Archive for May, 2017

When we put offers on nine different houses before having one accepted it kind of felt like we were settling. We were getting desperate to get out of our apartment. So desperate, that we were putting offers on homes only one of us had seen. With a market as hot as it is out here, houses sat on the market for a few days at most. If you weren’t fast, you didn’t even get a seat at the table. (Domingo’s first view of our property was during our home inspection after the offer was accepted!)

That’s not to say the house didn’t have it’s charm. One of the biggest draws was how much space we had separating us from the neighbors, a rarity in suburban silicon valley. The previous home owner told us about all of the wild life regularly saw from her back yard. (Truth be told, I thought she was just pushing the sale.)

Another Spring has come and we’re once again flush with deer families. I have so many photo opportunities with the deer that I occasional strike gold, like the above photograph. The shot was taken standing in my back yard, peering though the fence.

For a busy mom who loves her photographer and never has the chance to go anywhere, it’s been a dream come true. I used to think of this house as the house that was available, rather than the house we wanted. But really, none of the other houses we looked at would likely have had this level of wildlife. I doubt I would have taken any photos of baby deer at any of the other houses we put offers in. I would have never known what I was missing out on.

Other creatures we’ve seen include skunks, wild turkeys and possums. Even coyotes and foxes. We’ve had a gorgeous red fox that’s gotten trapped on our side of the fence a few times. One of these times I’ll have my camera at the ready, but for now I wait knowing he’ll be back again at some point.

If I must nitpick I could do without the spiders and allergies, but I guess no home is perfect. At least now that we have a pest control service the spider problem has been greatly mitigated.

May 22, 2017

A Not Me

I’ve been having a growing problem over the past couple of years that stems from having a highly common name, and using a highly common email platform. Back when gmail was invite only I created an account based off of my name. Occasionally since then I’d get email that was clearly never intended for me, but for some other S Tyler. A Sharon Tyler might sign up for veterinarian’s news letters accidentally fat fingering my email address instead of hers. Steve Tyler might book tickets to Disney world making a similar mistake sending me a confirmation of his itinerary.

For news letters I unsubscribe myself. Important documents (I once reserved someone’s loan closing docs) I emailed the sender and informed them of their mistake. Usually they’re grateful for being made aware of the mistake. But what do you do when someone creates an account using your contact information? In this increasingly politicized and hostile online world, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that my email address could be associated with a social media account I have no control over. Such is one of the cases I’m dealing with lately. Someone created a snap chat account with my email address and despite my continued attempts to have it removed through customer service, the email address keeps getting associated with the snap chat account!

A common approach I’m seeing online is to lock the other person out of the account and delete it. Technically the account is not mine, even if they signed up using my name. One could interpret this as a violation Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Its doubtful I’d face any serious consequences since there’s no financial ramifications for SnapChat if I were to do this, but I’m too much of a rule follower to risk it. I’d also feel bad if this was some poor kid making an honest mistake (repeatedly). I love my social media accounts. Going over my facebook time line to see all my old favorite photos and read the comments always brightens my day.

I could log in to the account, look up the phone number and send a text asking them to use their email address instead of mine. That wouldn’t destroy the kids’ account, but could still be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Also, it would then expose my phone number to a complete stranger which I’m not sure I want to do. The account is private so I have no idea who is there and how receptive they’d be to being contacted anyway.

For now I keep contacting customer support, and keep asking them to disassociate my email address. Some day I’ll come up with a better strategy for dealing with Not Mes.

I always assumed the girls would prefer to be in their own room, but Nicole recently confided in me that she’d prefer to have someone sleep in her room with her. (She requested Mommy, and then pointed out that Daddy gets to share a room with Mommy when I said Mommy had to sleep in her own room.) I realize I’ve been projecting late childhood and early teenage sensibilities onto the girls. It’s totally reasonable that a four year old and two year old would prefer company to privacy.

The timing seemed ideal. Domingo has been on travel a lot lately, which gives us a built in excuse should our shared room experience go awry and I need to abort. I could tell the kids Alexis was sleeping over in Nicole’s room as a special treat while Daddy was away. If things worked out, we would keep the arrangement permanently. If not, and the kids kept each other awake, well they were expecting to go back to their own rooms in a few days anyway. Alexis had moved to a toddler bed at the end of March, so all I needed to do was move the crib mattress into Nicole’s room.

The first night was not really as rocky as I expected. Alexis did wake up Nicole, but both girls were emphatic about wanting to staying together and try again the next night. Alexis also settled down quickly under the threat of needing to return to her room, otherwise. Now that it’s been a few weeks, it’s safe to say this arrangement is our new normal. (And also that occasionally waking each other up is our new normal as well.)

To celebrate, I decided to redo the room to accommodate both girls. My favorite part? The die cut blackout curtains (pictured above). They let in just enough light to appear like twinkling stars and are so super soft. Usually I don’t trust my decorating skills and shoot for neutral, safe, colors. This time I went with turquoise and I love the splash of color. Ignore the color in the photo, that has to do with shutter speed and the abundance of sunlight sneaking in through the side of the open curtain. The true color is much closer to the one shown on Amazon. The girls’ favorite part? The princess canvas wall art. Cinderella is currently Alexis’ favorite, and Belle is Nicole’s so it works out nicely. Personally I could have done without the glitter and rhinestones, but I like the subtle design in the negative space, and really it’s their room so it’s okay that it’s not quite my style. Bonus it was 10% off.

