Archive for November, 2015

November 30, 2015

Alexis at Twelve Months

Dear Alexis

I can’t believe it’s here, or how fast this first year has gone. This weekend we celebrated your first birthday. Impossible. The universe is playing a practicle joke on me. Surely it’s only been a few months.

Look Ma, one hand!

When ever we put you in the crib, we line the binkis up on the crib railing. It’s a habit Mommy and Daddy got into to facility middle-of-the-night binki requests. Well, you picked up a fairly ingenious way of letting us know you’re awake from your nap. You see, mommy usually does her work on her laptop in the den, just below your room. When you wake up from your nap, you stand up in the crib, get your binkies off the railing and drop them on the floor, just above my head. We like to refer to the sound you make as the pitter patter of binkis.

It hasn’t been uncommon for us to find you with multiple binkis in the morning. (Sleepy parents find it easier to give you new binkis than hunt down the one that’s been misplaced, hence building up a supply on the railing in the first place.) Lately we’ve noticed you’ve been requesting them less often, but still seem to have multiple ones in the morning. Yesterday Daddy checked on you and confirmed what we suspected. You woke up and decided to fetch your own binki off the crib railing! Mommy & Daddy much appreciate your self sufficiency more than you know!

inthecrib

You love butting heads and giving big, open mouth nibbling kisses. You love to take our hands to walk. You’ve developed your own sign for walking. When you want up, you throw your arms up in the air while looking at us. When you want help walking, you turn your torso away from us with your hands up in the air. It’s a subtle distinction I’m so impressed you’re making.

happybaby

This past year has been such a delight to see you learn and grow. You have been an incredibly happy, patient baby and an excellent addition to our family. You adore your sister, and I’m happy to say the feeling is mutual on her part as well. She likes to give you toys (including ones you’re not supposed to have!) and loves to fetch binkis for you (also something you’re not supposed to have when not sleeping!). I can tell that you two are going to be quite the partners in crime.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

November 29, 2015

Swing and a Miss

To say that was a bust is putting it mildly. We ended up with very few things on our list, and not for lack of trying.

On Tuesday we went to Target after the kids had gone to bed to take advantage of their Pajama day sale. Domingo got his peanuts themed pajama pants. I turned out to be a size xs (only because I’m short), which they didn’t have in stock in the color I wanted. No problem, I thought, I’ll buy online. Only they weren’t available online. When I tried to add them to my cart I got a “visit store to purchase” error message. The website happily told me they were in stock at both the Target I was just at, and another one not too far from us. It was wrong on both accounts.

We weren’t intending to go out on Black Friday, but I needed a few last minute items for Alexis’ party on Saturday, and we had managed to finish off the last of the bread before lunch. So off we trode. I was hopping to hit the $75 mark for the 20% off a future visit coupon. In order to get the coupon the $75 needed to be in a single transaction, either in store or online. We would have hit the mark, but the coffee maker Domingo wanted was out of stock at that target, despite the website claiming that, like the pjs, it too was in stock.

At this point I tracked down a sales associate and asked about the coffee pot. I showed her the mobile app on my phone listed the pot as in stock and asked if maybe it was misplaced or they had more in the back. She said more than likely they were out of stock and that website was just slow at keeping up with inventory. She checked their inventory system anyway. The website was in deed incorrect.

We came up $5 short that visit.

I found the coffee maker on Target’s website and tried desperately to find other items (those darn pjs again!) so we could hit the $75 mark. I searched for doll houses (Santa’s planned present to Nicole), ride-on toys (Santa’s planned present to Alexis), kids clothes, Christmas ornaments. The kids clothes also required me to “visit store to purchase”, but the ornaments were shown as “not available” online. I have no idea what the difference is between those two distinctions. Neither was available for store pick, regardless. As for the toys, they were full price and I knew I could do way better elsewhere. So I didn’t meet the $75 threshold that time either either.

Friday evening I went to Target, again, this time for a full grocery run. (4 person household + 4 house guests, we can go through groceries lighting fast.) I ended up $5 shy again. Normally at this point I would have grabbed a chicken breast to put in the freezer for a future dinner, but the customer behind me did not seem to be in a particularly patient mood so instead I grabbed a handful of candies from the check out line. Assuming we use the coupon on a $25 purchase, the candy will have paid for themselves.

