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Marc Hartstein
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135 followers
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The flavor of performance anxiety involved in recording a video for YouTube is interesting: in addition to the usual, there's additional fear of "What if nobody notices?" and "What if nobody who notices bothers to watch?", and unlike a live performance you can procrastinate indefinitely with nobody the wiser.
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Someone brilliantly decided to run the cable tv in my house through the floor (and carpet) of the TV room rather than coming up into the wall a yard away. I'm thinking I'll go ahead and move that. Should just be finding the right location and drilling another hole through the subfloor from below, clipping the connector off the coax, pulling it through, opening a hole in the drywall and installing a coax panel in the appropriate place. I can't repair the hole in the carpet, but I can at least remove the trip hazard of the cable running across a little-used doorway, and if we ever replace the carpet we won't have to make another hole.

While I'm at it, I could completely remove the trip hazard if I also added an electrical outlet in the same location. I imagine this is similarly just a matter of running the appropriate sort of cable through another hole and mounting an electrical box with outlets there in the wall, then finding a junction box containing that circuit in the basement and opening it (breaker off of course) and joining the new cable in.

Can anybody think of anything I'm missing, in terms of personal safety, not burning down my house, doing the construction to code, and complying with local law? Do I need to hire an electrician to check my work?

If, instead of joining into an existing circuit, I want to add a new circuit to my breaker box (which I may want to for another task), is there anything (turn off the main, presumably) I should know?

Prior owners of my house seem to have been generally competent, but not thought through how their decisions would interact with actual use of certain parts of the house, leading to a lot of little details being incredibly stupid (and the cable install was just laziness).
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So, recent changes made by Google, apparently in an effort to piss me off:

1. Google Talk has been renamed and integrated to Google Hangouts. Fine. However, at the back end they randomly decided to break XMPP Federation, so if you used gTalk to chat with people on other servers, they will never appear online, and if you used another server to talk to people on gTalk, your messages will silently fail to be delivered. Good XMPP support was part of why I made a point of joining gChat, so I'm rather angry about this. See http://voidfox.com/blog/archives/2013/05/18/why_the_new_google_hangouts_screws_over_users/index.html for more information.

2. They're rolling out a new UI. Apparently someone brilliant decided the UI needed to be more uniform across all interfaces, so they standardized on the width of a cellphone screen. If you have a wider screen, you get multiple columns of cellphone-width feed. With a hangouts bar on the right. They also seem to have decided the oft-hated Windows XP interface had it right with a UI that looked like a Duplo set, so lots of soft colors and soft corners.

Items still jump around your feed when people interact with them, so clearly the expectation is that you'll skim the feed like a newspaper for something interesting, rather than intentionally reading everything. You can force it to single-column, but you can't take advantage of your nice big display to see more on a line. Except when it occasionally decides a picture is really interesting and makes it take up the full width instead of shrinking it to fit in a column. [So far, its predictions suck too.]

As Linus Torvalds pointed out, they've also managed to make sure the font for this skinny display is maximally blurry on whatever desktop display you happen to be using. He observed it for Google Chrome, but I'm seeing the same in Firefox.

So, basically, skinny display, Duplo-effects, blurry font, confusing multi-column layout, items not in consistent chronological order. It's like they're trying to make this miserable.

3. Apparently they've improved the entry display so it automatically detects a URL and offers to make your post act as a link to a page, with a nice big version of the title of what you're sharing. Which is nice, I guess. It has a remove button for when you don't want that. If you click the remove button and then type anything more into the window, it detects the URL again and the preview shows up again. So if you're writing a post like this, you have to stare at that preview while you write the entire post before you can get rid of it just before pressing the share button. Thanks, Google.
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Desperately seeking a new email application/toolchain. Required features:

- strong keyboard-focused UI
- either shells to vim for an editor (preferred) or provides good vi-style keybindings when composing.
- local data storage
- synchronizes with gmail in a reasonable fashion (mail I read on phone still stored but marked read, mail I read on desktop marked read in gmail, mail downloaded but not yet read not preemptively marked as read in gmail)
- gpg support
- doesn't make me want to inflict bodily harm upon the developer

Terminal-based UI is acceptable but no longer required or even necessarily preferred. Customizability is as always a plus.

Any suggestions?
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Dear whichever Google Drive developer decided to implement their own version of text selection rather than allowing the browser to do so, and thus circumventing the Selection Buffer and my ability to rapidly copy text from a Google Drive Document to whatever else I want,

I hate you.

No Love,
Marc

[Ctrl+C does manage to work for firefox's clipboard, which probably goes out to the X clipboard, but the selection buffer is so much more versatile...]
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I have a fully functioning but at least somewhat old Black & Decker 18" electric lawnmower (Model U-173). The belts which drive the twin blades ate themselves a few days ago when I tried to mow the lawn, in retrospect probably because some rust has one of the blades spinning poorly.

Yesterday I went to Home Depot with the scrap of belt I retrieved (which has the part number on it, I thought this was going to be easy), and got no help and no offer of meaningful assistance other than "try looking on the online store".

Today I tried two local hardware stores and Sears. The first hardware store didn't have anything, was at least willing to go on their computer and attempt to help me out (but couldn't find it), mentioned something about Sears so I decided to try that.

Sears has quite a number of belts. None of them was the part I needed. I asked someone (in the lawn dept) for help and they immediately said they didn't have such things, I had to go to parts and repairs half an hour away with no traffic. No way I'm doing that drive without calling first to make sure it's going to be worth it, but I could not get a person on the line. So I went back and asked someone else at the help kiosk and they were kind enough to call over and get a person, who helpfully searched and determined they weren't going to be able to help me.

Then I moved on to the other, farther, local hardware store. They were paragons of that small-business customer service and assistance. 3 people immediately told me they didn't stock belts, but then they got into a whole conversation about lots of different places I could try (like Sears repairs). One even jumped on the computer and tracked down he nearest B&D repair center, since the one down the street had closed, and gave me their phone number. They're about an hour away, and it was getting close to rush hour, so I decided to come home and just call them.

Just got off the phone with B&D repair. My mower is too old for them to even keep computerized records around about what parts are needed to repair it, so they won't fix it, tell me what I need, or give me any other sort of assistance.

Am I crazy in thinking that it wasn't that long ago that I could have gone into the local hardware store and walked out with either the belt, the address of someone nearby with the belt, or an order having been placed to get the belt in a few days?

I don't even want to talk about what my lawn now looks like while I've been attempting to repair the mower (there was a wheel issue, and I chose the wrong approach to fixing it, and then there was inconvenient rain, and then the belt went)
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Announcement: +Nicole Dieker (Hello, The Future! See also http://www.hello-the-future.net/) will be performing at a house concert in my actual living room in NJ on September 19th! It's even on the schedule for her East Coast tour!

Contact me for more details, check out her website and YouTube channel to hear her awesome music even if you can't get to NJ for the concert.
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Have realized that with the Android, my google account has become much more important to secure than it used to be, so I've gone ahead and strengthened my password (as an aside, Google allows a nice long number of characters for strong passwords) and turned on two-step [two-factor] authentication.

A nice post with some Q&A about two-step authentication is here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/google-two-step-authentication/ [H/T +Beyonder Domela]
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Results of my first ever hair dyeing. That's 'N Rage Purple Plum, which apparently decided to generate a couple of different colors in an interesting way. The internet says that's identical to Raw Color, about which I heard some good things, so....hopeful.

It looks good now at least. Really subtle in indoor lighting.

(Facebook people will get to see this when I can be bothered to copy it over there at a real computer...their android app won't do what I want like G+ makes easy with theirs.)
PhotoPhotoPhotoPhoto
4 Photos - View album
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Oh, cool, you can turn off the "What's Hot" stuff. Now if only the site didn't slow firefox to a crawl, and I could move everybody I care about over here, I'd spend a lot more time with this open...
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