Man, it's embarrassing to see that I haven't published anything really technical (beyond my MMS Miami Beach recap) since the end of July...and before that anything on a regular schedule since April! Despite my best intentions, some aspects of life got complicated. Fortunately in the "good" way, but it really cut into my time to think about and craft posts.
I got hooked into 3D printing late last summer. A problem that cropped up after the first couple months of tinkering and relatively error-less printing was an issue with thermal runaway. Something I could correct for short periods of time, but never make totally go away...
See also: asking a friend for help can save oodles of time and effort.
Around Thanksgiving 2022, an friend of mine asked to talk through a problem he thought might be solvable with Powershell, but he'd been stuck on the design. Naturally, I agreed to help out if/where I could and it provided an opportunity to chat via Zoom which I am not one to turn down.
In this case, there's a relatively free-form bunch of text received from a person/process whose behavior is unlikely to change. A couple of things that are consistent in this data:
Once I settled on jumping into home automation and Home Assistant (HA), the first "practical" thing I wanted to address was the issue of lights being left on at random throughout the house. Some fixtures were greater offenders than others, but with a control mechanism like HA I could actually begin to address what others wouldn't.
After considering it for a long time and hearing about some cool stuff folks were doing with home automation, I decided it was time to start my own dabbling adventure. A warning to folks: home automation is a little bit like owning horses. There can be a bunch of expense in the process for little obvious reward.
This past Friday, somewhat out of the blue, I was pinged by a friend about helping him work through implementing what I'd done to date with Certbot...with the additional twist of his own unique configuration challenges.
As I'd eluded in a post earlier this summer, we had some major home projects completed this year. As of the end of October, 2020, they're all functionally complete. We only await the delivery and installation of a few missing pieces of window jamb extensions and casing, and a "rainy day" for the contractor to spend a couple quick hours installing.
Throughout the pandemic I've tried to keep in contact with friends via different mechanisms. One of those venues is Slack, where one friend and I have gotten into this "habit" of sorts where we do some sort of video call (Slack, Zoom, etc.) that ends up lasting several hours. These come up every six weeks or so (in addition to more regular banter via Slack); not often enough to be burdensome, but often enough to be meaningful. Pre-pandemic, we had formed a similar pattern of meetups (though often only on an annual or semi-annual basis) in person as our paths crossed.
It's been a wild couple of weeks since I last posted anything here. I'd exhausted most of pre-written content and with a bunch of these improvement and scope creep projects on the horizon it was not feasible to get more material churned out in the short term, so a break it was!
As I've written about before, there have been plenty of random projects to work on during the pandemic and additional time spent around home. Due to a pretty significant hailstorm last summer, we're going to be replacing every roof on the property and also re-siding the house.
One of the things I've always enjoyed about our little home on the prairie is the fact we've always a selection of various critters or insects beneficial to the larger environment. Part of this is bolstered by the fact we live across the road from several hundred acres of waterfowl production area owned and managed by the US Fish and Wildlife service. This area isn't native prairie, but it is largely undisturbed relatively native plant species beneficial for the habitat of waterfowl and all other manner of critter.
This is a relatively short post, but as I entered our May electric usage into my tracking spreadsheet (see the Energy Use Analysis post from a while back), I noticed something peculiar about this last few months since the pandemic really hit (and we started staying at home all the time).
It is no surprise to me that retail outlets catering to home improvement projects have been doing well during the pandemic and various iterations of stay-at-home orders. The sudden 'found' time of folks who might normally spend time on other endeavors is suddenly focused into projects around the house. To some degree this is the same here...
Over the years I've developed a habit where a short part (~30 minutes on average) of most weekends are dedicated to entering the week's receipts, reconciling (or balancing) accounts, updating investment fund values, and so forth. Once familiar with GnuCash, this process is pretty straightforward and easy to do. Then, roughly quarterly, I go through and double-check any accounts that have fallen behind this cycle for various reasons (sometimes an account wasn't used during that time, other times I just forgot to reconcile it, and so forth).
As I wrote about a couple months back, GnuCash is my accounting software of choice since ~2010. I wasn't exactly "sold" on it from the start, but it was a free and open-source solution that seemed robust enough to handle pretty much anything I could throw at it, from managing business finances and whatnot to a whole mess of personal accounts. Did I mention: free and open-source?
A little over a decade ago we had a ground-source heat pump installed for our home heating and cooling. Commonly called a 'geothermal' system, the basic function is that it uses the earth's relative/stable temperature (well below the frost line) to act as a heatsink for air conditioning and heating. In the winter (or heating season), heat is transferred from the ground and (through the process of compression) 'superheated' where it's released across a typical air conditioning coil in our normal furnace.
So I wound up putting a bit of a pause on posting this last month or so. Certainly not for a lack of things to say...but certainly for lack of time to nuance them. I've had to schedule and reschedule the various posts I had in progress (but not fully finished) a couple of times now. Hopefully I can get to the point of starting to regularly crank out new stuff on the normal schedule.
A couple weeks ago, I made brief mention of my financial automation account and how I've come to consider it my "free money" account. I wanted to dig into that topic just a bit more, since it's become a key component of my own regular financial well-being.
As we enter the thick of tax season (I just filed ours this past week), I thought I'd write a short bit about my own take on financial literacy. This idea was originally sparked when I read an article last year about Why Financial Literacy Matters from a more education-based perspective. I suggest giving it a quick read.
This past Saturday ended a most marvelous run of the One-Act Play production in which my 7th grader was cast. I'm deliberately not going into any details regarding the production, because it doesn't matter what production was in scope, but how the production went.
Last summer we had a pretty gnarly hailstorm, which has ultimately resulted in the need to replace shingles and siding on the house (among several other things). As a result, this has become a launching point for getting some insulation work and window replacement on the project list. Because if we're gonna do the siding, we might as well get those other things done, too.
I've been a bit remiss in the posting cadence lately (well, since Thanksgiving). Much has been happening in all realms of life (as they are want to be during the "holiday season"). That being said, I don't return to work, proper, until January 6. And so it's time to do some cleaning up and other updates. With any luck, I'll have some material queued up to help buffer the situations when I'm out of time (or random ideas).
Haven't had a more personal post for a while (hope to rectify that in the next few weeks as I've got some stuff queued up), but it seemed fitting to give a short tribute/shout out to some of our regional performance art talent.
As I've noted a few times in the last few months, things have been remarkably crazy and busy. As it always does, this culminates in a late-August/early-September influx of "survival mode" where most everything centers around keeping the fires to a minimum.
So I've found myself at a point where I didn't have enough material queued up (or at the ready to write about), especially on the technical side, so I decided to take a short break while the normal dust settles. Which it has/did, for the most part.
On Saturday, we made the short trip to [West] Fargo, ND for the Fiber Arts Festival, something we'd not previously visited before. For a small-sized gathering, at first sight I certainly didn't expect to spend half the day at the venue. But it's a good little fest, and we well might go again in the future. Saw lots of folks spinning fiber into yarns, working with said product, and using some neat little machines to do it all.
As I wrote about two weeks ago (while in mid-run), we just had our early summer theatre production. It was, in my opinion, a very successful run...though bittersweet to see it end after two weekends (and six shows). We had a great and consistent audience, which speaks well to the attempt at doing a show over two weekends in June. Our next board meeting will reveal the "final" financial result of our activities.
This was going to be a real post, with some real substance (or at least something).
But then it happened:
Yard Work and Summer Projects
We had a reasonably nice weekend to do some outdoor work. While it's never complete, and always seems to be some sort of re-envisioning, the need to get some stuff done around the house has consumed my time these past few days.
It'll all be good, though. It's often cathartic in its own way, and the beer tastes ever so slightly better afterward (or in between, depending on the activities).
Many of those I work and associate closely with know that I'm pretty often a routine machine. I'll be writing more about the various things I've turned into simple routines, automatic processes, and so forth.
But I'm tired. Really tired. And as I'd noted some time ago, the struggles and projects live on. The list is marginally smaller now vs. then, but there's still a good mix of all sorts of random bits. At least it's a variety!