The start of a new year is always a good time to evaluate some of the tech and services I use. In APIs, there's an acronym CRUD - create, read, update, delete - and for me, that means I added something new (create), thought about something I am using and stuck with it (read), changed from one thing to another (update), or stopped using something (delete). Here's some of the CRUD done over the last few weeks:
update: I moved my Mastodon account from the main mastodon.social instance to social.lol. Why? I like what Adam is doing with omg.lol and what I will call the lol network of services.
delete: I basically stopped using Instagram. Some recent changes to the app really wrecked it for me. I deleted the app from my phone and logged out everywhere but retained the accounts.
delete: Same for Threads. Maybe if the federation efforts continue, I'll be able to follow more Threads users on Mastodon, but until then, the app is gone, I'm logged out and I'm not going to bother with it. Like with Instagram, I kept my account for now.
delete: With all the crap around Substack and their willingness to host certain content, I exported and delete content for a newsletter I had there and also deleted my account.
read: I'll be sticking with omg.lol for my homepage and also weblog.lol for my blog. I quite like the service and added a year to my subscription a couple of months back when it was on sale.
update: GoodReads is out and BookWyrm is in. I don't use the social features of GoodReads, and I hate that Amazon owns it and does nothing to improve it. Thanks to BookWyrm's import feature, I can move over pretty easily.
create: I actually subscribed to Super Duolingo as I continue my efforts to at least get a decent handle on Dutch. I have a 54-day streak going and I'm seeing progress so when they had an end-of-year sale, I decided to give it a go.
delete: I stopped using Day One to journal. In fact, I stopped journalling altogether. I was finding myself missing days and not really putting any effort into it.
read: An audit of entertainment/streaming subscriptions resulted in no real changes. I'll stick with YouTube Premium, Spotify, Netflix, Disney+ and AppleTV+ for another year.
read: I'm continuing with Arc as my browser despite some concerns about battery life. I tried both Orion and Brave over the last couple of weeks, but didn't find either to be a suitable alternative.
read:Fastmail continues to be my email service of choice. I gave Protonmail a peek again since I had about a year's worth of credit, but Fastmail's aliases and a few other features keep me there year after year.
I made an "app defaults" list as well which lists some of the apps and services I use. That's on my omg.lol-powered homepage if you want to check it out.
Becoming a Weird Coffee Person
I received a very nice coffee grinder for Christmas this year. Specifically, Santa brought me a Fellow Ode Gen 2 which does a really good job grinding beans for filter coffee brewing like AeroPress, moka pot, V60, and French press. It doesn't grind fine enough for espresso, but I also don't own an espresso machine so a grinder that is aimed at the type of brewing I'm doing is a better choice.
The first few cups with the Ode revealed that your grinder has a lot to do with how your cup of coffee tastes. I ground the same coffee beans I've been enjoying for the last few months (Detour Decaf Gaurapo) and made a cup of coffee with the same ratio of 12gms coffee to 240gms water in the AeroPress. I ground at 3.1 on the Ode Gen 2.
The result? There was a distinct sweetness in the cup with the Ode grinder compared to the grinder I was using before (a cheap and annoying piece of junk from Amazon). The tasting notes on the bag suggested red grape, salted caramel and almond. With the old grinder, there was no taste of the grape and a faint suggestion of caramel in the cup.
With the Ode, the sweet and tangy grape was very evident and there was a big difference in what I'll call the "brightness" of the cup. It was such a different cup of coffee and far more interesting and delicious.
It will be fun to play with grind fineness, time, dose and all the other things that add up to create a good cup of coffee. Still on my "wish list" is a better scale, a precision kettle and perhaps a Hario V60 Switch.
Mastodon or Threads? Why Not Both?
Threads took a big step towards interoperability with the Fediverse this week when they enabled federation on three specific Threads accounts belonging to the Head of Instagram and two software engineers. For now, it's a one-way thing. You can follow and see the posts from any of these three Threads users from Mastodon, but that's it.
This led to a great deal of spirited debate, especially on the Mastodon side. Suffice to say, some think Threads should be blocked from federating, while others are welcoming Threads with open arms.
At the same time, Threads opened up access to people in the European Union (EU). Since the launch of threads earlier this year, EU residents had been blocked from signing up and using the service.
Welcoming the EU masses in generated a lot of buzz on Threads, and starting the federation ball rolling generated a lot of buzz on Mastodon.
As an avid Mastodon user, that left me conflicted. There are a bunch of people on Threads who I would love to follow but that means devoting some time to Threads in addition to Mastodon. I tried Threads a few months back and stopped posting on Mastodon for a bit while I spent more time over there. That turned out badly...I never found the community that I had on Mastodon over on Threads.
Threads and Mastodon are different. They are both micro-blogging services that are very similar to Twitter. But they have a different vibe and different people.
