tech musings

Category: tech musings

Windy rides, snowy weather, and dealing with an RV in the cold

Quick hit today in the “DVD extras” blog for Tranquility Tour. As always, you can learn more about Tranquility Tour at tranquilitytour.com, follow us at  #tranquiltytour on Twitter, Like Tranquility Tour on Facebook, and come back here to An Uncommonly Silly Blog anytime for the extras.

If you listened to the SLC podcast, you heard me refer to the wind in Wyoming as, “like being pushed by the hand of God,” which is hopefully not as blasphemous as it sounds, but felt literally true. The gusts were over 50mph and the sustained winds were 30mph. Basically, it felt like flying through bad turbulence, which is probably not good. Steering into the wind while going straight was not a tranquil experience, but the landscape was amazing and it was the first time it really felt like we were “out west.”

Take a listen to the SLC podcast:

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We got our first snow of the Tour… pictures tell the story better than I can type:

1380298_536551629766857_447694519_n

Sadly, the shutdown means we won’t get much closer to the snow-covered Tetons than the US highway. Hopefully we’ll get some good looks, although I know we miss out on Jenny Lake, which is a real bummer for me.

RVing tips… freezing cold weather is a bad thing for campers, unless they are specifically built as 4 season vehicles. Why? Water lines for important things like sinks and toilets are exposed in typical campers (like Lillie) so more than a day or two exposed to sub-freezing temps can mean burst water lines or (worse…) ruptured holding tanks. So, after some googling, here’s the recommendation: drain and dump your tanks, blow out your water lines as best as possible and pour a gallon of windhield washing fluid in your gray (waste water from sinks) and black (um, do I need to say what this has in it?) tanks. This isn’t a full winterization thing, it’s just for handling a few freezing nights like we will. The ambient heat inside the camper is usually enough to handle things, but this gives extra piece of mind. The downside, of course, is no running water… but that’s a small temporary price to pay for piece of mind.

RVing knowledge is highly specialized I’m learning!

What to do with that old iPhone

Today, I finally justified saving my old iPhone 4 by making it into a true international phone. If you travel outside your home country and find yourself tethered to your phone’s data plan like I am, crossing a border can either be (a) beyond expensive from the roaming rates or (b) beyond frustrating as you realize how much you rely on cellular data to do… everything.

Crossing into Canada for the first time on Tranquility Tour meant my trusty iPhone 5 and it’s fancy turn by turn directions would go away… with International roaming turned off (as anyone without a huge bank account and desire to spend frivolously should do), your iPhone turns into a glorified iPod touch upon crossing a border from your home country. But I had a plan. But before that, a surprise. A nice one.

If you use the app Waze, apparently the app preloads the entire map with turn by turn before you cross the border… that was great, because it meant I didn’t need my copilot to read from a PDF’d version of the directions. You know… old school style. Instead, Waze behaved exactly the same as it would have had it been guzzling down data. Very cool… good to know when you cross a border. I only tried this once, so your effectiveness may vary.

On to the plan. Today, I walked into a Rogers store to pick up a SIM card for my old iPhone 4. I had previously worked with AT&T to “unlock” it (see info here on that). This means it isn’t usable only on AT&T. Once that’s done, any compatible network SIM card in any country that runs on the same system can work on your phone. In Canada, I decided Rogers was my best bet. For the next month, I have 1GB of data I can rock over cellular, plus a Montreal number and unlimited texts for about 70 bucks. Granted, not cheap, but WAY cheaper than roaming on my iPhone 5. This will come in super handy next week in Toronto and for the week or so we’ll be in Alberta and BC. I typical burn 2GB per month in the States, so 1GB ought to be more than enough. In tribute to my old phone becoming Canadian, it’s sporting a new look:

image

So, now I have two iPhones that work… I’ll just switch back and forth as I hop across borders. Plus my Canadian one gives me street cred with my friends north of the border…

Time your posts

Greetings from snowy, chilly Montreal… I’m up here working on a variety of things, but I understand there will be poutine for lunch. Poutine is Canada’s gift to the world, and Canada says, “you’re welcome.”

