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  20.    <title>Phil! Gold</title>
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  22.    <description>Mostly books that phil!'s read recently; other stuff that's interesting to him
  23. and probably few others.</description>
  24.    <language>en</language>
  25.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold ([email protected])</dc:creator>
  26.    <dc:rights>Copyright Phil Gold</dc:rights>
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  48.    <title>How to Buy Batteries for Flashlights</title>
  49.    <link></link>
  50.    <description>Questions about buying batteries come up periodically on the
  51. /r/flashlight subreddit...</description>
  52.    <dc:subject>/Geekery</dc:subject>
  53.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold</dc:creator>
  54.    <dc:date>2017-10-30T16:20-04:00</dc:date>
  56.    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Questions about buying batteries come up periodically on the
  57. <a href="">/r/flashlight</a> subreddit.  This is the guide I wish had existed when I
  58. had those questions.  The primary focus of this guide is on batteries that
  59. go into flashlights, though some of what's here can certainly be applied
  60. to other battery-powered devices.</p>
  62. <p>If you just want to know how to get 18650 batteries, skip down to the
  63. <a href="#liion">Lithium-Ion section</a>.  Be careful when buying lithium-ion
  64. batteries from marketplaces like Amazon; unsafe batteries abound.  See the
  65. section for advice on making safe purchases.</p>
  67. <h4><a name="overview"></a> Types of Batteries</h4>
  69. <p>Batteries can be separated into different types that largely have to do
  70. with their voltage.  A battery's voltage is determined by the chemical
  71. reactions it uses to generate electricity (and occasionally with
  72. additional circuitry added to the battery).  The usual way we refer to
  73. batteries (AA, AAA, C, etc.) specifically references their size, not
  74. voltage.  Fortunately, for the most part, particular sizes only come in
  75. particular voltages.  I'll note a few places you might have to take care.</p>
  77. <p>Flashlight batteries generally fall into one of three categories (links go
  78. to the sections on each type of battery):</p>
  80. <ul>
  81. <li><a href="#alkaline">1.5V</a> - These include the most common battery types in use,
  82. including AAA, AA, C, and D.</li>
  83. <li><a href="#lithium-3v">3V</a> - The most common 3V flashlight battery is the
  84. CR123A.  Many button cells (watch batteries) are also 3V, like the
  85. common CR2032.</li>
  86. <li><a href="#liion">Lithium-Ion</a> - This is a whole class of batteries that have
  87. higher outputs and last longer than many other flashlight batteries,
  88. but they require more care in handling.  Lithium-ion flashlight
  89. batteries usually have five-digit designations, like 18650 and 10440.</li>
  90. </ul>
  92. <p>I'm omitting stuff like 9V batteries and 6V "lantern batteries", since
  93. they're not used in flashlights to the same degree that the above
  94. categories are.</p>
  96. <h4><a name="alkaline"></a> 1.5V Batteries (AA, C, etc.)</h4>
  98. <p>Flashlights that use AAA, AA, C, and D cells are very common.  They're
  99. useful because those cells are also very common.</p>
  101. <p>People sometimes refer to these batteries as either "primaries" or, less
  102. often, "secondaries".  "Primaries" are synonymous with non-rechargeable;
  103. you use them and then throw them away.  "Secondaries" are synonymous with
  104. rechargeable, though people will more often just call them "rechargeable".</p>
  106. <p>The main consideration when choosing 1.5V batteries is the chemistry used
  107. inside.  There are three common chemistries:</p>
  109. <ul>
  110. <li><p>Alkaline - The cheapest and most common.  Not recommended unless
  111. they're your only option.  They're not rechargeable, so you have to
  112. replace them every time you use them up.  They lose their charge over
  113. time, so if you leave them alone for a while, they might not even be
  114. useful when you do pick them up.  They tend to leak, which becomes more
  115. likely the more they discharge (and remember, they lose charge even if
  116. you're not using them).  When they leak, they can destroy whatever
  117. device they're in.</p></li>
  118. <li><p>Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH) - Rechargeable.  Sometimes referred to as
  119. "eneloops", after a well-regarded brand of NiMH batteries.  Good for
  120. frequently-used flashlights because you can reuse them rather than
  121. buying new ones all the time.  They also don't leak, so you don't run
  122. the risk of damaging your devices.  They lose charge much faster than
  123. alkaline batteries, though you can get "low self discharge" NiMH
  124. batteries that only lose their charge slightly faster than alkalines
  125. do.  Although alkalines usually claim more energy storage than NiMH on
  126. paper, NiMH batteries tend to give longer runtimes in flashlights in
  127. practice because of the way modern flashlights use electricity.</p></li>
  128. <li><p>Lithium - Expensive, but long-lasting.  Not rechargeable.  These
  129. typically cost three times or more what alkalines do.  (So do NiMH
  130. batteries, but those are rechargeable, so the cost is amortized over
  131. many reuses.)  They lose their charge more slowly than alkalines, they
  132. can store more energy than alkalines or NiMH, and they don't leak.
  133. Good for devices you want to leave alone for months or years at a time
  134. and still work as soon as you pick them up again.</p></li>
  135. </ul>
  137. <p>There are rechargeable alkaline and rechargeable lithium batteries, but
  138. rechargeable NiMH are the most common at the moment.  Nickel-cadmium (NiCd)
  139. used to be the most common rechargeable chemistry, but it's been replaced
  140. by the NiMH, which is better than NiCd in practically every way.</p>
  142. <p>In most cases, you should get NiMH rechargeable batteries for flashlights
  143. that get used frequently.  For flashlights that sit and wait to be used
  144. (emergency flashlights, bug out bags, etc.), use lithium primaries.</p>
  146. <p>Lithium batteries handle temperature extremes better than NiMH and
  147. alkaline batteries, so lithium is also the best choice for things like
  148. flashlights that live in cars.</p>
  150. <p><a href="">The Wirecutter</a> has recommendations for
  151. <a href="">NiMH AA and AAA batteries</a> and
  152. <a href="">NiMH AA and AAA chargers</a>.</p>
  154. <h4><a name="lithium-3v"></a> 3V Batteries (CR123A, etc.)</h4>
  156. <p>3V batteries are common in a number of more niche devices, like cameras.
  157. There are a lot of flashlights that use 3V CR123A batteries.  Pretty much
  158. every 3V battery uses lithium, so everything about lithium in the
  159. <a href="#alkaline">1.5V section</a> applies to 3V batteries, too.</p>
  161. <p>The higher voltage lets some CR123A flashlights put out more light than
  162. similarly-sized AA flashlights.  Aside from that, there's not much to
  163. consider about buying CR123A batteries.</p>
  165. <p><a href="">The Parametrek battery database lists several CR123A batteries</a>
  166. ranging from $1.50 to $5 apiece.  On Amazon,
  167. <a href="">Amazon Basics</a>, <a href="">Streamlight</a>, and
  168. <a href="">Energizer</a> CR123A batteries range from $1.50 to $2
  169. apiece.</p>
  171. <p>Some places sell "RCR123A" batteries, which are basically CR123A-sized
  172. lithium-ion batteries.  (Specifically, they're 16340 cells; lithium-ion
  173. naming conventions are covered below.)  Some RCR123A batteries have
  174. integrated voltage-regulating circuitry to deliver a constant 3V so they
  175. behave just like a regular CR123A.  Others do not; like other lithium-ion
  176. batteries, they'll be 4.2V when fully charged.  If you're going to buy
  177. RCR123A batteries, either make sure your device can handle voltage up
  178. to 4.2V or check the specs on the RCR123A to see whether it has a 3V
  179. output.  (Lithium-ion batteries will often be listed as having a 3.6V
  180. output or so.)</p>
  182. <p>All of the usage considerations in the <a href="#liion">lithium-ion section</a> apply
  183. to RCR123A batteries, too.</p>
  185. <h4><a name="liion"></a> Lithium-Ion Batteries</h4>
  187. <p>Lithium-ion batteries brought a revolution in compact energy storage.
  188. They can hold more energy and discharge it faster than any of the common
  189. handheld battery technologies that came before them.  Lithium-ion
  190. batteries are used, in some form, in devices ranging from smartphones to
  191. laptops to electric cars.</p>
  193. <p>Lithium-ion batteries supply 4.2V when fully charged.  As their energy is
  194. drained, their voltage drops.  When they reach 2.5V or so, they're
  195. considered empty.  Although a lithium-ion battery can continue to supply
  196. power beyond that point, doing so will permanently damage the battery's
  197. chemistry.  That might reduce the energy the battery can hold when full or
  198. might just render the battery useless.</p>
  200. <p>Lithium-ion batteries are also potentially more dangerous than the other
  201. batteries described above.  If they get too hot, they can catch fire or
  202. explode.  Charging and discharging lithium-ion batteries both generate
  203. heat, so doing either one too fast can cause a fire or explosion.  A short
  204. circuit--connecting the positive and negative ends without enough
  205. resistance in between--will almost certainly discharge the battery too
  206. rapidly.  (For people who remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fires, those
  207. were caused by unsafe lithium-ion batteries.)</p>
  209. <p>The above doesn't need to put you completely off lithium-ion batteries.