So this time, I'm just going to wade back into Threads in addition to Mastodon. The idea is to develop a list of good people to follow there and to do some limited interaction as well. When federation opens up to everyone, I'll take that list of accounts and follow them from Mastodon instead.
In the meantime, I've got both apps on my phone and both services pinned in my Arc favourites. It's nice to see more and more familiar names and faces using Threads, and it's also nice to be able to continue to post and interact with the many people I follow on Mastodon.
Upgrading My ADS-B Feeder Setup
Back just before the start of the COVID pandemic, on February 23, 2020, I setup an ADS-B receiver using a Raspberry Pi 4. It used an external antenna mounted on the side of the house and fed data to both FlightAware and Flightradar24. In exchange for feeding tracking data, both services provide a free premium account with Flightaware offering an Enterprise account and Flightradar24 offering a Business account.
That Raspberry Pi install was getting a bit long in the tooth and after nearly four years, it was time to start fresh and clean things up a bit. The Raspberry Pi I was using was a Raspberry Pi 4B with 4GB of memory. I was running a pretty old version of Raspbian based on Debian Stretch.
I wanted to do a couple of things to improve my set up.
First, I had a Raspberry Pi 400 that I wasn't using. It's essentially a Raspberry Pi 4B but it's built into a keyboard so it's more of an all-in-one solution compared to the Pi 4B which requires a separate keyboard. I run headless and access the Pi via VNC, but it's nice to have the keyboard form factor instead of the Pi board which I literally had sitting in a cardboard box.
Second, I wanted to do a clean install of the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS (Bookworm) and also the latest versions of the Flightaware and Flightradar24 software packages.
Starting with a hardware swap
I started by first just swapping the SD card from the old Pi 4B to the new Pi 400 and fired that up. It was an easy way to swap out the Pi 4B for the 400. Once I had that up and running again, I did an upgrade to Debian and then upgraded the Flightaware software to version 9.
That solved for the hardware swap, but not the software cleanup. I wasn't satisfied just yet as I wanted to have the Raspberry Pi OS instead of just a Debian install. It was working fine, but there was a lot of cruft around from multiple updates over the years.
Moving on to the software side
So tonight I pulled the SD card out and set it aside as a backip, and replaced it with a cleanly imaged SD card that had Raspberry Pi OS Bookworm (the latest). I got that all configured and running well on the network, then set about installing PiAware, then dump1090-fa and finally the Flightradar24 software.
That all went well and I was feeding data to both services again within about 45 minutes of starting the upgrade. I was able to configure the Flightradar24 side to use the same ID as I had for my old feeder during install, but Flightaware set me up with a new ID. A quick search in the Flightaware forums gave me the solution for that. I just needed to update the identifier on my new install to use the ID from the old install.
It was about an hour total from start to finish and I now have a really clean install of Raspberry Pi OS on the 400 feeding Flightaware and Flightradar24 using the former IDs so my stats on both services are retained.
You can view just my feed on Flightradar24 by filtering on radar T-CYTZ43.
I'm heading into the world of coffee. That's not new...I've dipped my toes into the coffee scene a few times here and there over the last decade. But over the last little bit, I've been drinking far less crappy coffee and far more really good coffee.
I still make a Nespresso here and there, but if I want a nice cup of coffee, I pull out the AeroPress, a cheap scale, a crappy Amazon grinder and some good coffee (from Detour, these days).
There's a bunch of factors that combine to create a really good cup of coffee.
Good beans, properly roasted.
Those same beans, properly ground.
A good brewer and brewing method.
The right ratio of water to coffee and the right time spent brewing.
I've got good coffee. Something like Detour Coffee's Colombia Guarapo Decaf is high quality and nicely roasted. I've got a good brewer. My go-to is an AeroPress with the flow control cap and it makes wonderful coffee. I've got a good ratio of water to coffee of about 20:1 and a two minute brew time has been working well.
What I don't have is a good grinder, but a Cyber Monday sale will solve for that. I've negotiated with Santa to get a Fellow Ode Gen 2 delivered here which I have agreed to leave unopened and unused until Christmas morning. It's going to be a long few weeks using the crappy grinder, but I'll survive.
On Christmas morning, I'll be able to weigh up 11 grams of a nice coffee, pour it into the grinder and get a really nice grind. From there, it'll go into the AeroPress with 220 grams of water (just off the boil). It'll sit for two long minutes before I plunge it into a mug.
Will it be that much better than the coffee from a $35 cheap Chinese-made grinder bought on Amazon? I'll let you know.
There are a few other things I still covet but nothing quite as pricey or important as the grinder. I'm using a standard kettle and a pretty junky scale. Alexa handles timekeeping. Over time I'll add a better scale with a timer built in, and maybe a precision gooseneck kettle. I've also got my eye on a Hario Switch V60 brewer and carafe for those days where I might want to brew two cups instead of one.