Saturday, January 02, 2021

Best Remote Ftp Client for the Mac

 I've been updating my website, and needed a remote ftp client to access my dreamhost linux server. After some research I settled on CyberDuck. It's awesome! Did I mention it's free?

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Best Electrical Rates in Texas - How to Select an Electrical Provider 2020

 In Texas we have the luxury (duty?) to select an electrical provider and a plan. We have, the official website of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to help Texans select a provider and a plan.

From the site we can get a general idea of the price of power, but not a detailed analysis of what the yearly cost would be because electric companies may charge different rates depending on how much electricity we use each month.

For example suppose company A charges 5 cents for all electricity under 1000 KiloWattHours (KWH), and then 15 cents for any KWH over 1000; and company B charges 15 cents for all electricity under 1000 KWH, and then 5 cents for any KWH over 1000. We have to do some math to figure out what works best for our usage. Here's an example from Green Energy Exchange's rates:

I use to do the math for me. The site charges $9.95 to take my monthly usage and crank through all the plans to find the best ones for me. Usually I use less than 1,000 KWH, but for three months in the summer, I go a little above 1,000 KWH. Here's the page using my usage:

GeekYourRate recommended Green Energy Exchange as the cheapest option. I tried their website, but it would never let me proceed beyond the review button - it was always greyed out no matter what I tried. 

So I went to the next company, V247. Their website worked and I enrolled.

I like since it does all the math for me and can save me hundreds of dollars a year.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Dreamhost upgrade to Apache 2.4 causes "[an error occurred while processing this directive]"

 I host with a great hosting service, Dreamhost.  They recently upgraded my server from Apache 2.2 to 2.4.  It broke my whole site.

I wrote a Content Management System (CMS) 20 years ago using Server Side includes and Perl (yes, Perl).  It has worked flawlessly for decades and then got tripped up on this upgrade.

What happened? Testing for empty variables happened.  For example, if I want a page to have Google ads, I would define a variable at the top of a file

<!--#set var="AdsTop" value="AdsTop" -->

and then later include a file that tests for that variable,

<!--#if expr="${AdsTop}" -->

... include file with Google Ads ...

<!--#endif -->

Apache, changed the way variables are tested to be more explicit, which I can appreciate their thinking.
Now in 2.4 if you want to test if the variable "AdsTop" is not empty use the "-n" option:

<!--#if expr="-n v('AdsTop')" -->
... include file with Google Ads ...
<!--#endif -->

(or use "-z" to test for empty).

You can skip the upgrade and set SSILegacyExprParser to on, but in my experience, falling behind on upgrades, eventually bites you in the behind.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Dreem2 Review at 6 weeks

I've been using the Dreem2 headband for five weeks now and here are my thoughts:

1.  The technology is very good.  It tracks my sleep well and the numbers seem accurate.
2. It's getting more comfortable.
3. I finished the easy "Intro to sleep" class.  It was helpful.  It's a little frustrating that you can't take all the sessions in one sitting, but upon reflection, it's probably good the way they have it now.
4. Making the bedroom dark was my biggest take-away from the intro class.
5. One helpful number from the night's data is "Sleep Onset", or how long did it take me to fall asleep after turning on the headset.
Usually it's under 30 minutes, but it's interesting to check with my food diary for those nights that it is longer.  So far, it looks like eating spicy foods, foods with lots of sugar, or lots of carbs hurts my sleep onset number.  Without the Dreem2 it would be hard to get the sleep onset number.

Things to improve in the Dreem2:
1. Charging feedback.  Although I set my headband in the charging cradle each night, yesterday it did not charge.   There's no easy way to know if the headband is charging without looking at the app.  The glowing ring changes colors and varies intensities, but I haven't a clue what it's trying to tell me.  Is it charging?  Is it trying to charge but doesn't connect to the contacts?  Is it having a bad dream?  I don't speak glowing ring LED language and C-3PO is nowhere to be found.

Dreem needs a small card lesson on what the led indicator signals are.  Also a text mid-day would be nice if it's not charging.

2. If I don't fall asleep as quickly as usual, the app asks me why.  This is great, but the answers listed do not include "I ate something spicy", or  "I drank three cups of 'decaf' coffee after dinner".

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Review of the Dreem 2 Headset and 10% Discount

The Problem:

I wake up at 4am sometimes and cannot get back to sleep.  It makes the following day hard.
I would love to go to bed at night and get a great night's sleep.

To that end, I've been keeping a record of all my food, exercise, and other activities in my life.  I try to correlate those things with my sleep.  I've learned many things through the diary.   I've learned certain foods will prevent me from falling asleep for hours.  Spicy foods will keep me awake during the night.  Stress will wake me up too early.

But to really tease out the relationships of activities and sleep, I want something more exact than my impression of how I slept, so I can more accurately discover the causes of a bad night's sleep.

I've been reviewing sleep trackers recently.  I tried a watch-type and found it not very accurate.
I was excited to hear about the Dreem 2 headband since it promised sleep-lab grade brain wave monitoring.  I was hoping it would give me exact measurements on my sleep.

Here's what I've discovered about the Dreem 2.

The Good:
Overall the Dreem 2 is amazing. I usually wake up a few times a night to go to the bathroom, and the headband picks up those times exactly.  Very impressive - something my wristband could not do.  I cannot vouch for the classification of my sleep into light, deep, and REM, but the awake times and sleep times are usually spot on. 
In the morning it will display how many total hours I slept, and how many hours in light, deep, and REM sleep.

It encourages me to go to bed at the same time each night by giving me a score on sticking to schedule.  Sort of like gamification - but strangely I don't want to disappoint it, so I'm going to bed at a regular time now.

I'm very excited about the possibilities of tracking my lifestyle in the day to my sleep at night.  Dreem 2 is the perfect tool for that.

The Bad:
The headband struggles to connect with my iPhone.  It will eventually connect, but it can be slow and tedious to keep pressing the headband.  I need more feedback about how it progressing with the connection.  Did I press the headband button long enough?  too long?

It's fairly comfortable to wear at night. My temples are very sensitive and the pressure is uncomfortable at times, but worth it to get the sleep data.  Hopefully in the Dreem 3 they can make the headband thinner as it passes the temples so it doesn't press as much from the pillow to my head.

Would Like to Have:
I'd like to have a summary number for the nights sleep based on length of sleep time and the amount of time in light, deep, and REM sleep.  This would help me optimize my activities to get the best night's rest.

Sleep Classes:
The app comes with three sleep programs.  I just started the two week sleep basics class.  The app also comes with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program that I will start after the basics class.

I will let you know in future posts how it goes.

Update:  To get a 10% discount when purchasing a Dreem headset, enter this code in the Voucher section at checkout:  518A5C3B.

Monday, June 01, 2020

In Visual Studio 2019, How to move Resharper menu back to the top menu

I love Jetbrain's Resharper extension for Visual Studio 2019, but by default Resharper no longer shows up on the main toolbar in VS, but as a submenu under "Extensions".  Very annoying.  Especially when using shortcut keys, because it means an extra "alt-x" just to access.

Fortunately Evgeny K has written an extension that moves it back up to the main toolbar.
You can find it at


Thank you Evgeny K!

Saturday, September 07, 2019

A Generic Funeral Brochure Template in Google Documents

I recently designed a funeral brochure in Google Documents and wanted to offer the template to anyone who could use it.
The template document is here.  (Thanks to wikipedia for the content text).
It consists of a two column table on each page with the correct dimensions to print well.
The pdf created from Google Docs is here.
If you set your printer for double-sided printing it will print it out like this: