“Leading with Honor” – The man behind the book

The company I work for had invited the author, Colonel Lee Ellis to speak to a large crowd of employees. I had heard of the book, but never bought it. I learned of the author from the introductory bio that was circulated and made a point of attending this corporate event.

The event was scheduled for the afternoon and I was sitting down for lunch, when I saw a familiar face looking around for a good spot to sit. There were plenty of seats, but in the military, wardrooms especially, it’s rude to leave someone hanging out to dry sitting alone.

I waved to Colonel Lee Ellis, introduced myself and motioned for him to join me. We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries and I was immediately struck with just how genuine a guy this man is. Continue reading ““Leading with Honor” – The man behind the book”

I’m not a cord cutter, but I play one with my TV

The Problem: Here’s the scenario. We have DirecTV with five boxes that includes DVR services. But only three boxes can be active at the same time. The fourth and fifth boxes can remain in the cold while three TV’s are occupied. And only so much recording can happen at one time with similar limitations.

We have a household with three adults and a 10 year old. The 10 year old believes the best way for something to happen is repeated random button smashing, because a half second delay is too much delay. He never lived in the days where dad’s used kids as remotes. “Go change it to channel 3”.

So, what’s that mean? It means that sometimes, I’m unable to watch or record what I want due to the competition of resources or the errors of button smashing that arbitrarily records or deletes things.

Continue reading “I’m not a cord cutter, but I play one with my TV”

Google Express Review

Did you know about Google Express? I didn’t.

It was by shear chance I ran across it. It was the holidays for 2017 and I was late in the game searching for someplace to buy Google Home Mini’s while the price was still low. Of course, searching on Amazon was less than productive. Of course, they are going to bury their direct competitors product.

So, I Google searched and ran across a Google Site that said I could get a Walmart Discount with an order for the Google Home Mini. Following the links, it took me to Google Express.

The home page had a whole bunch of brick and mortar stores across it’s home splash page. Some I frequent, but always wished they had an online ordering presence. Could this be it?! My interest was piqued. Continue reading “Google Express Review”

To hear the whisper of angels wings ….

This was a phrase I heard while in the military.File:Peter Paul Rubens - Music Making Angels - WGA20442.jpg

The context was that when you near death’s door you may hear the whisper of angels wings.

It’s a sensation of realizing how close to death you were. And how thankful you are that it was a close call rather than a foregone conclusion.

I can say I relate to moments when I might have been close to deaths door. There aren’t many of those moments.

The most poignant time resonated I felt this way, after drinking for years at an ever increasing rate, I realized that I was slowly killing myself. That was a Bingo. At that realization, that point of clarity of how definitively I was hurting, punishing and committing unintended suicide, I forced myself to cut back and eventually quit altogether.

Day 561 sober, feeling pretty dang good and still here.


The Pocketwatch

After my father passed, I received an old Waltham pocketwatch from his belongings. The story behind it was that he found it and attempted to find the owner. He even went so far as to contact the pocketwatch company and attempt to track the owner with the serial number. His effort failed.PocketWatch

As I thought about it, my dad was filled with a lot of conundrums. On one hand, he was a successful accountant, trusted by a lot of clients, carried a certain amount of prestige in our small two and was a president of the state CPA institute. And the pocket watch showed his desire to go above and beyond with honesty and pursuit of truth.

On the other side, he spent years in an affair while married to my mother. When discovered, instead of being clear about what he wanted and honorably facing up to his Continue reading “The Pocketwatch”

Ring Video Doorbell Pro Review

After much experimenting and consternation I finally decided to jump in for a Ring Video Doorbell Pro. 
I had experimented with Raspberry Pi’s, storing video to a local NAS and the results were just ‘meh’ at best and required a lot of personal babysitting and tweaking and was turning as expensive as retail solutions with limited quality.
I attempted to use a Zmodo per a previous post, but it’s video quality and capture weren’t quite what I hoped, it’s low light capability wasn’t good and the storage was rather expensive for the recurring services with less than high end quality hardware.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro version was aesthetically pleasing with it’s lower profile than it’s other Ring counterparts. And they come with 5 different color faceplates so your not stuck with one color. The sticker price of $250 made me a bit reluctant.

