The Importance of USPS

How important USPS really is:

5 brand new Apple MacBook Pros shipped directly from Apple’s factory in China via DHL Express. DHL Express “forwards them” once in the US to USPS for final delivery. When I call DHL to find out what that means they said they “handed them off” to USPS and it is up to USPS to actually deliver them.

Problem:

DHL has only 1 USPS tracking number, which says the items have been delivered, but I only have 4 MacBook Pros in my possession. Naturally I call DHL to track down the missing laptop. Nope, they only have the 1 USPS tracking number “for the whole group” and basically say it’s on me to call USPS and “they can help you out.” In reality each of the MacBook Pro boxes has a unique USPS tracking number on it, which I can prove since I have 4 in my possession, yet DHL can’t give me the 5th one to actually track it with USPS.

So yeah, allowing the USPS to be defunded/scrutinized/raided/crippled/etc. is stupid and will do nothing but hurt people actually try to live their lives and conduct business while increasing costs for shipping for worse service.đŸ˜¡

OpenRC F1

I finished printing my first OpenRC F1 car, designed by Daniel Noree, and it was a great learning experience in building a large project with 3D printing. I went with the 2017 version of the car and I’m planning to print the 2018 version as well that includes the new “halo” that current F1 cars have. I also chose to purchase the Tamiya F104 tires rather than try to print my own from TPU. Printing flexible material seems rather tricky and I wanted to complete this first build without TPU printing challenges as well since I don’t see myself printing a lot of that material in the near term.

These were some of the largest pieces I’ve printed to date. Most of them I was able to print without supports owing to the great work Daniel did in designing them for printing. I was amazed by the quality of the parts when they were done. Everything fit together perfectly.

I used Prusaslicer to slice them for printing on my Prusa i3 MK3S. I used Hatchbox Cool Grey, Printed Solid Jessie Bold Blue, and Prusament Jet Black PLA filaments.

There are some things I will improve for the next build but overall I am super happy with the way this came out.

3D Printing

With our Federal tax refund each year, my wife and I allocate a portion so that each of us has some “fun money” that we get to use however we want, no conditions.

For me that normally means acquiring gear for a new hobby or interest. 2019 was a DJI Mavic Air drone. This year it was a 3D printer, a Prusa i3 MK3S kit. I bought the kit as it was cheaper and also the recommendation from most people is that it’s worth assembling your first printer to learn how it’s put together and to be familiar with the components as you will most likely need to adjust/maintain them over time.

I’ve been watching the evolution of 3D printers for the last 10 years or so, waiting for the machines to get more reliable, easier to use, and more mature. The time finally felt right to jump in. The Prusa has a number of features that make it much easier to get a print you want, and not have to fiddle with it all the time. The removable PEI-coated print bed is really nice and definitely a must have feature for me.

So far I’ve been mainly printing small models I’ve found online as I figure out all the skills and techniques needed for getting reliable print results. Most people use a test object they are familiar with printing so they can test new settings or new filaments. I’ve settled on a model called Niko the puppy so far. It’s a cute little model that shows off different filaments and how they print. Only downside so far is my daughter is quite found of the models so they get recruited for playtime quite often.

Niko the Puppy by MakerBot - Thingiverse
Niko

I haven’t started creating my own models yet. CAD is something I’ve found interesting for quite a while, at least since college, but have never spent much time in as I didn’t have any personal projects that would use it. Not having a way to design something and then generate a physical result inexpensively seemed less than satisfying to me.

Anticipate seeing some models from me in the near future.

Reduction in Force (RIF)

Pet care startup Rover lays off 41% of workforce due to COVID-19 impact

Tuesday, March 31 2020. A last minute meeting invite to a large group of people. There was no chatter I had heard of to this point that was helpful in knowing what the meeting would be about. One of our C-levels was on, looking like they had been crying recently, telling us that there was an immediate Reduction in Force and that if we were on this call, we were not part of the group that was impacted.

Not impacted. I know what they meant by that phrase but everyone at Rover was impacted. We immediately lost coworkers, teammates, friends. The departments/groups that were lucky lost around 30% of their people, the ones worse off lost nearly 100%. Being part of the IT group I was better situated that most to know the full extent of the cuts and could see the automations being run to turn down hundreds of Gsuite accounts. Posts in Slack about people having trouble accessing some system or another only to a minute later show as deactivated in Slack, a casualty of the account turn down automations.

