Cuteness Overdose

Into every life some kittens must fall…
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Meet Fortitude and Patience.

Yes, I know those names traditionally go the other way around. But try telling that to the furbeasts. Getting a picture of them in the same place at the same time and not moving wasn’t easy. No way was I going to sacrifice the photo op by trying to get them to exchange places.

No, we’re not theirs. We’ve said it before: our limit is three five six seven. Mr. Fort and Ms. Nickname-to-be-determined are the new feline overlords of our friends Eric and Beth.

Patience is the brains of the outfit. She’s the one who leads their voyages of exploration and who figures out how toys work.
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Of course, her ambition does sometimes lead her into territory where she probably shouldn’t go.
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Despite what this next picture might suggest, Fortitude is no more likely than his sister to stay still very long. That said, as the team’s muscle, he does burn a lot of energy, and he’s likely to go from flying across the floor to snoring before he even comes to a halt.
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He is a bit more photogenic than his sister. She’s handicapped by her all-black coloration. He not only has those lovely leopard spots, but also the white blob at the tip of his tail and the cute pink toe-pads.

But they’re both cuties, and we’re delighted to welcome them to our extended family. (And for those of you keeping track, yes, they are rescue kitties.)

Beth, Eric, feel free to put links to your photo collections of the kids in the comments.

Stuff

Stuff accumulates. It’s a law of nature.

You may not agree. Maybe you can pack all of your possessions in a single suitcase. You might even be smug about it.

Just wait. Someday–probably fairly soon–somebody’s going to give you a new suitcase. Maybe it’ll be larger, or sturdier, or in just the right shade of purple (with neon green polka dots) to express your personality. And you’ll move all of your possessions into the new suitcase.

But what happens to the old suitcase? You toss it in the closet because it’s crunch time at work and you can’t run it over to the donation center. Two years later, that closet is full of suitcases. Because suitcases are unisexual organisms that breed when left alone in a dark place.

Not that I’m gloating. It’s just that stuff accumulates.

I’ve got boxes of accumulated stuff in the garage. Some of them have been through four moves. Some of them I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Seriously–I’d remember having bought that shirt, right? I found a computer I could have sworn I had sold a decade ago. I certainly didn’t put it in that box. But there it was.

And that’s the problem with accumulation. No index. How could there be with stuff multiplying behind your back?

I can’t find my favorite jacket.

Mind you, it wasn’t my favorite jacket the last time I wore it, or even the last time I saw it. It’s my favorite jacket because I don’t know where it is. When it turns up, I’ll wear it–assuming it’s not too warm out–and then put it somewhere. If I put it someplace where I’ll see it regularly, it won’t be my favorite jacket anymore.

Emotion is like that sometimes.

Anyway.

I got started on this train of thought because the homeowners’ association won’t let me put two stories of storage on top of the garage. Since I need some garage space (only partly for a pending accumulation), the only choice is a grand de-cluttering project.

I’ve thrown away a lot of stuff. Donated a bunch. Repacked, merging multiple boxes together.

I swear there’s more stuff out in the garage than before I started. There’s not–there can’t be. But it sure feels that way.

Emotion is like that sometimes, too.

Anyway.

Need a box, four feet on a side, filled with USB cables? Original USB, not this new-fangled USB 2 stuff, much less the even newer-fangleder USB 3. I could swear the box was a two-foot cube when we moved into this house.

Help.

Limping Into Summer

Before I get into today’s real subject, let me take just a moment to remind you that The RagTime Traveler will be released June 6, exactly two weeks from today. June 7, I’ll be signing copies from noon to 1pm at Seattle Mystery Bookshop. Spread the word!

Moving on.

I haven’t written much about baseball this season, largely because it’s been a rather painful year for Seattle–no pun intended. The season has been marred by injuries, bad play, and an overall failure to live up to expectations.

But I can’t keep pulling the covers over my head and hoping the team will improve. So I’m going to pick at the scab a little.

