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Adventures of Bad Hamster
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Jenni's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
4:24 pm
Disney, revisited.
I think this is the fourth consecutive year I'm writing a Disney-trip post. Have I really kept up this journal for that long? There have been periods where I didn't post for quite some time -- actually, I think today's post marks the end of the longest time I've ever gone without updating -- but I always seem to come back here eventually. I honestly don't even know which of my friends and longtime readers are still here, and which have moved on to WordPress or dropped out of the blogosphere entirely. I recently spent a few hours wrestling WP myself to set up an integrated blog for THE WEBSITE, and in the process of doing so, I had to purchase a hosting account. So for some time now I've had the chaospearl.com domain and I keep thinking maybe I ought to move my personal journal over there. The only reason I haven't is that I don't want to lose everything I've written about over the years, and as far as I'm aware the only way to avoid that would be to manually go through my LJ entries and log them into a text file to keep as an archive. It isn't that I don't want to do the work, though admittedly it'd be a pain in the ass. It's that I don't want to re-read the past five or six years, however long it's been, of my life. I have a bad tendency to lose myself in melancholy. There are too many happy entries about beloved pets who have since passed, among other memories that I'm not ready to revisit yet.

In which I brag a bit.Collapse )

Perpetual Dreamers.Collapse )

Back to the present...Collapse )

I'm going to quit here and actually post this, but don't worry, I'll be back. There are still important things to be discussed, such as the contents of my neon pink luggage, and the culmination of a 20-yr search for a strapless bra that doesn't make me cry.
Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
11:02 pm
I am reasonably accepting about my physical limitations. I've had close to 20 years to get over the fact that I'll never climb a tree or go skiing again. When I encounter a problem, something I can't do because of my health, my typical first reaction is to find a way to do it anyway. I'm big on adaptive technology and the fine art of jerry-rigging household items until I get the result I need. If that's absolutely not possible, I ask somebody else to do it for me. Worse comes to worst, I pay a professional for the service.

But sometimes... sometimes, it still just hurts. Sometimes I'm a disabled limping fat slug and I always will be and all I get is to sit on the sidelines and watch.

I want to hike the Appalachian Trail and I'll never do it. Never. Or any trail... I want to walk along the trail in the woods for a day, stop when it's getting dark at a place that looks secure and pitch a small tent, and make a campfire and cook some awful trail ration packet on a little aluminum skillet, and crawl into my tent and sleep, and then wake up early the next morning and pack up my things and continue walking until I get to my destination. And I will never, ever, be able to do that, I'll never be able to do anything even remotely close.

I've found in the past few weeks of research that I could go camping, in a tent and such. There are things available now that would let me overcome the major reasons my physical health prevents me from tent camping. Primarily, the fact that I cannot sit on the ground, which creates an issue for taking a break to rest in the middle of the woods, and sleeping in a tent. There is such thing as a raised air mattress, 17 inches off the ground. And many styles of folding chair, from a simple tripod to a comfortable plush bowl. I have both of those things and with them I will pitch my little tent and go camping next week, all by myself. I'll be camping in my own backyard.

All the adaptive technology in the world won't allow me to overcome a basic irony -- that I'll never go backpacking because I can't backpack that technology which would allow me to go backpacking.

I could walk for a couple of miles, if I had my pain medication and the hike were spread out across a day with resting every now and then. I'd pay for it in pain after I reduced the meds, but I could do it. I could pitch a tent if it were small, and of the sort where you only need to fit the poles upright into the fabric loops and wriggle the stakes into the ground, as opposed to the sort where you need brute strength to bend the poles to a certain degree in order to wrestle the tent fabric onto the frame. I could clear out some ground area into a shallow pit and gather stones and sticks and small branches to make a little fire. Perhaps not a very big one or a very long-lasting one, but just a little one, to boil water for coffee and one of those dried meal things.

I can do the basic things that one does when backpacking. The problem is that what I cannot do is carry the equipment needed to do those things. Walk a few miles, with the aid of Percocet, yes. Do it with a backpack containing a tent, blanket, sufficient water, protective clothing and various emergency medical supplies? Not happening. And not even a seasoned hiker in top physical condition could carry that raised air mattress and the compressor needed to inflate it. You can't make yourself comfortable on the flat earth, you can't hike. Period.

There's simply no such thing as backpacking with an inflatable mattress or foldable chair, but I'm not physically able to camp without them. There is no adapting to be done, no help to be asked for, nothing that could ever change that fact. I'll never hike the trail the same way I'll never ski. Just sit on the sidelines, and read my stupid books about an Appalachian Trail that I'll never see. You don't even begin to understand hate until your own body takes away your dreams.
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
6:39 pm
Let's try this again.
Yeah... so those of you who were betting I'd lost interest and given up on this blog and THE WEBSITE the way I've lost interest in, well, pretty much everything else I've ever started... pay up, bitches. I'm back.

It's late summer and in another week or so, my mother returns to work and my sister to school. I figure it's as good a time as any for me to get to work, too. I'm putting THE WEBSITE back into production and this time I intend to make a real go of it. Of course, I intended this last time, too... what happened? Short version: I worked on it for about a month and then decided that my top priority was going to be the Great Prednisone Reduction, with the result that I spent pretty much the next four months either laying in bed half-dead, or wishing for the other half. The lesson learned? Yes, I can have my attractive high cheekboned profile back rather than the current disgusting three slobbering chins, but only if I'm willing to sacrifice the ability to walk, feed and dress myself, and wipe my own ass. The fact that I was willing to make the deal for four months probably says something but I am unwilling to contemplate what that might be. These days my face is back to resembling that of an overweight gorilla, but I don't have to ask my mommy to help me with basic hygiene. I'll worry about it again later in the year when the miserable weather and corresponding pain level spike inevitably gives me the idea that if I'm going to be incapable of much besides laying around the house kicking my little feet helplessly, I may as well stay in bed and cut the prednisone.

For now, on with THE WEBSITE! I'm working on the cookbook site primarily as I always intended, but also tossing around the idea of putting up a casual gaming blog. I already have the hosting so there's no reason not to use it, and more importantly, I have people asking me to do it and the outside encouragement is better motivation than anything else. I think it will also help me to spread my focus around a bit; it'll stave off the loss of interest if I can switch back and forth. I don't intend to allow myself to wander off when the next shiny thing comes along, though; I'll be more productive if I look at it as "work" and commit to spending a few hours a day on it whether I feel like it or not. I may actually set my alarm and the coffeemaker so that I can drag my sorry ass out of bed in the morning, mainline caffeine and then work for a few hours the way everyone else in the world does. I'll just do it in my pajamas without the commute.
Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
2:11 pm
This is why I always read the fine print... you never know when it may have been written by somebody with a sense of humor.

Within the next hour, we will send you a confirmation e-mail verifying receipt of your order. Once your order has shipped, we will send you a second e-mail detailing the contents of your order and tracking information. Your credit card will not be billed until your order actually ships. The packing slip included in each shipment also serves as your receipt, freeing us from the need to send you a third email, and makes a great paper airplane.
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
1:43 am
So... you'll recall when I posted about having wasted much time tracking down a "bug" that turned out to be my inability to type. Apparently, I can't spell either. I just spent over 20 minutes pulling my hair out over something that wasn't working the way the manual said it should, only to finally notice that "verticle" and "vertical" aren't the same thing. Who'da thought? What gets me is that the only reason I finally noticed the typo is that I swapped over to my HTML editor for a moment to check something in the preview window (the document in question that was causing trouble was a stylesheet, not a web page, so I'd been working on it in Notepad rather than the editor) and it turns out my beloved CoffeeCup editor has a built-in spell checking feature. Or rather... it's not precisely a spellchecker in the sense that it points out incorrectly spelled English words; instead it highlights various bits of markup on the page. HTML block element tags are one color, inline element tags are a different color, image tags are another, etc. CSS markup has its own color scheme for selectors, properties, and opening\closing brackets and semicolons. A style rule will only highlight automatically if the editor can recognize it as such. So if you leave out a semicolon at the end of a declaration or misspell a property or a value, it won't recognize the markup as being a rule -- it won't recognize it as anything, for that matter, beyond just plain text scribbled in between rules, so it doesn't highlight. I noticed the chunk of regular black text right away but I admit it took me a couple read-overs of the same five lines to realize I'd spelled vertical wrong. Shoot me now.

