Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 170

My goal today was to finish editing the photos from our New York trip in 2008, but I got distracted.

As I’ve said before, I am geotagging and titling every photo I keep. I try to use Lightroom’s built-in map search to do the work, but sometimes it doesn’t find an address or building name, so I turn to Google Maps, which is much better at figuring things out.

But it’s not easy to get a latitude and longitude out of Google Maps; it gives you something called a Plus Code (for example, the Plus Code for Grand Central Terminal is “87G8Q23F+34”). And there’s code on GitHub to turn a Plus Code into a latitude and longitude.

Except that Google actually gives a “shortened” code – one which is relative to a city nearby (in this case, “Q23F+34 New York”), and the sample code I found couldn’t handle a shortened code very easily.

The Google Maps API can handle the shortened code just fine, though, so I wrote a very small and simple-minded program to convert a Plus Code to a latitude and longitude that I can paste into Lightroom. And a TextExpander snippet to make it easy to do so.

While I was at it, I let the program pass basically any string to Google Maps in the hope that it’ll recognize it:

> ./pluscode.py Grand Central Terminal
40.7527262,-73.9772294

And I added a special case for coordinates that I cut-and-paste from geocaches to convert “N 40° 41.117 W 073° 58.509” to “40° 41.117 N 073° 58.509 W” because Lightroom wants the hemisphere label after the coordinate value.

Oh, yeah, I had to create an API Key to use the geocoding service and tie it to my Google Account.

But with all that done, I can copy a plus code or an address or coordinates from a geocache into the “GPS” field in Lightroom, type ‘;pc’ and voilà, my photo is geotagged!

Of course, as I was writing this post, I discovered that Lightroom’s Map Module search will use a shortened Plus Code just as well as it uses an address. But I’m still glad I wrote this code, because it saves me a trip to the Map Module.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 169

I’ve been editing at least one days’ worth of photos every day for the last two weeks, and I’ve made a lot of progress – I’m nearly finished with 2008 (I have to backtrack and deal with our first National Trust tour, five days in New York City).

I have titled and geotagged every photo I kept – but I was afraid that this one would stump me. I remember the victory party on November 4, 2008, but neither Diane nor I could remember where it was held. Neither of us had any email about the party, nor was it on our calendars. And I hadn’t blogged about the party (though I did blog a bit about the election).

In desperation, I turned to Facebook. Diane’s timeline had a posting on November 10: “changed her photo to one taken at the Silicon Valley Obama Election Night celebration!” Searching the web for “Silicon Valley Obama Election Night” brought me to this YouTube video, which opens with a title card showing the location: the Computer History Museum. Problem solved!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 168

I got an email from Tripit this afternoon telling me that they could no longer monitor our flight next Friday from Porto to Madrid. Of course, we weren’t going to be taking that flight, but the note did encourage me to look at Iberia’s site to see what was going on.

They had cancelled our flight and rebooked us on a flight with “Air Nostrum” at exactly the same time; Air Nostrum appears to be an Iberia subsidiary. The rebooking notice offered three choices: accept, take a voucher, or call a US toll-free number to request a refund.

Ten minutes later, mostly spent on hold, I think I have a refund on the way. I’m not 100% positive because the connection was terrible – the agent and I had to keep repeating things to one another, but I’m pretty sure he said they’d refund the payment but to allow at least 40 days.

I’m hoping we’ll be able to take the trip as rescheduled for 2022 – but I’m not going to buy any airline tickets yet.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 167

Our next-door neighbors used to have the same kind of alarm system that we have; when they replaced it, they gave me all of their hardware. I used one of their motion detectors to replace one of mine that had gone bad and put everything else in a box in the garage and forgot all about it.

Part of trying to figure out what’s going on with the AlarmDecoder is looking at the logs it creates so that I can correlate events caused by opening and closing windows with what the system reports. I kept seeing a LOT of events for devices that aren’t attached to our house’s system, which I had to filter out. I decided to look at the box in the garage and discovered that all of the detectors still had batteries installed and were faithfully reporting their status every few minutes – probably including a plea for a new battery.

I took all of the batteries out (fortunately, they weren’t leaking) and put the box back in the garage, where it will sit more quietly.

There are still a lot of events in my log from other people’s systems, but it’s a little less messy. And what else can you ask for these days?

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 166

Diane read Torah and I led services today at Shir Hadash – over Zoom, of course. Our lay cantor participated from her home in South Carolina (she moved there a few years ago to be closer to her children; she’s been a regular again since we went to Zoom services), and the Rabbi read the Haftorah and gave the drash.

