Tag Archives: moving on

Bringing It All In House

Last December, I made a decision to start becoming more self-reliant and not utilizing free online services as much.  To accomplish that, I moved my blog off of WordPress and onto my own hosted server.  This year, it looks like I’m going to go a step further and be completely on my own.  It’s a huge risk, but it comes with some benefits I just can’t afford any other way.

At one time, I had my email hosted through some web hosting provider.  It was ok, but I didn’t have a lot of the flexibility I wanted.  And at that time, I also had a simple web site hosted at the same provider.  I made the radical decision to change from a simple hosting plan to a virtual server.  The virtual server would let me install anything I wanted on it.  I installed a mail server.  I installed a web server.  And later, I installed WordPress and things have been going pretty smoothly. 

What were my risks back then?  Mostly hacking worries.  But, I’ve been pretty good.  I had one instance where the mail server got compromised due to my lack of cleanup of development accounts, but otherwise, no issues.

The consideration this year is to bring the entire server from the virtual to the physical and keep it not in a massive data center, but in my house.  By many accounts, this is a pretty bad idea.

To start, a data center has massive bandwidth and multiple, redundant internet connections.  The downtime is going to be minimal at best.  unnoticeable in reality.  Second, the server hardware is going to be highly redundant and isn’t going to go down either.  The server is virtual.  If the hardware fails, it just activates on new hardware.  And you don’t have to worry about it.  No hard drive failures (they’re part of a massive drive pool), no power supply failures, no UPS failures.  No worries about patches (they’re automatically applied).  Why would I give that up?

What am I sacrificing for this security and reliability?  Well, I’m locked into a specific server.  It has a fixed CPU, fixed RAM, and fixed hard drive size (and I just noticed today, fixed bandwidth).  Those are listed in increasing importance to me.  Right now, I have a project that I want to take public.  My current hosted server has 2GB of RAM and 60GB of drive space total.  That also includes the operating system.  The project I want to release has a data size of 1.5TB and is constantly growing.  I can’t even get a virtual server with that amount of space.  I would have to have a dedicated server, which would run over $500/mo.  And I would have to fully manage it – remotely.  Hard drive failure?  Call someone in CA to visit the data center and swap the drive.  It’s not reasonable.  So again, my plan is to bring the server into my house, where I can maintain it and upgrade it as needed and it can serve the world.

Today, I called Frontier and asked about their Business line of FIOS products.  After all, this is going to be a hosted server.  This is not a residential setup (although I could kind of get away with it using dynamic DNS, which is hokey AF).  I had some questions and I got some answers and the answers seem to indicate that I am going to be able to do this.

First question, do you have to be a business to get Business FIOS?  Yes.  Ok.  So I have to set up an LLC for myself.  I’ve been through this before.  I don’t exactly like it, but maybe it’s for the best.  Maybe I’ll start doing consulting again.

Last question, how much does it cost?  This is important, because Frontier’s website only shows the promotional prices.  $50/mo for 100mbps and $90/mo for 500mbps.  And the numbers for what they call month-to-month aren’t that bad.  I’m focusing on 500mbps and that’s going to run around $125/mo.

Is $125/mo a lot?  Considering some people pay that much so they can have all the cable channels with sports and movies, I don’t think so.  Is it a lot for me?  It would be, except…  I pay $75/mo for my 100mbps FIOS now.  I pay $480/yr for my virtual server.  Add all that up and do some math and that’s $115/mo I’m paying for my internet needs.  An extra $10/mo to get 500mbps and full control of a server where I can have TB’s of data online?  I think it’s a fair deal.

My hosting will expire 11/4, so I have a couple of months to get prepped for the change.  I need to buy another server and set it up.  I need to make some more improvements to my project.  I need to plan to change my DNS.  Migrate my mail, export and reimport my WordPress stuff.  It would be a busy week or so of work.

And once that’s done, I’ll be completely on my own.  And what’s the scariest part of that?  If my internet goes down, or I move, or I die (well, if I die, it’s my survivor’s problem), there’s no more email.  That is a critical service that I should think hard about.  But again, I can’t get the features I want without self-hosting it.  The old saying, hope for the best, plan for the worst means you have to always think about the worst.  That’s hard.

Farewell MegaBenno

My homebrew CD storage shelving has hit capacity, so it’s time to replace it.  It’s never been an attractive solution, although you might not notice it from the tiny pictures.  Last night, I did the unloading of all the contents in preparation for the construction and installation of unit #1 of 2 of the next solution.

