Last week I stumbled upon an old article on Altas Obscura, initially published in 2018, that brought back some fond memories. What if I told you that once upon a time (the late 60’s), you could take a cheap plastic whistle that you dug out of a box of Captain Crunch and blow it into a mouthpiece telephone to call any place in the world for FREE? The 2600hz tone the whistle produced was the same tone used by phone carriers to signal an open line on their once analog phone systems. Once you had an open line, you could dial any number you wanted free of charge.
Phone Phreaking “hobbyists” created a little “blue box” that reproduced the same tone, and the world would never be the same. A story about blue boxes was published in Esquire in 1971, and after reading, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (yes, the boys from Apple) were all over it, creating a business selling such a device. See, kids, we DID know how to have a good time before the Internet!
I was a little late to the phone Phreaking party, but I remember reading about it as a kid and “playing” around with phone lines using my Apple IIc computer in the 80s, and tiring known hacks on random pay phones I would come across. Since I’m unsure of the statute of limitations for such questionable activities, I’m just going to leave it at that.
Years later, I discovered the infamous 2600 Magazine, launched in 1984 and still in publication today, and I got the bug again. For some unknown reason, I used to have the quarterly issues of 2600 delivered to my office vs. my home (poor attempt at privacy, I guess?), but I do remember expensing an annual subscription for “research” while I did a stint as a programmer in the early 2000’s. Inside each issue were stories of hackers doing some crazy things, like taking over the intercom system at K-Mart to accessing the terminals at Best Buy to get discount codes. The back cover was one of my favorite things about the 2600 magazine. It featured a picture of a working payphone from some random place around the world, something rarely seen in the United States these days.
Speaking of phones, Apple Insider just released a report titled “A secret tool lets police conduct mass surveillance using app data,” and it’s a little unnerving that data sold by Fog Data Science LLC to target ads based on a person’s location and interests is being accessed without a warrant.
This is another reason to audit your phone settings and adjust your security regularly.
And finally… If you use Emoji’s, you might have wondered how popular the one you’re about to send is. Well, wonder no more with this real-time Emoji tracker that shows the real-time emoji use on Twitter. Warning: a LOT is going on, and it might overwhelm those subject to issues with flashing things.
Back in October of 2021, I reviewed the new iPad Pro. I’ve had just about every iPad version throughout the years but never went the Pro route. I didn’t know what I was missing. I’m happy to report it’s still used daily, and it’s been the best iPad I’ve ever owned. The Apple keyboard case I purchased with it is super portable and makes it like a mini laptop (although I always forget it has a trackpad on it). In fact, I find myself using it just about exclusively on weekends and after work. I’ve written countless blog posts for this site using just the iPad tethered to my iPhone as a Hot Spot. The battery life is amazing, so I’m never looking for an outlet, even after hours of watching videos or reading. I hardly use the Apple Pencil at all, so that purchase is something I could have skipped. I should have learned my lesson from the previous iPad with the first generation Apple Pencil that never got used.
A coworker of mine forwarded an article from Indy Today, and I had to subscribe after checking out their webpage. It’s written by locals for locals and contains all kinds of news and information about upcoming events in the area, as well as foodie news. Check it out!
Since 1881 people have been making a ton of royalty money off of Listerine. The Hustle had a very interesting article detailing the over 100-year-old contract that still pays people, and organizations, today.
And finally… This video from over a year ago shows the Royal Marines using an actual JET SUIT to move from an inflatable Zodiac to a Ship. It looked a little dodgy (to use a British term), but he made it. I think the Civilian version of this is still a ways off…
Some of you might remember back in the early 2000’s IndyScan.com used to be a resource page for Radio Scanner enthusiasts. We started small with the Central Indiana area and eventually grew to cover the entire state. We even had a monthly newsletter and conducted regular surveys to get feedback from our visitors. That was a lot of work and before kids. The site went dormant for several years before I brought it back, creating the Blog you’re reading today.
Working from home during Covid-19 and the civil unrest in Downtown Indianapolis last year rekindled my interest in Amateur radio and police scanning.
A LOT has changed in the years since I was active. Then, there were independent radio systems for every agency, and it took a lot of effort to understand how it all worked. Now the State of Indiana has a massive statewide digital system (Called SAFE-T) that’s very impressive and well documented. In addition, Marion, Hamilton, and Madison Counties have combined their own police/fire radio system into a shared digital system that can interface with the State system.