I intended to go Christmas ornament shopping on Saturday, but at this point I had been to target a ridiculous number of times. I had visited the Christmas section to see what was available each visit and had very little faith that any one target would have the all the ornaments I wanted. If I wasn’t able to combine them into a single purchase I’d be out of luck. Again.

Basically I can sum up the first half of Black Friday experience as “Target dissapointed.”

The second disappointment was the cutting machine. After doing some research I realized the Silhouette brand of cutting machines matched my needs a little better than the Cricut brand. That was a hard realization as the circulars were showing better sales for Cricut machines. In the days leading up to the Thanksgiving, I had three opportunities to get a Black Friday deal on a Cricut machine while shopping in my PJs from my couch. Oh how I wanted that machine to be the one that would work for me.

Wednesday morning my sister and her husband came to town. With the house full of small kids and new house guests it wasn’t until 10pm I was finally had a chance to sit down to check email. That’s when I saw it, the email from 16 hours earlier. Amazon’s Deal of the Day: the Silhouette Cameo with the bonus started bundle. It was far better than any Black Friday deal for either machine I had seen so far. The best deal that I’ve seen ever on a cutting machine. My heart dropped. It was too late. They were sold out.

I was really bummed about missing that deal. Domingo tried to cheer me up. He assured me that he had seen Amazon repeat their deals of the day before. In his experience deals get recycled every three days or so. I set up an email alert so I would be ready, then started poking around the internet to confirm his observation. I stumbled upon a facebook conversation in a crafting forum I had never heard before. In the comments section someone mentioned that Jet beat Amazon’s Deal of the Day price. While the prices had gone up, Jet’s price was still significantly cheaper than Amazon’s current price, and only $4 more expensive than the Deal of the Day price. I’d rather pay the extra $4 than risk missing out again.

For those keeping track at home, of our wish list we only purchased pj bottoms for Domingo, a new coffee pot, and my cutting machine.

While planning Alexis’ second birthday party I decided to keep all the elements from Nicole’s first birthday party that were kid favorites (the balloon forest!) and ditch the ones they didn’t care about that just added more stress (decorations.) I even “outsourced” the baking to our local grocery store.

birthdaygirl

Both the girls birthday’s fall around major holidays – July 4th for Nicole, Thanksgiving for Alexis. A birthday around a major family oriented holiday, and with another one around the corner!, can create a few minor kinks I didn’t anticipate.

The obvious benefit of having a birthday around Thanksgiving is that family is usually still in town that weekend. I suspect that we’ll always celebrate Alexis’ birthday the Saturday after Thanksgiving for this reason. The draw back is that everyone else’s family is also still in town. We figured we’d get a couple food platters at the grocery store while picking up Alexis’ cakes for the adults to snack on. When we arrived at the grocery store they were completely out all prepared food platters, and a long line had already formed waiting for the next batch. We briefly considered waiting, but when they announced the next batch consisted of only nine platters and the gentlemen at the front of the line requested 3 we decided against it. It’s a good thing I had pre ordered the cakes, or we would have really been in a pickle!

The other issue was the party supplies. I went to Party City first, but the per-unit price of Helium tanks had increased $20! Since I needed three that meant an additional $60! They were also nearly completely out of the pearlized balloons that I liked so much. Thankfully I bought too many balloons last time around and still had some on hand. I shopped around locally for a deal for those tanks.

Not to self, plan ahead next time.

forest

I unintentionally made the balloon forest a little higher this time around. I think I also had more trees, but each tree had fewer balloons. It ended up being the perfect height for Nicole to run through, and for Alexis to crawl under. Both kids had a blast. You can’t really go wrong when it comes to kids and a ton of helium balloons.

alexisballoons

nicoleballoons

November 21, 2015

Taking Chances

Poor Domingo. I have dragged him all over town the past couple of weeks looking for our third tree, our main tree. We’ve been to Lowes (twice!), Home Depot (twice!), Sears, JCPenney, Walmart… If they sold an artificial tree we were there.

