The Loss of Serendipity

Increasingly systems are personalizing how and what they display to people. In many cases this is great as it makes the experience much more relevant. However I find that there are many times where this is not so great. For example, google search has been for quite a while now returning results that are based on your geolocation determined from your IP address. If I am looking for a restaurant, then this may be good. But if I am searching for news or some other information then this is not that good at all. No longer are you able to accidentally find something interesting which even though it may not be located near you is still very relevant to your interests. The digital world of all places should not always be bound by our physical location.

This gets worse when your IP address may actually be wrong. I worked for a company where we had a global network. I could change my network proxy to appear as if I was in the UK, when I was really sitting in Chicago. This at times could be amusing, but more often it made us aware that searching for the exact same term provided differently ranked results depending on where google thought we were located. I am not sure there is a solution here as the benefits of location relevancy seem to outweigh the benefit of serendipity. But I do have a sense of loss or nostalgia at times for days when I would find interesting articles from people in other parts of the world.

Call me Uncle

Well, I am now an uncle. My younger sister had her first baby just after noon today. It was a long labor (24+ hours) as that little guy just did not want to come out.

My kids are older now, so it’s been a while since I’ve been around a baby. Babies are amazing to watch how they learn about the world around them. And it will be fun to watch my sister and my brother-in-law learn how to be parents.

4th on the 3rd

Every year the town I live in has the 4th of July celebratory fireworks on the 3rd. I’ve heard part of the reason explained is so that as other towns have theirs on the 4th there is not a massive number of people crossing paths. Another reason is so that more people can attend multiple fireworks shows. This all makes sense, but it just seems odd to me to celebrate a holiday that is specifically about a date on a day other than that date.

It’s understandable that people celebrate holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving on different days. Especially for large families where you need to visit multiple locations. However, doing the 4th on the 3rd is similar to having a New Years eve party on December 30th or Jan 2nd. Sure you can get together with family, but it kind of seems lame to have the countdown any other time than when the year actually changes.

The fireworks displays have also been getting boring over the years and expectations for this year looked to be the same. There was some excitement this year with a drone flying overhead and around the firework display as they were going off. I really need to get a drone.

Site outage

Apparently, my personal site here was down a week ago or so, and I had no idea. I don’t check it every day and it seems my host does not have a notification of when a site is not working. Regardless, when I did get things restored it looks like I lost some articles. Checking my back-ups I realized I had not refreshed that in over a year. So it looks like I lost anything I posted in the last year. Actually, I’m not sure I posted anything as it has been a crazy busy year.

At any rate, things have been restored and I need to think about getting a system notification check service as well as a better back-up strategy other than manually copying posts into text files or doing irregular sql dumps.

Yard work, yard work, yard work… Never seems to end

It’s been a while since I last posted. Work has been incredibly busy and my personal life has had a number of events in the last year. The one thing that gets me the most is all the yard work I have to do here. I can barely keep up with the grass, which due to all the rain this year, seems to need cutting every 5 days. Then I have the bushes in front that need trimming, and on the side of the house is a bunch of old flowers that are nice when they re-bloom, but look ugly and overgrown the rest of the year. There is also a small tree that keeps sprouting up on the side and I keep hacking it down, but never get around to pulling the roots out. I have to take a vacation just to do all the yard work. Sigh.

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Dislike Facebook Likes

For a while I had enabled a facebook likes plug-in. This was mostly for the purposes of experimentation on my part. Sometime over the last few months I had read an article about people who add facebook and other social links to their sites as having the appearance of being desperate. However, that is not the reason I dumped the plug-in.

I dumped the FB likes because the api was just terrible. Instead of some neat div or button, it had a table wrapped around things and a ton of inline styling. Even worse, it was slow to load. I never really expected anyone to ever like an article I posted as there are so few of you (except myself, how desperate would that be? Hah!). So why waste your time making my site load slower? If anyone wants to actually like an article, they can copy and paste the link into a FB post and like it from there.

Phew… upgrade complete

Well I had fallen behind the wordpress guys a few versions and needed to get the site back up-to-date. This involved backing up the files and the database. I had disabled my local version a while back so I had to get that up and running and then manually apply the new version there to ensure that it would not break anything. This took a bit of effort as I had to configure the virtual private host on my system again and I had to dig around to remember exactly how to do that.

Once I had the new version running locally I had to copy everything up to the server and then check again. WordPress has a really nifty auto-update feature, which I unfortunately can not take advantage of as I have customized my installation. For those who have not visited in over a year, if you had created an account, I’m sorry to say that I had to dump a bunch of user accounts due to spambots. My apologies and I understand if you decide not to create a new account again. I did change the settings so that you do not have to register to leave a comment. However, posts do not display until I approve them. Trying to make sure the spamage does not get displayed.

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