Category Archives: Computers

Books: a non-weighty subject

Ever since Amazon came out with the Kindle, I’ve been lusting for it.

For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s an e-reader, allowing you to purchase and download books (wirelessly!) to be read anytime, anywhere. It can hold up to about 1000 books, which makes it an ultra compact way to store your library, and super convenient if you travel and like to take along a book or ten.

It’s kind of pricey though. It’s dropped considerably since I started watching it, but it’s still an awful lot of money. As a big user of my local library (where the books are free!), I have had a hard time justifying the cost to myself. After all, it’s not just the cost of the Kindle itself, but then the cost to purchase all the books I want to read on it. So I’ve held off. But still I lust.

But you know what? I bought myself an iPhone in December. Which I adore, by the way. And as much as I do adore it, that’s not specifically what I want to tell you about. There is a free Kindle app for the iPhone/iPod Touch. I downloaded it, and then downloaded a few free books to try it out. It seemed OK, but the free books weren’t really anything I was all that excited about reading. A friend passed along his copy of Stephen King’s new tome, “Under the Dome”, which I’ve been reading, but let me tell you, with my limited time for reading it is taking me a good bit of time to work through all 1074 pages. We were going away on vacation last week and I really wanted to bring along a book, but not one that’s 4 inches thick and weighs a few pounds. So I decided to buy the Kindle version of Mr. King’s latest.

Let me tell you – I absolutely loved reading it on the iPhone! I thought it would bother  me to “turn the page” so often on the small iPhone screen, but it did not. I loved that I could bring along a huge book without the bulk and weight, and it remembers where you are when you leave the application to do something else. No bookmark to get lost or played with by little fingers!

I’m still lusting for that Kindle, but in the meantime, my free iPhone app is filling the bill quite nicely.

One Year on Facebook

About a year ago I posted about my new obsession, Facebook. So a slightly belated Happy Facebook anniversary to me.

I do spend way too much time on Facebook. I don’t participate in any of the games (Mafia Wars, Farmville, etc), although my step-mother and I always have a game of Scrabble going which is a lot of fun. But that’s just between the two of us, no prizes or penalties for not watering your plants, or however the other ones work. I log in first thing in the morning, before bed, and usually several times throughout the day, just because I can. I do post a status occasionally, but more often I like to read and comment on other people’s status updates.

But the very best part of Facebook is the friends it’s brought me in touch with. Some of you, my readers, are now my Facebook friends, and it’s been awesome to get to know you in another way (if you’re not already my “friend”, let me know in a comment!). As cool as that is, the most rewarding component is the old friends I’ve been able to bring back into my life.

This past weekend we hosted a get-together at our house for one of my Facebook friends – someone I knew in high school, her husband and their 4 youngest children. Yes, me, the reluctant host, tripled the number of people in my house voluntarily! They came over to watch the Patriots pound the Titans (in the snow! Snow in October!?!?) and we ate and drank and made merry while the younger kids played and it was completely natural and wonderful, despite not seeing each other or even being in touch much since high school! An added bonus is that Krystal and her youngest daughter hit it off immediately.

People can sneer at social media if they want, but when it brings great people into, or back into, your life, I’ll keep using it.

A Day Late Doesn’t Mean a Dollar Short

This has been a rough week for me, technologically speaking.  I lost Internet at home inexplicably sometime while we were out on Sunday afternoon, and didn’t get it back till Monday afternoon. Comcast sent three technicians in three different trucks to my house to deal with it. No, it wasn’t that complicated, but somehow they got their wires crossed which accounted for two of them; I dont’ remember why the third guy was there. Regardless, they did something different than what I have been doing most every day for two years, which is unplug my modem and router to “reset” them. Yes, I do this nearly everyday. But whatever they did – threw salt over their left shoulder beforehand, perhaps, it worked. They concluded the visit by suggesting I replace my now ancient (3+ years) modem and router with newer models, and this I will do.

