The Foxes Are Heading Back Into Winter

melissaMy niece Melissa is expecting. This weekend is her baby shower. We’re heading to Milwaukee where it’s still winterish.

I’ll let the Weather Service forecasters try to polish this turd of a forecast.

WE WILL HAVE A PROLONGED PERIOD OF WET WEATHER THIS WEEKEND INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK.

Great!

We will see no sunshine in Wisconsin. Most of the weekend will be rainy. There’s a chance for snow late Sunday into Monday, though not much. That’s when we fly home.

It makes no difference. My parents are there, plus my sister and her family. Four generations together. It’s totally worthwhile. We’re very excited.

Of course I’m saying that in the abstract. A little winter might change my attitude.

Departure is VERY early tomorrow morning.

The NSA’s On The Wrong Side Of Heartbleed

Since this entry was published the NSA had denied any part in knowing the Heartbleed flaw existed. Their adherence to the truth has been less than exemplary in the past. Let’s let this play out. – Geoff

heartbleedYou’ve probably heard about the Heartbleed bug by now. It’s a flaw introduced to to SSL (Secure Sockets Layer); a mistake as code was updated.

Simply put, Internet data transmissions we thought were secure were not. Things like passwords, financial information, anything private was easily cracked.

The bug languished mostly unknown for years. That’s called security by obscurity. Never a good idea. We’re seeing that now.

As far as I can tell Heartbleed’s never been exploited for nefarious commercial purposes. It has that potential. However, it has been exploited by our government’s spies!

The NSA knew Heartbleed existed. They had a choice, tell the maintainers of the code to fix it or exploit it themselves and leave us vulnerable. They chose the latter.

Now, because the NSA felt their ability to soak up data trumped our collective security, Heartbleed is a big deal! Leaving this security hole open for years is reprehensible.

More and more it seems America’s intelligence agencies, beginning with the NSA, are out-of-control. They have lost sight of their actually mission–protecting us. Instead we are more vulnerable and our international partners know we can’t be trusted with their precious secrets.

This story was broken by Michael Riley at Bloomberg News.

“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”

It’s time we have a come to Jesus meeting with our spies. Is everyone in Washington that scared of them?

Where I Learned To Not Be Good At Sports

electchester playground

The photo (above) shows the playground where the Electchester Athletic Association had its games when I was a kid. I played softball there… poorly

I caught in a softball league that had no stealing! The Witness Protection Program couldn’t have found a better place to hide me.

It’s tough to see the field’s surface from Google Streetview, but there’s no grass. The surface is probably forgiving today, but when I played there on busy 164th Street the field was paved!

Yeah, we played on concrete.

No sliding in our league either!

Not that it would have presented a problem for me. I don’t think I ever hit the ball out of the infield.

Most folks are surprised to learn baseball can be played on the same surface used to land airplanes or park trucks. Oh yes it can. And, if I’m any indication, it can be played poorly.

electchester sledding hill

As long as I was looking, I slid Google Earth a little farther down 164th to the hill where we went sledding. After a snowstorm this little topographical bump would be crawling with kids.

No!!! Who did this? I am incensed. There are now fences and hedges to prevent sledding.

Sure, we used to slide out into traffic from time-to-time, but this was our place. For a kid in an apartment this was the great outdoors.

Is nothing sacred?

How Does My Garden Grow

IMG_9601I’m a tomato growing guy! Over the years I’ve raised them at home and work.

Does raising tomatoes at work where I was paid make me a farmer? Sure. Why not?

Now that we’re in the land of perpetual sunshine I’ve got a single tomato plant in a pot on our patio. Growing space is limited. One is enough.

IMG_9600I cheated. The pot, with a plastic tomato cage above, came from Home Depot already in bloom. So far, it has survived my questionable care.

Our patio has limited sunshine. That’s good for people, but not optimum for tomatoes. They can’t get enough sunlight.

So far the impact has been minimal. Maybe it’s that sunshine is stronger in SoCal than Connecticut. Because of our more southerly latitude the Sun is higher in the sky.

I certainly started earlier. Back in the Northeast I never planted until Memorial Day. These bad boys are close to a month in.

IMG_9608I had been watering the tomatoes by hand. Today I installed irrigation.

We have a tiny sprinkler system for our flowers and bushes. I tapped into that, adding ‘dribblers’ for the tomatoes and a few other plants in pots.

The dribblers are rated one gallon per hour. The system runs two minutes every other day. That’s 4.27 ounces of water three or four times a week.

Is it enough? I’ll let you know.

In Connecticut tomato season ran from late July into October. It will be longer here. And no killing frost!

Hello Hummingbirds

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One of the biggest surprises in SoCal living has been my hummingbird feeder. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase, now suctioned to a window from our family room. The birds hit my feeder dozens of times a day, year round.

Photographing hummingbirds is tough. Their wings flap rapidly. Very high shutter speeds must be used.

High shutter speed means less light gets in the lens. Even in bright daylight my camera, a Canon 7D, is being pushed near its limit.

Everything happens quickly. No time for autofocus. My lens is open to f/8 and pre-focused where the birds are most likely to light.

Sometimes that works. Most times it doesn’t. Over 300 photos for the six you see here!

Magic Lantern software loaded into my camera controls when the photo is shot. It looks for changes in the frame, then shoots three times.

There are lots of out-of-focus snaps and plenty where the bird is partially out-of-frame. Sometimes a puff of wind will rock the feeder and… click, click, click. It’s expected most shots will be deleted.

This is a technique thing. If you know how to do it and spend enough time, you’ll get the shot. Otherwise, shooting hummingbirds is nearly impossible.

Why Pings Are Tough To Hear

Twitter just exploded with news of more pings, presumably from MH370, being heard by Australia’s stubby, tech infused, Ocean Shield. The Aussies are sticking to the plan and keeping optimism in check. Still, no one can mistake the signs. The Malaysian airliner will be found sooner rather than later. There’s been a lot of ocean […]

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When Companies Shift The Burden To Their Customers

Having a blog allows me to kvetch, even about small things… like what happened this morning. My experience was shared by many. Consider this a class action kvetch. I represent the thousands, possibly millions, affected by today’s nationwide outage on AT&T U-verse. My local TV stations remained. Everything else disappeared. I didn’t know that at […]

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On Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney died this weekend. He was a big deal from my parents generation, one of the last few surviving Hollywood movie stars. Rooney was a member of a very small club. He could do nearly anything in show business. He sang, he danced, he acted. He played the drums. He did Broadway. He toured. […]

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Photoshop In Use

Sometimes I make a good shot better with Photoshop. That’s what I did with this photo. My neighbors’ son didn’t need improvement, but my shot and the lighting did. Here’s how I did it. This video is best viewed full screen.

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Life In Irvine: They Shoot Soccer Players, Don’t They?

We live next door to a family with three kids. We couldn’t have picked a nicer family as neighbors. The boys are bright and curious. The daughter hugged me today. It’s win-win-win. The oldest son plays in a soccer league. His dad coaches. I asked if I could shoot some photos? Oh, I remember these […]

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