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Field watches is where it's at

Posted by admin |

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A Citizen titanium watch in field watch style

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A Seiko military watch

I recently pondered if it would be time to wear a watch again…

In practice the adventurers, aviators, divers and soldiers that rendered credibility to certain watches and designs have now all but migrated to digital watches and computers. But analog watches tend to look better on your wrist.

When it comes to analog watches, there is basically two styles:

  • Dress/impress watches. Watches made to be aestethically pleasing and/or containing advanced functionality of a mostly useless nature. Although this may sound like a bit of a turndown, all analog watches fall into this group really, it's just that some pretend not to.
  • And for the second group: Watches once made for professional use. These are watches that once were the best you could have to help you in your work, whether you were a diver, an aviator, astronaut, adventurer or car racer. Today, you can get a watch model that used to fulfill one of these roles, or something that is inspired by such watches.

Strictly speaking, there is one group of analog watches that stay relevant from a prepper perspective: Mechanical watches that can withstand strong electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) such as caused by nuclear explosions. Ironically, many of the more advanced dress-to-impress fall into the EMP tolerant category.

I started browsing through the offerings online and in stores. Soon it became to clear to me what I wanted from an analog wristwatch:

Quickly readable

Quickly readable — A readable watch face, that is a watch face that gives you the time with the least amount of attention needed to know the time. This means:

  • Readable in darkness — Glow in the dark markings or glow in the dark watch face
  • Arabic numerals — The markings should be numbers, otherwise I could just use a compass and the sun, thank you very much (slightly exaggerated)!
  • Uncluttered — No extra decorations such  as:
    • No outer ring with diver's markings
    • No complications (complications are extra dials)
    • No date indicator, I can get that from my phone more reliably

Other requirements

Some other things crept in to make the watch practical for me.

  • A watch body made out of titanium
  • A battery operated quartz movement, preferrably solar so I do not need to change batteries
    • Mechanical watches on the other hand get mechanical problems and hence need maintenance
  • I'm not going to spend a fortune, the threshold being around $250
  • As I learnt more, and realized that analog is all for show, I actually softened a bit on the design side. The watch I finally purchased is perfectly readable, but a bit in a 1940s retro style. Haven't got it yet, will update with photos and info when I do.

Field watches, aviator watches and diving watches

It turned out that there is genre of watches that ticks most of the above criteria: Field watches. Field watches belong to a category of watches for people who need to get the time quickly and reliably under field conditions. In this category you can also find diver's watches which have a rotating bezel for keeping tabs on oxygen supply and aviators' watches which have an outer ring for, for, I'm not actually sure what that ring is for (update: It is a slide rule!)

 

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A Luminox watch with a rotating bezel traditionally used for diving

 
 
 

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A Luminox watch with three complications (extra dials) and date. The stopwatch dials could come in handy for racing.
That is if you did not know that digital watches exist, or if you just want to pay hommage to old time racing

Field watches on the other hand are more targeted to infantry men, who as a rule do not need to calculate oxygen remaining or a flight path so these watches tend to be no-nonsense. Many watches at least in the aviation and field genres tend to be retro-styled, and hark back design-wise to a time where analog watches made sense for professionals in these, ehrm, fields.

Diving watches tend to focus on minutes elapsed, which dictates a lot of the design of the watch, including a rotating bezel and very clear marking of minutes. One good thing with diving watches is that they work well in darkness, and that they take pains in communicating during such conditions that the watch is still working and in distingushing the hour and minutes hands even when overlapping. Still, diving watches are being replaced by computers. The more finely marked red part of a diving watch's bezel is for ascent to the surface, although computers can now do these calculations safer and with better precision.

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Speaking about emphasizing minutes, this Oris Regulateur der Meistertaucher has nothing but a minute hand on the big dial, no hour or seconds hands; you have to look at the small dials for those

Aviator's/Pilot's/Astronaut's watches cater for the other extreme, being up in the atmosphere or even above it. At lower speeds the minutes are emphasized, at jet speeds time zones become important and for astronauts there is a logarithmic bezel on e.g. the Omega Speedmaster professional. Not sure what the bezel does, although having a logarithmic rotating bezel might come in handy as a slide rule I guess. Ok, I just read up, it is indeed a slide rule!

These guys, Bremont, know how to make gorgeous looking pilot inspired watches:

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This one is called "P-51", no doubt named after the  US WWII fighter plane

Ironically, aviators still seem to use and appreciate analog watches, While infantry men and divers now rely on digital computers on their wrists, many aviators already have a big honking computer in the form of a glass cockpit in front of them. So having a feeble such on the wrist may not add much.

The specialized brands — and a couple of general ones

There at least four brands that specialize in affordable field watches, and a couple of general brands that have watches in this category. The four specialized ones I've found are:

  • Momentum from Canada
  • Bertucci from USA
  • Luminox from USA
  • Timex, also American

Momentum and Bertucci are almost exclusively made from titanium, while Luminox and Timex have few offerings here. There are some more specialized brands here that I found via Ebay such as watches from Swiss army knife brands and a brand called Messerschmitt.

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A Timex field watch

I also found nice-looking field watches from general watch brands such as:

  • Citizen
  • Seiko
  • Alba (Seiko)

Citizen has the very nice Eco drive movement, which seems to last for decades without ever changing the battery.

 

A Momentum titanium field watch

 

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A Luminox field watch

Aviator's and astronaut's watches

The original astronaut's watch seems to be the Omega speedmaster professional. However the movement of the newly produced watches is not of the same quality as those that actually went to space.

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An Omega Speedmaster

Aviator's watches have several roots, in Germany, Italy, the UK and USA. The German variety seems popular and you can find watches in that design style by including the word Flieger ("pilot" in German) in your searches.

An original Flieger watch from around 1941

One cool thing with some of these watches is they have a slide rule bezel. Here's how to use a slide rule bezel on an aviator's watch:

Alternatives to Titanium

If you want to avoid nickel, a nifty way of being able to wear any watch, nickel or not, is to use what is called a bund strap. Bund straps were initially made for German pilots to thermally insulate the metal watch from the wrist of the pilot. A bund strap is wider than the watch under the watch body, and then tapers off into a normal strap.

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 Sinn pilot's watch with a matching Jürgens bund strap

If you want a strap that keeps the generous width all the way round, it's called a cuff strap. Beware that the metal parts of straps may well contain nickel though!

Another option is to wear a plastic watch, but make sure it does not actually have a stainless steel back plate. Plastic is sometimes referred to as "resin".

The German Damasko brand makes its own nickel-free steel. Another German brand, Sinn, may also be nickel free.

 

Image credits/links

https://www.flickr.com/photos/8521656@N02/3249931880
https://www.flickr.com/photos/brandoncripps/5372909422
https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2874/11244234635_d2bdaf04b6_b.jpg
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5018/5519978030_3da8e0afdd_b.jpg
https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2598/3948376935_dd847ee351_b.jpg
https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3124/3116404826_2c6aa0a6a9_b.jpg
https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5752/22513108655_c08226dd19_b.jpg

https://www.flickr.com/photos/noodlefish/5923677732/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ironhide/734069587

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmarkbertrand/3589589735

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armbanduhr#/media/File:Omega_Speedmaster_Automatic_(reduced).jpg

https://www.flickr.com/photos/technewatches/9648821410/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/27862259@N02/6962280707/

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fliegeruhr#/media/File:TESTAF-Sinn_EZM10_EZM9_857LHC.JPG

Jun 22, 2018 12:55

How to change a video to have one still image and all keyframes & resize it

Posted by admin |

So I wanted to produce a very small video in size, where the imagery would be meaningless but the sound ok. I needed this for testing https://github.com/jeorgen/align-videos-by-sound that it actually does what it should, that is to correctly analyze how offset in time video files are that are filming the same event. I also wanted all frames to be keyframes, but since it is analyzing sound, that may not have been needed actually.

Make a video only display a static image on every frame (but still have many frames)

ffmpeg -i invideo.mp4 -i still_image.png -filter_complex "[1][0]scale2ref[i][v];[v][i]overlay" -c:a copy out.mp4

Scale the size of the video:

ffmpeg -i invideo.mp4 -filter:v scale=10:-1 -c:a copy out.mp4

The above sets the height proportinally to the width in pixels

Make a video only have keyframes

-force_key_frames 'expr:gte(t,n)'

(I think this works, haven't verified)

 

Jun 20, 2018 07:55

It seems I've finally left Sublime for VS Code and Atom

Posted by admin |

I don't remember what it was now, but there was a piece of functionality I could get in VS Code and not in Sublime, and it made me switch. Recently I have been working with s-expressions so I have used Atom for that, since Atom has better integration of Parinfer than VS Code has (same guy doing the plugin for both).

Both Microsoft's VS Code and GitHub's Atom are built on top of Electron, which is basically a version of Google Chrome made to be an application platform.

Jun 17, 2018 11:08

Me talking at events the last month

Posted by admin |

Swedish Land Registry and Blockchain event June 11

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Bloxpo event in May ­— presentation of Chromapolis

 

Jun 14, 2018 01:09

Two step keyboard shortcuts are actually pretty nice

Posted by admin |

Summary: In the Atom editor, you can do ctrl+k and then another ctrl+character thingy, or jusr ctrl+k and another character. And that effectively triples the shortcuts and is kind of easy to do.

Edit 2018-06-05: This holds true for VS code too

I needed to use the Atom editor for its Lisp support (which VS code seems to lack, Edit 2018-06-05: VS code actually has parinfer too, Edit 2018-06-12 but it is inferior, maintained by the same guy & he focuses more on the Atom parinfer plugin) and I needed to uppercase some things, and there was no shortcut in the menu for it. I opened the shortcut setting and found that is reachable by

ctrl-k ctrl-u

It seems that ctrl-k works as a mode to put in a "subcommand" similar to screen where ctrl-a does that. It worked surpisingly well. However Atom does not list the shortcut next to the menu option, which kind of defeats or at least hampers the purpose.

 

 

May 23, 2018 04:20

Watermarking a video with ffmpeg

Posted by admin |

Centered overlay/watermark:

ffmpeg -i original-video.m4v -i watermark.png -filter_complex "overlay=x=(main_w-overlay_w)/2:y=(main_h-overlay_h)/2" watermarked-video.m4

See:

https://gist.github.com/bennylope/d5d6029fb63648582fed2367ae23cfd6

May 17, 2018 05:26

Linux Ubuntu 18.04 screen cast software that worked: vokoscreen

Posted by admin |

Linux screen cast software that worked: vokoscreen (although sound had problems in the beginning & uncompressed capture did not work).
Didn't work: kazam (crashed computer, made orange into green).
Worked but no free area capture: gtk-recordmydesktop
All available via apt install on ubuntu 18.04LTS

May 15, 2018 12:15

Meetup.com's strange UI devolvement

Posted by admin |

I do not know how big of an operation meetup.com is, but it seems clear to me that they do not employ a front-end developer normally, but probably just takes one in for a couple hours per year.

A new look has been launched some time ago that has removed all possibilities to format text for meetups, and just today I noticed that if you post a long comment, it will simply say that your post is too long and ask you to try again.

It used to say, even after the UI remake,  that your comment is too long together with info on what is the max amount of characters. That has now been removed. I'm baffled as to why they do not pay more attention their UI.

Also now, you cannot see all participants of a meetup, if it is more than eight. Well, as an admin you can by clicking an obscure link. It's like things just fall by the wayside.

May 12, 2018 04:05

How I got OpenVPN to work on Ubuntu 18.04LTS after sleep/suspend

Posted by admin |

These are preliminary results, it seems to work.

Summary

Switch in the update-resolv-conf from here https://github.com/masterkorp/openvpn-update-resolv-conf/blob/master/update-resolv-conf.sh

and install openresolv

sudo apt install openresolv
  • reboot

The original update-resolv-conf distributed with the openvpn package in Ubuntu 18.04 did not work for me:

https://packages.ubuntu.com/xenial-updates/openvpn

Or, it could possibly be that openresolv resolved the problem of update-resolv-conf not exiting cleanly. I haven't bothered yet to check which of these two changes made the difference, but I suspect it is update-resolv-conf.

Longer text

I could not get systemd to reliably start OpenVPN, especially not after sleep. Restarting OpenVPN after sleep, through systemd, made OpenVPN work every second time. Every odd time (including time number 1) it complained about the up and down scripts not exiting cleanly:

"WARNING: Failed running command (--up/--down): external program did not exit normally"

I resorted to starting the vpn from the command line, same problem, so systemd is not at fault here.

The new update-resolv-conf script I use has this at the end:

# Workaround / jm@epiclabs.io 
# force exit with no errors. Due to an apparent conflict with the Network Manager
# $RESOLVCONF sometimes exits with error code 6 even though it has performed the
# action correctly and OpenVPN shuts down.
exit 0

Who knows, maybe that is all that was needed?

 

May 10, 2018 04:35

How to make curl be curt, but still output error messages such as timeout

Posted by admin |

I needed to continuously check if a service was working, both checking for the response code from it and checking whether it replied at all. I used the shell "watch" command together with curl.

I silenced curl with "-s" in order to not see the progress bar, but still get the result. However that also silenced error messages. It turns out you need "-S" (capital S) to unsilence error messages.

watch curl -s -S http://foo.example.com

Incidentally, "http://example.com" returns a web page on my machine. Hence the "foo" subdomain.

-s Silent or quiet mode. Don't show progress meter or error messages. Makes Curl mute. -S When used with -s it makes curl show an error message if it fails.

Read more: Link - Making curl send errors to stderr and everything else to stdout - Stack Overflow

May 06, 2018 11:15