Friday, December 31, 2021

Let the New Year Begin – Welcome 2022

Well it’s over – 2021 is past history. Good, bad, ugly, or wonderful, those times are gone and we start our new adventures now. Personally 2021 wasn’t a bad year. I did try to “enjoy every day” and tried to fill my time with as many things I like doing as possible. I was slowed down greatly by advancing osteoarthritis in the process, but kept on keeping on as best as possible. The last two weeks were the toughest with my hip replacement and starting that recovery, but again I feel I was lucky and just took each day as it came, easy or hard.

Twenty twenty one did present some insane changes around the globe. Especially scary trends towards dystopian societies with obvious government over reach forcing people to make decisions of liberty versus livelihood. Decisions people should never have to make, especially in a “free” country such as the United States. Will we recover from this in twenty twenty two, or is this the trend that is now accepted by society as the new normal? We can only hope and pray freedom and liberty wins in the end.

I continue to feel very fortunate that I have the benefit of being retired and not in the mess of choosing liberty over livelihood. I also feel lucky I live in an area that isn’t quite as insanely bent on controlling the people like many areas around our nation an world. But things can change quickly, so I plan to continue to be prepared for the worst, while planning for the best for 2022.

My goals for 2022 are pretty simple; Enjoy Every Day doing the things that I like doing as much as possible. There is likely another hip replacement in my future, but I will deal with that when I’m ready to hopefully. I love my hobbies, or interest and am thankful and happy I have the ability to work and enjoy them. My newest hobby will be learning the ropes of my little CNC router and finding uses for it, but the cars, motorcycles, 3D printers, home automation, solar power, gardening, writing, robots, electronics, bicycles, RC cars, and more will hopefully all be in the mix as well.

Welcome 2022 – Let’s get rolling and pray for the best possible outcome!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Divide and Conquer

Divide and Conquer... 

Divide by RACE, pitch the blacks against the whites, the natives against the non natives, the east against the west.

Divide by AGE, pitch the young against the old, the boomers vs the hipsters, the babies against the abortionist.

Divide by ECONOMICS, pitch the rich against the poor, the entitled against the workers, the middle class against the rest.

Divide by POLITICS, pitch the left against the right, the capitalist against the socialist, the anarchist against the communistic.

Divide by HEALTH, pitch the frail against the healthy, the fear mongers against the conspirators, the logical against the emotional, use the pandemic to it’s full fear factor.

Divide by MASKING, shame people who do, shame people who do not. Make it required by law even though loads of evidence state otherwise.

Divide by RELIGION, Christians are the current targets. Shame them for their beliefs, force them to “bake the cake”.

Divide by Vaccines, make the un-vaccinated second class citizens, shame them for their “selfishness”, generate fake hate between the sides.

Divide by GEOGRAPHY, big dirty urban vs hillbilly rural, make them hate each other for all their various differences, instead of common beliefs.

Divide by FEAR, keep the public afraid of anything and everything. A citizenship shaking in fear mongering of all types is less likely to come together and fight the true threat.

Divide by the PAST, stir up the hate, make it personal, offer rewards for the past transgressions than none of the living experienced to keep the hate alive.

The can be NO balance, races must hate each other although they rarely do. Ages cannot work together, although they have for eons, the rich can’t help the poor and the poor can’t help themselves, although one can rise above being poor and the rich do share their wealth. The left hates the right and the right hates the left, there is no compromise, although the best times have been achieved through balance and compromise.

Make sure the healthy are shamed for not protecting themselves, or protecting everything else by their personal actions, even though true science proves neither. You’re an idiot if you don’t mask, but only idiots wear masks, but a personal choice makes the most sense. You must be vaccinated, but the cure has caused more damage than all past cures combined. 

The city sucks with the most homeless and crime, but those rural rednecks are a threat to the nation, but the nation is great because we have had both to support each other. Make sure and drag up the past as something evil and dangerous to the present. Erase the history to protect the future, although the history will be repeated without the knowledge of the past.