  210. They're incredibly useful; you just need to take a little more care with
  211. them than other common batteries.  Some lithium-ion batteries are more
  212. safe than others; that'll be covered below.</p>
  214. <p>You do need to be careful about where you buy your lithium-ion batteries.
  215. Many large marketplaces, like Amazon and AliExpress, have unsafe or
  216. mislabeled lithium-ion batteries for sale.  Because of the dangers of
  217. unsafe usage of such batteries, you need to make sure you're getting them
  218. from a reputable seller.  That will be covered in the
  219. <a href="#buy-liion">buying lithium-ion batteries</a> section.</p>
  221. <p>Some flashlights have built-in charging circuits.  If yours doesn't,
  222. you'll also need a charger, covered in the <a href="#chargers">chargers section</a>.</p>
  224. <h5>Lithium-Ion Names and Shapes</h5>
  226. <p>The Lithium-ion batteries that flashlights use--at least, flashlights with
  227. removable batteries--are generally cylindrical and are described by a
  228. five-digit identifier, like "18650".  The first two digits give the
  229. diameter of the cylinder in millimeters (mm).  The last three digits give
  230. the length of the cylinder in tenths of a millimeter.  Thus, an 18650 cell
  231. is nominally 18mm by 65mm.  There's some variation in those values,
  232. particularly in the length, but they give a rough approximation.</p>
  234. <p>Some common sizes are:</p>
  236. <ul>
  237. <li>18650 - The most ubiquitous size for lithium-ion flashlights, as well
  238. as for a lot of other things (laptop batteries, smartphone power banks,
  239. and so on).  Because this is currently one of the most popular sizes in
  240. industrial use, it's gotten the most research into making it
  241. efficient.  As of October 2017, no other shape matches the energy
  242. density of the 18650.  (e.g. a 26650 has twice the volume of a 18650,
  243. but the best 26650 only has 1.5 times the energy of the best 18650.)</li>
  244. <li>26650 - The 18650's larger sibling.  Used by some flashlights to give
  245. more runtime per battery.</li>
  246. <li>18350 - Almost half the size of an 18650.  A number of flashlights have
  247. options for swappable longer and shorter battery compartments, so you
  248. can decide on a daily basis whether to have a shorter light that uses
  249. 18350s or a longer light (with longer runtimes) that uses 18650s.</li>
  250. <li>16340 - More or less the same size as a CR123A.  There are used in
  251. "RCR123A" batteries as described in the <a href="#lithium-3v">3V section</a>
  252. above.</li>
  253. <li>14500 - More or less the same size as a AA battery.  Some flashlights
  254. can use either AA or 14500 cells.  <em>Don't use a 14500 battery in a AA
  255. light unless the flashlight manual says you can.</em> If the flashlight
  256. only expects 1.5V batteries, using a 4.2V 14500 can destroy the light
  257. and possibly start a fire.</li>
  258. <li>10440 - More or less the same size as a AAA battery.  Some flashlights
  259. can use either AAA or 10440 cells.  <em>Don't use a 10440 battery in a AAA
  260. light unless the flashlight manual says you can.</em> If the flashlight
  261. only expects 1.5V batteries, using a 4.2V 10440 can destroy the light
  262. and possibly start a fire.</li>
  263. </ul>
  265. <p>A number of flashlights allow you to use either an 18650 battery or two
  266. CR123A batteries.  As with 14500/AA and 10440/AAA, don't do this unless
  267. the flashlight manual says you can, since two CR123A batteries in series
  268. will give the flashlight 6V.</p>
  270. <p>When speaking, most people break up the five digits of a lithium-ion
  271. battery into three groups: <em>xx</em>-<em>y</em>-<em>zz</em>.  Thus, "18650" is pronounced
  272. "eighteen-six-fifty".  ("14500" is usually pronounced
  273. "fourteen-five-hundred".)</p>
  275. <h5>What You Need to Know About Lithium-Ion Options</h5>
  277. <p>With 1.5V batteries, you have just one thing to decide about: the battery
  278. chemistry.  With lithium-ion batteries, there are four options you need to
  279. consider: protection, top shape, capacity, and discharge rate.</p>
  281. <p>If in doubt, you'll probably be okay with protected, button-top batteries
  282. of the highest capacity you can afford (ignoring discharge rate).</p>
  284. <h6>Protection</h6>
  286. <p><figure style="float: right">
  287.  <a href=""><img src=""></a>
  288.  <figcaption>Dimensions of plain, button-top, and protected 18650s.</figcaption>
  289. </figure></p>
  291. <p>As noted above, lithium-ion batteries should not be discharged below 2.5V
  292. or so and should not be discharged too quickly.  Many manufacturers take
  293. plain lithium-ion cells and add small protection circuits on top.  These
  294. circuits stop providing power if the battery voltage drops too low or if
  295. the current draw gets too high, protecting the cell from things that could
  296. damage it.  This makes the protected batteries a bit safer, since it's
  297. more difficult to accidentally push them too hard.</p>
  299. <p>A protection circuit makes the battery a little longer, and sometimes a
  300. little wider.  There are flashlights that have so little extra space
  301. inside that they must be used with unprotected batteries.  Usually such
  302. flashlights will have their own low-voltage protection (LVP) and will stop
  303. trying to use the battery if the voltage gets too low.  If you use an
  304. unprotected battery in a flashlight without LVP, you'll have to be careful
  305. not to drain the battery too far or you risk permanently damaging the
  306. battery.</p>
  308. <p>Protected batteries usually cost a little bit more than their unprotected
  309. counterparts, typically in the realm of an extra $1.50 or so.</p>
  311. <p>Some high-powered flashlights need to draw so much current that they can't
  312. use protected batteries because they'd trip the protection with their
  313. power usage.  For those flashlights, make sure you get unprotected
  314. batteries with a high enough discharge rate (covered later).</p>
  316. <p>Flashlights that need unprotected batteries should say so on their website
  317. and in their manual.  If there's nothing about protection, you should be
  318. able to use protected batteries (and you ought to do so).</p>
  320. <h6>Top Shape</h6>
  322. <p><figure style="float: right">
  323.  <a href=""><img style="float: right" src=""></a>
  324.  <figcaption>Tops and bottoms of flat top, button top, and protected 18650s.</figcaption>
  325. </figure></p>
  327. <p>Lithium-ion batteries, like all other batteries, have a positive end and a
  328. negative end.  Putting a lithium-ion battery in backwards can damage the
  329. flashlight, the battery, or both.  In some cases, it can start a fire.</p>
  331. <p>On a plain cylindrical lithium-ion cell, the disk on the positive end is a
  332. little smaller than the disk on the negative end.  Some manufacturers take
  333. bare cells and put buttons on top of them, like the buttons on top of 1.5V
  334. batteries.  This makes the battery a little longer, but not as much as a
  335. protection circuit does.  Most unprotected-batteries-only flashlights will
  336. still work with button top batteries.</p>
  338. <p>Button top batteries usually cost slightly more than flat top batteries.
  339. The extra cost is generally somewhere around ten to twenty cents.</p>
  341. <p>Many flashlights will work with either button top or flat top batteries.
  342. Some are shaped so that only a correctly-inserted button top battery will
  343. work.  This serves as mechanical enforcement of correct battery polarity.
  344. If your flashlight takes more then one battery in series, you'll need to
  345. use button-top batteries.</p>
  347. <p>Protected batteries pretty much always come with button tops.</p>
  349. <p>In general, any flashlight that works with flat tops will also work with
  350. button tops, except for rare cases where the battery compartment spacing
  351. is incredibly tight.  Consequently, I'd recommend getting button top
  352. batteries unless you specifically know you need flat tops.</p>
  354. <h6>Capacity</h6>
  356. <p>A battery's capacity, most commonly measured in milliamp-hours (mAh),
  357. governs how long it can continue providing power.  More mAh generally
  358. equals more flashlight runtime.  Even if you don't expect to run a battery
  359. all the way down, keep in mind that as a lithium-ion battery discharges
  360. its voltage drops.  In many flashlights, that means that a
  361. partially-discharged battery can't support the brightest modes on the
  362. light.  A higher-capacity battery will continue to provide higher voltages
  363. for longer periods of time.</p>
  365. <p>As of October 2017, the highest-capacity 18650s being manufactured can
  366. store a nominal 3500mAh of energy, though lower-capacity ones go as low as
  367. 1200mAh.  If all else is equal, you should get the highest-capacity
  368. battery you want to spend money on.</p>
  370. <h6>Discharge Rate</h6>
  372. <p>Depending on their particular chemistry, lithium-ion batteries can have a
  373. maximum discharge rate anywhere from 3 amps (A) to 40A.  Most flashlights
  374. stay under 3A-4A, so pretty much any battery will be fine for them.  Some
  375. of the higher-output flashlights need or can benefit from 10A, 15A, or
  376. even 20A batteries.</p>
  378. <p>There's a tradeoff between battery capacity and discharge.  The
  379. chemistries that do very well on one metric are not as good on the other.
  380. As of October 2017, the best high-capacity batteries store 3500mAh with a
  381. maximum discharge of 10A, while the highest-discharge batteries can
  382. sustain 40A but only store 2000mAh.</p>
  384. <p>The most-demanding flashlights I've seen top out at about 20A, so you
  385. probably don't need to go out looking for batteries with higher discharge
  386. rates than that.  (Unless you're also using the batteries in your vape or
  387. something.)  Many people with high-drain flashlights like to use Sony VTC6
  388. or Samsung 30Q batteries; both are 3000mAh/15A.</p>
  390. <p>Some people refer to high-discharge batteries as "IMR" batteries, after a
  391. commonly-used chemistry for such batteries.</p>
  393. <p>In general, you should see if your flashlight has a maximum current drain
  394. listed.  If it doesn't, ignore discharge rate and get the highest capacity
  395. batteries you want.  Otherwise, get the highest-capacity batteries with a
  396. high enough maximum discharge rate.</p>
  398. <h6>Other Considerations</h6>
  400. <p>There are all sorts of other characteristics that people care about with
  401. their batteries, but those are less relevant than the above four things,
  402. especially if all you care about is getting your flashlight to work.</p>
  404. <p>There's actually a really complex relationship between batteries'
  405. capacity, voltage, and current.  Batteries are a little less efficient at
  406. higher amperages, so a flashlight that's constantly used on its turbo
  407. setting will generally drain its battery even faster than the numerical
  408. difference between the light's brightness levels would indicate.
  409. Similarly, batteries providing higher amperages will have their voltage
  410. drop a bit relative to the same battery with the same charge but at a
  411. lower current draw.  Different batteries will have different balances
  412. among those relationships (e.g. Samsung 30Qs exhibit slightly more voltage
  413. sag than Sony VTC6s, even though their top-line ratings are the same).</p>
  415. <p>These sorts of things only tend to matter to people who want to squeeze
  416. every last lumen out of their lights, and those are just a small subset of
  417. the people who use lithium-ion flashlights on a regular basis.  If you're
  418. interested in this level of detail, though, you will want to look at
  419. <a href="">HKJ's battery and charger reviews</a>.  The website is a little
  420. confusing in its layout, but there's a wealth of information about all of
  421. the batteries HKJ has tested, and HKJ has tested a <em>lot</em> of batteries.</p>
  423. <h5><a name="buy-liion"></a> Where to Buy Lithium-Ion Flashlight Batteries</h5>
  425. <p>Don't just go to Amazon, search for "18650", and buy the first search
  426. result.  There are a lot of cheaply-made and more-unsafe-than-necessary
  427. batteries in large marketplaces like Amazon.  You should buy from a vendor
  428. who will only sell properly-labeled stock from trusted manufacturers.</p>
  430. <p>One of the easiest ways to do that, as well as to search for batteries
  431. that match all of the options you need, is to use the
  432. <a href="">Parametrek Battery Database</a>.  The person who
  433. maintains the database has links to purchase batteries from reputable
  434. sellers.  For a search example, here's all of the protected 18650
  435. batteries, with the highest-capacity ones first:</p>
  437. <ul>
  438. <li><a href=";mah=_+3501+dec&amp;features=button%20top+protected">Protected 18650 batteries sorted by capacity</a></li>
  439. </ul>
  441. <p>Note that to search for capacity, the mAh numbers I've talked about are on
  442. the "mAh" category.  The "capacity" section sorts by watt-hours (Wh)
  443. instead.  (The basic difference is that milliamp-hours are only directly
  444. comparable for batteries at the same voltage, while watt-hours give
  445. meaningful comparisons even between batteries with differing voltages.
  446. Lithium-ion batteries are generally marketed with their mAh rating--since
  447. the voltage is known--so that's what this guide uses, too.)</p>
  449. <p>If you have questions about a particular battery seller, you can always
  450. come ask about it on the <a href="">/r/flashlight</a> subreddit.</p>
  452. <h6>Notes on Particular Lithium-Ion Battery Brands</h6>
  454. <p>Unprotected batteries are pretty much all made by <strong>LG</strong>, <strong>Panasonic</strong>,
  455. <strong>Samsung</strong>, <strong>Sanyo</strong>, or <strong>Sony</strong>.</p>
  457. <p>Some of the more popular brands for protected batteries include <strong>AW</strong>,
  458. <strong>EVVA</strong>, and <strong>Keeppower</strong>.</p>
  460. <p>Many flashlight manufacturers have their own branded batteries.  Those are
  461. generally of good quality, but they're often more expensive than
  462. equally-good batteries from other reputable sellers.  Some people prefer
  463. to pay the extra amount just to avoid trying to figure out whether a
  464. particular other seller is reputable or not.</p>
  466. <p>Batteries from <strong>Olight</strong> are a little unusual.  They're a reputable
  467. manufacturer (and seller, if you buy directly from them), but they do some
  468. extra things to their batteries.  The tops of their batteries have a
  469. <em>positive</em> button, like any button top battery, but also a <em>negative</em> ring
  470. around the button.  This is required for the batteries to work in their
  471. proprietary flashlight charging cradles, but it increases the chances of
  472. short-circuiting the batteries.  (The protection circuit should prevent a
  473. short-circuit from starting a fire, but it's still not something you want
  474. to do to a battery.)  Unless you're using an Olight flashlight with an
  475. Olight charger, you probably don't want an Olight battery.</p>
  477. <p><strong>Ultrafire</strong> batteries should be avoided.  They're known to cut corners
  478. on their batteries in order to make them cheaper.  If you buy one of their
  479. batteries, you might get something that works, but you also might get a
  480. battery with a defective protection circuit, or a battery that contains a
  481. smaller, cheaper battery, and a lot of sand to fill the extra space.
  482. Given the care that needs to be taken with lithium-ion batteries, the risk
  483. isn't worth the lower prices.</p>
  485. <h4><a name="chargers"></a> Chargers</h4>
  487. <p>If you go with rechargable batteries, you'll need a charger.  (Some
  488. lithium-ion flashlights have built-in charging, but even with those an
  489. external charger can be useful sometimes.)</p>
  491. <p>The best option is to look at the list of
  492. <a href="">chargers reviewed by HJK</a>, pick one with the features you
  493. need (number of bays, NiMH, lithium-ion, etc.) and a good rating (two or
  494. more smiling faces), and buy it from one of the reputable battery vendors
  495. <a href="#buy-liion">discussed above</a>.</p>
  496. ]]></content:encoded>
  497.  </item>
  499.  <item rdf:about="">
  500.    <title>Trump and the BSA National Jamboree</title>
  501.    <link></link>
  502.    <description>My social news feeds are awash with news of Trump's speech at the 2017
  503. National Jamboree (full transcript,
  504. full video)...</description>
  505.    <dc:subject>/General</dc:subject>
  506.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold</dc:creator>
  507.    <dc:date>2017-07-25T17:15-04:00</dc:date>
  509.    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>My social news feeds are awash with news of <a href="">Trump's speech at the 2017
  510. National Jamboree</a> (<a href="">full transcript</a>,
  511. <a href="">full video</a>).  I'm disappointed on a few levels, but I'm not
  512. leaving the Scouting program.</p>
  514. <p>I was a Boy Scout when I was a kid.  I'm currently an adult leader with a
  515. Boy Scout troop.  I think the ideals and the potential of the Scouting
  516. program are good.  The short version of Scouting is that we strive to
  517. develop kids' citizenship (in the USA, but also in their community and the
  518. world), character, and fitness (both physical and emotional).  We use a
  519. number of tools to accomplish those goals, but the one that most
  520. differentiates Scouting from other similar organizations, in my opinion,
  521. is what BSA (the Boy Scouts of America) calls "the outdoor program",
  522. i.e. all the stuff we do outdoors, including camping, fishing, hiking, and
  523. a whole host of other activities.</p>
  525. <p>BSA is not perfect; there are policies they have that I think should be
  526. changed, and bad adult leadership in a troop can give the troop's kids a
  527. bad experience.  But I believe that the core goals and methods of the
  528. organization are good, which is part of the reason I am a scout leader.  I
  529. want to make sure that the kids in my troop have the opportunities to get
  530. as much out of the program as possible and have good experiences while
  531. doing it.</p>
  533. <p>As part of BSA's focus on citizenship, the President of the United States
  534. is considered to be the honorary president of the BSA (though there's a
  535. separate actual president who actually runs the national board).
