One of the reasons that I am a YouTube Premium subscriber is that I watch a metric shit-ton of YouTube videos. So much YouTube that I would insane if I had to watch their idiotic commercials.
The vast majority of the YouTube videos I watch fall into three categories...
Woodworking is a bottomless pit. There are so many great content creators in this field. My newest favorite is Michael Alm and Alm Fab...
It's like... if I had millions of dollars, I'd just build a woodshop and do stuff like that all day every day. And then there's this magic out of wood...
Then there's behind the scenes stuff like this...
And this deep, deep dive into Zack Snyder's crap movies is pretty amazing. And, for what it's worth, it actually gives me a larger appreciation for the guy (even though I still think most of his movies are awful)...
And, of course Taylor Swift is back. Her first video from the new Midnights album is brilliant. Unfortunately, there are people trashing her for her struggles with an eating disorder. Despite speaking about it multiple times, people believe what they want to believe instead of even attempting to understand. In the video she had a clip of her looking at a scale which says "FAT" and people lost their minds, calling her "fatphobic," when she's actually trying to show what she feels when she looks at a scale thanks to our toxic society. And it's this toxicity of people feeling that they must be thin in order to be accepted THAT'S THE ENTIRE POINT. It's the opposite of fatphobic. But oh well, she took the clip out of the video because she doesn't want her art misinterpreted by people who are looking to tear her down instead of try to understand how she (and a lot of other people) are made to feel...>
And then there's frickin' DITA VON TEASE!!!...
Brilliant. And now I have another hundred videos to watch.
After the long, slow death of INSTEON (which is ongoing), I knew that I would have to make an investment in new smart home tech. This would involve replacing all my smart light switches, water leak sensors, door and window sensors, and the garage door opener. But which way to go? There's still a lot of possibilities to choose from, and you never know which one of them will die next. It's enough to drive you crazy because serious money is involved. So much so that I actually considered going back to a "un-smart home" and just manually doing everything.
Fortunately, the "Matter" smart home standard was announced, and this time it had the backing of all the major tech companies. Finally. I was all-in on the idea of open interoperability between all smart devices, so I decided to wait and see what came of it. Then, back in early October, the standard was released. As were some devices which supported it.
Matter is based on the "Thread" communication protocol, which has been around for a while. It's low-power, has excellent range, and is very fast. There are other benefits as well (such as being self-healing and not requiring a hub) so that was the direction I decided to go.
Unfortunately, to get started, I was dragged back into the world of Apple's HomeKit (which I have been calling "HomeShit" because it's just been so awful for so long). Surprisingly, Apple's smart home offerings have vastly improved. Many of the things that were missing (and there was a lot) have been added. It's still far from perfect (there is basic functionality which is still missing... like being able to construct automations for simply things like making switched turn back on if they are accidentally turned off). So, yeah, I don't have the ability to code complex cool things like I could with my ISY994i hub (which is still amazing to this day!) but at least I can do stuff like ADD A GARAGE DOOR OPENER.
Also unfortunate? Having to buy a HomePod mini. I wrote a while back about the horrendous experience I had with the original HomePod (long story short: it was shit, support was heinous, and I returned it). But Matter/Thread requires a "border router" to act as a gateway to the internet, so I spent the $95 to make it happen. The first thing I did was switch the voice for Siri to "Australian Male" because it's still the voice that gets be the closest to having HAL run my life (like he did in 2001: A Space Odyssey). The guy sounds like he must be the best-looking man on the planet, which gives me a bit of a complex, but he is still a pleasant way to interact with my home (sometimes I ask him about the weather just to hear him talk).
The first devices I ordered were the biggest hit... light switches... because I want every last switch in my home to be "smart."
At first that was going to be Lutron, because they are the "gold standard" but Lutron isn't built on Thread so I went with Eve Smart Home for most of them. The switches are ungodly expensive. And difficult to find. Fortunately I got a good discount and was able to find 26 of them, so it wasn't as horrendous a hit as I thought it would be (but still, $1000 out of my savings).
The lights in my living room and dining room are smart lights by Philips Hue. They require always-on power, so a simple on/off switch won't do. You need an always-on switch which can be programmed to control Hue lights. For these I went with Brilliant. They aren't built on Thread, but they can be upgraded to support Matter. Eventually. Maybe.
Now, I am letting an electrician install all the switches (they are deep and I want somebody who knows how to pack wires into an outlet box), but I did have to replace a couple of my INSTEON switches, so I temporarily installed the Eve switches until my electrician can get here. They are fantastic. Thread is blazingly fast. You tell Siri to turn the lights on and the task is completed before he's done telling you that he did it! This is a huge leap from INSTEON, which would have noticeable lag from when you asked Alexa to do something and it actually happening.
When it comes to the Eve door/window sensors, they are okay. Fast because they're on Thread. But, from what I can tell, they don't have breakage detection, which is a step down for me. Fortunately, I can rely on sound alerts from other devices to alert me about this, but it's still a bit of an oversight.
