May 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 2011
theodosia: (monsters)
Yep, still alive, and someday soon I'll even be able to make the verbose post of What I've Been Up To Lately.

In the meantime... do any of my Dreamwidth-using friend use a Mac client program that will let them make posts directly to DW? I can use Semagic quite nicely on my Windows desktop, but I've got to actually use the Entry Post page when I'm on my Mac laptop.

I was using XJournal on this Mac, but it doesn't allow to configure it to post to DW instead....
theodosia: (midnite detective)
I thought, therefore I twittered:

  • Chumley is more like a LOLL cat than a lolcat.
  • Heat index rose to 106, so I moved inside and turned on the AC. Although my heat adaptation is finally starting to work....
  • Finished EVIL GENIUS, took it right to the library and took out sequel GENIUS SQUAD.
  • Cat mommy not up until 8 am. Cats most disappointed with cat mommy. Cat mommy waiting for caffeine to start percolating in her veins.
  • Oh look! Jim Beaver! On an episode of Psych. Well, I guess I should give the show a chance, right?

Still don't have PC back yet, although Angeltronics has isolated the problem to my video card getting fried, which a) means that we don't have to reinstall everything and b) don't risk losing data and c) if I'd done the reinstall, the problem would still have persisted. So although this is taking way longer than I'd like, I'd still say we're ahead on points.

I so want my PC back, though. All my Adobe are belong to it, as well as iTunes. I love my iBook, don't get me wrong, but it's more like a Netbook functionally in my life!
theodosia: (Default)
I thought, therefore I twittered:

We got some heavy rain, and now the sun is shining again!

Getting more and more thunder noises -- Muppet took off for a safe hiding place. I'm staying on the patio until actual rain starts!

Patio time finally because my cold isn't too bad and the humidity isn't too bad either. Will probably be ruined by a t-storm later....

Stopped by, computer just in beginning stages of checkup and backup. But this way they know I'm eager, so I think a stop-in helps.

Health-Care Reform - What It Means For You ( -- good Flash infographic link courtesy @chickwriter!

Combined moving the car to avoid streetsweeping, with running out to the CVS for cough medicine et cetera. Still have to run out again...!

Computer repair shop opens @ 10, think I'll drop by while on other errrands. They don't seem like they'd mind.

theodosia: (eagle)
I thought, therefore I twittered:

On phone with Hp support, hoping they can fix my desktop computer.

Still on support call--we've rebooted 11 times by my count.

Reboots passed #17, and then the 2nd tech declared that the nuclear option was our only hope. So now I have to find a repair shop to back up

But first, lunch and AC.

Found a locakl computer shop that can back me up. Not looking forward to reinstalling all my software, but it seems like no choice....

My desktop is now in the hands of Angeltronics, who seem clueful and hardworking. Hope to have it back tomorrow AM. Til then, it's iBook.

Not at class tonight, still coughing & miserable & not in the mood to learn more about XML, though not spreading my cold is good too.

Not coughing and only intermittently sniffly. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself well, but I'm going to be more productive, for sure.
theodosia: (art!)
I thought, therefore I twittered:

Spare cat just took a picture of her butt by sitting on my cellphone. It's all black, but that's still pretty good for feline photography.

Windows Media Center is still MIA on the computer. I can't even find the Programs folder it should be in. I definitely didn't delete it!!!

Reading: CSS is likeā€¦ -- yeah, all of that, and more.

Doing a System Restore on the PC -- Media Center is indeed missing as is the icon!!?? for IE and Windows Media Player

RT: @trexblog: The best teabagger protest sign (via reddit)

Well, knock me over with a feather -- System Restore actually seems to have worked!

@: Penultimate version of my CSS'd resume -- comments, suggestions to improve?

theodosia: (stargate by thefakeheadline)
I thought, therefore I twittered:

FTR, Spare cat is perfectly fine with sitting in my lap and forcing me to pet her ALL DAY, w/ short food excursions & hissing at other cats

The Chumley situation has gotten worse, if anything -- he comes into the study a couple times a day just to bother Spare Cat, and/or look for her food and water. Sometimes she stares from a safe place, sometimes she cuts and runs to a safer place. I gave him a Time Out this morning, locked out onto the back porch whence he can observe squirrels and birds.

RT @MitchWagner: TootSuite would be a good name for an ERP app for cocaine dealers.

applied for some jobs. Now I can have ice cream....

Still not hearing back from the jobs I applied for last week, but why am I surprised? At least there was ice cream, excuse me non-dairy frozen dessert bars to console myself with.

I can haz Dreamwidth account!

...which I mentioned here yesterday. If there's a general fannish exodus from LJ, I have my claim staked for the Gold Rush, plus maybe their journal display system could be more customized...?

is vowing a terrible vow that CSS will be her BITCH

... by bashing my brain against the code for as long as necessary. Also, by taking apart some of the CSS and code at CSSZenGarden.comand doing the equivalent of examing it under a microscope. For instance, I figured out how to make CSS suppress an HTML headline with a JPG file with the text all pretty.

The point of this is that the HTML file can still be read simply if you're on a device like an iPhone that may not allow certain kinds of CSS, or handle certain markups in a special way. Also, there are a whole bunch of really cool things that you can do with advanced CSS and cool graphics and stuff like Flash, and the only way I'm going to learn them is to get my neurons wrapped around this stuff.

Anyway, gave myself a headache AND a neckache yesterday, hunched over the keyboard and cursing and whatnot. Could hardly get to sleep for thinking about it and all, but I got enough of the problems ironed out that I could show off a draft version that made me happy. Now today I can try to finish it up, and then start applying what I've learned to a CSSZenGarden page!

Who said that Unemployment has to be unpleasant or lazy? Well, the lack of money is sad, and there's enough times when I'm at loose ends, but on the whole I think I'm doing pretty well.
theodosia: (never run towards a fire)
"Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice" -- [ profile] minim_calibre

Expanded from a comment I made over at [ profile] elishavah's journal, since the whole matter of AmazonFail touches upon something that I've done professionally: run extensive database applications -- not nearly of the size of Amazon's catalog, but big enough that the best a dutiful developer can do is spotcheck data to see that sorting and search functions are working correctly

I know how easy it is to fuck something up like a ratings system with just the tiniest of tweaks -- and how hard it can be for them to get noticed until it's a disaster. Thankfully, all of my egregious mistakes were for internal company databases affecting small subsets of users, but in one case a glitch that hit only a few affected documents went on for nine months before there were enough of them that there was a plethora of complaints and we realized that it wasn't "just" a user mistake.

(And thank goodness I had a great manager who really grokked 'innocent until proven guilty' and knew that the data we were dealing with was complex and quirky, so that I didn't have a whole load of work stress -- beyond my sincere self-administered kicking -- while I fixed things.)

This is just my speculation, pretty much free of Actual Knowledge -- except that I've read enough about the Amazon ranking system in the past to glean this -- an item's overal sales ranking is recalculated daily, weekly or monthly depending on where in the ranking hierarchy an item is currently at. So you have the low ranked ones -- in the hundred-thousands ranked monthly or less, because yeah, there's really not much reason to rerank A Consumer's History of Toe Lint when it only sells 2 copies a year or less. But best-sellers who are selling hundreds of copies a day change fast enough that you might well be recalculating them more than once a day.

And then some book or author gets vaulted out of obscurity when she's suddenly in the news, or on the Daily Show or interviewed on NPR or whatever. So you've got to have allowances in your ranking algorithm for sudden popularity. Such as mentions of books in the press, press releases for upcoming guest appearances, book tours. And you probably want to fold in other sources of rankings, like LibraryThing or Shelfari (I don't know if they get used, but they're cool sources for aggregated data) and of course you need some official cataloging source like Library of Congress.

What you end up with is a very complex ranking system which weights all sorts of factors depending on recent movement and ratings, and like Archimedes' lever for moving the Earth, a very small change may end up majorly tweaking -- or, ahem, glitching -- rankings, which are used for customer searches.

Note that the AmazonFail LGBT glitch is especially glitchy in that it has not affected ALL GLBT content -- I suspect that somebody changed a ranking algorithm back in Jan or Feb, or added in a new rating system from libraries or groups (like some "pro-family" organization) that they didn't realize down-checks a whole lot of stuff. But because rankings are also calculated by time scale, it might have taken a while for the problem to snowball, as successive weeks go by and the more recent rankings get calculated into the overall ranking.

You'd practically need calculus to chart out what was happening. First couple of complaints in February were checked out and they could only find a few books affected, so it's a minor glitch.

And if their IT/Customer Support gets run the way I think it might be -- some poor schlub investigates, can only find a couple dozen books affected, and writes up the incident as a minor glitch that should get looked at the next time the master ratings system gets tweaked.

And then... every complaint from mid-Feb on gets the canned response, since it's in the system and it's going to be looked at. OR worse, since Amazon does have a reason to keep dildos and so on off the major ranking system, it's written up as a feature and nobody's looking at the fact that this occasional glitch is snowballing as the dozens of books goes into the hundreds, into the thousands.

A thousand books affected sounds like a lot, but given how many zillion titles Amazon carries, it IS a 'minor glitch' -- I'm betting that suddenly as some internal date passed and more recent rankings were weighted and/or the new input rating was newly added to the calculation, that the affected books soared into the hundreds of thousands, the big majority of LGBT titles.

And it does it just as we're sliding into a 3 day holiday weekend.

Oh, it's going to be an "interesting" morning at the Amazon.Com marketing and IT departments...
theodosia: (threesomes)
From my current Twitter stream:

  • 07:33 Watching: Secure source code hosting and collaborative development - GitHub. Interesting -- must explore.
    Waayyyy too advanced for me, but interesting nonetheless.
  • 07:35 Took a muscle relaxant last night. Which means I'm well-rested but also floppy feeling. Still better than ache-induced insomnia. #

  • 09:59 Watching: Please Enjoy - The Work of Ji Lee #
    Fascinating design and art ideas, plus I love the concise and efficient website design!
  • 10:40 Making a shopping list preparatory to going Forth. Trying to think of what I need beyond soy-based ice cream and failing. #
  • 11:05 Has added bread, couscous and chicken to the list, still hasn't left house. Her needs are so simple.... #

  • 17:25 Going out to the garden. Once I evict Spare Cat from my lap.... #
  • 18:29 2 bags of leaves later. Still many leaves to go, but sense of accomplishment just the same...
    +-*96 #
  • 18:30 +-*96 <-- Spare Cat's contribution to the last post. So Helpful. Not. #
    Garden report: two bags full of leaves from last fall, noticed that the tiger lilies and one of the bleeding hearts are starting up already, and the lilacs have leaf buds. And I scattered some 3+yo clover seeds all over the numerous bare patches of what I call "lawn" in the hopes that something that is not, technically, weeds will grow there.
  • 06:14 Watched two episodes of Middleman last night, then collapsed like there was a hole in the Goodyear Blimp.... #

School day today, also I may be feeling the vague stirrings of Spring Fever, so we'll see if the clean-up impulse keeps happening. Also, it's Time to start sending out Resume 2.0 and see if the employment world responds with the enthusiasm that I so richly deserve.
theodosia: (have fun (by heuradys))
I think I finally am at the point where I could have a legitimate need to register a domain. What nonskanky and reasonably budgeted place(s) should I go to do this?

ETA: I've had one recc for GoDaddy so far.
theodosia: (art!)
is up, at least for Beta... and of course general wonderment and praise (always happily accepted) because I think it could be a good project to show off my general cleverness and especially my Actionscript and Flash chops.

So go gaze in wonder, already!
theodosia: (art!)
1. My first week of no-school, no-work actually went pretty quickly. I heard back from not one of the jobs I applied for, which probably shouldn't surprise much, but there you have it. The one contact that I got didn't seem to pan out, a headhunter wanted to submit me for something, and then didn't follow up.

2. I stopped by the school briefly yesterday -- I'd promised 3D instructor Scott that I'd make him a copy of the motion capture files that the previous instructor had given us. He was so sorry that I couldn't continue, which is nice for my ego, really. I know I was a little upset, because I managed to misplace my glasses, which I finally found had slipped down inside my sweater.

3. I talked to the education coordinator, and I'll get to retake the sections of the programming course that I didn't get grades on (actually some of them are because the instructor screwed up, I think) so there's some structure in my future. However, the first class isn't until Jan 17th. Since the classes are at night and on weekends, even if I start working, I should be able to continue, so yay.

4. I'm working on a "Flash resume" to go along with my regularly formatted resume. I figure that if I'm going to show off my skills as an ActionScript developer, it's not altogether a bad thing to have a resume that actually shows off. Not that I'd use it for another kind of job. It uses a 3D "carousel" effect which is very Web 2.0, pulls in the icons and text through XML and HTML files, and styles the latter with CSS. Along the way I'm having to figure out all sorts of aspects, like that AS 2.0 isn't evidently acknowleding DIVs like straight CSS should, and I need to come up with a little more unified art direction to make the icons both snazzy and decipherable.

5. I really need to work on some real websites, to get more portfolio material. If anyone knows of opportunities to work for free, or deserving people who need web work done, I'm wide open and willing. If there was anything like a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities, that would be fabulous to try....
theodosia: (SF)
If you've been wondering at the explosion of 3D-related posts here, it's because not only am I still auditing the class (while waiting for other opportunities to come my way), the class itself was increased from 4 hours a day to 5.5 (with a half hour for lunch) which means there's been even more time for working on this stuff -- I'm making leaps and bounds in my improved skills, at least.

In the other parts of my days afterwards, I'm spending a lot of time on ActionScript tutorials, having found a couple cool places like and, the latter of which has well-paced and explanatory video tutorials that you can work along with, just like a cooking show, with less mess to clean up afterwards.

What I like about Flash scripting is that it isn't all abstract codey things happening -- you are moving physical representations of your code around the screen, you can SEE the results of what you've written working!

And when you're doing straightforward Object-Oriented programming (as one of the gotoAndLearn() tutorials showed last night) -- you know the part where conceptually you're attaching the code to the objects? -- you ACTUALLY attach the code to the objects.
theodosia: (art!)
OK, this morning I took the Flash gallery I finished last night and edited it into my Talechaser site as the new Photo gallery page:

Photo Gallery!

Look on in wonder! I'm so chuffed at it, because it's slick and professional and pretty and clever.

(Does anybody besides me wonder if the Left and Right buttons work opposite the way they intuitively should? I mean, Left moves the filmstrip left, but I find myself clicking on the Right button to make it go in a leftward direction half the time. Since I have Left-Right issues in general, I think I need to check with unimpaired persons....)

Now I have to do up the Design Gallery the same way -- which will be dead easy, since I can just reuse all the Flash code, and just make web-friendly versions of the design work I have in my portfolio, and edit the corresponding XML file with names and descriptions.

Also, I'm putting the finishing touches on an Animation Gallery that works much the same way, but instead of loading JPG files, it loads .FLV (Flash Video) files to show off the short animations I made with 3DS Max.

But it's a relatively nice and sunny day here, and I'm going to go off and Socialize at a brunch for now. It is probably a good idea to get away from the damn computer....
theodosia: (art!)
The week just whipped past, truly -- I've been very consumed with 3DS Max in my morning audited class, where we're going over the basics of advanced modelling, working on trucks and humans and furniture.  Then I come home, settle down for the afternoon or evening, and start working on my Actionscript.  I revised the Flash Card Quiz slightly, and then started in on something that I've wanted to do for a while -- create a Flash-based slideshow for my portfolio website, using Actionscript.

Allow me to explain -- while you can import images into the Flash program and create an .FLA file to publish the result as a .SWF (which plays in browsers allowing the user to control actions via buttons, et cetera) you have to physically manipulate a lot of layers and objects, change names, hand code a bunch of stuff... and then if you want to add one more picture or whatever, you have to go back into the guts of the .FLA, add more layers, hand-code more stuff and take a whole lot more time.

