Category Archives: Geekery

Is it time to switch to Android?

So like most people, I was pretty disappointed with the latest Apple announcements. I like Apple products, but I’m not a fanboy by far. I have Windows, and Linux machines, and even a Chromebook. I use and like everything. There are tons of things that I hate about Apple. In fact it’s been a long time since there has been a good Apple announcement. Every announcement these days seems to add limitations to their products. They just aren’t the same company without Steve Jobs.

I’ve been an iPhone user since 2010 when the iPhone 4 finally came to Verizon. Back then the iPhone was clearly the best phone. Blackberrys sucked, and Android was in it’s infancy. Now Android has totally caught up and in many ways is better than iOS. So I went from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5 and now I have an iPhone 6. Every two years I’ve been getting a new iPhone. Every two years there have been enough improvements that I want the upgrade. I don’t think the technology is moving that fast anymore. All my previous upgrade my phone was feeling pretty sluggish when I was due for an upgrade. My iPhone 6 seems fine though. Plus, honestly I consider the iPhone 7 a downgrade. For some dumb reason they no longer have a 64 GB iPhone anymore. It’s either 32 GB or 128 GB. I don’t really need 128, but I would like more than 32. So an upgrade for me would be a loss of 32 GBs and a headphone jack. No thank you.

Yeah, I’ll be keeping my iPhone 6 for a while, and maybe switching to Android if Apple quits making suitable phones. Just like their computers and laptops, Apple is seeming to make them worse and worse and only pleasing the fanboys that buy them just because they have the Apple logo on them.

Giving in to Facebook

Over the weekend I realized that it’s probably my family that I hate, not Facebook. It’s not that I hate my family, I just hate the shit they post on Facebook. It’s the shit that use to get forwarded around in emails, now it just clutters up Facebook feeds.

I’m a completionst, so I hate Facebook’s algorithms. I want to see everything. I am going to try to give up on that idea and let Facebook’s algorithms do their job. I’ve hidden a few posts I didn’t like, and my feed already seems better.

I’ll probably no longer hear from a few friends since all they post is crap, but that’s probably better for my sanity anyway.


This past week when Instagram introduced their new ugly logo, they also started messing with the feeds. From what I’ve read, not everybody got the new feeds, but I sure did. And I hate them. I don’t follow a ton of people on in Instagram, so it’s easy to keep up and not miss anything. With the new algorithm I have no idea where I left off. I check my Instagram in the morning and the first few pictures I already saw the day before. It’s just like Facebook now. You have to see scroll through shit you’ve already seen in hopes of finding something new. I guess it keeps people in the app longer, but it makes me not want to use it.

I get the algorithm probably works well for people that follow lots of people and just dip in and out not caring if they miss anything. That’s not me. I suffer greatly from FOMO. I don’t like missing anything. That’s why I love RSS, and still live in my RSS reader when most people have given up on RSS.

I just wish Facebook would give us a choice. It bugs me when companies think they know what we want. That’s one of the things I hate about Apple too. I love Apple products, but they always seem to be not quite what I want. I just want more choices and options.

My solution for Instagram so far has been just to view it with Flipboard. My solution for Facebook has been mostly to just ignore it.

Podcast Clients

So while my Mac is out of commission, I’m using my Windows computer as my main computer. Honestly I could really use any operating system, 99% of what I do is in the cloud. My one dilemma was a podcasting client. For audio podcasts, phone apps have them covered. There are lots of good podcast downloading apps for phones. I however watch a ton of video podcasts on my computer too. All of the desktop podcast clients all seem to be old, outdated, and buggy. I couldn’t find any decent ones for Windows. Am I the only one still downloading podcast to a computer?

I found a great solution though. Since everything I do is in the cloud, why not use a cloud client? There are a bunch of them, but I settled with Pocket Casts web version. It’s pretty slick. I don’t know why I never though of a cloud client before. Now I can watch my video podcasts on any computer, and everything is kept in sync. Podcast apps sure have come a long way since 2004.

Mac Crash

On Saturday something got corrupted on my Mac’s boot drive. It wouldn’t run ten minutes without crashing. It’s no big deal, I got backups, I just have to reinstall the OS. I was booting off an external SSD because the internal hard drive on Mac Minis are slow as hell. SSDs have really come down in price, so I’m going to use this opportunity to upgrade the internal drive to a 1TB SSD. Surgery day is scheduled for Friday. It’ll be a pain in the ass, but I’ve upgraded cell phone batteries, so this shouldn’t be a problem either.

