Personal Computing Technology


TeXmacs is a technical writing system for use by scientists and engineers. TeXmacs is a front end to Donald Knuth’s TeX document preparation system that offers a unique advantage, the ability to embed interpreted computing language sessions using tools like Octave, Python, Maxima, etc. To learn more about using TeXmacs in a MacOS environment, read on.


Just One Phone?

Many of us have just a mobile these days. Dismal Manor has not adopted that strategy for a number of reasons.

  • Mobile phones are failure prone.
  • Mobile phones and “land-line phones” are not equivalent.

So we have one of each. Just recently, T-Mobile was hard down in Norfolk Virginia. OOMA VoIP was fat, dumb, and happy but nether matches the 5-nines reliability of a plain old central office switched line. And neither is equivalent to a switched line.


Rocky’s 2021 Reunion

Saturday October 2, Rocky, Missy, and Dismal Wizard clambered aboard Das Auto to make the 2+ hour trip to Mechanicsville Virginia where James River Greyhounds, was having its first reunion of the COVID-19 era. In 2020, public health travel restrictions canceled that year’s reunion.

Rocky was a good traveler. I stopped trying to ride shotgun or in the driver’s lap. But I did stand from home to Williamsburg, about half the trip.

Anyway, Siri got us there, eventually. Badly mispronouncing the the Native American named road. And she tried to take us in at the far end of the circle where there were 5 county roads and a couple of private farm roads to confuse us. None of these were identified using the the name Siri was mumbling. Great fun. Anyway, we doubled back after giving her a stern lecture she pretended not to understand.

It Was a Typical Reunion

Our gathering was a typical greyhound picnic with food, silly contests, vendors selling wares, and did I say food. And cake! and Ice cream. We had a perfect day, cool with sun and a breeze. And shade! This frame is from a pan around the largish lawn. Off camera to the right, the terrain drops to another field this size. The residence back garden is fenced for dog prowling with multiple wading pools set up.

People and dogs everywhere

We all roamed around chatting dogs before settling in a shady spot.

There were marshmallow runs!

While we were training on the farm and at the track kennel, we would do speed work every now and again. We would go to a long, narrow run. At the far end, a trainer squawked a squawker. The trainer minding us would slip us and we would run buster to the squawker. The squawker operator would produce a marshmallow. We’d eat our marshmallow and catch our breath. Then we’d be called back to the start by squawker and receive a second bribe.

Marshmallow run still

While publicist was putting this together, he was editing the video to extract these stills. As the video played, foolishly with the sound up, I started going crazy and demanding bribes. The squawking recalls some pretty powerful memories as it was used a fair bit to get us to run. There was a way to rig it on the lure machine so it would squawk….

James River Greyhound needs donations

Anyway, we had fun and I had Dismal Wizard start a monthly donation to JRG as they are running a loss this year. With COVID-19 and the end of live wagering in Florida, the economics of adoption have changed. While wagering was on, the track would fund the spay or neutering procedure. This year, the dogs are donated in tact and the adoption charity now has to have the dental, spay, and neuter done in the area. A local veterinary surgery practice does the procedure and the dental at a substantial discount. But, that is still $600.

In the past, the subsidy allowed JRG enough margin to do the occasional orthopedic repair with organization funds. This is proving no longer possible so the group takes donations to cover corrective surgery. To remain financially sound, the group’s directors are considering a fee increase for future adoptions.

Live Racing is in Decline

The JRG principals expect to continue as long as greyhounds need homes. JRG has replaced its Florida sources with West Virginia sources, the nearest state where live wager racing is allowed. Arkansas and Iowa continue to offer on site wagering.

In the US, it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate a live racing venue. Attendance is declining and revenues are 1/3 what they were at the start of the century. On-line gaming and casino table games and slot machines are drawing the gambling audience away from the track.

And We are Different…

There ain’t no stinking breed standard and show judging is Swiss timing machinery and video order of finish. Racers are bred to be keen to chase, intelligent, social, and of sound structure and health. The result is a dog that does well in groups getting on well with people and other dogs. We are generally easy going and un-reactive. It takes us a few days to decide to keep you and about 3-4 months to become fully integrated into the household.

,Most of us are adolescents or young adults at the start of companion life so we are still growing up and growing into our adult personalities. About 1/3 have run in the show, coming home at 4 years of age. The rest of us couldn’t get the hang of racing are offered for adoption at about 2 years of age. At 2 we are pretty much adolescents. At 3 we are young adults. At 4 we are pretty much adults. Some of us, like me, take a bit longer to become an adult. I’m still pretty silly and need some toy play.

As adults, we tend to be less juvenile than other dogs and we’re generally lay about needing little activity unlike the live stock herding dogs, field dogs, and terriers. We also have an independent streak. We like nothing better than doing something with you but are likely to hit the couch when you try to get us to do something for you. Training us is largely a matter of making the right thing easy and rewarding us for doing it. We/re not suck ups but we do like some approval and notice.


Rocky’s First Beach Visit

Dismal Wizard took Missy and Me to the “puppy beach” at First Landing State Park. Oh, my, that worked. WordPress let my editor upload a live photo! I just can’t put it on the masthead. So we had to put a regular one there.

First Landing State Park

Saturday was a busy day. We got like the last parking place in the car park and had to walk, and walk, and walk to the beach trail head.

First Landing State Park boardwalk to the beach

Walking Down

As we were walking the planks, we met a lady with 2 Portuguese Water Dogs in tow. They looked funny in their curly coats. One was a tux-puppy and the other was a cow-puppy. She told us that the Portuguese Water Dog national specialty meet was in town for the week. Nice calm dogs. They were in sporting cuts looking trim. Suspect they were on stage later in the week. Nice field dog.

