Hey Bartender

May 10, 2017

Bartender is an app to manage the Mac’s menu bar. The price is a hefty $15 and I’ve often thought who would waste $15 to rearrange and hide menu bar items.  Then one day I was working on my Mac and I did not see the Calendar Icon on the menu bar.  Did it crash?  Did it not start up the last time I booted the Mac?  When did I last boot my Mac?  Is my Mac infected?   A thousand and one questions bombarded my head.  Finally I figured out the problem.  After switching Applications a few times with the Alt-Tab keys I noticed sometimes I could see the Calendar Icon and sometimes I could not. The answer to the enigma – some Applications have many items on the horizontal menu bar and some have very few. 

Here’s an example of the menu bar without Bartender:

noBartender

For a few weeks whenever I needed to access a hidden menu bar Icon I Alt-Tabed until the needed Icon appeared.

Finally, you guessed it, I broke down and bought, installed, and configured the Bartender Application.  Now, I don’t notice it much while working on the Mac which is probably the best selling point: I don’t have this aggravating and annoying menu bar issue all the time.

Here’s an example with Bartender:

bartender

Here’s an example with Bartender expanded:

bartenderExpanded

While Bartender is definitely not for everyone I’d recommend Bartender if your menu bar Icons have encroached on your Application Menu and you use the menu bar Icons.

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The day the Dinosaurs Died

August 11, 2016

Just finished a fascinating chapter in The Sixth Extinction titled The Luck of the Ammonites, or un-luck as fate would have it. We’ve all heard that the dinosaurs were exterminated by a massive asteroid hitting the Earth and causing Nuclear Winter. However that’s pretty much all I knew. This chapter narrates the rest of the story. Very Interesting!

Back in 1969, Walter Alvarez was fascinated by a thin layer of sediment (dubbed the K-T Layer because it separates the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods) just outside of Gubbio Italy. He was intrigued because of the huge differences in fossils between the layers immediately above and below this area. Later, back in California, he sparked an interest of this anomaly in his father, Luis – a professor at Berkley.

In one of their experiments, they tested the clay samples for iridium, a rare,on Earth, element but abundant on asteroids. The iridium levels were off the charts. They did not know what to make of this anomaly. However, they were able to obtain and test clay samples of the same layers from other parts of the World all with the same results. All had the same extremely high iridium levels.

They tried out numerous theories before settling on the Impact Hypothesis in 1980:

65 million years ago an asteroid 6 miles in diameter crashed into the Earth with an impact of more than a 100 million hydrogen bombs. Debris including iridium from the asteroid spread around the globe causing Nuclear Winter (A Carl Sagan addition) thus resulting in the extinction of 75% of the life on Earth.

The Alvarez’s were labeled charlatans after publishing their theory by the entire scientific community. The prevailing theory was Darwin’s Natural Selection wherein species evolved or became extinct gradually over millions of years.

Thus began the search to find the “smoking gun” – the asteroid crater. The general criteria were 65 million years old and maybe a couple of hundred miles in diameter. No know crater fit the criteria. Finally, on the banks of Texas’ Brazos River scientist came across patterns consistent with a “nearby impact” thereby narrowing the search to the Gulf of Mexico area. Finally, the missing piece, a 100 mile wide crater was located just off the Yucatan Peninsula with the help of drilling samples taken years earlier by PEMEX.

Not only the dinosaurs but over 75% of life on Earth at that time was eliminated. Not only on the surface, but in the air, and in the sea also. Not only animals but plants were not spared execution either. The striking difference in the fossils above and below the K-T layer provide the Great Extinction’s evidence.

If your interested, I recommend The Sixth Extension book. There are also some good resources on the web including:

Almost forgot, Ammonites were a sea creature that became extinct during the K-T Event. Their fossils were numerous in the Gubbio layer.

Notes:

  1. For movie fans the Cretaceous Period follows the Jurassic Period.
  2. How do you get K-T from Cretaceous–Paleogene? Cretaceous is usually abbreviated K for its German translation Kreide (chalk) derived from the Latin “creta” (chalk). The Paleogene Period was created bu splitting the Tertiary Period into two periods: Paleogene and Neogene.

RIO Olympics

August 10, 2016

I’m amazed by the variety of “Sports” at the Rio Olympics. I haven’t watched many hours yet but I’ve seen everything from basketball, to fencing, to diving, to gymnastics, to rugby, to swimming, to kayaking, to diving, to skulling (is that a word).

I’m also surprised every Olympics how many nonsports are Olympic events. I contend events scored by judges and not by some objective criteria are not sports. They are exhibitions. I admit I’m old and was influenced during the Cold War years when judges were biased based on their Country’s political peruasion.

Explain to me how synchronized swimming can be an Olympic event but not baseball?

Oh well, there is nothing I can do to change the Olympics. Might as well just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.


The One

March 3, 2016

Every once in a while I hear a tune that literally blows my socks off! Does not happen often but heard Off the Ground by The Record Company last week and I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

The group plays a type of blues closest to Texas Blues or Jump Blues which are up-tempo styles. They called it Jump Blues because it makes you want to jump up and dance!

I’ve put this track on a special playlist I created titled The One because at any one time it only contains one track. I’ve set the playlist up to repeat and thus I can listen to the track over and over again until I’m sick and tired of the track.

I’m still listening to Off the Ground but imagine I’ll tire of it soon and put The One on the virtual shelf for awhile until I come across a new tune I can’t get out of my head.


Developing a Mobile App part II

January 12, 2016

Back in November 2014 I wrote about my attempts to create a Mobile App in Mobile App Part I.

Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge – basically all of 2015. In short I stopped the mobile app development. I could just say “It was too wet to plow” and let it go at that. However I did develop the State Conference Web Page instead. We developed the State Conference Web Page as a responsive web page. That is, it would morph depending on the device footprint used to view the web page. In theory with responsive design Mobile Apps are not needed. And the jury is still out on that theory.

Of course, my 2015 contained many other events and experiences. But, they are a tale for another day.

Now that the web page is completed I’ve decided to give the Mobile App another try.

In my year’s hiatus Apple introduced Swift to eventually replace Objective-C. Since my two main problems last time besides TIME were Objective-C and the Storyboard I decided to eliminate one of my problems and try Swift. Wow, Swift is a modern language much more understandable, at least to me. I’ve been much more productive since I switched. I’ve developed a working, on my iPhone, Calculator App based on the Stanford University Swift Online Course.

My plan is:

  • Complete the Stanford University Swift Online Course
  • Develop the State Conference Mobile App in parallel

with a goal of finishing by March 31. (good luck).

My observations from the first blog have not changed significantly. Changes are:

  • Use Swift and forget Objective-C. I have not found anything I can’t do with Swift yet and it much more intuitive, at least for me.
  • The Storyboard learning curve is steep but easy to use after you’ve reached a certain point on the learning curve.

The Quest review

May 27, 2012

A long long time ago in what seemed like another World Daniel Yergin wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Prize.”   The book is as Wikipedia called it the definitive book on the history of Oil.  I devoured the book shortly after its publication in 1990 and recommend it highly.  When Daniel published “The Quest”  subtitled “Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World” I knew immediately it would be the next book I read.

Now, having read “The Quest” my summary is although it is a good book it is no “The Prize.”   “the Quest” did a good job of calming my fears we would run out of oil next year and the World would degenerate into anarchy.  We have enough reserves to last much longer than I thought.  However, petroleum reserves are getting harder and harder to find and refine into the finished product.  “The Quest” is a good primer on alternative energy sources and the state of each (history, current state, and prognosis for the future):

  • Natural Gas
  • Solar cells
  • Wind
  • Bio-fuels
  • Nuclear
  • Efficiency including smart grids, energy saving appliances, hybrid vehicles, etc.

“The Quest” begins by catching the reader up on the history of oil since “The Prize” publication making “The Prize” a must read prologue to “The Quest.”  As with the prior book Daniel does a superb job of documenting  the trials and tribulations of Oil since 1990 when his first book was published.

Next he covers the current state of oil and gas as well as the amount and type of reserves remaining.  As I mentioned earlier they are quite extensive but becoming harder and harder to find and refine into the final product.

Next he presents a brief history of electricity, at least humankind’s involvement in electricity.

Then, because you can’t separate energy from the carbon in our atmosphere problem anymore we are doused with a history of the Climate and Carbon.  Hard to believe, but looking back as late as the 1950s the smart money rested with a new ice age!  My how time has changed our perspective.

Finally we reach the listing of the “new” energy alternatives and Daniel’s prediction for the future.

Summary: I really enjoyed the book through the Climate and Carbon section.  Maybe because through this section the book narrates history and I am a history buff or maybe because Daniel’s predicting the future was not exciting.  No big break through, no turning water into energy, no water into wine either for that matter!   I should have realized this because the life cycle of energy source is very long due in great part to the infrastructure that has to be put into place.  Perhaps that is the big take away from this book:

“It will take decades and decades to change our primary source of energy – petroleum.  We better get started because petroleum is getting harder and harder to find.


