Tiny Tiny RSS on NearlyFreeSpeech.NET

RSS is awesome, and can be made more awesome when aggregated in the cloud. Cloud services can change or die, but Tiny Tiny RSS puts you back in control, which is most awesome. All you need is a web server, like the equally awesome NearlyFreeSpeech.NET.

Back in control
Tiny Tiny RSS is an open source feed aggregator. Functionally, it’s just a feed reader that sits in the cloud, like the late Google Reader, with one difference – you provide the server. You control if and when the service ends, upgrades, extends, etc. You are in command!

How to do it
My Web hosting needs are modest, and my time is limited, but I do have a bit of technical prowess, and I like to control my own destiny as much as possible. NearlyFreeSpeech.NET offers a very stable, well built shared hosting service where you pay only for what you use. More importantly, they give members a lot of control over their sites, which makes rolling out custom web-apps like Tiny Tiny RSS possible, and perhaps even simpler than rolling your own server. Read on for the details…

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Knowledge in Flames!

2012-12-24 20.32.33-cropped

‘Tis the eve before Christmas, and I’m not in the house,
I’m not at all sleepy, nor is my spouse,
For three months I survived, on 5 hours per night,
I now need recovery, the flames cleansing might!
The sparks all are kindled, and burning quite bright,
My Talon, my OTSMAN, my mind not quite right…
To the fire I thrust them, one at a time,
Those two worn out volumes, so full of grime.
The fire grows brighter, now fueled by each page,
But more than just paper, it swallows my rage.
I gaze at the embers, all glowing and red,
Just ash now, and flying, quite out of my head.
My training stays with me, and more skills I’ll learn
I’ll grown in my wisdom, and watch stupidity burn!

Preparing to Learn to Fly

At the Air Force’s Initial Flight Screening (IFS) Pilot and CSO candidates learn to fly and are given the opportunity to fly the Diamond DA20. Before that happens, though, each young officer must memorize the all important “BOLDFACE” and “Ops Limits.” The fine folks at DOSS, who run the IFS show, provide a fuzzy, pixellated version of the BOLDFACE and ops limits in their welcome package. The characters are still mostly legible, and might be sufficient for committing the 33 DOSS-required figures to memory. But my squadron requires aspiring CSOs, like myself, to memorize an additional 53 figures. That’s a total of 86 operating limits and ranges. Fuzzy characters can become quite an eyesore after a few minutes, and this sort of memorization takes hours.

I couldn’t stand staring at those unnecessarily pixellated characters as my brain slowly absorbed numbers like “Max. permissible bank angle for steep turns (in degrees)” (60) and “Propeller approx. minimum ground clearance (inches)” (10). To ease my suffering, and hopefully help my memorization progress more quickly, I recreated both documents with crisp, clear lettering. My versions match the official documents character for character, but mine are easier to read and customizable.

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White Sand and a Black Tower

Pensacola Lighthouse at Sunset

I’ve been around, and seen a lot of sand, from Maine to California and Mexico to Japan. When I announced I was going to Pensacola everyone talked about the wonderful white sand beaches in the area. Now, I know that sand comes in a plethora of shades and textures. The sand of the Arizona desert, for instance, is sort of tan and chunky. The beaches of Puerto Penasco have sand which is a bit finer and lighter colored, while the sand at Acapulco Bay is somewhat coarser and gray with a rainbow of speckles throughout. Still, sand is sand, or so I thought.

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Going for a Swim in the Desert

From Gordon Hirabayashi to Hutch’s Pool

The desert of southern Arizona can be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable places on earth during the months surrounding the winter solstice. But that same desert will make concerted efforts to kill unwary travellers the rest of the year, especially in the summer months when temperatures regularly top 120°F and even the most reliable water sources all but vanish. Many a summertime hiker has longed for a deep pool of cold, clear water to relieve the burning of the torturous desert sun overhead. Hutch’s Pool is just such a place.

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Plane Crash!

Tucson is home to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, a very large, very old, and still very active air base. Originally called “Tucson Army Air Field, the site was quickly renamed Davis-Monthan Army Air Field, then, when the Air Force was spun off from the Army as an independent military service, the site received the name it carries to this day (source). Davis-Monthan has been, and continues to be a very active air base; as with any highly active military installation, accidents do happen, and airplanes do occasionally fall out of the sky (very occasionally, mind you – the Air Force does not enjoy wasting money or airmen on plane crashes).

One such crash is just a stone’s throw from the Butterfly Trail. Continue reading

Winter Superstitions

View from the top

As wilderness adventurers in some places are strapping on skis, snow shoes or crampons outdoor enthusiasts in Arizona are donning hiking boots and picking up trekking poles for lowland desert trips.  The Superstition Wilderness Area is particularly popular this time of year with day hikers, probably because of a relatively dense network of shortish trails and convenient access from the Phoenix area.

Several reliable springs provide water year round, a precious occurrence in the central Arizona desert.  One such fount is Whisky Springs, Continue reading

Mines, Saguaro and Tucson

Standing tall at 4 687 feet above sea level, Wasson peak is the highest point in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park, and, indeed, the entire Tucson Mountain range. Hikers wishing to bag this peak have no shortage of ascent options, with trail heads to the south, west, and north-east. The southern trail head, at the start of the King Canyon Trail, is probably the most convenient approach for Tucson residents. From there, a nice half-day hike of about 8 miles along very well maintained and signed trails takes would-be peak-baggers from 2 915 feet to the top of the mountain and back. Along the way are a few abandoned mines, old stone buildings, excellent views of the Tucson Mountains and surrounding country, and, of course, lots of saguaro cacti.

A hill, studded with tall saguaro cacti, is lit by a bright, afternoon sun

Sunlit Saguaros

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Turkey on Mt. Lemmon

Horned Lizard

A Horned Lizard enjoys a quiet, sunny day.

This little critter is not a turkey, but it must live among turkeys.  At least, one would think an area called “Turkey Track” would host more than horned lizards.  My scaled friend, here, was enjoying some pleasant weather in Spencer Canyon campground the day after a particularly stormy night.  The campground is divided into several areas, of which one is called Turkey Track.

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