I ran across this really interesting infographic from kissmetrics that I want to share… with all of the analytics data we get from various sources (I use Google Analytics for websites, Libsyn’s data for podcasts, plus the open and click info from MailChimp and Constant Contact… it’s an ocean of data!) but sometimes the data needs interpretation that’s over our heads. Here’s where kissmetrics weighed in based on their data:

  • The highest percentage of users read blogs in the morning
  • A higher percentage of men read blogs in the evening and at night. 
  • The average blog gets the most traffic on Monday. 
  • The average blog gets the most traffic around 11am Eastern Time. 
  • The average blog gets the most comments on Saturday.
  • The average blog gets the most inbound links on Monday and Thursday.
  • The average blog gets the most inbound links at 7am Eastern Time.

I know my data confirms early posts tend to do better than later posts, so when given the choice, I prefer to post about 7am (think about that when scheduling a post in advance!). I also tend to like posting podcasts on Sunday night – based on data I have, there’s more engagement between then and Monday morning than other days.

What do you think about this? Does your blog get more attention at certain times of day over others?

science of timing from kissmetrics
The science of timing – thank you kissmetrics!

Trolling the trolls

thanks wikimedia
thanks wikimedia
The internets are full of trolls. Trolling has a lot of definitions, but I’ve observed that most trolls exhibit these characteristics:

  • Anonymous commenters
  • Negativity in their comments
  • Generally try to hijack a discussion from one topic to another, sometimes tangentially at best
  • Tend to have a high opinion of their opinion, but get testy when called on it
  • Think of themselves as higher intellectuals than others (especially those with whom they disagree)
  • Never become real members of a community (see anonymity above)
  • Become shocked (shocked!) when they are called out as trolls

I recently had a bit of a run-in with a troll on another blog. I make it a point not to feed the trolls, but this one got under my skin just enough to call out, because the person was anonymous, negative, picked an inhuman time and occasion to troll their trolling, tried to hijack the post with a senseless observation, and cloaked it all in pseudo-intellectual feces. Basically, your perfect troll.

Unfortunately comment streams seem to be full of them – check out your local paper’s comments (and God help you if you live in Syracuse… I swear, that’s the worst of the worst) or any CNN story, or… sadly most places. I used to enjoy the discourse amongst a lot of Internet based communities, but now I find them to be anti-intellectual.

And troll, if you’re reading this… I invite you to actually discuss your point. I really do. Just pick a different forum than a grieving woman. Or write a blog post. Anonymously, of course.

Internets are the future and it’s a series of tubes

Today we hosted the Internet Association’s small business crawl at Tranquil Space. Nice people, and it was fun to share how much we leverage the internets for our businesses. I didn’t use the term “internets” … but I really, really wanted to. I did say “series of tubes” though. Sadly, it was in context. Thank you Sen. Stevens… R.I.P..

I upgraded the templates for a bunch of the blogs I oversee. The buzzword these days is “responsive” – as in, your images resize in response to the size of the screen. No more lame mobile optimized sites! In any event, I made some tweaks on a few blogs to make them “so 2013.” Go ahead… change the size of this blog’s window and look at what happens to the series of tubes below. I’ll wait…

tubes

SEE! Awesome, huh? So, tip: change your blog or website template to one that’s (say it with me now!) responsive!

Standing water on your roof? Build a gravity siphon.

Last night I got a call that we had a roof leak at the studio. It’s been an ongoing problem because the roof to the building is essentially a bowl (long story).

Roof flood

Before siphon

 

Rather than continue to sweep the water up (I know… up) into the gutters, I decided to rock some technical know-how and build a simple gravity siphon.

Ingredients:

  • Hose
  • Zip ties

Take the hose and stick one end on the roof in the deepest part of the water. Zip tie the hose to something fixed to keep it in place. Notice I used the end with the plastic connector because it raises the end just slightly to allow water to flow in:

Flood end of siphon

Then throw the hose over the side of the building. Our studio is one story, so the length of the hose was more than enough. The biggest thing to make sure is that the hose end is below the level of the water.

Then, suck on that hose. I know – can’t we come up with a siphon pump? Sure… if you’re into that kind of thing. I used my lungs. Annnnnd…. boom:

I calculated there was about 15 tons of water on the roof. This took it off.

All hail gravity. All hail science. All hail the surface tension and other related properties of water.