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Track Maritime Ship Traffic Online
WWW justneat
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Everyone knows that you can track airlines online -- there are several websites for that. But did you know you can also track ships? Here's a website that lets you key in any port (feel free to do it by city name if your city has one) and bring up a map of all the live ship traffic.

Ship tracker by

You can click on each ship icon to bring up specific information about that ship or maritime craft. It's a nice way to kill a few minutes if you're a maritime aficionado.

Unfortunately I've yet to find one that does as equally a thorough job for trains -- though Amtrak will allow you to track its own trains specific routes in a similar way (I note that it's unclear how to actually use the Amtrak web service, but this private version of the same seems to actually work).

Wilkes-Barre Broke
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Wilkes-Barre went broke this week. Here's the Times Leader and Citizens Voice coverage.

Technically it didn't go bankrupt broke, but in filing for Act 47 Distressed City status to avoid just that sort of thing from happening, bankruptcy was on the horizon.

Mayor Tony George completed the paperwork and sent it to the Department of Community and Economic Development. Now, basically, everyone sits back and waits for the State to begin running city finances.

If the State agrees that is.

Everyone's sexiest conversation right now is how this happened. The anti-taxers (of which consists of both Democrats and Republicans in Wilkes-Barre; the city has been too poor for so long that political identifcation along any philisophical validation of the tax concept has been blended away -- to me, everyone sounds like a fiscal conservative) say that too many people work in local government and have it too good. The city leaders blame union inflexibilities and lack of support from city council members.

To some degree I blame the times, and lack of imagination. Wilkes-Barre has been perpetually on the decline since my childhood such that hitting bottom now, it actually feels kind of good . Now everyone can stop pretending that there are enough people to pay for city services living in or working in Wilkes-Barre. Finally something creative and tangible might be done to fix that.

Like, a modern rail project for example. Like a push for consolidation of many local townships and boroughs into the city proper. The establishment of a countywide sheriff patrol (more a county level baliwick, sure, but the overall composition counts), and the overhaul of Wilkes-Barre itself to specifically connect to New York City and Philadelphia as a sort of bedroom community or education center for either.

As new transit solutions evolve and the cost of living in those cities continue to rise, there's no reason Wilkes-Barre cannot begin to poise itself as a center point between the two regions, and get out of the business of always relying on government grants for this or that to get by.

Great (Rick) Scott!
tamparail video
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The Tampa Historic Streetcar Board met on the 20th and the bulk of this meeting was a stand up report by HART Interim Director Jeff Seward regarding the stunning development that the Teco Line Streetcar would be fare-free for a whopping three years.

Here's the video embed of that meeting that starts with Seward's presentation.

Jeff Seward explains to the Tampa Historic Streetcar Board 
the details of the streetcar system's upcoming 3 year 
free-fare period.

The free-fare period will likely begin in October of this year and is possible through a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant aimed at, among other things, exposing user preference for the streetcar and setting up for a more solid argument toward the development of a modern system similar to one already operating in Kansas City.

Seward is careful to pause over the point that the grant had to be, and, obviously was, approved by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

So, this is the second time this week that we are hearing about Rick Scott's sudden involvement in turning Tampa into a transit rail town. First with a push to put a high(er) speed commuter rail system in the city, and now with a grant that will almost certainly prove a point that will then lead to Tampa's own "light" light rail system in the form of a modern streetcar. If this strange twist of pattern continues, I am going to believe it completely possible to find Scott showing up in Tampa to build a rail system himself.

Yeah it's gotta be politics. Scott wants to be a Senator or something, or maybe President (which makes him the sane choice if it ever comes down to him or Trump). Or, more positively speaking, it may be a legitimate recognition that with the eastern half of Florida well on its way, it's time to finally balance the State's investment in transportation choice by finally, finally , paying attention to the western half. All of this bodes extremely well, suddenly, for Tampa commuter rail and light rail.

The free-fare period is a ... "fair" ... way to ask the question of whether or not people are willing to use the system for serious transportation, given both economic and physical friction-free access to it. The fares aren't just going away, so is the entire fare process and even the onboard fare equipment . As near as I can tell that will make the system a simple "step aboard" one, from the designated stops of course.

