Run from water!

We just had a major hurricane landfall in Florida and a category one hurricane landfall in South Carolina with tropical storm conditions in North Carolina and Virginia. When should you evacuate? Current emergency management thinking is to hide from wind (shelter in place) and run from water (evacuate). Water, the storm surge and inland flooding, cause most hurricane-related deaths during the storm. After the storm, recovery mishaps are a significant cause of death. Most involving chain saws or generators.

Rocky performs Zombie inspection of the fallen limb

Dismal Manor has a fallen limb to remove and a fence to patch so Rocky won’t go runner. Rest assured, loppers and a pruning saw will do the work. If we have a big piece, I’ll drag it up front for the city to collect with the clam shell truck.


So you had to bug out because you were in a floodway or flood plain? Where do you evacuate? You don’t have to leave the storm area or even your city or county. Just get out of the flood plain and storm surge areas. In South Carolina low country, the low country is so low you may have to drive 60+ miles to leave the flood plain. Most areas are not so extreme, traveling across town will do it.

Sources of shelter

  • If you can, shelter with family or friends outside the flood plain, that is a good alternative providing mutual assistance.
  • Commercial lodging outside the evacuation order area is an alternative. Don’t expect 5 star accommodations as power will go out and staff will be sheltering too. Select a multi-story building, preferably steel frame curtain wall, and a room above grade.
  • City and county shelters — governments will make provisions for those without other alternatives.
Rocky inspects the front garden

Where’s Waldo?

When you evacuate, how do you let folks know where you are? Who needs to know where you are? What are the use cases?

These are really 2 different problems.

  • Your immediate family can find you using mobile phone find my apps.
  • Search and rescue needs to know if they should look for you in the disaster area. If they know you’re away, that saves a rescue search or a recovery search.

Florida has been through this many times so they have Florida Safe Persons Report where you can register your location, contact information, and those in your party. Register with the state when you arrive. Update your information if you change accommodations.

Disaster Communications

As wonderful as modern mobile phones and the Internet are, they are not as robust as a copper pair switched at a telephone company central office. In the 60’s, the power may be out but we could usually count on the phone to be up when needed. Today, they are all likely to go together.

As a result, if sheltering in place, it is important to notify folks before communications fails. And to have a plan for reestablishing communications in a service-limited environment. Cell service is still easily overloaded (as was good old copper land telephone service — “your call could not be completed…”)

Use Cases

No one service satisfies all use cases. The more obvious use cases include.

  1. Immediate family and close friends. Apple and Google have covered this one with phone Find My people features.
  2. Local government would like to know if disaster area residents are sheltering in place or evacuated.
  3. Local government would like to know how to contact you while evacuated should they have questions.
  4. Correspondents would like to know if you are well. Twitter pen pals with whom you chat back and forth would like to know you are well.

Is Social Media useful?

So just keep your FaceBook up? That is at best a partial solution and you need to be careful what you say as you have no control over dissemination of information by FaceBook or Twitter or any of the others. And

  • Not everybody is on FaceBook.
  • FaceBook and Twitter are designed for addictive doom scrolling of “the feed”
  • There’s no guarantee that your notifications will make any individual subscriber feed.
  • There’s no guarantee that your peeps will think to check your posts page.
  • Those not your followers have no idea how to find you on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Emergency response will not be wasting time with FaceBook to figure out where you went. When I’ve lived in a large city, more than one David Hamby was listed in the phone book. Which was me?
  • Local bad actors will be checking social media for targets of opportunity.


There appears to be no good solution to this problem.

  • Mobile phones come with a “Find My Family” app. Both iPhone and Android have versions but they don’t interoperate. A mixed Apple/Android family would have have members split between islands.
  • People not “family” would be “off the island.”
  • Work is a separate problem with its own proprietary solution. Or not.
  • Local Public Safety is not addressed. Search and rescue won’t know you’re away.
  • Commercial apps collect and sell data to 3rd parties
  • Phone Find My apps where your phone is but not your intent.

The Apple App Store has a large number of family locator apps or emergency locator apps. All by 3rd party developers. Each on its own island. And each looking for data to sell. Stay away. And even Google is dodgy.

Solution Characteristics

An emergency locator app should have the following characteristics.

  • Services hosted outside the disaster area using national resources
  • Data privacy standards clearly published to allow data release to local government and designated individuals.
  • Available to search and rescue teams by address
  • Available to local and state government for recovery effort management for missing persons counts, etc.
  • Allows local government to contact you while away
  • Is independent of mobile phone family — works with Apple and Android
  • Is independent of social media for security reasons.
  • Is a uniform nation-wide solution.
  • Usable for natural disasters, local mishaps, and local emergencies.

Needless to say, this seems like a hard problem because of its scale and security needs.

