Camden Bucey

Pastor · Scholar · Aspiring Hermit

Category: Technology

The Terms of the Game

In his book Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet AgeSven Birkerts shares an astute observation,

The explosion of cell phone use changed the terms of the game. That more people were able to call while not tethered to the landline meant more calls, and more calls meant a growing likelihood that those who had not gone portable would be missing calls. Along with this—again, by degrees—emerged the expectation of reachability. Responses that before could have waited for the receipt of the call or message acquired a new urgency factor. The margin of acceptable time for response began to shrink and it has not stopped shrinking—for if there is a reluctance about making an actual voice call, there is no excuse for not texting a reply. There has followed a profound (and ongoing) revision of etiquette assumptions. I am the same person in 2015 as I was in 2000—at least in terms of my calling habits—but in that interval i have grown a devil’s horns. The same hours-later or day-later response that had been perfectly acceptable is now often seen as rude. And, in a neat inversion of the former situation, the delay is now seen as a kind of preening, an assumption of exceptionality (pp. 33–34).

Data Mania

I recently found a used-like new Garmin Fenix 3 watch. This amazing device is logging all sorts of crazy data. Along with my external sensors, such as the heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor on my bike, it logs data from a built-in altimeter, barometer, and temperature sensor. I haven’t tested it out yet, but I’m looking forward to using the Garmin HRM-TRI heart rate monitor, which will be able to log underwater heart measurements along with advanced running metrics.

Drink of Choice

The three Bucey brothers—Camden, Kelly, and Kipton—test out a new podcasting service while discussing kombucha, beer, and the absurdity of Pennsylvania drinking laws.

Links

Subscribe to the Commonplace podcast.

A Sunlit House

I wonder if anyone has created a mirror system for lighting their house with sunlight. Imagine a channel in your roof that brought in sunlight. It would be somewhat like a normal skylight, but it would divert the light throughout the entire house through a series of mirrors that bounced the light down into each room like a “light vent.”

I’ve seen various heliostats, such as the Wikoda Sunflower that can automatically track the sun in order to deflect its light to a particular location. It seems you could put one of those on your roof to maximize the amount of sunlight that would enter your main lightway.

Update: It looks like researchers at the University of Cincinnati have been working on this for several years.

Windows ME: Impenetrable

Running in Sync

I’m a stat junkie. I’ve always been interested in baseball stats, college football rankings, and metrics of all sorts. When I started running regularly a couple of years ago, I wanted a way to measure my progress and have at least some detailed history of my performance.

I’ve been using the Runkeeper app on my iPhone for a long time. I’ll either keep my phone in a pocket or an arm strap. Since I listen to podcasts and music from my phone while I run, I’m already carrying it with me. Using the phone’s GPS to track my run was a no-brainer. It gets the job done. But after a while, I realized some things could be improved. Starting and pausing my run tracking from my arm was less than ideal. Handling interval training was complicated. And just checking my current pace was nearly impossible without affecting my form. To resolve these issues I purchased a Polar M400 running watch. It pairs with my Polar H7 heart rate monitor. As a watch, it’s great. As part of a larger ecosystem of fitness tracking, it leaves something to be desired.

The list of services that track fitness seems to be growing by the minute. Runkeeper, Garmin, Strava, Polar Flow, MapMyRun (to name a few) each have strengths and weaknesses. Some play nicer with others. To make matters worse, I have friends spread among these services. I’d like to connect to all of them. I like seeing what they’re doing, and I also appreciate the encouragement and motivation that comes from knowing people are keeping an eye on my training. To reach my active friends in all of these places, I needed a way to sync my data to different services.

Several months ago, I found Tapiriik, a service that can sync training data among these services. It seems to work well—at least as well as it can. Tapiriik is limited to the APIs each of the services expose. It just so happens that Polar isn’t doing us any favors in terms of interoperability.

Here’s how I currently track my training. It’s laughable. I track my runs with the Polar M400. I sync my run data from my watch to the Polar Flow app, which then syncs to the Polar Flow website. Because Polar Flow doesn’t seem to have a decent API, I have to go to the website and download the training file. I then move that file to Dropbox. From there Tapiriik picks up the file and syncs with Runkeeper, Garmin, and Strava. I then visit Shoe Tracker, which connects to Runkeeper, in order to track the mileage of my shoes. This is my tortured version of a Rube Goldberg device.

Recording Better Podcasts

Cast looks like a promising service for recording podcast multi-enders. When recording podcasts with remote guests I’ll usually record my mic directly and then record Skype from the computer—either feeding the computer’s output to a mixer or using a program like Audio Hijack. Either way, the audio I’m recording of my conversation partner has been compressed and sent through the Internet. There will be artifacts and other glitches. Simply put, it’s not the best.

To get around this issue, I could have the other person record his or her audio locally and then send it to me later. I would then drop that audio into my audio editing software and line it up with my track. This is a chore, because most people aren’t adept at recording. More than that, uploading a ~500MB file can be a pain. And lining the audio up can be laborious—especially if there are any sampling issues and audio drift.

That’s why Cast could be so useful. They look to simplify that process by cutting out all the steps in favor of an easy in-browser solution. I’ve requested an invitation to the private beta. I’ll let you know if it works out.

Iterating Upon the Reformed Forum Media Infrastructure

Ever since we started podcasting for what has become Reformed Forum, I’ve been looking for ways to improve our workflow. Over the past eight years, we have worked through many iterations. I’m fleshing out a vision for the next one—something much bigger than any previous system. The goal is to create a system for the organization and dissemination of Reformed theological resources with as little ongoing staff support as possible.

To accomplish much of this, we need to keep track of episode segments. It’s not enough to have information about the episode as a whole. We need also to determine a title, descriptions, guests, and start/stop times for its constituent parts. Segments would have one and only one episode. An episode could have zero (defined) or many segments.

Segment information would be useful for allowing listeners and web visitors to skip to different sections. It can serve as a table of contents. Web players usually allow changing the location of the play head. A custom WordPress plugin could add the segment information to the post description and include links with Javascript instructions to operate the player. Segments can also be used in conjunction with a command line interface (CLI) audio editor. We can write scripts that automatically pull segments, attach stock intros and outros and podcast the segment.

I want a backend system that exposes is functionality through an API. Then, I want a WordPress plugin to access that API. This allows us to continue using WP without being constrained by it. If we use the WP-API plugin, we could largely reduce the need to use the WP Dashboard.

.church Domains Are Available

There are a host of new TLD (top level domains) available now through registrars. Reformed Forum owns a few (reformed.audio and reformed.academy). One of the more interesting options is .church. It looks like all the basic names like reformed.church, christ.church, redeemer.church, etc. are already taken. But you might find something useful for you congregation. At least it could be better than graceorthodoxpresbyterianchurchofspringfield.net.

Web Development Is a Matter of Life and Death

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