Technobabble

Blogiversary #17 and
Autumnal Equinox

Blogging

Even though this is the “official” 17th Blogiversary of CB&D, we have a history of on-line presence several years prior to having a weblog. I started with an online webpage repository with photos of my grandchildren, some of our friends and radio/flying club activities a couple of years before we started to blog. I had an account at “Keyway” network with those items I mentioned. That was about in 1995 when Keyway was just getting started. Then, just about the time that Damsel and I were getting married in 1998, I found an Internet Service Provider where I could get my own website domain. I started up a family website which eventually became our family blog, the now defunct Wandering Minstrel and Cap’n Bob & the Damsel. I even had a Neighborhood Watch blog (also now defunct) to report on and deal with problems in our neck of the woods at the time.

Before blogging, I was already a software professional, but didn’t have many internet-specific code skills. I spent a lot of time learning commonly-used web languages: JavaScript, PHP, HTML, CSS, W3C Standards and much more. It was all fun and interesting. Then, by that time, blogging struck me as something we might like to get into. I started with BBLOG, a simple interface for on-line posting and after a while I discovered WordPress which resulted in our launching of the blog platform we now employ.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, now that we have upgraded the WordPress Theme to Blogstream, we’ve become inclined to post more regularly. Maybe we’ll be here for the NEXT* seventeen years?

* I should be well into nonagenarian territory by then.

First Day of Autumn

We learned from our landscape crew foreman when we first moved here that Arizona (our part of it, at least) has five seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and Second Spring. The latter starts up around the September Equinox and lasts several weeks until the first autumn-like days show up in late October. The (clickable) image of the “Devil’s Tongue” cactus shows how it looked last year at the beginning of “Second Spring,” with one open flower and several buds around the crown of this barrel cactus.

In closing, we wish for you all to have mild weather, blue skies and green lights this fall season. We’re going to gird our loins for the return of the “snowbirds” that typically increase our local population from around 7K summertime heads to more than 25K during the late fall, winter and early spring months.

Motorhome Navigator Upgrade

Now that we have resolved some of the issues with our Thor Palazzo 35.1 Motorhome, we are anxious to get back on the road with it. We have a trip planned to head over to Bullhead City, AZ and then to Williams, AZ and return, which will keep us close to home in case we encounter additional latent problems with the RV. Hopefully, these (if any) will not be show stoppers, but things we can note and get fixed back home.

The original GPS we purchased for the motorhome is a Garmin Nüvi 2797 which is still operational and a very good unit with a companion smartphone app that works through bluetooth. We might have been content with keeping this unit which has served us well, but we had a bug planted in our ear by a You-Tuber we watch, Traveling Robert, who mentioned the RV-specific features provided by some of the new units.

I did some research and found that Garmin’s RV series GPS units have the RV-specific features we were looking for. We purchased a Garmin RV 1090 10 Inch GPS Navigator which has the RV specific features we were looking for and more. The most important features relate to where an RV can safely navigate, avoiding sharp switchbacks and low pass bridges, etc. I opened the box (left, clickable) and after updating maps and software via WIFI (no computer attached), I plotted out some routes to see how things worked. One feature is when you search for campgrounds, the unit already knows your RV dimensions and will show those places where you are going to have no trouble.

So now, we will be cleaning out the RV, mounting the new GPS up front, draining the black tank bleach solution and recharging it with the chemical packs plus some other things that need to be done before getting back on the road. I’m anxious to see how the new RV 1090 unit performs.

More Motorhome Maintenance

After our recent motorhome maintenance, I made the discovery that when I start up the 6KVA Generator, the house AC power was not switching from shore power to the generator, which is the normal behavior. It is my routine to start up the RV once a week and to start up the generator once a month and load it up with both Air Conditioners going.

I called the Mobile RV Service after a short attempt at finding out the cause of the problem myself because (a) I don’t have enough expertise and (b) I have been satisfied with these guys before. They do good work at a reasonable labor rate.

