Yorick Phoenix

Technology Entrepreneur, Tenacious Engineer

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Tonight I recovered my memories

A word to the wise: just because the old version of your OS could read your old movie files, doesn’t mean the new one can. Always double check before you lose precious memories.

This evening I discovered that the old “first baby steps” movies I shot on a Treo 680 smartphone were no longer playable by the latest version of QuickTime Player (v10.4 - last updated by Apple for Yosemite OS 10.10). They were recorded back in 2008, not that long ago.


QuickTime 7

Apple still recommends QuickTime 7 for legacy formats. Knowing that the old version still runs on El Capitan I decided to give it a spin. QuickTime v7.6.6 was last updated in 2010, Snow Leopard - 10.6 - era. Also, lucky for me I had a fully paid up license that I purchased back in 2001.

My experience with QuickTime 7 was mixed. It could open and play the Treo .3pg files, it couldn’t handle the sound and it is all lost. Recovering...

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But I Would Walk 500 Miles…


In December 2013 I quit the gym and ever since I have taken to walking as my main form of exercise. In all honesty for the last 8 years walking has been, except for the occasional cycling or snowshoeing, my only form of exercise. Now, I do a lot more of it, almost two million steps per year - that’s 2 and 6 zeros: 2,000,000; it feels much bigger when I write it like that.

By August last year I had passed 500 miles, and if the song I sung to my girlfriend holds true: “I would walk 500 more”, just not yet. It’s just over a year since I started the new exercise regime and I have cracked 780 miles.

Actually that is not the whole story. In reality, I have probably walked one thousand miles, but I have only tracked 780 of them. To know why, let’s back up to the end of December 2013 when I quit attempting to go to the gym.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert; I have no nutritional...

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Why I quit the gym!

In early December last year I quit my Gym. Of course they don’t make it easy, the gym web site said that to cancel, I had to call. This reminded me of an episode of Friends where Chandler goes to the gym to quit his membership and takes Ross along for support. Chandler tries really hard but fails because when left to mercy of the staff, Ross joins the gym instead.

Assuming that someone would attempt to guilt me into staying “for my own good of course”, I decided to do it by e-mail. I was totally surprised when they just let me quit. One e-mail was all it took. Maybe they were banking on 10 new people to replace me come January 2nd.

So, why did I want to quit the gym? Was it because, like Chandler I was paying monthly but never going, and if so why wasn’t I going? After all I need to stay healthy and I definitely needed to lose weight.

I had joined 18 months earlier, it was within...

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Are we there yet?

It’s a long time since I was a bored kid in the back seat of my Dad’s Austin Mini, asking the inevitable question… “Are we there yet?”. At least I assume I asked the question. I believe it to be a question that all kids ask their parents when there is no sign of the journey ending with no way of gauging how much longer they were going to be bored. I do remember asking my Dad where we were going, which if it was a surprise or I wouldn’t be happy with the answer I always received the retort that it was “there and back to see how far it is”.

There is a 24.35 mile paved trail that runs from Concord to Dublin in California called the Iron Horse Trail. Enroute it passes through Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, & San Ramon.

The first Sunday in February I decided to explore it’s entire length on foot, small sections at a time. I envisaged using every free Sunday afternoon until I...

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A Simple Image Browser

I have around 25-30,000 photos, I’m not totally sure. To keep things simple they are organized into hierarchies using the file system. Grouped depending on the subject matter. That is either the object the photo, the location it was taken, or the event I was attending.

This organization makes it easy for me to find the folder where the photo I need is most likely to be located. The downside is that having located the folder, I may need to browse several hundred photos to find the one that I want.

Not content with just having my photos on my laptop, I want to be able to access them from anywhere in the world as well, even when I don’t have my computer with me. I find myself in a situation where I want to show one or more of my photos to somebody and figure all I should need is a web browser to do it.

In 2007 I started looking for a simple piece of browser software that I could use. I...

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Experiment #5 - Beard Trimmer Repair

For those that have never had the pleasure of sharing a bathroom with me, I use a beard trimmer with depth gauge to keep my sharp looking John Barrowman with facial hair look. (I know that sounds all very “gay” but as he is and doesn’t have facial hair, we can safely assume it’s the reverse).

The one I use is a simple $20 Conair Model purchased back in 2007 (photo of similar model below) and it has served me well, but over the last few years has been slowly dying and finally gave up over the weekend.

Inspired by all the hardware fixes and replacements I have done thanks to the great people at iFixIt I wondered if I could just take it apart - only four screws - and fix what I suspected was just a bad contact on the on/off switch.

Unscrewing was easy, and after I bypassed the on/off switch - short-circuiting with a screwdriver - to verify that the motor and batteries were OK I...

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Experiment #4 - TaskRabbit

So I had tickets to a concert in Oakland at the Fox, for which I was now familiar with the layout having seen the Pet Shop Boys there in December and Kraftwerk the previous Sunday. I knew exactly where I wanted to stand and if I didn’t get there early enough the chances of getting my preferred spot were almost nil.

For an 8 PM time-slot for the supporting act, with doors opening around seven, sometime around 5-5:30 PM was probably going to be the order of the day. Did I feel like standing around in a queue for two hours and then standing inside for the opening act and some more standing to finally get to the act I wanted to see? No, you probably guessed, it wasn’t on my list of things to do that day.

Enter TaskRabbit.com - over the last 10 years I have hired so many people using CraigsList that I probably couldn’t count them all even if I could remember all the contractors, cleaners...

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Experiment #3 - AirBrb

I didn’t arrive into the office until nearly noon today, but that’s OK, because I rented out my very nice desk in a very nice office from 7:30 AM until Noon and made a bunch of $$$ by working at home.

Here, I’ll let this video explain…

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Experiment #2 - Uber / Lyft

Recently went on a three day trip to Hollywood. Two choices, rent a car and deal with parking and loss of time picking it up, dropping it off, finding parking and the nightmare of LA driving or try and survive with walking, public transport and Uber / Lyft.

Apart from the flexibility that having a car can give you, the time saved and convenience of being able to effectively hail a cab using your iPhone and it arriving in minutes is awesome. You get an estimate of the cost. The car is clean, the driver is professional, they get you to your destination and it all is billed to your credit card and there is no guilt over the amount to tip because there is no tip, the price is the price is the price. The driver won’t take you the long way unless you ask and if they do you can query it with Uber and they will refund you the difference. It’s all detailed on your account for later analysis and...

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Experiment #1: Airbnb

On a recent trip to Hollywood after booking two different hotels in less than ideal locations I changed my mind cancelled them and instead rented an apartment using the airbnb.com service.

End result, instead of getting a room in an hotel with modest services I stayed in a great studio apartment with spacious lounge, fully equipped kitchen, full size bathroom, dishwasher, coffee machine, large flatscreen TV with NetFlix, Hulu and Pandora subscriptions, WiFi and clothes washer / dryer. Great light streaming in the windows, and not a peep from the other occupants of the building (unlike hotels where you can often hear the neighbors or foot traffic).

Also, the apartment was slap bang on Hollywood Blvd a few blocks from Hollywood & Highland - which is where it all happens, aka: the Dolby / Kodak / Nokia Theatre (depending on which season of your favorite music reality show).

Not only...

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