In other website news, I don't understand why Comic Sans MS is included in the cursive font family. It isn't remotely cursive-like; in fact it kind of looks like somebody took Times New Roman and injected it with a turkey baster so the letters would plump up and be soft and round. The whole point of a cursive font is that it's supposed to resemble script handwriting; the letters flow together because with cursive script you never lift your pen from the page as you're writing. Comic Sans MS has distinct, separate letters that would never for an instant be confused with anyone's handwriting. I'm aggravated by this because not every computer is installed with the fonts I want to use, but if I specify my top couple of choices and then use cursive as the default fallback (the one that gets used if none of the specifically named fonts are available), it's nearly always going to default to Comic because more than 95% of computers have that one. I'm not too picky, I don't need my site to be viewed in the exact font I choose every time -- but there is a huge difference between elegant script and the cartoony Comic Sans MS. This is not the home page of the Yellow Ducky Play Group. Damn you, Comic Sans!
Monday, October 5th, 2009
3:41 pm
Swan Lake.
For the past week or two, my daily wardrobe ensemble has frequently consisted of a dance leotard and jeans. You know, those black stretchy bodysuit things that you (or your kids) had to wear to ballet class with pink tights? And woe betide the girl who showed up in white tights instead of pink. I've had two black leotards neatly folded in my dresser, unworn, for years. I picked up a few other colors this week after realizing what a great discovery these are. They're comfortable, flattering, weather-appropriate, and don't require much thought on my part. They go nicely with all the lightweight buttoned jacket-style sweaters I have in the closet, if I need an extra layer or a less casual look in a hurry. Most importantly, they're about ten bucks apiece and manage to fit me properly when no other clothing in the world wants to. And you know what, I've just realized why that is...

My two main fashion problems are that I'm very short with proportionately long legs and I'm reasonably slim but not reed-thin. There are only two shapes for small women, according to the fashion industry. If you're under 5'5", you're either a waif with a 20-inch waist and zero percent body fat, or you're round and dumpy with a big butt and thighs. If you're of normal proportions but happen to be short, you don't exist, so good luck finding clothing that fits off the rack. To make things worse, I'm also incredibly narrow-hipped and flabby around the middle, which means I have no natural waist at all. My waist and hip measurements are the same number. When I try on pants, anything that fits neatly around the waist will inevitably be several inches too big around the butt and thighs and often down through the leg as well. Fortunately, that particular issue is one of the easiest to fix with a needle and thread. Nearly all my pants from jeans to pajama bottoms have had several inches hacked off the leg circumference and height of the crotch.

Anyway... so when I started peering at the sizing charts for leotards, I figured I'd have to whip out the thread box and do some alterations when my new prizes arrived. I chose sizes based on waist measurement and estimated on the large side, because with a leotard, I can shorten the torso or the arms and take in the hips, but if it's too tight around the middle there isn't much I can do. I was expecting that anything that fit my waist would be much too long in the torso and I'd end up with the crotch hanging in the vicinity of my knees and the scoop-neck reaching up to my collarbone. Well, the first leotard arrived in today's mail, and to my complete shock it fits perfectly right out of the package. As I said earlier, after some thought I'm realizing a very likely reason why that is. Among all the many and varied female body shapes out there, the demographic who are smaller in height but not overweight, with petite bone structure, narrow hips and long legs? That particular body type lends itself well to professional gymnastics or ballet. Granted it's a profession that can be somewhat weight-obsessed (many of them have to weigh in before a meet and catch hell from their trainers if they're a single ounce heavier than last time)... but it also requires health, flexibility, and ungodly amounts of strength and energy. A waif-like anorexic isn't going to make it far as a gymnast or dancer; the real professionals may have very little body fat but they do have plenty of lean muscle mass. They're slim and strong rather than stick-thin with bones jutting out.

