November 18, 2014

The Generator Revisited

Generator 420.png

Hi,

Do you remember my January 26, 2014 post, 'Things to Think About When Buying and Using a Small Generator'?

Well, it's power-outage stories like this that prompted me to again drag out the old generator beast, and make sure it would fire up. And fire up it did. (Note: it was not in the shed at the time.)

So now might be a good time to revisit that Jan 26 entry and see if there's anything (IMHO) that might be improved... (The list elements that are in italics are from the January post...)

  • First find out what you need for power.
  • Be aware that you will need a "real" extension cord and not a $3.99 supermarket special. (Note the wire gauges. See this quaint chart.)
  • Other extension cord stuff like length, plugs, etc... (See above.)
  • How do I buy a generator? (I usually start with Amazon.com and find the product with a huge number of good customer reviews.)
  • What else will you need? Wheels? Etc... (Yup... These suckers are heavy!)
  • Follow directions when adding gas and oil, and starting... (BE SURE TO USE GAS STABILIZER to all gas!!!!)
  • Don't let the machine sit idle for months... (Practice with it. Run it at least once a month.)
  • Depending on your neighborhood, you may need to chain it to a tree or a bumper.... (Deep sigh...)
  • Try to mount on level earth. (No brainer...)
  • When not running, store in a shed or use a cover. (Yes! This is a must... I think a shed is the only way to go. That's a great way to keep the machine/fuel away from your house.)
  • Keep gas out of the house and garage or basement, etc. Use your head. (See above.)
  • Don't wait for the last moment!!! (Given the date, there are fantastic deals ongoing.)
  • Finally, use the Web -- there's a ton of good info out there.
  • In general, we expected to spend about $700, so it is an investment, but peace of mind is a neat thing.. See HF for a typical price change
  • And last, but certainly not least... Follow the safety instructions that come with the generator and are also on the Web!!!!!!!
By those well lit feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 12, 2014

Pencil Sketch Birds, etc...

Hi,

First off... Sorry this took so long to post -- this hasn't been easy -- I'm not just working on a camera/PC challenge, but also a Windows XP/Windows 8.1RT hurdle. This post has been a rip-snorting pain in the backside.

There.... That out of the way... As I've become more familiar with the MS Surface and the countless apps that run on it, I've started to explore the graphical stuff... And with that...

Every so often, it's fun to mess with bird pics (and others...) Here we go...

Here's an original heron shot from our library...

420 original heron 494433112_e54a6a177e_o.jpg

Now... Here's what we have when subjecting the photo to an app called "Pencil Sketch"...

420 Number two.jpg

And...

number five 420.jpg

It's also cool to play with light and shadow... Here's an original...

420 final final final original shadow IMG_8912(1).JPG

And here's what Pencil Sketch can do with it... Note the remarkable detail that the app could pick out of the photograph...

FINAL FINAL Pencil 420 Sketch Shadows.jpg

And so it goes... I'd guess there are other programs out there (like Photo Shop) that can do similar stuff, but it all is pretty amazing stuff..

Typically, good things take scads of time, and this post was no exception... But, I did learn, and that has been well worth the effort (I hope...) Now all I have to do is look into canvas prints...

By those artistic feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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November 5, 2014

TV Flow Chart

Hi,

Not much new on the bird front... The crows still pester for 'Haw'Dawgs', we still keep our feeders and bird baths clean, and we carefully mount our feeders for best visitation. (Note the different mounts for apartment dwellers.)

All that being said, I'd like to turn to the 'home and garden' theme and go back to introducing a large screen TV into the network as was discussed previously. Take a look at the 'flowchart' I created to allow the TV to act as both a TV and a 50" computer monitor.

(Click on the image in order to enlarge.)

800 full TV System.jpg

Obviously, the chart doesn't include the finer points like remotes, speakers, Roku, etc. but hopefully it will help clarify some things for you. Let's take a quick walk through and see if we can make some sense of it all... Using that diagram, I'll break down the configuration into two parts -- the TV half and the computer/Internet half, and then try to explain how the two halves intertwine.

The TV portion (start in the top left portion of the pic...)

  1. The TV begins with a signal blasted through the ether and hits our dish on the roof...
  2. That signal in turn is fed into two cable boxes and, poof! two TVs can show whatever junk we want to watch!

And now the computer/Internet chunk... Start looking at the lower left...

  1. The Internet enters the house via a cable off the street...
  2. A cable modem in turn gobbles up the Web and feeds it to our router...
  3. The router then routes the Internet via wire out to our three fixed computers...
  4. The router also utilizes wireless to send the signal to a repeater which feeds the Net to our two laptops...
  5. Perhaps the coolest part of all this is that one of our laptops can redirect a copy of its screen (real time... both computer and Internet) to the TV... All we have to do is use the TV remote to tell the TV what its source is -- computer/Internet or cable TV... Voila!

Of course, all this Tom Foolery does occasionally require the rare reset, but at this stage, that's to be expected.

Hope this helps,

By the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 3, 2014

Crow Schedules, "Haw'dawgs" etc...

420 crow on railing.jpg

Hi,

Well, now that the 'Big Election Day' is here, I will happily stop the political pontificating and go back to the birds...

