Android unrooted


When I got my first modern Android phone, a Nexus 4, back in 2012, the first thing I did was root it. I had owned a bunch of cheap no-name Android phones before, but none of them had available roots, and were all locked up pretty tightly. My N4 was the first phone I had that made rooting easy. Since then, I have owned a N5, N6, and N6P. Every single one, I rooted as soon as I turned it on. However, after getting the upgrade to the latest Android version, Nougat, I unrooted my phone for the first time in years. I have been running without root for over a week and don’t miss it at all.

There are several apps I always install that depend on root, but all of them are now either rolled into the system, or have a rootless alternative. Greenify is one of the first root apps I ever used, but most of its functionality is absorbed into Doze on the Go.

Another main reason I always rooted was for AdAway, a simple way to block ads across my entire phone instead of just in the browser. However, I have since found that AdGuard can also block ads very well, without root. To do so system-wide requires paying for it, but if you change the currency you are paying in to Russian rubles, after converting the currency it is about $5 for a lifetime subscription. You can block ads in browsers only for free. Through a bit of sneakery, you are even able to block ads on HTTPS sites and on compressed pages in Chrome, which AdAway was not able to do.

I used Xposed, mainly for two modules: Greenify and GravityBox. GravityBox is a very comprehensive module that is able to interact with several parts of your system. A lot of its less useful functionality is lost but the parts I used the most have similar features built in to Nougat. Settings->Display->Size lets you change the size of your interface, mimicking shrinking the navbar and allowing more info on your screen at a time. Quick setting tiles are now editable. UI Tweaks (open quick settings menu and press and hold on settings icon) lets you make adjustments to how notifications, silent mode, and status bar icons are handled.

Android’s greatest strength has always been that you can modify it to do whatever you wanted or needed it to with enough work, but after eight years it has matured to the point where you no longer need to take drastic measures or void your warranty to do so.



When @vixenlenore and I first met in April 2003, there was not much we had in common music-wise. She liked music I had previously liked but no longer listened to. She had not heard most of the music I liked. The biggest common denominator we both liked was Garbage. We had both been fans since their first album was released in 1995. We are both still fans, and have been fans longer than any other band either of us listen to.

Last Saturday, I took a rare weekend day off of work and we went to see them on their Strange Little Birds tour, promoting their new album. It was only the second time we had gone to a concert together, and the first time either of us had seen them live.

It was awesome! I took several pictures and videos. We had an amazing time, though our feet really hurt by the time it was all over.

Protip: when going to a concert that is standing room only wear comfortable shoes.

Totally worth it though. We had an amazing time, and if they are going through your town on their tour you are missing out if you don’t go see them.



The last time I had written here in 2011, I had recently been hired to provide free samples at Sam’s club. While there, I met Mary, who worked in the bakery during the day but moonlit at a regionally popular burger chain. She mentioned that her store was in need of good management, and suggested that I apply. I eventually did, and was hired. I had originally thought that this, like every job I’ve had, would be something to keep me afloat until I went on to somewhere else.

I was wrong.

I have been a vegetarian since 1989, and while the restaurant I work for is well known for high quality, I have never tasted a burger from there. Yet it is a great company, whom I have been working for just short of five years. This is the longest I have held a position in my life, and the first job that I feel I can actually say I have turned into a career. A little over a year ago I was given a promotion and am now General Manager of an entire restaurant. This required my wife and I to pack up and move, but it is worth it. I am happy overall with my job; of course it is a stressful industry, but I can manage stress better than most.

Teachers used to tell me if I didn’t live up to my potential I’d wind up flipping burgers. It turns out that living up to my potential has me doing exactly that.

And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Five years


Over five years since I last wrote in my blog. During that time, my wife and I have celebrated our ten year anniversary and moved to a different city, and I have switched jobs, where I was promoted to a position of huge responsibility. I have also posted almost two thousand tweets. While I have often kept this blog on life support by paying the hosting bills, I haven’t really thought much about doing anything with it in a long time. Most of the things I would write I tweet instead. However, a near death experience (for my site) recently made me think that I should make an honest effort to do something here.

I was in the process of trying to switch over my database from MySQL to SQLite, as my host charges extra for MySQL. In the process, I deleted everything. Fortuitously I had made a backup first, so I was able to salvage everything. In the process, I went back and deleted a whole lot of zero-substance entries (turned out to be close to 75%) and realized that I miss blogging.

Run a site on the cheap


Do you have a personal site or blog? How much do you pay for it? If you are like most people who host their own blog, you more than likely pay around $5 or $10 a month, and another $10 a year for your domain. This comes out to around $100 a year.

Let me tell you how I keep my blog up for under $30 a year. (It would be under $20 but I bought a second domain for my URL shortener).

Ever since I switched to 1&1 internet I have been dissatisfied. No really big problems with them that would make me recommend against them; I just felt they weren’t right for me. I don’t like their billing policies (why charge for my hosting in February then for the domain in March?), I don’t care for their control panel, I don’t like the way the user and host of my MySQL database are even more obfuscated than the password I randomly generated.

I had been thinking of packing up and moving to Lifehacker favorite Namecheap for a while anyway, so when Namecheap offered a to let me move my domain for cheap while helping wildlife, just as my 1&1 account was due for renewal, I took it as a sign from [insert deity here].

I already had an account with, one of Lifehackers five best personal web hosts. Rather than charge you by the month, they charge you by usage. However, this will almost always come out cheaper for a personal site. It may even be cheaper for a big professional site. They have a calculator so you can get an estimate of how much your site will cost, and I will be quite suprised if it is more than you are paying now. They are also the only host I know of that doesn’t make you pay a premium for SSH access; everyone gets SSH included in their hosting. You can sign up and feel your way around for free before you invest any money, and they don’t lock you into any contracts. They aren’t as easy to use as some hosts, but if you are familiar with Unix/Linux or the Mac OS X command line, you should be okay.

You don’t want to host your domain with them, though. For one thing, you are limited to a few TLDs. For another, domains cost about the same everywhere, but NFSN doesn’t have an affiliate program. Get your domain somewhere else that has one, then you can make use of that to pick up a few bucks on the side. Again, I recommend Namecheap.

Another reason is that you’ll pay around $10 a year for email forwarding from NFSN. Hosting it elsewhere lets you use their (probably cheaper) email forwarding to your existing email account, or you can set up Google Apps for your domain for free, as long as you aren’t going to have many users.

After you have set up your NFSN and Namecheap accounts, you will need to set up your domain to point to your site. Set up to use the NFSN DNS, and then follow the directions in this FAQ entry.

At this point you are already going to save a lot of money on your site, but you can really crank up your savings using CloudFlare. CF is for servers what OpenDNS is for clients: it handles their DNS for them, while adding safety and speed features on as an added bonus. It is free and really easy to set up; so easy I’m not going to walk you through it. Once it is set up, though, it will cache several of your resources, saving on bandwidth charges from NFSN while speeding up your site. After it is working, cancel your DNS from NFSN (CF replaces it anyway) to save an extra $3.65 a year.


Make sure you have plenty of time before doing any of this though: there are several DNS changes required through this entire process, each of which can take hours. If you use OpenDNS (and you should) then their CacheCheck feature can help, but you can still spend an entire weekend easily moving your site. However, the savings can be well worth it.