tech/faith: tools for running an in-person conference

Within my church organization, I’ve been asked to help organize and run activities for the youth in our area. The biggest activity is what we call “stake youth conference”, which is basically 3 days with 250 youth, age 14-18. It’s not a small task. As we approached this year’s youth conference, one of our bigContinue reading “tech/faith: tools for running an in-person conference”

life: the epic road trip (v2)

Gluttons for punishment, or doing all the fun over again from 9 years ago: I don’t know which. But had another wonderful 3 week road trip this summer. Stats: duration: 21 consecutive days driving distance: 6890 miles total hours driving: 120 average mpg: 25.5 gas consumed: 270 gallons (generally around $4.50/gal) Monuments / Parks /Continue reading “life: the epic road trip (v2)”

tech: the [ultimate] home server on the cheap

After having a couple Raspberry Pi’s doing miscellaneous things, and working my way up to a Plex server where I needed real storage and video transcoding crunching power, it was time to do something real. But I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Here’s what I did. Hardware I wanted a decent machineContinue reading “tech: the [ultimate] home server on the cheap”

tech: software development principles

After working on a project for a while with Agile and analyzing why some things went wrong, I came up with the following guidelines for our team. I printed them out and posted it on my cube wall so I would see it multiple times daily. I see these as supplements to or applications ofContinue reading “tech: software development principles”

tech: Google Play store updates and Android foreground notifications

In the office we’re working on an Android app which isn’t your usual app: we work with a handset OEM to get it pre-loaded on their handsets in the system partition. At the time it required system permissions and had a foreground notification. The slow rate of ROM OTA updates from OEMs being what theyContinue reading “tech: Google Play store updates and Android foreground notifications”

life: the epic road trip

Stats: duration: 23 consecutive days driving distance: 6747 miles longest single day: 856 miles, 15 hours driving (not including breaks) total hours driving: 112 average mpg: 29.1 gas consumed: 321 gallons number of kids upon departure: 5 number of kids upon return: 3 (2 left at college) family groups visited: 9 Monuments / Parks /Continue reading “life: the epic road trip”

life: going to college with financial responsibility

Now that my second child is on their way to college, I think my wife and I have narrowed in on an approach to higher education that is sustainable. Here are the principles we’ve been teaching and doing with our children. Go to a school that is affordable. It would be great fun to driveContinue reading “life: going to college with financial responsibility”

food: the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail

I stopped by a recommended BBQ restaurant recently (Hersey’s in Graham NC), and noticed a plaque on the wall. Part of the plaque reads: NCBS (the North Carolina Barbecue Society) has designed a barbecue trail from Eastern North Carolina to Tennessee. The trail will meander across the state with stops at 24 NCBS Historic BarbecueContinue reading “food: the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail”

life: extending the life of a household water heater

My home has a gas-powered hot water heater located in the walk-up attic (3rd floor). I’d like to give the architect a dope-slap for doing that. Especially when the master bath directly below the water heater takes the longest to receive the hot water. But the real reason why the attic location is an issueContinue reading “life: extending the life of a household water heater”

life: confessions of a LASIK patient

It’s not something I was originally looking to do. We had been using our pre-tax health savings account for the kids’ braces, and miscalculated the payment schedule, so we are at the end of the year with $2000 of unused money in that account. Use it or lose it. (I checked, when unused the moneyContinue reading “life: confessions of a LASIK patient”

fun: recipe for cinnamon rolls

Almost as good as that expensive store in the mall, which I won’t name. These are less expensive and you don’t need to stop eating at one. There is a recipe in our house that I’ve been playing with. So far, everyone loves these and they are reasonably easy, especially if you have a breadContinue reading “fun: recipe for cinnamon rolls”

personal finance: credit bureau freeze

Be careful of how much debt you carry. A mortgage is OK, but creditors will generally give you a bigger loan than you can really afford. An automobile loan is OK, but recognize that an automobile can depreciate faster than you can pay the loan – it sure isn’t an investment, it’s pure expense. OneContinue reading “personal finance: credit bureau freeze”

cars: replacing the dash lights in a Honda Odyssey

I have a 2000 Honda Odyssey, and although it has been a wonderful vehicle, it is at the age where the dash lights are starting to burn out. So my clock backlight has failed, along with the lighting of several buttons on the dash. When I went to get parts at the dealer to replaceContinue reading “cars: replacing the dash lights in a Honda Odyssey”

mosquito bites: getting rid of the itch

I live in an area where mosquitoes are common. You don’t want to be outside at dusk without repellent, or you will get eaten up. And I hate mosquito bites and the itches. A bite will bother me for 2-3 days. I am better at dealing with pain than itches. Thank goodness for DEET toContinue reading “mosquito bites: getting rid of the itch”

tips: the “newspaper” test for decision making

Have a decision to make at the office, and it isn’t obvious what to choose? Usually we look for positive confirmation using tools such as rationalization. But it can be often helpful to try negative confirmation. This approach can open up a whole new world of insight. Use this handy little tool that I callContinue reading “tips: the “newspaper” test for decision making”