We wanted a 7 1/2 foot, tree with colored lights. I had visions of something that reminded me of the Christmas trees of my childhood, like our old tree. The height was proving to be the easy feature.

I believe our last tree was a Holiday Living tree from Lowes. I remember purchasing it at a home improvement store, and the Holiday Living line – a lowes brand – had the same foot on/off switch, and the same tree base. I wanted to like the new Holiday Living Trees. We even picked out a tree (box 18). But when Domingo went to put one of the boxes in our cart I hesitated. They had no less than five Box 18 trees. We could afford to keep searching a few more days, I reasoned.

The problem was that it wasn’t a tree with purely colored lights. Like most trees we found with colored LED lights, it also had the ability to switch to pure white lights. This is accomplished by multiple leds in a clear bulb, rather than a clear light in a colored bulb. As a result they had far fewer colors: blue, green, yellow and red. For a tree with color lights, it seemed rather lacking in color. What I really needed was a tree with old fashioned incandescent lights.

But those we found with the incandescent lights looked decidedly artificial. The nicer looking trees all had LEDs. I guess incandescent lights are considered lesser.

We were out of options, and with Turkey day approaching, out of time. I started looking online at Amazon Prime eligible trees. At least then I could find some trees that matched both the height and light type criteria. Each listing included the number of branch tips, but branch quality was a bit of a question mark. PE (molded) or PVC (cut-out)? Both? And if so, in what ratio? I prefer to see my trees in person. Not all cuts/molds are equal in my mind.

In the end I decided the lights mattered more to be than branch tips, so I decided to take a chance.

Tree ordered, sight unseen.

Here’s hoping.


Edited to add:

newtree

I’m happy. It has a bit more “filler” branches than I would have wanted at the price point. It is much closer to the tree in our mind’s eye than any of the others we’ve seen, and that counts for a lot.

November 19, 2015

Light Photo Month(s)

It started in the beginning of October. The first two weeks I decided to focus on formal photos which naturally meant fewer my more typical photojournalism style that I use for Alexis’ first year scrapbook. Then my hard drive crashed, and in the ensuing chaos I wasn’t much in the mood, nor had the time to pick up my camera. At the start of November, Alexis and I were trading colds. Sick babies generally don’t enjoy photo time. Nor do sick mommies. The camera stayed safely tucked away. The past two months I’ve taken half the number of photos I normally do, and those I have taken I’m not particularly excited about.

Tonight is the first of family arrivals for Thanksgiving and Alexis’ birthday. I doubt there will be much opportunity for Alexis’ monthly photos.

I’m feeling surprisingly zen about it. Most of the time. I can’t help what I can’t help, right? But sometimes I think about all the photos that are not to be. It doesn’t help that I’ve been feeling rather frustrated with my abilities lately. The image on the screen just never seems to match the one in my mind. Last time I felt a little down about not having “enough” “good” photos I made a list of my five favorite never before seen photos. I think it’s time I do it again for Alexis.

1) Binky Love

withthebinky

This one was posted to facebook, but deserves an extra shout out by virtue of how difficult the shot was. This photo was taken in the evening, in a dark room to not disturb the sleeping baby, and the only edit has been a resizing. Shutter speed: 1/20s. Aperture: f/1.8. A steady hand and perfect focal spot keeps the eyelashes sharp and the rest of the shot dreamy smooth.

2) Those Eyes

nonsmile

I normally only show photos of the girls smiling – I’m a sucker for a good smile – but those eyes? Love! A close up, both eyes perfectly in focus with an aperture of f/2? Double Love! Another resized-as-the-only-edit photo.

3) Gym Love

activitymat

Was she ever this small? Time goes by way, way, way to fast. I love the lighting on this one. Both cropped and resized.

4) With Pearls

alexispearls

The cost of this photo: $18.50. Two $8 strains of pearl necklaces, and one $2.50 hair bow. This one is much closer, both in style and editing, to the original inspiration than my last attempt. Of course I love those photos too.

5) Lashes

lashes

This kid had some serious lashes

November 14, 2015

Data Loss

Someone once told me the problem with health insurance is you don’t know how good yours is until you need it, and by then it’s too late. The same can be said about computer backup recovery systems.

I’ve been using crash plan for two years now. Up until now I’ve been quite happy with our setup. My data is backed up in triplicate. One external hard drive drive (E:) contains all the raw images, directly off the camera, in the same directory structure the camera creates. Another drive (F:) has all my images organized, so I can easily find the photos I’m looking for. I’m using Crashplan to back up both those drives to another local hard drive (G:) and also to the cloud. More on the cloud later. I figured I had to be safe from data loss, right? How could three copies of my data not be sufficient?

I should mention that before creating the local backup instance on drive G:, I had tested the crash plan’s cloud backup. I say that as though the test was intentional, and not because I accidentally deleted a directory. Regardless, recovering the deleted files was easy peasy lemon squeezy so it never occurred to me to also test the local backup instance. That mistake is on me.

On October 17th my E: drive failed. All the light weight solutions – chkdsk, restarting, etc – where to no avail. My computer happily told me the disk was unreadable and suggested reformatting. I decided to not waste too much time trying to repair the drive. After all this was exactly the use case for the local crash plan backup. I reformated the drive and began the process of restoring over 296,224 files.

I got back 296,224 “Unknown problem” error responses.

At this point I wasn’t expecting to experience much, if any, data loss. I could still pay the $300 and recover from the cloud, and I had my F: drive which should be the same files. I say “should” because the two drives do get out of sink some times. I previously wrote a java program to run through the directories to warn me when this happens, but I couldn’t remember the last time I ran the job.

I couldn’t figure out what went wrong from the logs so I contacted tech support. Tech support theorized it was a known bug that affect NTFS file systems on Windows computer when the drive was reformatted. This was extremely frustrating to hear as NTFS is the default file system on windows, and recovering from a dead drive was, again, one of the primary uses cases for crashplan! Tech support’s suggestions included (1) try a different operating system, (2) reformat the drive to a different file system, and (3) downloand the files piecemeal. Of those, (2) was the least ridiculous. I reformatted the drive to ExFat and tried again.

I got back 411 files. A handful of iPhone photos and a bunch more “Unknown problem” error messages.

But this time I could tell there was still an error with the drive. The 2 TB drive was showing as full with just a handful of data. I reformatted again. Reformat failed. Repeat, repeat, repeat. After the fourth reformatting failed I purchased a new hard drive.

I got back 34k files.

The troubling thing now was crash plan was failing silently. There was no error given. The only indication that something had gone wrong was the fact that I had only gotten back a tenth of my files. I tried again, more silent failures. At this point my confidence that I was going to get back all my data was waning so I started looking into the cloud.

I had two options when it came to restoring from the cloud. The first was to download all 2TBs worth of data in 500 MB chunks – 4000 chunks to be exact! The second was to pay $300 to “Restore to Door”. I had originally thought “Restore to door” meant they send you a hard drive with all your files in tact. Nope, they send you a local crash plan instance you can restore from. Basically I would have another copy of my G: drive. That didn’t leave me much hope that it would fair any better.

I restored again, this time a smaller subset of photos from my local backup. Success! Restored again, more success! I was able to partition my data into five chunks and restore each chunk without issue. The process took two weeks, as I kept getting stuck waiting for crashplan maintenance modes; deep pruning, synchronizing, etc. The deep prune itself took four days to complete.

In the end I lost just 16 photos. I’m not happy about that, but I can live with it.

My lessons learned:

I’m not the typical use case Crash Plan was designed for. Crashplan is sort of a light weight version control system in addition to backup engine. It keeps multiple versions of your files (as many as you specify), and are constantly scanning your file system looking for recent changes. In doing so they make the design decision to focus on recently changed files. That makes a lot of sense if your backing up your working directory. You probably want/need the latest version of any paper your writing, or program your coding. It makes less sense if you’re backing up an archive full of photos. I want at least one version of every photo backed up. I can always re-edit them, but I can’t re-shoot them!

I have more data than the typical Crash Plan user. When I was searching through the forums looking for tips on how to speed the process up, (4 days to deep prune, are you kidding me?!), I found a number of folks with similar problems, each with large data sets. Between all our home computers we had backed up 3TBs worth of data. I had already busted the memory of the app as high as their sample recommendations go, and went even higher during this process. I’m starting to reach the point where crashplan just cannot hold everything in memory it needs to. When that happens with any program performance drops off a cliff. When crash plan runs there’s not a lot else I can do with the computer.

