AeroGarden Round 2 – The end

AeroGarden Round 2 - Final
3 Herbs and 3 Lettuce at the end in the AeroGarden

AeroGarden round 2 has come to an end. 101 days planted, and some plants are dying and some are essentially not harvestable.  I did get some good salads out of this last go round, even with only 3 lettuce pods growing.

Lessons Learned

You really have to keep the Romaine trimmed, otherwise it will take off like you see in this last picture. It doesn’t have any edible leaves and it is trying reach the skies height wise.  Also, you really need to keep the lettuce trimmed on a regular basis, otherwise it grows out of control and you can trim off too much. I had one bad week that I wasn’t around and it grew out of control.

As far as growing herbs, I’d say unless you cook a ton, they aren’t worth it. I don’t cook enough with a use for herbs to justify growing them. The chives are just not flavorful enough to be useful, the parsley died an early death, and the basil grew out of control. With me not cooking a lot of pasta, to keep carbs under control, I ended up with a ton of basil with no use for it.

Next Round

In this next round I’m about to get a 7 pod lettuce kit. They sprout quick and I now know to keep it under control for this round.


Hard Drive Confiscated, Data Used 2 years Later

ArsTechnica brings us an article that will make anyone who enjoys freedom sick to your stomach. A person who was subject to an investigation had their computer and hard drive confiscated. At that time the government made a copy of said drive, obviously for evidence in the first case/investigation. They then used that copy two years later to build a separate case against them and that drive provided the damming evidence.

Hard Drive
All your data belongs to us

Now I get it, you may be saying well this person is a prior bad actor. They are a criminal and do not have the rights of us that aren’t. But this shouldn’t matter. This is akin to the government at one time getting a search warrant for your house, to investigate one case, but retaining a key and the right to come back later and have a look around for “other violations.”

Add further the fact that if you say, are crossing an international border, the government can search and seize your device. At that time they could make a clone of said drive and keep and mine the data for either a crime. What about if they keep the data and then try to argue you committed a crime prior to it becoming a crime?

I don’t seem to understand that as we citizens have made the governments job easier going all digital, they seem to need to change the rules that existed for paper and hard evidence. Just because it is now easier to store data/evidence doesn’t mean we should.

And what is the solution now? Do you encrypt and silo all of your data? Sure, there are those that will say if you are doing nothing wrong, what do you have to hide. But in a free society I shouldn’t have to concern myself with these things. Sadly with the way that warrants are handed out nowadays you may be involved in a case that you had no clue was coming. The rest of your data should not and never be used against you.


Thermaltake Tower Project Case

Thermaltake The Tower Project Computer Case
The Tower Project

Thermaltake unveiled a new high end computer case at Computex 2016 called the The Tower Project.  I have to admit at first look I really like it. There is almost this look of it being an aquarium for computer parts, which makes even more sense with liquid cooling.  Granted the downside is the case looks like it would take up a ton of desk real estate which goes against my newer trend of minimalism. Then again, the entire idea is it to be a show piece of your office.

More info here:

Quick Italian Penne Dinner

When you have a crazy assortment of ingredients and not a lot of time you end up with something like this, an Italian Penne Dinner.

Penne with Tomatoes and Basil
Penne with Tomatoes and Basil

On my quest to eat healthier, I’ve been eating better portions and more vegetables. In my AeroGarden currently I have three types of lettuce which actually produce quite a bounty. I also have some fresh herbs in it, a nice healthy Genovese Basil plant is one.

Ingredients :

  • 3 oz Penne Pasta ( I used Barilla)
  • 1 Hot House tomato (Roma may have been better)
  • 3 leaves of Fresh Basil
  • Garlic Salt and Parmesan
  • Robusto Olive Oil

This is too easy, just boil some pasta. When done, mix the pasta with Olive Oil, add the basil and tomato, add a bit more olive oil and mix. Top with a bit of garlic salt and Parmesan and you have a great meal.

Panama Canal Railway Trains Recovered

Recently salvage crews pulled up old French Trains from the bottom of Lake Gatun, that were sent to build the original Panama Canal Railway.  These were sent over as part of the original excavation effort to create the Panama Canal. Sitting at the bottom of Lake Gatun for almost a century, they are actually in very good shape. Not only do they have steam locomotives, but they have a full fleet of muck cars as well. Head on over to Vintage News for more information and pictures.

Link: Recovered 100 years later: Panama Canal workers flooded a derelict railway yard in 1910

Russia researching undersea cable locations

Ars Technica has an interesting article discussing US Intelligence reports that Russian subs are committing “aggressive” activity near underwater cables. While good intelligence is always looking at all information and possible scenarios, I have to say I think this one is a bit of a red herring.

First, looking the map included in the story, they would have to cut 20+ cables to have an effect on the global internet. This would mean a ton of missions all being conducted at once, or they would have to plant some sort of charge all over the place to conduct the operations at the same time. All this without being found out. On top of that, I don’t believe that Russia has enough submarines to conduct a mission of that scale.

Second, what would they expect to achieve by this? They won’t bring down the global network and at worst, they will slow things down. Plus, they have nothing to gain by crippling the global economy. One would assume that they would mean to make themselves the new global superstore and sell their resources. If all countries can’t send payments etc. how do they expect to be the worlds new global superstore.

It does begat the question though, that if we are so reliant on these networks and have no good backup, we really do need to do something about this.

Lastly, we have been doing this as well. So is this a new plan or just a response to our own “research” activity. If we do something, Russia will do it as well. Whether they are doing it for some actual research or at the very least to let us know they are watching.

I really think of all the threats we have in the current climate today, this one is so low on the priority list why even worry about it.


Tivo Bolt First Look

I finally got tired of using the local cable companies clunky DVR box. A Scientific Atlanta/Cisco box with the bone stock GUI and firmware. It was miserable to use and made me not want to watch TV. After also realizing I was paying $16 a month for this “privilege” I decided to lower my monthly cost and buy a Tivo Bolt.

Tivo Bolt
The Tivo Bolt in its natural habitat.

I went with the 500 GB model as I don’t record a whole lot of TV. Plus if I do somehow need more storage, I can buy an external drive to upgrade it. I also bought a Tivo Mini extender for my bedroom so I can enjoy all of my cable and recorded shows from my bed if I like.

The Good

  • The UI is incredible. Coming from the stock cable box UI which looked like it was drawn in paint, the Tivo UI feels like it is in this century
  • So far i’m intrigued by the idea that it will record shows it thinks I will like.
  • It is nice that it has apps for Netflix, Amazon, etc.
  • I like that I can get essentially all of the functionality in another room with the Mini box. Much cheaper than the cable companies solution.

The Bad

  • You need to have wired ethernet run to the box if you want to us MoCa for the Tivo Mini. I was unaware of this at the time and ended up running Powerline Ethernet throughout my place (I rent and cannot run Ethernet through the house).


  • I’ve heard some people think the new design is ugly. I actually kind of like it, it looks different when sitting in the dark wood cavity of my entertainment center.

I’m actually working on a longer more thorough review to be posted soon.

Yahoo A shell of what it once was…

Wired has a great article taking a look at Yahoo currently and what it really means to the Internet now. A company that was once the an Internet darling is now on the verge of full on irrelevancy.

It isn’t shocking though. Throughout the years it has been a leadership carousel. With the board of directors worried about tomorrows share price instead of the future of the company, they constantly forced change in plans and CEO’s. It is a wonder that nothing ever stuck as it never had the time to mature and get its feet under it before there was a regime change.

While I don’t believe Marissa Mayer was the right person to turn the company around, you also cannot blame her for the lack of success. The company she inherited was bloated, lacked cohesive direction/vision, and was only making money due to its stake in Alibaba. There would be no amount of new ideas and culture change she could affect to stem the tide of the sinking ship.