The Eve motion detectors are not as good as my old ones. They seem to have very narrow range and are slow to relay motion despite being Thread devices. I'm not sure if this will improve when I have more Thread devices installed so it can relay faster... or if this is a limitation of the device itself. I hope the former rather than the latter. Otherwise I'm going to have to shop for another solution.
One more thing I did that I've always wanted to do is install under-cabinet lighting. I went with Nanoleaf because it was built on Thread... and it was cheap. From what I can tell, the current crop of Nanoleaf products will not be upgradable to Matter, so I may have to replace them eventually. Unfortunate, but it only cost $30, they are blazingly fast, and they work very well with HomeKit. And they look great (even though you can't really tell in this photo)...
The tile installer hasn't put in my backsplash yet, so please ignore the mess!
So... so far, so good.
I am still a bit dubious about HomeKit, as it's lacking professional-level scripting and still won't link to things it needs to, but the good thing about Matter is that I will be able to eventually swap out the HomeKit app for whatever comes along. But I really hope that I don't have to. From what I understand, Matter will force Apple into fixing HomeKit and adding the functionality people need (a scripting language would be nice!). But, we'll see. If nothing else, I love Thread and am excited for the possibilities with Matter.
Washington State knows how to election.
First of all, it's vote-by-mail, so everybody gets to participate and their right to vote isn't impeded by "election watchers" or having to wait in long lines or having to miss work (assuming their employer would even allow it). Second of all, you can register to vote at the local election office until 8pm the day of the election.
Unfortunately, by trying to make sure that all voices are heard, I have to read bullshit articles about how our elections are corrupt. The latest is that thousands of ballots have been "tossed out." Which, in a way, is true. It's because the signature on the envelope doesn't match the signature they have on file. However... when I changed my signature years ago, I got a card in the mail telling me that I need to come verify my signature and fill out a new signature card so that my ballot would be accepted. Isn't that the OPPOSITE of voter fraud? Making sure that the ballot was actually cast by the person it was sent to by verifying a signature? But of course THAT part is left out. And what's really telling is how often these fake claims of "voter fraud" are not from within Washington. We're a poster child for other states as to why they shouldn't allow voting by mail. Well fuck off. Every time charges have been levied (we hear the "excess votes cast" accusation a lot) they are disproven.
Fairness in voting is making sure that everybody who is eligible to vote gets to vote. And in a time where voter suppression efforts are rampant, I am glad that Washington is trying to make sure that happens. And we have been for quite a while now.
Too bad that we also have so much shit coming out of the state as well. We have entrenched, career politicians like Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell who are in the pocket of lobbyists just like anybody else. Why the fuck they can't manage to do even the most basic shit (like allowing Washingtonians to have digital ID driver's licenses) while they look out for their own self interests is a mystery. Or not such a big mystery when we keep voting them back into office.
After three years of not having a kitchen, I'm finally getting things put back together after my contractor got COVID, was in and out of the hospital, and eventually moved to Utah to live with his mom because he could no longer work.
The hole from the water leak in my ceiling has been repaired. The cabinet frames have been painted. And my tile has finally started going up on my walls...
But it took a while to get to this point. Yesterday when the installer arrived, he took a level to my walls and explained the they were not even. They were wavy, so any tile installed on them would be wavy. Since the whole appeal of subway tile to me is the beautiful straight lines that form as it's making its way across your walls, this was a horrifying prospect.
And so... an additional $750 of materials and labor were required to pull off all the drywall, shim the studs so they were even, then install new drywall.
And it's also adding another day to the project.
But no matter. By Monday there will be another thing to check off the list. Then it's replacing all my cupboard doors and drawers. Then I have my kitchen back.
After three years.
And then there's the matter of the leak in my bathroom to get figured out.
Home ownership is a serious money pit.
This is not Saturday. It's Sunday. Because I knew that I had the end of Daylight Saving Time to deal with. This is the worst day of the year for my cats, because meals will now be served an hour later until Daylight Saving Time comes back.
But on top of DST ending... we also had our first real snow. This is always entertaining because my cats forget what snow is since the snow left the last time. Jenny takes longer to warm up to it than Jake, who was right outside being fascinated...
The drama around breakfast not happening when expected eventually passed, and all was forgiven when Jake and Jenny decided to hang out while I was working...
UNTIL LUNCHTIME, THAT IS!!
Winter is here, snow has arrived, and it's freezing out, but there's warmth in my heart... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Happy Meal! As a huge architecture nerd, it's very easy for me to get sucked into architecture TikTok or YouTube. This morning while waiting for renders to process, I got hit with this fascinating video about the "Rise and Fall of Fast Food Architecture"...
So many good points to be had here. I very much miss the old aesthetic of fast food restaurants, which is why happening upon one of them (which is most often not a chain restaurant) is such fun.