Then yesterday morning, Tuesday, I got up and fired up my MacBook Pro as usual and…..nothing. It would not boot up. At all. It would do the pretty little Apple chime, show me some gears, and then go to a grey/blue screen. Using my work computer, Google and I got to be very cozy regarding Mac issues, and I finally got to see that Linux underpinning I’ve heard so much about. Unfortunately, I was not able to make any progress using any of the suggestions I found. I asked a co-worker who I know to be Mac-versed (we are a PC shop at work) and he offered a few things, but none of them worked either. I was getting a little stressed out – all my photos are on that thing, my music, not to mention all my bookmarks! I have an external hard drive but it’s been far too long since I’ve used it to back anything up. We have to learn lessons the hard way, don’t we?

I’m going to skip ahead a bit to keep this somewhat cohesive (whoops, too late!). Today I brought the Mac into work so the co-worker could take a look at it. He had no idea what to do, but he and Google are also pretty close and he knows a bit more than I about Linux. About 6 hours after he started (between doing his real job, mind you), he fixed it! Something to with the Cache file in the Library. Whatever. He sent me the article he found the solution in, and I’ll have to read it a few more times before I can make hide nor hair out of it, but bottom line is, I’m writing this on my Mac! And co-worker is getting homemade chocolate chip cookies tomorrow as a thank you.

But this was supposed to be a post about parenting. I just had to explain why I didn’t write about this yesterday. It was because I had no computer. Got that?

Seven years ago, on March 24, 2002, I met my daughter for the first time and became a mom.

Krystal has been more excited than usual about this day this year. She’s been talking about it for weeks, changing her mind about how she wants to celebrate it time and time again. She finally decided on dinner at a Chinese restaurant in town, and she wanted to invite one of her old teachers (who is currently Belle’s teacher, and occasionally babysits for me) along. So that’s what we did. When I picked her up after school she said she’d been the recipient of lots of attention all day, and this would be because she told everyone that it was her anniversary. Really, apparently most of the school knew. I was  pretty amazed at how vocal she was about it, but it also tickled me that she put such an emphasis on the day. At least this year. I am well aware that there may come a day when she wants it to fade into the background. But for now, we’ll shout it loud.

I gave her a book she’d been asking for, and the teacher surprised her with 7 roses, one for each year we’ve been a family. Is it any wonder Krystal wanted to include her in our special day?

This is the two of us at dinner last night, and this photo would have more impact if I could post the one in a similar pose that was taken the night we met. That will take a bit more doing, as I have some computer issues in the way (and I’m sure you don’t want me to bore you with that story!), so for now you’ll have to content yourself with present day.

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Krystal – I am blessed every day to be your mom and I’m so happy we are a family.

Off the Hook!

The phone I use for work, an old Blackberry, died last weekend. I first noticed it wasn’t acting quite right when the emails stopped coming in. That’s happened from time to time in the 3+ years I’ve owned this phone, so I did what I always did, and popped the battery out and then back in to “reset” it, or whatever. No change. Also, the battery was draining in hours versus days. Oh, and the worst of all was that I was unable to make or receive calls on it. Pretty much renders any phone useless.

So Monday morning at work I ordered a new one – I had my choice of three models, and finally settled on the Blackberry World Edition (Red).

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Pretty, no?

I worked all week without a cell phone, and I learned that even though I don’t use my phone all that  much, I missed it terribly. I have a daily 9 am meeting which I am sometimes still in the car for, so I was accustomed to calling in from the road when necessary. Au contraire this week! I also stopped wearing a watch years ago when I began carrying a pager, and then cell phone, and I missed not having the correct time on me. I was also used to looking at it after hours to deal with any critical emails (it’s hooked up to my work email) and my schedule to remind myself of upcoming meetings. Additionally I also felt a teensy bit panicked along the lines of “But what if something happens to me on the way to pick up the kids?” and having no way to get in touch with anyone (of course it’s not like we don’t live in a pretty populated area, and for sure someone would see me and call it in if anything were to happen).

