Vicarious Eavesdropping

That little nap yesterday afternoon…Β πŸ˜’Β screwed up my entire night. Didn’t fall asleep until about 3am, and I was up and down almost every hour on the hour from then on out. I don’t know if I was dreaming, since I was watching a huge storm front going through Illinois and Indiana as I was getting sleepy, but it was either that or I just barely slept through what sounded like a huge downpour. πŸŒ§οΈβ›ˆοΈπŸ‘πŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ§οΈΒ As if someone was spraying a hose against the side of my house. (Probably just my imagination.)Β Meh… now I’m just tired and grumpy and have a friggin’ neck / headache again, but hey… at least it’s Saturday. πŸ™‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Took my morning meds and some Aleve, so I’ll be feeling better soon. Also, I’ve got a package on the way. 😯 And how can you be in a shit mood when you’ve got a package coming? 😁 Before bed each night, I usually spend a while listening to the scanner, and relaying any interesting bits to Amy, my night-time / insomnia texting wife. 😏 We use that term jokingly, of course… but everyone (if they’re married) has a real spouse, but then you often have a “work wife”, an “internet wife”, a “texting wife”, etc. Anyway, the scanner is great, but I’m far enough from town that reception is sometimes a problem. πŸ€¨πŸ“»

So I found a cheap, wide-band, glass mount antenna with the bitty SMA connector that my Uniden HomePatrol 1 uses – and it’s supposed to arrive today. Hopefully by one of their delivery people that has the GPS system where it’ll pop up a little map, showing where they are, and how many stops until they reach you. πŸ€“πŸ§­πŸšš Gonna tuck the antenna behind the curtain on the picture window, which somewhat faces towards town, so hopefully it’ll give me just enough boost that I’ll stop getting garbled transmissions.

At this point, $20 was about the limit that I was willing to throw at a possible solution, but I did also consider that my metal awnings could possibly used with a magnet mount ground plane antenna. But not only does that start to get outside of my wheelhouse when it comes to antenna knowledge, but they’re also more expensive, and I don’t have an easy way to run the connecting cable into the house. Besdies, I’m not sure I care enough about “perfect reception” to bother doing whatever I’d need to do to get it perfect. 😏 Most services in the area have gone to digital broadcasting anyway, so I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they start using encryption as well – which would make my receiver useless. πŸ˜• Gone are the days of getting a $20 “Bearcat” scanner at a yard sale that would give you access to almost everything you’d wanna listen to.

Okay, enough rambling… just wanted to bang out an entry to help me wake up and get my day started. I doubt I’m gonna be out of the house much over the next couple of days, having no appointments or obligations (and also wanting to avoid the bizarre 90 degree “fall” weather), so that gives me even more reason to anxiously await the arrival of that antenna for one of my toys. πŸ€“πŸ˜Œ It’s honestly too cheap, so I’m not expecting much, but if it gives me just enough gain re: these two specific channels it’ll have been worth it.

Makes me wish for a “Fall Hamvention” … but I probably wouldn’t go to that one either. πŸ˜…Β I miss Hara Arena.

No Skill/Participation Required

I really wish I could take credit for what I’ve thrown together in this little clip, but the extent of my participation in capturing these three clips was setting a few things on the camcorder, pressing record, then slowly backing away and leaving it alone while it did its thing. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ The first clip suffers from a huge amount of chromatic aberration – something that I can’t do a damn thing about – but I hadn’t recorded the moon going behind the trees before, so I didn’t realize how bad it could be affected by it. πŸ˜• I probably shouldn’t have pointed it out, ‘cuz now that’s all you’ll see.Β Β 

The second clip was a time-lapse at 20 second intervals… and yeah, I knew the clouds would be moving way too fast to be “peaceful” looking, but I wanted to show the motion of the moon across the sky in that particular clip. πŸ€”πŸ€“ β˜οΈβ˜οΈπŸŒ•πŸ’¨Β And then the third, it’s much like the first, just using less zoom – and unfortunately the camcorder just struggles to maintain the correct brightness level, so unless you’re zoomed in with the 80x digital you’re just not gonna be able to get the detail of the surface. πŸ˜’

But with this last test, I think I’ve kinda done all that I need to do when it comes to shooting the moon (*giggle*) or working with time-lapse videos of the sky, whether in the day, evening, or night. Meaning, there’s not much more new that I can do without leaving the yard… so I’ll probably put these projects on the back burner for a while, until I’m feeling in good enough shape to actually take the show on the road and set up for something with a more scenic view. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈΒ Figuring out this stuff helps to temporarily take away some of the stress I’ve been feeling lately… really looking at this stuff, realizing how small we are, and how vast “everything” truly is. 😌 But yeah, back to boring and/or bitching posts after this, I guess… πŸ˜…

