Hurricane Idalia recap

Did you know that “I” names for hurricanes are the most-retired storm names? Having lived through Ivan (2004), Irene (2011), Irma (2017), and Ian (2022) and they passed near or through Florida, I can believe it. Now it looks like Idalia could be added to that list.

Hurricane Idalia animated track

Early on, it looked like Idalia was going to come right through the Tampa Bay region. But as the storm progressed it became apparent it was going to make landfall in the northern part of the state. My office was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday so I had plenty of time to prep the house and then just ride out the storm. The wind and rain really didn’t start until around 1:30pm on Tuesday and then continued overnight into Wednesday. Overall the effects were not that bad here (in fact, it rained harder today (Thursday) then it did at any time during the storm). By late Wednesday afternoon it was sunny again (though still breezy) and I was able to get out and clean up the yard (only 3 bags plus a can of debris and two bundles of broken palm branches I had to saw down). I recorded about 3″ of rainfall in the pool and never lost power or internet.

Another bullet dodged.

Three Days at Universal Studios

We had family coming into town for the July 4th holiday weekend and they wanted to take their kids to Universal Studios (primarily for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter). Since we needed to buy tickets for ourselves, we took advantage of a current Florida resident deal and got 2 free days with our 1-day tickets. As a result, we had those two extra days to go by ourselves and since it’d been 5 years since our last visit, we decided to spend Father’s Day weekend scoping out of the parks before our visitors arrived.

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Leaving the (Google) Nest

I bought my first Dropcams back in 2014, right around the time Nest (which had acquired Dropcam) was acquired by Google. Then I added the Nest Thermostat in 2016 (which was later replaced in 2021 with a Z-Wave one during an HVAC system upgrade), the Nest Protect smoke/CO detectors in 2018, and finally a bunch of Nest Outdoor cameras in 2019 for a pretty complete ecosystem all managed very nicely from the Nest website and mobile app. I guess I should be happy I got almost 9 years (has it been that long!?) out of the Dropcams before Google announced they are no longer supporting them and they will cease to function on April 8, 2024.

Google is offering Dropcam customers free Nest Indoor cameras as replacements, which is surprisingly generous, but only up to two (and I still have three perfectly functional Dropcams). I went ahead and ordered the free cameras, but after a few days of using them, I’ve decided it’s time for me to leave the (Google) Nest.

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Landing on the Lunar Lobster

Gazing up at the late-April night sky … look, it’s the Lunar Lobster! That’s right, it’s time for the annual spring sports update and Ubuntu upgrade!

  • the Rays started off red-hot, tying the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers and 1982 Atlanta Braves for the longest win streak to start a season with 13; they’ve also set records with 14 straight home game wins and 21 straight games with a home run. They’re currently (still) in first place, 3.5 games ahead of the Orioles. Go Rays!!
  • meanwhile, the Guardians are 2nd in the AL Central
  • the Cavs exited the first round of the NBA playoffs as former Dayton Flyer (my alma mater) Obi Toppin and the New York Knicks beat them in 5 games
  • the Lightning opened the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs but currently trail in the series 3-2
  • the NFL Draft is underway, but I really haven’t been paying attention to what the Browns and Bucs are doing (it’s playoff hockey time after all!)

On to the upgrade …

After making my typical backups, do-release-upgrade took about 30 minutes to download and install all the updated packages. I didn’t really have any major issues this time, but that was probably due to the fact that I’ve moved most of the services (Calibre, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, PiHole, Plex, Tautulli, Unifi Controller, etc.) off of my Linux server into Docker containers on my NAS. The one problem I had was Adagios, the “prettier” front-end for Nagios I’ve been using since 2016 (and I’ve been using Nagios since 2006). Adagios has given me problems in the past and doesn’t really seem to be maintained anymore, so after trying to tinker with some older packages and not getting anywhere I decided to just drop it and go back to the native Nagios UI. I also took the opportunity to upgrade to Nagios 4.4.11.

That was about it, easy enough! Until October when I’ll face the Manic Minotaur (and let’s hope for some October baseball)!

FITCAMX Dash Cam (EV6)

I’ve been really happy with the FITCAMX dash cam in my RAV4. When my wife got her EV6 last year there wasn’t a similar model available so I ended up getting her the Garmin Mini 2 (which apparently I never wrote about here), wired into her rearview mirror housing with a Dongar USB power adapter. Since I didn’t want to use the adhesive mount on her windshield, I used a suction cup mount which meant the camera was mounted a little lower on the glass (below the mirror housing) and thus more in the line-of-sight of the driver. This setup was fine, it just didn’t have that “factory installed” look and occasionally the suction cup would become unstuck in the Florida heat so she’d come back to the car to find the dash cam dangling from its power cable, and putting up a sunshield was also a little problematic.

Well, recently over on the EV6 Forums I saw that the FITCAMX was now available for the EV6 so I immediately ordered one (direct, so it came from China).

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Spring Training 2023: Day 4 (Opening Day)

We purposely planned our Spring Training trip late in the season for one reason: the Guardians would be playing the Seattle Mariners on Opening Day and my sister lives in Seattle! We bought our tickets back in December as soon as they went on sale and then planned our trip around today … our first Opening Day (away) game!

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Spring Training 2023: Day 3

Our Arizona trips always involve hiking, and with another nighttime baseball game we had all day for outdoor activities. We got up early Monday morning and had breakfast at the house before heading over the zoo/botanical gardens area where we were on Saturday afternoon to “hike” up Hole in the Rock. It’s a short trail with only a 200ft elevation gain but it has a pretty unique view. Rather than go over to nearby Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak, both of which we’ve hiked before, we drove south of Phoenix to the South Mountain Preserve.

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Spring Training 2023: Day 2

We got up early (okay, 8:00am) after getting ready for the day we drove over to Goodyear and had breakfast at our traditional place: Black Bear Diner. Then we drove down the road to Goodyear Ballpark, the Spring Training home for the Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds. In years past we’ve watched the warm-ups and then shagged fly balls during batting practice. This year, however, none of that happened. We waited around for a while, along with a few other fans (but nothing like the crowds we usually experience). No one ever came to open the outer gate and all that really happened was a few of the pitchers came out to warm-up on one of the back fields. We could only guess that since it was Sunday morning and the last game at the park that maybe the players had the morning off.

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Spring Training 2023: Day 1

After two years of no Spring Training baseball trips (2021 was cancelled due to COVID-19, and then 2022 was cancelled due to the MLB lockout), it’s finally time to get back out to the Cactus League! Last time we went out early at the beginning of the season but this year we’re going at the very end … and going to Opening Day in Seattle! Should be a blast …

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Canon MF455dw

Canon MF455dw

It’s been 9 years since I bought a new laser printer. I typically don’t replace my equipment until it’s either broken or having too many problems to deal with. My Canon imageCLASS MF4890dw has been chugging along faithfully since I bought it back in 2014 but it recently fell into that “too many problems” category: the ADF has been squeaking and jamming regardless of my attempts to clean it, replace the rollers, etc.; one of the flatbed cover hinges broke back in 2020 and while I was able to replace it, last year the plastic slot that holds the hinge in place cracked so now the cover won’t stay open on it’s own (and the hinge pops out when I open it); and finally despite replacing the toner cartridge and cleaning, it’s been printing black lines down the left side of each page. That was enough to push me over the edge to look for a replacement.

I didn’t do a ton of research this time … I have been really happy with my Canon printers so I just looked for the latest revision of what I already had. Canon’s MF450 series has a few models that are all very similar, the primary differences being the inclusion of a fax, and print speed. There wasn’t much of a price difference for the top-of-the-line model (and it was readily available) which is why after reading a few online reviews, I selected the Canon imageCLASS MF455dw.

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