Category Archives: personal

How to find and organize gmail lost archived items.

Since we started the 21st century, I use the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to clean house digitally. A synchronization of clocks, time servers, updates, firmware, and yearly maintenance with all things containing zeros and ones. The deleting of old emails, spam, and the archival of a picture folder entitled “2011.”

This year I stumbled on an interesting thing that gmail doesn’t do. It won’t show you mail that doesn’t have a label. Any mail that you “archived” to get off your in-box, without any categorization, dropped into this pit mixed with thousands of other labeled emails. Looking for these orphaned emails would involve looking through hundreds of pages of “All Mail.” I archived them for a reason (to go through them one day) otherwise I would have deleted them. Little did I know that finding these orphans would prove to be a challenge.

“Why do I need to see those old archived emails? If I ever need anything I’ll search for it and find it. “ – you might say.
The answer is the same as why you need a photo album and still like pawing through SkyMall. We are nostalgic creatures and sometimes (at least once a year) like to reflect on the past. Plus, a full catalog of information can result in more discovery. I’ll give two examples: 1. After rescuing my archived items I found a webcam picture of my dad with a cast on his arm. I barely remembered he broke it and seeing this picture gave me the memories back. 2. Listing out every sub-domain for UCI one day resulted in – weird way to find out that the University had its own passport office 1/4 mile from your house and you didn’t need to trek all over Orange County for mini-pictures and wait in a Post Office queue. I never thought either of these things existed and certainly wouldn’t have searched for them.

Gmail ninjas know about the Gmail advanced search options, but even here it specifically states: “There isn’t a search operator for unlabeled messages” Further searches looking for a fix resulted in a cobbled-together list of all your labels with a minus sign in front to indicate “anything not labeled this or that or etc.” Example: -(label:Subscriptions OR label:Ebay OR label:Rally OR label:Receipts) For some of you that never adopted labels, or only use 3 of them, this is great and might just work! For the rest of us, I noticed that after typing 6 or so of them into the search box and tried lables that had “Two Words” or “funky-ch@ract3rs/” search started to break. I think that nested labels makes this worse, but I stopped the experiment as I currently use 20+ labels.

In order to find your (labeled items archived in-box stuff orphaned never) you’re going to have to make the LIAISON pledge:

I {insert name here} promise to never blindly press the gmail archive button. I promise to make sure that 1 or 2 labels have been attached by filter or by my own key-press AND furthermore I promise to guard the secrets and ways of the Gmail ninja, never using my powers for evil.

Alright ninjas…
Add the ZZZ label

  • Start by making a new label. Something that you can search for in the future like “ZZZ”.
  • You will repeat the next steps many times as you go through all your labeled email.
  • START: View all of the mail in one label and click on the check-box in the upper left to select all mail.
  • At the top of the mail items a message will appear:
  • All 100 conversations on this page are selected. Select all ### conversations in “{your label}”
  • Click the link and now all the mail in that label is selected (be careful here)
  • Choose to add the ZZZ label to you messages:

  • Google with respond with a message. Feel free to click OK.
  • Find the rest of your  labels and tag them with ZZZ. It took me 5 minutes and you’ll never have to do it again.
  • If you still have labeled email to tag with ZZZ goto START
  • See that wasn’t so bad. 😀 Unless you have like 500 labels. 😐
  • If you do have more than 100 labels, I suggest 43 Folders.
  • Done!

Now you can use this magical search string:

-label:zzz -from:me -is:chat -in:inbox

Go ahead and paste that into your email search box. This means: Show me everything that IS NOT labeled ZZZ, that IS NOT from me, IS NOT a chat, and IS NOT already in the inbox. Since you tagged all the email you know about with ZZZ, items orphaned with no labels were not tagged. Your long lost archived items will appear! I had about 150 items that I selected and placed back into the inbox for me to go through in the next couple days.

What’s next?

  • Delete the ZZZ label now that you have no further use for it.
  • Never blindly hit the archive button again. You promised! 🙂
  • Get Google to make a search parameter for “label = null”
  • Enjoy your discovered conversations from the last few years!

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!

WordPress 2.0 > 3.0 now with text!

“Going forward may not be the answer. Maybe I should go back.”

As an early adopter of WordPress (look through the archives some time…) I can clearly remember the departure that WordPress made around version 2.0. They started calling links ‘the blogroll’ like dumb hipsters and when the admin logged in, it said ‘Howdy!’ and lots of other weird things that had nothing to do with the ability to write / create / share were changed. The media uploader was so horrible at the time, I turned ‘upload.php’ back ON and kept my hacked up version WP 2.02+ and it’s been unchanged for years.

I finally started to like the new stuff from WordPress when I installed 2.8 on It’s now consistent and polished, and doesn’t feel hipster and untested. I’ve been putting off a major upgrade of planetkris WordPress for a while. Okay, I guess like four years. It looks as though the WP folks have forgotten about me in the same time a BMW lease takes to expire. Everything before 2.7.1 right now has a very fuzzy upgrade path. Like “Dude – you can’t export XML?! What the hell is wrong with you?” fuzzy.

After reading the ‘update your database until MySQL shoots out of your nose‘ posts out there, and not finding any clear update path for those of us stuck in time – I started to think back to how I got here. I imported my ENTIRE BLOG *gasp from a MovableType text file called mt-export.txt. Yeah… Like a UTF-8 TXT file I can open with notepad.exe – text file. I looked for many ways to export and import and it all came down to this post: WordPress Export to Movable Type or TypePad The idea was to just export everything in MT format, wipe WP 2.02, the folders, etc. Setup WP 3.0, new files, new database, import from MT. If I had to go back, I just restored the files already pointing to the old database.

This clever theme drops your entire blog, all posts, all comments, in a big long page which you can click ‘view source’ and save as an mt-export.txt!
Want to edit where all of your images are stored before you import? Go crazy! Want to not deal with a drop of MySQL and get your blog updated? Here you go! The other positives are that the install is fresh. A fresh database and WP install is ALWAYS going to be better then an ‘Upgrade to 2.1 > Upgrade to 2.3 > Upgrade to 2.5 > Upgrade to 2.7.1‘ ugly beast of a thing.

Compromise for some? I’m sure. All I wanted was the posts. I didn’t even really care if the comments came over, but they did. Categories, author, and dates too! You’ll have to figure out your links, pages, themes, etc. on your own. WordPress 3.0 feels good and I particularly like this quote from the dev team – “Normally this is where I’d say we’re about to start work on 3.1, but we’re actually not. We’re going to take a release cycle off to focus on all of the things around WordPress. – – The goal of the teams isn’t going to be to make things perfect all at once, just better than they are today.” Dumb hipster? Not these guys.

I’m rocking a slightly modified theme from Yashfa right out of the box. You like?

Stand up desk for home.

Stand up while you work at home! There is a time and a place for a super comfy chair and that time has passed. All Ikea inexpensive, the BJÖRKUDDEN is a kitchen table that is at the perfect height for someone above 6′. The 29″ FRANKLIN is a ‘chair stool’ that folds up flat and is just nice for when you occasionally want a seat, but not comfy enough that you want to sit in it all day. The PC sits on a TRULS which has wheels and makes frequent PC upgrades a snap. I found you can’t clutter your desk when you only have four square feet of space. The paperwork hits the cabinet while you get down to business.

This continues my work done four years ago on converting my cubicle to a stand up workstation.

Friendship Economics

The friend penny jarHere’s a little something that I’d like to share with the world. It will make you a better friend and you’ll stop wasting your time on people that don’t value your friendship. I call it “The Friend Jar.” This idea has evolved over my years and I wish I employed it back when I was in High School.

The idea is: You view every friendship – male, female, romantic, platonic, employee, boss, couple, etc. as a jar of pennies. So you meet someone and the jar is created *poof. You make a gesture of friendship and your money goes into the jar. They make a return gesture and their money goes in. Now you don’t have to assign some actual number – just that some intrinsic value has been invested in the friendship. If they don’t take you up on your offer you lose your change (as in: the amount of time you have invested in the friendship is gone forever). Time is money after all. The jar can only grow when both friends are contributing. Some friendships, like future spouses, take gobs of effort and lots of change. Some friendships, like neighbors, only take a few pennies now and then and grow stronger over time.

You are invited for an event and you go and have a great time – their money in the jar, you reciprocate. You invite them to an event and they show up and have a great time – your money in the jar, they reciprocate. You probably already know when a friendship isn’t working or is one sided, but this will help you spot it a lot sooner. I usually give the jar 3 turns before I stop putting money in.

For example: You call up your friends and mention going out. They are too busy and can’t set a date. That’s okay, it happens. You run into them and suggest a movie night or other activity and they don’t show or forget and don’t call. People forget stuff. Now you are on your third round of putting some change in the jar without a return on investment. The jar is empty and you are about to lose more change. At this point you may want to make a big final effort. “What day should we go to that pastry shop that you love? Any day this week would be great!” Something that I know (from being friends) that they and I enjoy – that we could enjoy (as friends) together. :D

So, you go to the pastry shop, or play laser tag, or meet up in a brothel – whatever… :p You have a great time and as friends always say. “We should do that again!” Now is their turn. You are out of cash, my friend, and you’re not going to call them or email them until they call you. Nor should you try to arrange another meeting, get-together, gathering, etc. The ball is in their court. Time to ante up.

I will tell you that I can actually remember some of the final efforts I have made. Clearly my friendship was not that important – otherwise I would have got something in return. As I’ve only invested a small amount into the friendship, I’m not pissed when they never call and I run into them. Until they make some effort, they are wasting my time. When a friend does reciprocate, it’s even more special. That – “Hey we haven’t talked in a while. Why don’t we get together?” phone call or email is sweet and something I like to call “Money in the jar.” This concept works great with ‘couple friends’ and has weeded out and built some great friendships in the time we’ve been in California.