Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)

I don’t usually play games on my phone, but when I found Mini Metro, which let me build my own subway system and improve it, I found a treasure.

I just came across a new game for iOS which has me embarrassingly addicted.

Let’s be clear: I don’t play games on my phone. The only exception is Chess. However, as a big old nerd with autistic tendencies, building my own Metro/Subway/Tube system, refining it, expanding it, making it more efficient and watching it run makes me happier than it should. So when I came across Mini Metro, I found a new pastime. Continue reading “Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)”

How to use multiple trip odometers on a VW Jetta

There is a way to have multiple trip odometers on a Jetta, but they don’t make it easy or tell you how, so I’m sharing what I learned.

I’ve had a (2017) VW Jetta since last January and despite my attempts to figure out how I could use multiple trip odometers, I wasn’t able to do so until this past weekend (18 months later).

When I first got my Jetta, I noticed how there was a small number 1 near my odometer and other trip calculations (such as average consumption), which I assumed to mean that you could have multiple calculations running concurrently. However, I couldn’t find any such information in the user manual. And that’s the way it stayed for 18 months. Continue reading “How to use multiple trip odometers on a VW Jetta”

How to search on multiple labels in Google Keep

While the Google Keep interface doesn’t let you search for notes using multiple labels, a little URL hack will get you there.

I’ve recently been moving all of my notes into Google Keep, which I appreciate for its simplicity (Evernote, take note – pun very much intended).

One of its shortcomings though is that you can’t seem to be able to search on multiple labels. For example, I use my labels contextually, so I might tag people that a note applies to, e.g. MartiEllie or Jack, but I may also label a note with what the label is about, e.g. gifts (for reminders about things that someone may appreciate as a gift), or food (for noting someone’s favourite restaurants, recipes, or how they like their coffee made). So when my wife’s birthday is coming up, I want to be able to search for all notes tagged with Marti and gifts. To my knowledge, there is not currently a way to do this within the Google Keep interface. Continue reading “How to search on multiple labels in Google Keep”

Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory & “the graduation song”

I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Land of Hope and Glory by Edward Elgar and A.C. Benson, but as it turns out, this massively patriotic English song is bizarrely used at every graduation ceremony in America…

Growing up, I was always aware of The Proms, especially The Last Night of the Proms, but since my Mum didn’t have a love of classical music, it was never something that I watched or ever had a desire to watch.

For some reason unknown to me, last week I ended up watching some of the pieces from The Last Night of the Proms of recent years and I fell in love. I must have listened to Land of Hope and Glory about thirty times, including blasting it out in my car on the way home. Land of Hope and Glory is a song with the words written by A.C. Benson to be sung over the music, Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Edward Elgar. It’s a truly patriotic song and easy to see why it caught on so quickly when Elgar played it for Queen Victoria in 1901. Continue reading “Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory & “the graduation song””

The perfect alarm clock

First, there was the digital alarm clock. That was superseded by our mobile phones. Now, we know that having our mobile phones in our bedrooms is detrimental, and we need something much better to take its place.

As a child of the 90s, I grew up with a bog standard digital alarm clock and if I was lucky, it even had a radio.

However, as I grew up, mobile phones (cell phones) had all of the same functionality as the alarm clocks of old and you could even wake up to your favourite song so they were a sensible replacement for the now-defunct alarm clock.

Skip forward a decade and the pitfalls of using your mobile phone as an alarm clock are too widely known: Continue reading “The perfect alarm clock”

How to access Airport Utility remotely

If you need to change the configuration of your Apple Airport router while away from home, there’s a way to do that and it’s actually incredibly simple.

On more than one occasion, I have found myself wanting to make changes to machines on my home network which required adding a port forward to my router (Airport Extreme Time Capsule in my case). I used to think that I’d just have to wait to get home to use Airport Utility while on my local network and apply the change. Today, I had another such need but I decided to dig in and figure out how it could be done remotely.

It turns out that the solution is actually very simple. Continue reading “How to access Airport Utility remotely”

A Photoshop template for Oregon PE seal

After moving to Oregon, I needed to create a new Photoshop template for my PE seal. Since I’ve already put in the effort to make it, I figured that I would share it with others to save them the trouble.

Previously, I created and shared a Photoshop template for a Florida PE seal. Now, since I’ve moved to Oregon, I also needed an Oregon PE seal. So I made one.

Without any fanfare, here it is for your use. Continue reading “A Photoshop template for Oregon PE seal”

My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

It has long been me and my family’s dream to move to Portland, OR. Earlier this year, that finally happened. This post is about the 4,100 mile road trip that my Dad and I made to get from one corner of the country to the other and all of the places we saw (and avoided) in between.

I’m going to write another post about how the planning, the move, the driving and the logistics went in a separate, future post, so keep your eyes peeled. This post is more about the adventure.

Last autumn, me and my family finally got word from my company that the move we had long wanted to make (to Portland, OR) was going to happen.

We set an approximate date and started planning for it. Ultimately, we decided that it made the most sense for me to drive across the country and for Marti to fly. Continue reading “My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR”

Should I buy a Prius or mentor a teenager?

With as much as Portlanders love the environment and the outdoors, there are quite a few Priuses on the road. But with all the carbon released into the atmosphere from the Eagle Creek fire, could all that environmental consciousness and good have been undone by a reckless teenager wielding a firework?

As a colleague of mine and I were talking about the devastation of the still-raging Eagle Creek wildfire, he mused about the environmental impact of this single man-made event. My curiosity got the better of me and I wondered whether the good deeds of environmentally-friendly Portlanders who buy Priuses have been undone by the firework-flinging teenager who (allegedly) started the fire. Continue reading “Should I buy a Prius or mentor a teenager?”

Blockchain: A revolution occurring right in front of our eyes

Blockchain is best known as the technology that underpins Bitcoin, but it is so much more than that. Its uses are endless and in the very near future, we can expect all trade to occur on a blockchain, as well as more abstract uses, such as electoral voting.

Over the last few years, if you’re Internet-savvy, you may be aware of blockchains. If you do, you probably know it as the technology that underpins Bitcoin. If you know more than that, you’re in a very small group of people who actually understand what it does and how it’s capable of so much more.

Let’s take a step back. For those who don’t know, Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency” which is a currency that uses cryptography to handle transactions. Bitcoin is not backed by any central government as most currencies are today (the dollar is backed by the Federal Reserve and so on) and thus, is not subject to the purview of government. It is in this vein that many people have perceptions of Bitcoin being used for illicit activities. And while it does afford a level of anonymity if one so chooses, its uses go far beyond that and the illicit usage is only going to represent an increasingly small percentage of Bitcoin’s users as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become more prevalent.

The reason that Bitcoin can work without the backing of a central institution like the Bank of England is what is known as triple-entry accounting, made possible by the blockchain. In modern accounting, we use double-entry accounting, which means that for every debit, there has to be a credit somewhere else. This system has been in use since the 1400s and provides error-checking, but doesn’t stop people from falsifying records (think of “cooking the books” a la Enron).  The “third entry” in triple-entry accounting is a cryptographically-secure public record of every transaction so that these transactions can be verified. This is the blockchain. When you make a transaction using Bitcoin, a record is made in the blockchain and now everyone knows that one wallet paid out some Bitcoins to another wallet and so everyone agrees how many Bitcoins are in each wallet. Continue reading “Blockchain: A revolution occurring right in front of our eyes”