Monthly Archives: August 2015

Color Guam Free Tour Tomorrow

Tomorrow will be the third in our free historical tours we are conducting in association with our book launch. On Saturday 8/29/2015, I will be leading the hike around the South Pacific Memorial Peace Park in Yigo. Meet Taliea, our kids, and me at the Peace Park at 10:00 am tomorrow and we will tour around the site for about an hour. Hope to see you there!

The park is located below:
[map lat=”13.5439194″ lng=”144.8842965″ height=’400px’ zoom=15]South Pacific Memorial Park, Yigo[/map]

Map Rage

I simply cannot believe how difficult this was to accomplish. I am still no entirely convinced this is a stable solution. It seemed like such a simple, common thing; embedding a google map onto a WordPress blog post. Silly me.

This is the result of three hours of work, and I still don’t have it the way I like. It is not formatting to the height or width I want…

[map lat=”13.5439194″ lng=”144.8842965″ height=’400px’ zoom=15]South Pacific Memorial Park, Yigo[/map]

At least the damn map is displaying at last.

Apparently something in this install of WordPress has disabled short codes, iframes and oembed, or has some sort of grievance with Google Maps. I tried over and over to drop a map into this post and nothing worked. I tried two or three methods mentioned in all the tutorials online in vain, then I went through four plugins to no avail, and finally edited in the functions.php file for this install. All for naught. Frustrating.

Finally got a plugin that seems to work at least. But none of the formatting options are working. Shouldn’t be this hard to embed a damn map.

UPDATE — Aha! The parameters need to be passed as numbers not strings. OR NOT. God this so frustrating. Only the zoom level parameter needs to be passed as an integer. Height and width are still not working. Either the parameter name is wrong (which I strongly suspect) or the format is wrong. I dunno and I don’t care anymore.

Final UPDATE — Okay. So the zoom level is set by an integer with no quotes. Latitude and Longitude are strings wrapped in double quotes, and map height is a string set by single quotes. However… The default map height overrides any customizations I make in the embed code. So I had to go edit the default map height parameter in the plugin settings page. Finally got my map at the height and zoom level I wanted. That only took four hours to figure out. Jesus.

Now, if I could just figure out how to enable satellite view instead of road map view…

WordPress Has An App

Don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but WordPress has an app to perform basic functions like posting.  

Not exactly fun tapping out this post however.  More like pulling teeth. Guess it works in a pinch. 

Weekend Getaway At The Westin

The family took a short staycation at the Westin Resort in Tumon this weekend. We felt bad that summer vacation was over and we didn’t take the kids anywhere this year. We’ve promised Lorelei a trip for ages now, and it just hasn’t materialized yet, so this was a compromise solution. I had enough points with the Starwood Preferred Guest program for a free night, so why not spend it up in town with the kids?

We checked in Saturday afternoon after Taliea’s book signing event at Navy Exchange, then spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the pool and playing on the beach. The kids loved it, we didn’t have to pack it in and head home at sunset for once. We stayed on the beach until sunset, then went and played in the pool until well after dark.

Dinner Saturday night was at the always tasty Cat Crea Cafe, a quirky cafe located just outside the Westin’s property. We took a short walk down the hill to Paradise Island (do they still call it that?) and through the Plaza, the Outrigger Hotel lobby and into the new Dusit Thani Hotel’s lobby and grounds. The pool looks amazing at night, there are LED lights in the bottom that sparkle and change color slowly.

A couple of adventures later, and we were back at the Westin by 10:00 pm for lights out and a good night’s rest on their famous beds.

Sunday started out early, as we had another surprise for the children. Breakfast at McDonald’s was tasty, they make good pancakes there. Not as good as mine, but certainly a morning highlight. One thing I couldn’t understand was the line wrapped around the building for Eggs ‘N Things, a Hawaii based chain restaurant that specializes in breakfast. Sorry, I am not waiting in the broiling sun for two hours to eat breakfast, no matter how good it tastes.

After breakfast we headed to the big event for Sunday; a surprise trip on Ride the Ducks Guam! The kids have been begging to go on the iconic amphibious vehicle tour for a year now, ever since the Ducks first arrived on Guam. We booked for the first tour of that morning as Taliea thought it would be too hot later in the day. Taliea played it up as a big surprise and wouldn’t tell the kids why we were just hanging out in the lobby of the Sandcastle on a Sunday morning. Just when the kids were about to revolt because of all this boring sitting around stuff, the Duck waddled around the corner of the building and parked outside. The kids absolutely freaked out, Russell was jumping up and down and Lorelei had this huge grin on her face.

