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Say Hello to the Crime Footage Index
crimefootageindex project
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I've been collecting a lot of footage from my Arlo home camera system the past couple of months, the most dramatic being from that burglary in May.

Recently I openly wondered in a Next Door post to my neighbors if there was a better way to handle all this footage that I myself and others with these "Ring-like" home camera systems that didn't involve making every instance of a mere trespasser or overnight creeper through our garage a 9-1-1 call. At least for me, it turns out there is too much activity detected to make that practical for myself, the community, or the police department.

My proposal in the lengthy Next Door posting was for someone in the city or the police department to concoct an online repository that people could submit their footage to in order to create a database. The police may well find that post in their online rounds and actually do it. However, the mere white-papering of the service in an open forum caused me to smack my own head: Why don't I come up with a service? Hell I wasn't talking about anything complicated.

Capture of my posting to Next Door

My posting to Next Door.  It turned into an effective white paper 
for my project.

That epiphany led to one of my weekend coding frenzies, which I have not experienced in quite awhile now and which has now resulted is this. Very much a work in progress -- but as it is -- it all kind of works well enough to introduce and let people know what I'm working on these days.

This is another in a series of useful web services that I'm trying to develop using the simple concept of MumblerCore HTML, so yeah it looks like shit. At least compared to the conditioned taste of web audiences to graphic-heavy websites that take too long to do anything and likely look horrible for their own set of reasons. By using MumbleCore HTML I was able to bang out an entire first iteration of the service in just one weekend.

We'll see how far I take this one, I really think it will serve the community and maybe even the cops well. It will be a concentrated place for security footage that doesn't require a social media account of any kind. Feel free to sign up (if you're in Buffalo, for now). Once I learn where all the security and other bugs are, I'll begin rolling out iterations for other cities -- Wilkes-Barre and Tampa come to mind, followed by NYC.

Check My Click
announce project WWW blogging
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A while ago I programmed my blogs in such a way that visitors who attempt to visit my blogs via mobile devices would be "blocked". Instead of reaching my blog they reached a mobile-friendly page explainer which told them that my blogs were meant to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or glass of wine while surfing the web from a home PC or laptop.

In essence I decided to give up running two production houses: One for the PC web and the other for mobile, favoring the former. In my mind the predicament boiled down to the problem that must have beset producers at the cusp of radio and television. You have a show to play but where do you play it? After all your show will not project the same on both mediums.

So I decided I would stick with the PC web and control for presentational bleed by programtically discouraging mobile visitors. And it worked. Without concerning myself with the endless perimeter of the visiting universe I was able to focus my development to produce faster and more in depth articles.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder why it was so difficult to serve both audiences comfortably on a platform that was designed specifically to remain open to all (that platform being the web which you've probably forgotten about if Facebook is getting its way).

I thought about it a long time and then realized that maybe I needed to re-think at least part of the problem. It's true that I didn't want the overhead of composing for two foundations, but what if there wasn't an overhead for the important part which is each blog entry itself?

Mobile visitors are not interested in a blog's larger presentation. They are darting out to content from their social media applications before withdrawing directly (and quickly) back. To them one's "blog" is nothing more than the single entry they focused on for all of a minute before getting back to LOLing party pictures in their newsfeeds.

On this angle and as master of my own blogging engine, I decided to alter it so that mobile-friendly output existed concurrent to the PC based output. I could not do this for the entire blogging engine which would essentially mean re-writing it from the ground up in unfamiliar code, but, I could do it using simple HTML and a "redirect" to output that drew directly from the same entry database. I just needed a separate entry rendering script that took the same text as that which appeared on the PC version and re-composed it in mobile-friendly HTML.

It took a day, but that's what I've done. And if I've done it right, you can view this very entry on a PC with no aggravating contortion to look good on "both" PC and mobile. Or, you can click on a link in your dang-nabbit "Facebook web" and find yourself looking at a clean scrollable article that looks great on your phone.

I draw a deep sigh, click "Publish", and sit back to see what happens.

About TampaScan
project
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TampaScan was a web page resource for police and public safety scanning hobbyists in Tampa Florida. Of course it has not existed for a very long time although I believe that a vibrant scanning community continues to exist in and around Tampa and Hillisborough County. There are probably not as many single-publisher efforts but for sure one can rely on the Hillsborough County Radio Reference website for good information.

Buffcam Launched
project photos
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Capture of rainbow from Buffcam perspective.

I've launched Buffcam. It's just a weathercam type thing of the Buffalo skyline. You can visit the page (presented in high definition Mumblecore HTML) to read more about and just enjoy it for whatever value.

What was kind of neat though was that not minutes after getting all the pieces working together a rainbow appeared, thus making a rainbow one of the first few images to come from the system.

Linkage

Stepping Stone Demonstration
project
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I just posted this video demonstration of "Stepping Stone" which was a program I released in 1999 that provided users a way to store web links and then browse through them by simply clicking.

Video demonstration of Stepping Stone

The program was obviously very crude. It worked by placing a strip above a running Internet Explorer session (and only Internet Explorer, it didn't work with Netscape) that contained left and right control buttons. Users navigated by clicking either and thus moving through a stored list of URLs. The process meant users could avoid returning to a Favorites folder each time to move on to the next page, a process which involved multiple clicks and possible repetitive navigation. Stepping Stone was a "one click solution".

Users could build theme files which were sets of URL links and create browsing sessions that focused on one particular topic or routine. For example one theme file could be dedicated to the user's favorite blogs or newspapers. Another could be dedicated to sports or hobby sites.

The tool offered a way for users to build an intimacy with their websites similar to the way they did when they read a morning newspaper in some favorite order (front page first, sports, business, then the comics).

The program circulated awhile but never evolved. My hope in posting this video is that someone will be inspired to reincarnate the program as a web and even mobile app. Efforts that I will strive for myself but fear I will never do as well as many others. It's an excellent, overlooked, concept.

Curious parties can still download the program. (and in fact here is the albeit broken version of the old support page).

In the video Stepping Stone is running in a virtual XP Windows session; it doesn't seem to work in Windows 10 although I'm fairly sure I remember it working in Vista and Windows 7 and through Internet Explorer 11. The last release was technically buggy in that the program is apparently hardcoded to depend on files from incorrect path ("C:\stepping2"), but that can be resolved by actually creating "C:\stepping2" and copying default.htm , error.log , nospam.htm and stone1.htm from the actual install path which on today's x64 PCs isC:\Program Files (x86)\stepping2 . The program will run after that although the first couple of URLs it hits in the default theme file will be outdated.

A Guy Shortcut
project
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Tommorow I'm launching the A Guy At His Computer project. You can read more about that as well as get the links explaining the project in my previous post.

A Guy At His Computer Status Screen Shot.

Screenshot of A Guy At His Computer Status Screen

If you're interested in participating you'll need to review the status screen before placing a call. To make that easier I created a status screen page that should look good on mobile devices. It works best if you create a shortcut on your home screen for it so for that follow these instructions.

A Guy At His Computer
project jobhunt
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In my last post I talked about how I'm taking advantage of the "Gig Economy" to make my unemployment savings last longer by shoveling snow. It's not always snowing so I'm adding a little something different to the pot. For quite some time I've wanted to develop A Guy At His Computer which is basically a kind of telephone concierge service for people who need information but don't want to fuss with a mobile app. Such a service would not be complicated, it would literally just be a guy (me) sitting at his computer taking calls, Googling, and providing information to callers.

While I find myself sitting on my ass a lot these days filling out online apps and waiting for callbacks it occurred to me this is actually a great time to develop and test the concept. Maybe even make a little side scratch via tips from extremely satisfied callers. Hence, I spent today coding it up and releasing a crude framework of operation and will officially launch on Monday. Starting then, anyone needing information from the Interwebs can dial my number and give me a chance to provide it.

Here's an example conversation I imagine:

A Guy At His Computer: "Hi, thank you for calling A Guy At His Computer, how can I help you?"

Caller: 'I'm standing here waiting for the university shuttle. Do you know where it is right now? I'm a student at UB at the South Campus loop area."

A Guy At His Computer: "No problem, they have a live shuttle tracker, let me just pull up the express route GPS map."

Caller: "Thanks!"

A Guy At His Computer: (after some clicking and typing noise) "Ah, a shuttle just crossed Sheridan Avenue and is headed your way."

Caller: "Awesome, that's about 5 minutes or so then, thanks a lot Guy!"

A Guy At His Computer: "No problem, thanks for calling A Guy At His Computer!"

Mind you this initial launch is not the "enterprise" version of the service, just a crude example of it based on the budget and time I have to actually run it. If it tests well and I fall into a few thousand dollars someday, perhaps I'll grow it into something that looks legit. Right now I just need to toy with it in a loose way to see if it's viable and what kind of issues crop up.

The service lives under the domain aguyathiscomputer.com but for now it just forwards to the guts of it all at davethewebguy.com.

For more information check the links below.

Linkage

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