Dealing with Flash Drives

Over the years I’ve accumulated a LOT of flash drives. So many drives here and there that I had completely lost track of what was on what drive.

I finally decided to take control of this assorted mess by designating a container for the devices and looking at the contents of each one. However, there is really no room add a label or write on the drive to indicate what was inside.

After some thinking, I decided to get a box of #3 coin envelopes. Each envelope is easily big enough to store a single drive and there is enough room on the envelope to write notes. There are bigger envelopes, but I decided on the #3 in part to keep the storage size down. The minimum number of envelopes I could purchase was 500. So, with a lot of envelopes, using new ones when content changes is not a problem. Now I can easily see which drives have bootable Linux operating systems and which drives contain files with content.

MySocialSuite Seems Dubious to Me

On May 21, 2016 I received a promotional email from Hostgator for My first thought was that this is a competitor.

I decided to check it out and what I found — or didn’t find — makes me dubious.

There is no about page. Who is behind this? No clue.

I did a whois lookup on the domain and it is privacy protected.

The contact page is simply a form. There is no company info at all on the site, unlike HootSuite, which shows a map of their headquarters in Vancouver, BC.

I wrote to Hostgator asking some questions about MySocialSuite. No response.

I filled out the contact form at MySocialSuite asking for more info. In response I got an automated email that started with this:

“Thank you for emailing Support. As you know we have over 10 Million users so providing support to absolutely everyone is very difficult.”

I found that statement interesting, considering:

* The domain was created January 13, 2016 according to whois. They went from nothing to 10 million users in four months? I don’t believe that in the least.

* If they had 10 million users, one would think there would be scans of hits on Google about this service.

* If they had 10 million users, one would think there would be screen shots and training videos. There are none on the site as I type.

* If they had 10 million users, why isn’t the company being above board by revealing ownership and HQ location?

My conclusion: best to skip and I wonder why Hostgator would even promote such a place, which in turn raises suspicions about Hostgator.

Internet getting downsized

With a simple stroke of the keyboard, the Internet is getting downsized to internet.

On June 1, 2016, the AP Stylebook will change it’s style designation from Internet to internet. Another related change is Web to web. The announcement stated “We will lowercase internet and web June 1, when we release the 2016 AP Stylebook.”

This may well be a mind-shift for many, but for people who type, it’s one more way to be faster on the keyboard. Ever notice how IT folks frequently ignore uppercase?

Find the AP Stylebook here.

Countdown Timers and Self-Stopping Hot Water Kettles Help Writers

I have a long history of spacing out crucial activities when writing at the computer. I’ve forgotten about water filling up the bathtub, which didn’t have a properly working overflow drain. I’ve burned up two teapots on the stove. I’ve left the bathroom exhaust fan run more than necessary at greater expense. And other events I’d rather not remember.

Because of all these untoward events that have taken my time away from editorial work, I’ve begun to convert many activities into timed events.

I no longer use a teapot on the stove. Instead, I use an electric hot water kettle that shuts off automatically when water begins to boil. I love this thing. I turn it on and I know it is to OK forget about it. I have gained tremendous peace of mind and don’t waste time and money hunting around again for another teapot.

I replaced the wall switch for the bathroom exhaust fan with a mechanical count-down timer.

There are scads of different timers to help prevent mental anguish and ruined propery. Two such devices I’ve found useful are 1) the Woods 50030 Indoor Countdown Timer Outlet and 2) the Belkin Conserve Socket Energy-Saving Outlet with Timer. Each provides a different amount of time for count down. Se the time and press a button. whatever is plugged in — such as a heating pad == will turn off automatically.

Overall, these devices are becoming so prolific and affordable that incorporating them into the writing life is easy.

As for drawing water into the bathtub. Well, I’ve switched mostly to showers where I am present most of the time. Otherwise, I have a hard and fast rule. When drawing the water, I can never be near a computer.

— Bruce Miller

Dropbox Drawback with Kindle

My elderly neighbor tried on her own to update her Kindle 2nd Edition. Desparate, she gave me a call. Sure enough, she was having problems because the Kindle was having problems. Once I got those problems resolved, it was time to apply the software update by copying the file from the computer to the Kindle via USB connection. Alas, it would not work. Every attempt at copying resulted in an error message on the Windows 7 computer stating that properties of the file might be lost. Even the Amazon helper on the phone with me was stumped. We both did some fast research and discovered the problem. For reasons unknown, downloading the update file (*.bin) into a Dropbox folder was creating the error. The Amazon helper suggested there is some sort of untoward interaction between Dropbox and Amazon’s DRM (digital rights management). Once I downloaded the file into a non-Dropbox folder the update proceeded without a problem. Could this happen to other files? Maybe. Something to keep in mind if you run into a similar problem.

Wireless Switches For Faster Action

When I’m ready to get down on my big computer I want the dual monitors to be on by the time I get into my chair. The chair is on the opposite side of the room’s entrance.

To fix this problem I spent about $20 for a wireless, remote switch. I have the remote switch next to the door. When I walk in I push a button and the remote switch turns on power to the monitors. By the time I’m in my chair the monitors are on and ready to go.

In the operating system I had to set the monitors to never turn off when on AC power even when not in use. This is not a problem, though, because I click the off button on the way out and the monitors turn off.

In similar fashion, I have an HD radio in the basement tuned to BBC World Service. (In Seattle we can get BBC World Service on a digital FM station). When I enter the basement to work, I click a button on a remote switch to turn on the radio and by the time I’m engaged in basement activity, I’m catching up on world news.

There are scads of remote wireless switches from which to choose. The Woods 13569 Indoor Plug-In Wireless Remote Control w/ 3 Outlets, White is just one example.

A variation of wireless switches are motion detectors. You could replace the wireless switch with a motion detector turn on power to monitors automatically as you enter the room.