Category: Geeky Stuff

Busy-ness

Busy preparing lessons for the art class.  Well, that and watching movies with the kids (watched part of Camelot–the cheesy version, all of Overview of America by the John Birch Society–a great overview of political systems, and then Mr. Nice Guy–the kids and I LOVE JAckie Chan).    And cleaning up messes, including my own–even my desk, which happens so seldom that I posted pictures over at Elasah.com.

Serverlicious and strange answers to prayer

I just spent the last 7 hours trying to fix what was broken with my server–the one where I host 20 different blogs plus several stores. I am finally, I hope and pray, finished. That was arduous and panicky.

The good news is that not only did I fix everything (with a ton of prayer included) but I also managed to deal with some issues that needed dealt with. Some cleaning up, deleting of unused stuff, updating plugins, all the stuff I hate about running things and usually put off.

Finally, we had an answer to prayer. In order to explain I need to tell you a story.

As you may know I have my teacher’s certification in both Elementary Ed and Special Ed which means in this state I can teach all grades practically anything. When I got pregnant with Rachel we, after, much prayer, decided I needed to stay home and home school. However we were in huge amounts of debt and when Rachel was about 11 months old we felt the pinch. We decided that I needed to go back to subbing and let my mother-in-law babysit just so we could fill in the monetary gaps and start paying down debt.

This should have been fine. Rachel loved being at Grandma’s and seldom fussed when there. She also had been sleeping through the night since day one. There was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t take the occasional subbing job to help us make ends meet. At least that is whjat we thought.

I got my name back into the system and got my first call to sub. I was supposed to teach 8th through 10th History for one of my old teachers at my old high school. I had plenty of time to prepare. I made arrangements for my mother-in-law to pick up Rachel, had everything all ready to go the nigh before, everything was set–or should have been.

That night, for the first time in her entire life, Rachel would not sleep. She was up screaming every single half hour, all night long. At roughly 2 am I was exhausted and spent the next hour frantically searching for the call back number to tell them I couldn’t sub. I never found it though we did realize that God did not intend for me to be working outside the home.

It took me a while to learn the lesson but every time I tried to take some new work on–babysitting at home, designing baby clothes, whatever, everything would fall soundly apart.

Over and over the Lord reestablished that my main focus was to be our children and that He would provide for us as long as that was the case.

Yesterday my husband and I were discussing our income and how we could bring in more. As you know I have a small but big for me web design business and as well as commissioned art. My husband is already working 4 different jobs from home and can barely handle it all as it is so the next obvious choice was for me to get a part time job. We spent some time discussing it and decided to pray about it. We did then today happened.

When we prayed together about this situation suddenly everything started getting fixed and falling into place. I could finally relax and we realized that we had our answer to whether I needed a part time job. The answer was NO.

Not only that but I suddenly have a few other paying projects in my hands which I could not do if I were working outside the home.

God has promised to take care of us and He has and He will for He continues to be Jehovah Jireh.  And days like this when He reminds me He wants me to be home and be available make me want to go bake cookies, read to my kids, and go all domestic.

WordPress 2.5

Decided to check out WordPress 2.5 today.  I installed it on my demo blog (the one I send people to who are thinking about trying WordPress but are not sure.)  It certainly is different to look at.

I would not recommend it to someone who has a hard time adapting to new software because the layout of the dashboard is very different and even I (who have been using WordPress since the beginning) am having a hard time adjusting to where everything is.

For one thing it uses flash for a lot of things and I hate flash. It is slow and awkward and makes everything take longer to do.  However, the pro is that it enables you to upload multiple pictures at a time.

I do like that it fixes the big comments problem with 2.0 through 2.3 I have been having with Bluehost so for those on my server who would like I will update to WordPress 2.5 for that reason.  Otherwise I would suggest waiting until the bugs get worked out.

You can read up on some of the changes here.

A Day in the Life 29: You May Be Wondering

why I am not commenting or posting or doing my doodles and whatnot. I have been reading but am still low on words so have been keeping my mouth shut. And for the rest, well, I have been busy, busy, dreadfully busy, you have no idea what I’ve got to do…. Erm. Yeah. Anyway, instead of taking time and making several nice coherent posts I thought I would do one huge mishmash post so I can get back to what I have been doing.

It’s spring you see. I have spent months cooped up in the house and too cold and achy to do too much. Now I am making myself achy by doing too much. 🙂 Though I did discover that working with the shutters on the deep freeze instead of on the floor was much less painful and was able to finish them faster.

The house is finally relatively clean. The kids finished up stairs in record time yesterday and spent the rest of the day making messes and trying to remember to clean them up.

They also helped me make some bread for Rachel, then the bread makers started smoking and set off the fire alarm so we put it outside and made bread the old fashioned way.

