Connecting the Community

This island is a small community, anything that happens is likely to involve someone you know, or a friend of theirs. There are often only a one to three degrees of separation between you and nearly every event that makes the local news.

Mauna Kea Wreck
A wrecked Toyota pickup truck about a mile below Hale Pohaku
Even someone who has not grown up here seems to become quickly enmeshed in the community… One day I hear news of a body being discovered on a remote Kohala coastline by kayakers. The next day at work I ask Peggi about her husband’s kayak trip… As you guessed, they found the body. This may seem unusual, but here these sort of linked events are commonplace, amplified by the small community effect.

It is amazing how fast information moves from mauka to makai, the grapevine is very well connected on this island. This connectedness is accelerated by social media. Where once you would have to wait hours or days for official confirmation, or a newspaper report, we now know immediately.

There are specific places everyone goes for this type of informations. Two notable Facebook groups cover island happenings, Big Island Thieves and Big Island Popo Alert.

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A Python Ping Tester

We have been having a lot of short network dropouts lately, something that is rather troubling when playing online games.

The GUI for a little ping tester tracking the stability of our household internet.
The GUI for a little ping tester tracking the stability of our household internet.
I was wondering just how prevalent the issue is, just how good or bad is the service at any given moment. I know I can download any number of network testing utilities, but what is the fun in that? Maybe just write something!

The little app is a Python/Tk gui. It simply pings an IP address and plots the results. The program is nothing serious, but it does the job. I have included the Python code below, a simple example of a Tk GUI.

NetCheck.py

The code is written for Python 3.5 or better as it uses the subprocess.run() method that was introduced with 3.5. This method just makes getting the stdio output so much easier. There are native ping libraries available for Python, they do require running the script in administrator to allow low level socket use. By using a subprocess I avoid that, if not quite as neat a solution.

Any IP address can be pinged, I am currently using 8.8.8.8 which is a Google DNS server. Using this server pretty much guarantees the issue is the local network, not an issue at the server end.

The results? Our local net is not looking too bad. There are periods when a cluster of dropouts occur, each lasting a minute or two. You can see one of these on the screen cap above. Fortunately these are unusual and not the norm… At least so far. I may update that evaluation when I get more data.

The Top DarkerView Posts of 2016

As I look back to 2016 I realize there were some pretty good posts. DarkerView is a true blog, as in “web log”. It exists as much as a personal diary as much anything else, a place for me to store my thoughts, my photos, my memories of life. A the new year is upon us it is traditionally a time to look back upon the year and recall some of those memories.

I posted nearly 300 blog posts through the year, not quite keeping to one per day as I had years ago, but rather trying to keep the quality high. Someone must appreciate that, There have been over 100,000 views and about 50,000 visitors to the site over the year. I am always slightly amazed that people come by to read what I write and even comment on it. Traffic is steady at between 100 to 200 visitors per day.

Of course most of those visitors are from the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, but surprisingly India, Pakistan, Germany, and Norway all top 1k visitors to the site. Just about every country in the world is represented in the visitor list, only central African nations seem to be left out.

I find that my best posts, my best writing, was primarily my comment posts. A chance to editorialize on the issues that swirl about my life and our island. Sometimes the emotions and thoughts just need to be expressed, to be recorded. Writing is a way for my to further analyse my own thoughts. In organizing these ideas into an essay I can more clearly see the issue.

Looking back, 2016 was not a bad year at all…

Cultural Misappropration
Restoring an Orange Tube Celestron C8
Dual Lasers on the Galactic Center
A Helicopter with No Doors
Making Room for the Traditional
Cruft
Changing a Light Bulb
To the Flow by Sea
Restoring an Obsession
Broken, Now Fixed
Moana and Polynesian Culture
A Celestron FirstScope
Alone with the Mountain

Keck 2 Lases in the North
Keck 2 lasing to the north in the dawn the lights of Waimea and Honolulu behind.

Site Icons

Loading a site icon to your website will create a unique icon in shortcut lists and on browser tabs. it is a neat touch that identifies your website in a very visual way. The problem is that there is a dizzying array of icons needed to support the various browsers and devices. One format for chrome, another for Internet Explorer, one for iOS devices, etc., etc.

