Archive for the 'Declan' Category

Jul 26 2014

Lost and Found Dog Story

Published by under Declan,San Diego

This was kinda neat, so I thought I’d get it down before I forgot it.

Elaine and I had to grab our dog Pepper and head out in the car because someone was coming to see the house we are selling.  As we drove down the very busy, 4 lane Carmel Valley Rd. we saw a medium sized dog loping down Black Mountain Dr. and turn onto Carmel Valley.  She was on the sidewalk, but all by herself and looked like she could dart out into traffic at any time.  I was sick of seeing dead dogs by the road so, even though I’m really not a dog person, I asked Elaine to pull over and let me see if I could do anything.

I grabbed Pepper’s leash and walked back toward the dog, and she disappeared up into the bushes next to the sidewalk.  I approached where I’d seen her go in and found her plopped up under a bush, panting like crazy.  It was a very hot day and she had been moving pretty quickly, so I think she was exhausted.  She also looked older once I could get this close to her.  I don’t know much about dogs (Pepper and I co-exist and that’s about it, he is a mama’s boy), so I was chicken to put my hands too close to her collar.  I could see tags, so I was hopeful to get a name and number.  I called Elaine, who was still up the street in the car with Pepper, and asked her to get some water and I’d see if I could make friends with this scary beast.

I also called Animal Control.  They said they had no one available, but would put the dog on the list and have someone come look in the area when they could.  I sat and talked to the dog and waited for Elaine to come back with the water.  My phone rang and it was my buddy Mike wanting to know why I was sitting on the sidewalk talking to a bush on the side of the road.  I told him I like it there.  Elaine came back with a big bottle of water and a bowl, then took the car and Pepper back down the street to not spook the dog.  I filled the bowl and edged my way toward her slavering jaws… ok, not really slavering… She actually would just stop panting and kind of hold her breath when I got close.  She let me put the water right under her nose, and after a couple minutes she started lapping it up and quickly drained the bowl.

I refilled the bowl and got the courage up to sneak my phone in to see if I could shoot a picture of the tags…

2014-07-24 18.35.37

 

But it was too blurry.  I finally got the nerve up to scritch her on the head, and while she didn’t seem to like it, she didn’t snap at me which is good because I like all my fingers.  I eventually got to her collar and tags and rolled them around to read a name, “Ohana”, and a phone number!  Cool!!! This would be over soon and I could get a friggin taco.  I was hungry.

So I called the number and get… a fast busy signal!  Over and frickin over again!  Damn it.  The other tag had a dog license number, so I called Animal Control again, told them the story so far, and they gave me another number to call.  Cool!  Good deed almost done, right?  RIGHT?  “I’m sorry, this user is not receiving calls at this time.”  What does that even mean?  Someone went to all the trouble of cutting a dog loose AND canceling all of their phone lines?  WHILE LEAVING THE NUMBER ON THE DOG?!?  My mind was racing and I was getting pissed.  Did I tell you I was hungry?

Since I was delirious with hunger and sick of sitting on the sidewalk, I tried hooking up the leash with my left hand, thinking that losing that one would impact my life less.  She was cool with this and came out from under the bushes and walked along beside me for a bit.  Then she stopped dead and wouldn’t go a step.  I pulled on the leash because I wanted to walk up the block and tell Elaine what was going on, but this dog was having none of that.  As an experienced technical diagnostician, I tried walking the other direction to see what those results would be and VOILA! she had no problem going that direction.  All of a sudden THIS WAS AN ADVENTURE GAME!!!

I called Elaine and said that I think Ohana might have some sense of the neighborhood, so I was gonna see where she’d let us go.  So we headed back toward Black Mountain Drive, another really busy street.  Ohana was anxious to get across but impatiently allowed me to hit the crosswalk button and wait a bit til it was safe.  We progressed up Black Mountain until the next corner and I did the same trial and error to see where she’d go, and we went left on Sundance.  I was getting excited now and we started walking faster up the little hill.  Well I did, Ohana was showing her age and slowed down a bit on the hill and at the next corner.  We did the Magic Compass moves again and she wanted to cross the street.  A few times as I was walking and saw someone I’d ask if they knew this dog, but no luck…

We continued down the street, house after house, looking for people to ask about her, when BAM! she stops dead again and won’t keep going.  We’re in front of a bluish house with no indication of anyone home.  Just to test the Magic Compass idea, I walk up the driveway and Ohana is happy go that way.  Oh great, now I have to see this through and go around to the front door, all the while wondering what the hell I’m going to say and how to NOT make this look like some sort of weird con game.  I heard a TV as I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell.  Nothing….  I waited what seemed like 5 minutes and went to ring it again and heard “Ohana?” come from over the back fence.