I spent the afternoon finishing our raised gardens and watching “Father’s Little Dividend” with the girls. I had never seen it even though I had seen many such movies and it led to many interesting conversations which was cool.

Now all they need is dirt and we are good to go.

I also started exploring Twitter–which I am not sure I like though there is something to say for doing it via the Firefox plugin and making mini posts in the address window. It is good for one liners throughout the day–quick thoughts, short and concise. Concise I need to work on. I am considering adding it to my site but not sure–we shall see.

Today was the big half off of everything in the store day at our favorite thrift shop and my mom convinced me to join her so she could get the kids some gifts. (You see why we end up with too much.) The good news is that she got them things they needed and I got a few more things that were needed plus a new coffee maker for my poor husband who complained daily about his monstrosity of a coffee maker, a lamp for the bathroom our old one was driving me crazy and an IKEA coffee table I have been eyeing for over a month.

For some time now I have wanted two things–to take my husband to IKEA which wasn’t happening since it is an hour away and he hates traveling and to get a table that was big enough to do puzzles and play games on in the living room to replace our old trunk with the bumpy top. The poor trunk is a nice height for the couch but has seen better days and was not so good for doing useful things–like putting things on. Also, we are funny people–we sit on the floor as often as on the furniture. I wanted a coffee table that could be used as a coffee table but also as a floor table. This one has been at the thrift shop for a while since I was praying that it would go down to $25 from its $50 price tag. It was perfect. The perfect size, the perfect color, the perfect shape, with the perfect shelves and drawers at the perfect height. Today it was there, marked down to half price but I didn’t have the $25. Rachel, who has been saving for a big thing had gotten money for Easter and insisted that she get it. She also saw the value of having a table instead of a trunk in the center of the room. We talked and prayed about it and I let her purchase it.

A Note on Ubuntu vs. Windows

I have a duel boots system (this means I have both windows XP and Ubuntu installed on different parts of my hard drive and a spot in the middle that both can access.)  Today out of sheer necessity I had to run Windows after a week of not (I don’t have the printer set up yet and I needed to use Paintshop Pro to edit my header since it was originally made in Paint Shop Pro.)

I had been wondering why I seemed to spend less time working on my computer recently.  I have the same amount of things to do, the same amount of work, yet somehow I am spending much more time doing other things.  I couldn’t figure it out.

Today I saw it.  I loaded Windows XP–which took a while.  I waited 5 minutes for my anti-virus software to update and run, I waited a few more minutes for all the other little programs that feel they need their shot (and I have this machine stripped down to the essentials).  I waited for Thunderbird and Firefox to boot up and I had to wait for Paintshop Pro.  Then I spent a whole lot of time waiting for Adobe to open so I could view and print a PDF.  All those programs wasted 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back.  I run the same sorts of software on Ubuntu and yet it only takes me a minute to get them all up and running–and they can do it at the same time.  No wonder I have so much more free time!

Ubuntu (circa 2008) vs. Linux Red Hat (circa 2001)

So here I am once again working on a Linux box. When I have spent a little more time using it and get over all the initial ooing and ahing I will give you a run down of Ubuntu vs. Windows XP service pack 2.  So far everything is so incredibly wonderful and super great as in “Oooo–look how fast my mail gets sent!”  and “Ahhh–I just opened 30 tabs in Firefox and my system didn’t barf” and I want to have time to find some flaws so I can give you a real comparison.

It has been 7 years since I first installed Red Hat Linux on my new OS free computer.  That computer ran Red Hat Linux for a year until we could finally afford XP so I could run all my kids’ games. (I should note here that that old computer is once again running Linux–that is the poor old machine that I put Edubuntu on for the kids. Talk about ironic.) Six years ago I quit using Linux in disgust.  Mind you I loved the OS–LOVED IT.  It didn’t crash and when something worked it really worked.  The problem was the lack of standard user information and of quality GUI interface (the stuff was designed by geeks with no artist in sight–it was pretty crappy).  Back then everything was installed via the terminal (similar to installing from DOS) and the only people using it were supergeeks who couldn’t possibly explain things in terms that a stay-at-home mom who could fix Windows machines and code in HTML could comprehend.  I spent hours hanging out on Slashdot and internet forums trying to glean information that actually was helpful and not too dumbed down or too over my head.  Fear of the Blue Screen of Death kept me hacking away trying to figure it all out.

Nowadays things are different in Linux-land.  Ubuntu is an easy to use OS with plenty of auto-installing programs in the database plus a huge wall of forums full of all sorts of useful information and simple walk-thrus.   Instead of spending my time searching the internet for the .roms I need for the specific install and trying to decipher cryptic terminal codes I do a quick Google search for the walk-thru I need, copy and paste the details and wa-la it works.

It also helps that most open source projects are available both on Linux and Windows.  Despite my install of Windows XP I never went back to Microsoft for most of my programs.  Outlook Express and Internt Explorer were never used–even when it meant that Flash and Shockwave didn’t quite work (they do now).  Thunderbird, Opera, Firefox, Winamp, OpenOffice, as well as many wonderful programs found at tinyaps.org graced my computer.  When I did buy something  (like Paintshop Pro) it was never Microsoft and seldom the big expensive companies.  Not only was it a way of encouraging the little guy but it also was a way for me to test out programs that others may need so I knew what to recommend when I was helping others with their computers. Since my husband is a programmer we are very anti-piracy.  Instead of recommending that somebody go out and buy an expensive memory hog software from Microsoft or Adobe I would encourage them to try Opensource or small company software that took less space, cost less money, and was less likely to let viruses and malware run rampant in their computer (which is usually why they called me in the first place.)

Back then I could not recommend Linux (or at least that flavor of Linux though at the time it was the most user friendly) to my mom, mother-in-law or anyone else who didn’t have a higher than standard comprehension of computers.  It took all my background and ability to research to make it do what I wanted to do.  With Ubuntu I feel I can finally recommend Linux to most users.  Nowadays you can find software for practically anything you need your computer for–and you can auto-install and it just works.  The plethora of educational resources available on it are an added plus.

Cleaning House

Due to random circumstances beyond my control (and which re definitely a God thing) I am off to install Ubuntu which means doing all kinds of scary things like repartitioning my hard drive.–which always makes me nervous.  I may well lose my Windows XP installation.  At this point I am willing to do so if it means I will be able to check my email etc without crashing.  Yeah, have been having some issues with my poor little computer.

So, if you don’t see me around you know where I am–in the scary world of partitioning and installing and learning a  slew of new programs interspersed with  working outside in the few spring like days we are suddenly having.  (I want a garden this year and God has been laying it on my heart to give it a shot again–this time with raised gardens to battle our crazy clay/fill mix.)  Praise the Lord the kids are happily making a mess out in the yard with varying shops that they have started up.

So, I am off.  Pray for me, I will need it.:)

The Car Game

“All right. All three of you are spelunking. You each have some granola bars, some water, 20 ft. of rope and a flashlight. You are about 10 ft. into the cave and you hear a human shout ahead. You cannot tell which of the four caves ahead of you it is in. What do you do? ”

To any geek this sounds like a typical D&D campaign, or at least part of one. It isn’t–it is our car game. Instead of dice deciding–since the game master mom is driving I try to consider their solutions and decide whether it is possible that it might work. At each decision there is a chance that something will go wrong or “rocks fall everybody dies” but in general this is a much simpler (and much less deadly) version of the geeky game and one that fosters story telling and problem solving.

The kids enjoy coming up with possible solutions and have many opportunities to try again and test different theories. In this case it took about 20 minutes (half the drive home from Grandma’s) to come up with a solution to the problem. They managed to find and save the fellow spelunker who had fallen into a hole about 70 ft into the cave.

On the same car ride they managed to rescue a kite from a tree and find a way to get home should our car stop five miles from town (they were able to figure out where the car was stuck based on the direction and and chose the person who was closest to come and get them.)

The game is very similar to the role playing people tend to do with younger children but geared towards building their communication and problem solving skills ( most of the “rocks fall everybody dies” endings occur when the person planning isn’t clear about their solution and leaves out vital details like holding breath or turning on flashlights.)

I got to thinking about it (and playing it) today after talking to the kids about the passing of D&D game designer Gary Gargax while wandering around Borders Books today.

Boots

Dragging three grumpy and stir crazy kids through the cold rain to several stores in search of boots–not fun.

We found a pair finally at Target–they cost more than I planned but I have been promised that this child who wants everything will not ask for anything else for months to make up for the $20 spent.:) We’ll see. I( could go on about all the learning that occurred today but my brain hurts.
I am tired and grumpy and instead of complaining about everything I am going off to curl up with a good book (I got a package of 4 in the mail from Amazon.com yesterday so have some reading to do) and sip some hot tea or coffee–I haven’t decided yet. The kids are off to test out Rachel’s black polka dot rain boots and get muddy and soaked. They will be in in an hour or so requiring clean clothes and a hot bath. After that they will curl up and watch Gorgeous for the third time today (once in English and once in Cantonese with English subtitles–which I prefer–you get a much better sense of the story that way and yes I prefer watching anime with subtitles than in English.) I am not just an anime fan but also a closet kung fu fan–I actually have a portrait of Bruce Lee over my desk with all my paintings. It was a gift from my brother in law. The kids have been enjoying seeing Jackie Chan at work–yes the movie has some other aspects that are less than suitable morally but which we have decided are okay in this instance and it is a great introduction to Chinese culture. We have had plenty of great discussions about various behaviors and aspects of the movie. Good stuff but I am too tired to make a whole post of it so it shall wait.