Archives: March 2007

Sat 31 Mar 2007

Mary Alice Stamper

Time for #23 in my ahnentafel. That would be my father's mother's mother's mother.

Lets see, she was born in 1865 in Lewis County, Kentucky. She died in 1949 in the same place. In between she had a few adventures. For instance, her marriage:

Lewis Napoleon Rayburn, her husband to be, stole her away from her parent's house in the middle of the right and they rode thirty miles on a horse to cross the Ohio River to get married in Ohio.

She is the ancestor that my Grandmother always mentioned was insistent that her part of the family was part Cherokee. Specifically, that Mary Alice Stamper's father was 1/8th Cherokee. I haven't yet found any actual evidence of that, but if true that would make me 1/256th Cherokee. (Assuming there were no other Cherokee ancestors.) Not enough for any casino money. :-)

My Grandmother also had this remembrance:

Its interesting as I e-mail the cousin in Albuquerque (younger of the two boys who were my playmates each summer in Ky at the log cabin and farm of these very same grandparents). Wilbur, my age, almost remembers Grandma saying: "Son, while your are resting(!), could you pull some weeds for the hogs? Etc, Etc!! Or whatever: WHLE YOU ARE RESTING :>) Charles (younger in Albuquerque), scientist , inventor, says he doen't know if she was comparing their boychores to her working from dawn to dusk and just didn't think little chores added up to her WORK.
She had eight children, the third of which was my ancestor.

Barbara Kingsolver was one of her grandchildren.

And that is most of what I have. As usual, the rest is on the Abulwiki page linked from the picture.

Abulsme - Sat, 31 Mar 2007, 16:26:17 PDT
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Thu 29 Mar 2007

Save Me!!

In 26 minutes Brandy will have been gone exactly 4 days out of the 8 days, 18 hours and 3 minutes she is scheduled to be gone. Not quite half way yet. Will I survive?

Abulsme - Thu, 29 Mar 2007, 21:33:18 PDT
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The 40 Minute Plan

For a couple months now I've been doing a "40 Minute Thing" as a way to manage my time at home working on the various projects at home I want to work on. Basically it is a simple thing. I work in 40 minute segments. Once I start a segment, I try to work on that one thing and only that one thing for 40 minutes straight without letting myself get distracted by anything else. At the end of the 40 minutes, I take a quick break, then if there is enough time, I start another 40 minute segment. Repeat until out of time. If for whatever reason I get unavoidably interrupted in the middle of a segment, I pause the timer and then restart it once I get back on task.

More specifically, I have an order in which I do what I do. Each evening, the first 40 minute task is email. The second is doing financial stuff... paying bills, entering receipts into Quicken, etc. The third has lately been genealogy stuff, but I have recently switched this to being a random selection from a set of about six other tasks ranging from cleaning to reading to playing chess. If I finish all three of these then I repeat and start at the top again.

In reality, on most weekdays I only ever get in the first segment. Some weekdays I get two segments in. It is a very rare weekday when I get in three. But on Saturdays and Sundays I can often get in two or more cycles of three items.

I find giving myself this structure at home ends up in me being a lot more productive than leaving the time unstructured. It has helped me a lot in getting things done. I have felt much more productive since I started this, and I have a good daily gauge of how much I've been able to do... just could how many 40 minute blocks I managed to get done.

I haven't yet given myself quite the same sort of structure at work. I think it might be useful though, so I am thinking about it. Just have to get an appropriate timer in there. (At home I use an OS X Dashboard Widget.) Problem is, at work the day is so punctuated by meetings and random interruptions that it is harder to do the same methodology. But certainly on days when there are long uninterrupted stretches it would help.

Without that sort of structure two things tend to happen with me... they are somewhat opposite, but they both happen depending on what else is going on.

#1) I get focused on one thing and spend too much time on it to the exclusion of other things that also need attention.

#2) My top priority task is one that for whatever reason I am mentally procrastinating, and so I bounce back and forth between that task and other random tasks of lesser priority, and the primary task gets less attention than it should.

The 40 minute method... or any length of time where you force yourself to focus on one and only one thing for a length of time... plus the rotation through types of tasks that need to be done... solve both those problems quite nicely.

So I'll probably try it at some point. So far though it has been easier to execute at home. And I am very happy with it.

Abulsme - Thu, 29 Mar 2007, 20:42:16 PDT
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Wed 28 Mar 2007

Stop Touching the Screen!!!

A wild rumor on some of what Apple might have up their sleeve sometime soon.

The Multi-Touch Screen
(David Pogue, New York Times)

After the Jobs demo, I called Jeff Han, fully expecting to hear how angry he was that Apple had stolen his idea without permission or consultation (it’s happened before).

Instead, he knew all about Apple’s project. He didn’t say that Apple bought his technology, nor that Apple stole it—only that he’d known what had happened, and that there was a lot he wasn’t allowed to say.

Anyway, he returned to TED this year for a new presentation, showing how far the multi-touch technology had progressed (hint: a lot). He also set up his eight-foot touch screens in the TED common area, so anyone could try it.
(via AppleInsider)

Anyway, it looks like Apple has hired this guy or licensed his technology or some such. (They also bought a company called FingerWorks who developed similar technology for touchpads.) They showed this technology working in the keynote where they introduced it for the iPhone. But this video shows it can be used way beyond a cellphone screen. Very cool looking stuff. It takes the original "you will want to lick it" of Apple's Aqua a step or two further. You want to fondle it. Definitely watch the video. There is a second video linked from the Pogue post too, but at the moment it isn't working for me.

I'm not sure exactly how it would work in, say, a new iMac. I mean, do I really want to touch my screen to move windows around and such? But if anybody can do cool things with a technology like that, it would be Apple. If it turns out this is one of the "hidden features" in Leopard and the new range of iMacs all end up having multi-touch screens and all, I will be quite jealous that Amy is the next one in the family in line for a new computer...

Abulsme - Wed, 28 Mar 2007, 21:25:02 PDT
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Slinging Treo

When I got up yesterday I found in my email inbox a note that the Slingbox client for PalmOS had entered the Public Beta phase and was available to download. So of course I did so right away, straight from my Treo, which is also where I had read the email. I had it installed and working before I got to the car. It took me a bit to figure out the controls, and I admit I did have to check the directions at one point. But it works. It is a little slower to respond than the Mac or Windows clients, and I think it may also be a little bit slower than the Windows Mobile version that Brandy has on her phone too. But it is good enough to use, and it is just a Public Beta, I'm sure it will be refined more over the next few months.

It is good to know that now, wherever I go, if I am stuck somewhere with nothing to do for awhile while I am waiting for something, I can just watch some of my home Tivo for a little while. I will need to get one of those stereo headphone adapters for it though. I feel self conscious sitting there watching TV on my phone with the audio loud enough for people walking by to hear. Headphones are a good thing.

Abulsme - Wed, 28 Mar 2007, 20:39:37 PDT
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Sun 25 Mar 2007

Just the Two of Us

Amy and I got back just a few minutes ago from leaving Brandy at the airport. She is heading back to Pennsylvania to see her mother for awhile, mainly to help clean up her house in preparation for putting it on the market. And also just to see her mom for a bit, as it has been a little while.

Her plane is due to leave the ground at 05:00 UTC today (less than an hour from now). If everything stays on schedule, her plane will land here again at 23:03 UTC on April 3rd. That is 8 days, 18 hours and 3 minutes. This will be the longest Amy and I have been left alone with each other since the three of us have lived together.

We have both promised to be good, to take care of the other, and try not to destroy the house or anything with our wild partying. :-)

At the moment, Amy is cooking dinner. So I think we're off to a good start.

Abulsme - Sun, 25 Mar 2007, 20:57:42 PDT
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Sat 24 Mar 2007

Festival Thing

I haven't posted every time there is one of them, but earlier today Amy had another performance with the Seattle Children's Chorus. This time was part of a festival with a bunch of children's choirs and choruses from all over the area. This picture is when they all sang together at the end. Amy is one of the ones in light blue.

Abulsme - Sat, 24 Mar 2007, 23:23:49 PDT
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Wed 21 Mar 2007

Sleeping on the Couch

Abulsme - Wed, 21 Mar 2007, 23:57:06 PDT
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Fri 16 Mar 2007

All Hands 4

My fourth company all hands meeting was this morning. It was fun and exciting as usual.

Abulsme - Fri, 16 Mar 2007, 15:09:15 PDT
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Wed 14 Mar 2007

Comment for Greg

Back on 2006 Aug 15, Greg made this post on his blog:

Don't think he won't reply

Where "he" is Sam.

Back in April (I guess) I posted a blog entry suggesting that either I didn't know anyone who works at Google or if I did, I didn't know that I knew anyone who works at Google. Sam dropped me an email (and commented on the post) to confirm that I do, in fact, know someone who works at Google.

Today, Sam responded to my reply:

(Greg then quotes an email I sent to him)
At the time I tried to respond to Greg to explain my current email system, but his comment system was not working that well, so I ended up emailing myself the comment I wanted to post on his site at 2006 Aug 17 19:16:44 UTC. I now post it here:
I have been known to answer emails over a year after they were sent to me. My email backlog a few months ago was such that the oldest unanswered email was indeed over a year old. As of now, the oldest unanswered email I have is one my mom sent me on March 27th (of this year). I will answer that message in a couple weeks probably.

My current system has three tiers.

Each day I try to answer all the emails from the previous day (UTC) that can be answered quickly and do not require me to take any actions, or think overly hard. Any email that does not get answered the day after it was sent goes into the second bucket.