IMG_20200128_181419 IMG_20200128_183155 IMG_20200128_184505 IMG_20200128_185407 IMG_20200128_190839

All the CDs got stacked up under my stereo table temporarily.

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The original capacity of the MegaBenno was over 2,000, but changes during construction meant I ended up with less shelves and I maxed out at about 1,700.  For the cost of the materials, it wasn’t a very cost-effective solution.  I could have purchased a massive unit that held 1,500 for a little more than half the cost.  But, the project was also an exercise in building and assembly, much as the next version is a continuation of that experience.

Leaving Flickr

Now that my blogs are on my own server, I’m going to have to content myself with much lower traffic.  That’s not really too much of a concern of mine.  But at the same time, there are some things that I do want to share, and I would hope they get some exposure.

I’m not a self-promoter.  I prefer to be discovered naturally, without any artificial boosts or bumps.  I guess it would help with credibility, like "oh, he’s only famous because he spammed Reddit every day for a year with links to dumb posts."  That’s like the opposite of what I want.  But really, I don’t want fame.  I just want to be helpful.

And on that topic, I have a few albums on Flickr that I consider helpful.  Some, based on views, might actually be helpful.  And I fear, when I move them here to this network, they won’t be discovered as easily or at all.  But, looking at it from another perspective, I am moving them here in case Flickr goes away completely, so there’s that threat as well.

Anyway, in the coming days, there’s going to be a new menu item for articles.  These are things that don’t really have the same meaning as blog posts, to be chronologically placed.  Maybe they’re like "sticky posts".  But these pages will have the content that was previously hosted on Flickr.  Specifically, some repair articles for keyboards I’ve owned.  The article format will be much better suited for the purpose than a photo album.

I’m going to have to figure out exactly how I will manage my CD Artwork collection as a series of pages.  I’ve looked for other places to host them and for one reason or another, it’s just never worked out.  And you know what they say, if you don’t like it, you’re free to do it yourself.  And I guess that’s the whole point of bringing my blog network in-house.

I’ve Been Ghosted. It Sucks.

It’s one of those things that’s always been done, you know.  It just has a slick name now, so people can say, “Aw man, I got ghosted.”  Or they can use a simple emoji to express what happened.  And with or without an emoji, I got it happening to me. 

I sent a text.  The next day I called and ended up in VM.  So I waited a more-than-reasonable time of a full week.  Then I tried calling again and this time left a message.  “Everything OK?  Haven’t seen you in a couple of weeks.  Let me know what’s up.  Talk to you then.”  No reply.  I could keep trying, holding on, waiting for a reply that may never come.  Or, just suck it up and move on.

My biggest worry is how much this change might cost.  Having your pool maintenance guy just up and disappear, leaving your pool growing algae really sucks.  I’m terrible at keeping my pool clean and since finding a company that would handle it for me – at a great price – has been a godsend.  Not only have I been able to enjoy my pool, it’s been very valuable in preserving the value of the pool.  I mean, my method of letting the pool turn into a swamp, then bombarding it with chemicals to bring it back over and over was doing nothing for the longevity of the mechanicals, filter, and surface.

My secondary, although more immediate, concern was getting the pool back to operational order.  Since the resurfacing and professional oversight, the pool has never had an algae outbreak.  Although I’ve restored my pool in the past from my own negligence, I have never been entirely sure it was right.  And the pool has never looked as good as when it was maintained by someone other than me.  But now, I had yellow algae on the walls and steps.  It’s not a bloom, but it’s very, very close to exploding.  I really shouldn’t have even waited that extra week.

My salt water chlorinator was telling me it wanted salt.  Craved salt.  Needed salt.  62 pounds of salt, please.  Is that a lot?  Fuck if I know, I’ve never had to do this before.  So I bought a 40lb bag of salt from the pool place and threw it all in.  I’ll have to see how it likes that and re-evaluate.  I brushed the walls and floor as I remembered doing in the past.  I threw in some algae shock.  …And that’s about the extent of my knowledge.  Well, tomorrow I can hose off the filter.  That’s about it.

Sometime this week I’m going to need to contact at least one pool company and get a new maintenance quote.  And that’s when it’s going to start sucking.  Starting over always sucks.

Social Media? Not Much Anymore.

Today, I’m walking away from another another Internet forum that I’d been involved with for over a decade.  It’s kind of sad for me, because I used to feel welcome there and would participate pretty regularly.  But, I guess I’m just not cut out for that kind of interaction anymore. 

A wise piece of advice that is frequently given is to not surround yourself with negativity and don’t waste any time being around people who put you down and don’t lift you up.  The problem with that advice is, it leaves you with very few options, especially now on the modern Internet.  It’s pretty well-recognized that being online exposes you to nothing but anger and conflict.  Even if you are not participating, simply being exposed to it is damaging enough.

My quitting of the forum is actually the third step away that I’ve made.  The first step was when I was particularly irked that some of the moderators – the people that are supposed to keep the peace and keep the place running smoothly – were actively engaging in attacks on other members.  In the particular forum I was in, it’s kind of like the wild west where rude behavior is more tolerated, but there was something sinister about having the leadership jumping into the fray instead of monitoring from the sidelines.  At that time, I trimmed back my profile of any personalizing marks and became more of an anonymous member.

The second step was when I quarantined myself from the political section because it was doing nothing but depressing me.  Seriously, nothing but bickering back and forth with trolls (some even moderators) that can’t be defeated.  And after a while of not viewing any of those posts, I began to realize, there isn’t really anything going on outside of those sections.  I began to wonder why I was coming back if there was nothing good to read.

The final step was when I asked for some assistance with, of all things, sunglasses.  There was a discussion about sunglasses, and since the population of the forum is higher-class, I thought someone could give me a recommendation for an upgrade to the glasses I had.  To my surprise, I was insulted.  The first reply could have been seen as a lighthearted joke, the second reply asked if I was a troll or just stupid (this was from a moderator), then it became agreed upon that the style of glasses I was asking about were for douchebags.

As Eric Cartman would say, “Screw you guys, I’m going home!”

I’m sure there’s a lot of people who might look at this situation and say, “What drama!” or “The butthurt is strong in this one.”  And you know what, it’s true.  There is a lot of butthurt.  We’re talking about being in a community for a decade, where you feel you can be yourself and be accepted and suddenly, you’re not.  And adding up the other issues I’ve been experiencing there, well, it’s just not welcoming anymore.  It’s not a place for me.

Actually, this isn’t the first or worst betrayal I’ve gotten from that place.  One time in a moment of weakness, I posted a picture of myself on the forum.  One particular member made a series of photoshops of my picture and posted them.  Unfortunately, I know that those pictures will live on forever.  Since that event, I had to watch everything I said and did so that someone wouldn’t randomly repost one of those pictures and start it up all over again.  As I understand, the member that did the photoshops has since died, and good riddance to him.

And now, good riddance to that whole place.

Like the dust, which settles all around me
I must find a new home

Afterglow – Genesis

 

Another Glorious Microsoft Sunset

I remember when Microsoft discontinued Live Spaces, which held my blog.  Obviously, I’ve been happily living in WP Land since them.  I remember when Microsoft discontinued MS Money.  I switched to Quicken and eventually switched back and lived with the limited functionality provided in the sunset edition.  I remember when Microsoft discontinued Zune.  I enjoyed my devices until the point that a Windows 10 update disabled the syncing capability in the Zune software, then they were thrown away.  I remember when Microsoft discontinued the MS Band.  I used it for another year after that and for whatever reason, I just started feeling jaded while wearing it.  It sat on the shelf for months and eventually got thrown out.

It was only a couple of months ago Microsoft decided to discontinue the software that drives the Band.  The hardware is useless without the software, so even if I did still have and want to slap the Band back on, I would have no way to use it.  Along with that discontinuation, they are shutting down HealthVault.  That is a major capitulation.

HealthVault was where the band stored all its data.  It created nice graphs and charts and had the capability to hold all your medical history and data.  It was the data repository for a lot of actual medical devices like scales and glucose meters and heart monitors.  And it’s all going away.  I took a look at my old data before it all disappears.  It looks like my two MS Bands recorded data between 7/17/2015 and 1/28/2018.  All my walks, all my sleeps, some random exercise sessions, and my daily step counts.

And this is something I want to say over and over and over.  FUCK THE CLOUD.  FUCK IT TO HELL.

The fact that you can’t own anything anymore is absolute bullshit.  Let’s look at my history.  Live Spaces was free and it was taken away.  I was able to preserve my data my moving it to WordPress, which is also free and could disappear at any time.  True, but, I can install WordPress on my own web server (and I do have an instance running on my web server!) and it will never go away again.  MS Money was not free and was discontinued.  I was able to keep using it afterwards.  This is how things should be.  MS Band was not free and was taken away.  Microsoft offered refunds to recent Band purchasers, but the point is, the maker should not determine when you will stop using something you paid for.  And all this cloud-powered bullshit, there needs to be an offline version available.  Is there anything that can function anymore without being online??

