Sunday Nerd Rambles

Okay, so that Marco Polo app that I was talking about all through the last blog entry? I decided to reach out to some friends (outside of the family) to see what they thought about it, and if they’d have any interest in getting it to not only be able to drop vids to / from me or whoever, but even for possibly creating groups for their own family, groups for their coworkers that they care to talk to, that sorta thing… πŸ€” but in general the suggestion has been met with a resounding “meh” all around. πŸ˜’

The two biggest things seem to be that people are already overwhelmed with social media and communication apps, and don’t necessarily want another one – as I suspected. The next biggest hurdle towards getting people interested is that nobody really wants more communication options with other humans. πŸ˜… I won’t write it off yet, in case Gen has better luck, so it’ll probably just sit on my phone for a while until I forget about it.

Megan pointed out that FB Messenger can do the same thing, adding folks to a group and then just sharing video messages, and most people already have that app… and she’s not wrong. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ My bias is that I haven’t been active on FB for almost two years now, so I’ve got that “meh” when I think about their messenger, plus I just like how Marco Polo seems casual while FB Messenger feels like “Shit I need to hurry up and read and answer” due to it being a more “immediate” messaging app for most. 🀨 But anyway…

Another thing I’ve been debating playing around with… I’ve found an app that allows you to animate old photographs, much like you’d see in the newspapers in the Harry Potter movies. πŸ€“ But this wouldn’t be like “live photos” where you capture five seconds of silent video “around” the still photo that you’re taking… this is taking any old photo that you’ve taken and using AI to animate it in a subtle, natural way that makes it look like you’re watching someone standing there or sitting there, blinking, moving their head around in slight ways, maybe looking around a bit, adding a light smirk or slight frown, a hint of breathing… stuff that is approximately 50% kewl and 50% creepy as hell. πŸ˜§πŸ˜¬πŸ˜„

I think the photos that I’d be most interested in trying this on are ones of my family members who were already gone before I was born, or like in the case of my great grandparents on Dad’s side, ones that were around when I was little but of whom I have almost zero “moving” memories of in my head. πŸ₯Ί Right now the AI results are pretty random. Sometimes you’ll get something realistic, sometimes it’s just creepy weirdness that you don’t want to see anyone doing. 😏 I think maybe I’ll find some of the old Olan Mills photos of me from the first handful of years of my life, and see what it looks like if I animate myself. If I could get results that actually “look like me” in motion, then I could sort of trust that it could be accurate for what relatives may have looked like. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Meh… like a lot of things, it’s just something that recently caught my interest so I may or may not end up doing something revolving around the idea.

Speaking of AI A/V enhancement stuff… the other day I ran across a version of the Rick Astley “rick roll” meme video on YouTube which someone had upscaled to 4k resolution at 60fps and it looks amazing. Not amazing good, but amazing in the detail and clarity and the way it looks as if it could have been recorded just last week instead of a few decades ago. But having a pretty good collection of VHS home movies that I converted to digital a while back, at the same low resolution that NTSC video was back then, I’d sure love for someone to create an app or program to convert and enhance them as a batch up to the same 4k 60fps format as that Never Gonna Give You Up video. The video notes says that they used Topaz Video Enhance, so I guess I’ll start by looking that up and seeing if it can really work magic, or if it has to have a reasonably good source file to start with. (Much like this Wham video, which was shot on film back in the day.)

(Oops, going down the rabbit hole, this 4k version of Nikita, also converted to 3D, is neat if you can cross and lock your eyes. πŸ₯΄ Heh… leaving YouTube now before I get hooked.)

Okay, I guess that’s enough rambling for the moment. But yeah, Marco Polo probably a no go, debating the creepy vs kewl factor of animating photos of dead relatives, and then hoping that the tech will be here sooner than later which can make the digital versions of my old VHS tapes look less like garbage and maybe worth watching again. πŸ˜› That could also be a neat thing to do for Jim… converting all his Squirtman shows from our public access days up to today’s standards.