I wondered if Ohana normally rang the bell and what the heck was going on here (remember… still hungry) when the door opened and a lady stood there.  I said “Yep, I found Ohana out by the traffic.”  She thanked me and was very happy to see her.  She’d been looking around the house for her and couldn’t find her.  I told her that I’d called the number on her collar and the woman said that she was in the middle of moving and all her numbers were disconnected.  At this point I kinda didn’t care, I was just stoked that this dog had led me half a mile back to her home!  I fist pumped, patted Ohana on the head (still a little scared to be honest, but out of my mind with hunger) and headed back to Elaine.

Then we got some friggin tacos.

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Jul 22 2014

Totes bloggoats

Published by under Declan,Friends,Fun

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 7.36.16 PM

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Jun 23 2014

Latest incarnation of the timelapser

Published by under Declan,Photography,Tech

I’ve been looking for a better case for my Raspberry Pi with camera kit, and ordered this ($17.25 shipped):

Raspberry Pi and Camera Enclosure

Link to the case

 

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I especially liked that it had a tripod mount:

2014-06-23 07.19.12

 

I’ve used it to capture a party at work, and it worked well!  The camera chip mounts upside down, so I had to flip all of the images before I made my movie.  Also, the power plug is in front with the camera, which seems like it would get into the picture, but it’s actually not a problem.

2014-06-23 07.30.04

So far I really like it!  Other than the screws to mount the camera chip, the whole thing just snaps together.  The little white snaps are kind of tight, but not too hard to use.  I use the timelapser a lot outside, so I wonder if clear is the best option.  I can always paint it though.

 

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Apr 19 2014

Timelapser Project

I was visiting my buddies Rebecca and Chip in STL and he said he was working on a making a timelapse device with a RaspberryPi.  This got me inspired, so I built one too.

Parts:

RaspberryPi v2

Camera Kit for RaspberryPi

The camera kit is just a floppy ribbon cable with the camera on the end of it, so it’s hard to position.  I looked on Thingiverse.com to see if anyone had created a RaspberriPi case with a camera holder that I could 3D print.  I didn’t find exactly what I was envisioning, but I did come across this:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:162594

RaspberryPi Camera Holder that slots into the Ethernet port

It’s a really cool little arm made up of 3 pieces that you connect with 2 screws.  The arm holds the camera at one end, and sticks into the Ethernet connector at the other end – no electronics, it just is the right shape to fit nicely and stay put.

Here’s my little rig:

2014-04-19 19.15.23

I had it in a box case, but I dropped it and it broke ;)  I need to get another one somewhere, or 3D print one.

Now that I had the physical setup done, I followed this blog post to set up the software:

Simple timelapse camera using Raspberry Pi and a coffee tin

The same author has a great post on using an app called BerryCam to help setup where the camera is pointed:

BerryCam – Use your iPad and iPhone to control your Raspberry Pi camera

The author goes further and gets the whole device stuffed into a coffee can with a battery pack, which I’ll get around to at some point.

I modified the python script so it names the captured files sequentially by date and time rather that the default setup.  I found this a lot easier to work with when I wanted to stuff the pictures into a timelapse video.

Now, the SD card on the RaspberryPi I have is only 8G, so it’ll fill up if I don’t drain it, so I rsync the files off to another, bigger machine once an hour with a cronjob.  I had to learn the “–remove-source-files” rsync switch and that helped a ton.

At first, I just wanted the timelapser to watch out toward the West and capture the clouds and sunset:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DplUSQ3jJlw

Then I had to idea to stick a dish of birdseed out in front of the camera to see what would happen, and I got some really neat pictures of local birds!

2014-04-19 at 01-14-21 2014-04-20 at 02-08-28 2014-04-18 at 15-19-07 2014-04-19 at 17-25-12

 

More pix here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigdpix/sets/72157644110782211/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigdpix/sets/72157644050932461/

 

Here’s how I have the camera positioned:

2014-04-19 19.15.12

 

This took some trial and error, and the BerryCam software referred to above helped with positioning a lot.

2014-04-19 19.15.45

 

I finally secured the camera to the deck with cable ties:

2014-04-19 19.18.46

 

Hope this makes sense!  It was pretty easy to do, thanks to the blog posts I link to above.  I have a wifi adapter in the RaspberryPi – this might help you get that set up properly.  Also, when the camera is taking a picture, it lights up an LED on the camera board.  I thought this might cast a color on low light frames, so I disabled the LED using these instructions.

Have fun making one, and let me know if I can make this post more clear!

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Feb 08 2014

Santa Maria Roadtrip

In researching tritip for my smoking experiment, I learned that it was “invented” in Santa Maria, CA, so I’m sitting in a hotel here now!  I live in San Diego, so the wife and I jumped in the car and drove 5 hrs north and started hunting for good tritip.

Our first stop was at the Rancho Nipomo, and it’s been the best one so far!  The tritip is sliced very thin, and made into a sandwich.

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I was more interested in the meat than the bread, but then the owner, Richard, came over and said he forgot to tell us about the salsa that we HAD to put in the sandwich.  Wow!  It’s a pretty simple, fresh tasting salsa – made with canned tomatoes.  The combo was excellent.  He also had us try a hot salsa, made with Manzano peppers.  I think I’m still sweating!

You can tell he loves what he does.  He threw in a pulled pork sandwich

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and kept bringing us over other stuff to try, like the amazing chili on some chips.  My wife had the pork with a red sauce and nopales.

2014-02-07 19.12.37

It was great, with a good heat.

For Saturday lunch, we tried out Jocko’s in Nipomo, CA, but failed to read that the BBQ pit doesn’t open til 4, so I got a pretty good bbq sandwich.

Next, we headed up the coast, stopping for a bit to see some Butterflies:

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And llamas:

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But the pony ride was a lie!

2014-02-08 16.02.16

Very disappointing ;)

We headed back to Arroyo  Grande, CA to the Oak Pit BBQ.  I couldn’t decide what to get, so I got the sampler, which at $15 isn’t too bad!

2014-02-08 18.05.14

Pork rib, beef rib, tritip, pulled pork, and sides.  Oh, and corn muffin.  mmm! Like Rancho Nipomo above, their tritip was not cooked rare.  It was good, but not as good as Rancho.  Or mine ;)

Elaine was missing vegetables, so she got a salad.  A tritip salad!  ;)

2014-02-08 18.05.28

The cook was VERY nice and told us that they smoked on red oak, just like I’d learned from my research.  I asked where I could get some and he pointed across the street to a market.

2014-02-08 18.57.02

 

So now I have a trunk full of red oak pieces that are too big to fit into my smoker.  Elaine thinks my solution will be to cut it down, but it occurs to me that maybe the REAL solution is a bigger smoker!  ;)

On Sunday morning we got up and headed back to Rancho Nipomo for more BBQ!  Here’s a tri tip sandwich with the proper salsa:

2014-02-09 11.35.34

 

Also tried his ribs, which were very good!  Not as smokey as I like, but still great!

2014-02-09 11.37.14

And here’s a picture of that super hot sauce I mentioned above:

2014-02-09 11.57.56

 

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Jul 20 2013

Trip to PEI

Published by under Declan,Travel

I knew this would be a long day, getting to PEI was going to take 3 flights from San Diego, but I had NO idea…

The United hop from San Diego to SFO was nice, I got a security line with just a metal detector, so no opt-out and free molestation.  I mistakenly took this as a good omen! ;)

I had about a 3 hour layover until my Air Canada SFO to Toronto flight, so I got some early lunch and boarded on time.  I was in my window seat next to a very friendly elderly lady with a neat accent who looooved to talk – but I’m a friendly guy and humored her while subtly trying to stick in my earbuds to get my zone of silence going.  She wasn’t having any of that, so I chitchatted with her a bit, learning that the lady on the aisle, who was doing her best to NOT engage, was actually her daughter and that they’d been trying to get home for a couple of days because of airline problems.  I tried telling her about my Montreal trip recently to relate, but she had plenty of talking pent up because her daughter was DONE with her ;)

After a bit I noted that we’d been sitting quite a while.  The door was closed, but we hadn’t backed out to taxi.  The captain came on and said there had been an accident and that the runway was a mess and they were waiting on instructions…  An accident?  I broke the rules and fired up my phone.  CNN had nothing, so I did a twitter search.  I was confused and thought the accident was at our destination, Toronto, but as soon as I searched SFO I had tons of hits.  Wow…

After about an hour or so total, they told us the airport was closed and we had to deplane, but to stick around because the flight wasn’t canceled.  My seat mate needed a wheelchair assist, so I was the last person off the plane.  Her daughter was NOT happy, but hey, at least we weren’t in a crash!  They’d had a really hard week, so I felt bad for them.

We couldn’t see the crash from our plane, but as soon as we got out of the plane we could see it from the gate.  I had my camera and long lens and got this:

SFO Plane crash

SFO Plane crash

 

SFO Crash zoom

SFO Crash zoom

I walked around a bit and shot people in the bar watching TV reports about the crash outside the window:

 

Meta - SFO Bar showing the crash that's also outside the winfo

Meta – SFO Bar showing the crash that’s also outside the window

We all hung around the gate, occasionally getting updates from the Air Canada gate folks.  These mainly were “we have no idea what’s gonna happen, but don’t go too far.”  This went on for a few hours until, and I swear I am not making this up, they said “your flight is canceled, your bags are on carousel 9, we are closing the gate, go home.”  As one, the crowd angrily repeated “GO HOME?!?”  Mind you, a lot of these people are Canadians.  They don’t GET mad…  It was getting ugly.