And while we are on the subject, Microsoft buying them would have just accelerated the nail in the coffin. Look at the Nokia acquisition. Billions of dollars spent only for them to gut the sale and essentially give up on the phone market. They have also gutted a good portion of Bing selling assets to a company like Uber. I’m sure Yahoo would have been quickly parted out and dismantled.

Link: Once Upon a Time, Yahoo was the Most Important Internet Company

The iPad Pro Reviews are in…

The iPad Pro reviews are out and while they are not a glowing revolutionary product reviews, they do signal some evolutionary steps toward a lighter machine for productivity. Overall though, the consensus is that the machine still is not a universal desktop replacement, but may start to be one for some people.

While I wouldn’t be someone that could replace my desktop/laptop with it, it could definitely replace my current iPad Air and old MacBook Air as I use those both mainly for light creation and work. Though I do wonder if a decent keyboard and an iPad Air 2 may just as well do the trick. The idea of split screen iOS apps on a larger screen though is very intriguing. I still think though, that some iOS limitations will still hold back an otherwise excellent hardware platform.

I do want to play with one with all the accessories as I feel both the Smart Keyboard and the Pencil are really what put the iPad Pro over the top of a cheaper MacBook or an iPad Air 2.

First up is John Gruber’s review at Daring Fireball:

The entire x86 computer architecture is living on borrowed time. It’s a dead platform walking. The future belongs to ARM, and Apple’s A-series SoC’s are leading the way.

While I don’t think this is totally the case for all, it is for sure a tolling bell for a lot of people.

Ars Technica’s review does bring up some an interesting point:

It’s best to think of the iPad Pro as a starting point, especially for iOS 9. These multitasking features are still brand-new, and there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to pick in future iOS 9 revisions and into iOS 10. My biggest gripes with the iPad Pro are with the software rather than the hardware, and that means that most of them can be fixed given enough time and enough feature requests.

I totally agree with this, again it is a software problem not a hardware problem. The issue becomes how to solve for this without compromising the security and ease of use of iOS.

MacStories review sums it up as such:

The iPad Pro is the iPad I didn’t know I was waiting for.

I can understand this from Federico as he has already bent his workflows to work with iOS limitations. Having more screen, memory, and processor for someone who is already comfortable working in the ecosystem would make them giddy.

All in all I’m curious to try one in hand, as the size in hand when not doing productivity work on a desk may be too big. Much of my current iPad use in bed, reading, or playing games. Is it too big and unwieldy for those uses? I really would like to have a good integrated pencil in a smaller form factor if the size proves too large.

iPhone 6S Plus First Look

iPhone 6S Plus
iPhone 6S Plus

Make no mistake, it is big and a bit unwieldy. Surprisingly though, it is not so big that you can put it in your pants front pocket (I’m not one of these back pocket people). Coming from a iPhone 5S, it feels massive, almost like I have a iPad mini in my pocket. In my right hand it feels just fine, but does feel a tad big for my left hand. I don’t use a case on any of my phones and I’ve noticed with the rounded edges of this generation of iPhone, I feel like it can more easily be dropped. There isn’t that sharp edge to dig into your fingers to give you some grip.

The Good:

  • The screen size. It feels just so much more useful. The landscape format of some of the apps like Safari and Mail make it almost so that you don’t need something bigger on short trips.
  • It is so much faster. The performance makes my iPad Air feel slow and lethargic. This phone is one that can definitely be used as a mini tablet replacement if need be. Paired with a keyboard and some sort of display adapter could easily make it a very lightweight computer.
  • So far battery life is amazing. I can go a full 2 days without a charge and still have battery left over when I plug in at night.

The Bad:

  • The size. There is a bit of remorse when I opened the box. The previous iPhone 5S screen size was almost invisible in your pocket. The Plus, well you know it is there.
  • The rounded edges make it a tad bit slippery. Much more so than previous versions of the phone.