The Mariners are among the youngest teams in Major League Baseball. Only the Rockies and Marlins (founded 1993) and Diamondbacks and Rays (founded 1998) are younger. The Mariners and Blue Jays both joined the league in 1977. I don’t know what, if anything, Toronto is doing to celebrate their team’s 40th anniversary, but Seattle’s advertising theirs fairly heavily.

Apparently, fortieth birthdays can be as depressing for baseball teams as for individuals. As I write this–before any teams take the field on May 23–the Mariners are 20-25, having lost three straight, and sit ten games behind Houston in the AL West. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays won their last game to pull to 19-26, eight and a half games behind New York in the AL East (and one game behind the Mariners in the Wild Card chase, not that either team is showing any sign of contending for those playoff slots).

At least I can take some consolation in the fact that the Mariners aren’t alone in their struggles.

It’s got nothing to do with youth, by the way. Colorado and Arizona are currently first and second in the NL West. Tampa Bay is three games ahead of Toronto, flirting with respectability. Only Miami, at 15-28, is making the middle-aged couple look good.

In case you’re curious, by the way, the next-oldest teams are the Kansas City Royals (18-26), San Diego Padres (16-30), Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos, 26-17), and Milwaukee Brewers (formerly the Seattle Pilots, 25-19). The evidence suggests that teams who indulge their mid-life crises by moving to another city do well for themselves. But let’s note that the Pilots’ mid-life crisis was when they were a year old. Don’t read too much into the raw numbers.

Anyway, given the fortieth anniversary hype around the Mariners, I started wondering how this year’s team compared to the 1977 team.

For starters, going into play on May 23, the Mariners had won two in a row, raising their record to 16-28. That put them eleven and a half games behind the first place Twins–but a mere four and a half games behind Oakland.

I haven’t found a way to look at player stats as of a particular date, but over the course of the season, Seattle’s leading hitters (based on OPS*) were Leroy Stanton (.852), Ruppert Jones (.778), and Dan Meyer (.762).

* OPS is on-base percentage plus slugging. Today’s statisticians consider it a better measure of a hitter’s value than batting average, which was the stat of choice in 1977. An OPS between .700 and .766 is considered average; an elite hitter will have an OPS above .900.)

Doesn’t sound too hot, does it? If you look at the team as a whole, the Mariners’ batters ranked twenty-first out of twenty-six teams. (The Blue Jays, by the way, ranked twenty-fifth.)

Nor did the numbers look much better defensively. Seattle’s pitchers, led by Enrique Romo and Glenn Abbott, collectively ranked twenty-fifth. (Amusingly, the Blue Jays’ pitchers came in twenty-first.)

The bright side, if you can call it that, was the Mariners’ fielding. Showing off the defensive emphasis that served them so well in the early two-thousand teens*, they came in twelfth in baseball. The Blue Jays showed off their consistency, coming in twenty-fifth in fielding.

* Sarcasm alert.

Given those stats, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to hear that the 1977 Mariners would finish the year at 64-98, thirty-eight games out of first. What might be more surprising is that they didn’t finish dead last in the AL West. Oakland slogged through a 63-98 year to take the West basement. Toronto, meanwhile, proved that consistency isn’t necessarily a virtue. Their 54-107 mark was the worst in baseball that year.

* If you need a dose of schadenfreude, the worst record in MLB’s modern era belongs to the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, whose 36-117 (.235) sets a standard of futility that will hopefully never be matched. By comparison, the 1977 Blue Jays’ .335 is merely the twenty-third worst, tied with the 1988 Baltimore Orioles (sorry, Jackie).

By comparison with all that doom and gloom, today’s Mariners seem positively respectable. Nelson Cruz has a .947 OPS, twenty-second best in baseball. As of this writing, the team is eleventh in hitting, twenty-fifth in pitching, and eleventh in fielding. Get a few of their starting pitchers off the disabled list, and the Ms could be middle-of-the-pack Wild Card contenders.

OK, that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s all about setting attainable goals. And, lest we forget, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals finished the regular season 83-78 and won the World Series.

