December 23, 2017 at 11:10am

New Tax Law

The President signed the new tax bill yesterday (22 Dec 2017) and it is now law. So far I have found three articles that give useful details about the new law. I recommend that everyone read all three articles.

34 Details About the Law

From CNN Money on 22 Dec 2017
It is important to note that the changes for corporations are permanent, but those for individual returns are good for only eight years, unless renewed by Congress.

Details About the Timing of Changes

From The Washington Post on 22 Dec 2017
The new law takes effect on 1 January 2018, but the Obamacare individual mandate does not end until 1 January 2019. So if you have not had health insurance and you plan to continue to have none, you will likely have tax penalties related to this to be paid with your 2017 and 2018 returns. Those penalties will not be incurred for tax years 2019 through 2025.

Things That Could Reduce Your 2017 Taxes

If you will be able to itemize deductions on your 2017 return, you might be able to lower your 2017 taxes by paying in extra money in 2017 for property taxes, state income taxes and charity. The most workable of these three is to make more charitable payments, as they will be deductible on your Schedule A, even if you are subject to AMT tax on your property tax and state income taxes.

© 2017 by Ron Chester - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

August 23, 2017 at 10:00pm

Cars That Won’t Fit in the Garage

The garage in the house we’re buying is just under 17 1/2 feet deep. Sadly that pretty much rules out some cars, as we want to keep our cars in the garage, with the door closed. The following cars would stick out the back, making it impossible to close the door. So they have been taken off the shopping list.

Audi

2017 Audi A8L Extended, 20 feet, 10 inches long (over three feet t0o long).

2017 A8L Extended

Cadillacs

1977-1984 Fleetwood Limo, 20 feet long (nearly three feet too long).

1979 Fleetwood Limo

1959 Eldorado Seville, 18 feet, 9 inches (the whole fin would be outside).

1959 Eldorado Seville

Mercedes

2016 Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, 18 feet, 8 inches (more than a foot too long).

2016 Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6

Ford Model T - Keep this one on the shopping list!

The 1926 Model T Roadster would fit nicely in the garage with more than five feet to spare. In fact, that might have been the original car at the house!

1926 Model T Roadster

© 2017 by Ron Chester - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

cars
August 19, 2017 at 12:55pm

Posting Pictures on Microblog

In the first few days of my being on Microbog, I noticed people posting images, so I asked how I could do that. The answer was, Use the app.” I found out they meant I should use the Microblog app on the iPhone, which apparently made it easy to post a picture. This was when I first discovered that Microblog is written by Apple users, its technology mainly focused on using Apple devices for posting on Microblog. I hadn’t noticed this restriction when I signed up for the Kickstarter for Microblog.

But there is a web interface for Microblog, so surely there must be a way I could post a picture using that. No, I was told there wasn’t, not yet. But I found it could be done, using markdown and my Dropbox Public folder. The images had to be in that particular folder, a type of folder that Dropbox was no longer including with Dropbox accounts. By logging in to Dropbox, I could navigate to that folder and I could then get a public link for any image there. If I used that link in the URL of the image syntax in markdown, the picture would appear on Microblog, when posted.

I was thrilled that I had figured out how to get a picture to post. Here is the first picture I posted and when I saw it worked, I posted a text message, needling the user who told me I would need an iPhone for posting pictures.
First image

The next day, I posted my favorite image of my car.
Porsche 996

And on June 15, 2017 I posted my favorite picture of Nina Widjaja posing with a Telefunken Concerto radio.
Nina with Telefunken radio

A couple of days later I posted a picture from Bangkok Airport, but it gave a very unsatisfying result, ugly really.
Virulhuk at Bangkok Airport
I discussed the issue with Manton and then never tried to post another image again on Microblog.

Until today, that is. I had received an email from Dropbox, informing me that my Public folder links will become inactive on September 1.” Once again an Internet service was changing the rules on me. They said if I want to shares those files again, you’ll need to use shared links instead. I read the instructions and tried it on Microblog. The picture I was trying to post came out blank, above where I posted a title for the picture. On my About page, it showed the text Before Dylan Show” where the picture belonged.
shared link text only

In the Home stream, the area for the image was just completely blank.
shared link not working

Here’s the picture I was trying to post.
Before Dylan Show
Works okay here, doesn’t it.

So it looks like beginning in September, I will no longer have the ability to post pictures on Microblog. I guess it isn’t a huge loss. I had stopped posting images there, even using my Dropbox trick, because the result was so ugly with my Virulhok photo. And Blot seems to do a great job in posting pictures, so I guess I’ll just use Blot for images.

© 2017 by Ron Chester - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Blot Dylan images Microblog
August 15, 2017 at 9:11pm

Long Gone, Not Forgotten

A few years ago, I was collecting all the Sandy Denny albums I could get my hands on. She died at the very young age of 31 in April 1978, as a result of complications from a fall down a staircase, hitting her head on concrete.

When I was collecting her albums, I don’t remember ever seeing any videos of her performing. That changed yesterday when I found this 1970 video of her performing four songs, including John the Gun, one of my favorites.

