My Hacker Spirit Remains Alive

TL-MR3040-V2-04The word ‘hacker’ has acquired a bad reputation. Hackers steal. Hackers deface. Hackers take down.

I’m a hacker. Not that kind.

As a kid I took apart our family’s telephones (and reassembled them) to see what made them work. When computers first arrived I bought one, even though it could do next to nothing. I’m that kind of hacker.

I am fascinated by making things do tasks they weren’t designed to do. Sometimes that means circumventing controls, like jailbreaking a phone.

I did a little hacking this weekend. My Canon 7D camera (aka, “Clicky”) can now be operated remotely from my tablet or cellphone. This all came about after looking at a website posting titled, “TP-LINK TL-MR3040 wireless field monitor with DSLR controller.”

The MR3040 is a neat little wireless router made for road warriors. It gives folks with a USB cell modem the ability to use it with many devices at once.

DSLR Controller  BETA    Android Apps on Google PlayThe hack I found loads new firmware into the modem. Now, instead of a router the little white box becomes a ‘wireless cable,’ attaching my camera to my tablet. From there an Android app, DSLRController, takes over. Most of the controls on the camera now become accessible from the tablet.

Loading unauthorized firmware nearly always voids the warranty. There’s a chance the unit might get ‘bricked.’ The router was $30 with shipping on Amazon. I took a chance.

DSLRController itself is a hack, adding functions Canon left out!

I want to get more involved in using my 7D for video. This seems like an excellent step in that direction.

On The Red Carpet With Stef

stef on red carpetAt its heart Los Angeles is built on entertainment. This is ground zero for TV, movies and music. It all gets concentrated this time of year. In LA, this is award season.

We’ve already had the Golden Globe and SAG Awards. The Oscars are still to come. Tonight, it’s the Grammys.

Awards are big business, as are the shows that flank the awards. Think NFL pre and post-game shows. The depth of coverage is crazy. Tonight it’s four hours live before the Grammys and another hour after, all on E!.

That’s where you’ll find our child. Stef has been working for E! during awards season. She’s on the Red Carpet again tonight.

Like coverage of any live event, these shows include set-up packages for context and depth (and to fill time between the star sightings). Stef’s been involved in those as well.

Until now she’d had been involved in reality. This is Stef’s first time working live shows. Live TV was my crack cocaine. Hopefully, she’s feeling that same excitement.

The hours are very long, but she’s in the middle of events everyone talks about with the world’s biggest celebs. It’s a pretty cool job and we’re happy for our child.

Of course this does oblige us to watch five hours of E! today.

Surf’s Up In Laguna Beach

IMG_2174

Good surf conditions seemed likely today, so I threw on a pair of shorts and sweatshirt, packed my camera and lenses and headed to Laguna Beach. Laguna was a call of convenience. I was looking for a surf spot as close to home as possible. Google suggested Thalia Street Beach.

Thalia Street is a locals spot. The surfing is OK. No one goes out of their way to come here. The waves crest beautifully, but break quickly. Short rides.

Thalia Street itself is a dead end stub west of CA-1. Stairs built into the palisades take you about fifteen feet down to the beach. A parking spot opened up and I pulled in.

For a photographer, Thalia Street Beach is great. The surfers aren’t very far out. My 300mm lens was marginally too long! The beach is smooth sand.

Overcast skies. Temperatures in the upper 60s. With my sweatshirt on and shoes off, I waded in. The water was cool, but not enough to be a problem.

Just going calf deep in water got me fifteen feet closer to the action. Then one big waved ran up my thighs. I pulled the keys and cellphone from my pocket before they were injured and became a little less aggressive.

There were 15 to 20 surfers and an equal number of spectators on the beach this afternoon. The vibe is very casual. People don’t stumble onto this beach. It’s well hidden.

Now it’s my spot too.

All the photos are clickable for a larger view.

