Johnathan.org

March 2015 Archives

The Microwave

I chuckled at this one, because the struggle is real.

However, it got me to thinking. What are some of the small things in life that are actually quite enjoyable and satisfying?

I think for me, one of the most satisfying small things is when I sit down to write, I have this sudden flow of words, as if they came out of nowhere. I don’t have to look at my list of things I want to talk about, I don’t have to browse the Internet looking for inspiration.

It just happens.

Endgame

end game (n.) – the late or final stages of any activity.

Thinking about what my goal for this blog is made me realize: I don’t have one.

I’m ok with that. There’s something to be said about just wanting to do something because you can. I don’t play video games because at one point I’ll end up being a professional gamer and spending my life playing League of Legends for money. I don’t blog because one day I want to make this site a full time job earning money.

At least not right now.

There’s always the same thought that crosses my mind every once in a while regarding the slim possibility this site ever becomes famous or even just a smidgen popular. I have plans for my blog but none of them involve some masterful end goal.

As time progresses, things change. When traffic increases, perhaps it’ll be time to focus on specific topics or themes. Right now, I ramble most of the time and post generic stuff. Sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes not.

I know people read this but I also know more people would read it if they found it interesting to them.

Right now though,t it doesn’t really matter. I write because I can, because I want to. I write because it frankly feels good to me. Some people knit, some paint. Writing makes me feel like I accomplished something.

As long as I can continue to do just that, I don’t need an end goal. And end is an exit. I don’t want to exit from writing.

Sundays

Deep. Or is it? It’s hard to say.

This is one of those short films that really leave you thinking. What was it that we actually saw? What does it all mean? I dunno, but it was damn cool to watch.

Did I mention that Warner Bros. is picking it up to do a movie?

Redis

I’m always looking for interesting things I can do to my site and the series underneath if it means providing some sort of benefit, even if just a small one. I also like learning, so I got the best of both worlds when I took the time a few days ago to set up Redis as a front-end cache for WordPress.

Installing it was dead simple. I already had the PHP PECL module installed, so all I needed to do was install it via apt-get, install a WordPress plugin, and I’m on my way. It took less than ten minutes. Way cool.

Page loads drops by about half. I like that.

Stress

Acid Reflux sucks. I don’t typically suffer from such things but lately it’s been rough. Part of this big (to me) move is having to leave a place I grew up and essentially spent all of my living years behind. Compound that with everything that’s going into moving and the amount of money it really does cost to move. Don’t think you can move for cheap… that’s just not a thing.

One thing that’s been quite interesting, however, is the closer I get to the magic date, the better I feel. When everything first became a reality, I was stupid scared. I didn’t sleep well if at all, I constantly missed my alarm, wasn’t productive throughout the day, etc. It sucked.

As time has passed and I’m getting closer to April 4th, I’m starting to be okay with the idea. I’ve moved my Comcast service, I’ve set up utilities, paid some deposits, looked into things to do in the area, how the city works, etc. I’ve also allotted myself a few days before I start working at my new job to relax and enjoy the area. I know one of the first things I want to do the morning after we move in is sit on my deck and watch the sun rise. Hell yeah that sounds nice.

In Washington, I wouldn’t have the slightest opportunity to do that: we have too many tall trees and my deck faces south surrounded by those damn tall trees. In Cali, I’ll have an uninterrupted view of the east with just gentle rolling hills.

It’s thing like that that make me okay with the whole thing. I look at the weather and see it’s going to be sunny and not sad like it is in Washington. I see it’ll be warmer all around so I don’t have to wear layers to combat 37 degrees and wind and then try to pack them home in the afternoon with 55 and all sun.

Just writing about all this is making me feel less stressed out. Reflecting on all the new and cool that I’ll get to experience is making things easier on me. I’ve moved past the grieving stage and have accepted my departure as fact. The last hurdle I’ll have to jump is two days of driving. If we were driving in a car and not a moving truck, we could do it in one day (12.5 hours non-stop).

While the effects of stress still leave an effect on me every once in a while, it’s not as bad as it could be, I’m getting tired of chewing Alka Seltzer Heartburn Chewables. They taste flavorful until they ever so smoothly remind you that they’re chalky and full of hatred.

Missing Images

I want to pass on that I’m aware of all the missing images a lot of my posts have. Somewhere during an image processing sweep a lot of them never finished and thus are now basically invalid files. I’m working on restoring them. No need to email me 🙂

Why This Site

I’ve kept this site going with mostly daily content for the last few months now, and I’m quite impressed with how far it’s come. It’s no money maker, for sure. It likely never will be. At some point, this address won’t even point to a blog, but a more professional presentation of me. This blog will be delegated to its own address with its own name.

But that’s a project for another time. Right now, I want to reflect on why I do this.

I don’t blog because all the cool kids are doing it. I don’t blog because it’s my job. I don’t blog because I have something I want the entire world to hear or read. I blog because I can. Plain and simple. I do it because have thoughts and things I want to talk about to whomever will listen and this is the best way to do that without annoying the hell out of someone.

I blog because it’s the right thing to do. I could keep all my thoughts and words to myself, but what’s the fun in that? What’s the point? The truth of the matter is, you’re not protecting yourself from anyone by doing that.

I also don’t care if my thoughts don’t elicit the proper responses. I’m telling a story, explaining something, or just flat out offering my opinion. Whether people like it or not is up to them and at the end of the day, all I’m doing is blogging… because I can.

I set up this site originally as a portal for just that. After having ~jlyman.net~ for a couple years and not really doing anything with it, I decided it would make for a good home for this project. Coincidentally, having this site has also kept my mind fresh regarding self-hosting a site and all that goes into it.

