Thursday, October 06, 2016

Moving to ShaineMata.com

It is getting complicated running this blog and ShaineMata.com. Therefore, I'm moving over to the dotcom for future posts.

In case you're wondering what the complication is. Supposedly, one of the sites was for "business" and the other for "personal blogging". The trouble is that I do not have that schism, as far as I can tell. Same guy in both roles.

So, it was becoming difficult to choose where to post. I'd have these endless debates on where a post belonged, and then I would not write at all. I suppose it would be simpler to not write, now that I think of it. Except that I do write.

I think, eventually, I may point the domain over there and leave this as a blogspot site. That should simplify further.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

2016 Redesign of MissionTexas.net . . . and life?

New MissionTexas.net site.
One theme that has been coming up in my life a lot, recently, is letting go of the cruft of life. This includes several aspects, the stuff that clutters up my house, financial accounts that are relics, old ideas that are not yielding their promise, and even relationships (or lack thereof).

This has been the case with my MissionTexas.net website. It originally began as just a blog. But, it seemed inadequate at the time to serve as a website. Blogger had not offered Pages at the time. Google did, however, have Sites, which was based on a Wiki. I could use Sites for my concept. It was easy to use and had Adsense gadgets I could use to monetize.

I do like Google Sites for its ease of use and because it tracks cross-links. If I move a page, all the URLs get updated. However, Google Sites killed the Adsense gadgets, which means that my theme is somewhat stuck.

That's the problem with Google Sites. The service has not evolved with design standards. The last big update was responsive design that makes mobile use easier; but, it's a bit wonky. So, I hesitated to go out and sell advertising because I could not make the site look appealing, nor could I make the site good enough for mobile traffic.

You can view the old site at https://sites.google.com/a/missiontexas.net/public/ for now. Its days are numbered. I had set up the domain through Google Apps, which I later discovered can host multiple domains. So, I'm eventually going to shut that down and consolidate.

As a business, MissionTexas.net has generated a little income. Google has paid me here and there for the ads on the site, which I will lose. In retrospect, it was silly to hesitate to move the site elsewhere. It's not like the income has been life-changing.

Still, it was the most lucrative of my sites despite the ugliness and lack of updates.

I am in the process of moving the content over to a new hosting service that offers more visual appeal for my work. Once the site is fleshed out more, I intend to start looking for advertisers, which will make up for losing Adsense revenue.

Still, I'm not completely out of Google. I have decided to keep the MissionTexas.net Blog on Blogger because it serves a different purpose. The blog is geared towards interaction, whereas the site is not. Because of chronology, the blog has somewhat disposable information. Once the news is past, it is past.

Other Sites?


That brings me to consider, what about ShaineMata.net and ShaineMata.com? The reason I have the two domains is also an issue of legacy. I have not quite decided to stop using Blogger and make a clean start. I do not have to delete my old blog if I do start over. So what is keeping me from doing it? It may turn out to be nothing.

Like many things in life, it may just be momentum that keeps me on the same track, not an intention to keep going in the current direction. All it takes is a decision to change course. We complicate something so simple as a choice with countless justifications for not choosing. If only we spent as much energy making decisions as we do making excuses, our lives might have totally different results.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Behold! Jicama Threatens Thee

Jicama
My latest misadventure involves jicama, a perishable food item that resembles a turnip. I can't make out whether it's a bean or a vine from the Wiki entry. It's definitely a root. But, other sources online categorize jicama as a sort of morning glory or nightshade.

I had a business idea, which required me to purchase five pounds of jicama. So, how much jicama does five pounds make? About three large jicamas will yield five pounds. Actually, I went over by half a pound. But, it's not like you can resize them to suit you.

So, now I have five pounds of jicama at home to eat. I cut one up and sprinkled Trechas and lime on it to eat. I had a few pieces and put the rest in the refrigerator to cool.

A while later, I started coughing with a familiar sensation that comes from a food allergy. After a little research, sure enough. Jicama is among the foods that triggers a latex allergy.

I had never experienced this reaction with jicama. However, I typically eat a few pieces along with other fruit. Having eaten it alone this time, I have no doubt that it's causing the cough and itching.

I am curious why the information that is available on this . . . vegetable is so sparse and inconsistent? The Internets have let me down.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mr. President - Coco Jambo (1920 x 1080p HD) videoclip





My kids found this song. I had heard it years ago; but, the song wasn't one that I would have remembered. It's catchy and apparently global.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The New Amazon Echo Dot: One step closer to ubiquitous voice control

The Amazon Echo Tap
One thing I love about Star Trek, most of the different series, is the ability to issue voice commands to the ship's computer. The crew is able to use the computer's voice recognition anywhere they go.

Amazon has introduced a new and improved Amazon Echo Dot, which is a smaller, stripped down version of the Amazon Echo. The Echo Dot brings the vision of the Star Trek computer closer to reality.

The Echo devices are always listening for commands to play music, read books, control your IoT (Internet of Things) device, or even place orders on Amazon. However, the Echo sits quietly in one spot of your home waiting for commands within hearing distance. Once you move to another room, the fun is over.

Going back to the Star Trek computer, the characters in the show frequently speak commands to the computer, such as when they enter the turbolift and tell it to take them to the Bridge or Engineering. No buttons needed.

There are episodes on Star Trek: TNG where the Chief Engineer runs database queries with voice commands to figure out some obscure cause of problems on the ship.

The Echo has been very popular for its ease of use and ability to interact with other services and devices in an almost Star Trek fashion. At home, you can turn lights on or off, check if a window is open, lock a door, or even set your oven to preheat with a simple voice command. You can also use the Echo to order a pizza from Domino's or to hail an Uber car to your door.  This is getting very close to the Star Trek vision.

What makes the Echo Dot different from the Echo, or the Echo Tap, is that the Dot is built primarily for listening to commands. The Dot lacks the same speakers that make the Echo and Tap great for listening to music or audio books.

Furthermore, the Dot is only $49.99 when available starting in October. This price point is what makes it much more likely that households will have an Echo interface in every room. You COULD buy a regular Echo for every room; but, it would be a tad expensive. The Echo Dot, on the other hand, not so much.

As if anticipating that people might do exactly that, Amazon is selling the devices in sets where you buy five and get one free. Alternatively, you can buy a bundle set in what seems like you get the Echo Dot free with the purchase of a complementary device.

In our home, we have been playing with home lighting automation through Amazon Echo. We have yet to try other smart devices, such as sensors or receptacles. It is very easy to spend a lot of money on home automation. Granted, it is a one-time cost that would offer years of service. However, you could very easily go overboard in automating things that do not really require automation.

Amazon seems to be leading the way for making technology invisible to the end-user. I think this is the sort of thing, like wearables, that electronics consumers have been waiting for. We want to be able to use technology with a minimum of fuss and anywhere we please.

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