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Archive for June, 2007

So Far, Pretty Good

Friday, June 15th, 2007

I’m working with two laptops on my desk right now. I tell you what… having the old one in working order and in-hand is so much nicer than replacing a broken or stolen machine (having done both). Fortunately I do back up all important data every night and I can restore, but installing programs is more touchy than data, especially with old or downloaded (rather than purchased CD) program installers.

The Good:

  • Instant connection to the internet via both Ethernet cord/cable and wireless.
  • Keyboard is rugged and a little wider than my previous 3 laptops.
  • Eudora (2005) installed and ran, though I haven’t tried to transfer my current data over yet. This was my most important concern.
  • My File Transfer program (for copying web pages to the internet from my hard drive) works (2004).
  • My HTML editor (web page writing program) Arachnophilia 4.0 works… and it’s copyright 2000.
  • Firefox Browser, current version 2.0, is really happy. That was sure to be a no-brainer but it pleases me anyway.
  • Lotus Organizer 5.01 (copyright 1999) starts up like a champ.
  • The touchpad/glidepad mouse works well for me. It is smallish as compared to my VAIO and other similar machines. The smallness did not agree with some reviewers when I read reviews online. I declare it just fine.
  • I was able to burn a CD successfully (this almost never worked on my last machine).
  • Vista is still very pretty. Color can soothe this savage beast, and it’s a good thing it can.

The Bad:

  • This monitor is the same measurement, 12.1, as my last one. I did see that it was “wide screen” in the specs but did not realize how much of a typed page that would cut off at the bottom of the screen. In web pages and word processing, I’ve lost screen real estate unless I go to a seriously tiny font that doesn’t work well with bifocals. For example: I can not see Knitty’s full front-page photo unless I scroll down. Pout.
  • Since I use my laptop as my primary (only) computer, and I work a lot with printed 8.5×11 paper/portrait which is much taller than wide, this screen disappointment is not a happy discovery. I don’t watch movies (they do benefit from the wide screen), and this machine is not really intended as a game machine, so I am disappointed. I do admit that same width makes a larger keyboard if I look at the bright side. That will be good when I’m on the road and do not have an external full-sized keyboard plugged in. At home the extra width will give me no advantage.
  • My Palm Device (Handspring Visor NEO) has synchronizing software which is copyright 2002 and it will not install. It worked fine in XP but actually aborts the install with a DLL file error. Not fun. I probably will need to buy a new Palm device, not the end of the earth. If I need to pick this or Eudora as my big problem, I’ve got the right one.
  • The laptop itself is sort of ugly, which sort of bums me out when I first approach it. Part is black, part is silver. Very business, very conservative, boring beyond words. I miss the purplish-gray (color, if subtle) of the VAIO machines. I’ll get over it. As I said, I can decorate it with fingernail polish in a year, once the warranty expires.

At this point there is no need for a title “The Ugly” and I am grateful. I still need to install Quicken 2003 (I have a CD version so that is great) and Microsoft Office, as well as PhotoShop which I don’t expect to be any problem. There is a version of MS Office 2007 in demo mode on the machine right now, as well as Works 8 which may also be demo software.

I may play around with them and take some screengrabs before I uninstall and go back to the older version I paid for outright. It is VERY different, even menus are hidden and vastly changed. It even saves in a different format than the one we’ve had in MS Word since 1997. Yuck. I’m not ready for that at this time.

So far, my worst nightmares have not come true, and I figure I will adjust to the less irritating issues. I wonder if anyone out there has a palm device (palm operating system) that they love and that is not super fancy. I don’t want a $400 gizmo, I want a simple and lightweight carry-along. Any advice?

BusinessWeek Article Discussing Etsy.com

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Brian told me there was an article in BusinessWeek (magazine) about Etsy.com (website for selling hand-crafted items). I found the article online if you would like to read it. I find it very interesting.

At the end of that article there was also a link to another article about Etsy sellers. I found the interface confusing, because if you click “read the article” you go back to the article I mentioned first. However, if you click on the little individual photos at the bottom of the page, each photo is attached to a little profile of an etsy seller. I liked it.

I am on Etsy as seller colorjoy, Rae is on etsy as seller extravayarnza. If you are not familiar with the site, you might want to go take a peek.

I did it.

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007


I bought a laptop. It is not as cute as the first 3 laptops I owned. (The first 3 were adorable SONY VAIOs and the first one was particularly purple and particularly tiny at 3 lb and an inch thick.) However, it has all the hardware specs I wanted, and a price I was really amazed with given those specs. I figure as soon as the warranty expires I can decorate it up as much as I want… Like this palm device I decorated (with fingernail polish) for Altu in 2005.

High-Tech Local Shopping

A cool thing happened… I was able to find out online if my local store had one in stock. It did, I reserved it on a web page and had a day to pick it up. I printed out the confirmation screen, took the page to the shop and got out of there faster than I would have if I needed to find a sales guy who was free. Very, very cool.

Stuck, I Guess

I got good advice to buy a Mac (Apple MacIntosh) which maybe I should have taken… but this box was less pricey for the same specs, compared with a Mac laptop machine which I would then have re-set-up to run Windows.

I’m really stuck with Microsoft, I teach folks to use Windows programs and spent 6 years in corporate training so I really really know many Windows programs (especially Word, Excel and Access) backward and eyes closed. I feel today as though I can’t afford a learning curve even if I were not teaching Windows one day a week.

It has Windows Vista. I should be celebrating but until I install all my normal important software programs (Eudora Mail, Lotus Organizer/Calendar program, Quicken, Firefox browser, Arachnophilia HTML/Web page editor as well as Microsoft Office XP, Access 2002, and a few others I don’t use as often)… and see if they work OK, well, I’ll be a bit on the edgy side.

Hurry Up and Wait

I have a busy life until tomorrow night, so for tonight I just started the laptop and got it running briefly. I changed the colors (end of that average blue) but that was about all I did so far. I am able to surf wirelessly using MS Internet Explorer. Could be worse, for sure.

The biggest deals are Lotus Organizer and Eudora email. A friend works for the government and she has Lotus Organizer 6 and synchronizes it with Windows XP to a newer palm device than I own. I’d be OK if I had to buy a new version and a new device… that would be easier than learning a new program. When I did a really thorough search a year and a half ago for a calendar program, I did not find anything that did the few most important features I use in Organizer. Cross fingers there.

And Wait Again…

For the record, it takes forever to start up Vista the first time. There are about 3 stickers with legal notices on the box before you can open the box. Then when you open, there are three stickers with more legal notices before you can open the plastic bags containing the laptop.

Once you start the computer you wait and wait and wait for the “first use” of Vista. Then when it wakes up you get a legal notice with something like 32 detailed items you must agree to before clicking “I accept” or you can not use the machine you just paid for.

I am willing to bet that the attorneys who write those notices would not read the blasted notices sometimes. It took me forever. I read them and did understand for the most part but it did not make me happy. It’s a lot like making a deal with the bully on the playground so you can go home via the fastest route, when the bully doesn’t own the playground in the first place.

What Got Away

I do understand why more folks are going to Linux every second. Brian was right, if I’d stuck an Ubuntu (one “flavor” of Linux which is a ***free*** operating system that works on the order of Windows or Mac OS) CD in that machine I would have been up and running in a very short while. Instead of reading the ninety-fifth paragraph (or so) of legal warnings associated with fearful legal departments and the like.

Enough grousing here in writing. I don’t like to whine here and I’ve done too much of it.

The Good Stuff

But for the record, Vista has pretty colors. My screensaver looks like bubbles (think Lawrence Welk if you are old enough) but rainbow-colored over the screen. Pretty. Microsoft does pretty very, very well.

Oh… and I did have a good omen. When I was in the checkout lane buying the laptop, Julie (knitter, contra dancer/caller and Folk Festival employee/organizer) came over to say hi. She’s shown here with two pairs of socks she knit in my First-Time Toe-Up sock class.

Julie is a ColorJoy woman if I ever met one. She is rainbow colored a lot of the time. If Julie was there, that bodes well for the purchase. Or so I say.

Eric’s Wilder Side

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

My brother, Eric, is a thoughtful and creative man. He’s also a very geeky guy, who has always loved gizmos of all kinds (he handles a sewing machine better than most… making blue jeans you can’t tell are handmade) including computers. (First photo here is November 2006, family holiday dinner with Eric seated front left, me standing at right.)

It’s no surprise that he has made a career in the computer business. He was the first person I knew who had the word “Networking” in his job title, back when computers usually did not talk to one another or even share printers at a workplace. He has worked in operations, programming, network adminstering, and other areas of the computer biz.

In the last many years he had to sort of start over after his last job/department sort of dissolved leaving nobody behind. He has been doing customer service… dealing with phone calls all day, angry people who are frustrated because their computer is not connecting properly with the internet for any number of reasons, none of them Eric’s fault.

He is not a big social butterfly like I am. It surely has been rough some days for him to get through a work shift, but he has maintained a good attitude and done an excellent job.

ericspikedhair33.jpgWell finally, on Tuesday Eric got to start a new position with the same company. Working with gizmos and other employees in the Engineering department, rather than angry customers. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this switch more than my brother.

For his last day on the job in the call center, Eric got a special hairdo. He went to a salon and had them give him an “80’s punk” spiked blue hairdo with four blue braids in his beard. He thoroughly enjoyed the reactions he got from his co-workers and others in the building.

And now he’s where he wanted to go, the day he hired in to that company years ago (sporting his regular look). Go, Eric!

Teaching and Away From Keyboard (AFK)

Monday, June 11th, 2007


When I first got online about 11-12 years ago, I mostly chatted using a local chat machine, with other locals. We went to each others’ parties and met for coffee and the comedy club.

One of the shortcuts we would use when chatting was AFK… Away From Keyboard… meaning we had to leave the chat for a little while. When we came back to the screen (it was painful to get logged back in so we didn’t sign off) we just wrote ” Back.” I feel right now that I have left this chat with you for a little longer than I’d like…. Back. No photos but an update or three.

Teaching and Socializing 

I taught Saturday in Charlotte, a one-day First-Time Toe-Up Sock workshop. It was wonderful. The photos are still on the camera, but trust me that we had a great time.

Sunday I went to Threadbear with Brother Eric and Sis-In-Love Diana, then went to Japanese dinner with Mom and Brian as well as Eric and Diana. Diana lived in Japan for a few years and really enjoys Japanese restaurants of all sorts. It was fun.

Shopping, Ugh!

My computer is really on its last legs (it is 4.5 years old and I push it very hard, that’s a long time for a laptop to keep on keeping on). I am in heavy-duty research mode. I found a machine that looks like great features for a good price (on sale this week) but it has Windows Vista rather than XP. I have several old software programs that probably will not work with Vista.

I’m very excited about the computer itself, just not the version of Windows. My laser printer does offer a Vista print driver, thank goodness. My palm device is really old and synchronizes to a calendar program that I love but that was developed for Windows 3.1 (that was before Windows 95) and that is sure to not work anymore if I go with Vista.

I am also absolutely married to my Eudora email program, it’s where I organize my life. I don’t trust Microsoft Outlook to keep me virus-free, and most email programs do not have an interface I can really work with. I’ve tried a few others over time and actually I do use Gmail for spam filters but then I download the Gmail messages to my Eudora. Yes, I’m stuck in the dark ages but I know the program better than the back of my hand. Sigh… I don’t know if it will work in Vista, they just stopped selling the main version in May.

Many things will indeed translate fine, the only way to know is to try it. I feel as though after I have traveled so much, I don’t have time to mess with all this. I have so many things waiting on the “Important and Urgent” section of my to-do list that I feel guilty when I get tired and need to sleep.

Change is Difficult

I can adjust to the whim of the moment when I knit. I am sometimes stuck in a rut. That is, when it comes to the tools I use to organize my life (which sometimes has more appointments in a day than some people have in a week).

I don’t have to decide anything right now. The sale is on for a few more days. For that matter, I could actually buy a copy of XP and install that instead of the Vista that’s on it when purchased. Just for today I don’t have to make a decision.

Upcoming Classes and Events

I’m teaching a lot more this week… Monday I taught computers, Tuesday is the summer program at Foster Community Center and then a private lesson at Rae’s. Thursday I’m teaching Diagonal Tank/Tee at Rae’s as well.

Because of Fathers’ day I’m not teaching this weekend, though I’ll be working in the studio. Then on Tuesday the 19th I’m teaching Sherbet Socks (summer footies at Little Red Schoolhouse). I have a few more private sessions at Rae’s, as well. I’m still working on getting my new summer schedule all up on my schedule page, but it’s not all up yet.

For now the right move is to go to sleep. If anyone out there has been using Windows Vista and has actual experience, I’d love to hear your take on how it went .


Sunday, June 10th, 2007

palettecolorjoylynn1.gifThis post on a blog called ColourLovers (British/Canadian spelling) really got me thinking. The site is clearly deeper than I can understand on the first read, but they are discussing the color palettes used on the covers of children’s books.

It looks like you can make palettes of your own when commenting. Fascinating. It will take more time than I have right now, to figure it all out. In the meantime, I am guessing some of you out there will really enjoy this.

(Added Later… could not resist, so I registered for ColourLovers and made my first palette. It was pretty fun and did not take a lot of time. It could eat up all “spare time” for a month but I am going to work on discipline…)

Icelandic Vacation Pictures

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Alda of The Iceland Weather Report went on vacation recently in a part of Iceland where she doesn’t live. She is an amazing photographer, I really love it when she posts Flickr Photosets.

This group of 65 photos includes scenes of the great outdoors (mountains, water, clouds), close-ups of beautiful flowers, animals including horses, cows and sheep, interesting homes, garden gnomes, and my favorites, colored sky (not really sunset as usual, but midnight sky in the summer near the arctic circle… many photos of the midnight view including water and mountains).

These are really peaceful and beautiful. I highly recommend you check out Alda’s June 2007 Cottage Flickr photoset.

Little Time to Write

Friday, June 8th, 2007

I am very busy catching up with myself now that I’m back home for a little while. Our next trip out of town is the weekend of June 22-23 to Chicago (we are performing a showcase at the Chicago Ukulele Jamfest that Saturday). Until then I have much to do.

I’m working on my schedule, it’s a constantly-changing target and it is never done. I scheduled three new classes yesterday, and now I need to move another one to another date due to a conflict I did not anticipate. when it’s all done I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile I have two private classes today and one is in a half hour… I’m off!

Photos of Roses

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Karla asked if I had photos of the rosebushes I’ve been tangling with lately. I have some from two years ago (last year we did nothing to trim them and it shows this year, thus all the marathon trimming sessions recently).

I got this photo from a post I wrote in late June of 2005, of our back garden on the garage, when the hot pink roses were blooming. These are the climbing bushes so popular in the 1920’s… lush and wild, where the blooms group themselves in bunches. The blooms are no more than 2 inches (5cm) across.

The bushes climb… they grow up toward the sun until they fall over from their own weight (that is, if they don’t get supported by a trellis). Then they root into the ground at the point where they hit and make a new plant. They also propagate by sending out roots horizontally. There are now at least five places where these roses are, around our house, and when I moved in I think there were two. Two Brian started intentionally but the other just came up on its own, or so it seems to me.

These are beautiful from a distance, you can see them from another block when they are fully blooming. When we sing I like to put them in my hair. Here’s a photo April took of me, maybe the same day as the other photos, certainly the same week.

Last year I did almost nothing in the yard, almost no gardening at all. This year it has been hit or miss, but I did plant seeds for two kinds of dill, cilantro and spinach, and they are all peeking up not yet an inch tall. I hope they turn into something good. The swiss chard plant I bought is already looking happy and ready for me to start harvesting a little at a time.

The one bush tomato I purchased in a container did well for a few weeks and even has a half dozen green fruits on it. This week something bad hit it, first leaves turned yellow and now somehow the stalk looks weakened and discolored. I trimmed it back to the healthy parts and I hope it will regain energy.

Even though I’ve been gone a lot and I have not planted all the seeds I purchased, I am already doing better than I did last year. I really like nurturing the yard in the few minor ways I know how. I weed a little each day and I water every two or three days if it does not rain. I moved some groundcover (myrtle/periwinkle) and it looks happy. Maybe I will also find time to plant the flower seeds (nasturtiums and morning glories) and some beans, yet this week. I hope.

Catching Up Again

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

I loved Columbus, I loved being at the TNNA trade show, I loved being with Rae and her mom and other friends of hers and mine. I loved it all.

I was relieved, however, to read that Kristin Nicholas opted to stay home from TNNA and the Book show where Deb Robson and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee went. She says it takes her a week to catch up from being gone a 3 day weekend. I totally understand that thought.

columbusfromhotel.jpgI’ve been to Dallas, New York City, Toronto and Columbus since mid-April. I loved every trip and every city. I am SO ready to stay home a while, though. And we’re heading into summer music festival season so this may not work as well as I would like. Another high-class problem!

Today I had much catching up to do. I went to two yarn shops, two restaurants, two post offices and cooked three meals (two are still cooking in the crockpots overnight). I also attacked the rosebushes again, which did attack back and I am pretty sure the roses are winning. Another SEVEN paper grocery bags full of old rosebush pieces, most of which were totally dry and not green or budding at all. On top of the seven I did before, on top of the bits Brian did before.

Monday night I fell asleep on the couch with an un-tasted cup of green tea beside me, before 11pm. I usually sleep at 2am or so, therefore you know I was wiped out. Today I got up before 9am but I ended up taking a nap around noon for half an hour, in the midst of all the things I listed above and more. I filled my day completely.

Tomorrow I have as many as four appointments. It could be quite busy. Off to bed. This photo is one view of Columbus, Ohio from our hotel room, 4th floor Red Roof Inn.

Please Congratulate Deb Robson

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

My blog friend Deb Robson/The Independent Stitch is an independent publisher of books. She is (was?) at the big BookExpo of America that another internet friend, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee/Yarn Harlot, also attended. It is held in New York City.

Deb has published some seriously wonderful books. The most precious of them on my own bookshelves is the new version of Knitting in the Old Way, which was originally written by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. The 2006 revision also lists Deb Robson as co-author, there were so many changes/additions to the book. It’s fabulous just as a historical text about knitting evolution even if you (like me) almost never knit sweaters. There are no socks, only sweaters, and it’s just a fascinating read to this socknitter.

But today’s news is big, bigger, biggest. Two of Deb’s books of 2006 won THREE awards this week. Spinning in the Old Way (one award) and Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas (two) took home industry recognition for the work Deb has done (with her daughter who is also partner in Nomad Publishing).

I am here to remind you if you ever forgot, that being self-employed is a lonely choice much of the time. You are not working with peers, there is nobody to let you know that you are NOT going crazy, that you WILL make the deadline somehow, that you will somehow be able to make the bills and that the choices you have made were wise.

It is a very very big deal to have your industry recognize you. *Especially* after you went all the way to the finish line, in spite of any doubts and the multitudes of challenges inherent in this sort of lifestyle.

Deb, you have much to be proud of! Go, grrrrll!

Friends, please consider going to Deb’s post about the awards, and leaving her a comment. Even a few words will mean the world to her, I assure you. And consider also leaving a comment on Donna’s Blog

Columbus is Very Fine, Indeed

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

I’m enjoying the city of Columbus, Ohio very much, even though we are in a conference center all day for 3-1/2 days this weekend. The conference center is right downtown a block from a wonderful market where one can buy many types of ethnic foods, healthy grocery items, and wonderful splurge items.

I have gone out to that market for lunch two days in a row and been overwhelmed with the wonderful experience. I purchased organic chicken and jasmine rice at two vendors yesterday, and chicken with collard greens plus some hummous and saffron rice today.

I also had “bubble tea” which has another name I can’t remember… huge tapioca pearls at the bottom of a glass filled with green tea. For me nothing else in there, no milk or sweetener or flavorings. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got some two days in a row.

While waiting for my tea today I heard a man break out in song from the upstairs balcony. A fully-trained opera singer was enjoying himself up there I think with piano background. He wasn’t just standing there singing, I could see his arms gesturing as he sang. very fun. I burst out in a small laugh and said “This would not happen in Lansing, Michigan.” The guy next to me said “I used to live in East Lansing!” He and his wife(?) and I chatted as we waited for our drinks. It was most pleasant.

And on the way out, I realized I needed batteries for my camera. I wanted to find a pharmacy or something ordinary, rather than a gift store in a hotel. I asked a woman in the parking lot if she knew anywhere. She thought maybe Kroger but wasn’t sure how far it was, if I should walk. It was beautiful out so walking sounded good to me.

I started in walking and a few blocks later she pulled over and asked if I wanted a ride. I accepted her kind offer and we chatted as she took me to the grocery store. It turns out she used to live in River Rouge near Detroit and has been here now long enough to figure she’s here for good now. That was very pleasant.

I got my batteries and walked my way down the street on the way back. I enjoyed looking in some of the stores and restaurants. I popped into a record store to see if they had scissors I could borrow to open the package of batteries. I had a nice chat with the two young ladies behind the counter.

Finally I walked further until I saw a bus on the way. The girls had told me the buses pass every 15 minutes so I decided to get on board. For one thing, I love to “collect” public transit trips in cities I visit… so that was one more.

The afternoon was a lot of pounding my poor feet on the floor in the sales area of the yarn trade show. I’d find Rae and her mom, then lose them and then find them again. I ran into all sorts of folks I know, including Rob and Matt from Threadbear Fiberarts in Lansing. I had a lovely chat with Debbie Bliss, whose yarns please me greatly. I had a brief hello again with Lucy Neatby who I’d seen the day before as well.

I’ve met many people I’d not known before, too many to list here, but I’m enjoying this very much. Tomorrow is more connecting and talking and meetings and yarn experiencing. I will enjoy it.

My computer is not cooling itself very well this weekend so I will end this now without photos and turn off the laptop. Thanks for staying tuned in…

And thanks to my first Etsy buyer, who happened to be from the United Kingdom. I love how international the internet is!!!