This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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December 2018
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Paid Off, Cut Up, and Done!

Refinanced the house to do it, but we just wiped out a ton of super high interest debt in a single evening on the credit card websites hitting the “pay full balance” buttons. Then we cut them all up. (Except one, just in case.) This has been a monkey on our backs seemingly forever. Some of these cards haven’t had a zero balance since I was in college nearly 30 years ago. The monthly savings on interest will be huge. It is like being able to breathe again after having been under water too long. Yay!

Amy is TWENTY THREE!

According to my calculations, taking into account all the geeky things I take into account, at 19:10 UTC today (12:10 PM Pacific, 3:10 PM Eastern), Amy will be exactly 23 years old.

Happy Birthday Amy!!!

I can’t believe you are 23. That’s like, old. :-)

17166.383 Days

As of the moment this is scheduled to post, at 6:10 UTC on the 16th (11:10 PM Pacific on the 15th, 2:10 AM Eastern on the 16th) I am exactly 47 years old. This is of course properly taking into account leap years, the fact that years are not an even number of days, time zones, and the time and place I was born…

So. 47. Woo!

Alex is NINE!!

Well, he turned 9 yesterday… we aren’t celebrating this year until the 21st because of all kinds of scheduling things that also are my excuse for not having this post go out at the exact moment as usual. But at September 12th at 21:03 UTC (2:03 PM Pacific, 5:03 PM Eastern), Alex was exactly nine years old.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!!!!!

So first, the traditional annual interview. He is uncooperative as has been normal for the past few years. In the first half of the video (recorded a few hours BEFORE he turned 9) he pretends to be 3 and does not speak in full sentences and hides a lot. In the second half of the video (recorded a few hours AFTER he turned 9) he speaks more fully, but spends his time climbing all over my office and jumping on me and generally being unresponsive to actual questions. Then he spits. I miss the years where he actually spent five minutes giving honest answers to my questions! But those days are long gone! :-)

Now, a few highlights of what Alex is like at this milestone. Each year of course the I provide less details, as it is more up to him to talk about himself. But I’ll allow myself a few highlights.

  • Alex’s YouTube channel is now up to 50 subscribers. Help him get to 100. Subscribe now!
  • We are still years behind publishing his videos. We have 7 external 4 TB hard drives almost completely full of videos he has recorded. I just bought an 8th. We’re still publishing videos from the FIRST of those hard drives. Videos he recorded when he was 6. He’ll do live streams occasionally, or publish something out of order when he really wants to though, so there is current stuff on the channel too, in between the old stuff.
  • But, over the last few months, we’ve upgraded our kit. He is now editing the videos he puts out with Final Cut Pro X, professional level video editing software, rather than us just posting things right off the screen recording, or using something simple like iMovie. So more and more titles and special effects, animations, and other fancy things are getting added in. Now, we still haven’t quite gotten to the point where he realizes that sometimes less is more in terms of those sorts of things, and that perhaps we can edit out some of the slower bits from the videos, but his technical aptitude is increasing by leaps and bounds as he figures out the tools. I help occasionally with bits and pieces, but MOST of what you see in his videos is all him…
  • He is also doing lots of image editing. It is for his videos too, as he is making “custom thumbnails” for them rather than accepting whatever YouTube picks by default. This usually means taking several screenshots from the video, then composing them in collage style in Pixelmator (a nice image editing tool for the Mac), adding in the episode title and such. Just like Final Cut Pro X, he has been getting very proficient in using Pixelmator to get the results he wants. Some of the thumbnails he puts together are quite complex.
  • Alex is now in third grade!
  • Sometime a few months ago, his primary TV watching switched from YouTube, where he used to watch lots of DanTDM and Stampy and such, to binge watching various series on the various streaming platforms. Recent shows he has binge watched from start to finish are the new Voltron series, Transformers Prime and Transformers RescueBots, Ninjago, and everything ever put out in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise.
  • He and his dog Miley are still best friends. Well, Miley likes him best when he is asleep or chilling and calm. When he is excited and bopping all over the place, Miley tolerates him. He still is a bit rougher with her than she should be as she gets older, but she is VERY good and puts up with everything.
  • Alex still does Minecraft. He has some worlds that he has been working on for over three years. Incredibly elaborate, including red stone contraptions, behaviors he programs with command blocks, and all sorts of other things.
  • The whole family went to a “family camp” together at Camp Seymour for a long weekend this summer along with Alex’s best friend Kaylin. Alex and Kaylin (and Amy!) had a blast. All sorts of traditional camp activities. They were running around flat out having fun for the whole time. Alex still insists he doesn’t want to do it again next year, but…
  • Lego is back in the picture with a vengeance! He is doing things with Lego sets every day almost. Sometimes straight out of his imagination, but often building sets following the instructions, sometimes large complex ones that he does over the course of many days. There is Lego EVERYWHERE right now.

