September 2007 Archives

best. web. comic. evah.


I already loved xkcd. But omfg, is this great or what?

xkcd comic from 9/30/07

conquering clutter


Is 45 too old to change a lifelong bad habit? I'm going to try to find that out this year, because I'm really, really tired of being surrounded by clutter. It's what happens when two people who are packrats ("we might need this someday!") live together for more than a decade.

As I sit here this morning, enjoying a rare moment of complete peace and quiet in the house (everyone else is sleeping late), I'm realizing that I'm not able to really enjoy this little oasis of calm because of the stuff all around me...colored pencils on the floor from Alex's homework, two days of newspaper on the coffee table, covering up remote controls and ipods and flyers from the middle school, a backpack spilling its contents out onto an ottoman, cables CDs and yarn jostling for space on the end table. There's nothing even resembling a clean surface anywhere around.
I picked up a book yesterday called It's All Too Much, and I really like it. It starts with a discussion of why you've got the clutter, and about the relationships we have to our "stuff" and how that negatively impacts our quality of life. Then it outlines what looks like a manageable approach to paring down the amount of stuff you're holding onto.

In June, when I was living by myself in a furnished apartment with only the suitcase of clothes that I'd brought, it was easy to keep things clear, and I really enjoyed it. When I walked in the door after work, the space felt welcoming and relaxing rather than overwhelming. I want to get that feeling back, and I know it's going to take a huge amount of work and mental retraining (for all of us) to accomplish that.

technology troubleshooting

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I brought two computers with me on this trip to Redmond--my Macbook Pro, and the Thinkpad that I need to return to MSR when the symposium is over.

The reason that I kept the Thinkpad until now was that a lot of key symposium information was in my copy of Outlook, and Outlook 2007 doesn't offer any easy or obvious way to export a batch of messages.

Unfortunately, when we arrived here at the hotel and tried to turn on the Thinkpad, it appeared to be completely and utterly dead. Wouldn't start up, wouldn't light up the charging light when plugged in. Ack! But after having gotten up at 4:30am eastern time for our flight, I was in no shape cognitively to do much about it.

This morning I woke up somewhat refreshed, and took another look at the machine. There were no obvious problems visible from the exterior, and the whole thing seemed to be purely power related. Finally it occurred to me to not just remove and replace the battery (which I'd tried), but to remove it and then plug in the power cord. Success! The power indicator light came on, and the machine starts up.

I'll grab the information I need off the machine, and then see if reinserting the battery allows it to be recognized now. But I'm delighted that the immediate problem of "how do I get that data back right now" has bee solved. :)

Now if only all the problems that are bound to arise over the next three days can be resolved that easily...

rochester mac repair recommendation

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I'm in the midst of my usual pre-trip panic--Lane and I leave for Seattle at 6am tomorrow morning, and I feel completely unprepared.

The panic was magnified by the fact that my beloved MacBook Pro went out for repair this week--a new logic board, as part of the ongoing attempt to fix the intermittent and frustrating wifi problems I've been encountering for months.

When it got picked up yesterday, it seemed pretty unlikely that I'd get it back in time, and I've been frantically trying to prep a PC laptop for the trip. But the wonderful woman who does our department's Apple-authorized mac repair emailed me this afternoon to say that she'd finished the logic board swap, and was willing to drop the machine off at my house since RIT was already closed for the day.

Wow. I am impressed and delighted. So I want to give her a plug here, for people who might be looking for Rochester area Mac repairs -- her name is Christine Cormack, and her company is CoreMac. Send some business her way if you're in the area--that kind of service is hard to come by, and it sure beats spending hours on the phone with Apple's service center, or dealing with long waits at the Apple Store genius bar!

Now all I have to do is finish the laundry, buy Lane a pair of pants that fit and don't have rips or stains, pack, and try to get to sleep early enough so that the 4am wakeup call isn't completely unmanageable...

using an existing cookie to control access to mediawiki?


For an upcoming event, I've created a homegrown registration system with unique user IDs and logins. It's handling the basics of what I need well, but I'd also like to give registered participants access to a wiki for some pre-event coordination.

Does anyone know if it's possible to use the existing cookie that's set when my users login to control access to a mediawiki (or other wiki) installation? Either through built-in access control in the wiki software, or through some kind of .htaccess-level checking? I'd really prefer not to add a second level of authentication if I can avoid it, but I also don't want to depend on security through obscurity.

things that can go wrong on your first day of teaching

  • You can spill coffee all over yourself on your way to your first class of the day (luckily I was wearing a dress with a floral print that camouflaged it perfectly)
  • You can forget to bring the stupid mac video dongle to connect to the projector (borrowed one from a colleague in the nick of time)
  • You can have both projectors in your classroom go dead just as your second class is about to start (but they could bring up the syllabus on their lab computers)
  • You can forget how utterly exhausting teaching is, and find yourself tired nearly to the point of tears just as you're realizing that your kids start school tomorrow and they haven't finished their summer reading packets (done now)
  • You can foolishly upgrade the software powering your course blogs (they're fixing the bugs I found as I speak, however)

On the plus side, my two freshmen classes this fall seem to be full of high energy students who will make teaching fun. Elouise and I aren't on opposite schedules this fall, so we get to see each other lots. And the influx of gaming faculty into the department is changing the tone of our hallway in a very good way.

And in unrelated news, Lane's full-arm plaster cast was removed from his right arm today and replaced with a waterproof forearm cast, so he can now shower! w00t!

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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