I have the IT skills of an axolotyl high on vitamin c...or DO I?

by tosca on Saturday, September 27, 2008

This was meant to be an infodoodads 'Top 13' post but, yet again, something else has cropped up (other than a temporary secondment, an assignment, a cactus, a flag, ducks, a phone sex line AND a mountain of books to get through) that stops me from catching up. But this is me, and all y'all are used to that right? Right! I bet y'all are wondering how the cactus, flag, ducks and phone sex line come into this, huh? Glad you asked! Read on for more . . .

So, anyway, here goes: If I could spit invective I would - and quite loudly, too! The second hand mac I obtained recently has been a blessing (and a curse because I'm still getting used to a different set of shortcut keys, funny how pressing pc-shortcuts gets me absolutely nowhere). Then, Thursday just gone, the dratted thing froze. Indefinitely. So I tried to reboot it, heard the starting 'bong' (hey, not my term, that's how people in mac forums refer to it) and waited . . . and waited . . . for nada, zip, zero, zilch. The pinwheel spun for what seemed like forever, then the classic prohibited sign (once again, not my term - it's theirs) flashed up. Bad mojo! So, hunted around on various forums for info on how to fix it. Bad news is it ain't fixed LOL Although I did buy me a new hard drive and installed it all on my winsome lonesome (YAY ME!). And the disk does display...it just won't ruddy well recognise it *sigh* Anyway, I'm gonna get it if it kills me (only be just my luck if it does). Good news is I now know: how to install more RAM; that I am conversant in the difference between ATA and SATA and which is not compatible with my laptop; what is the maximum amount of RAM I can add; how to use TransMac and Disk Warrior; all of the various boot commands useable for a mac; that a 'kernel trap' is the mac equivalent of a pc-based 'blue screen of death' and what it means for me - found this fantastic forum title 'Who is Kernel Panic, and why is he in my Mac?' (and if you don't get that pun then you probably never will); about compatible internal hard drives. And all of this in one weekend! Never had so much fun in my life *insert sarcasm here*. I can't hurt it any more right? RIGHT!

I did find a couple of FUN-type things though: Edge Tech Corp have fantastic little help vids that are short and extremely easy to understand - so thank you, Drew, and by the way, I like your hair; that Apple Switcher has some fantastic Mac help & tips, but that what I really liked was their Mac Icons - in particular, their Mac OS X Legends of Hollywood icon set (with the Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Charlie Chaplin, James Dean, Edward G & Marilyn icons) and the Mac OS X Legends of Music icon set (with Count Basie, Hoagy Carmichael, Lady Day, Sphere, Pops & Robert Johnson icons). Clouds and silver lining :-) If yer a Mac user, or a nosey-Windows browser, you can view those icons here.

On another, much lighter note altogether: here are a few updates to the 'Smart Bitches, Trashy Books' site. They posted a YouTube clip last Friday for their 'Friday Video' post and it is truly transfixing! What is it? Sticky-notes. Yes, sticky-notes - no innuendo in there at all. You have to see it to believe it. Who knew you could do all of that with a sticky-note?!? The look on their faces at the end when the boss walks in is hilarious. And as for their 'Fun and Games on Friday' post - sheesh. Yet another hoot! Kimberly needs help naming her cactus - and yes, it really IS a cactus and yes, she really wants you to name it, and triple-yes there is an American flag posed beside it. Check out the suggested names - I was screaming with laughter. Caution: may cause happiness. Proceed at own risk. Then, going back a couple of weeks or so, there's another gem about the Fish and Wildlife Service who misprinted a phone number on the back of a duck stamp order form, right? So what should have been 1-800-STAMP24 has now become 1-800-TRAMP24! Oh, can you imagine what customers get? Duck stamps are a far cry from 'Intimate Connections'! According to 'Smart Bitches and Trashy Books' to reprint the cards will cost the organisation roughly $300,000, 'so, frisky ducks will flirt with the stamp collectors until next year when new cards are printed.'

It's been a week or two since my last post (probably longer, but most of you will know that due to a temporary secondment position I am now based elsewhere) so not many of you will know that I have been following the presidential campaign very closely. I've always been fascinated with how American politics work (or don't, depending on your view of the current Bush administration) and to keep up to date I subscribe to Huffington Post and Time updates (via my Bloglines account which I have kept - thank you Kelly). I have laughed myself silly over Saturday Night Live's skits of Sarah Palin: Hilary/Sarah, VP debate, Palin/Couric. I also watched SNL's spoof of the second presidential debate - what a hoot! And the bloggers - they are going CRAZY. For just a small idea check out my bloglines account (the Huffington Post and/or Time) folders and view what people are saying (both Republicans and Democrats). I have also been following the debates (such as they are with no follow up questions and mediators worried about conflicts of interest and time) and couldn't help the giggle when my newsletter from Michael Moore refferred to the Palin/Biden debate as the comedic event of the century. I've also been watching bits and pieces of ABC's 'The View' with Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg et al. and whoa - when they argue get outta the way! I have to say this though, is it just me or does Elizabeth Hasselbeck's views, as espoused on the show, polarise the viewers? Or does it just polarise ME?!