Wish me luck.

IFTTT and Pinboard

I’ve been saving links into Pinboard since 2010. Thanks to IFTTT I have a nice system going where all I have to do it add a link to Pinboard and it will then be Tweeted and posted to my blog. I also have a few dozen other IFTTT recipes that make life a lot easier. Now that IFTTT is getting more popular they are changing a little bit the way they work and because of this Pinboard will no longer work. The creator of Pinboard explains it all.

I took Maciej’s advice and moved my Pinboard IFTTT recipes to Zapier, and I really like Zapier so far. It’s just like IFTTT, but I found it easier to setup and use. I wish I could move totally over to Zapier, but they aren’t totally free. I don’t have a problem paying for a service like this, but Zapier’s lowest tier is $20 a month. That’s a little more than I want to pay, so for now Zapier will just be for my Pinboard automations.

I hope Maciej is correct and more IFTTT type of sites pop up. Maybe the perfect one for me isn’t here yet.

Go DuckDuckGo yourself

My favorite photo managing software is Picasa. I’ve been using it since before Google bought it. Now of course Google is shutting it down and no longer updating it. I love Google, but it’s getting annoying the way they shut products down. They are really making me second guessing about using any of their new products. With the loss of Picasa, I’m starting to learn Lightroom. There is a little bit of a learning curve, but in the end I’ll probably be better off. It’s a pretty powerful program.

I have a coworker who is one of those people that is afraid of Google. He thinks I’m crazy to use Gmail. He think they read all the emails. I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t people reading your mail, but just a computer scanning it to block your spam, and maybe show you some ads. Big deal. Every email service that fights spam does it. To be online you have to trust some companies with your personal data. There really is no practical way around it. Why be worried about Google? Your ISP knows even more. I guess some people are just more paranoid than others. I’m more worried about my passwords. I use long ass passwords that are randomly generated, so I don’t even know them. I never answer those stupid security questions correctly, and use two factor authentication on every site that has it. So even if you were to get my password, you would also have to get my phone to get into my email. Good luck with that.

Cloud Backup

So last year at this time I was in the process of backing up all my files to OneDrive. At the time they were offering unlimited storage with Office 365. So I thought what the hell, I’d have an affordable place for my online backups and get office thrown in for free. I guess too many people had a similar idea and late last year Microsoft took away their unlimited storage.

So a couple months ago I switched to Amazon Cloud Drive. Their unlimited everything plan is $60 a year. They had some sales going on, and I got a year free from a purchase I made. Uploading all my files was way faster too. It only took my Synology NAS a month or so to back up 1.5 TB to Amazon.

So in the end I can thank Microsoft. Switching to Amazon saved me money and has faster uploads. I don’t get Office, but I never use it anyway.

Back on Spotify

So when Spotify first came to the US I signed up right away. While I liked it, I didn’t love it enough to keep paying for it. It’s been a while now, so this month I thought I would give it another shot, and so far I love many of the improvements they have made over the years. Spotify’s improvements along with Apple making iTunes and the Music app worse with each update, there is a good chance that I will be paying for Spotify for quite some time.

Spotify isn’t going to be stoping me from buying music though. I have a massive music collection, and I’m going to keep on buying it to keep it growing. I don’t want any company controlling what I can listen to. That been said, I love Spotify on my phone. I love how easy they make it to download the songs to your device. I’m pretty much using it to replace my Music app. Any album that I want to listen to I just download it to my phone. One of my favorite features though are the user created playlists. I’ve downloaded a few 800ish song playlists that other people have created. They pretty much act as a radio station except for the fact that they have variety and I can skip a song if I don’t like it. It pretty much blows Sirius out of the water. So while Spotify is a steaming service, most of the time I’m just playing songs off my devices because of Verizon data caps, but hey it works.

Cableone’s data caps suck

I have just two more weeks left of my “overage punishment plan” through Cableone. I so can’t wait for Midco. I’m in my third month paying $140 for my internet because I went over their stupid cap, and their system is to slow to warn you until it’s too late. So for the last three months I’ve been watching my usage like it’s 1993 and I’m on AOL.

