Category Archives: Geek

Reestablishing My Geek Cred

My new house has a sprinkler system. Normally one would use the standard controller units to water the yard on a schedule but it seemed to me that a schedule doesn’t take actual weather conditions into account and might water too much or too little despite rainfall and temperatures.

I bought a smart controller for my sprinklers and couldn’t be happier about that decision. I purchased a 16-zone Iro from Rach.io. Rach.io is a Colorado company so I had no issues spending the money for this item.

The controller itself replaced two Rainbird timer controllers that were wired with three multi-strand cables. As far as I can tell there are ten active zones in the yard (with two buried under the driveway, apparently, as I discovered when the fence was being installed)

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The controller attaches to a wall and the cabling couldn’t be easier. Just attach the common wire to the white terminal and then each of the other wires to an open terminal. The outer/top part of the case plugs into the base and provides the power jack and the wi-fi circuitry. There is also an optical sensor on the outer part of the case that is used for setting up the controller on your wi-fi network: instead of incorporating Bluetooth components or some other hokey method of entering your wi-fi network setup, the accompanying Android or iOS app on your phone will accept all of your network setup information and will then fire off a (potentially seisure-enducing) pattern of light which will be read by the optical sensor. A single LED status light on the controller will flash to indicate if it is able to access the wi-fi network.

Once the controller is on your network the app can be used to setup the zones in the yard with a descriptive name, soil and vegetation types and the amount of slope and shade the zone receives. All of this info is factored into the calculation of how much water the zone will receive during your watering schedule. There is also a feature called “Weather Intelligence” that will skip irrigating your yard when rain is predicted for your ZIP code.

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There is also the ability to connect a rain sensor to the Iro as well to provide hyper-local control of the system (for example, “don’t run a watering schedule if 0.25 inches of rain are received”). If you look closely at the photo below I do have an extra pair of wires that I plan to connect to a rain sensor in the near future.

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Partial Bay View

View out my hotel window of Biscayne Bay in Miami
View out my hotel window of Biscayne Bay in Miami

I attended a technical conference in Miami this week. It may have as well been held in Alaska because we were indoors in the air conditioning all day long. I did take a few walks along the bay early in the morning, though.

I am not a fan of Miami, by the way. The city itself is too superficial — everyone worries about what statement their clothes and car make, contributing to a spiraling competition to the top. I overheard some stock-broker types in the hotel bar one-upping each other regarding where they lived in the city and to which gym they belonged. They were starting to get very upset with each other and it may have come to blows — I don’t know because I went back to my room. I do know they were very disrespectful to the bartendress who is not a native english speaker and didn’t get their slurred jokes. If I had been her I believe I would have spit in their $20 martinis.

I’m very happy to be back in Colorado with my dogs and actual craft beer choices other than Sam Adams.

A Cautionary Tale

If I had known how desirable my Apple ID email address is, I would have put it up for sale.

Hack My Email

After talking to Apple Support it appears somebody tried to have my Apple ID reset earlier today. Luckily, I set up two-factor authentication and set up an alternate email address for any notifications about altering my account.

Same As It Ever Was

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I upgraded to Parallels 9.0 yesterday when it was announced and have been starting up each of my virtual machines to allow the newest version of Parallels Tools to install in them. Windows 7 and XP both upgraded fine, as did my CentOS linux VM… unfortunately my Windows 8.1 image wouldn’t start with the error above: “PAGE FAULT IN NONPAGED AREA”. Okay — I guess I will search the internet for a clue about exactly what that means.

Yes, Microsoft’s famous “blue screen of death” is no longer a darker blue, it’s now sky blue with the classy (and very business-like) emoticon for a frown. Reminds me of the “Sad Mac” icon from a couple of decades ago:

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A now for something a tiny bit different…

Done.  Finished.  Completely fed up with Drupal, or at least the version I had available.  I upgraded to WordPress and love it so far.

Going to see if I can dump the Drupal database and load those old blog entries into WP.  In the meantime, all of the old stuff is still available at http://www.bradpatterson.com/blog/ for your viewing pleasure.