Eventually we got the message to get our bags and go to the ticket counter to rebook.  I did so and joined a growing group of folks at the Air Canada ticket counter and was stunned to see 8 agents all in a huddle behind the counter doing their best to make no eye contact with the growing crowd.

Air Canada ticket counter with 8 agents

Air Canada ticket counter with 8 agents

 

Eventually the herd of agents pushed forward one agent, named Augusta I believe, who addressed the crowd saying that they didn’t know anything, the airport was closed, everything was a mess, and they didn’t know how to help us.  Also, all hotels are booked, so don’t even try to get one.  She was very brave, and took a lot of abuse from the crowd, but she was just out of her depth – as was the whole airline for the next several hours.

I went to find an outlet so my phone didn’t die and called the Air Canada 888 number.  It was totally swamped, but they had a neat feature to put in your number and they’d hold your place in line and call you back.  I did that, was told it would be 30-40 minutes and hung up.  I checked in with Elaine and she did some research on hotels, and I tweeted out that I might be looking for someplace to crash in SF that night.  I know, bad choice of words… No pun intended, I assure you.  I was getting pretty discouraged and depressed by this time, but all of a sudden I had nearly 8 offers of places to stay from a whole range of friends living around SF!  This really bolstered my mood and I am very grateful to have such wonderful friends!  Especially for the ones who also offered a lot of good beer.  ;)

Air Cananda called back as promised and a very cranky, overworked, and rather rude lady barely listened to my story and booked me on a series of flights that would get me to PEI on Monday at noon. WTF?  I asked her to try again, and she came back saying that’s all they could do.  It was still Saturday!  No offer of a hotel, or hotels, and I was going to have to route through Vancouver, then Montreal to get to PEI.  Wow… I took the booking because that’s all I could do.

I checked the Air Canada ticket line again, and they still seemed baffled.  I saw my seat mate and her daughter by the kiosks looking unhappy and checked in.  The daughter was furious.  Not only did she have her mother in a wheelchair, but also their 5 bags now.  “They are doing NOTHING for us!  What if my mother has to go to the bathroom, or lie down?  Who will watch our bags?  Where can we go?”  I offered to watch the bags for her, but she was afraid to leave the ticket counter in case anything changed.  I checked in with her a few times until they disappeared at some point.  What a stressful situation for them!

So now what?  Well, I booked all of this through United originally, and I’m Premier Silver there, so let’s see what they can do…  I find their ticket line and boggle at the number of people:

United line

United line

 

Daaaang…  I find the Premier Silver line and shuffle forward slowly.  For THREE HOURS!  United agents were handing out slips of paper with the United 800 number to see if we could get through there before getting to the front of the line.  BTW I didn’t, but I now twitch every time I hear their hold music.  Over and over and over.  Ok, so 3 hrs pass sloggingly, and I get to talk to a wonderful dude named Patrick who told me he couldn’t help because Air Canada had taken control of my tickets and he couldn’t pull them back.  He was super nice about it, and gave me tons of info, but in the end he directed me back to Air Canada.  Yay.

Air Canada’s line was only an hour long, so I did my time there and got to an agent who said she could get me on a redeye to Montreal tonight, assuming it was allowed to take off!  SIGN ME UP!  This was the same flight one of my colleagues was going to be on.  It was also the flight a couple I met in line needed to take to then go to Vancouver.  SFO to Montreal to Vancouver – what should be a 2 hour direct flight was going to be an 8 hour nightmare that they were desperate to take.  The agent also booked me on an 8a flight from Montreal to PEI, but said the connection was tight and my checked bag would slow me down at customs, but there was a chance I’d make it.  She booked me on the 2p as well, just in case.

I grabbed a late dinner and headed over to the gate for the redeye flight, meeting up with my colleague, Chris.  As we sat and chatted waiting for the plane, the gate people were calling up individuals who would walk away seemingly angry.  I think I even heard a Canadian say a bad word in anger, so I was worried that they’d over booked and I was gonna get nuked.  Eventually we started boarding and as I was about to get on I saw the Vancouver bound couple being told they weren’t going to be on this flight.  They were really upset.  I did get on though and saw lots of open seats, so I figured they’d end up making it.  But nope we taxied out, sat on the tarmac for a really long time, then eventually took off.

I talked to the attendant, asking why the other people didn’t get on when we had plenty of seats and she said that because the crash had taken the one long runway at SFO out of service, there were only 2 short ones.  Our plane had to be weight restricted to work on that runway, so they bounced people off, and that long time sitting on the tarmac was to burn off enough fuel to let us be light enough to take off!  I can’t imagine the math they must do to make all this work.  I’m just glad I finally got out of SFO and could get to my conference!