I’m have to limit myself to 10 GBs a day, and it’s not that easy. I had to switch all my video podcast to the lowest crappy quality, and actually unsubscribed from a few that weren’t worth the data. I now sneakernet my cloud backups to work and use their internet to backup. I try to download my audio podcasts when I’m out and about and can find free wifi. I haven’t watched much Netflix in the last three months either, yet, I’m just under my 10 GB/day limit. It’s really annoying, and greatly diminishes the otherwise good quality service I’m getting.

I’ll be on vacation in Hawaii when I’ll be eligible to switch plans, and you bet I’m going to be taking time out of my vacation to do it. According to Mico’s site, I’ll hopefully be able to get their service sometime this year, and I don’t believe they have any caps. At least I couldn’t find that in the small print. The day I can switch I will. Stupid me for believeing that Cableone’s “no overage fees” ment no caps.

RSS better not die

Yesterday I blogged about blogging dying. RSS is another of my loves that seems to be dying. I’ve read about so many people that have given up on RSS for Twitter or Facebook. While I get their point, RSS is like an email inbox that is always filling up, I don’t think I could ever give it up. I’ve tried doing it a day here and a day there, but I alway fear I’m going to miss something in my feeds. I need my RSS feeds, and it sucks that they are dying a little.

I’m finding more and more sites don’t have RSS feeds anymore. YouTube is one example. I subscribe to a bunch of YouTube channels in my feed reader, while older channel’s feeds seem to work fine, new channels don’t seem to have feeds. It sucks because YouTube’s subscription management is a mess. I hope this isn’t another sign of Google giving up on RSS.

Cableone Sucks

Is there anybody that doesn’t hate their cable company?

Our local cable monopoly is owned by Cableone. I left them for cable TV as soon as I could, but have been stuck with them for my internet for 13 of the past 14 years. I left them for DSL for one year when the fastest uncapped speeds I could get was 5 Mbps.

Recently they supposedly lifted their data caps, so I went back. Before I signed up I searched all over their site to make sure there were no caps. I couldn’t find anything that mentioned caps, and they were advertising no “overage fees”, so I thought I was good.

They have been great all year. I’ve been enjoying nice fast speeds with very minimal downtime. No problems whatsoever.

Then Microsoft started offering unlimited data on their One Drive accounts. I thought cool, finally, there is a cloud service that will allow me to store all my backups. So I canceled my CrashPlan account and started syncing with One Drive.

Then a few weeks ago I got an email from Cableone stating that I went over my data “guideline” of 300 GBs for two months is a row and this is my second? warning. I never got a first warning, and by the time I got the second warning I was already over my data “guideline” for the third month. So by the time I got MY first warning I was already screwed. I had no chance to watch my data usage.

So there are no “overage” fees, but they force you to upgrade.

I was pissed, but I thought well hey, I would just upgrade to their Ultra, 70 Mbps down, 6 Mbps up plan for a few months until my backups are done. My Internet fee would go from $53 to $100, but I would also get faster speeds and my backups would go a little faster.


Since I used more than 500 GB last month, I can’t get that plan because it has a 500 GB cap. I told them I would stay below the cap now that I know there are caps, but no. I have to get a business plan with slower speeds, 60 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up, but a higher cap for $130 a month. And I have to keep it for three months to prove I can stay below the 500 GB cap. So my internet is going up in price by nearly $80 because of a cap I didn’t know about, and wasn’t warned about soon enough. What a joke.

I have to pay for this higher cap, but if I want to get off this craptacular plan, I can’t use the extra data I’m paying for? WTF? And we wonder why we hate our cable companies so much?

I’ll stay below the 500 GB cap this month, and hopefully they will let me downgrade next month. *fingers crossed*

Luckily we soon will have another cable company in town. Hopefully more competition will make for better plans and less of the stupid caps and pretending that using more data actually costs them more. It doesn’t.

I’m not holding my breath though. I’ve never met a phone or cable company that I liked.

New Mac on the way and Fuck you Best Buy

So some time today my new Mac should be here. My 2009 iMac is getting a little long in the tooth. I actually think Yosemite sped it up a bit, but it’s still pretty slow.

I’m upgrading to a Mac Mini. I wish they were a little more powerful, but I guess it’ll be good enough for me. A Mini just fits better with my other computers at my desk.

My plan was actually to get it on Friday so I would have the weekend to get it setup. I checked the Best Buy website and it said they had them in stock. So I went to pick one up along with an ssd drive that I am going to setup as the boot drive. The guy at Best Buy said they only had the old ones. Yeah, it’s 2014, I’m not buying a computer built in 2012. Are they trying to get rid of old stock to people that don’t know any better?

