Last week I started a new full-time job and will not be able to take a vacation for at least a year. It has been nearly 11 months since I had my last break from work, so it will be roughly 2 years of no vacation time which is not going to be easy for me to deal with. My plan is to use the weekends and holidays to do short activities that will hopefully hold me over for this year and allow me to experience new places and things I would otherwise not likely do.
52 weekends with 52 adventures!
A few things on the list so far include:
Snowshoe a long hike in the winter
Learn to snowboard
Visit nearby National Parks
Short holiday 3 day vacation
Do a 50-mile march
Make and camp out in a snow shelter
Explore a lot of trails in the area
Ride some Jeep trails
Overnight backpacking trips
This holiday weekend will be my first weekend to give this a shot. I’ll be heading to Arkansas to spend just over a day on a lake. Really looking forward to getting away even for this short time as a kind of mini-vacation.
A good first week of trying to see what the earning potential is for Amazon Mechanical Turk. My goal this week was to spend a minimum of 1 hour each day and work as many HITs as I could during that time. The week ended with a total time of 5 hours and 21 minutes spent on the mTurk website and I submitted 166 HITs. I was hoping I could get to 500 total approved HITs by the end of the week but fell short by 57.
Plan for Week 2
This week I will start experimenting with browser scripts. These are supposed to make it easier to find and accept higher paying HITs before they are accepted by other workers, helping to increase the hourly rate of earnings. I will also continue to spend 1 hour a day at a minimum. Should also reach over 500 approved HITs within a few days which will give me access to more options from requesters with higher worker qualifications.
For the next 3 weeks I will be working on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk trying to maximize my hourly rate. I want to see if this is a possible means of reliable income while traveling. My intention is to spend a minimum of 1 hour each weekday, as early as possible in the mornings, for the next 3 weeks. The timeline below is a rough schedule of my plan.
I will be doing as many HITs as I can in order to build up my completed HIT count. Having a high count will open up more and better paying opportunities because some requesters require workers with high accuracy and completion rates. Currently my account sits at just under 300 approved HITs from work done in the past. Wanting to get as close to 1,000 in the next 3 weeks.
Start Working with Scripts & Continue Building HIT Stats
After I get a good feel for the platform and improve my stats, the next step is to install browser scripts designed for mTurk and learn to maximize my time with higher paying HITs and various techniques for accepting a greater number of these better jobs.
Work at it Like a Job and Maximize my Hourly Rate
This last week will be focused on combining everything learned and also trying to spend more time each day working the platform.
My goal is to end week 3 with an hourly rate of at least $10.
I decided to go on a quick weekend trip over to Moab just to get away for a day. After work on Friday morning I drove west into Utah and arrived in Moab at lunch time. The streets were pretty crowded with cars and the sidewalks busy with people, I was afraid I might be arriving a bit too late on a weekend and wouldn’t be able to find a good campsite. After searching many of the BLM campgrounds in the area for about an hour, I finally came across an open site and quickly claimed it for the night. I have visited Moab a few times to check out Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, but never this far out on the 128 to the Fisher Towers area.
After setting up my tent I headed out for the Fisher Towers Trail which is located at the campground. The trail is 2.2 miles each way and has a total elevation gain of 984 feet. It took me just under 2 hours to complete a roundtrip hike, the trailhead information recommended allowing 4 hours and also gave an elevation gain of around 600 feet.
Total February performance for all accounts ended with a gain of 2.63%.
This is only my second month of logging the numbers for all accounts in one spreadsheet, it’s very encouraging to see everything and have an overall picture of how my money is working for me. I will be receiving a sizable tax refund in the next few weeks and need to decide on how to best invest that windfall.
It seems like more and more software programs are changing from a one-time upfront expense to a recurring monthly subscription. I’m not yet sure if this equates to a savings for most people, but I am not convinced that it is the best thing for me.
