Highway 145 Colorado: Exquisite Fall Colors

After spending a couple nights at the (supposedly haunted) Rochester Hotel in Durango, Colorado, we spent a nice day hiking at Mesa Verde. We then took Highway 145 to Telluride, and experienced perhaps the most beautiful Fall Colors we have ever seen:

The color of the Aspens with a fresh snow was outstanding – there were lots of yellow, some red and even some orange.

It just kept getting better, and we were blown away when we arrived at the ski resort we were staying at (off season):

This is one time when the camera just doesn’t do the scene justice – there were yellow, red and orange Aspens with a fresh dusting of snow in the mountains. It was perhaps one of the most stunning scenes I have ever witnessed . . .

Majestic for sure . .

Two gondolas took us to Telluride from the place we were staying. The town of Telluride sure was nice – yes – touristy and expensive, but still very nice, especially during the off season – and just weeks or so away from the beginning of the really snowy season.

Fall Color Photography Map

Fun fall color prediction map at https://fstoppers.com/nature/2018-us-fall-color-prediction-map-landscape-photographers-284279

One of my other hobbies is photography. Years ago I had a Leica M6, Hasselblad medium format camera and a Graphic View 5×7 camera. In the late 1990’s, I switched to digital, once cameras had  whopping 2 megapixels!

I use a Sony a6000 now with a couple decent lenses – it does everything I need for now. I don’t expect that I will get another camera for at least a year – and I’ve had the a6000 for about 3 years already – a record for a digital camera and me. The a6000 is a 24 mp camera with a 1″ sensor – and the features they added in the last 3 years are nothing that interests me (4K video, digital EVF, etc).

I’ve been cataloging all of my digital photos going back 20 years – which are on about 3 or 4 computers – some that I expect won’t last long – so I am copying all of the photo files to a tiny 2 TB USB drive attached to my laptop. I SFTP the files from the other computers using FileZilla, and over this past weekend – copied all of my old photo CD’s – a shopping bag full of them. At least I had them in old Aperature projects – and so its relatively easy to export them into directories and back them up. True to Apple form – they long ago discontinued Aperature and iPhoto – and so they are along the lines of my old Mac – a beautiful big aluminum case rig but stuck at OSX 10.6 . . . oy vey

Wow – CD’s sure are slow when you compare with a computer hard drive to an SSD. Even over wireless its ultra fast to back up these (non CD) based files.

I’ll try to post some nice Fall color photo’s soon – the one’s from a Colorado trip a few years back are about the best I’ve ever done – Colorado in the Fall is just amazing – as majestic as New England – but with the Rockies as well. Some with white caps.

Is it already September 5? The only bad thing about Fall is that it always goes by way too fast . . .

KY6R’s Current Reading List

This is a really great little book on MIT Press. The Credit Karma Data Explorer is a Metadata based system and application, and I have never seen such a great description of metadata – (which is a hard “sell” because it can be a very abstract concept for even the best IT folk that I have had the pleasure to work with). As I have been using the Data Explorer in my daily work, I find myself asking and answering questions about data – almost like a data forensics expert. This book reminds me why I feel this way and how metadata is all around us and is such a driving force in our data driven world.

This book chronicles in epic proportion – the inventors and visionaries of the first Industrial Revolution. It is a fantastic read after reading The Sun Kings and Chasing Venus.

Having been an Oracle DBA for 22 years – and also having worked as Gupta Technologies International Marketing Manager – specializing in SQLWindows – (a really superb late 80’s client server database Windows app development tool) – designing the Credit Karma Data Explorer – especially its UX and UI came natural to me. The trick was to make navigating a complex data environment simple – and providing the user with an interface where they might actually add content to our data dictionary. So far, so good – and this book helps me take my UI and UX knowledge up to the next level.

Maybe because of the disastrous 2016 US election and social medias part in planting the most divisive, moronic and democracy killing (can you say Idiocracy?) president in the white house – I found the title of the book compelling . . . . and timely . . .

This book gets into the psychology behind what makes a good or bad user interface. Great examples, and when combined with several of the other books – completes the picture that I had painted with the CK Data Explorer, and what I can do to make this product even better.

Sunspots? Who needs sunspots? When there is nothing going on during this bottom of the solar cycle – you’ll find me in my comfy green chair reading that stack of books on the coffee table . . .

UC Santa Cruz and The Data Explorer Launch

Ivy on a Santa Cruz building

Last weekend, we visited my son at UC Santa Cruz – to see his new apartment and hang out for a while in one of my favorite Bay Area places. The UC Santa Cruz campus is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen – its literally in a redwood forest.

Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, Oregon

We had an excellent product launch of the first commercial product that I designed, helped code and deliver. It has been an overwhelming success, exceeding my hopes and dreams.

As expected, this summer flew by, and was a great one – one that I will remember as being one of the better summers. My neighbors two trees are the sentinels of first fall color, and this weekend signals the unofficial end of summer. In the recent week or so its actually been perfect weather wise – some nights have been flirting with dropping into the 40’s, and during the day barely hitting 70 – so its been just perfect all around.

We usually get about 6 more weeks of warm weather, then it starts really feeling like fall in the second half of October – and the end of year festivities begins.


Scenes Along The Daily Road

My daily bike commute takes me past some interesting scenes. In fact, there are things I wouldn’t see if I were in a car – so I have decided to carry my camera and only take photos when something catches my eye. There is a lot of old growth in our neighborhood – and the theme this year seems to be to cut down old trees and remove old juniper thickets.

We have a cafe at Credit Karma and its even better than any of the coffee places that I pass on my way to work. I pass two coffee places on my way through the small village of Orinda, and then two when I get to work. They both happen to be Starbucks and Peets. I like the CK cafe better.

I’ve recently found that my main hobby has been reading rather than ham radio – I am reading three or four books at a time – a chapter from each – The Lunar Men (history of the Industrial Revolution in and around Birmingham, UK), How to Design With the Mind in Mind (gestalt theory and software UI/UX design) and Javascript – The Good Parts (computer language). There are other technical books I read chapters from – High Performance MySQL and others.

Carrying my camera is fun – as is reading – they offer a way to see and learn new things – which I think has been the best part of ham radio. I still like tuning around and occasionally calling some DXpedition in a pileup – but I am sure that without CW I’d probably be less and less interested in ham radio. CW keeps the interest mainly out of nostalgia – I feel that I am part of a dying breed as far as Morse Code goes.

Its a novel and very unique skill to have.


Autumn in Orinda!

Orinda is in a very interesting “microclimate” in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. We literally are in several small but steep canyons in the fold of the hills above Oakland and Berkeley – some that are over 1000′ and Mt. Diablo – which rises to 4000′. In between is the Las Trampas Ridge – which rises to 2000′. There are small creeks, redwoods, spruce, cottonwoods, red cedar, buckeye and beautiful old oak trees with lots of grasslands in between. Add to this – landscape trees and you get a surprisingly rich set of plants, shrubs and trees. We also have some pretty interesting animals – deer, squirrel, bobcat, fox, quail, wild turkey, coyote, hawks, owls, bats, and many species of birds. Lizards who do “pushups” and all kinds of insects.

These are pepper trees, and we also have liquidamber, chinese pistachio, eastern oak, and other landscape trees that turn color. All of this and I’m 20 miles east of San Francisco – where I ride my bike every day to BART (mass transit) and door to door am at work or home in less than an hour – with my bike ride.

I grew up outside NYC – 60 miles northwest of that city, and to get out of NYC and its surrounding area – it feels like it takes an hour. In SF – it takes 15 minutes to get out of the city and feel like you are in a relaxed and beautiful natural setting.

The Bay Area has grown like mad since my family moved here in 1979 – but when you factor in that there is no other equal in the software industry as there is here – I feel very lucky to have almost by accident ended up here.

What’s Next at KY6R?

I’ve been so busy at work – and since I was designing and building a data product (that might be Open Sourced next year), its been a lot like working on a ham radio electronics or software project. So – this summer, my “Summer Project” wasn’t a ham radio project – but a work project – and I had as much fun at work as I do tinkering with antennas and maker – ham electronics.

Here is my short list of interesting ham radio projects that I will do sooner or later:

  1. Add a relay to my 80M antenna so I can switch to the MA160V. This can be done in a couple of hours – when it gets cooler in the Fall, and before we get our rainy season
  2. Move the ALM-31 tower up onto my deck and add some height to the top to get the UrbanBeam up to the 45′ level. With the sunspot cycle at the bottom for what will surely be 2019 and 2020 – there is no rush at all
  3. Something Arduino or Raspberry Pi based. The big problem is that because I code all day – and have been working weekends lately – it will no doubt take some time before I feel like coding on a weekend. Maybe I will look for an unbuilt NorCal40A kit to build – just for some “analog” fun
  4. Start seriously listening to the ARRL CW bulletins at night – and on 160M – for nostalgia sake and to get better at CW. I’ve been using CW since 1973, but with DXing – sending 5NN TU makes you rusty

I really like the fact that ham radio has now become my “TV”. I don’t watch TV, I’m not a movie buff – and besides watching some YouTube clips of a few comedians – like Stephen Colbert, my Ham Radio is the equivalent of my TV. I love my ham shack – its a really nice little room and when I’m tired after work – or when I start and finish my days in the shack for an hour here or there – its always fun and I’ve done a lot of thinking and have come up with some of my best ideas there. Lately, I’ve been doing work in the shack and with my new monitors mounted on the wall, I find that its an awesome home office. In fact, yesterday I had to do some tedious work for 6 hours – and at least could listen to my IC-7610 while doing that tedious work. BTW – I still love my ICOM IC-7610 – it is still my favorite rig.