Category Archives: blog

Move update- packing up crap

moving boxes stacking upMy last move was 17 years ago when we moved from Lynnwood to Arlington. Back then I rented a U-Haul truck and made a few runs up and down I-5 to move all our stuff into our new place. That’s not an option this time, we have a lot more household items now and the trip is about 2,600 miles.

I have found that trying to pick a long distance mover is harder than I expected. There’s a ton of different companies, and many of them are just brokers that in some cases switch your load between carriers on such a long haul. One quoted me 3-4 weeks for my items to make the trip from Arlington to Chattanooga. Anyhow I’ve settled on a major moving company and they plan on loading up all of our belongings, including our 2 cars and getting it down there in 5 days, just in time for us to move our stuff into our new home.

After spending the last couple weeks boxing up stuff I have to say it is unbelievable how much stuff one can accumulate in 17 years. I have donated and dumped off tons of stuff that was packed away in closets, under the house and in the garage.

I have a lot more to pack in the next couple weeks. Apparently ammunition and aerosol cans are a no-no on moving trucks so I will need to find a place for them.

Still need to cancel PUD, Waste Management, switch my ISP and forward my postal mail to my new address.

Oh and I found out that moving my cats to Chattanooga will cost $1,200 to haul them in a climate controlled van. (I just can’t do the cats on a plane)

Change

Photo of the Tennessee river in Chattanooga Bill Gillam 2015

I’ve been busy and not doing too much with my blog (or twitter for that matter) the last couple months. The reason is I’ve been dealing with a whole lot of change in my life. To sum it up quickly- I’m moving to Chattanooga Tennessee. I’ll be working for a construction company in Chattanooga, doing very similar work to what I’ve been doing in the Pacific Northwest over the last 25 years.

This all went down rather quickly over the last 2 months. I listed the house for sale, sold it within 2 weeks, purchased a home in Chattanooga and I’ll be moving by the end of April. It’s slightly overwhelming dealing with so much change in a short amount of time, I’m still sort of numb the way this has all come together.

I’ll miss Snohomish County, having lived here my entire life. Leaving my friends and family will be tough, but I’m ready for a big change in my life, and this is going to be that change. A new challenge in a new part of the country, lots of opportunity to explore and experience a new lifestyle.

I hope I can find a form of public service to participate in when I get down to Tennessee, I’ve been a Reserve Deputy Sheriff, part time Firefighter/EMT and finally a Fire Commissioner here in Snohomish County over the last 25 years. I have no idea what opportunities exist there but certainly plan on looking into it after I get settled in.

I’ll be more active on this blog during this move and will share my experience of what it’s like to move from the Pacific Northwest to Tennessee over the next few months.

Fallout from my WSP video

GMA

When I uploaded the video from WSP’s speed enforcement in Wenatchee earlier this week I had no idea it would blow up to become a national news story. I was hoping that others would share my frustration after hearing officers running late to a conference blowing through a speed trap 20+mph over the limit without being stopped.

Apparently this video struck a nerve with folks. It was first picked up by Komo here in Seattle, then KCPQ, then Kiro. I ended up getting phone calls from news agencies all over the country asking about the video.

video camera setup

I agreed to do on-camera interviews with ABC World News and Kiro to discuss my thoughts on the incident.  After seeing me on TV I received a lot of texts/phone calls from friends telling me that I’d better avoid driving for a while, basically implying that WSP will want to “get even” for making them look bad.

Friday I was contacted by an attorney in Wenatchee that kindly offered to represent any motorist that received a citation at that speed enforcement operation for free.  Attorney John Brangwin sounds like he’s very familiar with WSP and defending those who receive tickets in these types of situations. If you received a citation at this location and want to talk with John, his phone number is 509-663-3915, or visit his firm’s website for more contact info.

His services may not be needed however- Friday the news announced that WSP was “voiding” all the citations issued at that location for the two days that the conference attendees were allowed to pass through without receiving tickets.tickets voided

The incident was embarrassing to the State Patrol and they will be making changes to how they handle patrol cars that are speeding through their enforcement areas in the future.

Mark my words on this one- they will encrypt their air to ground communications sometime in the near future. They will cite “public-safety” or “privacy” as their reason, but the real reason is they don’t like having something like this being brought out to make them look bad.

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Washington State Patrol aircraft catches several police cars speeding- and does nothing.

I had to make a run to Wenatchee today for work. It was an uneventful drive over highway 2, until I got a couple miles out of Wenatchee. I had been following a police car over the pass from Lynden, which was a little odd considering that’s up in Whatcom county. As we got close to Wenatchee a WSP patrol car came up on my bumper, both the Lynden car and I moved aside for him to pass. It passed me about the time we entered a speed emphasis area of highway 2. I had my scanner so I flipped over to WSP car to car frequency and picked up the aircraft chatter with the ground units.

As I continued on my way past the speed trap “emphasis” I could hear the pilot NOT calling out the speeds of the speeders- asking ground units to confirm if they were patrol cars or not. He said he tracked several patrol cars doing “over 80” in the 60 mph zone, but they stopped none of them. It became clear that all these speeding police cars were on their way to a “drug recognition expert” conference at Lake Chelan. Apparently that’s good enough for WSP, they let them all through without stopping any of them. (They did stop a motorcyclist- but he also was heading to the conference and it sounded like he got a pass too- for 78 mph and cutting off a car).

Check out the video and see for yourself- classic case of “do as I say, not as I do”

President Obama visits Arlington, Washington

marine one at arlington wa airport

President Obama paid a visit to Arlington and Oso, Washington Tuesday on his way to Asia. Anytime the president is on the move it’s a big deal, but rolling his hardware into a small town like Arlington is pretty unusual. I grabbed a few photos and video of his visit. There were a ton of resources out in Arlington and up highway 530 to support this trip.

Here’s a few shots from his visit:

Autotrader.com vs Craigslist for selling a car, my experience

I decided to sell my 2007 Avalanche a few weeks ago, it’s been a good rig but I no longer drive it enough to justify keeping it. I decided I’d try autotrader.com, since they claim to reach millions of serious buyers, and will run the ad until the car sells. I chose the “deluxe ad” and picked the “premium listing” option bringing the total to $79.00.

I uploaded the pics and wrote up a decent description:

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I figured it would take a couple days to get some type of activity on it, but after two weeks I had not received one phone call or email from prospective buyers. Autotrader’s “ad manager” lets you see the activity on your listing. Here’s how my ad looked after 14 days of “premium/deluxe” listing:

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Needless to say I was less than impressed with the Autotrader experience. My truck came up in searches over 800 times, but only 14 people clicked on my ad. And not one of those folks chose to contact me via email or phone.

So I decided to list the same photos and description on Craigslist, which has a more reasonable pricing structure- free.

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Within one day I had emails requesting details on the truck. Being Craigslist I had some ridiculous offers, both cash and part trades for crap I had no interest in. But within 4 days I met with a buyer, who made a reasonable offer and the Avalanche was sold.

If I were to do it over again I would have started with the Craigslist ad for 2-3 weeks, then attempted Autotrader if I wasn’t getting any bites. I was pretty disappointed that I optioned up for their best ad listing, and received zero response for the 80 bucks it cost.

Tulip traffic sucks.

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I had to run up to Bellingham saturday to meet my accountant, it was a nice day and figured it would be a good drive.

Sadly I forgot about the tulip festival and ended up spending an hour sitting in stop and go traffic on I-5.

I’ve seen the tulips once, and that was enough for me.

What’s up with the 04.23.2014 billboards?

20140412-204132.jpg Over the last couple months several of these billboards have popped up around Skagit and Whatcom county. Just a plain billboard with some green lines and the text “04.23.2014” in the center.

I can’t find any information via google searches for any big announcements or events scheduled for Wednesday, April 23, 2014. I’ve tried twitter and reddit but have not had anyone explain what the backstory is on these billboards.

Anyone have any info who/what is behind these billboards?

Parashoot team responds to blog post- “Get lost asshole”

The Creators of ParashootApparently the folks at Parashoot didn’t appreciate my blog post regarding their bizarre post fundraising behavior.

They have been awfully busy deleting posts from their comment board on indiegogo (over 30 posts removed at last count), but don’t have the time to post any evidence that they have done anything since raising $150,113 back in October.