Lifestyles of the Furry Set

Rufus’ socialization and integration continue.
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He’s still not really comfortable with any of the other cats, but as long as they’re not openly antagonistic, he’s willing to live, let live, and sniff butts.

* Yes, my office floor does need vacuuming. That’s one bit of auctorial procrastination I’ve been procrastinating on.

Which means he’s mostly getting along with everyone but Watanuki, who continues to earn the epithet “Mr. Thunk”* every day. Even there, however, relations are improving. ‘Nuki mostly confines himself to chasing Rufus up the stairs and then polishing the already-empty food bowl. Rufus, for his part, regards ‘Nuki with caution, but little fear.

* A portmanteau of “thug” and “punk”.

And not everything is going ‘Nuki’s way. Sachiko has taken over his traditional role as “Lurker Under the Covers”.
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She’s been remarkably resistant to his efforts to chase her off the bed. But then, she’s never been especially intimidated by him. She’s been trying to chew his ears off since she was a kitten.

Watanuki’s response to the disarrangement of his routine has been to declare his intention to run away to sea and become a pirate.

I pointed out that cats aboard ship are expected to work. His response, delivered with impressively lofty tones and deep snottiness?
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“Nonsense. I shall be a figurehead.”

I had to admit that he’d be a good one. He’s got the attitude and the pose down. I asked him how he felt about the ship’s bow smashing into a wave while he was on duty.

His answer was largely unprintable, but hinted that he doesn’t believe the ocean would dare drench him.

Google I/O 2017

So, yeah, Google I/O again. Are you as thrilled as I am? You’re not? But they’ve announced such exciting things!

Well, OK, when you come right down to it, they really only announced one thing: Google’s focus is changing from “Mobile first to AI first”. And let’s be honest here: that’s pretty much what they said last year, too.

But what does AI first look like?

For starters, Gmail will start doing “Smart Reply”. This is the same idea as in last year’s Allo text messaging app: pre-written, context-sensitive messages. I haven’t used Allo–anyone want to comment on whether the smart replies are any more accurate than the word suggestions when you’re typing?

Potentially more exciting is their application of image recognition technology. Their example is being able to take a picture of a flower and have your phone tell you what kind it is and whether it’s going to trigger your hay fever. Since I’m sitting here sniffling despite massive doses of anti-histamines, I have to admit that actually sounds like a good use of technology. Presumably over time, the tech will learn about non-botanical parts of the world.

Yes, I’m kidding. It can also recognize restaurants and show Yelp reviews. That’s nice, but not nearly as useful. Ooh, and it can translate signs. (Their demo showed Japanese-to-English translation. I want to know if it can handle Corporate-to-English.) If there are dates on the sign–for example, an ad for a concert–it can add the event to your calendar. It can even ask if you want it to buy tickets.

Basically, it’s playing catchup with Alexa–including adding third-party programmable actions and voice calling–with a few little steps ahead of Amazon.

Case in point: Google Assistant, the brains behind “OK, Google” is getting more smarts and the ability to hold a typed conversation. So you’ll get a running record of your interaction, so when you realize you’ve been following one association after another, you can scroll back and check the answer to your original question. Could be handy, especially if you get stuck on TV Tropes.

Moving on.

AI first also means Google Photos is getting added smarts, starting with something Google calls “Suggested sharing”. Yup. It’ll nag you to share your photos with the people in them. 95% of the pictures I take seem to be of the cats. Is it going to create Google accounts for them so I can share the photos? Or do they already have accounts?

More seriously, if Google knows who the people are, but they’re not in my address book, will it still urge me to share the photos? Sounds like that’s an invasion of privacy just waiting to happen.

Moving on.

Android O (no name announced yet, naturally. They’ll undoubtedly wait until release time for that) is getting the usual slew of features and tweaks. Picture-in-picture, notifications on Home screen icons, improved copy/paste. That last will not only let you select an entire address with a single tap, but offer to show it in Maps. I’d rather it offered to add it to my contacts for future reference, but maybe that’s just me.

Google also made a point of stressing that all of these new “AI first” features happen on your device, without any communication back to Google. That’s actually reassuring. I’m sure the results are reported back–your phone will tell Google you were checking on the hay fever potential of that weird flower that appeared in your back yard, but at least the actual picture won’t wind up in Google’s archives waiting for a hacker to drop by.

There’s also going to be an Android O lite. Called Android Go, it’ll be stripped down to work on cheap phones with limited memory. I wonder if that means they’ll start offering it for popular but abandoned devices that can’t handle recent Android versions. Nexus 7, anyone? Nexus 9, for that matter?

Moving again.

Yes, the rumors are true: Google is working with third-parties to launch a VR headset that doesn’t need a separate phone. Hey, anyone remember how big 3D was a few years ago? How long before VR is as critical to the entertainment experience as 3D?

And one last move.

Ever used Google to find out what movies are playing nearby? Soon you’ll be able to use it to find out what jobs are available nearby. Searching by title, date, and commute time. Why do I think the popularity of that last filter is going to be very strongly geographically linked?

Honestly, I’m not seeing anything here that gives me a major “gosh-wow” feeling. Some interesting possibilities and appeals to niche markets, yes, but most of what they’ve announced are obvious extensions of last year’s announcements. We can give them points for consistency, I suppose.

Pricing

Google I/O is tomorrow, so I’ll be snarking at their latest plans for world domination on Thursday. Today, though, let’s talk about Amazon’s latest move toward global conquest.

I mentioned it last week. Amazon has changed their policy regarding third-party bookresellers. In brief, when you search for a book on Amazon, it may not default to Amazon’s listing. Depending on where you are, what other booksellers are offering the title, and other information, the default “Add to Cart” button could be somebody other than Amazon, with the Big A’s listing being relegated to the “Other Sellers on Amazon” section of the page.

That sounds good for the shopper: who wouldn’t like getting a better price? But there are implications that have the publishing industry in a bit of an uproar. The Authors Guild, for example, believes that Amazon’s move will result in lower income for publishers and authors. If you didn’t read their press release last week, you can find it here.

Amazon’s position is that they’re simply bringing book sales into alignment with the rest of the site. And there’s some truth there.

But the publishing industry works somewhat differently than most others*. When you buy a washing machine, a computer, or box of cereal, the money goes to the seller, they give you the item, and the transaction is finished. That item comes out of their inventory–they’ve already paid the manufacturer. And if they can’t sell all of the washing machines, computers, or cereal they’ve stocked, they take a loss.

* I won’t speak to music and other arts; I don’t know enough about typical contracts between the creators and the sellers.

On the other hand, if you buy a book–and to be clear, I’m speaking only of new books here–those sales are reported back to the publisher. Why? Well, for starters, the publisher has to pay the author, and that payment is based not only on the number of copies sold, but (in some cases) the price the book is sold for. Furthermore, if the seller doesn’t sell all of the copies they bought, they’re not stuck with them in inventory. They can send them back to the publisher or destroy them and get a refund.

How does that make a difference? Well, many of those third-party sellers advertise really, really low prices. Like, in many cases, less than a dollar. They make their profit in “shipping and handling charges” that far exceed the actual cost of dropping the book in an envelope–but those fees aren’t counted as part of the purchase price.

So what happens if somebody sells a new copy of The RagTime Traveler* for $0.01 (plus $7.99 shipping and handling)? Well, for starters, Dad and I probably get nothing. According to our contract, we don’t receive royalties on sales where the publisher gets less than it cost them to print the book. Realistically, if the seller is going to make a profit, even with those fees, they’re can’t pay the publisher’s wholesale price.

* Let me be clear here: nobody is selling TRTT at that price. Yet–but that could change after the book is actually published.

Maybe they cut a sweetheart deal with the publisher and got the books at a steeper discount than normal. That can happen, especially if the seller gives up the right to return any unsold books. If their wholesale price is less than 56% of the cover price (which it would almost have to be for them to make a profit), but more than the cost of production, Dad and I do get paid–but only half the normal rate.

But let’s be honest here. As the Authors Guild points out, it’s unlikely that those low-ball sellers have bought their books from the publisher. From their press release:

The Authors Guild has spoken to several major publishers in the past year about where all these second-hand “new” copies come from, and no one seems to really know. Some surmise that they are review copies, but there are far too many cut-rate “new” copies for them all to be review copies. Could they be returns from bookstores that never made it back to the publisher? Did they fall off the back of a truck? We don’t know.

(There’s also speculation in the comments that those books could have come from the publisher: returns being resold at liquidation prices rather than destroyed. In which case, see two paragraphs up.)

And one other point: publishers look at how well an author’s previous books have sold in deciding whether to put out his next one. Any sales that don’t earn a royalty also don’t get counted in making that decision. So our hypothetical one cent copy of TRTT actually reduces my chances of finding a publisher for my current novel-in-progress.

So, bottom line: I doubt Amazon will rethink this policy change. They have a long history of making moves that lower prices to consumers, even if it means taking a loss for an extended period. It’s all about cornering the market. And in this case, Amazon still gets paid. The seller gets paid. The publisher might get paid. And the author? If they don’t like it, they can self-publish and set their own price.

Except, of course, if they want to sell through Amazon, in which case they need to go through Amazon’s self-publishing arm which bases author royalties on sale price.

Another Guest

Sometimes when one lives in a tourist destination, it seems like the house guests never end. As soon as Tuxie left, we had a new visitor.

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Unlike Tuxie, this one was not invited.

And no, this is not the spider who spins those lovely webs near the front door. She’s still outside where she belongs.

She’s also gotten much less camera shy in the past few months.

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Our unwanted guest was hanging around near the kettle. I somehow doubt she wanted to boil her dinner, but stranger things have happened around here.

In any case, and much to my relief, Maggie delivered our guest an invitation to the world–before she had the chance to explore the bedroom!

Logistics

Amazon, we gotta talk.

No, not about your recent policy change regarding third-party book resellers. That is a problem, and we’ll have to hash it out over drinks one of these days.

But you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands right now, and it affects your entire site, not just your stranglehold on the publishing industry.

I’m talking about your delivery service, Amazon Logistics.

For the benefit of the people listening in to our little chat here, Amazon Logistics is Amazon’s effort to save money on shipping by cutting UPS, DHL, and the US Postal Service out of the loop. And let’s be clear here: Amazon doesn’t own fleets of airplanes and trucks, nor do they hire thousands of delivery personnel. The delivery magic is performed by commercial carriers under contract to Amazon, with much of the “last mile” delivery–actually bringing the packages to your door–done by contractors.

Yeah, Amazon’s delivery service is part of the same “gig economy” that’s working so well for Uber drivers and other non-employee workers.

As Amazon puts it, they’re looking for people who want to “deliver packages for Amazon using your car and smartphone.

And that’s where Amazon’s problem lies.

See, the way it works is that they cram those cars full of packages. The smartphone app provides routing instructions, and at each stop, the driver has to find the package, scan it with Amazon’s app, and then bring it to the door.

This isn’t hearsay, by the way. It’s personal observation. My office overlooks my front door, so I see all the delivery people who come by, not just to our house, but to a half-dozen of our neighbors’ houses as well.

UPS, FedEx, and the other delivery services who use actual employees as drivers have the bugs worked out of their systems. When we get a package carried by these folks, it goes like this:

  1. A truck displaying the company logo comes up the street on the side where parking is legal.
  2. The truck parks at the curb,
  3. the driver gets into the back, finds the package,
  4. brings it to the door–often ringing the bell–
  5. then returns to his truck and drives off down the street.

Here’s how it goes for one of Amazon’s gig economy workers:

  1. A car comes up the street on the side posted with “No Parking” signs.
  2. The driver stops in the middle of the street (halfway around a blind curve, by the way), turns on his emergency blinkers, and opens the driver’s door.
  3. He then opens the back door and leans into the car, to search through the pile of boxes that reaches from the floor to window level.
  4. Assuming he finds the package–and he doesn’t always–he stands in the middle of the street while he scans the barcode, then crosses to the sidewalk, leaving both car doors open,
  5. throws the package over the gate (yes, I’m speaking literally: a heave, a toss, a hurl–pick your favorite word meaning a semi-guided flight through the air),
  6. before returning to his car, closing the doors, and sitting (still in the middle of the blind curve) while checking the smartphone for directions to the next location.

See the difference?

I won’t even get into the issue of anonymous cars cruising slowly through residential neighborhoods, though I wonder how many Amazon drivers get reported to the police as suspicious individuals.

I’m not even really complaining about the cavalier treatment of the packages, though I’ll admit to being irked. I’m concerned about the safety of the delivery guys* and anyone else driving through the neighborhood.

* Lest anyone accuse me of sexism, let me note at this point that I have never seen a female Amazon delivery person. I’m sure they exist, and I’d bet they engage in the same unsafe behaviors as the male delivery people.

So, yeah, Amazon? You really ought to look into how your scheduling and routing practices encourage unsafe behavior by drivers trying to squeeze as many deliveries into a day as possible. Do it before someone gets killed. If nothing else, do it because lawsuits are expensive. But do it.

Off Track

Despite the snark and curmudgeonly grumblings I indulge in–to say nothing of the occasional grumpiness–I hate to write bad reviews.

But when I find a product that is so poorly designed and executed that it makes me want to buy an industrial wood chipper solely for the purpose of destroying the product, I feel I have a moral imperative to warn people away from it.

So let’s talk about TrackR. Yes, that’s really how they spell it: no “e” and a capital “R”. I’d be tempted to say that should have been the first warning sign, but it’s probably excessive to penalize a product for the excesses of the marketing department.

Anyway, TrackR sells a line of products which they say are intended to help you find lost items. In particular, the “TrackR bravo” (yes, lower-case “b”) is a “coin-sized” jobbie that you can attach to anything you’re afraid you might lose. According to their website, “It’s perfect for shared items like the remote, shared car keys or the family pet.”*

* I’ll skip the snark about the missing Oxford comma.

There are the obligatory apps–iOS and Android–that use Bluetooth to track the fobs. And not just your fobs. If your phone spots any fob, it uploads the GPS location data to TrackR’s cloud database. The idea is that if you lose your keys at the beach, someone else’s phone might find them, and you’ll get a notification on your device. You can also set geographic boundaries, so you’ll be alerted if a fob moves outside a particular area, and separation alerts to be warned if the fob gets too far away from your phone.

We got a set of four bravos, figuring to put them on the cats’ collars. Not so much to keep tabs on the cats, but to help find the collars when they inevitably pull them off and hide them under furniture.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? As usual, the problems are in the execution.

Let’s start with the bravo itself. “Coin-sized” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s about 25% larger in diameter than a quarter and twice as thick. That’s a pretty large coin–though to be fair, it is lighter than a quarter. It’s larger than I’d want on my keychain, but that’s a matter of personal preference. Certainly none of the cats, not even little Sachiko, had a problem with the fob on their collar.

The bravo uses a coin-style battery, CR1620. It’s an unusual size, but not impossible to locate. And you had better locate a source. The fobs come with a battery installed and no insulating plastic. Of our four, one had a dead battery when we bought it.

But there’s no way to tell how low the battery is! Nothing in the app gives you battery charge information. There’s a speaker on the bravo (so you can trigger a beep when you’re looking for it), but it didn’t occur to anyone at TrackR to have a low-battery beep. There’s a a small LED as well (used in pairing the fob with a phone), but no low battery blink. The light in my car alarm’s fob blinks when the battery is low, and it’s not much larger than the bravo. There should be room for whatever circuitry is needed here.