Rosette
NGC2244, the Rosette Nebula, the current site icon image for Darker View
Fortunately the later versions of WordPress make it easy. A built in function of WordPress creates all of the needed icons from a single image. The function is found in the theme, and is supported by many modern themes. Simply go to Appearance->Themes, then select Customize->Site Identity for your current theme. At the bottom should a place to load your site icon image.

The only issue then is to select your site icon image. This is easier said than done as not all images work. You need an image that will scale well to the smaller icon sizes used by many devices. An image that looks good at a larger size is very likely to look like mush when scaled to a much smaller size.

WordPress suggests an original size of 512×512 pixels. This will be scaled down to the needed sizes for the various site icons. I would suggest testing your image by resizing it back and forth in an image editor. This should show you how the image will look at sizes from 512×512 to 16×16 pixels. It may take some experimentation to get right.

Quiet Blog

I admit Darker View has been a bit quiet for the last few weeks. A few reasons for this. Firstly I was in Alaska with family for most of the month of June, fishing and exploring out of Juneau as usual. Then I was quite busy at work, compounded by recovering from a bout of bronchitis.

To top it all off I spent my blogging energies working on the NordicQuest.com blog instead of Darker View… Sorry.

I will have to cross post a couple of the good postings that I put up over at NQ here. While the blog has been quiet, I have been having fun!

Breach!
A humpback whale breaches in Chatham Strait

Header Images

One of the fun features offered by the new theme is randomized header images. I have recycled a few of my back catalog of images to create a new look for the site. I am rather pleased with the effect. Sometimes this website/blog stuff is just fun.

In case you are wondering what they are, here is the cheat sheet, if you want it. I may add more images to the header over time.

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Some Blog Changes Coming

You may have noticed that DarkerView got hacked back in late March. Somehow malicious files were inserted that sent search traffic to various less than reputable websites, of course that means mostly sex sites. Sorry about that.

GyPSy in the Night
The 11″ NexStar GPS telescope, GyPSy set up at Ka’Ohe
Only search traffic was affected, those who went directly to the site saw the correct webpage, thus I did not notice right away as I use direct links. As a side note, getting hacked does result in a huge spike in traffic volume, that was the first sign. This sort of hack is apparently called conditional redirect hack, essentially borrowing a reputable website’s reputation with the search engines to send traffic towards certain websites.

As a result I have been tightening up security around here. Removing some old plugins, changing things around and checking for known vulnerabilities. One thing you will soon see is that the old theme will be replaced for an entirely new look for DarkerView.

The old theme is just that… old. Also probably insecure as there has been no maintenance on it in years. As I really do not know how the attacker got in I need to look to everything that could have been the weakness. Time to update the look and update the code to something that is modern and supported.

Jan in SanFran

On our recent trip to Nicaragua I had a chance to meet a few people. One of the more interesting was Jan Adams, who uses the handle JanInSanFran for her online identities. She was elected to the board of El Porvenir during the meetings, a good choice to help with the work.

Jan maintains a great personal blog, Can it happen here?, a blend of personal observations and liberal comment. Her latest post on Nicaraguan children, a nice collection of photos that includes some of the same subjects I photographed while visiting Tierra Amarilla. She is right, we met a lot of happy, smiling kids in Nicaragua, a good sign for the country.

TMT Controversy Article Roundup

I have been writing quite a bit about the TMT controversy lately. This has had several effects… I have had many kind comments from people across the island and even the globe. I am grateful that some have found my writings useful. My website traffic has multiplied, with daily traffic up about five times normal. This and the large number of Facebook shares I have seen on some posts lets me know that I am not writing for the void, somebody is actually reading what I write. That is a little gratifying.

Summit and Winter Milky Way
The winter Milky Way over the summit of Mauna Kea
Why am I writing? People have asked me this and as I have realized, there is a good reason. Writing has become my way of thinking things through. In the process of composing a post I have to organize my thoughts, find references to back up my often faulty memory, find the words to express my feelings on the matter at hand. In the process of doing this I often find myself changing my own views on the subject. The skills of good writing, or in captivating oration, are the most challenging use of our language, and this language is the key to rational thought.

There is an art to composing a subject into a readable post, an art I am still a novice at. Maybe someday I will get better at it. Let me know if you have any suggestions on this.

Thanks!
Andrew

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