But most important of all is divide by FEAR, fear of national security, fear of health, fear of the future, fear of the past, fear of the government, fear of your neighbor. You must continue to be afraid, very afraid, and the government will come to your rescue. However, that “rescue” will be complete control of your life, your travel, your money, and eventually your mind.

Divide and Conquer, Divided We Fall. 

What will it take to become “United We Stand” again?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Land of Equal - Opportunity, Not Life

It seems that too many Americans have forgotten what this country was built on in my opinion. The entitlement mindset is quickly taking over our nation, and apparently our world as individuals believe they are "owed" something in life. One would think this would be unique to to the U.S. but it is quickly becoming a world wild downward slid.

That mindset quickly leads to a lazy ass world where people think someone ELSE is supposed to take care of their needs and generally that someone else appears to be the "government". This country was founded on hard work, individualism, and persistence and without that mindset I think we will quickly fall into yet another "3rd world" country that can't support themselves much less others.

This is indicative not just economically but in many other areas as well. We want a pill to fix all our health issues instead of taking on the responsibility of our own health. It's someone else's fault that we are mad, or sad, or hurt, or even happy anymore. It's someone else's fault I can't get a job, not that I have no skills or a degree that is useless in a productive world. It's the policeman's fault I'm in trouble because he caught me, not like I was doing illegal things. It's the judges fault I'm in prison. It's the legal gun owners or NRA's fault some idiot killed someone. The list goes on.

I hear these things daily and it's full blown entitlement and lack of self responsibility. It's also the easy way out, which is why it's likely so popular as we have fallen from a nation of self support, self confidence, and self building to it's someone else's job to do it.

No easy fix in sight either which is the worse part of the situation. My two and 1/2 cents...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Don't Be Stupid

In today's world it seems every time there is some problem, some concern, something different that people don't like some lawmaker somewhere comes up with a new law to address it. We are a country of millions of laws... literally. Nobody knows them all and I'd imagine we all be surprised at how few are enforced.

With all these laws in place and all the law makers trying to keep us all "legal", it seems to me nearly all of these could be fixed with one single law...

"Don't be stupid"

That seems to sum up all that is needed to function as a society. Think about how that can be applied across the board.

Don't be stupid and kill people.
Don't be stupid and steal stuff.
Don't be stupid and cheat.
Don't be stupid and hurt anyone.
Don't be stupid.

Just Don't be stupid- fixes a lot of the worlds problems.

Not like that's going to happen but seems to be a solution.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

It's The Process That Counts

I've now spent about 60 years on this big round ball (yeah, I'm not giving into the flat earth stuff yet) and have completed a few things during that time. With "things" being jobs, projects, goals, challenges and more. I've built things, broke things, fixed things, rebuilt things, re-broke things, explored new things, enjoyed old things, and tried new things. These things range from bicycles, Lego animation, go karts, old cars, motorcycles, automated homes, big and small computer networks, dynamic websites, patios, carports, computers, robots, 3D printers, relationships, policies, processes, and beyond.

I've found for my purpose, it's not the end result thing that counts, it's the process of getting there. Figuring out the process, finding the right design, making the new part, making it all work out, getting the right algorithm, assembling the code or finished up parts, or working through the wording on that new policy, is the part I actually enjoy, usually more than using the finished "thing". It's not that I don't want or enjoy the end result, be it a paper, car, bot, process, computer or whatever, it's just that getting there was as much or more fun than the results often to me.

I guess that's a good thing since, as in life, getting to the end isn't the real goal. I'm glad I never felt I was only "working for retirement". I worked for 45 years from car hop, cashier/sacker to outside plant engineer and on to Chief Information Officer, but enjoyed each of those stops along the way and what was involved in making each job work the best it could. I remember working on Long Range Outside Plant Plans (LROPPs) for many Bell wire centers and, although I was happy to be finished with each, the end product didn't have as much meaning to me as the working through the process.

Interestingly enough, in the Information Systems career that followed, the end result of your work had a very short "shelf life" so the job required constant "processing" to keep it updated and relevant. Maybe that is why I liked it as much as I did. The same feeling is there for cars, bikes, robots, and more. The end result is cool and fun, but the process was the most fun.

