Gravediggercomic website taken over by AI generated link farm spammer

Recently, a (wordpress) website I had subscribed to via RSS feed (gravediggercomc dot com) changed it’s title (“An Amazing Website”) and started to post new content again.  The content is clearly AI generated link farming.  I suspect that the original website owner decided to not re-register the domain name, and a spammer purchased it after it expired.

June 22nd 2022 was the last time the website displayed the “proper” content for a gravedigger comic website, and probably the last time it was controlled by the original authors:

[Although the copyright notice at the bottom was from 2013-2016….]

[on Oct 7th 2022 it had a “renew now” webpage displayed…]

So, I guess my suggestion is to delete any links you might have to this old/expired domain and ignore it in the future.  And if you own a website, think about keeping it around as long as possible so prevent spammers from taking it over.

Dwarf 2 BUG – Incorrectly supports bidirectional charging (In/Out ports suck power OUT of the Dwarf)

Update: Firmware 2.0.04 appears to fix this issue.
Last night I ran into an issue where my Dwarf 2 smart telescope was stacking images (running the beta software in 1×1 binning mode, so requiring a lot of CPU power) and as soon as I plugged in a USB powerbank, the Dwarf would freeze up and need to be rebooted.
I finally figured out that my powerbank was sucking power OUT of the dwarf, and combined with the load from the CPU doing stacking, this was causing a low voltage situation that caused the Dwarf to crash.

It appears that the USB-C PD chip in the Dwarf is incorrectly programmed to allow power to flow OUT of the dwarf via bi-directional charging. I confirmed this with a USB power meter. This only happens with USB-C PD powerbanks that have “in and out” ports, which can be used to either charge a device OR charge the powerbank, depending upon if the other end is a source or sync of power.

It appears that when turned on, the Dwarf2 advertises the ability to export power, and does so. Workaround: If you plug the powerbank into the Dwarf when it is turned off, the power flows in the correct direction (from the powerbank TO the Dwarf). Even after you turn the dwarf on, this direction remains correct, so it appears to be necessary to plug in the dwarf before you turn it on. I’ve seen this behavior before testing the Beta firmware and App, but I confirmed it most recently with firmware version 2.0.03 and App 2.0.0 B665.

Video demonstrating the problem:

Extracting private data from Android apps

Occasionally, an android application will store data inside its private data store, and not make that data visible to other applications. Sometimes you really really WANT to access that data (such as an ISS transit of the sun which you recorded).  It is possible to use debugging mode to “back up” the apps data, and then extract the backup file to get access to the individual files.  Here is an example of doing this, using the Zwo Seestar app as my example.

Continue reading

Dwarf II Astrophotography filter head to head comparison: SVBONY vs DWARF UHC, CLS, No Filter

Last night I imaged the Leo Triplet using 3 different filters (and a no-filter control shot) using my Dwarf II (Dwarf 2) telescope’s built in stacking algorithm. Each session had 80 images, 10 seconds exposure, 80 gain, with IR pass enabled. The only difference was the time of night (about 15 minutes between shots) and the filter.  I’m in a Bortle 7 light pollution situation.

The Leo Triplet (a.k.a. the M66 Group) consists of NGC 3628 (to the top of the image, which is North), and M65 (bottom right) and M66 (bottom left)

This is what the DWARF II achieves on it’s own (without any post processing) with no filter:Dwarf 2 shot of the Leo Triplet without a filter

And this is using the DWARF UHC (Ultra High Contrast) filter:
Shot of the Leo Triplet using the DWARF UHC filter.
(Not all that different really…..but the background is a bit less noisy)

Here is using the SVBONY UHC filter:
Leo Triplet shot with the SVBONY UHC filter
(The stars appear to be slightly smaller, but so are the triplet galaxies, and the background noise is reduced).

And since I had the SVBONY CLS (City Light Suppression) filter, I also tested it out:
Leo Triplet shot with the SVBONY CLS filter

My takeaway from the four images above (which look very similar, with only subtle differences) is that the SVBONY UHC and the DWARF UHC appear to have relatively similar performance. Also, the Dwarf II’s built in stacking software doesn’t do a super great job illustrating any difference between these filters.

Perhaps my target is the problem, in that UHC/CLS filters may not help much when imaging galaxies. The next time I get clear skys I will try to repeat the test using a nebula.

If you want to try your own post processing, I’ve posted the Raw Data zip file here.

How to limit charging to 80% on a later model year (2014+) Nissan Leaf

Early (2011-2013) United States Nissan Leaf’s had a “limit charging to 80%” feature in the dash.  Nissan removed this feature from US cars after the EPA ruled that if the feature remained, they had to report a lower battery range because on average the car would not be fully charged when it left. [This ruling was incorrect in my opinion…but Nissan removed the feature so that they could advertise the EPA range based upon a 100% charge of the battery.]

I, and many other people, still like to limit charging to only 80% of the battery total capacity in an effort to extend the life of our EV batteries. [This extra effort may or may not be worth the trouble, and many people advise to just charge to 100% and not worry about your battery health, especially for 2016+ vehicles which have a longer battery warranty. But I like to limit charging of Lithium Ion batteries to 80% if I don’t need the extra range.]

If you wanted to only charge your Nissan Leaf to 80% (unless you need extra range for longer trips) on a regular basis, how can you do it on later model year vehicles?

