Tag Archive | technology

Like a 19th century heroine

Does anyone else remember all the scenes in Bronte books  (and that era) where the lady of the house spends time daily on ‘her correspondences’.  For some reason, those scenes have begun to truly resonate with me because at this point I need to actually set aside time in my day to correspond with various people.

I don’t actually sit at an antique Queen Ann writing desk in a sunbeam and put pen to paper, however, I do, in the course of my normal life, have several written correspondence to keep up.  Maybe in the 1970s and 80’s this was done via phone because that was faster but as a product of modern technology, I find myself preferring to compose a note (text or email) rather than call.

I also end up actually  *writing* more than I ever thought I would when I was learning to type in 1st grade.  Invitations to parties for kids, permission slips to sign, forms for school and activities and camps to fill out (x3 usually).  Notes to and from teachers in folders and planners, a decent pen is still part of my kit regardless of my tablet, phone, and computer.

Just today I sat (in a sunbeam) and checked in with someone I’m helping buy a house, letting her know what the banker needed.  I texted a mom friend about an afterschool activity.  I set aside an hour a day to do email ranging from setting up pot luck meals to following up on builder items (houses are never done).  Facebook is another 21st-century version of keeping in touch with one’s friends and relatives – checking in on certain people, posting encouraging notes, birthday greetings, adding to a conversation about this or that.  In the 19th century, people wrote to each other because travel was harder, now we write to each other because time face to face visit is still hard.

The value to face to face time is still very true.  However, in order to keep up to date with friends and family in order to have someone to visit one must figure out how to best communicate and in so many ways nothing much has changed between 1919 and 2019 except the speed.


Not that I actually believe that anyone would hold me to my promise of vacation pictures today, but, not happening.  I’m using all the internet in the whole town to attempt to download and then upload videos to apply to NailedIt, a crazy baking show the kids and I watch together.

Over christmas, we all watched the holiday episodes and by the end, I was begged to apply because plenty of my baked creations belong on a comedy baking show.  I sent in a picture and forgot about it.  Then I got an email invite to actually apply!  I bet they send them to everyone but it made me feel special.  Yesterday we did all the videos they requested for the application and I can’t say I am stunning on film but I am not that bad either.  The worst part is that you have to do the application in one shot and I’ve already redone the written part 4x because of computer issues.  This time I am being careful as possible and fingers crossed.

I have about 1 in a million chances of getting cast but hey, trying was fun.  Zoe did a great job behind the camera and only whispered once “I hope we have a fire extinguisher”.  They also asked for any websites and so I directed them here so just in case they actually do read my application and visit;  “Hi Producers!”.  If I get cast they would want me sometime between the end of May and the end of July so I can do that.

And that is all for today, I will leave my computer in peace to upload and hope I don’t have to try a 5th time to submit.  Hey, given how many hoops there are, maybe my chances are better than 1:1000000 because not everyone has the follow through and tenacity to try as long as it takes.

April Already

Last week was a break for the kids from school and I have an entire long post about what we did that I wrote last Thursday.  Why didn’t I publish?  Well, the ol ‘one thing leads to another’ is the core of the reason.  I usually don’t even edit a post (can you tell?) I just write, fix all the computer underlined red line words, pop in a picture or two from my phone and push publish.  This time I had A LOT of pictures so I wanted to actually do an album link for anyone interested in the cool things we saw in Texas.  I thought ‘hey, 15 uploads and I’ll be ready to album and link’.  NOPE.  I somehow turned off my auto upload and had over 600 pictures that upload in random order to Amazon.  Why random?  I just don’t know.  However, the picture you want most is the one that loads last and I’ve learned not to touch it in process or you will just cause more issue.

Given all 3 were home time at the computer without ‘help’ is not all that common.  I set up the uploads and walked away figuring Friday would be fine to post. It was also toward the end of break so everyone was sooooo borrrred and no matter how many times I suggested room cleaning as an entertainment they wanted other things.  They usually managed to find something to do that was not tablet or TV but at one point I threatened to use my power* on school board to cancel future breaks** because they can’t handle so many days at home.  However, at some point, #2 decided to try and guess the code to #1’s iPhone (my old one) and locked it down.  They could not fix it and had to admit to me their mutual problem.  #1 shares blame for actually encouraging #2 to guess.

