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There are 275 blog entries within the category of Blog Entry

Vaccinations Complete
July 29th, 2017 | View Post
After rewriting all of my plans in April, I am finally on track and what a day today has been! I quit my job, turned in all of my corporate security, and will now be working as a remote contractor henceforth! I cashed in some investments. I then got my vaccinations for hepatitis-A, hepatitis-B, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and typhoid. I also had all of my blood work run too! Needless to say, I was a pin cushion for a few hours. It hurt.

As it turns out, they actually provide pills for both typhoid malaria. The typhoid pills are a live culture that will actually provide a vaccination against the disease for about 5 years to come. The malaria pills are intended to be taken before entering a location whereby malaria is highly prevalent (like pretty much all of SE Asia).

Just the needle piercing into my vein

My round-the-world adventure starts next Sunday starting with the Midwest of the US, followed by SE Asia, then Spain and northern Africa, then the Middle East, then Nepal and India. After than I'll plan Europe, South America, and remote islands around the world. I am excitedly hoping to do about 10 months of travel with stints off for holidays :). Little Atti will be joining me on some of it!

These lovely nurses made my day that much better!

Equipment Layout
July 24th, 2017 | View Post
So given the distance that I'll be covering on this trip and the minimalist style that I am trying to keep with it, this is essentially all of the equipment that I'll be bringing with me. Bearing in mind, this does not include the clothes that I will bring, but even those will be very limited (just 2 shirts, a few pairs of underwear, and a few pairs of socks).

The most minimal equipment package I could assemble

This first pass at a packing supply list includes the following:

* Deodorant
* Toothpaste/Mouthwash
* Universal power converter
* Mosquito repellent
* GoPro
* Canon DSLR
* Underwater phone bag
* My trusted Lonely Planet Asia guide

Aside from perhaps a small flashlight and a quick-dry towel, that should really be all that I'll need besides my clothing, toothbrush, and of course my laptop. I'm intending to get a new Osprey backpack for all of my gear instead of trying to bring any kind of suitcase. This is mostly due to the nomadic/backpacker style I'll be attempting, but also due to the fact that I just don't need that much luggage space.

Preparing to be a pin cushion
July 20th, 2017 | View Post
So as it turns out, there are quite a few vaccinations that I need to get to embark upon the world tour that I am preparing for. I'm sure I can post a picture of my swollen arms (and likely buttocks) once I get these taken care of, but here's a non-exhaustive list of them:

* Typhoid
* Hepatitis A
* Hepatitis B
* Cholera
* Rabies
* Japanese Encephalitis

I'm currently setting up an appointment with a local travel clinic to ensure that I get all of these in time for my travels, but that's a lot of bad stuff they're going to have to pump into me all at once.

Preparing for a World Adventure
July 16th, 2017 | View Post

A very loose idea of where I am planning to travel to on the first leg of my world adventure
It's been awhile since I've contributed anything to my own blog, but I think that's going to start changing pretty regularly. As many of my friends know, I had/have been working on an extensive trip around the world that I had hoped would start around November of this year. The plan was for the girlfriend and I to hit up about 40 countries (maybe more) around the globe. We'd start in southeast Asia, then visit a few of the "stans", northern Africa, Europe, and then head throughout South American and the Caribbean Islands before returning home. My hope was to do all of this over about 6 months, but with the girlfriend no longer around, that plan is no longer valid. least not with her; I'm certainly still doing it.

I've been working hard on the first leg of my voyage. The first series of destinations will be in Southeast Asia. Specifically I am planning on flying into Bangkok, exploring some of Thailand, then traveling throughout Cambodia, Laos, and at least some of Vietnam. If I'm able to spend a few days in Burma I will do that too, but nothing is definite just yet. I still have to work on the specific details, get various immunizations, ensure I have all of the necessary gear, and various little things in between. Still though, it's moving forward.

I'm intending to do the first leg of all of this in 3-4 weeks and am excited to meet other travelers along the way and to share some adventures with random people (likely mostly Europeans) from around the globe.

Thankfully I have a nice house and dozens of wonderful friends who would like to stay at that house while I am gone. My good friend, DaveG (quite the phenomenal world traveler himself) will be watching little Atti while I'm off on my adventures.

There is still some planning required for the second leg of the trip, but I am hoping to walk the 600km Camino Santiago with my good buddy Ben before taking a road-trip throughout Northern Europe. Once we conclude that trip, we'll hit up some of mainland Europe and ideally visit some of Northern Africa as well. Hopefully I can get my personal view of the Egyptian pyramids at some point there.
Chasing After a Hit-and-Run Suspect
December 14th, 2016 | View Post
What an exciting Monday morning I had (12/12/2016). A U-Haul right in front of me on I-35 smashed into some cars and fled the scene. I called 911 and immediately began chasing the U-Haul.

top left: The U-Haul just after the crash; top-right: police on the scene; bottom-left: police arresting the suspects; bottom-right: selfie with the arresting officer

After weaving in and out of traffic, he exited MLK and headed eastbound. He began running red lights, excessively speeding, and clearly trying to get away. Fortunately I know Austin pretty well. I followed him south on Chestnut, east on 12th, northeast on Webberville, south on Tannehill, and finally west on Jackie Robinson. Having destroyed his side mirror in the crash, I purposefully kept my truck to his left so he couldn't see me (hard to see in a U-Haul anyways). By coincidence, he and his passenger pulled over on Jackie Robinson just west of Axel Lane, half a block from property I own. They ditched the U-Haul.

