Dave Bullock / eecue

photographer, director of engineering: crowdrise, photojournalist, hacker, nerd, geek, human

Penelope Starts Down Devils Backbone Tra Dave on Mt. Baldy Penelope on Mt. Baldy Mt. Baldy Peak Marker View from Baldy Bowl
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Power Lines and Windmills

I took some photos of a beautiful sunset behind some of the Windmills near Palm Springs a few weeks ago. Here is the resulting HDR image:

Powerlines and Windmills

Powerlines and Windmills
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Jott Alternative: reQall

Thanks to an unfortunate functionality change at the speech-to-text service Jott, I recently switched to reQall. Current generation speech-to-text (S2T) services allow you to call a toll-free number, record a short message and then actual humans transcribe your speech into text.

On my commute to and from work, I frequently think of new ideas for projects or tasks that I need to complete. I simply hit the S2T autodial and record whatever is on my mind. The S2T service then emails me the transcribed text.

OmniFocus, which I wrote about recently, has a nifty feature in which it grabs an email from Apple Mail with a predetermined sender and subject. It then adds the subject, which has the note in it, to my todo inbox. I think that S2T is one of my favorite tools of all time.

When I first heard of Jott, I was a bit skeptical. I didn't like the idea of a random person in some random country being paid a pittance to sit in a call center to listen to my thoughts and transcribe them. As I thought more about it, I realized that I would rarely if ever say anything confidential to the S2T service. So I started using Jott six months ago and I loved it. It was in beta and totally free.

Jott had some features that I rarely used, like the ability to send messages to any of my contacts. It also had features that I used every day, including its core function, speech-to-text. Once my note had been transcribed, an email with the note in the subject appeared in my inbox.

Recently, Jott stopped its beta program. In doing so it created a free plan, called Jott Express, which still allowed you to do S2T. The deal-killer was the fact that you now had to visit their website to retrieve the transcribed text.

That change broke my OmniFocus script. OmniFocus was expecting the transcribed text to show up in the email. There went the value of the service for me. I initially considered paying for the service, but decided to sleep on it.

I twittered a request for a Jott promo code, but instead got a response from a friendly hacker to check out reQall.

ReQall has the same basic functionality as Jott, but it's free. So far I have been very impressed with reQall. Its voice interface is slicker and more responsive than Jott's. ReQall also does a better job of transcribing my voice notes than Jott did.

All in all I'm very happy with reQall. If they end becoming a paid service I would choose them over Jott in a heartbeat.

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My Grandmother's Eulogy

Vera Gordon, 1912-2008

Many of my favorite childhood memories involve food. The smell of dinner fresh from the oven; the flavor of delicious home-baked goods; the joy that fills a happy kitchen. These visceral patterns were imprinted in my mind frequently during my youth and are still with me today.

At the center of many of my epicurean memories stands my beloved Grandmother, Vera Gordon. Clad in her apron, a smile on her face, a wooden spoon stirring a pot of bubbling borscht. Her food was not just made with love, it was love. And I loved every bite.

For my Grandmother's 90th birthday, my loving mother Rhoda created an amazing book honoring her cooking. Entitled "Vera's Table" this wonderful tome contained Grandma's best recipes. Each recipe was presented with a story written by a family member. I now, more than ever treasure this book and the recipes and stories it contains.

From pickles, to potato salad, from apple pie to poppy seed cookies I could never get enough of the wonderful delights she made. The pies she baked from the apples her loving husband Murray grew in their backyard were magical to me. It is something I will never forget, the time in her kitchen at her beautiful house by the sea in Santa Barbara.

My Grandmother also never forgot those joyful times, and one of her favorite stories was one that I don't actually remember experiencing. I was only nine months old on this particular visit to Grandma's house. On her table she had a big bowl of freshly made guacamole. To her great surprise and amusement I pointed at the bowl at the table and demanded "Taste 'em 'cados." ... see, even then I enjoyed eating.

My brother Dan and I always enjoyed our family trips to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Climbing the trees in the yard, eating (of course), causing mischief like little boys tend to do. I recall one time my Grandparents had just installed a brand new redwood fence around their yard. My brother and I were playing in the yard when I decided it would be fun to knock out the knots from their knot-holes with a metal bar. I encouraged my brother to join in and pretty soon we had turned the nice new fence into a wooden version of swiss cheese. That was the only time I saw my Grandmother truly upset, and looking back on the situation I don't blame her.

As Jewish Grandmothers tend to do, Vera always had advice for me. In my teenage years, this wasn't always easy to hear. No teenage boy wants to be told what to do, especially not by his Grandmother. Now that I think about it though, everything she told me was true, I was just to stubborn to listen.

Now that I've grown up, for the most part, I can reflect on the knowledge my Grandmother imparted to me. She told me about what it means to be a mensch and encouraged me to do the right things in life. To have a family and to raise them well. She didn't just tell me these things, she showed me by example.

I like to think I inherited some of my best qualities from my Grandmother: my humor, my wit, and of course my modesty, but most importantly my love of food and family.

Vera Gordon was a strong woman, a loving mother, a caring Grandmother, a powerful wordsmith, an amazing cook and a lifelong inspiration to me and many others. She will live on forever in our memories.

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TGIMOBEJ: The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk

I just recently recieved one of The Great Internet Migratory Box(es) of Electronics Junk (TGIMBOEJ). The TGIMBOEJ is an awesome box of random electronics that various geeks send to each other. The idea was started by Lenore over at Evil Mad Scientist Labs.

Basically you put your name and contact info on a Wiki page devoted to perspective TGIMBOEJ recipients. Then someone finds your name on said list, and either creates a new box to send you or forwards on the box they currently possess.

The rules are simple, take what you want from the box, add some cool stuff, and then send it on to someone else in the list. You can see the status of the various boxes on this wiki page.

I received a box called Big Box of Electronic Booty started by someone who didn't add their info to the wiki. The box then made it to Jen Grier, who sent if off to Sidney who then sent it to me.

I will be mailing the box off on monday to Logan from Binary Tide.

I picked out a few cool parts including some LEDs, a giant buzzer and some zip-ties. I added a giant LED, a potentiometer and some other cool parts including a 1GB SD card.

The TGIMBOEJ project is awesome, I'm looking forward to receiving another box some time soon!

Buzzer and more

One of the items I kept from the TGIMBOEJ was the big red buzzer (upper left). I haven't hooked it up yet, but I bet it's loud!