• Whither Twitter! Watching Twitter implode in Real Time has been entertaining... but also educational. Elon Musk bought the services in the interest of "free speech," but he's learning a big lesson on being careful what you wish for. Twitter has become so toxic so fast that advertisers are bailing and Musk is essentially begging the big name Twitter accounts not to leave. The most hilarious indicator of this was when Stephen King said that he wasn't paying $20 per month to have a blue-checkmark verified account... and Musk shot back with "How about $8 then?"...
It's easy for me to sit back and not care about Twitter (I rarely use the platform because I prefer to have the ability to lock down my posts for a specific audience), but I think it's a bad idea to hope that Musk and Twitter fail. This is an important platform for discourse and interaction which, naturally, may be toxic (Musk himself has been tweeting out conspiracy theory bullshit) but it's also had a good influence in allowing people to have their voices... their causes... their passions... be heard. Which is why I was happy that one of my favorite YouTubers, Marques Brownlee, has this diplomatic take on how Twitter can save itself from itself...
The one thing that could get me to maybe go back to Twitter would be if there was a way to limit the audience of your tweets (ala Facebook). But even then I have serious privacy concerns about the platform which has me wary.
• More Enola! I liked the second flick even better than the first! These films can get a little convoluted... and repetitive in parts... but are enormously entertaining. And that mid-credits scene has me dying for not only more Enola Holmes films... but a Henry Cavill Sherlock movie as well.
Netflix needs to get on more of these movies, because they've struck gold.
• Glowforge! Michael Alm finally finished his new office so he could set up his Glowforge. If I didn't want one of these things before, I most certainly want one now. But the price for entry is $4,000... and to get the model which is the most capable and flexible, you're paying $7,000.
I know that I would never use it enough to make it pay. But that doesn't stop me from wanting one anyway. Just like a 3D printer, which is another device I would love to own. Ah to be a billionaire where you just buy stuff you want and don't have to care about whether or not you can afford it.
• Joy Noel! The fact that Netflix keeps churning out quality holiday rom-coms is something I am 100% onboard with. While Hallmark continues to release some films which are worth my valuable time... you have to sit through a lot of crap as well. Netflix doesn't have a flawless record, but they do release more good movies than bad, it seems. This year, in addition to the Lindsay Lohan film that's coming up, they also have The Noel Diaries dropping this month...
I know that this is is Justin Hartley from This is Us (a show I could never get into), but the only thing I'm really familiar with is when he played Aquaman in a failed TV pilot that was actually not bad... except The CW decided not to buy the show after the merger with The WB.
• Matter? I keep referring to Thread/Matter in my home automation posts, which has been confusing to many people who don't know what this is. Fortunately, Shane Whatley has a wrap-up which is pretty good about why Matter matters...
Matter is something I have been waiting for ever since INSTEON died, came back, and looks to be dying again. I would prefer not to have to replace all my smart home crap every five years, so having something that isn't tied to any specific company seems like a good idea. But the big news about Matter is that it endorses Thread, which is a technology I absolutely love. It's so smart and so fast and so impressive that it really does seem like the holy grail of automation. The fact that it has pretty good range and is low-power is just icing on the cake.
And now I think I should get back to cleaning my house, which is a full-on disaster with all the work that's been going on.
My cats have been more than a little upset about being trapped in my bedroom while workers are here to tear apart my home and take all my money. I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of it either.
Jenny is outright pissed. She meows at me to let me know exactly what's on her mind, then avoids me like the plague for hours.
Jake is tougher to figure out because he bounces back from it quicker. I know he's upset... but then he will climb up next to me on the bed, shit down, then hang out for a while. But he still has attitude...
This week it was especially great, because some birds fighting outside distracted him from his morning ass-wiping...
I'd show you a photo of Jenny, but she's still holding a grudge.
Don't worry about Christmas coming early... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Rebel Rebel! Finally got around to watching E10 of Andor. Holy crap! The quality of this series is unreal. Serious talent and money were put into it every aspect of the show, and it's all on screen. There's nothing currently on television that can touch it. The series transcends Star Wars to become something more... a gritty, surreal form of entertainment that will haunt you for a bit...
Two episodes to go in the first season.
• I'm Batman! I was saddened to learn that Kevin Conroy died. Batman: The Animated Series endures in a way that the Batman movies struggle to do. A big part of that was the voice of Kevin Conroy. Another series that I remember him from was Tour of Duty where he played Captain Rusty Wallace, a character that helped define the first season...
He truly will be missed. Rest in Peace, sir.
• SOCK-LIGHT?? My new light switches do not have dimmable controls, which means I have to have dimmable lights. Which is not a problem, as I found pretty good pricing on Philips Hue can lights. Problem is... one of them I got had the clips bent and A DIRTY SOCK IN THE BOX! And it's like WTF? Returns are not inspected for this kind of gross crap?