In addition to leading the service, I was also taking care of streaming it to Boxcast for later viewing, and that nearly was a disaster – I probably copied an extra blank at the end of the stream encryption key when I pasted it into Zoom, and there was no obvious recovery. We even stopped the Zoom meeting and set up a new recording on Boxcast in hopes of fixing it, but got the same error. Eventually I found the link that let me re-specify the encryption key and I was VERY careful in copying things.

This afternoon, we sat in on Lyric Theatre’s sing-through of The Pirates of Penzance – it was a lot of fun, especially when people used stuffed animals or sock puppets to add to the experience. They needed singers, chorus members, dialog readers, and audience – we were audience. They’ll be having more sing-throughs between now and when they can have another show; if you’re interested, click the “sing-through” link and get on their mailing list.

I made it through half of 2008 in photo culling – somehow, the hundreds of photos that Jeff took on his senior class trip to Israel wound up in my photo library, so I just put them aside for him. :-)

Just another pandemic Saturday, I guess!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 165

I write these entries in Day One and then copy them to the blog as Markdown, which WordPress happily reads. It’s a straightforward process unless I have a photo, which requires a bit more effort to get to both platforms.

Today, I discovered that Day One offers templates to help you journal more effectively. I decided to try the “Daily Self” template, which is divided into five sections:

Clearly, they designed the template before COVID-19.

When I tried copying the templated entry to the blog, all of the pretty headers turned into plain text, and I can’t find any way to change the headers. So I’m back to starting with a blank screen.

I spent a large part of the day working on the AlarmDecoder – not the hardware, fortunately! There is a bug in the software and it gets confused if you have lots of opened windows (and with the better weather over the last couple of days, we’ve been able to open windows instead of relying on air conditioning); I finally got around to reporting it and have been generating logs for the developer to use. He thinks he’s got a fix and will be shipping it for testing in a day or so; the same fix will need to be ported to the Indigo Plugin.

I deleted four very random photos from early 2008; I will consider that sufficient to keep my streak of daily photo editing alive.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 164

I’ve finished two years of photo editing in the last couple of days – 2006 and 2007. I’m almost shocked by how few photos I took during those two years.

In 2006, I took business trips to Helsinki and Banff, my mother died, we cleaned out Diane’s father’s house after he moved to Tucson, we went to DC, Richmond, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Tucson, and the World Science Fiction Convention. With all of that happening, I only took 393 photos (and kept 137).

In 2007, we went to Tucson and Tombstone, looked at colleges in Oregon. and took a trip to Richmond, went on a Bay Cruise here, attended the North American Science Fiction Convention and I only took 126 photos (and kept 36).

Of course, one reason I have so few photos from that period is that I put many of them on Flickr and then let that account lapse without backing it up – my blog has many unresolved photo references, including one of Jeff as an IRS agent for Halloween. I wonder what he looked like….

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 162

I did something today that I haven’t done for nearly two weeks – I put on long pants instead of shorts. We had to get out for an early walk and it was still in the 60s when we left.

We had to leave early to be home in time for a virtual tour of Beit Hatfutsot that we’d won at Shir Hadash’s 40th anniversary virtual auction. We’d actually bid on a trip to see the Salvador Dali exhibit in Monterey, but….

The tour was interesting and fast-paced; we’d been to the museum during our 1999 trip to Israel, but things had changed in the intervening 21 years. The tour was centered on art and culture, and I really enjoyed it – I’d like to see some of the exhibits in person, but for now, I’ll have to settle for what’s on the museum’s web site.

Today’s mail included the Valpak envelope – I always open it and glance through it, and very occasionally find a coupon of interest. Today, though, I was greeted by something different when I opened the envelope:

It’s already been donated to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s fire relief fund.

Shelter-in-Place Journal, Day 161

We were supposed to work out with our trainer this morning, but the JCC texted us last night saying they’d be closed all day today because of the pollution from the fires, so that didn’t happen. It wasn’t completely horrible in the morning, so we did get a walk in, but there were fewer people outside than usual.

We were also supposed to be landing in Barcelona today, beginning our Iberian adventure. That didn’t happen either.

What did happen today was that I finally successfully wired up the AlarmDecoder and got it back on the air. I had more trouble putting four little 22 AWG wires into a screw terminal block than even a hardware-impaired person like me should have been able to have. I kept breaking the wires and having to re-strip them; unfortunately, 22 AWG is too small for my good wire stripper, so I had to do it by hand and…well, there’s a reason I have a good wire stripper. But after several attempts and hardly any swearing, I got everything connected and it worked!