“I came for good”

It’s been over a year! Dismal Wizard and I decided to keep each other. I have a wing-lass, Missy. Although we don’t appear close, I’m her wing man and protector. We perform all of our ZombieSquadHQ duties together. And we chase the rascally rabbit together. Said rabbit always has a plan so we have yet to score.

Audio Personal Computing Video

M1 iMac Pre-Purchase Planning

M1 iMac stock image courtesy of Apple.

I expect Apple Silicon to have a major impact on the functionality of the iMac. The addition of the custom rendering and custom machine learning hardware resources places the desktop Macs on par with the iPads and iPhones opening possibilities for audio and video processing on the new products. So I decided to be an early adopter while my 2017 iMac had some trade-in value.

In this post, I’ll talk about some things to consider in the pre-purchase planning phase.

Personal Computing Video

House of Worship Streaming Video Production System

During COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, my church used Zoom to stream worship services for the congregation. With the easing of pandemic restrictions approaching, the congregation desires to live stream the service in our hall. What is involved?

For one thing, Copyright. As a house of worship, use of copyright material in our hall during service is provided explicitly in the law. Once we start streaming copyright music and spoken word to an open congregation or including it in podcasts, we need to obtain a rights license, keep records or what we used, and report usage to our license grantor.

In this blog, I will examine one possible architecture for live production of worship video for recording and streaming. This system has yet to be built and operated so this design should be considered purely notional.

Streaming hardware and services are in rapid flux. The pandemic has spurred investment in new products and services that didn’t exist a year ago. For example, Black Magic Design has optimized many of its products for volunteer use in house of worship and similar environments, ProPresenter 7 supports streaming and capture, and services such as Resi provide robust content delivery to identified endpoints.

In a future blog, I hope to talk about our lessons learned cobbling together a video production workflow. The equipment is the easy part. Volunteers are the hard part. As with all systems of this type, the people investment is larger and more valuable than the stuff they are using. But good stuff is easier to learn and operate reliably.


Bladder cancer update 2

Last week I was in the hospital for outpatient treatment of my bladder tumors. The March look-around found new polyps and other growths that required biopsy. So off to Leigh Sentara to do that surveillance and treatment. The pathology results are back indicating that my disease is becoming more active although it is still confined to the inner skin.

Cancer treatment is condition based. each round begins with inspections and tests to determine if the disease is increasing or changing in character. Surgical treatment follows up to trim off the bad bits and send them off to the pathologist to figure out which cells have gone wrong and to confirm a disease free margin. It is typical of bladder cancer to present as polyps for the malignancy to slowly evolve as I’m experiencing. Since the lining only is involved, longevity prospects remain good.

Home Economics

Duvet Filling

Have you ever tried to wash up a Duvet? Have you ever tried to reassemble it afterward? Did you say bad words? Most likely.

Dismal Wizard consulted with aunts who confessed that they gave them to the Salvation Army after washing. Great shades of the Superman 3 villain played by Robert Vaughn.

Dismal Wizard figured out how to do it finally. He calls his secret technique “The Jelly Roll”.

Home Economics

Mattress Time to Live

Featured image courtesy of Casper.Com

Dismal Wizard has determined that the service life of a mattress is shorter than 35 years. About the time he retired in 2013, the back ache began. Was it stupid technique schlepping yard debris or something more sinister. Most likely both.

The Dismal not-so-big bed was a nice Simmons mattress set bought around 1985 before vulture capital swooped on Simmons, Sealy, Serta, well all the domestic mattress makers, to optimize them into a tidy profitable monopoly. American mattress quality promptly went to hell in a hand basket as verified and denounced by Consumer Reports product evaluations. So I was reluctant to trade the trusty old mattress for new.

Meanwhile Consumer Reports reader surveys determined that mattress life was about 10 years, give or take. And the Dismal Back started complaining that it was time with siatica, and hip tendon pain. Some experimentation determined that sleeping posture was involved.

Image courtesy of Rocky

Two things affect sleeping posture, Rocky and saggy mattresses. It was easier to replace the mattress so I started there.


The Dismal Snake

Dismal Wizard was diagnosed with low grade cancer of the bladder lining about 16 months ago. American Cancer Society, The Mayo Clinic, and the British National Health Service have good clinical guides describing the disease and its treatment.

Bladder cancer involves well, the bladder so not much is written about the patient experience. After searching high and low for survivor experience, I found little to tell me what to expect on this journey. So to help those following in my footsteps, I decided to write a journal about my run-in with the disease. As always, the juicy stuff follows the led. And always, see your urologist for medical advice and remember that each case is unique.

Home automation Personal Computing


A number of manufacturers of interesting kit have chosen to stay out of the smart home universe among them Ubiquity. Others like Nest play only in their own proprietary environment. HomeBridge is an open source software project that creates an environment in which Apple HomeKit bridges may be built. Smart home enthusiasts have developed over 2000 product plugins supporting popular devices.

Here at Dismal Manor we have two bridges, a Starling for Nest gadgets and Home Bridge on a RaspberryPi 4b that brings in the UniFi Protect camera RTSP streams.

The Starling is a commercialization of the Nest HomeBridge plugins. This product makes sense with the Thermostat and the cameras. It is less useful with just Protects.

In this article, I’ll describe my experiences setting up a UniFi Protect gateway and making the Ubiquity UniFi Protect cameras visible in HomeKit. UniFi Protect is one of the few camera systems having a Verified HomeBridge plugin.

Personal Computing Technology

UniFiOS, The Missing Manual

Recently, IT System Integrator forums and YouTube channels have been all a-twitter because it appeared that a UniFi user ID and network connection were required to use any of the UniFiOS hosted controllers introduced with along with UniFiOS. After hearing Tom Lawrence and Willie Howe rant about the issue, I decided to experiment a little to see if their complaint was true of my deployment.

I wrote the previous post reporting my experience trying to log in to my controller host while divorced from the Internet. As expected, it smoked so I opened a ticket.

The various Internet communities can be helpful when I’ve overlooked something or misinterpreted something that is common product knowledge. When something appears to be a design issue, only the designers can help. So I ticketed my experience.

Ubiquity Support has responded with what appears to be the solution to my concern raised in the ticket, that local service should be possible during an Internet fade. Read on for the fix.

Personal Computing Technology

UniFi OS Login Issue

The good folks at Ubiquity have revised the architecture of the UniFi software system to provide a uniform user management and login environment for Network, Protect, Access, and the coming Talk.

A roles based access rights scheme greatly simplifies user administration and has greatly reduced the number of UniFi related passwords in 1Password. So, life is good in paradise? Not really. Read on to learn of the unanticipated consequences.