Initially I felt shock and an immediate loss of confidence in my job during this global pandemic. I felt immediately vulnerable both personally but also for my family. What if I lost my job, maybe not today, but down the road, depending on when the economy was able to try to recover from all of this? Were my emergency funds enough that we would be okay for a while? When was the last time my wife and I sat down to discuss finances and how much we could trim back if we needed to? What about my daughter, how would this change her life, with her just turning 3 earlier this month?

Already this pandemic is being compared to The Great Depression in how it is impacting the economy and people’s lives. I can only hope there are some lasting lessons to be learned from all of this and we are wise enough to embrace them.

COVID-19 Pandemic

I’m currently on hold in the midst of canceling all the RV park reservations for our Grand Canyon RV trip. The confirmation emails I’m referencing are from August 2019. 7 months ago I was excitedly making plans to go on a 2 week RV trip with my family and in-laws and now I am systematically cancelling it piece by piece. It feels sad and disappointing but with all the restrictions, health warnings, and experiences we wouldn’t get to do it made sense.

We will shelve all the planning materials for the trip in the hopes that we can rebook everything at a later time when COVID-19 is hopefully something we know of only from a vaccine and we forget the Spring/possibly Summer of 2020 we lost.

IF Journey

SW: 276 / CW: 268 / GW: 230

Starting after the holidays I began trying Intermittent Fasting (IF). I’ve been following a 16:8 plan where I fast for 16 hours and can eat for 8 hours. For me that works out as fasting from 8pm to noon the next day and being able to eat from noon to 8pm. I’ve never been one that needs to eat breakfast and would regularly skip it by choice.

I find that on this schedule, I have a cup of coffee in the mornings. That gets me to about 11:30 before my stomach starts to rumble. If I push through that I can actually make it to about 1 or 1:30 before needing to eat. I might have a small snack around 3, Skittles at work maybe if I’m feeling like I want something sweet. Then I get home and have dinner with the family about 6. Depending on when my daughter goes to bed I might have a snack of frozen fruit at 8pm or just have a glass of tea with my wife while we watch a show together and relax at the end of the day.

Only in the last couple of days have I started to see any progress when I weigh myself each morning.

I find myself enjoying coffee more in the mornings. I have a good insulated tumbler at work or at home I’m using my Nanopresso to make espresso into a KeepCup I got as a vendor giveaway. That serves as enough of a taste start to my day. Tea in the evenings is something to sip on for taste while watching TV or browsing the internet.

Robots

For Christmas I received a Eufy 11s robotic vacuum. I was very excited and surprised as I have been researching them for a while thinking we should get one for our house to help with keeping it clean.

The first day consisted of learning all the various obstacles and objects that are normally in our downstairs space that confused or tangled the robot. Loose rugs, stray socks, and Duplo blocks were among the first obstacles we discovered we would need to tidy up before allowing the robot to do it’s work. The more curious one was our living room chair. For some reason the robot was obsessed with trying to clean underneath it but since the chair can spin and rock the robot would get stuck going over the round tubular base and then when the chair would move or rock due to the robot hitting it the robot would panic and throw up it’s hands, waiting for a human to rescue it. It’s become something of a bet between my wife and I about whether we will awaken in the morning to a robot that made it back home to its charger or not.

Also, the fresh lines in the carpet have been more satisfying than either of us had expected. Seriously, they are great.

Gnarbox 2.0

I recently picked up a Gnarbox 2.0 SSD 512GB for use with my DJI Mavic Pro Platinum and DJI Osmo Action. One of the big motivators for getting one is that I use my 2018 iPad Pro as my primary editing platform along with the Lumafusion app. The Gnarbox has a special integration with Lumafusion that allows you to select portions of a video clip and only that portion of the clip is transferred to the iPad, potentially saving a lot of iPad storage space. The 2.0 version of the Gnarbox is also USB-C based and has a special mode that makes it appear to be a USB-C Ethernet adapter allowing for much faster video playback and transfer compared to connecting over Wifi.

