I missed only 1. Thanks $5 Traffic School.

So at the start to this summer’s state capital we made it over the pass heading towards Denver in our rental, and honestly, I couldn’t tell how fast we were going, but a CHP was concerned and pulled us over.

I don’t say a jerk because honestly nicest officer I think I’ve ever gotten pulled over by – and I’ve had a lead foot now and again, (even on my birthday!) but this guy was super nice, even was polite with Daisy & Lilly, explained how the ticket worked since it was in Mojave, not Bakersfield, and sent us on our way, and that extra caution on speeding, really did make the rest of the trip much safer, and I think avoided us an accident or two.

Officer Franklin – Thank you, sir. Got me more mindful of the rental’s speed, even managed to get its cruise control running that much more accurately and by trip’s end the car was second nature!

But thankfully since my speed hasn’t been an issue for a few years I was up for Traffic School, after a slightly painful ticket – but found 5 Dollar Traffic School. It was on the list they sent, and honestly it didn’t look like Netscape 1 was the only compatible browser (there are a LOT of crappy looking traffic school sites) – had some PHP errors I reported, but all in all, worked great.

Took it all in a day. All of the quizzes were super helpful to the point at the end as I said, only missed 1 (96%) and now I have a ticket on it’s way to being removed from my record, even paid a little extra for status since its all digital now with the courts + got a copy of things for my own records just in case something is wonky.

Nice to have one more thing off the list in the grand to-do! I start a new project tomorrow, and hopefully get paid for a server project here soon too! Lots on the docket as of late, but I’m still moving forward – been a busy/rough couple of months, I’ve applied to another IT job, no response. I do have a name that I could drop, but I’m seeing what I can do at this point on my own, but for now, I’m “Under Review” so we shall see.

Back to it for another hour then it’s bedtime. For me, that’s early to bed, and before 10 AM is early to rise, so working on it 😀

Farewell Spectrum VoIP – Hello Callcentric!

I recently started looking for ways to cut the cord.

I’ve been a member of the method of digital media vs. OTA or Cable for a while, however, the Mrs. is a big fan of cable – well I recently noticed even she is slowly drinking the kool-aid of all the digital outlets we have access to, and I shut down our Cable TV & while I was at it, our Phone Service.

Sure sure, the guy explained to me on the phone “But you’d lose the Caller ID on your TV!” – after the 30 or so minutes on the phone having him console me on this horrible loss which as I don’t watch cable TV, and we don’t get a TON of home calls, I pulled myself together, and said: “I’ll be ok.” LOL, Honestly there is a lot more to the world than just having Caller ID on my television screen.

So I did some research and the solutions out there range from Plug and Play with a hefty price tag or the option I went with which is DIY with pretty good savings. How good? $39.99 -> $8. Yeah, that says $8. Now granting you do need to buy some hardware, number porting was free, and it does take a little patience if you aren’t too tech savvy, but in the end I was able to set up my office number and home phone number on the same hardware and cost wise was still under $20 a month. That’s it.

I went with Callcentric as it had amazing reviews – some with folks upset about things like local dialing not working (which they have documentation for on their site to hardwire your local area code) and some general just frustration that it’s not a pre-configured deal, requires some legwork.

In the end if you are looking for something like this honestly I’d say go with Callcentric, because if you are like me, your home phone is a little old school – folks mainly call in, I rarely call out so cost wise I get 90 minutes of monthly outbound calling, but unlimited inbound calling – so when I get that call from the doctor, the Mrs. school, etc. it’s free – and if I need to call out, I’ve got my cell if its a complex call needing hours.

All in all, it works for me. If you are interested in knowing more I’ll happily write up a tutorial on getting set up, enabling local dialing, etc. including too the routing on the OBIHAI OBi202 which was great for me since it allows 2 separate lines but the lower 200 model which is a little cheaper works fine if you are simply replacing your single home line not an office + home line.

Post a comment if you are interested and I’ll write it all up (may do so anyway) but if you are interested posting will encourage me to do it sooner vs. later 🙂

Adobe: Should I stay or should I go?

I’ve been an Adobe customer for ages. Owning the Creative Suite, Individual apps, etc. I remember actually owning Lightroom early on. It’s great software, and instead of having that large price tag a monthly fee – little easier to digest, apps are updated, and it works. It’s Adobe.

However in recent years more and more I’ve gone more towards admin work vs. that of using Photoshop, Illustrator or any other Adobe product to create, I do miss it, but I’ve had less and fewer folks asking for Wedding Invitations, Photo Restorations, general edits/repairs, and I’ve too not been doing anything too artsy/design wise, but I love it, and I have kept my subscription alive.