Florida has a go at it

Florida’s missing persons system has two parts, a means to report people missing and a means for displaced persons to tell Florida where they are. The system is part of Florida’s emergency management process and is uniform state-wide. You can see the safe persons report side at Florida Safe Persons Report

Personal Computing Uncategorized

SOHO Storage

This post comes out of a discussion with the folks at Take Control Books who write a line of topic and capability oriented Apple product guides like Taking Control of Your Digital Storage. This is a big topic that Jeff Carlson capably explores. NAS (network attached storage) is among the topics he considers. There are 3 sorts of systems available in this market space,

  • Those targeted to small office and home offered by Synology and QNAP (the two best know) and some others.
  • Professional products offered by the global IT vendors at departmental scale. EMC, NetApp, DELL, HP, IBM, the usual suspects.
  • Cluster computing products like those offered by IBM Red Hat and various Linux distributions. These systems provide a single file system view to numerous computers formed into a capacity or reliability cluster. 45Drives, ix Systems, and others are in this space with hardware, drivers, CephFS scale-out file system, etc.

In this article we will consider the essential capabilities a small NAS should have. The intent is to prepare my readers to venture into the world of marketing slicks, spec sheets, and white papers.

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.


Avoid Getting Hosed Watering the Garden

Summer is here
and the livin' is easy
fish are jumpin'
and the flowers is high

From George Gershwin’s Summertime with a twist.
Images, author original

Summer temperature shear appears to be a month early with 90F temperatures (33 C) happening in late May rather than in late June. The dew point is low so conditions are very drying, enough so that frequent watering of our newly established ornamental plants is needed.

Last year’s heat found us watering daily using a flower watering wand and shower head. Many plants developed brown spot or powdery mildew. Neither is good.

Brown spot struck in 2020

Brown spot is a fungus disease that affects turf and low ornamental plants during the humid summer months when dew points rise into the 20’s C or 70’s F. The moist humid air hugs the ground creating conditions that promote growth of the fungus. Watering culture is a known factor with evening watering by spray being a risk multiplier.

Much to my surprise, the root stock survived and plants began poking up again in January and most have robust growth. Be sure to remove the mulch before giving up on a location as I found 2 hostas that had not yet emerged hiding in the mulch. These are now exposed and growing nicely.

What started as a quick note about soaker hose has grown into a full-fledged post including the following.

  • A bit of horticulture, specifically mixed-humid fungal disease avoidance
  • An introduction to soaker hoses and their use
  • An introduction to water timers
  • An introduction to the HozeLock connector system
  • A bit about pipe thread hand hose fitting materials incompatibility. Never mix metal colors as brass or bronze and aluminum or zinc love each other way too much.
  • And of course, references.

In this article, I mention several brands and products. I’ve used some of them and others look interesting. I was pleased to note that the HozeLock company that invented the garden hose quick coupling system is alive and well on the Isle of Dogs (UK). Gardena in Germany is also a strong manufacture of lawn and garden care products with international sales.

Note that there are at least 3 hose and fitting standards in use, US ASME, British Standard Pipe, and more ISO standards than you can shake a stick at. When ordering product be careful that it is from the universe in which you live.


iPhone Envy Got Ya?

It’s October and as sure as frost, Apple has announced new iPhones that start selling in a week or two. Dismal Wizard gives his thoughts on iPhone 12 and 5G. But more important to DW, Tucows sold his Mobile Virtual Network Operator, Ting, to Dish Network. Change is coming whether DW wants it or not.

Greyhounds Uncategorized

Don’t You Step on My Blue Suede Shoes

I’ve been trying to find things that help Nick with his 13.5 year old mobility. Nick had been eating less than maintenance for some months loosing a good bit of hip and shoulder muscle. The muscle loss has impaired his stance and gait. Most commonly, his feet slip outward causing an unplanned split. What might help?

Personal Computing Uncategorized

Alternative Twitter Apps

With the advent of iPadOS and development work at Twitter, Inc. the iPad Twitter app has become unstable. As of iPadOS 13.1, multiple users are seeing the following problems.

  • Each time the app is updated, view mode switches from the most recent to “Home” view. Most users prefer the timeline view.
  • In both home and timeline views, the app interrupts what you are doing to refresh the view.
  • The app segfaults at random
  • The app hangs in the tweet editor
  • The app segfaults in the tweet editor

In this article, we’ll look at an alternative Twitter app. There are two well regarded apps, Twitteriffic and Tweetbot having similar user interfaces and none of the rude behaviors mentioned above.

Greyhounds Uncategorized

Nick’s Low Back Pain Update 1

In the first article of this series, I outlined Nick’s initial presentation of low back pain and the therapy he is receiving from his regular vet and his late in life care vet, Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice. This practice specializes in late in life palliative care to maintain an elderly pet’s comfort and function late in life.

This practice offers selected Chinese therapy including acupuncture and herbal therapy in addition to cold laser and message therapy. They care for Nick in home and a significant portion of the visit is spent interviewing me about how Nick’s condition is changing, a thorough leg hip and back exam, and some coaching while the acupuncture session completes. I recommend this style of care for late in life care. This is the first time I’ve not felt alone with a geriatric hound.

How he’s doing

Nick is facing two problems, gradual deterioration of his hips and lower spine resulting from aging and slow wasting from loss of appetite resulting from pain and possible age-related metabolism changes that cause him to extract less energy from his ration.