I had seen the Ring products all over the place, but was sold when I finally did the research to uncover how much the video storage is in their ‘cloud’. At the time I write this, it’s $30.00 annually for a single Ring branded device and $100.00 a year for unlimited devices. That provides video retention for 60 days.

It wasn’t until I had installed the Ring Video Doorbell Pro that I learned they provide a full feature functioning trial period of thirty days beginning the day you register your device. That was a pleasant surprise. That’s plenty of time for me to get a total feel for the functions and features.

Installation wasn’t difficult.
Instructions were straight forward if you have some basic electrical tools and aren’t intimidated. At a high level, I needed to confirm that my mechanical doorbell system operated at the right AC low voltage range and was able to do so with a decent multi-meter. Next I dropped the power on my existing doorbell system, wired everything per the instructions and we were done. By far the longest thing to get done was locating the right breaker doing laps to kill power to the doorbell transformer from the garage to the attic. The last thing to do was setting up an app on my phone and we were done.

I was very impressed from the start. You use an app on a phone or tablet to interact with the Ring Doorbell and the video quality was really sharp and clear in the dark and even better in daylight. The lens is a fisheye which captures all of the entryway area, but amazingly provides clarity out to the street.

The app has functions for capturing video for ‘Rings’, ‘Motion’, ‘Live View’ and ‘Starred’ and a final list option called All, which lists everything. It captures video in snippets depending on the function.

‘Motion’ – based on sensitivity and the area to detect motion this is where video snippets are stored related to movement. I had to experiment with the settings and am very happy. I opted to be a bit sensitive and probably get more alerts than needed. On rare occasions it senses a large vehicle like dump truck or bus in the street or in one instance a small dachshund that decided to check out our doorway.
 ‘Rings’ – whenever someone presses the doorbell, it captures video on the approach to the doorbell and during the time you watch them. From your app, you can answer the door through the built in speaker and microphone. This has taken some getting used to. It seems to give me a bit of a problem with bluetooth headsets.
‘Live View’ – If you check the options with the device you’ll find a ‘live view’ button. This allows you to watch things on demand. This might be useful if your checking the weather I guess. And while you view ‘Live View’ it’s capturing that video.
Of course ‘All’, lists all the snippets captured from every category.
The app also includes the option of sharing with others. This allows you to give others access to the Ring device too, so more than one person can view the storage que. Or you can set it up on multiple devices like tablets in addition to your cell phone.

I’ve been using the Ring DoorBell Pro for a couple months and signed up for the single device option and figure this is a good time for my review. This requires some explanation.

Storage: Pro or Con – You decide
Ring devices are “alert based” devices.This is my terminology. What I mean is the Ring device (across the product line) have a continuous buffer (or storage loop) and only store footage a few seconds before and after a ‘trigger’ event like motion or the doorbell ringing. Other systems (Nest for example) are continuous footage storage systems. Why does this matter?

Here’s an example: At first Ring was a unique experience and I enjoyed being able to see what was going by. But with the neighborhood being overrun with delivery trucks during the holiday season and receiving alerts nearly every five minutes, I reduced the sensitivity so I wasn’t getting alerts for every single car, stray animal or pedestrian that went by in the field of vision. Then someone let their dog poop directly in the line of sight of the Ring without picking it up, but beyond the sensitivity for the alerts to capture that footage. So, who ever it was didn’t get caught by my Ring DoorBell storage.

In comparison, a friend of mine shared his ‘Nest’ storage experience, which is a ‘continuous storage’ system. His system has an alert based function with adjustable sensitivity. So he gets alerts as I do whenever motion is sensitivity thresholds are triggered. But he can also go online and view all the camera footage. With that type of storage option I would have caught the dog pooper perpetrator.

 My viewpoint: If I had ‘continuous storage’ then I would have shared the pooper footage publicly to shame them.
However, I see the Ring Doorbell as a complimentary function to a full coverage camera solution for the hours. Considering the function of the Ring DoorBell and it’s purpose as being focused on the front door and entry way, I have no regrets.

I Can Run Again And Thank Sobriety

I’ve been a runner since the early seventies. I joined Cross Country duand loved it. Being able to jog the trails in the cool early morning hours was a freeing experience even when I was competing with others. Continue reading “I Can Run Again And Thank Sobriety”