January 2007

Monthly Archive

Microsoft Blues

Posted by on 30 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I dislike Microsoft products in general…

Today my rant is about their Office Live — a supposedly intuitive, all-in-one business service that allows folks to post documents, run websites, etc. etc.

I was interested in it a couple months ago, thinking it would be really nice to have a website that if something went wrong I didn’t have to bother my tech-spouse…

Boy was that a bad idea!

Not only do I not recommend it, I give it a rating of “4-bad”

Avoid Microsoft Office Live.  Even the free version is not worth it!

It came with the offer of free domain name registration, so when I decided to try their interface I had them use the name I wanted for my greeting card business, which I could easily have purchased and set up on our own servers… Now I can’t get into their system to change the domain back over to me!

And the interface, quite naturally, is inadequate. For starters, it insists you use Internet Explorer with all its problems and counter-intuitivities. Which naturally assumes you use a Windows product for your operating system… which I don’t always!

True to form, if you create a page in their system, it looks TERRIBLE in anything else. In Firefox, the browser I use and recommend, the margins don’t line up, text is not in the right place and it just looks like dreck.  And in the basic version I use (the free one, which is supposed to give you a chance to try it so you want to buy it) you can’t hard code or upload pages that work properly.  That only comes with the packages that are $20 or more a month…

[Note:  Vox, LiveJournal, Blogger/Blogspot, frappr all have multi-broswer interfaces that work well and look good across the board.  These are free, low-budget but highly functional sites; contrast this to the lack of functionality on the fee-based product I am discussing produced by a true industry giant.  Kinda sad, in an ironic way.]

The real clincher? When I sent a request for assistance I never received a response.  Nothing.

Now it is entirely possible that the higher-priced packages allow a person to make better websites.  And they might actually care about paying customers.  But they come with so many things that I wouldn’t use or need that it seems wasteful.  And the price is, quite honestly, out of my range — I don’t make in a year what the site alone would cost!

In the meantime, the domain name I own (by their terms) is held hostage by an entity I cannot contact, linked to a barely functional and highly unappealing website.

In general, I use the same philosophy with software and computer things that I do in any other area of my life.  If the company doesn’t care about people who purchase smaller items or come in to “browse” then I don’t trust them to take care of me when I am ready to spend more.

Again, do not use Microsoft Office Live if you want to have anything that looks good and works better.

time and again

Posted by on 30 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Peace Making, Politics and War, Uncategorized

This is just so cool!

BBC article about Stonehenge

Not just houses near Stonehenge, but with the remains of feasts!

Yes, we humans have nicer and bigger houses, but we have always enjoyed a good party!

Now, if we used our mighty machines, fancy communications and manpower for partying instead of war?

Bugsy Malone, Jr.

Posted by on 29 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Family Matters, Uncategorized

Well, the marathon weekend is over — four plays in three days is a bit much… still the kid had fun and that’s what it’s all about.

Here are pics:

The first two are G as “Fat Sam”, an important role!

g as fat sam
These next two were taken backstage when G is a member of the chorus (second cast):

And the final pic, the finale when G is part of the chorus, you can see him in the second row, just right of center.  He threw himself into the part, whether star or part of the ensemble!

And yes, I am a proud mama!

Fat Sam

Posted by on 28 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This is stidkid #2, in costume as “Fat Sam” for the musical Bugsy Malone Jr. this last weekend at his school.

the ESP game

Posted by on 27 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: quiz, Uncategorized

This is an interesting project. Goes along with some of the other quizzes and psychological tests I have posted. Give it a try…

ESP game

Amazing Paper Artist

Posted by on 27 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: art, Uncategorized

I dabble in sculpted/cut paper art, and enjoy it, but this Peter Callesen blows me out of the water.

Artist Trading Cards

Posted by on 25 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Happy Messages, QWW, Uncategorized

A group of us who play Babble have decided to trade these “Artist Trading Cards.” I made my first few this last week, prototypes in advance of actually making the cards I will trade with other Babblers. I think I am getting a feel for this size and shape, and will eventually share some of the results at my business site, to give people an idea of the range of ideas I have.

For now, here are two I made that were pretty nice. The first is for the husband of a friend, using a piece of silk I painted last year. Simple, but it looked really pretty. The actual size is 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

heron ATC abstract on silk

The one I made for my friend was more complicated. I wanted to experiment with making three-dimensional views of a pear using the lino block I carved in 2005 or early 2006. I used paper, acrylic paint, cotton thread, ink and some thick two-sided adhesive foam to pad the pear on the cover. Again, the height is 3.5 inches and the closed width was 2.5 inches. Open, it was about 4.5 inches.

Front and back:

the front for the pear harvest ATCthe back of the ATC which reads JOY


the inside of the card with inscription and more abstract pear

I am having fun!

Having More Fun

Posted by on 24 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: fun, Uncategorized

I have always liked playing with paper dolls. Making the dolls, making their clothes, changing things around.

I suppose it’s a really girly thing to do, and fits right in with the baby dolls, doll house and dress-up clothes I enjoyed well into my teens.

Okay, even now.

yahoo.com and other sites have a really cool feature called avatars that is just like the paper dolls, only high-tech. This is the one I created a day or two ago.

Fun, yes?

Signs of Spring

Posted by on 23 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

Already we can feel things changing.

The petals (or are they the sepals?) on the witch hazel are longer and brighter than they were when they first appeared a few weeks ago. The birds are singing different songs — already establishing pecking order and territory? And plants are budding out everywhere.

Here is the witchhazel again… in all its glory!

lovely long flowers on the witch hazel

And one more sign, the real clincher:  a pair of robins are happily scouting the yard, lifting leaves for bugs and singing!

But remember, it’s still two months to the equinox…

Techdate: 22 January 2007

Posted by on 23 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The case of the disappearing scanner… we rejoin our intrepid detective as she struggles with yet another unexpected result:

Before I got the HP color inkjet printer/camera combo last summer, I had an HP scanner, with drivers installed to my computer. I accessed the scanner through IrfanView, a free utility Tom picked up that is great for resizing, cropping and other basic photo editing. IrfanView allows a person to scan things in batches, which is handy when processing a series of cards or other images, as I do for my business. shameless plug!

Today, I finished a couple of Artist Trading Cards (for more info on that, see Cedarseed‘s explanation) and wanted to record them, as these are “one-offs”, originals that won’t be reproduced. So naturally, I hooked the scanner up to my printer and…


Apparently, when HP installed the drivers for the inkjet and camera, it overwrote or simply deleted the scanner software. insert grumpy face here Including the “hey! I’m over here” signal that usually allows me to tell the computer that I want to use something.

So since the drivers were quite large and would take a while to download and install (according to my resident tech-support-dude) I just put the scanner back and hooked it into the other computer.

Which also wanted to use newer software that didn’t have the intuitive interface that was part of the reason I got the scanner in the first place! sigh

Luckily, when I called up IrfanView on that computer, it found the right interface and I was able to scan the trading cards into the right file on the network.

So at this point, I need to find the right software, tell the software that is currently installed (called HP Image Zone) to NOT load automatically, and figure out how to get back the interface I prefer. Maybe those are all the same thing, at this point in the day, i am pretty tired!

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