May 20, 2013

This is why I love Estate Sales

I am a sucker for estate sales. I know some people find it creepy to look through people's stuff after they're gone, but not me.

Sure, it is a little sad to see someone's worldly possessions being tossed around so carelessly and scrutinized by strangers. But they're just things, after all. And at least they have a chance of being cherished by someone else.

This weekend, for example, I found a real treasure. And I guarantee I will get a lot more use out of it than the original owner ever did.

When I first saw the box I nearly screeched -- right there in the musty basement surrounded by fellow bargain shoppers. It was a Kelsey junior platen letterpress! For only $6!

As far as I can tell, it's never been used. And it's so freaking adorable I can barely stand it.

Unfortunately it is missing a couple key pieces that are going to be more expensive to replace than I thought. But considering the deal I got, I can't complain.

It even came with 1959 ink that might actually be usable. And more importantly, it came with a manual. Yippee!

I wonder what the story is behind this little letter press. From all indications it is about 50 years old, and in all that time it was never used. I wonder why.

I like to think that the previous owner would be happy to know that it came home with me where it will be used and appreciated. 

May 10, 2013

Let's Talk about RSS Feed Aggregators

When Google first announced that it was getting rid of its Reader I have to admit that I freaked out a little.

The thing is that I follow more blogs than should be humanly possible. I have to if I want to keep the Random Tutorial Generator well stocked. (At least that's how I justify my addiction.) And I didn't want to have to disrupt the little system I had going.

So first I tried to ignore it. I kept telling myself not to worry yet because I had until July 1st.

But that didn't work.

I'm usually pretty good at procrastinating, but this time was the exception. The thought of waiting until the last minute to decide on a new feed aggregator was keeping me up at night. If I chose badly I needed time to try out another one while Reader was still around so I could re-import the data.

But before I could do anything I needed to clean up the mess that my Reader had become. I needed to go through the hundreds (and hundreds) of articles I had been saving and decide what to do with them. And I needed to weed out the feeds that I don't need anymore.

So that's what I did all last week. And I do mean ALL last week. It wasn't the most fun thing I could have done with the time, but it did feel good when I was done. 

Then I picked an aggregator that a lot of people were saying good things about -- Feedly --and imported my data from Reader. That part was easy, thank goodness.

I'm not going to say anything bad about Feedly because I'm sure that for most people it's perfectly fine. But I wanted something a little more industrial strength. I was hoping for something that was even better than Reader.

Then I discovered NewsBlur.

Keep in mind that I am not the typical user, but for me NewsBlur is perfect. I love that  I can set preferences for how to view each feed (original, feed, text or story). And eventually I should be able to train NewsBlur to recognize which stories I am most interested in (the ones with the tutorials, of course!)

The one downside to NewsBlur is that it costs $24/year. It used to be free if you had less than a certain number of feeds (that wouldn't apply to me anyway) but with so many people switching from Reader right now they aren't accepting anymore free accounts, at least for the time being.

I'm not being paid to promote NewsBlur, so I'm not trying to talk you into spending the cash when there are so many free aggregators out there (including Feedly). But I will say that if you are a heavy user it might be worth the money for you, as it definitely is for me. 

February 12, 2013

Mea Culpa

So you've probably noticed that this blog has been dormant for a while. I've been trying to think of a good excuse, but all I can come up with is that life got in the way.

But this is a new(ish) year and it's time for a fresh start. That's why I added about 2,000 new tutorials today over on Random-Tutorial Generator in case you'd like to have a look. I've been hoarding them for the last few months, but didn't get around to adding them until today.

I would also like to ask for some help from the craft bloggers out there. Please send me your tutorials if you haven't already.