I don’t think I’d have the same attachment to it if I used a managed service. I think that gives me an advantage regarding staying the course.

That and I have lots to say.

Swifty

I’m always looking for new ways to learn how to code. Up until recently, I had no idea where to really start with Swift, the language used to craft iOS apps and games that mades its appearance in iOS 8.

A few days ago, I came across Swifty, a free app (with a couple in-app purchases) that teaches you the basics of iOS programming. I recommend you go check it out on the App Store. It’s a great way to get started and with no cost for entry, if you don’t like it, you’re not out any money. It’s available for both the iPhone and iPad.

(Mimo is a modern-day alternative.)

Hands on with GAget

Recently I wrote a couple blurbs about an iOS app and OS X notification widget called GAget. I received the opportunity to get some hands-on time with it and now I’m ready to share with you my experiences.

iOS App

First let’s start with the iOS version, simply because I have my phone in front of me. When I first wrote about GAget, I had an iPhone 5. Now I have an iPhone 6. The app isn’t optimized for the iPhone 6 and 6+ but no matter as it still looks pretty dang good. 

Setting up the app is dead simple. You’re asked to go in to a Google account (ideally one that has access to Google Analytics) to get started. You’re taken to a Google sign in page where you’re instructed to enter your credentials. If you have two-step authentication enabled on your account like I do, you’ll have to take care of that, as well.

Upon verifying your credentials and accepting the app’s request to view your Google Analytics data, you’re taken to a wonderful home screen.  All the essentials you need to keep track of visitor history is right there. This app isn’t for those who want to have super granular campaign data or do whatever they do with behavior tracking. That’s not what this app is about. GAget is for those who want the basics and they want it without fuss.

You’re presented with a line graph of historical data regarding visitors, and are shown the most recent entry, which should be the same day. As you scroll down, you get to see things like overall stats for the last two weeks including visits, unique visitors, and total page views among said visits.

Next is you’re given some nice circle-based metrics (a.k.a. a pie chart) showing more visit and exit percentages. Follow that up with some averages and a detailed traffic breakdown and you’re on your way! Need a refresh? just shake.

The app is lightweight, super smooth, and supposedly comes with the ability to use your site as a background. I was unable to get this to work, however, but I imagine it looks good, too. 

GAget will allow you to view multiple sites, if you have more than one present in Google Analytics. All you need to do is swipe left and right to move through them!

OS X Widget

The widget that sits in the OS X notification center functions a lot like the iOS app in that it shows you a lot of the same information, only if you request it. The widget sits in the Today section and by default only shows you your visits for the day, but when clicked, expands to show recent history, as well. It doesn’t have the same granularity in terms of sources of traffic but everything else seems to be present. 

The widget is really meant for a quick glance at the action taking place on your site and how many millions of people you have coming to see your wares. It’s ok if you don’t have millions. It don’t, and it works for me, too.

Both the iOS app and the OS X widget are priced well, at $1.99 and $2.99 each. The iOS doesn’t have a free option nor does it have any kind of ads present, so it’s really one of those pay-once-enjoy-forever deals that I personally really like. 

I’ve spent a week with both versions  and I like each in its own way. They make glancing at your data easy and painless and for the price, you really can’t go wrong with that much more convenience. For the price of a cup of coffee, you can have both apps. For the price of a vending machine snack, you can have your Google Analytics data in your phone without the fuss.

Update: I received an email from the App developer and clarified a couple points in the article.

iPhone Trade In

I did something I never thought I’d have to do.

I traded in my iPhone 5 and signed up for Verizon EDGE and got an iPhone 6.

That means: I’m making payments on my phone.

It might not sound bad to some, and I totally get the idea behind it. It serves a purpose, and I think I discovered one of those purposes. Let me explain.

Up until yesterday, I had a white iPhone 5. It served its purpose. It didn’t have the largest capacity nor was it perfect on the outside. It worked and it worked well… most of the time. On occasion, it would play battery tricks on me that I didn’t appreciate.

For example: I’m using my phone and going about my business when I look at my battery level to see it’s at 50%. No big deal, that’ll last me a few hours at my current pace. A couple minutes later, I look at my screen and am informed I am at 10%. That’s odd, I was at 50% just a few minutes ago.

Lo and behold, I’m actually at 4%. Depending on the scenario, my butt might be puckering a bit at this point. As I find a charger and plug it in, my phone tells me I have 50% remaining once more. Unplugging my phone in confusion, my battery stays at 50%.

What did I just experience? Am I in the twilight zone or is the phone hardware just not doing its job reporting remaining charge anymore?

It’s likely the second. In cases where my charge drops dramatically, it will stay there until the likely real charge passes that level, in which case it resumes recording depletion. I had it run on 7% for two hours.

Fun, eh?

I couldn’t handle that drama, anymore. I called Verizon and asked them what it would take to buy out the rest of my contract so I could re-sign and get a new phone. Turns out, it would take a cancellation of my line. Well… that blows.

Oh but wait! Haley, the customer service person on the other end says I’m eligible for a “promotion” that involves signing up for Verizon EDGE so long as I turn in my old phone. Hmm. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about making monthly payments on a phone, paying full price for it in the end, and still being in a contract, but I didn’t care at the time, and $31 a month isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

So in a nutshell, I caved and signed up for what I never thought I would do. On the plus side, I have a sexy new phone that really does kick a lot of @$$. On the neutral side, my next bill will be  $140 larger than normal (they bill you for sales tax).

Weeeee!

P.S.: The cat photo has nothing to do with anything I just wrote. I like cats.

Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography