Automated receipt organisation

So I’m the kind of massive nerd that scans every receipt and archives it for posterity. For the past four years I’ve been doing this manually but I’ve recently set up a system that watches a folder for any scanned documents, OCR’s them and then archives them appropriately.

The OCR step is vital because it allows me to then index the contents, making all my receipts for the last four years fully searchable. Nice! Now all that’s left for me to do is feed paper through the scanner roughly once a week.

I also scan my other mail and important documents but this is more ad-hoc (since most things come in electronically these days) so are more easily manually organised. That said you could easily use the principles for any document management system.

The other change I made from the article above is that I use pydio for central document management.

Booksonic: setting up on linux

I’ve been running booksonic for a few months now. I have had it running under a docker container as I wanted to get some experience with docker and this wasn’t really a critical application so I could deal with it being a bit buggy. Fast forward to today and I have been unhappy with the reliability of the docker setup and I’m relying more on the booksonic platform for audiobooks. I haven’t yet migrated podcasts on there but there is potential and it offers some advantages over iTunes.

All this is to say that I recently removed the docker container and set up booksonic natively through tomcat. The installation process was surprisingly easy but there is not a lot of detail about the process elsewhere online so I figured I should document the steps.


Step 1: Install tomcat

Using your package manager, install the tomcat server.

~$ sudo apt-get install tomcat8

Step 2: Prepare filesystem for booksonic

Create the booksonic folder, change ownership and permissions.

~$ sudo mkdir /var/booksonic; sudo chown tomcat8:tomcat8 /var/booksonic; sudo chmod 755 /var/booksonic

Step 3: Download booksonic package

Wget is your friend here. Make sure you check the GitHub for the latest release.

~$ cd /var/lib/tomcat8/webapps
~$ sudo wget

Step 4: Get started

All that is left is to get tomcat started and browse to the booksonic web interface. The rest of the configuration is handled through the web UI which is straightforward and documented elsewhere. I also assume that you can set up the relevant firewall rules if you are exposing the service to the internet.

~$ sudo systemctl start tomcat8

Step 5: Updates

For reference, the process for updates is essentially the same as above but without the file system changes.

~$ sudo systemctl stop tomcat8
~$ sudo rm -rf /var/lib/tomcat8/webapps/booksonic; sudo rm -rf /var/lib/tomcat8/webapps/booksonic.war
~$ sudo wget -P /var/lib/tomcat8/webapps
~$ sudo systemctl start tomcat8

Red Hat/CentOS

Step 1: Install tomcat

~$ sudo yum install tomcat

Step 2: Prepare filesystem for booksonic

~$ sudo mkdir /var/booksonic; sudo chown tomcat:tomcat /var/booksonic; sudo chmod 755 /var/booksonic

Step 3: Download booksonic package

Wget is your friend here. Make sure you check the GitHub for the latest release.

~$ cd /var/lib/tomcat/webapps
~$ sudo wget

Step 4: Get started

~$ sudo tomcat start

Step 5: Updates

~$ sudo tomcat stop
~$ sudo rm -rf /var/lib/tomcat/webapps/booksonic; sudo rm -rf /var/lib/tomcat/webapps/booksonic.war
~$ sudo wget -P /var/lib/tomcat/webapps
~$ sudo tomcat start

New Year Resolutions

It’s been 10 days since the start of 2018. How are your resolutions tracking?

I’ve never really been the type of person who makes resolutions in the new year partly because they don’t work and partly because I don’t think you need an arbitrary date on a calendar to bring about meaningful change in your life. And yet I still sometimes get caught in the tradition.

Thinking about resolutions this year I came to the conclusion that the reason resolutions often fail is that they are simply fads followed as part of the rigmarole of celebrations. So in order to try to get some changes to stick this year, I am not thinking of them as resolutions but positive habits. I am taking steps to form them in to true habits.

Firstly, I am linking new behaviours to old, ingrained behaviours. For example, everyone has a ritual they follow before bed and so by piggy backing on that ritual I can include an additional step which then makes it much easier to stick with since it is built in to that routine.

