Welcome to the 21st century

It’s taken about twenty years, but I finally feel like I’m living in the 21st century.

Not sure if that’s sad, or if the use of Internet and digital paper replacing things I’ve had to suffer telephones and hardcopy for catching up this much, just proves how much I hate phones 😂.

That said, if we hit the point of the three sea shells and all restaurants being Taco Bell, someone toss me back in the freezer.

Last box

Finally finished going through what seems to be the last box of “Get around to it”. Mostly some of ma’s stuff, or more likely some of her things that I didn’t have time to shift through when I moved. I had considered having it hauled off with some old furniture that I’m getting rid of, but decided it better to go through it and trash stuff. Walking to the dumpster is both good exercise and cheaper, lol.

Glad that I decided to sort through it because of all the things I didn’t expect to find. Most valuable, photos that never made it into the family albums or that have been missplaced over the years. A handful from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s that probably have copies or related photos in the family albums. But also some dating back to the ’50s and ’40s, those kind where you recognize your grandparents and go “Wow, they were young back then!”. There’s even a few of what looks to be grandpa’s masonry work on their house way back when. At least one, I’m guessing dates back to the first generation in America from the look of it. These need to be moved into the albums or perhaps an annex to them.

This is also weighed out by the number of junk found in the box. I’m pretty sure that I just threw out enough refrigerator magnets and little souvenirs from like every vacation ever and countless documents from courses my mother had done over the years that were filled under, “Hmm, might be interesting” and set aside. A few recipes I had wanted to keep. Etc. Probably all the DVDs I knew I had but haven’t found. Not to mention the damn paper shredder that I’ve been looking for for the last 6 or 7 years! Less thrilled of course is when I found the Tribbles we bought back in the ’90s. But nothing is perfect.

Between the patio storage area being cleaned out and the various inside boxes, I think I’m finally caught up with cleaning out my mother’s things. It’s only been 7 years, lol.

Dreams and stresses

I found it a curious set of dreams when I woke up this morning. On the more positive side, I dreamt of waking up to find the dogs and had time to give them all hugs before waking up in the middle of the night. In another dream it involved traveling with my mother and sneaking past dangers and onto a long train ride.

I’m just gonna say, that first one was much nicer than the 50-foot tall bipedal squirrel with dragon headed tentacles and muscles on its muscles out to eat people in the woods. Actually, everything was a lot nicer than that part!

Typically, the quality of my dreams tends to shift. That life of late has been elevated stress, probably doesn’t help very much. But I never cease to be amazed at some of the weird shit that I dream of.

Sometimes I wonder

Growing up finances were often tight. Whenever I hear the Juston Moore song “We Didn’t Have Much” and it’s lyric that “We had it all when we didn’t have much”, the break in the stanza often makes me think back. My family didn’t have much and certainly didn’t have that song’s kind of “All” during my formative years, but we had all the things. I always found it amazing as a kid that despite how tight things were, we had 3 TVs and 3 VCRs, which as a little boy seemed an order of magnitude more wealthy than we were by a long shot. Of course the way that worked out is a lot of our things were often rent to own or the bank of grandma, and mine were often hand me down. I didn’t care that my VCR was probably the first one pa bought back in the ’80s, it was just awesome sauce being able to watch VHS off in my own corner. When I was older, I found it more amazing that we had so much given what my mother had to work with. That’s the kind of way it was.

When I got to be older, I noticed the affects of this when observing others. As a teenager, I had come to the conclusion that my willingness to spend $1 was probably closer to how willing most folks I knew were willing to spend $20. Since we had little to work with it was often imperative to spend it wisely, especially for big stuff. Because if we screwed up there might not be the option to take it back or buy another. A lot of times the only options were the cheaper ones and the worse deals, but we still had little cause to complain. Like my first laptop: I had the third cheapest laptop at Best Buy because the cheapest was sold out and the second cheapest couldn’t run FreeBSD. Despite that, I loved that laptop and used it for about six years and a lot of my early programming.

Sometimes I wonder about how this has affected my mentality as an adult. Actually, I think my current laptop best reflects how child hood affected my purchasing decisions. Shion is actually the most expensive laptop that I’ve ever bought. It was very carefully planned and budgeted for. It was very carefully decided how much the cost was worth it to me versus the value for those dollars. Kind of like my dad, I don’t have a problem spending an inordinate amount of money on something to solve a problem, but like my widowed mother, I learned to spend it well when I do.

I also developed a metric for factoring into these sort of problems: value over time. It’s kind of like amortization but the formula is simpler, since there’s no loan interest. When shopping for my laptop, I tallied the cost of the various configurations and its value to me. Then I broke it down based on how many years I might use the system: 3 years, 5 years, 7 years, or 12 years. From experience over the years, I know that the average time I will use a computer for is approximately 6 years. It may be a few years less or a few years more but about 6 years is the average. So, to make it a good deal the value had to be a good deal for the 5 years mark and an acceptable deal for the 3 year mark, and at least balance out by the end of the decade.

Likewise over the years, I developed a concept for obsoleteness of computers. If you buy the cheapest laptop you can get from the current hardware and will use it heavily: it will probably be worth buying a faster cheapest computer in another year or two. By then, you’ll often pass the point where doing a task very frequently becomes enough bottleneck that being able to do that task faster is worth the upgrade costs. Accordingly the opposite is true but with different numbers: buy the fastest machine you can get, and in about 10 years it will be about as good as that ‘cheapest’ option will be, if you replace it with the cheapest machine a decade later. That balances out with the average time I use computers, which is in 5 years in enough things will have changed that if the system isn’t enough of a bottleneck to be worth replacing yet, it will be soon therefore start planning; and if it’s already a bottleneck, start planning.

Moral of this planned obsoleteness is don’t be first and don’t be last to upgrade; rather upgrade when the improvements are worth it. And if everything goes sideways in about ten years, whatever you can afford won’t be any worse than a ten year old computer, lol.

Shion has now been in service for approximately 1 year. So far, it’s proving to be quite effective with no sign of retirement on the horizon. Based one earlier calculations a year ago, in another year it will have proven to be an ok deal; next year it will have proven to be a good deal; by the third year it will be a great deal; by 5 years, I’ll definitely have gotten my money’s worth. Here’s hoping that I don’t drop it out a window or sit on it by mistake 😂.

Rating photos and building remembering albums

By virtue of it being one of the most ‘normal’ weekends in a very long time, I finally cycled back to a task that I’ve been meaning to start since June: building remembering of albums for Misty and for Willow. Normally, I do this sooner after a death but with them being back to back and so much going on, I hadn’t had a chance to start the process.

I’ve started rolling through all of my YYYY/Dogs albums in Digikam and assigning a rating to each based on the following concept:

  • 5 Stars: Best photos (essential)
  • 4 Stars: Good photos (above average / memorable)
  • 3 Stars: Okay photos (average)
  • 2 Stars: Wish it came out better photos (meh)
  • 1 Stars: Low value photos (useless)

My hope being to find the best photos for their albums, and add a few to Corky’s along the way. I’m also thinking that when I finally get to setting up photo frames, I’ll probably use the 4 stars and up to seed the memory cards. Made it as far as 2014, but I know that the rate of my dog photos largely tended to increase year over year as camera sensors got better. So that’s only a small chunk of them. I’m very glad camera sensors improved a lot before they got old.

Aside from feeling like opening the box of tissues I bought after the last family death, I find myself both very glad that they were in my life for so many years and so sad that they’ve all gone on ahead of me. Dunno when I’ll be able to welcome a new furry member to the tribe, but I hope that they will become a good part of life too. Willow, Coco, Misty, and Corky: I’ll never forget you goonies.

Sleep: sometimes more or less

With how much my life of recent months has felt like the old curse often ascribed to the Chinese, of ‘may you live in interesting times’, I am glad that more often, I’m finding myself kept awake by my hopes and dreams for the future than by fears and uncertainties about the future.

But dang it, brain, I’m going to threaten you with a Q-Tip if I don’t start sleeping better!

An Experiment In Notes

When I originally tried Evernote a long assed time ago, I didn’t really care for it because I was seeking a solution for my non-homogeneous network and disliked the lack of structure. But when the 90% of use cases were an Android tablet, they eventually one the war and displaced my previous solutions. In the end things worked out quite swell and its data model has fit my style of digital brain quite nicely. Twelve years later, I’ve stuck through Evernote’s more lack luster periods and high points, but I’m a little less enthusiastic about the recent transition.

As such, I decided to conduct an experiment that I’ve been thinking of for a while: which is investigate runners up. In this case, Apple Notes. But I’m afraid to say that it appears to be a washout for my use cases.