As usual, there was certainly much more. But this is enough.

Happy birthday Alex!!!

A Year of Wiki of the Day

A year ago yesterday, the first episode of my Wiki of the Day family of podcasts was published. It was about, well, Load Testing.

A few days later, once there were episodes of each of the variants of the podcast, I officially announced that I had launched three new podcasts. Soon after that, the podcasts were included in the Apple podcast directory and we were off to the races.

For those who don’t remember, these are COMPLETELY AUTOMATED podcasts. Each of the three variants pick one Wikipedia article per day to highlight (they just use different ways of picking which article they highlight) and use Amazon Polly to do text to speech on the article summary along with some intro and outro text to generate the podcasts themselves. Apart from the increasingly rare situations where something goes wrong and I have to debug something, this all happens without any human intervention from me at all. Which I think is kinda cool. :-)

At the 100 day mark, I posted an overview of how it was doing, but I figured now that we are at the one year mark it would be good to look again.

This is looking at unique downloaders in the trailing 7 days for all three variants combined based on IP address and UserAgent, excluding some obvious robots. In the first couple months, downloads went from zero to about 250 a week. After that, aside from spikes, the number slowly declined, so by early this year, it was more like 150 a week usually.

There were three big spikes though.

The first spike, in July 2017, was driven by the episodes about Chester Bennington and Linkin Park after Bennington’s death.

The second spike, in October 2017, was driven by the episode about Tom Petty after his death.

The third and biggest spike, which is still in progress as I write, was initially looking like a small bump for the episode about Avicii after his death, but that was then overwhelmed by the article on the Golden State Killer after Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested for those crimes. As I write, that episode has been downloaded 848 times and counting.

Also, by pure happenstance, serendipity, and coincidence (I’m practicing my redundancy), on the exact one year anniversary, the three podcasts combined exceeded 1000 unique downloaders in the previous 7 days for the first time ever. Now yes, this is from the Golden State Killer spike, and it will recede soon, but maybe we will have picked up a few long term subscribers who found the podcast through that. We shall see.

Now, the other thing to point out is that the “popular” variant is BY FAR the most popular. Excluding spikes, over the last three months or so the breakout has been something like this:

  • popular Wiki of the Day: 100-200 unique downloaders per week
  • random Wiki of the Day: 10-20 unique downloaders per week
  • featured Wiki of the Day: 10-20 unique downloaders per week

By comparison, my actual human recorded current events podcast I do with Ivan Bou has been in the range of 150-250 unique downloaders per week over the same time period.

Of the Wiki of the Day podcasts, popular gets all the love, because it highlights Wikipedia articles that were at the top of the most viewed Wikipedia page list the day before. So it is topics people are searching for information on anyway. So people search in their podcast players and find these episodes. Now, when they get there, they just get a 2-3 minute quick summary of the topic, not an in depth discussion of the subject, so it is quite possible some of the people who find it are disappointed with what they get. But hopefully at least some folks find it interesting or helpful, and end up subscribing to hear more.

They are certainly “different” sorts of podcasts though, and I can understand why it might be an acquired taste.

But it was fun to set up, and I at least find them fun to listen to each day, and sometimes I actually learn new things!

If you want to support Wiki of the Day, you should of course search for these three podcasts in your podcast player of choice, subscribe to all of them, and start listening on a regular basis! :-)

Anyway, so that is where it is after a year. It generally seems like it is in somewhat of a steady state at this point, so aside from big spikes when celebrities die or other news events, I don’t really expect much more growth. But we’ll see where it ends up in another year…

Amy is TWENTY TWO!

According to my calculations, taking into account all the geeky things I take into account, at 13:22 UTC today (6:22 AM Pacific, 9:22 AM Eastern), Amy will be exactly 22 years old.

Happy Birthday Amy!!!

16801.141 Days

As of the moment this is scheduled to post, at 0:21 UTC on the 16th (5:21 PM Pacific, 8:21 PM Eastern on the 15th) I was exactly 46 years old. This is of course properly taking into account leap years, the fact years are not even numbers of days, time zones, and the time and place I was born…  So I am now 46, although it will be a few hours until most others will admit it.

When I sat down to calculate this date and time, I was actually surprised, because I honestly had thought I was already 46 and was about to turn 47. It is easy to lose track of these things. So I got back an extra year! Yay!

Alex is EIGHT!!

Just a few minutes ago… at September 12th at 15:14 UTC (8:14 AM Pacific, 11:14 AM Eastern), Alex was exactly eight years old.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!!!!!

First of all, here is the traditional annual interview with Alex. As usual, he clams up and is not very talkative. But he goes along with the exercise anyway. Meaning he puts on a show of his non-answers to my questions. Or maybe he was answering in pantomime. In any case, here it is…

Now, a rundown of milestones from the last year. Each year of course the I provide less details, as it is more up to him to talk about himself. But I’ll allow myself a few highlights.

  • Alex’s YouTube channel is now up to 39 subscribers. Help him get to 50. Subscribe now!
  • Alex is now in second grade!
  • He got to see DanTDM live! Dan has dropped of his regular YouTuber watching rotation for the moment though. Every few months he seems to shift his favorite and spend lots of time watching as much of one YouTuber’s stuff as he can. His current one is Sqaishey Quack. There have been many others over the months though.
  • He loves his dog Miley. He is sometimes a bit rougher than he should be with her, but she loves him anyway, especially when they get to play in the surf at a local beach.
  • Alex is still a Minecraft wiz. He has some worlds that he has been working on for over two years. They are now very elaborate! He does both survival and creative mode depending what he feels like. The whole family plays together.
  • He has a best friend from 1st grade that we make sure to have playdates with at least once a month, more often when we can manage it. They run around the house chasing each other in between riding bikes and playing computer games. She hides a stuffed penguin to try to get him to do what she wants. But that doesn’t always work.
  • He goes on “adventures” with Grandma Ruth regularly and loves them. He usually prefers to just stay at home, but when she is coming for an adventure, he hurries to be ready and is super eager to go.
  • Alex and I went to a “family camp” together at Camp Seymour for a long weekend this summer. He fought and resisted and begged to go home almost the entire long weekend… in between the actual events. Whenever there was an activity… making home made stomp rockets, archery, swimming, nature walks, meals, camp fires, etc… he was fully engaged and having a great time. He said next year his sister Amy should go to Camp Seymour… instead of him. But he had a blast. So we shall see…
  • I’m pretty sure he is practically a grown up now given how big he is. But he is still reluctant to giving up occasionally being carried by Daddy. (And sometimes others in the family.) But I don’t know how much longer this will be possible. I can only do it for very short periods now.

As usual, there was certainly much more. But this is enough.

Happy birthday Alex!!!

Eclipse Watching

#14 welding glass taped into an cardboard box of approximately head shape. We only made one, so we have to take turns. We’re going to get to 90.8% in our zip code.

Taking a few pictures of the eclipse itself putting the camera in the box too, but it is a bit of a pain. Next time around need a separate rig for the camera.

Brandy is running for office!

For those who don’t already know…  My wife Brandy is running for local office! Specifically, she is running for Snohomish County Fire District 1, Commissioner Position 3. Check out her candidate statement on her temporary campaign website. (She’s working on a more complete site, I quickly threw that one together for her as a starter site to have something up right away.)

This is a non-partisan position. There are five candidates in the primaries. The top two move on to the general election. The incumbent is David Chan, who got into trouble a few months ago for some comments about Mexicans he made during an official meeting.

Ever since the 2016 election… actually before, but it accelerated afterwards… Brandy has been increasingly engaged politically, and looking for places to make a difference. She’s been connecting with all sorts of people locally, and was urged by several to run for this position. It is her first run, but she is learning quickly. Win or lose, I’m pretty sure she intends to be actively engaged in things going forward.

If you are in the local area and want to know more or to help out, let me (or her) know!

I guess this means we’ll be investing in lawn signs and such soon… :-)

electbrandydonaghy.org