Nostalgic Instruction

I used to record my flights with a GoPro camera so that I could go back and debrief myself without having to rely on in-flight notes. I always enjoyed watching the videos after each flight, taking in sights and sounds I had missed while aviating and navigating. The videos allowed me to be a passive passenger on my own flights.

The pandemic put a squeeze on my flying. Now that I’m preparing preparing for a Biennial Flight Review, my old flying videos are proving helpful once again as my old self is serving as a teacher to my current self.

Chef

I enjoyed Jon Favreau’s 2014 film about a chef who abandons his job at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant to rediscover his love of cooking by opening a food truck in Miami. It’s a “get back to basics” story that was well-executed but flew fairly low under the radar. Austinites will appreciate several scenes shot around the city. Brisket makes an appearance courtesy of Aaron Franklin.   

Time Machine vs Migration Assistant

I spent much of last weekend restoring my father-in-law’s MacBook Pro, which had stopped receiving updates and was acting out in strange ways following a small-town repair tech’s ill-fated attempt to service it. 

The situation called for a complete erase and reinstall of macOS, followed by a series of updates to bring the machine current with macOS Big Sur. 

Backing up and restoring a Mac has gotten a lot easier thanks to iCloud, but there may be occasions when you need to restore files, settings and media from a backup drive. 

Migration Assistant 

Migration Assistant is an app that lives in the macOS Utilities folder. 

Migration Assistant is more complicated than other backup methods since it requires you to already be on a Mac that has been set up, and accordingly, already on a new user account. Long story short, it can be complicated to migrate an “old” user account over to a “new” account. Migration can easily unravel, resulting in duplicated or missing files and accounts. Migration Assistant has always been complicated and frustrating tool for me.

Time Machine 

Time Machine is Apple’s go-to backup and snapshot app that provides a smoother experience. Simply use Time Machine for regular backups, including just before you want to restore your Mac. Once backed up, erase and update your Mac to the latest OS, then plug in the external drive associated with your Time Machine backup and select while files, profiles and settings you want.

It couldn’t be any easier. 

Bradley Koda, the Parts Seller Keeping Atari Machines Alive

Via Vice:

Among Atari fans, Best is almost as famous for ignoring and blacklisting badly behaved customers as it is for selling Atari parts. A first attempt to buy from Best Electronics is a sink-or-swim proposition: learn the rules, or accept your fate.

Every purchase from Best Electronics requires personal interaction with Koda. Although he’s fond of using the editorial “we,” he is a one-man operation, and he doesn’t believe in automation. “We prefer to talk, Via E-Mail, Phone or E-FAX to our Atari customers, and make sure you getting the Right Atari Replacement Parts / Items the first time,” he explains on the Best website, in his inimitable prose style.

Koda is a monopolist, of a sort, but he’s no Jeff Bezos. Best Electronics has no virtual shopping cart, or any other Amazon-esque conveniences. The store’s website looks the same as it has since the early 2000s: it’s a lengthy, multicoloured text scroll, as if Jack Kerouac quit the novel-writing business (but not the benzedrine) and started typing about Atari.

Portable Generators

Like many Texas residents, I spent the middle of February 2021 sitting in the dark considering the purchase of a portable generator. 

The winter storm of 2021 was easy on our household –– we lost power for about 10 hours, most of which was overnight. Most of our local friends and colleagues were not as fortunate, and spent days and days without power and water.

Texas’ power grid has proven ineffective in extreme weather conditions; hurricanes, thunderstorms, and now ice are exposing how fragile the state’s power generation and distribution system is after more than 4 million Texas homes and businesses lost power, and more than 50 Texans lost their lives.  

So last month I set out to find a generator, a purchase that required much more thought and planning than I had ever anticipated. 

For anyone considering a generator purchase, here are my recommendations on how to approach it.

Consider Your needs, Then Calculate Running Wattage 

Portable generators come in a wide range of wattages, or energy output. Identify your electrical needs by listing which of your appliances you’ll want to run during an outage. In our case, I want to be able to operate a refrigerator, a backup chest freezer, several lights, a coffee maker, mobile devices and a television and cable box for up to three days. Crosscheck your list of desired appliances against this chart to tabulate your total wattage needs. 

If you underestimate, you’ll spend a power outage unplugging and plugging appliances to properly balance your electricity. Overestimate your wattage, and you’ll unnecessarily burn fuel to generate watts you’re not using. 

Inverter vs Conventional Generators

In short, inverter generators are safer for electronic devices by producing “cleaner” electricity. They also tend to be more fuel-efficient and quieter. Those benefits come at a premium. Conventional generators are larger and less expensive. 

Generator Fuel Types 

Generators run on different types of fuel. You’ll have the choice to run a generator on gasoline, propane or your home’s natural gas supply. Careful consideration should be given to what fuel you’ll want to have on hand during a storm, as well as what fuel is most available in your area during an emergency. Propane is very stable and has a long shelf life, whereas gasoline requires a stabilizer and can be dangerous and ineffective if not properly stored. Propane tends to burn “clean” and is less harsh on your generator’s engine. Many generators are dual-fuel or even tri-fuel, giving you an option of fuel types. 

Sound Levels

Consider your tolerance for noise. Generators are loud. Imagine having a gas lawnmower running in your backyard for several hours or even several days. Generator product descriptions typically include sound output as measured in decibels. 

Power and Run Time

How many hours will a generator run under a particular electrical load? Manufacturers typically publish run times in their product descriptions. Consideration should be given to how long you think you’ll need to run a generator and how much fuel you’ll have on hand. 

Portability 

Portable is a relative term. There are many uses for a portable generator other than emergency home backup. Tailgating, camping and backyard projects come to mind. 

Other Considerations

Buy proper, outdoor-rated extension cables that allow you to run a generator at least 20 feet from your home. Under no circumstances should a generator be operated in or even near a home or garage. 

Generator engines, much like airplanes and cars, need to be operated regularly to stay healthy. Plan on running your generator at least once every two months. 

Pay special attention to your generator’s break-in period, a fixed time the manufacturer recommends you run a generator under light load to flush out metal contamination, circulate oil and lubricate cylinder walls. 

A generator is an engine that generators electricity. Electricity and water do not mix. Generators should not be operated in rain or snow. Consider purchasing a high-quality generator enclosure or tent that will allow you to run it in wet, snowy and rainy conditions. 

My Shortlist of Best Portable Generators by Price Point

Champion DH 4000-Watt Recoil Start Gas and Propane Dual Fuel Powered Open frame Inverter Generator with 224 cc Engine

Honda EU2200i, 2200-Watt Remote Stop/Recoil Start Bluetooth Super Quiet Gasoline Powered Inverter Generator with Advanced CO Shutdown

Firman 1600W Running / 2000W Peak Gasoline Powered Inverter Generator

Champion Power Equipment 200915 1500/1200-Watt Portable Generator, CARB