Sunday, December 12, 2021

Opt Out of AT&T Marketing Messages

 AT&T is particular is remarkably persistent with its marketing.

General instructions for AT&T customers for opting out can be found here:

but I am not an AT&T customer.

This marketing series of phone calls was from their DirectTV department.

Go to:

Click Chat on the right.

Make the subject: Opt out of marketing phone calls. (Or similar.)

The agent (which may or not be a person) will come on the line and will ask for your name (first name is ok.) It will ask if you use any AT&T services. (We don't).

Then it will ask for the phone number to remove.

With any luck you should see:

During the chat session you can request that a transcript of the call be either emailed or texted to you. This can be quite handy.

Your chat transcript:

PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE - All replies are automatically deleted.

AT&T : Thank you for choosing AT&T Chat. How can we assist you today?

Me : opt out of AT&T marketing phone calls

Emma : Hi! My name is Emma. I can help you by checking our internet options today.

Emma : I will be more than happy to check your internet options in your area.

Emma : Can I get your name?

Me : Ellen

Emma : Hi Ellen, Nice to chat with you.

Emma : While I'm checking this for you, can I know if you currently have any existing services with AT&T? (DirecTV, DirecTV Stream, internet, wireless)

Me : we are not AT&T customers

Emma : Thank you so much for that info

Emma : Can I get your phone number ?


Emma : Thank you , please allow me a few moment

Emma : Done, this is your confirmation number ##############

Emma : Your DO NOT CALL Suppression Request has been successfully submitted!

Emma : Your number will be added to our AT&T DO NOT CALL LIST.

Me : thank you.

Emma : My entire pleasure

Emma : I want to be sure I gave you the best service possible. Is there anything else you need help with today?

Me : no thank you, have a good day.

Emma : It was my entire pleasure to assist you today

Emma : Have a good day, thank you for contacting us today. We appreciate your business! 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Briones Regional Park Loop with a Missed Turn

 I went again to Briones Regional Park which was so much nicer that it was two weeks ago.

I was cold enough there that at that time I didn't complete the hike.

This time I did the full loop and then some because I missed the turn for home and overshot by a mile (literally).

How I managed to miss the turn is a series of errors that I'll fill in further down.
The park is a lovely green already.

I also have a new toy, a GoPro Hero 10. It eats disk space like there's a famine, so I'm tuning it to more acceptable settings that will still work.

Here's how I managed to add a mile to my itinerary.

While I wasn't paying attention my All Trails map turned 90 degrees. I noticed this but didn't fix it as the moment as I didn't think it mattered right then. This was mistake #1.

The reason it was a mistake was from this view it implied that all I had to do was keep going straight when in reality I needed to turn right.

As a result I walked right by my turn thinking that I still needed to stay on Briones Crest Trail, instead of turning right on Seaborg Trail. This was mistake #2 - not memorizing the name of the last trail.

It took a little while but I finally realized I was off course.

What I should have done was turn around, but in honor of classic mistakes I thought I could fix it by just continuing and taking the next trail.

As a result, things continued to get worse, and dusk is only about 30 min away and sub-mistake #3 was I had not brought my Jackery backup battery and was down to 10% phone charge. In my defense I did have a paper map with me.

Indications that things weren't going smoothly is that a hiker I encountered were coming up from the Happy Valley trailhead and not Bear Valley. She and I decided that it was probably best to turn around, go back over Russell Peak (you can't tell it's a peak), and then down Boogie Trail.

The fates weren't quite done with me as right at the beginning of the trail there was a "trailed closed" sign. Heck with that. I was on foot at the trail was fine (well just ok) for a hiker, but not real good for a bike, It was also steep in places and had some  potential wrong turns. Within a few minutes I was down and just had to cross the creek at the bottom which had no real water in it. This is a photo of climbing up the bank of the stream.

And finally familiar ground. Hooray.

And then it was a race the clock walk back to the car.

Briones is a beautiful park in winter time. Here is a larger photo of it.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Mt Diablo Summit Trail ByPass

The Mt. Diablo Summit Trail is a lovely attainable trail that works its way up the mountain. The beauty of it is that you can do it in sections because it crosses the road to the summit in multiple places, and there are multiple parking opportunities.

However, there is a section further up the trail that is very brushy. The park has spent a lot of time cutting the bushes back, but it's narrow enough to still not feel very safe during COVID. Conveniently, there is maintenance-vehicles-only road that by passes the section. It's called Green Ranch Road and it is sign-posted. Make sure you only do this section of Green Ranch Road as the rest of it heads in the wrong direction. One you hit the restroom, switch back to the Summit Trail again.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Geo-Tagged Smartphone Photos and Google Earth

I got a new job at UCSF March 2020 right at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Between that and trying to make some progress on my second book, I've unfortunately been a little occupied and not blogging.

I've also really been trying to resist not getting too caught up in political blogging and concentrating my political observations to Facebook and Twitter - however much I want to shout from the rooftops: Q is just trolling you.

But enough already.

One of the more under-used aspects of smartphone photography is geo-tagging.

When a smartphone takes a photo, it writes the GPS latitude and longitude into the metadata of the photo. All you need is the means to view it. Then, if you wish, you can write the lat-long into Google Earth.

Why is this useful? Here's an example, my wife and I were on a hike on the Mt. Diablo Summit Trail and we had to turn around because of time constraints. We wanted to know how far we'd gotten. So I had her take a photo of me standing at the point where we turned around.

I work on Macs by preference, and I can look at the metadata of a photo by using the lowly, but very useful Preview. Open Tools-Show Inspector and click on the GPS tab and you will see the lat and long of where the photo was taken. There is even a handy map too (not shown).

Unfortunately, I don't know of a way to copy/paste from the inspector but hand typing these values is not impossible. I can tell you that the degree symbol on a Mac is typed using

Shift-Option 8   °

The minutes and seconds are just apostrophes.

Armed with this knowledge, fire up Google Earth.

In the Google Earth Search window, enter your coordinates. Don't forget the directionals which in my case are N and W. Separate lat and long with a comma. You can also use the decimal versions of lat and long if you're rather.

Click Search and if the stars have aligned and you've typed in the correct coordinates, Google Earth will go right to where you were standing.

So we had a little ways to go, but we were within probably 30 minutes of the summit.

Now we have a future goal.

Now I hear all the Garmin people shouting: Just set a waypoint.

True. I was carrying a very old, but highly useful Garmin eTrex and I could have easily set a waypoint using. I also had it tracking me and when I downloaded the track to my desktop computer, I had the turn around point right there in Garmin BaseCamp, but I was interested in what happens if you don't have your Garmin with you. It's more likely you will have your phone with you, than your Garmin GPS and instead of kicking yourself for not bringing the GPS with you, you can always use the phone. This method works for anywhere there is cell service, you don't have to specifically be out hiking. Post COVID, I intend on trying this on the ferry.