Cleaning up some posts

Not to long ago, I wrote about how I am probably going to let crazy-train.net expire. I have owned it for almost 7 years now, and really dont have an interest with it anymore. I am interested in possibly going back to a hosted environment though, so I could start offering my services to more people, making a few bucks on the side, etc.

In the case that I do move away from wordpress.com, its a good chance that im still going to stick to wordpress, especially after reading up a bit on the new WordPress 2.5.

When I moved to wordpress, I tagged a lot of my stories to say ‘Blogger’, so I could better differentiate between old a new posts. Now that I have been writing a whole lot more, Blogger doesn’t really make sense anymore.

Therefore, im going through YEARS of old posts and cleaning them up. Many of them are actually useless. Those that are not, im reclassifying them correctly.  If I move, then I can start fresh and let the site grow from there. If I stay here on wordpress.com, then things look better. No matter what though, my content will be a lot better organized!

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At least my savings account is still 8x the average…

Almost a year ago, we signed up for our first high yield savings accounts. If you are not familiar with these high yield accounts, you should be. The average bank savings account gives you .25 to .50 percent interest. There are particular online savings accounts that at one time were even giving 6.0 % on savings accounts. Since they are able to save money in various ways (most of them do not even have a real brick-and-mortar banks you can visit), they pass  these savings on to you.

We signed up for FNBO last year, since they were offering 6.0% at the time. But over the course of the year,  with the declining stock market, various mortgage market problems, and the fed cutting the interest rate, FNBO has now dropped to 3.25%. Combined with sub-par customer service and a really annoying web interface, we finally decided to pull out. I transfered all of our money back to our standard account, and waiting to move to my new online account.

This time we have decided to go with e-trade. They are currently offering 3.45%, and I am hoping they will stay there for a while. One of the other benefits to e-trade is how you can move your money through various accounts. For example, if I find a particular stock that I am interested in, I can easily move money from my savings account to stocks. Once I decide to sell the stock, it goes directly back into my high-yield account. After making almost $700-1000 in stocks last year, Debs and I are very interested in seeing how we can do this year!

40 years of smoke damage

This weekend has been pretty quiet (and cold), so Debs and I did a bit of work in the den. Saturday was a ‘community cleanup day’, so we got rid of both rugs that were down there, the remaining ceiling tiles, and other random trash. Once the dump truck came for everything ( I went out there to help them but by the time I got my shoes on they were already next door), we got dressed and ran some errands to pick up needed supplies.

We have decided to stick with a drop ceiling. We went by Lowes and picked up 4 boxes of plain white tiles, which we think will fit the best in this room. We also picked up some wood stain, replacement steps, and brushes.

Once we got home, we had to remove every other cross-brace from the ceiling since we are going with 2′ x 4′ panels rather than the original 2′ x 2′. I noticed while pulling these tiles out, that fingerprints were actually cleaning them up. So we got a few rags and wiped down the entire structure, making a HUGE difference. I just went and wiped the entire structure again with a bleach, household cleaner, and water mix, which helped on remaining stains (I am writing this post while waiting for it to dry). Its amazing how 40 years of running the fireplace really stained that ceiling, and how new it looks with a simple cleaning. We may cover the frame with GridMax, some plastic covers that Lowes offers.

Since we are keeping the drop ceiling, I am going to go ahead and run speaker wire to the four corners of the room, as well as out through the back deck. I plan to mount our surround sound speakers on the walls to make the room look a little nicer and to keep them out of the way.

Lastly, we went by Home Depot and ordered our carpet for the den as well. Someone is supposed to come by this week to measure the room, and we will hopefully have everything installed by the end of next week!

Made progress on the den, but have an issue!

Since last Friday was Good Friday, Debs had the day off, and I only worked for about half the day. The second half we spent some time in the Den taking apart the ceiling.

As I mentioned before, this room has a drop ceiling, like those you see in office buildings. The metal itself is getting a little rusty, and the tiles were at least 40 years old. To be safe, we both wore gloves and breathing masks. These came in VERY handy, because there was a ton of dust and grit that had collected up there over the years. We should have actually had hard-hats as well, since there were chunks of brick and concrete up there as well!

After removing all the panels, we started looking around. One could obviously tell that since they knew they were installing this drop ceiling, whatever was above it did not really matter visually. The chimney has one of the worst mortar jobs ever, the fan has a very weird custom made mount, and the wiring is going to be hard to move. We were both hoping for more of a blank slate that we could just throw some drywall on the ceiling, but that won’t be the case now.

We are somewhat stuck. We could just fully gut the room, put up new drywall, and make some sort of cover for the top of the ceiling. But to save money (to spend elsewhere on the house), we may just clean/repaint the metal, and install new tiles. The new tiles will actually help with the acoustics in the room, as well as the ability to make the room even MORE wired (for example, mount speakers in the ceiling, run speaker wire to the back of the house for external speakers, etc).

Our area is having a community cleanup this weekend, so all those old tiles, 10 bags of leaves, and a satellite dish are going away. I was hoping that I would have more time to get more ‘trash’ together, but I just have been to busy.

We probably are going to make a final decision on what to do this weekend as well, so I can go get materials and get back to work!

Listening To: ‘156’ by Mew

No junk mail can sometimes be a BAD thing…

I may be an oddity, but I honestly don’t ever have to worry about spam. My gmail account works for EVERYTHING, and I honestly never have any issues with Spam in my Inbox, or good messages in my Spam filter. Maybe I dont have that many friends, or rely on email that much, but I find it hard for someone to ‘keep’ unread messages in their inbox.

At work this is usually the case to, Outlook does a pretty great job keeping my inbox clean (and then I do the rest of my work, hitting Zero Email Bounce almost every other day). I empty my Junkmail folder every other day, and everything is fine.

But when that Junk mail folder isnt filling up 10 messages every 30 minutes, something is wrong. When its empty for 2 hours, something is VERY wrong. We had a recent issue where I had to bounce our Exchange box (it had been up for 6 months no issues), and things worked great. But of course, this time after a restart, mail still was not flowing.

Once I got to looking into it (I had to run out of the office to reboot a machine at our datacenter), I noticed that I could send email out, but not in. But if i tried sending through gmail, comcast, or even the command line,  everything was marked as Spam. And not just moved to a spam folder, the machine was actually REJECTING EVERY MESSAGE CLAIMING THEY WERE A SPAM DOMAIN!

Reading through many posts online, people said to clear out your RBL lists. But our exchange server nor spam software had any of these set up! After digging a little further, a few people (years ago) posted into newsgroups that Symantec would sometimes lock up on these. Going through our config, I noticed a list of servers. Once I removed this, and applied the new setting, mail was flowing faster than ever before!

This morning a co-worker sent me an email on something he had received from a friend. It was an article on Slashdot (one of my old favorite sites, I dont even look at it much anymore) about a Long Dead ORDB returning False Positives for everything. AH HAH! So we were not the only ones seeing this problem. Luckily I had fixed our issue an hour and a half before this was posted. Things are running back to normal, and actually faster than usual now.

Two things that I really question though:

  • Was there ever any notification, or at least warning, that on 3/25/08 at 12 PM Eastern this ‘dead service’ would turn on again to tell people to stop using it?
  • Why would Symantec NOT warn their customers about this?!?! This server was on a list that we had been setup AFTER the ORDB had been offline! They have our email, I got an email today to renew our subscription!

This was really a wakeup call. Even though their system was dead, tons of servers will still requesting this service, and still taking up bandwidth. While having companies possibly loose email by flipping the switch like this, you learn that you should have much more complete control over your systems, and properly manage them in all aspects. If you dont know what that system is doing, find someone who does know, or learn it yourself. Thats going to be my job over the next few months as we start making quite a few changes!

Lastly, you also learn that sometimes the Internet isn’t as fast as it needs to be at times, and good old debuging and monitoring really makes you solve your own problems, learn stuff, and feel good about it.

Listening To: ‘Welcome Home’ by Coheed and Cambria

Facebook figures out my connections for me!

I noticed something new when logging into Facebook this morning. On the front page, under status updates and birthdays in the right column, there now is a randomly appearing ‘People You May Know’ area! You can click on ‘see all’ to go to a list of about 30 people you may know based on existing connections. If you dont see it on your front page, you can also click ‘Friends’ at the top, then select ‘Find Friends’. The very last entry will say ‘People You May Know’

I went through the list this morning and found about 5 people that I did not even think about being on Facebook before. Its great to reestablish those connections, and to have a tool like this to help.

The one thing that I haven’t noticed yet is a way to get a new ‘list’ of people. It seems that every time I refresh the page it does present me with a few new people I have not seen before.  Im guessing with this being the first day it has really been out, that new features will come over time.

I already can think of two AWESOME features that would make this even better…

  1. Sort those people you may know by the amount of connections you actually share. For example, if I share 20 connections with a person, one would assume I would have a better chance of knowing them than someone I only share 3 connections with.
  2. Allow me to ‘flag’ or ‘remove’ people that I really just don’t know! I keep my friend list pretty small, and I only add people I usually really know. Therefore, let me mark someone as ‘not knowing them’ and get a new list of more possible choices

Listening To: ‘9 Ghosts I’ by Nine Inch Nails