We’re Back!

After iPage decided they wanted to charge $400 a year for a website I do not profit off of in any way, I decided to switch over to a much cheaper host (and thus far, much more responsive one): Namecheap.

The site should be back as it was but if anyone sees anything while browsing, please let me know!

Why Saint James, New York is at an Important Crossroads

Preface:

Before you read the article, I want to make it clear that St. James is a cute little town that has a great community of residents – something many areas of Long Island are without. Between the vacant stores are a healthy variety of small businesses, eateries and offices. I absolutely do not mean to say that St. James is falling apart – just that it needs some good ol’ TLC!

Saint James, New York is a small hamlet of Smithtown seemingly isolated from the many noisy, congested streets of Suffolk County. Those who find themselves driving down the main strip on Lake Avenue are often among neighbors, not passersby. Here you’ll find many small town charms, namely rows of local businesses, free parking and a number of yearly events and festivals. So why am I writing an article about its struggles?

Look a little deeper and you might notice that many of its charming stores are sitting, vacant. How many?

As of July, 2016, the following properties are empty:

Beside these vacancies are properties at risk of or are becoming vacant through the sale of the building they occupy or the end of their lease terms:

To give a better idea of how many buildings I’m talking about, see the map on the left. Green is occupied and not for sale, yellow is either for lease or for sale (some occupied, some not) and red is vacant.

Note: I did the research for this article in early July 2016, these vacancies could be filled in time. It’ll make my article a little less valid, but hey – if there’s more green – I’m not complaining!

Unfortunately, many residents of Saint James are seemingly so resistant to corporate business that they’re willing to let their town fall to high vacancy rates that are double the average for Long Island (four times as high if you include the buildings for sale/lease since many of them are already vacant and will become vacant in the near future.) I even included municipal buildings (post office, train station, school, etc.) in the storefront count to help make the vacancy rate lower.

And that’s just Lake Avenue; a quick search will show that there are 11 other properties within St. James that are currently vacant and for sale/lease. Properties include a closed bank, other small free standing stores, a farm, a masonry store, a Chinese food restaurant, or if you just want to see the most active listings, click here and search 11780.

So, then, with so many stores leaving St. James, why would residents so strongly oppose new business development? A fantastic case study is the opposition to the building of a CVS on the corner of Lake and Woodlawn. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the situation, CVS Pharmacy has made two attempts to build a store in St. James over the past two years and twice have they been denied after townsfolk fought over their right to build.

Here’s a summary of the reasons why townsfolk opposed the development that I gathered from these sources: (1,2,3,4,5) along with my response to each concern:

  • Congestion will increase.
    • More volume to St. James means more exposure for the town’s beloved local businesses. I’m not saying everyone will like that, but it would definitely help the local businesses gain exposure.
  • Property values will go down.
    • Since when does increasing amenities to a town decrease property values?
  • There are three CVS’s in Smithtown.
    • Damn right there are! You all shop at them so much that they want to build another. Free market economy; vote with your money. I’m not saying they should build another one with so many around, but if a major corporation that absolutely conducts a great deal of market research concludes that there’s enough potential demand for one, they should have the right to build another.
  • Mom and Pop stores are put at risk when large corporate stores move in:
    • Yes, they are. However, if the townspeople prefer a pharmacy owned by a man who lives in Queens, they should have no problem keeping it open. Like I said: vote with your money.
  • The property is too small for a CVS and there’s not enough parking for one.
    • Not according to CVS. Plus, with a smaller parking lot proposed, maybe they’re hoping to promote walking to the store over driving.
  • It would destroy the character of the neighborhood.
    • This one is my favorites. Buildings in St. James are a mish-mosh of 70’s shopping centers, bungalows, residential homes turned commercial, and small storefronts. There’s no “theme” or unity among the town’s buildings other than the fact that they’re all different from one another. CVS would just be another out of place building like the rest of them.

CVS, or another corporation, will make an attempt to become a part of the St. James community again – especially with the closing of Capital One (which has ample parking for a larger store already). These corporate stores can act as an anchor institution for the town, bringing in people (and their money) and boosting the local economy.

If the residents of St. James want their commercial district to thrive, they must create a friendly environment for businesses (small and large) to come and join their community – be that through a Downtown Revitalization Program, Business Improvement District (BID) or other grassroots community effort.

Screenshot

St. James has not seen any major improvements to its streets since around 2011 when the town put in brick crosswalks on select crossings along Lake Avenue through a Downtown Revitalization Grant. Those crosswalks are hardly used, as, residents generally prefer using their cars to travel.

Recently, I drove down Lake and saw someone waiting at a crosswalk for an opening between the car traffic to cross. I stopped and she waved thank you but she still had to wait for a few more cars to pass on the other side before she could cross because no one expects pedestrians in this town. Go to Patchogue and walk into the street. Cars will immediately stop for you. Additionally, the crosswalk signs are entirely missing on Woodlawn and Lake but the buttons remain. Walkability needs to be improved to promote shopper “browsing.”

On top of that, the community has few organized events, a chamber of commerce that could do so much more and no supplemental beautification/sanitation services. Finally, as residents watched when Patio Pizza was forced out of its long standing home, rents are just too high for many small businesses to survive. Pair that with limited foot traffic + limited business resources and you have businesses failing not because of their business plan but because the town just isn’t doing enough for them.

Many of these same arguments can be made about other towns on Long Island. Local communities seem to support big box retail centers over downtown community. Smithtown, Nesconset, Kings Park, Huntington, Northport, Stony Brook, Port Jefferson, Sayville and Patchogue have made great attempts to recreate the downtown communities that Long Island was built on. Those towns were able to mix corporate and local businesses to create a successful downtown core. Communities like St. James are at a crossroads: attempt to rebuild the downtown or let it slip back into residential homes with no community center to boot.

Oddly, amidst all this NIMBY-ism, I’ve yet to come across a St. James resident that considers the latter an option. But standing by idly will only fast-track the former.

The Case Against Water Delivery In Offices

Scenario:

Let’s say you run a NYC firm of 40 people. Based on data from the USDA, the average American drinks  3.9 cups per day. Assuming your employees drink about that each day, they would drink 280 gallons in a month.

Currently, you’re just providing tap from the sink but a representative from a water delivery company (let’s say it’s Poland Spring) shows up claiming your water is for drinking. Before signing up, you do some research. You’re debating getting a mid-grade tap filter or signing up to get bottled water delivered for the next 3 years. Using data from Poland Spring, Amazon and the NYC DEP, you come up with the following:

 

Monthly Cost:

Cost Per Month

Water Delivery:

1st month: $656

Subsequent: $411

Last: $136

Filtered Tap:

1st month: $76

Subsequent: $1.46

 

Cumulative Cost:

Cumulative Total Cost Over 3 Years:

Poland Spring: $14,766

Filtered Tap: $126.11

 

Conclusion:

After careful calculation, you tell the water delivery guy to forget your number. The price of filtered tap over 3 years is less than the cheapest month of office delivery. Of course, this example only specifically applies to businesses located in NYC. However, whereas the price of tap decreases among most other municipalities, the cost of water delivery remains practically the same.

 

2016 Presidential Candidate Wikipedia Page Edits (2001-2016)

Out of sheer curiosity, I compiled the revision history data from Wikipedia for the 11 leading presidential candidates. The resulting chart could display which candidate is most popular, which candidate has most to hide or nothing at all. It’s all up for your interpretation!

Candidate Edits

Note that for this graph, the 2016 edits are projected based on how many have been made so far this year (as of February 9th, 2016).

 

This next graph simply shows which candidate pages are set to make the most edits in 2016:

Projected 2016 Edits

How to See Your First Messages With Someone on Facebook

Below, you’ll find four different guides on how to see and save your old Facebook messages. If you follow these guides, you’ll be able to see your first Facebook message with someone (as long as Facebook hasn’t deleted it), save all of your messages for safe keeping or simply take a stroll down memory lane.

Last tested on February 5th, 2016.

Very Easy

If you’d like the quickest, easiest, way to see your first message, follow this guide. However, you’ll need to remember what you said or one of the keywords.

Easy

If you want an easy way to backup all your messages and an easy way to see your first message if you don’t remember how it went, follow this guide. However, this method lists all your messages in one giant page so you’ll have to do some sifting to find it. Additionally, Facebook makes you wait up to a day to receive the download.

Moderate

This method is the best if you want to see your first messages with a specific person, don’t remember how it went and don’t fell like waiting up to a day for your download. I personally think most people will choose this method because it’s still easy as long as you follow the steps carefully.

Difficult

If you want to backup and save your messages with someone in a clean PDF form, this is the guide for you. Be prepared to work for it though, as it may take quite some time if you wish to save a lot of messages.


Very Easy:

  1. Go to https://www.facebook.com/messages/
  2. Search for the topic you were talking about when you first started talking using the search bar.
  3. Find the conversation and click into it.
  4. That’s it!

Easy:

  1. Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings
  2. Toward the bottom, click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”
  3. Enter your password and then wait for Facebook to email you a download link.Image
  4. Re-enter your password and then wait for it to finish downloading.
  5. Open the file you downloaded (you will have to extract/unzip it) and click into your username. You’ll see an html file called “index.html” – click that.
  6. When it opens, click messages and there’s everything! Hopefully your computer is powerful enough to open up ALL your Facebook messages at once!
  7. Ctrl (or Command) +F is your friend.

 

Moderate:

  1. Go to http://m.facebook.com/messages/ (Notice that this is the mobile version of Facebook for phones.)
  2. Click the person you want to see the first message with.
  3. Right click the ”See older messages” button and click “open in new tab.”

    Step1

  4. The link that will appear in a new tab should look something like this:
  5. Now change the start=5 to start=a high number like 70000
    • A hint to find this magic number is to go to the normal “Full Conversation” on the desktop/normal site and as you scroll up, you’ll quickly see a number at the top next to “Loading Older Messages…” That’s your number.Screenshot (8)
  6. Finally, delete a portion of  the URL after the “&” symbol from number you just changed up to the next “&” symbol. You’re essentially removing the text that says “&last_message_timestamp=xxxxxxxxxxx
    • So, in my link, I would delete only the bold text: https://m.facebook.com/messages/read/?tid=1crhw%2FE%2Fy6pbBXu1aQ2xFg&start=5000&last_message_timestamp=1454723781183&pagination_direction=1&show_delete_message_button&refid=12
  7. You might still have to click “See older messages” a bit to get to the first few, but it’s nothing compared to going through 50,000+ messages first!

 

Difficult:

If you’re like me and you want to save every single message with someone because you don’t trust Facebook’s servers or if you just want a clean way to view your messages with someone to reminisce, you’re in the right place! No matter the reason, here’s my best attempt to explain how to save them all! Make sure you have a good computer if you plan on doing this method!

  1. To start, open up a browser like Google Chrome that has a print to PDF function.
  2. Go to http://m.facebook.com/messages/ (Notice that this is the mobile version of Facebook for phones.)
  3. Click the person you want to see the first message with.
  4. Download an auto mouse clicker app such as “Free Mouse Auto Clicker” for Windows or “Auto Mouse Clicker”  for Mac.
  5. Script your computer to systematically click the “See older messages” button and repeat after a second or so. This is where you’re going to need a good computer because many browsers crash once the RAM is maxed out.
  6. After the computer starts to slow down, which it will, stop the auto clicker, click print and choose save as PDF. My computer can usually make it through a few months of messages before you need to make a PDF.
  7. Make sure to check images and uncheck headers if you’re using Chrome.
  8. Right click the ”See older messages” button again and click “open in new tab.” Close the full and slow tab.
  9. Now all you have to do is repeat the process!

