Coping: Seasonal Digital Disorder Disease (SDDD)

imageOK, this is it.

The only thing I am getting for Christmas is a very big hard drive that plugs into one of our routers.  That and 35 minutes worth of UPS power supply for it.

Some freaking Christmas, huh?

I have taken the pledge:  We’re getting digitally organized.

If your home is like ours, you have cleaned up the physical crap around the house but the going through all the digital crap is such a mind-numbing, impenetrable morass of files, that it may never happen.

Without a plan, that is.

So as my “what to do during the slow period between now (no one really works this week) and the 2nd or 3rd of January) is to evolve a strategy, the hardware, and allocate the time to clean up our digital world.

It is not a simple task.

For one thing, we have multiple computers.  When a new computer comes to Uretopia Ranch it goes through a kind of digital Masonic progression through “the chairs.”

A laptop, for example, will start off as my main portable writing and working tool.  After a couple of years – when it begins to get up around the 10,000-20,000 hour mark (where failures begin to creep up statistically) it will be phased out.  8,760 hours in a year and if I leave it on all the time, my lost work due to updates is minimized.

The second chair is usually as Elaine’s computer.  Another “computer cycle” (1-2 years) and the laptop is given to one of the kids, or it is saved for use here.  It might be a ham radio computer, a recording studio computer, or a media computer.

There’s even a left-over computer for a flight simulator station I build (on a roll-around computer table) and there’s an old XP machine that has a USB camera on it that I use for working on electronics.  Surface Mount Technology and 66-year old eyes are not a happy combo, but they can be when that system is on line.

Then we have the complexity of multiple networks.  There are three of them:  Two DSLs and an Excede satellite link.  We would still be primarily on East Texas Broadband, but the trees have grown up so much between us at the tower where their radio relay point is that we had to end that service, although it was better than the other three combined.  Until the trees killed signal path at –89 dbm.  And with a big antenna, amplifiers and let’s not go there.  We want to be pleasant this morning…season to be jolly and all that crap.

I keep looking at putting up a 30-foot tower up the hill from us so we could hit ETBB, but that gets into a) another tower going up and b) running wiring including power and CAT-6 and c) pouring more concrete and, yeah, another reason to think about our friends in Phoenix who have a new, zero maintenance home, and  20-50 internet fiber…20 up and 50 down.  Here, to compare, we have 0.275 up and 1.3 down and that’s on a good day.  The rest of the time, dial-up will give us a good run for it.

The local telco is hell bent on profit.  So whenever another sucker moves in, they go ahead and sell them DSL service.  Except what they don’t tell them is we live in a permanent “bandwidth exhaustion” area because you can only stream just so much Netflix down copper pairs front the central office (7 miles distant) no matter how algorithmically slick you might claim to be.

I’ve complainted to the FCC, but let me ask you:  Can anyone there really freaking read?  No.

And now we get to the fun stuff.

We have tons and tons of back-up hard drives with different material on them.  A whole basket full of power supplies for every one of them since no two manufacturers was able to use the same voltage (5-15), the same power connect (.03 mm to .1 mm), or current or plug depth or….

Then we have content.  Jesus, Lord, do we have content.  Old .MP3s which have never been consolidated.

Video footage from our time sailing down the West Coast in 2000/2001.  Living in Florida 2001-2003, all of our flying trips, and on, and on…

And then there are the pictures.

Rebuilding the house.

Putting in Elaine’s perfect garden.

Past work on hydroponics.


Tools and shop work.

Panama doctoring goats…  aw, this goes on and frigging on, too.

And then all those old consulting client files on a 18-inch (stacked) high collection of hard drivers.

And what about the annual user conferences and all the PowerPoints for those?  Past client accreditation filings, details, curriculum I wrote and haven’t rewritten for my website which was started because I really enjoy multitrack recording…

Now toss in a ton of takes from the Recording Engineer school – the raw tracks of various artists – the annual filings from that part of life…and pretty quick you get to scale the size of the digital mud pit we’re dealing with here.

So far, it seems like what needs to happen above all else is a SIMPLE plan to solve the problem.

So here it is.

1.  Get a massive drive that will store everything.

How big is “massive”?  Well, try this one on:

2.  Set up our own personal cloud storage inside our own WANs.

WD 4TB My Cloud Personal Network Attached Storage – NAS – WDBCTL0040HWT-NESN  – About $180 with tax.

3.  Then toss in backup power for your wireless access point and the storage:   APC BE550G Back-UPS 550VA 8-outlet Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

This delgado is about $58 bucks but it should give enough power to keep one DSL unit and the storage going long enough to call the power company on Skype and tell them the lights are out.

If not, so what?  The power company is already cooking us with the RF from their stinking SmartMeters so they already know the power is out…because there is no money coming it.