  536. Consequently, the US President is always invited to speak at the BSA
  537. National Jamboree, an every-four-year camping event that hosts troops from
  538. all across the US (and plenty from other nation's Scouting programs, too).
  539. Nineteen National Jamborees have been held (including the one currently
  540. underway), under twelve different sitting US Presidents (including Trump).
  541. Eight of those presidents have spoken in person at a National Jamboree
  542. during their term.  (Neither Nixon nor Carter spoke at a National Jamboree
  543. while they were President.  Reagan was scheduled to speak, but was unable
  544. to make it for health reasons, so Nancy Reagan spoke in his place.  Obama
  545. recorded a video that was played at the Jamboree.)  The BSA's Bryan on
  546. Scouting blog has
  547. <a href="">a history of presidential visits to National Jamborees</a>
  548. through Obama.</p>
  550. <p>So whether you like Trump or not, it was reasonable (in my opinion) for
  551. him to be invited to speak at this year's National Jamboree, on the basis
  552. of Jamboree tradition and in the spirit of developing citizenship in young
  553. Scouts.</p>
  555. <p>That said, Trump took a disappointingly political tack with his speech,
  556. seeming to treat it as a campaign rally.  Officially, the Boy Scouts of
  557. America is a non-partisan organization.  Everyone should be able to
  558. benefit from the skills, knowledge, and experiences available through
  559. Scouting, regardless of political viewpoints, so no one should feel
  560. excluded because of their viewpoints.  Past presidents have focused on
  561. non-partisan topics, emphasizing things like community service and being a
  562. good citizen, in their Jamboree speeches.  Trump had a fair amount in that
  563. vein, but he kept dropping in things like his usual digs at the media or
  564. complaining that he hasn't been shown enough "loyalty".  There was
  565. actually a lot of good stuff in his speech, but it seemed like he couldn't
  566. avoid making every few paragraphs about himself, in a partisan,
  567. exclusionary manner.  (Plenty of past presidents used their speaking
  568. opportunity to highlight things they saw as personal accomplishments, but
  569. they all presented those things as examples of citizenship or service in
  570. line with the ideals of Scouting.)  He also managed to use language that
  571. most Scout leaders would at least frown on, were it uttered by one of
  572. their troop members at an event, and referenced apparently risque
  573. activities in a fairly approving manner.</p>
  575. <p>I was also disappointed at the members of the audience who went along with
  576. Trump's partisan digressions, booing Clinton and Obama while cheering
  577. things like the GOP-supported, Democrat-opposed effort to repeal the
  578. Affordable Care Act.  I'm not actually surprised that Trump treated his
  579. speech like a campaign event.  It still saddens me, but it's entirely in
  580. keeping with his demonstrated character up to now.  I had hoped, however,
  581. that Scout leaders would understand that sort of partisanship is
  582. inappropriate at a Scouting event.  It is, of course, hard to tell just
  583. how many people were participating, but it was enough that the TV cameras
  584. could pick them up.</p>
  586. <p>But despite all that, the instances of angry, divisive speech from
  587. President Trump to the Jamboree crowd do not represent Scouting as a
  588. whole.  I'm sure there were some people in the audience who would be happy
  589. chanting "Lock Her Up" at a genuine Trump rally, just as I'm sure that
  590. there were among those 40,000 people some who have marched in anti-Trump
  591. protests.  I think, however, that most scout leaders care primarily about
  592. encouraging their kids to be better people without having to pick a
  593. political team and without having to shut out anyone on the opposite side.</p>
  595. <p>If you have qualms about Scouting, go visit some troops in your area and
  596. see how they work.  The scouting program is big and it provides a lot of
  597. resources for individual troops, but what defines each one is really the
  598. adults and kids in that specific troop.  Each troop has its own character.
  599. Some are bad environments for youth development, which makes me sad.  Some
  600. are good environments that maybe just aren't the right fit for your
  601. particular child.  But most troops are friendly and welcoming, and in most
  602. places there should be at least one where your child will feel comfortable
  603. and engaged and where there are people who will help your child develop
  604. into a healthy citizen of upstanding character.</p>
  605. ]]></content:encoded>
  606.  </item>
  608.  <item rdf:about="">
  609.    <title>The Best Android Apps of 2014</title>
  610.    <link></link>
  611.    <description>(According to /r/Android...</description>
  612.    <dc:subject>/Geekery</dc:subject>
  613.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold</dc:creator>
  614.    <dc:date>2014-12-04T15:05-04:00</dc:date>
  616.    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>(According to <a href="">/r/Android</a>.)</p>
  618. <p>Google recently came out with a "<a href="">Best Apps of 2014</a>" list.
  619. It was not well received, with many people feeling that the majority of
  620. apps present were there because Google was making money from them, not
  621. because they actually deserved to be on such a list.  Consequently, <a href="">the
  622. Android subreddit</a> attempted to <a href="">compile its own
  623. list</a>.  This post is my attempt to collect the most
  624. highly-voted submissions on that /r/Android post.</p>
  626. <p>What follows are the 35 top apps, based on Reddit's "best" sorting
  627. algorithm.  If I have time, I'll add more to the list later.</p>
  629. <h4>SuperSU</h4>
  631. <p>Gives you root on your system.</p>
  633. <ul>
  634. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  635. <li>Google Play: <a href="">SuperSU</a> - Free, IAP.  IAP is only for
  636. donations; you have to buy the Pro version if you want its extra
  637. features.</li>
  638. <li>Google Play: <a href="">SuperSU Pro</a> - Paid.</li>
  639. </ul>
  641. <h4>JuiceSSH</h4>
  643. <p>SSH client with optional cloud syncing and other features.</p>
  645. <ul>
  646. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  647. <li>Google Play: <a href="">JuiceSSH</a> - Free, IAP.  IAP is for upgrade
  648. to Pro version with extra features.  There are also plugins available
  649. on Google Play.  Some plugins are free; others are paid.</li>
  650. </ul>
  652. <h4>SeriesGuide</h4>
  654. <p>TV episode (and movie) watching management.  Tracks things you've seen,
  655. tells you about upcoming things.  Syncs with <a href="">trakt</a> or <a href="">tvtag</a>.</p>
  657. <ul>
  658. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  659. <li>Google Play: <a href="">SeriesGuide</a> - Free, IAP.  IAP is
  660. for a yearly subscription to unlock paid features.</li>
  661. <li>Google Play: <a href="">SeriesGuide X Pass</a> - Paid.  A
  662. one-time purchase of this app will unlock the paid features in
  663. SeriesGuide.  It's equivalent to the yearly subscription.</li>
  664. </ul>
  666. <h4>Pocket Casts</h4>
  668. <p>Podcasting app.  "Buy it for the hilarious changelogs, stay for the
  669. awesome Podcast App."</p>
  671. <ul>
  672. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  673. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Pocket Casts</a> - Paid</li>
  674. </ul>
  676. <h4>QuickPic</h4>
  678. <p>Album app.  Browse, display, and select images on your device.</p>
  680. <ul>
  681. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  682. <li>Google Play: <a href="">QuickPic</a> - Free</li>
  683. </ul>
  685. <h4>Nova Launcher</h4>
  687. <p>Alternate home screen.  Very customizable.</p>
  689. <ul>
  690. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  691. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Nova Launcher</a> - Free</li>
  692. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Nova Launcher Prime</a> - Paid.
  693. Unlocks some features in Nova Launcher.</li>
  694. </ul>
  696. <h4>AirDroid</h4>
  698. <p>Manage your device from your desktop or laptop web browser over the
  699. network.  You can transfer files, send and receive SMS messages, see
  700. notifications, and generally fully control your Android device.</p>
  702. <ul>
  703. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  704. <li>Google Play: <a href="">AirDroid - Android on Computer</a> - Free.  If
  705. you create an AirDroid account, which is not required but makes some
  706. things more convenient, you can get access to more features with the
  707. account by paying a monthly or annual subscription fee.</li>
  708. </ul>
  710. <h4>Pushbullet</h4>
  712. <p>Easily send information between your device and desktop computer.  Serves
  713. as both a cross-device notification system (e.g. see your Android
  714. notifications on your desktop) and a data sharing system (e.g. send a URL
  715. from your laptop to your phone).</p>
  717. <ul>
  718. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  719. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Pushbullet</a> - Free.  Currently no profit
  720. model(!)  Will probably add premium accounts in the future.</li>
  721. </ul>
  723. <h4>CamScanner</h4>
  725. <p>Take photos of documents with your phone and turn them into PDFs.</p>
  727. <ul>
  728. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  729. <li>Google Play: <a href="">CamScanner -Phone PDF Creator</a> -
  730. Free, Ads, IAP.  IAP is for a monthly or annual subscription that
  731. removes ads and adds a number of features.</li>
  732. <li>Google Play: <a href="">CamScanner (License)</a> - Paid.
  733. Removes ads from the free app and unlocks some features, but not
  734. everything that the subscription gives.  (The subscription unlocks
  735. everything the license does, though.)</li>
  736. <li>Google Play: <a href="">CamScanner HD - Scanner, Fax</a> - Free.
  737. I think this is the same as the basic CamScanner but with a tablet UI.
  738. It doesn't seem to have the IAP subscription option, though.</li>
  739. </ul>
  741. <h4>Tasker</h4>
  743. <p>General-purpose automation for your Android device.</p>
  745. <ul>
  746. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  747. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Tasker</a> - Paid</li>
  748. </ul>
  750. <h4>Moon+ Reader</h4>
  752. <p>Ebook reader.</p>
  754. <ul>
  755. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  756. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Moon+ Reader</a> - Free, Ads</li>
  757. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Moon+ Reader Pro</a> - Paid</li>
  758. </ul>
  760. <h4>Strava</h4>
  762. <p>Fitness app for tracking your running and bicycling.</p>
  764. <ul>
  765. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  766. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Strava Running and Cycling GPS</a> - Free, IAP.
  767. IAP is for unlocking premium features.</li>
  768. </ul>
  770. <h4>Today Calendar</h4>
  772. <p>Material-designed calendar app.</p>
  774. <ul>
  775. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  776. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Today Calendar</a> - Free.  Trial
  777. version that expires after 30 days.</li>
  778. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Today Calendar - Pro</a> - Paid</li>
  779. </ul>
  781. <h4>Textra</h4>
  783. <p>Material-designed SMS app.</p>
  785. <ul>
  786. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  787. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Textra SMS</a> - Free</li>
  788. </ul>
  790. <h4>ES File Explorer</h4>
  792. <p>File management app.</p>
  794. <ul>
  795. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  796. <li>Google Play: <a href="">ES File Explorer File Manager</a> - Free</li>
  797. </ul>
  799. <h4>Duet</h4>
  801. <p>Game.  The gameplay's a little difficult to describe.  You control two
  802. objects that rotate in sync around the same point and you have to move
  803. them to avoid obstacles.</p>
  805. <ul>
  806. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  807. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Duet</a> - Free, Ads, IAP.  The IAP removes ads and
  808. unlocks a few features.</li>
  809. <li>Humble Bundle: Duet was part of Humble Moble Bundle 6.  The version in
  810. the bundle was the Premium version, with no ads and all features
  811. unlocked.</li>
  812. </ul>
  814. <h4>Sleep as Android</h4>
  816. <p>Sleep tracker and sleep-cycle-aware alarm clock.</p>
  818. <ul>
  819. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  820. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Sleep as Android</a> - Free, Ads,
  821. IAP.  Functions fully for two weeks as a trial, then disables sleep
  822. tracking on particular weekdays (though the other functionality
  823. continues to work).  IAP is an alternative to purchasing the unlocker
  824. app.</li>
  825. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Sleep as Android Unlock</a> - Paid.
  826. Unlocks sleep tracking and turns off ads in the Sleep as Android app.</li>
  827. </ul>
  829. <h4>Nine</h4>
  831. <p>Synchronizes device data with a Microsoft Exchange Server.</p>
  833. <ul>
  834. <li><a href="">Discussion</a></li>
  835. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Nine - Exchange ActiveSync</a> - Free, IAP.  Works
  836. for two weeks then disables itself.  IAP activates the app permanently.</li>
  837. </ul>
  839. <h4>Timely</h4>
  841. <p>Very customizable, multi-featured, and good looking clock app.  Has a
  842. clock, alarm clock, timer, and stopwatch.</p>
  844. <ul>
  845. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  846. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Timely Alarm Clock</a> - Free</li>
  847. </ul>
  849. <h4>Reddit Sync</h4>
  851. <p>Reddit client with a card UI.</p>
  853. <ul>
  854. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  855. <li>Google Play: <a href="">reddit sync</a> - Free, Ads, IAP.  IAP
  856. removes ads and is an alternative to purchasing Reddit Sync Pro.</li>
  857. <li>Google Play: <a href="">reddit sync pro</a> - Paid.  Ad-free
  858. version of Reddit Sync.</li>
  859. </ul>
  861. <h4>TextSecure</h4>
  863. <p>Encrypted messaging app.</p>
  865. <ul>
  866. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  867. <li>Google Play: <a href="">TextSecure Private Messenger</a> - Free</li>
  868. </ul>
  870. <h4>Cerberus</h4>
  872. <p>Security program.  Lets you track, manage, and even wipe your device
  873. remotely in case it's lost or stolen.</p>
  875. <ul>
  876. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  877. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Cerberus anti theft</a> - Free, IAP.  App is
  878. functional for a week.  After that, you have to buy a license via the
  879. IAP.</li>
  880. </ul>
  882. <h4>Waze</h4>
  884. <p>Traffic-aware GPS routing and navigation.</p>
  886. <ul>
  887. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  888. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Waze Social GPS Maps &amp; Traffic</a> - Free, Ads.</li>
  889. </ul>
  891. <h4>FolderSync</h4>
  893. <p>Sync local folders to various cloud storage providers.</p>
  895. <ul>
  896. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  897. <li>Google Play: <a href="">FolderSync Lite</a> - Free.  Limits you
  898. to two cloud storage accounts and you can't filter your files to be
  899. synced.</li>
  900. <li>Google Play: <a href="">FolderSync</a> - Paid.  No account
  901. limits, sync filtering, and Tasker support.</li>
  902. </ul>
  904. <h4>IFTTT</h4>
  906. <p>Short for "If This Then That".  Android client for the <a href="">IFTTT</a> web
  907. service.  IFTTT hooks into a lot of other sites (and your Android device)
  908. and lets you set up triggers so if something happens in one place, it
  909. causes something else to happen in another.  (e.g. if it's going to rain,
  910. it can have your phone pop up a notification to take an umbrella when you
  911. leave the house.)</p>
  913. <ul>
  914. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  915. <li>Google Play: <a href="">IFTTT</a> - Free.  Some companies pay IFTTT to
  916. promote recipes that use their sites.</li>
  917. </ul>
  919. <h4>TeamViewer</h4>
  921. <p>Kind of the reverse of AirDroid.  Lets you manage your desktop computer
  922. from your phone.</p>
  924. <ul>
  925. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  926. <li>Google Play: <a href="">TeamViewer for Remote Control</a> - Free.
  927. The desktop software is free for noncommercial use, but businesses and
  928. the like have to buy licenses.</li>
  929. </ul>
  931. <h4>Llama</h4>
  933. <p>Android device automation, similar to Tasker.  (Or Tasker is similar to
  934. Llama.  Plugins for either will work with both.)</p>
  936. <ul>
  937. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  938. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Llama - Location Profiles</a> - Free</li>
  939. </ul>
  941. <h4>Here</h4>
  943. <p>Offline maps.  Not available in the Play Store, so you have to sideload
  944. it.</p>
  946. <ul>
  947. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  948. <li> <a href="">HERE</a> - Free</li>
  949. </ul>
  951. <h4>Plex</h4>
  953. <p>Client for the <a href="">Plex Media Server</a>.</p>
  955. <ul>
  956. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  957. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Plex for Android</a> - Paid</li>
  958. </ul>
  960. <h4>AcDisplay</h4>
  962. <p>Shows notifications while the phone is locked.  Detects when you pull your
  963. phone out of your pocket and turns on the screen to show your
  964. notifications.  Similar in concept to the Moto X's Active Display.</p>
  966. <ul>
  967. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  968. <li>F-Droid: <a href="">AcDisplay</a></li>
  969. <li>Google Play: <a href="">AcDisplay</a> - Free, IAP.  IAP is only for
  970. donations; app is fully-featured as-is.</li>
  971. </ul>
  973. <h4>RedReader</h4>
  975. <p>Reddit client.</p>
  977. <ul>
  978. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  979. <li>F-Droid: <a href="">RedReader Beta</a></li>
  980. <li>Google Play: <a href="">RedReader Beta</a> - Free</li>
  981. </ul>
  983. <h4>Morning Routine</h4>
  985. <p>Alarm clock that lets you define a sequence of steps necessary to turn off
  986. the alarm.  The idea is that you encode your entire morning routine into
  987. it, which makes sure you're awake by the end and makes sure you do
  988. everything you're supposed to.</p>
  990. <ul>
  991. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  992. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Morning Routine - Alarm Clock</a> - Free</li>
  993. </ul>
  995. <h4>Citymapper</h4>
  997. <p>Journey planning app, including transit, auto, foot, bike, and taxi.  Only
  998. for specifically-supported cities.</p>
  1000. <ul>
  1001. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  1002. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Citymapper - Subway, Bus, Bike</a> - Free</li>
  1003. </ul>
  1005. <h4>Sunrise Calendar</h4>
  1007. <p>Calendar app.</p>
  1009. <ul>
  1010. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  1011. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Sunrise Calendar</a> - Free</li>
  1012. </ul>
  1014. <h4>Xposed Framework</h4>
  1016. <p>Framework for installing Xposed modules.  Each module patches some aspect
  1017. of the running system in order to change it.  There are modules for all
  1018. sorts of things, from working around Android bugs to adding cosmetic
  1019. tweaks to making stock Android behave like a custom ROM.  Root required.