And this whole, giant, disgusting concept of “it’s free as long as we want to make it available” has got to stop.  It’s only a matter of time before people get burnt enough that they will refuse to use your products at all because it’s a given it will disappear at a random future date.  Make a product, sell the fucking thing, and let people use it.

Pack It Up

As far as house projects go this year, 2018 has been a significant year.  Probably my most productive yet.  In relative significance to the prior projects, the next project is the most disruptive.  While changing the HVAC unit and resurfacing the pool are huge, expensive projects, reflooring half the house is just massive.

Six spaces in four rooms are going to be converted from carpet to laminate.  The carpet has been in place probably as long as the house has been around, so… 25 years or so?  It’s time to update that.  The contractor came out and gave me a quote, which I just accepted and we set an estimated install date two weeks out.

From the sounds of the work plan, it sounds like they are going to do one room per day.  That includes moving the furniture in and out of the room.  The only thing I have to handle is getting things up off the floor and removing breakables and personal items.  The master closet is going to be all on me because the wardrobe cabinets were actually assembled in the room, you can’t move them in or out of the room assembled.  One other thing I committed to was packing up my CDs from the tower racks.  I don’t see any way of moving those towers with the CDs in place.  To accommodate that move, I bought some magazine boxes on the recommendation of a poster on a forum I frequent.  They were a great fit.

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A lot of people despise packing.  I am one of those people who actually doesn’t mind it.  Well, unless the deadline is too close and I’m scrambling, but otherwise, I like packing up.  The process is a physical affirmation that change is coming, and that change should bring excitement and hope for the future.  In the near term, this means I’m getting a new floor; in the mid term, it means I’m going to be in a totally new environment.

Packing up is like making a deposit on your future.  If you don’t follow through with your plan, you lose all the effort you put out packing up.  Right now, all my music gear is packed and stored.  Now my CDs are packed and stored.  The more I pack, the less I have keeping me in my place.  And of course, packing provides some time of reflection, to make sure you really need to hold on to that thing anymore.

All The Bits Of Moving

With the plan of moving, comes a lot of little individual preparations for moving.  The one I am currently working on is finance.  Not the financing of moving, but my collection of financial accounts.

I’ve always had a presence at a local brick and mortar financial institution, but I’ve also had long-running accounts at online-only banks as well.  This recent move has me convinced to go 100% online.  The reason for this is two-fold.  First, there are no national-level physical banks that I trust.  My current bank is a local credit union, and while I do love them, they aren’t going to be in my new location.  Second, there is little compelling need to tie yourself to a physical bank anymore.

To expand on those points, I wanted a physical bank in case I needed to go and talk to someone about my account.  In my years with the bank, that has never happened.  I also wanted to have the bank’s ATM network available to me.  In my specific case, I agreed to a $1500 min balance to access a much wider network of ATMs without fees.  But my newly chosen online bank will reimburse me up to $10 in ATM fees.  I don’t hit the ATM often, so that’s plenty.  And of course, they also have a wide network of no-fee ATM’s, too.

But here’s the real motivator.  Like I just said, I have at least $1500 tied up in my checking account, earning very little interest.  I have the bulk of my money in online savings accounts earning 2% interest.  But I was recently introduced to T-Mobile Money, which will pay 4% interest on a checking account up to $3000.  That’s double the rate of my savings account and who knows how much more than my current checking account.  So my plan is to keep around $3k in my new T-Mobile account and the rest in my online savings.  No more $1500 (actually more with the ebb and flow of the balance) missing out on interest.

I’ve been through the migration process before, but it’s been a number of years.  After setting up the new checking account, you need to link other accounts to it so you can do transfers.  That takes a couple of days.  You have to set up bill pay accounts on the new account and disable automatic payments on the old account.  There’s a rule I keep to on my bill pay setup.  I never authorize anyone to pull from my checking account.  I will always push payment from the checking account.  I will allow charging of my credit cards, since I have a means to dispute the charge, but no one is allowed to touch my cash.  Then finally, I have to modify my direct deposit to go to the new account.

After all these changes, then it becomes a watch and wait game.  I have to figure out which account needs money transferred to handle the upcoming bills until everything is transitioned.  It’s a little tense.  But by next month, I’ll be on my own, online, and free to go anywhere.

