Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Making a Game out of Email

Exquisite-gmail red
Exquisite-gmail red (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am not good at keeping up with email. Okay, I'm really terrible at keeping up with email. I procrastinate in running my email client until someone says "Did you get that message I sent you last week?" Usually, I don't check my


Enter The Email Game.

You enter your email (Gmail only, unfortunately) and allow permissions for your account.
Next There's a countdown timer and your first email appears. In the upper left is another count down timer. This is the estimated time it should take to go through the current message. You need to try decide what to before the timer runs out.
The face on the right will change expression on what you do. It gets happier if you delete the email, but it will start to lose it's joy when you skip.
If you don't know what to do with the email at that moment, but you don't want to skip, you can always "boomerang" it so it shows up later.

Like me, you are probably interrupted a lot so there is a pause feature. Click on the timer to pause and then you click anywhere to resume whenever you are ready.

When you are done, it gives you your stats. Yeah, I'm that bad. It's mostly newsletters that I never read anymore. Perhaps I should start unsubscribing to some of them.

This is a pretty efficient way of going through you email. I do about 30 at a time, buy you can increase the amount of emails you go through.

Referring site:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You can't fool me-This time. The plot thickens...

I got an interesting email from someone with the same name as someone I know containing a link. There are two reasons why I didn't click on it.

First, this particular person only contacts me via Facebook messenger. I did go to Facebook and message her for her email address. I think I have it, but I had to be sure that they didn't change it on me.

The second is because it had an ".ru" link. Okay, it's not that I have anything against Russia, but it IS the place where most proxies filter through (and China). So if you were to check the IP address on someone that was hacking your server, it would appear to come from these countries. The supposed Russian hacks may have actually been an American using a proxy.

Also, it does seem that every time I get a link like this, it's from a server in Russia or China.

While I do know that clicking on the link will be my downfall, my curiosity has gotten the better of me and I decided to use a secondary site to ping it. Essentially scan it for viruses and other statistics.

After doing some searching on Google I came across some info on PCWorld and makeuseof that has a few suggestions.

The first one I tried was URLvoid.com. I entered the site and interestingly enough, nothing was found.

It suggested that I should try the main site (what I submitted was a sub domain name). So I did.

14 days? So was this link specifically created for me? I checked the stats but because it was so new, there were none.

The other link I tried was Online Link Scan. Unfortunately, no such luck. Apparently it isn't a valid site, or whatever that means. Again, no stats.

One more site: http://scanurl.net. Again, I still couldn't get any results.

Upon further inspection, all of these link scans sites actually scan a bunch of services like Norton, AVG, and myWOT for any reports.

Reports that users submit.

This means, that if the domain is new (and it is), there will be no reports on it, yet. If someone complains about it in the next few days, I'll know about it - but someone needs to complain.

Finally, I decided to just check out the mail server, "bigpond.com". It was actually a redirect to what appears to be an Australian news site, similar to Yahoo.com, except they use Google as their search engine.

I suspect, like Hotmail, Bigpond.com was bought out by this company but there are plenty of people who still have "bigpond.com" as their mail server. The person who owns this email probably has an email virus or her account was hijacked.

For those of you who are still with me: If you know me and want to share a link, you may want to go onto my Facebook page and either private message me there, or share it with other readers. If you email me and it's an obscure site, it's not likely I'll click on it.

referring sites:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/248963/how_to_tell_if_a_link_is_safe_without_clicking_on_it.html (warning: autoplay video)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Overzealous Blocking with Leechblock

I have been on Facebook way too much lately. It doesn't help that it's election season. Instead of doing what I am supposed to be doing (like working on this blog) I had been telling people how right I am... because I am right after all - just like everyone else.

Out of frustration, I took some drastic measures. I use Firefox for my browser the most, so I installed Leechblock and blocked Facebook and Twitter across the board for five days a week.

Bad idea. Some sites require Twitter or Facebook to sign in. As it turns out, by blocking it indiscriminately, I can't access the permissions page. Not to mention, MOMETEK is also on Facebook.  At the moment, I'm using Chrome to access Facebook to get the necessary links and to monitor the page.

I can (and will) change the settings so that there are certain hours of the day that I can access Facebook. This will allow me to update my page as well as get in my FB fix. I would just have to remember to avoid the political debates as they can be very time consuming and those few hours will be over before I know it.

Reference Sites:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tune Out Distractions with This Site

Benjamin is on the computer playing a flash game,  Ethan is talking to himself while coloring, and the TV displays "Futurama" on Netflix, the dogs decided that now is a good time to wrestle, and the other adults in the room are having a meaningful conversation of nothing that I can contribute to. As a matter of fact, it really isn't my business.

Enter Noisli.

 If you don't sign in, you can just put your headphones on and enjoy the mix and match ambient sounds to help drown out the noise and distractions near you while you work on your computer projects or even read a book. 

You can pick a random, productivity, or relaxing selection, or pick and choose your own. If you are a cheapskate like I am, you can make your own version of a "Double Mocha expresso Vente blended latte with foam (can you tell I don't go to those places?)" and click on the little coffee cup symbol.

If you really want to get into it, add rain and thunder and you'll have a complete "Thank God I'm in here instead of that rainstorm." Then you can imagine people running across the road to a bus station where they would have to wait for the bus, holding their newspapers or briefcases against the rain in vain.

You can sit back in your imaginary world feeling smug that you don't have to go out like those suckers.

Then the dogs' wresting match moves to your bare feet and one of their claws dig into your big toe.

All joking aside, it does do a good job at keeping external noise out. If you sign up, you also can save your favorite combos so that the next time you go on, you can just click on a preset and continue with your work.

If you want to put a time limit on how long you do something (relax, write, browse websites, etc), you can use the built in timer. This really handy for "free writing". I've set the timer for 15 minutes to let me know how long I've been typing in my blog. I usually end up going to restart it, but it does help me keep track of time. The background noise stops when the timer is up.

It does have a built in text editor, which I found to be a bit redundant. You can use it, or you can just load your favorite word processor and type. Want a "distraction free" editor? Use notepad, which is already included with windows or you can use SciTE. I use SciTE for text files and when I want to do some hand-coding.

Finally, the background does change color. If you hadn't noticed, my screen shots are different colors for that reason. It may be distracting on the distraction free text editor, so you can just stop by clicking on the gear (settings). Wait until it changes to a color you like, then hit "Stop Bkg".

Altogether, it's not a bad tool. It does work best with headphones and it seems to be just as effective even if there aren't any other distractions.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

I've been doing it all wrong

House is bucking under the weight of clutter
You know you have a clutter
control problem when....
We are about to start a new chapter in our lives. In June, we had lost our trailer and only means of transportation. Since then, we have been at my parents, trying to sort what's left of our stuff, and my husband has been working around locally to try to pay for expenses while we are here.
After everything was settled, and I finally got into a new routine, I realize, I might have been efficient in living in a house, but definitely not in a camper.

You see, I still have the same problem as many Americans do. If we have that one item that we used once and might have a need for someday in the future, we don't get rid of it. What's more, even if I do use it, it may just be an extra that I can do without.

Open your cabinet and take a look. Check to see how many of those items you have used in the last week. Now here's a thought experiment: Suppose you were to take everything... and I mean EVERYTHING and put it into a box then put the box in a hard reach spot in a storage closet or attic. How many of the items, would you actually make the effort to go and get if a need arises, and how many of the items you won't bother with and just improvise.

This is what I need to deal with.

This is what you are going to see in my posts.

A lot of people have said that I come a long way and they would be right. I came this far kicking and screaming the whole way. Now it's time to let the clutter go and embrace simplicity... With the right tech of course.