I’m taking a couple of weeks to ride out to Santa Fe to go visit friends, make some pictures, meet new people, gawk at that strange land beyond the San Francisco bubble, and basically enjoy the high desert in the short window between “Inferno” and “Icicle.”
For what it’s worth, I decided to start digging into how ancient alarm systems work, and how alarm central monitoring services do their job. Why? Well, paying between $8 and $40/month for a service seemed a little crazy, and paying AT&T one single penny, much less $25/month for a landline that saw no other use was even worse. I probably have about 30 hours into it, which means my work will be paid back in about 45 years… but I’m not giving any more money to AT&T.
In the end, I learned how to decode the protocols and wrote my own central station monitoring system which can either supplement (as a more advanced call center) or replace entirely the central office dispatch. The alarm I’ve tested against speaks the Honeywell / Ademco / SIA Contact-ID protocol and is a Honeywell Ademco Vista V20-P, but it can work with anything that talks Ademco Contact-ID.
We’ve been getting a lot more quakes recently, probably nothing to be alarmed about, as the Hayward fault does need to readjust, and it doing so in small slips is a win. However, between that, and the police crackdowns on demonstrators (we’ll call it police unrest, not civil unrest), I thought it was time I reviewed my old go-bag and go box. Much to my chagrin, most of the perishables had died 2 years ago since I hadn’t updated it since becoming single and moving to SF.
There are some fairly good sites for suggestions for what you should have in a quake or other emergency. This one is personalized to my needs. Do check out the following websites for building your own stuff too:
If you’re low on cash, don’t freak out. You have most of the crap you really need already in your house. It’s crazy to keep lots of “special food” just for emergencies, because it will just go bad (see above). I keep a couple things like dehydrated backpacker food with a 10 year shelf lifetime on them for real emergencies, but mostly everything is already in my pantry or freezer. Since changing my diet to gluten and dairy free, MREs and dehydrated foods are less appealing to me, but Tasty Bites, and Trader Joe’s Indian food in pouches are almost identical to Indian Army MRE’s, and those are damn fine. Remember, if you have time to pack, and you know what your emergency is, to not forget the everyday resources already in your house.
Here’s my list (slightly sanitized to protect the guilty):
About two weeks ago, I spent a day believing that I had lost the master images to twenty years of my photography work.
After the initial shock, it was an incredibly freeing experience to leave that history behind.
With some recent prodding by new muses, and this event, I’ve decided to commit to starting from scratch and finding a new voice as a photographer. I look back on my old work and think “good, but you never followed through on a single aesthetic.”
It’s time to change and bring a different singular eye to my work.
Congratulations on the exponential growth you are experiencing. You’ve stumbled upon a great idea and you deserve to be well rewarded for this new way of sharing thoughts, ideas, and helping people reach out to others.
You must be very proud of how Twitter has been used to affect social change in developing countries and helped revolutionaries topple dictators. You get lavish attention from heads of state, media moguls, and corporate giants. You’re the hot new kid on the block.
You’re also on an unsustainable path. You are going to crash and burn, and I don’t want to see that happen. I find your service useful to me.
After a brief hiatus of 15 years, I picked up a new soldiering iron and I am actually building hardware again. I’m slowly rebuilding my lab from scratch. The new house is going to come in handy because I actually want space for a workbench and some decent magnifying glasses, and the usual crap.
As a reflexive problem, I figured out my first new project, because I need a lab, because of the new house, oh whatever…
I’m going to try my hand at building a wireless internet thermostat for the SF house.
As it turns out, good thermostats are more complicated than one would expect. We want hysteresis in the system so it isn’t firing and shutting down the heating/cooling units, plus, with multi-stage equipment (small and large furnace burners and small and large air conditioning) we want to intelligently maximize the use of the small (eco-friendly) stage, but kick on the big stage when the energy differential between the desired and current temperatures is high.
I just want to be able to turn off the damn heat when I’m out of the house for a few days.. or turn it on when I’m driving up from the Peninsula so it’s not freezing when I get there.
Heading down near Santa Margarita for the week to hang out with friends.
Someone suggested this route:
Seems like a nice idea, explore earthquake country…
Parkfield is the most active part of the San Andreas fault. Almost constant tremors and quakes. I may skip the Parkfield loop if it’s too hot…
A friend of mine pointed me to this site, great tools for sharing proposed routes or actual tracks from motorcycle, car, and hiking trips. It’s sort of a social networking site for trip sharing.
Unfortunately, most of the users seem to be from Oregon, so if you’re a Californian, get busy! I’ve posted my favorites/recent trips.