Looking Confused at the boardwalk junction. Steps or ramp. Ramp, please.

The Break

We walked the ramp down to the beach. Nice doggies were starting up the ramp as we were coming down. This access is wheel chair accessible with belting leading down to the firm sand below the high tide line. The tide was part way so the beach looked like this.

The Shore Break

Now you know why this is the “puppy beach”. The surf is not to big and not too small. Offshore is a sand bar that uncovers at low tide.

This is close enough, thank you

Meeting Children

We walked the other way for about 10 minutes and then back. Today, I met some children, my first in a while as the pox has limited children’s activities in the heighborhood. Most were good but one was a bit worrisome. Parents listened when DW told them child was asking for a chomping.

Dogs make the rules!

The first thing kids need to learn is that, when meeting a dog, the dog makes the rules. Many of us don’t have a lot of experience with kids so first greetings must go at our pace negotiating what comes next. The kid that runs up and throws arms around us will likely be bit! Listen when we object.

Some kids just can’t wait. They don’t get it that we make the rules and take a dim view of aggressive children. I like the calm ones who let me have the opening greeting. But once I decide to greet you, I’m likely to give you a big sloppy kiss.

Time to go

We walked back, taking the beach photos used in this post. We had the sun at our back so these were nicely exposed. All iPhone 11 point and pray shots. Finder washes out. All one-handed as I probably would have gone looking for the car. Not completely sure of this place.

iPhone11 is the first one that is dunk proof. We did not test that feature. But, DW was pretty wobbly standing in the break.

Audio Music Personal Computing Uncategorized

An Inexpensive Streamer

Featured image courtesy of Darko.Audio [1]

I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and recommend a piece of kit that I don’t actually own or use but that is a close cousin to kit in use here at Dismal Manor.

When Jason Stoddard, co-founder of Schiit Audio, has one of his periodic ask me anything interviews, a viewer invariably asks if Schiit will make an inexpensive streamer. Jason invariably answers, “no, that’s not our thing”. Jason has wisely chosen to avoid all the pain of what works with what in Linux Land.

But the question comes up sufficiently often that folks might like an answer. Back when I was looking for a streamer to replace AirPort Express and ChromeCast bits, I happened to discover John Darko’s Darko Audio YouTube channel. One evening, John reviewed the Allo Digital DigiOne Signature streamer and gave it marks that placed it firmly in high end sonic company with the Bluesound Node. After a bit, I ordered the boards and enclosure and put one together that I use in my lounge as my main stream receiver. I have a secondary HiFiBerry stream receiver that I use with the TV and video players.

In this article, I’ll tell you about a newer Allo Digital product that takes a bit different tack that will work nicely with today’s kit. That product is Allo Digital’s USBRIDGE Signature [2]. We’ll also look at what the more commercial products offer that is not part of the DIY streamers.


WeatherFlow Tempest Weather Station

The Dismal Manor Gardens have a new accessory, a WeatherFlow Tempest weather station. This post introduces the device and the company. Our little device includes a rain fall sensor and a lightning sensor that supplements the live sensors (greyhounds). We get a pretty good idea of the amount of rain that has fallen and the amount of nearby lightning.

WeatherFlow collects, refines, and analyzes meteorological data, produces refined data from it, and produces near-cast forecasts using national forecast guidance with the local data.

WeatherFlow offers several applications of its refined observations and model results. Interestingly, the example applications do not require a local sensor as they use near-cast offshore conditions and activity specific models to make judgements about the suitability of the forecast conditions for the several sailing sports and fishing.


Please Ticket Software Problems

These questions are too deep to answer here. I think two things are at play.

  1. Google or the Duck can provide instant gratification
  2. Too many products are unsupported so Google and the Duck are the only game in town.

I think the young folk who entered the trade in the microcomputer age are resigned to dealing with unsupported and community supported products. It wasn’t always that way and some products come with robust support even in 2021.

Today, I dropped by church to update the campus WAN network settings in preparation for Cox retiring the address segment our house network was on. Being an old codger, I asked myself if I was satisfied with my backup. I wasn’t so I tried to cut a new one. It didn’t save. I tried to change my WAN address to the new values provided by Cox. They didn’t take.

Backups worked when I last did maintenance in early July, so I return home, tail between legs, to see what the buzz was.

Home Economics Home Remodeling Technology

Dismal Manor Goes Electric

Well, part way, we have a Wallbox EVSE. A VW ID.4 lead sled is on order and the black forest elves are tinkering away on it as I write. In Order Locked limbo awaiting on the boat state.

So, in this post, I want to write a bit above EVSE shopping, and evolving plans to de-carbon Dismal Manor which currently has gas hot air heat and gas hot water.

Home automation

UniFi Protect Cameras in HomeKit

In an earlier article, I wrote about using EuFy wireless cameras in the latest HomeKit Secure Video enabled series to realize the Greyhound’s Doorbell. Since then, I have added a HomeBridge with HomeBridge UniFi Protect plugin to allow me to bring in the UniFi Protect G4 cameras. UniFi Protect is not currently integrated with any of the smart home ecosystems as Ubiquity’s primary market is professional network system integrators installing video surveillance and entry control systems.


OMG, Apple Music is Good! But not Perfect

For a million years I’ve been scowling at Apple Music and the iTunes Store as Apple sold lossy-compression renderings of all of the music offered. All of the gripes to Apple Feedback finally payed off somewhat with the initiation of Apple Music Lossless. An earlier article explained the switchology of setting up Lossless streaming and downloads. This article talks about the results. It’s simple, Apple Lossless delivers the Red Book original. Spatial and Dolby Atmos are another thing. It’s all about the mastering, who did it and their goals for the mix.