Bieber, Mitchell And Davos

Andrea Mitchell Reports on msnbcThursday afternoon. TV on. MSNBC.

Used to watch them a lot more.

Andrea Mitchell was interviewing a congresswoman or former congresswoman who was in Davos, Switzerland. The World Economic Summit is happening there. Jon Stewart calls it the ‘money prom!’

Then, without warning, Mitchell stopped the interview for Breaking News.

Justin Bieber being arraigned. Live video. Justin in jail scrubs.

There are certain moments in life which are gut-checks. Make the right decision regardless of the cost.

I’m not saying disregard Bieber, but it could wait. Few already watching the weighty interview in progress gave a damn about Justin Bieber. Cutting away was the wrong choice.

I feel bad for Andrea Mitchell. She is the public face of what was a producer’s choice.

Addendum: Mediaite has the actual video.

GPS And Blind Faith

Google Location history

Jacob Wycoff is in town. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say what he’s doing, but it’s a cool assignment. We got together for dinner tonight. First time in five years.

Jacob is staying in Rosemead. He might as well have told me Mars. I’m clueless.

The new car has GPS, so I programmed in the address and set out. Locals always know better shortcuts, but for a territory virgin, GPS is an amazing tool.

This nav is hooked into satellite radio. It gets live traffic updates. It was very chatty tonight.

First it enumerated all the slowdowns on the 5. Then it told me it was changing the route.

Was I consulted?

I was not.

My rule with GPS is you believe or don’t. You don’t change your mind mid-route. For safety’s sake, the ability to preview the route isn’t available while you’re in motion. So, when the GPS changes the route, you must accept it on blind faith.

Down Irvine Blvd instead of the 5. Through Irvine and Tustin, I rejoined the Interstate in Santa Ana.

The GPS wasn’t done yet. It changed its mind once more, taking me back off the 5 and onto city streets… miles and miles and miles of city streets.

During the early evening hours freeways here are everything you’ve been led to believe. I-5 has four through lanes plus an HOV lane in each direction. Traffic’s still stop-and-go. This major change seemed plausible.

It’s certainly a route no human would formulate. Too awkward. Too disjointed. Too anti-intuitive.

Did the GPS save me time? Clueless again. Maybe all the GPS units are sitting around tonight having a laugh on me?

It was 1:40 to get there. The ride back, down the 5, thirty five minutes.

I Remember Nights Like This

I just traded quick tweets with Ryan Hanrahan at NBC30. geofffox: @ryanhanrahan How’d you do on this one so far? ryanhanrahan: @geofffox Not bad – all about where fgen sets up. Haves and have nots. Some towns will get hit hard others won’t. I don’t know about Ryan, but these were the nights I dreaded! […]

-read more-

Doppler’s Only Job: Be Cute

Helaine’s at the dentist. I’m doing some things around the house. I left Doppler to her own devices. Doppler has her favorite spots. She likes her bed in a corner in the kitchen. She likes the blanket we leave on the floor behind my desk in my office. She LOVES the sofa in the loft. […]

-read more-

Winter Is Not Misseed

I’m looking at the 00Z GFS numbers for Connecticut. I remember this! It was around this point every year that winter began to win our yearly battle. Not only is forecasting winter weather fraught with peril, I had to drive in that stuff–every storm! The GFS says a little shy of a foot at New […]

-read more-

This Sanctuary Is For The Birds

Three camera safaris over three days. “Clicky” and I have been busy! This afternoon I joined my cousins at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, just across from UC Irvine. The sanctuary sits on 200 acres owned by the Irvine Ranch Water District. It serves wildlife and people. The wetlands are a critical component of IRWD’s […]

-read more-

Incredible Engineering: Rosetta Wakes Up

Nothing is impossible. I say that without fear of contradiction because of what the European Space Agency and NASA have been doing for the last decade. It’s the Rosetta mission. Rosetta’s job is to monitor a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, by placing an orbiter around it and a lander on it! It will do this as the […]

-read more-