It's important research because indeed, modern streetcar systems are volatile. Ft. Lauderdale's planned system has been stopped (there was a limit on how much they were willing to spend for it and the cost estimates began exceeding that) and in Atlanta, who went from free to charging $1.00 on its system, is now struggling with ridership big time (loosely analyzed, the line is too short and operates in mixed traffic -- Tampa's system does not). Therefore a demonstration on solid footing will be sure to put any future Tampa system on par with the successes such as Portland or Kansas City.

Brighting Past Wrongs
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The guy who dashed the nation's first true high speed rail connection in the country between Tampa and Orlando made headlines today by being the same guy who is now facilitating high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando.

In a nutshell, Governor Rick Scott, in what some are regarding as an expense-free political ploy, is now behind efforts to let a private company build a line. The argument being made for this about-face is that unlike the package he killed upon taking office in 2011, he is backing a private industry approach, similar to the Brightline model currently in play on Florida's eastern coast.

Here's the key gist from Scott's posted announcement.

Picture of Florida Governor Rick ScottGovernor Scott said, “This is an exciting opportunity for Orlando, Tampa and our entire state. When I became Governor, the Obama administration was trying to use federal taxpayer dollars to pay for a rail connection that had an extremely high risk of overspending taxpayer dollars with no guarantee of economic growth. This is exactly what we’re seeing in California, a state which took this bad deal from Obama, and in Connecticut where taxpayers had to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for their rail line. Instead of placing taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, our goal is for the private sector to invest in this project. Through private investment, we ensure that this major project has zero financial risk to Florida taxpayers.”

Personally I much appreciate this attitude - however six years later - that if you're going to cling to an ideological premise (even if I'm sure it's nuts), at least provide a solution by that ideological premise for what anyone otherwise agrees is a good thing. If Scott and his administration were really so foiled by the idea of a federally funded rail system, then it makes good sense to me that they welcome a system built within the private framework they so religously believe in.

I mean, the original rejection was still bat-shit crazy, and, seemingly reliant on "theories" of failure that flew in the face of studies about ridership at the time, not to mention the ultimate responsibility in the event of overruns (which were always to be on the private builders, much as they will be for any private company that builds today). The decision to not build had all the evidence of being pure politics then, just as the decision to build now does.

But really, if it means a rail terminus in Tampa at long last, Tampa Rail will not quibble. I've always known that political wind defines the rise and fall of these systems and long-time readers of TR in past iterations know that I've always preached a "holding out" strategy specifically in the event something like today's developments come to be. No effort to kill progress on transit rail, light, high speed, or otherwise, should ever be taken as permanent.

If I'm piecing the reports together right, the genesis of this renewed opportunity has to do with the reception of an "unsolicited proposal" from a private company seeking to use the same I-4 corridor that was put aside for the original federally funded project in 2011. It's this solicitation that serves to activate the entire process of high-speed-rail-procurement by the Florida Department of Transportation. And part of that activation is to open up bidding for 120 days for potential HSR builders to provide their proposals. is reporting that the opening activation bidder is in fact none other than Brightline, the nation's first private transportation rail operator in something like 100 years or so who, as mentioned above, is working on that new system on Florida's east coast (technically the system they are launching there is something people now comfortably refer to higher speed rail not "high speed rail"). Brightline has long been on record indicating their ambition to include Tampa and Orlando in their evolving network (note the blurb near the end of this article) so this should be no surprise to anyone.

PWAs Could Well Save the Web
pwa WWW development
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Could my assumption about the collapse of the WWW in the mobile era be completely wrong? It looks like Progressive Web Apps (PWA) may turn the ship around.

The concept is incredible -- and, it explains something I've never understood about Google's seemingly whimpy acquiescence to the fact that people weren't spending time on the web any more. Turns out, Google appears to have had a plan all along to fix that (or, just have a plan now ).

That plan is PWAs, web-based and web-hosted applications written in good old fashioned HTML. This guy pretty much explains it all well.

