Mostly Harmless

Mostly about my amusement

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Ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling jailed for leaking – BBC News

“There has to be a clear message sent to other people at the agency,” she said, explaining that intelligence officers should understand that they, too, will be punished if they disclose classified information. “There’s going to be a price that will be paid.”

Source: Ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling jailed for leaking – BBC News

Unless you are David Petraeus. Then you don’t have to worry about punishment.

“Don’t freak out when you come home”

That’s what Lily said to me on the phone the other day. I thought that was odd because I knew what was going on at home.

Back in January a gutter froze and created an ice dam that forced melting water into the wall. That leak came out of the dinning room and into the bedroom above it. The bedroom wasn’t too bad though the carpet needed to be replaced. The dinning room looked like the ceiling was going to collapse. The wall needed to be taken down and a portion of the wood floor was ruined.

You never want to hear your handyman say that you should call the insurance company. The damage extended to the basement and caused mold down there. After the weather got warmer we began the repairs. This turned into replacing all the old carpet with wood flooring on the second floor. We’ve been in this house 10 years and a little remodeling was in order.

The day Lily told me not to freak out was when my bedroom was gutted.

I’m part cat on my grandmother’s side. Cat’s do not like change and if I could have managed it I would have crawled under a couch and sulked for hours. Part of my routine was to come home, head to the bedroom, change and relax in front of the PC. (Yes, I had a desk and PC in the bedroom. Shut up.)

The whole house has been turned into a construction zone. The dinning room was emptied into the other rooms on the first floor and my desk was moved to the living room temporarily. It’s going into the office/guest room when we’re done. Lily and I took over our daughter’s room and she got to stay with her grandmother.

Today I worked from home and the contractors were doing their job well. And loudly. Ever see on those shows how flooring is laid? The put the board down, WHAM! it with a mallet and use an air driven nail gun to hold it down. TV shows don’t show how loud it gets.

But today there is progress and I’m typing this in my bedroom on my MacBook Air. The room is done and we’ve put the furniture back. We still have everything in boxes but it’s something. As a cat I’m considering coming out from underneath the couch. But no loud noises, I can run back to safety any time I feel like it.


A type of spring cleaning

This has not been a good week for me. Not “DEATH AND DESTRUCTION!!” but not a week I’d care to repeat.

Work has been a challenge for the team I’m part of. Things that should have worked didn’t. Friday night I got home after midnight; my day started at 9 AM  but I wrapped it up at 10:30 PM. I had to back out some work I was doing. Saturday I was providing support for another co-worker and was on calls till noon.

Meh, it happens. Usually it works out. At home we had a leak in 2 rooms and we have expanded that work to the whole house. The basement flooring was all removed because another leak caused the floor to be develop  mold. It’s all work needs doing and as the grownups point out “there’s no time like the present”.

We acquired a 20 cubic yard dumpster and part of that was for 10 years of accumulated stuff. I had the task of clearing the garage. 5 cubic yards later I’m only 2/3rds of the way done. My father had filled the garage with items that he used only once. And it’s 10 other identical items; I tossed out so many unused paint brushes and pans. Never used and still good but Dad’s been gone for over 2 years. We will never use those things, they take up space and only remind us that Dad like to hoard things.

Disposing of the radio equipment was the hardest. Dad would buy a pile of equipment on eBay with one tube he needed. The other equipment went into the garage or his work room in the basement. The radios were not working and he’d always intended to work on them or harvest them for parts.

Radios from the 30s to 50s are not a hobby of mine or anyone in my family. That kit would have been valuable to another enthusiast but 29 months later and there’s just no point anymore in keeping it. I started on the left and if it was on the shelf I tossed it. Every scrap of wood, pipes, fittings, etc. went into the dumpster. I tossed enough sheet rock screws to cover my whole house.

It felt like I was throwing out my Dad. I imagined him saying to me “We might need that someday” and that just made it worse. Thankfully he wasn’t like that in real life and he’d wave his hand and say “Nah, it’s fine. We could use that space. Don’t forget that box in the corner.”

1/3rd of the garage is left. His workroom in the basement too. I’m really not looking forward to that. Maybe I’ll see if my brother’s can lend me a hand. I’m like my Dad in that way and I never even thought to ask them for help.


The new Press This in WordPress 4.2 beta 2 is slick

Try this: update to WordPress 4.2 beta 2 and drag the “Press This” to your bookmark bar. Visit a URL that you like and poof.

I just did that on a Flickr photo and I was able to select the image from the options and below is the result.

Explore Alvin Bernardo’s photos on Flickr!

Source: Custom Built HG 1/144 Acguy ( R2D2 Color Ver) | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

The post is complete with a source link for attribution. I added some categories and saved as a draft. The whole update to Press This really is well done. It’s more attractive and easier than ever.

With very little effort I replaced my existing SSL cert which was SHA-1 based with a SHA-256 version for free.