I don’t sleep well on airplanes, so it was a looong ride, but we eventually got to Montreal and I sprinted through to try to make that early flight to PEI.  This wasn’t going to happen:

Long Montreal airport corridor

Long Montreal airport corridor

 

Montreal airport has super long corridors and terrible signage.  So I missed the early flight and realized I was facing another 6 hours til the next flight.  I fleetingly considered grabbing the city bus and having lunch with my Montreal buddy Amy, but then I sat down for a moment and almost passed out from lack of sleep and food.  I punted and found the perfect Montreal food:

 

Montreal bagel and lox

Montreal bagel and lox

 

Then I found my gate and sleepily hung out until my blessedly uneventful flight to PEI!

 

Landing in PEI

Landing in PEI

 

I know a plane crash is a big deal, but how about some contingency planning, Air Canada?  Or calling up some reserve staff for handling the long lines and phone hold times, United?  (BTW, implement that call back feature Air Canada has working.)  How about opening the airline lounges for elderly people who need someplace to recover from the stress?

The mood at SFO wavered from relief that we weren’t in the crashed plane to panic that no one knew what we were supposed to do next.  Just some messaging other that “go home” would have settled some expectations.

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Apr 07 2012

Tweetdeck for Chrome

Published by under Declan,Tech

I’ve been a very happy user of the Twitter client Tweetdeck for a long time. I’m on 0.38.1 because I don’t want to upgrade into the mess it has become. But finally, some features are not working well on my aging version- threading is a mess, and some images won’t render – so I’m looking at where to go next.

On mjgiarlo’s recommendation, I’m trying out the Chrome extension version of Tweetdeck (TD). Right away this requires that I run Chrome, and I already do, but a lot the people I support do not, so I can’t help them as much as before. It installed just fine, and once I remembered my TD login, my account connected well. It did forget my notification settings (NO SOUND!!!), but that was easy to fix.

Having TD as part of the browser is really different from it running as a separate app. First, I have to remember to fire it up in a tab – this is probably automatable, but not something I normally do. Next, I liked having TD in its own window, so I pulled that tab out as its own window. My default window size only held 3 columns, and I like to see 4 – my main twitter list, the @declan column, the DM column, and the Home/All tweets column. Easily fixed by expanding the window, but I have to manually do this every time I fire up Chrome now. Kind of a pain in the butt.

When I click links in a tweet, it opens in a new tab, but in the same window as TD, covering TD. When using TD as a client, links would open in my browser, over on the right side of the screen, and leave TD where it was. The current tab switching is visually jarring.

I’m also noticing that the scrolling of the columns is annoying. While I’m off reading something from a link, the TD column has moved and I lose my place in the list of tweets. I have to scroll back down and find where I left off.

The screen is a little busy too. Well, a lot busy. I don’t mind white text on a dark background, tho I know many who do. I do mind the chunky font – I think the client was smoother. Maybe I can tweak something in Chrome to deal with this, but will it mess with everything else? Also, as I’m reading from bottom to top of the column, I move the mouse pointer up to the next tweet, and the reply, RT, etc. icons pop up dynamically on each tweet. Again, visually jarring.

The scrolling wheel/swipe action in the columns is very nice. The client version was always more jumpy.

Hitting Enter in a tweet puts in a carriage return rather than sending the tweet – so I have to leave the keyboard to click on send. Different, but not terrible.

I’m going to try it out a few more days, then maybe look at some other suggestions I got. I use Echofon on the iphone and have played with the desktop client a bit. I really miss the multi column tho. Hootsuite comes highly recommended, as does MetroTweet and Janetter.

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Feb 20 2012

Sad Ireland Trip

Published by under Declan,Family

Last Monday my aunt Peg (from my father’s side) called to say that her younger sister, my aunt Frances, had been diagnosed with cancer and if I’d like to see her I should come now.  This was a complete shock as Nathan and I had just seen her last January.  Here she is with my uncle Frank (from my mother’s side):

IMG_8764

Peg and Frances are my Dad’s last two sisters alive.  Frances lives in Dublin, Ireland so I got a flight out of San Diego on Wednesday morning and landed on Thursday morning.

Frances’ lovely neighbor, Adrian, and Peg picked me up, we dropped my bags at the house, then he dropped us at the hospital.  I won’t go into all of the details, but Frances knows I’m here and is receiving palliative care to keep her pain free.  We are going day by day but Frances’ condition is terminal.

I’m grateful that I got to see her, that I can support my aunt Peg, that I’ve met so many of Frances’ friends, of Elaine, Nathan, and Erin constantly checking on me, and that work has been 100% supportive of my being gone.

I’m staying in my father’s childhood home, which has been in the family since the 1920s.

IMG_9260

Frances is the last of her line left in Ireland (Peg lives in England), so the house will now go on the market.  I’ve visited this house 4 times in my life but I was always comforted to know it, and my family was here.  It is so strange to see things coming to an end.

