Lorex – A Rant

Something’s been bugging me lately.  It’s nothing big, just a geeky thing, but it’s bugging me nonetheless.  Lorex.  Lorex is apparently a security camera company, and it seems they may have a financial problem, because they are apparently using their existing customers to provide free advertising on Facebook instead of advertising the proper way everyone else does it – by PAYING for it.  Maybe they do advertise, I’m sure they do if they want to stay in business, I just don’t feel this is the way to do it.

In my case, I only recently heard of them…when my cousin first started posting photos of his cameras on Facebook.  After he had done this several times, over that many days, I finally asked him “why all the security camera spam?”  All of his posts included no text, only a simple hashtag with the company’s name in it and a closeup photo of a security camera or the recording box they’re apparently attached to.  I asked him if he’s trying to tell would-be burglars that he has security, trying to advertise for the security camera company, or what?  He responded explaining that it’s a sweepstakes entry.  Each time he posts one of those with that hashtag, he is apparently entered into a sweepstakes for something. ” Wow, this is quite the advertising scam”, I thought at first, but does it work right?  After I thought about it a bit, I think not.  After seeing these same photos appear over and over, day after day, in my Facebook feed–often making me think there’s a lot of activity going on with my friends at first–then finding out 80% of the post messages in my feed are just more of these camera photos, it only makes me dislike this company and, as a result, I would never even consider them as a source of security cameras.

I certainly have nothing at all against my cousin, but it irritated me so much over many weeks of these posts that I have ended up unfriending him on Facebook.  This is really sad, and makes me dislike this camera company much more.  That might seem like a pretty drastic move on my part, but the way I see it, Sandy (my wife) still has my cousin on her Facebook, and she’ll certainly let me know if he posts anything important (and if the security camera posts stop), so I don’t feel I’m really missing anything.  I just hope my cousin understands my reasoning.  I do consider Facebook a tool for keeping in touch with family and friends, and that’s about it.  There’s enough paid advertising on Facebook already, without tons of these “sweepstakes” posts.   I can certainly understand someone posting a genuine message saying how much they like their security camera system, and even including the hashtag that would get them entered into a sweepstakes contest, maybe even multiple times over a period of time, but this is just over-the-top, in my opinion.  And maybe this posting even gives them more advertising, I don’t know.  Yes I do, I shouldn’t flatter myself–I have about 6 readers total. That’s it.  I check my hits.  Heck, I won’t even post a link to THIS posting on Facebook, just to keep it low profile… I just felt like bitching about it his morning.

Old Kenosha

This week’s Happenings magazine has a section called “It’s Your Hometown Memories”.  It includes a lot of old Kenosha photos and businesses from way back when.  It’s pretty surprising to know some of them have survived for so long!  I thought it would be interesting to list some of them along with a few of my related memories of them.  Unfortunately I can’t include photos from the magazine due to legal reasons, but I’ll try to describe anything I found interesting in them as best I can.

Brat Stop started up in 1958 as a tiny little place that looked like a drive-in restaurant.  It was located on Highway 41 long before I-94 even existed.  I saw Oceans at Brat Stop with Hans D long ago.

Javelin Restaurant was located on the corner of 22nd Avenue and 60th Street, was started in the 1980’s when AMC was the big manufacturing giant in Kenosha, and was obviously named after the AMC Javelin.  I don’t recall ever going to this restaurant, but it was fairly close to our family’s home, which was 6611 20th Avenue, very close to uptown Kenosha.  It was owned by Vasilios (Bill) Anastopoulos, who apparently later moved on to build the successful Anastos Motors car dealership in Kenosha.  I’ve watched this high-traffic corner location change hands many times over the years

Bernacci’s Drug Store was located uptown where Fire Station #3 is today, at 63rd Street and 22nd Avenue.  This business wasn’t mentioned in Happenings at all, I just remembered it when I was thinking about Javelin Restaurant (those darned “member berries” again…)  I remember, as a kid, the huge fire that occurred there, burning the store to the ground.  Since it was only a couple blocks from home, my friends and I all ran and biked there and watch the firefighting & chaos as it unfolded.  My attempts to find more information about Bernacci’s on the web have failed.  Am I spelling it wrong, maybe?