So the new phone arrived yesterday and when I picked the girls up they were so very excited. Krystal insisted on showing the other kids at the after school program and declared it “Sick!” and “Off the hook!” (gee, I hope not!) (also, when did I get so old?)  And while it does look cool, my employer blocks most of the fun features, so it’s really pretty utilitarian in the end. Not that I am complaining, since I don’t pay for it and am allowed to use it for personal use.

Now to start incorporating these new hip phrases into conversation!

Tweet! Tweet!

OK, I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon today.

I’m not sure why, except that everywhere I turn I’m reading or hearing about people on it. So I set up an account and am looking for interesting people and organizations to follow. And drawing blanks on the specifics of all the Twitter-ific stuff I keep hearing about. I’m following a whopping 9 people at the moment.

I don’t think I plan to tweet much myself, but I’ll use it to follow others. Unless a bunch of you are big tweeters and I should follow you, and you’d like to follow me. But that’s sort of what I see Facebook being for. Sort of.

Do you follow anyone interesting you think I ought to follow? Share yourself, or your favorite Twitter users, in the comments – I’m anxious to get some entertainment out of this!

Anyway, I’m on board!

A taste of honey is worse than none at all….

First, an update on my self-imposed Internet free day, which was yesterday. At least most of yesterday was. I made it till about 6:30 pm, which was after dinner, and the girls were watching a show before bed. I gave in and fired up the Mac, and didn’t feel guilty about it. I had a productive day “off the grid” where I went through a lot of outgrown clothes of the girls, as well as culling out a few of my own clothes, most of which are dreadfully out of style, as opposed to outgrown. The girls and I took Tessie for a walk and enjoyed the very spring-like, sunny, warm day we had.

And then we woke up to this:

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It is not obvious, but the snow is still coming down in those photos. Can I just say how done I am with the snow?? It hurts all the more because of the delicious taste of spring we had the previous two days.

Well, it can’t stay winter forever……right?

Internet Silence

When I first got on the Internet at home, it was through a dial-up connection. I think my modem was a whopping 28.8, which at the time was screaming fast. How barbaric. I lived in a condo that didn’t have cable or DSL availability so a lot of my Internet work was done, well, at work.

Then, whooooooosh! I became a parent, got married and moved to a place with cable Internet. Before I became a parent I had oodles of free time and spent a good deal of it reading. I became a mom 5 months before I got married, so I was dealing with a lot of change at once. Dealing with new  parenthood and new wifedom was not easy, though I acclimated much faster to the parenting than the wifing. Hence the reason I am single now. Anyway! When Krystal was little I had absolutely no free time when she was awake and the only time I was online was during working hours (when she was not around).  When she was sleeping I was on wife duty, which primarily meant watching TV with the wusband.

Now Krystal is 8 and doesn’t rely on me as much for entertainment. Even Belle is older than Krystal was when I became single again, and has always been pretty good at entertaining herself. Generally speaking, if we are home and they are watching TV or playing, I am either on the computer (which is in the same room as the TV), or making dinner.

When we get home from an outing, one of the first things I do is hop on the computer.

After putting the girls to bed, even if I am going to watch TV for the evening, I get on the computer first (and sometimes during).

I think I might be a little addicted to the Internet.

I am going to set a date, soon, to be Internet Free for Me. Instead of going online for that day, I will do all the things around the house that I don’t have time to do because every free moment is spent on the Internet. Some of those things are:

  • Gather and organize outgrown kids’ clothes for sale or donation
  • Write Belle’s Lifebook
  • Work on training Tessie (“come” and “stay” are big ones)
  • Utilize some of the principles in “It’s All Too Much” to cull out the extraneous crap in our house

The list goes on and on. But I must admit to you, my Internet friends, that going a day without being online sounds a little scary. It shouldn’t. But it does. The sooner, the better, right? Maybe this Sunday.

I’ll let you know on Monday how it went. If it went.