In the way of book chit chat, my mother says I don't plug NZ books enough - the reason for that is simple, I don't identify with a lot of their stories. That's not to say that I think I identify with Ludlum's Jason Bourne who can speak umpteen languages fluently and break all the fingers in your hand just by blinking. Nor do I think I identify with Hamilton's Anita Blake with a slew of good-looking paranormal 'men' (I use that term loosely) who'll kick your butt if you even look at them sideways. Maybe it's more that I do identify with the NZ characters and that's why I won't read them as much - too close to home. There are a few NZ authors whose works I enjoy without reservation so here's my pom pom cheer for: Glen Colquhoun and the late Hone Tuwhare.

Since having completed our web 2.0 tutorial I'm more aware than ever before of how people are informed, and the rate at which they receive information, and bloglines totally blows my mind everyday when I use it. I leave it up all day and periodically check for updates (and yes, I get the latest Brangelina news straight to my account as it happens - SHAME on me). I participated in a customer service course recently and the facilitator talked about the immediacy of news. Her example was the 9/11 disaster - about 20 years ago we would have heard about it on the radio, 10 years ago it would have been on the 6 o'clock news, now we don't just expect our news to be instantaneous - we expect our reporters to be right there on the scene reporting live. Crap, as usual I've rattled on and on and on - catch you up next time (where maybe I'll write about another infodoodads gadget).

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I spy with my little eye . . .

by tosca on Sunday, September 14, 2008

I apologise in advance, this was meant to be my infodoodads 'Top 13' post but I wanted to get this down while it was all in my head (as opposed to being where else I'm not sure). And anyway, I'm sure by now you all know I'm terrible at sticking to the plan! Also, this is a long post - so naff off if you want. You have been warned :-)

iTunes - Have recently started using iTunes again - mostly to purchase NZ music. In particular, Devolo's stuff from his solo album. Devolo is a local artist who is a part of Deceptikonz, and is signed to Dawn Raid Entertainment. He also went to school with my brothers/sisters. I am always very supportive of local music and really like 'Feels like magic' - which you can find on his MySpace profile, or in iTunes. Devolo celebrated the launch of his long awaited solo album 'Heaven n Hell' at Manurewa's Club 220 last week. YAY DEVOLO! (Photo from Devolo's MySpace page - where you can also check out his music).

Just this weekend I also used iTunes to rent movies. Yeah, apparently while my back was turned Apple offered customers the ability to buy or rent movies via iTunes. How come I didn't notice until now?? Makes me realise how long since I last used my iPod. So, to take it for a test spin, I rented 'Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie' for the 4 yr old nephew. Simple enough process: choose what you want, enter your credit (or debit) card details and then it downloads to your iTunes. If I had one issue with it, and it took the 4 yr old nephew to point it out - loudly and at full volume, I might add - it was that every 5 seconds or so it would freeze slightly. Like it was buffering. Almost unnoticeable, I thought, until the 4 yr old got disgusted and stomped off. When I checked the laptop screen, it appeared that the movie image had frozen and the sound was still going. It did this more than once. Would I do it again?
Unsure. Might try buying one next, see what that experience is like. Before now I had ripped dvds I own to my pc, converted them and then shoved them on to my iPod.

Guitar Hero on Nintendo DS
- Gosh - my purchase this week is Guitar Hero for Nintendo DS. Almost caved in and bought the new Guitar Hero console with the game but decided not to be daft and merely purchased the game instead *sigh* Being a responsible adult is overrated! Stuck with buying the cartridge 'cause already have a console. Markie opened it today and I gave him oohh a good 2 mins before I conned a turn out of him - and promptly kept it to myself for the next half hour (much to his disgust). My opinion isn't worth the screen it's written on, but I have one thing to say: RSI. Probably not meant to stay on it as long as I did in one go but it's a game, so kids ARE going to stay on it for ages. I guess it won't hurt if I play the protective aunt (remember, I have his best interests at heart) and nick it off him every 10 mins or so. For safety reasons, of course . . . (Image taken from Wired Blogs : Gadget Lab).

Jaxin was given half of his present today (his birthday is a whole week away - they say patience is a virtue but you can't prove that by me) and he and I were jammin' on the PS2 playing Guitar Hero. He's absolutely stoked to have his own, and now he'll stop giving me those poor oprhan looks that he gives me when he tells me he HAS to play it online - and in Portuguese no less - because that's all there is. Boo hoo! What he doesn't know is that the other half of his present is still hidden away - it's the Guitar Hero : Aerosmith Bundle which includes: 'Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Wireless Guitar Hero III Guitar, exclusive Aerosmith faceplate, Aerosmith guitar sticker sheet, and Aerosmith Road Book with behind the scenes pictures and stories of their years on the road.' You can read all about it here. (Image taken from Video Games Blogger).