For a while, it was $49.99. However this year it went up to $52.99 – that in itself isn’t a huge deal … $3, skip a Tea @ Starbucks – the software continues. However in these days budget keeping is key, and I’ve been trying to cut costs and improve profits, really starting to focus on retirement, investments, kiddo’s education etc. – even next year’s vacation or as I call it “Road Trip of Crazy!” to whatever State Capital we choose next! So $635.88 a year is a lot of money.

Enter Affinity Photo (Photoshop Replacement) & Affinity Designer (Illustrator Replacement).  Amazing pieces of software and I actually already own the Photo on the iPad, really powerful on the go, but it’s an interesting idea to swap, and be paid up and done, even to run it cross-platform while I’d love to just “Own it” and use it on what OS I’d like, the total cost for the software is: $159.96 across Windows+Mac (and if I want to get the new Designer on iPad + $13.99 = $173.95) and I’m owned.

Now you may be asking why Windows and Mac? Well as it stands I’ve gone Dual Platform. I picked up a laptop deal I mentioned previously from OfficeMax, after taking a 120GB SSD I had in an old laptop I’m selling soon (Yard sale!) I cloned it and brought it to life in a carefully day one dissected laptop which now does some amazing performance – but will later likely get a M2 as a primary cloned in + a larger secondary SSD – but again for now it works. Baby steps.

The idea is I simply don’t trust Apple. A faulty battery shouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg to have them fix, nor should it require using extreme measures to remove and replace myself. Seriously Apple if you come across this – USER REPLACEABLE PARTS, you can’t have that much of profit center in replacement parts – but that again is why I don’t want to run out and drop $1000+ for a new MacBook at this point.

Maybe down the line, but for now, I have Windows 10 + Linux Subsystem which hits my VPN and is now my mobile daily driver, sure I miss the Retina display, but I like that I’m not broke for the next couple months as well its summer and customers don’t pay till August. LOL

So I’ve tried out the apps, and may get them in stages from Serif, however they are running a special across all platforms due to the launch of Designer on iPad, and it’s a decent saving, versus the $200+ I’d be paying then, so budget allowing this month (it’s tight as I’m waiting for projects to close) but hey could be a nice change.

For now I’ve not hit cancel just yet with Adobe, but feeling like its the right plan. Canceling a lot of things lately, Spectrum is next on the list to ensure they’ve canceled my phone as I’ve switched to a $8/m service and cancel cable as I simply don’t watch it. Sure sure, Doctor Who season later this year, but I’d just as soon buy it on Amazon. Going to get some good savings rolling here soon!

Reasons for: Linux

Linux is one of those things that can you have a reason? Honestly, it’s a great setup.

I’ve used Linux off and on as a desktop over the years for maybe 20+ years? Mandriva Linux, Redhat, etc. all early days when my connector was a VGA adapter on a monitor the size of a small microwave. 🙂 Back then it wasn’t anything insane, it was tinkering but over the years its CLI has become my home away from home, doing a majority of my server work from the command line.

The pro’s as a desktop are fairly straightforward:

  • No Upgrade Fees: In an opensource world of amazing distros’ I could easily pick Fedora, Ubuntu, etc. and have an amazing LTS build or even a point upgrade now and again and upgrade is as simple a few commands.
  • Wide Software Library: Despite public rumor of Linux not being feature rich with great apps, let’s be honest – if you are average user who could get by with a Browser – you aren’t going to have problems with Linux – but there are apps for just about everything on you can do on the Mac/Windows side, but if you are a creature of habit, you are likely not looking to switch.
  • Choice of Window Managers: Look I love the simplicity of the Mac interface, Windows 10 is growing on me, but if you want the MOST control of what your Desktop looks like and how it functions, Linux has your back.
  • Security: Yes Mac’s are “secure” so are Windows, but Linux gives you IMO the biggest bang for your buck in managing security – however that being said if you are NOT a security person, Linux may need you learning a few things about Firewalls and such.

All in all, as a daily driver for me, it’d work. Let’s be honest doing most of my work anymore in the Browser or CLI – I don’t need a ton of apps, even the last few days I’ve literally just needed SSH, RDP, and Chrome. That’s it. Now I know if I need to do a quick image mock-up or open a spreadsheet I have plenty of options in any OS – but seriously as a daily driver, it’s a fair backup.