This is all very sad.  I haven’t tweeted out about it because it’s hard to get into 140 characters, and because I know I’ll get a torrent of kind words and then I’ll completely lose my shit.  But as my aunt Peg says, “you wouldn’t have been born with tear ducts if you weren’t supposed to cry.”  Crazy old woman. ;)

 

UPDATE 1

Frances passed away peacefully at noon today, 2/21/12.  We’re keeping busy with visitors and arrangements.

 

UPDATE 2 2/27/12

It’s been an active week.  Peg and I did a lot of calls to let people know.  We went to the church to set up the services (short service on Friday, long mass on Saturday, followed by the burial).  We visited the funeral home to have the remains dealt with, and to take care of the obituary, which was online before we even got home.  We set up a reception for after the Friday service.  We dug through piles of paper and drawers and things that seem way too personal for us to be looking at.  But that’s our job now.  It’s surreal.

Tons of friends and the few family left in Ireland were stopping by the house to sit and talk – and drink tea.  The Fleming family has amazing family friends from the the old and new neighbors and they all stopped in at some point to lend support.

On Friday, the remains arrived at the house for a viewing from 2p-5p, then the crowd walked behind the hearse up to St. Columbus church, where Frances had been a very active parishioner for her whole life.  Peg and I were carried in a limo, so we picked up the little old ladies who couldn’t walk that well.  There was a short service with over 100 people attending, then Peg invited people to a local hotel for soup and sandwiches.  About 45 people came over to the hotel, which is good, because that’s how many we reserved ;)

Frances was a founding member of the Glasnevin Musical Society and many of her great friends are also members.  Frances left specific instructions for her mass, and one of the Society friends took over and organized the whole thing, including liaising with the church folks.  She was awesome!  They sang at the service on Saturday and they were beautiful!  I captured some of the sound on my iphone.  When I get home I’ll try to clean up the sound and see if it comes anywhere near the reality.  The mass was followed by a drive to the Glasnevin cemetery for the burial.  Take a look at that Wikipedia link.  There are 1.5 million people buried in that cemetery, and the monuments are enormous!  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Then some us went to a local pub for lunch and to decompress.

I wanted Peg to get away from all of this on Sunday, so we asked a good friend from across the street, Adrian, to drive us to Powerscourt waterfall in beautiful County Wicklow, just south of County Dublin.  We ended up overshooting and ended up about 40 km south, and never made it into Powerscourt, but we saw some beautiful country and mountains.  Even in February, this is a gorgeous country.

Today, we visited the family solicitor to get all the legal stuff going.  Neither Peg nor I live in Ireland, so there were a lot of questions, but we got it started.  I head home on Wednesday, and Peg is hanging out in Dublin for a few more weeks to work through the issues.  I hate leaving her alone, but I can’t wait to get home either.  I’ve had assurances that the friends here will keep her company.  I’m looking into coming back in the summer to help with closing up the house for sale.

So, that’s the facts, ma’am.  I’m really looking forward to getting home to my family and looking back on all this.  I’m even looking forward to going back to work!  I could use some normality back in my day.  Finally, I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym.  EVERYTHING is fried here.  And awesome.  ;)

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Jan 10 2012

The Missing/Stolen/Returned iPad Saga

Saturday 12/31/11

So, I have an iPad – 64G, 3G, ATT.  It’s a work device that I use all the time, especially for travel and in the gym so I have something to distract me from 40 minutes of hell on the elliptical.  Over the holiday break, I committed to getting into the gym every other day.  Our YMCA was open until 4p on New Year’s Eve, and I was sweating my fat butt off right up until the place closed.  I took a quick stop in the men’s room, and hustled out the door as they were closing up.

Sunday 1/1/12

It was later on the next day that I realized that I couldn’t find my iPad.  I looked in all the usual places, scoured the house and car, and tried out the “Find My iPad” app on icloud.  Once it didn’t show up, I realized that I must have left it in the men’s room at the Y!    Well, the Y was closed all day, so I left voicemail there and told myself to get to bed early so I could hit their door at the 5:30am opening on 1/2.  I also changed all my passwords, and deactivated the device from all the important services.

Monday 1/2/12

I actually went to bed at 1am (damn Skyrim), but was up and out the door at 5:20a and at the Y at 5:30a.  My buddy Damon was also just pulling up for a very early swim class, because he is insane.

We walked in and I asked at the front desk if the iPad had been turned in, but nope.  I wasn’t surprised, as they’d been closed up solid since I left it, so I walked over to check the men’s room.  Uh oh, no iPad…  I went back to the front desk and I filled out a slip saying what I’d lost and the nice young lady said they’d talk to more staff as they came in later.  In fact it might take until tomorrow as there were people still out on the the holiday break.  I was upset, but mostly at myself for leaving it behind. I kept trying the “Find My iPad” app, but nothing.  I saw there was a way to send a message to the iPad, so I put my phone number in there.  I also noticed a switch that would send me an email when it was found – so I hit that too.  I printed some LOST IPAD signs, and went back and stuck them up around the Y.  Worried, but feeling like I’d done all I could, I went about my day, keeping my eye on my email and occasionally trying the app again.

