My Apologies

In lieu of the challenges presented over the last couple years, the list of which is both long and arduous in the retelling, I haven’t posted here much lately.

My more “distant past” is still contained on WordPress, heavily hyperlinked herein, with the last couple years of my bouncing around the country like a midget on a Dutch hooker more likely to be found on my Facebook-Twitter-Instagram-Yelp feeds.  It was much too tedious to try and support this platform on the portable devices I have been forced to rely on in that interim.

Bottom Line

I have been extremely negligent in relation to the amount of content shared here.  More out of necessity than desire, I had been forced to shift much of my (purportedly) maniacal musings to more immediate, yet entirely more ephemeral platforms however, I am back.

I cannot promise to refrain from my pattern of dropping random diddlings on my other social media platforms but I do promise to be more active here on WordPress now that the dust in my life has settled a bit and I’ve regained the modicum of stability, technology and bandwidth to pull it off.

Enjoy.

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Tim’s Tiny Home Project Notes 3

This is a continuing series.  Part two is here.

Tiny Home Infrastructure and Systems

Lighting

The Future of Lighting

I’ve always been a huge fan of mood and indirect ambient lighting so I’d like to try and incorporate as much indirect and ambient lighting as I can in Tim’s Tiny Home. It would be really sweet to integrated the lighting directly into the building design whenever possible. Workspaces will make use of built-in LED spot and down lights . Space lighting will be provided by two or three 10 watt LED light bulbs. I’m paying less than ten euro for these types of bulbs now and they are the first bulbs I’ve seen that can match ‘normal’ incandescents in light quality.  I can’t imagine needing any more than two or three to brightly and cheerfully illuminate the interior of such a diminutive environment.
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Tim’s Tiny Home Project Notes 2

This is the second part of a continuing series.  Part one here.

Construction Issues

Stylized Tiny Home of Wheels

Many of the current tiny homes are built on trailers to avoid odious issues with building codes as well as to aid in their being more easily transported and relocated. While understandable, this imposes some serious limitations on the weight, size and height of the overall structure, as well as the type of building materials and construction details involved in the planning thereof. The smallest tiny homes are under a hundred square feet and the largest I’d consider ‘tiny’ would measure in at under twenty feet per side. Anything more than ten or twelve feet wide is going to be near impossible to relocate at any reasonable cost. Any way you slice it, portable or fixed location, a home with less of a footprint than four hundred square feet is definitely tiny by any normative American standard.
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Tim’s Tiny Home Project Notes

tiny home on the lake

I’ve been bitten by the tiny Euro lifestyle here in Germany.  Having the first hand view of German’s commitment to environmental protection while maintaining industrial level Chinese production capacity is a once in a lifetime experience. If you’re buying a German produced good today there’s a huge likelihood that a significant part of the energy required to build it came from the wind or the sun!

I’ve definitely caught the ‘umwelt’ bug, which coincidentally overlaps with my tree hugging liberal proclivities.   Don’t even get me started on the ‘latte drinking’ part of the liberal equation!  There’s too many of my social media posts out there for me to deny that, but I pity the fool who thinks they’ll ever find a picture of me (or my shadow) within sight of a Volvo, or a soccer match.   I may be a caricature but I’m not a stereotype!
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Top Ten App Rappin’

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The internet is currently abundant with “top ten” app lists. This is likely due to the rush of after Xmas holiday app downloading from the huge spike in tablet sales this year (not to mention the perennial need for content creators to stuff the intertubes with as much fluff as humanly possible).  I try to make a point of perusing all the lists I can, in hopes I will see something new or exciting, and on occasion, I am rewarded for my efforts.  Any list produced will vary by selected task, and there are often multiple great apps within the same category.   My list focuses on what I consider a standard example of apps an average social user would find useful.  I may do some specialized app lists (e.g. photography, videography, blogging) in the future that will drill down to more specialized functions.

The Breakdown

Precious few app lists will overlook Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Beyond that, it is a crap shoot of tremendous proportions. The  “Big Three” are considered de rigueur in any respectable app list, though to be honest, the only one of the three I’d miss (or have trouble finding multiple suitable replacements for) is Twitter.

Aside from the big three, opinions seem to vary.  I’m all too often left simply scratching my head and wondering if the author of a list I’m reading isn’t secretly just pimping an app for a friend or favored company.  When an already truncated top ten list includes all the usual suspects, but manages to squeeze in one or more obscure paid gaming apps (while failing to note the myriad available (and hugely popular) freebies), it is the obvious mark of an internet shill.  Everything on my list is FREE with optional premium upgrades noted where appropriate.