See, getting a decent amount of sleep works wonders for my brain, eh?

Marco Polo

With all of the different social media available, along with all of the different ways that people can communicate directly with each other, it’s almost convenience to the point of excessiveness or overload. Because with so many options for text, voice, or video calls, people inevitably end up using different apps or platforms, sometimes even specific to whether they are using Android or iOS. But Genesee thinks she might have a small solution for us…

She’s not sure quite yet, but she’s gonna mess with this app called Marco Polo to see if it could end up being a place where everyone in the family (that wants to) could download the app, since it works on either flavor of phone platform, and stay somewhat connected that way. (They have a “plus” version that you can pay for, but the free version would be enough for what we’re thinking of using it for.) It’s a little bit hard to describe unless you’ve used it, but it’s less “direct communication” and more just a group situation where people can create or view video clips whenever they feel like it. Almost like a private forum, or a private group video blog or something. Hmm, lemme try a little harder…

Everyone that wants to participate gets the app and creates an account, then Genesee would start a group with all of the family in it. Then from that point, whatever video you click and add to the group – everyone in the group could watch it at their leisure. They could then reply if they wanted to, or they could just post their own video clip about something else, which everyone else would then get to watch whenever they wanted, if they wanted. Of course you can talk directly to whoever you want in the group if you want… ahh, I know… it’s much like sitting around the bonfire at one of our old family gatherings. 😊 Everyone welcome to say whatever they want, with everyone else either paying attention and replying or not. Honestly, people in the group could just lurk and watch and smile, without having to contribute anything themselves.

Meh… this is all hypothetical at the moment, but I like the sound of it. It saves the hassle of knowing which video calling app someone would want to use if they wanted to call, it also makes it so none of us have to worry about interrupting the other, or waking someone up if they are sleeping weird hours. It could just be a convenient catch all place for casual conversation or telling tales, and that would be nice… the family is definitely more spread apart than we’ve ever been. But it’ll only work if Genesee can wrangle everyone together in agreement to use it. 😏 Meh… could be fun, even if it ends up being temporary due to people eventually dropping out… we’ll see.

Smart Shopper?

Months ago, when there were riots in the cities, people freaking out over the virus, store shelves emptied of toilet paper, etc… back then I decided that I was gonna start keeping my shelves better stocked than I typically did. 🀨 So once most of the panic-buy people were done, I went out and bought a crapload of canned, boxed, and frozen foods. And I can verify now that I had set myself up good for a couple of months with that trip, because other than a bit of this and that, it’s those food items that I’ve been eating my way through up until now. 😏 Which, of course, defeats the purpose of stocking up.

Technically, if I wanted to be “prepared” I would need to stock up, and then go shopping again to get the food that I was intending to “just eat” over the next few weeks following my stock-up shopping. πŸ™„πŸ˜… Meh… point being, it’s time for another big trip to the store. Or time to do a giant ass click-list type pick-up thing, if that’s the route I end up wanting to go. (I’m gonna have to think about it a while.) So that’s been another one of my baby tasks from the past few days… getting myself a super detailed shopping list so I not only don’t forget anything, but also so I don’t end up buying too much of anything. (Green beans definitely end up hanging around on my shelves longer than I originally expected.)

My grandparents were really good at staying stocked up. So much so that when I moved in here, if it hadn’t started to disintegrate due to age, I’d have had like a year’s worth of toilet paper sitting here waiting for me. 😁🚽 They did it with whatever they could… clipping coupons, finding sales, and using mail-in rebates (are those still a thing?) to bulk up on whatever items happened to be on that shopping trip. I’m not a coupon clipper, but I do look for the store loyalty card deals, and now that I’m getting a little more organized before I go it should keep me from spending more than I have to.