Then at 9:29p:

Woohoo!  Someone at the Y found it and turned it on, right?!?  I ran to the computer and hit the location link, expecting to see a map of my neighborhood and the Y.  Instead, the device is showing up about 24.4 miles to the south, in a town called El Cajon!

I have a screen grab of the map with the green dot locating the iPad right on a specific address, but I’m not sure of I should post that.  I’ll get into that more later.  Basically, I KNEW where my iPad was, and it was nowhere NEAR the place I’d lost it.  Suddenly I had a theft situation rather than a dummy-lost-his-iPad situation.  So I did what a normal person would do and called the police.

I called the San Diego Police non-emergency line and explained the story so far to what sounded like a very overworked lady.  She asked if there was a police report, and I said no because I just now discovered that it was stolen.  She directed me to a web site to fill out a form to get the police report started.  I got a little panicked and said “but I can see it now!  Why can’t we go get it?!” to which I got more of a push toward the web site to fill out a report.  I’m sure those of you who know I run an IT shop and highly promote a central ticketing system are just laughing your heads off at this delay… but, to my mind, time was of the essence!  I pressed harder and she said she could give me the El Cajon Police Dispatch number, but wasn’t sure what they might do for me.

So I called them and they listened to the story, then asked for a police report.  Le Sigh – I don’t have one because… blah blah – go fill one out and call us back.  Ok, back to the web site, filled it out, grumbled about UI design, got the confirmation email and number, and called back El Cajon.  They said come on down and we’ll have a squad car meet you by the address and do a “Peace Call.”  It’s 10:30p by now, and I’m all amped up from the situation, so Elaine says she’s going with me.  We hop in the car and head south for the 20-30 minute drive.

On the drive, Elaine has the “Find My iPad” app going on my iPhone, but it goes red, meaning that the device is no longer on.  We’re committed tho, so we keep going – at or below the speed limit, of course.  We get to the arranged meeting spot at 11p, on the same block as the address that showed up on my map, and wait.  In a little bit of a sketchy looking place.  Surrounded by suspected iPad stealers!  At about 11:40p I call back to dispatch and they say no one is available, but they know we’re waiting.  About five minutes later, 2 squad cars pull up and I get to tell the story again.

The cops were great, and offered to go knocking on doors, but that address is a 50 unit apartment complex.  Given that GPS can be +/- 25m, the dot on my map could encompass 6-8 apartment units in the 2 story building.  Added to that, the building is “known cop-unfriendly” and not a nice place.  As soon as they started asking questions, everyone would know about it, and I’d probably never see my device again.  And since the device was no longer responding to the app, I couldn’t make it sound off to make it easier to find.

At this point, I was frustrated to know that I was within a block of my iPad, but could do nothing about it.  The cops offered a few suggestions, such as sending a message to the unit offering a reward, and to watch Craigslist, – something I should have thought of myself!  They were both adamant that I NOT meet with anyone from Craigslist without the police.  They told me of someone who’d been killed in San Diego not long ago after confronting a Craigslist person.  They also suggested sharing the address with the people at the Y to see if an employee or member matched.  We drove back home, defeated and deflated.  I sent a lock command to the device, setting a password and with the reward message,  then we headed to bed.

Tuesday 1/3/12

On the way to work on Tuesday, we stopped into the Y and talked with a manager, telling her the whole story.  She happened to also be the HR person and said they had no one working in El Cajon, but that they contracted out their cleaning and they’d follow up with them.  I then headed into work and one of my guys suggested that I send a wipe command from our email server.  Even though I’d changed my email password, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to also wipe my work email from it, so I did.  More on that later…

Wednesday 1/4/12

In the meantime, I’d been watching Craigslist, and got a match!  64G iPad, 3G, ATT!  So I set up a fake gmail account and mailed the Craigslist email address.  I also mailed one of the cops for advice about how to deal with the mails I would send, and he got back to me with some thoughts.  I got a response back soon after I went to bed from the Craigslist person, asking how close I was to his asking price, and if I could come get it now.

The facilities manager at the Y called me on Wednesday, very upset about the whole situation, and said he was following up with the cleaning people.  I later ran into him when I was working out and he was very nice and concerned that the cleaning company hadn’t gotten back to him.  I could really tell he cared personally and as a representative of the Y.

Thursday 1/5/12

The Craigslist response back was from a hotmail account with a person’s name, so I passed that name on to the cops in email and with a call to the Y facilities manager.  It was probably a made up account, but it was worth trying.