I, of course, am a slug composed of pure body fat with no muscle tone whatsoever, but fortunately when it comes to clothing sizes, that amounts to the same shape -- short, average weight, no hips, long legs. It's exactly the shape that manufacturers of dancewear and leotards are designing for. Finally!
Sunday, October 4th, 2009
12:15 am
A few of my favorite things.
I need a new mousepad.

Rather, I need a mousepad. Because I work almost exclusively on laptop computers, it's been years since I used a mouse on a regular basis. Recently I picked up two wireless USB mice -- a cheapie one to use with the laptop when I'm fiddling in a graphics program (you just try editing in Photoshop with a touchpad and see how far you get), and a decent one with a much longer range for when I'm playing computer games via the television screen, so I don't have to sit with my nose touching the TV in order for the wireless mouse to work.

So now that I'm mousing more than once or twice a year, I need my own mousepad. I've been grabbing the one we use with the living room's desktop computer whenever I need to mouse, but it's several years old and the fabric top is all nubbed up, which makes the optical mouse skip and snag constantly. Besides, a) it's ugly and b) mousepads are cheap. You can get pretty much any image you want on a mousepad; there's no reason I shouldn't have my very own with a design I find pleasing!

There are a LOT of mousepads available out there on the Internet. Originally I wanted to go with CafePress and get one with a photo of Sky on it, but you need a really large photograph to screen decently onto a mousepad and I just don't have any pics of Sky that are big enough to use without looking blurry. Not any cute ones, anyway. Allie effortlessly manages to look like an AKC champion preening on a postcard in every single picture ever taken of her, but Sky is somewhat less photogenic and often looks scruffy or is making a strange face for the camera. I would happily murder something to be able to use the photo of her that's in use as my LiveJournal icon -- yes, that is my actual dog in that picture, looking much like a posed stuffed toy -- but every copy I have of that particular pic is way too small for CafePress to use. I'm still chasing her with the camera regularly in the hopes of lucking into a great picture, but in the meantime, I did some poking around to see what other mousepads might be available.

It's amazing what pops into your head when you start considering, "Hmmm... what things do I like enough to want to stare at the picture for hours on my mousepad?" I've managed to narrow it down to about half a dozen potentials:

-- Mickey Mouse
-- Winnie the Pooh
-- a squirrel
-- a purple and white iris
-- a map of Middle Earth (very similar to the 4x3 ft giant poster that takes up most of my bedroom wall)
-- the shield \ coat of arms of the Jedi Knights
-- the Legend of Zelda Triforce

What would be on YOUR mousepad?
Friday, October 2nd, 2009
9:48 am
Say cheese.
It's not yet 10am and I've just spent close to an hour snapping photos... of my breakfast. Step by step production and assembly of a maple egg muffin with cheese and bacon. It's really hard to get good photos of something while also trying to not let it burn or get cold during the cooking process. I'm thinking most food photographers do not generally plan to eat their subjects after the shoot. I made two muffins, actually; if you're already making one it doesn't take any extra time to make two. It's a good thing, because one of them turned out to be way more photogenic than the other. (If you've ever seen that episode of The West Wing with CJ and the two Thanksgiving turkeys, that's the scene in my kitchen while I tried to evaluate egg muffins according to their best photographic properties.)
Monday, September 28th, 2009
9:24 pm
Baby's first idiocy! Awww!
Tonight, for the very first time during my website-building efforts, I've experienced a cherished moment which I'm certain will be followed by many, many more of the same. Months from now I'll look back at this night and think to myself how new and shiny everything was...