I'm glad I enjoyed the process of life so far, and hope to enjoy the process of retirement for some time to come. In reality, life is just a series of "now" moments strung through seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades, so life's plan really should be "enjoy each day" ... and the "process" of that day you have been given.

-Stephen W Nolen

Friday, December 7, 2018

Saying Goodbye to the City

When I walked through the City of Shawnee Oklahoma City Hall doors on January 10th, 2000, and sat waiting for then Finance Director Jim Wilsie to welcome me to the City of Shawnee as a new employee, I really didn’t have a clue of what the future really looked like here. I had actually always wanted to work at the City of Shawnee, having spent seven years at the City of Tecumseh, and three at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation building technology solutions and supporting their goals. When I received a phone call from James Roberts about Shawnee exploring a possible “Systems Administrator” position, and what it should pay and how it should look, it peaked my interest.

Little did I know I’d spent nearly 19 years here, and at least try to keep us moving along the never ending technology treadmill. We did make progress, deploying working solutions, and continued to improve our operations. We were ahead of some cities, and behind others in our technology ventures. It all depended on time, money, and motivation during that time. 

Sadly to me we’ve watched the core function of information systems department move from being change and efficiency drivers, to “defenders of the fort” simply trying to keep the bad guy from burning down what we have built. I truly believe that has slowed down progress in our department as much effort has had to be made on building security systems, training users, and deeply monitoring systems to identify and stop any threats. I hope that gets better before it gets worse, but the online world really is a nasty place anymore.

As I walk away from the City of Shawnee I see big changes on the horizon, and that’s a good thing. It’s time to explore new options, solutions, and processes and actually deploy some of the true cost saving solutions that have been “in the list” for way too long. Here’s wishing good luck to everyone that will making the future with the City!

Sunday, November 4, 2018


Life really is like chapters of a book when you look back. The introduction to the story of your life, the rising action and build up to exciting times, the climax where you've done the best you can and are enjoying every day, the falling action or wind down when you finish out your career or see your children go off to their own, and finally, the resolution or closing, where hopefully you are happy with it all.

We all experience some of these during slightly different ages, I suppose, but I'm sure all of us who are older can identify with the basic concept. Unfortunately, many do not get to enjoy the full book of life, when things end early or abruptly, so those who get to enjoy the book of life all the way through, are indeed quite lucky.

Our Introduction

During our youth, we are establishing our character, building our ethics and morals, and deciding where we are headed. As toddlers learning right from wrong to teens testing the limits of parents and society, we mold ourselves into the human we will likely be from now on. Our parents, grandparents, friends and enemies, all play roles in these early days and make us the unique individuals we turn out to be.

Our Rising Action

During our late teens and twenties, we may be learning the skills of life, building our careers, work and life experiences or having our own children to mentor and enjoy. Often our children help drive our motivation to do good in the world, to do the best we can and to be the person they would be proud of. We are learning, living and loving life and beginning to realize how special it is.

Our Climax

At some point we may feel like we've done our good for the world, be it our children, work, volunteerism or other life accomplishments. We should be happy with our accomplishments and look back at our life, so far, with pride. We aren't all so lucky to feel or see that, but I believe that should be our goal. For some this may be our 40's, other 50's, or even older, depending on the individual.

Our Falling Action

Our falling action years would hopefully be our golden years of retirement, resting, thoughts of our past with good memories and taking time for ourselves to enjoy the world, without the need for work or daily actions, unless that is what we really enjoy doing.

Our Resolution

In the end we finish out, hopefully knowing we did do the best we could, that we stopped and smelled the roses along the way, that we presented the best example we could as a human being, and that we enjoyed each day to our best ability. Those late years in life are very special and hopefully we have no regrets during this time.

We all should step back and make sure we are writing our book of life the way we hope it will be.


Friday, October 5, 2018

The Lucky Life

I would imagine that most of us have lived the "Lucky Life". We've been blessed more than we usually realize. Some of that "luck" may be partly due to hard work and perseverance, but you may be lucky to have that drive.