The trauma of a broken phone for a tween is epic and so I saw my computer time earmarked for making an album for that last Thursday post turn into researching how to resurrect a very locked out older phone.  When I say combing kids hair for lice is slightly less tedious then unlocking an iPhone you may get the picture of my frustration at this situation.  Not really anyones fault, but, something I got to deal with.  Internet says it is easy, put it in safe mode, connect, select ‘restore’ and then the phone will be purged and reinstalled.  For me that additionally meant downloading iTunes, then going through my computer to purge trash etc to FIT all the stuff the phone needed to download to restore (2g worth).  These two steps are both after calls to apple support because there is a trick to getting the newest version of iTunes, and, then a criptic error that appears to be iTunes but was actually from my computer wasted a ton of time.  I needed to tidy the hard drive anyway, but, this was a 2 day process with many attempts and restarts.  Victory at the end though, the phone is fixed!

Any spare computer time between reboots was diverted to finishing the Girl Scout Cookie process.  I’m actually good at inventory and logistics and this system was very hard to use.  I ended up getting creative and after far too much work our account is perfect, zeroed out, and each girl accurate.  If I do this again I have some notes for my future self.

While all this computer nonsense was going on, Lars and I were attempting to car shop.  We started earlier in the month with a solid test drive on a med size SUV with an awesome sales person.  She seemed extra great next to the Honda sales guy who acted like we were wasting his time and then actually disappeared leaving us standing by the not really functional floor model of the Oddysey for 20 min.  I was ready to buy that minivan, I like my current one but it is 11 years old and getting cranky.  I plan on tweeting “thanks Honda sales for helping me find the Chrysler Pacifica”  I didn’t even know there was a minivan from Chrysler since I was happy in Honda land but ignoring us has its consequences.  Anyway, much time was spent at the dealer looking at options and looking for the one we wanted in their network and in the end, we are ordering it from the factory since what we want is a tad more unique than expected.  Oh well, I can wait a month to get exactly what we want.

Yesterday the kids finally went to school.  I did a ton of laundry and catch up in peace, and today I can finally get around to making an album for the pictures that belong in the post from last week that I’ll publish tomorrow.

*there is no actual power over kids via the school board, advisory and oversight

**as an April fools joke I dropped them off and told them that we arranged that all public school were now boarding schools and I would be bringing their pj’s and pillows later in the day.  They took the joke well.  The rest of the day they pranked me and as a once a year thing it is hilarious but ONLY once a year.

ps.  No pictures in this post because I want to actually publish before I need to leave for the afternoon rounds.  Imagine frustrated computer sitting, google Chrysler Pacifica, and that is what I would have inserted had I the time.  Cheers!

my rude iWatch

I have come to the conclusion that my iwatch and I are frenemies.

Maybe it knows that I don’t think it is a good pedometer?

Maybe it is vexed that I constantly let it run out of power?

Maybe it is actually possessed by a minor daemon that at best is passive aggressive?


First of all, I have plenty of good things to say about the iWatch.  It is stylish, it is waterproof, it keeps time very well, I like seeing my text messages blip onto my wrist.  It is extremely handy for finding my phone because the ‘ping’ feature will make the phone make a noise even if it is on silent and I can track it down.  I’m constantly leaving my phone in interesting places because women’s clothing does not have pockets.  I also love being able to answer my phone via watch because of the aforementioned lack of keeping track of the actual phone.  Plenty of good, plenty really, just a few little things that point to passive-aggressive wrist daemon.

  1. This all started with is ‘suggesting’ that I get up, as in, I’ve been sitting too long.  I really do not sit long in my days, constantly getting up for something is my normal, so I actually get the also annoying message “good job! you stood up!” about 6x a day.
  2. Reminding me randomly that I’ve some time in the past done more walking/standing/workout by this time.  This would not really be annoying except for the fact that it seems seriously random.  It is NOT a good pedometer, I have not hit 10k steps while wearing it nearly ever when I would routinely get 10k steps in a smaller house and working out less frequently.  I’m ok with it not being good at that but it should just drop the pretense.
  3. It tells me to ‘calm down’.  You know the theory that nobody ever actually calms down for being told to…  well if my heart rate spikes it suggests “I spend a few minutes breathing deeply”.  I did not ask for this feature!  (BTW, excellent heart rate monitor).  So I’m mad about something and then my watch buzzes telling me I’m mad at something, how is this helpful?

