We’re scattered

Cool map (or data visualization) from 23andMe of where my relatives, who use the service and have shared their location, are located. Many of these are pretty distant, third cousin or greater, but there is still a DNA connection.


2018: The year in search

Here is what Google said we searched for in 2018 in many categories.



A flyover of Gay Street

I’m experimenting with Google Earth Studio, the new web-based animation tool for Google Earth. I suspect it replaces the aging Google Earth Pro desktop program. It certainly appears more powerful.

It”s awesome!

One issue I had was how to make the animation a video. Studio exports files as JPG frames and Google suggests using Adobe Media Encoder or Adobe After Effects to create a video. Both are a bit pricey for me.

My solution is to use FFmpeg, an open source old-school, command-line program.

I’m a FFmpeg command-line newbie so you may have a better command line than this, But after Googling, this is what I used:

ffmpeg -r 30 -start_number 000 -i “file-name_%03d.jpeg” -s 1920×1080 -vcodec libx264 output.mp4

That command line string translates to 30 frames to second, starting with the image number 000 and incrementing up to number 001, 002, etc (the %03d part), and creating a video at a resolution of 1920×1080 (the same resolution Google Earth Studio rendered the animation), and outputting it  as an mp4 file.

FFmpeg has a dizzying number of options so you may be able to improve upon the options used here. However, to my eye, the output matched what I got with the trial version of Adobe Media Encoder.


What issues are important to Tennessee voters

This is an interactive chart that will update. Click on a county to get county level trends. (Sorry, this embed doesn’t seem to work anymore because it’s not AMP compliant. I’ve substituted a static image.)


Chromebooks just got a lot more interesting

My desk with the Pixelbook connected to a KVM switcher with a PC mouse, keyboard and 26 inch monitor. I can switch from a Windows 10 desktop to the Pixelbook.

I’ve been using a Pixelbook for several months now. I thought it was a more versatile, powerful alternative to a high end iPad. And that, for the most part, has been true. 

I have a number of Android and Chrome apps from Netflix to a browser-based SSH client. The variances from a PC keyboard took a bit of getting used to, but it works as a laptop and tablet and can stand up to watch movies.

I don’t have the pen; the consensus seems to be you don’t need it. I haven’t used Google Assistant much but then again, I don’t use Cortana much either. I did get a USB-C hub.

I got a KVM switch so I have it connected to a PC keyboard and mouse and a 26 inch monitor.

I’ve been able to mount network shares on my NAS, SSH to Amazon servers, connect to a Windows 10 machine with Chrome Remote Desktop.

I’ve stuck with the “stable channel” for upgrades and never put it in developer mode because I want the security features and simplicity. 

So I didn’t try Crostini until it hit the latest stable OS release 69.

Project Crostini is a Linux container that allows Linux apps to be installed on the Chromebook like the popular Gimp image editor. You also get a Linux terminal window where you can do what you do at the Linux command line.

The ability to use it as a “Linux box” opens a whole new realm of possibilities not already solved by the Chrome browser, built-in apps and file manager, Google Drive and Google Suite, and Android apps.

It’s an incredibly powerful laptop weighing 2.4 pounds with not a lot of RAM or memory (in my case 8 gigs of RAM with a 256 gig solid drive).

It’s also usable offline, but definitely limited (but what computer isn’t these days?).

Chromebooks have come along way from just about the cheapest computer you could buy, good for surfing and email.

Online Media

Free Facebook Journalism Project Workshop

The Facebook Journalism Project

The East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists is bringing the Facebook Journalism Project to Knoxville.

Join us Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Knoxville News Sentinel, 2332 News Sentinel Drive. You must register in advance

The workshop will cover tools journalists can use to help create and share incredible stories as well as offer advice on how to engage the public in stories about their community.

Lynn Walsh,  a project manager at Trusting News Project and a past president of the Society of Professional Journalists, will host the training. She is a former investigative executive producer at KNSD-NBC in San Diego.

More details at ETSPJ website.