There are three options that I know of:

1. The only way to get a similar effect (keeping the car below 80% SOC most of the time) using only  inbuilt features (i.e. without spending extra money) is to set up the charging timer to charge your vehicle right before you leave. This only works well if you have a regular departure time each day (e.g. for a static work schedule). Then, when you plug in the car, it will not charge until a few hours before your scheduled departure time, aiming to reach 100% about 30 minutes before you depart. This means that the time the battery sits at 100% is minimized. [If you are clever, you can lie about your departure time so that it is reaching 80% about the time you actually leave…]

The downside is that your vehicle is not “ready to go” if you need to leave for an unplanned trip before your regularly schedule departure time, and if you want to charge any other time you have to remember to disable the charging timer so that it will actually charge when you plug in. [My 2015 leaf has an easy to use button for disabling the charge timer…]
Nissan Leaf charging timer disable / off button

So this can be made to work if you have a regular schedule, but it can also be annoying.

2. You can “mimic” the “charge only to 80%” feature by using a Smart / connected EVSE that has a charge limiter built in. For example, I have a JuiceBox, and when I plug in my 2015 leaf, I use the phone app to set the “plugged in percentage” and “stop percentage” (which I just leave at 80%) and it estimates the amount of power needed and will shut off charging after that amount is used. This requires that you pay money for a smart EVSE…but if you haven’t already purchased an EVSE, getting a “smart” or “connected” one with a similar feature will probably only add 1-2 hundred dollars to the purchase price.

Juice Box Pro 40 front faceplate, original silver model from e-motor-works

3. There is also a 3rd party add-on box you can install in your vehicle called Open Vehicle Monitoring System (hardware device) that would allow you to set a charge % limit and also do things like pre-heat in the winter remotely, and has a lot of other logging features…. but it costs $260 (and if you want to be able to use it on a cellular network away from your home/work WiFi networks or the bluetooth range of your phone, you need to include a SIM card with data capabilities which will also probably have a monthly fee)

Open Vehicle Management System Screenshots

Because I already had a JuiceBox, I use method 2…but if I already had a non-smart EVSE, I would probably go with the OVMS route, as it adds other features to the car.
[Especially since the Nissan Connect system in my 2015 leaf no longer works as it used an older 2G cellular service that has since been retired.]  If you have a brand new Nissan Leaf, it probably includes the Nissan Connect service, at least for the first three year of car ownership.

Post Ubuntu 22.04 upgrade fixes

After upgrading from Ubuntu 21.10 to 22.04 on my Lenovo X1 Gen 5, I had the following issues:

1. The built in video player (Totem) would display H.264 AVC videos squished to the far
left of the video window and only black and white. This appears to be a problem with vaapi, as the following command fixed it:

sudo apt remove gstreamer1.0-vaapi

2. Desktop icons disappeared. Had to manually run:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons-ng

3. Firefox (snap) refused to display a file dialog for uploading files to websites (or download any files) until I manually installed:

sudo apt install xdg-desktop-portal-gtk

3. OpenShot video editor 2.6.1 refused to run. This is more of an issue of 2.6.1 not being compatable with the latest desktop that Ubuntu is using, but to fix it is annoying, as OpenShot has not had an official release since 2.6.1 in Sep 2021. You have to use the “Dailies” appImage (or install from the most up to date source yourself) to get a working OpenShot.


4. When trying to open a file on the desktop using the “find software” dialog, I got an error message “Failed to start GNOME software”, which was solved by:

sudo apt install gnome-software

5. Thumbnails would not show up for video files in the file browser, until I installed:

sudo apt install ffmpegthumbnailer


May 2022 energy rates – Duke Energy – Orlando Florida

Residential Service rates for Duke Energy (Florida):

$12.45 per month Customer Charge *

13.082 cents per kWh (first 1000 kWh)
15.039 cents per kWh (all kWh above 1000)

* – Duke also imposes a 30$ minimum bill adjustment, so if you use less than 134 kWh of power ($17.55 of electricity usage + 12.45 customer connection charge = $30) they will add a Minimum Bill Adjustment so that your total charges are $30 (+3.37 of taxes in Orange County Florida) for a total minimum bill of $33.37


Battery Tray / Door discoloration on First Alert Smoke Detector (2018, SA511)

When changing smoke detector batteries on my First Alert SA511 smoke detectors, I noticed that ONE (of the six) has a discolored battery tray/door. It appears that the plastic used to make the battery tray was of a different composition from the rest of the shell, as it has turned yellow with age, while the rest of the smoke detector has not. (Also, my other five smoke detectors all have pure white battery trays that match the body as well…) Continue reading

It’s March 2022, how is Orange County (FL) doing with Covid-19?

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Orange County last week was 2,018, as low as in mid-December of 2021. The Omicron surge is mostly over, and the new case positivity rate has dropped to 6.9% (close to the < 5% threshold that indicates community spread is under control).

While the total number of cases in the Omicron surge was significantly higher than in the Delta surge, the number of hospitalizations (orange line) was slightly lower, and the number of deaths (blue area) is significantly lower. This is partially due to a larger percentage of the population being vaccinated, partially due to the nature of Omicron (infecting the upper respiratory tract more than the lungs), and partially due to survivor bias from prior waves.

According to the CDC, a total of  3,089 covid-19 related deaths have occurred in orange county , or 212 deaths per 100,000 residents.  The total number of confirmed cases is at 371,647, with more than 1 in 4 residents having been infected over the course of the pandemic.

I am hopeful that by next week the test positivity rate will fall below 5%. The CDC community status tracker just recently changed from orange to yellow: