A Maggie Face Plants

When I was purchasing the LRS, I was fearful that bull in china shop Rocky would knock one over causing the diaphragm to rupture. Well, the right one has face panted twice with no ill effects.

Rocky has also baptized the right one twice. The grill cloth proved resistant to staining and cleaned up using a microfiber cloth moistened with Skout’s Honor dog urine cleaner.

After the break, read my observations about placing Maggies.


Thoughts on the US Electoral College

Thanks go to Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan. Mark graciously grants Creative Commons share and share alike use of his cartograms. The featured image cartogram weights each state by its number of electoral votes and colors it by its 2012 presidential election winner.

In this article, I examine the original design objectives of the Electoral College and the biases in the Electoral College that result from our country currently having a majority of large low population states. I deliberately avoid matters of party beyond the obvious urban-rural party preference.

Reference [2] offers some suggestions for how these faults may be corrected. I may write about Professor Sabato’s proposal in a future article.

Audio Greyhounds Holiday Letter

Adios, 2020

Ahoy, all. Its been a crazy year. So far, I’ve missed the plague but my list of pre-existing conditions is getting longer. I hope the year finds you healthy and looking forward to a better 2021.

Tleilaxu Eyes

The year started off with cataract surgery. I now have Tleilaxu eyes and Warby Parker readers. It is nice having good distant vision and not needing glasses for most tasks. I have aspheric prosthetic lenses that correct my astigmatism. So fancy lenses and laser surgery Medicare wouldn’t pay for. The interesting bit is that laser incisions heal more quickly and have lower complication rates. Should be the standard of care CMS.

Eating Recipes

Make a Crumble

Crumble is a British tradition that came over to the colonies with the early settlers. It is a deep dish berry concoction consisting of a filling and a topping that is quick to make, tasty, and somewhat nutritious. This recipe fills a 1.5 liter casserole and takes about 2.5 hours to make without a hound helping.

In theory, this desert (or breakfast served over Chobani Yogurt) can be good for you as it is rich in antioxidants but it also contains 30 ml of sugar and a 30 grams of butter per serving.


Phone System Makeover

Dismal Manor remains an OOMA Telo subscriber and a Ting Wireless subscriber but has discontinued Google Voice service. We were running into voicemail configuration issues that caused two of the voice mail services to start talking to each other. Healthcare providers were unable to leave messages. This had to be fixed so Dismal Wizard got out the lopping shears.

Personal Computing Technology Video

Got Mandolin Shred?

This Sunday, I watched a Punch Brother’s live show. Yes watched Punch Brothers live streaming an hour-twenty or so of non-stop live music. Just five guys and a Neumann U-87 performing Oprey style like they always do on stage. Lots of tuning as keys changed. But tight and moved.

Punch Brothers engaged a start up streaming production company to produce the show. Mandolin handled the lighting, video production, stream production, and content distribution and ticketing. The band prepared and practiced like they would for any live gig. Mandolin boffins and roadies handled all the tech for the show.

Publicity for the show. A Punch Brothers tweet, a Chris Thile retweet. Don’t know how big the crowd was. Dismal Manor was a sudden sailor for $25. Calvin needs shoes, what can I say?

Home automation Personal Computing

It’s a New Dawn?

Thanks to Apple for use of its Apple Silicon banner image. It’s a new dawn in Apple Land.

MacOS 11 Big Sur arrived at Dismal Manor. Its arrival was mostly uneventful after troubles with installation media download were resolved. Reference 1 gives an excellent guided tour (geeky) of Big Sur. Here, I’ll hit some first impressions.

Personal Computing

Apple Silicon?

On November 10, 2020 Apple announced new small MacBooks and a Mac Mini based on Apple Silicon M1, an Apple designed ARM system on a chip similar to those in iPad and iPhone but tweaked for larger computers. So what’s different and how should it affect your purchase plans?

Anyone spending time on YouTube and various fan sites has noticed the vast amount of click bait on the subject of the new M1 Macs. Most of it is some version of the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt video). We are trying hard not to add to it or to get out over our skis here at Dismal Manor.

Apple has done something great. It will get greater as software shops revise their products to best use the new hardware and Mac OS Big Sur. Present Day Production advises continuing with your current computational environment until your software suppliers have sorted their products for the new OS and hardware. But the M1 Mini and Big Sur are working well enough to purchase and begin exploration and migration planning. What they are finding is that the core product works but individual audio or video plugins may be fussy. Fussy is not good for shop margins or delivery commitments so they are holding short of the runway until their suppliers say they’re good to go on the M1.

Apple released its most popular computers first, the individual laptops and the workhorse Mac Mini. They held off on iMac, the larger MacBooks targeted to knowledge workers, and the custom machines used in the graphic arts and software development in the large.

These machines look familiar on the outside but are completely different inside. The processor architecture is different, the graphics subsystem architecture is different, and the memory is on the processor die. So why upset the world like this? The Cold Fusion video introduces the core ideas underlying the Apple Silicon product line.


All models are bad but; some models are useful!

Thanks to Five Thirty Eight and NPR for the use of the figures illustrating this post. And also thanks to Nate Silver for his innovative work in political election modeling. This article explains how to interpret the Five Thirty Eight election products. Thinking about probabilistic and statistical models is tricky stuff. What Nate is doing is essentially political weather forecasting.

This post explains how to think about mathematical models of things. The models can be dynamical system models like those used in weather forecasting, statistical models also used in weather forecasting, or statistical models as used in political prediction. Models are useful for a particular range of subject matter and most models are carefully crafted to be useful in a particular region of a subject matter domain.

While working as a nuclear reactor plant designer, we used different models to predict accident response of the reactor than the ones we used to design its control laws and tune its control systems. We used radically different models to design the contents of the fuel pellets and the zoning of pellets along a pin and build up of pins into modules and modules into a reactor core.

What is a model

A model is an abstraction of some real world system that is useful in reasoning about and answering questions about the behavior of that real world system. This is true of all of the models described above and of the election model described after the break. When polling organizations sample the electorate, they collect information about respondents political opinions which are distilled into a statistical description of the electorate. Based on expressed preferences and responses to confirming questions, the pollster makes a model and reports preferences grouped by reported demographics. Remember, on the phone, no one knows you’re really a dog.

And remember that this post is about interpreting polls and poll based model results like those at

Home automation Personal Computing

Dismal Manor Dog Doorbell

At last, the dog doorbell I’ve been wanting. Apple HomeKit Secure Video with Eufy second generation wireless cameras makes a nice dog doorbell. This article tells how to set up HomeKit 4 for the dog doorbell application.

I primarily use HomeKit to alert me when the dogs want in. We have only a couple of months of door open weather where temperature and humidity allow the garden door to stay open. The rest of the year it is shut. The cameras are more reliable than an ear peeled for barking (greyhounds are notoriously non-vocal). It also collects video in case we have a break in while I’m away. Greyhounds are not territorial but Rocky is. He scares the bejesus out of anyone who comes to the door.


  1. HomeKit Secure Video setup.

Eufy Secure Video at Dismal Manor

Dismal Manor has two Eufy Camera 2 wireless battery powered cameras and a USB powered wireless camera. Since I purchased these for Dismal Manor, Eufy has retired the first generation products and now offers only the newer products compatible with the second generation bridge. Only the newer bridge runs the HomeKit gateway.

Eufy has extended the product line to include a complete set of home security door and window sensors, motion sensor, doorbell, etc. Although I’ve not tried it, I believe the perimeter sensors are also HomeKit compatible.

The featured image shows the view from our two back garden cameras. A Ubiquity UniFi Protect DVR and wired 3G cameras capture the front door approach and deep back garden. The Eufy cameras serve primarily as greyhound and fence line monitors. Note that they clearly show the gate and carport X-pen, fence line, and porch landing.

Eufy Battery Life and Motion Settings

Your mileage may vary. I find battery life is about 2 months here as there are many dog motion and dog coming and going events to be recorded. Battery life is easily checked in Home App camera settings.

Dismal Manor is set up to detect animals and people on the porch. HomeKit will spool video, send an alert, and save video when people or pooches are detected on the porch deck at the door. This is very useful as it lets me know that a dog wants in. Or is mounting Zombie Squad HQ patrol from the porch deck.

An Eve Home door sensor logs door openings and closings in HomeKit. These can be correlated with video clips to locate video of an unauthorized entry.

I have disabled vehicle detection and carefully panned the cameras to minimize the view of the street. Vehicle motion will significantly reduce battery life. Night time vehicle light motion will also eat into battery life.

Note that, depending on motion detection sophistication, the cameras may also report shadow movement and tree branch movement. Be careful to keep busy tree limbs pruned out of view.

Motion Detection

Each camera can be configured individually detect motion. There are three settings that may be enabled individually.

  • All motion
  • Vehicle motion
  • People motion
  • Animal motion

This is the key. I can suppress vehicle motion that I don’t care about. These cameras can see a bit of street and traffic is continuous so I don’t want to spend battery saving vehicle transit clips.

People motion can be disabled when the camera has a view of street or public sidewalks. No sense recording passers by. Local or state ordinances may restrict such recording. At a minimum, you must tell people they are on candid camera.

Filtering or reporting animal motion is useful depending on use case. Here at the manor, I have enabled animal motion detection. This ability makes the dog doorbell possible. When a dog comes up on the landing, it is detected and reported.

I have my cameras configured as shown above. Detect people (usually me), detect animals (usually Rocky) and record them. The bridge reflects these settings properly on the Eufy side of things.

Recording happens in an AppleTV or HomePod in the Manor. I’m not sure which takes lead. The Eufy Base Station also has 16 GB of video storage to cache clips locally. Clips pushed off site are encrypted and can only be recovered via the Home App on a Mac or iThing. And all devices must be logged in to a common Apple ID. Access by other Apple IDs may be configured by adding the Apple ID to the HomeKit home.

Off Site Video

I can look in on the dogs while away from home. A third Eufy wired camera is our “RockyCam” that is active when I’m away from home. I can check it over LTE to see how badly Rocky is pacing in my absence. He’s convinced there are Zombies under the bed. This camera is positioned primarily to show door reactions and pacing between the lounge and bedrooms. It is set up for away recording.


I have the MacOS notifications set up as shown below. The iPhone is set up to report when any motion is detected.

Notifications Management

To participate in HomeKit secure video, an iThing must have a Home App installed. Each iThing individually controls notification delivery. I have my iPhone set to always deliver motion detection notifications. It is also set to pass these on to Apple Watch. This combination lets Apple Watch tap me on the wrist when a dog wants in.

You can gate notifications using your WHISKEY (location, not single malt preference). When home or when not home. I leave this setting off which is treated as always. This works nicely as I get a tap on the wrist when Rocky or Missy wants in.