Chris Dzombak

Now: Feb. 2021

Reading: As I was last month, I’m still working through and enjoying Barack Obama’s A Promised Land; I’m about halfway through it now.

I’m also reading Where Wizards Stay Up Late by Katie Hafner, a 1990s-era dive into the history of the Internet and its predecessor, ARPANET. It has a lot of interesting history and anecdotes about stuff like routing & switching protocols (including a story about accidental route hijacking, which reminds me of BGP hijacks that we still see today) and the origins of email.

TV: We just finished watching the entirety of Mr. Robot. It took me a while to start watching this, and I was a little skeptical throughout the first episode, but after that it had me hooked. It was very, very good.

I also learned that, in 1986, The Philip Glass Ensemble was the musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live — not the musical guest I’d typically expect on SNL today! You can view and download the episode at

Publishing photography and Flight Simulator screenshots: I’ve decided to start posting stuff to my Flickr account again! I’ve uploaded some recent photos, along with my archive of black & white photography from the last few years. And I’ve now posted all my Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 screenshots there as well.

Duplicate photos: As I slowly upload a backlog of photography from the past 8 or so years to Flickr, I anticipate accidentally adding a few duplicates. To solve this, I’d like to write a duplicate finder in Go that’ll use the Flickr API to grab all my photos and compare them using perceptual hashing. It’s a simple enough project, in theory, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to doing it.

Logging energy usage: I wrote a quick program to ship realtime electricity usage data from my DTE Energy smart meter to InfluxDB, and now I have a Grafana dashboard that I can use to analyze energy usage:

Graph of electrical usage

I’d like to use the ecobee API to start pulling environmental & HVAC data into Influx as well, so I can plot energy usage alongside furnace/fan/AC runtime and temperature/humidity measurements from the ecobee sensors around the house.

Chicken coop monitoring: Continuing the theme of tracking stuff around the house, I want to use a Raspberry Pi to monitor temperature and sound levels in the chicken coop — factors that can affect egg production. Right now, I have a Pi reading sound levels from this sound level meter’s DC output via an ADS1015 ADC and sending those measurements to InfluxDB. Next I plan to add a DHT22 temperature/humidity sensor, and once that’s logging to InfluxDB I’ll be ready to deploy it out to the coop.

Anticipating possible challenges in getting that all working & debugged, I also ordered this 100MHz USB logic analyzer. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m looking forward to playing with it.

Another gadget from AliExpress: I ordered this thermal camera just recently. It hasn’t arrived yet, either. I don’t expect it to be the same quality as the FLIR camera the Ann Arbor Library lends out, but it is cheaper, it boasts an allegedly higher IR resolution, and I’ll be able to use it without waiting on the AADL’s waiting list (by the time my current spot in the list comes up, it’ll be warm outside again).

Apple Silicon: Still looking forward to the rumored 16” MacBook Pros. The past month has seen some major software releases I’d been watching for, since I’ll need to use them on any future Apple Silicon machine: Homebrew 3.0 and Go 1.16.

Software updates: two other programs I rely on got major updates this month: and Arq 7 a beta of FastScripts 3.

On decentralized social media and related topics: I’ve been trying lately to untangle a lot of thoughts and questions I have around social networks, decentralization, and the like. I’d originally intended this to be for a single post about decentralized/federated social networks like Mastodon, but I have a feeling this will eventually result in a series of overly-long essays about social networks, the incentives induced by ad revenue, the values of decentralization and self-hosting, and the like. Watch this space.

Recommendation: Ego electric snow blowers. We got a lot of snow in Ann Arbor this month, and I was surprised how well my Ego snow blower handled it. I cleared the entire, relatively long, driveway of 5-8 inches of snow in half an hour using 1.5 pairs of 5Ah batteries, and I didn’t smell like a small engine repair shop afterward.

Recommendation: Omar Rizwan’s site. I’ve only just started digging into Omar’s site (thanks, Jason!), but wow, he has some interesting projects! I’d encourage anyone interested in Raspberry Pis, filesystems, or computing generally to browse through there.