Give your stupid niche kids app a useful name please!

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I loved Qntm's There Is No Antimemetics Division:

"An antimeme is an idea with self-censoring properties; an idea which, by its intrinsic nature, discourages or prevents people from spreading it."

Important antimemes in my life are other parent's names and all of the fucking single use apps I'm plagued with. My kids in particular have at least one app for every aspect of their lives.

Let's say I need to know where a soccer game is. The location is hidden in an app, and for the life of me I can't remember which one.

Eventually I remember it's LeagueApps, because TeamSnap is the other kid due to some San Francisco soccer schism on a par with what material to put on the pitch (I had to vote on TWO ballot measures on this subject).

Feeling inordinately proud of myself and like I have a few years left before 24-hour nursing care I search my phone for LeagueApps and it's NOT FUCKING THERE. Because they called the app 'Play'. Not LeagueApps Play, just Play.

App developers, if you're not Gmail how about including a little more context? Like 'LeagueApps Play - where is the soccer game?' or 'Toddle - your kids homework' or 'Procare - did you remember to sign your kid in'.

They won't, but next time I'm looking I'll at least be able to Google this post.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Give your stupid niche kids app a useful name please! #etc #apps If I'm not using it every day, I need help ever finding it again. Please don't get too cute with the name. )

Blogging on reMarkable

Updated on Sunday, April 30, 2023


Crossed a small thing off the bucket list today.

I've used a reMarkable paper tablet for a few years. It's a distraction free eInk writing device with a long battery life and no app store. At least half of productivity is getting stuff out of your head. The reMarkable excels at this without the risk of losing anything.

My dream was always to blog from written notes but the handwriting recognition isn't good enough. Or maybe my handwriting is just too bad. I probably could have got into medical school on that basis alone.

reMarkable recently released a keyboard case and I just got my preorder. With a few small changes to handle its HTML email format I'm up and running. There is still no app support, but you can send email and happily that's been how I post to my blog for over a decade.

It won't work for everything but it's great to have a new option.

So far the only thing I'm missing is a spell checker. Not my strong point so any typos are reMarkable's fault. Hopefully this will be added in a future update.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Blogging on reMarkable #etc #ithcwy #remarkable #productivity Using the reMarkable ePaper tablet and keyboard case for blogging. )

3D Printing a Window Mount for a Google Nest Indoor Wired Gen 2 Camera

3D Printing a Window Mount for a Google Nest Indoor Wired Gen 2 Camera

Having sworn off Google Nest I just ended up with two more cameras. I didn't pay for them. Google has announced that the original DropCam units are no longer supported. Rather than just knife me in the kidneys like the rest of the smart home industry they provided free replacements.

I stick these in a window looking out. I learned this the hard way after a Nest Outdoor was immediately cut from its secure wiring and stolen. And then a second one. The police thought this was hilarious and whoever stole them is/are now enjoying worthless lumps of plastic. The DropCam was nicely designed to clip out of its mount and into whatever accessory grabbed your fancy. The Google Nest Cam Indoor Wired Gen 2 (snappy name) has a heavy and barely articulated base that makes it worthless for many applications. It also doesn't look like it will detach.

There doesn't seem to be any elegant solution here so I came up with a brutal one.

Step 1: Hacksaw. Just cut off that base as close to the camera as possible.

Step 2: A chute to introduce the camera to the window at a reasonable angle and block indoor reflections. This gets attached to the window with strong double sided tape.

Here's the OpenSCAD code for the window mount:

There is also an STL file on thingiverse.

One more horrible hack to confess to. My filament kept getting tangled while printing this. I have it on an under-counter spool and I think it's just too loose so the printer pulls out more slack than it needs and then gets in a mess. Seems like it should be a common problem but all the advice I could find was worthless. I wrapped the spool with kitchen towel until I created some friction but with enough give that the 3D printer could ingest the filament. There is probably a better answer with a more expensive spool that has some tension built in, but this was enough to get the part to print for me.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: 3D Printing a Window Mount for a Google Nest Indoor Wired Gen 2 Camera #etc #3dprint #google #nest #thingiverse How to 3D print a reflection blocking window mount for a Google Nest Cam (Gen 2) )

Links for April 2023

Updated on Thursday, April 27, 2023

More Colors

For a long time this blog has been black with some splashes of International Orange. The favorite icon and logo was some weird grid of dots (and yes, I give Google crap for Material Design). Now that Google has brought icons to the desktop search results as well as mobile I wanted a rounder favicon. Their direction is round icons all the way, and my weird dots don't look great in this format.