I have to remind myself of the Lucky life I've often had. I wasn't born into a rich family but never lacked for things as a child. I watched my dad and mom work very hard for what they had and provided for us. From trying their own business to my dad driving hours a day for a better job, and mom working when she could downtown, they set a great example. Maybe I was lucky to have those examples in front of me that helped my "luck" continue in my life.

Maybe I was lucky to always feel valued and loved by my parents, sister, family, and all those around me. I remember friends that weren't so lucky in that area, but most of them changed that luck as adults ensuring their kids never felt the same. I was lucky to be smart enough to do well at what I wanted to do but also lucky to not be so smart, making it a burden to feel normal.

I was lucky to find employment when I wanted and never lacking for a job, but then again I was "lucky" enough to see those opportunities and follow through at the right times. I used my skills and brain to make sure my luck continued in my career by trying to learn all I could and be ready for the next big thing. That helped luck along often I feel, as I watched the technology world grow, change and accelerate at an amazing pace as I rode along these past nearly four decades.

I've been lucky with health, I'm sure, as well, never having had major problems although "luck" may be lacking in that area as one ages. This is the one area that seems the most important as you get older, as without good health, other things in life are harder to enjoy, I'm sure. I have tried at least to hedge my bets on the lucky health side by not abusing the one body we have too much, and by never smoking or drinking to excess. Some things you can't change, and heredity is obviously one, so luck may not have a whole lot to do with health... but then again it may.

I'm lucky to have my wife, Karen, through thick and thin and enjoy our time together every chance we get. I've been lucky to have a close immediate family and a wonderful son, who was a joy to raise, teach, and learn with and experience life with. He's now lucky to have a family of his own with our first grandchild little Stella Jo Nolen. His and Tandra's luck has already started with an extended stay at Children's hospital from an early showing by Stella, but a joyful outcome of them settled into their new home and life. 

I hope to be lucky in old age and retirement as well, and enjoy the twilight years on my own terms,  enjoying simple things I like to do in life and time with family, friends, kids and grand kids. Time will tell if the future is lucky or not but I'm doing what I can to help luck along.

I'm lucky again to be offered an opportunity to retire a little bit earlier than I had planned to start that "old age" phase. I'm lucky that I'm reasonably prepared to take advantage of this offer and do understand others may not be in the same position. I hope they have luck in moving on to new and hopefully better opportunities in their life as I hope to experience as well.

I'm sure you've been lucky too, if you really look at things from the right perspective.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Wandering Ways...

It’s odd to me how the world, including people, companies and governments, grab onto the latest bandwagon or “viral trend” and jump out of their seats to “change things”. An actual small number of people get attention for feeling “offended” and suddenly everything must change… that is until the next viral topic comes along and then that has to change too.

I’m no angel but from my life observations this is usually due to the individual, corporation or even country not having guiding principles, morals, or ethics. Basically no “moral compass” to keep on the right track during turmoil or disruption. Based on what we’ve seen in the USA the past decade or two it’s pretty obvious. Corporations driven by greed, governments driven by control, and individuals driven by entitlement.

Without that moral guiding compass, people, companies, news media and governments lose their way during the temptations, disruptions, and squeaky wheel situations and jump at the latest “threat” usually over reacting and creating more turmoil in the long run. Nothing actually gets improved and now the rest of the world is offended or unhappy.

To me, a “moral compass” doesn’t mean a certain religious, lifestyle, political ideology or other. It means doing the right thing for everyone involved with logic, sustainability, and compassion be it individual, company or government. It means taking care of yourself first but taking care of others in true need. It means not being distracted by the latest viral trend. It means staying the course you planned but being aware of what is short term versus long term concerns.

If we would guide our life, companies, governments and world with true quality principles, we can weather the storms and truly assess what should change and what should not change just because it’s the latest “trend”.

My two cents… no returns or refunds.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Smart Home Version 10?