Fuck Best Buy!

I put the ssd drive back and went home and ordered everything I needed. So much easier. I don’t know why I even bothered to try to buy anything local. It’s such a hassle.

I’ve always hated Best Buy, but I thought maybe they had gotten better. Their prices are actually comparable to online finally, but it’ll still be a while before I shop there again. The online experience is just so much better.

Windows 10

This is my first blog post using Windows 10. I’m pretty OS agnostic. I have a slight preference to Mac OS X, but dang near everything is on the web and in the cloud these days, so OS barely matters anymore.

I wish Apple made a desktop computer for me. I have two nice Dell 24″ monitors. I don’t want my monitor built in like an iMac, I’m not spending $3000 on a Pro, and I’m not buying a two-year-old Mini. So that means I had to build my own.

I built my computer last month, because my old one was getting really long in the tooth. It was originally a Hackintosh, running Mac OS X on it. It’s relatively easy to install Mac OS X on a PC if you buy compatible parts. It worked great, except for a few problems, but those few problems drove me nuts. So I thought I would give the Windows 10 Technical Preview a shot. Screw Apple, if they don’t make decent reasonable desktop computer, I guess I will go back to Windows.

I really like Windows 10 so far. I always try out beta operating systems as soon as I can. I was running Vista and 7 both a year before their actual releases. I tried Windows 8 early, and I learned I didn’t want anything to do with 8. So far I think Microsoft is doing a good job keeping their every other version being good streak alive. I have yet to have a single problem with 10. I think the Technical Preview is pretty solid.

I’m actually getting excited for Windows again, and I’m a little worried for Apple. They just don’t seem the same without Steve Jobs.

RSS Spring Cleaning

I’ve been mostly on Feedly since Google Reader shut down. I tried most of the options out there, but at that time, Feedly was the best. Today I switched to Inoreader. Nothing wrong with Feedly, but Inoreader just seems faster, and I like the cleaner interface, and it has every option I could imagine I would want.

With the switch I figured I should do some house cleaning instead of bringing a bunch of dead feeds with me from site to site. I literally have never cleaned up my RSS feeds. I have well over 1000 feeds in my OPML, some dating back to 2000 that have long been dead. I have just moved my OPML file from site to site. From way before Google Reader even existed to now, way after Google Reader has gone away.

In doing so, I’m really seeing a blast from the past. So many bloggers, people that I read for so long that I felt like I knew them, are just gone. I guess I haven’t really missed them, it’s just a little sad to see either nothing at their domain, or a link farm. Sometimes I miss the good ol’ days when people actually blogged.


Thanks to the heart bleed scare, I thought it was probably time to update all my passwords. There is no way any sane person is going to change all their passwords like me. I had some free time at work this weekend, so I thought what the hell. It literally took me ten hours to update all my passwords.

I am now officially annoyed as fuck by stupid password policies. There has to be a better way. It would be so nice if there was a service like Last Pass that along with storing your passwords, made it easier to change them. It’s a pain in the ass searching around sites to find where to change the password at, and then finding out your password won’t work because it’s too long, or contains special characters, or doesn’t contain special characters. Come on people, we need to standardize this. I have a nice algorithm that allows me to have long unique passwords for each site, but only works on 90%, of them because of these stupid policies.

Another thing that drives me crazy is the hiding of the passwords. Why do you have to hide them from me? I couldn’t tell you how many times I typed my password it wrong twice and locked myself out of my account. I believe Warby Parker was the only site that had the option to show passwords in the clear. 99% of the time we don’t have anybody looking over our shoulders. Just provide us with a checkbox to check for the 1% of the time when other people can be looking over our shoulders and we need our passwords hidden.

It’s no wonder why people use crappy passwords. It’s 2014. We need easier tools to manage and change our complex passwords already. And no, I’m never going to log in with Facebook. Quit asking me.

Maybe I should just use monkey123…

Flipboard expirement

I suffer badly from FOMO, the fear of missing out. Technology has made it so easy to never miss anything. All my TV shows, podcasts, blogs, and news sites are constantly pilling up with great content for me to consume. While I love it all, sometimes I feel like I’m just getting through it to get through it, and not enjoying it.