These days all the system details all published online at a site called Radio Reference. When I got out of the hobby years ago, I remember taking my entire database of information and sending it to the guys at Radio Reference, hoping they could use it to help others in the hobby.
That old database of frequencies is all but useless now with the implementation of the digital wide-area networks. New systems mean new requirements for listening. In order for me to get back into the hobby, I needed to purchase a Digital Scanner. After some research, I decided on the Uniden SDS100 handheld digital scanner. They also make the SDS200 desk/mobile unit, which I purchased shortly after the SDS100 (I was hooked again).
Since I have my Amateur Radio License, I can legally travel with a scanner. So I’ve taken the SDS100 on many road (and camping) trips and enjoyed the optional GPS unit that auto-tunes the local systems as you travel. Of course, you must program all of this, but that’s part of the fun! The SDS200 stays in the home office, where it can be remotely accessed using the ProScan software I have online and connected to the Web. When you connect to the SDS200, you’ll listen to the same thing I am in real-time.
It’s been great to once again follow along with the local police and fire departments and the state agencies as they do their job protecting the public. A lot has changed in the past 20 years, and the new technology is nothing short of amazing. I’m glad I got back into the hobby!
These are excellent playlists with a nice mix of Central Indiana artists. Check them out, and let me know what you think!
And finally… Last week I mentioned the Tom Bihn Synic 30 backpack. Well, it was delivered last week, and I’m in the process of giving it a proper shakedown. Initial thoughts are good, very good, and I can honestly say it’s exceeded my expectations thus far. I’ll report back with a more detailed review in a few weeks. Stay tuned!
It’s time for the 2022 Devour IndySummerfest to begin on August 22 and run until September 4, 2022. Over 100 participating restaurants will have three-course, value-priced menus available. While not a huge savings from the standard menu prices, it’s a chance to save a few bucks and maybe check out a new place. Be sure to make reservations if you can because this event attracts a lot of attention.
Wired magazine had a great review of The Best Laptop Backpacks for Work (and Life), and it sent me down the rabbit hole of Tom Bihn bags. I used to carry a backpack with my work gear in it for years after using a messenger bag for as long as I can remember. I’ve since switched back to the messenger bag but find it a little limiting and uncomfortable to carry for long periods.
After a little YouTube research I placed an order for a Tom Bihn Synic 30 with a Grey shell and yellow liner. It was NOT a cheap bag, but if it lives up to the hype, it might be the last bag I’ll ever need. I’ll report back in a few weeks after I get it in hand and have time to put it through its paces.
Last weekend was the 2022 Indiana Sports Corp Corporate Challenge. As a consultant, I could never participate with my clients, and my company never participated (engineering nerds). With over 4000 people in attendance, it was a HUGE event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). The map they gave us before the event made it look like it was just going to take up a small part of the IMS infield, but it actually took up at least 50%. The best way to describe the event is a giant Field Day for adults. It would be great if they held it on a Friday and had some events go into the night, but they typically do it on Saturday mornings. Events include:
- 5K Run
- 10K Run
- Basketball Shootout
- Cornhole Tournament
- Cycling Time Trial
- Football Toss
- Frisbee Toss
- Home Run Derby
- Team Obstacle Relay
- Total Body Fitness
- and lots more…
As you can see, they have something for just about everyone, and it’s a nice way to compete against friends at participating companies. I ran into several people I knew from around the Indianapolis area and had a lot of fun competing for points with my coworkers.
MacMost posted a video a while ago showing several ways to Search for Photos on your Mac. Some good stuff in this video that you’re sure to learn something new.
Although I’m no longer employed in tech, I’m still a tinkerer. So when the latest Beta versions of the next Apple operating system became available to the public, I was already in line & ready to download. Furthermore, since my Mac is no longer my work machine (I moved to Windows 11 on a smoking fast HP Z-Book in June), I can play around with the beta software and not be too impacted if I encounter a bug or two.