The Verdict on Crashplan:

Obviously the continuing to fail drive was not Crashplan’s fault, and I was able to recover almost all of my files. Still, taking two weeks to recover a hard drive seems a bit excessive. I take a lot photos, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. Crashplan just may not be right for my use case. I have a little over a year left on my crashplan subscription and I see no reason to jump ship now. I may look into alternative back up options when the end of the subscription nears.

November 11, 2015

2015 Black Friday Prep

Today I did something I rarely like to do: I looked at Black Friday ads before solidifying my wish list. Usually I like to do those tasks in the opposite order to guard against being enticed my deals on items we don’t need or really want. But with November rapidly racing buy, I figured I best get started. As always, I’m hoping to spend as much of my shopping time from the warmth of the couch.

Here’s my list:

New PJs. It may sound silly, but hey, if I can get them on sale, why not? My current set of “PJs” consists of a over-sized free t-shirt and a pair of maternity sweat pants. The only reason I’m wearing the maternity pants is because my last pair of the non maternity pair got a little too thread bare to be considered decent, even for home use. I’m ready to retire my free t-shirt collection in general, starting with a pair of actual PJs. This pair from Gilligan O’Mailey is super soft. Domingo likes character sleep pants, but his last pair did not survive the wash.

Target’s black friday sale includes 40% off all apparel. Target’s been having a number of sales lately, and typically has a fairly large one the three days before Thanksgiving that usually includes apparel. I plan to keep my eyes opened. 40% off is the price to beat.

Ornaments. We’re going from one to three trees this year, two more than past years, which means we’ll need a ton more ornaments. I’m torn between my desire to save, and my desire to set up the trees Thursday night per tradition. I’ll probably try and split the difference: get enough ornaments ahead of time that it makes sense to put the trees up, and get the rest during sales.

On Saturday Target is having a “spend $100, save $50” deal on Christmas decor. So far Target’s been the best place I’ve found nice, durable, inexpensive ornaments for the kid’s trees. These tin balls are pretty great. Like most of the cheaper ornaments on Target, they’re not available online, either to ship or for store pick up. I prefer to do my shopping from the couch, if possible. I am not one to stand in line for the doors to open, and I’d worry the selection will be pretty picked through by the time I make it to the store.

Board Games. For as long as I can remember, $5 board games have been a staple black Friday door buster. I’m hoping to stock up on the classics: Sorry!, Trouble, Chutes and Ladders. They’re suspiciously absent from Target’s flyer, but they’re on Walmart’s. What’s not clear is whether I need to go to the store.

New Phone for Domingo. Domingo and I have gotten to the point where our contract is up on alternating Black Fridays. This is Domingo’s year for a new phone. In the past we waited until the phone died – a mistake that cost us $200!

We’ve seen at least one flyer listing the phone he wants for just a penny for Black Friday, a good $300 cheaper than we could get right now. I’d say it’s not worth the weight! This one I’m confident we could get online from Amazon.

New computer. Both my computers are showing their age. My primary work machine can no longer hold a charge, and constantly loses the wifi connection – both not so useful traits when you’re starting your own company! Two black friday’s (technically Cyber Monday) ago I went for a special buy laptop that was more expensive hoping it would last longer. It did not. This year I plan on buying the cheapest computer which meets the specs I need.

I haven’t done any research on this front. Truth be told I’m dreading the process.

Dollhouse. Nicole’s present from Santa this year is going to be a doll house. She fell in love with my sister’s old Playskool Dollhouse when we visited last labor day, so we’re in the market for something similar.

I liked Babies’ R Us’ You & Me Happy Together, as it reminded me a lot of the PlaySkool house, but the reviews were pretty terrible.

Cricut. Cutting machines are another staple of Black Friday that I always assumed I would get one day. When we moved I had all sorts of ideas for vinyl wall decals. Now that I’m finally ready to pull the trigger on a cutting machine, they are absent from those black friday ads! Argh. File this one in the maybe, but not likely category.

How did I get so far behind? Wasn’t it just October? And now it’s already almost mid November? Adding insult to injury, most of the stores I frequent have already started their holiday deals and I haven’t even figured out when I’m on the hunt for yet!

One thing I know I need more of is ornaments. It’s no secret that I’m quite addicted to Christmas Tree, and Christmas ornaments. Every year I buy at least a couple new ornaments for our tree. Pretty much every year since Domingo and I first started dating he has been teasing me about the ornaments that will one day grace my tree. We’d be at Hallmark store and he’d point to the Twilight Ornament, or the Hanna Montana Ornament. One day, he’d warn, our future kids would want those. The notion of kid centric ornaments on our tree didn’t bother me, per se. I do love me some Dr. Suess, as evident from Nicole’s first birthday party. But I do cringe a little at the idea of tween pop culture on the tree. I could do without vampire romance, thank you very much.

The big driver for ornaments this year is the second tree I’ve been pinning over. As we were discussing where the trees will go in our new home it finally dawned on us; why stop there? We can get a third kid-height, narrow tree for the playroom. The kids can have total say of what goes on the tree, and decorate it to their hearts content. Domingo and I plan to put up the other two trees and decorate them with the fragile ornaments Thanksgiving night after the girls go to sleep, per tradition. Then, the following morning, we’ll let the girls direct the show when setting up their own tree. It’s all the magic of “Santa” bringing the tree, with all the family fun of setting it up together.

Three trees it is!

Yesterday evening I found the multi-colored light tree on Target.com, equivalent to one we really liked when we saw it in person. The website were stacking sales, including “a buy three, get an additional 15% off” ending that night. I did the frugal thing: searched by sale items, sorted by price, and added two $1 ornament hooks to my card for an additional $9 in savings. This morning I couldn’t help myself. I logged back on to target.com and found the tree had a whole new set of stackable sales, and was now about $5 lower. My order, made just hours before, couldn’t be canceled. My two choices were to suck it up, or call the customer help line and ask for a price reduction. I’m sure you can guess which option I picked. The kind customer sales agent refunded my order the requested amount seemingly without verifying the exact price difference.

There could be several reasons why Target issued me a flat price adjustment. Perhaps they have a minimum price for which they want to sell the item, and my price adjustment was still north of it. (If my math is correct, I came out 11 cents ahead of today’s sale price.) Or perhaps they view it as a means of customer retention. In retail there’s a notion of customer lifetime value. It’s often cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. There’s also a growing field in Customer Analytics, analytics derived from customer data. Target knows a surprising amount about me. They know my credit card information and address from the online order. From there they can easily figure out how many other purchases I’ve made using the same card or shipping to the same address. From my purchase history they can predict things about me, and my future consumer behaviors. They can predict how profitable I’m likely to continue to be. That assessment cam lead to special perks. It’s a practice that’s been around for ages (think Casino “comps”), but is becoming more frequent with the advent of big data.

It’s hard to know for sure what a company considers my worth to be. Eleven cents extra doesn’t tell you much. I tend to think of myself as not a very profitable customer. I like to think I’m pretty good about ferreting out the best possible deals. I’m clearly the kind of person who double checks sale prices after a purchase, and requests price matching even when it’s just a few dollars. Each dollar I save is a dollar the retailer doesn’t earn. The margins on me can’t be very good. Domingo keeps reminding me it’s not just the margins retailers care about, but the reduction of inventory. In that regard I’m a golden goose, what with my three trees and two Halloween costumes per child. In my own analysis, I did point out that I paid slightly more ($5-7 per child) than average.

This year I’m sure the models will tell the retailers I’m anything but frugal. I’m going to try and hold off on the bulk of my holiday decorations until the after sales, but we will need at least some ornaments for our new trees.

On Monday I released the Passive Voice Detector, today I am releasing my second app of the week, the Miscarriage Estimator.

After the success of my Labor Predictor, I started thinking about a Miscarriage calculator as a natural follow on idea. I like math, so diving into the statistics generally make me feel better about things that are beyond my control. I’ve also been around long enough to know that’s not necessarily true for everyone, or even most people. In my passive observations, there didn’t seem to be enough interest in such an app to make creating it worth while. I tabled the idea.

