Friday, September 29, 2006

Tech woes

Aw man, what a week.

The hosting company that we use to host client websites got a virus that spread through at least a couple of their servers, and infected a bunch of our clients' sites, so I spent quite a bit of time today dealing with that, and earlier this week we had similar (although not virus-related) problems at a different hosting company, and I guess my Palm Pilot must have had some kind of error overnight which caused it to stay ON all night, completely discharge the battery, and go back to its original state, which means that ALL of the data that was on it is gone.

It's currently syncing with my desktop, but I hadn't synced it for awhile, since the battery is so long-lasting -- before, with the other one, I'd plug it in and sync it every day, but the rechargable battery in this one lasts a week or more, so I'm much less diligent. I don't know when I synced it last, frankly. So I have no idea what I've lost. Certainly the checkbook entries that I made when I paid bills last weekend; any calendar events that I entered, although I've been pretty good about entering those in iCal, so I'm probably okay there . . . And, of course, I can get the checkbook stuff from the bank sites online; since more and more things like that are online, carrying it all around with me becomes less important, but I like to at least have the illusion of control . . .

It's enough to make me want to go back to a paper calendar, which I have actually been thinking about.

My friend Micki was here last weekend for her highschool reunion. One of our very favorite things to do when she lived here a decade ago was to go to office supply stores. We went to Office Max on Sunday for old time's sake, but it wasn't really the same. Still, it was fun, and we looked at calendars there. She asked me what I used, and I said a Palm Pilot, but I was getting a little disillusioned with it because it's heavy, and I've been entering calendar items on my phone, which works pretty well.

And I've been writing my grocery list on a pad of paper. I don't know, maybe I had a premonition that this was going to happen, and this was the universe's way of letting me down easy and preparing me for the data loss.

It's still syncing. I'm almost afraid to look.

Micki and I had a good time last weekend. I knew she was coming this month, but not exactly when. She called on Thursday and said she was in town, and that she was cold--she hadn't counted on it being so cool here in September. She lived in Hawaii up until a couple of weeks ago, though, so that's probably to be expected.

So I took her to Target and she bought warm socks and sweatshirt (blue) and I bought the same sweatshirt (lavender), which was fun, then we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant and talked for about four hours. It's pretty cool how you can see someone only once every few years (I think it was at least five years since I had seen her, maybe more), and then just immediately, and easily, drop back into the old friendship.

She had reunion stuff going on on Friday and Saturday, but she called on Sunday and went to Office Max and WalMart and ate out again, and went to one of those public storage locker places where she had some stuff stored, and just spent most of the day running around. Just like old times. Oh, and then went back to her hotel and sat in the bar for another hour or so, still talking.

Later . . .

It's now close to midnight, and I've spent about four hours updating the Palm Pilot. The sync worked pretty well, except that my photos got all screwed up, and while I realize that they're not really vital, it's something that I really like, so I probably spent about two of those hours reinstalling photo apps and photos (no, it shouldn't have taken that long, but . . . it did. Long story, not worth telling). Then I spent another hour (probably) updating my checkbook record, and then another hour trying to get everything else back the way it was. The big problem with restoring a Palm from backup is that although I may have deleted things from the device itself, the backup copy on the computer doesn't know that.

So when you restore it, you get a bunch of stuff that you didn't really want and (at least in my case) there's so much that the memory fills up, and then you're basically screwed. I had to reset it a couple of times. What a pain.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Periodically I check out new blogging tools; it's also something that we've been exploring at work, and also just something that I have fun with. Brandy had sent me some information about Vox a month or so ago, but I didn't think I was interested, and didn't do anything about it. But over the weekend something made me think of it again, and I played around with it and created a Vox blog. Vox is a free product from Six Apart, who make TypePad and Movable Type, both of which you have to pay to use.

I don't think there's anything wrong with paying to use something like TypePad, but Blogger works just great for me, and it's free, so I don't see any reason at all to change. But I did want to check out Vox, since it was also free, and it's fun.

It's also a little frustrating for me, since I can't get "under the hood," so to speak -- if there's something that isn't working the way I would like it to, I have to work with the provided tools and can't just go in and fix it from the backend, so more than once I've ended up deleting an entry, and re-inputting it in a different way.

For instance, I wanted to indent a paragraph, then decided to unindent it, but in doing that, it obviously added two sets of tags and added a lot of unnecessary space that I couldn't remove without deleting the paragraph and starting again. In the same vein, my designer's eye doesn't like the amount of whitespace that shows up underneath the tarot card picture abpve, but there doesn't seem to be any way to control that.