And Away We Go

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I originally joined Facebook for the ease of being able to comment on other sites without having to manually resubmit all my id info for every site where I wanted to comment. It can also be useful for connecting with old coworkers and friends as well, but in my mind it is mostly an overhyped and confusing jumble of everything.  If Facebook has a “focus”, I haven’t been able to figure it out.  Recent reports suggest that my move to the platform, along with a lot of other old geezers, has ruined Facebook for the kids.  I don’t know about that, but will note that the other old geezers who have recently moved in seem to have a proclivity towards duck hunting, gay hating and rightwing Tea Party politics.  Bad enough when these righting Jeebus slobberers were just posting random Bible verses all over creation, but now I have to wade through the constant noise and confusion of “Bullshit Mountain” in between all the pictures of cute puppies and kittens.  Note to the old geezers gumming up my Facebook:  Go back to Fox websites or stay in your pews.  Either way is fine with me, just STFU already.

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I was late to the Twitter bandwagon (by ubergeek standards anyway!) but I have done a helluva job of catching up!  Twitter is still a mystery to a lot of folks, even though it gets a lot of press coverage, so I couldn’t help but take a whack at figuring out what the hoopla was all about. So what the hell is Twitter? Probably a lot of different things to different people, but I think of Twitter like Google News on steroids.  It is the finest source of breaking news on the planet IMHO. The fireball incident over Iowa last week is prescient to me because it reminded me of the fireball I spotted (and documented) here in Germany a couple years ago on Christmas Eve.  As soon as I witnessed it, I started searching Google for info on what I had just witnessed to no avail.  Then I did a Twitter search and confirmed others had seen AND posted videos as I had.  Google noted it the following day.  If there’s a news event going on live anywhere in the world, people are Twittering it as it happens.  We are the new journalists.

instagInstagram.  They say it is the thing to have for pictures, but is that really true if you have Twitter and Facebook, since they handle pictures too?  Outside of the fixation on filters to make your pictures look more like ass…err..artisan creations, the popularity of Instagram seems to be the simplicity.  Now available with added Vine-like video capabilities.

More Meat and Potatoes

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YouTube is nice for posting videos. With the option for paid content creation, you can become the next James Cameron.  Great resource for watching old movies and TV shows.  Lots of niche categories of interest.

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Camera+ is a companion app for your smartphone.  Plenty of sharing options and more control over framing and exposure than provided on standard camera app.  The built-in lightbox feature allows for simple editing.

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Spotify is my favorite music app.  The ad-supported free version was recently sweetened to cover mobile devices.  Off-line usage is still limited to premium subscribers ($10/month).  Cannot recommend highly enough!!!  WiFi response to service is outstanding.  Cellular access more dependent on service environment and plan.  I use wifi at home for browsing new stuff and my mobile pro account for offline/travel.  I dump a couple gig of songs onto my phone.  You get to create playlists just like every other media player and with the premium level access you get syncing of selected playlists/songs for offline use.  The iPad app is a truly brilliant piece of work.

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Shazam is an app that uses your smartphone mic to listen to music and identify the title and singer of songs you don’t know or can’t remember.  It will then offer you links to purchase the music off iTunes or Amazon.  Since I’m a die-hard Spotify user, I paid a one-time upgrade fee for Shazam Pro ($9) to get access to the direct Spotify links for identified songs (so I wouldn’t have to search for them separately on Spotify).  I keep Shazam fired up and handy when I’m watching television to identify background music I like but am unable to identify.  I use it when I troll the hipster hangouts in Holland so I can zero in on what tunes the locals are groovin’ on.  I’ve even stuck my phone out the living room window to catch music playing off a neighbor’s jam box and gotten positive results!  It’s scary smart.  NSA scary.

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Yelp is one of the two shopping/check-in apps I use, the other being FourSquare.  I tend to think of them as restaurant location and public opinion rating services.  Their in-app photo feature allows for inclusion of suitable food porn shots.  I’ve written a fair number of restaurant reviews on the Yelp website which may be of use to English speaking locals and tourists to Munsterland.  Click on the Yelp icon to access them.

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Something, something Google.  The Plus app is more socially targeted, but at a minimum, you want a search engine you can talk to that understands you better than that crazy girl Siri*.  It’s high time you get used to chatting with your devices, and using Google’s state of the art voice recognition system is a welcome introduction to our new machine overlords.  *Full disclosure.  I’ve not really attempted to chat up Siri that much.  I’m still getting used to the idea of talking to my phone and it’s a bit easier with Google since Google doesn’t add a creepy anthropomorphizing name to their voice response system.  Besides, Siri is the kind of name you give the cute girl who does nothing but stand around looking cute.  The kind of girl you really don’t want to interrupt in the first place.  Maybe if Apple had named Siri something like Jenny, a good hardworking farm girl kinda name, I would feel differently.

That’s a list of ten apps already (if you count Foursquare), and I haven’t even touched on the other oft-noted must have apps you should be aware of.  Weather and mapping apps, cloud based storage apps, as well as all the free Angry Birds you fancy are all awaiting immediate download at your app store, and if they’re not, you bought the wrong smartphone.

Enjoy.