I was pleased when the dispatcher called me and set up an earlier-than-normal appointment with the same technician that helped us with the battery problem. When he showed up, he quickly found the problem: there is a junction box by the generator at the front of the RV that connects the generator output to the wiring leading to the relay that switches over when the generator is activated. As you may be able to see in the photo, a bad connection in the box overheated causing damage to the wires and wire nuts inside. This is the “before” photo but I don’t have an “after” photo because he worked very quickly and had everything buttoned up before I could take one.

When the work was done and everything performing as it should, the tech advised me that I should check the inside of the junction box in a few months to see if his work is holding up. I have that task on my list of things to do in the future.

When Damsel and I thought about what had happened, we thank God Almighty that a fire had not broken out in the generator compartment since the J-box is a plastic one rather than metallic as they were in the old days.

Updated WordPress Theme

Well, we’re updating the theme again. This time, I found a “modern” WP theme (“Blogstream“) that mostly meets my personal desires in what a theme should do and how adaptable it might be for my purposes. At the moment, it is still pretty much “stock” in that I am only using native widgets to facilitate the sidebar information. The colors and flag banner in the new theme are reminiscent of the old Stars and Stripes theme (image above right). There is a full-size image of the old theme here

For future upgrades and customization, I will have to learn the mysteries of widget production in order to include some of the old sidebar gadgetry such as the ephemeris and the random quote generator. I’m hoping that the old PHP and JavaScript code will be useful when I’m creating new widgets.

Let me know if there are any functions or other things that seem “broke.”

Motorhome Maintenance

Nothing lasts forever and that’s especially true in the Arizona Sun. Today, we replaced some worn out slide-out toppers on our Thor Palazzo Motorhome. Well, when I say “we” I mean the contractor who gets paid by us, that is. “We” also replaced the house batteries which were getting to the end of their useful lives. They are four deep-cycle 6.75 volt units connected in series/parallel to produce the house voltage of 13.5 volts (nominal voltages). Additionally, the crew replaced the bathroom exhaust fan which failed last year.

Because the environment is so harsh, we are still considering building an RV shelter across the road from our house. We want to build something that at a minimum will provide:

  • Full hookups (water, 30 and 50 amp AC Power, sewer)
  • A concrete pad large enough to accommodate our 36×20 foot slides out motorhome
  • A roof and three sidewalls
  • A lockable north-facing door

There are still some roadblocks to construction since the town may not allow a prefab building. Additionally, we may have to construct a septic system because rumor has it the town won’t approve the RV to municipal sewer hookup (black tank chemical treatments?). We are still looking into these problems.

3D Photo Bonus

The image above was taken in February 2017 just after we brought the big RV home. I also took a side-by-side image pair that day (being the penultimate nerd) and combined them into a gray scale anaglyphic stereo image. You will need your red/cyan glasses to view the 3D image here.

Stars and Stripes Theme Progress Report

I have been working on restoring our old theme the “Stars and Stripes” format that we’ve been used to since 2008 or so. The news is generally good since I found and corrected the major incompatibility with WordPress 5.8.2. There was a code module that was attempting to connect to the database and I commented it out without really troubleshooting it. The old theme now works without crashing, but there are still some bugs in it so I have not enabled it yet.

The remaining bugs have to do with the way the drop down menus work and most importantly, how the comments section works. The former is no big deal, but the latter – comments – is a big problem. The theme modules apparently are not recognizing a logged in user and requiring a new login each time a comment is to be submitted. I’ll be looking into that.

Assuming that I cannot find and fix those bugs to my satisfaction, I am also looking into upgrading the theme format to a later version that I can modify to sort of resemble the old theme but with new “blocks, widgets and menus,” none of which I am familiar, so it may be a while before I know enough about the new stuff to be able to put it to good use.

Meanwhile, the “default” WordPress theme is still functional. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.