Archive for Technobabble

CB&D Weblog Going Down? Maybe/Maybe Not

sinking.jpgEarlier this week, I received notice that the version of PHP used by this website is going to disappear from the Internet Service Provider we use. Pursuant to their notice, I dutifully went to the ISP control panel and directed that this site be switched to the newer, supported version of PHP. Well, when I switched to the new version, it resulted in a big crash. When attempting to view the site in a browser, I get a “This Page isn’t Working” message in my Browser.

Image: An artist’s rendition of the SS Kalifornia’s Final Voyage. We certainly don’t want to be doomed like them. Click to enlarge.

After consulting the WordPress help pages, I tried a few thigs to see if I could wake the website up, but to no avail. Since I am using a VERY OLD (ca. February 2008) version of WordPress, it appears that I am going to have to upgrade the WP package in order to proceed.

WordPress recommends that I do the upgrade incrementally (all old versions of WP are available) to avoid potential problems that could be encountered by trying a “long jump” upgrade. I am at version 2.3.3 and need to upgrade to the current WP version which is 5.7.2. That sounds like a lot of incremental upgrades but there is a saving grace; if I can get version 3.7 going, the WP team tells me that there is an upgrade “button” that will take me to the latest version.

I do have some time to get all this done, not only to this blog, but two others I maintain on the same ISP. The deadline for removal of the old version of PHP is not until December of 2021, so there are a few months in which I can get thigs fixed. I will probably start on one of the blogs soon and others to follow later.

Some of the custom gadgets I use will be gone since I modified their code to do a few things I like to have like the image viewer and a few others. I also expect the overall appearance of the blogs will change since I do not think the old templates to be compatible.

Maybe this is all for the better, but if you get a splash page saying the blog is gone, then I might either be working on it or it is gone forever. I will let everyone know the results.

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Another New Camera Lens

SL1 w/New 250mm LensI posted here before about acquiring a 400mm telephoto lens for my little Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and that lens is worth every dime I spent on it. The only drawback is its size and weight when you want to go out into the desert to capture a few photos of critters. It is a bit clunky lugging it around on a walk up the road or for other events where you might want to get photos of subjects that may be dozens of yards away or perhaps more than that.

Image - Camera with the new EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens attached. Click on the image to enlarge.

The SL1, when I purchased it in 2014, shipped with the standard 18-55mm lens and an additional 75-300mm telephoto lens, neither of which were of really decent quality. The latter, after a couple of years, developed an autofocus intermittency and had to be scrapped. Plus, in 2019, we replaced the stock lens with a superior quality 18-135mm lens.

So, the bottom line is that I wanted a lightweight intermediate zoom lens for those times that I mentioned above. So far, since I received the new lens last Thursday, I am pleased with its performance. I took the cactus wren photo today at a range of about 35 feet and the lunar photo last Friday during the full February “Snow Moon.” I cropped both images down from the full-frame size to enhance the subjects. Click on either image to enlarge. I am especially pleased with the sharpness of the mountains and craters on the moon which is not bad for an intermediate telephoto lens.

Cactus Wren on Saguaro Snow Moon

I other news, I renewed my expired AZ Driver’s License yesterday. The expiration was covered by an extension due to the pandemic, but that extension ran out at the end of February, so I drove to the MVD and got my renewal. I should get the new license by mail in a week or two.

In other other news, our COVID-19 vaccines have not yet arrived in our area. There are two venues in town through which we can be vaccinated but neither on-line registration is yet available. We’re both eligible for the vaccines by virtue of age.

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Canon EF 100-400 mm High Performance Telephoto Lens

Telephoto LensIn the not too distant past, maybe last December or so, Damsel and I watched a documentary on our local PBS station about wildlife photography. It was very interesting to see the birds and other wildlife that we regularly see here near our retirement home, being showcased in a presentation about amateur photographers and the wildlife subjects of their interest. We both enjoyed watching the informative documentary and learned some things as a result. Foremost, I concluded that the stock 100-300 mm zoom lens I use with my Canon SL1 is inadequate for the type of work we saw on the show.

We both enjoy photography and have both made some extraordinary shots from time to time, but when something is out of the capability reach of our equipment, it shows. After watching the documentary mentioned above, the cerebral juices started flowing and had been simmering since until I read a View From The Porch article that mentioned the lens I now have. I was impressed by the results Tam posted and put the lens on my wishlist at Amazon. When I finally had enough money tucked away to cover the cost, I went ahead and ordered the lens.

Today, the Good Truck of Brown® delivered the package. Aside from some imperatives that had to come first, I could hardly wait to try the new toy out! At last, I had the time to unpack and attach the lens to my camera. I went straight outside and took about 35 shots of “stuff” I regularly see around here. The two below are just a couple of things I was able to capture on my maiden outing with the new lens. A Curve Billed Thrasher at the backyard bird feeder and a Mourning Dove in the Mesquite Tree by the RV Drive. Click on either image to enlarge.

Curve Billed Thrasher Mourning Dove in Mesquite Tree

UPDATE: I added photos of a house sparrow and a Gambel’s Quail below.

House Sparrow Male Gambel’s Quail

I shared these and some others on the FecesBook™ thing. I am very happy with the initial performance of this lens as compared to my old zoom lens. The built-in image stabilizer and the quick-to-respond ultrasonic focus drive mechanism were splendid in allowing these and other photos from a hand-held camera/lens combo.

The product page from Canon is here and the Amazon listing is here (the price went up since I ordered mine for a little over 1.8K).

By the way, our CARES Stimulu$ was in the bank yesterday and has now been distributed to charities in our neck of the woods. I did not use those funds for this purchase. Damsel and I believe investing the .gov money back into local charities will get it to work where it’s needed. Charity begins at home.

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Getting Organized in 2020

Getting Organized

We finally got the new laptop and external display set up in the home office. Thanks to having some shelves to relieve the desktop clutter, we now have a better sense of organization. The photo above is preliminary since we have some desk lamps on order and we’re going to replace the aged speaker system with a new bluetooth system. The lamp in the left will be going away along with the old speaker system.

The shelf itself was advertised as a TV stand, but the literature it came with shows it is intended to be a shoe rack (for Imelda-wannabees, I guess). Regardless of that, the shelves are now serving as a desk organizing unit.

Frequently-accessed items and the wireless router/modem get the top shelf of the organizer, while less-frequently-accessed items get lower places behind computer monitors and such. It’s impossible to hide all the wires, but I think it is much better than it used to be. I’m sure that as time goes on, I will tweak things here and there.

I’m still installing applications and transferring files to the new machine as the need arises. I have the old computer set up in the motorhome out back and since it’s on the LAN, I can get most of what I need from the old system without having to go out there.

I sure like the new laptop computer. It is super fast compared to what I’ve been used to, although it isn’t in the supercomputer category by any means. Still, I’m enjoying the change.

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Clear Skies over the Southwest US

GOES East Map Image

A couple of weeks ago (10/22/2019), I captured this image from the GOES East weather satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time, hence the terrain features are mostly visible.

Late October and early November in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the early November temperatures are forecast for highs in mid-80s and lows in upper 40s or lower 50s. Soon, however, the temperatures will start to drop and we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the inside the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The lighter gap between the southern Kaibab dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands Missile Test area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Looking at the enlarged image, you can identify Roosevelt Lake which is the flying eagle-shaped dark area below the Mogollon Forested area. West of that is Lake Pleasant, an oval-shaped dark spot. Lake Pleasant is just about forty miles east of our place.

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New Stuff: HP Win 10 Laptop and Savoy Patriotic Holster

New Laptop New Savoy Holster

First, regarding the laptop, we have been begrudgingly having to admit that our old machine is slow and cumbersome in the current market of faster on-line stuff. The memory in the old machine has to continuously cycle stuff around most of the time, thereby slowing everything down. There are a bunch of utilities and programs that I no longer need nor use, which slows things further. The time to upgrade has come.

The new laptop as described by the seller is a 2019 HP 15.6″ FHD IPS Touchscreen Laptop Computer, 8th Gen Intel Quad-Core i5-8250U up to 3.4GHz (Beat i7-7500U), 8GB DDR4, 1TB HDD + 512GB SSD, 802.11ac WiFi, USB 3.1, Bluetooth, HDMI, Windows 10. I purchased it through Amazon last week.

I have started migrating apps and files to the new platform on the “test bed” (literally the bed in the guest room) and integrating new peripherals to take the place of my antiquated setup in the office. The progress is steady, but with glitches and work-arounds as dictated by the new cyber environment. I’ll get there, but it will be a while before I change out the old laptop system.

Next, the new holster arrived today after a lengthy lead time of over fourteen weeks; I ordered it late last June from Savoy Leather Works. It is a custom made holster and magazine pouch for my Glock 30 Subcompact .45ACP pistol (I used to call this gun “FAT MAN” and the other Glock 26 “LITTLE BOY” on the old Minstrel Blog).

Damsel took the photo above right of me displaying the beautiful Patriotic American Flag and Three Percenter art work. It will take me a while to get it broke in. Although the holster has both IWB and Open Carry options, I figure to wear it for special occasions as an open carry combo. Why would I want to conceal the fabulous artwork?

You may click on either image to enlarge.

UPDATE 20191102: Added a 21″ external HDMI LED Monitor to the “test bed.” I will probably start moving the new stuff to the office next week and phase out the old laptop and display as soon as I get all the important stuff loaded to the new system.

Test Bed Updated

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Reunion - Ham Radio Style

Eating Meeting

Over the holiday weekend, we had house guests in the form of a couple that I have known since 1960 or so. I met Dick and Taffy on 2 meters AM in California when I was still in high school. We became good friends in those days. We also had a lot of mutual ham radio friends on the air and in person back then.

We got back in touch with them after a lot of years via email a couple of months ago when they found me and invited me to a reunion out in California of a bunch of other hams we knew. We weren’t able to go for a variety of reasons, but kept in touch hoping for a meet and greet opportunity. It so happened that Dick and Taffy were in Arizona to attend a grandson’s graduation from technical school in the Phoenix area on Saturday. We had previously offered to host them here at our place for an extended visit after the grandson’s grad event. They arrived here on Sunday afternoon.

The third party in the reunion was Jim, one of those mutual friends back then, who has recently relocated to the Prescott, AZ, area. Since we planned a Labor Day grilled steaks dinner, we invited Jim and his wife, Shirley, to attend which they graciously accepted. We all had a great visit, dinner and more visit before the confab broke up just before dark. Jim and Shirley headed back north, Dick and Taffy stayed one more night here and the latter departed this morning, returning to California.

We really enjoyed all the story swapping, getting caught up on other friend’s activities and learning about ancestry and genealogy tactics (we may soon use some of those). By the way, everyone present on Labor Day would be considered right-wing lunatics by the anti-constitutional left. Of course, normal people would consider us Patriotic Americans. It was a good and enjoyable reunion and encounter and we hope to be able to have a redux soon.

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