Peering Inside My Inbox

Posted by – October 7, 2010

I was talking to my friend John Richards from Perturbed Normal (A near-vacant blog that I think shows promise, but has hardly any posts as of yet).  I often bounce ideas off of him as I trust his opinion and we tend to have more skill overlap than others I know (who else will discuss cryptographic hash functions with me?).

Long story short I was wondering if he had any cool tips for Gmail or Google Reader labels as I’ve been doing a bit of spring cleaning and I feel there must be a better way that I just don’t see.  We both then agreed (I plan to hold him to it) that we’ll blog about what we have and can find.  So I thought I’d kick things off by showing everyone how I organize my Inbox.

My Gmail label sidebar.

Labels

So as it stands at the time of writing I have 13 labels, 2 of which are simply the label of which email address the email was sent to.   One of them is an ‘Employment’ label which I use only once every few years while I look for a steady income source (see:  job).  For all intensive purpsoes these 3 labels are hidden from left menu.

So the labels I use routinely are:

Accounts – Used to keep all my registration emails for forums, sites, whatever.  This keeps them in an easy to find place if I forget my username or other various details.

Attachments – Ever try searching for an attachment but not sure where or when it was from?  This label helps keep them together.  Gmail has been improved quite a bit though, so you can actually just search for has:attachment and it’s exactly the same thing.  I use it out of habit and laziness.

Backups – Whenever I backup WordPress for example, I can just put my email address and have it mailed there.  It’s a good place to store some backups for things that aren’t too large.  I mostly use a filter to auto-label these emails, but more on that later.

Business – Whenever I do consulting or freelance work I want to hold onto these emails.  This is where they go.  I’m contemplating creating a different email address all together though as I feel this causes clutter.

Family – Anything from or relating to family.

[Employer] – Emails from and about work at my current employer.  Should probably have a separate email for this too, but my employers are also good friends of mine.

Friends – Anything from or related to friends.  I’m tempted to crunch this into a Family/Friends label but I’m not short on room, and better organization is better.

Notifications – Emails from Facebook, Google Alerts, the library or anything else that is a notification of some kind.  This way I can bulk-delete so these don’t pile up, but I also don’t miss bill notifications when things are due.

Receipts – Receipts and invoices for purchases.  Nice to have them all in one spot for easy reference.

Support/Questions – Whenever I send an email to a webhost or practically any business or group.  Sometimes I need to find them further down the line such as the whole Linksys NAS issue I had awhile ago.

I’ve also gone ahead and selected colours that I don’t find offensive.  I tend to gravitate towards colours just dark enough to have white text.  Gives my inbox a nice feel, but depending on your theme the schemes might be different.

Speaking of colours though, I am hesitant to add any more labels because I’ve sort of run out of colours to use.  I can use different shades, but it sort of reduces the ability to know what an email is out of the corner of your eye.  Then again perhaps I’m just being pedantic.  Any ideas are welcome however, as I’ve always been bad at colour selection.

Filters

To make my life easier I’ve been creating a number of filters to apply tags and move my email around.  I don’t think many are innovative or anything, but they might help someone out.  Here are some examples:

Attachments – Anything that has an attachment is labeled ‘Attachments’ (duh!).  This is now just a checkbox on the create filter page.

Friends, Family, Work – All email addresses associated with each group get their own filter and labelled accordingly.

Backups – Anything sent to MyEmail+Backups@gmail.com is automatically labeled ‘Backups’.

In case you weren’t aware any mail that’s sent to YourEmail+Anything@gmail.com will filter into your inbox.  This is a good way to mark email addresses to see if businesses are selling your address (MyEmail+bestbuy@gmail.com for example).  I think most spammers and businesses have learned this trick though and remove the +Whatever from your email address before they sell it, so your results may vary.

Notifications – All the email addresses I routinely get notices from, whether it’s Facebook or utility companies saying my E-bill is ready get labeled ‘Notifications’.

Text Alerts – I don’t have nor do I see myself purchasing a smartphone anytime soon.  This is mostly due to the horrible oligopoly Canada has in regards to cell phone providers, the data costs are simply way too high.

This means I do a lot of text messaging, but not emailing.  I have some filters that will send critical alerts (such as server crashes etc) to my phone via the email address my provider gives me which I receive as texts on my phone.

Got Ideas?

I’m more than happy to hear if anyone has any ideas on how I can improve my system.  Whether it’s by more labels, or better filters or hopefully something I haven’t even thought of yet.

I’ll try to get to work on my Google Reader labels, but to be honest it’s a big bucket of fail.  In comparison my Gmail is rockin’.

Anyway, your move, John.

Would a God Have Sympathy?

Posted by – May 20, 2010

The question is of course hypothetical but it brings up the idea that if a god or gods exist would they have any sympathy for us?

If I were to create something such as a small program that outputs ‘ow’ whenever it gets pinged would I feel bad for it? Probably not because what the program experiences is so far removed from what I conceive of as pain that I wouldn’t really care, it’s just a small program after all and it’s just doing what I created it to do.

Gods would be just as advanced or infinitely more so, thus the gap would be even wider.

For a better example imagine you have a rodent or insect problem. Many people would use poison to kill the pests, knowing that this death may not be painless nor instant. When in fact many people think this would be torture to submit people to the same thing if they were to be executed by the state.  So even within our own genetic family tree we see a lack of sympathy for fellow creatures on which we share DNA with.

So if we cannot even take pity on our fellow creatures how could someone/something that is so infinitely more disconnected care about our suffering or worries. Especially those who think their prayers for a new car or their sports team to win are important enough to warrant a gods attention.

AutoFLAC Error: Unable to Execute the External Program

Posted by – April 29, 2010

AutoFLAC Error

A screenshot of the error message I received.

Today I ran into an unusual problem with Exact Audio Copy and AutoFLAC.  Whenever I’d try to rip one of my CDs into FLAC, they’d copy fine but then it’d fail and not write any .cue file.  After searching around on the net for various solutions I was still having trouble.

It’s an easy fix, but wanted to share it here to hopefully save somebody else some time if they run into this same problem.

First, the error message:

Line 0 (File "C:\Program Files\Exact Audio Copy\AutoFLAC.exe");
$pid = run("" & $metaflac & ""' --add-replay-gain ' & $list, $ripdir, @SW_HIDE)
Error: Unable to execute the external program.
The directory name is invalid.

Now the fix, although it’s hardly a fix.

  1. Uninstall AutoFLAC.
  2. Uninstall Exact Audio Copy.
  3. Delete the Exact Audio Copy directory (C:\Program Files\Exact Audio Copy\ is the default).
  4. Use regedit to remove the AutoFLAC entries (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\AutoFLAC).
  5. Reinstall Exact Audio Copy.
  6. Reinstall AutoFLAC.
  7. Ensure your FLAC binaries are up to date.

Steps 3 and 4 are possibly optional but I went and did it anyway and it fixed the problem.

Anyway, hope this helps people, and it’s hardly an original fix but I would have saved some time had I found a post like this.  Good luck, and happy ripping!

Happy Birthday To Me! Here’s My First Blog Post!

Posted by – March 29, 2010

Cake. Yay.

Cake. Yay.

I found this blog entry amongst my files, it was apparently written on my 18th birthday and I started a blog.  Judging by the file format and how it was formatted, it looks like when I wrote my own blogging software.  In any case, I found it an interesting read, and maybe you will too.  Also, I’m now 24.  Damn, I feel old.

It’s finally my birthday. I’m 18 which means…absolutely nothing. This is exactly why I decided to start this weblog. This will hopefully become a great way for me to keep track of what I’ve been doing, and hopefully reminding me of tasks I want to and should be working on.

I do need to keep in mind though, that this is written for me, when my mind is worse then it is now (give it a few years, tops). Then I know I’ll enjoy having such a great record of my life from age 18 on. I need to keep this style

I do not intent for this to be looked at by others; in fact if you do read this, then you will probably be bored to tears at the meaningless drivel I’ll spew out in my free time. However, by all means feel free to browse around as you see fit, I wouldn’t make it public if I didn’t want some people looking at it.

I plan to include news about myself, as well as many other entries I write talking about from anything from daily observations I want to make a note of to debates about philosophy with myself (you know your a hermit, when you begin arguing with yourself).

Which reminds me, this backend for this weblog has taken me more then I once anticipated but I’m glad to have it at least working, even if it is screaming for features and perhaps a few bug fixes? It’s taken me about 6-8 hours spread over quite a few days and is still just bare bones as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully I’ll be able to add categories to the backend as well as a few features here and there to help me publish and work with entries, maybe even allowing myself to have a section for manuals I have written and am currently working on.

That’s about it for my first entry, short, and I think quite a bit off topic. Maybe this will be a good outlet for working on my writing skills. Then again, this is published without revision, maybe I should fix that…oh well maybe later.

Why I Don’t Play New Releases

Posted by – March 25, 2010

Video Games: Why waste good technology on science and medicine?

Video Games: Why waste good technology on science and medicine?

In my previous post Finally, I’m Back In Business I mentioned that I planned on doing video game reviews, and to not expect new releases.  I thought I’d take the time to explain why that is, as many people may not think like I do.

Cost

Assuming you buy a game fairly new (within the first few months) and don’t opt for the collectors edition you’re looking at about $60.  That’s a lot of money to drop on just one game, especially when you haven’t played it.

You might buy a game like Dragon Age: Origins and end up with potentially a hundred hours of gameplay.  Or you mgiht end up with Halo 3 ODST which is only 5 hours long.  One would have a good cost per hour, the other would be dreadfully low.  Even if you attempt to avoid short games, or poor games, how can you be sure?  Most gaming sites and magazines almost feel rigged.   If a publisher advertises in a magazine, then they seem less harsh on them, because the last thing they’d want to do is lose a big name publisher like EA or Activision.

If you wait awhile, you might be able to score a platinum hits edition of a game, which would bring down the price to $20.   Or even better, buy a good copy of it used and save even more.  That means for every ONE new release you buy, you could potentially buy THREE or more releases.  It’s really a no-brainer.

Bugs

When the wife and I pre-ordered Fable 2, we were excited.  We had played Fable Pub games for hours, raking in money and items to use for the game.  However only a few shot hours into the game, I ran into what is called “The Abbot Glitch” which made it so I had to start a new character and follow precise instructions to avoid this glitch again.  Meaning all my time I spent in the pub games was a complete waste as it was now unrecoverable.

To make things worse, I ran into more glitches that were rather annoying and prevented me from playing the game the way I wanted to, which is pretty bad considering that’s the whole experience they were trying to sell in the Fable franchise (choice!).

If I had waited a few months, I would have played this game with all it’s patches and thus avoided all the pain I endured.  And considering how many game developers are pushing games out before they are fully done or tested it’s not like Fable 2 was an exception by any means.

Annoying Multiplayer Experiences

I think everyone who has ever played on Xbox Live has run into hordes of screaming pre-teens who do nothing but use profanity, suck at the game, or simply team kill and become a nuisance.  They tend to get their parents to buy them new releases, especially in long-franchises such as Halo, Call of Duty, etc.  If you give them a few months to move on to the next big release, you will usually come across some good players who genuinely like the game, and still play, or new people such as yourself who picked up the game on sale.

Of course, this isn’t really possible if you have friends that HAVE TO play new releases, and if you don’t get it at the same time, you miss out.  If this is the case, I’d say to find some new friends, or simply stop caring and have fun on your own terms, not theirs.

That just about sums up my thoughts on new releases.  I personally don’t really notice a difference, the games don’t get any worse, only better.  You also tend to avoid the bad releases that tend to get good reviews due to fanboyism.  I’d like to hear what others think though, can you think of a reason why I would want to play titles hot off the press?

Finally, I’m Back In Business

Posted by – February 27, 2010

Newspaper with headline of "I'm Back"

That's right, I'm back.

It’s been awhile since the last update, and it’s honestly not ALL my fault.  We switched hosting packages to a reseller account, and the domain propagation was stuck for my ISP and my ISP alone, which required me to wait forever and then call my ISP, explain the issue in detail (Their secondary DNS server wasn’t refreshing it’s cache, it was stuck) and then wait till they called me back, stated I was right, and that I’d have to wait normal 24-72 hours for the domain to propagate.

So I’m finally back, and I have quite a few more ideas and goals.  For one I want to get better at writing reviews, whether it be movies, podcasts I listen to, and the addition of video games I play (although don’t expect me to play new releases).  I’m going to be experimenting with some review stuff, so bare with me while I flop around like a fish.

In other news, it’s still cold, everyone is sick of the weather.  On the plus side, it’s making it so everybody wants to hang out, because everyone is getting depressed.  Personally, I can’t wait till my friend Georgia gets back from Egypt sometime today.  I probably won’t get to talk to her till tomorrow though.  It’s been weeks since we have been able to talk, and by the sounds of it, her trip has been a heck of a ride.

So yeah, this downtime has not been all my fault, and hopefully I’ll expand on a few ideas I have going.  Expect updates soon.

Rehash: Billy Joel’s Daughter Tries to Overdose On Homepathic Medicine

Posted by – January 19, 2010

The Stupid, It Burns!While this story has some humour in it, it’s also a serious matter for a few reasons.  For one, this young woman had attempted to commit suicide and potentially thought she was going to die.  Second of all, some people actually “believe” (as it’s more along the lines of faith healing than medicine) that homeopath works, and could forgo real treatment for drinking water.

