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RIP Tom Petty

Tom Petty died today, aged 66. I won't claim to be a huge Tom Petty fan, but I've bought an album or two and sang along in the car to one of those songs everyone knows. I'll  stream a lot of his catalog today to remember the songs I've heard once or hundreds of times.

I also owe Petty credit for a singular moment in my life, and one I never expected to last in my mind.

Nearly 20 years ago, I was a fresh-ish faced transplant to Ann Arbor, MI by way of my first "real job" out of college, working for a software company in Dexter. I was renting a house with some other folks who'd also been displaced as a result of a fire at my first apartment. I was the only family member East of Lansing, which made me a contact point for anyone going through Detroit Metro airport.

Which is how my uncle Dean came to spend a few hours with me one evening. At the time, my grandparents (his parents) were wintering in Texas. My grandfather had health problems most of his life and…
Recent posts

Google Inbox: A classic Google product

My work domain (an EDU) recently had Google Inbox enabled so I had a good chance to try it out. My personal email is relatively quiet and, I believe, doesn't provide a good Inbox experience. Work is more active and requires actual management, something I've tossed many a tool at over the years. As part of my work life, I supported the Google Apps for EDU installation here and took a pretty extensive presentation to campus about how to manage large amounts of email.

Inbox is a classic Google product: the distillation of a number of excellent ideas into a set of half-complete features built for a use case most people don't meet. We've seen this in the past in products like ChromeVox, Google's Chrome extension for accessibility. ChromeVox works great on ChromeOS devices, but completely ignores the point that most users of accessibility tech (AT) don't have or want ChromeOS devices and come to services with their AT in tow. ChromeVox also ignores decades of convent…

Evernote

Evernote, for better or worse, is the best note-taking service for my needs. It works across all my devices/computers/modes. It's fairly easy to get stuff into it. Hell, they even have 2-Factor authentication. The Windows app is a little clunky and my girlfriend and I have never been able to get shared notes to work properly (conflicted note! three times in the same grocery trip!), but what service is perfect? At least they have nice socks.

Everything, in fact, is pretty good as long as you don't screw up. And screw up I did. I'm not very regular about making backups, but I do make them every month or so. Once you figure out how to create a backup, that is.

There's a helpful Export Note option (which turns into Export Notes when you select multiple notes HINT). The export process is essentially opening All Notes, selecting every note, and then choosing Export Notes. Or something like that; Evernote never tells you, you're left to figure it out on your own. The file…

The Google Trap

In light of yesterday's abysmal experience with Google Photos, I've been examining how much of my digital life is tied to Google. It's a sobering list:

MailCalendarFile storage (mostly taken care of)BlogChromeSearch historyURL historyProfilesBookmarksRemote DesktopIdentity management on dozens of sitesContactsChatMap location information and saved addressesVideo search and viewing historySocial media (sort of)(deleted) (spoke too soon; damn Youtube) That leaves music, books, notes, and music to other services. I have had a Google+ account, but rarely used it even before Google started dragging Plus out behind the shed. I prefer to use Twitter, which comes with its own set of issues; that's a different day.

It's odd to contemplate a digital life without Google; I've had a Gmail account since at least 2005, but have imported email that goes as far back as 2001. The stuff I did prior to that have been lost, frankly, and I can't imagine losing more.

It's als…

Goodbye Google Photos

Note: See the end of this post for an update

Posted on 10 Aug

Google recently split Photos off of the lumbering, zombied body of Google+ into a pretty slick Service. The iOS app worked great, uploading everything, storage was easy to stay under caps, the algorithms creating some interesting Stories. I was a happy user of a set-it-and-forget-it variety.

Until today.

Today, I logged into Gmail normally and saw 5 new notifications in the Google bell. Odd, I do have a Google+ account but on no day before have I had that much activity. I clicked the notification icon and see 5 new Stories for me to review from Photos. Still thought that was odd, but I did upload a bunch of old photos a couple of weeks ago, maybe the system finally got around to combing through them. My last name starts with "V" so I'm used to getting chosen late based on the alphabet (something I realize is funnier tonight than it would have been this morning).

And then it got weird. The first Story was a tri…

Art Fair Bingo

Today starts the Ann Arbor Art Fair (technically a collection of 4 art fairs that intersect at various streets and NO ONE but the individual fair staff care AT ALL about that technicality).

Also, because Art Fair is essentially a people-watching event for locals, the inevitable scorecard emerged.

I haven't seen a new one in a while, but digging through my image backlog, I found an Ann Arbor Bingo Card from 2005 made by Jacquelene Steele. Enjoy. (Click to embiggen.)


Sold

It happened. We sold the house, we closed, we moved. Hard to believe it's been almost a month since we left Chelsea.

I don't miss the house at all. I'm sure someday I'll have fond memories, but it's a burden gone for the time being and I'm glad to have it behind me.

That said, selling a house is one of the worst experiences ever. Buying a car is a breeze in comparison.

I started a long post about the experience of selling; the terrible communication skills of real estate agents (every one of them, not just ours), the soul-sucking trudge of showings and open houses, the never-ending feedback we already knew. But, I don't have it in me. I don't have the energy to look back and document that period of time.

For now, I'm enjoying being a renter again. With a ticket, they came and fixed our washing machine, sink faucet, and removed a wasps' nest. That'll hold me for a while.