Catfood Earth 4.01

Updated on Monday, May 31, 2021

Catfood Earth 4.01 is available for download.

The timezone database has been updated to 2020a. There is also a small fix to a problem with screensaver installation on recent versions of Windows 10.

(Related: Catfood Software Support; Catfood Earth; Improving the accuracy of the new Catfood Earth clouds layer)

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Catfood WebCamSaver 3.21

Updated on Sunday, September 5, 2021

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.21 is available for download.

This update fixes a screensaver install issue on recent versions of Windows 10 and has the latest webcam list.

(Related: Catfood WebCamSaver; .NET 2.0 and Windows 8; Going Chrome)

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Summer Solstice 2020

Updated on Saturday, February 19, 2022

Summer Solstice 2020

In 2020 the Summer Solstice is at 9:44pm UTC on June 20.

We get solstice from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to cause to stand) - the moment when the Sun stands still in its journey from north to south and back again.

Summer Solstice is the instant when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky, on the longest day of the year for the Northern hemisphere. This happens because the Earth is tilted by a little over 23 degrees (our planet rotates once a day, but relative to our orbit around the Sun the axis of rotation is at an angle). As we orbit the Sun this tilt means that different latitudes experience more or less sunlight over the course of a year. This pattern is most extreme near the poles. In the Arctic Circle the Sun never sets at the height of summer and never rises in the depth of winter. We mark two solstices each year, summer and winter. At the Summer Solstice the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer (a little over 23 degrees north). We also observe two equinoxes, spring and fall (vernal and autumnal), halfway through the cycle when the Sun is directly over the Equator and a day is the same length everywhere.

The video below shows how the pattern of day and night changes over one year. You can see when the poles are completely dark or light, and the moment when the Sun 'stands still' before days start to get longer or shorter again.

Here's another perspective. This video shows a view from San Francisco made from pictures that each show a complete day (each vertical line on the picture was shot at a different time with noon at the center). You can see the length of day changing throughout the year. On less foggy days you can also see the position of sunset moving, especially with the days getting longer towards the end when San Francisco experiences less fog.

Summer Solstice isn't always on June 20th - sometimes it's June 21st or June 22nd. Irritatingly a day on your clock is not the same as a solar day and a calendar year is not the same thing as one trip around the Sun. This is why we have leap years and leap seconds to stay roughly in sync with celestial mechanics.

It's also interesting to note that Summer Solstice isn't when we're closest to the Sun or when temperatures are the highest. The Earth's orbit is elliptical and we're actually furthest away around the Summer Solstice (for now - this changes over time). Our Northern hemisphere summer is driven by sunlight hitting us directly rather than at an angle (seasons are driven by the 23 degree tilt and the position of the orbit more than our distance from the Sun). Temperatures continue to rise after the Summer Solstice mainly because it takes a while to heat up water, and so warmer weather lags the increase in direct sunlight (and vice versa as we head into colder weather after the Winter Solstice).

The exact moment of Summer Solstice pictured at the start of the post and the video of day/night over a year were created using Catfood Earth. Catfood Earth generates wallpaper from NASA Blue and Black Marble images to show the current extent of day and night combined with near real time cloud cover. Catfood Earth is totally free and available for Windows and Android.


(Related: One Year of Tides Animated (with Sun and Moon); Animation of a year of Global Cloud Cover; Winter Solstice 2014)

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ISS Lunar Transit (4K Video)

Updated on Saturday, February 19, 2022

ISS Lunar Transit (4K Video)

I tried this with a solar transit last year and discovered that my expensive phone can't keep time. Learned my lesson - for this lunar transit I shot video a few minutes before and after. The video is 4K and has the unedited 1 second transit and a zoomed in slow version where you can actually see the thing. Unfortunately this means the composite at the top is made from frames extracted using ffmpeg. Next time, two cameras, so I can attempt a burst as well as a video.

Shot on a Sony RX10 IV from San Francisco.


(Related: West Portal Timelapse of Timelapses; Time Zone Time Lapse; Animation of a year of Global Cloud Cover)

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Google search-for-your-own-verified-sites Console

Google Search Console

I don't know about you, but when it comes to Google Search Console I spend about 0.01% of the time adding sites and 99.99% analyzing existing ones. And yet when signing into Search Console with many verified sites the interface is ALL about adding a new one. Maybe 10% of the UX would be reasonable but it looks for all the world like I have nothing added.

To get to my sites I need to click the hamburger. Come on Google, being mobile first doesn't have to mean being desktop hostile.

Clicking the hamburger isn't even enough. This just brings up a practically blank sidebar. I then need to expand the 'Search property' drop down. Finally I get a needlessly scrolling list of my sites.

(Related: Export Google Fit Daily Steps, Weight and Distance to a Google Sheet; Monitor page index status with Google Sheets, Apps Script and the Google Search Console API; Capture DropCam (Nest Cam) frames to Google Drive)

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Coronavirus Hikes: April 2020

April 2020 Coronavirus Hikes

On the way back from Grand View park

36.4 unique miles in April (I'm not using the GPS for repeat hikes). Bagged Twin Peaks, wider paths than Mount Davidson.

(Related: Coronavirus Hikes: Done; Mount Davidson; Point Reyes - Tomales Point)

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(Hike Map)

Book reviews for April 2020

Updated on Saturday, May 16, 2020
Code of Conduct (Scot Harvath #15) by Brad Thor

Code of Conduct (Scot Harvath #15) by Brad Thor


For some reason I have set myself the task of completing the Scot Harvath series. They are OK thrillers lessened by reading back to back as fundamentally they're very similar. This one is about a deliberate pandemic so it's a good time to read it. Nearly there...


The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray

The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray


I picked this up because I listen to the no such thing as a fish podcast, co-hosted by the author. I wasn't expecting much but it's really quite good (and not at all funny, more tense and melancholy). I want to find out what happens next.


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ITHCWY Newsletter for April 2020

Red-Tailed Hawk

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

ITHCWY Redesign

I've just launched a redesign of I Thought He Came With You. The main thrust is to make the site more usable on desktops. Which seems nuts, but the data doesn't lie. The site has low mobile traffic and for a while I thought this was some kind of technical issue. I optimized the design heavily for mobile and spent a lot of time on speed and some AMP. I guess it's the content. Google loves it when I write documentation for them and doesn't think I have anything useful to say on politics. They're probably right. So I've gone back to having an old school sidebar and I've taken the performance hit of using Bootstrap to get some better looking forms and navigation without spending a lot of time on it. I hope you enjoy it, and if you find anything broken please email or leave a comment.

(Related: Got It; The Secret Diary of a Xamarin Android Developer, Aged 48 1/3; Twitter's API has got too painful for me)

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I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.