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The personal blog of Michael Ashby
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reCAPTCHA Installed

Like many WordPress users, I’ve been plagued with SPAM comments. I’ve tried disabling comments and a few other things but logging into my blog to find over 100 comments that are clearly SPAM is disheartening to say the least.

So today I setup Google’s reCAPTCHA service using the plugin Google Captcha (reCAPTCHA) by BestWebSoft because I don’t have the time to implement it by hand. I used reCAPTCHA back in the day when this blog was using MovableType but Google has taken over the project and it’s much more elegant.

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Making Progress

It’s been about a month since Gracie passed and things are getting a little better. Our friends and family have been very supportive in helping either by checking in on us, or not when we’re slow to respond. Personally, I’ve found it very difficult to return phone calls for some reason.

Overall, we’ve gotten through the worst of the grief and gratitude is starting to return. We’re grateful that she’s not suffering, even though it means she can’t be with us, and we’re grateful that she wasn’t in any pain.

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Say Goodnight Gracie

On Friday, December 8th at 10:30am, our dog Gracie passed away from congestive heart failure. She was one-in-a-million and blessed our lives for over 14 and-a-half years. We couldn’t have asked for a better dog and we were sorry to see her go but it was her time and, thankfully, she went peacefully.

She was born with a heart murmur and we knew that, in time, it would probably present a major issue as she grew older. Although she had overcome a tumor on her stomach over 3-years ago, we learned early this summer that her murmur had become a major issue. Thanks to the overwhelming support and stellar care provided by Dr. Courtney Merrow, DVM at PedMed and the staff at Blue Pearl we did everything we could to prolong her life as long as possible. Unfortunately, her body stopped responding to the diuretics, as we were told they would, and the fluid build-up became too much. With no more remaining options, we put her to sleep.

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Waterfield Rough Rider Messenger Bag

The One That Got Away

Back in 2014, Waterfield made a messenger bag called the “Rough Rider“. It was expensive, around $350, so I put off buying it. I figured I’d save a little a purchase one later. That time never came and Waterfield stopped making them and the “Maverick” took it’s place.

The Maverick is a nice bag but I prefer the stylings and design of the Rough Rider so every now-and-again, I find myself searching eBay to see if I can find one that someone is looking to sell. I never do.

The last bag I bought was made by Fossil called the “Troop East/West Messenger”. It’s canvas bag and it has served me well for the past 8-years but I do wish it had a bit more structure to it. Looking at it sitting by my desk right now, I realize I am quite fond of it and how well it’s held up.

That being said, I do lament that I didn’t jump when I had the chance.

Apple TV

Umm… What He Said

I’ve been a fan of the AppleTV since it debuted and I’m currently on my 3rd one. It’s a great device and one of the reasons we “cut the cord” – 99% of what we watch is done through it. That being said, it’s not a perfect device and there is plenty of room for improvement.

Thankfully, M.G. Siegler put into words what I could not. In his latest post How Apple Should Fix Apple TV, he echos my thoughts exactly. It’s a spot-on critique and I hope one that Apple listens to.


Speaking Of RSS

One of the blogs that I follow,, had a post today about RSS entitled The Case For RSS. Of course it’s not a direct answer to my post, Does Anyone Use RSS Anymore, but it does answer the question nicely.

In his article, David Sparks says that he’s still a big fan of RSS and uses it to this day and finds a distinct difference between news feeds and Twitter.

If a few days go by, I can open RSS and go through my carefully curated list of websites and get caught back up with the world.

In follow up to his article, David reposted a tweet from David Brownman regarding an alternative to RSS & Atom.

I have read a few articles on the subject and a lot of people really like it, so I went to the and found that they had a WordPress plugin and decided to install it and add it to the top menu under “Feeds”.

If you prefer json feeds over RSS, and you want to subscribe to my blog, then you can use the following link — — to subscribe.

Retro vintage apple computer wallpaper

My iMac Is Now Obsolete

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about how my 27″ iMac was still going strong and running the latest build of macOS. I’m still impressed by how long this computer has held up and continues to perform. Well, I learned today that Apple has declared it to be obsolete. 🙁

All this means is that Apple won’t offer repairs and replacement parts, which really isn’t that big of a deal since I would go to a 3rd party repair place or do the repair myself. Once the Apple care warranty expires, going direct to Apple is my last resort.

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Does Anyone Use RSS Anymore?

Back-in-the-day, RSS or News Feeds were all the rage. I, for one, have been using them since the early 2000’s and it’s my daily source of news via Fever. It’s the app I I switched to it back in 20131 when Google killed it Reeder service.

With the #1 feed reader dead, it seems like most people switched to Twitter and Facebook to fill the gap. Although I use Twitter, I still use Fever to track those sites that are most important to me, which now that I look, is 151 sites. I do a purge every now and then but I tend to hover at about that number.

When I’m not at my desk, I use Reeder 3.0 on my iPhone. It’s a solid app but I would say 90% of my news reading comes from Fever on the desktop.

I wonder, how many people still use News Aggregation? If you still use it, please let me know in the comments below.

  1. Shawn Inman cancelled sales and support of both Fever and Mint (another app I use) back in 2016 but both are still going strong and I have no plans of stopping usage of either application. 

Selfie of me on my 5th birthday

So, This Is 50

On Wednesday I hit a milestone birthday — I turned 50. The words feel strange in my mouth (and under my fingers), even though I haven’t hesitated to tell anyone who asks. In fact I almost respond as if I’m asking a question back.

Them: “Oh, is today your birthday? Which one is it?”

Me: “50?”

Thankfully, I’m not allergic to birthdays and I don’t go into bouts of depression over them either. It is a big one and I can feel its weight and yet at the same time I have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. I don’t feel older. I still don’t feel like an adult and I feel no different than when I was 25. Although, when I look back on those days I can now see just how big of an idiot I was and I’m thankful that at least some things have changed.

I’ve done a lot of “looking back” over the past few weeks. Grateful that I have few regrets. Thankful that I have many more years in front of me (hopefully) and blessed that the wheels haven’t fallen off the wagon just yet. I don’t have to take any medications, I still have some hair, I’m still married to my best friend and the most beautiful woman in the world. I’m also surrounded by friends and family — both near and far — that were gracious enough to let me know that they’re thinking about me this week.

Of course there could always be more money, more time, more travel, less work, less stress, and less strife but that’s what life is. Isn’t it? In my experience, you can’t have the good without the bad and as I take stock of my life I believe I’ve been dealt a winning hand.

Not much more to say, really. I’m still full of piss and vinegar and I have no plans to slow down anytime soon. There is still so much left to do! 🙂

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