Monday, September 5, 2016

Freedom of Information Act and TX Public Information Act

Every wonder where someone lives?  Every wonder what your neighbor's home value is?  Every wonder someone's criminal history or Political voting history is?  The Internet has many database sources and today it is easier than ever to find out just about anything about anyone.  

United States Federal Government is bound by the 1966 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Texas is bound by the Public Information Act which is a set of laws that ensures the public has access to information held by the government.  

As the Internet has matured and government has become more technological, many items are readily avalaible on government websites.  Things like home values and checking voter registration is easily found by simple name search.  Some information requires a formal records requests before they are handed out.  Other data items like voting history require searching thru huge Excel files to extract the data.  Criminal history searches usually requires a birthdate, so you may need to first get that from the voter history file.   Sometimes it's not an easy search, with so many common names. I'm sure there will be a time where everything is easily found online, but for now it is generally located in fragmented databases spread out by our local city, state, county and federal websites.

Here are a few key sites for my location in central Texas.

Travis County

Williamson County
Hays County

Other Search sites

Sunday, August 7, 2016

My list of Internet of Things → (IoT)

I guess I'm a typical guy.  I'm a gadget freak and technology fan.  After getting my local weather station connected, I started thinking about what else I can get 'wired' up and connected to the Internet. 

I'm not including my cell phone, computer and tablets.  Those are all devices that we know can be connected.  I'm talking about devices that normally just stand alone, but not are Internet enabled or now becoming the 'Internet of Things' or IoT. 

Things like security cameras, weather station, Thermostats, doorbell and even a bathroom scale can now be connected.  All these are accessible on a computer or with an app on your phone or tablet.

Here is my list of connected gadgets.  I recommend looking on Craiglist for the best price.  People often have new versions of these devices and give them away at half the retail price:

AcuRite Weather Station  → Weather Underground → website

Foscam PTZ camera → Camera 1 site → Camera 2 site

Outdoor Sricam IP Garage Camerawebsite

YI Ants Camera → appsite

Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat RTH9580WF Thermostat → website

iCam on my computer

Greenridge HOA Park cameras

Ring Doorbell with camera → website

Nest Thermostat → website

Fitbit Aria Wifi Scale → website

Amazon Tap Wifi and Bluetooth speaker

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Google Chromecast

With all these connected devices, I had to upgrade my Wifi router from an ASUS RT-N56U (2011) to a Netgear Nighthawk X4 R7500.  I started noticing that when streaming video my PC to my Xbox 360, I would get hesitation in the stream.  I had around 30 connected devices all taking a toll on my router.  While not every device is active at one time, it still consume CPU cycles to keep up with all the connections.  After updating my router, my video hesitations stopped.  I also upgraded my cable modem to a Zoom 5341J and now get over 100Mbps download speed with Time Warner.  It is a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with speed up to 343 Mbps, which is faster than most people internet network speed.

A video posted by Anthony Nguyen (@atn1972) on

Friday, June 17, 2016

KEYE Story on Fingerprint Checks

KEYE called  to do a story on Austin fingerprint check process.  Since losing Prop1, Uber and Lyft has pulled out of the city and so the fingerprint regulation is in effect.  I went thru the entire process and found out that I was in the minority of drivers that had it done and actually picked up their ID card and sticker.  KEYE wanted to see my ID and sticker to prove it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The RideShareGuys Visit Austin

The RideShare Guys decided to visit Austin and I helped them meet a few Politicians in our Capitol State.  Harry Campbell and Christian Perea write for the online blog  The came in and I gave them their first Wingz ride.  They got $5 off and I got 95% of the fare.  I had them scheduled to meet Don Zimmerman, Lyle Larson and Ann Kitchen.

Here is taken right before dropping them off at there airbnb.

Monday, May 16, 2016

No More Uber or Lyft in Austin

Uber and Lyft decided to pull out of Austin.  I just got back from my Dad's funeral and the media KVUE and KEYE calls me for an interview.  It was a good distraction, so I decided to meet them.  I had been keeping up on the news and several new TNCs had decided to start up.  One of them was just a Facebook group called Arcade City.  This group exploded with over 15K members at the time.  KVUE news wanted to get my reaction and we did a test run for there 5PM news.  Later KEYE called and we did an interview in front of my house.


10PM and 5AM KEYE News