It also bugs me that while they give you the option of adding books, CDs, and videos from Amazon, they don't (as far as I can tell) give you the option of adding your own code to the link so that you get the commission rather than them, but since my commissions are generally on the order of about $20/year, I guess it doesn't matter. But it still rankles a bit.

But it's colorful, and fun to play around with, and while I didn't think I would like the "question of the day" journal prompts, I kind of do. Not all of them, but some of them, and it's fun to read the variety of responses that other people have written. There are a few little things that bother me, but on the whole I think it's a really fun place to play, and I'll probably keep on updating it, at least for the time being. I'm pretty sure that most people who use it wouldn't find the things I mentioned that confining. And I know that it's also probably true that if they gave people access to customize it, people would screw it up, and they'd have to spend a lot more money and time running tech support, so it's not that it's not understandable.

Since I guess I'm going to keep it, I'm trying to think of a better title for it than "Willa's Blog," but so far I haven't thought of anything better.

Edited to add: Vox is theoretically invitation only right now (it's still in beta), but I have five invitations that I can give away if anyone wants, just let me know.

The Blue Angels were back on Friday; it was about 3:30, I guess, when I heard Jeff say, "I hear jets!" and he and Shane and I (the only ones left at the office that late on a Friday afternoon) rushed out to the back to watch them. Just as we came out the door, four of the jets flew overhead very low in tight formation. What a thrill!

Jeff and Shane went up to the roof, but I stayed on the ground. I stood up on the concrete wall, hanging onto the fence and looking up to the sky, and I felt like a little kid, almost giddy with happiness. I know that I enjoyed that afternoon more than I would have enjoyed the actual airshow -- there was something so cool about it happening in the middle of a normal day, something wild, almost. It's hard to explain, but I was just thrilled. Thinking about it, it reminds me of how I feel when I see the ocean, or how Misty describes herself as being about to "burst from happiness." That's how I felt. And you don't get that feeling very often.

Something else that's been making me happy lately is watching movies on the laptop. It becomes, for me, a . . . more intimate experience, I guess. I put a DVD in, and make it into a smaller window, and I can still keep doing other things like checking email, etc., but there's this entertainment going on as well. I'm actually not sure why I enjoy it so much, but I do. This weekend I watched Pow Wow Highway and Grosse Pointe Blank, one of my very favorite movies.

I also discovered that ABC Family broadcasts a few of their shows on the web, and now every Monday night I watch Three Moons Over Milford, after it's aired on television on Sunday night. Yeah, obviously I could watch it on Sunday on the television, but I think it's cool to sit in my chair in the corner and watch it on the laptop. It's fun, and something I look forward to, and I don't have to worry about being in front of the television at a particular time.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Trying their wings

Today was fun. I almost always have fun at work -- I love the people I work with, and I love my job -- but today I noticed at the end of the day that I felt like I'd laughed a lot, and that's always nice. It had been a pretty quiet day, several people were gone, and it was quiet, everyone was sitting with their headphones on, working away. Then Dave took the dogs out at lunchtime, and as soon as he got outside, he called and said that the Blue Angels were practicing, and we all rushed outside.

They were buzzing downtown, mostly just flying, but occasionally doing a roll or something (I don't know anything about it). A couple of times they flew over really low, and you could read the writing on the plans. Very cool, very exhilarating. The guys went up to the roof, but I declined -- before we moved into the building, we took a tour, and there's a pull-down stairway up to kind of a crow's nest on the roof; I'm not really afraid of heights, but I don't like open staircases or ladders, so I just stayed outside in the back for awhile. Someone said that there's an air show this weekend, and I guess they were just trying their wings.

It was a beautiful day! A little breezy and cool, but the sun was out, and felt hot on my face. It felt nice to stand outside and look up into the sky.

Pretty soon Dave came back with the dogs, and he stood out there with me for awhile. The dogs were very good, and stayed on the dock, mostly.

Then, of course, Jojo decided she needed to come out with us and explore, and Dave pulled her onto his lap.

She is such a sweet dog. Very mellow (I imagine Dave would disagree, he says she's a terror in the evenings), very calm, hardly ever barks. When she gets sleepy she will go and get in her crate all by herself, which I think is kind of amazing. Simon is in charge of her, and he doesn't let her get very far away. He doesn't let Dave get very far away, either.

Dave was getting ready to leave tonight, and Simon was over at Jeff's desk getting his ears scratched, and he didn't notice. So Dave played a trick on him, and hid in the kitchen with Jojo. When Simon surfaced, he looked around and didn't see Dave or Jojo, and started to panic. He rushed around and checked every office, checked all the doors, checked the bathroom. What was surprising to us was that he apparently couldn't smell Dave or Jojo -- he must operate on sight and hearing, I guess. Anyway, after a few minutes Dave stood up and called him, and he was so relieved! Simon was worried -- he couldn't do his job.

Cello got me two new flat panel monitors, and I switched them out yesterday. So much more desk space! And they make my office look a lot larger.

Back view, showing the beautiful newly-painted blue wall:

I guess I should have cleaned off my desk first. These are just phonecam photos anyway; maybe tomorrow I'll take some real pictures. Kurt said he was going to bring his camera tomorrow--the Blue Angels are supposed to be practicing again--so maybe I will, too. He's a real photographer, and I just take snapshots, but it might be fun anyway.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Catching up

Bob's at the lake this weekend, so it's just the kitties and me. I've got a cold -- Bob had a cold, then bronchitis, and as careful as he was not to give it to me, I think it was inevitable -- so I haven't been sleeping very well, and I kept waking up all night. Dinah was right beside me every time I woke up, but Pyewacket wasn't in bed, and I wondered where she spent the night. I thought maybe she was in her little bed in the hall (she lies there when Bob throws her out of his office for being annoying). But when I got up to go to the bathroom, I found her:

I went back out in the bedroom and got my cell phone, which I keep by the bed if Bob's gone, and took her picture. Dinah used to pull my towel down off the rack and sleep on it. Pye would see her do it, and she'd try, but she just couldn't get the hang of it. But after many attempts, she finally figured it out. I'm not sure why it's so appealing--wouldn't it be more comfortable on the bed rather than on the bathroom floor? It's probably just the novelty--kind of like camping out.

Friday night's my television watching night, although I watch USA, and they have that weird schedule where the new shows are on in the summer, and from now until the first of the year it'll be repeats. But it's still nice to look forward to Friday nights -- I picked up Chinese food at the grocery store kiosk (sweet and sour chicken, noodles, and crab rangoon) and ate in front of the television. When I finished eating, I knitted for a little while. It was getting late, and Pyewacket needed cuddling, so I put the knitting away and let her climb up into my lap (yeah, she climbs rather than jumps), and she settled in.

In fact, she got really relaxed. I wished that my camera was within reach, but it was in the other room. I did have the cell phone next to me, though, so I tried to capture the scene. It was difficult, though. This is the best I could do:

Crazy cat.

Random stuff

David sent me a copy of his new CD, Songs for the Siren, and it's amazing! It's a bit harder-edged than some of his other recent stuff, more rock, I guess, but also with some Tex-Mex influences--lots of energy, and really wonderful. He has a few clips up at his MySpace site; I imagine he'll put up more in the coming weeks.

Amazon won't have it until October, and then at a crazy import price, but David has some now. If you like his work, I'd grab one while they're available.

I keep thinking, where did the week go? And where did the month go? In fact, where did the summer go? I've been working a lot, both at work, and at home. Last weekend I put up a new redesign of Bertrice Small's website, with a new focus toward fantasy:

More random stuff

Remember little Arni?

I don't want to go into this too much (for one reason, it's not my story to tell, and for another, I'm sure there will be a lawsuit over it), but he was being boarded while his owner was out of town, and the people caring for him let a Great Dane into the same space he -- this little, 4 pound dog -- was in, and the Great Dane picked him up like a toy, dropped him, and he died. Poor Arni.

And one of Bob's brothers had a heart attack last week, but he's okay. He has a lawn service, and he was out mowing a lawn when he started to feel badly. He got to his truck and cell phone and called 911, but couldn't talk. Fortunately another lawn care guy was out and saw him, and came over and took the phone, and told the emergency people where to come. Later, Bob and his dad went out to pick up the truck and equipment, and found that this guy had loaded the truck, picked up the equipment, and had it all ready. Talk about your random acts of kindness.

Anyway, he's out of the hospital now, and doing fine, thankfully.

What a week.

Okay, I guess that's enough for today. My battery is running out (I'm in bed with the laptop), and I need to go out and see if I can get my oil changed. More later, maybe.

Oh -- one more. Dinah always gets short-shrift because it's hard to take good photos of a black cat. But here she is, lounging on the bedside table next to me:

That isn't water in the water bottle among the hair clips and zinc lozenge wrappers, but green tea; have I mentioned that I'm currently addicted to Lipton Green Tea to Go? I'm scared to death that they'll stop making it, so every time I'm at the store, I buy more. I've been drinking gallons of it lately, especially since I started getting the cold. I thought maybe it would help fend it off, and it's one of the few things that have tasted good to me lately.

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