Law Abiding Gun Owners  

Real law abiding gun owners would dump the NRA and join a new organization that was actually designed around protecting the rights of gun owners and not a thinly veiled lobbying organization for the gun industry. It won’t be long before membership in the NRA will be viewed as a stain on your reputation. Like being a member of NAMBLA.

Hell, that should be the new slogan.

The NRA. You might otherwise know us as NAMBLA.

A Tip for Recruiters, Part 2  

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about a bad experience I had with a recruiter who was cold calling me about a role I had open. Multiple phone calls, changing numbers, no voice mails. Over and over.

Last week, I had three recruiters from the same firm call me. No big deal, right?

Well, they called 12 times in 15 minutes. From four different numbers: office, cell, different cell. 1

No voice mails. They then Linkedin messaged me three times in that same window.

And, the piéce de résistance, one of them then blind texted me.

I messaged them back on Linkedin and politely suggested I would never do business with them. One of them had the decency to apologize. One said, and I’m not kidding, that they would be that aggressive working to fill roles for me.

That’s not being a recruiter, that’s being an asshole.

This used to be a good firm. I worked with recruiters there in the past. I won’t any more. They clearly run something that’s closer to a boiler room/sales shop than a recruiting firm. If that’s how they treat me, as a potential client, why would I ever trust them to bring me quality candidates?

There’s enough good recruiters out there that I can afford to never work with these folks 2

  1. I assume this is some sort of sales technique. You don’t leave a voice mail because I might call back? You call from different numbers because you’re hoping I’m dumb enough to answer? It’s a straight douchebag move. 

  2. Meanwhile, others in their firm have taken right up where the first three or four left off. Calls every day. I just keep blocking them. 

Apple AirPods May Be Apple's New Big Product  

I got some AirPods for Christmas. They’re awesome. I wear them everyday on my commute, when I’m running, and around the house. The pairing experience is great. Just a well designed product.

I pay attention to what people are carrying and using when I’m out and about, and taking the subway to and from work (and Celtics games), I do a lot of people watching. Prior to Christmas, I rarely saw AirPods. Lots of (wired) Apple headphones, lots of Beats, lots of other headphones. Few AirPods.

Yesterday, it dawned on me. At least 5% of the people in the car I was riding had AirPods in. Given that they are still in short supply, I’m guessing that Apple has another hit on its hands. Similar to the Apple Watch, where it’s clearly a hit, but Apple isn’t comfortable breaking out the numbers yet, I expect the AirPods are proving to be a big winner for Apple.1

  1. They just need some way to change the volume without having to use Siri. I suggest some sort of sliding gesture, but I’m guessing that’s either a) technically challenging/expensive, or b) a concern that people would slide the AirPod right out of their ear. 

Quick HomePod Review  

I got my HomePod on Friday and I used it most of the weekend. As a speaker, it’s way better than the Echo Dot that we had sitting in the living room for quick music. It’s not as good as the Sonos system I have doing surround sound for my TV (two Play:1s and a soundbar).

But it’s way more convenient than the Sonos, or the Sonos plus Echo combo. And it sounds really good, even though it’s a mono speaker. I’ve been using it to play podcasts when I’m cleaning or making dinner, which is also great.1It’s also nice to be able to say “Hey Siri, play the playlist ‘go to sleep’”, and it plays the songs I use to help put the kiddos to bed.

On top of that, if you’re in the HomeKit ecosystem, it’s really nice. I don’t have to have my phone around, or wait for the watch to respond to turning the lights off, or turning up the heat.

As a smart speaker, it does the basic blocking and tackling. Getting the news update from NPR is nice, finding out how many tablespoons in a cup, or the score of the Celtics game. All easy. It doesn’t do anything more advanced than that, and I don’t have any of the personal things turned on (messages, calendar, notes) because it doesn’t know how to handle multiple users yet.

If the Echo and Google Home hadn’t been out for a couple of years now, this is a home run. But since Apple is coming to market late, it’s a mediocre smart speaker that sounds great.

But if you’re a big Apple Music user, and a big HomeKit user, I think it’s a really great speaker that has some decent smart features. I’d love to have one in my office.

  1. It doesn’t sync those podcasts to Overcast, but that’s not a huge deal when I’m listening to one or two. And sometimes you have to be very specific about the name of the podcast. 

The Apple HomePod and How Siri is Smarter Than Me  

I’m a sucker. I bought one. We’re an Apple Music home (my wife augments it with Pandora, but I’m pretty much fully Apple Music at this point), and we’ve got a lot of HomeKit accessories. To me, that was enough to give it a shot.

Then I had this long thought about how any application that uses iOS’ native audio player should allow for Siri commands like “Skip ahead 30 seconds” or “Go back one minute”. Apple, why shouldn’t that work? I mean, when I’m out running with my AirPods, skipping ahead a bit would be super helpful. Or, if I throw a podcast on the upcoming HomePod and it gets to a boring part, why can’t I jump forward? Or jump back if I missed something important?

Then I tried it.

It works.

Really, at this point, I just want Siri to add the ability to do things in other applications. I’d like to say “play the next podcast in Overcast” and have it work. They’ve done that with To Do and Notes apps. I hope they open it to all apps in iOS 12.