Take a look at the creature above... He's (she's?) just feet away from our kitchen window... Simply put, it's breakfast time. The crows and I (and Mrs. CCA) have struck a weird sort of symbiotic relationship -- we feed them more or less regularly, and they in turn fend off predators that might get our song birds and at the same time they offer limitless laughter in their gluttony. And that leads us to the second part of this post -- "Haw'dawgs"...

Back in the day (before 'litigation madness' took over the world), there used to be a time when firemen actually had Firemens' Picnics, and there would be free BBQs, by a pond and kids could actually go swimming without a lifeguard but under the watchful eye of every parent and we us urchins could actually ride on a wailing antique fire engine sans seat belts or anything. (As I remember, we just hung on for dear life and life was good and tasted fresh and clean...) And those of us who survived the Darwinian tests that now fuel the lawyers' coffers would partake in corn on the cob and burgers and "haw'dawgs"... "Haw'dawgs" is a Cape Cod term coined by Roy E., a volunteer fireman who had a robust beer belly (and a more robust bellow...) At those picnics, Roy would man the 'grill' -- a home heating oil tank cut in half length-wise with legs welded on and some heavy metal weave fence plunked into the cavern to somewhat reduce the ash we ate. And on those few sublime, perfect days, Roy would boom, "Get your haw'dawgs here!"

So back to the crows and their feeding schedules... They like to eat at dawn, 11AM, 2PM, and shut down the day at dusk. Guess you can figure what their fave is... It's not hot dogs, but haw'dawgs, and that's precisely what Mrs. CCA and I call them.

By the reminiscent feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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October 29, 2014

American Skepticism

Hi,

(What follows is strictly from CapeCodAlan, and does not necessarily reflect the values of eBirdseed.com.)

True, I haven't been posting as frequently as I have in the past... And it would simply be too easy to blame that absence on time/energy consumption from the work I'm doing on the house, or family challenges, or health problems, or other obligations, or any combination of those things... But as I said, that would be too easy. Thankfully, we certainly don't have bird problems. (All you need to do is follow these eBirdseed.com FAQS, and you can be a bird maven.)

So what's happening with me (and the rest of the country for that matter?) Why is it that so many of us are struggling? Well... poor public trust in Guv'ment doesn't help. And then there's ISIS, and the Secret Service, and the IRS, and Putin, and Ebola, and 'Fast and Furious', and unemployed/under-employed, and the national debt, and... Simply put, America is a bummer, at least by historical standards.

I think the pic below of a headless goose decoy kind of describes the national (and my) melancholy and subsequent lethargy:

420 headless goose .JPG

And this is not to bash the Left alone because frankly I think guys like Boehner on the Right are stuffed shirts too, but when the POTUS expresses outrage over the beheading of an American journalist and then within 15 minutes is out on a golf course, well... I'm just not inspired. It's tough to write with Damocles' Sword hanging over your head...

So where is the stuff of both conviction and follow through? The speech below is remarkable indeed in its sincerity and foresight...

I don't know... I'll try to be more timely with these posts, but I don't think the midterms are going to help... Skeptical writers don't tend to be prolific writers...

Stuck by the feeders...


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October 22, 2014

Yet Another Trellis Update...

Hi,

Remember that trellis we built 6 years ago?

So you not forget... Here is another update...

Now... Check out the pic below...

420 morning glory 10222014 94200 PM(1).jpg

After mulling over the previous build posts, I guess the moral of the story is simply this: when you design and build, design and build for the future... not just the present; and always imagine what light and shadows are going to do for/to your work. Be it a home or a trellis or a boat, what will be placed on it or in it or near it? Consider how tide and time will change your creation.

All said and done, I think the trellis came out just fine. It's perfectly functional. It's durable. It ages well. It's modular and the parts are replaceable. And... it looks good to all light and seasons...

By those scenic feeders...

CapeCodAlan

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October 12, 2014

New TV/Jumbotron Computer Display for the New Rec Room

Alrighty then... Where are we in this new Rec Room adventure???

Well, here's a hint...

420 actual display 10122014 40651 AM.jpg

Like any sizable project, this one had to be wrestled into submission in stages. The first stage was simply deciding on the TV, and once that was done, the next step was to hack the wall apart and run the appropriate wires/cables... (NOTE: Before you start mangling drywall, think ahead!!! What other devices/cables might you need in the future??? In our case, we could string the standard RG6... But what of your situation? ASK!)

420 drywall patches 10122014 35757 AM.png

The actual mounting of the TV was a joy in and of itself... The only words of wisdom I can offer are these:

  • You can never have enough levels -- you'll probably be dealing with lag bolts to secure the beast to the wall, so you cannot be too picky when it comes to leveling.
  • Let's just say that stout studs are a must. One cannot bolt into drywall, though many have tried and cried. You may have to open up the wall just to sister the studs or even block them in... If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's time to call in a pro...) Here's a shot of the back of the TV after mounting...

    420 back of tv 10122014 40211 AM.png

  • Now all that's left is to get the PC and the TV talking... (Detect a note of sarcasm in my tone? It's there for a reason... Getting the computer's operating system and the TV to play nice isn't chump change.) In my case I had to tell the operating system (Windows 8.1 RT) to use a second display via an HDMI connection, and then tell the TV to look at HDMI port 3....
  • 420 sol on new tv_IMG_8666.JPG

    (To put the size of the display in perspective, note the size of the doorknob pointed to by the red arrow...)

And that's about it... Stay tuned for our next noble push to make the connection wireless...

By the TV in the new Rec Room,

CapeCodAlan


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