Pairing the fobs with a phone is simple and seems to work well. The Android app kept forgetting about one of the fobs, so it was just as well that re-pairing was easy. After the fourth time I did it, I switched to the iOS app, which didn’t have the same memory issues.

It had other problems. Remember what I said about cloud-sourced location alerts? One of the four fobs was permanently stuck in “lost” mode. Every 30 seconds, the iOS app gave me a notification that somebody had spotted it.

The location was accurate as far as it went. But telling me it was somewhere in my house wasn’t very useful. Amazing though it might sound, I already knew Kokoro was in the house. And the twice-a-minute reminders that I couldn’t turn off didn’t exactly endear me to the product. I had to shut off notifications for the app completely to get it to shut up.

So much for cloud-sourced locations. But the phone-based location wasn’t an improvement. It uses Bluetooth, which isn’t directional. So it uses signal strength to tell you “You’re getting closer.” and “You’re getting further away.”

Great. Actually, that might not be a bad approach, except that it’s so sensitive to variations in the signal that it can switch from “warmer” to “colder” multiple times within a minute, even if both the phone and the fob are sitting motionless on tables a few feet apart.

This is not going to help find the family pet. It’s not even going to be of much use in finding your keys.

TrackR is aware of the general uselessness of their product in performing its intended purpose. Their solution? Sell you a new product!

Their website has been touting preorders for “TrackR atlas” (yes another lower-cased name) for months. The idea behind atlas is to plug a thumb-drive-sized gadget into a wall socket “in each room of your home.” Then you build a map of the house in the TrackR app. The atlas units triangulate on the bravo fobs to locate them more precisely than a single phone can.

Or maybe not. According to the FAQ, “TrackR atlas is accurate in rooms that are at least 3 x 3 m (10 x 10 ft).” So if your room is large enough, atlas will be “accurate”–but they’re not saying how accurate, even though the actual question that purports to answer is “How accurate is TrackR atlas?”

Nor do they give any indication of when those preorders will be filled.

But if you’re willing to pay more for the functionality you already paid for, you can preorder at $39.99 per atlas. That’s pretty stiff for “each room of your house,” so they’re offering volume discounts. You can buy four for the price of three, eight for the price of five, or ten for the price of six.

That’s make it $200 to cover my house. I’d skip putting atlases in the bathrooms and save a few bucks, but these are cats we’re talking about. They spend more time in the bathrooms than we do.

One final note: In order to register the fobs and get them into the cloud database, you have to give TrackR an email address. Care to guess how many emails I’ve gotten asking me to review them? You’ll have to guess because I can’t count that high. To compound the insult, I did review these pieces of junk in the app store. They’re still sending me emails.

Maybe they’ll find this review, but I doubt it. The evidence is overwhelming that TrackR can’t find anything.

Movin’ On

Our catio guest–see last week’s post–has departed, more or less on schedule.

I say “more or less” because we decided to give him a couple of extra days in the resort. It wasn’t that big a deal. Tuxie was an easy guest, unlike MM when she had her surgery. Not quite as mellow as GT/Rufus, perhaps, but then, nobody is.

The weather was hot after his operation. A couple of days toward the beginning of the week set or came close to setting high temperature records.

Didn’t faze Tuxie a bit. He spent most of the days sprawled on the cool foam pads.
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He was much more active after dark.
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Hang on, let me give you a closer look.
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I think he was meditating, though I wouldn’t swear to that.

By the way, note the odd position of his left hind leg. That’s not a side effect of the surgery. He’s sat like that for years. It seems to be a neighborhood thing; we’ve seen Rufus and MM sitting with a similarly-extended leg as well.

MM couldn’t wait to leave. Tuxie was in rather less of a hurry. He strolled out of the catio and buried his nose in the bowl of food we had put out for him. When he finished eating, he moseyed his way down the desk stairs, sauntered across the yard, and ambled off on his rounds.

Nor has he been unsettled at dinner time.
05-4

MM is always in a hurry to make sure I fill the bowls. Tuxie figures I’ll get it done eventually, and there will be plenty of time for him to get on his feet–and he’s right.