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Electronic Gadget Ideas for a New House?

M. Silver Re:Since the future is wireless... (413 comments)

We're in Wichita, too.

It's all still in the blue-sky stages right now, though.

more than 9 years ago

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Post-Christmas not-so-blues.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

In past years, I've always had some post-Christmas blues. Sort of, anyway. More like post-Christmas disgusts, actually, after family members spend absurd amounts of money on stuff we neither need nor want, leaving us with wads of guilt about what the heck to *do* with the stuff, plus the inevitable "we didn't spend enough on THEM" stuff, and so on.

This year, due to a combination of factors that led to our relatives not having time to buy so much crap (and therefore spending more money on one *decent* present, off a list of things we suggested), plus our endless complaining about not having any room in the house, we actually didn't have that happen. We got some quite nice gifts, we managed to buy stuff for relatives that *they* wanted rather than feeling like we had a quota, and we don't have a houseful of stuff to find homes for.

It's progress. Perhaps next year we'll persuade them that alternative gifting (heifer.org, and the like) really *would* make us just as happy as still more material possessions.

Meanwhile, my husband has the week off, and incentive to help with the basement (making room for the pottery wheel I bought him!) so hopefully we'll make some housecleaning progress. I also commissioned his brother to do some of the kitchen work that we now have even less time for, and he properly installed our stove while we were gone this weekend (the previous stove was a built-in, and this one's not, so it's been sitting an extra 3-4" up on the cabinet base for I-don't-know-how-long). Progress, hurrah.

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Chartreuse maggots

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Every year, there's a Christmas present that stands out, one I'm really proud of... I've either scored a great deal, or found something that's exactly *perfect* for someone, or something like that.

This year, I think The Gift is chartreuse maggots. We were in the sporting goods store, picking up handwarmers and whatnot for the hunters and fishermen in the family, and I was looking at the wide array of really weird baits. (Catfish baits don't count. They're *beyond* weird.) I'm not really sure why, but for some reason they feel compelled to put fluorescent dyes in stuff, as if trout are some deep-sea fish or something. I mean, the glitter I can see, it looks like fish scales, sort of, but I don't know why panfish are attracted to freaky colors. Apparently they are, or at least bait-buying fishermen are, so there they are. And I looked at all of them, and found... chartreuse maggots. I'M GIVING MY FATHER-IN-LAW CHARTREUSE MAGGOTS FOR CHRISTMAS!

No, I don't know why I'm so irrationally pleased about it. He's also getting a neato handmade pigsuede notebook, so it's not like he's *only* getting chartreuse maggots. (The suede is not, be it known, chartreuse. It's a dark, almost-black blue.)

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Multilingual

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

While I've certainly programmed in a heck of a lot of languages, I haven't spent quite so much time doing heavy programming in two at the same time. Or really, four, since the MS flavor of SQL is substantially different from the MySQL version, though the Gamehawk use of MySQL is rather lite compared to the rather ugly nested subselects I'm doing in the office.

I think the problem is that Delphi is too similar to Perl in superficial details, so I can't keep it as distinct as, say, RPG and Perl. Tonight for the first time I started to type a line of Perl code and had to stop and think about a quite simple function.

Or maybe I'm just getting old.

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Oink, oink

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Our church advisory council, of which I'm a member (actually, one of the few members, since it's been losing members to moves and whatnot and we've been too busy to find replacements), is having their annual Christmas dinner tonight. Five couples, and this year because of the church finances we're opting to have a semi-potluck at a member's house instead (read: I'm in charge of the budget and I'm not gonna spend big bux at a restaurant). Semi-potluck, because I'm assigning people to bring stuff, and only two of the other gals are helping. We're fondueing, because I own four fondue pots, two of which date from the 1970's.

So we just chopped up beef tenderloin, made reuben balls, breaded cheese, and we have cocktail franks (those are hard to find... there are eighty-leven varieties of "little smokies" but that's different) that'll be batter-dipped. Whee. Oh, and a goat-cheese snowman (three cheese balls rolled in sauteed garlic, fresh-ground black pepper, and sauteed rosemary, with rosemary arms and a carrot-and-peppercorn face).

