To augment the home security system, I bought a Canary. It's a small cylinder that takes video and detects motion and sends a notification and sounds an alarm. So the salesman said.

Oh, it takes video: nice 1080 video, and does so in the dark. The alarm is suitably deafening. It sends notifications: something moved! And there's an app, of course, which lets you set its state from Home, or Away, or Night. You can adjust the number of notifications you get, in case it's bugging you too much. Sorry to annoy you with so many warnings about burglars downstairs - I'll do better next time.

Here's the problem. It is activated by Dog Presence. Our other motion detectors do not pick up Dog, because they're built to dismiss that sort of motion. Somehow. The Canary decides to send you an alert because the software analyzes the video and sees motion, and isn't smart enough to say "it's only 23 inches high, nevermind."

The alarm does not sound automatically if it detects motion - which is a good thing if triggered by Dog Presence, but somewhat useless as a tool to make the miscreants flee.

The notifications do not seem to do one small thing, and that's Notify. I know I'm being picky here. But. Ideally, the phone would make a loud sound to tell me there's Motion, and I would stab the screen to call up the live video feed, and then stab the ALARM and EMERGENCY CALL button. Last night I was up late, walking around in front of it, seeing what would trigger a notification; nothing.

To repeat: it was set up to send me notifications if there was motion, and when I walked in front of it, it didn't send me a notification.

How did the people who made this thing send it out in this state? What conversations did they have?

Well, people will love this sleek, unobtrusive design, and the seamless app integration. We've really got a hot seller.

Yeah but -

But what?

When people walk in front of it, it doesn't send notifications.

Let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Yeah but - but it doesn't work.

We can address this in firmware updates.

Yeah but - but that's like launching a ship without a bottom and saying we can fox the sinking problem by sending metal plates to the floor of the sea with instructions on how to hire a welding crew, isn't it?

(Pause) Look at this CNET award for best security app! We can put this on the main page at the bottom with the icons of all the other awards.

Again, it exists to give you video of the people who've robbed you. I want it to dismiss Dog Presence and shriek like a gut-stuck banshee when someone triggers it at human level; is that so hard? There were three notifications in the morning because wife and mother and law got up earlier than I did, and not one woke me up. Now: I had set the NIGHT preferences - alert me about any motion - to end at 6 AM, just as a test. But when I checked it in the morning it said there were three notifications, all pertaining to post 6 AM movement (complete with crisp video of mother-in-law toasting a bagel) and I hadn't heard anything. So maybe it only made an ALERT sound inside the NIGHT alarm parameter window.

We'll see. I'm sure there are reasons it doesn't automatically call the cops, because the police would go mad getting all these 911 calls when 99% are the result of Dog Presence. It doesn't automatically shriek an alarm for the same reason. Besides, if you have a dog, why do you need an alarm?

At least two of the houses that have been hit in the Wave of Terror had dogs. They've been upstairs asleep on the beds. Scout sleeps downstairs. He's still our first line of notification if anyone's outside.

As I wrote those last lines, sitting outside in the gazebo in the cool night, he sat up on his chair, uttered a BOOF, growled, and ran to the fence. I followed with my ILF, or Inordinately Long Flashlight, and lit up the area to the east. Nothing. A cat. A coon. One of the innumerable bunnies.

It's only a quarter to midnight. They mostly strike in the dead of the night. Mostly.

Speaking of 80s movies: I've been watching "Stranger Things," and while I like it I'm not over the moon about it. I mean, it's okay, so far. (Three eps in.) It's getting praise for being an 80s throwback - Spielbergian kids and domestic interiors (clutter! like real people) and the synth music and the title fonts. Yes, they got that part right. Doesn't make for a great show, but it does keep me watching.

It helps if you were there. If you weren't, then your nostalgia is predicated upon the time in your life when you discovered the works of another era, which is a different sort of nostalgia altogether. So much of my love of the 30s and 40s is bound up in memory of discovering these times as a young fellow in Fargo, when the only portal into the era was the bound LIFE mags at the library, and the occasional film on TV or at a Summer Arts fair.

The Imagination Festival in Fargo was held in Island Park, and it was a wondrous thing. Musty tents with crafts and food and art and crafts and lectures - my uber-geek pal Peter gave a talk on comic books and sci-fi fandom, sparsely attended but important, because it validated us. These things mattered! At night they screened "Things to Come" at the adjacent YMCA auditorium, and I was besotted. I wanted more.

But finding it was hard. The past was rare. Now it's ubiquitous and lives side by side with the present on endless Tumblr accounts devoted to vintage. I follow a few, and I always seen Twitter posts from a few cyber-elders who link to various sites concerning the Atom / Jet age. They irritate the hell out of me, because they just put up the picture. SAY SOMETHING. It's not enough to reproduce. Annotate. Add value. Tell me what you think about this, put it in context.

That's my rule for the web. If you see something, say something.

That goes for the Canary, too.

From a Street & Smith rag, jokes! Top Notch ran adventure stories, and had a quarter-century run. Wikipedia said it was mostly aimed at teens, which may explain the jokes. Ready to have your sides duly split?

See, it's funny, because he's Irish, and they smell.






The movie starts with a parade of stock footage almost indistinguishable from last week's entry. Men, frowning at oscillators! Planes, in the air! A voice-over to obscure the fact that they haven't the money to stage any of this! Then an atom bombs goes off.

It's time for . . .

Oh, the worst kind. Some pilots observing the explosion see a flashing object, and lose control of their plane because a horrifying force has pulled everything in the sky perpendicular to the earth, including the clouds:

One of the pilot survived, because he is . .

He lived in my neighborhood, many years ago.

He's alive and no one knows why. Plus, he has a surgical incision. He is also suffering from scriptitis, because he can't deliver a line to save his life. Well, we all know what happened, right? He was abducted and SPACE KILLERS did something to him. See also half the damned cheap sci-fi from the 60s, where there's one special effect and then the main actor just grimaces a lot because he's Under Control. Otherwise it's just people sitting in a room talking about things that could be happening while a miserable score dawdles interminably.

Anyway, it's obvious that Major Colonel Graves is under stress, because he steals atomic secrets. The Authorities capture him and give him truth-telling drugs, and he describes what happens. Okay. Aliens now. Will they be scary?




They look like constipated owls.

Of course they're here because we're conducting nuclear experiments. They're siphoning up the energy, because any civilization capable of interstellar travel needs to bogart our atoms.

While he's in the cavern of the aliens, they get a report from one of the scouts. Nanu nanu:

Run that backwards just for fun, if you like; it's just numbers.

Anyway, the Astron Deltas have come to conquer, of course, because their planet's sun began to fail. It got cooler and the plants died. And something else:

Because turning on the light wouldn't be effective at all. We see their doomed home planet at its finest, Matte City:

In the end our hero has to cut all the power to make the Astron Deltas blow up, and the effect is observed through a window conveniently positioned to see all the action:


Utter shite, the lot of it. And perhaps we can figure out why:


Billy Wilder's brother, again.

Next week? It'll get worse before it gets better.

Matches ahoy below; see you around.



blog comments powered by Disqus