Yes, dear readers, tonight was the very first time that I spent 2+ hours uploading, tweaking, re-uploading, consulting books and web tutorials, tweaking, re-uploading, and tweaking some more, adding complicated and convoluted CSS styling properties that stretched half a page or more, all in the vain effort to fix something that turned out to be a typo further up in the markup.

There will be many more of these incidents. I recall them fondly from prior webpage-wrangling days. Anyone who's ever programmed in any language knows what I'm talking about. If you haven't written 100+ lines of code and even deigned to consult the manual while trying to make something work the way it's supposed to, only to later realize that the issue is because of a typo (or a similar "duh" moment)... you're not a real programmer.
Friday, September 25th, 2009
12:47 pm
Free shopping!
I discovered something cool last night. I may possibly have been the last person on the planet to realize that there are literally thousands of different add-ons available for the Firefox browser, but I'm aware of it now, and I'm nearly giddy! I spent a good hour "shopping" for add-ons to customize Firefox to a ridiculous extent. It's so easy; you just browse the different categories, click to read about any that sound interesting or useful, and if you decide to use it, you just click the download button and Firefox immediately installs it. How did I not know about this? I stumbled across the add-on community while searching for a way to keep my bookmarks synched between laptop and netbook. Google Bookmarks seemed to be the answer until I realized it uses an absurd "label" system to organize bookmarks and won't let you create subfolders within bookmark categories. Fuck that. If I wanted to run a search of my bookmark list to find the page I'm looking for, I wouldn't have bookmarked it to begin with. So I found an add-on (GMarks) that addresses that very issue, and from there, I discovered the multitude of other available add-ons to customize pretty much anything I could possibly want and lots of things I didn't know I wanted until I saw them.

Some of my new toys:

-- let you re-load a page every X seconds or minutes (useful on eBay and Woot)
-- extend your Bookmark Toolbar to allow multiple rows
-- allow you to drag-and-drop elements (images, paragraphs) from a page onto your desktop or into a folder
-- re-organize the elements on the bottom status bar, and\or hide what you don't want to see
-- assign rainbow colors to browser tabs depending on the domain

I even found one that lets you make a backup of all your Firefox browser preferences, including downloaded add-ons. And you can transfer the backup file to different computers via a free online account. Ha!
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
5:12 pm
If this makes sense, you're a nerd too.
Still reading through Learning Web Design... I hit the section on CSS generated content and was informed that Internet Explorer doesn't support it. Now, earlier in the book it had mentioned the current usage statistics for different browsers. At the time of publication, IE7 had already been released and was gaining ground, but IE6 still had a majority. Because of that, whenever Internet Explorer is mentioned throughout the book the author differentiates between the two releases and offers qualifiers such as, "such-and-such is now (finally!) supported in IE7, but it won't work in IE6; so keep in mind that while IE7 is slowly gaining hold and eventually this won't be an issue, right now the majority of users are still using IE6 and thus won't be able to [whatever]."

There was a footnote on the page that contained the browser statistics, something along the lines of, "by the time you read this, the statistics will have changed, so be sure to check out the current numbers at w3counter.com). So I hopped over there to take a peek. Currently, it's IE7 that has dominance with 23% of the pie, but just barely -- IE8 is behind only by a small margin with 15%, and IE6 is still clinging on with 14%.