Over the summer, Nick has stopped running the fence line and vaulting the porch steps to enter the house. He’s also been doing his toilet along the street fence rather than the customary area behind the shed that is a 100 foot walk so he’s consciously minimizing the distance walked. Over August and September he stopped doing a late night garden prowl with Missy.

His bowls are mostly regular with an occasional poo in an i’ve fallen and can’t get up context and the occasional spontaneous emission while sleeping. He remains in good bladder control.

I’ve taught him to walk up the steps and he has it mostly down but needs some support to compensate for imperfect control of his aft end. The Ruff Wear Webmaster harness has been a good thing for both of us. I can tailor the assistance provided to his needs of the moment allowing him to maintain strength and confidence. Without the harness, I’d have to carry him like a puppy risking injury to both of us in the event of a misstep and fall.

Weight Maintenance

Nick continues to experience slow wasting, mostly as a result of eating less than maintenance on the average. Nick is receiving a high quality grain free food with most of its protein from animal sources, usually salmon or duck flesh and meal plus menhaden meal. Legumes and sweet potatoes provide carbohydrates and fiber without added beet or tomato pomace. Food macronutrient ratios conform to industry standards. Nick is supplementing pot roast which he eats eagerly and packet tuna which he eats eagerly. He receives either cream cheese spread or peanut butter as a pilling aid.

Nick and Missy are eating the same diet and the same amounts roughly. Missy is chubby while Nick is distinctly under weight. Some of Nick’s weight loss is a result of him leaving a small amount of kibble at each feeding but some may result from metabolic changes associated with aging. I try to intercept Nick’s leftovers and offer them later in the evening between meals. This was a matter of teaching Missy some restraint and having a treat for her when Nick was receiving his later feedings.

Nick is a grazer so I have to feed him when he wants to eat even if that is 2300. So I offer about 1/3 of his food in the morning around 9 AM, 1/3 at 5 PM and 1/3 around 8-9 PM with pot roast at 5 and tuna at 8. This has improved his eating. I give his medications at 9 and 9 with the gabapentin at bedtime around 10 to give him the best mobility during the day.

Pain Management

Nick continues to receive 3 primary medications for pain management, carprofen, gabapentin, and Hindquarters Weakness. He also receives PhyCox supplement and GlycoFlex supplement mostly for added glucosamine and chondroitin but each has a different system of anti-inflammatories that is supposed to help maintain hindquarters comfort.

Hindquarters Weakness is a traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine believed over centuries of experience to be effective at managing hindquarters pain in Chinese draft animals. The formulation Nick receives is from a US supplier that runs an FDA style quality program to verify the purity and potency of China-sourced leaves and roots from which the product is prepared. The Chinese herbs have proved much more effective than the glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. I suspect this is because his food has adequate glucosamine and chondroitin while the Chinese herbs found only in Hindquarters Weakness have a robust anti-inflammatory action.

We started the gabapentin first followed by the Hindquarters Weakness. When we started 2 a day gabapentin, Nick became sedated and showed reduced rear leg control as indicated by a drunken gait with slouching hindquarters.

He’d improve at random. Invariably, each good day was preceded by a missed round of medication remaining in his pillbox, usually the bedtime dose. This suggested that one of Nick’s medications had slow removal kinematics in Nick.

We tested the Hindquarters Weakness first by reducing the dosage from 2 and 2 to 1 and 2. I started with it because I knew none of the ingredients had been FDA trialed to determine kinematics and that greyhounds have slow liver function relative to other breeds.

The dosage change produced no change in sedation and slouching. So I returned to 2 and 2 and reduced the gabapentin to one tablet at bedtime and stuck with it. Nick showed an immediate improvement in alertness, appetite, and walking posture.

At hospice vet’s suggesting, I increased Nick’s Hindquarters Weakness to 3 in morning and 2 in evening. This appears to have improved his mobility. We’ve been on this protocol for about 2 weeks. In that period, Nick has been much more alert during the day, is sleeping through the night, and is waking around 9. He can be a bit rubber-legged in the morning but this walks off in 10 minutes or so.


Since starting added pot roast, both dogs have shown reduced flatulence. It appears that adding some additional meat has shifted gut bacteria and less fermentation is happening in the back end. Of both dogs.


A week with HomePod

When I first wrote about HomePod on March 26, I wrote about the out of the box experience. Since then, I’ve had a chance to live with HomePod as a day to day device and to form a more detailed impression of its sound. Originally, I found that HomePod was very revealing and embarrassed poorly mastered material and lossy compression. Those impressions still hold.


Invasion of the Pods

I stopped by the Apple Store on the way home from church, always an expensive detour. This Sunday was no exception. I auditioned the HomePod and was suitably impressed. In the noisy way-too-big Apple Store hall, it sounded creditable in the near field. My impressions after a day at home follow. Most of the reviews focus on Siri when the focus should be on the killer app of the “smart speaker”, music reproduction. I’ll talk about music reproduction.