Uhtceare is real

I started this blog with the title taken from very old English, as you can see in the header and About page. I seriously considered naming it ‘uhtceare,’ another old word meaning ‘to wake before dawn and not be able to sleep because you’re worrying about something.’ Today, a modern update from ScienceAlert:

The thoughts are often distressing and punitive. Strikingly, these concerns vaporize in the daylight, proving that the 3am thinking was completely irrational and unproductive.

It’s a good read, with solid reasoning. I like this bit:

The truth is, our mind isn’t really looking for a solution at 3am. We might think we are problem solving by mentally working over issues at this hour, but this isn’t really problem solving; it’s problem solving’s evil twin – worry.



and by ‘Slumgullion’ I mean

a cheap stew made by throwing anything handy into a pot with water and boiling it, an improvised dish which has had many other names…

so yeah, lots to share! In no particular order then.

Forget silver spoons

Metal spoons, photo credit Zoe Laughlin

Different metals change the flavor of the food. More than you might think, especially if like me you’ve been dining from stainless steel your entire life. This fantastic post and accompanying Gastropod podcast will, if you’re like me, inspire you go go in search of less-expensive gold plated spoons. My lovely wife humored me and found a set of four for around $40 but I don’t know the source. Sorry. Don’t be fooled by gold-colored ones made from a titanium film – no idea how that’ll taste.

One spoon ruled them all, however: as Laughlin put it, “The gold spoon is just sort of divine. It tastes incredibly delicious and it makes everything you eat seem more delicious.” After tasting mango sorbet off a gold spoon, Laughlin told us, with a note of regret in her voice, “I thought, I can’t believe I’m ever going to eat off anything other than gold ever again. Sadly, of course, I do.”

Electric paraglider

I miss flying. The higher land-use density and cost of living here in San Diego combine to keep me grounded but the dream endures. A co-worker flies powered paragliders like these, basically a small gas motor + prop worn like a backpack plus a glider wing. As usual, Wikipedia has a decent article about them.

(Aside: Please donate to Wikipedia! Can you think of any other site on the internet that has stayed true to its mission, useful and honest? Short list, isn’t it? Do us all a favor and toss them a few bucks. I too find the Jimmy ads annoying but still donate every year.)

I find paramotoring compelling – the equipment is small and affordable enough to be purchased and carried around in the back of an SUV or trailer hitch carrier. You’re even more constrained by weather and flight rules; it’s really recreation only. That matches how I flew fixed-wing at the Fox Flying Club, though, so no worries there.

Anyway, I’ve been keeping an eye out and it looks like the electric vehicle revolution has made it to paragliding – and open source no less! Voila, OpenPPG.

It’s what you think it is, a scaled-up drone-style quadcopter. It folds down, packable into the back seat of a car. You can scale the battery pack from about 20 to 40 minutes of flight, with all of the advantages of direct-drive motors. I so want one.

So now I gotta convince my wife and get lessons. Co-worker went to this place and recommends them if you’re in the San Diego area.

On a related note, the local glider port has a nice, Raspberry-Pi-powered site showing glider conditions. As I write:

Synology hassles and solutions

We’re on our third Synology NAS. We got a 2-bay in 2015, a 4-bay in 2017 and an 8-bay in 2019.I’ve used the NAS migration built into their software to migrate the data from NAS to NAS, so when I got a volume-full warning I simply ordered two more WD 4TB drives and dropped them in, assuming I could grow the volume.

Nope. 16T limit, not the 18 expected. There’s an issue with migrated volumes with no known fix. Here’s the workaround, which took two weekends of fiddling/waiting:

  1. Move shared directories from volume1 to volume2 as explained here. You have to do this manually, one at a time, so it takes forever. (Note that volume2 is my internal backup drive, so yes you need free space to do this.)
  2. Create a new, small-dish volume for applications such as DNS. I went with 128GB just to leave room. Follow these instructions to move the applications to that new volume.
  3. Delete volume1 and create a new volume, which magically will be the full 18TB or whatever.
  4. Repeat step 1 instructions to move file shares onto the new volume.
  5. Curse the programmers at Synology.
  6. Bless the kind folks who posted answers like the above.