The “medication” in question was Traumeel, which is a joint pain medication.  For those of you unaware of what homeopathy is, this would mean that they’d find a drug that CAUSES joint pain, then put it in HUGE quantities of water till it’s so diluted that none of the said drug remains, and then they usually put it on sugar-pills to dry, then package and sell it.  So what’s contained is just sugar.  The idea of homeopathy is like cures like, and the more diluted it is, the more potent it is.

So, knowing this how could she overdose on homeopathic medicine?  Probably by drinking too much water, becoming over-hydrated and dieing of water intoxication.   This is the ONLY way homeopathy can kill you (well, besides ignoring actual treatments for things and using this instead).

If she wanted to kill herself using “homeopathic logic” then she should have taken only 1/100th of a pill.  Because that would mean it’s more potent.  Or perhaps, she shouldn’t have taken any at all if she wanted to overdose, imagine how potent that would be!

If you had a headache, and it was mild, you might take one pain killer.  If it’s severe you may take two or more depending on the strength and drug.  However with homeopathy it’s the opposite, if it’s mild, you take two or more, and the more severe the headache is, the less you take.  So the most potent dose is not taking any at all.

The logic is retarded, and I’m sure it’s got to be a test to see if you even have the basic ability to form thoughts.  It defies logic on so many levels is almost makes my brain feel numb.

On the plus side, luckily Alexa Ray Joel will live to see another day.  Unfortunately there are still people out there that forgo actual treatment and drink water instead.

Why Placebos Didn’t Kill Alexa Ray Joel

P.S.  I imagine that the homeopathic community will say the reason she didn’t die is because she took too many pills, thus there was “too much” drug, which made it less potent.

I also wonder what the doctor did when he heard she OD’d on homeopathic medicine, wheeled her into the hallway?  Or would he do a procedure just to make her feel better.  Psychic surgery perhaps?

Another Friend in the Blogosphere

Posted by – December 30, 2009

Two Kittens.  One with their arm over another.

Awww Kittens!

A lot of strange stuff has happened over the last few weeks which I’ll get to in the next following posts.  However I wanted to welcome my good friend Georgia to the world of blogging.  I helped set her up a WordPress install and now she’s well on her way to hours and hours of stress of trying to proofread posts as well as staying motivated to keep posting.

It’ll surely be fun and interesting to share posts with each other from now on though as there aren’t a whole lot of people I can casually pingback.

Good luck, and don’t sweat the small stuff.  It gets easier and better the longer you do it.

Georgia’s Blog

I Finally Got My H1N1 Immunization!

Posted by – December 3, 2009

How immunizations work.

How immunizations work.

I just got my H1N1 immunization yesterday, and wanted to remind people that’s it’s probably a pretty good idea to get it.  I still think it’s likely to be Overhyped Bullshit, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution.  And I have a feeling that it’s likely to get into the yearly rotation of influenza (joining the common strain H3N2) so it’s best to get some immunity to it so you wont be bedridden for a week if you get it.

I also feel the need to clarify myself a bit too.  The reason why I say that the H1N1 is overhyped is because a lot of media were treating it as if AIDS went airbourne or something and we were all going to die, when in fact the statistics show that at this current time, it’s far less lethal than the seasonal influenza.

The big thing about H1N1 is it hasn’t been around since the 70’s so anyone born after that doesn’t have any immunity to it.  This is why your immunization is important, to get some defense against it in case you do happen to get it.  It’s not going to kill you, but you’ll make your suffering a lot shorter (hopefully) by getting immunized.

But I think I’m probably preaching to the choir though.

Review: Moon

Posted by – December 2, 2009

Movie poster for "Moon".

Movie poster for "Moon".

Wow. I really don’t want to say all that much about this movie because I want everyone to experience this movie without any preconceptions.  So I’ll keep it short.

It’s about a character named Sam who lives on the moon and has to control the mining operation there for something they call Hydrogen3.  He’s only got a few days till his three year contract is up, and then some stuff starts happening.

Sam Rockwell (most notably remembered by me for playing Zaphod in the recent rendition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie) is simply amazing. Kevin spacey voices the AI known as GERTY.  Again, won’t say any more because I don’t want to ruin anything.

It really is an amazing movie. I recommend everyone see this.   I’ll probably touch on this again in a few days/weeks to give people a chance to view it.

Note: I find it so weird to have so little text and a giant movie poster image, but I like how I’ve been doing it, so who cares.