Right now I’m mentally shopping the aisles of the older Kroger in town, since that’s the one I’m most familiar with and most likely to go to. But we’ll see how good I do, making the list aisle by aisle from memory, and how many items that I will forget that I want. 😏 See, that’s the problem with ordering for pickup… I just know that there’s probably crap in each aisle that will jump out at me as I go past, so I don’t wanna miss out on those things just in case. I might try to actually make the trip as early as tomorrow, because even though it’ll be the weekend – the first of the month hasn’t hit yet, so everyone with their EBT cards and screaming chiddrens won’t be out there yet. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Overdue Cleaning

Trying to keep up my streak of being somewhat useful during the day without killin’ myself, yesterday was laptop repair day. 😯 I think this one is six years old this year, so it’s remarkable that it’s still working as well as it has been, honestly. The battery still holds a decent charge, it has very rarely given me any trouble, but a few days ago it started making this god-awful noise any time that the fan spun up. 😳😣 As long as it wasn’t doing anything processor intensive it doesn’t even use it, so the first time I heard the racket was when I had a few browser tabs open and then started a video conversion program.

It reminded me very much of when we were kids, where you’d use a clothes pin and a playing card stuck in the spokes of your bike to make it sound like it had an engine as you’d ride. 😏 Lemme tell ya, that was some serious business back then. πŸ˜„ But obviously that’s not exactly the sound you want to hear coming out of your computer. So after taking about a dozen microscopic little screws out of the back of the case, I carefully cracked it open for the first time since getting it. Lots of dust, crud, and cat hair to be removed – but nothing that should be causing any significant problems at first glance. πŸ€”

However when I would pick it up and shake it, I could hear a rattle still coming from somewhere around the fan. So after taking off another handful of screws, I got some of the additional coverings and holders off of that area of the board, enough to where I could completely get at the fan. 🧐 I was able to spot a little bitty piece of plastic that had broken off of something or gotten in from somewhere, and I plucked it out with a pair of tweezers while hoping that that was it. I wasn’t sure how this little speck of debris could be affecting the fan that much, but that did seem to be all that she needed. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

I got it all back together and it still booted up and ran fine now, so I decided to push my luck and run a few more updates to the OS and BIOS that I’ve kept on the back burner for a while. πŸ€“πŸ’»πŸ€¨ I thought that I had screwed up at that point, because the BIOS flash didn’t take on the first attempt and it got caught in a boot fail loop. But since I’m currently using the same laptop to write this entry, obviously I got it sorted out after several frustrating hours of trial and error. 😏

Strange Days Indeed

We’ve been getting our first hint of spring over the past few days. 😌 Warm enough weather that some of the snow has been getting melted off each day, and then a bit of rain yesterday that nearly finished off the job. It feels like it’s been a few years since we’ve had relatively thick snow just hanging around like that for weeks. πŸšœπŸŒ¨οΈβ›·οΈ I suppose that’s part of the reason that I’ve felt so different over the past couple of days, getting that first taste of better weather to come. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

It’s also kind of a surprising time for me to be feeling more human than I have in years, since yesterday it’s been two years that Mom has been gone. πŸ˜” I almost feel guilty for feeling as decent as I’ve been feeling, during what’s a pretty crappy anniversary time. But I’ve been getting nice random reminders of Mom that have kept me smiling. Just little things on TV or YouTube, and then my Spotify has been serving up more “Mom songs” than usual – or maybe it’s just that I’m keyed in to be noticing them more now. 😊

But even today, on my drive in town for the MRI, the first song that played as I headed out was Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding. πŸ”Š 🎢 😎 Disregard the title, it’s got nothing to do with that. But driving with the sun shining, snow melting, windows down enough to get a breeze, with loud Elton music playing, remembering how happy she could get while listening to his music… it was a little bit sad, sure, but it felt way more good than it did bad – so of course I give credit to Mom for that.

