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The personal blog of Michael Ashby

Been Busy Streaming

Recently Dan and I have been doing some video streaming gigs with a buddy of ours Nic Dugger. I came across the on demand links on uStream, so I thought I’d share.

Pre-Show: Carrie Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry

Carrie Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry

Jimmy Wayne Live Chat and Performance

My New Favorite Show – “Modern Family”

A friend of mine recommended a new comedy from ABC called “Modern Family” and I think I owe him one. It’s cleverly written and VERY funny.

It’s done in a hybrid classic sitcom/reality show style, kind of like “The Office”, but without the awkward moments. The actors are suppose to know the camera is there, so they break the third wall, but not too much.

Whatever, stop reading this and go watch it from the beginning. You can catch it on for the next few weeks and below is episode 3.

The Road Less Traveled — E-mail Archives

I recently upgraded from version 1.0 of the iPhone to the iPhone 3Gs and did so using the “Restore from backup” feature. For the most part everything went fine, but for a couple of security apps that I use, the transition was all but smooth. Without getting too technical, what I learned was that these apps rely on a serial number and when you do a restore, the app generates a new serial number and thus the application no longer works with your account.

After calling tech support, I found that the fastest way to resolve the issue was to locate an e-mail the company had sent me back in 2006 with specific information that would allow them to verify that I was indeed the owner of the account.

That’s when a larger problem reared it’s ugly, ugly head — e-mail archives.

I tend to hang onto things, especially when they are digital because they take no physical space. This is especially true of e-mail. I save every e-mail sent to me and I’ve been doing that from day one. As simple as that may sound, it’s been a long and winding road through a variety of e-mail clients I’ve used over the past 15 years.

As you might imagine, over the past decade and a half and I’ve not always been successful in brining my e-mail archives along with me. I have several “islands” of digital data stored in one program’s format or another. These drives have been pulled from old computers and are sitting in desk drawers, or on shelves somewhere. I could resurface Route 66 with my good intentions of going back to import my e-mail from the old program I was using into the new shiny program that I just had to try.

Right now I’m migrating back to Apple Mail from Postbox and this time I’ve vowed to do things right. I’m taking the extra time to bring my archives with me and it’s a tedious process.

How I Import My Thunderbird (Mac) E-mail Into Apple Mail (

  1. Run the Remove Duplicate Messages Thunderbird Add-on to shrink down the archive and remove duplicate messages, if any.
  2. Break up my yearly archives into quarterly archives so that the file sizes aren’t so huge by moving all e-mails within a specified date range (Jan 1 – Mar 31 for example) into their quarterly folder
  3. Right-click each folder I’ve touched and choose “Compact”
  4. Find the location of my profile (~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/xxxxxxxx.default/Mail/Local Folders/) and drag the archive I’m importing to the Eudora Mailbox Cleaner icon on the dock, which imports the archive into I do this one archive at a time.
  5. Launch Apple Mail, find the imported folder and choose “Mailbox Rebuild” from the top menu
  6. Move the imported e-mail to the proper archive folder “On My Mac”.
  7. Rinse and repeat as needed

Bear in mind, this process is something that has evolved over time. My first several efforts yielded very poor results, but as I tried one method after another, I whittled away at the issues plaguing me until I arrived at a proper solution that works well for me. As I write this, I’m currently working through my 2007 archives, with 2006 being my last archive.

The real question is how I’ll bridge to my other digital islands and import old e-mails from The Bat! and Eudora. Those are of course in Windows and I’m sure will each yield their own special kind of hell as I tear up the road that led me back to these near-forgotten artifacts.

So What Do You Do?

As the last of my 2007 archive is being rebuilt in Apple Mail, I can’t help but wonder what other people do. Am I alone in not wanting to discard past conversations and hang on to these little tidbits? Assuming I’m not alone, how do you handle your archives? Do you use MailSteward, or similar tools?

Healthcare Debate – Trying To Find The Signal

Healthcare is a hot topic at the moment here in the US and there is a lot noise being thrown about as our distinguished leaders attempt to persuade each other. The health lobbies are spending millions to keep the status quo. Most news programs seem to be more opinion or editorial based so getting a straightforward and objective perspective is next to impossible.

Then yesterday, as I was driving home, I flipped on NPR and Fresh Air was one with Terri Gross. She was interviewing T.R. Reid about his new book “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care” and what he discovered about healthcare in other countries.

I particularly enjoyed how he walked through the four major types of healthcare currently used around the globe: Beveridge, Bismarck, National Health Insurance and Out-of-Pocket (details here) and then related to what his experience was living and using the health services. It’s one thing to talk about the concept and it’s another to have experienced it.

However, what blew me away was that we have all four healthcare models at work here in the US.

If you’re Native American, or a Veteran, you live in Britain. They get government healthcare from government hospitals with government doctors and they never get a bill.

If you’re an employed person sharing your health insurance premium with your employer you live in Germany. That’s the Bismarck model that was invented in Germany and used in many countries.

If you’re a senior and you buy medicare insurance from the government and go to private doctors, you live in Canada. That’s the Canadian model. As a matter of fact the Canadian healthcare system is called Medicare and when Lyndon Johnson provided it for our seniors in 1965 he borrowed both the model and the name from Canada.

And if you’re one of the 10’s of millions of Americans who can’t get health insurance, well you live in Malawi, or Madagascar, Somali or something. If you can pay for health insurance you can get it, or maybe you can line up at a free hospital sometime.