Also, all of the images have to be imported into the .SWF file... and while a 100K picture isn't all that large by itself, get a couple dozen of them and you've got a very large file which will take a long time to load in somebody's browser,which given that users generally have no patience whatsoever, isn't a great way to start out showing your stuff for their pleasure.

And if you want to make a similar slideshow gallery with the same behavior -- you pretty much have to start all over again.

So, enter Actionscript, which when you get into the more advanced sections, allows you to control pretty much everything, including loading pictures dynamically onto the stage... so you have a very quick-loading browser experience, which moves the loading time into small increments where individual pictures are loaded.

Also, because the gallery slideshow looks to an XML file for what is it going to show, it is a dead cinch to add or change pictures in the slideshow.  You just have to use a regular text browser to add the file name and file path, and a description into a single line -- with all the proper formatting, but you can see the other lines for comparison.

The XML for the gallery looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<GALLERY TITLE="Photography" COLUMNS="250" XPOSITION="20" YPOSITION="450" WIDTH="100" HEIGHT="100">
<IMAGE FULL="images/1.jpg" THUMB="thumbs/thumb1.jpg" DESC="Lily in Cyprus" />
<IMAGE FULL="images/2.jpg" THUMB="thumbs/thumb1.jpg" DESC="Self-Portrait" />
<IMAGE FULL="images/3.jpg" THUMB="thumbs/thumb1.jpg" DESC="Old Sturbridge Village Desk" />

If you want to see what it looks like in practice, go here.
theodosia: (rhino brain in a box)
Here's what I'm working on for my final project in Flash class:

It's a "flash card" application that reads in the prompts and correct answers from an external XML file, which can easily be added to or substituted.  It's pretty visually rough -- the prettifying will happen this week, but in the meantime, if you want to run through the 7 dead easy math questions and see if it gives you any trouble, I'd appreciate it tons.

The idea is that these work just like old-fashioned flash cards -- you turn up one, try to remember the answer, and then turn it over to see if you get it correct.  Since this is done in a program, you can click the Right or Wrong button (scout's honor).  It should give you a running total of what you've done, only repeat the questions you (deliberately) missed until you answer them correctly, and tell you when you've answered them all correctly.

It doesn't have to be 7 questions -- as many as are put into the XML file, and the order they're presented should be random, just as if this were a physical deck of flash cards you could shuffle.  (In fact, there should be a "Shuffle" button rather than a Reset button if you want to run through the set again.)

And there should be some sort of final screen with "fireworks" going off to celebrate a successful run.  I've still got most of two weeks to get this finished, i.e. much more pretty and cute.  The important thing, to me right now, is that the big important parts of the cakefunctionality -- random order, extendible XML file, running total -- are all working as they should, and the rest is going to be the icing.
theodosia: (rhino brain in a box)
In other news, my desktop computer is working again.  This was rather more painful than I had hoped, at every step of the way.

First,  it turned out that the computer needed a new video card, which isn't a standard-issue HP product, so that while it was covered under warranty, HP had to first get it, and then send it on to MicroCenter.  So my hoped-for "overnight" turnaround turned into more like 2 weeks.  Fair enough, I've dealt with enough IT stuff to expect this sort of snafu.

But I got the computer back on Monday, and at first everything went well -- I could get the first bunch of essential backups on the C: drive and install some of my own software, like my Adobe programs, and Firefox and so on.  All looked well, except when I turned to the E drive where I keep a lot of data like ripped TV shows and the like.

Because the E drive wasn't there, at least that I couldn't see it.  Googled a bit, asked friends, the consensus was take it back to the store because either a cable had come undone, or the reformatting had gone seriously wrong.

So took it back late yesterday afternoon, and lo & behold, cable WAS undone, because it looks like the clips are inferior (the tech replaced them on the spot).  But the drive had to be formatted.

And that's where it turned out we both went wrong, because I was looking over her shoulder... and we both thought that we had reformatted the right drive.  The computer even booted up correctly, even if I noticed that it had the wrong color screen in the background, but because it was a different monitor, I figured it had something to do with the drivers.

Cue the sinister music, OK?

So I get it home, and start it up, and start noticing that there is something different about this desktop.

That, in fact, it's my OLD desktop.  With my OLD data still complete on it.

Somehow or other, the primary drive had become the secondary drive, I guess, and then didn't get reformatted.

The thing is, EVERYTHING is working just fine.  No crashes, no problems, all the data (at least on the C drive, where the most important stuff lives) is there.  The data on E had been backed up correctly on the external hard drive.

So... yay?  I'm coming out ahead, at least in that I have a working computer, and really truly haven't lost all that much data -- just two weeks worth of  iTunes listening stats, basically.

It never occurred to me that the primary drive would have come unconnected or that they'd end up swapped around.  Maybe the tech should have known, but she certainly struck me as pretty clueful when I dealt with her (and I've dealt a lot with IT stuff.), so.
theodosia: (rhino brain in a box)
My beautiful desktop computer is away at MicroCenter now -- thank goodness I have my iBook still, so I'm not cut off from my online pursuits, otherwise this would hurt a lot more than it is.

But still -- most of my past YEAR is on that computer. And even though I think it's FULLY backed up, I couldn't verify that before I handed it over for reimaging, since I couldn't open the backup files from the iBook to check. Like... all my projects, the uncompleted 3D animation, nearly ALL the modeling I did, and ALL the programs that I wrote, too.

I'm at least 90% sure that I have them backed up, but not knowing For Sure is killing me.

The good news is, the computer has to be reimaged because of a driver problem, not because of a hardware problem --- which means that the data should be imageable by the tech, who listened to me with a large and reassuring amount of comprehension.

The past week, I spent 3 sessions of at least two hours each with HP customer support -- whom I have to say were Good at their jobs, and I've given enough tech support to know when it's being done well -- none of which could fix the problem of the computer's monitor output fritzing out when an obscure driver was failing. It was determined not to be a hardware problem, but something that would most likely be definitively cured by doing a system factory restore. And I was all ready to do it, too, but because of the worsening problem, the computer would no longer go into restoration mode even with the boot disks in.

So my baby is in the hands of strangers. Be strong, pumpkin! Mommy wuvs you!
theodosia: (beetle)
Any suggestions for which type of anti-Spyware/anti-Virus software I should install on my Vista desktop PC? It came with Norton, which has now just lapsed, so I should either renew it or get something else....

At my last (:: sniff ::) job, we had McAfee which Desktop Support kept track of and supported, but now I'm out on my own with my own little PC. Always persally owned a Mac before this, so I only had some shareware stuff that periodically cleaned out nasty cookies and the like, so I don't have much in the way of comparison to guide me.

If there are any other programs that I should consider, would you mention what you're using and how happy you are with it?

:: makes big eyes ::
theodosia: (written)
Yesterday and today, two different people -- who don't know I'm a writer -- have told me about the books they want to write. I made encouraging noises, and escaped as soon as humanly possible, even if neither sounded like a bad idea as they were described. it's just that I'd have to get into the joy-adverse details of explaining just what one has to do to write the actual books.

I've no doubt that if I'd admitted that I'd written and sold stories, and written novels (not even mentioning the fanfic, which is a whole 'nother conversation) I'd be hearing a lot more about other people's unwritten stories and so on. There's a reason I'm circumspect about talking about my writing....

Today we learned about clipping masks and alpha channels in Photoshop and how to import them into InDesign to do extremely clever things with. It's strange to think that six months or so after losing my job at a publishing company, I'm actually learning more about the work of some of my ex-coworkers than I managed in the previous ten years.

In programming C#, I can now manipulate arrays and create methods (aka functions) at least for very basic purposes. Learning to be more elaborate about it will take from now until April....

(There was also the amusing interlude where I accidentally divided by 0, and found out that C# returns, literally "Infinity" if you do that. I think I'm charmed, even if I was kicking myself slightly for doing a programming booboo that I haven't slipped up on for years.)
theodosia: (rhino brain in a box)
Quick question -- do you have a password set on coming back from sleep or hibernation on your desktop computer at home? I'm considering not doing that, as the chances of someone breaking in and getting online seem pretty slim, but then again I wonder if I need to be a little more paranoid in this day and age....


theodosia: (Default)

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