Lately I’ve been reviewing my finances. I haven’t exactly been frugal over the past few years, and now that I’ve moved into a proper (and considerably more expensive) apartment, it’s time to grow up and take responsibility.
So far, I’ve found the following cost-saving opportunities:
- Cancel Bell Fibe TV. As cool as I find IPTV, and despite the convenience of having loads of TV channels with a PVR, the fact is I don’t really watch that much TV. I do most of my media consumption via the Internet (like most other kids these days), and probably 80% of my live TV watching consists of CBC (The National, Strombo) and CityTV (BT, Community, Parks and Rec) – both of which are available in ATSC HD over-the-air here in Toronto. Combine that with XBMC‘s new PVR functionality and there’s no real reason to keep a TV service.
- Cancel landline phone. Yes, I still have a landline. Landlines are cool. (I think I see a recurring theme here…) When I was little (and unburdened with privacy concerns) I loved the idea of being listed in the white pages. Later on, the PSTN gained a certain mystery, hearkening back to the days of dial-up internet, phreakers with their boxes, live telephone operators, teenagers wanting their own phone lines, all the way back to the early 20th century. But the fact is that now in the early 21st century, the age of the PSTN is past. I’m not even sure I make one voice call a week outside of work. It’s gotten to the point where I once flashed a CyanogenMod nightly onto my phone and used it for a week before realizing the Phone app was broken. All that and the simple fact that landlines are freaking expensive. Bell wants $28.98/month before tax for “Home Phone Lite“. Freephoneline.ca offers a VoIP number for $0/month.
- Be more energy-conscious. For the first time, I have my own hydro bill. I went out and bought a Kill-A-Watt and started checking all my electronics’ and appliances’ power consumption. More on this later.
- Move to the cloud. The public cloud, that is. I have a 1U server in a datacentre in Missisauga hosting a few VMs, including this blog. It’s a pretty hefty cost, especially since I upgraded to a more powerful but older server (more incentive for #3). Nowadays a VPS/Amazon EC2 instance can be had for under $20/month, running just about any OS, and with a better Internet connection than one could hope to have privately for the cost.
- Cancel personal smartphone. My workplace provides me with a smartphone. When I started, it was a BlackBerry 8830 World Edition, which was super cool – until the iPhone was launched. Since then I’ve switched to an iPhone 4 for work and an HTC Sensation for personal use. Having two phones is great (more on that later) – and I CHOOSE to have 2 phones, either one could do both work and play – thank you very much SAMSUNG. (God do I ever hate those commercials. And TouchWiz. And their poor quality control. And all the cheap plastic and gaudy designs. I could go on for a while…) Long story short, consolidate on one device, save space in pockets, save <$50/month.
- Last but not least, stop buying random crap. I love technology. I love fixing things. I love learning and challenging myself. But at some point, keeping old computers to repair and experiment with Linux can go too far. Like a banker’s box full of possibly working laptops too far.
We’ll see how this goes over the next few months.
Once again, my dear old WordPress blog has been terribly negelected for the past little while. I do however have good reasons for this.
- Life and stuff has been busy this past year. This has given me a lot of new material to write about, but I’ve lacked the will to actually spend time and write any posts.
- I spend a lot less time tinkering with computers in my free time. When I do, a lot of it has to do with enterprise software and such which is not as fun to write about.
- OSx86 is no longer a part of my day-to-day. Since getting a job, and hence having the $ to be able to buy legit Apple products, there isn’t as much incentive for getting Mac OS X running on commodity PC hardware. Also, I’m not sure I like where Apple is going with their 10.7+ OS releases, so my hackintoshes and real Macs remain on 10.6.x.
- There are too many ways to post things on the Internet. Twitter. Tumblr. Google+. Facebook. Pinterest. LinkedIn. WordPress. Posterous. Evernote. imgur. reddit. Springpad. the list goes on and on. I can’t decide what medium to use and what I actually want out of the whole thing.
- My Internet “image”. I have a pretty unique name – pretty sure I’m the only “Matthieu Yiptong” on the planet. So, when anyone googles my name, this blog is usually the top result. Nowadays it’s common practice for everyone from parents to employers to new acquaintances to girlfriends to google peoples’ names. Being slightly paranoid, I’ve been over-analyzing every potential idea I’ve had for a new blog post this year.
- Platform choice. This blog probably has more technical posts than anything else. One of my colleagues at work has switched to using MediaWiki for his personal technical documentation. This makes sense because it’s easier to organize and format documentation on a wiki than on a blog. There are even wikis designed for documentation. This may be something to consider.
- Domain name. I own matthieu.yiptong.ca, matthieuyiptong.ca and a few other domains. I’m trying to decide what the url for my blog should be - whether or not changing it would be worth it and should I decide to change it, if there’s anyway to keep my google ranking and permalinks.
Hopefully now that I’ve gotten these reasons written down, I can get around to addressing each of them and streamline my blogging/posting/documentation in 2013!
OK so time to revive my poor neglected blog.
It’s officially summer! Old news, I know, but I have to establish setting for my writing.
Summer means slow days at work, with a parking lot that has considerably more vacancies than usual. It also means we can use the school’s gym at lunch – I played basketball today for the first time since my collar injury and it went pretty well. Good times. From a sysadmin standpoint, slow days are great because there are less people around to complain about things being broken, so we take more liberties and break more stuff. (Usually making sure to fix it fairly quickly anyway though. Usually. )
This week I’m working on archiving e-mails with Symantec Enteprise Vault for Microsoft Exchange. It’s a pretty cool but pretty complex application, and it generally works pretty well. All the same, dealing with Exchange and Outlook and PST files (and a few PICNIC cases…) makes me wish we could use more cloud services. Like Google Apps for education: FREE managed e-mail with oodles of storage. Not to mention the rest of the Apps suite. Or even Microsoft Office 365. Anything but on-prem. This is one reason why I both love and hate working in tech for education.
On the slightly more fun (and not coincidentally, more FOSS) side of things, I just successfully updated our Web server environment to Proxmox 2/Debian 6. Which took a whopping… 2 hours. For 50+ independent sites with MySQL DBs. Do I ever love virtualization and shell scripts. (Sidenote: Firefox’s spell check doesn’t recognize “virtualization” as a word. It’s 2012 guys!)
Anyway, the PST migrator just dinged. Better go check on it.
More summertime stories with less work to come at some point.
Canon Rebel XSi, Canon EF 24mm f2.8 prime.
1/15, f2.8, ISO 800
5" f3.2 ISO 200
30" f6.3 ISO 200
30" f2.8 ISO 400
30" f2.8 ISO 1600
Just noticed something today.
A few years ago I was living in residence at St. Paul University. The internet access there was managed by an access controller which redirected all new connections to wireless.colubris.com. After some investigation, I realized there was a way to work around the bandwidth limitations and session timeouts with the use of a DNS forwarder, a Web server, MAC address spoofing, a SOCKS proxy server software and a pseudo-keepalive tool, the ever-useful Firefox addon Reloadevery. This allowed for much more effective use of the available network connectivity.
Fast forward to the present, and I now find myself on the other side. We now have installed our own HP ProCurve access controller, technology which HP acquired through the purchase of Colubris Inc.
so, wireless.colubris.com, we meet again. Things look different from this side.
that I found on my computer. I’m not quite sure when it’s from, but I do recognize some voices (or laughs).
Give it a listen, maybe one of them is you.
Today being my last day in Newfoundland, I figured it might be a good time to write a little about the time I’ve spent here. Got an hour and a bit to kill before heading to the airport, but only have a smartphone to type on, so we’ll see how much I manage to write.
Let’s start from the beginning, I guess.
We landed in St. John’s (or more accurately, St. John’s airport in Torbay I believe) on a beautiful sunny morning. The first thing I noticed was the fresh, slightly humid sea air. The weather was pleasant, blue sky, fluffy clouds, bright sunshine, warm with a cool wind. After an incredibly quick baggage claim process (even faster than when landing with Porter at YTZ), we picked up our van from Hertz. While my dad, brother and I were checking out the van, we were approached by an airport worker. He was quite friendly and, among other things, explained to us that here it was possible to say hello to people in the street without attracting disapproving looks, and that small sardine-like fish called “caplin” were abundant this time of year.
Took a ride home on the TTC subway last night, after an (awesome) performance of the Vagina monologues.
Noticed that every station had brightly coloured triangles and circles at exactly the same place in every station. We figured it was either some kind of guide or signal for the train drivers, or aliens trying to teach us geometry.
Turns out they’re nothing special. These were added to help the drivers and guards on the subway find the correct alignment with the platform before stopping, Torontoist explains.
While I’m on the topic of subways…. what is the deal with random trains going randomly out of service or changing directions? Last night our train decided to go out of service at Lawrence station, and the doors on our car managed to get jammed shut while the driver kept telling us to get off the train. I don’t get it, it’s not like our subway system is particularly complex….
Toronto's super-confusing complicated subway system
Also, ever wondered why some station have those cool-looking 60′s style flip sign boxes that say “Next train FINCH”?
Well here’s the answer. Originally the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge/University-Spadina lines were integrated. Every second train departing from Eglinton (then the Northern terminus of the Yonge line) crossed over onto the Bloor-Danforth line. The TTC installed these automatic destination signs, which were controlled by magnetic coils installed inside the subway cars, in order to inform passengers of the final destination of the approaching train.
Further reading and a lot more about the history of transit in Toronto at: http://transit.toronto.on.ca/