That is my main email inbox. If I finish answering the previous day's email, I start at the top of the inbox (sorted from oldest to newest). Anything over one month old does not get looked at, but rather gets moved to an "OldMail" folder. But once I am in emails that are less than a month old, I start answering them. Now, these are all emails that for whichever of the reasons outlined above did not get answered the day after I got them, so they often require me to do things or think a bit, so they take longer to deal with.

I have one message in my inbox from myself that tells me it is time to look at "OldMail". When I get to this message I switch over to the OldMail folder and start answering my old mail from there. These are once again usually messages that take longer to answer, although some are still left over from before I started this current system, so are shorter ones. In general my target will be to empty the OldMail folder every time I get to this task, but since I had a huge backlog earlier this year (several thousand messages) I have just been getting it to 100 less than the last time I did the task. So for instance the last time I did "OldMail" (a few days ago) I got the OldMail folder down to 500 messages. Next time I have that task, I'll pull it down to 400. When I have gotten to my target level, I reply to the message to put the task back down in my inbox for a later date. Also, an important note, if the OldMail task gets to be over a month old it does NOT itself move to OldMail, because otherwise I would never look at OldMail again.

And that is the system.

Note: This does not account for Spam, I deal with Spam with an entirely different, yet similar, system. I currently have over 50,000 messages in my spam folder that have yet to be reviewed to confirm they are really spam and pull out the ones that were mis-identified as spam by my filters. I get about 1 in 500 false spam identifications, so there should be about 100 real messages stuck in that 50,000. When I find them, I place them in the appropriate one of the categories listed above for real mail.
Of course, I am now posting this because I have just now reached that message I sent myself as I continue to follow the method I described.

Abulsme - Wed, 14 Mar 2007, 19:31:40 PDT
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Sat 10 Mar 2007

I Remember Chacchoben

Just posted this update on the page for the next random trip:

Chances of 2007 for this random trip seem to be slipping, although perhaps late in the year might happen. But other things such as Amy's tuition take priority. So, who knows when it will happen. But it will happen! I know I keep saying that, but it will.

In any case, a couple new relevant links:

  • Wikipedia Chacchoben Page
  • Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Site

  • Abulsme - Sat, 10 Mar 2007, 20:10:30 PST
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    Lewis Napoleon Rayburn

    It is ancestor time! As we move through the tree in breadth first order, it is now the turn of my father's mother's mother's father. I actually know more about Lewis Napoleon Rayburn than many of my other ancestors of this generation, mainly due to some remembrances written by Charles C Rayburn, one of my grandmother's cousins.

    He was born in 1860 in Rowan County, Kentucky. He served as Sheriff and Justice of the Peace in Lewis Co, Kentucky. He served two terms in the Kentucky State Senate. He was a farmer and a merchant. And then his grandson's Charles's notes about him:

    Grandpa Rayburn --

    He was in his early seventies when I was old enough to walk the one-fourth mile to his house. He was postmaster, which function occupied one corner of this small country store. By this time the store was out of business but the tobacco plug shear, candy jars and thread drawers remained on the counter top as reminders of the old store.

    I sat on the counter top beside Grandpa as he unlocked and opened the US mail saddle bag. The mail came via mule back since the mail route was not negotiable by wheeled vehicles.

    Grandpa would tell stories as I listened by the hour. Stories about his experiences as a school teacher; or his days as a traveling salesman for a general store distributer; or his political career as a state senator.

    He stole Grandma away from her parents by night and rode thirty miles both on one horse that night and crossed the Ohio river to get married. He remembered Civil War soldiers coming through their yard and asking for water.

    He unraveled many stories of his brother, my Great Uncle Jim. Uncle Jim killed his father-in-law who had planted a shot gun in a fodder shock to kill Uncle Jim as if by accident. I remember when Uncle Jim was shot in the hip by a robber. Grandpa loaded his pistol and took off to kill this robber. The robber was much younger and escaped into the hills. Fortunately Grandpa did not find him.

    Grandpa was excellent with numbers. He also wrote well but had no need for periods or commas.

    He was notary public which made him legal expert for the neighborhood. He understood the law regarding land transfers, wills, law suits and any official papers which came through the mail. Most of the residents of our community were functionally illiterate so Grandpa's services were especially needed. Also he provided his legal expertise at no charge.

    His law office was a bench seat supported on each end by hickory trees beside the dirt road. He would counsel with his clients while I was privileged to listen in. The two of us sat there talking and whittling.

    The second law office was his winter quarters by the fire place where he spent hours reading the paper and explaining the news to me along with his independent judgement on the various subjects. I watched as he chewed tobacco and smoked his pipe. Of course I had to do the same but not in his presence.

    He and Mom had great respect and admiration for the other.

