Spring Training 2015: Day 2

Day/night double header!

It was a long day yesterday for all of us, but the late (early) night and even climbing Camelback Mountain didn’t stop my brother from getting up early and going for a 14-mile run (marathon training!) while my sister and I slept in. By the time we were all up and showered and ready for breakfast, it was past 11am. We ended up at a Paradise Cafe down the street from our hotel, and were surprised to learn it was actually owned by Panera! Pretty funny since I had always described it as “Panera, but with waffles” since our first trip to Arizona in 2009 but never made the connection.

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Spring Training 2015: Day 1

St. Patrick’s Day has passed, March Madness is in full swing, so it’s time for my annual Spring Training trip to the Cactus League with my little brother (and little sister, this year!). Spring has already arrived in Florida, but I’m sure my siblings are ready to get out to warmer climes for a few days.

This year’s tech is similar to last year’s, with some upgrades: new are my Surface Pro 3 and iPhone 6 Plus, and no stranger to the trip are my aging-but-still-functional Canon PowerShot digital camera (with EyeFi card), and Garmin nüvi GPS. I left the nüvi at home last year, in favor of Waze on my iPhone, but realized that with all the heavy use my phone gets on these trips, Waze was a big contributor to sucking the battery dry. So I’m back to a dedicated device for nagivation around the valley so I can save my phone’s battery for the important stuff: photos, social media, e-mail, etc. 😉

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Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3We’ve decided to give the Microsoft Surface another shot as our next “standard issue laptop” at work so I now have a Surface Pro 3 tablet. The SP3 is replacing my Samsung Ativ Book9 ultrabook, which I got in April 2014, in turn replacing my original Surface Pro. I’ve been using it now for two weeks as my main machine at work, so how does it stack up against the ultrabook and the original Surface? Some things change, some things stay the same …

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WIJFR: Heinlein time travel (and “Predestination”)

The other week I saw “Predestination,” a recommendation from Steve Gibson on episode #492 of his Security Now! podcast. The movie is a pretty good brain-twisting time travel romp starring Ethan Hawke and was based on a short story witten by Robert A. Heinlein in 1958. I’ve read Heinlein in the past (i.e., “Stranger in a Strange Land“), although the last time was before I started my WIJFR posts on this blog.

I started with “By His Bootstraps,” an earlier (1941) time travel story by Heinlein and then read “All You Zombies” (which is significantly shorter and the basis of the movie). Both are packed with time loops, paradoxes, and multiple occurences of the same character, but lack the humor and pop culture of, say, the “Back to the Future” series. I recommend them both and have added some more Heinlein to my “to read” list.

WIJFR: Rogue Code

Cyber security expert Jeff Aiken knows that no computer system is completely secure. When he’s called to investigate a possible breach at the New York Stock Exchange, he discovers not only that their system has been infiltrated but that someone on the inside knows. Yet for some reason, they have allowed the hackers to steal millions of dollars from accounts without trying to stop the theft. When Jeff uncovers the crime, the NYSE suddenly turns on him. Accused of grand larceny, he must find and expose the criminals behind the theft, not just to prove his innocence but to stop a multibillion-dollar heist that could upend the U.S. economy. Unwilling to heed Jeff’s warnings, the NYSE plans to continue with a major IPO using a new, untested system, one that might be susceptible both to hackers and to ruthless high-frequency traders willing to take any risk to turn a profit.

I just finished “reading” (on Audible) “Rogue Code” (Book 3 in the Jeff Aiken series) by Mark Russinovich.

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WIJFR: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee. Leo and Mark were best friends in college, but early adulthood has set them on diverging paths. Growing increasingly disdainful of Mark’s platitudes, Leo publishes a withering takedown of his ideas online. But the Committee is reading – and erasing – Leo’s words. On the other side of the world, Leila’s discoveries about the Committee’s far-reaching ambitions threaten to ruin those who are closest to her.

I just finished reading “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” by David Shafer, which I heard about from Leo Laporte on an episode of TWiT (or Security Now, I forget which) last year.

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Windows 10 Technical Preview

Microsoft announced Windows 10, the successor to Windows 8, last September. Like I’ve done in the past with Windows 7 and Windows 8, I downloaded the first tech preview in October and installed it on a spare laptop at work to get a jump on learning my way around the newest iteration of Windows. Last week, after an official media event for Windows 10 (at which Microsoft also announced HoloLens!), another big update to the tech preview was released so I grabbed the ISO and did a fresh install on my (original) Surface Pro tablet.

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ViewSonic VA2212M 22″ LED monitors

After I got my standing desk it became quickly apparent that I should upgrade my monitors. My trusty 17″ Samsung 172N was over 11 years old and my 19″ Gateway FPD1960 was pushing 9 years. There was nothing wrong with them, but they were square (4:3) and, now that I was standing, too low on the desk, making me look down and hurting my neck. It was time for an upgrade and for Christmas I received two ViewSonic VA2212M 22″ LED monitors and the VIO free-standing dual monitor stand.

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Going all-in with Evernote (and it’s about time!)

I  started using Evernote back in 2009 when I got my first iPhone and had to find a replacement for the old ListPro app on my Treo. I used it primarily for random lists and notes but eventually started exporting my handwritten notes (from Note Taker HD on my iPad and Lecture Notes on my Samsung tablet), taking advantage of handwriting recognition and other features. Last year I finally upgraded to a Premium account.

This year, as part of my annual file cleanup/archive/re-org, I decided to start using Evernote even more, replacing other third-party apps where possible. My two big conversion projects: recipes and home inventory.

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Image corruption

During my recent web photo gallery conversion to Piwigo I realized that a lot of my JPG photo files were corrupted! I think this happened last March when I copied everything from my old NAS to a new one. I suspect the network/connectivity issues I had with that new NAS caused the file corruption. I ended up returning that device and getting a Synology Diskstation, but by that point the damage was done. I didn’t notice then because the thumbnail images in my Gallery software were still fine, it was the originals that were messed up. Unfortunately, since the corruption happened so long ago, I no longer had backups I could restore from. My only option was to try and repair the files.

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