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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

Flatulence

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.

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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.

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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.

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A New Computer? Almost There

At WWDC, Apple announced Kabe Lake iMacs. The 27 inch 5k Retina Display machine looks like a nice fit for my requirements.

  • 4K or 5K display
  • Current instruction set
  • Current video hardware and OpenCL support for current and coming Apple software.
  • USB 3.1/Thunderbolt 3 I/O interfaces

The new machines ship before the High Sierra OS so I’ll hold out until High Sierra is released.

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Greyhounds Uncategorized

Hi Crash and Nick are Half-Brothers

Back in the winter, I kept a friend’s greyhound while she was on holiday. Crash joined Nick and Missy as their guest. Crash was a perfect gentleman with impeccable manners in the house, in the garden, and on lead. After all, he’s a US racing greyhound and they’re indeed special.

krash-greyhound-1-of-1
Hi, I’m Crash

Crash enjoyed his stay with us. He and Missy had several epic chase sessions in the back garden. Missy was overjoyed to have a bouncy boy about her own age for play. Nick, he’s 11 and acting positively senior.

nick-and-missy-christmas-2015-1-of-1
I’m Lord Nick