We’ve got ’em all and that’s really the most important difference. All the other countries have decided it’s cheaper and fairer to provide one model so that everybody has the same access to the same care at the same price.

So with everyone up in arms about “socialized medicine“, I find it interesting that however you define this made up word, we’re already engaged in it.

You can listen to the entire interview below, or go it directly at this link.

Imogen Heap – Ellipse Live Stream

Going through the morning e-mail, tweets and other such updates and came across the most wonderful surprise. Imogen Heap is streaming her latest album, “Ellipse” online.

I’ve already pre-ordered the album on iTunes, but since it doesn’t release until August 24th, I’m thrilled that I don’t have to wait any longer to enjoy her new album. [direct link]

For those that are interested, Imogen has been using her Twitter account to show her creative process which has been very interesting. If you don’t want to catch up on month’s of tweets, you can check out these two videos on YouTube courtesy of Billboard Magazine.

Mashby Version 3.0

This weekend I updated the template that I use on my blog. As I’m wont to do, freshening up the site turned my thoughts back to the the origins and history of my blog. Oh what a humble little blog we were back in 2003. Anyway, I decided to do a recap and share my little trip down memory lane.

Version 1.0

After dabbling a little bit with Blogger, I decided to take the plunge and install MovableType on my own server at the end of 2002. After playing with the software and learning how to blog, I officially launched on March 1, 2003. v1 v1

The template I ended up using was a Blogger template called Autumn Hues by Martijn ten Napel. I liked that it was a clean design and that it used this new thing called Cascading Style Sheets.

Version 1.1 & 1.2

Over the years, I opted to change the color scheme a little bit to brighten things up a bit. v1.1 v1.1

Interesting Trivia
I was not the first person to own the domain Seems Marilyn Ashby registered the domain for her real estate business from 2001 – 2002. I picked up the domain in 2003.

I didn’t know this fact until I used the Wayback Machine to find some old screenshots v1.2 v1.2

Version 2.0

On September 13, 2008, I switched from MovableType to WordPress and switched the design of site while I was at it. I ended up choosing the theme Amazing Grace by Vladimir Prelovac. v2 v2

Besides the fact that it was such a departure from my previous design, what I loved about the Amazing Grace theme was how modern it looked. The design was elegant with lots of color and images. It was such an improvement over the previous version of the site.

Version 3.0

Which brings us to the current version. Although I had been a huge fan of the “Amazing Grace” theme, after all my tinkering and futzing about, I felt it was a little too busy. I was looking for something cleaner and more focused on the text of the entry.

Here’s a list of the themes that caught my eye:

Now that I’ve done this retrospective, it’s kind of funny to see that I my initial motivation was to move back to a typography based design. Forgetting that this is how the blog was originally designed.

Ultimately, I ended up choosing the theme OneRoom by Jeremie Tisseau. What drew me to this theme was the coloring and the clean lines. The copy takes center stage and then the left and right columns support the articles without pulling too much focus. v3 v3

While I implementing the new template, I decided to simplify the extra bits that I had in the sidebars and take away as much as I could. Hopefully I’ve reached my goal and implemented a tight, clean, focused layout and design that makes reading these little missive’s a little bit easier.

Contador vs. Armstrong

The month of July was glorious thanks to Lance returning to the Tour de France and the exceptional coverage provided by Versus TV. Their Race Tracker was spot on for giving me everything I could want out of the race. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

One of the interesting dramas that played out both on the road and in the press was the tension between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. (This Yahoo Sports article sums it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) I know that there were two big egos at play and this rivalry/tension/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, but was it nothing more than that? There was something in the back of my head telling me that there was more.

Everything I heard, or read from Lance during the Tour that seemed negative towards Contador, including his post-Tour Tweets, centered around teamwork. Even on the podium, when Astana won the overall team victory, you can see Lance is surrounded by the team, whereas Contador is off on the end.

Then I got the e-mail newsletter from that provided the “other shoe” that I was looking for. From Chris Carmichael’s wrap-up:

He may not have the same leadership style as Armstrong, but for the moment he has the strength to win anyway. If there’s an improvement for Contador to make, it’s in his ability to marshal the efforts of his teammates and create an environment within his team that breeds unity and loyalty.

So their conflict did center around teamwork. Sure there were too many cooks in the kitchen, but Armstrong played the supportive role of a teammate when Contador needed it, which shows that this wasn’t all about Lance. Contador can’t say the same thing. A perfect example is Lance’s compliments of this year’s performance.

“Contador is that good, so I don’t see how I would have been higher than that, even in the other years,” said Armstrong, who won the Tour seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005 before retiring. “I think his performance this year would have beaten my performances in ’01 and ’04 and ’05.”

Of course I don’t see this rivalry as a bad thing. Quite the opposite. I think the 2010 Tour de France is going to be epic! Lance will be riding with his new team Team Radio Shack and the powerhouse juggernaut support team that he’s built up over the last decade. Contador’s future is not so clear.

As of this writing, it’s unclear which team he will be riding for. I believe he still has a year on his contract with Astana, but it’s expected that most of the team will go with Lance. So even if he stays with Astana, it would be in name only. Couple that with the fact that both of his Tour wins have come under the supervision of Johan Bruyneel and, at least according to Wikipedia, “Contador dropped out of school at the age of 15 and has very little education” and I see Contador’s assets getting more and more diminished.

However it plays out, I can’t wait for it to play out at the 2010 Tour de France. An epic rivalry at an epic sporting event, with epic coverage courtesy of Versus means nothing but “Epic win” in my book any day. I get giddy with excitement just thinking about it!

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