The last email

Every Sunday, I have a repeating item on my to-do list to write an email to Kyra on her mission:

Today I closed the item as “complete”. It was the last email I’ll write to her while she’s serving in California. Laralee and I are both excited to see her again when she flies back to Denver on Wednesday. Eighteen months sure flew past. I’m so proud of her for choosing to serve a mission.


For a while now, I’ve been increasingly concerned with how much information Google has about me (yeah, I know many people feel this way). The problem, of course, is that they make it so¬†easy to use their services, and when you get an Android device, you’re pretty much locked into their ecosystem. There was a time I thought maybe being locked into the Android/Google world was better than iOS/Apple, but I no longer think that. So I’ve been thinking about how to migrate away from them, without losing the convenience many of their products provide.

Last week, I was surprised and dismayed when Google announced they were changing how their Tasks system worked. It essentially killed the interface I’d been using for years to manage my daily to-do list. Since I’m a guy who absolutely depends on my to-do list, it was crushing. Their new Tasks UI is clunky and terrible, and I immediately hated it.

Luckily I’m a web developer!

So I sat down and started building my own to-do list platform. Because I was building it from scratch, I could make the user interface exactly how I envisioned a “good” task system would behave. Over the next few days, I spent a few hours here and there poking at it. I connected it to Google’s API so I could still manage my to-do list through them (since I have a phone app for it, and don’t know app development). Things were good, but today I decided even that’s not a good solution. I’m still providing Google with a list of everything I do, and although I don’t think there’s some poor employee who reads the to-do lists of millions of users, I also think there’s no reason Google should have that information about me.

I started poking around NextCloud, which is a fantastic platform I’ve been using for years for file-sharing, and found that the calendar and task tools are first-class. They have all the functionality I need to manage my schedule and tasks, and I found some apps that integrate directly with them. Best of all, the data is completely under my control (running on a server I own) so it’s all private to me.

Now I’ve successfully switched everything over to NextCloud, imported my data, and deleted all of it in Google. Laralee saw what I was doing and asked if I could set it up for her as well, so I did. Now we’re both de-Google-ified, at least in these two areas. Woot!

100% Dominion

Dominion remains my favorite board (card) game, and I’ve been a faithful collector of all the sets since it first came out many years ago. For Christmas, Mom and Dad gave me a set of wooden dividers, and I promptly bought an “Artist Supply Case” from Hobby Lobby– the dividers were specifically designed for that box, and provide a way to insert six rows of European-sized gaming cards.

After spending a weekend sanding, staining, and varnishing the box, it was time to load up the cards. They all fit– barely– but I needed a better way to organize them so I’d see what was what. With almost 400 unique cards (10+ of each type), there are over 4,000 cards that have to be sorted. So I found a list of all the cards online, downloaded an icon set, matched the font on the game cards, designed and printed everything on colored paper, glued them to a bunch of bridge-sized playing cards, and inserted them into the stacks of cards so everything is organized.

The result is awesome. Everything is color-coded by set, alphabetized, and squeezed in perfectly. The box is exactly big enough to hold all of the expansion sets. Laralee says that’s great because it means I won’t order any more expansions in the future. She also saw what I was doing and commented that she couldn’t believe I’d spend so much time on something so trivial, but that only proved she’s a Philistine when it comes to board games.

So now I’m all ready to crush Kyra again, when she returns from her mission in a couple of weeks. Yay Dominion!