocking in at 4,784 pieces and measuring almost 4 feet long. It’s amazing. It’s also $700 and won’t fit over our fireplace.
Sometime last week, when I wrote about iPhone battery drain or our new family addition, I passed the 5,000 post milestone here on Idiotking. When I average out the numbers, that’s about 22 posts a month since March of 2001, including syndicated posts from the Scout blog. In the grand scheme of blogging, that’s probably peanuts; there are bloggers who have averaged two or three posts a day since before I started. But this site is still here, and I don’t intend on going anywhere. I look around at a wasteland of dead links and abandoned URLs and still feel a sense of perverse pride for keeping this thing going as long as I have.