© 2017 by Ron Chester - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Fotheringay Live at The Beat Club 1970
00:00 Nothing More
04:52 Gypsy Davey
08:42 John The Gun
13:34 Too Much Of Nothing

John the Gun Lyrics
My shadow follows me
Wherever I should chance to go
John The Gun did say
’’If you should chance to meet me
As I wander to and fro
Sad would be your day”

Put away your guns of steel
Death comes too soon for all
Your Master He may need you soon
And you must heed His call

My life is mine my gun did shine
To take what goes before me
Never shall I fall
Ideals of peace are gold
Which fools have found
Upon the plains of war
I shall destroy them all

Put away your guns of steel
Death comes too soon for all
Your Master He may need you soon
And you must heed His call

I am the master of the games
That you will hardly ever play
So I will teach your sons
And if they should die
Before the evening of their span of days
Why will they die

Put away your guns of steel
Death comes too soon for all
Your Master He may need you soon
And you must heed His call

Condemn me not
For always will I play the game of war
In moonshine or in sun
If any cross the path I choose to tread
Their chances they are poor
My name is John The Gun

Put away your guns of steel
Death comes too soon for all
Your Master He may need you soon
And you must heed His call

Sandy Denny, Chipstead Street, London 1972 by Jon Lyons
Sandy Denny, Chipstead Street, London 1972 by Jon Lyons

images music
August 14, 2017 at 1:38pm

Using Footnotes in Blot

I’ve been working my way through the various features of Blot, taking Baby Steps, and having a pretty easy time of it. After it was so easy to get pictures working, I took another look at the Blot help page to see what I might take on next. Two things jumped out at me: footnotes and tags.

I couldn’t think of a reason I might need to use a footnote, but a recent experience had brought them to my attention. I had come upon a scholarly article by Steven Rings at the University of Chicago about one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” And I do mean scholarly! The pdf file of the text has 39 pages. with another pdf file of 27 pages which has the examples. It has an Abstract, a Table of Contents, an Introduction, many pages of discussion, a Bibliography, a Discography and 102 Footnotes. I was last reading scholarly papers in grad school at UC Berkeley, a loooooong time ago. This thing has the whole nine yards, verrrrry impressive.

The footnotes impressed me with the sheer brilliance of their execution on the web page. Each numbered footnote has a footnote number in parentheses, elevated a bit at the end of the relevant line in the text. Hover over that number and you can read the text of the footnote in a popup window. Click on the number and you jump to that footnote in the Footnotes section at the bottom. And just below that is a link labeled, Return to text.” Click on that and you’re right back to the text you were reading when you clicked on the footnote number. I had NEVER seen that on a web page and I was very impressed.

So when I saw Footnotes in the Formatting blog posts section of the Blot help pages, I focused in a bit in my reading. The Blot instructions had a title and four lines of text. That was it. So it was a candidate I put on my list for possible future experiments. I tried to think of an article I could write that would need footnotes, but I couldn’t think of one.

And then one fell into my lap! There had been a bit of a discussion of my article about Location (Where Are You From?) on Microblog and I decided to edit the original article to add that discussion as an Update. As I did that, the opportunity for a footnote, even the necessity for a footnote jumped out at me. I went back and read the four lines of Blot instructions about footnotes and gave it a try. It worked beautifully immediately, first try. Take a look at the updated article.

Okay, it doesn’t have the popup window for reading the footnote. But clicking on the footnote number does take you to the footnote at the bottom. AND look at the tiny little arrow to the right of the image at the bottom. Click on it! It takes you back up to the text where you clicked on the number 1 for that footnote. I nearly fell over. Four lines of instruction, easily implemented and I get that? WOW!

Blot continues to amaze me with its simple implementation and the clean, clear formatting that results. I am very pleased that I decided to give this thing a try. I received no compensation of any kind for this endorsement. I’m just a happy camper.

I searched Google for Best blogging software” and got sixteen results on the first page with lots of articles comparing five to eighteen platforms, all the usual suspects and none mentioned Blot. In fact Blot doesn’t seem to even be on the radar, except for one site from a domain name seller. But that’s fine with me. I’m having a great time with both Blot and Manton’s Microblog (also not mentioned in these results) and I used a lot of Dave Winer’s many tools for the last several years. I don’t even remember how I found Blot, probably from someone on Microblog, maybe Jack Baty, who always seems to be on the bleeding edge of technology.

Did I mention that I don’t have to pay for any server in the cloud with Blot and my data is all in my own Dropbox folder?

© 2017 by Ron Chester - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Microblog Blot
August 12, 2017 at 12:43pm

Using Images in Blot

Now we will try some Baby Steps with images in Blot.

I made a folder in the Blot folder inside Dropbox called Images, except it has an underscore as the first character, before the Images part, _Images. That makes it a public file, according to my limited understanding. Then I plopped an image in there, a 244 X 340 jpg file, and made the usual markdown text for an image, you know, the one that starts with an exclamation mark. But the URL for the image is not the usual path to a place on the Internet. Instead it points to that folder using /_Images/Tintin & Snowy.jpg. I think the geeks call it a relative path. I copied the format from the Blot help file on Formatting blog posts. Look down near the bottom. I saved the file as a draft and the image looked great on the preview of my blog. This experiment took about 30 seconds and worked on the first try.

So I got:
Tintin & Snowy
Pretty nice, huh?

I could use the URL pointing to the image on the Internet, where I actually stole it. If I put that super long URL into my markdown image text, I get this:
Tintin & Snowy
Looks the same, right? But the second version is subject to linkrot. If they move that image, it disappears from my blog. So downloading the file and using the relative path link to my Blot folder with the images is far superior. PLUS all my images will be there in that one folder inside my Dropbox Blot folder. That just feels so simple and elegant to me. Of course you have to make sure the image isn’t restricted by copyright.

I learned about this Tintin character while chatting with Nitin Khanna on Microblog last night. His unofficial nickname in his family is Tintin, because his actual first name has that tin” in it. So he uses one of the Tintin images as his profile image. I told him, I think it’s a very clever selection of a profile image: playful, fun, revealing something special about you.”

Having been introduced to this cartoon character, my next impulse was the same as always: look for used books on the subject. Well there are a lot, which is not too surprising, as The series was one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century,” according to Wikipedia. As you can see, some of them are rather pricey.

© 2017 by Ron Chester - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Blot images