  1020. Must be sideloaded, since it's not in the Play store.</p>
  1022. <ul>
  1023. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  1024. <li><a href="">Xposed Installer</a></li>
  1025. <li><a href="">Module Repository</a></li>
  1026. </ul>
  1028. <h4>Solid Explorer</h4>
  1030. <p>File manager.</p>
  1032. <ul>
  1033. <li><a href="">Discussion Thread</a></li>
  1034. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Solid Explorer File Manager</a> -
  1035. Free.  Disables itself after 14 days.</li>
  1036. <li>Google Play: <a href="">Solid Explorer Unlocker</a> - Paid.
  1037. Unlocks the main app so it'll continue functioning after the trial
  1038. period has expired.</li>
  1039. </ul>
  1040. ]]></content:encoded>
  1041.  </item>
  1043.  <item rdf:about="">
  1044.    <title>Portable Filesystems for Portable Disk Drives</title>
  1045.    <link></link>
  1046.    <description>I periodically need to set up a USB hard drive so that its files can be
  1047. shared between different operating systems...</description>
  1048.    <dc:subject>/Geekery</dc:subject>
  1049.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold</dc:creator>
  1050.    <dc:date>2013-12-13T15:53-04:00</dc:date>
  1052.    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>I periodically need to set up a USB hard drive so that its files can be
  1053. shared between different operating systems.  I recently tried to update my
  1054. practices.  This is a record of my findings.</p>
  1056. <p>The short version of my conclusions is: If you need good portability
  1057. between Windows, OSX, and Linux (and you're only writing data from Windows
  1058. or Linux), use NTFS.  If you don't need filesystem metadata like ownership
  1059. or permissions and your files and disks aren't too large, FAT32 might work
  1060. for you.</p>
  1062. <h3>FAT32</h3>
  1064. <p><a href="">FAT32</a> is often the filesystem of choice for flash drives and smaller
  1065. media.  Windows, OSX, and Linux all have native support for it.  It can
  1066. span filesystems up to 2TB in its default configuration and up to 16TB or
  1067. so if you tweak its block size.  It cannot support files larger than 4GB,
  1068. nor does it include support for file ownership and permissions.  Its
  1069. support for filenames longer than eight characters plus a three character
  1070. extension is something of a hack.  It's not case-sensitive (though it does
  1071. preserve case).</p>
  1073. <p>Basically, FAT32's biggest strength is its cross-platform support.  In
  1074. most other areas it falls down when compared to more modern filesystems.</p>
  1076. <h3>NTFS</h3>
  1078. <p><a href="">NTFS</a> is a bit nicer than FAT32 in many ways.  It supports filesystems
  1079. up to 16EB in size, and you can fill all of that space with a single file,
  1080. if you want.  (In other words, there's effectively no limit on file size
  1081. other than the size of the containing filesystem.)  Filenames can be up to
  1082. 255 characters long, just like other modern filesystems.  NTFS supports
  1083. POSIX-compatible file ownership and permissions, hard and soft links,
  1084. case-sensitivity, and sparse files, all of which which make it a lot more
  1085. interoperable with Unix than FAT32.</p>
  1087. <p>Its main drawback is that it's proprietary and what support exists has
  1088. been reverse-engineered.  Windows supports NTFS, since it came from
  1089. Microsoft originally, back to Windows 2000 and Windows NT 3.5.  Max OSX
  1090. has had native read-only support since 10.3 (Panther).  Linux can read and
  1091. write NTFS volumes via <a href="">NTFS-3G</a>, which runs in userspace (via FUSE).
  1092. NTFS-3G doesn't give tremendous performance when accessing SATA or SAS
  1093. disks, but modern hardware is more than capable of keeping up with
  1094. USB-attached disks.  (At least for USB 2.0; I haven't done comparisons
  1095. with USB 3.0 hosts and disks.)</p>
  1097. <h3>exFAT</h3>
  1099. <p><a href="">exFAT</a> is an attempt to extend the aging FAT family (FAT12/FAT16/FAT32)
  1100. to support larger files.  Its size limits are somewhat crazy:  maximum
  1101. recommended filesystem size is 512TB (though it can theoretically go up to
  1102. 64ZB); maximum file size is 127PB.  Like FAT32, it does not support file
  1103. ownership or permissions, hard or soft links, or sparse files, and it's
  1104. case-preserving but not case-sensitive.  Many of the unsupported features
  1105. aren't completely necessary in a lot of USB drive use-cases, so their
  1106. absence isn't an immediate strike against it.</p>
  1108. <p>The main problem with exFAT is that it's not just proprietary (like NTFS)
  1109. but patented.  It's supported natively from Windows Vista on (and Windows
  1110. XP can be patched for support) and in OSX 1.6.5 (Snow Leopard) and later,
  1111. but Linux support is currently very shaky and difficult to distribute
  1112. because of the patents.  Even if Linux support were not a factor, the fact
  1113. that only relatively new OSes have support for exFAT would disqualify it
  1114. from consideration in many situations.</p>
  1116. <h3>UDF</h3>
  1118. <p><a href="">UDF</a> is something of a dark horse in this space.  It was originally
  1119. designed as a general-purpose, portable filesystem.  It's only really seen
  1120. adoption, though, as the filesystem used on DVDs and Blu-Ray disks.
  1121. Because it's used for DVDs, though, it's natively supported by all three
  1122. of the major desktop OSes: Windows (back to Windows 95), MacOS (back to OS
  1123. 9), and Linux (back to kernel 2.2).</p>
  1125. <p>Like FAT32, UDF can only have 2<sup>32</sup> blocks in its filesystem, so
  1126. it only goes up to 2TB filesystems with 512-byte blocks (which is what
  1127. hard drives would use; the UDF spec requires that the UDF block size match
  1128. the disk block size).  Like NTFS, though, its only limit on file size is
  1129. the size of the containing filesystem.  Also like NTFS, it supports POSIX
  1130. ownership, permissions, and metadata; ACLs; and hard and soft links, as
  1131. well as being case-sensitive.  It doesn't support sparse files.</p>
  1133. <p>It would seem that UDF would be the best choice for a portable filesystem:
  1134. it's natively supported in practically every OS and it supports most of
  1135. the features you'd want in a modern filesystem.  Unfortunately, OS bugs
  1136. hamper its usefulness.</p>
  1138. <p>Although Linux will read UDF filesystems with blocksizes other than 512
  1139. bytes (even though that's outside the official specification), Windows is
  1140. pickier and will only recognize conforming layouts with 512-byte blocks.
  1141. That immediately limits Windows to 2TB disks or smaller when using UDF.
  1142. Also, Windows expects UDF to span the entire disk, with no partitions, so
  1143. you can't even work around the size limitation by making multiple sub-2TB
  1144. partitions.</p>
  1146. <p>Linux, on the other hand, has had problems with UDF with 512-byte blocks.
  1147. It handles filesystems with 2KB blocks just fine, but you need to be
  1148. running relatively new kernels for the 512-byte blocks (required for
  1149. Windows compatibility) to work.  (Two problems I've run into are
  1150. <a href="">disks being reported full when they're not</a> and
  1151. <a href="">Linux not seeing UDF volume labels</a>.)</p>
  1153. <p>The Linux problems have been fixed, but only just this year.  Losing
  1154. compatibility with all older Linux systems knocks out one of the biggest
  1155. advantages that UDF has over NTFS.  In my case, I have RHEL 5 and 6
  1156. systems that aren't going to get these fixes for a really long time.
  1157. (Maybe by RHEL 5's 2017 EOL, assuming RHEL 7 includes all of the fixes.)</p>
  1159. <h3>ext[234]/HFS+</h3>
  1161. <p>There are also the native disk formats for Linux (the ext2/3/4 series) and
  1162. MacOS (HFS/HFS+).  While there's at least some support for accessing them
  1163. from other systems, that support is generally less robust than the NTFS-3G
  1164. project's work, so if you're going to require third-party support for
  1165. cross-platform access you might as well use NTFS.</p>
  1167. <h3>Other filesystems</h3>
  1169. <p>There are a lot of other filesystems out there.  Linux has native support
  1170. for quite a lot of them.  OSX and Windows don't.  In cases where
  1171. installing third-party drivers on OSX or Windows is an accepted
  1172. requirement, some other filesystem might be a good choice.  In my opinion,
  1173. though, NTFS, FAT32, maybe UDF, and possibly exFAT cover the filesystem
  1174. portability use-cases pretty well by themselves; it would have to be a
  1175. very specific set of circumstances for a different filesystem to be a
  1176. better choice than one of those four.</p>
  1177. ]]></content:encoded>
  1178.  </item>
  1180.  <item rdf:about="">
  1181.    <title>Dottie Gold-Humphreys, October 1999 - 9 December 2013</title>
  1182.    <link></link>
  1183.    <description>Less than five months after getting married and moving into an
  1184. apartment together, my wife, Becca, and I got a pair of cats...</description>
  1185.    <dc:subject>/General</dc:subject>
  1186.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold</dc:creator>
  1187.    <dc:date>2013-12-10T11:59-04:00</dc:date>
  1189.    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Less than five months after getting married and moving into an
  1190. apartment together, my wife, Becca, and I got a pair of cats.
  1191. They'd been with a friend of ours for about ten years, longer even
  1192. than she'd known her husband.  She and her husband loved them dearly
  1193. despite their cat allergies, but their two-year-old was turning out to
  1194. be allergic and was terrorizing the cats (as only a two-year-old can
  1195. do) to boot, so they were reluctantly looking for a new home for the
  1196. cats.  Thus it was that on January 31st, 2009, Becca and I took Nico
  1197. and Dottie to our apartment to live with us.</p>
  1199. <p>Once the cats got used to the apartment, they settled into distinct
  1200. roles.  Nico was used to getting his way with everything and tended to
  1201. crowd Dottie out when there was something he wanted.  We were always
  1202. worried about her getting enough food because even though we gave them
  1203. separate bowls she usually wouldn't eat until he'd finished.  Nico
  1204. would often eat so quickly that he'd immediately regurgitate some of
  1205. his food, which Dottie would promptly eat.  It was a little gross, but
  1206. we felt oddly comforted by it, because we knew Dottie was actually
  1207. eating something.  (We had Nico on a diet because he was 20 pounds
  1208. when he should have been about 15.  Dottie always seemed a little
  1209. scrawny at her 7 pounds.)</p>
  1211. <p>Nico was always the cat that would greet newcomers to the house and
  1212. aggressively demand attention, but Dottie was Becca's special baby.
  1213. Dottie always seemed prim and dainty, especially when compared to the
  1214. more boisterous Nico.</p>
  1216. <p>Becca delights in nicknames for people, cats, cars, and probably other
  1217. entities too.  Nico and Dottie were no exception and went through a
  1218. plethora of names, including Small Cat, Muffin, Princess, and Sneezy
  1219. for Dottie.  "Princess Baby" was probably the most long-lived nickname
  1220. for her (as was "Fatty" for Nico).</p>
  1222. <p>In February 2011, Nico developed kidney cancer and that April we made
  1223. the difficult decision that it was time to let him go.  Dottie mourned
  1224. Nico for a time--at least it seemed that way.  She was even more
  1225. withdrawn than usual and I think she missed his presence in some sense
  1226. or other.  Eventually, though, she blossomed in a way that she had
  1227. never done around him.  She became more confident around the house;
  1228. she hid under things a lot less; and she was a lot more comfortable
  1229. around other people.  For all that we loved Nico, I think Dottie was a
  1230. lot happier by herself.</p>
  1232. <p>Both Dottie and Nico had had renal problems for pretty much their
  1233. entire lives.  When we got them, we continued their diet of
  1234. kidney-friendly food (high in calories, low in protein) and we had
  1235. bloodwork run on them periodically to make sure they were doing okay.
  1236. The bloodwork measured levels of substances that the kidneys should be
  1237. removing from the blood.  For both cats, those levels were always
  1238. higher than what a cat should normally have, but they never worsened
  1239. into areas that would be problematic.</p>
  1241. <p>Until a couple of months ago.  I forget now what particular symptom
  1242. prompted the vet visit, but while we were there they ran her bloodwork
  1243. and her creatinine levels had spiked, indicating a decrease in kidney
  1244. function.  At the vet's recommendation, we started administering
  1245. subcutaneous fluids to help flush out her system and compensate for
  1246. the lost kidney capacity.  We had done this with Nico, and he had been
  1247. easy to handle.  He seemed to enjoy the attention, even though we were
  1248. sticking him with needles on a regular basis.  (One vet tech told us
  1249. that he was the only cat she'd seen who didn't react at all when she
  1250. took his temperature rectally.)  Dottie was a lot less happy about the
  1251. fluids.  Although she eventually became more accustomed to them, she
  1252. never liked the process and it took both of us to hold her while we
  1253. were administering them.</p>
  1255. <p>The fluids plus a few pills to also supplement her kidney function
  1256. held her for a month or so and seemed sustainable; we'd be doing them
  1257. for the rest of her life, but it seemed likely that they'd be able to
  1258. sustain her for some time to come while preserving her quality of
  1259. life.</p>
  1261. <p>In November we moved into a new house.  I was worried that Dottie
  1262. would be disoriented by the change and would be unhappy with the new
  1263. house, especially since there were stairs and she was starting to look
  1264. a little arthritic in her back legs.  She took to the house
  1265. surprisingly well, however.  She seemed happy to go up and down the
  1266. stairs and explore everything in the place.  Unfortunately, we
  1267. discovered fleas several days after moving in.  Most of the house has
  1268. hardwood floors, but we fogged the entire place (spending several
  1269. hours with Dottie in the old apartment) and put flea powder down on
  1270. the carpets.  We kept Dottie in our bedroom while the flea powder was
  1271. down.</p>
  1273. <p>After about a week at the new house (and about three weeks ago),
  1274. Dottie stopped eating.  She'd gone through phases of not eating in the
  1275. past and we had an appetite stimulant on hand for times when it went
  1276. on for more than a couple of days.  Correspondingly, after a couple of
  1277. days, we gave one to her.  It didn't appear to have any effect.  We
  1278. thought she might not have gotten it (sometimes she managed to make us
  1279. think she took her pills but would spit them out later), so we waited
  1280. three days (the minimum dose window) and gave her another.  When
  1281. <em>that</em> one also had no effect, we started syringe-feeding her and we
  1282. took her to the vet as soon as we could.  The vet found that she was
  1283. very anemic--another side effect of the kidney dysfunction--and
  1284. prescribed an injection that would fill in for the
  1285. red-blood-cell-creation function of the kidneys.</p>
  1287. <p>After about a week on the injection, Dottie started recovering.  She
  1288. started becoming more energetic and she started eating again.  We were
  1289. administering a lot of treatments at that point, but it seemed likely
  1290. that once she recovered more we could stop some of them and go back to
  1291. just the handful of maintenance treatments.</p>
  1293. <p>In the last couple of days, though, her appetite dropped off again.
  1294. We attributed this to one of the supplemental (and bad-tasting) drugs
  1295. we were giving her, so we decided to just stop that one.  It was for
  1296. nausea relief and she was already on a couple other things with the
  1297. same effects.  Sunday night she seemed to be wheezing a bit but was
  1298. otherwise about the same as she had been, so we just figured we'd
  1299. mention the wheezing when we took in for her scheduled vet visit on
  1300. Wednesday.</p>
  1302. <p>On Monday morning Becca and I woke up, showered, got dressed, gave
  1303. Dottie her pills, syringe-fed her a bit, wished her goodbye, and went
  1304. to work.  When we came home that evening, she was dead.</p>
  1306. <p>Our vet is of the opinion that, given everything that we know, she
  1307. probably went peacefully.  That gives a little consolation, as does
  1308. the fact that we'd been deliberately spending time with her--carrying
  1309. her out to the couch to sit with us as we ate, talked, and watched
  1310. TV--but we never really said goodbye, because we really didn't expect
  1311. this so soon.  We thought the treatments we were giving her would hold
  1312. her for at least a few weeks, by which point we'd be able to tell
  1313. whether she'd be able to recover from the most immediately-threatening
  1314. symptoms like the anemia.  We figured we'd be in store for a difficult
  1315. decision about what would be best for her at that point, but we really
  1316. expected her to live until then.</p>
  1318. <p>So this is the best I can do for now: Goodbye, Dottie.  You were our
  1319. princess baby and you were a special and unique cat.  We will miss you
  1320. and you will remain special to us for the rest of our lives.</p>
  1321. ]]></content:encoded>
  1322.  </item>
  1324.  <item rdf:about="">
  1325.    <title>Pride and Prejudice and Zombies</title>
  1326.    <link></link>
  1327.    <description>As most people are by now aware, Pride and
  1328. Prejudice and Zombies is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's
  1329. classic that adds a plague of zombies to the book's setting and plot...</description>
  1330.    <dc:subject>/Books</dc:subject>
  1331.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold</dc:creator>
  1332.    <dc:date>2013-10-22T20:07-04:00</dc:date>
  1334.    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>As most people are by now aware, <a href="" class="booktitle">Pride and
  1335. Prejudice and Zombies</a> is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's
  1336. classic that adds a plague of zombies to the book's setting and plot.</p>
  1338. <p>I have to say that while I was looking forward to the book, its
  1339. execution left me wanting.  The zombie storyline feels like a veneer
  1340. laid over the original storyline in a way that doesn't really add much
  1341. to that original story.  I feel like the zombies are just a gimmick
  1342. that don't hold up for an entire book.  Pretty much the only thing
  1343. that kept me reading was my love for the original story, which remains
  1344. mostly unchanged beneath the zombie veneer.</p>
  1346. <p>Seth Grahame-Smith has recharacterized several of the people, mostly
  1347. making them more violent and bloodthirsty--Elizabeth is a
  1348. Chinese-trained "master of the deadly arts", and Lady Catherine is a
  1349. noted zombie slayer with an entourage of ninjas--but everyone takes
  1350. pretty much the same actions and ends up in the same places.  At least
  1351. one character becomes a zombie and is killed, but not until after her
  1352. presence in the original plot is finished.  I think this sameness is
  1353. what led me not to really engage with Grahame-Smith's additions: the
  1354. original was a deliciously sarcastic commentary on 19th century people
  1355. of wealth layered in with a genuinely compelling story of the
  1356. development of characters' personal relationships<sup>1</sup>.  The
  1357. zombie additions don't change the story enough to make a statement of
  1358. their own, but they do serve to obscure some of the themes and
  1359. characterizations of the original, so their presence is a net
  1360. negative.</p>
  1362. <p>All in all, I probably would have been better off just reading <em>Pride
  1363. and Prejudice</em> again.</p>
  1365. <p><sup>1</sup> One of the great things about <em>Pride and Prejudice</em> is
  1366. that it's pretty feminist-friendly.  Sure, it's a tale of two people
  1367. who take a long time and a lot of minsunderstandings to finally come
  1368. together and realize their True Love(tm), but two of the things I've
  1369. always appreciated about it are: 1) Elizabeth is given agency to
  1370. choose her own path in life and 2) the reason it's okay that they end
  1371. up together is that when she tells Darcy what her issues are with him,
  1372. he <em>listens</em>.  How often does that happen in popular love stories?</p>
  1373. ]]></content:encoded>
  1374.  </item>
  1376.  <item rdf:about="">
  1377.    <title>Org-Mode and Project Overviews</title>
  1378.    <link></link>
  1379.    <description>I recently started a new job and my new manager wanted me to give him a
  1380. periodically-updated task list showing what I was working on, its
  1381. progress, and any deadlines I had...</description>
  1382.    <dc:subject>/Geekery</dc:subject>
  1383.    <dc:creator>Phil Gold</dc:creator>
  1384.    <dc:date>2012-11-09T09:56-04:00</dc:date>
  1386.    <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>I recently started a new job and my new manager wanted me to give him a
  1387. periodically-updated task list showing what I was working on, its
  1388. progress, and any deadlines I had.  I like Emacs' <a href="">Org Mode</a>, so
  1389. I set out to set up something in Org Mode that worked for both of us.
  1390. This is my story.</p>
  1392. <p>In general, I want to have a main directory for my files and, within that
  1393. directory, use a separate file for each distinct project I work on.  My
  1394. manager wanted to easily see project progress via milestones, so each
  1395. level-1 heading represents a milestone, while the deeper headings are more
  1396. fluid and are more for my benefit than his.  It was pretty easy to set up
  1397. HTML publishing from the Org file directory to a web server, so my manager
  1398. could browse through the details of my org files.</p>
  1400. <p>My manager also, however, wanted to see an overview page with sections for
  1401. current, future, and recently-past projects, with detail lines for the
  1402. milestones on current projects.  That proved to be the trickiest thing to
  1403. implement:  since I dislike repeating myself, I wanted as much of the
  1404. "current project status" part of the overview to be automatically
  1405. generated from the individual project files, including any milestone
  1406. deadlines but ignoring all of the more minor details.</p>
  1408. <p>Org Mode is big, so I spent a while reading through the manual about
  1409. custom agenda views and such until I stumbled on the <code>C-c / d</code> key
  1410. sequence, which folds all the file's subheadings and displays any
  1411. deadlines on the level-1 headings.  In combination with <code>C-c C-e v Spc</code>,
  1412. which exports only the visible portions of the current buffer to a new
  1413. org-mode buffer, I was able to create an org-mode formatted project
  1414. overview.  Thus, my general overview page (named so it becomes
  1415. index.html during publishing) looks something like this:</p>
  1417. <pre><code>* Active Projects
  1419. ** [[][Project 1 Description]]
  1420.   DEADLINE: &lt;2012-11-16 Fri&gt;
  1421. #+INCLUDE: "project-1.org_overview" :minlevel 2
  1423. ** [[][Project 2 Description]]
  1424.   DEADLINE: &lt;2012-11-30 Fri&gt;
  1425. #+INCLUDE: "project-2.org_overview" :minlevel 2
  1427. * Future Projects
  1429. ** [[][Project A Description]]
  1430. ** [[][Project B Description]]
  1432. * Recently Completed Projects
  1434. ** [2012-11-01] [[][Project X Description]]
  1435. </code></pre>
  1437. <p>I added a few CSS tweaks at the top of the file to better fit
  1438. its purpose.  Mostly, they just put related things closer together and
  1439. deemphasize some of the extra information on the page:</p>
  1441. <pre><code>#+OPTIONS:   H:2 num:nil toc:nil tasks:t
  1442. #+STYLE: &lt;style&gt;
  1443. #+STYLE: .outline-3 h3 {
  1444. #+STYLE:   margin-bottom: 0;
  1445. #+STYLE: }
  1446. #+STYLE: .outline-text-3 p {
  1447. #+STYLE:   margin: 0;
  1448. #+STYLE: }
  1449. #+STYLE: .outline-4 {
  1450. #+STYLE:   line-height: 0.5em;
  1451. #+STYLE: }
  1452. #+STYLE: .outline-text-4 {
  1453. #+STYLE:   font-size: 0.75em;
  1454. #+STYLE: }
  1455. #+STYLE: .outline-4 h4 {
  1456. #+STYLE:   margin-bottom: 0;
  1457. #+STYLE: }
  1458. #+STYLE: &lt;/style&gt;
  1459. </code></pre>
  1461. <p>I also wrote the following two elisp functions.  The first one generates
  1462. the overview file for a given buffer, while the second looks through a
  1463. buffer for included overview files and regenerates all of them.</p>
  1465. <pre><code>(defun org-export-overview (file)
  1466.  (save-window-excursion
  1467.    (find-file file)
  1468.    (org-check-deadlines org-deadline-warning-days)
  1469.    (org-export-visible ?\  0) ; calls switch-to-buffer-other-window
  1470.    (write-file (concat file "_overview"))
  1471.    (kill-buffer)))
  1473. (defun org-export-overviews-for (buffer-or-name)
  1474.  (let ((plan-dir (file-name-directory (buffer-file-name (get-buffer buffer-or-name)))))
  1475.    (with-current-buffer buffer-or-name
  1476.      (save-excursion
  1477.        (goto-char 1)
  1478.        (while (re-search-forward "^#\\+INCLUDE: +\"\\(.*\\)_overview\"" nil t)
  1479.          (org-export-overview (concat plan-dir (match-string 1))))))))
  1480. </code></pre>
  1482. <p>Finally, I wrote a simple function that goes through all the stuff I need
  1483. to publish my org files and I call that hourly, so my manager can see my
  1484. current project status at pretty much any time with no manual steps on my
  1485. part:</p>
  1487. <pre><code>(defun pmg-org-publish ()
  1488.  (org-save-all-org-buffers)
  1489.  (org-export-overviews-for "")
  1490.  (org-publish-all))
  1492. (run-at-time "00:45" 3600 'pmg-org-publish)
  1493. </code></pre>
  1495. <p>All I need to do is periodically update as I add or complete
  1496. projects, and the rest of my work is done, as it normally is, in the
  1497. project files.  Thanks, Org Mode!</p>
  1498. ]]></content:encoded>
  1499.  </item>
  1502. </rdf:RDF>
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