Explaining Progressive Web Apps and why everyone wants them.

The idea is that people "install" an "app" simply by visiting a website once and then in a manual or somewhat even automated process install a home screen shortcut to it. When the shortcut is tapped on moving forward it opens the PWA in such a way that it looks nothing like a web page and everything like a traditional mobile app.

Some Chrome browser engineering by Google (and in due course, Microsoft Edge) works in combination with the website to render most if not all the same functionality as a native app; a typical user cannot notice any difference although the early consensus is that PWAs are faster than native apps.

Not all smartphone hardware functionality can be replicated by a PWA but it seems most of the important and widespread ones can be, and right now we're only talking about the first generation.

PWAs don't restore the social browsing of the open WWW, people are still working one-to-one with their apps and not likely to jaunt about away from them. But Google's interest is more about keeping people on the web to keep web advertising tied to a healthy flow of web traffic. The Google Play store that you figure is a cash cow for them is evidently not as much in their financial interest as a thriving traditional WWW is.

So sure, granted, it is not about people web page hopping and clicking advertising banners like before 2008. But I see PWAs as a way to keep HTML and the concept of an open WWW alive so that publishers and more importantly, web developers, have cause to stick with the platform. If PWAs take off, the WWW isn't going anywhere.

For Microsoft, it means not being killed off by Android. In a PWA world they can continue to thrive, and, I wonder even, if PWAs were not actually on their mind when they decided to abandon Windows smartphones.

It's because of the World Wide Web's universality that makes PWAs a no-brainer. Companies don't have to front the cost of building dedicated iOS or Android applications and then suffer additional cost through endless bug and security fixes.

So, all this time perhaps, it was just trusting that the flexibility and open nature of the web would find its way into the economics of development philosophy. If all goes well the period between 2008 - 2019 will be regarded as nothing more than an era of flirtation with phone-side applications. Hallelujah!

Fault Tolerant Society Promotes Resilience
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Some people's response to a report that there isn't a single place in the U.S. where minimum wage pays for a modest 2 bedroom apartment is that people should not be in a position as a person where they come to having to live on minimum wage in the first place. That they make all the right choices for themselves and lead perfectly optimized lives.

Capture of CNN website report on minimum wage.

The problem with those people is that they're right, exactly right. Too right. Their sentiment is a problem because in any free society people, and I mean on the dominant scale, not the exceptions, are just not that optimized. People make mistakes, people fall to compulsions, people experiment with different lifestyles to their peril, people start with no learned information about life's true priorities and screw up their launch, and so on and so on and so on.

Yet, there is not a single world we want where somehow we control against all that to iron out the trouble caused by people who travel through their mistakes -- very possibly the entire point of their life if you believe in a higher process of any kind. A world that did that would be a dark one.

True you can't eliminate the stress and consequence of mistakes (where would the challenge be then?) but people can avoid preaching for a completely fault-free society, or a society that does not give a reasonable shot at individual resilience. And, most critically, people can avoid giving unjust social institutions a blank check nod because a more just system cannot be imagined.

Streetcar Modernization and Expansion Update
tamparail video
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Here's the YouTube of a presentation given to the Tampa Historic Streetcar board about a month ago regarding the streetcar modernization and expansion project. The full video of that meeting is posted here but my embed below cuts straight to the part to the presentation itself.

Steve Schucraft provides update on status of
the streetcar expansion/modernization effort.

Key Highlights

Don't be a slouch, watch the whole thing. But if you're in a hurry -- these things stuck out to me:

  • Phase I is complete, they've submitted a letter to the FTA for entry into project development (which is apparently to say, they formally put the evolving concept on their official may-one-day-be-funded-by-them radar - they hope to receive a letter in return that says the FTA recognizes the effort)
  • The study focuses exclusively on a one-seat ride from end to end. This means that the study does not take into consideration the possibility of mixing the current heritage streetcars with modern ones (an idea I personally liked, but, now that I understand that it might split rides between vehicles, gives me pause for obvious reasons)
  • An extension would serve an additional 5,500 residents and 16,000 jobs over the existing nostalgia system.

