I received a new kind of spam text message today: “Hey, is this Ryan?” Guess spammers/scammers are now personalizing their phishing expeditions with the data dumps they buy. I can see how that can be very effective. Yuck. Report As Junk!

Our resident scrub jays didn’t have much of a green thumb this year. Or they did a great job eating their cache. This is the only sunflower they grew A single sunflower with a bright yellow bloom and green leaves stands in a garden. A wooden fence and various green foliage are visible in the blurred background. The ground around the sunflower is covered with small pebbles and sparse grass.

Our avocado tree seems to be producing now. But I won’t bet on any of the fruit making it to maturity sometime between this November and next March. Brutal heat is inbound though we’ve got our shade cloth up to protect the small trees A small, unripe avocado held in a person’s hand, surrounded by green leaves on the tree.

Just as most non-native plants stop flowering in time for summer, the California Fuchsias have just begun adding a splash of red. Currently the native toyon, elderberry, and roses are flowering. California Buckwheat is on its way. We have flowers nearly year-round. Native plants are awesome. A close-up of a plant with silvery green leaves and vibrant red tubular flowers. The background is out of focus, showing more greenery and a hint of a structure, likely a house. The plant is bathed in bright sunlight.

Paramount+'s Strategy is Baffling

Paramount+ still has nothing to watch once a season of Star Trek is over. Paramount cancelled Star Trek: Discovery and there’s only one more season of Lower Decks. Funny thing is, in the past I subscribed to their ad-free product. But Paramount+ greatly increased the cost of the ad-free subscription so I went with the ad-supported. Guess what? No ads while watching Star Trek. So they got less monthly money from us than if they’d kept the ad-free subscription cost reasonable. What are they even doing? And they STILL don’t have full streaming rights for Big Bang Theory. That’d keep up subscribed for months, if not a year.

Marestail weeds are impossible to pull out of compacted ground. I’m avoiding herbicide so I’ve resorted to using hand pruners to cut Marestail weeds down to bare mineral earth. It’s as tedious and zen as it sounds. Problem is, they refuse to die. It is as if they have infinite resources in their roots.

The Flight Simulator Navigation Data Economy

Flight Simulation has quite the economy surrounding it. I’m not particularly fond of the navigation data sector of that economy. If you want the latest navigation data, you must subscribe or buy it from Aerosoft or Navigraph.  But those companies that sell it to you must buy the raw data from Jeppesen or Lufthansa Systems. That data is delivered as ARINC424 format files or in a more reasonable tailored database format. That full navigation data is very expensive. An individual cannot afford it. I have seen quotes upwards of $10,000 USD. I do not know if that's for a single month’s data or a year’s worth. However, through Jeppesen, if you’re an actual pilot with a navigation computer that you must keep up to date, you can buy navigation data compiled specifically for that aircraft’s navigation computer at a substantially more reasonable, attainable price. But Jeppesen and Lufthansa Systems will not sell you compiled data for your home computer simulator. That’s where Aerosoft and Navigraph come in as middlemen. They buy the raw data and reprocess it into a myriad of formats suitable for flight simulation and 3rd party simulated aircraft. The two companies then resell that data to simmers at around $10 USD per month or per cycle. Once a simmer is introduced to the concept of navigation data cycles, many with disposable income forever chase the latest navigation data.

You see, updated navigation data is released around once a month, called a cycle, from a number of aviation authorities. Jeppesen and Lufthansa Systems compiles all of that into proprietary databases. Typically changes are not dramatic between cycles, though they can seem so if there are new or updated approaches or navigation GPS fixes. If you export a flight plan from flight simulator planner software using a cycle that is newer or older than what is in your simulator, you’ll get a software freakout. Or if you manually enter a plan into the simulator based on a different navigation cycle, you’ll find the simulator’s navigation data lacks the the desired approaches and fixes. Worse, some 3rd party aircraft use their own navigation database files and those are often not the same cycle as the simulator’s default navigation data.  You cannot simply import the simulator’s navdata into that aircraft’s system. You have to turn to Navigraph or Aerosoft to synchronize the data. Not to miss sales opportunities, Navigraph will happily provide several year old data for free distribution with aircraft and flight planner software. Of course that data will not match with the simulator’s data. Thus starts a cycle of chasing navigation data because people naturally dislike when things go sideways and need the latest navdata synchronized everywhere all of the time.

I used to subscribe to monthly navigation data. But now I’ve come to realize it is simply not necessary to chase reality like that. Frankly, I have enough monthly subscriptions. But for most of them, the services are used daily or supports independent work. Navigation data only benefits me a couple times a week, if that. For my flights, navigation data almost never changes. If it does, it’s not very noticeable or not noticeable at all. Just switch to available approaches or fixes and be done with it. It’s a home simulator, after all, not a check flight.

So it is reasonably simple, and takes barely any time, to use the flight simulator’s default older navigation cycle data (from Navigraph, of course!). If I’m using FlightAware to look at real-world filed flight plans, and if there’s an incompatibility with an approach or a navigation fix with the simulator’s older data, it takes just a minute to rework a flight plan in the open source Little NavMap software. And taking that a bit further, you can do whatever the heck you want in a simulator. Just fly and save some bucks for other more important things like saving democracy or supporting your favorite creators (including simulated aircraft designers).

The Capay Unit refuge was bustling today. Here’s a Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar and a Black headed Grosbeak. Also saw Orioles, Black Phoebes, possibly an inflight juvenile Bald Eagle, Osprey, Ash Throated Flycatcher, Lesser Gold Finches & Red Tailed Hawks #SacramentoWildlifeRefuge Image of a black caterpillar with orange spots and spikes, crawling on the ground covered with dried leaves and small branches.

A serene riverside scene with greenery and a dry tree in the foreground. A large beaked bird with black with white spots and yellow breast feathers perches on a branch of the tree. In the background, three people are sitting on the opposite riverbank. The river flows calmly between the bird and people.

Sonos Ace headphones are not for me since all I ever wanted from such a thing was to transfer my music seamlessly between speakers and headphones. And then there’s the Sonos app mess. It’ll be a while before I can trust Sonos enough to resume buying their hardware. WTFs all around.

Western Wood-Pewee! A first for us. Spotted at the Pine Creek Unit of the #SacramentoWildlifeRefuge #WesternWoodPeWee #Fujifilm

Auto-generated description: A small bird is perched on a bare tree branch against a clear blue sky.

Windows 11 Thoughts

I have Windows 11 on my work PC now.

What does not work for me:

  1. File Explorer's simplified right-click context menu where useful file interaction & application extensions, like Box, are hidden under a More button (UGH). Fix by pressing Shift when right clicking. I’m not yet sure if I like the copy/paste buttons. Guess Microsoft wants to turn Windows into Teams and make finding necessary features really difficult.
  2. Taskbar is glued to the bottom of the screen -- I need it on the left! I have all the display width and not much display height. I don’t like hiding the taskbar.
  3. Audio system is garbage. I mute system audio but Teams keeps making noise. AirPod sound output is garbled. The mixer interface is a mess and I got applications really mixed up with audio output.

Always end on a good note! So a few things one thing works for me:

  1. Named virtual desktops & persistence across reboots.

It is hilarious to me, but not surprising, that my AirPods only work properly with the web-based version of MS Teams. Their app on my Windows 11 work computer produces garbled audio,

It is super cool that Flame Skimmer dragonflies are spending time in our backyard. This one was stationed on that stick nearly all day. And then there’s the much more active one that you can see as an orangish blur flying behind the stick. #Fujifilm A close-up of an orange dragonfly perched on a vertical tree branch, with another blurred dragonfly in the background. The background is out of focus, featuring green and brown hues.

Lots of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies feasting on purple thistle flower nectar at a wildlife refuge today. #PipevineSwallowtail #Butterfly #Fujifilm

A black and yellow butterfly with tattered wings perched on a blooming purple thistle flower, surrounded by green foliage.

 From last weekend at the refuge: a Bullock's Oriole in a Willow tree. #BullocksOriole #Birds #SacramentoWildlifeRefuge #Fujifilm

A yellow and black bird perched on a branch amidst green leaves in a tree, with a clear blue sky in the background.

NO Pedestrians Beyond This Point: Black Phoebe enforced #Birds #Fujifilm #SacramentoWildlifeRefuge

A Black Phoebe is perched at the top right corner of a road sign is posted among greenery indicating NO PEDESTRIANS BEYOND THIS POINT, with a natural, lush background. A dirt road peaks into view.

At the refuge yesterday, pretty certain I saw and photographed a Western Kingbird vomit up a stone or something‽ #SacramentoWildlifeRefuge #Fujifilm #Birds #WesternKingBird A yellow breasted bird perched on a branch against a clear blue sky, with bare branches and another bird in the background. A small black object is flying through the air and the bird’s beak is open

Sometimes unintentional photos are the best. Today at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge south of Willows:A rustic scene is captured with tall grass in the foreground, a field of grass and reeds in the middle, and a small brick barn partially obscured by trees and flora under a clear sky.

Aurora in Northern California ☺️ Good night, folks! A night sky with visible stars and vibrant aurora borealis streaks above silhouetted foliage.

Tonight with aurora potential in Northern California, there’s opportunity to run three cameras tonight to see who wins the light gathering war. I’m betting the 100V at F/2 vs my fastest X-T5 lens at F/2.8. But my iPhone may well steal the show with its insane processing. Two Fujifilm mirrorless cameras on a wooden surface, with X-T5 having a black lens attached and the silver X100V.