Simple Life

To monitor or not?

Somehow I don't know that today's question will bring up as many great responses as yesterday's Komodo vs Coder discussion. The question of the day relates to home alarm systems. The house we're in has an alarm system built-in and now we're faced with wondering whether to have it monitored or not.

What I think I would rather is to have a fire and carbon monoxide alarm that is monitored, perhaps with a panic feature that is monitored as well, and to have the security alarm send me a message.

In that way I can figure out whether to take action, avoid the false alarms that go along with a family living in a house where the unexpected happens and we don't always use the door that was planned.

To date my main experience with alarms, mainly in businesses, has been with setting them off by accident. Back in the day I set off the alarm at the search and rescue cache, which was a sheriff's department facility. That brought an armed response from the deputies, fortunately we knew them and it wasn't a big deal but it still points to just how useful they might be to us.

Google will OCR some PDFs

At the Reno airport catching up on some news reader backlog I came across the Uncletterer headline Google can now OCR all PDFs. Jumping out of the newsreader and to their site it was exciting news. Well it turns out the headline is misleading. Google can, and will, OCR public PDFs. It won't, however, do any OCR on the documents in private spaces including Google Docs.

I wrote some time ago about the plan for scanning documents and getting rid of our filing cabinets. Well with all that's been keeping us busy since then it hasn't happened. The scanner part of the workflow is great and I have some ideas on what I want to do with the documents once they are OCR'd but haven't taken the time to work out the workflow.

On a completely unrelated note why is it that TSA spends so much time looking at my bag of clothes and completely passes on the bag I forgot to take my ziplock of fluids out of?

Things one should never do

Nick Lewis' post about never naming a module and theme the same thing in the Drupal content management system reminds me of a lesson I learned long ago.

Linux was new and all the rage and I'd just come back from some sort of system administrator training, likely an IBM AIX class. I was liking the whole Linux and UNIX thing and was having a grand old time setting systems up. More than that, though, I was a badass. I could make the system jump, roll over and lie down all with the power of my little finger. This too was in the days of limited disk space and the need to partition file systems for better performance. One night, sometime after midnight, I got this bright idea to make all the file systems separate partitions. It wasn't enough that /usr and /usr/local had their own. After all if two file systems could be mounted on separate disks then why not more things went OK while I moved /home and /opt. On a roll I moved /etc to its own partition. Having carefully copied /etc to the partition and had everything setup it was good to go. Mounted it and everything was good. Well until the next reboot that was. As it turns out it is rather challenging to find the mnt file to know which partitions to mount when it's not mounted as a part of the root filesystem.

It took a while to recover from that one but you can bet it is one "trick" I won't try again.

Getting rid of filing cabinets

Moving is again in our future. We moved last December into a house we planned to stay in six months. Well we've stayed on past that and are now ready to find the next stop on our journey. It will be nice to finally unpack some of the boxes we've left packed knowing "we won't be here long".

One of the things we had intended to do before we moved last time was get rid of the file cabinets. We have lots of papers to keep and that we need access to but hauling around file cabinets doesn't seem the best solution. However with the rush that comes with moving it did not happen. This time, however it will get done. To that end I picked up a
[amazon B000WJCX18 inline] from Amazon today.

If anybody has experience or suggestions on the best methods for setting up a system please feel free to leave some comments here. With a good-high speed connection and solid backups I'm thinking of keeping the archive in the home office and storing an offsite backup. But what methods do folks find best. Of course in my mind this ties into a nice Drupal document repository that will keep it all together and store resources galore.

Solar Green Lawn Care

Solar Green Lawn CareHow does one green up their lawn while being true to keeping their carbon footprint small? We've got the push mower but it just doesn't leave the grass quite long enough and is tough to keep the blades sharp for really clean cutting. There have been times we've thought about going the lawn service route, but the noise, exhaust and annoyance factor is quite high.

Enter Solar Green Lawn Care. We recently signed up with this great new service. What's so different? Solar Green uses battery powered equipment that is charged from their solar-powered trailer. A few times a year they plug in to the house to run the edger, the one piece of non-battery powered equipment they have. It's a terrific concept and I'm quite happy to have such a service here in Boise.

On top of all that they have very reasonable rates and should be able to keep them reasonable even when the price of gas continues to spiral upwards.

Uncluttering conference bags

Conference bags have long been a source of frustration. Since my early days in the publishing industry I've been collecting, culling and donating them. It seems such a waste to have such nice and pricey bags go to waste or be used only a week before being recycled. Certainly there is somebody who gets use from it eventually but it has long seemed there must be a better way. Thanks to Drupalcon we now know for sure.

Drupalcon's bag, pictured here, was made of the lightweight material that makes up many reusable grocery bags. As a mater of fact, now that the conference is over I have another grocery bag. It would be great if more conferences would go this route. We will know real progress has been made when the disposable bags on trade show floors are replaced with reusable versions. Actually it will be real progress when the last trade show dinosaur is gone. But that's a topic for another post.


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