Category Archives: Miscellanea


Joe’s New “Life Hack”: Getting Rid of One Thing Per Day

Anybody who knows me well enough knows that I am a bit of a packrat.  I have been trying to work on that.  I think I have settled on a good plan.  I am going to get rid of one thing per day.  “Get rid” could mean donating, selling, or simply tossing.  This plan does not mean that I am going to be visiting the Goodwill every day.  I can batch this.  I am going to try to stick to it, though. Continue reading


Coworking in Milwaukee

As you may know, I have recently joined the ranks of the remote knowledge worker.  When Quality Matters hired me, I made the decision to get an office outside of the house.  Since QM does not reimburse for office space, my budget was limited.  I decided that it made sense to aim for a solution within the $100-$150 per month price range.  After a brief session of searching Duck Duck Go for options, I identified six potential solutions. Continue reading


New Year, New Job

I have accepted a web application developer position at The Quality Matters Program.  Quality Matters is “a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses.”  Put simply, they provide a seal of approval for quality online courses.  Their business systems are written in ColdFusion, so I will be working within the mother language, again.

I will be starting with them in January.  I will be telecommuting from here in Milwaukee.  For the time being, I will be doing so from The Hudson, in the Third Ward.


Joe received a new toy for his birthday

So, I have been eying the K-TOR Pocket Socket 2 for a little while now.  It is a 10 watt, 120 volt crank generator.  This weekend, my brother gave me one for my birthday.  I was so excited about it that I decided to post a video about it.

It is definitely a neat little gadget.  I have charged a phone and a battery pack with it.  I am going to need to go through and see what else it can power.  Should I try to cool a soda with it?  Maybe I could run a fan?


Use the Wayback Machine to archive your site

Tell the Wayback Machine to save your site right nowIf you do not already know, the Internet Archive‘s Wayback Machine is a service that crawls the internet and saves a cache of websites.  This provides the ability to look at what a website used to look like.  The problem is that smaller sites would only get crawled occasionally.  The service is operated by a non-profit and they focused their limited resources on the most popular sites.

Well, now you can manually trigger a crawling of your website.  Just look for “Save Page Now” on the website.


What are IP address classes?

IPv4 addresses are divided into five classes.  Each IP address class has a different maximum number of IPs that exist within it.

Class First Octet Range Default Subnet Mask Maximum Number of Hosts Per Network
A 1-127 16,777,214 Hosts (2^24-2)
B 128-191 65,534 Hosts (2^16-2)
C 192-223 254 Hosts (2^8-2)
D 224-239 N/A
E 240-255 N/A

Class A IPs start with 1-127.  Keep in mind, though, that 127 is reserved for localhost.  The remaining three octets are used for the host id.  Class B IPs start with 128-191 and use the first and second octets for the network id.  Class C begins with 192-223 and use the first three octets for the network id.  Class D and class E are not generally used for setting up networks.  Class D is Multicast and class E is experimental.


Hello, My Name Is Joe

Hello, My Name Is Joe - 3 SheepsAllow me to reintroduce myself.  Hello, My Name Is Joe. 🙂  Sometime last week, Norm Glomski tipped me off about the existence of this stuff.  It’s an imperial black wheat, infused with 20 pounds of Colectivo Coffee’s Sumatra blend per batch.

I am yet to try it but I am excited.  I picked it up today at the Nehring’s.  It was roughly $10 for a 4-pack.  Even if it ends up being awful, it is worth it for the novelty factor.  I am expecting something great, though.


What is the OSI model?

The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model, is a conceptual model of computer-to-computer communications, over a network.  It was defined was defined in ISO/IEC 7498-1, by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1984.  The model is not meant to specify exactly what processes occur.  Instead, it describes them.

The OSI model, has seven layers: (1) Physical, (2) Data Link, (3) Network, (4) Transport, (5) Session, (6) Presentation, and (7) Application.  As data flows from the source to the destination, it flows from the application layer (layer 7) to the physical layer (layer 1), across to the other computer, and back up from the physical layer (layer 1) to the application layer (layer 7).

Continue reading


Cheapskate Post: What is the cheapest cellphone service?

Over the past two years, I have been fairly focused on reducing unnecessary costs.  The way I look at it, debt minimization or elimination is the key to freedom and the easiest way of achieving that is to not over-pay for products and services.  At the moment, I am paying $25/mo for cellphone service and $8/mo for MiFi service.  I want to use this post to focus on options for cellphone service.

I am going to look exclusively at service for smartphones. I am also limiting the search to services that offer unlimited data.  I am sure you can shave a penny by buying a plan with 500mb per month but I do not see the sense in that.  I also did not bother with any services that required a service contract.  All of these plans ended up offering unlimited voice minutes.

Continue reading


Moto X on Republic Wireless: One Week Later

For the past few years, I have been using an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Straight Talk.  Straight Talk is a MVNO that offers service on your choice of AT&T‘s network or T-mobile‘s network for much less than either provider charges.  When I switched to them, I was able to reduce my monthly cellphone bill from ~$120/mo to less than $45/mo without any noticeable degradation in the service.