Much like a younger version of Evernote, I view Apple Notes as a kind of “Meh, good enough” experience. Both offer a more word processor than semantic experience. Level of detail are formatting like headers rather than sections, and the common formatting yada, yada. Outside of differences like Notes offering short cuts like shift+cmd+h and Evernote ‘# and your text’ as alternatives to the GUI, that’s mostly distinctions in taste and finer details. The typical stuff is all there.

I personally dislike that Notes uses inline hash tagging rather than separate metadata given its use of a database oriented storage model, and prefer Evernote’s handling of attachments. But neither is a hill to die on. For a great majority of tasks, I don’t think the differences are enough to moan about beyond preference, so I’d mostly say: use whichever you like, or whichever works best for you.

The parts where the experiment fails for me is performance: Notes is slow.

As an initial test case, I imported most of my Evernote data and used this opportunity to update my local backups with fresh ENEX exports. Notes supports importing Evernote’s native export format of ENEX which made it the first candidate for experiment. And it even performs fairly well importing large numbers of notes. I decided to collect data under an “Evernote Imports” folder to serve as the root of recategorizing my notes, and that’s where the first failure point comes into play. Dragging and dropping lots of notes or a folder with lots of notes to a new destination is SLOW. Performance of folders on the order of 40 to 300 notes is slow. The kind of slow where you see Apple’s spinning rainbow (Mac’s take on Microsoft’s hour glass of yester-year) for 30 seconds and then walk off for a fresh glass of water. Based on the experiment, I believe this has more to do with folders that contain many attachments more so than many notes in general, as it goes executing a rather bulky database transaction. To be fair this isn’t a common occurrence, as I’m more prone to moving handfuls of notes than entire “Notebooks” worth unless I’m reorganizing and cleaning out my notes, which I typically do every few years. Less excusable however is the sync. For comparison, I’m used to initial syncs of Evernote taking some hours. Notes on the other hand was a screw it / going to bed / still not done in the morning, level of sync performance syncing to my tablet. Likewise, opening Notes after a long while equals a “Huh” level of slow and the sync and I’m finding that often folders aren’t in the correct location after it finishes. For me, that’s a deal breaker.

In my case, Evernote represents just over 3700 notes and exports to somewhere between 2.5 and 3 GB of ENEX files. My test subset is more like 2200 notes, so the strain on iCloud should be considerably less give or take the database overhead. Perhaps this is a lot more notes than the typical user, but for me I’m finding the performance enough to preclude Apple Notes as an Evernote replacement — Evernote handles sync just fine while Notes chokes.

Darn feet, constantly aiming for glass

Last week, I had managed to fumble in the dark and crack the shit out of one of my drinking glasses. Honestly, it kind of made me think if I was superstitious, I should just be glad that unexpected glass breakage tends to be considered more a good omen than a bad omen in many cultures, unlike mirrors. But I figured, odds are I’d still get a piece of glass stuck in my darn foot no matter how careful I am.

Of course, while making dinner tonight I ended up on a detour to the bathroom with a piece of glass stuck in my foot. Maybe 2 mm wide by 3 or 4 mm deep at the most. Something like that, just enough to stick in the outer flesh and cause a bit of bleeding as it scrapes against lower levels at a slant. What I classify as a flesh wound, or “It pisses me off but isn’t dangerously urgent”.

In retrospect, I’m glad that the old as what the heck decade is it from bottle of 70% isopropyl alcohol that’s almost empty, ended up left on my counter instead of being disposed of. I ended up needing to break out the container of hanging instruments and use a sterilized old push pin to pry it up far enough to grip it with the tweezers from my pocket knife. This is a ranked improvement over the last time, where the glass was stuck in my foot for a couple weeks before ‘falling out’ a few days before a doctor’s appointment. I’d much rather have success with the needle and tweezer approach, not that I’m fond of using a push pin because I have no idea where my sewing kit ended up, lol.

TIL: Bundling is a pain in the neck

Ya know, for years I’ve listened to the old spiel: bundle your home and auto insurance and save! Yada, yada. Well, I’ve now decided the next time I consider changing providers or sticking with my current ones — yes, you can save quite a bit by bundling, but by the time you’ve gotten the quote, you will have answered so many questions, you’d pay that much just to not have to answer another question!

Like seriously, that was a pain in the ass.