What Trump can teach us about Constitutional Law

I feel it is my civic duty to share with you my absolute favourite new podcast: What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, or Trump Con Law for short.

Before you see the word Trump and instantly start forming opinions for yourself about what this podcast is, let me inform you. The beauty of this podcast is that it gives a really deep dive into constitutional law with a lot of case law, assuming that you have next to no knowledge of the Constitution, and the topics are prompted by the things that Trump says or does; that is, it takes current affairs, and looks at how the Constitution applies to them and provides the case law that establishes the precedents.

One of the main values of bringing Trump into the equation is not too rally behind him, or rail against him, but rather to give us context for these constitutional principles and how they apply to our lives.

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Becoming an American citizen

I live and die by my to-do list. Anything that needs doing needs to be in there or it won’t get done. So, when I got my permanent green card 12 years ago, I set up a reminder for earlier this year that I would need to renew it.

After taking a look at the situation, I was presented with a choice: renew my green card for 10 years for $540, or become an American citizen and pay $725 one time.

Previously, I’d never given it much thought. I had zero desire to become an American citizen and very much wanted to retain my British citizenship. But after actually thinking about it and asking myself the question, I decided there were definitely some benefits to becoming an American citizen:

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Why I returned my Nest in favour of an Ecobee

I got a Nest thermostat about 18 months ago. I wanted to take advantage of its smart home capabilities and to use that to help reduce our electricity usage (both for its cost benefits and for the good it does the environment).

Nest seemed like a great choice. With all of the great rebates that were on offer to us in the Portland area, we paid very little for it, and we were excited about how we could customise our thermostat to do whatever we wanted.

Except, we couldn’t.

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The logistics of a cross-country move in USA

It’s coming up on nearly three years now since our family moved from Florida to Portland, OR. I wish I had written this post a little sooner, but alas, we’ve been out exploring and enjoying our new home!

While this post is mostly about the logistics of a cross-country move, I have a separate post going over the route we took and the places that we saw over here.

Our move was very much a DIY move. We didn’t have any packers, no trucking company, no nothing. We did everything ourselves, and we learned a few things along the way, which I’d like to share with you to help you avoid some of the inconveniences and pitfalls that we hit.

Getting ready to move

Once you know you’re moving, some planning and organising can really help you out and help you to save some money.

We needed to have a good sense of how much this whole thing was going to cost, so we started looking at costs early on. In doing so, some of the bigger expenses were targets for finding savings. The most obvious of these in our case was the moving truck.

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How to get trip data from Automatic into Google Maps

I’ve had Automatic for a few years now and it’s quietly been collecting a wealth of information about my driving habits. Usually, I’ve never had too much reason to want to use it in great detail, but after my cross-country road trip, moving from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR, I really wanted to recall my route and use it to illustrate my travels.

I didn’t know until I started digging into it just how hard that is to do. Automatic stores the paths (routes) that you take as an encoded polyline, which makes sense for them, as it reduces the size of this information considerably, however it makes the data really hard to utilise and manipulate.

Here’s an example of what an encoded polyline looks like:

{[email protected][email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]

Any idea what to do with that? Yeah. Nor did I. But after some perseverance (because I really wanted to use that data from my 4,100-mile trip!), I figured out a solution.

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1Password: Stop being outright dangerous with your passwords and online security

Computers are much smarter than us now. Using your first pet’s name followed by your year of birth stopped being sufficient as a password about a decade ago. There’s only way to really stay safe online these days: a password manager like 1Password.

It’s 2018. If you’re still under the impression that putting a number at the end of your password, or switching Es for 3s or As for @s in your password is the answer to password security, you’re probably very susceptible to having your passwords cracked.

This is the age where computers are now able to guess 350 billion passwords a second. 350 billion. Every. Single. Second. That means that if you have an eight-character password using only lowercase numbers and letters, a computer can guess every possible combination in about 8 seconds.

And of course, there’s been enough high profile hacks in recent years (Target, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Equifax) that there are databases full of login credentials for billions of accounts. If you’ve used the same password on multiple websites and your login credentials have been uncovered on any single website, a would-be hacker potentially has access to all of your online accounts.

With computer power doubling every 2 years, computers are getting very powerful very quickly. The trouble is, if you’re relying on your brain to remember all of your passwords, your brain isn’t getting too many upgrades in its processing power from year to year, no matter how many acai smoothies you drink. You’re fighting a losing battle.

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Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)

I don’t usually play games on my phone, but when I found Mini Metro, which let me build my own subway system and improve it, I found a treasure.

I just came across a new game for iOS which has me embarrassingly addicted.

Let’s be clear: I don’t play games on my phone. The only exception is Chess. However, as a big old nerd with autistic tendencies, building my own Metro/Subway/Tube system, refining it, expanding it, making it more efficient and watching it run makes me happier than it should. So when I came across Mini Metro, I found a new pastime. Continue reading “Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)”

How to use multiple trip odometers on a VW Jetta

There is a way to have multiple trip odometers on a Jetta, but they don’t make it easy or tell you how, so I’m sharing what I learned.

I’ve had a (2017) VW Jetta since last January and despite my attempts to figure out how I could use multiple trip odometers, I wasn’t able to do so until this past weekend (18 months later).

When I first got my Jetta, I noticed how there was a small number 1 near my odometer and other trip calculations (such as average consumption), which I assumed to mean that you could have multiple calculations running concurrently. However, I couldn’t find any such information in the user manual. And that’s the way it stayed for 18 months. Continue reading “How to use multiple trip odometers on a VW Jetta”

How to search on multiple labels in Google Keep

While the Google Keep interface doesn’t let you search for notes using multiple labels, a little URL hack will get you there.

I’ve recently been moving all of my notes into Google Keep, which I appreciate for its simplicity (Evernote, take note – pun very much intended).

One of its shortcomings though is that you can’t seem to be able to search on multiple labels. For example, I use my labels contextually, so I might tag people that a note applies to, e.g. MartiEllie or Jack, but I may also label a note with what the label is about, e.g. gifts (for reminders about things that someone may appreciate as a gift), or food (for noting someone’s favourite restaurants, recipes, or how they like their coffee made). So when my wife’s birthday is coming up, I want to be able to search for all notes tagged with Marti and gifts. To my knowledge, there is not currently a way to do this within the Google Keep interface. Continue reading “How to search on multiple labels in Google Keep”