Alternate Tests

So… no clouds tonight, so no “clouds zipping past the moon” time-lapse test was possible. However, with the sky as clear as it was, I figured I’d try a different app for my phone that let me set the ISO to 64, the exposure to 30 seconds, and let it run for about an hour and a half – capturing images of the SW sky with the top of my house and some trees in the frame for a bit of context. It was a success in theory, since I now know how to get all my settings right to capture stars and planets – but since the moon was lighting up the sky, it left everything looking washed out. But yeah, I can see potential in this method…

Then the other thing I tried was an 80x digital zoom time-lapse of the moon as it crossed the field of view of the camera. Another thing that I should have realized, was at that zoom level – the motion of the moon would be visible enough to the eye in real-time… so doing a time-lapse with a one second interval made it cross through the frame way too fast. πŸ€”πŸ˜’ So, that’s why this looks all jerky… it’s actually a time-lapse that was slowed to 1/4 of its original speed. But again, decent test – which unfortunately reveals there’s not enough manual control available in this camcorder for exposure and brightness. You’ll see how it comes into the frame overexposed, looks good for a bit, and then gets blown out again as it exits the frame. Still, pretty good for a cheap ass digital camcorder. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚ (And another nice distraction for the evening…)

Don’t forget to click the little HD icon as well as making it full screen for the best result. πŸ€“πŸ˜Ž

Better Than A Micro-Cassette

It’s funny, I’ve got this really nice Sony digital audio recorder that I picked up on eBay a couple years back for cheap – but technically, with everything our phones can do these days, and at the quality they can do it, having a dedicated digital voice recorder can probably be thought of as old school. 😏 But I actually started putting it to use a little over a year ago, before my thyroid surgery. I just thought it would be nice to make a bunch of little recordings in case something happened to me… or now, for whenever it is that I happen to not be around anymore. 😯😬 It sounds morbid as I type it, but I think at least some folks would appreciate it.

Despite being nervous and uncertain about my own medical condition at the time, I made sure that everything I recorded was generally upbeat or at least not gloomy overall. πŸ™‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ A little bit of everything… stories I haven’t talked about in a long time, stories I haven’t talked about ever, lots of memories and stories from when I was younger and in school… I dunno, I don’t even remember most of what all I said by this point, other than having a little numbered index with a one sentence description of what that particular recording was mostly about. (Which, honestly, doesn’t tell me shit now… heh)

But I do know that I made recordings every couple of days up until my surgery, and after that it just kinda slipped from my thoughts and I haven’t done any since then. 😟 I think I wanna try to start up again, because a lot has happened in the past year. Problem is, it’s not necessarily a lot of good stuff… and I’m trying to figure out how to talk about some of that stuff without the recordings becoming totally depressing. 😞 I guess I could start off with the good news that I’m at least still here. Wish I could say the same for some other folks, obviously… and that’s where the problem lies. πŸ₯Ί

But I’ll figure it out. Sad or depressing stuff doesn’t necessarily have to translate into sad and depressing recordings. Just gotta do like I’m trying to do with my day to day life – making sure I recognize (and therefore talk about) the good among whatever “bad” there might be. This could very well end up just another one of the many things that I put on the “might do” list that ends up getting forgotten again, but even just planning random little side-projects like this makes me feel a bit better, like every day doesn’t have to end up being almost identical to the one before it and the one after it. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

You Got Your Hulu In My Spotify

I’ve been reading about how we’ve already passed the “heyday” of video streaming. It makes sense… because back when it started catching on you really only needed Netflix and you’d have pretty much everything you wanted. But now, each company that licenses (or used to license) content to Netflix – now they wanna keep that content and start their own streaming service. So now you have Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, Disney Plus coming soon… basically any corporation that has its own content, they want it on their platform instead of someone else’s – so to end up having access to everything you want, soon you’ll need to subscribe to four or five of these things at 10 to 15 bucks a pop. Not ideal, and not likely to get better anytime soon.

I only bring it up today because I realized that by having a subscription to Spotify for my music, it also has the option of activating an ad-supported version of Hulu to go along with it for free. I suppose Hulu has nothing to lose, since they still get to play commercials, and if anything it may entice people into paying for the ad-free tier. Not me, most likely, but I did go ahead and set Hulu up today to see what the free version is like. I ditched my $50 YouTube TV a few weeks ago, which makes paying a little more than ten bucks for all the music I can listen to, and some sort of half-way decent TV/movie streaming, seem like quite the deal. Check into it if you’re already a Spotify subscriber.

The Calm

Tomorrow (if I stick to my current self-imposed schedule)Β is shaping up to be a doctor/test heavy day, so I spent today in a way where I mostly didn’t have to think or talk about all of that. Nothing out of the ordinary… saw a couple of friends, went to a couple of thrift stores, grabbed some food… keeping myself distracted with the good-yet-mundane. 😏

Since the holiday weekend is coming to an end tonight, I can no longer put off dealing with the stack of mail and bills from the past week and a half. πŸ˜’ I’m sure you can understand my logic… didn’t do it FridayΒ ‘cuz it was almost the weekend, didn’t do it Saturday since banking stuff wouldn’t go through on a Sunday, and didn’t do it on Sunday because today is Labor Day. 😁 I’m all out of procrastinator tricks, so here I am at the laptop. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Oh, and the thrift… I actually picked up a few things. πŸ™‚ There’s an obscure-ish British comedy show that I like called The Mighty Boosh, and I actually found a big ol’ hardback book that focuses on it. I can’t even imagine how or why it even got created, but yay me. πŸ™ŒπŸ» The second thing was a Roland EP-3 digital piano. (Because four keyboards in the house just wasn’t enough… heh) I haven’t tested it yet, but it looks solid, and was only $9.99. 😯 How could I not, eh? The third thing is actually pretty silly, but also not…

When I was a baby, one of my relatives (I believe it was my Uncle (?) Frank) got me a stuffed panda bear as a gift. I kept that thing with me when I slept for years… long enough that I have actual memories of it and not just from photos – not to mention that I still have the well-worn, one-eye-less guy still sitting in a box here in my house as evidence. πŸ˜…

Here’s where the silly comes in. Walking past the toys and stuffed things, I caught a panda bear in my peripheral vision – and when I actually looked over at it, I immediately thought about my own old bear, the family back then, not to mention all of the aforementioned pictures that I’ve seen of me and that bear. πŸ™„πŸΌ Heh… and at that point, my bear and that bear were suddenly, unintentionally, and officially connected through all of the feels that I was having at that moment – so I had to get him. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜„

He’s obviously quite a bit healthier looking than my well-loved teddy, so it won’t creep me out if I put him on my “no explanation” bookshelf of crap in the bedroom, which is probably what I’ll end up doing. I texted Genesee about it, so I could sort of laugh at myself as she laughed with me, and ponder over what unknown history that bear has… and explained to her why I couldn’t leave him there on the shelf with the rest of the low-rent stuffies. 😏

Silly, but not…

The Future Is Now

It’s been a long time coming, but all of the public service agencies in my area have finally switched out their radios, and are now using digital transmitting/receiving rather than the old analog systems that had been in place and unchanged ever since I was a teenager. πŸ‘΄πŸ» So the old police scanners that nearly everyone in Lancaster has… they’re essentially worthless now, at least when it comes to monitoring all of the action in town.

I’m not sure if it was a financial or transparency-based decision, but while they’ve upgraded to a fully digital system, they’ve decided against using encryption. The easiest thing to compare it to is the way that television broadcasts have changed over the past 10 or 20 years. No more analog signals, but if you have a digital cable box or digital tuner you can easily pick up the new transmissions. It’s the same thing with the public service radios… it’s just a different means of broadcasting. πŸ€“ If they went with encrypted systems though, it would be similar to how wireless phones use digital signals, but they’re also encrypted so that nobody but the caller and recipient are able to hear what’s being said. 🀨

The bad news? While you used to be able to buy a $40 scanner to listen to police, fire, and rescue… digital scanners are significantly more expensive. So much so that many people can’t or won’t want to make the upgrade to continue following the activity. πŸ™ And, at least here in Lancaster, an always-running police scanner has been about as common in homes as a stove, fridge, or washing machine. 😏

I had actually been considering getting a new scanner myself, going so far as to have “shopped them out” online so that I knew what I would get if the cost didn’t make me cringe so hard… and while I made the decision then that it was too expensive, hitting that little jackpot at Hollywood the other day has changed my tune. πŸ€— Oh, I still cringed when I loaded up the page of the one I wanted, but I went ahead and ordered it anyway.

The Homepatrol-1 units are basically “Digital Scanners for Dummies.” Where most other next-gen scanners are more computer than radio (with endless programming options and tweaks accordingly) the Homepatrol-1 is more about an easy listening/monitoring experience. It has built-in memory with a database that covers the entire United States, and it is updated weekly by the manufacturer – based off of frequency information provided by the users and staff at RadioReference.com

So, with the way our local departments are still going through changes, as the current frequency information is discovered and updated on the site – all I’ll have to do (in theory) is punch up my zip code in the scanner… and all of the agencies and radio options will automagically appear before my eyes. πŸ˜€ So, along with it being one of the cheaper scanners,Β that’sΒ what actually sold me on it. The ability to start using it as soon as I get it, without having to spend hours figuring it out and programming it. It does have many advanced options though, especially through the included Sentinel software that is used for easier/quicker programming… so yeah, it’ll still be something to challenge my nerd brain as well.

I’m sure it probably seems like a frivolous purchase to a lot of people… but living by myself, outside of the city limits, away from the humans… having a scanner running gives me the sense of “staying connected” with a community that I still consider to be home, even if I’m not in the heart of it. (Plus there’s all kinds of other stuff to search for and listen to on top of that…)