Persusasion - I have spent this last week watching, and re-watching, 'Persuasion'. In particular, the 2007 version with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. I enjoyed it a lot, probably because although the storyline never changes (obviously, hello, it's Jane Austen!) director visions do. It also never fails to make me snicker when I see Miss Anne Elliot running pell-mell around Bath, knocking into her intended, and gasping out that she accepts his proposal. Quelle horreur mais c'est tres amusant! A colleague and I have an ongoing discussion: she thinks Captain Wentworth is too good looking and I say nonsense, no such thing! I'm undecided on the running around Bath scene, and she's quite definite it's a no-go. I thought Anthony Head's performance as Sir Walter Elliot was great, but then I've always enjoyed his work from as far back as 'Howard's Way' to as recently as 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Little Britain'. But I will always have a soft spot for Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root's performances in the 1995 version. (Images for the 2007 and 1995 versions both taken from Amazon).

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books - I like this site, and have done since I came across them quite by accident while doing my Bloglines exercise. Their header did it for me 'Smart Bitches, Trashy Books : All of the romance, none of the bullshit'. I subscribe to their updates and one that has had me in stitches recently is their 'Smart bitch contest: What's he looking at?' It features a cover of a romance novel (click on the 'More, more, more!' link and the picture then displays) with a man in a towel looking down at . . . well, who knows what, really. And that's the point of the contest! Readers are then invited to write in with what they think he's looking at, and saying. Needless to say, the results are hilarious! In reading them I have laughed, blushed, chortled, blushed, snickered, blushed, choked, blushed and just outright had a good time. You might, too, so pop along and find out (although not if you blush too easily).

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Learning 2.1 - Thing 26: Little bits of the Internet, on your desktop

by tosca on Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So, carrying on with Learning 2.1, I'm up to 'Thing 26: Little bits of the Internet, on your desktop.' Essentially, it's Widgets! Which is good timing because I'm looking at various types of kids book-type widgets at the moment (how they work, how well they work, what they look like and what value they add).

For this activity, I'm looking at widgets from YourMinis. A widget is a small, interactive programme that allows users to access tools or info. My instructions are to:

1. Go to YourMinis and click Open Startpage.
2. Click one of the "templates" at the bottom of the right-hand pane to add a tab full of widgets to your pages.
3. Create a new tab by clicking Add Tab at the top of the page, and use the gray bar on the left to add some widgets to your page. (If you don't see the bar, click Add Content in the upper left corner.) It's easy to drag them around on the page. Mouse over each widget and click the buttons that appear in its top right corner to set options and change widget color, etc. You can also use the small drop-down arrows beside each tab's name to change the tab background color, delete the tab or perform other "maintenance" tasks.
4. Blog about the experience.

Very simple to log in and Open Startpage. YourMinis does NOT like my Mac - or my Mac doesn't like YourMinis - either way it's a crap shoot for me. So, have resorted to the big pc, which seems to be fine. After some playing around I now have a tab for blogs of interest, one for podcasts and one for general interest 'things'. You can view my public profile here.

The beauty of YourMinis is that you can personalise it however you want, add whatever tools (podcasts, rss feeds, videos etc.) you want, and have it all accessible in one easy place. I couldn't think how to put it, but Master New Media say it better, it's a 'great way of bringing the web to your desktop without having to go searching for it first.' Your virtual online desktop provides all of the relevant information you choose and can be accessed anywhere there's an internet connection. To really get an idea of how YourMinis can be utilised (for personal, work and other puposes) read Master New Media's article and then sign up - it'll make much more sense that way. You'll get a better feel for what it can really do. Play is good - heck, play is great - but I didn't realise it could do half of what is available until reading the article.

So, yes, easy to use and quite fun and nice to have what you want in one easily accessible place! Will I keep using it? Yes, just not on my Mac!

Am currently looking at creating a catalogue widget for Manukau Libraries. That way if we decide to look at a Facebook profile, or blogs for various parts of our services (YA page, Childrens, Maori, PI etc.) then we can also have a catalogue search box there, too. I've almost got it - just got to figure out how to open search results in a new page (_blank instead of _top - only where the heck I put it who knows! I know where I'd like to put it and it's all unladylike!). I did figure out how to get the 'Add Our Search' button on my blog (see top left 'Search Manukau Libraries') and this added a 'ManukauLibraries' search engine on the top right of my browser. So if I'm reading something online and want to see if we have anything on this topic/author etc. in our catalogue, I simply enter the search terms in my toolbar search engine and BINGO! I'm re-routed to a listing of Manukau Libraries' related items. See pic! Although, a word of caution - it only works for Firefox. Bah humbug!

Am still looking for an e-reader for my Mac that incorporates RSS feeds as well - I'm ever hopeful. My next post will be looking at another item off of infodoodads 'Top *13* Web 2.0 Tools for Librarians' list :-)

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