Farewell video for a fellow nerd

September 29, 2020 – Ann Arbor, MI

For those of you know don’t understand the Star Wars references (SRSLY what?!), I am once again channeling my favorite Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to stretch out with my feelings.

(Be sure to enable the closed captions, unless you’re fluent in the binary language of astromech droids!)

This time my son Griffin was the camera operator and also on-set foley artist.

A proper #UMSocial send-off video with love for Connor from everyone:

Farewell video for a friend and colleague

June 16, 2020 – Ann Arbor, MI

The global pandemic has made working from home the norm for me and others at the university. When faced with the challenge of needing to say goodby to a longtime colleague and friend remotely, we decided to record video messages that could be shown during a Zoom party. Being very dear to me, my video for Lee needed to go the extra mile. I enlisted the help of my daughter to work the camera and lighting. Below is my heartfelt message:

For those of you know don’t understand the Star Wars reference at the end (what?!), they are the words of my favorite Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

We are a Star Wars family, so finding a lightsaber to use as a prop was easy.

Anneka was fantastic behind the camera, starting and stopping the recording, keeping an eye on and adjusting the lighting, and giving feedback on the quality of the takes. She also helped me plan the order of filming, capturing the Jedi scene first before I shaved off the wild whiskers that really completed the desert hermit look. 😂

I was really taking photos during the photo hobby scene, and managed to capture a cool photo of Anneka through the ring light.

Also, in case you are wondering about how things work now that we live in Zoom world, you can be business suit on top with adventure shorts and sandals on the bottom. 🤣

DJI firmware updating and wifi

I wanted to do a post about this in case anyone else runs into this issue.

TL;DR: Modern drones and controllers have powerful wireless transmitters that might knock your wifi mesh network offline.

This weekend, I was prepping my DJI Mavic 2 Pro for flight by running the latest firmware updates and making sure the batteries were all charged and also up-to-date. It was a beautiful sunny morning, so I brought all of my gear up into the living room so I could enjoy the light. (I generally perform these updates in my basement studio – this will become relevant in a moment.) I fired up the Mavic and controller and initiated the update. Soon after my son, who was sitting on the sofa working on his laptop, complained that the internet wasn’t working. Sure enough, everything was timing out on my phone as well. I turned off my phone’s wifi and connected to my Google mesh wifi routers and discovered that 23 of my network had a status of poor or offline!

Step one of troubleshooting the network is to reboot it. Hmm, that didn’t work. Step two: pull physical power from each unit, then turn each one one in sequence, starting with the master at the modem. Test after each step. Everything is happy in the basement. Moving upstairs, things are not happy. The furthest mesh from the living room is poor, and the one in the living room is still offline. What is going on?! Google… nope, nope, nope. YouTube… nope, nope, wait! Of course. The Mavic and controller, doing it’s update thing right in the middle of my living room, is overpowering my wireless network. Sure enough, once everything was updated and powered off, my entire network returned to normal.

We celebrated by going flying!

Stop using www

A work related rant/editorial 😇

I’ve spoken about this at Communicators’ Forum, and nearly every talk I give on campus.

Please. Stop using www.

Using, or worse yet requiring www (as some University sites still do) is a holdover from an earlier age. It’s an anachronism, like saying aitch tea tea pea colon slash slash when verbalizing a web address. It makes the University look less modern. Using www before a subdomain (like www.thing.umich.edu) is an even larger faux pas.

You can certainly configure your webserver to accept the vestigial www, but then redirect to a cleaner URL without it. For example:
www.twitter.com, www.duo.com, www.umich.edu, and www.wordpress.com all accept and redirect to clean URLs.

It might seem like a small thing, but it’s a detail that contributes to (or with the use of www, takes away) the impression of modernity. We need to stop punishing our audience visually with the cruft of tech minutia. We try to lead in so many areas, let’s be sure that our digital communications practices lead too.

Thanks in advance for doing your part to set the example for the rest of the University! If you have trouble configuring a site please feel free to reach out to me and someone on my team will help.

The use of www has never been required by any global technical policy or standard. There is absolutely no reason to use it.

Fun fact: The first use of www (and its resulting popularity) was actually a mistake according to Paolo Palazzi and Tim Berners-Lee. They configured the DNS records for the CERN laboratory incorrectly, and never bothered to fix it.

The use of www is completely unnecessary, and is an old tradition based on a mistake. We need to stop using it.