Thursday, February 26, 2015

YNAB. ynot?

This is a relatively new app for me. YNAB, which stands for You need a budget, is a budgeting tool with many users who claim it changed their life. Although I've only used it about 1 month so far it's great and I plan on purchasing when the trial ends.

They have weekly online classes that teach how to and best practices. I didn't "attend" one until my 3rd week using the software and realized that I had been doing it all wrong. So I recommend watching one of those pretty early on.

Their apps are very well designed and easy to use, but you must download the desktop version to set it all up. Everything syncs sync to your desktop software using dropbox. I'm a little curious why they thought it was easier to use dropbox than to create their own service. Perhaps it's just a way to keep costs down, but the problem is that for each computer that wants to be connected to the budget, that computer must also be connected to the same dropbox. Luckily, my wife doesn't use her dropbox for anything so she's now signed into mine, but I could see this being a problem for some.

The best part is that the software which normally costs $60 is free while you're a student. For everyone else, there is a free 34 day trial.

Don't be afraid to start in the middle of the month either. After you watch/attend the Intro video/class you'll understand why that doesn't matter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Elio, Elio, wherefore art thou Elio

It may look goofy, but someday soon I hope to be the owner of an Elio.

Believe it or not, but someday is the operative word in this sentence for this nerd. The Elio is in pre production right now and the closest you can get to owning one is to sign up for a reservation on their site. I've had a reservation for about a year now and if you'd have asked me last year, I would have said that I'd probably be driving it right now. The release date for Elio has been pushed back officially not once, not twice, but at least 3 times (that i know of). Although the wait is pretty frustrating, I'm glad that they are at least taking the time to make the best product possible. However, let me give you some reasons why I want this sucker right now.

84 mpg highway, 45-ish in town. Does it feel like your driving a lawn mower?--maybe. I'll have to let you know. But as a commuter car, you cannot beat that.

$6800. Long the promise of the Elio, Paul Elio (the CEO of Elio motors) has dreamed about making a car that is practical and affordable. Their target starting price is $6800.

Safety - check. (Although I also drive a motorcycle so, more of a plus than need for me.)

And finally - upgrades.
Although the starting price is only 6800, Elio has plans to allow for some pretty sweet options. And for me, that's where this car really shines. In both of the other two cars I've owned, I've installed some type of stereo modification. With the Elio, even if the price is high for upgrades, the car starts so cheap already that it's still affordable.
Upgrades are centered around the fact that you can have an iPad serve as your in car dash using the infiniteskyz technology. This allows you to have things such as navigation, music, phone calls, cameras, remote start and remote unlocking, GPS (where did i park), driving tracking, climate control and more.

So why don't i have it yet? Well, as i've mentioned before, production has been delayed. Supposedly this is due to "funding problems," which is why everyone who wants one should go make a refundable reservation now. As of today, the first cars are planned to be released in the beginning of 2016.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A few years ago I decided to setup a web server using an old PC. I didn't want to pay for a static IP address and that's when i stumbled across

For those who don't know what a static IP address is, think of it this way:

Let's say I want to drive to my friend Jon's house. Now imagine i've got a gps app that allows me to put in my friend's name and it automatically figures out where their house is from my contacts and plots a course. All i have to do is remember my friend's name and type that in, the app figures out where to actually take me.

IP Address resolution works the same way. All you have to do is remember the name of the site you want to go to and computers all over the world (called nameservers) tell your computer how to get there. They look up the real (or IP) address, and take you there. Of course it all happens so quickly that when you type in, the nameservers tell your browser to go to and you never know the difference.

These nameservers know that Facebook will always point to because Facebook Inc has as a static IP. Almost all business do, because it's the easiest and usually a pretty small expense. 

But for a hobbyist who doesn't want to pay 10/month for a static IP, I get the default called Dynamic IP address. This means, that every so often (maybe once a month, maybe twice a day), my IP address will change. So if I tell the name servers to always point to (my current IP address), in one month when my IP address is changed, "" will still be pointed to the old IP and my website won't appear anymore.

That's where comes in. They allow me to dynamically update my ip address. Basically, i run a small program on my machine that listens for changes to my IP address. When it changes, the program tells to update my IP. And they take care of the rest. That way always points to my server and not some rando in Nebraksa.

The best part is that as the name implies, it's free.

If you need further proof that Comcast and Time Warner are making way too much money and you should out of principal not pay them anything extra for a static ip, here it is.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Plex - One player to rule them all.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the best personal media application for being around. Will the real content owner please stand up?

Have you ever been watching TV (if you said no already, I don’t know how you found this blog) and you see on the TV Guide that a movie you also own is about to come on? You think to yourself, “I like that movie and I want to watch it.” So you change the channel to watch The Little Mermaid. In the back of your head you also think to yourself, “I'm about to watch this with commercials even though I could just get up and put the (insert non-obsolete video medium here) in.” (BTW with plex, they will all be obsolete)

For some reason though, you end up watching it on TV. Maybe it’s because it’s too much work to get up. Maybe it’s because if you actually did take the time to get up and put your copy in, you feel committed. As if you now have to watch the whole thing, when really you just sort of wanted to watch some of it maybe.

Well Plex is the answer to this problem. But more importantly, it takes care of real problems too. #lazy

 Plex is a multimedia application that allows you to add your own content and then stream it anywhere you have an internet connection. It’s like a personal Netflix. There are however, two major differences:
1)    It’s free. (Mostly)
2)    There is not a general, online, shared library, but rather you are the curator of content for your own server.
While it is free to install Plex Media Server, (the brains behind Plex) client apps, like the Android, iOS, or Roku streaming apps cost a few bucks. Some clients are free however such as Xbox, web browser, and native mac or windows clients. There is also the more or less obvious point that since you have to possess the content, it’s not necessarily free. Although for those who know how, it often is. :)  There is also a service/product you can purchase directly from Plex Inc., called Plex pass. For beginners, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. In fact, I used Plex for about a year before I decided that I needed to buy the lifetime Plex pass, which includes some extra and prerelease features.

Plex solves a whole host of problems, including the one I mentioned above. Once you’ve setup your server (easy) and curated your content (less easy), you’ll never have to get up off the couch to put that movie on ever again.

One of my favorite purposes for Plex though is “family sharing.” I decided about last year that I wanted to purchase more movies than pirate, but to own all the good movies is really expensive. So I’ve established a group with whom I share my media library. Each of my Plex friends contributes $2 a month (handled of course through Venmo) so that I can buy a new movie and add it to the collection every month. Don’t worry I pitch in too!

With about 10 friends, it’s as if one us buys a movie every 10 months and lets everyone else borrow it. Only instead of having to worry about physically lending it, or getting it back, (which would be very hard since some of us live in Oregon) or scratching the disc, we all get to watch it whenever we want, wherever we want.

If you’re looking for a way to share movies, tv shows, home movies, music, or pictures, or if you just want someway to access all your digital movies in a well designed collection of apps, then Plex is for you. If you don’t want those things, you should download Plex which will make you want them.