Every time something like this happens when you are purchased a "new unopened item" it feels like merely replacing it is not enough. Not only am I losing time, but I'm also having to literally deal with somebody's dirty laundry.
• Whoopsies! Couldn't happen to a nicer piece of shit company raking in huge profits over a drug which the inventor meant to be free. He famously sold the patents to the University of Toronto for $1 saying “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.” But of course Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi couldn't let that stand when there are billions to be made...
Insulin should be manufactured and sold at cost. It needs to be a function of government for the public good... not Big Pharma's balance sheet. It's disgusting that this isn't the case.
• The Merchant Tribe mourns. This past week Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opened up. I found out that last year Dorothy Steel died at 95 years old, and this was her final acting role...
I remember reading an article when the first Black Panther was released about how she started acting at age 88. Which just goes to show that you're never too old to chase your dreams!
• Ribbit! The Red Wave that wasn't has come and gone. It would appear the Democrat's strategy of not doing a damn thing about preventing the things their base cares about getting destroyed (like codifying Roe) so they can scare people into showing up to vote actually worked. It's like "Oopsies! Sorry you lost the right to choose, but we needed a way to survive the midterms, so we let you lose it so you'd show up." An incredibly fucked-up strategy, but there's no denying the result...
I COULD HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT IF NOT FOR YOU MEDDLING KIDS!
Wonder what they'll be throwing away next so that they have a chance in two years?
Time to make the chimichangas...
Wow. Netflix really let The Crown get away from them. It's like they've gone from attempting any form of accuracy and slid straight into parody.
And Princess Diana caught the worst of it.
This is how they have her looking in EVERY FUCKING SCENE...
I am well aware that she tended to bow her head in public (especially in her earlier royal days), but they took it way too far. It was incredibly distracting, and a cursory Google Image Search shows that she wasn't like this 24/7.
Lord only knows how the sixth (and final) season is going to go. Hopefully it won't sink further than this.
I've always ignored the whole MagSafe scenario because I didn't think it would be very practical. Room for three cards? THREE?!? What am I supposed to do with that? Especially considering that Washington State legislators are more concerned with raising taxes and running for re-election than actually getting shit done so we can have digital licenses. Other states are hopping on board. But not Washington! Patty Murray is too busy sucking Big Pharma dick to have ten fucking minutes to tell her staff to instruct the Department of Licensing to do jack shit. So one of those three precious card slots will be devoted to my physical license, leaving me with two left (thank you shitty USA health care system!).
Now, given that one of those has to be for my health insurance card means I'm left with one slot left.
And even though ApplePay is finally rolling out to most stores now-a-days, that should probably go to my primary credit card for places it doesn't work.
And that's all she wrote.
But would it be enough? I tested it out by rubber-banding the three cards together and sticking them in my front pocket while my wallet with the rest of my junk goes in my back pocket. I would keep track of how many times I had to reach for my wallet in a month and see if MagSafe Wallet was even possible.
Surprisingly? Turns out it was. So I orderd the orange one to go on my Project RED case on my Deep Purple iPhone...
Now... I originally wasn't going to go with the Apple wallet because I didn't want to buy leather anything. Faux leather was fine. But Apple MagSafe Wallets are the only ones that have "Find My" technology which will let you know when your wallet was last attached to your iPhone. Since I was genuinely concerned with the wallet falling off, this seemed a handy feature to have, so I went with Apple's cruelty-enabled option.
Turns out that the magnets on this wallet are actually pretty good, I've been using it for over a month and it's never fallen off once, even when sliding it in my pocket.
The only problem I have with the magnetic attachment is that it doesn't snap to alignment, and oftentimes I have to twist it a bit so that it pops into place. Kind of a huge flaw in Apple's design, but not a dealbreaker.
The only other difficulty is getting the cards in and out. There's a thumb-hole on the back which allows you to push the cards out one-by-one. But sometimes they come out easier than others. I've taken to having my credit card be in the back since that's by far the card I use most (Home Depot and other stores don't allow ApplePay).
Other than that? Kinda great, actually. I love not having to lug around a huge wallet, and the three slots are all I really need (though hopefully one day Patty Murray will be forced out of office and be replaced by somebody who will give Washingtonians digital driver's licenses, because I'd rather add my Health Savings card in its place).
If you rarely use cash like me... and don't need a ton of cards on you, then this is actually a pretty good investment.
I watch a lot of YouTube. Like... a lot a lot. Probably more than actual television. Which is why I pay for the ad-free version, because being inundated by non-stop ads completely destroys my sanity.
There are a lot of YouTubers that I enjoy. I've blogged about them a couple times. And while I'm never looking for new creators to follow, I do poke around from time to time. And while I honestly don't need more to watch, sometimes I can't help myself.
My latest discovery is Anti-Chef.
I have never subscribed to a channel so fast. Not only that, but I also signed up to support his work on his Patreon.
I don't know how else to describe it... except Jamie Tracy is me! He's me in the kitchen!