One very enjoyable job years ago had me writing LabVIEW software for a new, state of the art ultra-high-vacuum mass spectrometer at the UNM Advanced Materials Lab. The instrument designer and my boss was an amazing guy named Janos Farkas, and his latest project is a very interesting idea around more-robust hyperlinks. Consent, payment, attribution – lots of ideas in there. There’s a WordPress plugin too, so I’ve got a project to add them here as well. Have a look at and see what you think.

It took few seconds for Janos to make his post available for reuse and less than a minute for Gulzar to make the request, get his website verified, accept the license offer (he knew the license terms and conditions because the license templates are published online), receive the post to his WordPress backend and publish the linked post.  In the meantime, electronic records of the transaction were created both for Janos and Gulzar. The referent, linked posts, license transaction, and rights status have been given persistent identifiers and are trackable in the CLink registry.

You should buy a PurpleAir air quality monitor

Check this out:

Air quality right now in SoCol. One of those is my house.

In July of 2018 I paid $244 to a company called Adrionics for a chunk of PVC stuffed with electronics, the PA-II:

Mine, mounted next to the garage door

It’s a sophisticated, lab-grade piece of hardware – twin laser-based light scattering particulate sensors, and it measures how much junk is in your air. In particular (a pun I am delighted with), the “PM2.5” size range most important to your health and lungs.

It’s rated for indoor or outdoor use. I put mine next to the garage door mainly due to the difficulty of running a power wire outside. Outside is better but you could benefit by having indoor and outdoor if you’re feeling fancy.

You can read about the PMS5003 sensor here, it’s pretty nifty. The PA-II uses twin sensors so you can plot and compare the two readings and thus get better data:

Science! You can connect directly to the sensor (it uses WiFi) and see the full details as well as temp, RH% and breakouts of counts per size range.

Leftover smoke from distant fires, I think.

And even if you don’t own one, head over to and try their map – you can see see local and regional quality at a snap, as with the top image in this post. I can tell, for example, that we’re in fire season as the quality is usually much much better. And if your health is affected (asthma, seasonal allergies or the like) then a sensor makes even more sense. There are other ‘smart home’ air quality monitors with designer enclosures; I don’t recommend them. Do your own research but I found that PurpleAir was a guy who started making these for himself and then for others who asked.

Which, yeah, is a lot like Paul Scurfield in another post in this series. Or Dan Fock.

Each sensor automatically shares its data so you benefit others too – I like that. I’ve done a few experiments with cheap air quality sensors and have come to believe that you can’t get good data without spending a chunk of money, so while this is a non-trivial expense I consider them a good value and recommend buying one.

Or maybe check the map – if someone nearby has one already, then just bookmark the map and benefit from some citizen science.


It’s okay to shower with your dive watch. | planetkris

Great post, via Hackaday. He puts sensors into a watch and torture tests for temperature, pressure and water resistance.

Quite possibly Invicta’s finest hour.


Health recommendations

Scan Your Feet

Sometimes, a few minutes of time will make a large difference in your life. I’ve got one of those to share. Yesterday at work, the work fitness center brought in two guys from Fleet Feet with their ‘fit id’ foot scanner:

Image credit: Fleet Feet

So you stand on the scanner for a few seconds, and a dozen cameras scan your feet. Science!

For me, I’ve long had problems finding shoes that fit. Size 15, so right there I lose 80% of the brands and stores. Recently I’ve been buying wider shoes as they seem to fit better. However, I learned that my problem isn’t width, I’m actually narrower than average, but I have super high arches and the extra material added to wide shoes helps span the arch of my taller feet.

Well dang. That helps. I’ll try arch supports, that should help as I get back into trail running. The lack of support was apparently why I had Achilles pain; makes sense.

Fleet Feet sends you the results; here’s a link to mine and here is a screenshot:

Screenshot 2018-04-20 08.38.08

Click through the link and you can Explore! My! Feet! In 3D!

Anyway, if you do any running I cannot recommend this enough. It took less than 15 minutes, I got a nice paper note with recommendations for shoes and insoles that should work for me, and the man helping me was super. No sales pitch at all, just helpful advice.


Their locator is here and I would assume that other running shoe stores might have the same system.

Like I said, some times a few minutes of your day makes a huge difference. This is one of them.