The SHA-1 Sunset Tool makes it easy to find all of your SHA-1 certificates. Enter your domain name to find affected certificates and upgrade to SHA-256 with a free DigiCert certificate.

via DigiCert SHA-1 Sunset Tool: Find & Replace SHA-1 Certificates.

It’s a neat offer. I could have asked my existing SSL cert provider but I wanted to see how well this works. The instructions and validation steps were very simple.


New thrift shop find

I like old film cameras and I often visit Island Thrift to see what they’ve got. Normally it’s just a few 35mm plastic film cameras from the 80s. Those aren’t very interesting, but this week they had some good selections behind the case.

  • Olympus SLR OM-1MD w/50mm f/1.8 lens in good condition.
  • Olympus SLR OM-2 w/50mm f/1.8 lens. The shutter was jammed solid.
  • Yashica Electro 35 G (1968 version, up to ASA 500) with a dented lens rim.
  • Yashica Electro 35 from 1966. The original non-G version that went to ASA 400.

Of course I got the last one. 🙂


I did a check out of all 4 and gave the manager a lesson in old film cameras. I looked at the shutter settings from bulb to 1/1000 on the OM-1MD, checked the aperture changed when moved, the film advance, looked for fungus and scratches on the lens and made sure the shutter didn’t stick.

Except for the OM-2, the cameras worked. The manager removed the OM-2 which I thought was decent of him.

Without a battery the Electro 35 will default to 1/500 exposure. I thought the aperture blades were stuck (they’re not)  but what this new camera needs is work on is the wiring. At home when I put a battery in I got the check battery light working but I also got a ZZZT! noise on the inside.

I took the battery out quickly. This camera is over 48 years old so I do expect some problems. The light seals disintegrate on touch and the whole thing can use a good cleaning.  I’ll do some research, I think I know where I can get this one serviced.

Still playing phone games 6 years later

6 years ago I blogged about getting 150k points in Bejeweled 2. I recently installed the game again and I’m doing a little better.


What a time waster. I was really hoping to break 1 million. 😉


An eBay purchase that worked out

Last week my latest eBay find arrived and I was in for a little surprise: it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. The listing said I purchased an Olympus Pen EES-2 camera, instead I got an EE-2.

You’re forgiven for not having any idea about the difference. 😉 Both models are half-frame cameras, the EES-2 is just like the Olympus Trip 35 and has a f/2.8 lens and zone focusing. The EE-2 I received has a lens that opens only as far as f/3.5 and is a fully automatic camera. You set the film ASA, frame anything past 1.5 meters and click. If the light is too dark then you’ll get a red flag in the viewfinder and no photo will be taken.

This worked out perfectly.  The camera was one I bought for my daughter to use and reskin. She wanted to use one of mine and I didn’t want to mess with those. This one is 100% point and shoot and Friday I put in a roll of Kodak BW400CN film with 36 exposures. That meant I shot 72 photos because each frame gets 2 images.

I like the results. This may be the perfect street shooter camera. You see something, frame it in the viewfinder and you get an exposure at 1/200 of a second.

Here’s  some shots from that first roll.

I cleaned up the camera with isopropyl alcohol and may change the leatherette. I also left a 5  star review for the seller. Not everyone is into old cameras the way I am and it all worked out for me.


Bitten by the photo bug again

This is why I need to shoot photos more often: when I get back into it I want to take photos of everything. Last week I used my Yashica Electro 35 GSN camera and shot a roll of color and B&W film.

The results came out OK but I’m still addicted to the Olympus Trip 35. You can see my collection of Yashica photos on Flickr and here’s a gallery of some from last week.

Next week will be all Olympus Trip 35 photos. 😉


Getting back into the photography routine

Tonight there will probably be another snowfall so I don’t know if I’ll get any street shots tomorrow. I’ve put on the “never ready” case and replaced the camera strap on my Yashica Electro 35 GSN. The original strap worried me and I don’t want risk dropping a camera made after 1973.

It’s a rangefinder camera and takes great shots. I normally use my Olympus Trip 35 for street photography but the mood struck me to use a different camera. It will be dark when I get out of work and I want to shoot some 800 ISO film (the Trip 35 goes up to 400 ISO film). I’ve shot the Trip 35 in the dark and have gotten some good photos but they were strained. Or “retro” if you like those sort of images like this one. 😉

Late night February 2013 in midtown Manhattan shot with an Olympus Trip 35

Late night February 2013 in midtown Manhattan shot with an Olympus Trip 35

Wintertime is not the best for street photography (metal camera, cold fingers) but I’ve been itching to take more photos. Last year I fell out of the habit of packing a camera and taking lots of photos. I want to get back into that routine and I hope to start this week.

I like taking photos. I love old film cameras. With film you get approximately 26 shots per roll and that forces me to think and frame the shot. They’re not always keepers but with practice I’ve posted hundreds of film shots. It’s something I enjoy and I hope this week I go through at least a couple of rolls.

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