Quote of the Moment

Maybe you’re just imagining that you have a good imagination.
- from ConceptArt.Org forums

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meltdown

Temperatures continue to rise locally. We're in the midst of a record-setting heat wave; they predict triple digits tomorrow and Thursday. I work tomorrow and Thursday, and Friday. In the only building the county library system owns that doesn't have AC, despite the fact that not only do we work harder, on an hourly basis, than the other pages, but the Great Machine hates heat with a passion. I'm already little more than a puddle draped over my computer chair and the keyboard.

This, I think, will be Not Fun (TM).

But I relish the opportunity to overheat whilst slinging books in a stifling warehouse with a persnickity crane.

Why?

Because I won't be dealing with the Electric Brick.

I gotta give Mom credit. She's hunting through every dark corner and back alley of the Internet trying to get this thing to work for her. It'll go online happily at the store where she works. It just will not accept a signal from my router, and we cannot find a way to update the driver for the thing. She also can't get around the admin lockouts to clear space on the hard drive.

Amazingly, she actually found a few message boards with posts from people in her exact condition: old notebook-type computers, free from a friend of a friend, with no disks and no proof of ownership and no way past passwords and other annoying crud left by thoughtless previous owners who didn't know enough to wipe everything but the bare bones basics from a computer they're dumping. Unfortunately, the only solutions she's found seem to be Catch-22's. The latest frustration? She found a program that's supposed to reset/clear administrator passwords. In order to use it, one has to log in as the administrator.

Personally, I'm starting to wonder if the XP Pro upgrade's entirely legitimate. I could've sworn all XP versions came with a free unzipping program, but this one has a copy of WinZip that wouldn't work because the "free trial period" had expired. (I jumped on C-Net and got a free-for-everything-forever unzipper, so at least she has an unzipper. Which she used to unzip the program which wouldn't work, because she can't log in as administrator. Oh, and it claims it won't work on laptops, even though Mom found the link to the program on a forum thread answering a question from a fellow locked-out laptop owner.)

Hopefully, the Electric Brick will be on its way to a repair shop eventually. First, we have to call to see if there's anything they can do with it. Short of hurling it through the window, that is.

I'll do that for free.

Happily.

It'll let the breeze in...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stubbornly Productive (Almost)

Today I crawled out of bed before 6 AM. I don't voluntarily do this, but I had to work - I'm going over the 69-hour page limit at work and they're short-handed this month, so I've been picking up all sorts of extra hours. The downside is the early wake-up on days I normally get to sleep in; I'll see the upside when I get the paycheck.

Despite the Great Machine pitching the occasional fit, we finished the load early, but we didn't get to go home early, as is the usual drill; we instead filled out the time chiseling away at the deleted-book backlog. (This is where old library books go to die, or at least be removed from the system.)

I came home and intended to do Something Productive with my day. After all, I have a car that, after our ongoing dry streak, seriously needs washing. I have stories that need editing, and sketchbooks that need filling. I have web stuff to study and sites to plot overhauls on. I have a workbench that needs cleaning up, and projects that need starting once said workbench is cleaned up.

I forgot about family.

I forgot that my mother just got a freebie used laptop, and - because I bought a wireless router - I've apparently been elected Tech Support Person, charged with getting an overloaded third-hand Pentium II dinosaur to play nice with our network.

I forgot about the various yard projects my sister's working on, that occupy the front yard hoses and hose attachments and make getting a hose to my car difficult.

I forgot that I'm evidently the only person capable of making dinner, let alone washing the dishes afterwards and putting them away.

I forgot that Dad tends to let recycling pile up in inconvenient places (like, say, the dish drying rack.)

I forgot that the neighbors' idea of weekend fun is to blast old whiny country music as loud as their stereo will go, until it can be clearly heard all around our property and nearly through closed doors. (I can't seem to gain support for my plan to retaliate with a boom box and a CD of the Wicked Tinkers...)

So, no, I cannot say I filled a single sketchbook page today. I didn't get to work on my websites, nor did I get near my workbench.

But I washed that car, dang it.

And I vacuumed it, too. Just to prove they couldn't stop me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thunder Sky and Website Ponderings

Last night, I watched a spreading smear of gray across the sunset: clouds, towering and wispy-edged. I welcomed them, waiting for the first drops to fall, but none came. All night and through the day, the clouds hung overhead, now dark and gray, now thin and white, but always there. Taunting. Mocking. At last, this evening, I heard them rumbling in the distance. And then the raindrops fell, cleansing the skies.

The rains have come, if briefly, at last.

We of the itching noses and throbbing sinuses rejoice in this day.

--

Nearly halfway through July, and nothing worth blogging about. I suppose that's a good thing, in a way. I'm still hacking away at the mountain of ignorance between me and a better understanding of HTML/CSS and related website arcana. My goal is to post brand-new websites before the end of 2009. To that end, I updated Brightdreamer Books for probably the last time before I overhaul my web presence. I'm still deciding what I want to do with my sites, and how I want them to go about doing it. The more I learn, the more I'm intrigued by possibilities, and the more I'm plagued by too many options. I'd like to keep my reviews up and running, if only because it took me ten years to bust 600-odd reviews and I'm loathe to chuck them in the recycle bin, even if I'm probably the only human being who knows they're on the Internet. Most likely, my book reviews won't change drastically in content, only in style and background coding. (I also need to figure out if there's any way to promote an amateur book review site; it would be nice if I got a little something back out of my Amazon.com affiliation other than an excuse to add cover illos to my reviews.)

As for Skyhaven... well, the days of click-and-take cyberpets seem to have gone by the wayside, save for specialty sites (read: cliques) like Gaia online, Pony Island and the like. (It's possible some cyberpet-like entities exist on MySpace or Facebook, but I don't have accounts at either place and have no plans to get them, as they sound like royal pains in the arse to manage.) No, the trend now is interactive cyberpets, along the lines of NeoPets, Virtual Horse Ranch, and other places designed to eat one's free time (and often one's money: pay subscriptions are gaining ground in the cyberpet world as well.) Even grade-schoolers seem capable of launching (if not necessarily maintaining) interactive pet sites, and I must admit part of me is tempted to give it a shot. Fun as it looks, though, I don't think it's going to happen For one thing, there are only 24 hours in a given day. For another, the moment you deal with interactivity and subscriptions, you open a whole can of worms I've spent my life avoiding: dealing with people. Sure, some of the potential players would be nice and friendly, but it's the Other Kind that ruin things. The idiots who refuse to read rules and spam help forums and e-mail with poorly-spelled run-on sentences demanding assistance. The beggars. The trolls. The disgruntled players (or ex-players) who take out their frustrations with hacks and viruses. I just plain don't want to deal with them.

So, what am I to do with Skyhaven? Delusional as I am, I've always considered the site's strong suit to be the story, the words and the backgrounds I threw together. They were as much the excuse for the adoptable critters as the critters were the excuse for the words. When I tried redesigning the Skyhaven Hunt to eliminate most of the writing, the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure "old school" style, I found I lost much of my motivation to continue. It just didn't feel as fun on my end as I thought it might. I guess I'm still mostly a writer at heart, and the new Skyhaven will have to honor that if it's going to survive. Right now, I'm contemplating ways to merge the old-school text adventure style with something that might appeal to today's instant-gratification market. I don't want to abandon all progress, but it needs to be on my terms, and employed in a way that fits with my creative style.

In the meantime, I'm still trudging ahead with my Internet education. Somewhere in that tangle of codes and acronyms and scripting languages lies the key to realizing the future of my sites.