And bagna cauda.

Like good self-respecting geeks with no Italian ancestry, we were of course introduced to it by way of Babylon 5. I just finished making it, and testing it with a Wheat Thin, being that one of the other gals is bringing the veggies for dipping, and the other the bread. Yum. I can feel my arteries hardening already...

Yay for my husband, who did a lot of the work because my back's still out, because I hauled laundry to and from the basement yesterday. I thought I was careful, but I guess not enough so.

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Ow.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Aside from actual "job" work (I hit the $1200 mark today, which is pretty cool), I haven't gotten anything done in the last few days, because I've managed to Do Something to my back. I'm not sure what, or how... aside from a bit of sciatica when I was pregnant (par for the course), I haven't had any back trouble to speak of. This has felt like the typical worked-too-hard lower back ache, except multiplied quite a bit. Very odd. I bought a fifty-pound bag of dog food Monday, but a clerk insisted on loading it for me and all I had to do was tip it out of the cart into the back of the van, so it's very unlikely that was it. I've been sitting goofy at work because I'm wedged in next to a desk, at a folding table, but aside from a too-high keyboard there's nothing *that* weird about it and I usually feel bad keyboarding in my shoulders and upper back. So I'm mystified, but it seems to be getting better, so I guess I just must have lifted something I shouldn't have, and that I don't remember.

So the Christmas tree still isn't up. Bah.

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And JavaScript, too

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I guess I'm going to have to change my sig. It's looking more and more like I'm going to hire on permanently.

I've stubbornly put off learning JavaScript, though I picked up the O'Reilly rhino book (for a buck; it covers up to JS 1.2, and I have *no* idea what's current these days) awhile back figuring I'd add some bells and whistles once the core of Gamehawk's written. But this project involves web front-ends, and lots of hiding unnecessary selection boxes so as not to confuse the end user, and lots of form validation so that the Delphi program never re-presents the submission form with "fix this please"s (if the validation is inadequate, you get a simple warning or error and have to use the back button... they still don't do enough distrusting of the submission form, but I'll be teaching them otherwise). So I'm learning some of the useful bits of JavaScript, and getting paid for it. Sweet, even if I do have to use FrontPage. (Well, I don't *have* to. But everyone else does, and to appearances lives in the direct-HTML-editing tab as much as I do, so it's really more like "Notepad with some context highlighting and a GUI viewer" and that's fine with me.)

The house isn't getting any more organized, though. Not sure what to do about that.

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Another notch for my resume.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Okay, so I haven't exactly *mastered* Delphi, but I compiled a program today, and I think I've assimilated all the basics. It's really, really similar to Visual Basic, assuming *that* hasn't changed in ten years, so it's not a great leap. After two days of voodoo programming (copy-and-paste from the nonweb version, into the web version of a different report), today I got to debug, so now I've figured out what's actually happening. The only really new stuff is the way declarations and dependencies happen, and today was all sorts of insights about that.

My husband, meanwhile, is waxing enthusiastic about the potential for quitting *his* job and writing the Great American Novel when our son goes back to school. A bit premature, but at least the extra money's going to come in handy for Christmas.

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Delphi.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Whoa, I'm having flashbacks, here.

I actually did very little Delphi work, and it was with pretty much the first version that came out. But I have a pretty strong background in VisualBasic (before I converted to Perl because I couldn't afford all the libraries for Internet tools; they're all integral now, I'm sure) and some Access, and various other Windows-based things. It's just been awhile.

So what they're doing, they're converting Delphi backoffice reports into Delphi web reports... tacking on an HTML front end with selection boxes, and a PDF-exporting caboose.

And now I'm in an XP/IIS/SQLServer/Delphi/Frontpage environment, and no, there's not the slightest chance of converting it to Linux/Apache/MySQL/Perl/Pico, where I'd much rather be.