The stuff that’s had me feeling better… it’s all stupid little things, so I’m not gonna get into it in much detail. I got all my dishes done the other day, along with other light chores, and despite it eventually turning into shoulder pain and a splitting all-night headache – at the time I was zooming through them fine, feeling pretty darn normal. πŸ™‚ But having a whole day of being able to do stuff and feeling decent about it… heh… sadly, that’s a rare thing for me. πŸ™„πŸ˜ But even as I’ve had to leave the house for things, I found that I felt like “me from three or four years ago” versus current me, and the difference in how those two people feel was pretty surprising once I felt how “old me” felt again. πŸ₯Ί

Enough of that, though. 😏 I don’t wanna let my brain start to get used to it, since odds are it won’t hang around indefinitely. But the MRI today… it was the easiest one that I’ve had to date. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Mostly because I don’t really remember it. 😳 I’ll refrain from wondering if that is a good or a bad thing, but the lady said it would take about a half hour – but I would swear that I was only in the tube for three or four minutes. πŸ€” I kept my eyes open this time, and between the droning noise and un-focusing my eyes on the pattern inside the tube… I just absolutely zoned out. Either that or it was melting my brain.

Mundane

When there’s not much going on in my life it’s easy to forget that the blog is sitting here waiting for some attention from me. πŸ˜’ But yeah, that’s just how it’s been lately… nothing going on except for the mundane. Medical stuff is starting to pick up a bit. I never thought it would fly, but workers comp approved a new MRI for my neck, so that’s on the agenda for next week. 😐 Once it’s done, I figure that technically the results belong to me, so I’m going to see if my cancer doc wants to take a look and see if there’s anything worth getting excited about. Not that I’m excited about that prospect. Latest labs were okay though, so meh… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Then on top of that, shortly after I got home from my WC doctor I got a call from my primary care doctor. πŸ™„πŸ˜ Being tied up with my neck doctor once a month, and then all of the thyroid / cancer doctor stuff over the past three years or whatever it has been… it hasn’t really motivated me to check in with my “normal” doctor. 😏 But she obviously noticed this as well, considering that she made the call to get me scheduled for a check up. I mean, I suppose some doctors will do that, but with the way most offices are already flush with patients, it did catch me by surprise. So that’s scheduled for the beginning of next month, where I’m sure I will be scolded at least a little…

Other than that, the news of the day has been snow. πŸ˜’ For the past couple of weeks… or at least that’s what it feels like. πŸ₯Ά This will probably sound dumb, but when the snow has accumulated enough that it becomes an issue, and the plows have gone by and clogged up the end of the driveway… I’m not that concerned about getting out – I’m more concerned with getting the area by the mailbox cleared out for the mailman. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Because I drive down the road and see mailbox after mailbox that are most likely unreachable by the little mail truck. I mean, I’m sure that he will try to pull through the snow in some instances, just trying to do his job, so I can just imagine what a pain in the ass it is to avoid getting stuck – or getting unstuck when he does. πŸ™ Now, for all I know he’s allowed to skip every mailbox that looks even slightly unreachable – but still, my brain prods me to go out and see what I can do, gimpy shoulder and all.

The first snowfall… I put on my coat and gloves, grabbed the shovel, walked out to the road… πŸ˜πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ and let’s just say that I underestimated how much snow had fallen, and how much the plows were not working in my favor. I just stood and stared for a minute and then walked back inside. Jason was able to come by the next day though and plow both the driveway and by the mailbox, so everything was good for a few days. πŸ™‚

The second storm was supposed to come in two fronts, one after the other, with estimates of up to a 18″ of accumulation. 😯 Luckily it ended up being way less than that, but still enough that it threatened to eff up the driveway again. So to keep it from getting too deep to drive through I just went out a couple times during the snow and drove out to the road and back, keeping some passable ruts for the car. 😎 And the mailbox area… I was actually able to shovel that, thanks to the first snowfall being a bunch of light powder, and the second “snowfall” actually being a 1/4″ coating of ice that covered everything. Once I stepped on the crust out there and crunched it all up, after about 15 minutes I had it cleared enough where the mail truck wouldn’t have any trouble. πŸ™‚ Yay me.