Anyhow they were nice enough to send me this note Saturday:

email from team parashoot

Apparently the boys don’t like people questioning their little camera project. They’re only two months behind schedule on delivery and have provided no evidence that they have done anything to produce their camera. I’m sure it will work out just fine.

The odd crowdsourcing story that is ParaShoot 2.1

Iparashoot 2.1 crowdsourcing‘ve backed a few projects on Kickstarter in the past with mixed results. Often the goal is not met, or in some cases the people raising money fail to produce their product, only to keep the money.

A few months ago I backed a project on Kickstarter, the “Parashoot” portable HD camera. Sadly their campaign was cancelled by Kickstarter shortly before it was scheduled to end. Messages in the project comments questioned why their camera appeared to be an exact copy of a camera that was already available under various names such Unieye for less than a hundred bucks in some cases. I ended up buying one on ebay and it turned out to be a decent little camera. Some video from my unieye here.

Well the same guys started another campaign for the “Parashoot 2.1 camera” on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. This time they raised over 150k and promised delivery of the camera in November for early backers. The camera looked the same as the ones already for sale, with the exception of a smooth cover that was shown on some of their photos (but others showed the same face as the camera already for sale) No explanation as to how the smooth face version would deal with the microphone and speaker, which are now missing.

Anyhow, raised their cash, then missed their November delivery. Some folks questioned why they were not updating the development status on their Facebook page and in the Indiegogo comments for their project.

On December 11th they finally emailed an update to backers. (I backed their project so I received it)

Here is the content of their 12-11-13 update:

News and Update

We’re excited to share with everyone our latest progress.  Given the great support and much feedback we’ve received to improve the performance of the ParaShoot to the maximum, we’ve pushed ahead to accomplish significant stretch goals for advanced hardware and software capabilities.  Even though we did not reach the amount of funding we had laid out for these major upgrades from the outset, we realized it would be valuable to backers that we accomplish them now, rather than shipping the ParaShoot with the specifications/features as is.  The following are the results of our ongoing labor:

Upgrades

We have been working feverishly to upgrade the hardware and software capabilities of the PS.  Going down the list, here is what we are improving as we speak:

CPU – upgrade

DRAM – upgrade

Internal memory – upgrade

Camera sensor – upgrade (our prototype was a 1Mp sensor)

Video resolution – upgrade (this is exciting, we’ll post an update on specific progress in the video resolution area again soon)

Photo resolution – upgrade

App functions – upgrade (adding functions that will allow to enjoy not just time lapse photography, but additional awesome photo and video features – more on this to come)

App capabilities – upgrade (Adding ability to share/upload your footage to youtube/social networks)

New sensors – g-sensor, gyro, external gps (each serving a unique purpose)

Design – we are working to improve the enclosure (more on this to come)

Accessories – we are improving the accessories

Let’s not forget the skins – now is the time to share your input/ideas with us

In light of all these great upgrades, we realize now that our initial estimated delivery schedule was aggressive.  The technical effort to advance the specs and upgrade the PS has pushed back the delivery timetable.  We are now estimating that November early adopters will receive the first prototypes in January, and December First Backers will receive the PS in late January/February.  We hope you look forward to getting and appreciating this awesome piece of tech as much as we can’t wait to get the ParaShoot your hands for your utmost fun and deployment.

I thought it was weird that they emailed this update rather than put it on their project page, like every other project. I also thought it was weird that they are adding a “G Sensor, Gyro and External GPS” to the camera when they never mentioned this during the previous months of promotion, and no user requested any of these pointless features.  I questioned this in the comment section of their project page and all my comments were deleted within minutes.

To date they have not shown a photograph showing any progress of this project, no photos from their trips to China, no shots of the production, no proof that they done anything with the $150,113 they raised.

Even worse for these guys, the Looxcie 3 is now available, which looks to be exactly the same camera they were developing, with better software and cases, for $99. (Some people paid $500 for the privilege of getting 2 Parashoot cameras, roughly $300 more than what you would pay to get the two Looxcie 3 cams today) I mentioned on the Parashoot Facebook page and it was promptly deleted.

I hope these guys can deliver what they promised their backers. Their odd behavior with deleting comments, hiding updates from the public and getting their Kickstarter project suspended does seem a little odd. And the fact that you can buy a camera that looks just like the one on their campaign video today, for hundred bucks is pretty disappointing.  Time will tell.