Next, I’m doing what I can to further automate my chores/regular activities. By automating repetitive tasks, it means I can spend energy focusing on new habits to help embed them. Hopefully this will help fight my urges to be lazy and avoid certain chores. Let’s see!

I’m also gamifying the chores that I normally avoid. This is by no means an original idea but by increasing the reward response then that should reinforce positive behaviours. There’s a joke in here about Pavlov and his dogs.

Finally, I am deliberately taking on far more than I can possibly hope to achieve in terms of meaningful changes. Rather than picking one hard task and failing at it (then feeling bad) I’m determined to make half a dozen changes all at once. If one or two fall through the cracks then I’ve still accomplished heaps. And if only one thing sticks, then I’ve still succeeded where others normally fail.

I have absolutely no idea if this strategy will help these changes stick for the long term but so far so good. The next hurdle will be when I’ve returned to work after summer holidays and seeing how I can fit it all in. Maybe I should count the hours in the day and see if I have enough! Wish me luck.

My non-resolutions

  1. Better maintain household chores
  2. Keep a regular bed time and wake up time
  3. Run for at least 30 mins per day
  4. Do some weights training at least 3 times a week
  5. Read for at least one hour each day
  6. Keep up with date night once a week

What’s going on with Facebook?

As some people have noticed, I haven’t been active on Facebook for some time now. I thought I would explain my reasons for no longer using this service and offer a means for people to keep in touch and up to date with my goings on.

I used to update my status occasionally but check other people’s updates regularly throughout the day. Facebook would often be my destination in the morning and I would browse through my friends updates over my breakfast. I would also follow various news sites and groups/pages sharing opinions and debates on various issues. In an attempt to keep my views balanced (and limit the risk of being exposed to fake news) I followed a range of outlets often with wildly different opinions to my own.

Over time, the posts I engaged with the most were these controversial posts and not updates from my friends and family which Facebook picked up on. Progressively, I was fed more and more controversial opinions which was leading me down a path of getting riled up first thing in the morning – setting up my day on a pretty horrible trajectory.

I also felt like the platform was actually making myself and my friends more disconnected. Rather than catching up and talking, we would just read each others quick status updates. I can’t count the number of times when someone (often who I barely knew) would come up to me at a party or event and spoke to me like they knew how my life was going simply based on a Facebook post.

I persevered for a long time in full knowledge of these facts as my morning Facebook ritual and mid-day time sink had become ritualistic until one morning when I was speaking with a friend about the 2017 same sex marriage plebiscite. Being both on the same side of the issue, we were discussing a meme that frustrated us both and got us talking about the politics of it all. Hearing how frustrated my friend became was like looking in to a mirror. I offered her some advice that she should stop reading social media first thing in the morning as it was more aggravating than anything else and had become a distraction to her having a happy, productive day. A split second later, realising I was a massive hypocrite, I made the commitment to stop using Facebook.

Honestly, I haven’t looked back since. I don’t miss the mindless updates, unnecessary outrage and endless stream of disagreement. I’ve also managed to cut out a distraction from my day and free up valuable time so I can be more productive – goodbye to endless scrolling looking for something interesting. On the downside, I have to be more active in my own social life and consciously engage with friends more. Scheduling is also made a little more difficult since most of my peers continue to use Facebook events to organise things.

Keeping in touch

Firstly, I plan to write on here when I have something to say. Instead of status updates (which were increasingly becoming essays) I will write longer form blog posts on here. These will be cross posted to Facebook automatically but I won’t see any comments or likes from there. Feel free to have discussions but I won’t see them. It might be easier to follow the rss feed if you also are reducing social media.

I still use Facebook messenger (it’s more personal, convenient and universal than other chat apps) so feel free to contact me directly on there.

You can also always email me or maybe even have a conversation in person!

Finally, I will avoid posting finance/money related topics here as I have a separate site dedicated to my professional side. Feel free to come and visit over there and follow that page separately if you like my thoughts on finance and money.