Capture of the presentation&qts Next Step slide

Click on image for larger viewable detail.

The prospects of an extension and modernization are exciting for Tampa, particularly those who live in the core. It is good to see both fronts being taken so seriously and with apparent stride.

Free At Last!
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So it looks like the Tecoline Streetcar system in Tampa is finally going to be a free ride. It's not "free" in the holistic sense -- the Florida Department of Transportation is basically footing the bill as part of an aligned strategy with Tampa to expose people's preference for smooth fixed guideway transportation while traversing Ybor, Channelside and the downtown. By exposing rider preference on a large scale the idea is to improve the case for Tampa's migration to a modern streetcar system.

Other factors beside fare price are important in exposing commuter preference, such as headway times, but the grant funding will improve that too. Rides will now be by every 15 minutes instead of 20.

I also imagine that with a dormant fare collection system boardings will be greatly sped up, meaning that all in all, the whole thing will just flow so much better.

A couple of years of this should be enough time to acclimate and fester demand for more fixed guideway which is crucial for the pursuit of funds to laterally transform the system from a nostalgia to a modern one which more resembles light rail but on a sort of mini-scale.

In fact, the Kansas City Streetcar, a modern one similar to that which Tampa is seriously pursuing, has been scott free to direct riders since it began and it is regarded by those looking on as a success.

Oh, on the heels of wrapping this entry up -- the Tampa Bay Times has expressed as much in their opinion.

What My Burglary Taught Me About Webcams
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Some visitors may have noticed that the Dave Cam image is stuck at 12:59 PM, May 9. (UPDATE: It's since been restored but the rest of this entry still counts).

That's because at exactly that time a burglar feverishly dismantled the Dave Cam operating apparatus, perhaps believing it to be part of a larger security camera presence that in actuality he never disabled.

It's a bit convoluted to explain but he then proceeded to steal another one of my old laptops and subsequently and apparently, and erroneously, took the power adapter used to power the Dave Cam. So, I have in short, been unable to start it back up even though the HP Netbook that hosts it is still with me.

The upshot is that the burglar now has a laptop computer he cannot power. In addition to stealing the wrong adapter for it, the laptop's battery died a long time ago, which is why it was left at home for his grubby hands in the first place. Without going through the trouble of fixing the battery and/or shopping around for a replacement adapter, that's one piece of equipment he will not be turning into cash. I'm happy something worthless took up space in his backpack as it likely meant less space for him to take something else.

Burglary Caught on Camera

You might wonder how I know he had a backpack. Well, in fact I did have a second camera system, and that camera system caught him perfectly.

Here he is entering my bedroom. It's like a Radio Shack in there so I'm pretty sure his heart fluttered.

By the way, you can click on this image or any of the others for a much larger version.

Picture of burglar entering bedroom.

Burglar opens bedroom door.  He's hit tech-heaven!

Picture of burglar in my bedroom.

Checking things out for the take.  Meanwhile, 
taking his picture.

You might think with these stunningly clear pictures (the latter picture is even better when it has been color corrected to dim down some of his shadow) that somehow an arrest would have been immediate. However, these many weeks later, I am still waiting to hear of any such thing. Not only is the lack of an arrest well after the fact somewhat anti-climatic, so was the actual response to the footage as it (almost) happened in realtime. In fact, all of this burgled-with-a-camera-system stuff woke me up to a few disappointing realities of the advantage that I think might be helpful to others who are thinking about setting up similar systems.

I am sure that these things can be used effectively against your burlgars, and may even be able to stop them in their tracks. But know these things first...

Respond to your Smartphone Alerts

These camera systems typically include a motion detection feature -- it's a major part of their value for guarding areas that are not subject to much "noise" movement such as in this case, my bedroom. These detections are then able to send an alert to your smartphone. But if you ignore your smartphone alerts, or don't hear them, you're doing nothing but collecting footage of the crime rather than being able to intercept it outright.