Road Trip Vacation: Dallas to Phoenix and Back Again

February 4, 2012

Saguaro cactus

Monday January 2: We started our vacation by driving to Las Cruces NM. The trip took 12 hours and was 711 miles. The Sun was shining all day. The temperature rose to 60 degrees by the late afternoon. So it was a good trip. We ate dinner a local New Mexican style 70 year old restaurant in a 200 year old building called “La Posta.”  Tonight we are chilling out in the hotel.

Las Cruces Restaurant - our 1st night meal

Tuesday January 3: The next morning we drove from Las Cruces to Phoenix.  Today was a short day on the road – only 7 hours and 388 miles.  We stopped for lunch at the Village Bake House in Tucson. We both ordered sandwiches which turned out to be really tasty. Upon arrival we checked into the hotel we are camping in during our staty – the Hyatt House North Phoenix.  For dinner we tried out Beckett’s Table. The style is American Comfort food. Gwen had roast chicken and I had green chile pork stew.  Voted one of the 5 best restaurants in Phoenix and I believe. From my limited experience if I could only eat one meal in Phoenix it would be at Beckett’s.

the sign of the Turquoise Arches - only in Sedona

Wednesday January 4: We qdrove to Sedona  Wednesday. Ate lunch at Gwen’s favorite restaurant there – Oxaca – Mexican if you can’t guess, and started to hike the Soilder’s Pass trail. However, my knee started aching and since I am not supposed to be exercising anyway until the 18th we turned around.  I wanted to get a photo of the McDonalds there with the turquoise arches so we stopped there for a photo shoot. Next we drove to the top of airport Mesa for the best panoramic view Sedona. Finally, we drove by the local Wyndham. It was pretty impressive. We will have to stay there sometime.

Sedona from Airport Mesa

Can't raise corn in Sedona

Back in Phoenix we decided to go to a movie – War Horse. We grabbed a quick dinner at Claim Jumpers before the movie – okay. War Horse was a very good movie.  Glad I saw it.

Heard Museum

Thursday January 5: We started out the day at the Heard Museum.  It’s focus is the Southwest Indians.  The museum was interesting if you like history and especially Indian history.  I do so I enjoyed the museum.  Others may find it really boring. After examining the menu and noticing people we coming in just to eat at the museum cafe, we decided to eat lunch there.  The cafe stayed with the Southwest motif.  I had the posole which was delicious.  I would eat there again. We spent the afternoon at the Desert Botanical Garden. I never dreamed there were that many varieties of cactus. I enjoyed it and would recommend it except in the Summer.  The best time of year is probably mid-February through March which is when most plants are blooming.

Dinner was Italian at Aielo’s. The owner is from Brooklyn and could not stand NYC anymore so he migrated to Phoenix a few years back.  The food and atmosphere were good. I had the seafood linguine. It was homemade and delicious. I would eat there again but don’t order the calamari.  It was tough and chewy.

Great color on this barrel cactus

Many different types of cacti growing together

Outside of Phoenix

Friday January 6: We started home Friday. This was our short driving day – only 7 hours.  We drove from Phoenix to Las Cruces stopping in Tucson for lunch.  We ate lunch at an eclectic place called “Feast“.  It was really good food and I would definitely eat there again.  The food was quite varied.  For example, I ate the lamb meatball sandwich which came with a tossed green salad. We stayed at the Las Cruces Hilton Garden Inn again which I recommend if you are ever staying in Las Cruces.  Friday night we ate at a Southwestern place called “Peppers” whose sister restaurant is a steak house called “Double Eagle” which also received high ratings.  It is the best food I have had in Las Cruces. Of course I have only eaten at two restaurants, here and “La Posta” which was also good.

Saturday January 7:  We drove from Las Cruces to Dallas today.  The trip was 11.5 hours including a lunch stop at Midland.  Midland is really the only place to stop along the way unless you like McDonald’s and Whataburger.  Sara met us at the car rental at DFW with my car and between the 3 of us we promptly lost the car key.  We found it after a half hour of taking the car and luggage apart.

Wait, the fun is not over yet! To top off our road trip vacation we dined at “Vera Cruz” in Oak Cliff with Sara and Mike and went to the Mavericks game before finally arriving home at midnight.