The new logo and favorite icon is a dynamic pie chart. This updates daily (the favorite icon will lag a bit due to caching) and shows the category distribution of posts over the last two years. The logo text is just a random permutation of the category colors. This is stupidly precise and geeky and also a lot more cheerful. I may add a few more splashes over time.

I started with some online tool for the palette and used International Orange as a starting point and its color wheel complement to pin the other end of the range. This looks terrible. I then had a long conversation with ChatGPT 4 and told it what I liked and didn't like about each palette it came up with. I was pretty high maintenance but the AI was patient and I'm pretty happy with the color scheme we ended up with.


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(Published to the Fediverse as: More Colors #etc #ithcwy ITHCWY has a new 8 color palette, logo and favorite icon generated via a conversation with ChatGPT. )

Links for March 2023

ITHCWY Newsletter for February 2023

GSC Monitor

Timelapse of some great clouds after the January storms in California.

Here's an animation of ten years of San Francisco 311 cases using photos and locations.

I've started a new more comprehensive review format that includes TV, Movies and Podcasts. Check out January and February.

My Echo Show is driving me nuts.

If you're into reading ESRI Shapefiles in .NET my library has migrated to .NET Standard and is now on NuGet. Read more. And enjoy this shapefile based zoom to my neighborhood.

Hikes to Phantom Falls and Shell Ridge Open Space.

Related posts are now way more related thanks to moving from Word2Vec to OpenAI embeddings. I've also been reluctantly moving to Google Analytics 4. Here are some API tips.

Analysis of OpenAI's risible blog post on how close they are to creating artificial general intelligence (AGI).


Links for February 2023

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OpenAGI, or why we shouldn't trust Open AI to protect us from the Singularity

OpenAGI, or why we shouldn't trust Open AI to protect us from the Singularity

Open AI just dropped a pretty remarkable blog post on their roadmap for not destroying civilization with their imminent artificial general intelligence (AGI):

"As our systems get closer to AGI, we are becoming increasingly cautious with the creation and deployment of our models. Our decisions will require much more caution than society usually applies to new technologies, and more caution than many users would like."

Now, I'm around 98% sure that Open AI mostly answers the question: What if we allocated unlimited resources to building a better auto-complete? ChatGPT is an amazing tool but it's amazing at guessing which word (token) is likely to appear next. Quite possibly their blog post is just an exercise in anchoring - if they're 95% of the way to AGI then GPT4 must be pretty amazing and therefore worth a lot of money. If everyone realized that they're more like 2% of the way there, and the next 1% is going to be exponentially difficult, then some of the froth would blow off.

But what if they really are close to the singularity? After all, we have no idea what causes non-artificial intelligence.

Their ideas for keeping us safe are a little disturbing:

"We think public standards about when an AGI effort should stop a training run, decide a model is safe to release, or pull a model from production use are important."

Given the lack of transparency around the inner workings of ML models, and the lack of knowledge around what intelligence even looks like, this is a pretty risible idea. And:

"Finally, we think it’s important that major world governments have insight about training runs above a certain scale."

We are facing down the prospect of a second Trump term while the UK has a Prime Minister who thinks that a homeless person might be 'in business'.

The most concerning part for me is:

"...we hope for a global conversation about three key questions: how to govern these systems, how to fairly distribute the benefits they generate, and how to fairly share access."

Creating AGI would be an amazing and terrifying accomplishment. Treating it as a slave feels like the most surefire way to usher in the most terrifying possible consequences, for us and for the AGIs.

Full disclosure: I use Open AI embeddings for related posts and site search. The words on this blog are my own though. I do occasionally generate a post image using Stable Diffusion like the rather strange one above.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: OpenAGI, or why we shouldn't trust Open AI to protect us from the Singularity #etc #openai #ml What OpenAI got wrong in their blog post on AGI and how we should treat AGIs if they ever arrive. )

Links for February 2023

Server Migration Complete


ITHCWY just migrated to a new server with more capacity. From clouds to pollution to covid monitoring there is a lot going on under the hood here these days. I can already see that search is a lot more snappy.

Man, moving Windows servers just sucks. Internal GDI error - that's a permissions issue obviously (not my first time). Can't publish? You must need to install Web Deploy twice and then uninstall it and install it one more time for luck. Web.config error at startup? Of course Windows Server 2022 still doesn't come with URL Rewriting and you need to install it from some corner of the MS website like an animal. Yes, I should use something else but my custom CMS is probably reaching the same level of complexity as an F16 and I'm just one person. Enjoy the fast search!

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Server Migration Complete #etc #ithcwy #microsoft ITCHWY has migrated to a beefer box and a new OS and still seems to be working. Oh, and search is faster! )