This was the case this morning when I encountered an issue when I pressed the Alt-Tab key to switch to another app. It just didn’t work. I was scratching my head & immediately thought something was wrong with my new MX Keys keyboard. After some troubleshooting, I realized I had a 3rd party app that makes the Alt-Tab command on the Mac work better (it shows minimized windows). Unfortunately, it was crashing with the latest macOS beta. After a brief search on Reddit, I discovered I wasn’t alone. After I disabled the app, all was well again in the Alt-Tab world (but I was missing the features the utility provided).
Such is life when you test Beta software. You’ll encounter little bugs along the way, but you also get to see some of the latest and greatest features before the general public. You also need the patience to work on figuring out issues as they pop up.
If you’ve put fuel in your vehicle this summer, you might disagree with the following article, but in the big scheme of things, the U.S. has some inexpensive gasoline prices compared with the rest of the world. Nowhere as cheap as $0.20 a gallon in Iran but less than the $8.50 a gallon price in the U.K. The Hustle Issue #220 had an interesting article titled “Why gas is actually cheap in America.” The section detailing traffic deaths based on fuel price was fascinating, in my opinion too.
And finally, it’s time to get a little nerdy and discuss the differences between what we in the U.S. call vegetables vs. what they’re called in the U.K. True Food T.V. has a fun video explaining it all.
I’ve had a show called The Wire on my “watch list” for years. After another person I know talked about how good it was, I decided to carve out some time and start the series.
I was a huge fan of Homicide: Life on the Street when it aired throughout the 90s and The Wire is a similar genre that takes place in the same city (Baltimore) a little later. Being on HBO also makes The Wire a lot more gritty than Homicide which aired on NBC. I’m only a few episodes in but so far it’s scratching that itch for an old-school police drama with excellent good writing and acting.
Back in Week 9 I reviewed the Logitech MX Master 3. I’ve fallen in love with this mouse so that much I purchased a second one for the office. I’ve also picked up two of the MX Keys keyboards, also made by Logitech. While neither the mouse nor the keyboards are cheap, they are some of the best-built devices I’ve ever used. Additionally, having a similar setup at work and home allows for a seamless transition between the two. Since I work from home two days a week now, It’s been nice to have the same hardware at each location.
If you have access to an Amazon Business account, you can purchase the MX Business Combo that gets you a keyboard and mouse while saving you around $40 on the combo. Unfortunately, this is not available to non-business customers for some reason. You can’t go wrong with the MX Series from Logitech if you want to upgrade your most used computer peripherals.
And finally… I love linen clothing. From sports coats to shirts and even a lightweight pair of pants, linen is great for the summer heat and holds up well to repeated use. Yet, I never thought about how it was made, or WHAT it was made from until I saw this video on YouTube. There’s a lot more to making linen clothing than I ever realized.
Looks like we’re finally getting a break from the heat this upcoming week. That should be good news for the expected protesters that will be downtown as Indiana lawmakers return for a special session starting tomorrow. The focus is on Abortion and what, if any, change Indiana will be making to their existing law. VPOTUS is coming to Indy tomorrow as well so it could get interesting. I’ll be sure to have the scanner with me in case something happens.
I was happy to see Amazon had a Roomba i7+ listed at 50% off during Prime Day(s). I’ve had one of the original Rumba Vacuums for years and it works pretty well but it randomly wanderers around the house bumping off walls and furniture as it does its job. The only way to contain it is to close doors or put up battery-powered “walls” that projected a beam of light.
The new Roomba Vacuums are a huge upgrade. Not only can you control it with your phone over WiFi, it maps out your house and allows you to label each room. It can handle up to 10 floorplans (each level of your house is considered a floorplan). The advantage of this is I can tell the Roomba to clean the Living Room and it will go directly there, start cleaning, and return to its charging base when it’s done. Oh, and it cleans in straight lines, not random patterns!
The Plus version I purchased has a self-cleaning base that sucks the dirt and hair out of the Roomba into a bag that only had to be changed every 30-ish days (depending on how much it picks up). That was one of the downfalls of the original model, you had to empty the bin each time and clean the rollers every 2nd or 3rd use.
I’ve been VERY impressed with the cleaning ability of the i7+ and the self-cleaning function is a game changer. There are newer (and more expensive) models, such as the j7+, but the i7+ works perfectly for me and I’m really happy I was able to pick it up at such a discount.