This was my list that was on the annoying side but like an understanding friend, I just let the quirks roll off my back.  Sometime in the past week, two new charming features started up;

First, when a text comes in you have the option to reply via watch with some pre-canned options, an emoji, or, a little writing screen.  I’ve used it, it is useful, but this past week it started auto texting back “no” all by itself.  I swear I didn’t touch it, I read it, but didn’t touch the screen but then a moment later get a reply from my friend acknowledging my dissent.  this happened 3 times so far.  my friends are understanding and I can quickly reply that the real answer is XYZ and even if it includes a negative, I’m much nicer than a 1-word answer BUT MY WATCH IS NOT.

The next thing I probably have something to do with.  I activated the sleep tracker to see how I’m sleeping.  It was something I loved on the Fitbit and I miss the data.  Somehow this watch is very confused because it reports to me that I sleep very soundly about 15 hours a day; from 7am until 10pm.  This is when I’m AWAKE and you should know that watch because you are constantly congratulating me on standing up.  How does it think I am sleeping soundly (ie not moving/low heart rate) when I’m also working out and walking and generally, you know, moving?  I’m turning this bit of rudeness off, it is like telling me “yawn, you did nothing, you might as well have been asleep…”  Rude watch! I’m doing what I can!

Somehow I still put it on every day and since a friend gave me a stand for it (that I love!) I’ve gotten 99% better at charging it regardless of our differences.  I’ll keep using it because the good does outweigh the bad.  Seriously though, I already have sassy children, I don’t need the watch chiming in.

Good intentions in the mail

When I was younger I remember friends moms spending weeks doing Christmas cards.  They would seldom be hand making them (but I do remember some doing that) but they would be writing personal, long, notes to everyone on a very very long list.  Hundreds!  Maybe this is inflated by memory, but, I am backed up by tv shows of the era.

Then there was an era of long braggy letters, I recall this in my teens…  The evolution of wanting to say all the things to all the people without handwriting it.  This seems to be short lived since pretty fast it became the thing of sitcom jokes.

When I first got married it seemed pictures cards became the norm and that is something I can get behind.  But the trend also included sending cards for way more holidays?  Maybe that was just my friends…  This was all pre Facebook being big

The trend I’m noticing now, post facebook, is people just not doing cards.  The original reason to ‘touch base’ with all your far-flung friends is now moot because you can do that daily for free on Facebook.  The long (personal or group) letters are also moot because as each thing comes up you post and those who care are happy and those that don’t ignore it, and those that hate it eventually block you but at least you didn’t waste a card and a stamp to tell them your baby now eats solid foods and can roll over.

Personally, I made the decision a few years ago to cut down my list but I still do them because the people I send them to I know appreciate them.  I love getting picture cards so that is what I send.  *I also save every picture card I ever get* My list also includes people that are not on facebook, but, my list is now only people I know and care about and not a giant list of all the people ever.  Based on my facebook, I know how people used to have 300 person lists if they cared to keep in touch (and I do, always have, always will).

I, like many others, still don’t have time to add a personal note to all of them even though I want to.  Today in the post office, as I stamped each one, I made a wish for each person.  I wrote them a note in my head.  So no, they won’t literally read it, but I hope that the intention reaches them.

To you dear readers, of whom there are apparently over 1000, I don’t have your addresses but I wish you all well too.



ps. yes, I send at least one Jewish friend a Christmas card.  I don’t think they personally care, plus, Jesus was Jewish.

Eurika! I made my printer work

I am very excited, after (I’m not joking) weeks of working on the school directory I FINALLY got it right.

I could have cheeped out and just did ‘fit to page’ on the excel spreadsheet and printed it off and handed it in after a mere 20 min of work.  Personally, that would just make an eye chart that won’t be used and not worth the paper it is on. The goal is to make this a useful thing for kids and parents.