So yeah… that’s about it for now. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

3-Day Frivoloweekend

Past couple of days haven’t been bad. I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot, but I’ve been getting a ton of sleep somehow, so at least I’m well rested while doing nothing. 😌 Actually, me and Dad were talking about the cats, the birds out front, and onto bird feeders… and he suggested that I could take this big “wooden guy” that I had built out of wood scraps when I was 12 years old, and adapt it into a bird feeder for out in front of the picture window – both for the birds to eat from and for the cats to glare at. 😊

There’s probably not too many people my age who can go into the basement of their house and find a creation like this from when they were a kid. Grandpa and Grandma always saved any useful looking bits of wood they’d come across, so the workshop was great for playing around with a hammer and nails, building random this or that. πŸ€“ This particular wooden guy… he is already in a seated position with a tray in his outstretched arms, so all I had to do was put some elevated edges around the tray to (hopefully) prevent the seed from falling out.

I really doubt that I have any bird seed left over, so I’ll just pick some up the next time I head in town. But it was a fun little distraction, talking to Dad over text messages as I mucked around with this soon-to-be bird feeder guy. 🐦 I told him that in the future, any time that I task myself with chores around the house, I also have to give myself something silly or frivolous to do as well, so I don’t clog my day with only “meh” stuff. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

And continuing to speak of fun stuff… I finally bit the bullet and ordered one of these high-zoom monoculars. πŸ€¨πŸ”­ Dad sent me a link to an ad for it a while back, but I kept trying to talk myself out of it – not “needing” a new toy. But toys aren’t about “needing” them. 😏 It looks like it could have a zoom as good as my camcorder, plus it comes with a thing to attach it to your phone, for use with the camera. Anyway, totally just a frivolous fun thing, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten myself any new toys – so it should be here towards the end of the week if all goes well. 😁 Not sure what I’m gonna do with it yet, but I’m sure I’ll find something interesting.

I’m up a little later than I planned, but that’s because of a short nap this evening. Yesterday was nice though… I went over and talked to Amy and Rick for a bit, grabbed some biscuits and gravy for when I got home, and shortly after poofing myself on that I fell asleep. 🐷🀀 I can’t remember if it was yesterday or the day before though, when I slept in the evening, woke up for a couple of hours, and then slept all damn night anyway. πŸ₯±πŸ˜΄ I’m sure it won’t stay like this, but it’s sure been nice to sleep so much lately.

Even though this is Monday, I did treat it mostly like a continuation of the weekend. So tomorrow I’ll probably try to be less of a potato. πŸ€”πŸ§ The weather helped with the current mood though, getting 4 or 5 inches of snow, then rain that melted half of it, and now more snow on top of it. 😯πŸ₯Ά I was tempted to actually play Christmas music. But our snow was nothing compared to what Genesee is getting right now in NJ… where they’re in the middle of getting 12″ to 18″ of snow in one pop. πŸ˜§β˜ƒοΈπŸΆ Now she is gonna have a good excuse to be a potato, with the challenge it would be for them to even leave the driveway. Nesh sure is a happy pup though.

Well, that was a fairly positive entry, eh? πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ It’s funny, the little things that kept my mood good over the weekend and today… πŸ€” planning stuff for the birds and cats, getting that “Fat Box” from Amy, sleeping and sleeping and sleeping, standing on my porch, looking at the snow in the middle of the night like a weirdo, watching stock tickers all day, etc. 🀘🏻😎 Oh, and Genesee had eight friggin’ boxes of Girl Scout cookies delivered to my door too. πŸ˜… But yeah, my three-day weekend will be over after I sleep tonight, and I’ve already got some chores in mind for myself for tomorrow… but that can wait. πŸ™‚