In the coming days we’ll purchase a twin mattress for Alexis. We’re thinking about bunk beds for the girls when we’re sure we can trust Alexis to stay stationary in bed. Their room is large, but an awkward shape. I’m not sure two twin beds will fit comfortable otherwise.

Does the above look a little… alien to you? Sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh at yourself.

I saw these cute fingerprint necklaces, and with mother’s day coming up I thought it was the perfect project to do with the girls. Simple, easy, beautiful keepsake. I even found the same set of nested cookie cutter’s she used.

Rather than paint the charms, I thought I’d skip that step by choosing colored baker clay. I wanted something with a bit of luster, anyway, and Micheals had “pearalized clay” which fit the bill pretty nicely. I bought several different colors to provide variety from dusty pink to a more muted rose. Why buy one color, when you can have multiple charms in multiple colors, right? That was a bit of a mistake with an almost five year old. Nicole was a bit over excited and a little impatient with using one color at a time. She desperately wanted her own necklace. My plan was to make a few charms with Nicole & Alexis’ thumbprints, but we had to do a couple Nicole & Mommy thumbprints just for her. Alexis, on the other hand, was a little less keen about participating, so we stopped after just a few hearts.

Four year old and two year old thumbprints are remarkably similar in size. And small enough relative to the heart shape that all I see little alien faces. Ah well. A little glow in the dark paint and they’d be the perfect Father’s day gift.

May 4, 2017

Plantmageddon

The congestion in my nose lessened, the fatigue slowly went away. All symptoms from my cold were dissipating, except for one: a dry, persistent cough. I had my voice back, but continued to have uncontrollable coughing fits. In fact, the cough seemed to be getting worse. I was now occasionally wake in the middle of the night coughing. Then not so occasionally. Then multiple times a night. It was feeling all too familiar.

The pollens. They be back for another year. This time, I’m prepared(ish). Once I realized the likely culprit behind my coughing fits I started taking the allergy medication again.

I’m pretty sure the particular type of plant that’s triggering my allergies is the tale grass beyond our property. It’s about three feet now, and sporting seed pods. Although I admit that could be coincidental timing and confirmation bias or I may be misremembering, I remember the same coughing fits going away last year after the grass was cut back by the city. (It’s a fire hazard in the summer.) Truth be told, I’m pretty sure my allergies were actually worse the week the grass was cut, when all the pollens were kicked up into the air.

The good news: regardless of what is triggering my allergies, if it’s the same culprit as that behind last year’s allergies, it shouldn’t last all summer. If I recall correctly I only needed the daily allergy pill for a few weeks. I may have even taken it slightly longer than I needed to. It’s not always easy to tell whether the coughing stopped because the irritant has gone away, or the medication is doing it’s job. The over the counter allergy medicine worked wonders for me.

Bad news: after a particularly wet winter, they’re forecasting a terrible allergy season.

A few more weeks. Then I can enjoy the outdoors again.

You know what’s a cool feeling? When you realize one of your apps that you thought was getting very little attention is actually being visited a non trivial number of times a day. Time Until is receiving close to 100 users a day! One thing I’m realizing: the more popular my most popular apps become, the greater the likelihood that collateral apps get a ranking boost.

This month users are up 8.13% Not bad considering this is a shorter month with an extra Saturday and Sunday. Revenue ended up at $165.47 for the month.

This was a light progress month due to illness, but I did finally get that Website Spell Checker finished. I then proceeded to find 238 misspelled words on datayze.com. That’s not 238 instances of a misspelled word, but 238 uniquely incorrect spellings. I was perhaps a tad over due.

The new spell checker necessitated an massive update to the suite of website apps, refactoring internal code as well as the overall look and feel of the apps, in order to be useful. Even though I made improvements to the underlying spell checker, there were still a number of domain specific words that my spell checker would never be able to recognize as correct. Words like “datayze” which would be misspelled in any other context. 336 such words on my site, to be exact. When I ran the Website Spell Checker over my site, it identified 578 possibly misspelled words, only 41% which were actually misspelled.

The website spell checker is unusable with so many false positives. The time required to go through a list of that size makes it less likely that I’d check the spelling of my site with any regularity. I wanted to be able to dismiss words the spell check should ignore, and to save my work so I didn’t have to keep dismissing the same words every time I wanted to use the tool. Thus I added an “export to CVS” button. Now after I tell the spell checker which words to ignore I can export the list and save it for next time.

Since this seemed like a handy feature I went ahead and added an “export to CVS” function for all data tables in my other website apps as well. Now you can save a copy of the html errors with the Site Validator, or the number of unique phrases with the Thin Content Checker.

Sadly that’s pretty much the end of the updates in April. Ah well, May is a new month (with an extra Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.) I should have better progress this month. We’re only 15 hours in to May and it’s already looking to be a very strong day.