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.

Incredible astrophotography wallpapers

On Reddit recently, I came across an astrophotographer who had put together a beautiful wallpaper of 10 of his favourite nebulae shots. The shots that he’s managed to capture are beautiful.

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

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.

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

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.

How to use multiple trip odometers on a VW Jetta

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.

How to search on multiple labels in Google Keep

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. Martina, Ellie 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 Martina and gifts. To my knowledge, there is not currently a way to do this within the Google Keep interface.

Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory & “the graduation song”

Growing up, I was always aware of The Proms, especially The Last Night of the Proms, but since my Mum didn’t have a love of classical music, it was never something that I watched or ever had a desire to watch.

For some reason unknown to me, last week I ended up watching some of the pieces from The Last Night of the Proms of recent years and I fell in love. I must have listened to Land of Hope and Glory about thirty times, including blasting it out in my car on the way home. Land of Hope and Glory is a song with the words written by A.C. Benson to be sung over the music, Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Edward Elgar. It’s a truly patriotic song and easy to see why it caught on so quickly when Elgar played it for Queen Victoria in 1901.

How to access Airport Utility remotely

On more than one occasion, I have found myself wanting to make changes to machines on my home network which required adding a port forward to my router (Airport Extreme Time Capsule in my case). I used to think that I’d just have to wait to get home to use Airport Utility while on my local network and apply the change. Today, I had another such need but I decided to dig in and figure out how it could be done remotely.

It turns out that the solution is actually very simple.

My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

I wrote another post about how the planning, the move, the driving and the logistics went in a separate post. This post is more about the adventure

Last autumn, me and my family finally got word from my company that the move we had long wanted to make (to Portland, OR) was going to happen.

We set an approximate date and started planning for it. Ultimately, we decided that it made the most sense for me to drive across the country and for Marti to fly.

Blockchain: A revolution occurring right in front of our eyes

Over the last few years, if you’re Internet-savvy, you may be aware of blockchains. If you do, you probably know it as the technology that underpins Bitcoin. If you know more than that, you’re in a very small group of people who actually understand what it does and how it’s capable of so much more.

Let’s take a step back. For those who don’t know, Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency” which is a currency that uses cryptography to handle transactions. Bitcoin is not backed by any central government as most currencies are today (the dollar is backed by the Federal Reserve and so on) and thus, is not subject to the purview of government. It is in this vein that many people have perceptions of Bitcoin being used for illicit activities. And while it does afford a level of anonymity if one so chooses, its uses go far beyond that and the illicit usage is only going to represent an increasingly small percentage of Bitcoin’s users as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become more prevalent.

The reason that Bitcoin can work without the backing of a central institution like the Bank of England is what is known as triple-entry accounting, made possible by the blockchain. In modern accounting, we use double-entry accounting, which means that for every debit, there has to be a credit somewhere else. This system has been in use since the 1400s and provides error-checking, but doesn’t stop people from falsifying records (think of “cooking the books” a la Enron).  The “third entry” in triple-entry accounting is a cryptographically-secure public record of every transaction so that these transactions can be verified. This is the blockchain. When you make a transaction using Bitcoin, a record is made in the blockchain and now everyone knows that one wallet paid out some Bitcoins to another wallet and so everyone agrees how many Bitcoins are in each wallet.