    After I went away to school then into the military we kept in touch by mail. I wanted to be just like Grandpa.
    He married in 1882. My ancestor was the third of eight children. He died in 1947. And that is about all I know. As usual, click through on the link above for the additional details I do have, my sources, etc.

    Abulsme - Sat, 10 Mar 2007, 17:43:25 PST
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    Sat 03 Mar 2007

    DVD: The Man With Two Brains

    Brandy picked the last DVD we watched and it was The Man With Two Brains. She was very excited to have me see it, as she thought I would love it. I told her before hand that I have never really been too fond of Steve Martin's humor, but that was OK, I'd watch with an open mind. I had not see this movie before as far as I knew. I kind of actually had it confused with All of Me, another Steve Martin movie. It wasn't that movie though. BUt I haven't actually seen either of them, so it didn't really matter.

    And well... it was OK. But I didn't laugh all that much. Like I said, I'm just not that into Steve Martin's style of humor. I mean, it wasn't a bad movie or anything. I wasn't anxious to have it over, it just didn't really do anything for me. Brandy was very disappointed that I didn't like it all that much.

    Meanwhile, she fell asleep two thirds of the way through.

    Oops. :-)

    Abulsme - Sat, 3 Mar 2007, 23:45:35 PST
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    Fri 02 Mar 2007

    MultiHeaded Mac

    I just discovered by accident that when you are operating your Mac via VNC, and someone sits down at the console and Fast User Switches to their account... your VNC account still controls your original desktop. So, minus VNC latency (which isn't too horrible if you are on a LAN) you can have multiple people running full screen Aqua Mac goodness, one on console, and the rest essentially on dumb terminals, but with their full desktops and access to everything. Right now I am sitting in the livingroom on a laptop VNC'd to my Mac while Amy is actually sitting in front of it... apperantly doing some sort of Algebra related game.

    Very nice. A good discovery.

    Abulsme - Fri, 2 Mar 2007, 21:26:39 PST
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    October 2004 Top Ten!

    It has been so long since I posted one of these, that new readers (those few I have) may have no idea what this is. Starting around when I left Pittsburgh to head to Washington, DC to try to find a real post-college career rather than the random stuff I was doing in Pittsburgh for a little while after graduation, I started compiling and sending out an "email top ten list" each month based on which of my friends had sent me the most personal email the previous month.

    Basically, the main purpose was as a mechanism for me to keep in touch with people. If people fell off the "top ten" and stayed off for a few months, I'd notice that and email them. But in the mean time, the "contest" took on a life of its own, even though there were no prizes. People would actively try to win in some months. When several people were trying in the same month, this could sometimes be a little annoying... people would do things like sending me 5000 separate emails each with a single word in it and such. (By the way, emails I suspect as automated have always been disqualified, so these would have to be manually done emails or at least be good enough automation to fool me.) But it was still fun. And it did result in lots of email, and with keeping in touch with people. And sometimes even to make new friendships when people would discover the contest and start sending email.

    All the previous results can be found here and a retrospective of the first 100 months of the contest can be found here.

    Then in October 2004 there was a meltdown on my email server, and I lost several weeks of email. Which through me into a real tizzy, cause first of all, I lost email and I'd kept in one form or another every email I'd ever sent or received since 1993, but second because it made putting together the count for both September and October of 2004 very difficult.

    Anyway... for a variety of reasons, doing the reconstruction got put pretty far back on the stove, and literally I'd only do a few minutes of work on it each month. So there has been a 28 month delay in putting out the October 2004 results. Oops.

    But they are finally here! Click through below for the details and the winners:

    October 2004

    But after the disastrous email meltdown of October 2004, which caused missing data in both September and October of 2004, I was so disheartened. I tried my best with the September info, but I was still late. After that, after being late for the first time in the history of the email top ten, it just seemed to be of little point. Once it was broken, it was broken. So I continued to work on the reconstruction of the October 2004 email results, but rather than just spending the hours straight through to get it done, I did a few minutes worth each month. Sometimes an hour's worth on a good month. But I let other things take priority. I should have made this an absolute priority from the beginning. If I had done that, this quite possibly would have been complete shortly after the September results, but I did not. There were a lot of other things going on these past two years. But with a little bit done each month... and a bump in priority in February 2007 so I did a bit each day instead of a bit each month... we are finally at the end of that road. The October 2004 Top Ten is done!!
    Over the next few months I'll slowly be calculating results from November 2004 to the present and then resume the normal schedule for these things. Since these will just be normal counts of existing mailboxes with no issues, these should go pretty fast. I'll still space them out some rather than do them all at once. My only goal in terms of that is to release them at a rate faster than one a month so I eventually catch up. Hopefully in less than another 2+ years.

    Abulsme - Fri, 2 Mar 2007, 07:54:06 PST
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