Recently in My so-called non-tech life Category

January 6, 2018

More private words

Back in 2014 I noted that even though I'd barely published anything on this blog, I was still writing a lot - just privately.

Even though I haven't been writing in public, I've still written 58,000 words this year [0]. But those words haven't been public; they've been in Day One, a journaling app I use on my iPad and Mac.

I noted back then that I'd written 124k words in total in Day One in the previous four years.

Looks like I'm pretty consistent. Looks like I wrote just over 60,000 words in Day One in 2017. My total is up to 324,000 words with journal entries going back to 2010.

I'm still alive

A former co-worker recently discovered this blog. I was reminded once again I once wrote a lot here, but barely anything in the last 10 (!!) years. (I was suprised the blog was still running. I guess I did revive when I moved over to Digital Ocean a few years back.)

The idea of New Year's resolutions is an anathma to me, but perhaps I'll try to write a few things here.

January 24, 2008

Take your Kindle to the beach

Just after Christmas I got away for a few days to Jamaica.  All I did for 5 days was read.  I read by the beach, by the pool, in bed.  It was lovely.

But unlike every other vacation I've ever taken, I didn't take a large pile of books.  Instead, I took my Kindle.  And a small pile of books.  (I wouldn't want to end up in another country with nothing to read.  Heaven forbid!)

Understand, even if I don't have time to read more than a few books, I like having choices.  And I like to be able to leave off a book for a while and try something else.

The lure of the Kindle is instant gratification: you get bored with a book, you can download another one in less than a minute.  But that doesn't apply if you're outside the US.  So the night before I left, I bought five more books.  Ah, choices.

I did end up finish four books over my little vacation:

I read more than I have in years.  And I think I know why: no internet!

March 11, 2007

A vox blog for me

I've started up a new blog on Vox.

I'm not getting rid of this one, but this one is probably going to be focused a little more on technical stuff. I'll use the Vox blog to for more personal posts.

There are lots of things that are important to me that I would never write about here. This blog is wide open to the world. That's the biggest reason why I haven't posted here much at all in the past few years. Much of my focus has been in those personal areas.

Vox will allow me to mark posts as restricted to friends, so if I want to talk about something that I wouldn't want Google to repeat, I can do it. (If you're a friend and want to be part of my in crowd, email me and I'll invite you in.)

The other reason I'm using Vox is that it makes it much easier to include photos in posts. I've got something over 20,000 photos now, so I'm looking forward to that.

Movable Type, the system I use for this blog, doesn't make it nearly as easy to include images. I know it's possible, but I've never gone to the trouble to figure it out.

So come on over and check it out:

February 7, 2007

Amazon Prime Overnight Shipping Deadline is earlier

I've belonged to Amazon Prime for a year - the $80 per year program that gets you two-day shipping for free and overnight shipping for $3.99.

However, Prime overnight shipping doesn't quite play by the same rules as regular overnight shipping. To get an order shipped overnight under the Prime program, I apparently have to order it by 4:30pm. (I'm in ET; I don't know if that makes a difference.) But for non-prime users who want overnight delivery, they can order up until 6:45pm. (The two-day ordering deadline is still 6:45pm.)

Granted, the costs are considerably different. If I order Stephen King's Lisey's Story overnight using Amazon prime, it costs me an extra $3.99.

But if don't have Prime and I order the same book overnight, it will cost me $12.49 + $3.49 for each book, or $15.98. That's $12 more for another 2:15 of procrastination time.

It's a trade off for Amazon; presumably having an earlier cutoff reduces their costs, and Amazon Prime shipping is reported to cost them a lot of money. But it's a change that I've never seen mentioned by Amazon - I'm pretty sure the cutoff wasn't as early as 4:30 when we signed up. And if you pay your $80 and expect the same service, you might be disappointed.

2/8/07 Update:

The story seems somewhat more complicated than that. Today I ordered an overnight item using Prime, and it claimed I had until 6pm. I checked the Stephen King book I mentioned above, and though yesterday I had until 4:30 to order it, today I have until 6:45. Another item gave me until 6:15, and the same order without prime was also going to ship at the same time. Hmmm. Further more, Amazon only charged me $1.99 to do one day shipping, not $3.99.

I'm guessing the cutoff time is related to how available the item is, or perhaps how close the item is to the buyer.

February 25, 2006

There's so much more room on the ceiling ....

I remember trying to arrange too much stuff in a room with not enough space, looking up at the ceiling, and thinking it would be so much easier if we could just use the space up there as well.

I was reminded of this by our recent visit to the new Georgia Aquarium. The main tank is 20-35 feet deep, and as you watch all the fish going by, it's striking how they move but don't seem to get in each other's way. Schools of fish glide in one direction, and above them may pass manta rays, while a shark moves beneath. It reminded me those scenes in the Star Wars movies of Courasant, the capital city. Lines of vehicles gliding through the air at different levels, criss-crossing but not colliding because of the additional dimension.

How impoverished we seem: restricted to our two dimensional place in the world. How much different would it be if we could use that third dimension? "You'll love this house, Mr and Mrs. Smith .. look at this vaulted ceiling - you have a good 1500 cubic feet in the dining room."

February 24, 2006

Lots of people looking at lots of fish

Atlanta is home to the Georgia Aquarium, which opened in November of 2005. It's a big deal around here.

I wasn't planning on going any time soon. Aquariums are ok, but not something I go out of my way to see. But the kids are on a "mid-winter break," so we headed on down.

I liked it more than I thought I would. The highlight is the Ocean Voyager exhibit. You enter it through a dark hall, and emerge into a 100 foot "underwater tunnel" - and above you and all around to the left and right is glass, and you're looking up from the bottom of a huge tank. You see whale sharks, groupers .. a hammerhead, a sawfish .. rays .. and tens of thousands of much smaller fish, all swimming above and practically around you. It's wondrous.

There are lots of other exhibits, but none that quite reach that transcendent level.

Unfortunately, these wonders are offset somewhat by more mundane matters: too much money and too many people. $23 for adults, and no break on pricing unless you're under 13, so that's almost $100 for us to get in. And the place was packed, which I didn't expect on a weekday. 10 plus minutes wait to park, a wait to get in, and then more waiting to see the fish.

I've been to a few other aquariums: the Monterey Bay aquarium, and the much smaller Tennessee aquarium in Chattanooga. Both are interesting buildings, on the water, and interesting on the outside as well: they create a space around them that's pleasant. By contrast, the Georgia Aquarium is landlocked, and seems to turn inward. There's no ambiance about it. It backs up onto Centennial Olympic Park, and the designers seemed to feel that was enough.

It's not a very attractive building. Not that's it's easy to even see that: after parking, we were funneled around the back of the building and didn't get a clear sense of it. When we did get to the front, we came upon a large concrete bowl filled with people and snaking lines. Quite a contrast to the recently expanded High Museum, which is much more attractive and inviting from the street. (To be fair, the High gets only an eighth of the Aquiarium's expected annual attendence of 4 million.)

The fish were neat, and overall it was worth doing. But I don't believe I'll be back for a while; I don't like fish enough to offset the cost and crowding.

February 12, 2006

Starting up again

I have written anything for this weblog since March '05. Since I'd hate to say that I haven't updated my weblog in over a year, I'm going to start up again. Spring is approaching. I started this weblog almost 4 years ago in April '02. Perhaps there's something about Spring that makes me want to write. (I actually have done a lot of writing over the last two years; just not for public consumption.)

This time around I'm going to try posting smaller items instead of items with lots of different things in them. Hopefully that will actually result in me publishing things.

I haven't written anything because .. well, the last year has been a wild ride. If you know me, you might know what I'm talking about. (If not, you can ask.) But I'm not going to write about it here. Google remembers everything forever!

I've upgraded to Movable Type 3.2. Lots of people have moved to WordPress, but I still like Movable Type. There's lots of good documentation for it; some things I've read suggest there isn't as much for WP. But even if that gets better, I like MT.

March 26, 2005

Matt's art: someone finally snapped

Over the years, and a bit to my surprise, over the years my son Matt has developed interest in art - particularly in photography.

He's had his pictures on my photography website for a while, but more recently, he's started to contribute to a community/site called deviantART. He has his own area on deviantART - and he's done some interesting work using Photoshop Elements, taking what were some fairly ordinary pictures and making something more striking out of them.

Yesterday he came up with something new - two deviations as they are called - The Witch Is Dead, and someone finally snapped. Both are .. umm .. perhaps a little tasteless, but are funny, and he created them himself - cribbing a well-known graphic off the net and playing with it in Photoshop. I'm impressed.

He's always checking on deviantART to see how many pageviews his art has received - 391 right now - so hopefully this will drive a few more.

January 5, 2005

Dyson Animal: Disappointing

We've not had good luck with vacuum cleaners. We're long time subscribers to Consumer Reports; a few years back we found one the upright vacuum cleaners near the top of CU's list (a Kenmore, I think), went down to Sears, and bought it. It wasn't good. Too heavy, not easy to put attachments on it - just not good. We were looking around for something better.

So when we started hearing about the Dyson vacuum cleaners, we were intrigued. Their marketing pitch was aimed straight at the intelligent consumer who wants to know why they should prefer one product over another. And when the Animal model came out, how could a high-tech family with three kids, three cats, and one dog resist?

At first we were happy. We'd pull the the canister off after every room and marvel at how much dirt and hair had been lurking in our house.

But then we got new carpet last year. And I'm not proud to say that in retrospect, it probably wasn't the best carpet around - the pile was a bit thinner than we realized at first.

That cheaper carpet has driven our Dyson nuts. The Dyson self-adjusts to the height of the carpet - but the thinner pile fools the Dyson, and the result is it feels like we're shoving a push mower across the carpet. On occasion the height adjustment gets completely out of whack; the resulting noise sounds like the Dyson is pulling the carpet right off the ground.

And to top it off, Consumer Reports has panned the Dyson. There are better vacuums for less money, CU says.

We've given it a chance. We've had it for more than a year. But it's hard to admit that we spent over $500 on a vacuum that isn't quite doing the job. Oh, well. It's easy to clean. It looks cute. (But it sits in the closet, so that's not worth much.) But it wasn't worth it. Oh, well. I guess the Dyson wasn't designed to clear carpets for the hoi polloi.

The story has an ironic ending: our Dyson Animal was stolen in December of 2006. Good riddance! Now our insurance will give us $500 to buy a decent vacuum cleaner.