This guy is a Canadian living in New York City, via London, via Belgium, via Toronto, who makes rather complex recipes and lets you watch. The results are often hilarious, because he's not an expert chef. He just a dude who likes cooking. But the complex nature of the recipes often has him confused and frustrated... and most times there's a complete disaster going on.
AND IT'S ME! THIS IS WHAT I GO THROUGH EVERY TIME I COOK! HE IS MEEEEEE!
In this video he's making Cronuts, which is something I've long wanted to try. But now that I've seen him attempt it... I know I would burn my fucking kitchen to the ground because he calls it a "one way ticket to hell" and I am not going to take that trip. But... they do look dang delicious!
Occasionally Jamie steps outside of the kitchen... as was the case with this video about PATATJES MET he filmed when he was living in Brussels...
His latest thing is to cook Julia Child recipes. Often to hilarious effect!
If you're looking for a YouTube rabbit hole to fall into, this is your guy.
The electrician showed up to install my new switches! I'll talk about the Eve stuff tomorrow, but first thing's first.
After INSTEON died and I knew was going to have to replace all my smart home devices, my dream scenario was originally to wire my entire home with Brilliant smart switches. They're the cat's meow because you can have controllers that are literally computers in their own right (complete with touch screen)...
They can control not only your lights, but most anything. Sonos speakers. Hue lighting. Whatever. It's seriously cool. But, alas, the screen controllers are ungodly expensive and even their "regular" smart dimmer switches were out of my price range. What I ended up doing was buying one screen controller "bundle" which included three of the non-screen dimmers. That would cover my dining room and living room, which is all I really need because they are the only ones that I want to dim anyways.
The sliders on their switches are configurable. For the lights that are Philips Hue lights, you can have the power be "always on" so the slider talks with your Hue Hub and does the dimming from there (albeit very slowly, which is massively annoying). For all other lights, Brilliant just does the dimming by controlling the power feed as usual.
So... simple, right?
Not really. Turns out that Brilliant isn't quite so brilliant after all.
It began when I first installed it. The "software update" which is supposed to take "a few minutes" took 35 minutes... and I have a super-fast fiber connection!
Then there's the boot-up time. Which is very slow. Seriously very slow. It's so slow that I am thankful I have fairly reliable power where I live. If I didn't and had to wait for Brilliant to reboot all the time, I think I might go crazy.
Configuring stuff is much harder than it has to be. For example, I was looking through their help documents to add a Hue controller to a slider and what they are describing in the document was not what I was seeing. And then it's like... oh. Primary configurations (like connecting to Hue Hub) have to be done on the controller itself, and you can't do it on the app. Except they never mention this. I only found it out when I went to the controller to just reset everything... and saw exactly what I had been looking for. Convexly, configuring the dimmer switches can't be done on the screen controller, only the app.
Ultimately, it all worked out, but I only got there by picking around for over an hour until I got it sorted. I'm still having a few integration wackiness I need to figure out, but I'll get there eventually. I hope. Don't know if Brilliant would have been my best move knowing what I know now.
This is Part Deux of removing all the dead INSTEON smart home crap from my home and replacing everything with Thread smart home devices.
Back in the day INSTEON was the best fit for my smart home setup. It was clunky and weird and didn't always function as expected, but it was cheap and mostly worked (or not... turning my bedroom lights on and off also turned my living room lights on and off, and I never got that figured out in six years). The bad thing about it was that interacting with it was awful. I had to buy a pricey programmable ISY-994i hub to replace the INSTEON hub that barely worked. THEN I had to buy a modem to connect it to my network. THEN I had to pay for a service which would allow me to use Alexa for voice control and interact with my devices remotely from my phone. THEN I had to write literal programs to get everything working as I needed.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Apple's initial efforts with home automation was something they called "HomeKit" but it was actually "HomeShit" because you couldn't do shit with it. And there weren't many devices that worked with it anyway. I frickin' hated it so much that I completely scrapped the test gear I bought and started over with INSTEON.
But that was 2016, and Apple has come a long way in six years. Most importantly, they joined the Matter Smart Home alliance which will allow all Matter devices to communicate with each other (so it doesn't matter than HomeShit can't get automations working to save their life). And the network behind Matter is something called Thread.
Thread is actually pretty great, because it does all the work by itself instead of relying on a central router hub to handle everything. Devices designate themselves as either router leaders, routers, or endpoints to build a self-propagating, self-healing mesh network. And that's it. Except if you want to access your Thread network from outside your local network (such as the internet), you also need a "border router." Apple's HomePod mini works for that, so I'm good to go.
Any device that's connected to wired power routes traffic, which includes all 26 switches in my home. Needless to say that with so many routers my Thread network is rock-solid.
Which brings us to Eve, the company making most of my devices, including my light switches.
And so I guess we'll see how it goes over the long haul. Hopefully the little quirks with HomeKit will work themselves out as I attempt to get my home "smart" again.
I tried different "automated" litter boxes which self-clean so I don't have to scoop. Not that I mind doing it, but Jenny is very particular about having a clean litter box in which to do her business. If the litter box is dirty, the poor thing will hold it as long as she can... wandering from box to box hoping to find a clean one... then go on the floor when she finally can't hold it any more. I really don't want my sweet girl go through that, so I pay the massive cost for the only automated boxes I trust to do the job... Litter-Robot.
I started with the Litter-Robot 3. It was great. But I started having random "BONNET REMOVED" errors soon after purchase, which would render the unit nonfunctional. I followed all the advice that Litter-Robot Customer Service gave me, but nothing solved it. This was so worrying to me due to my constant travels that I ended up buying a second just in case the "BONNET REMOVED" error happened while I was gone. This error itself is inexplicably stupid. Who wouldn't put the bonnet back on after taking it off? It's huge. It's not like you'd forget or not notice. But despite tons of people having this problem, there was never a permanent fix offered... and nobody ever offered up any hacks to solder a jumper or disable the faulty sensor, so it kept happening.
Enter Litter-Robot 4.
I waited for reviews before I even considered spending SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS buying one. When the reviews came and nobody mentioned any BONNET REMOVED errors, I wrote the Litter-Robot Customer Service and specifically asked if the problem had been solved. About all they would commit to saying was "We've improved the product in many ways." Hardly the assurance I was looking for.
Worried that the cats may resist the new machines, I started by replacing only one of them so they would have a choice. Jenny noticed something had changed immediately...
Jake took a bit longer before he realized it...
In any event, there was no adjustment period. I transferred the litter from the old Litter-Robot to the new so that the smell would reassure them what it's for. But I don't think it was necessary, as they both took to it immediately and the Litter-Robot 3 was forgotten.
After a week of use, here's the positives...
Here's the negatives (photos to follow)...
This is a screen capture showing how one of them is offline. They were actually both offline until I power-cycled the first one...
As you can see, the unit went offline sometime after 11:11am, and I've lost all data from then until I cycled the power at 7:10pm. I have no idea why it's saying a cat was detected at 7:12, because neither of my cats are even in the room. I can only guess that I farted in its general direction, and that was enough to make it think a cat is taking a dump...
This is the tab of the bonnet which will not stay locked into the slot. I keep putting it back in only to have it pop out the next time the unit cycles. Incredibly frustrating...
The bonnet itself is ill-fitting all the way around, with gaps and seams that don't match up...
But, to be honest, I can handle the bonnet being poorly constructed... just so long as I don't get those idiotic "BONNET REMOVED" errors that plagued me for years with my previous units. It seems inconceivable that something costing $700 is so poorly constructed, and I can only hope that it stays operational despite it all.
And that's that. A lot of plusses. Some hefty minuses. But an overall good product that I can't imagine being without.
Pretty sure my cats can't imagine it either.
It's time to be human... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Again. The shooting at the Colorado Springs nightclub "Club Q" last night is yet another in a string of violent attacks on marginalized communities. And it's like... I just don't get it. LGBTQ persons are not made to feel welcome in general society, so they carve out a space where they can enjoy life for even a short time away from general society... and that's not good enough? Senseless violence has been out of control for as long as humans have existed. That's just fact. But the hatred behind the violence is quickly reaching unsustainable levels as the weapons to act out violence keep getting more powerful. Dozens of people can be cut down in an instant by a single individual, and pretty soon that's going to be the only thing we have.
• Let's Go Brendan! This GQ "Iconic Characters" series is always great. But this one? Oh wow...
I want... quite badly... for Elizabeth Hurley to get one of these.
• Todd! If you are not watching So Help Me Todd on Paramount+, then you are missing out on one of my favorite shows on television. It almost makes me forgive Paramount Network for canceling Magnum P.I. (which, thank God for Peacock TV and NBC, is actually returning despite it all)...
Skylar Astin is a gift, and this show uses him to maximum effect. So COLOR ME SHOCKED that CBS actually renewed the show for a second season! Yay!
• Big Animation! Floor 796 may very well be the coolest thing I've seen in my browser in a minute...
Worth a visit if you like looking at cool stuff!
• I'm Batman! And here's what I wish I would have had to post when Kevin Conroy passed...
A lot of people... like a lot a lot... have Kevin Conroy as "their" Batman. This will go on for a while.
• SHIT! And here we are again. Apple's HomeKit... which has always been HomeShit... is still a pile of shit. And Apple doesn't fucking care. It is absolutely outrageous how there are known issues plaguing the system and Apple doesn't even acknowledge that there are problems. A company worth billions of dollars, but they won't fix it or offer any solutions. For me the biggest problem is that Automations tied to timed events (like sunset or a time of day) don't fucking work! The event arrives and nothing happens. Which is shitty, because I have all kinds of things set up. Like turning my outside lights off and on. There are hundreds of threads on various forums with people trying to find a way to get their timed Automations working. Some things work... for a while... but the overreaching problem of HomeShit being garbage can only be addressed by Apple. And, once more for the people in the back, Apple doesn't fucking care.
And now back to your regularly scheduled Sunday antics.
Having to type passwords is a nasty business that we're forced to deal with because the world is filled with assholes who want to steal from you. Sure there are password managers that help to make things easier (especially if they can be synced over the internet to all your devices), but it's still a ridiculous thing to have to mange. Apple wants to change all this with the idea of "Passkeys"... a password system that uses biometric data, like your face or fingerprint, to handle your login security for you. It's a nice idea, in theory, but it has to actually work. And so far I'm having mixed results. I set it up on this blog, for example, but now I can't actually get into my blog because my Passkey doesn't work and my authenticator app is not syncing properly. Which means that I will have to reinstall... again... so I can access Blogography... again.
Maybe one of these days this will all be worked out.
But, in the meanwhile, here we are.
I've never been nostalgic towards bygone days, but I understand the appeal. And understand it more with each passing day.
This world is turning to shit, isn't it?
Look at me... so pesimistic, and it's only Tuesday.
Today I'm driving over the mountains. A prospect that looks a lot better than it did yesterday when the snow was dumping down.
Not that I'm worried about the driving, mind you. I've been driving in the snow forever. No, I'm worried about the sheer number of idiots on the road who either drive too fast for conditions or don't pay close enough attention while operating a motor vehicle.
Which is most people, alas.
It always seems weird that some people want to risk getting seriously hurt or dead... or causing others to get seriously hurt or dead... by not slowing down and paying attention.
I guess it's all worth it if you can text grandma that you're driving balls-to-the-walls so you can be there in time for cocktails.
I've never understood the love of eating dead turkey... even when I ate dead turkey. It's dry and pasty and smells weird. The only way to make it edible is to smother it with gravy or cranberry sauce or both.
Still, I'd imagine it's tastier than live turkey.
When it comes to being thankful on this Day of Thanksgiving, I suppose my list is longer than most. Me and my cats are relatively healthy, have a place to live, have food to eat, and nobody is wanting to eat us...
IF ONLY I COULD BE THANKFUL FOR SOMEBODY GIVING ME A MILLION DOLLARS!
For decades I've saved my money all year long so that I can shop Black Friday sales for all the stuff I need and want at a discounted price. Usually clothing.
That hasn't been the case this year.
In trying to get my home repaired, every cent I have has to go towards plumbers, electricians, and contractors and such. And they ain't cheap.
But it is nice not having a hole in my kitchen ceiling... even if other ceilings and walls are still torn up.
That's a story for another tax refund.
This was an eventful couple week to be my cats... what with all the construction fixing my home.
For the most part, Jake and Jenny spent their days hiding in the storage closet in my bedroom. I am always sure to take their food up to them... have a litterbox available... and check in several times to make sure that they're not completely catatonic. Which is a distinct possibility given how terrified they are of strangers.
The worst part was when the electrician actually had to go into my storage closet in order to replace the light switch. Poor Jenny backed herself so far up against the wall that she ended up looking like a little puffball...
Jake held out as long as he could... then made a mad dash for it, running past me, the electrician, and one of his nine lives.
He did recover enough that he was up for watching television with me that night though...
By the next morning, they were both back to their normal, abnormal selves. Jake got a paw massage, which he liked a little too much...
Fast-forward to today, and I arrived home from my Thanksgiving adventure over the mountains. As I was unloading the car, Jake was unloading my first load of stuff, including a box of toys I bought them for the holiday. I guess he smelled the catnip?
Remind me to disinfect the countertops.
Jenny is very particular about her toys. Most she won't play with. Some she hates so much that she dumps them in the water fountain. This time she only dumped one in the water... an astro mouse or something. The rest she was indifferent towards.
I got a jumbo-sized catnip toy that she attacked immediately. She was biting it and kicking it with a dedication usually reserved for her brother...
And now? I'm off for a warm winter's nap.
Be thankful that's all over... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• GoTGHS. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was absolutely bonkers. I couldn’t have loved it more. Very interesting how they dropped a very important couple pieces of information in advance of
Really sad that James Gunn is heading up the DCU now, because he gave us something completely new in the MCU, and that's getting increasingly rare.
• The Star Wars. If I had to wager a guess, my favorite TV show of 2022 will be Andor. The show is spectacular. The best Star Wars to happen since The Empire Strikes Back. It's just so... real. And smart. And entertaining. And brilliant. But let's get back to the part about it being real...
Now that the final episode has aired, all I want to do is go back and watch it all over again. How's that for an endorsement?
• Into the Abyss. It's really tough to diminish the movies that James Cameron has created... though people are always trying. When you take a look at the major films in his writer/director oeuvre, of which there are currently just seven, he really doesn't falter. They are all mind-blowing, fascinating entertainment. So to hear him run through it all is kinda a different level of fascinating...
If I were to rank his movies, it would go something like this...
And of course Avatar 2 is coming very soon...
Given his track record with sequels, it's bound to be a darn good film. And considering it needs to gross $2 billion to break even, it had better be.
• Be Hated. Okay... of all the movies and TV shows I've seen this year, The People We Hate at the Wedding is the one I laughed at the hardest...
If you've got Amazon Prime, it's worth a laugh.
• Lisbeth. David Fincher's brilliant take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is one of my all-time favorite films. I was all kinds of mad that he never got to complete the trilogy. Sony instead cheaped out and "re-booted" the series with The Girl in the Spider's Web. I finally got around to watching it, and now I'm mad all over again. Lisbeth Salander is one of the best and most iconic fictional female characters ever created... nuanced and complex, using her smarts to outwit and outplay truly awful people. But now? It's just balls-out vanilla action hero that's been done dozens of times before (and done better... by Yu Shu Lien, Charly Baltimore, and many others). It would be comical if it weren't so sad...
If this is what the books are like after Stieg Larsson's original works, I am beyond thankful that I never bothered to read them. I mean, okay, the movie is a nice distraction (by a director who is obviously trying very hard to be David Fincher), and Claire Foy is not bad as Lisbeth. But this isn't Lisbeth Salander. It's a pale shadow of what she is... and should have been in this film.
• Beyond the Obvious. NEWSFLASH: Eli Lilly CEO says insulin tweet flap “probably” signals need to bring down cost. — PROBABLY?! YA THINK?!?? YOU CHARGE $250 FOR SOMETHING THAT COSTS $5 TO MAKE, ASSHOLE!! What good are all these "new and improved" drugs if only people with money can afford to buy them? Big Pharma has been lining the pockets of politicians for decades to not do anything about their price gouging. Washington State Senator Patty Murray has probably piled up a half-million dollars by now to keep Big Pharma profits at absurd margins. Little Timmy may not be able to afford insulin to keep him alive, but hey... Eli Lilly just bought another private jet for their CEO, so it's all good. Great job, Patty! Fuck.
• Steve! Even though I was way, way, way past the intended audience for Blue's Clues, I was a fan. I watched the show. I had some of the toys. I even had a "Handy Dandy Notebook" laying around. It was just such a pure explosion of creativity that I couldn't look away. And Steve Burns being so invested in his character was part of the reason why....
He's still got it.
Until next week then.
After I climbed out of credit card debt, I swore to never get sucked in again unless an absolute emergency happened and I was forced to. The interest charges are just too obscene to deal with, so I only use my cards when I have money to pay off the balance.
Sometimes it's easier said than done... especially now-a-days... but the cost to get out of debt is so high that I'll do just about anything to avoid it. Better to survive on peanut butter and ramen for a month now so I don't have to survive on peanut butter and ramen for six months later. And it all adds up.
For this reason, I was mortified when Apple wrote to me with the "good news" that my credit limit on Apple Card has been increased. TO FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!
Just how much Apple crap do they think I will be buying? Am I now supposed to call them up and say Please ship me 7,000 iMacs! or what?
The unreality of it all boggles my mind.
The people on this planet are severely lacking perspective.
Which is why I'm glad that NASA posts photos which vividly illustrate that we're all just clinging to a tiny ball in a vast expanse of nothing. And the only reason we're special is because we think we're special. But in the grand scheme of things? That's a tough call...
The entire human race could disappear and the rest of the universe wouldn't even notice. Or care.
As anybody who has been reading this blog knows, I have been searching for a decent frozen pizza for decades. I can actually make pretty good pizza myself, but it's a lot of work and finding time is tough.
I finally hit the jackpot years ago with "Boardwalk Bagel Pizza" which was sold at Costco for a while. They had to be bought by the case, and I ate them almost daily. But then they disappeared, and no amount of internet sleuthing would tell me where they were made or where else I could get them.
Then, just last year in 2021, Red Baron introduced their "Fully Loaded" pizzas which were fantastic. I'd buy six at a time and eat minimum one a week. Then, for whatever reason, Red Baron changed the recipe. The sauce was different, the crust was different, and the cheese was even different...
So that was over. Would it be another 20 years before I found a frozen pizza that didn't suck?
Turns out that... no...
I happened across "Home Run Inn" pizza a couple weeks ago and decided to buy three of the small ones to try. The first time I made one, I microwaved it because it had special packaging that was designed to be microwaved. And it sucked. SUCKED! I was very close to tossing the remaining two in the garbage, but I can't afford to throw away food, so I waited a couple weeks and decided to bake another one in the oven.
And it was fantastic.
Very much like the "Butter Crust" pizzas I've had at Pizano's in Chicago (Home Run Inn is also thin crust Chicago pizza)...
And so... yeah. I've reached frozen pizza nirvana once again.
Any bets at how long it will be before they get dropped at the local grocery store?