I wish you luck, as this is the hardest method of saving your messages, but the most rewarding. If you need help, I’m always here! Just don’t ask about how to use the Macro app. You just have to Google around or read the help document if you’re stuck.

If this post helped you, why not like my Facebook page or follow me on twitter? It’s the greatest thank you I could ask for!  The like button is on top!

30 Rare Used Cars With An MSRP Below 30K.

2005 Pontiac Pursuit (pre-production model shown)

Using data from the NHTSA, I’ve compiled a list of the rarest/worst selling (depending on how you look at it) cars since 2000. Note that these prices reflect the price of the car in the year they were produced. Today, many of these cars can be had for under 10,000. Hope it helps someone!

Produced Maker Model Year
3 GENERAL MOTORS PONTIAC G5 2010
50 MITSUBISHI ENDEAVOR 2009
131 CHRYSLER CHRYSLER STRATUS 2000
449 CHRYSLER CHRYSLER INTREPID 2000, 2002
503 NISSAN 350Z 2009
793 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE 2010
807 JAGUAR X-TYPE 2008
808 ISUZU VEHICROSS 2000-2001
851 GENERAL MOTORS SATURN ASTRA 2009-2010
931 KIA AMANTI 2009
1011 HONDA INSIGHT 2003-2006
1023 TOYOTA MR2 SPYDER 2004-2005
1063 ISUZUA SCENDER 2008
1121 HYUNDAI AZERA 2010
1217 MAZDA RX-8 2010
1230 SUZUKI EQUATOR PICKUP 2010
1290 SUZUKI XL7 2009
1303 CHRYSLER CHRYSLER NEON 2000-2002
1435 MITSUBISHI I-MIEV 2012
1483 CHEVROLET CHEVROLET CAVALIER 2002-2004
1536 VOLVO C30 2010
1553 FORD MOTOR CO MERCURY MONTEREY 2007
1713 KIA RONDO 2010
1731 SAAB 9-2X 2006
1778 MITSUBISHI MONTERO 2006
1809 FORD MOTOR CO. CROWN VICTORIA 2010
1830 CHRYSLER PT CRUISER CONVERTIBLE 2008
1875 VOLVO V50 2008
1884 MAZDA B SERIES PICKUP 2008-2009
1913 VOLVO V50 2009
2000 SUZUKI VERONA 2006

The Safest New and Used Cars of Our Time

There are hundreds of car models on the market, each offering differing safety features, legroom, prices, features, mpg, etc. Narrowing that list can be incredibly challenging, and time consuming – especially if you are open to buying new or used cars.

While the IIHS tries to compile a list of their recommended safest cars each year, they end up recommending about 150 cars. For anyone searching for a car, that number is overwhelming. On top of that, the IIHS doesn’t seem to take their own driver death rate into account when adding vehicles. Many have driver death rates that are above average.

Fed up, I created a list of all the cars 2003 and newer that have both excelled in safety tests (cars that have a score of 55 or lower on informedforlife.org) and a driver fatality rate lower than the average of 28 people per 1 million cars sold (using data from informedforlife.org and iihs.org).

For the fatality rate, if the car had data for previous model years, I used that data – assuming that the car will only improve with time. For models that are new, newly redesigned, or if there wasn’t any recent data, I wrote “No Data.”

Hopefully this helps someone at least narrow their list a bit!

Of course, with cars being released all the time, I will continually update this post as new data is released. Currently, this data set is up to date as of: 9/27/2015.

