Website Re-Hosting Completed

I completed moving this website from self-hosted WordPress to wordpress.com. It really couldn’t have went smoother and I’m really happy with the decision. My e-mail transition on the other hand …. not so smooth and all my fault. My main e-mail is my first name at this domain and was hosted by the same place as my wordpress and so I needed to move it. I have all of my domains registered at hover and they have been great so I decided to use them for email also. I screwed up the mail forwarding DNS configuration here at wordpress.com which screwed my e-mail up for most of 8/8 until I realized the issue. If I missed an e-mail from you I apologize.

FTEP

I’m fortunate to get to jog down roads like this regularly. The US countryside is covered with old power poles holding ~13.8KV power lines going to farms. It always mimg_1676-1akes me wonder why it is that we can’t have fiber to every premise (FTEP).

During the last century the utilities managed to not only install power feeds to every farm in the country, but to meter at the service entrance and charge the customer for only the energy they used. Even with state regulation of profits (local utilities were a monopoly), the utilities managed to grow into successful public businesses.

So why is it that the utilities were able to profitably install power to every premise in the country but communications companies can barely install fiber into high density neighborhoods?

Website Transition

I’m transitioning my website from a self hosted wordpress site to a wordpress.com site. I’ve used wordpress for years now and want to support development. I also want to save time by not having to manage the wordpress updates and SSL certs myself. WordPress.com covers both of those. Please bare with me during the transition.

 

Evernote Spring Cleaning

I read an article on the Evernote blog last week that provided some tips for cleaning up your digital life and Evernote. I have been using Evernote heavily for the last several months and it has added an incredible amount of organization to my life.

I took a cue from the article and decided it was time to clean things up a bit. I eliminated all of the stacks that I was using. My initial thought was that they would be a great way to organize notebooks, but found that they tended to prevent me from finding what I wanted and cluttered things up more than they helped. One of the strengths I see with the Evernote interface is that there is only one level of organization above the note, the notebook. Many users have asked for unlimited levels of notebook aggregation, similar to files and folders on your drive. Not to say that anyone would have to use it if the feature was implemented, but I think it would take away from what Evernote is and prevent many users from finding the magic.

Cloud Storage

I pay for 1TB of google drive storage. I love google drive but it has one big problem that I expected to be solved by now: there is no official support for Linux. I use Linux and Samba for a file server and would like to back everything up automatically. There is no way to do that without a google client for Linux. There are several 3rd party options available, but I’m hesitant to use them.

I’m considering a move to dropbox or even icloud. I just don’t want to do it because google drive works so well for everything I need.

Best Of 2015

Despite the bad condition of the global steel industry (excluding China) and the very bad condition of electrode companies, 2015 was a decent year for me. I started thinking about a “best of” list for some reason and so put it together for the things that came to mind right away.

Best New Tech: Evernote
I know that it has been around for several years, but I didn’t start using it consistently until a few months ago. Evernote has made it much easier for me to stay organized. Dump everything into it and forget about it for a few weeks and see how easy it is to find it later. I like it so much that I upgraded to premium ($50 / yr) even though I didn’t need the features. I just wanted to support the company.

Best New Steel Tech: My colleague Dirk Riedinger from BSE gave a paper at the METEC conference. The presentation was titled “a new dimension of designing arc furnace high current systems” and detailed research he and his team have conducted into EAF secondary magnetic induction. I felt like I was the only person in the room that understood the potential of this technology. This is a big deal and I expect very good things to come from this.

Best Travel Trip: Berlin
I was stationed in Germany for 3 years in the USAF but never had the opportunity to visit Berlin. I finally made it there for a few rainy days over the summer. It is an awesome city and I would really like to spend a lot more time there.

Best Book: Capital in the 21rst Century
This was the summer book to read in 2014, but I didn’t get around to reading it until 2015. It’s an excellent book and I can highly recommend it.

Best Movie: Lone Survivor
I read the book and watched the movie. I don’t like reading/hearing about US servicemen/women becoming casualties. I’m glad that the military allowed Mr Luttrell to tell his story. Hopefully the military learned from this and incidents like this don’t happen again.

Best TV Series: The Americans
Season 3 aired in 2015 on FX. It just keeps getting better. Season 4 starts in March.

Best Music: Mastodon Leviathon
This was released in 2004 but I bought it this year and was blown away. This was a really tough choice between this and Dream Theater’s Metropolis Pt 2 which I also bought this year and was blown away by.

Best Meal: Tacos at Taqueria El Paisa
This is a small taqueria in Celaya Mexico. A colleague took us there for a late quick supper. The tacos were outstanding, and cheap.

Best Fitness Lesson: Be careful with protein
This year I learned that certain proteins such as whey and amino acid supplements can cause spikes in insulin levels. This is similar to the response from high glycemic carbohydrates and results in fat storage. I started losing weight (fat) as soon as I reduced my whey intake to <25g / day and eliminated amino acid supplements.

Using Evernote

I tried out Evernote several years ago and wasn’t really impressed at that time. I didn’t use it for very long and probably should have given it more of a chance. I recently realized that I desperately needed a way to take pictures (on my phone) and add notes about the picture. I tried using google keep and docs in the past neither of which worked very well. I decided to give Evernote another try and have been utilizing it for the last few months. I am really impressed with it and finally understand why I have heard so many people rave about it.

To get the most out of Evernote you need to snip, clip, screenshot, drag and drop and push everything into it. Surprisingly, it can handle office docs, pdfs and many other formats. This seemed a little strange to me at first. But after realizing it has the ability to search inside of the docs I could understand how this could be very useful. As an example you could drop a word doc of meeting minutes into your notes from the meeting. I should note that this functionality depends on having the premium subscription ($50/Year).

Another thing that seemed a little strange to me at first was that notebooks can only contain one more level of nested notebook (they call this a stack). Coming from a files and folders world I initially thought it was a real limitation but have found it to be refreshing because things can only get lost so far away from the root. I noticed a lot of complaints about this in the Evernote forums. In Evernote everything is a note inside of a notebook.

I have used some form of notebook both professionally and personally since about the time I graduated from college. I started out by keeping weekly notes in html at work to keep things straight. After reading GTD I started using wiki software to maintain a set of linked lists. At some point I think I went back to html for a while, then tried OneNote and finally started using google documents. I have always used a light version of GTD and created a new list weekly to keep track of the weeks accomplishments inside of the note for that week. This has worked out well and kept me organized for a very long time. I moved my GTD list into Evernote and have found it to work well.

I have found the offline notes feature invaluable on the phone app with the phone in airplane mode. I only have a couple of minor complaints:

  • There is no client available for Linux. The web page is functional though and so it isn’t a huge issue.
  • It is not so easy to get your information out of it. For example, I needed to liberate the content of a note and place it into a word doc. There is no export to word option, only enote xml format and/or html. When I pasted the text into a word doc it didn’t have line breaks at word boundaries. Which means that words were chopped at line boundaries without hyphenation ‘-‘ characters or anything. There is probably a way around this but I haven’t found it yet.
  • I tried to use the presentation mode last week and it didn’t work. It was the first time I have tried using it and so it may have been operator error. This feature would save me a lot of time if it would work reliably. Also, there is no text box to update your note with feedback or discussion points while in presentation mode. It would be useful to have.

Simple Java Chart

SJChart Example
SJChart Example

Several years ago I needed a charting utility in java. I can’t remember specifically what for, but I had some very specific requirements that I knew I wouldn’t find in anything that existed. I basically wanted Matlab charts with a network interface, text based command protocol and the ability to control rendering so that I could have time based color changes of certain plots. Think scatter plots where the scatter fades into the background over time. I also wanted a robust cursor feature. I started developing the charting utility in java and called it simple java chart (sjchart). I didn’t get as far as I wanted with it but it is functional and has the network interface and accepts xml formatted plot commands. I also developed a ruby command line client that accepts simple Matlab like math and plot commands.

I’m trying to decide what to do with this. Open source it and continue developing it with a free license for personal projects and charge for commercial use?