I’m still experimenting with workflows to see what fits my style best. So far the MicroSD card to Gnarbox import is going well. I have preset setup for both the drone and Osmo Action as I find it easier to find footage based on what device captured it.

One of the things that isn’t currently documented very well is what USB-C hubs have supported Ethernet adapters and can pass through power. I bought a few on Amazon to test.

Working (ethernet and Power):

Aukey Link PD Pro USB-C Hub

Anker USB-C Ethernet Adapter

Uni USB-C Ethernet Adapter

Partially working:

Not Working:

Feature Wishlist:

Full Gnarbox backup to 2nd storage device: a way to setup a preset to backup the Gnarbox 2.0 to a USB hard drive while preserving the on device file structure. I like flattening the folders when importing files from SD cards to the Gnarbox but when backing up the Gnarbox to a USB hard drive I want to keep the file structure as it has project folders and such.

Full Gnarbox backup to home NAS: The same backup system would be nice to setup for home mode so when I get back from a trip I can switch it to home mode, connect to my home wifi, connect to my NAS, and backup the Gnarbox file structure to a folder on my NAS all from the Gnarbox directly.

Allow creation of video preview files from a preset: allow for creating video preview files after the copy and verify to prepare for editing in Lumafusion. Even a separate preset to prepare the video previews I could do later when done filming for the day would be helpful.

Startup in other modes: The Gnarbox has a number of modes (field, home, USB-C Ethernet, Mass Storage) that allow for various specialized function. Currently, it will always boot up into field mode and then require you to reboot it into another mode, which is inconvenient at best. Having a way to boot up directly into the mode you want to use without have to do 2 boot ups would be a real time saver.

Dusting Off the Cobwebs

I’m getting things ready for a 2 week family RV trip in March-April 2020 and wanted to document some of my experiences on a blog. Turns out my WordPress blog from back in college, when blogs were all the rage, is still floating around. After reading through all the old posts, removing some of the ones I’m no longer proud of or agree with, and cleaning up the tagging I think it’s ready enough.

In the coming weeks I hope to be adding some details about the upcoming trip, gear I plan to use, and thoughts about which parts I’m most looking forward to.

Jury Duty

I was summoned for my first jury duty today. I checked the webpage as instructed by that dreaded summons mailing and my group was instructed to report to the courthouse.

First I checked in and sat down to read my book that I had brought with me. After about 20 minutes the lady in charge of the jurors came in and showed us an orientation video that explained what we would be asked to do as jurors. Then she asked if being a juror at this time would place an undue hardship on us and if it did then we had to fill out a form explaining it to the judge to see if we would be dismissed. I had no reason to fill out the form so I sat and watched about 15 get one. I remarked to the man sitting next to me that I sadly didn’t have any good excuse to be dismissed.

After a short break my group was escorted to the courtroom. The judge came in and briefing explained what we would be doing. She briefing described the case as being 1 charge of driving under the influence, which in this case as marijuana. After that 12 names were randomly called to be the first ones to sit in the juror box. 6 alternates were also called. They were asked a series of questions starting with their name and occupation, if they knew anyone in the legal or law enforcement field, and what their feelings about marijuana were. After all of the jurors and alternates had answered the judge and the 2 lawyers left the court to privately discuss the matter. About 5 minutes later the judge and lawyers returned and each thanked several jurors and asked them to be dismissed. After a juror was dismissed one of the alternates would move up to fill their space. This continued until there were no more alternates to fill the seats so another 6 alternates were called up. For the 6th alternate spot my name was called so up I went. After answering all of the questions the judge and lawyers again went back to privately discuss the jurors. They came back and dismissed 5 more jurors making me the 1st alternate. The judge told us that they needed to have 2 alternate jurors for the case so 5 more people were called to join me in the alternate chairs. After answering the same questions the judge and lawyers for the last time left the room to discuss who to select. After coming back they chose the 2nd and 3rd alternate jurors and everyone else was dismissed.

Overall the process was not that bad. I am glad that I did not have to serve on the jury though. I don’t think I could have been fair and impartial with someone who was accused of driving under the influence of marijuana. Driving is a large responsibility and is mentally challenging at the best of times. Potentially killing someone because of being mentally impaired because of marijuana is unacceptable.