My failure to "intercept" based on a smartphone alert had more to do with my circumstances at the time rather than me ignoring them. Multiple alerts were sent to my phone as the guy was digging around my stuff, but as it happened, I was at work in a noisy section of the plant. I do have vibrations turned on but either my pants were too loose or the vibration wasn't cranked up enough, and I did not notice it while the phone was in my pocket.

I noticed the last alert only after taking out my phone for a work related matter. I knew immediately something was strange because I have two cameras. One is in our garage and can go off if the other house tenant or a cat walks through. I am never too alarmed to get an alert from it, even though it has in fact caught trespassers and bad guys clearly probing the garage to see what they might take.

However, I never get alerts from my bedroom. My particular camera system is pretty robust against shadows and sunlight movements in the room and I've gotten used to "set it and forget it", and never hearing from it. Seeing an alert then -- I had a bad feeling right from the get-go.

In fact, the first image I pulled up was one of the last images sent.

Picture of burglary aftermath.

Aftermath.  Our cat stands perplexed.

A later analysis showed that between the first and last pictures the burglar had spent 15 minutes in my space. Had I been cognizant of that very first alert, this would have most certainly been a law enforcement intercept -- and a very gratifying one at that. More on that in a moment though.

The lesson for this header is that you need to be attuned to your smartphone alerts. One major change after this event is that I specifically gave my camera system alerts a completely different notification sound from the phone's default. It's louder and it's distinct. I highly recommend the same approach in setting up your own system.

Also, in my day to day activities I am fortunate enough to have a sort of "free roaming" job role. I am not generally in a situation where I cannot respond to a phone alert as many other workers in many different work roles might. If you fall into that likely much larger bucket, you may wish to broaden the number of people who receive alerts. This takes recruitment of family members or enthusiastic other neighbors if you can do it, and maybe some drilling as to exactly what to do when an actual burglary takes place. That last part makes sense even if you are under liberal mobility rules since, as my own case highlights, even with the freedom to respond things can happen that tie you up. I simply have no one in my life who would stand the recruitment to enact this change, but maybe you do.

"Crime in Progress" Versus "Images of a Crime"

Believe it or not, the 9-1-1 dispatcher actually gave me a little push back on whether the crime was "in progress", as I announced it to be, or not, even though I mentioned "having video".

I used the phrase "I have video" very loosely which really wasn't a good idea. Understand that mixing the words "video" and "in progress" to a police dispatcher implies that one is watching the bad guy in realtime. That a crime is actually happening.

The mini-debate could have been resolved very easily by my careful parsing of what I actually had which was extremely fresh images of the burglary, not live video . Sure that's still "in progress" by most standards because it's reasonable to assume that with activity that fresh the bad guy could still be somewhere else on the property. Which was the case in this situation. This picture of him raiding our fridge shows he was in no particular hurry.

Picture of bad guy raiding the fridge in the kitchen.

Raiding the fridge after a hard day's raiding.

The police response "system" cares about this nuance because in such a case of live video they are going to call officers out on the spot, dropping whatever they might be doing at the time, to go and nab some bad-guy skin, which one imagines is a rare opportunity, particularly for burglaries.

I cut myself some slack here because as far as I knew at the time it was in realtime, even in referencing static images. In the frenzy to make that 9-1-1 call I hadn't noticed that the image I was reacting to was about 5 minutes old. When double-checked on the matter by the dispatcher, I put the phone on speaker and scrolled down to expose the other images, noting that in fact, yeah, all the pictures were actually minutes, minutes old. The dispatcher then muttered something like "okay, so not in progress" at which point I groaned.

By my timing of the events after the fact I am grateful to conclude that her remark did not seem to impact the dispatch time. The police were there within 5 minutes or so. That may have been helped by the GPS detection of my roommate being home at exactly the same time (we location share via Google) leading me to believe she may have been in trouble by the burlgar and thus a second 9-1-1 call to check her welfare. As it turned out she happened to have pulled in the driveway just as the bad guy was exiting the yard, thus explaining the GPS location. In fact, she could have been in danger but they apparently just shared eye contact as he swantered on by and down the street.

My advice on this point is to be precise about what you actually have when relaying to police based on your camera footage. Only describe "video" if in fact you are watching live video, or images, if images are in fact all that you have. At the same time, totally mention that those images are fresh images if they are, and point out the possibility the bad guy could still well be there. Assuming those are the facts of the unfolding situation that "split of hair" should satisfy any contention all the way around.

Call Police from a Different Phone

One thing that would have made that dispatch communication go much more smoothly for me would have been to make the 9-1-1 call from a different phone entirely than the same phone I was watching images from. I was around numerous landline phones and could have easily picked one up.

The advantage is that I would have been better able to reference the camera images (or, live video if I had thought to activate that feature) while still talking to the dispatcher. As it was, I had to pull the phone from my ear and attempt a clumsy (albeit successful) manuever to put the dispatcher on speaker. That was seconds lost and risked me losing the connection outright in the process.

My advice is to find a separate phone for the 9-1-1 call, or, if you can, access the camera on your work PC. Of course the latter is a little more difficult because these camera systems are more honed to work with your phone, which they assume is how you will both be alerted and interact with your system (remember my driving mantra at this blog, the WWW is dead to most of the commercial world).

It is critical to mention that you may receive a feed of your property being burgled while you are in a different city, county, or otherwise different police jurisdiction altogether. In that case, as I recently read somewhere, it is helpful to store the direct line number to your local police department if you can acquire it. 9-1-1 systems actually have conventional 7 digit telephone numbers behind them and it may be possible to ask your local 9-1-1 center what those numbers are so that you can dial direct if need be. If you are an alarm system subscriber with monitoring you can also call your alarm company to see if they have those numbers (they have to rely on the same method to call police if they monitor you out of state, so they have the numbers).

Make Sure You Know Your Camera's (and Your Level of Subscription's) Retention Policy

About two weeks after my burglary a detective called wanting to know if the pictures captured of the crime were timestamped -- they were going to try to correlate the times with yet another city based camera operating on my block to see if they could learn something from it. I had the pictures that I downloaded from my camera system but to my surprise the images were not directly time-stamped. Well, that was certainly a "flaw" of my camera system's manufacturer.

No problem though, they were stored "in the cloud" and I knew for a fact that they were stamped there as part of each image's presentation in the portal interface. However, in going to retrieve them for the umpteenth time that month I discovered that they had been deleted by the system! Abruptly, I was reminded that I didn't actually pay for their premium tier service, and, as such, they only kept my images for two weeks. Yikes!

So there are actually two issues here. Make sure your images are time stamped if it's an optional feature to toggle on (in my system, it does not appear to be), and second, realize that, time stamped or not, you need to download your footage as quickly as possible to avoid deletion by your camera service, assuming you are not paying additional monies to have them keep them longer. Even then, there is probably a time or capacity limit. Fine for most of the footage captured of nothing, but not when something actually happens.

Fortunately the detectives in this case were just looking to confirm the time so that they could research another camera's footage, not make a court case against an arrested suspect where proving his time and place might become a point of argue. I had that information well enough based on sheer memory (and, as mentioned at the start of all this, the timetamp of the last Dave Cam image).

Use Social Media....Maybe

Once you have footage of your burglary you are then free to share that media on social media. I will not offer advice here so much as I will remind that the option exists depending on your philosophy. It's not a "lesson learned" for me, as I am sure where I stood in this case.

In my case I understood two things immediately: For all the drama and potential for a more serious outcome, this was a petty-anny crime. Second, I also believed that the bad guy might still be circulating the neighborhood and thus "spottable" with my goods on him.

Both of these factors meant that, in the first place, I was not blowing some massive million-dollar police investigation that was never going to happen. If he wasn't caught in the act, and he wasn't caught down the street, this burglary was going to be just another stat on the map.

In the second place, by choosing to distribute my images on social media immediately (the Next Door social network to be precise), with the idea he might still be spottable, I was enlisting an entire fleet of neighbors who could by doing nothing more complicated than looking out their windows, spot the guy who had otherwise gotten away. Most Next Door subscribers get alerts of postings like mine on their smartphones so I was in fact bolo-ing them less than an hour after the fact. I informed dozens and dozens of eyes and ears before the responding officer was done writing up the report in his SUV.

Capture of my post to Next Door

It's true that that speed of notice did not result in a capture in this case, but I sure put the odds in my favor. I should also point out that timelieness aside, it also led to leads which I was then able to forward on to detectives. The guy had been spotted and even interacted with in the neighborhood in the days leading up to the crime.

Now, the police and actual law enforcement type people, might tell you not to immediately post to social media. And they are the experts, generally speaking. I would absolutely agree with this if the crime were more serious, had resulted in serious financial loss (it did not in this case), or where in any way shape or form the extra speedy notice to neighbors and friends online would not make a difference. In these cases, why blow the advantage of what you have on a suspect?

Still this could well wind up being a personal choice, though, barring absence of doubt, you'd probably be best doing what detectives tell you to do (or not do) with respect to your footage. In my case, I never asked, and they do not seem to have begrudged my decision one way or another.

My System

Finally, some people have inquired what system I am using inasmuch as they were extremely impressed by the image quality.

I use the Arlo By Netgear system. I forget the reasoning behind settling on them versus a more out-of-the-box solution like Ring or Nest -- Netgear is stuck in my mind as more of a networking/router company. I believe I may have just wanted apparatus compatible with my existing network system which, I think, had a Netgear piece on it somewhere. Or maybe it was just the only thing reasonable at the local Best Buy on the day of the whim I had to buy a system. I suffer from low emotional quotient, unfortunately, and still struggle to shop properly.

Still, many of the features and thus the advice based on my own experience here will apply to pretty much any system that you ultimately deploy yourself. This run at giving you my experience may just be my first pass as I have a few more things I'd love to express in follow up posts.

Blogs Consolidated
sitenews wbrail tamparail openness techcity
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I have gone ahead with an idea that I have been flirting with for a couple of months now (and, may have previously -- hard to tell with my admittedly erratic web strategy of years past), which is to consolidate my various other theme blogs with this one.

Specifically, these titles are now hosted in the same framework as that of my personal blog which is the one you are looking at right now:

  • Tampa Rail
  • Wilkes-Barre Rail
  • Openness
  • Tech for the City

Those titles will continue to have the very rare entries represented here at Dave the Web Guy and will be indexed by the category labels tamparail, wbrail, openness, and techcity.

I did this because the overhead of maintaining all those separate blogging presentations was diffusing a cohesive effort to keep my messaging active. Most these blog titles were languishing without fresh content and in turn the respective messages they attempted to deliver was taking a hit. If the flagship blogs aren't active it is too easy, in my summation, for visitors to assume the same about the causes themselves.

The messages are still important to me as is the ability to chronical their respective evolutions in a place that exists outside Twitter or Facebook. Turning these topics into category entries at my personal blog not only allows me to do so, it also restores the energy to my personal blog in the form of a single view overlooking the wide range of interests and causes that I have come to evangelize over the years.

In short, the topics are no longer interesting standing on their own, driven by a single personality, as much as my personality is maybe a little more interesting with direct visibility to the variety of topics that I behold. I look at it as maybe two publishing problems being solved.

There are custom domains that were pointed to the blogs I list above. They will now land here at equivalent custom "pages" that will continue to serve as their headquarters and where a timeline presentation of their individual evolutions will be displayed. Basically I will be taking the existing custom index pages that drove their previous blogs and migrating them one by one to this site. Here is how the one for OpennessOrg looks for example.

My only concern with this new approach is that it may render my personal blog here somewhat discombobulated or "disjointed" of its own message, which is to effectively bitch about the dying World Wide Web alongside issues in my personal life. One day I might be talking about how annoying hangnail is, to be followed in an entry the next day about some contract dispute preventing train tracks being laid in the Poconos (a Wilkes-Barre Rail topic) or another police agency that has gone to a digitally encrypted radio network (an Openness topic). Unless I synthesize the presentation overall very carefully, readers might be confused.

Fortunately though, in this universe at least, I don't post that often and I certainly don't have many regular readers. Nonetheless, here's to hoping this new format changes things for the better.

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