And finally… Kevin Hunter The Homework Guy had a great video about the environmental impact of electric vehicles. Kevin is an ex-car salesman and has a ton of great tips to help you purchase your next vehicle. If you’re in the market for a new car you should watch a few of his videos and get up to speed on the current sales “tactics” being used.
I’ve only used delivery services like GrubHub and Uber Eats a few times and was disappointed each time due to lukewarm food, ridiculous fees, and price markups. They are nothing like the excellent, albeit limited, service you get from ClusterTruck. I’m super fortunate to be able to order from ClusterTruck from home and the office downtown. Out of 50+ orders, I’ve only had one issue: they delivered my food to the wrong location. However, they re-did the order and credited my account as soon as I reached out. That’s great customer service!
Amazon Prime members can now get 12 months of GrubHub+ for free! GrubHub+ is usually $10 a month and gets you $0 delivery fees applicable on orders with a $12+ subtotal (before tax, tip, and fees). After signing up, I looked at the restaurants on the GrubHub app and found quite a few I didn’t recognize in the area. After a little Google Maps searching, I discovered all the “new” places were Ghost Kitchens inside existing restaurants. Evidently, this is quite common & Chuckie Cheese is even in on the action with their Pasqually’s Pizza listing. It’s worth doing a little research if you’re unsure of the pace you’re ordering from.
If you’re a subscriber to Apple News+ and a foodie, you might have noticed Cooks Illustrated (CI) is now available to read on the service. CI is one of those magazines I subscribed to for years. It always seemed pretty skinny with no ads, but it’s actually fat with content. It features articles from the Americas Test Kitchen and Cooks Country staff (shows you can find on PBS’s “Create” sub-channel), product reviews, and some fantastic seasonal recipes. So if you’re looking for an unpretentious cooking magazine, this is the one to check out! Apple news replaced the Texture App, and I was a little unsure about that at first, but it’d turned out to be a better platform with a LOT more content, all for $10 a month. I can’t tell you the last time I read a physical magazine (except for Consumers Reports which I get as a yearly subscription from my father).
And finally… You can’t escape it. The Chicken Sandwich is one of the top-selling items at America’s fast food restaurants. And with good reason, they’re delicious! CNBC had an interesting piece about How Chicken Became an American Obsession.
I was expecting to have a post this week full of trip highlights but alas, life gets in the way and trips get postponed. This week I have some links to articles I came across the past week. Hopefully, we’ll be back to the normal blog schedule next weekend.
If you live in Indianapolis & have a Library Card you’re in luck! You have access to a lot of online newspapers you would normally have to pay to access (including the Indianapolis Star). Several libraries offer similar amenities so it’s worth checking out what your local library offers. If you didn’t know you can download e-books and stream movies all for free. It’s a really good perk for a FREE service!
Did you like Wordle before I was purchased by the New Your Times? If you’re a foodie like me you’re going to love Phoodle! In case you don’t know, you get 5 chances to guess a 5-letter food-related word. It’s harder than you think, and you can only play one game a day so it’s safe for those of you with addictive tendencies.
And finally, while there isn’t a voice-over on this video it’s very relaxing to watch how this antique candy drop roller is restored back to usable condition. Enjoy!
It’s been nice being out of the house this week after isolating for a week with Covid. There are weekends when I don’t leave the house but an entire week was tough. On the plus side I was super productive working remotely and actually enjoyed working from the house this time as opposed to when I did in 2021 because everything was closed.
Microsoft FINALLY released their award-winning Flight Simulator last week on their Cloud Gaming platform and it’s even better than I expected.
I’m a huge Flight Sim fan and used to play for hours when I was younger. The latest version takes its imagery from Bing Maps and can replicate real-time weather conditions in your current location. So it’s about as real as you can get while staying firmly planted on the couch. The Bing maps are a little out of date but it’s pretty easy to visually navigate around town and fly to various landmarks in the area.
And finally… I was robbed last night. Robbed of an hour due to Daylight Saving Time (DST). I had JUST gotten used to the sun rising at 7 am and now we’re back to 8 am for a while. I miss the days when Indiana didn’t change times twice a year. We even had a special Time Zone on computers called “Indiana (East)”. It’s still there last time I checked even though it’s not used anymore.
That’s it for this week. I have a camping & disc golf trip scheduled in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be nice playing outside again.