Day 283 – So Much Stuff

83 – 100 Tips to Declutter Your Life

I was happy to find a few pages with relevant tips today.

Keeping things tidy, regardless of whether it is at home or at work, is a lot of effort. The best tip in the lot is to not focus on specific techniques to keep organised, but rather to create habits that lead to organisation. Habits are automatic where techniques require a conscious effort.

I thought I already had a fairly comprehensive set of tidying habits, but one that I had not yet mastered (possibly because it’s a big one), is to not let anything into the house without taking a moment to consider what it’s value is, and whether I should even keep it at all.

I have to admit, I’m guilty of mindlessly accepting flyer, and then stacking them somewhere. The stacks turn into piles. The piles start roaming the house. And they mock me and glare at me. When I’m trying to relax.

Same goes for mail, receipts, magazines… all the things that seem so small and simply individually, but that turn into insurmountable problems over time. Once it’s a stack to be cleaned, it is daunting to even contemplate checking each item, assessing its value, and then tossing what I don’t need.

On top of that it is hard to let go of something once collected. I have toyed with the idea of month-labelled boxes, putting stuff in them, and then when the month comes around again tossing whatever is left in them. If I didn’t need it for a whole year, odds are I’ll never need it again anyway.

It’s just…

Where do I keep the boxes?

Oh, and one little practical tip that really appealed to me is for tidying the house: rather than picking things up and taking them to where they belong… pick up everything in a room and drop it into a basket, then take the basket around the house to put stuff away. It saves on a lot of time and effort walking up-and-down the hallway. I’m going to have to give this a shot. It also gives the instant satisfaction of cleaning out a target area in one go.

Day 256 – Digital Dusting

The inevitable and unenviable down-sides to upgrading network storage are the clean-up duties that come with it. Time turns pristine terra-bytes into atrocious terror-bytes.

We all succumb at times to the convenience of wide open spaces that make us just drop some data in a disorganised pile. I’ll tell myself I’ll get back to tidying it later. It’ll just be there till the weekend; a couple of weeks at the most. I’ll delete what I no longer need and I’ll group and re-name everything I intend to keep.

Today I “enjoyed” cleaning up 85GB of music with low quality meta-data tags. It had never really mattered that I had never gotten to this clean-up until now. As it turns out, for music playback, Plex really cares about having some nice high-quality tags to identify all the tracks from. It’s the difference between a crude image with a disclaimer of failure, or a polished album cover off the internet.

I was really not looking forward to this task, and I’d have gone even more mental if not for MusicBrainz and their wonderful “MusicBrainz Picard” tool.

MusicBrainz-the-site I believe has existed for some time, and it is basically an open collaborative Wikipedia for music album meta-data. To say it is comprehensive is an understatement. For many albums it has every single variant released in every single geographic area with all the minute variations in meta-data.

Wading through this could be a pain.

But, that’s where MusicBrainz-the-tool comes in; I point it at my music folder, drag all the tracks across the be identified… and it starts by grabbing the details that are already embedded in all the files.

If that data is already sufficiently detailed, tracks and albums will immediately move into the “identified” column. If not, you can click the magic “Lookup” button, which will match the available details against its extensive database. It’ll match tracks by album, track name, track number on the disc, duration… whatever it can use to uniquely identify the album a group of tracks were on together.

When this succeeds (as it does most of the time), again, the albums move straight in the “identified” column, only padded out with much more comprehensive tags including contributing artists, year of release, publisher, and on and on.

In the rare cases where this still does not pinpoint the album (for example, multi-disc albums that were split into separate directories seem to usually fail), you can hit the button that takes you into the search page of MusicBrainz-the-site. Every entry in the search result has a banner that you can click, which will add the album into the “identified” column where you can then drag the album that you think matches. Again it’ll do a best-effort automatic match of the tracks you drag across, but ultimately you can drag-and-drop the identification results till you are happy with the matches that have been made.