Changes

Last week, I started the process of relocating my stuff from the bedroom that had served as my office into the lanai which would serve as my new office.  It was a surprisingly difficult effort.  What should have taken a couple of hours or so took many days.  But, although surprising to me, it’s also consistent with some recent difficulties I’ve had in regards to motivation and exhaustion.

On one particular day, after moving a couple of pieces and giving up, I reflected on the moving process.  Why was it so difficult?  There was a time in my youth that I would rearrange my living area nearly monthly.  I loved the different possibilities and the change it brought.  Now it just seemed I wanted things to stay the same.  That’s kind of depressing to think about, which is ironic because it’s depression that’s been holding me back from everything lately.

Without dwelling on that point, this is more about changes.  On a smaller scale, I have to deal with the moving of my stuff between rooms, which will require putting some things into temporary storage.  On a bigger scale, the GF is going through the same thing by moving her stuff to my house, which has to be even more overwhelming and disheartening considering how many things of hers will need to be stored.  And overarching all of this now is our near-term plans to move to another state.

So, for whatever stress I might be feeling about moving my shit in my house, it’s nothing compared to what needs done to move to another place.  First and most importantly, it reprioritizes the improvements that need done to the house in order to maximize resale value.  Some things just can’t be done in time and some may be too expensive to get return on the cost.  But, it’s a real kick in the ass to start doing something.  I always work best on a deadline.

The big move eclipses the small move and the sacrifices become acceptable and even encouraging.  I’m packing up all my music gear, not because I don’t have space for it in my new office but instead because we’re moving out.  It’s not losing out on anything, it’s preparation.  I shouldn’t feel constrained by my new office because I’m not going to be there for very long.  And there’s going to be a period of time where things are going to be even more cramped until we find the ideal house in our new city.

And while moving rooms was stressful to me and I was wondering why that was the case when I used to love change. moving cities is quickly becoming an exciting prospect, despite the looming effort that remains in this house.  I think it might because I’ve found a “why.”  Why am I doing all this stuff to the house, what does it matter?  Well, right now it matters greatly to the future owner of the house.  And at the same time, I’m going to shed anything I might regret doing in this house and the GF and I will start with a clean slate, on equal footing in a new place.

Junk

A quick recap of my life in my house.  I bought the house with my then-fiancee in 2005.  We got married, then divorced in 2010.  I took full ownership of the house in 2016, and that was the end of that.  But you know what refuses to end?  My ex’s mail.

Mail is a pretty well-protected delivery medium, in theory.  In practice, it’s hardly protected at all, with theft and whatnot.  But anyway, you’re technically not allowed to do anything with another person’s mail.  And for a very long time, I was living alone in my house, with all my ex’s mail still being delivered.  I filled up five large garbage bags of her mail for her to collect when she would return.  As you would expect, nothing came of that.

And even after the house became mine, she never filled out a change of address form, so I continued to get her mail.  Technically, I can’t throw it away.  Technically, I can’t contact the sender and tell them to stop sending to this address.  Technically, I can’t fill out a change of address form on her behalf.  There’s really only one allowed course of action: Return To Sender.

So back in April, I finally took action and purchased a rubber stamp:

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And I have dutifully been stamping every piece of her mail and putting it back in the mailbox to be sent back.  A couple of days after I started this, I got some pieces of that mail back (with my stamp on them!) and I learned this can happen because the automated postal systems read the barcode below the address for delivery.  So I started blacking out the barcode with a sharpie.  And since then, the mail has been tapering off.

The mail coming in could be classified as three levels of importance.  The top level would include bank statements and government correspondence, like the State Department of Revenue (you have no idea).  These mailings stopped after the very first return to sender stamp, as you would expect them to.  The next level would be things like bill collectors (you have no idea).  These did stop after being returned, but it’s also a game of whack-a-mole because there’s always some new collections company buying up old debts.  So, I may be living with these for some time.  The lowest level is presorted junk mail.  These have been sent back countless times and it’s very difficult to get them to stop.  I hope they will at some point.  My guess is they just throw all the returned pieces into a bin and process the addresses whenever they have some free time.  And most larger companies have multiple independent lists, so each department has to get a returned piece and process it at their leisure.

I’m hoping to get to the point of zero mail for that addressee, but you know, there will always be the companies that sneak it in with “…or Current Resident”.  Maybe that’s what they mean with the “’til death do you part” stuff.  They’re referring to junk mail.  But even that’s not true.  I get mail addressed to her dead father, too!  “Not at this address”, indeed!