Original Web Front End
Ok, maybe it’s not version 10 but I have been through a LOT of major version changes in my home automation / smart home history. Starting way, way back in the 1980’s with a Commodore Vic20 running as a dedicated controller for turning on and off X10 lights based on my “programmed” schedule and some X10 control pads around the house, through SEVERAL different PC versions of X10 based controls, to a dedicated Time Commander+ setup in the middle 1990’s, to a TC+ version and my own interface to fake keystrokes into the control software, then an integrated TC+ and web services version.
WAP Access - Simple Pull downs

Around this time some very basic WAP pages were developed to allow remote phone access for those nice limited Nokia phones. It worked just fine and was just a list of things to scroll up or down to and click on. With smartphones showing up the mobile interface was updated to a full html style page and formatted to fit the small screen. That interface is still the main front end I used day to day but is on it’s way out. Next to an expanded version of that with Arduino and ESP8266 end points and now my migration from my now “legacy” system over to a dedicated Raspberry Pi3 running Home Assistant / Hassio. That could be more than 10 actually.

Mobile Web Access
I’ve been questioning myself over what is the next version or phase of smart home I’ll be moving to for a while. Actually for a few years now. Obviously X10 is dead and has been for some time but that is what all my controlled devices were built around. Watching the Z’s (Zigbee and ZWave) battle it out, I never made a commitment to either. I did buy one Insteon wall switch that could do both X10 and their own power line carrier (PLC) but at their price point I could see it was going to be way more than I was willing to pay for budget wise to move everything that direction.

Then along came the Internet of Things (IoT) and WiFi device disturbance along with what seems like a million different protocols, options, and “apps” to use. I always loved how my home built web service put everything into a single site of controls so there was no way I was going to “app hop” to turn lights on, then arm the alarm look at cameras, etc. In the meantime I was slowly deploying my own ESP8266 IoT things on my network for temperature monitoring and some endpoint / relay controls but using my own HTTP API processes to do so. I had checked out Smartthings when they were a startup but after being bought out and up by a corporate giant my interest waned.

Hassio Control Screen
Finally during my wanderings around the web I ran across Home Assistant, or more specifically for me Hassio. I had actually recently picked up a Raspberry Pi3 on a whim as I knew I really needed to learn more about them and I had a $50 gift card on Amazon burning a hole in my pocket so to speak. I’ve coded in microcontrollers for years, check that, decades from 68HC11 devices through BX24 chips and for the last several years on the Arduino platform. I’m not saying I’m good by any means, just have been using them for my own fun. Seeing Hassio was basically made to run on a Pi3 with little effort I figured it was worth a try. Honestly the install was dead simple and before long Hassio was running and finding devices on my network.

So my goal now is to slowly, well I really want to do this quickly but time and money come into play so it's slowly, migrate all my old light switches, inputs and outputs, and automation routines over to Hassio and grow it from there. I’ve migrated quite a few switches, have text to voice working, have Alexa and Siri listening and responding, and am working on migrating my automation routines over. Learning YAML and its idiosyncrasies was a bit troubling at first as I am a quite sloppy coder but after a few thousand errors and fixes I’m getting better.

HA Dashboard Master Screen
Although the Hassio control screen does it's job well, it's just too much at once and not that easy to customize. Fortunately, the wonderful HADashboard add on for Hassio and Home Assistant, makes it super easy to build out new web interfaces to replace what I’ve built before. With HADashboard one can configure multiple dashboards and customize them for the particular endpoint display as needed. For example my small old phone displays are laid out different than my larger phones versus the Android tablets versus the old Ipad devices. You can setup your “widgets” and then include them in your dashboards adding easy re-usability of existing code.

I have to say version “10” (or maybe even higher) of our automated home is better than the old versions of the past and continues to improve. There is much work to do including moving inputs and outputs such as the washing machine, dryer, garage doors, alarm system and other sensors over to the new system but this will actually be easier as ESP8266 end points will be much easier to build out than running wires everywhere.

Watch for more details in the future as this decades long adventure continues…


Home Assistant/ Hassio:
My ThingiVerse Things for 3D printable items I've used:

To learn more about Home Assistant and DIY Smart Homes in general check out these Youtube channels: