Find My Device but don't track me. Thnx.

A while back I tried a phone diet by switching to a dumbphone. The hope was that I could move away from (1) screen addiction and (2) apps that demanded extreme levels of privacy-invading permissions to be granted. This didn’t work out with the Sonim, although I will say that it is a beast of a flip phone and the most rugged device I’ve ever used.

When I went back to a smartphone, I wanted to try something that allowed more control over what was on it, without the bloatware, and didn’t constantly remind me to sign in. I tried UbuntuOS and hated it, and now I’ve been using CalyxOS for the last few months on (ironically) a Google Pixel device.

Being somewhat absent-minded (thanks, ADHD!) I knew that, one of these days, I’d leave my phone someplace and would not be able to find it. Often it ends up being in the next room under some laundry, or on a shelf in the garage next to my bike I was repairing, but it’s still helpful to be able to use one of the “find my device” apps that a Google or Apple so benevolently provide with all of their operating systems (/s).

FMD logo

I thought, “there must be a FOSS version of this”, and discovered FMD. It saves your encrypted location data to a server (you can use the default server or provide your own). If you lose your device you can access its location, lock it, wipe it, etc, by sending an SMS from one of the numbers you’ve whitelisted.

Me using my wife’s phone to locate my phone while enjoying a cuppa joe

Me using my wife’s phone to locate my phone while enjoying a cuppa joe photo by Ketut Subiyanto on pexels

I’ve tested the basic features after an easy setup and it was able to show me in Organic Maps an accurate location of my device.

From the developer:


  • Locate the device (using GPS or cellular location)
  • Lock the device
  • Let the device ring
  • Take pictures with the device’s camera to see its surroundings
  • Factory-reset the device

You can download the app via F-Droid (search “fmd”) or learn more here or here.

It's officially spooky season

It was about a year ago that I started experimenting with Stable Diffusion and AI image creation. I’ve taken a break from that as some of the ethics around it are murky especially with SD. I still like how spooky some of these turned out though.

spooky 2 spooky 3 spooky 4 spooky 1



“I am not an artist”

But that’s not the point. The point of creating art is that you allow yourself to access colors, sounds, frequencies (all the same thing actually), and arrange them in a way that feels good, or feels true, or just emerges from your feelings. Or it could simply be a process, a set of rules and patterns that make it possible to begin activation and making something a physical reality.

My wife and I have a “Date Day” every couple of weeks, and we take turns planning the activity or destination. Yesterday was her day, and the activity was sitting down on our back patio to create watercolors. She is an artist, in that she minored in Art in college, has sold several works, and continues to create paintings and mosaics that hang in our home and in the homes of friends and family. Her style is less structured, and she seems to create better after she has begun the physical act of painting.

I, on the other hand, need some ground rules, at least some semblance of a destination, and a rough outline of one way to get there.

I looked up some photos that might lend themselves well to watercolors. I know that faces and the human form often frustrate me, so that was out. I remembered seeing a hot air balloon floating above Gilroy last week, found some images on pexels, and picked one.

Hot air balloons are colorful, but they are also an object that is manufactured through an industrial process. This means there is a structure, a cadence, and a visible set of rules that were followed. For me, this was appealing as a model to use for my watercolor.

The general rule was that each color was contained in a grid, and the colors progressively made sense. They weren’t a strict following of the spectrum, but they were guided by it (a quick jump from red to green without some shade of yellow between would be breaking the rule. Each color was similarly sized.

Once I had these basic guidelines, I knew how to begin. And occasionally, I disregarded them, and followed what felt right. I enjoyed the act of doing it, and the experience with Kristen. Watching her paint is not something I’ve done for a long time but I always appreciate observing the process. To be an active participant reminded me that it’s not about the final product (at least not for me) but it’s about the doing, the moving, the making something out of nothing, and then learning from it, and moving on.

I may not do another watercolor for another few years (I hope I do) but it felt good to create something that was uniquely me, that could have only come from my own hand. It’s not winning any awards, and I’m honestly embarrassed to show it, but I liked the experience and highly recommend it to anyone looking to break their routine.

Colorful painting of a hot air balloon

Covid update

It looks like the total covid cases were, in fact, going up. I mused last month about how it seemed like more people I knew were coming down with Covid, as well as hearing anectdotally about new cases, but that didn’t seem to be reflected in the data. It seems that there was simply a lag in the data. Whe zoomed out, however, it’s not a big spike (though it may be just beginning). It’s a little surprising that such a small increase could show up so plainly in my direct circle of friends and family. The truth, as others have pointed out, is that the real numbers are probably under-counted.

Those who I know who were infected got through it with relatively mild symptoms. They tested often if they suspected exposure and received treatment from their doctors (but were not hospitalized). Long Covid symptoms are unknown. So while it’s a lot less scare than it was, it’s still here.

Slacking but tinkering

turkeys running through the neighborhood Well, I have not been blogging. But I’ve been tinkering. I built a dynamic page where I’ll store my videos for public viewing. Right now it’s just full of samples. And the styling needs more work, but it’s usable and it works! Check it out at

It uses php to scan files in a directory/sub-directories, then serve those video files up on the index.php page. The directories act as headings for the categories. For example, I can record a video of wild turkeys running through my neighborhood from my phone, upload it via sftp on a vpn, and instantly share it.

I know that I can do that with YouTube for a lot less of a headache; but, there’s something exciting about building and owning it myself (with a virtual assistant).

I built the page with ChatGPT. It took a LOT of iterations. I struggled quite a bit with php and nginx reloads when I made a change, and other things that I’m still learning. I have no background in servers or databases, but for all of it’s flaws, Chat got me up and running with a functional page in a relatively short time. The fun part is when I start to understand what’s possible and think, “what if I added this?”. It can certainly keep me up at night, thinking of all these possibilities.

Next steps are going to be styling it to accept text files with title and description for each video, and instantly create a unique ‘page’ for each video that I upload. I tried doing that for a bit, but it was really clunky and kept duplicating content.

Another ChatGPT tech project recently was to streamlin my blog posting process with a script, so hopefully there will be less friction there, and I can post more easily.

Some other updates:

  • It’s devastating to see the loss of life and property in Maui from the fire. We were planning to go there next week (a vacation that was planned a couple of months ago) but of course cancelled. We sent some $ to a relief fund. I’m grateful that we weren’t there when it happened. Climate change is here.

  • I also learned how to create a podcast xml feed. I have yet to put out any podcasts but it’s fun to know I can.

  • I’m developing 35mm color film! See below for a photo I took in Bend, OR. This was from my first batch. The developer was not up to temperature so the colors and the development was not great. Still getting a good DIY jolt from it. I used a C-41 chemistry kit from Film Photography Project, and contacted Michael there shortly after my botched batch. I thought the chemicals might be bad (they were caked and looked a little suspicious in the package) but he assured me that they were still good and the problem was likely the temperature. I’m planning to develop another roll from Bend and one from various other activities (Nephew’s baseball game, Santa Cruz) in the next day or two, so we’ll see how it comes out.

  • I made a 35mm scanner out of a Panasonic GH4, a SAD light panel, some black foamcore, gaff tape, and a macro lens. It seems to be working pretty well so far! I’ll post some photos soon.

  • I’m taking next week off of work, as was the plan when we were going to Hawaii, but have nothing on the calendar yet. Maybe some Pizzeria Delfina and/or Fiesta Del Mar Too is in order!

  • Also… I’m pretty sure I have ADHD. Reading Hallowell and Ratey’s great (short) book ADHD2.0. I have yet to read his other Distraction books. I’m not sure if I’ll get tested or diagnosed but I’m leaning towards yes.

Alright. Let’s see if this works. If you’re reading this, then the script ran successfully. Until next ime!

Kristen in the Redwoods in Bend, OR

head & body

“When you’re feeling like you’re stuck in your head, get physical and get your body moving.”

I heard Sara Auster say something to that effect on my friend Leah’s podcast.

I took this to heart and went for a bike ride tonight. Though when I ride I turn off the podcasts and try to listen to my body and the environment around me.

I saw this old rusty piece of machinery and stopped to snap a photo on the way back after the sun had gone down a bit more. It looks like some kind of ancient relic. My wife asked if it was a Buddhist statue.

rusty old engine



In the spirit of a daily blogging practice I’m officially going to make at least one blog post each day in the month of August. I’ll call it Blogust (Blaugust?).

Besides this post, I’ll keep the posts about posts down to none. Or at leas those won’t count towards a daily post.

I don’t know if this is already a thing. Knowing how basic I am, it probably is. I’m not going to look it up. So to whoever actually started Blaugust I’m sorry.

I expect that this will require some batching of posts for the days when I can’t sit down to write.

My intention is to develop my writing and storytelling skills, find my voice, and better understand the technology and how people interact with it. It seems strange to be saying this in 2023 and not 2007.

I also want to keep a record of life and events for myself to look back on.

Sorry in advance for the rambling. It should get better over time.

Photo by Pixabay on

Covid cases going down, but it feels like the opposite

Based on anecdotal evidence and hearing people around me talking about people they know getting sick recently, I thought we might have seen a small uptick in the # of cases recently, at least in the Bay Area, but it turns out that’s not the case.

It’s funny how our narratives can be shaped, and how personal anecdotes can impact those narratives. Even though something seems obvious and true based on our exposure and info from those around us, it doesn’t line up with the data/facts.


7 Spin

This week marks SEVEN years for me at LinkedIn in their Learning & Development/ Talent Development department. I’m extremely grateful to be able to practice what I love to do at a company that values my skills and has such strong core values.