I kept a distance of about 100 yards not knowing what they might do. They got out of the car and started approaching me. I started to reverse my vehicle all the while reporting the status to dispatch. I finally told the police to approach southbound on Tannehill so they would intercept them on Jackie Robinson. They did. Police showed up guns drawn. The pair (seemingly a couple) were arrested on the spot. I provided a positive identification of the driver and gave a statement of the entire pursuit.

A map detailing the route of the pursuit.

When it was all over, the arresting officer said he knew me from when I ran for office in 2014 (Kevin Ludlow for TX House 46 ). I asked how. It turns out he was the officer who had broken into my house in 2014 and tried to arrest me citing the "smell of marijuana." I couldn't believe it and just laughed. We shook hands and took a selfie. It was nice to make peace with him. He appreciated what I had done and said they almost never catch hit and runs. Everyone in the accident was okay.

In the News

KXAN put together a story about what happened. I thought it was a pretty fun interview. The direct link to their story can be found here:

The Follow-up

So this is Prashant, the guy whose car was smashed Monday morning. He found me on Facebook and invited me out to lunch. Turns out he's a software developer too and works right near me. He invited me to join him and his wife for an authentic home cooked Indian meal sometime at his house and that he would invite me to Holi in a few months. Such a positive feeling being able to help someone. I feel great that he's so happy about it all.

About the best ending we could hope for after meeting Prashant, the victim in the hit-and-run crash

Off-loading Terabytes of Videos to YouTube
November 6th, 2016 | View Post

The YouTube Logo
When I first sat out to design and build, I did so under the impression that it wouldn't be long before every single thing that we had was digitally catalogued. I did so under the impression that it would become increasingly more difficult to protect oneself from having information digitally catalogued.

I'm not referring to police records and tax documents. I'm referring to that picture of you where you've had six too many to drink, your eyes are bloodshot, and there's still some puke running down your lip from when you last vomited. These are moments that we try dearly to make disappear, but they're not going to disappear. The second an iPhone or Android snaps a picture like that, not only is the content saved in an archive forever (yes, even if you delete it), but the META-data attached to the photo is frightening. There is a full story of exactly where you were, what you were doing, how long you were there for, and everything else in between included in that META-data.

I wouldn't exactly say that my attitude followed the old cliché of, "If you can't beat em, join em", but it was along those lines. The idea of my website was that if this is where we're headed, then perhaps it's just best to embrace those moments and own them as your own. So what if I had too many to drink one night. It happens. If anybody is going to own a picture of that moment, I'm going to. I'm going to be the one to make it publicly accessible for all to see. If someone should ever try to use it against me, I'm going to politely remind them that they got the image from my own personal archive. There's a power to this and I encourage everyone to embrace it.

That's the back story.

Along with that has come hundreds of hours of video footage that I've recorded over my lifetime. FINALLY, I have finished the segment of my site whereby I can archive all of my video footage not only on my own personal website, but on YouTube.

Google, like with most of their tools, has created a wonderful API for connecting with your YouTube channel and uploading videos to it. I've taken full advantage of this and in the past month or so have uploaded about 1,500 videos to their service as part of the initial experiment. Now that I finally have the tools to do it, I probably have 200-300 more hours of video that I will fully digitize and send to YouTube.

My process is simple. I start by placing all of my media content in the regular directory it falls on within my server. Think of it like a giant iPhoto gallery. It's just an enormous directory tree with about 90,000 unique memories in it (as of this writing). From there my servers run a series of automated processes that I've developed over the years. Photos are converted into different sizes and resolutions as needed by my software package. Videos are converted into OGG format (open-source video for the web) so that I can display them using HTML5 on this site. Thumbnails from the videos are automatically extracted and organized. Each entity that is created within my system is given a unique ID and catalogued within my database. There is a lookup table that will cross reference any of these unique IDs in the entire system with a specific file type (photo, video, etc.)

Focusing solely on the videos, at this point in my process there exist videos on my server that have thumbnails, that have been converted to a useful (and view-able) web format, but that lack any titles or description. I quickly scroll over the video, provide it with a title and a description, and so long as I'm okay archiving it within YouTube, I check a box and it gets marked for upload.

A standard CRON job on my server is routinely scanning the database for videos that have been approved, but not yet uploaded. Once it finds such a video, the YouTube API is invoked and the video gets uploaded to YouTube. All of the information about the video that has been populated in my database (such as the title and description) is sent over with the video for YouTube to archive. The date/time that the video goes over is logged in my database as is the unique video code that YouTube provides. From there I can reference any video in my personal catalogue by looking up the YouTube ID myself.

While I've not yet configured the videos as a YouTube plugin on the site, this is the obvious next step. Not only does it take cost off of my server, but YouTube's servers are likely significantly faster than mine.

That's the gist of how it works. I've wanted to do this for about 7 years now. I'm delighted to have finally finished the coding that makes it work.

Incidentally, if you go to my YouTube channel, you find thousands of videos, all of which originated on this site.