Hang on, I have to take an anti-cynical pill.

– – – – –

There, all better, now.

So all this crap is going to land here on Wednesday and I have been threatening Elaine with either a) I make a turkey on Thursday OR I rebuild the wireless networks and set up our own “cloud storage” here.

She got real interested in seafood for Christmas at the mention of my cooking…which I really don’t understand, except that maybe (and this is only a maybe) I tend to use every dish in the house and run the dishwasher twice for a single meal.

My pitch (on the food side) is that with the vacuum sealer, and a 50-pound turkey ((I offered to do an Emu in order to have enough white meat, and I would have enough oil left over to hire a NASCAR driver to do endorsements for the extra gravy) that we could have tryptophan overdoses for weeks to come.

Like I said, she got really interested in grilled halibut or salmon, somewhere about here.

So the order is in.

The big honking hard drive is coming.  The network is already secured with an unpronouncable 23 character upper/lower, puntuated, hyphenated, double-entendre’ed password and I am actually excited about the project.

HOWEVER (and here’s where it gets to be a community discussion):  How the hell do I organize the files?

Just in the modest accounting system for UrbanSurvival and Peoplenomics, my invoice scanning is categorized into something like 20-25 different layers of digital crap.

I don’t know whether to  put all the pictures in a heap and attack it with indexing software, or by location (which is most of America and a bit of the Caribbean and Mexico), sailing, flying, or driving, or just WTF?

See the problem?

With a brain, you don’t worry about indexing strategies.  You hit the old noggin and ask “Hey, remember that trip to such and such?”  The brain delivers the pictures and has incredible drill-down capability.

But the computer?  It doesn’t know shit from Shinola, so  WE have to figure out the org chart.

Some of it should be easy:  Writings>  George’s or Elaine’s.

Then under George it would be Old UrbanSurvival, new UrbanSurvival, Peoplenomics, Peoplenomics Books, and that covers it.

Under Peoplenomics Books would be Sales, DreamOver, Real Time Machines, Live on $10,000, Strategic Life and so on.

But then we come to the audio and video.

Songs done by name gets to be a huge directory.  But if we do genre, then where do you put Simply Red?   Is Adam Clayton Thomas (come on, you know all this, right?  Lead singer of Blood, Sweat, and Tears…) would you file him under a) Rock, b) Blues, c) Oldies, d) Jazz?

Easy? OK, now have two adult bevs, be sitting in a recording studio looking for a riff.  “What was our filing strategy on this one?

And that gets me to the whole point of this morning’s ramble.

We are all defined by our personal indexing system.  But just like the indexing strategies in computers, each one has its pluses and its minuses.

And that’s where’s I’m stuck this morning.

My older sister (Christine) would no doubt have an answer – people with MLS’s (masters, library science) tended to be way out front on these “how to manage huges gobs of information in a graceful way.”

The problem is that managing for business (sales, accounting, product manufacturing and shipment) is really a very limited information set to be handling when you start working with the whole cloth of something as complicated as a couple of grown-up humans.

Ideas and suggestions (even dissertations) are welcome.

Remember, we are are talking about personal wide spectrum data.  Not the kind of managed platform, limited-scope content discussed in very good business discussions like this one.

The indexing problem is like the one that accompanied the development of PIMS – personal information management systems.

The highlight of these systems was the open text search functions.  Put in a keyword or two and here are the matches.

And that works for text.  But what about graphics – who has the Google-like way to remember what a goat looks like…or what Panama (the broinlaw) looks like?  And how to separate the two types of goats?  (Generic and old goat.)

So there’s the opportunity:  If you really think you’re a code whiz, go ahead and whip up an optical recognition system that will eat .gif, .jpg, .avi, and .mpg’s (in audio and video on this last one) and will do so quicker than snot.

If you figure it out, I will schedule some time in January for beta testing.  If it works, I will help you raise some money or make some sales.

Because your life – and mine – are way too complicated to fully INDEX  on computer.

But won’t it be great when we get to the point where we can say to the Amazon EchoAlexa, play me the video of that 17-knot cross-wind landing I aced up in Hannibal, Missouri on our trip to BACFest in 2015.”

Oh, and if you could gift wrap that and have it under the tree Friday morning?

That’d be fine, too.

P.S.  When I die (and we’re all going to, right?) and we make it to the  Pearly Gates and St. Peter is standing there and he says “Hey…time for your Life Review!”  You know the first question out of my mouth, right?

How the hell did you Index it?  I never figured out how…  Is this one of those angelic super power things?”

Dr. George’s Highland Cure

You may have noticed that our colleague, Grady, at has missed a couple of reports.

That was due to his coming down with a light case of Death (also known as the flu).

As always, I always try to look out for my friends, so I mixed up a batch of Dr. George’s Highland Cure.