Then all that’s left is hitting “Save” and the tracks get re-tagged in-place with the new information.

I like the way the workflow has been laid out. I like that the automation is merely assisting me and not telling me what the answer is. Too many poor solutions suffer from over-automation leaving no room for human intervention if the automated outcome isn’t quite right. This is not one of those solutions.

And I think it saved me a lot of time today.

Now I get to sit back and relax with my music library.
Before I have to go and clean up a decade of photos I’ve put in all the wrong places.

Day 247 – Cleaning Inside the Box

I’ve got my Thursday night fun all lined up for me here. Some people go out for dates, drinks or parties… I’m detailing my PC case. To be fair, I don’t think my back/neck/shoulder-complex (the new axis of evil) would allow me to enjoy any of those other options, and in the end this’ll make me back some of the money that has gone into the laptop I’m writing this post on.

I don’t know if there is a better way to do this that I’m not familiar with, but cleaning my PC is a bit of an ordeal. I bought the case 5-6 years ago I think. I bought sturdy and big because once you have a good roomy case you never need another one. And this has proven true for my PC needs. A good case and a good power supply can outlast many re-builds of the internals of a PC and are probably the two elements most worth not skimping on.

On the down-side, a good quality case also has proven to have many awkward nooks and crannies.

It has six 3.5″ internal drive bays arrayed 3-and-3 with a 12″ fan in between. This is great for keeping them cool with solid and quiet airflow. But this also collects tons of very fine dust on both removable drive cages.

Similarly, there is an intake vent that goes *through* my case from side-to-side which has another 12″ fan directed at the GPU slot to get it plenty of fresh outside-the-case-air to keep it working optimally. But again, this ends up with a lot of fine dust inside the case.

And the problem with all of this is… the big plexiglass window in the side of my case showing off all that wonderful dust. I originally wanted a solid case-side, but at the time I wanted it quick and only the model with the window was in stock. It’s a nice marketable detail, but it’s not good for the I-don’t-care-about-dust part of my personality. Because I do care when I can see 2mm of it over all the innards of my case.

I’m not enough of a gamer… or I’m not sufficiently OCD… to actually clean this out with any kind of routine. For the most part I clean when I happen to move the case for some reason or another and wads of dust fall off the sides.

The fateful decision I made to want a whisper-quiet PC also doesn’t help. It has 12″ fans all over the place. From memory there are 5 in total, sucking air through this 11.2kg monstrosity and keeping it so well cooled that on a hot summery day I can cool my legs by resting them against the icy 2mm of aluminium that make up its body.

Yes. It’s a very solid case.

And so well-made. All edges are machined to be rounded, and all the major parts come apart without the use of a screwdriver. It’s a pleasure to open up and work inside. But alas. I’ve come to a point where I’d rather not, and just rely on a ready-made boxed solution that I can comfortably carry around with me. LAN games are fun. Lugging 11kg of aluminium around: less so. And that’s not counting the 27″ Dell monitor that goes with that particular social activity.

No. As much as I’ll miss the beauty of the well-made case, and the promise of infinite upgrade-ability, I am happy with the choice I have made.

Other than the inevitable cleaning inside all those little well-rounded corners.
That I could very easily live without.

Day 116 – Almost Missed It

It is sheer luck that I didn’t forget to blog tonight.

I was halfway through Prometheus, getting some laundry out to hang (I am an expert multi-tasker), and it somehow popped in my head that I had forgotten to do something important. I had a quick panicked look on the clock only to notice I had 30 minutes left.

I briefly wondered what I would have done had I missed it. Catch up with a Mea Culpa? Or take it as a sign to change my blogging premise, and focus on something that will help build a bigger audience?

But who needs audiences really anyway.

Or rather; I don’t need an audience as such for the purpose of my blogging to be satisfied so far. The primary goal I was striving for was to get better at writing, and to try to do something interesting every day. I think I’m succeeding at least at one of those.

I didn’t quite spend today as I had intended. Plan A was to go take pictures at Sculptures By The Sea, but that fell through. Plan B was to see Gravity, which also fell through. So, I executed Plan C for Chores.

I started my day having a stab at cleaning the inside of the car.
It is at least somewhat presentable now that it has slightly less of the dog, and slightly less of my spilled coffee, and slightly less of decades of dust.

Then I decided to shop around for a replacement setup for the living room. I’m getting rid of the PC, and replacing it with a new amplifier and BluRay player for now. I’ll add a QNAP for media-centre back-end at some later date.

Most of the evening went to setting it all up, but I’m quite pleased with the result. Now all the living room needs is wooden floors and a new lounge and I could have guests over without being too embarrassed. 😉

Which then brings me back to Prometheus. My excuse is that I need to test the new set-up. Which is the reason I’m sticking with for now.

Day 54 – Bunnies on the Keyboard

Dust bunnies that is.

The day has been very gloomy and dreary so far. I’ve worked (playing, shhhh!) in the study all day with the blinds wide open.

Then suddenly… the sun pokes out, streams into the room and reveals the horrible truth to me! My corner has accumulated mountains of dust since the last time I cleaned. I’m not even going to try to remember when that was.

For a moment my first thought was: arrrgh, quick, close the blinds and it’ll be all okay again.

Then my second thought was: can I just wipe the obvious dust bunnies away and forget about the rest?

In the end, Resolute Jerry won the day. I got myself a cloth and a basin of water and wiped everything down. I’m sure I’ll be grateful to myself for the next… let’s say 6 months. And then it’ll be winter and the sun won’t show the horrible truth for another 6 months.

(Or maybe I’ll try being a bit more pro-active about this… I am a manager now after all, and I hear pro-active is all the rage)

Results of my Labours
Results of my Labours

Change of Plans

Originally, I was planning to use today for a digital clean-up instead of the usual physical one. I have favourited links going back almost 1000 days and I was planning to sift through them for the ones worth keeping so they are easier to find within the sea of data.

This was based on the dreary overcast day yesterday, seemingly promising an equally dreary weekend.

And then I got out of bed and looked out the window.

So, I guess I’ll be leaving the link clean-up for later while I figure out if there’s anywhere I can go be out in the sun and do something worthwhile with my day. Maybe the camera will come along, even though trying to take pictures in the harsh noon sun is clearly a bit no-no 😉

So Much to Do

Work

Next week contains an interstate trip for work, which usually makes the week somewhat hectic. I’m hoping to get one or two things out-of-the-way for work today:

  • Read “Virtual Team Success” for work training sessions
  • Work through the “Virtual Teams” workbook that goes with aforementioned training
  • Make some preparations for the peer-education sessions I’m trying to set up within the development team
  • Read up a bit more on Atlassian products so I have the details straight

Clean

And then the usual chores for the weekend:

  • Floors: vacuum & mop
  • Laundry: probably two loads
  • Litter Tray: get hazmat suit, clean tray, hose self down

Play

And I am hoping I can find a little time to play around with the new 6D to figure out where all the controls and settings are.

And I had hoped to play through Alan Wake as well, and perhaps another round or two of Binding of Isaac.

But first, most importantly, I go and get my coffee.

Day 5 – He Sits in Judgement

We all know the Internet likes cat pictures, so here’s me making the most of my day filled with cleaning…

This is my cat Obie, short for Oberon (no, neither are my password, I’m not that security illiterate, thanks). He judges me. A lot.

Today he was sitting back watching me clean and in no uncertain terms telling me that I don’t know what I’m doing, and to stop embarrassing myself already. But he washes with his tongue, so what does he know!?

And because one cat picture is never enough…

2013-07-21 - Obie Morning 1
Good Morning… Mind if I Rattle these Blinds?

And…

Taking in the Smells Outside
Taking in the Smells Outside