American Gods

American Gods

I’ve been very much enjoying American Gods on Amazon Prime. It’s been a few years since I read Neil Gaiman’s book, but the adaptation seems incredibly accurate to the point where I feel like I’m having flashbacks to reading it. From my understanding the first season is only a fraction of the book, so there’s plenty of time to fill the story out.

Here’s a clip from the latest episode, Lemon Scented You, in which Gillian Anderson appearing as Bowie convinces someone to change their image.

Later on, appearing as Marilyn Monroe, she blows a kiss that slices someone’s lips off. If you’ve not seen the show, or read the book, then strap in – it’s quite a ride.

Zhiyun Z1 Smooth C Gimbal

I generally don’t take much video – compared to taking photos I find it boring and laborious. Even though there’s a big red record button on my camera I just forget to press it.

After returning from a big trip last year I realised I had no video. Literally nothing at all. A year later I’m regretting that and decided I should take more. I’m not talking about making movies here, just simple home documentary videos.

One of my dislikes about home video is shakiness and so when I came across the Zhiyun gimbal it spiked my interest. After a few months of indecision I decided to get one for a vacation.

It should be noted this is a gimbal for a mobile phone, and not for a DSLR. My iPhone takes 4k video of a sufficient quality for my needs, and the gimbal itself is small and packable.

I’ve been really happy with the results. Splicing together a video from non-gimbal and gimbal footage shows such a big difference. Video is smooth and, dare I say it, cinematic. I’ve found myself watching recordings in much the same way you get sucked into watching YouTube.

It doesn’t completely eliminate vibrations, of course. Walking results in a gentle but very watchable sway.

Caveats? Sometimes you need to fight the gimbal to get it pointing in the right direction, and sometimes it can bounce between two points if you happen to keep moving between whatever threshold triggers a pan.

Overall though it’s a huge improvement for my home video and I’m sure I’ll be recording much more.

Now to figure out an easier way to edit it all together. Also maybe something for better audio.

A clockwork tortoise, a magic tree, and The Beano

A clockwork tortoise, a magic tree, and The Beano

I’m not usually one for sentimentality. Most of the things from my childhood have been thrown away, lost, or have otherwise disappeared along the way.

Saying that, while digging through boxes I came across some old books. These are books that are old enough, or memorable enough, to have survived the great Kindle purge of the early 2010s.

I thought it would be fun to show a few here.

First up is Johnny The Tin Tortoise.


Continue reading “A clockwork tortoise, a magic tree, and The Beano”

Using pv to view the progress of dd

If you use dd for any kind of copying you’ll know how it’s not exactly forthcoming with information and it’s hard to tell if it’s doing anything.

Some versions of dd have a status=progress parameter that will output progress information. Sadly this doesn’t exist on the native MacOS version.

An alternative way of showing progress information is to use pv (or pipe viewer).

First install it with brew:

brew install pv

Then wedge pv between reading from the dd source and writing to the dd output.

For example, you might write a Raspberry Pi image to an SD card with:

dd if=retropie.img of=/dev/rdisk4

Using pv you break this into the input and output parts and put pv in the middle:

dd if=retropie.img | pv | dd of=/dev/rdisk4

Sudo needs to be added to both calls to dd:

sudo dd if=retropie.img | pv | sudo dd of=/dev/rdisk4

Telling pv how much data you are transferring allows it to provide better information, and you can do this with the -s flag. In this instance the amount of data is the size of the input image, so:

sudo dd if=retropie.img | pv -s `stat -f%s retropie.img` | sudo dd of=/dev/rdisk4

And what is the result of this? You get to see the progress! Useful if you’re transferring a large amount of data.



There’s another new toy from Facebook, this time called Yarn. Here’s how it went for me:

  1. Installed yarn with brew install yarn
  2. Typed yarn in my project directory
  3. Waited a while
  4. Committed changes to git

All very easy. I’ve not yet experienced any of the benefits of yarn, but that’s probably just a question of time.

A Blog’s Weight

As a blog gets older it seems to become harder to publish anything new.

This may be a perception issue. In all likelihood it may just be my issue.

As you collect followers and likes you are more aware of your audience. You find yourself filtering ideas to appeal to this audience. What was once an easy process slows down.

Eventually you are mired in considerations and the blog seizes up. The effort required to write is more than you want to spend.

Is this photo good enough?

Is this topic interesting enough?

Are my witticisms in bad taste or make any sense?

Do I know what I’m talking about?

Is this insightful?

Do I want my colleagues to see this?

The blog’s weight becomes too much.

This is not specific to a blog and applies to other services. My attempts to use Facebook were aborted from the start as I’d somehow gathered a collection of friends, family, and colleagues, and just didn’t want to publish anything to all of them at the same time.

Anyway, new blog, new posts.