The Music Center, now located on Green Bay Road, opened up in the 1940’s.  I had no idea it had been around so long.  Where it was originally located, I have no idea.

Happenings Magazine has been around for 40 years – since 1977.  It’s a free local magazine we usually pick up at local restaurants and gas stations.  It is currently located in the old American Brass Administration Building, 1420 63rd Street.  Gotta include a little self-promotion in their own magazine, so there it is.  It’s funny how the entire section is mostly ads (as the magazine always is), but a lot of the ad content for each business contains their historical significance, and Most pages of ads “interconnect” with each other and the photos in the pages near them, making it more like one big article you’re reading.  Nice work, I enjoyed it.

Chester Electronics was located next to the train tracks on 60th Street, and I remember going there many times with my dad (both of us were gadget geeks) as a kid, buying CBs, police scanners, crystals–one crystal was need for each scanner frequency you wanted to listen to, so they had to be hand-made (or tuned) for that frequency.  This took a week or two after ordering, then you could come in and pick up that crystal and install it in your scanner.  This was way before today’s scanners, which provide entire bands and you just electronically tune in (or scan entire bands) to listen to them.  Chester’s eventually moved to it’s current location, where National Foods once was–7709 Sheridan Road.  Chester Minkowski is the owner.  I’m not sure what year it opened, or whether Chester is still alive, as that information wasn’t included.  Oh, and do you want to see the worst website ever?  Check it out: http://chesterelectronics.com/

Lou Perrine’s gas station (aka “One Stop Shop”) has been around for 62 years – Since 1954.  It is now located on 52nd Street and Sheridan Road.  I noticed a YouTube logo next to this one, so out of curiosity I had to check.  Very nice!  It contains video ads, as expected, and they’re interesting… I had no idea they even did home delivery…$5 delivery charge, but they insist on NO TIPS!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jppVnBhbVik

Thomas B. Jeffery Company was founded in 1902.  It evolved into Nash Motors in 1916, American Motors in 1954, and Chrysler in 1987.  Later it was reduced to just the Chrysler Engine Plant.  It closed in October 2010 and was demolished in 2013.  I worked there for 5 years–1985 to 1989–as a Security Guard.  Looking back on it, those were some interesting and fun times, I must say.  I was hired at $4.50/hr and worked my way up to the maximun $6.50/hr by the time I left.  I was hired after a bunch of restructuring of the Security department and mass-layoffs of the “old guard” who were still unionized and paid much more money as a result.  The restructuring ended up with most of those guard either quitting or retiring and the wages being more than cut in half.  I wasn’t looked upon very favorably by most for taking the job, but for me I had just graduated from Tech College and had been looking for work, and figured any job is better than no job.  I was surprised it lasted as long as it did.  I was looking for PC Tech work (and doing side PC work) pretty much the entire 5 years…though not very aggressively.  I was laid off during another of the many cutbacks they did in those days leading up to the final closing.

Guttormsen’s Recreation Center, now located on Green Bay Road and 52nd Street, began in 1919 on 6th Avenue downtown, where the KVNA building now stands, across the street to the North of the Municipal Building.  As a kid I remember a friend working there as a pinsetter.  And I also remember “someone” obtaining a large quantity of soap and dumping it into the large Municipal Fountain located on 6th Avenue one evening, and watching as the fountain overflowed with soap suds!

The Elk’s Club, located at 5706 8th Avenue, is now The Heritage House, and is a historic Kenosha building.  I don’t think this one was was even mentioned in the Happenings section, but I just remembered it now, having worked at the Elk’s Club as a dishwasher for two years, part-time, while I was in high school.  Here’s the history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosha_Elks_Club

I think that’s about half of the section so far.  I’m finding it pretty interesting myself.  I’ll probably post the other half soon, if time permits.  Thanks for visiting!