Year Type Model Fatality Rate
2007+ SUV Acura MDX (Later Release) Below Average
2015+ Car Acura RLX Model Too New
2009+ Car Acura TL Below Average
2009+ Car Acura TSX Below Average
2009+ Car Audi A4 Below Average
2016+ Car Audi A6 Below Average
2010+ SUV Audi Q5 No Data
2015+ SUV Buick Encore Model Too New
2008+ Car Cadillac CTS Below Average
2015+ SUV Chevy Trax Model Too New
2015+ Car Chrysler 200 Model Too New
2010+ Car Chrysler Sebring No Data
2015+ Truck Ford F150 Super Crew Below Average
2009+ SUV Ford Flex Below Average
2010+ Car Ford Mustang (Later Release) No Data
2008+ Car Ford Taurus Below Average
2015+ Car Honda Accord Below Average
2008+ Van Honda Odyssey Below Average
2007+ Van Hyundai Entourage Below Average
2009+ Car Hyundai Genesis (Later Release) No Data
2016+ SUV Hyundai Tucson Model Too New
2006+ Van Kia Sedona Below Average
2016+ Van Kia Sorrrento Below Average
2010+ SUV Lexus RX350 Below Average
2009+ Car Lincoln MKS Below Average
2014+ SUV Mazda CX-5 Model Too New
2016+ Car Mazda Mazda6 Model Too New
2014+ SUV Mercedes Benz ML Class Model Too New
2009+ Car Mercedes-Benz C-Class Below Average
2010+ Car Mercedes-Benz E-Class Below Average
2006+ Car Mercury Montego Below Average
2009+ Car Mercury Sable Below Average
2009+ Car Subaru Impreza Below Average
2010+ Car Subaru Legacy Below Average
2015+ SUV Subaru Outback Below Average
2010+ SUV Toyota 4Runner Below Average
2009+ SUV Toyota Venza Below Average
2005+ SUV Volvo XC90 Below Average

Milk Substitutes Have One Major Flaw: Dunking

So here I am, dunking Oreo’s in my Cashew Milk and they just won’t get to that perfect hard-soggy mix no matter how long I keep it in the drink. Frustrated, I go to get a normal glass of milk to conduct a little test. As it turns out, Oreo’s sink in 2% milk after a minute and 45 seconds. In the cashew milk, I waited 30 minutes before losing my patience and eating the cookie. It wasn’t even soggy…

IMG_20150621_172433-ANIMATION

So what does this mean? Well, it could mean that processed milk is more watery than milk right from the cow and thus, perfect for dunking. Unfortunately, I don’t own a cow to test that theory. It could also mean that milk replacements are more dense than milk. I also don’t think Silk and other companies should make their drinks more watery. I like the creaminess of Almond/Cashew milk.

Surface Pro 3 N-Trig Pen Design Flaw

I love my Surface. I may have some issues with Windows 10 builds every now and then, but overall, I love it. There’s one thing I don’t love, however: The pen. Since August of 2014 (Now May of 2015), I have been through 3 Surface pens. I have two major gripes with the pens. Both of them are related to fidgeting. For those who don’t know what fidgeting is, it’s basically a way to keep your mind active during a class by unscrewing the components and screwing them back on.

IMAG0268

First, the pen nibs, once fidgeted with, is basically useless. It causes the Surface to misinterpret how hard you’re pushing down the pen on the screen. Often, when I’m writing in Onenote, the pen will start writing before it even touches the screen. This causes an unbelievable amount of illegibility. The nibs wouldn’t be so much of a problem if I could just buy a set of 20 so I had them accessible for when they start wearing out/snapping in half. Instead, you have to contact Microsoft about it and they have to send you 3 at a time…

IMAG0262

Second, the screw on cap is made of a brittle aluminum and starts to wear out after only a few dozen screws. Two of my pen screw caps got so bad that they can’t even hold the screw cap on and so I had to tape them until I received a replacement. To Microsoft’s credit, they replaced them for free but I sure hope the caps on the Surface Pro 4 are made of a more durable metal…