I’m looking forward to the HomePod, even if my podcast usage is not in Apple Podcasts, which will diminish the HomePod a bit. I listen to enough music that being able to throw a song on the HomePod while I’m rocking a baby(ies) to sleep is a compelling feature. And it’ll sound a lot better than the shitty Alexa speaker.

The Joys of Home Ownership, Part 2163  

A while back, I had an issue with humidity in my basement, which lead to me getting a dehumidifier and running it 24x7x365. For a while that meant walking into the basement, grabbing a bucket, carrying it outside (or upstairs to a sink) to empty it.

After doing that for a couple of weeks, I invested in a condensate pump and some tubing. Quite handily, I had an old dryer vent in the basement that I had plugged with insulate. I simply ran the tubing through it, down the side of my house, and my dehumidifier could helpfully remove excess moisture, dump it into the condensate pump, which would periodically shoot it out through the tubing out to the back of my house to drain.

That worked nicely for about two years until last week. All of a sudden, the condensate pump couldn’t clear the water out, and would just run forever.

Not good.

It’s been incredibly cold (which should have been the first clue, but I’m a bit dense), which means it’s not been humid, so while I investigated, I figured I could get away with just draining into a bucket for a little bit.

I could get a snake up into the tube without a problem, but when I ran water up, I could see that it was eventually getting blocked, though I couldn’t tell by what. My hypothesis was that it was&emdash;scientifically&emdash;“gunk” that had collected in the tube. I tried running a few things through (washer fluid, vinegar), but no go. I figured I’d have to wait until the spring to be able to remove the tube which was now under a couple of feet of snow and then either replace it or clean out the obstruction.

That is, of course, until our multi-week cold spell broke with three days of over 50 degrees. And, of course, the tube was no longer blocked.

The cold spell, probably combined with some “gunk”, had lead to the tube being blocked, and either ice or air trapped behind the ice prevented the condensate pump from clearing out the water. When the unseasonably warm weather melted all of our snow in three days, it also melted the obstruction. Things went back to normal.

Until last night, when the temperature dropped again and things froze again. At least now I know what is going on. With the snow melted, I should be able to find the obstruction, thaw it, clear it out, and get the pump running consistently.

There are certainly better solutions to this, like an actual drain in my basement, but this was a $40 solution that has lasted over 2 years, and if I’m a bit smarter, probably could last 5 more.

I ❤️ This Picture  

My boys, at 4.5 months. Wearing their Hamilton onesies.

A post shared by Katie Toohil (@ktwalks) on

Warning About Decluttr  

Over the summer, when I had some down time, pre-babies, I was doing some cleaning and used a service called Decluttr to sell off some older hardware (an old Macbook and an Airport Extreme). These were really old hardware that no one would take, so it was this or find a recycler. I figured the $10 bucks I’d make from Decluttr would be worth it.

When I got the new iPhone X, I checked out Decluttr to sell back my iPhone 6S. They made a really good offer (about 50% more than any one else), and my previous experience had been good enough, so I decided to go with them.

Normal shipping, device gets to them. Then they tell me its been flagged and they can’t take it. I follow up (takes nearly a day to get a response). They use some service called CheckMend, which seems to be a service used by some cell companies (which would presumably include AT&T, since they’re my provider) to ensure you don’t sell a phone before you’ve paid them for it. The phone has been flagged—they cannot accept it, legally.

That’s all fine. I pay the $1 to get my report (which, honestly, should be free since it’s my phone, but whatever) and I ask their support and they confirm my suspicion: AT&T uses them, the flag on my phone is just a flag that says it was being tracked at some point, and it should be ignored.

I reply to Decluttr with that info, with the info from AT&T that my phone was fully paid off, and request that we finish our business. They reply back that the flag still exists (even though CheckMend says to ignore it), but they can offer me half price for the phone.

Well, if that doesn’t smell like a scam.

Clearly, they deal with enough phones to have seen that AT&T puts this check on phones. And they’ve dealt with CheckMend enough to know that the flag on my device was one that’s put on every phone that’s leased (which is likely the vast majority). But, my guess is that Decluttr leverages this situation to get devices for less than they offered. Many people probably don’t have the time or energy to hunt down why this “flag” was put on the device. So they take the 50% offer and Decluttr gets to advertise a high sale price, but not actually pay it out.

In the end, I got my phone back and went with Gazelle. I will say Decluttr was upstanding in shipping my phone back to me.

That’s not enough to keep me as a customer. I won’t be using Decluttr again. I tried to find contact info for anyone at Decluttr (or their parent company), but you get forced into their support team. Should someone at Decluttr see this and want to ask me about it, feel free.

First Day Back at Work  

Today’s the first day really back at work (full day in the office) since the kiddos were born. It’s bittersweet, as it’s been awesome to see them grow up over the last four months, and I’m dreading what I’ll miss. But I’ll still see them a ton (they seem to be morning people, like me). And, on the positive side, I’ve made it through three albums that I’d been meaning to listen to.

Still, I’m looking forward to seeing them when I get home.

Painting with Excel  

Saw this link on Daring Fireball. If you want a nice, pleasant way to start off 2018, take a look at this video.