Tag Archive | technology

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.

img_1289

 

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.

iPhone wall… send help

Status

Eye – nearly normal

Nap – got a little one, it was grand, better news; Fiona put her own head down in her own bed and took a nap!

House – still clean 🙂

Cat – getting a kidney nutritional supplement and diet rather than a shallow grave (so far)

 

I mentioned a while ago that I’ve been instigating communication and family togetherness with a Sunday Text String.  Its worked well, we have good participation and I feel like I know my cousins way better than I did in July.  The problem is there are 11 of us…  11.  Like one more than 10.  Did you know that 10 was the limit for text recipients?

For a while the answer was simple, one of our cousins didn’t like texting and constantly lost her phone anyway.  She ended up off the list and I’m  not sure she even knew…  Recently she has changed her mind about text and communication (I heard at least) so I renewed my efforts to find a way to include her.

So far no dice.  It looks like an ATT thing according to some articles but whatever it is I’m stuck for a solution.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Is there such thing as an auto forward for a group text?

Two of the cousins still share a house but they are pretty independent people so I don’t want to tell them they need to share the text…

I’ll keep looking but every app I’ve tried fails too so signs point to ATT.

 

A little less social meadia to keep social

Yesterday I praised the megga that is FaceBook but we all know it has its flaws (including the perpetual hoax that it is going to publicize all our posts).   One of the reasons I have a selfie of myself with the moon is because I took it to send specifically to my cousins.  Why?  Well – it ties into one of the main reasons why I blog – to keep in touch with my family in NY, HI, ME, and CA etc.  HOWEVER, due to who know why reasons my cousins do not write an equally verbose blog so I don’t know much about THEM.  I have two options; let my cousins drift off and turn into people I only see at funerals and occasional holidays OR do something about it.  What I decided to do was start a Sunday Text Share.

I got everyone’s number, held my breath hoping that they would go along with it, and texted a little intro and a picture of my kids on Sunday morning.

What followed was beyond expectations….  of 9 people on the list all but 1 replied.  And not just replied once like I hoped, many of them texted throughout the day and it felt like we actually spent the day together in a way.  The best part is that by reaching into each of my sisters and cousins lives I get to see their husbands and friends and kids so from a 10 person list we get a snippet of life from 30+ souls.  We all grew up within a mile of each other and now we live all over half the globe but on Sunday I feel like they are neighbors again.

IMG_6082

kid cousins in the stream I played in with my cousins… Because we can’t do this often we can do the next best thing…

We have kept it up for a month now and I find myself taking extra pictures on Sunday to share and I’m always glad I have them later.  After I started this project I started seeing articles on the general subject of ‘keeping in touch’ (good old red-car syndrome) and the one that was most striking was that friendships are often about the little normal moments.  Of knowing that someone cooked steak or that just replaced a doorknob.  The mundane details that would never ever make a Christmas letter (of chit chat at a funeral…) but make a person real.  That’s what I’m looking for with my family and I think we are going that way.  Some of them are fantastic about posting on facebook, others not so much, but we can all* text and do 🙂  I hope we can keep this up, the technology is there and all my cousins have a phone so we are a very lucky 1st world family and this works for us.  I thought I might share since I know lots of families are spread out over the country and this is a way to use our current tech to keep in touch – who knows, maybe someday they will perfect the transporter and we can all do coffee weekly but until then this will have to do.

 

*ok, one cousin apparently can’t – you can lead a horse to water…. still not bad overall

Three Things Thursday

Since yesterday I’ve been thinking its Friday.  I have nothing big-big going on this weekend – a birthday party, and maybe some construction and I’m looking forward to a nice Mothers Day but not to much that I need to skip 3 normal days 🙂    I like Thursday overall, it is my ‘unplanned’ day most weeks so we took our time in the bank and walmart and earlish nap for the meltdown queen.  Before I tackle the next thing, I want to do my 3 things Thursday since its been weeks!

1. We are doing something about Zoe’s nail biting habit.  I read all sorts of solutions out there but a Mom friend said ‘old fashioned sticker chart’ so we talked about it, put on nailpolish, and I printed out a chart.  She was so excited that she has done really really really well.  The key for her was that it had to be on a clipboard, and, she wanted a stamp.  Win and win, I have both in the closet.  Her chosen prize at the end of 10 days is either an Ap or an in ap purchase.  Given that 3 days is a habit I think she has broken it but she tells me that sometimes she still wants to bite them.  If I need to chart for the next 6 months and shell out $20 a dollar at a time thats worth it for me!

IMG_5258

2. Buttons.  All of a sudden Fiona can do them!  She says that Daniel Tiger taught her and that just validated all the hours of TV she gets.  IMG_5255

3. I’m still glad about the event I got to go to.  I took 3 pictures total the whole day and 99.9% of the time my phone was away.  Day to day the internet; blogs, facebook, instagram, email is my substitute for actual adult human interaction.  When I’m at an event I’m swimming, positively floating, in interesting interactions!  Real face to face is so much better than facebook!  Other than driving (where I keep my eyes on the road not my phone) and sleeping, I had just about no time that was not full of fun people.  (I also try to keep the technology to a minimum given that it is a historical group).  I’m still feeling ‘full’ from social time, like I had a fantastic meal.  Totally makes up for all the catch up I did the rest of the week.  Two of the three pictures are of this viking boat replica, some crazy people actually sailed it from the east coast to Norway….  Nothing to do with the event I was at but it was in the lobby of the building and is undeniably cool (and crazy)

IMG_5244

That is my 3 for this week! If you want to participate or see what other people are glad about for the week go check out Nerdthebrain~

I have a stalker in my pocket?!?

Last month I upgraded from my beloved 4s to a 6 and wow now I can’t go back.  You never really get rid of a phone, they get passed down to children or knock around in drawers but like the Shakespeare quote “bloodless remnant of thy royal blood” the spark is gone from the phone now replaced (yes… I memorized all of Queen Ann’s soliloquy in Richard III and the majority is STILL taking up space in my head)  The iPhone 6 is a whole size larger and many times OS newer and personally I like the change to OS8 and I’m ok with the size change.

Poking around on the new phone I noticed an app labeled ‘health’ and more or less ignored it since I supposed it would link to a fitbit or fuel.  I did really really like my fitbit but it is lost somewhere in my house and I tried to find it using the location techniques but never narrowed in.  Moving on from fitbit was a bit hard because not only was it a gift that I appreciated and had even requested, I LOVED the stats.  I didn’t like remembering to put it on and apparently I was unable to keep track of the wee thing (smaller than a machbox car).  Every so often I think about getting a new one but then I don’t and you  know how that goes.

On vacation, because I had next to no internet, I had down time to play around with my phone and opened up that mystery ‘health’ ap.  Wow-oh-wow my phone actually IS a FITBIT without the issues of losing it or forgetting to put it on because I love and use my phone often, and, it is the size of a healthy serving of meat.  The bright side is that it has been tracking my steps and stairs and runs for over a month.  The not so bright side…. I had no idea it was literally recording my every step….

I am sure I’m not the first person to discover this app since the phone and OS has been out for a while but just in case you didn’t know, your iPhone with OS8 is recording recording recording.

Bottom line, I am glad to have it tracking stats I’m interested in.  Even with the number of times I leave my phone on the table while doing things I walk a good amount a day, averaging nearly 3k without trying and that is just time I have my phone on me.  I’ll have to try and keep it with me more to see how I really do now that I know it exists!

IMG_4761

Ps. it still can’t count small flights of stairs, just like all other trackers.  I go up and down short flights in my split level house constantly but never get credit for more than 4 or 5 a day.