Why a backup? Let’s be honest, the commercial apps in both Windows and Mac that I own are specific to my needs. I didn’t just say “Oh let’s FORCE this OS to work” there are simply apps which are flipp’n amazing. No need to debate it, I love PS/ILL, Native Office is a good thing with some folks since document formats aren’t universal, and Kiwi for Gmail on any platform is simply a nice way to manage several Gmail logins.

All in all, I can make Linux Work, maybe go dual boot?

Reasons for: Mac

So in this wacky journey I find myself on for a new laptop I’ve  begun to ask myself:

“What is it you need from Mac so badly?”

By no means am I fanboy. Oh no no no. I don’t drink Mac Koolaid and then look at other OS users and demand them bow to the shrine of Mac. Never been a diehard to that extent, just have in years past enjoyed honestly a stable workstation as a primary, but the reasons? Let’s run them down:

  • OS Diversity: Ease to run all major OSes on a single platform without too much heavy lifting. Easily have Windows/Linux onboard using VirtualBox/VMware – easy for supporting customers on varied platforms.
  • Strong Terminal: I grew up on DOS. Autoexec.bat and Config.sys are my friend, so having tools and ease of a strong CLI is key, and tools like SSH and various network tools are insanely handy as a Linux Admin.
  • Security-Ish: While years ago Mac had bolder claims about being safe/secure, however lately it’s not the top of my list, but it does have pretty good security out of the box.
  • Window Management: While I am rocking 2 monitors on the Hackintosh – I still use spaces with a few handy keystrokes, makes running VM’s and remote terminals for RDP/SSH be something I can just switch one screen to another system entirely – insanely handy.

But really I could say “Oh the apps” and yes some great apps on Mac for dev/productivity, however, key ones anymore are web-based or have apps on other desktops. So what am I thinking? Well, so far Windows 10 is my focus for a possible laptop replacement. Cost is a big factor, instead of investing an arm+leg to get an even entry-level MacBook that same $400 right now could get me a Ryzen3 system running Windows 10 @Office. (yes thats . for Depot + Max).

$400 vs $1000 even with maybe a $100 investment in a decent SSD to replace the 1TB HD I could have some decent performance under Windows 10, and have the Linux Subsystem installed to give me all the usual tools I from SSH to wget, I’ve tried it out and it works – would be a nice change from PuTTy on Windows, and tools for doing simple things like dig vs. nslookup – but keep me from having to re-map my brain for commands.

Windows 10 security has improved a lot and I do have some software in the ecosystem still, but too some great alternatives are out there nowadays that were not there when I had a full-time Windows rig maybe a decade ago, but some decent AV software and some common sense should be good.

I’ll still have my Hackintosh, so Mac won’t go away from my day-to-day, but the Laptop is the big move for being able to be on-the-go again – so at this point, Windows is a contender, however, there is always the option to install Linux if I don’t like it. Joys of computing.

Windows, Mac or Linux.

Been a tad quiet around here as of late, the job thing was a no-go. I could write a post, but meh. Wasn’t the right time anyhow.

Work has been nuts, working on a business idea, servers, outages, cool touch screen kiosk projects, websites, and getting a Windows 10 workstation setup on one of my two desks. Why? Well, I needed it to get my Hackintosh working again and had the hardware from an old system salvage, but specs are nice:

  • i5 3350P @ 3.10Ghz
  • 8GB RAM
  • NVidia GeForce GT 620
  • 250GB SSD pull from another system

Aside from the SSD, it’s all that came in the pretty dell case – and it works. However not sure how I feel about Windows, but then again with my MacBook Pro battery failing, it leaves me in the “What do I get next?” stage? I’ve considered a nice Linux box running Fedora or Ubuntu – would be a cheap entry point for the most part probably $600 or so maybe a bit more if I want to make it dual monitors.

The Windows rig works and is honestly a nice change of pace, last time I used Windows was honestly 98/2000 versions and since then only dabbled in Windows 7/8 – so a fulltime rig with Windows 10 isn’t bad, but even dabbling in a slight bit of gaming, I’m tempted to grab a bigger GPU than the card on machine.

I have dabbled with a Linux rig or two virtually but that’s where I’m at in choices Linux/Windows/Mac on a Laptop replacement for the MacBook Pro as I’ve looked and while I could spend around $120 and do my own Battery Replacement on an older MBP and maybe a year or two additional on it, or try to just hold off for now and save up for a new MBP when finances amp up, or a nice Linux/Windows rig as my new portable rig, as Chromebook “works” for mobile, but honestly it’s not the power I need on the go.