I had to run out of town for a day for work, so I didn’t reply back to the Craigslist person until tonight, asking for more details about the iPad he was selling – as advised by the cop.   I got back a very short reply saying “Too bad, I sold it for $200″ and that was it.  I mailed back thanking him for the info, thinking that I might be able to squeeze more info later by being nice.

Friday 1/6/12

So, now we’re up to Friday, and nothing seems to be happening.

Saturday 1/7/12

On Saturday morning the phone rings at 9am.  It was a lady from the Y asking if I’d lost an iPad, because they had it at the front desk!  I said “very interesting!” and that I’d be in to pick it up.  I went right over and it was my iPad, grey cover and all!  I asked the ladies at the desk if they knew more about where it came from.  One of them said that she’d closed the night before and that it wasn’t there, but when she’d opened this morning, there it was on the front desk!

The device was all out of power, so I got home and plugged it in, trying hard not to touch it too much because I had some thoughts of trying to lift the fingerprints I’d see on it (this is a lot harder than you’d think… ;) ).  I’d fully expected the device to be wiped to factory default – especially if it was being sold off – but it popped up with my background screen (which includes my name) and all my apps installed.  It also started syncing with my Mac over wifi, so I left it alone to charge up and get caught up.  I was a little worried that maybe it had some phone home software installed or something, then I remembered that I’m not that interesting.

I did not have a password on the device when I lost it, mainly because it’s a pain in the neck to use it all the time, and because my wife and kid use the device sometimes and I didn’t want to keep reminding them of the password.  I thought I’d dealt with this by sending the lock and password command when it was gone, but I was surprised that the device asked for no password when I turned it on.  In fact, I was able to play around with it for about 20 minutes with no problem.  I also noticed that my reward message wasn’t on it.  It wasn’t until I ran the “Find My iPad” app again from icloud that the lock came on and the message appeared.  I don’t know why the lock didn’t happen as soon as the device got power.

Another lovely feature was that work email wipe command I’d sent.  I assumed that it would wipe my email – but nope, it wiped the whole device!  The iPad had been prompting me for my email password, since I’d changed it days ago.  I went ahead and put it in, looked away, and when I looked back, the device was wiped and asking for a setup language!  So, no worries about spy software, but that was a surprise.  I ran a restore from my computer and it all came back in about 30 mins.

Sunday 1/8/12

Imagine my surprise this morning when it was wiped again!  I guess I needed to totally delete the device from my work email server’s awareness for it to stop trying to wipe it.  I’m afraid to put my work email password into it now tho!  ;)

By now the device is in full working order and I’m back on track!

Monday 1/9/12

But I’m left with a LOT of questions!  I called and left a voicemail with the Y facilites manager.  He called back, unaware that I’d gotten it back!  He was thrilled and I asked, “What did you do?!?”  He said he still hadn’t heard back from the cleaning company, but he was even more interested in talking to them now.  I am dying to hear what he learns!

Tuesday 1/10/12

I’m gonna go ahead an publish, even though there are a lot of questions unanswered.  I’ll add more later as I know it.  I’ll also tack some other lessons learned on here, and more as I think of them:

  • I should have put a password on the device.  Even if it’s a pain in the neck.  I could have reduced the stress of the situation by knowing that the data were safe.
  • I thought that having a map with a green dot on an address would ensure I got my iPad back pronto.  Thank goodness, cops follow the Constitution and won’t kick doors in based on a map I printed up.  I REALLY wanted them to, but it would have been dumb.  Now, had the device been active and I could have made it make a sound, the cops would have done a lot more.
  • Fill out a police report as soon as you can.  No one will do anything until you have that magic report number.  I learned during filling it out that I could have filed under “Lost Property” when I knew the device was missing.  I didn’t have to wait until I thought it was a theft.
  • Don’t hold your breath waiting for the cops to do anything.  I have never heard from the San Diego police.  I just filled out a web form and it went into a black hole.
  • The San Diego area has a lot of police forces.  El Cajon is a totally different jurisdiction.  I remarked to the cops I met how it seemed that they cared a ton more than the police closer to my house.  They said that while El Cajon is certainly underfunded for police (hence my 45 minute wait in the parking lot), SD City is decimated.
  • Wipe means wipe!  Well at least from the Outlook web client.  And don’t forget to take the device out of the known list and re-add it later, or you’ll get wiped each time the devices talk.
  • Customize your device if you can.  I had a known dent on mine, but think about the Craigslist picture and how you could help convince the cops that it’s your device that’s listed.  No, don’t dent the device, work people… ;) But silly stickers don’t hurt.
  • The folks at my Y are great and take member concerns very seriously.  Well, except for widening the entrance turnstile for my fat butt!  ;)
  • Tweeting vague references to a big story you are going to write up really aggravates people.  Do it often!  ;)

 

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Mar 13 2011

CURATEcamp Hackfest at code4lib Videos are up

Published by under Declan,Library,Tech

Check them out!

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