It’s a pre-warmed cup.  Into which you pour 3-jiggers of Scotland’s finest.  A shake of your choice of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Then you stir in one teaspoon of honey, a shake of cayenne pepper and stir brisky.

Drink as quickly as you can without scalding your internal organs.

Lay down immediately and prepare for a nap.

When you wake up, call your friend with the flu and tell them you hope they feel better.

Write when you break-even,

George (Glenlivet) Ure

12 thoughts on “Coping: Seasonal Digital Disorder Disease (SDDD)”

  1. this is the most complicated electronic gadget that I will B installing this Christmas holiday its on sale for $99 for the next two days, are you one of those people that live in the country where are your cellphone hits this device will pick up Sprint network on the good side of your house and extend the signal 100 feet away through Wi-Fi and it is for LTE so it is pretty fast, and for $50 a month you get unlimited data I was reading in a comment section about a person getting 80 gigabytes in 2 weeks and then they have the rollover method which is up to 10 gigabytes for $99 and if this works then it will serve my data and means and needs

  2. Good morning George,

    Are you still doing the Skype thing for subscribers on Friday? If so, when will you be posting details? It’s an interesting and novel idea, though many families and friends will be doing Skype on Christmas and need to plan accordingly.

  3. As you have mentioned goats several times, let me direct you to the previously web site, where around the bottom of the center column, you will encounter goats. Check them out. Like, jingle cats and jingle dogs. Just for fun.

  4. I will be 70 in February. Taking my health history and such into account, IMO I will be lucky to have another ten useful years left. When I look at my library and ebooks, I realize that there is not enough time left to read it all and LIVE. My suggestion to you is, before you dive into the monster organizing project, seriously contemplate how much time you may have left, and how that compares to time required to use ALL that data. Here is the overarching directive; keep only what you absolutely love (audio & video) and only keep files that you reasonably expect to need within the next two years. Remember, while you are keeping your history, you will be making more, and the making is more important than the keeping

  5. Same thing here. Buying a Samsung 5tb hd. Thinking Kiss method.
    Main folder year of origin with 12 sub folders in each. Maybe a calendar key for easy where is stuff? Now how to solve the other physical piles? Bonfire?

  6. The trick is to not find a storage algorithm, the key is to label information so it is searchable without an algorithm, just an index, and then just use brute force to churn through indexing it on the fly. That’s how the alphabet agencies do it. When something becomes of interest, they turn their spotlight on it, index it real time using SQL against fields like phone numbers called, email addresses and websites, then turn an algorithm loose on it which assigns a number value to it. Only if any of your numbers come up interesting does a human ever get involved. Why do you think your system requires an email address to make a post?

    I don’t know about Windows, but apple provides a searchable text field for every object in the system. With the amount of data you have, you would never need to electronically search deeper than folder level, especially if you use dates intelligently in your folder descriptions and put only one data type in each folder with the data type in the description. Natural language searches will be available soon on the PC level, like “show me pictures from 1991,” or “show me pictures of me with Mike and John.” I’m sure there already cloud providers that can provide search algorithms through the metadata of what you store in the cloud, because the alphabet agencies sure as hell can.

    But keep in mind storing large amounts of personal data is simply the result of your belief in your own exceptionalism. Believe me, you wil never look at 99.9% of it again, and your kids sure as hell are not going to cherish it. One gig of photos and videos is more than they want, and then they will never look at it.

    Humans live mundane forgettable lives, and you are one of them. Only magical thinking makes it otherwise. The difference is that you have the resources to indulge in some of yours.

    I find it fascinating you choose not to do the project that would get you good internet.

    And keep in mind after this next election, Hillary will be searching for those who effectively or vigorously opposed her, and they will go after those people if for no other reason than to scare the crap out of them. If you got a phone call where someone said, “Mr. Ure, it has come to our attention you wrote derisive things about Madame president, we would like to ask you some questions,” it would change your life. And maybe they even have an algorithm that will hack into your system, search your data and present “all data that would allow us to bring charges against George Ure!”

  7. Had to laugh and read your cooking paragraphs to my wife. I am in much the same place, but I am getting better. Only difference is she is usually the one loading the dishwasher as I go. That means if I need a bowl or plate a second time, forget it, it’s already rinsed and loaded.

  8. Just so you know Emu is all dark meat. Wings are really non existent and Legs are almost all the meat. I raised them for 15 years. Best meat ever though – tastes like Elk just grind it all up and don’t over cook.

  9. Life Indexing:
    I start with the dates. Yearly aggregate folders for each year. Because I generally have an idea of ‘when’ for whatever I am looking for. Then inside the yearly folders are sub-folders of whatever was produced that year. Pix folders, business docs, personal docs..etc and drill down from there.

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