Quarterly Inventory

The time frame is October through December 2022

Dear FutureMe,

Today would be a good day to do a quarterly inventory.

How is your personal life going?

How is your work life going?

How is your volunteer service life going?

Personal Life:

  • Amazon Echo purge
    • I decided to abandon Amazon Alexa because they insisted on pushing advertising into my morning wake up routine. My morning wake up routine exists because I want to wake up grateful and happy. Playing a wake up song and then violating my peace with your advertising produces anger, not peace and grattitude. so, I’m out. I unplugged all my Amazon Echo devices and sought replacements.
      • Mycroft was no good.
        • The Raspberry Pi image they have doesn’t do audio levels right.
        • They have a terribly overpriced Raspberry Pi which does, so maybe that’s why the community version sucks.
        • They require a cloud login to use the service. Not a fan.
      • Apple Homekit is not great.
        • The microphone on the HomePod mini is super sensitive, which would be good if the software behind it wasn’t weak.
        • The software behind the HomePod is a low effort undertaking. Way too often I get an idea of something to ask it, and it (essentially) replies with you should do that on your iPhone. Mostly, it successfully controls the smart lightbulbs; and that’s about it. As an example, tomorrow morning I would like a reminder that I’m going to breakfast with my son at 7:00 AM. With the Amazon Echo, this was easy. With the HomePod, I get “your iPhone is not available. Check that it’s powered on and it’s software is up to date.” Both those things are true, so something else is wrong. Or really, the HomePod just isn’t going to store reminders and I should be doing these things on my iPhone. But even if I did a reminder on my iPhone, I’d need to be near it to get it. The Amazon Echo devices were a far better implementation of basic functionality.
        • I set up Automations on an iPad to light up a Bluetooth -enabled television sound bar. Automations don’t work well with Bluetooth, and putting the question to Reddit /r/Shortcuts got my post deleted by the mod because he doesn’t like the question being asked so often where the answer is “yes, Apple does not do this well”.
          • Something you can try: if the device (in my case, an iPad) can be put on the Settings –> Bluetooth –> list of possible connections screen, and just sit there, then Shortcut Automations on the iPad can light up the various Bluetooth devices within reach. But if something (like an errant Shortcut Automation) takes screen focus away, then the next Shortcut Automation which tries to light up a Bluetooth sound system, won’t, and you’ll never get the audio you wanted. If you wander over a few hours later to where the iPad is, you’ll see whatever caused your apparently really bad at multitasking iDevice to lose track of Bluetooth connections.
      • I put an image of Home Assistant on my Raspberry Pi.
        • So far it looks like it might work out best. I do have a problem though; I had set up my WiFi using Steve Gibson’s Three Dumb Routers scheme. Yes, it is secure. Whoops: my Home Assistant box needs to be able to talk to the Internet of Things (IoT), so it is on the IoT network (the “S” in IoT stands for “Security”). But I would like to be able to configure it from my main machine here on the secure network. I litterally cannot get there from here (which is a good thing). I’m going to have to put my network training to use for this home project.
  • The Helm email appliance company business exit
    • I got an email they are going out of business; I have until December 31 to find a replacement.
    • I built a replacement Dovecot + Postfix server.
      • It would have been on Amazon AWS Lightsail, but:
        • Amazon commits the crime of false advertising with their Lightsail lowest tier boxes. They advertise a 512 MB RAM machine, but deliver a 474 MB RAM machine. Mail-In-A-Box refuses to install on a 474 MB RAM machine, so the easy way to transfer my mail services to be on my own machine was out.
        • Opening a technical support ticket got me nowhere because the help desk person doesn’t actually know, and his backline support told him lies about kernel memory consuming RAM; that’s why the machine doesn’t have the full amount. I work in an environment with 600+ virtual machines and have spun up almost 70 of them myself, on Xen, KVM, and VMware. I know what virtual machine provisioning does and looks like. Amazon chose to underprovision by 9.25% so they could stuff more VMs on a blade. I’m not nearly as annoyed that they underprovisioned as I am that they lied to me about it.
        • Fine. You’re going to lie to me about your business practices? I’m out.
      • Now, I’m a Linode customer.
  • A thief stole a Christmas package off my doorstep.
  • Christmas was in Coos Bay, which meants an all-day drive Friday, Christmas with the whole family on Saturday and Sunday, and then an all-day drive back on Monday. The In ‘N Out at Redding California was not, because the place was packed, both times. Costco gasoline up there was almost 10% cheaper than in Visalia, which surprises me. Of course the gasoline in Oregon was cheaper still.
  • Haven’t played video games, but have been watching television instead. Never had watched the Harry Potter films, so am slowly going through them. On number 3 right now.

Work Life

  • Exterro has been terrible. It got listed in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. I can see in global search-and-redact brief moments of shine and wonder. But implementation had been terrible. Even after months of project implementation, the Go Live date came and nothing worked right the first time for several weeks. Product support is out of Calcutta India, which means every support request we make takes 24 hours to turn around. Most often, the front end help cannot help, so they have to take screen shots of what is wrong and submit that to back end support. That’s going to burn another 24 hours.
    • Lately, they aren’t even acknowledging problems I’m presenting them.
  • Waterford Technologies MailMeter has been a much better project implementation.
  • 1301 days until retirement.

Volunteer Service

  • Currently recording Secretary for the local 503(c) corporation; if I don’t get the meetings minutes done quickly, it stresses me out all month.
  • I have three other service positions going on. One of them means travelling to Sacramento and other places.
  • Currently going to six meetings a week; sometimes seven if a friend asks for a ride to a meeting.
    • Sunday morning: central service representative
    • Sunday evening: technology chair (I bring gear that lets the meeting be online and in-person, beyond just an iPhone. Using a laptop and a PTZ camera, Zoom attendees can be on a monitor in the room, and we have a wireless speakerphone which lets everyone be heard).
    • Monday Night: no service position
    • Tuesday Night: treasurer
    • Thursday night: no service position
    • Friday night: general service representative
    • Monthly, as opposed to weekly meetings:
      • First Wednesday, General Service meeting
      • Second Tuesday, Central Service meeting and board of directors meeting.
  • I was also a volunteer at our New Year’s Eve event. My first duty was to be stage manager. Then, I set up coffee, I set up games in a room for game night (although Bill H. came by on purpose, we only had a few people drop in and take a look). I helped with getting the appetizers put out, and then helped in the kitchen with slicing the deep pit barbeque beef and slicing and plating cake and pie. Lastly was cleanup with the take-away of New Year’s Eve balloons glitter: never again. Didn’t get out of there until 1:30 AM.

Irons in the fire:

  • I owe an article to the newsletter.
  • TRA web site to replace Mike K’s web site.
  • Move my volunteer service web site from Amazon to Linode
    • Also, I need to upgrade PHP and the Bitnami base makes that tough. Worse, the database will need to go from ASCII to UTF, which tripped up the migration tool I was using.
    • Add input forms to the web site and convert to three pages: newcomers, members, and information for professionals.
  • Newly elected as Registrar, I need to plan an event which is tentatively scheduled for February 25.
  • World Ag Expo volunteer service.
  • What I would really rather play with: Tilt Five Augmented Reality glasses; mine came in. 😀
  • It’s time to back up my main machine, too.

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