Chromecast Photos 2021 Apr 23, 2021

As of 2021, here are the photos of mine that are currently featured on Google Chromecast. You may have seen them on your television as a sort of default screensaver.

Seaside Wall

Above is a wall that you can see on the hike around the peninsula in Howth, Ireland

Below is CN Tower, it’s in Toronto, and is easily the most iconic feature of that city’s skyline.

CN Tower

Arithmatica

This is a sort of mechanical calulator at the Museum of Art in Vienna.

The Wine Barrel below is from Picchetti Winery in Northern California.

Wine Cask

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Two Tower Photos Jan 30, 2021

Recently my Google Display decided to create an automatic collage out of these two photos, and I was very impressed, so I’ve recreated it here.

Upon further investigation, I found out that the tower on the left is also a clocktower, the second largest in the world at that.

Tower in Tokyo

Tower in Amsterdam

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3D Printed IKEA Skadis hooks Jan 16, 2021

I have an IKEA Skadis pegboard, and when I bought it, I also got some of the standard hooks to go with it.

Unfortunately, I discovered pretty quickly that the official hooks are very unsatisfying to use. More than half the time, when I went to remove something from a hook, it’d disengage from the pegboard, and fall off if I wasn’t careful.

Long story short: I’ve created a 3d design for a new, two-part hook that won’t pop out, fits a wider range of items, and takes up less vertical space than the original. I’ve been using it for months now and am very pleased with the results.

I’ve made the design available on Thingiverse. It’s built to go with this clip, which holds the whole thing in place. Let me know if you find any way to improve on this design.

IKEA Skadis Hook Demo

IKEA Skadis Hook Demo

If you’re interested in the reason why I needed this hook, or the process of developing it, read on:

The problems started when I realized that some of my pans were not going to fit correctly, their handles were simply too wide to attach to the hook. I also noticed that the action of removing a pan from a hook could easily result in the hook coming off of the pegboard. My immediate thought was to go online and find an alternative hook that I could 3d print.

I quickly found a good looking one that fit my pans well, but it had a different problem, instead of the hook getting pulled up and away, it would get pushed back into the pegboard.

Original Design

I realized that the problem is simply that any hook that could be inserted into the pegboard would have one of the two problems, either it could get pulled up and away, or it could get pushed back into the pegboard. One way or the other, if the peg can be removed, it’s going to have this problem.

Early design hook problem

That’s when I saw that someone had already designed a clip for the original hooks. The original hooks were still not deep enough for my pans, but what if I adapted the longer hook that I had found so that it would be held in by the clip.

This combined hook+clip system works very well, although I improved it a bit further by adding a diagonal crossbar to ensure that the hook is strong enough for my heaviest pans. If you think about it, any approach that’s going to work well is going to be two pieces, because any single piece will always be able to detach in the same way it attached.

Some follow-up ideas I have are:

  1. Some sort of locking mechanism on the main part to keep the clip from sliding down
  2. Somehow printing the two parts together as a single element. This is going to run into problems because unlike the current parts, it couldn’t be printed on its side like the current hook+clip system, but it might be worth experimenting with nonetheless.
  3. Printing an even longer hook, perhaps out of metal, to accomplish similar goals as Ikea’s official long hook

Handling A Bulky Pan Handle

Above: my hook+clip system handling a pan handle too bulky for the original hooks.

Below: my current pan layout.

Many Pans in current layout

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Refried Beans Jan 4, 2021

Back in late February, we bought some dry pinto beans, 50 pounds to be precise. Needless to say, we’ve been looking for ways to use them up.

Instructions

Cook the bacon in the Instant Pot on sauté until it begins to brown, then throw in the onions and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add a cup or so of the water and scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is stuck on.

Cooking Bacon and Onions

Add the rest of the water, the pinto beans, and the salt. Seal and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Once the cooking completes, let the Instant Pot sit for 25 minutes, then release the remaining pressure.

Working in two batches, heat half of the butter in a large skillet over high heat.

Melting Butter

Fry 6 cups beans and their liquid until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Smash beans in skillet with a potato masher until mixture is thick and almost no whole beans remain (it should still be pourable at this point, but will thicken a lot as it cools).

Frying Beans Start About to Blend Blending

Transfer to whatever storage or serving container you prefer. Repeat with remaining beans and the other half of the butter.

You can reheat in the microwave, but the outcome is much tastier if you reheat in a skillet similarly to how it was initially cooked.

It’s hard to take attractive pictures of refried beans, so here they are with a little cheese. They make an excellent filling for quesadillas or a dip for chips.

Served with Monterey Jack

This recipe was created because we were looking for something really delicious, but we didn’t want to spend hours watching over a pot on a low boil. We combined the basic ingredient set from Bon Appétit’s recipe with some specifics about cooking refried beans with an instant pot we found poking around other recipe sites covered in ads.

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Editing Example Sep 30, 2020

I think I remember Trey Ratcliff writing that you should expect to spend more time on editing photos than on taking them. I can’t say I always spend that much time editing my photos, but every once in a while there’s a photo that has some clearly fixable problem that is otherwise awesome. Here are some examples. Hover or tap to see the originals

Before After

So, to begin with, the ‘original’ here is a single exposure, and the final is an HDR photo, a combination of three exposures, that handles the extreme difference in brightness between the sky and the park.

The more time consuming fix was the color of the water. When I was taking the photo, I didn’t really think about it, but the water was almost as green as the grass nearby, which wasn’t the look I was going for. I spent a while painstakingly selecting just the water, only to realize that I wasn’t sure what kind of color correction to apply once I’d got it.

After reaching a dead end with the color replacement tool, I found that a channel mixer adjustment layer got me what I was looking for.

Before After

In this second photo, I once again started by combining multiple exposures into a High Dynamic Range photo (I use Aurora HDR these days).

But I had a much bigger problem, the aspect ratio wasn’t wide enough for a widescreen TV, and cropping it would lose either the figure reading a book or the top of the tree. I ended up using multiple approaches to widen the photo without distorting it too much. I used a few rounds of content aware scaling, applied to both sides of the photo to widen it.

Finally, I just wasn’t happy with the original clouds, so I ended up rebuilding the clouds from scratch. I used instructions from this tutorial to do it, although I’ve softened it a bit to match the photo.

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