Roughly a year ago, I started hearing about a new company called Republic Wireless.  When they first launched, they offered a $19/mo unlimited plan that was available solely on their one phone.  That one phone proved to be too high of a cost for me.  It was an old gingerbread phone that struggled to handle basic tasks.

Fast-forward a year and now Republic Wireless is offering Motorola’s new Moto X.  They also added more tiers of service, ranging from $5/mo to $40/mo, depending on how much you are willing to offload onto your WiFi network.

The Network

Republic Wireless calls itself a hybrid carrier.  You are tied to particular models of phones because their phones first try to use available WiFi networks for voice, text, and data transmission.  The phone only uses the cellular network if no WiFi networks are available.  In order to do this, the phone needs to have a special, modified ROM.  Since the overhead (on their end) is minimal while the phone is using WiFi, they are able to charge less.  The cellular network they use, while WiFi is unavailable, is Sprint.  Sprint is not the best cellular network in southeastern Wisconsin but it is very usable.

Republic Wireless Moto X Box

The Phone

Republic Wireless charges $299 for the Moto X, without putting you into a contract.  That is an interesting prospect.  You can not look solely at the price of the device, though.  If you are going to spend $899 (service + hardware) over 24mo on the device, it should fully do what you need it to do.  The carrier’s Moto X runs Android 4.2.2 (not KitKat).  This is less of an issue, though, since it also offers Motorola’s custom helper software.

Joe holding the Moto XThe phone really does a great job at knowing what you want it to do before you ask it.  If you pick up the phone from a table and look at the screen, it will show you the time and any notifications.  If you are in bed or in a meeting, it will silence the phone but allow it to ring if it thinks it is an important enough call.  If you are driving, it will give you messages vocally.  It is truly impressive.

Moto X battery lifeOn an early day with it, I tested the battery under very normal conditions.  I was listening to either a podcast or music over it for the majority of the time.  I was taking regular videos and pictures.  Under this load, I was able to get a solid 10.5hrs out of the battery.  The company claims that you can get as much as 13hrs out of it.  Even at 10.5hrs, it is very acceptable.

The Good

The biggest benefit is that I will be saving $531 ($1430-$899) over the course of the phone’s 24 month lifespan.  I also, though, have the benefit that I can use the phone to make calls on any WiFi network.  This means that it will work in a subbasement in Milwaukee or at a restaurant in Paris without extra expense or problem.  This is more powerful of an idea than I originally thought.

The hardware is very competent.  The 10mp camera is light-years beyond my old Galaxy Nexus.  I have been fascinated by the slow-motion video feature, also.

The Bad

It lacks the ability to do photo spheres.  I absolutely adored photo spheres.  I am truly sad to see it missing from the phone.  I also dislike the idea of not running the latest version of Android.  When I switched to this phone, I went from a 4.2.3 phone to a 4.2.2 phone.  That should not be a compromise that you are asked to make.

While the hand-offs from WiFi calls to cellular calls aren’t generally a problem, I have seen occasional issues.  The phone tends to be “optimistic” about the WiFi network at work and in the driveway at home.  I have learned to expect these situations and adapt.  If I think there will be a problem, I will just turn off WiFi before I make the call.

Overall Opinion

I think that it is an excellent option.  I really can not think of a reason why anyone should stay with one of the big carriers, over Republic Wireless.  The phone is very acceptable and the price is very good.  I do wish they would be able to offer Nexus devices on the carrier but I do not think it would be practical.  The network is very usable (especially while using strong WiFi).

I did discover that (despite what Sprint’s coverage map says) there is some 4g LTE coverage within Milwaukee.  I’m still looking at the idea of paying the extra $15/mo for 4g service but I probably won’t.  It is an option, though.


Week in review – 07/01/13 – 06/07/13

This past week, I signed up for MoviePass.  I first heard about it, a few months ago when one of my coworkers signed up for it.  The way it works is that you pay a monthly fee for “unlimited” visits to movie theaters.  The fee is dependent on where you live ($29-$39/mo) but for me it was $35/mo.  I figure that my break-even point is 3-4 movies per month, so if I see at least 1 movie per week, I am coming out ahead.  My only complaint so far is that not all theatres in the area are covered by the program.  In order for the program to work with the theatre, they need to accept discover cards.  It looks like the Oriental, the Downer, and the iPic aren’t covered.  That leaves me with the Fox Bay and the North Shore.  It’s not ideal that I can’t go to every theatre but I think it will be OK in the end.

Also, this past week, I received a reply from the NSA, to my FOIA request for any records they have been building by spying on my phones.  They denied it, stating, “your requests are denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with Executive Order 13526, as set forth in Subparagraph (c) of Section 1.4.”  That line says, “intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology.”  So, I think that what they are claiming is that even though they are spying on Americans, you do not know which Americans, so we do not have telling.


Useful and/or interesting stuff I found this week:

Collection of JS or CSS loaders and spinners

Send your own Pocket Spacecraft on a Mission to the Moon! [Kickstarter]

Huge collection of Free Microsoft eBooks [msdn]

5 Programming Mistakes You Should Stop Making