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…)

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Let Them Words Out

Feeling a little better, even though my sleep is still really screwed up. I really do give credit to the sunlight that was coming in through the picture window all day today… until I unintentionally fell asleep for four hours in the recliner. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I had a really amazing dream though, and I did need to catch up on my sleep, so I can’t be too upset I guess. Hoping that means that I’m coming out the other end of this recent bleh, but I don’t wanna get ahead of myself on that. Heh… it’s quite the balancing act.

So anyway, probably a bit over a year ago I was dealing with a weird thing where I’d be listening to all of my favorite songs, yet not feel a damn thing. Nothing. And this was with any of the couple thousand songs on my car’s flash drive, all of which I selected to be on there for a reason – so of course I should feel something. Well, now that’s completely flipped. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I can’t listen to anything without being instantly transported back to the moment where that memory was formed with that song… and unfortunately nearly all of those times feel a whole lot happier than “now” feels. 😞

So rather than torture myself with memory-filled tunes, I’m gonna try something different. I’ve got satellite radio in my car, and it has a ton of stations and a lot of options, but it’s still like traditional radio – they play what they want, and you listen as it comes. πŸ˜’ That’s no good anymore. Not when there are cheaper options for music like Spotify. Ten bucks a month and you can basically listen to any song you can think of, within reason. So that’s what I’m gonna do… drop the SiriusXM and just use Spotify and bluetooth with the car.

Oh, and unlike XM I’ll be able to use it anywhere. (They’re really gonna have to re-think their business model if they wanna be viable in five years.) And it’s funny, the thing that finally prompted me was when I watched someone’s long-form abandoned exploration video and they had several songs that I had never heard, from bands that I’m completely unaware of, but that I absolutely wanted to hear again. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€˜πŸ» Heh… this is a new thing for me, because I’ve been so content for years to listen to the songs I already like, with maybe a few new ones sprinkled in here and there.

(It’s a shame, this deserves more than 150 views in well over a year.)

I read an article long ago that said once a person reaches a certain age, their brain is no longer “open” to new music. That’s my poorly worded summary of what they said… but they made it sound biological. πŸ€” Like true enjoyment of new music just doesn’t really happen… not like when you were a kid. I can see where is is psychologically difficult though, because when you are young you aren’t jaded or worn down by the world. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ The lyrics you hear, the hope, optimism, happiness, etc… it all seems absolutely possible. The older you get, not so much. 😏 Of course one person is different from the next, but when you’ve been through some shit – sometimes those songs with hopeful upbeat lyrics can be almost annoying.

But, and especially now due to digital media, I think it’s more that we grow up liking what we like and then as we get older we just tend to stick to that. The stuff we know, the stuff we really did feel back then. ☺ Now that everything is just a click away, I don’t know if that will continue to be the case with most people. For example, when I get Spotify and click on Fly by Sleeping With Sirens, after that it’ll probably suggest other shit like them or by them. Same thing when I listen to tracks I already know and like. It could and should keep expanding my range… giving me new shit I like, without the annoying attachment of some other place and time.

And hey, ten years from now when I hear all these new songs I discovered “back in 2018” I’m hoping I’ll look back on them with the memory of “Whew… glad I don’t feel like that anymore.”

Other Shit

New Year’s Eve was a big ol’ meh. I can’t even remember my exact mood that day, but I could make a pretty good guess. 😏 Luckily I saw a post on Twitter that said if you started watching “Doctor Who – The End of Time: Part II” at 10:54pm, at exactly midnight it would be at the part where The Doctor visits Cardiff and Rose spots him and wishes him a Happy New Year. It’s just a nice moment – because he’s already traveled with her extensively, and he’s actually dying now, but in this particular moment he has gone back to before they had met – so she didn’t even realize who he was yet. 😒😊 I dunno, you have to be a fan of the show I guess. πŸ€“ But I barely remember it working out just right, she said “Happy New Year!” right at midnight, then *ploop* I was out.

As for a potential “Doctor Visit #2” regarding the “Oh, hey, there’s something on your thyroid.” noted by the technician that ran the MRI for my spine… I’m really not sure what I’m going to do about that yet, if anything. 😐 It doesn’t help that I just watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where a couple of the characters were referring to a family member who had cancer on her thyroid without even knowing it, and died soon after it was detected. πŸ˜• Thinking about that… I dunno, if I really start feeling some sort of effects from whatever it is then I might go see what’s up, but if it’s something bad bad already – I’m not sure I’m interested in finding that out. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Foolish? Probably… but only for someone who isn’t prepared for what “not knowing” could bring next. Meh… I’m still discussing it with friends. It’s hard to say “It’s okay, I’m kinda ready to check out anyway…” without people getting all concerned and up in your business. πŸ˜… But anyway…

It’s still effing frigid here in Ohio. 😬 Waking up to five degrees, or one degree… with the house cracking and popping from enduring the constant sub-freezing temperatures… yeah, this shit is for the birds. 😰 Today, just a couple of miles from home, while trying to thaw their work truck – some poor folks managed to explode the building they were working in… and the sound, even from that far away, jolted me awake by shaking the house. 😨 I honestly looked outside to see if a car had skidded into the house or something, even though the house is like 80′ from the road.

Hopefully now that the holidays are over I’ll start feeling a little more normal, relatively speaking. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas and New Year’s… there’s just a lot of emotions wrapped up in the memories right now, so getting back to boring old crappy “regular” time again is comforting. ☺ I finished shaving the cat, got the living room all vacuumed and straightened up, so I’m gonna slowly build on that progress. In what fashion, I’m not quite sure yet… but just moving forward instead of being frozen here would be an improvement. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

And on Twitter I’ve unfollowed any accounts related to politics and news. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I did it once before but couldn’t make it stick, because it’s in my nature to stay informed… but Donald Trump is a fucking moron, and I can’t keep clicking open that app each day to see him comparing “nuke button” sizes with Kim Jong-un and planning “Presidential Fake News Awards” and other equally insane bullshit. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ People say he’s just trolling the world, that he’s pointing out errors that journalists have made… which is fine… but he’s still a fucking moron, is ridiculously unqualified to be President, and is making the United States a laughing stock and much more hated than we’ve been in a long time. 😣 And my watching it on Twitter isn’t gonna make a lick of difference one way or another… so I’m gonna try to shield myself from the stupid and stupid’s followers.

Cash Grab

In the interest of psychological self-preservation, I’ve steered clear of reading too much Twitter or watching too much political news today. 🀨 That’s probably something I should consider doing permanently… instead of trying to always stay up to date on the latest breaking news, maybe I should take a couple days’ break between absorbing all of the awfulness. πŸ€” I’m sure I’d end up hearing about it if anything urgent actually happened, but the rest of it should be easy enough to consume in summary form for the previous couple of days. πŸ€“ Meh… it’s a thought anyway…

I was blessed to receive a “catch up” sleep last night. I think I ended up crashing around 5:00am, and didn’t wake up until 3:00pm… so despite my schedule getting a little screwed up due to the sleep schedule adjustment, waking up feeling rested and without much pain was a godsend. – so I can overlook the inconvenience it’ll probably cause.

I got another small surprise in the mail today. While I’m normally not a fan of bands/artists re-releasing their albums with “bonus tracks” after everyone has already bought the original… because I liked nearly every single track on Skillet’s album Unleashed, I went ahead and gritted my teefs and clicked the “buy” button when they announced that they were releasing Unleashed Beyond – which has five brand new tracks and two remixes of songs already on the original disc. πŸ˜ƒπŸ€˜πŸ» I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m 90% sure that I’m gonna like the new stuff.

So yeah… honestly even though it’s the early evening, I really feel like my day is only just getting started – and right now my mind is clear, I’ve not set any obligations for myself, so hopefully it’ll just be a mix of lazy, doing a little of this and that, and trying to keep it from ending up crappy for whatever reason. I felt a twinge of maybe wanting to take some photos again, so maybe I’ll look about and see what types of new features and photo slideshow software packages are out there these days.

Wanimation

Playing around with Google Earth again, the desktop application, trying to make a visually interesting animation using Atlantic City, NJ as my source material. This file is rendered at 720p, 60fps, using OpenGL rather than DirectX… I also used the experimental atmosphere projection, although I can’t remember how much interpolation or anti-aliasing I used. I was continually experimenting with settings and resolutions, because I’ve still been unable to get a 1080p/60fps render to complete without glitches.

I didn’t really do much. I just selected the camera angles, altitudes, shot composure… the software generates the flight path between each one. However, depending on how the user lines up each static shot, it will definitely have an affect on the transition between the prior one and the one that follows.

It looks pretty good on the laptop, but for some reason when I use the YouTube app on my XBOX One it looks so much better on the TV. But yeah, I was just feeling a bit nostalgic for the place again, which eventually prompted me to start dicking around to come up with the resulting animation.