Anyway... I had a point when I started typing. CSS generated content. The book states unequivocally that Internet Explorer does not support it, "including IE7" -- but at the time of the book's publication IE8 hadn't been released. So right after I read that information, I put down my book and went for Google to find out whether Microsoft has managed to pull its head out of its ass yet. I'm delighted to report that IE8 does indeed support generated content; in fact it fully supports CSS2.1 with all the bells and whistles. I'm not sure how quickly the w3counter.com numbers change... right now it reports a total of roughly 56%** of people using "modern" browsers capable of handling any CSS I care to throw at them, and that's not nearly enough of a majority to do anything important with generated content. I could create a separate style sheet for browsers that don't support it, but that kind of defeats the purpose of CSS, which would be not having to update more than one page every time I need to make a content adjustment. It's not a big deal; just that when I'd read the chapter on generated content I had momentary visions of being able to solve the issue of printed copies of recipes and measurement tables needing to look slightly different than they do when viewed on the website. There are myriad other ways around that problem, and it's not a big problem to begin with; just that none of the solutions are quite as neatly efficient (i.e. they require more effort on my part). I've been reading through the book with an eye towards anything that will cut down on the amount of maintaining and updating I'll need to do whenever I want to introduce new content, because new content is what will keep the site alive and I want it to be as simple as possible.

In re-reading this post, I have realized that I've learned more about websites in the past two days than I had in years previous, and that the fact that I'm excited by IE8 supporting CSS2.1 means I'm a huge nerd.

**Various releases of Firefox come in at around 30% total, the latest versions of Safari and Chrome are another 3%-and-change each, and Opera's share is a little over 1%. Adding those to the 18% of IE8 is where the 56% comes from (rounded to include the "and change"). There are more people using browsers that can support CSS2.1 than there are people using browsers that can't, which is good news.
Monday, September 21st, 2009
1:06 pm
Cleardot is dead! Long live cleardot!
Sometimes it's the little things...

I picked up a bunch of books on web design from Amazon and of course everything arrived in a big heap, so I've got to devote some serious time to reading through everything and deciding which ones to keep and which to return. I feel guilty using Amazon as a public library, but I did try the actual library first, along with PBS, and came up with nothin'. I could get a ride to B&N some afternoon but I can't camp out there every single day for six hours at a clip until I've read enough to select the books I need. I didn't see any other options. Besides, with the amount of business I give Amazon annually (weekly!) I'm sure they won't mind.

The one thing I've noticed so far is that every book I've flipped through states a few things NOT to do, usually in the first introductory chapter. Among those NO's? Apparently it's not cool to use "spacer gifs" any longer; the web's moved beyond that kind of hack.

A spacer gif is an image of one single pixel, a transparent pixel. "cleardot.gif" is the usual name you'd give the image file. It's mainly of use when you need a certain amount of empty space between two things on the page -- "things" being images, or blocks of text, or perhaps an image that's supposed to be alongside a block of text and keeps displaying under it no matter how many break tags you use -- and for whatever reason the usual HTML tags aren't giving you the visual results you need. Lots of people also used borderless table layouts for this kind of thing, but keep in mind the cleardot hack was popular years ago when there was a lot less continuity between browsers than there is now; a complicated table layout wouldn't necessarily look the same in Netscape as it did in Internet Explorer. Anyway, if spacing was a problem you'd upload the single clear pixel and put in an image tag attribute to specify how wide or tall the space you need to create should be, and voila! There's your empty space. It's not actually empty, of course; the image is there -- your cleardot.gif -- working as a placeholder, but it's an invisible image because the spacer pixel is transparent, so it looks like empty space on the page.

Why am I so thrilled to hear that the era of the spacer gif is over? Because it implies that there was an era of the spacer gif to begin with. What I mean is... I used cleardot.gif in a couple of my homepage designs or other personal projects from time to time, and so did the other amateur webslingers in the forums I frequented. We did it because we weren't professionals, because we didn't always know the latest or the most obscure and complicated HTML. Hell, we frequently didn't even know how to make basic HTML work properly. Dreamweaver was on the scene already -- albeit with fewer bells and whistles than it has now -- but I was writing my HTML in Windows Notepad. WYSIWYG was for pussies! (I'm still fighting against that particular mindset; I use an HTML editor called CoffeeCup now and it does have quite a few helpful bells and whistles, but it's not drag-and-drop WYSIWYG). I was always sure that there must be some "correct" way to make my images align themselves properly; I just wasn't good enough to know how, so I cheated with cleardot.gif. It may not have been professional, but it worked.

I didn't know that it was such a common hack that large corporations also used it when designing those slick, flashy websites that cost millions of dollars and required a whole team of highly-paid professional webmasters. I didn't know that The GAP's storefront page used to include cleardot.gif, or that the furniture giant IKEA's did too.

I guess it just makes me smile to know that apparently I wasn't as hopeless a naive amateur as I'd always believed. If I could remember the web design I knew when I was sixteen, I'd be a lot better off now... although I suppose things have changed radically enough that maybe it's a good thing I don't have to un-learn bad habits. I don't think the HTML is going to be too problematic; it's the graphics I'm troubled with. The delightful angel_fly worked her magic on my website's logo and made it behave properly, but it's still the same logo I hacked together from some public domain clipart -- it's messy and doesn't look at all professional. I'm thinking that I may need to take a deep breath and throw away the original graphic, even though I've spent most of this week wrestling pixels to get it just the way I wanted, and find something that doesn't look like a 5-yr-old drew it in Paint. :(
Saturday, September 19th, 2009
5:19 pm
I hate pixels.
Is there anyone out there who is reasonably decent at creating \ manipulating graphics? I've been wrangling pixels for days and it's become apparent that my little skill with PaintShop is not going to be good enough. I can't afford to hire a professional graphics designer, but I CAN afford to pay a friend or acquaintance a reasonable fee to help me out. If you know anyone who could use some extra cash to put together some simple website graphics for me, please get in touch. I really don't need pro-level work; just someone who understands PaintShop or PhotoShop better than I do.
Monday, September 14th, 2009
3:17 pm
Ben & Jerry's is temporarily changing the name of their "Chubby Hubby" ice cream to "Hubby Hubby" in celebration of legalized gay marriage in Vermont (where B&J's is based). Ha! I'm so getting a carton so I can keep it (the carton, not the ice cream... that'll go pretty quick in this house).
Friday, September 11th, 2009
2:04 am
Libre libra!
Quick question, in case anybody knows something I don't. Is there anywhere out there to find cheap books, OTHER than PBS (or the library)? As much as I love PBS's $3.47 per credit and my local library's fabulous pricing structure of absolutely free, neither of those two sources have much in the way of newer titles. I'm looking for stuff on HTML, CSS and Javascript, so a manual published in 2000 isn't much help to me. I'm just wondering if anybody knows of some obscure place on the web where programming-oriented books are either sold cheaply or traded, or if there's another PBS-like book trade\sell site I could browse.

If anybody has books of this nature laying around, I'd be happy to take them off your hands for a reasonable value! I'm just trying to get what I need as cheaply as possible and it's unfortunate that current web programming manuals tend to retail for far more than the used trade paperbacks I usually buy on Amazon. I'm suffering from a bit of sticker shock -- I'd budgeted maybe fifty bucks for reference materials, only to realize that $30 is an average price for what I need and nobody's selling cheap used copies of books that were only published a year ago. I tried the library, but they don't have anything new either. Interlibrary loan has some of it (not all or even most, but some, and that would get me started), but there's a two-month waiting list for the two titles I need the most and I can't wait that long or I'll never have my site functional in time to catch the holiday spending orgy. And these aren't the types of books where I could spend a few hours at Barnes & Noble finding out what I want to know without buying the book. I'm going to need to look through, re-read, and refer back almost constantly.

Any ideas appreciated.
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
10:53 pm
SBI SiteSell.
So after two weeks of research, I finally picked out a web hosting service (it's more of a site building service, to be exact) for THE WEBSITE. I'll explain what that is in a later post -- for now, I'm just amused as hell and wanted to share the reasons behind why I'm more and more pleased with my decision. There's a shitload of documentation and preparation material to be weeded through before you're even "allowed" to start researching the potential profitability of whatever topic you're planning to focus your site on. I've been wading through it most of the day, and at the moment I'm ass-deep in a PDF called "Why People Fail" which illustrates many of the more common attitudes and personality types that tend to lead to business failure. It includes the ones you'd expect, of course; the pessimist, the quitter, the it's-not-my-fault type, the people who think there's such thing as a money tree... but it also identifies two other kinds of people who are simply not going to make it, and I had to laugh when I read this because of the pure refreshing honesty. You don't see much in the way of business-oriented documentation that has the guts to lay it on the line.

First type? The IQ-Challenged. There's no "you can do anything if you try hard, you're special!" garbage here. It simply states that some people are better off, happier and more productive, working in an offline, manual \ labor trade instead of getting snared in a World Wide Web they don't understand. Not everyone is smart enough to run an online business. Harsh, but true. You don't need to be a genius, but you do need common sense and some average intelligence, and it's a sad fact that a good percentage of the world just doesn't have either one.

Second type. The scourge of customer-service and support departments everywhere: People who need to RTFM. These are the ones who skip past every explanatory email, every page of documentation, every bit of helpful advice, and then don't understand why it isn't working for them, whatever it is. It also includes people who are so sure they know everything that they don't bother to understand (or even read) the question before shooting off the answer. This is a particular pet hate of mine -- my favorite example is that I once posted on a forum for advice about a bird that had gotten into my house, and the question went something like this: "...my home has an open floor plan with 20-foot cathedral ceiling and the bird's up on the ceiling fan...we don't have a ladder that tall..." And I promptly received more than half a dozen replies that told me to toss a dark cloth over the bird, or to shut the door of the room and open the windows. Did you even READ the fucking question?! I don't get how this type of person manages to drive a car, let alone run a business.

I may be easily entertained, but I'm also glad to see that I'm going to be working with a company who understands reality and is more concerned with actually helping people succeed than in selling their service to anyone and everyone who clicks.
Friday, August 21st, 2009
4:33 pm
Addictive? Surely not.
My copy of Civ IV arrived today. Seeya in a couple weeks...
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
7:33 pm
I'm going Friends-Only for a while in this journal. I hate to do it, but upon consideration I'm fairly sure I know who's fucking with me -- the same person who deleted my MUA account, years ago -- and I don't really care for my life to be an open book to somebody who seems to hate me so much.

If you're not on my Friends list and you'd like to continue reading my journal, leave a comment here and I'll add you.
Monday, August 10th, 2009
8:49 pm
It's so goddamn irritating trying to hunt for something on the web when you know damn well it must exist, but you don't know what it's called.

Edit: I really appreciate the offers to help me identify the thingie, but if I could describe it to you, I'd be able to describe it to Google! I'll give it a shot, though.

This may require some explanation.Collapse )

Edit again: Oh for the love of puppies. Searched "composite extension cord" and about fifty thousand of them came up, all in the $2 to $10 range. I have GOT to stop over-thinking things.

More cable babble...Collapse )
Thursday, August 6th, 2009
12:36 am
The next big thing.
Final Fantasy VII is available for portable play via a PlayStation Network download. Excellent.

I need to figure out a permanent, workable solution to the "LCD screen + sunlight = unviewable" dilemma, and when I do, I'm going to market it en masse and retire to Disney World. I've already mastered the art of using my laptop out on the pool patio, by means of putting it inside a plastic storage box turned sideways on the table. I tried that on a smaller scale with the GameBoy (using a shoebox) and sadly it doesn't work out due to the fact that you need to position your hands around the edges of the GB in order to play, and the sides of the shoebox get in the way. Not an issue with a laptop because you only need to reach forwards into the larger box to use the keyboard. It'd work fine using the same box that I put the laptop in, but having to sit at the table and rest my hands on its surface while playing kinda defeats the purpose of having a portable game player the size of a credit card. I need to devise a sun shield that's small enough to rest comfortably in my lap wherever I'm sitting.

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