I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography and time lapse.

Surfing Dolphins

Dolphins off Ocean Beach

A pair of dolphins enjoying high surf off Ocean Beach, San Francisco

(Recent Photos)

Open letter to Nancy Pelosi

Sent to Speaker Pelosi today:

As an American, constituent and supporter I am writing to ask you to investigate President Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors and to pass articles of impeachment in the House.

You have said that impeachment must to be bipartisan. That would certainly need to be the end result in order for the effort to succeed. It does not make sense as a precondition for starting the process, especially if as you also said impeachment should not be started or avoided for a political reason.

You have also said that impeachment must wait for the completion of the Special Counsel investigation. Any crimes revealed by the investigation would be icing on the cake. By imposing this condition you are making the case that obstruction of justice by the President is normal, that violations of campaign finance law are minor and that using the office for personal enrichment is only to be expected. The President deserves to be tried in the Senate for these charges. The future of our democracy depends on us not accepting this behavior.

Disagreements on policy and personality should be resolved by the electorate. High crimes and misdemeanors are your job. Please do it.

Global Temperature Anomalies Animation, 1850 to 2018

Global temperature maximum anomaly from Jan 2010 to Nov 2018

I made this animation to visualize climate change based on the HadCRUT 4 data (specifically the ensemble median gridded data) from the Met Office Hadley Centre.

HadCRUT 4 provides temperature anomalies in a five degree grid by month and year from January 1850 to November 2018 (as of this post). Anomaly here means deviation from the 1961-1990 average.

In the animation I wanted to capture the full timespan of the data but also show long term trends. Each frame is a month of data and each five degree grid of longitude and latitude is colored based on the maximum cumulative anomaly (positive or negative) for each decade. The range for color is 0 to +/- 20.85 degrees, red for warmer and blue for cooler. This means there is a reset at the start of each decade, the first few years are mostly random noise but by the end of each decade you're seeing the range of extremes.

Spoiler alert - you can spot something happening in the last three decades.

As well as the change in temperature it's interesting to watch the increase in global coverage over time. It's surprising that even the most recent years have no readings for Antarctica. Here's a paper (PDF) discussing the impact of the missing data. The HadCRUT 4 FAQ has more detail on how the temperature anomalies were assembled.

(Previously)

Amazon Alexa Echo Wall Clock Review

Alexa Echo Wall Clock

It has one job and it's not great at it.

I've been itching to replace my kitchen clock. I stupidly bought a self-setting atomic clock and the instructions said (this was a few years ago so I'm paraphrasing) 'Install as high up as possible on a southern facing exterior wall - ignoring these instructions may interfere with reception of the time signal.' Of course when used in my kitchen it has no idea what the time is. Due to the fancy mechanism it's extremely painful to set the time manually - you push a tiny button and try to stay awake while the hands move round and ultimately overshoot. Repeat.

It really should be illegal to sell things that tell you the time without some self-setting mechanism that works. Would it be hard to encode this in the electricity mains supply for instance? Or acquire via wifi or bluetooth? Every time I get in my car it connects to my phone but the car clock is clearly some cheap crystal that drifts daily and has no idea about daylight savings.

So the Echo Wall Clock is appealing because it should keep the right time without effort in addition to it's main role - visualizing Alexa timers. It's a stripped down implementation of the smart Glance clock but $170 cheaper at $30. It looks like most of those savings went to finding the cheapest possible plastic body. The Echo Clock also skips a face plate, which is a risk as if you touch the hands it will die.

Pairing is easy (via bluetooth) and it does manage to keep the right time. It's a decent if unattractive clock.

The timer function has taken the easy way out. If you set a five minute timer it lights up the minute marks from 12 up and then counts down. On a clock that knows what the current time is. This means that if you want to figure out when something is ready you're going to have to think. You need to look at the lit segments to see how long is left on the timer, and then add this on to the current position of the minute hand. I don't think anyone is buying a $30 timer visualizer to do minute-math. It would be a much better device if it just added the timer onto the current location of the minute hand, which is so obvious that this is what I expected to happen the first time I used it.

Overall it's cheap, cheap looking and flawed. But still a huge improvement on my kitchen's atomic age.

Book reviews for December 2018

The Late Show (Renée Ballard, #1; Harry Bosch Universe, #29) by Michael Connelly

The Late Show (Renée Ballard, #1; Harry Bosch Universe, #29) by Michael Connelly

4/5

 

The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin

5/5

 

The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files, #9) by Charles Stross

The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files, #9) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

Hummingbird 2

Hummingbird

A hummingbird at the Marine Cemetery in the Presidio.

(Previously)

(Recent Photos)

Treasure Island

San Francisco from Treasure Island

A timelapse from Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay.

The first half of the video is looking west from Treasure Island and pans along the San Francisco waterfront. The second half was shot east towards Oakland and includes a storm sweeping in from the north.

Winter Solstice 2018

Winter Solstice 2018 in Catfood Earth

It's the start of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere (Summer on the other side of the equator). Rendered in Catfood Earth.

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Pulling the plug on Facebook and Twitter, Tweet Archive

A year ago I uninstalled Facebook and Twitter from my phone in an effort to slim down my social media fake news diet. The idea was I'd occasionally check in from my laptop. Which I didn't. So this week I've finally taken the plunge and deleted both accounts. Or rather, deactivated, you have to wait 30 days before they actually delete anything. I also nuked Quora, because of the hack rather than any particular tendency to undermine the foundations of democracy.

This leaves me with a potential problem. As a person with a rapidly decreasing social media footprint I might be asked to host the Oscars. It would be nice to be tapped, but I really don't want to and so I've published a complete archive of all my tweets. I'm pretty sure some of them would be disqualifying. Whew.

Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Elephant Seals at San Simeon

Elephant Seals at San Simeon (Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery).

(Recent Photos)