Time.

I was asked to not pull wire through all the walls for the school clock collection, so I took a different approach. I’m a bit obsessed with clock accuracy. I like all of the clocks top show the same time; the microwave, the oven, the wall clocks, everything, have to show the same time all the time. I’ve always been this way. Hence, my interest in these old school clock systems.

I wanted to put one of my clocks in the kitchen but no wires are allowed. The sturdy, all metal construction of these clocks from the first half of the 21st century prohibit the use of the Atomic clock radio controlled clocks that are popular today (the radio signal cannot get through the metal housing). I’m always hesitant to convert these clocks away from their electrical roots, but sometimes you do what you need to do.

This clock now has a battery quartz mechanism that synchronizes to our wifi network several times a day. I had the movement shipped from China and installed it today.

I don’t think it’s going to handle Arizona’s lack of Daylight Saving time very well but I’ll deal with that in November.

I’m pleased with the new hands that came with the movement; I needed to trim them back just a bit for the size of this clocks, but they look like they belong and probably other than my obsession, no one will even notice.

I’ll probably convert a couple more of the clocks I have in the collection. It’s not my ideal approach to maintaining these clocks but I enjoy the aesthetics very much so I’m pleased.

Time keeps marching on.

Repurposed.

My husband and I drove northwest of the city to do some exploring. I wanted to check out Marana Regional Airport and get a feel for the landscape out in that direction.

While driving around we stumbled across the remains of a Boeing 747-300 situated not too far from Pinal Air Park, where many no longer airliners are landed in the desert. This B747 was a mile or two away from the boneyard.

A quick Google search revealed the 747 was purchased to become a retail establishment. I found this article online with more information: Not quite a sky mall: Tucson inventor setting up shop in old airliner.

I look forward to doing more exploring out in that direction, both from the ground and the air.

Not Alone.

I have several geeky hobbies. Master-slave school clock systems from the first half of the 20th century. Computers of all sorts, especially older technology. Early point of sales systems. Roads. Washing machines.The list goes on and on.

For many years I thought I was the only one on the planet with this weird combination of hobbies. Ultimately it comes down to at the very least a passing interest in things that are networked, connected, and/or structured. With the advent of the Internet, especially the past 15 years or so, it turns out I am very much not alone with these interests. I find comfort in this.

Over 20 years ago I was contacted by my now good friend Tim in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His home is wired with a school clock system that worked very much like what we had when we lived in Upstate New York. Recently I was contacted by Nathan near Ottawa, Ontario. His interest in early point of sale systems very much mirrors my interest. We’ve since combined forces, so to speak, and are trying to figure out what cash registers Kmart Canada used in their stores up until the chain went out of business. They’re nothing like anything I’d ever seen in a Kmart in the states back in the day. We’ve seen a few hints and pictures but have never been able to find anything definitive. It’s a fun little challenge.

I’m curious about the sharing of these various hobbies with others. We all seem to be men of a certain age, and a certain sexuality. I find this fascinating. I’m curious as to what in our genetic wiring predisposes us in this direction.

As Mr. Spock says, “fascinating”.

PS. If you know what make and model cash register is pictured above, let me know.

Command!

Be still my geek heart. As an “Ancient Geek” by today’s standards, I still love me some command line fun. Here’s the current weather forecast displayed in all its Command Line glory. Shout out to wttr.in.

Viewing.

How awesome is it that we can watch the return of a crew from the International Space Station aboard a commercially built, autonomous spacecraft live from an application on our personal computer?

I sometimes forget we live in amazing times. We need to focus on the amazing.

The little white dot is the returning spacecraft, as captured on video by the International Space Station.

Privacy.

Most people don’t want Facebook and other social media companies tracking their movements all over the Internet. We live in a very non-private world, but you can reclaim the tracking practices by these companies that make a lot of money from your data.

If you have an iPhone and/or iPad, you’re in luck. Apple released an update for these devices today. Go ahead and update your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS/iPadOS. Then do the following

  1. Open “Settings”
  2. Tap on “Privacy”
  3. Tap on “Tracking”
  4. Switch “Allow Apps to Request to Track” to OFF

Done!

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On The Other Hand…

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how wonderful Siri and HomeKit was working out for our home automation projects.

It was all a lie.

Our HomePods are frequently telling us “no home hubs can be found” only to find a hub 10 minutes later. If I tell Apple Music to play a song on HomePod A and HomePod B for a few minutes, it’s going to do everything on both those HomePods until the end of time. Two days later I ask for ambient sounds for sleeping and they’re playing all over the house, even though they should only be playing in the bedroom. The only way to rectify this is to play a song on HomePod A and HomePod B and then stop playing on HomePod B. That’s fun at 3:00 AM after a few drinks.

My husband and I can watch devices randomly jump from room to room in real time on the Home app on our phones. They literally jump around every 10 minutes. Everybody is in the default room, nothing is in the default room, everyone take your places.

So, on the other hand, Alexa is starting to work much better for us. The application UI is awful, but the functionality is more reliable.

Sears.

This Sears in Tucson is closed. I like the little southwestern art over the entrance. Apparently this store opened in 1982. It has a slightly interesting vibe to the design, but it’s a shame the store has been closed and is empty.

Mac.

I took the opportunity to use a portion of the proceeds from the sale of our condo to purchase a Mac mini. The computer arrived today.

I’ve had a few of these machines over the years and I’ve always been pleased with them. I’ve nothing but glowing reviews of the latest incarnation, which is based on Apple’s new M1 chip. The new chip was designed by Apple specifically for Apple products, as opposed to the outsourced Intel chips that have been in Macs for the past decade or so.

My initial impressions are quite favorable. This little guy is quite snappy, even while it’s downloading my iCloud data and installing apps and the like. While my mid-2015 MacBook Pro would constantly scream with the hum of fans while driving my external monitor, this little Mac mini doesn’t even get warm.

I’ll be putting the new computer through its paces next week, as it’s intended to be my primary work computer. I’ll probably be following up with blog entries once I have a bit more experience with it.

Comforts.

I’m settling nicely into my new office. I’m even settling into my new work hours. Having a daily “stand up” call at 6:00 AM MST doesn’t kill my productivity one bit. I get up at 5:30 AM, throw on clothes from yesterday, do the stand up call, and then go upstairs and take a shower, change my clothes, etc., eat breakfast, and get back to work. My workday ends anywhere between 3:30 and 5:00 PM. This gives me time to spend with the family, relax, and such before heading to bed and getting up to do it all over again the next day.

As I get my office set up to my standards, I realized the bigger space has a bit more echo than my old home office back in Chicago. This made my mechanical keyboard sound even louder than usual during Zoom/Teams calls with team workers. Since I try to be as paper free as possible, I often take notes by typing them out while the meeting is in progress and the louder keyboard was not helpful in this situation.

Enter a quieter keyboard from Matias Products. Matias makes a beautiful, ten keyless keyboard that looks like it was made by Apple. The touch is great, the sizing is perfect, and the keyboard is quite sturdy. The case is aluminum and uses the same font that was used by Apple up until the latter half of the 2010s.

I’m quite pleased with it.

For my every day keyboards I opt to not have a 10-key keypad on my keyboards. I like having the mouse closer to center so I don’t have to reach far out to maneuver around. The new keyboard matches my Magic Mouse in black quite well.

I’m quite pleased with this new keyboard and it’s surprisingly affordable. I believe I paid $48 plus shipping, though it’s no longer on sale as of right now at $55. Still, it’s much cheaper than Apple’s wireless counterparts.

Highly recommended.