The tour started a bit later, and the Duck was fully loaded with Japanese tourists. The overhead audio tour was all in Japanese, but we were provided with headphones and plugged into an audio jack for the English version. I didn’t bother with it after listening for ten seconds to the nonsense, but it was a nice touch. Other languages are available on different channels via the headphones too.

The tour headed south through Tumon and into Tamuning, past GPO and onto Marine Drive. We amused ourselves with the Duck Polka music and the squawking duck noise makers we received back at Sandcastle. After a brief ride the Duck arrived at Apra Harbor, drove past the power plants and commercial port and arrived at the old Cabras seaplane ramp. There the bus driver switched out with a boat captain, who took over and plunged us into the water. The kids loved it, but let’s just say a Duck is not exactly a nimble beast in the ocean. We puttered around the harbor for about a half hour, during which all the kids on board got a chance to drive the Duck around. Lorelei took a turn at the wheel, then Russell too.

After pulling out of the water and switching back to the bus driver, we resumed our tour with a brief loop through Hagåtña, back to Tumon and a swing past the other Baldyga Group property, The Beach. Apparently the Lina’la Cultural Park next to the beach is closed, which is a shame. Taliea said she thought the historical village had been damaged during our recent typhoons. I hope the place reopens soon, that is another place on our bucket list for kid’s activities.

The Duck bus dropped us back at the Sandcastle shortly before 11:00 am, and we headed back to the hotel. A couple more hours of swimming at the pool ensued, followed by a late checkout at 3:00 pm. Lots of fun activities for just 24 hours up ‘in town’ as my boy likes to say.

Three Cheers For Google

I recently picked up a couple used Google Nexus 7 tablets for the kids. My daughter had one for about a year, but it got submerged in a storm sewer last November (that’s a story for another day). With the prices being so affordable now, I picked up two about a week ago. Sure the device is three years old, but it is still plenty fast for the kids to use. One for her, one for the boy. They arrived on Saturday, and they were presented to the kids during our brief staycation at the Westin this weekend.

Barely 24 hours after getting his tablet, my son broke his screen. Argh. It was in the biggest, most protective case I could find online for the Nexus 7 too. No stopping an irate 4 year old with no parental supervision I guess.

That evening I assessed the damage and took a stab at repairing the device. I still had the water damaged Nexus 7 from last year’s fiasco; it never worked again, despite being taken apart and stowed in a ziploc bag with uncooked rice for a week to draw out all the moisture. But it was stashed away in a drawer because I figured it could be used for parts someday. I actually replaced the screen and the speakers on that old device last summer after my daughter dropped it and I was surprised at how simple it was to disassemble and replace parts on the machine. A far cry from working on Apple iOS devices like the iPod Touch and the iPad. I worked on several of those the last few years and I don’t relish the idea of doing it again.

So kudos to iFixit for their simple and easy to follow instructions. Kudos to Asus and Google for making such an easy to repair device. After about a half hour of tinkering with the two devices, I was able to cobble together a working tablet with the old device’s screen and the new one’s innards and back casing. Kudos to Asus and Google again for making such a rugged device that the screen still works after being submerged for several hours in rain water. Well done everyone.

So now the boy has a working device again – but I think he will have to wait a few days before it magically makes a reappearance, this time under constant supervision. I don’t have any more of these things just lying around.

PS – Here’s a great tip for speeding up the Nexus 7 after upgrading to Lollipop. Follow this guy’s instructions to delete the upgrade cache files to free up space and improve performance.

One Last Thing For Today

Wow,

That’s more blogging in one morning than I’ve done in almost a decade.

Anyway, heading out with the family for a brief staycation. Till then feast your eyes on this:

Dark side of the moon crosses the Pacific in DSCOVER image from NASA

That’s the dark side of the moon passing in front of the Earth, taken last month by NASA’s newest solar probe, DSCOVER, located a million miles out from Earth. It is really amazing to see how dark the moon is when compared to the brilliant blue white jewel behind it. Also, check out the hurricane churning off the coast of Mexico, that’s pretty cool too.

Talking Statues

Just caught this story on CBS this morning and it struck a nerve:

More than 30 historical figures and monuments around Chicago have been outfitted with mobile technology. It allows them to have their voice and even give their opinions, CBS News’ Dean Reynolds reports.

Basically the city of Chicago installed plaques next to the statues with QR Codes displayed. People scan the QR Code and it plays audio recorded by celebrities associated with Chicago.

Statue Stories Chicago runs for the next year and it is garnering all sorts of positive press. Hopefully this program encourages people to explore the wonderful city of Chicago and learn about the history of the city of broad shoulders. This sounds like a great idea, but I can’t help but think it seems a bit familiar somehow

Goodbye Fink > Hello Brew

Spent some time this morning trying to install some software (lynx actually – anybody remember that?) on my iMac. I tried using Fink, but apparently the repos are no longer maintained, or have shifted their location.

This led down a rathole for almost two hours as I tried to get Fink update and upgraded to use OS X 10.9 Mavericks. I originally installed Fink many many years ago on OS X 10.5 Snow Leopard. Yeah my iMac is that old. Still kicking though.

Anyway, it proved insurmountable to me. I am sure a couple more hours of tinkering and I would have set the path to the 64 bit binaries, but my frustration bucket was filled by 11:30 am. With no clear upgrade path and I ended up uninstalling Fink. And I was fine with that. But then the Mavericks distro required me to compile from source. Ugh. Fink was clearly showing its age, and a cursory examination of the packages in the 10.9 distribution was less than exciting. Too much friction, not enough payoff. Sayonara Fink.

But I felt I needed a package manager – I still wanted to scratch that geeky itch and install Lynx. And I didn’t want to compile it from source. I got two kids running underfoot this morning, I can’t focus completely on the computer.

So enter Homebrew, a more modern package manager built around Ruby and Git, two tools I am quite familiar with. Took about four minutes to download and install and now – presto – I have lynx running on my computer. And now I have htop too, my favorite activity monitoring tool these days. Gosh that was painless. Hey about another trip down memory lane with tin? Crikey that works too! I will draw the line at elm however.

Television On Guam

Let’s talk about television on Guam.

We cut the cord years ago, and got rid of cable in 2011. Been streaming Netflix and Youtube on the TV ever since, but I missed live sports. Especially football. So last year I installed a television antenna on my roof last Christmas and now I get seven glorious channels of digital content (and one fuzzy regular TV station) here on Guam.

  1. NBC affiliate KUAM NBC at 8.1
  2. CBS affiliate KUAM CBS at 8.2 (hellooo football…)
  3. PBS affiliate KGTF at 12.1 and 12.2
    1. 12.1 is the regular station; Masterpiece Theater, NOVA, Sesame Street etc.
    2. 12.2 is local content; public affairs, Jr. ROTC drills, and local documentaries produced through the years
  4. ABC affiliate KTGM at 14.1
  5. Fox affiliate KEQI-LP in regular TV full of static at 22 – This channel is supposed to be at 14.2 as it is a sister station to KTGM, but I cannot seem to get that channel
  6. Iglesia Ni Cristo programming at 26.1 and 26.2 – This used to be KTKB (The CW), but it doesn’t seem to be that anymore.

If anybody’s listening I have a couple questions I can’t seem to figure out. The audio drops in and out on 14.1 and I can’t fix it. The colors tend to drift on 12.1 sometimes, then snap back. And of course that thing with 14.2 not showing up. Anyone with any ideas, please comment below.

My kids are generally befuddled by regular television. They are used to all cartoons, all the time. On demand and streaming of anything their little heart’s desire. Lion King? Sure. My Little Pony? You betcha. Phineas and Ferb? Winx? Octonauts? Lilo & Stitch? Spider Man? All just a few clicks away. The idea of scheduled programming is beyond their ken.

And commercials? A couple months ago I took my boy to the doctor’s office for some illness or other. While we were waiting in the play room/waiting room, a television was playing Disney Jr. and on came this Toy Story Short – Toy Story of Terror. He got really into this show, but when they paused for a commercial about 10 minutes into the program, he was utterly confused. “What happened? Where’s Woody?” was all I heard until it came back on. He could not fathom what commercials where in the slightest. I guess that’s a good thing.

Color Guam News

So the wife has been selling our activity book, Explore, Learn and Color Guam for several months now. The book combines a virtual tour of Guam with activities and coloring pages for over thirty historical sites and places of interest on our beautiful island. A unique feature of our book is the use of QR codes to direct readers to our website to hear audio descriptions of the sites in English and Chamorro.

A couple satisfied customers at Guam's Big BBQ Block Party in July 2015

One of the big events for the book was her participation in GUMA, a unique small business incubator offered by the Galaide Group and the Small Business Development Center at UOG. GUMA’s mission is to develop local artists and entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses and unique merchandise showcasing Guam’s culture. At the conclusion of the program we had the opportunity to compete for a Federally Funded grant to build our business. And thanks to Taliea’s long hours we actually won a grant.

With the grant money we were able to have the book translated into Japanese, record audio in Japanese and fund an initial print run in Japanese just in time for the Obon Festival this month. We are very excited about this news as Japan sends over a million visitors to Guam every year. The activity book is a great way for tourists to explore our island and learn about Guam’s rich history and culture.