Hike of the Week – Cheseboro Canyon

One of five coyotes in a pack at Cheseboro Canyon

This week’s hike was four easy miles, out and back, in Cheseboro Canyon. One of the highlights was an encounter with a pack of five young coyotes, as you might be able to see in the grainy enlarged iPhone snap above. These coyotes are extremely well fed this year, judging from the quantity of furry scat along the trails.

I’ve blogged about Cheseboro Canyon before. The main trails are broad and flat. Sometimes people ask me where to hike with young children. Cheeseboro Canyon is a great place to hike with kids, provided you keep an eye open for fast moving moutain bikers.

This year there is considerable growth in vegetation in the area, meaning long pants beat hiking shorts if you want to protect yourself from ticks and foxtails on the side trails. The trails are well marked but if you don’t have a map in hand it’s easy to take a loop you weren’t counting on – as Bruce will tell you on Homer’s Travels.

Ventura County Trails has a good overview of hiking and mountain biking trails in Cheseboro Canyon. The guides are oriented to cyclists but it’s a good place to start if you want to explore a pocket wilderness that’s freeway-close.

You Will Be a Newbie Forever – Mastering Technology

I’ve reached a place in my life where I don’t want to learn one more stoopidly designed interface. Take the Shoretel phone system…please. (Although it’s a big improvement over Rolm phones).

Former Wired editor and technology guru Kevin Kelly explains that the technology we need most is not necessarily the technology that’s available today. Instead, we need to become expert at adapting to the speed and revolution of new technologies as they arise.

The life skill you need most is not the mastery of specific technologies, but mastery of the technium as a whole — how technology in general works. I like to think of this ability to deal with any type of new technology as techno-literacy. To be at ease with the flux of technology in modern-day life you’ll need to speak the language of the technium.

Kelly’s insight yields some surprising fruit. For instance, today’s technology is already obsolete, so don’t buy a gadget until you absolutely need it. Limit your options to avoid overload. Get by with the least amount of technology that works for you.

The Technium – Techno Life Skills

iPhone Logs Your Every Move – Only Not that Well

This week’s big iPhone news was that the device tracks your every move and stores it on your PC when you synch with iTunes.

The discovery of this location tracking freaked out a bunch of people including Al Franken who is demanding an explanation from Apple. Franken is concerned that unauthorized snoops could easily discover a person’s home address, location of a child’s school, doctors office and other confidential information.

This revelation did not trouble me too much. Like David Pogue, I have nothing to hide. But I figured I might as well download the free iPhone tracker application and see what my PC might reveal if I was ever indicted for terrorism.

I was a little surprised at what I discovered. Using the iPhone Tracker application I can see that my computer does indeed keep a record of trips I’ve made to Stockton, Santa Barbara, Calabasas, Orange and Westwood. But what it does not do is reveal any precise locations. There is no way to pinpoint my home, my work, my child’s school or my doctor.

There were a couple of other surprises as well. The secret hidden iPhone log does not appear to have any record of a trip to San Luis Obispo that we took a few months ago. But it does seem to indicate that I spent some time at the Mendota Airport, though I don’t recall ever having done so and have no clear idea where Mendota is. The log file also has me in a suburb of Las Vegas this past July on a date when I was in a meeting in Camarillo. With my iPhone.

What this tracking data seems to represent is celluar and WiFi nodes that my iPhone has contacted. If you pass through an area your iPhone will log a wide grid of available cell nodes. Somebody looking at my log could tell that I’ve been in the Sacramento area but they can’t tell exactly where. Nodes are activated in Lodi (where I went) but also in Tracy, Brentwood and Manteca (where I didn’t go.) For some reason airports show up in the log with amazing frequency – even if I’ve only come within thirty miles of them.

Yes my iPhone is tracking me. But not in a way that anyone would find useful, except for someone who is looking to improve network connectivity perhaps. I’ve got much more to fear from my Garmin…or Facebook.

In Time for Mother’s Day: Long Stemmed Bacon

Nothing says “I love you” like a bouquet of bacon. kaptaink_cg gives us this mouth-watering Instructable showing the finer points of making artificial roses out of bacon.

Flowers make a nice gift to the friend that needs a smile or for that special someone in your life. Roses are even better. But sometimes even roses don’t cut it. Sometimes you need something a little more non-cliché, something…extraordinary… Sometimes, you need BACON.

Five easy steps with helpful tips in the comments (ie use a nail to punch the bottom of the muffin tin. No shavings plus it will help the grease drain better.)

Bacon Roses Via Neatorama

How to Blog Like Jason Kottke

Jason Kottke calls his blog a wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities. Spare and minimalist in design, with only one banner ad, Kottke’s blog is populated with just a few short posts every day. Topics range from typography to children’s books, design, cooking, soccer and interesting technology. For somebody who clearly has a very strong sense of visual aesthetics, Kottke’s blog is remarkably uncluttered by images.

Kottke’s sources include some of the usual suspects, Waxy and Etsy, but also a lot of Twitter referrals and a growing number of links back to Stellar, the new social bookmarking service that he is launching.

Free National Park Guides for Your iPhone/Android (April 24 Deadline)

In honor of National Park Week, Chimani is offering free downloads of their popular National Park smartphone guides. They have a selection of apps for both iPhone and Android. The Android apps, usually $4.99 are discounted to 99¢ but they also have free “Lite” versions.

Kerry Gallivan, founder of Chimani, says that his company’s guides are designed to be essential equipment for travelers:

I like to think of these apps within the tradition of the telescope or astrolable of our adventuring ancestors instruments to help us navigate the natural world (terrain and trails) and provide insight into its workings (the weather, moon phases, tides). All of this information is presented on an intuitive user interface that is visually well designed, includes professionally designed maps, up-to-date and well-researched content, high quality photographs and rock-solid programming.

The apps include detailed maps, driving tours, park schedules and info to assist photographers. They’re definitely worth a look.

Chimani Parks smartphone apps via TUAW

Beyond First Aid: The Ultimate Emergency Manual

Here’s an excellent, free downloadable first aid resource designed for ships at sea where there is no doctor present. As expected, it is mostly aimed toward the seafarer, but much of the advice could be used in any type of expedition.

Fishermen are particularly prone to infections of the hands
and fingers because of their working environment and the
things that they are required to handle during their work.
For instance, they may be injured by fish spines and bones, by
broken ends of warps and many other things. Minor cuts and
grazes often go unnoticed at the time of injury. Bacteria are
carried into these wounds from fish slime and guts and also
from pieces of metal etc. Infection then develops with
inflammation of the infected area and the formation of pus.
Prevention is always better than cure and it is
recommended that Chlorhexidine Gluconate 20%
(HIBISCRUB) is used to wash hands and forearms after
handling fish of any kind. The Hibiscrub can be used as a soap
or in solution.

The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide via Lifehacker

Book Recommendations: 20 Strange Books You Might Like to Read. Or Not.

runningafterantelope

 

There’s nothing like a book to take you into different worlds, experience different lives and in the doing learn something about yourself. Here’s a list of offbeat books by some very worthwhile authors, including one who lives to chase animals:

The wildly various stories in Running After Antelope are connected and illuminated by a singular passion: the author’s attempt to run down a pronghorn antelope. His pursuit-odd, funny, and inspired-is juxtaposed with stories about sibling rivalry, falling in love, and working as a journalist in war-torn countries. Scott Carrier provides a most unique record of a most unique life.

20 Even Stranger and More Wonderful Books via Metafilter

This Week: Shadow Blogging Jason Kottke

This week I’m going to pay close attention to, and maybe even blog in the style of, Jason Kottke.

Kottke once held the #80 spot in the Technoratti Top 100 blogs. He’s dropped in standings but remains a remarkable blogger owing to his highly interesting posts and sparse, minimalist presentation.

Kottke is currently working on Stellar, which looks like a mash-up of tumblr and Stumble Upon.

How to Blog Like Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow at work

photo by Jonathan Worth, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

For the past week I’ve been following sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow as he posts on BoingBoing. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Be prolific. Doctorow posts anywhere from eight to sixteen posts a day.
2. Use pictures. Doctorow almost always includes a picture and he’s meticulous about the attribution.
3. Quote the material. A fair use snippet of text lets you provide an overview of the material in the original author’s words.
4. Be diverse. Doctorow’s subjects include intellectual property rights, copyright, privacy, science fiction, comics, toys and anything Cthulhu-related.
5. Use many sources. Neatorama and Super Punch appear to be a couple of Doctorow’s favorite sources, but he gets a lot of referrals and appears to have a robust set of feeds for gathering primary source material.
6. Take the weekends off. I don’t know if Doctorow ever posts on weekends but from my one-week sample it looks like his peak hours are Monday to Friday in the morning.

Boy Scouts of America: Helping Robots Cross the Street Since 2011

The Boy Scouts of America has joined with NASA to introduce a Robotics Merit Badge, part of the BSA’s emphasis on science and technology.

The Robotics merit badge is part of the BSA’s new curriculum emphasis on STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math. The BSA focus on STEM takes a fun, adventurous approach to helping Scouts develop critical skills that are relevant and needed in today’s competitive world. The new merit badge is one of 31 STEM-related merit badges that Scouts can earn.

While Scouts can still get badges for archetypal scouting behaviors like bugling, other traditional Scouting badges like Carpentry, Pathfinding and Tracking have been retired in favor of badges that tend more toward book knowledge like Architecture, Composites, and Nuclear Science.

The Scouts have come a long way since the days when the Boy Scout Handbook encouraged boys to consider that “many gorgeous toadstools are wholesome food.” (Scaredy Scouts: Today’s mollycoddled troops need a dose of the original Scout handbook, Aaron Rowe, Wired Magazine April 2011)

NASA and BSA introduce robotics merit badge via Make Online