I decided it would be good to setup my budget to accommodate all of the services I am currently subscribed to. Some of these are renewed on a yearly basis and others every month. It was quite a surprise to see everything laid out in a spreadsheet, totaled by year and month, and have all of the figures presented up front. 1
It really changes things knowing that I pay close to $700 a year on all of this stuff, I will definitely have to think about what in this list is important and what things I can do without.
The blurred out item is the domain renewal for my personal website. ↩
Does SSL actually improve SEO?
After countless hours of research, I can only conclude that the answer to this question is: inconclusive. Here is an SEO study of 10,000 domains, and the answer they came up with was…somewhat less than data-centered: “Yes, because Google says so”.
This was my first month of really trying to gain an account growth of 3%. I didn’t even come close to that number this month. Perhaps my target is a little unrealistic? My focus could have been better on my trading days and I also should have spent more time researching my trades before going in. I risk 20% of my account on each position, trying to have at most 5 different stocks at any given time. The first 2 trades 1 of the week ended up gaining just over 3% each and I was able to close them out within a few days of purchase. Took positions in SMG and CME for 2.03% and 1.90%. Trades for the Month of January 20172
At the moment I am using Robinhood to make my trades. No trade fees helps with my small account. I am using what they call Robinhood Gold, which is $10 a month and enables instant access to funds when selling a stock, no waiting 3 days to be able to reinvest, and also enables a little bit of margin if needed. The only downside is that it’s only available on mobile devices.
I purchased a subscription for iTunes Match yesterday and all was going just as expected, no issues. All of my tracks got matched or uploaded just fine and I could play and rate them on my iPhone, everything was in sync. Well, this afternoon while I was in town I decided to remove all the downloaded song files from my phone in order to free up some space, I used the storage manager in the settings app to do this. I was still able to play and rate songs as I was headed home later in the day, everything looked and functioned just as it should have.
When I got home and opened up my MacBook Air I started up iTunes, a few seconds later 95% of my songs had the ratings and hearts removed! 6 months ago I started iTunes with a fresh copy and have been adding 1 album at a time, rating every song before going to the next album. So far I had roughly 2,300 songs, all with my personal star ratings, so I was quite upset and nervous when I saw all that work had been thrown out.
My guess is that this had something to do with when I went to remove the files from my phone, although I had done this before when I was a Match subscriber last year.I don’t really know. Thankfully I had both a Time Machine backup and a manual iTunes backup from just before switching to iTunes Match. This is how I was able to restore my ratings and find a bit of relief, I just hope this does not happen again.
How I Restored my iTunes Song Star Ratings
This will work only if you have a backup of your iTunes Library file from before the ratings were demolished, the file is iTunes Library.itl
First, remove all of the Smart Playlists in the current Match library, I have had issues with these syncing in the past. Then sync with iTunes Match (File>Library>Update iCloud Music Library) to make sure everything is up to date, also launch Music on your phone and let it sync up. Just to be sure. After all is synced properly, quit iTunes and disconnect from the internet just to keep things from getting out-of-order.
Lauch iTunes with the Option key held down, and select “Choose Library”, point it to your backup *.itl file from before the rating issue. This should hopefully open a library with all ratings present.
Now create a Smart Playlist for each star rating.
Export each playlist as a *.txt file from the File menu.
Once done, quit iTunes and load up your current library with iTunes Match, the messed up one with no ratings, you can also reconnect to the internet before launching iTunes.
Just like you had to export each playlist, go through and import each one. You will end up with a regular playlist for each rating you exported. I put mine in a folder just to keep it organized.
Now just go through each playlist, select all of the songs by using the Command+A shortcut and apply the star rating of the playlist!
That should do it, you can also create a list of Loved trackes if you have those in your libreary. Be sure to keep frequent backups, Time Machine worked great for me as I was able to select a backup point just a few hours before the problem showed itself. Let me know if this helped or if you are having any issues, maybe I can help!