Then a dear friend suffered a loss.

As devastating as the loss itself can be, uncertainty can make it so much worse. On bad days my friend worried she would never get pregnant again, or if she did she would continue to miscarry. After reading on the internet that she was at five times greater risk for recurrent miscarriages, she was understandably distraught. So we talked about where the number came from, and that while her risk may have increased, it was still nearly 20 times more likely she had just gotten unlucky than she had an underlying condition. (Explanation below if you’re interested.) Throughout the subsequent months and her following pregnancy we sent many long nights emailing each other back and forth, breaking down the scary statistics and rephrasing them in a more positive way.

That is my goal with the Miscarriage Estimator, to take a scary statistic and make it less so. 20% of pregnancies may result in miscarriage also means 80% of pregnancies are carried to term. Knowing doesn’t have to be scary.

Examining the odds of recurrent miscarriage:

The intuition: the rate of miscarriage is generally assumed to be 20%. The rate of recurrent miscarriage is about 1%. That means of a group of 100 newly pregnant women we might expect 99 to have no underlying issues and 1 to have a as yet unknown recurring miscarriage condition. Of the 99 women without issue, we might expect 20 will be unlucky and miscarry by just random chance. The one with the recurrent miscarriage will also likely miscarry, for a total of 21 miscarriages out of 100. The odds of being the one with the underlying recurrent miscarriage condition increased from 1 in 100 to 1 in 21. While five times higher, it’s still 20 times more likely for a woman who had a miscarriage to not be the one with an underlying recurrent miscarriage condition.

Mathematically:
p(recurrent_miscarriage | single_miscarriage) = p(single_miscarriage | recurrent miscarriage) * p(recurrent_miscarriage) / p(single_miscarriage) By Bayes Rule
p(recurrent_miscarriage | single_miscarriage) = 100% * 1% / 20%
p(recurrent_miscarriage | single_miscarriage) = 5%

p(not_recurrent_miscarriage | single_miscarriage) = p(single_miscarriage | not_recurrent miscarriage) * p(not_recurrent_miscarriage) / p(single_miscarriage) By Bayes Rule again
p(not_recurrent_miscarriage | single_miscarriage) = 20% * 99% / 20%
p(not_recurrent_miscarriage | single_miscarriage) = 99%

Thus the probability of not having a recurrent miscarriage condition is 20 times greater (99% vs 5%) than the probability of having it.

November 3, 2015

Six Months In

Or perhaps, more accurately the title of this post should be “Six Months Out”. I left Google six months ago this past Sunday. At the time I was focusing on the move. I didn’t start working on my business until June, and didn’t launch my first new app since becoming an entrepreneur until July. Since I don’t know the exact date I started working on my business, I’ll have to use my departure date from Google as a mile marker.

In the past six months I’ve launched five Apps:

The last three were launched silently.

I tried the new apps to the relevant old ones to increase their visibility. I have a link to the Difficult & Extraneous Word Finder & Passive Voice Detector from the Reading Ease Analyzer, and a link to the two baby name apps from the Labor Predictor. About 7.1% of my web traffic fallowed the links. I also had a 2% increase in traffic from people just visiting those new apps, which means they’re slowly being adopted, the baby name apps being the most popular.

One of my big lesson learns is to make it absolutely crystal clear what the app actually does. Despite having 42 visitors in the past month, not a single person has up loaded a file to the Photo Analyzer. Not a single one. I am thinking about setting up a tutorial for it. I applied this lesson to the Passive Voice Detector by giving it a sample text.

Sadly the incredible increase revenue from my ad placement fix did not last. Since then revenue has settled around a 77% increase, from 36 cents a day to 64 cents a day. My guess is the giant increase was part of a newness effect, where users are attracted to and interact with new things. The ad placement is no longer new, and no longer as captivating to users.

I’m happy with the progressive I’ve made. I went from taking a week to write the Name Uniqueness Analyzer to less than a day to write the Passive Voice Detector. On the other hand, in six months I’ve only created five apps, and had a 77% revenue increase. I need a revenue increase of about 215 times (the equivalent of ten 77% increase) to justify continuing to work for myself long term.

Time to get back to work.

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