Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When the primrose blooms again

Originally uploaded by greendragon50
Several years ago (and I'm not sure how long it was anymore), I bought this primrose plant from the local supermarket. Over the years, this plant has endured months of inconsistent watering, neglect, and indifference from me. Sometimes I forget to water it until it's wilted and losing leaves. I never give it new soil, fertilizer, or a new pot to live in.

And yet, no matter the abuse, no matter the damage, when I finally do pay attention to it, it blooms. For weeks on end. As if, no matter what difficulties it has to face, it can still defy the hard times and show the world that it can revel in its own beauty and strength.

I've had a number of personal issues to deal with during the past year. Sometimes, I think I'll never see my way out. That I'll never be free.

And then, the primrose blooms again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

When software goes bad...

I continue to run into misbehaving software. The blog thing seems to be in good shape these days, but now my co-workers are having difficulties building online help.

We use FrameMaker and a product called WebWorks to generate online help. One of the other writers has an issue where she builds the help without errors, but is unable to see any of her topics. When I try the same thing on my system, everything works fine. I'm guessing that there's a browser issue somewhere that's causing the blank topics. It's weird. I've checked her Web browser settings and I don't see differences from my configuration.

Of course, since we haven't had the money/ability to upgrade our software, we're several versions behind and we probably don't have a maintenance/support contract any more. So, it will be up to me to solve this problem, even though I have no idea what's causing the problem.

This set of tools has been very, very stable for us until recently. I wish it could talk to me and tell me where "it hurts.".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hi, your photo has been short-listed...

The glory of the Intertube...

I received Flickr mail indicating that Schmap has shortlisted one of my photos for the upcoming revision of the Schmap guide to London. Cool. Apparently, they want trawling photo sites for pictures of London.

I was a bit surprised at the picture they selected since it's not one of my prettier ones (it's a distant shot of the Cutty Sark in Greenwich). And, there's no guarantee that it will be selected. But, I gave them permission to use it. Cuz, I think it would be fun to have someone use my photo since I'm about as amateur as one can get in that area.

I wonder if they'll let me know if the photo is selected. I hope so. I can then brag that I'm a "published photographer." hee, hee.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thank you, technical difficulties have been resolved.

Today is a good day :-)

Did a WebEx session with a support person in Malaysia who removed a huge obstacle in one of my projects. Technology can be a good thing!

So, I'm using this open source product called Joomla to create an internal, company web portal. And I'm absolutely clueless with web development (I'm a Tech Writer, not a web developer, Jim!). But, I was told that this product is simple to use, doesn't require PHP coding, blah, blah, blah. There's a big push to get a blog put together and I was stuck, stuck, stuck. The blog part worked but the commenting feature was busted. I was trying to get the IT folks to give the vendor access to our server, but the suggestion was to use WebEx instead (honestly, I don't know why I have to bargain over everything here...for once, I'd like to put in a request for something and have it done, no questions asked, no compromises, no arguments!).

Not having run a WebEx session in ages, I was a nervous wreck. And, to top it off, I had to use Skype to communicate with the support person (apparently phones are not in the budget) -- another thing I hadn't used very much. But it all turned out well. One of our support folks gave me a good walk through on how to run the session and the Support guy in Malaysia turned out to be quite clever and had no problems using WebEx. And he fixed the problem!

Still some issues with communication between the server and remote systems. It takes a long time for comments to show up. But, that's an issue for those elusive IT folks.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Please stand by, we are having technical difficulties...

Sometimes, I really hate the technological world in which I exist and work. Oh, the gadgets, the new software are all fun...when they work.

When they don't work and I don't understand *why* they don't work, I just want to walk away and, oh, I don't know, churn butter manually. At least, I'd get something accomplished.

Last week, my beloved iPhone went weird on me. All of a sudden, my happy applications were crashing right after I opened them. Possibly something went wrong when I started to sync the phone to my computer at work and then thought better of it. Whatever. I ended up restoring the factory settings and then using the backup to get everything back. Did that a couple of times, no joy in Mudville. Then I decided to sync just the applications (why didn't that happen during the restore?) and during the installation of one of them, the install ended with an error. Simple solution, delete the "bad" application and poof! everything started working. So, I wasted a hour of time, doing restores and such, only to discover that one bad "apple" really did spoil the bunch. And I reinstalled the application and everything is as happy as can be. Go figure.

I was greatly relieved to see that all my contacts, calendar items, and photos did come back during the restore.

The other misery for me now is trying to build a web portal and blog with Joomla, MyBlog, and JomComment (all open source software) at work. It just isn't working the way it's supposed to work. I've been spending hours trying anything and everything to get the beast to behave. The support folks are in a different time zone so, it takes a day to get anything out of them. And worse, my friend's husband has been helping out (bless his technological soul)...and *everything* works on his system, but not mine. It looks like some weird IE browser issue (boo, hiss, spit on browsers!) cuz I could get everything to work with Firefox. I feel like I'm trying to swim in mud.

Bleah. Last week, out of sheer frustration, I started throwing my Joomla books against my office wall. Felt good for about 5 seconds. Then I took pity on the books and picked them off the floor.

So, right now, technology is frustrating the h*ll out of me. Learning to be an herbalist sounds a lot more appealing. I mean, using a simple mortar and pestle is something I could handle without feeling like I need to throw something against the wall.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Green Dragon goes a kayaking - Chapter 9

Leaving a trail behind
Originally uploaded by greendragon50
It's a warm, sunny afternoon when we reach the Nashua River. The Powers That Be at work had unexpectedly told us to take the afternoon before Labor Day off. What could be better than to grab a boat and head out ot the river?

Once we get to the launch site, my friend M is a gentleman and picks up my boat and carries it to the dock. We launch and head out. This is my first time on this river and from the first, I am enchanted. It's a calm, wide river, with a wide variety of trees surrounding us. This will be a fantastic place in the autumn!

There's a lot of deadfall in the water, but none of it prevents us from moving down the river. We haven't gone too far before we see some movement off to the side. As we pause, we realize that we are seeing the absolute, most adorable baby beavers that you can imagine!They're out among the fallen trees in the water, doing what beavers do best...chewing and gnawing.

After hanging around for awhile in gleeful astonishment, we continue down the river. Next on our checklist of wildlife is an abundance of turtles. Lots and lots of turtles. We're able to get reasonably close to them. My friend M snags one which doesn't please the little creature. It waves it's little feet frantically. I'm sure he was thrilled to be back in the water once M lets it go.

The further along the river we get, the more the plant life increases. M tells me the green, pea soup stuff on the surface of the river is duck week. It's mucky, but doesn't impede our progress.

We catch site of an enormous Great Blue Heron. We try to get close enough for pictures, but he's a cautious bird and keeps his distance. At times like this, I wish I had a high-end camera with a decent telephoto lens.

We continue on until we run out of river. Back we return, past the turtles and ducks (did I mention the ducks? They're out on the river with us as well). We finish off the day with a yummy dinner of fresh lobster and steak tips. It really doesn't get much better than this.