This week I’ve done a little experiment and tried to use Flipboard for all my news. I have always loved Flipboard, but it never really worked for me. I’ve always felt I was missing out on something, so I still had my nose in my feed reader. I’ll never give up on my feed reader for blogs, but I’m trying to wean myself away from reading news in my feed reader.

So far it’s been great. It’s taking me less time to get through my feeds, and Flipboard seems to turn up some great articles I never would have found otherwise. It’s kind of magical how it pulls stuff out of my social networks and filters the news so I don’t miss anything important, or at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. I don’t think Flipboard is saving me much time, it’s still a bottomless time sink, but I think it’s a more enjoyable way to read my news.

Is RSS dead?

So Google Reader died Monday. Is RSS dying? I sure hope not, and don’t think so. I’ve heard many people say they gave up on RSS reading and now just read Twitter. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Twitter is great for what’s going on now, but how do I catch up with what’s been going on after a long day at work? Sorry, but I’m not scrolling back fourteen hours on my Twitter feed. Hell, I seldom scroll back an hour.

The other day I was trying to remember when I started reading RSS feeds. I know I started with a desktop app, and mostly used it to keep up with all the blogs I was reading. I remember wishing news sites had feeds so I could read my news that way, but none of them did. Gradually more and more sites got RSS feeds, and that’s pretty much how I’ve been consuming the internet for as long as I can remember. If your site doesn’t have an RSS feed, it doesn’t exist to me.

Once I got internet access on multiple computers and places I switched to an online reader. I think NewsGator was my first and then I switched to Bloglines. I remember when Google Reader was first launched. It sucked at first and took a few years before it was good enough to make the switch. I lived it Google Reader for years. It wasn’t flashy, they rarely added any decent features, but it was always reliable. The best thing Google did was to allow third party apps to connect to their services. That was one of the reasons I bought an iPad the day they came out. My RSS reading finally became enjoyable in the mobile space. It’s so easy for me to keep up with my 1000s of feeds now because any spare minute I have during the day I can whip out my phone or iPad and read some feeds.

I was a little shocked when Google announced that they were shutting down reader. I guess I had a hard time believing that “nobody” was using a service that I was using constantly twelve to eighteen hours a day. I wasn’t worried though. I was excited because I knew other companies would step in and have products that were better and actually work on them and evolve them over time. Many did, and I tried most of them, but for now Feedly is my choice.

Feedly has most of the features of Google Reader that I used, and works with Newsify, which is a great iOS app. I made the switch, and didn’t skip a beat. Long live RSS.

Feedly is in the lead so far

So over the weekend I played with a few different RSS readers, and so far Feedly is winning. I couldn’t try Newsblur because they closed their free accounts. While I’m more than happy to pay for an RSS reader, I need to know if it’s the right one before I’m willing to pay. I was also unable to try The Old Reader because of their long import queue. My OPML file was also too big for them to import all my feed. That was also a turnoff.

I hated Feedly’s look when I first tried it, but I was able to customize it quite a bit too make it “less pretty” and more useful. When it comes to RSS readers pretty usually just gets in the way. I just want the articles, and I want to be able to browse them fast. Feedly uses the same keyboard short cuts that Google Reader uses, and that’s a must for a reader for me. I was able to get through my feeds almost as fast as I could with Google Reader. They still have a few UI problems, but I have a feeling Feedly will figure it out. I think they understand this is a huge opportunity for them. Right now they are still using the Google backend, but they say they have their own clone of it that they are ready to use once Google Reader closes down.

On thing they must add for me to make the switch is a way to export my OPML. I’m sure they will add one, they aren’t stupid. They probably don’t have one now because they are using Google’s backend. A way to export my feeds is an absolute must.

The one thing I’m worried about is their iOS app. Once again they made it pretty, and I don’t want pretty. My iOS reader of choice is Feeddler. It’s fast and full of export options. I can quickly run through my feeds sending some to Instapaper, Evernote, Readability, Pocket, Pinboard, or where ever want to handle posts that I’m interested in.

I’m hoping that Feedly understands that there are many different kind of reader apps, and everybody has their favorites and they allow third party apps to run on their backend like Google did. I believe it would be huge if they do that. The feed reader service that becomes the backend for all the great mobile reader apps will be the winner.

Feedly is in the lead now, but I’m curious what Digg is going to do. they said they are working on a reader too. I’m pretty excited about the future of RSS readers. Somebody is going to be innovative and blow Google Reader out of the water, and make us wonder why we loved it so much. Who is that going to be?