PS3

Yeah, sure, the PS3 is pretty old now.  But I’d rather like to think of it as a “mature” console.  Not unlike myself, it is “aged”.  This also makes it–and its games and accessories–a lot more affordable, which is a huge plus, in my book.  It also has a long history, and has gone through 3 versions.  I look back at my purchase history and feel good remembering those classic old games and how much I enjoyed playing them.  All 800+ purchases.  Many of them, in fact, are console versions of even older “classic” arcade games, which bring back even more memories of my past.

One of my all-time favorite games was one of the first games I purchased for the PS3–Joust.  This was an arcade video game where you ride an ostrich and fly around jousting buzzards (and another ostrich if two people play it).  If you fly into a buzzard or the other player and your sword is higher than theirs, you win the joust and kill your opponent.  Kill all of the other players on the screen and you complete the level and advance to the next–harder–level.

I purchased this game in 2006–about 10 years ago, as a digital version.  This means there’s no physical disc or cartridge, you just download the game to your console, install, and play it.  It wasn’t until just recently that I became concerned about this method of game ownership.  First of all, Joust is no longer offered in the Playstation Store for purchase, so I can’t look it up there and re-download it, like I thought I could.  I imagine there are probably several classic games that I purchased back then that are no longer in the Playstation Store.

The reason for my concern is because I decided, earlier this week, to try to get back into playing some of my favorite games, just to relax a bit, and possibly play a little during my walks on my treadmill, but I quickly discovered that the hard drive on my PS3 (320GB) is completely full!  I had cleaned it up some time ago, removing all videos, music and photos, in order to free up enough space to install GTA 5, another great game I play occasionally.  When I say “play” referring to GTA 5, I mean just driving around freely throughout the city and county in the game, driving over people, destroying properly, jumping out and chasing down people to punch them out, and basically wreaking havoc  until the police come and try to stop me.  I don’t really play many missions, as you’re supposed to do in the game, I just goof around to see how much trouble I can get into.  But I digress.  Back to my full hard drive:  As I said, I cleaned up the drive recently, removing nearly everything I could that wouldn’t effect gameplay, and after installing GTA 5, it’s pretty much full to capacity again.

The PS3 has a backup feature, allowing you to back up all of your data and transfer it to another PS3 (or the same PS3 if you’re doing something like replacing the hard drive).  So I tried this, using a 64GB thumb drive I have.  So I started this process, and after several minutes of thinking, the PS3 told me it needed about a drive with about 200GB more storage space!  Agh!  I don’t have a flash drive or external hard drive available with that much space free.  I even tried one external drive that I store TV Shows on for use with my Plex media server, but that drive is formatted as NTFS, and the PS3 requires a FAT32-formatted drive in order to use it.  I know, that’s all Greek to the non-geeks reading this, so let’s just say “that drive won’t work on the PS3”.  My PS3 currently has a 300GB drive, which was pretty huge back in it’s time, but these days it’s hardly enough.

So there I was without a backup solution, and I had a brand new, 1.5TB drive (the largest hard drive the PS3 will allow) waiting to be installed in my PS3.  The way I saw it, at that point I didn’t have much to lose moving forward and installing the new drive.  I found out that I can access my entire purchase history and I can re-download everything I’ve purchased in the past, so I figured it would just require re-downloading everything I want to play.  I would lose my old game saves from way back when, but that’s no biggie for me.  Working through all of the levels in all the good ole games again just adds to the fun! I only had a 320GB drive before, so even if I install everything I had before, I should still have over 1 TB (1000 GB) of the new 1.5TB drive free when I’m done.

So I installed the drive, which was a pretty simple operation, and the PS3 simply prompted me for the latest PS3 update data, which I downloaded to a small flash drive and inserted, then it installed this and formatted the new drive.  All went well, and then I installed a few old games without issue.  They seem really tiny these days, especially on today’s huge-capacity drives!  Over time I’ll be installing a lot more of my old purchases, as I get around to more and more of my old games, and now there’s tons of space for some new ones, if I want them.  It’s nice to have some breathing room back, and it’s such a relief that Sony allows a simple method to re-download all of one’s old purchased content!  They’re earned back a little more of my trust, having lost a lot of it with their support of Cinavia–a copy-protection method that detects copied commerical media and prevents the PS3 from playing or streaming copied DVDs, Blu-Rays, and streamed movies that aren’t originals.  In today’s world, if you don’t keep a backup of something–especially something you purchased electronically, you’re always at risk of losing it due to everyday use, damage, or disaster, so backup copies are critical.  And Ciavia prevents users from being able to use those backups–basically resulting in the PS3 user being assumed to be a pirate!  This also results in the PS3 being rather crippled as a media center, in my opinion.  Whether Cinavia is still built into the PS3 these days, I’m not sure, but I think it’s still there.  I’ll find out soon, as I just installed the Plex app and will be connecting it to my Plex server soon.  Plex is a media server I use to stream all of our movies, tv shows and music to all of our devices.  If Cinavia effects Plex playback, I’ll have to uninstall it and just stick with using it through our Roku boxes as we always have.  That would be sad though, as using it through the PS3 controller or the PS3 Remote looks like it would be fun.

I also discovered, after accepting to two-week free trial of Playstation Plus, that they now offer online storage to Plus users for storing all of their game-save data!  I’m pretty sure that gives me a window of two weeks where I can swap back to my old, full drive, save all my game-save data to my online storage, and then swap back to the new drive and still access all of my game-save data (and hopefully save it back to my new drive easily) so I don’t have to keep paying for Playstation Plus after my two-week trial.  We’ll see how this goes.

Lastly, I’m really liking the fact that all of the PS3 games, accessories, and online content is, by far, a lot cheaper than just about everything for the PS4 and X-Box One!  And since I haven’t been involved with it for a few years, everything I’m seeing is new to me, even though all this stuff is probably old to everyone else.

Blankth Wedding Anniversary

This is a bit embarrassing, but I forgot how many years Sandy and I have been married. Not a surprise for me, with my CRS always coming into play, but I had to get it straight before Monday, July 20th…our Anniversary! I checked the web, and actually found this little gem. I didn’t even remember I had posted it! Again, not a surprise:

http://www.tremperalumni.com/couples.htm

In case that link some day no longer works, here’s what it says:

Jimmy G. Trottier – Class of ’81
Sandra Irene Wegmann – Class of ’77

Sandy and I met when we were set up for a date by my (Jim’s) sister Penny Brackney (Trottier) – also a Tremper alumni. Actually we met a few days prior to that first date, because I (Jim) couldn’t wait to meet her after we talked on the phone a few times. The rest, as they say, is history. We’ve been happily married ever since, and we now have a wonderful 2-year-old baby. Sandy worked for 21 years as a Nurse’s Aide at Washington Manor Nursing Home in Kenosha, and quit almost a year ago to accept a position at the company I work for, CirQon Technologies, where we manufacture ceramic circuit boards for such things as cellular telephones and medical devices. She is currently a QC Inspector, and I’m working a dual job as a Chemical Lab Technician and an IT
Technician.

I was hoping I at least had the sense to post my wedding date there, but no such luck. Back to my searching…

I checked my photos, hoping that at some point I had gotten around to scanning all of our old wedding photos in. Those would surely include a date and time somewhere. Nope, haven’t scanned them in yet.

I could spend $20 to get an uncertified copy of our wedding license… probably too late to get it back in time….

I found our ancestry file, thanks to Wayne Wilson, but it didn’t have our wedding date logged in it. Darn.

I found several family member obituaries…sad, but that didn’t help. We seem to document death better than marriage I guess…

Now what?

Here’s the clues I have:
Kevin was born in February 1998, and we were married before we had him.
I met Matt when he was 6 years old and he was born in March, 1989, so I probably met him (and therefore Sandy) in 1995. I just can’t remember how long we knew each other before we got married. I know it wasn’t long before I ASKED her to marry me… So was it 95, 96, or 97? Agh! The mystery continues…

That all occurred last week. Last night, on the evening of our anniversary, I finally asked Sandy: “So, HOW many years has it been??” I was shocked to find that she, too, wasn’t exactly 100% sure, but her math is probably better than mine. She said she always remembers that we were married almost 2 years when we had Kevin. Kevin was born in 1998. Doing the math, this means we’ve been married for 19 years. Whew! I guess as long as we’re both in agreement, that’s all that matters. The “Whew” is because I’m relieved it’s not our 20th yet… I really can’t afford a Platinum anniversary gift this year! Now I’ve been forewarned!

Lastly, this is probably as good a place as any to post an awesome sign we saw at an art festival last weekend. It said

“When a woman answers you by saying “What?” it doesn’t necessarily mean she didn’t hear you. It means she’s giving you a chance to change your answer.”

Ice Sculptures

Ice sculpturesYesterday I stopped down at Library Park and took some quick photos of the Ice Sculptures during that event.  It was so cold and windy out though, no one else wanted to come.  I had been Ingressing just before that though, so MFYL (a teammate) was with me.  With how cold it was (well below zero with windchill!) we ran through pretty quickly, then got back to the car.  Here are the photos.

Also, I just figured out how to get my Flickr “Collections” back!  These are the groupings of sets to better organize my photos.  Flickr had removed the option a while ago in their new site design.  So I finally searched for an answer and found that the option to use them was still there all along, they only remove the LINK to them on everyone’s Flickr page!  You just need to add “/collections” to the end of your Flickr page’s URL (duh).  A geek should have been able to figure that one out…  So I added the option to my Photos menu.  Or click here to view my Collections.

Geeky Christmas Things

For the Christmas season, I’ve been playing with my options for using the living room TV for background entertainment when we don’t want to watch actual TV.  Here’s what I’ve settling on using.  Since I have a laptop (Windows 7) connected to the TV (LG 55″) via HDMI, I set it to having the TV as its main display.  I use Google Plus Images to download my albums “Christmas 2008”, 2009, etc., up to 2013.  This is extremely easy on G+, but next to impossible on Flickr.  Once those were downloaded, I renamed each photo (an entire folder at a time) to “Christmas 2013 – Photo xxx” (it auto-numbers them).  Then I created an executable slideshow using Slide Show Builder in FastStone Image Viewer, adding all of the photos from each year, set the transitions, and added caption text to the bottom left corner, which I set to include the photo’s filename and timestamp.  I set each photo for 15 seconds, and built the exe file.  There were a total of just over 600 photos.  I can optionally add music to the slideshow as well, but I left this out, since I prefer to just play an Amazon Music Station or my own music instead.  This turned out really nice.  Amazon has several different “Christmas” channels to choose from, as well as many other channels for whatever type of music I’m in the mood for, or I can easily play any of my own music, which Amazon has stored for me.  Amazon with hold up to 200,000 songs, I believe, which is certainly plenty for me.  And with Amazon Prime, all of the free music and stations is just a bonus.

I must say, it did take most of this month’s spare time (when I wasn’t playing Ingress) to find the best options for each of these tasks.  For example, I had no easy way of controlling the mouse and starting the music and slideshow without standing 6 inches from the TV until I found a decent “air remote” to use.  I needed an easy way to start and stop the slideshow and music on the computer in the living room. Eventually I found this. It has some great reviews and sounded perfect, so I went with it. It works great, exactly what I needed.

I also tried to find all my Christmas photos on Flickr and download them, which is ridiculously difficult to do, for some reason.  I tried using DisplayFusion first to simply randomly show Christmas photos straight from the web (using either G+ photos or Flickr), but as it turns out, there’s a limit to how many photos you can stream in an hour.  If I set it to only switch photos every minute, it works ok, but the other problem (with both photo services) is they both only seem to go back a couple hundred photos or so in my photostream.  This results in only being able to view recent photos, pretty much showing only this year’s photos and a few of last year’s.  This is when I decided to do everything local and just download exactly which photos I wanted to display.

So there you have it, my geeky Christmas slideshow.  We’re enjoying all of the old memories now, and look forward to this year’s festivities, which are starting today.  Now on with the holidaze!

Christmas Downtown

Kevin, Socks and I walked downtown one day last weekend on the day of the annual tree lighting and the storefront decorations contest.  We went earlier than all the festivities though, just to get a good dog walk in while there weren’t crowds yet.  It was fun, and we took a bunch of photos of all the storefronts.

During our winter walks, Socks can get a little cold, so he’ll sometimes walk on 3 legs, allowing one to rest a little or warm up a bit, before using it again (that’s my theory anyway).  So he was doing this, and a car stops in the middle of the street after we crossed it, and a lady yells out that the salt is hurting my dog’s feet!  She said “you need to clean off his feet!”  When we ignored her and kept walking, she jumps out of the car and walks toward us, angry, and says the same thing again.  When she finally got real close to us, she reaches for Socks and says “give him to me, I’ll do it!”  I picked up Socks right away, and said “No, you’re not touching my dog!”  She said “let me clean off his feet, or YOU clean them off!”  I said “he’s fine, and you’re not touching him!”  She said “If you don’t clean off his feet right now, I’m calling the police!”  I said, “you go ahead and call the police, but you’re not touching my dog.”  We continued walking and Socks was fine.  I knew, if she had touched him, or even tried to, he would have certainly bit her (or me, on accident, in the commotion) so I wasn’t about to let that happen.  She stormed back to her car and said “I’m calling them anyway!”  I heard her say “Sheesh, stupid people!” as well, as she walked back to her car, which was stopped in the middle of the street.Socks Coat

Whether she called them or not, I don’t know.  Sure, maybe she was just concerned about him, how he was walking on 3 feet and we seemed to be ignoring him, I get that.  But to us it was just such a startling encounter, she came off as way to demanding and pretty irate.  And she has no idea what our dog’s habits are, how he walks normally or anything, she just seemed to assume we were abusing him.  We finished our walk and Socks warmed up just fine in the car ride home.  Sandy picked up a neat Winter coat for him a few days later though.  Won’t help his paws from freezing much, but it’s nice and snug like a thunder blanket, and he seems to like it.  It should at least keep him a little warmer on our walks.

 

New photo albums added

Ok, getting caught up over my 5-day weekend!  Here’s some new photo albums–including THIS Thanksgiving!

Civil War Museum – Sandy’s photos from her recent visit with a client.

Halloween 2014

Haylie’s 5th Birthday

Snow Sculpting Championships 2014 – from nearly a year ago–this year’s is coming up at the end of January!  I’ll be there.

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2014

That should about catch me up.  Keep in mind a few of those are pretty raw.  Since I dumped everything, very quickly, I didn’t pick and choose the best photos.  Yet.  I’ll get to it, I just need more time.  So for now, a few of those albums contain hundreds of photos.  Consider this a “behind the scenes” preview.  Many of those will disappear soon as I curate them.  Enjoy!

Flickr or G+ Photos? The battle resumes

So not only does Hans use Flickr, but The White House also does… Then again, The White House seems to be on EVERY social media platform, so I’ll take that with a grain of salt.  I left Flickr a while back when they were about to up their price for a paid subscription from $24.99 a year to $49.99 a year.  So I left my photos there, assuming it would revert to a “free” account, which was, at that time, limited to viewing the last 200 photos you uploaded (even though all the others were still on the site).

Well, somewhere along the line, they changed it completely.  The price is still the same, but it’s now simply “ad-free” for $49.99 a year, but no other limitations if you don’t pay anything!  You still get access to ALL of your photos, with a huge 1-terabyte space limit–the same limit whether you pay for ad-free or not.  So, with that in mind, and my photos still intact, I’m playing with Flickr again, seeing how much they’ve changed & improved, and comparing things with G+ photos, which I moved to almost exactly a year ago.

Since I’m also WAY behind on publishing most of my photos since that move as well, I’ve been updating my albums on Flickr with everything from the past year, and I’ll post those links here shortly.  Looking at my 1-terabyte limit, I’m currently at 7%, just to give you an idea of Flickr’s capacity.  On G+ I pay $9.99 a month for 1 Terabyte of storage (aka “Google Drive”), but this includes all of my photos as well as my documents and all of my backups.  I am at about 30% capacity on Google Drive, just as a comparison.

We’ll see where things go from here.  Stay tuned for some new albums shortly.  Or go right to my Flickr Albums to see what’s there already.