I want to shoot neighborhood cats sooooo bad.


Okay, so I just don’t want cats on my property.  I find this to be a very reasonable request.  Yet, in the internet debate over cats being allowed to roam unrestricted outside, the arguments against this practice focus on the dangers posed to the cats themselves, which is still a self-centered argument, even if it’s on the against side.  It overlooks what should be the prime reason: it’s rude to other people.

Even if letting your cat outside wasn’t inherently dangerous, it’s still pissing and shitting in my vegetable garden and digging things up.  It’s being destructive to my property and hobbies, and potentially passing infectious diseases into the produce I eat.  Under no condition would a rational person consider this okay.

And yet – there they are.

And it turns out that the problem was worse than I thought, revealed to me after my garden camera install.

…And that’s just one day.

But I’ve ranted about roaming cats before.  No need to go through that futile discussion again.  Instead, I decided to find a preventative measure that was more likely than changing a cat owner’s behavior.

Although there are other animals I wish to deter, like this skunk
…and some of the squirrel population (but it was fun to talk to them through the camera).

Instead, I invested in a motion-activated ultrasonic alarm.  I had limited expectations, but I haven’t caught any more cats on camera in the two days since I installed it!  So I bought two more.  It seems feasible that I can at last create a cat-free perimeter.  The 3rd one I’ll run at a higher frequency and see if that does anything to the squirrels.  That’d be a double win after last year’s tomato patch decimation.

And the camera worked for one of its intended purposes.  I love it when a plan comes together.


Ring 3

It’s not quite paranoia, but I wanted another outside camera.  This time, I wanted a view of the garden.  Why?  Because the house doesn’t have any windows on that side and I want to check in on the veggies.  And to yell at any deer and cats that trigger the motion alert (the latter of which I’ve already chased away with the camera’s alarm).  I’m also hoping its presence will be a deterrent to a certain neighbor who takes their dog across the property line to shit.  Doubtful.

But between the pandemic and chip shortage, the camera model I wanted, which I’ve previously installed in the backyard, hasn’t been available for a couple years now.  Then, finally last month, it appeared open to order, though it must have been backordered because I only just received it over the weekend.  No matter. I have it now.

Taking the previous installation’s lessons, I routed a CAT6 through the attic and to the garage window, where I installed a keystone jack, and connected to this a specially-ordered outdoor patch cable which ran along the eaves and to the camera.

Exposed wires are never elegant, but it’s the garage.

I also must be losing my touch with crimping cable terminals.  I struggled to the point of fury before deciding to go out and buy a different model, which worked just fine.  User error maybe.

Surpassing the other camera, this is now the longest ethernet run I’ve pulled.  And fortunately, it worked the first time.

I see you!

This makes my 10th drop to the patch panel.  And I even acquired a PoE switch since last time, thus replacing the prior single-port injector and giving me 4 powered ports.

Future expandability!

Looking forward to some nature pics.  And foiled pooping attempts.


2021 Lights

There’s a story I like to share, because it’s a fantastic example of an old couple argument.  It went something like this:

Once upon a time, LED lightbulbs weren’t a major player yet, and it was in that brief period where the world was adjusting to CFLs, and old conspiracy theorists everywhere were collapsing from ruptured aneurysms after the government started mandating energy consumption limits on illumination.  Of all the things to worry over, and it took an NSA defector to get the general public to even acknowledge the government’s wholesale data mining of citizens’ digital lives–which, I might add, ended with the general public retaining their complete indifference.  But those lightbulbs!  The government’s up to something and we should be angry!

Don’t step on rattlesnakes. They bite.

A more rational complaint with early CFLs was their color spectrum.  Bright white lighting is but one source of the eternal migraine hell office workers must endure (a close second to bad bosses), and people were understandably reluctant to replicate those conditions at home.  And so began the lightbulb stockpiling (and, you know, because of whatever the government was up to).

Now, as an aquarium keeper, I wondered why no one would make a more yellowish bulb, for the variety of different colored fluorescent T8s I’d kept in my tanks over the years had clearly demonstrated that the problem was already figured out.

I didn’t have to wait long.  Manufacturers started making CFLs in more pleasant shades, and even printed the Kelvin rating.  But the damage was done.  It seemed no one trusted them, nefarious government plans notwithstanding.

Liz was one such slow adopter–not that she ever suspected crazy government plans.  Rational suspicion of plausible evil government plans, sure, like what most normal people have.  Nay, it came down to bad experiences with the early bulbs and the fact that the choice to use incandescents still existed, so why change?  The only reason I cared myself was because the old bulbs burnt out so damn quick and were expensive to replace.  There was a lightbulb cartel you know, which mandated an artificial lifespan of a maximum of 1000 hours.  Not a government conspiracy maybe, but certainly mafia-corporate shenanigans.

You want me to extend lightbulb life on this–the day of my daughter’s wedding?