Many choices, not sure which direction I’ll go, but for now what I have rolling works for day to day, but would be nice to have a good mobile rig that’s got enough power for on the go to get done anything.

 

April 17+1 (New Tax Day)

So it appears that Monopoly wasn’t far off. Bank error in my favor? Kind of lol. The IRS had some issues with their site and in turn, the 17th is now the 18th for taxes due.

I keep trying to get ahead, but this year I don’t think I’m going to wait, literally next week I’m going to find some sort of accounting software that’s a tad more robust than spreadsheets, something that can track things and it will mean a bit more leg work, but I’d much rather get more put away in savings this next year + bank more towards taxes, this year I actually didn’t come down to the wire, I had my funds already set aside, but I’d like more breathing room.

Too I’m trying to figure out how I can work Church Hosting better, I’ve considered Non-Profit, but at this point with tax law changing for 2018 taxes, non-profit giving may not be a benefit anymore, so those tithes and various causes a friend asks you to support on Facebook, will be a thing of the past, so the idea of making Church Hosting a non-profit, won’t have many benefits to getting businesses to jump on board I’d imagine. No perk for them.

But I’m praying on it, working on it. Tomorrow I’ll submit, I figured since I had a rough day (been feeling off lately) I didn’t want to push it too much, sure I have 13 minutes left before midnight, but better to wrap this tomorrow with a fresh head and just call it good. Profits growing, pretty much every year, however, I’d love to see them grow enough to add an employee, or at least employ myself as a W2’d employee.

For now, time to wrap things up, after I hit submit in the AM and e-File it all away, I’m off to coding, doc writing, and working on wrapping up some projects that have been waiting for me to wrap this, then if I can get it done before swim class, I may find something completely mindless to do – do they still have those movie theatre places? 😀 Night all.

Once you go Chrome….

So I have been pondering things for a while related to switching away from the world of Mac. I actually just sold my Samsung 503 Chromebook to an old friend, it goes to live with her on Wednesday, and I have the C200M on the block to be sold as well.

I have been looking at the Chromebook 15 from Acer, it’s a 15-inch touch-display, Android Apps without any dev channels, beta channels or nasty hacks to get them work. I checked a box and it’s done.

I love the screen, the speed, the specific nature of what I can do, honestly its a good fit with a 12-hour battery life, and USB-C for charging its a nice fit. Different. What Mac always was about – but lately I just feel like Mac is becoming more about what they can put into a product to make a few more dollars. Everyone’s got to eat.

But we shall see how it goes, I’d love to have it all pan out and become my daily driver – and over the next few days. Chome is now my home? Time will tell.

Time for a Tech Yard Sale?

I think it might be.

I’ve managed to get myself a small pile of tech, some of it was given to me, some was purchased, but with all of it nowadays, it has no direct use.

I have some tablets and laptops which need new homes. I’m trying to decide how to go about selling these things. I’ve considered eBay for a few items, but most are still working hardware just not actively in my workflow anymore, and while some day some of it could be? I’m looking to offload it.

I’ve considered too Facebook’s selling area, or even OfferUp – so there are some options but stay tuned, likely in the next few weeks going to be some items up for grabs.

My New Friend: Trello

For a while now a few friends have included me on Trello boards and honestly? I never got it. It was unfamiliar and at the time, I just plain and simple did not have the time to sit and sort it out?

So what’s changed? Honestly? 2018 is here, and I’m trying hard to organize a bit more. I finally decided to look at the tool that folks say help do just that, and I’ve taken time to sit down and give it a fair shake as it seemed like a favorite tool and had benefits, but now it was time to test that idea.

So I sat down and made my first board. Just a brain dump as I’d call it, just a LOT of ideas in one spot that had no organization, so went from there to sort it out into various lists to contain the cards and my big board is born. Awesome.

It’s been a process for over a week but now working on other boards from core ideas born from this dump of information, for instance just put a teaching idea from the lists to a fresh list called “Reviewed/Done” which has it’s own board now.

Honestly a great workflow, just wish IFTTT or Zapier had a link in enough to tie in Todoist into deadlines, would be great for that time management part, but will see this week and next how its deadlines option works, but for the most part going to at least work to create a flow in IFTTT for anything put in a “In Progress” list it will create some sort of daily/weekly Todoist check-in notice.

For now, I need food; I should probably put in a daily reminder for that as I keep forgetting to eat! But hopefully, this new tool will help bring some great ideas to life!