The first issue; we only had about half the parents input their info I had two choices; I could give them something mediocre and easy  OR something attractive and useful so all the parents that didn’t input would feel like they want to be included. Given the goal, I decided to go the extra (10) miles and make it a nice thing.  I scoured the internet for instructions and found some helpful things here and there and I could easily ‘rig’ it manually to make it work but again, I want this to be a sustainable process so I had to mess with the setup so that next time it would be easy.

My vision was for a booklet style; standard 8.5×11 folded in half, both sides printed, and the data in nice boxes like ‘business cards’.  I feel like this is more ‘book like’ and should stick around in more people’s lives and be useful.

I can’t say this is going to be interesting to anyone else, but, I’m writing my process here for future reference.

  1. Data gathering – I used a google from that auto populated the data into a spreadsheet
    • future note; add formats to the form because it is annoying to look at the 10 different ways people put in a phone number and I don’t want to fix data.
  2. Copy and pasted everything onto a normal excel and cleaned up the duplicates etc
    • made a different tab for print, not sure if that was worth it, I never went back to the original data.
    • Added the teachers names, email and phone numbers so they could be in it too.  I used the period trick to make them the first person in each grade
      • Arranged the sheet by grade -> by teacher -> by first name
        • this is important to set up, it is the order the merge will be in.
    • I also had to email about a dozen people who had big errors like saying their kid was in x grade with y teacher and they are not a match.  1 is wrong… I got answers pretty fast on all but one.  For that kid, I guessed, you get what you pay for.
  3. Moved to Word, used the Tools-mail merge- labels option.
    • here is where I messed around a lot, I tried a variety of pre made labels but I ended up making my own in the ‘custom’ menu.  You can save custom labels but to find them again you need to use the drop down (mine auto says Avery but custom is last in that menu)
    • fullscreen-capture-11152016-125525-pm-bmp
    • In the merge options I next did;
      • select recipients – link to my printing tab on my saved spread sheet
      • Arranged my label with a standard address block (match fields first)
        • then under ‘More items’ I added the other data fields we collected
          • important note; type in the label if needed then add the data field AND be careful about adding spaces and commas etc. Way easier to do it in the format stage then to edit every label later.
          • I ended up with; address block, grade, teacher, parents names, emails, phone number, and notes. 
        • In the preview screen I messed with font size etc.  Ended up with 8point to make things fit.
        • Completed the merge!
  4. In another new document!  I set up the booklet.  I got the directions from this useful site http://pjnicholson.com/foldedbooklet.htm and it worked really well for me.  Followed step by stem EXCEPT I did not use the justify feature he did, it messed up my look so I just undid that.
  5. Then I copy/pasted each page from the merge document into my print document.  This made it way longer/spread out (too much white space) and that stuck me for a few, but, I did two things to fix it
    • First I did the select all -> auto fit -> fit to window
      • since it translates as a table, this works well to make it fit into the booklet page format
    • Second I did select all -> rClick -> table properties and on the ‘row’ menu changed it so I shrunk all the cells to the right size to fit 6 rows per page.

Finally it looked right!  it was in booklet form and I thought I was in the clear until I got to the printing situation.  I wanted it to print out so I could just fold the stack in half so page 1 and the last page should be on the same sheet of paper etc.  To complicate things, I also wanted it double sided.  This nearly got my goat but I gave it one last try and after printing it about 6 times I finally got it~

6. In the print setup from pjnicholson, he has the ‘manual duplex’ box checked and this does most of the magic for you.  When the fronts are done you are supposed to stick the stack back into the printer and it will print on the other side. True, but, you really need to be very careful and logical.

  • For me I had to manually reverse the stack. So self, for next time I do this,
    • take the pile off the printer and REMEMBER what way is up or it will print upsidown
    • put the cover/last page that came out on top onto the bottom and follow in order the other pages.
    • Then put it in writing up *in the right orientation* and tell the computer ‘ok’

I know this looks like a ton of directions but it is my streamlined process.  It has a minimum of cut and paste and a maximum of automatic process.  I think the next booklet will take about an hour now that all the leg work is done, next time should be much much easier.