About Me, Sundry, Technical, Technology

Snapshot: My E-mail Archive

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/07/04/snapshot-my-e-mail-archive/

0-14:22 djh@ratchet ~> ls -lh mail/archive-*
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    18M Jun 14 17:17 mail/archive-1997
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    29M Jun 14 17:16 mail/archive-1998
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    18M Jun 14 17:13 mail/archive-1999
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    26M Jun 14 17:13 mail/archive-2000
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    25M Jun 14 17:11 mail/archive-2001
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    18M Jun 17  2004 mail/archive-2002
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    25M Jun 14 17:09 mail/archive-2003
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    15M Jun 14 17:08 mail/archive-2004
-rw-------  1 djh  djh    63M Jun 14 17:05 mail/archive-2005
-rw-------  1 djh  djh   202M Jun 14 16:54 mail/archive-2006
-rw-------  1 djh  djh   362M Jun 14 18:06 mail/archive-2007
-rw-------  1 djh  djh   202M Jun 14 19:17 mail/archive-2008

I recently went through, and using mutt’s date-range filters, revised my e-mail archives, most notably saving messages stored in Gmail into these annual mbox archives.

I think it was around late 2005 that I started using Flickr, so the ramp up in sizes is pictures being e-mailed from mobile devices.

I delete most e-mail that I receive, but I pretty much archive all personal correspondence, and anything I send.

Also, I was disappointed that when I tried to copy archival messages into Gmail, via IMAP, Gmail would interpret the message date as the date it was copied in to the archive, and not the date the messages was created. That was disappointing. I like Gmail’s search capability, so it would have been nice to give it access to my corpus.

Mainly though, I dig Gmail’s interface, especially while traveling. But I recently got mutt running again because it is a much faster way to step through an Inbox and delete / reply / Archive than clicky click web interface. If only I could give it access to my Gmail contacts . . .

March 1997 was when my server hard drive crashed, and after that I began to take disaster recovery more seriously.

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About Me, Featured, Testimonials

How I Save Money

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/07/05/how-i-save-money/

When I was younger and earned less money, I was encouraged to save. Put a little away each month into savings! That is a wonderful sentiment, but after meeting expenses, what is ever left over?

Some years back after hard times I took a new job, set up new bank accounts, and had my paychecks direct-deposited into Savings. Using the online banking interface I set up a monthly recurring transfer from savings to checking. I began saving money without effort.

It is hard, though, to start from nothing. A windfall helps. If you are me you don’t want to squander good fortune, which is what one naturally does without some sort of system. It is harder, though, to start from nothing.

When you have some savings, you see interest accumulating on the monthly statement. You’re getting money for free! Neat! Sure, it isn’t much but dang it is nice to get ahead of the curve. Times have been good these past years, my savings account has enough money in it to maintain my normal monthly allowance for 3-6 months. (And somewhat more than that if I am layed off and collect Unemployment Insurance.)

Once I have about six months worth of expenses saved up, I usually purchase a CD, which means the bank holds on to my money for a certain period of time, with a certain guaranteed return. Anything beyond six months of income I invest in stock market index funds (ETFs) because I have read that over a long enough time horizon, the stock market provides a better average rate of return than banks do. I can afford that risk, but it is nice to have that one pool of money in a CD coming back to me with a certain return at a certain date, in case things have gotten squirrelly.

While we are in the middle of a nasty recession, my own job is fairly secure. Last time I had savings enough to roll over, I decided to forego the currently-low interest rates and instead buy straight into an ETF. This was in March, when the market had pretty well bottomed out, so although my other stocks and 401(k)s and the like have lost value, that lot of stock purchase has grown in value by 40% and I can smile and claim to be a financial mastermind.

Oh yeah, those 401(k)s . . . and my employer’s stock-purchase program. Times are good: my salary is considerably more than my expenses, so lots of money is drained away from my paychecks into retirement savings, and another pool of capital, before it hits the reservoir of my savings account, which I then tap into my checking to meet expenses. A wiser person than me would manage investments such that one pool is for retirement, another for a house, or a college fund, or whatever . . . I’m not that clever, which is why contributing to 401(k)s is nice: that money is set aside by government mandate! My main financial ambition these days is to buy a house, probably after I get married. (That is a different topic.)

Another financial ambition I have been putting off is college money. For the one part, I don’t have kids of my own yet, and there’s no guarantee I ever will. But I am also an Uncle and a God-father: there are children I know whom I want to succeed . . . on the other hand my own experience is that after I was discharged from the Army, I was a non-dependent and eligible for a lot of financial aid, and I attended an inexpensive state school. It is nice if you can rely on your parents’ generation to help you through school, but I also know that “God bless the child that’s got his own.” That’s not to say I don’t want to help, only that I know that even if I can not help, a way can be found.

All the same, it is a challenge and a strain sometimes to live on a “fixed” income, when there is plenty of money that could be spent so easily. To be sure, I kind of enjoying saying “no” to fancy stuff, and driving around in my old car, making do with less, as generations before have done. But I also like to eat out for lunch, take my girl out, fly home for holidays, buy nice clothes, and support my hobbies. I’ll squeeze a little extra out of the piggy bank for the holidays, maybe a vacation, and other one-time expenses like maybe a new computer, and the occasional needs of broke relatives, but I am mostly tight-fisted. The past few months I have had a growing credit-card balance. I raised my “allowance” for the first time in years to pay it off quicker, but I’d rather endure the sting of interest rates that encourage me to say “no” more often than to raid the piggy bank . . . even when times are good, money is a hassle.

If things continue to go well, I like to think there will be a day in the future where I stand proudly in the newly-purchased house that is the fruit of my labors and discipline. Then I’ll have decades of mortgage payments to look forward to. I’ll feel even more nostalgia for the earlier lean times, when life was full of possibilities. But I will also have the thrill of knowing that my settled, successful, middle-class life offers possibilities of its own.

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Sundry, Technical, Technology, Testimonials

WFA = “Working From Air”

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/07/10/wfa-work-from-air/

I’m flying to New York. Fortunately, I needn’t lose a work day because for $15, Virgin America has got me on the Internet!

It is zippy enough, and the latency is perfectly fine, so I am guessing it is a terrestrial network. VPN works fine, too.

Last Result:
Download Speed: 964 kbps (120.5 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 337 kbps (42.1 KB/sec transfer rate)

It is a bit cramped, for sure. Fortunately, my Dell Mini 10 arrived yesterday, with Ubuntu pre-installed. (Vendor Linux!) I hope to write more about that later, but this is a zippy little thing that is probably about as usable as you’re ever going to get in a coach class airplane seat. Yay!

Virgin claim to have power plugs at each seat. I haven’t seen mine, but given the battery life this thing claims, I shouldn’t need to plug in for the duration of this continental crossing.

That looks like . . . Nevada. No . . . we’re above US Route 6 in Utah. 2112 miles to go. That’s another thing I dig about Virgin America: an interactive map at the seat terminal, and an adjustable headrest, which Southwest lacks . . .

Well, this is a work day, better get back to working.

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Sundry, Technical, Technology, Testimonials


Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/07/16/airhowa-png/


Virgin America has wireless access on its flights. For $13 you get enough bandwidth to video conference. It was fun.

I tried not to talk too much or too loudly from my seat. To be sure, everyone on Virgin America is pretty much immersed in their personal entertainment anyway so its not so much of a thing.

(Thanks, Todd, for the screen capture.)

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Featured, News and Reaction, Sundry, Technology

Chicago-Milwaukee High-Speed Rail!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/07/20/talgo/

When I rode Talgo, there was a delay.

On Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced that 2 or 4 Talgo trainsets would be purchased for Amtrak’s Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee. Apparently, these will be Talgo XXI trainsets which have run at a top speed of 159 MPH, yielding a speed record claim for diesel train travel.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the trip to Milwaukee will come in at under one hour. Even better, the Hiawatha serves Milwaukee’s airport, Mitchell Field. If Chicago residents can get to Milwaukee’s airport in less than an hour, there would no need to build the fabled “third airport.”

