A great lake

We are very fortunate to live near water. Although technically, the Detroit River is the closest, it’s only minutes down County Road 20 before you can take in the view of Lake Erie.

Some things you can see on the trip with the naked eye…

And yet, just when you think you have a grip of things, you find this!

OTR Links 07/31/2019

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Reunited and it sounds so good

Jaimie and I just got back from our morning walk/jog. It was a little shorter than usual with the heat and humidity. At least one of us had our tongue hanging out before we got to the end of the driveway.

Our path has two directions – north and south – and so I rely on music to keep my interest in the walk. I don’t share the same interest in mailboxes that Jaimie does.

Normally, I walk with my iPod nano and apparently it’s the second generation which puts it about 2006. At 4GB of storage, it needs to be refilled with music and podcasts roughly every week. In the winter time or less humid conditions, I wear a pair of noise cancelling headphones and head out for our daily stroll.

Once the humidity kicks in, I drop the headphones in favour of earphones. As anyone knows who collects devices, you also collect earphones! So, I have a couple of Apple and Samsung units. But, I have my favourite. It was a weak moment at BestBuy perhaps but I bought myself a pair of Bose in ear headphones. You haven’t heard the best in your music until you’ve heard it through them.

I’ll admit though, I have a problem. Through design, the cord for these has an extension that you can remove and remove I did in the spring just so that I was tangled up in cords. Now that summer is here and I wear shorts while walking, I would normally snap the extension back on. The main cord isn’t long enough to reach the bottom of the big pockets in my shorts. Talk about first world problems!

I’d given up on the headphones and had gone back to one of the others.

But yesterday, after the car show in the sweltering heat, I decided to clean up my desk and I found something that had been long lost. It was an iPod Shuffle, third generation, that I got as a gift from an exhibitor at a conference. I flipped the switch and there was no indication of life. That’s not surprising since who knows the last time that I used it. By dumb luck, the connector was attached to it. If you know Apple, you know the importance of this since things are often so proprietary. Crossing my finders, I connected it to the USB port on my Linux laptop only to get nothing. I’m guessing the battery is completely dead.

On a whim, I then plugged it into my MacBook Pro and guess what? iTunes started and the light started flashing orange. Not the greatest of signs but at least activity. So, I left it plugged in all evening and eventually, the flashing orange went to solid orange and then finally green. I don’t care who you are; green is good.

I marvelled at how light it was. I grabbed my Bose earphones, plugged them in, and turned the iPod on. Success! But there’s still the deep pockets thing.

This morning, as I got ready to walk, I thought – what the hey. I took the iPod which has a holding clip built in and clipped it to the collar of my t-shirt. It was so light I didn’t look like that commercial we see on television about looking comfortable in a U-neck shirt. I put the earphones in which, by design, aren’t held in place by the speakers but by the covering. The whole thing was light as anything.

Off we went.

If you think back to the advertising at the time, Apple promoted this device as playing things at random and you could never predict what might play next.

Did you catch the spelling mistake?

When I got home and turned the unit off, it reported that the battery was at 100%. I’m not naive enough to think this will last forever but it was a good news story and every blog needs a good news story every now and again!

Anyway, thanks to the humidity and dumb luck, I have a nice walking combination again. The humidity is predicted to be high again today so maybe I’ll do some more organization and find that extension cord for my headphones.

This was interesting to write and I hope that I’ve used the terms earphones and headphones in the way that the manufacturers wanted them used.

OTR Links 07/30/2019

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Cheating the machine

Alfred Thompson and I had had a bit of a back and forth about automated checkouts recently. He liked them; me, not so much.

We have two stores in town that have incorporated this – Sobeys and Walmart. They haven’t gone completely automated and so we typically will go to a cashier. Over the years, we’ve got to know them personally and I’d hate to see them lose their jobs.

The automated tellers always have a person there to help you and they can be pretty aggressive at times. Even to the point of doing the checkout for you to show you how easy it is. We always pass; it’s not that difficult but I will admit that I’m not even close to the professional cashier that knows where and how to pack the eggs and the fresh bread.

One of Alfred’s arguments was that there was a time when we’d get gas pumped by an attendent. (and they’d check oil and clean your windshields too) His argument is valid – do I want to return to that slower life? My counter to this, and I do remember their appearance at gas stations, was that there was a price cut that you got if you pumped your own. It’s 3-5 cents/litre and you can still see that at ONRoutes on the 401. But, the price of eggs is the same whether I check them out or a cashier checks them out. Not only is the price the same but the cashier does a far better job than I do. It’s kind of nice to have a complete dozen when you get home.

All of this resurfaced on Sunday when Alfred shared this story proving that I’m a total moron.

The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery

I may not agree with the moron comment but will confess perhaps to being naive. The thoughts of cheating as described in the article quite frankly never occurred to me. Other than being just an honest person to begin with, I’m aware that there are cameras everywhere and so if anyone was going to get caught, it would be me. Besides, there are still those theft sensors that you have to walk through to exit the store.

And, I seem to have bad luck too. Inevitably, there’s a perceived mistake that I didn’t put the object I just scanned into the bag and the helper has to come running to override the machine. I always have this nagging feeling that I’m guilty until proven innocent.

The bottom line is that I try to avoid them where possible but I’ll admit that given to pressure, I’ll use them. They’re not that difficult; it’s just that I know that ultimately people will lose jobs when, not if, this is implemented wholescale.

Except, I guess for the programmers that write the code to make all of this happen. Could there be a classroom exercise in this? Program the camera on a phone or laptop to read the UPC and then a device attached to the computer to determine whether the object goes into a bag. It’s an interesting and maybe relevant topic.

Somehow I doubt that those who will be losing their jobs will be re-educated as programmers but Computer Science teachers see future programmers every day. Can we add this to being future ready?

And finally, there’s an interesting assertion that is included in the post. On the heels of the CSTA Conference where I did have some discussion about ethics, this quote appears in the article.

“There is NO MORAL ISSUE with stealing from a store that forces you to use self checkout, period. THEY ARE CHARGING YOU TO WORK AT THEIR STORE.”

How’s that, and this entire article, for a lead in to ethics…