Eventually, I'm sure, I'll be re-addicted to all the happy shiny GUI development tools. Right now... whoa.

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I'm not dead.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

But the cleaning/remodeling project has had about as much progress as this journal. Sigh.

And as of today, I'm making it worse. I just took a contract programming job (I gotta relearn Delphi!) which will eat up probably 20 hours a week, maybe more.

But how could I refuse? They're buying me a laptop and all.

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The Halloween rush

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

No, I haven't posted. And no, I haven't made any progress to speak of. I was afraid this would happen... I had to pause the moving of the business in order to actually *do* the business. See, a good chunk of the business is costume-making, and logically enough Halloween is a popular time for that. Much of it's farmed out to other seamstresses, but the custom stuff I have to do myself.

The good news, though, is that fur sales have also picked up, so I've gotten rid of some of my back stock without having to sew it up at all. Less profit margin, but I should probably minimalize my EOY inventory anyway.

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No progress. Well, almost none.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Friday I took the afternoon off to sew garb, because the local Renaissance Faire was this past weekend. Yesterday I had a lovely sinus headache courtesy, I think, of one of the bugs my husband/son have been fighting the last couple weeks. I got a little bit done in the back room, but not as much as I should have. I've gotten the cutting table leaves both open, and I ended up doing some work on it. Enough that I seriously considered using the downstairs for storage and the upstairs for working. It might actually help with my flitting from project to project, *and* the clutter... just keep only what I need up here, and put it away before I start the next thing. Only, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the discipline to do that. Still, I might try doing that for just a bit, and see if does work out.

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I am *really* tired now.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

The ex-workroom isn't the pristine, clean-to-the-walls shocker I was shooting for, but it's still gonna be a big surprise.

There's still the last bits of junk on the worktable, and my computer desk still has some fabric on it (chiefly the bits of proto-garb I sorted out to work on tomorrow), but the storage boxes against the south wall are gone (I think my son was genuinely surprised that there was a window there), the stack of fabric bolts under the counter is gone, and the stack of boxes and bolts under the worktable is gone. I'm going to have to drag the Shop-Vac up to take care of all the dust puppies (actually, these are partly dust teddy-bears, since I'm sure some of the fur there is synthetic).

My son was duly impressed (most of it happened while he was in preschool), especially when I told him after the worktable is moved, the little desk will be moved back so I can put a computer on it.

"For you?"

"No."

"For Daddy?"

"Nope."

"For who, then?"

"Well, Daddy and I already have computers, so..."

And his eyes lit up.

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Probably not sooner.

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I've got the table about half cleared off. Of course, there again the 80/20 rule strikes... most of what I've done so far is sorted trash from non-trash. Now I have to decide what to do with the 20% (actually more like 5%) non-trash stuff.

Found some treasures down there, including part of a bolt of white linen/rayon fabric left over from curtainmaking, which will make a nice shirt. And that reminded me why I probably won't get things done sooner than Friday: this weekend is the local Renaissance Faire, and it's been awhile since we've gone to one in garb. My son needs pretty much a whole new outfit, having outgrown his, my husband needs ditto, so that they match, and I need to either re-bone my bodice or else make a bodice that fits over my new corset. Ordinarily, I'd say it was too much trouble given the current limbo of my workroom, but for a wonder it's supposed to be a high in the mid-60's, and my husband has *never* gotten to wear his wool cloak to the normally-much-hotter faires around here. And then I have to make an itty-bitty matching cloak for our son, too...

(We're not actually into the SCA or anything serious. It's just that... well, I sew costumes of all sorts, and playing dress-up once or twice a year is fun.)

So anyway, the housekeeping thing. This morning was mostly occupied by a second-in-the-week shopping trip (because I was desperately in need of dishwasher detergent) and parent-teacher-conference training (which turned out to be mostly unnecessary, but interesting in that I was one of only two English-as-first-language parents there).

My husband didn't notice, or at least didn't comment on, the absence of the wire shelf. So I think I'll be able to pull off the "Surprise, the family room's not a workroom anymore" by Friday. There's still a bit of cleaning to be done down there, but I only have to swap the folding table for the worktable. I may try to get that done tomorrow. I'll have to think about it.

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Swap tables, and I'm *done*!

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Okay, that's not really true.

Last night, I went downstairs to do some laundry and ended up cleaning out the half-closet in the workroom-to-be. I emptied the unfinished bookshelf that was down there, and decided it wasn't suitable for storing my stuff on, and that that would be a good place for the wire shelf (one of those mesh cube thingies that never holds together with the little corner things they give you, but that works great lashed up with cable ties).

So today I carried the bookshelf out. It's lighter than the table, under forty pounds, and not as long, but it's also wider (about eight inches deep, six feet long, four feet tall). That was exciting, since with the boxes stacked there right now the hall formed by the server rack is not much over 18 inches wide (and I did *not* want to snag on, say, the DSL cable). Lugged that puppy out to the garage, where it needs to be finished.

Then I hauled the mesh shelf downstairs. It's even lighter, maybe ten pounds even with the stuff I left on/in it, but it's also 14" wide, and not quite as structurally sound as the table or wooden shelf. Oops. And after I caught it on the boxes and thereby reduced the hallway space to under 14", I wedged it behind the server rack for awhile.

But it's in there now, and I've started moving all my work stuff down there. I still have a lot of sorting to do on the folding table, but now I have someplace to put all the textile-related stuff that was stored down there. Whee!

My husband is likely to notice the absence of the mesh shelf, but if I'm lucky he will assume I just wanted to store bolts of fabric in its place instead (since that's what I'm doing, temporarily). All that's left, furniture-wise, is the dropleaf worktable. I'm shooting for Friday. Maybe sooner.

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Folding tables that weigh more than I do

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Well, not quite. But still, a 55+ pound table (that's 25 kilos) is still not going to be fun to haul down the stairs by myself.

And yeah, I just got the bathroom scale out and weighed it. (It's a "THINNER" brand. I'm thinking Stephen King, and thinking "If they named it that after the book/movie, what were they thinking? And if they had it first, did they sue?")

Anyway. The main problem is not the weight, it's the length, which is about two inches longer than the ceiling height in the basement. *Not* counting the ductwork, which is retrofitted (the house was built in 1919, and may have had a coal furnace at one point, and almost certainly had a gas-fired floor furnace at another).

(long pause)

Okay. It's done. Whew. I'll feel that tomorrow, but it's down there, set up, with about a hundred pounds of crap loaded onto it for sorting. I feel ever-so-much better about it now... the floor is mostly clear, and everything's at a decent height to sort through. I was able to load it up a lot more than the dropleaf cutting table that will eventually take its place, too.

Now I just need the energy to go tackle it. Whew. It's a cleaning project *and* a workout plan.

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Another milestone

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Today, in the course of straightening out my workroom a little (I couldn't find my box of eyes) I decided to do some carting *downstairs* for a change. I'd played around with the layout downstairs, and had pretty much decided to keep the little bookcase where it is, so I went to the cardboard box that holds my increasing library of costuming, stuffed animal, teddy bear, and doll books (well, what sort of eyes did you *think* I was talking about?) and put them on a shelf down there. Tomorrow when I work down there, I'll haul pattern boxes and such for that shelf. The only thing that's stopped me so far is the desire to surprise my husband with the workroom change all in one day, but I'm not sure that'll be practical anyway, plus smaller changes will be lost in the general straightening-up. I mean, right now Osama bin Laden could be hiding in the debris here in the workroom, and nobody'd know it, least of all me.

He wasn't in the box of eyes, though.

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A moment of silence...

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

... for the vanload of old hardware I just dumped off at the recyclers, to be ground up and processed for precious metals and all that weird stuff they do these days.

I mentioned, several posts ago, that I was going to take them down there probably two weeks ago. I'm a recovering packrat; my husband is still just at the admitting-there's-a-problem stage. The conversation went something like this:

"This has *got* to go. It's a 386DX-40!"

"It's a perfectly good motherboard..."

"Dude, it's not worth the electricity to run it!"

"They don't use as big of power supplies..."

"It's still a 386DX-40! It goes!"

And they went. Another piece of our computing history. But hey, they're too big to put in a scrapbook. We saved a couple of P200s, and a stack o' hard-drives. I still have the LaserJet II, with the WinJet enhancement board and the excess memory, until we shop around and see if any of the parts are worth stripping. The whole beast is too heavy to be worth shipping, though.

Now I just have to rassle the now-freed-up folding table down into the basement. I'm going to use it to sort the remaining crapola in my old office. For some reason, sorting stuff stacked on the floor is much more depressing than having it on a table.

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The eighty-twenty rule attacks

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Phew. As predicted, I think the last twenty percent of this project is going to eat my lunch.

Of course, today was less productive than it should have been... after dropping my son off, I had to fix dinner to put it in the slow cooker (which should have happened before I took him to class, but there you are), so we didn't get down to the basement until almost 2. She vacuumed more while I cleaned my old office more, much of which consisted of picking things up and putting them down somewhere else. I think I was getting a feel for what was there, and where I was going to put it, but maybe it was just busywork, I'm not sure. I meant to sort laundry while I was down there, but I ended up blocking the door to the laundry room.

We did get some of the storage totes moved out of the stair-landing area, and I moved a shelf unit into it. There's only going to be room for one, though, if I want access to the deep freeze to be unobstructed. (Presently, the easiest way to get to it is to sit on the stairs and reach down into it. Non-optimal for deep stuff, but it's not a large unit.)

I think we have enough shelving. I have three that are really inefficiently used (read: junk is randomly piled on them). I might move one to the garage and replace it with a sturdier unit for some heavy stuff, but otherwise I think it's fine. Having everything neatly boxed is a major plus for moving them, though... take boxes off, stack neatly, move shelf, replace boxes, boom it's done.

I *still* don't know what to do about the computer desk, though. I think it's coming upstairs. I remembered a problem, though... it's not deep enough for large monitors. The 17" Nokia that currently occupies this desk (actually an undifferentiated work table) isn't deep, proportionally, but I bought that desk... um... in the era of my Amiga monitor. Back when I was single. Possibly before I even moved out of my parents' house.

Whoa.

Anyway, if it doesn't disintegrate upon the moving attempt, it will probably come upstairs. Only, I think that's going to be a two-person job, where both of the people are stronger than my cleaning lady is, which leaves me asking my husband, most likely.

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Housework? What's that?

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Today was "put miles on the van" day. Ran up to Hutchinson to pick up my critters, ribbons, and checks ($3 for the pig, $7 for the wolf), came back for a quick lunch, then took my son to preschool, then went to WalMart, then went to a dentist appointment, then picked up my son from preschool, then came home to fix dinner.

And misread the recipe, so the Fruited Curry Chicken is Curry Fruited Curry Chicken Curry, with Extra Curry Spices. Woo.

So we went out to dinner. Fortunately, I have more chicken, and more fruit, so I'll "dilute" it tomorrow, and we'll have Fruited Curry Chicken For A Crowd.

My cleaning lady's having the last major dental surgery (of three) Thursday, so I'm having her over tomorrow and Wednesday and skipping next week. I'm going to have her take care of the neglected upstairs while I do more work in the basement.

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It's not finished

M. Silver M. Silver writes  |  more than 9 years ago

In fact, I didn't even spend Thursday working on it... having volunteered to help out with a dinner party, I spent Thursday afternoon catching up on errands. Grocery shopping, picking up supplies for yesterday's craft group, buying the supplies for another teddy wolf, that sort of thing.

Yesterday, as mentioned, was the craft group. I taught a little lesson in making simple felt bears: http://www.silverseams.com/images/short_term/kuninbears.jpg They're very simple to make, so I might make a few more as Christmas gifts. Kind of fun, and cute if you like that sort of thing. I don't, especially. The wolf's my idea of cute.

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