High Speed Rail? Yes, we can!

I rode an older Talgo in Spain, which was delayed due to a fire on the tracks ahead of us. They passed out soft drinks as we sat, and the Spaniards began playing music.


News and Reaction, Technology

West Portal Collision

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/07/21/west-portal-collision/

This past Saturday one Muni train rear-ended another at the West Portal station, half a mile from my house. I decided to stay away from the scene, so as not to crowd an accident scene where authorities were attending to around fifty injuries.

I have ridden these trains a great deal. They run under computer control through the subway and then convert to manually-operated streetcar service at West Portal station. Apparently, after switching to manual control at West Portal station, the driver blacked out, so his train rolled down the track at 20-23 MPH, colliding with the train in front of it.

The Chronicle points out that there is a consideration of the practice that Muni has been allowing trains to switch out of automatic mode in the tunnel before entering West Portal station: by overriding the computer control, a second train can get in to the station platform, allowing passengers a chance to change trains. Had this train remained on automatic, it would not have been allowed into the station, and the accident would not have happened.

But, to me, the thought of switching to manual control early doesn’t sound like the problem. The problem appears to be that the driver blacked out while operating a train, possibly due to a diabetic condition. In this case it may have been a blessing that he blacked out at West Portal, where his train was stopped by the train before it. Had he blacked out outbound of west Portal, his L train could well have been rolling downhill on Taraval across 19th Avenue, with little more substantial than automobiles and pedestrians to slow its descent.

I spent a little time researching whether the Breda vehicles are equipped with a dead-man’s switch or not, but couldn’t find anything conclusive. I found some reference to dead-man’s switches being required on all vehicles after 2000, while the Bredas were introduced from 1995 to 2003. My hunch is that there is a dead-man’s switch or other vigilance device, but it may not kick in automatically: had the train been rolling down Taraval maybe the brakes would have kicked, but a few seconds pulling up to the platform at West Portal was enough time for an accident between vehicles operating with minimal distance.

I don’t know . . . NTSB gets to figure it all out. I’m just glad nobody got killed.

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About Me, Biography, Featured, Road Trips, Sundry, Travels, USA

On the Road Again . . .

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/07/27/on-the-road-again/

This time I am in a moving truck toting possessions of me and my lady to our new place in New York city, where we intend to live for one year for her work. She’s already out there, so it is just me, a 16′ Budget truck rental, and some $3 wifi access at a Motel 6. Hot diggity!

I have made this trek before, with and without my worldly possessions. This time through I own a crazy smart phone which is recording the trip via GPS, and I can upload progress to Google Maps, for all my friends and evil stalkers to see. I can send you a link: just shoot me an e-mail.

I am very happy with the Budget truck. It is a no-frills affair: the radio is just a radio. It has two power ports. I could gripe that it doesn’t have cruise control, but that might actually be a “feature” to keep the fool at the wheel alert. Best of all, it is a Ford, so I already know the dashboard!

This Motel 6 isn’t shabby either. I inquired at a casino just down the road, figuring room rates would be subsidized by gambling, but no. The Motel 6 is less than half the price and has all I need: a decent bed, toilet, shower, air conditioning, a desk and Internet access! (Oh and a TV.) They claim the lowest rates of any national chain, so I’ll have to research what they have down the road.

Ah yes, and as for work: I have received permission to work remote for my San Jose-based employer. As for my old apartment, which I love, a friend fell in love with the place and signed a lease. I left some furniture behind and some e-waste which I have to sweet-talk her into toting downstairs on a weekday, where San Francisco will collect it for free. Another blessing was the help of a trio of college friends who helped load the truck. I treated them to pizza and beers afterwards and we reveled in the pending home ownership of two of our friends. While this recession is hurting many folks, others who have been priced out of the housing market are finding their prudent patience rewarded.

Time to settle in for the evening so I can get on the road good and early tomorrow. The Motel 6 charges $3 for the wifi access, which is just the perfect price for a guy who’d like to kill an hour before bed!

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Arrr! . . . Avast!
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