It’s time to refresh things, but what to do…

6 minute read

December 27, 2023, 9:30 AM

Those of you who have been familiar with this site know that it has looked largely the same since the fall of 2012, when I introduced the “Modern Blue” design of the site.  That design was refined about eleven months later, creating “Modern Blue 2.0”, which smoothed out some rough edges of the original design and eliminated some stylistic holdovers from the previous design.  Since August 2013, there have been minor modifications to the design here and there, but no substantial reworking of the design has occurred since then.  That means that the site has been on Modern Blue in some form for more than eleven years – longer than I’ve had any site design.  If it tells you anything, the longest-lived site design prior to this was the “Blue Squares” theme, which lasted for four years and three months.  This blows that right out of the water.

The reason I want to change is twofold.  First, the design feels like the work of a much younger man.  I launched that design when I was 31 years old.  I am now 42.  It reflects what 31-year-old me thought was state of the art design, but now it feels a bit long in the tooth.  There were also design choices made back then that I don’t think that I would do today if I were to do it all over again.  Right offhand, the main page has some odd gaps in it that are the result of the way things of different lengths fit together. The main page has always been a launch page for the rest of the site, but it’s also not very tight in its design, and those flaws are baked right into the site’s design.  Additionally, besides a design that is dated in appearance, the site’s theming is also a bit dated as far as things go under the hood.  WordPress has changed considerably in that time, going from the TinyMCE editor to a new one called Gutenberg, and WordPress has also adopted blocks in a major way.  I still use TinyMCE to write for Schumin Web, and my theme does not support blocks in any way because it predates their introduction.

All that said, Schumin Web is in need of a new theme, not only to update the look of the site, but also to extend its functionality.  There is so much that I’m missing out on by not having a block theme, and I can’t help but think that my existing theme is now holding me back.  Plus it’s time for a visual refresh, because while the whole content-in-boxes look is nice enough, its time has passed.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

A weekend in Augusta County, unsupervised…

28 minute read

December 22, 2023, 5:00 PM

I did my quarterly trip down to Augusta County on December 13-15, and this time, unlike most occasions when I do this trip, I was doing it completely unsupervised.  Elyse was pet-sitting for a friend of ours, and so she was in Fort Washington while I went down to Virginia.  With that in mind, I took full advantage of this situation, packing in all of the stuff that I would want to do that Elyse would probably not have the patience for.  In other words, lots of drone photography, mostly photographing Augusta County school buildings, with the thought’s being that very few people would get good aerials of these relatively small schools.  I had a good time, and I felt very productive.

I got out of the house around 11:00, and then hit the road.  This was a trip where I went down via US 29 and back via I-81, and things immediately did not look good, as I encountered major traffic on the Beltway.  That was annoying, but I recovered well enough, though I did start to contemplate how much of a difference it would have made to go an alternate route for a Charlottesville trajectory, with the thought’s being to 270 to 15 to 29, going via Point of Rocks and Leesburg, or something similar to that.  After all, the alternate route works well when I’m going to I-81.  That alternate route bypasses the Beltway and I-66, going to I-81 via US 340 and Route 7 via Harpers Ferry and Winchester, and only adds seven minutes to the trip.  I ran my proposed alternate route for 29 through Google, and it adds about thirty minutes to the drive to go across Montgomery and Frederick counties via local roads, and then 15 at Point of Rocks, and joining 29 just south of Haymarket.  This also bypasses the busiest part of my route on 29, in the Gainesville area.  The question really becomes a matter of whether this alternate route is worth the additional time to travel it vs. dealing with the annoyances of the Beltway and 66, as well as the additional cost involved with taking the express lanes.

In any case, once I got to the express lanes on the Beltway, I took them, and continued in the express lanes on I-66, because I didn’t want to risk any more delays.  I made a pit stop at the Sheetz in Haymarket, and then from there, I took 15 to 29 and then the rest was normal for a trip down via 29.  The plan was to dip into Warrenton on the way down to photograph some converted restaurant buildings.  I had spotted a few of these on past drives through Warrenton, and now I was going to do them, along with whatever else I found interesting on the way down.  This was also why I hit up the Sheetz in Haymarket rather than the third Sheetz (Bealeton) like I normally would.  Warrenton came before the third Sheetz, and I wanted some food inside of me before I got busy.

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Yes, we are back in the air again…

6 minute read

December 2, 2023, 11:27 PM

You may recall that when I wrote in this space about my recent trip to Chicago, I described how my DJI Air 2S drone went to a watery grave in Lake Michigan following a forced landing due to battery depletion while I was flying in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, taking my entire day’s worth of photos down with it.  The good news is that I am now whole once again.  I got a new DJI Air 3 drone, which, among other features, sports twice as much fly time per battery than the Air 2S, and then I also activated the flyaway coverage that I had with the Air 2S and got a new one of those, too.  So all in all, I’m in good shape.  I have new equipment that is faster and more powerful than my previous equipment, plus I also have some pretty solid equipment as a backup drone.

That also means that the Mini probably won’t see much action anymore.  The thing about the DJI Mavic Mini is that it’s not a bad drone, but it’s not a great drone, either.  It lacks collision sensors, so it’s not going to stop you from plowing headlong into an object.  It’s also fairly slow-moving and gets kicked around in the wind a bit.  It also uses wi-fi as a transmission protocol, and as such, it’s prone to interference.  And now being the third one on the totem pole, it’s probably not going to see much use.  I will use the Air 3 as my primary drone, and the Air 2S will be the drone that Elyse will use as well as my backup.  So it’s like this exchange in the third episode of Roseanne:

Darlene: Mom, if Becky has a heart attack, I’m in charge, right?
Roseanne: Right!
DJ: Mom, if Darlene has a heart attack, I’m in charge.
Roseanne: Right, DJ!  If both your sisters are dead, you’re in charge.

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