To further place me into illumination cost woes, apartment wiring was generally limited to one switch-enabled outlet for a living room.  One lamp on one switch.  Turning the home from perpetual twilight into something by which one could actually read required a 250 watt bulb.  These bulbs were not cheap, and as mentioned before, burnt out quickly.  So I explored those new-fangled CFLs–a higher upfront cost, but a much longer operational  life.

Being sure to buy a low-K bulb, I installed a CFL of the same lumen rating the next time the incandescent burnt out.  Liz complained–when I suggested a CFL, when I was buying the CFL, and after I had installed the CFL.  I couldn’t tell if the difference was significant or there was bias.  So I hatched a plan: use the complainer as a test subject in a very brief blind study.

I ran back to the store and bought another incandescent, and swapped it when Liz wasn’t looking.  I then waited, and when she again complained about the bulb I triumphantly removed the lamp shade to reveal the same type of incandescent which had been installed previously!  Huzzah!  Turns out no one could tell the difference.  And all it took was a little bit of reverse-gaslighting my most trusted loved one.  A small price for the sake of finances.  She’d forgive me eventually.

In the meantime, I was cleared to finally start buying CFLs as old bulbs died.  And when CFLs lost their popularity to LEDs (which applied the CFL spectrum lesson immediately), there was no argument.

But…LEDs didn’t take this lesson to heart in all products.  Christmas lights were not given such discerning treatment.  And while I argued for their merits, such as longevity and more robust construction (they didn’t burn out or fail catastrophically after being put up…usually), I had to concede that they just didn’t look as good as classic incandescents.

But then Liz found a style of LEDs that resembled them.  So we switched over.  But every year she fears a return to the olden days, and buys more of that type, on the chance that the manufacturer will discontinue them.  And with more lights on hand, I put them up.  And the following year she buys more.  And I put those up too.

My point?  Well, I just find it an amusing story in marital disagreements regarding changing illumination technologies.  But she got her revenge.  Each year I spend more time crawling around on the cold roof.

Look at those classic-style LEDs. LOOK AT THEM!

May your days be merry and bright–with 2700K spectrum LEDs.


Doppler Radar, Revisited

Many moons ago (like 52), I expressed discontent with available Doppler radar weather services, citing a lack of user-friendliness and clunky UIs.  I had concluded that I should instead design my own by “borrowing” NOAA’s static map image and embedding it with some CSS into my own page with a timed refresh.  It may have been a shameless hack, but it did what I wanted it to do.

But recently, I noticed that the image no longer appeared.  I suspected that NOAA’s admins finally restricted embedding, as doing so is a standard security practice.  I sighed sadly at the prospect of being forced to use a commercial product once again.

Originally, to get the radar image, I had to dig through their source code.  I considered that maybe the file name just changed, so I went back to NOAA.  And to my surprise, I found that they had completely overhauled their weather site, replacing their own radar page with a dynamic, higher-rez version that auto-refreshes: essentially what I was trying to create originally.

So my point is that this renders my own page moot.  I’ve updated the link accordingly to redirect to their site.  I’m just glad to have back what I wanted originally.


S/MIME: You Can’t Stop Me

I’ll use it even if I have to become my own CA and sign my own certificates…which is what I did.

But back up.

3 years ago, I wrote about how and why to use S/MIME, and its numerous shortcomings:

S/MIME Email Encryption

The biggest inconvenience, aside from getting people to use it, is that it relies on a public key infrastructure.  Those familiar with web TLS no doubt already understand this.  In short, it’s a real pain to get a trusted certificate authority to issue a certificate.  And they cost money.  But the system worked nonetheless, until the day most major browser vendors decided to remove keygen support.  This meant that certificates could no longer be manufactured and signed in the user’s browser session.  But all was not lost, because some browsers hadn’t decided to fully deprecate the feature.  Notably, Safari:

S/MIME Revisited

Then that changed too.  I wondered then, why can’t I generate my own certificate and send it off on a certificate signing request the way one does with a TLS certificate?  I wish I knew, but no one offers that.  Probably because no one uses S/MIME anyway.  So I was left to reevaluate my needs:

  1. While it makes me feel all super official, I doubt any recipients of my general correspondence even notice that my emails are signed.
  2. There’s nothing stopping me from minting my own certificates.  They just won’t be trusted inherently.
  3. The main purpose of me using S/MIME is for encrypted information exchange with Liz.
  4. I can simply have Liz’s phone explicitly trust my certificate.

And so, using Apple’s keychain, I minted a general purpose master root certificate, trusted it explicitly, installed it on our phones, trusted it on the phones, then used it to sign an email certificate.  The certificate, now installed on my own devices, was then inherently trusted due to the explicitly trusted root certificate that signed it.  Problem solved.

Alas, I can’t feel all super official when I email other people, but oh well.  Such is the fate of a mostly unknown encryption system.