Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dear manufacturers of computer things that require instruction manuals:

Hi. I have a few requests for you, in case you're updating those manuals anytime soon.

1. When you have a quick-start guide, make sure that's what it is. Don't include small text in step three that says, "You require extensive knowledge of X in order to do this." If I require extensive knowledge of anything to install your product, then you can't have a quick start guide.

2. If you say in your quick start guide that your product is compatible with my machine (a Mac), then make sure it is. If I have to install something on a PC first, in order for my Mac to work, then technically it's not compatible with my Mac. What would happen if I didn't have a PC on my network? (Don't laugh - it happens.)

3. If I do have access to a PC on my network, then following the instructions exactly should allow me to install your product. Seriously - if there's something I need to do, WRITE IT IN.

4. If your product gives people trouble, how about a troubleshooting section IN THE MANUAL?

5. If you have a FAQ on your website, why not include more than six questions? I know that people have asked more than six questions - I have a PhD, and I have about fifteen questions for you.

6. If you one of those FAQ says, "What if I can't see the device on the network?" and your answer is "Turn off your firewall", make sure that's the only possible answer. If there are other possible answers, say so.

7. Try not to suck so much; your customers will be happier (or at least, they won't have high blood pressure).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Changing my mind...

... is what I'm good at.

I did some calculations with the ella rae, and while I could probably use it to make the BSJ, but it would involve lots of modifications. It's a bit too bulky to use with the pattern as written, and even though I could probably reduce the stitch number and such, I'd like to follow the original pattern for my first attempt. That way I'll really appreciate how the construction works before I muck with it ;-) Plus, I would need to buy some additional 24" circular needles, and I'm trying to live on a budget for the next few months.

I still want to make the BSJ, though, and I think I found something in my stash that will give me the correct gauge with one of the few circs I have at home. I swatched last night (no pictures, sorry), and it gave me gauge with the US6.

Today is a short day (I have to do a manditory safety course this afternoon), so I should get back to work.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Time to cast on for something new.

Work, my dears, is going wonderfully. I know this will probably jinx it (considering I'm blogging from work again. Bad microbiologist! Bad!), but I do love coming to work, and I love having that anticipation that comes right before you check to see if your experiment worked.

(Hi. My name is Ellie, and I've been a geek for almost nine years now. Hi Ellie!)

Speaking of which, excuse me for a moment, will you?

Yay! Ok, now that those are out of the incubator, I have a few minutes ;-)

What was I saying? Oh, yes, that I love work. It doesn't make sense, though, since this job by all accounts is more stressful. I'm being paid by the university, as an employee, to complete a specific project. If I complete the project, my contract gets extended; if not, well, it doesn't. There are people to report to, both inside and outside this very prominent ivy league university. As a grad student, I had my own funding, I didn't have to complete a specific project, and everyone who knows the whole situation knows I didn't report to anyone.

But, I'm still happier here. I think it has a lot to do with the type of work that I'm doing; while a bit more traditional, it's more my style, and it's what I always wanted to learn more of during school before I got side-tracked into an evolution lab (which I still love to learn about, by the way). The other part of it is that I finally feel like I get a chance to shine. Even though I have specific goals, my work here is my own, and everyone has confidence in my abilities (for the first time in a long time).

It's kind of like casting on for a sock after knitting scarves for years. I knew I had all the basic knowledge I needed - I could knit, and I could purl. People said that socks were complicated, and advanced, and it probably wouldn't work, but I wanted to try. I just had to make a leap of faith - to do the work I wanted, I had to trust in those abilities, and skills, that I'd been practicing for years. It didn't take long to get comfortable with throwing in those twists and turns to create shapes. Knit a tube, and then knit flat - both of which I can do. Pick up some stitches, do some decreases in a new way (but they're still just decreases), and all of a sudden - voila! a gusset. Do some more, and voila! a toe. Before I knew it, I had a sock that looked like a sock, and that gave me the confidence to make another one. Then, I was able to modify the original pattern to suit my needs - for the geeks out there, this is JUST like doing science. And I can do science.

Where was I going with this post? Oh, yeah, casting on a new knitting project ;-)

I have two different socks on the needles right now, so even though I want to make Monkey, I think I should at least finish one sock before casting on more (that, and both of my sock needle sets are in use, and I don't want to use my crappy ones).

Now that I have the pattern, I'm thinking of making the EZ Baby Surprise jacket... the only problem is my yarn source. I have 5 1/2 balls of ella rae madison.

Pretty fluffery goodness.

Dyelot is my issue - the main body of the yarn is undyed, which means it all matches; the fluffers, however, have their own personalities. Even though I *thought* I'd remembered the dyelot numbers correctly, I bought this in two batches, and I screwed up. In evening light they looked the same, but bright daylight reveals all - three of the balls have intensely colored fluffery bits, while the other three are a little more subtle.

It's not a huge difference, and I think if I work two rows from each, I'll be OK... it might even look neat. Of course, if the missing yardage from that half-ball means I don't have enough, the whole problem will be moot.

Perhaps I'll do some calculations, and swatch up a tiny bit tonight to see how it looks.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Speaking of sleep...

I really need to start getting up early on the weekends. Early, as in close to regular weekday time. Sleeping in, while lovely, and in some cases necessary to erase sleep debt, makes Mondays that much more painful.

Did I mention painful?

Blech.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Blissful sleep.

One thing that we're really finding we have to get used to is the weather around here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I come from a province where spring doesn't exist, and from October to May the damp sinks into your bones, making it impossible to really get warm. The good thing about it is that sleep is easy. I lived in an apartment where my windows literally stayed open year round, and I would snuggle under flannel well into May.

Here, spring is beautiful. The foliage and flowers cycle through a rainbow of colors, and the sun wakes you up every morning. Summer starts when it's supposed to - June 21 - and it reminds me to stay indoors between 10am and 2pm, both for sun protection and for comfort. I love it, and I can't wait to get outside today. But for the last week, sleep has been elusive. The temperature stays above 70 degrees all night, and the humidity is persistent (and completely different than the damp from home).

We haven't broken down and bought an air conditioner yet, for several reasons. Part of me sees this as a challenge - the locals complain about the cold, and would never survive a visit to my home, but I'm determined to adapt to theirs. There's also accessibility - we don't have a car, and our opportunities to get to stores that actually sell a/c units are limited. Thirdly, I'm not sure that I want to a) pay >100$ for what I was raised to see as a luxury, or b) buy used electronic equipment (from a safetly perspective).

Hubby is having a harder time of it, though. He, like most men, pumps out BTUs like they're going out of style, and since we married I've had to give up my flannel sheets (the blankets usually end up folded in half, on my side of the bed). Even if I can adapt, I don't know if I can put him through this for much longer.

There are reprieves, though. Last night it dipped below 65, and we slept really well. I even got up during the night to shut the window halfway, and I slept until nearly 9:30 (which is the best luxury I can think of).

So, we'll see how long we can hold out. I'm thinking maybe another three weeks, max ;-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A completed project!

But, first of all, my new kitchen table.

I love this corner - even though it faces
the other wing of our building, it's really nice and sunny.
Perfect for flowers :-)


Yes, it's small. Not much else will fit into that space, and it was pretty much our only choice. I'm really happy with it, though; those barstools are surprisingly comfortable, and hold a substantial sized person when climbing on them to put up curtains ;-)

And, my scarf. Since I'm here at work blogging to kill a few minutes before lunch, I don't know all the details, but I'll do my best.

Note the candle on the left.
That's what happens when you leave them in the sun.

Small Shifting Sands (a la Grumperina)
Needful Joy, Color ??? (100% merino)
Size 9 Pony Pearl straights
Size after blocking: 72" x 3.5" (not including fringe)
Date started: April 15th
Date finished: June 16th

I LOVE this pattern, and I love how it's such a good teaching tool for cabling without a cable needle. I haven't counted up the crosses, but I'm guessing it's up near the 750 mark. The yarn was lovely to work with - a lightly spun single with a two-ply thread for some structure, and very soft. Blocking really made this one shine, though. It became softer in feel, but crisper in appearance. I love it.

OK... time for lunch.


(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, June 18, 2007

A lovely weekend.

Well, my lunch is made and my bag nearly packed, so I've got a few minutes to give you a bit of a stream-of-consciousness.

We had a great weekend at chez Sciencey. Friday night we assembled our new kitchen table and chairs (I'll post a pic when I dump my camera). On Saturday morning, we decided to make the trek to one of the local(ish) supermarkets - only "ish" because it's about a 40 minute walk away.

(Side note - people here love their cars, and even though we'd rather not get one, it's looking like we're going to have to. The only stores within reasonable walking distance are small, have limited selection, and some are expensive. I include my dear veg and fruit market around the corner in this group - I'm getting a little sick of baby lettuce mix and roma tomatoes.)

So we made the journey, complete with hiking backpacks to take our food back. The staples there are so much cheaper that it's worth the looooong walk home with the heavy packs. We were home by 2pm, and relaxed for the rest of the day.

And, yesterday was even better. We slept in a little, I made french toast for breakfast, and right after lunch we took off for downtown. We were hoping to find placemats at the university bookstore/megamart (which I love), but they had none. They did have curtain panels, and we bought one for the kitchen. I also got a padded sleeve for my laptop, though, and I'm thrilled. I've been putting it in its large neoprene case, then into a backpack, and it's unwieldy to take on the bus with my other purse. This should be a good solution.

Before heading out, I also finished my shifting sands scarf and it's pinned out on hubby's (clean) work-out squares... and, you guessed it - picture later ;-)

Ok... 30 minutes until the bus comes... gotta jet.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Feeling weird.

So. I've been debating posting about this for a few days now, and I'm not sure why I finally decided to go for it. It's not making sense to me yet, but maybe putting pen to paper (in the most figurative of senses) will help me figure it out.

For the past two weeks I've been happy.

Now, this may be the most boneheaded statement ever, but gimme a chance to s'plain. Normally I'm a pretty optimistic person, and even during the tough times, I can look for solutions, and Dr. Phil everyone else into oblivion. I rarely stay in a funk for more than 24 hours, and most of the time, it's PMS-induced. So, what's the big deal? What's different now?

More often than not, these past weeks, I catch myself smiling, and thinking, "Gee. I'm happy. I can't think of what would make today better." I can be staring out the window of the bus, or walking down the street; sometimes it hits me when I'm cooking dinner, or knitting and watching TV, or laughing at Hubby's jokes. I haven't felt this way for a long time, and the only word that I've come up with so far is 'content'.

Hubby is pretty sure it has to do with work - it's very low stress at the moment, I like my boss and my boss sure seems to like me. I don't have to work or think or write thesis chapters at night, so I'm getting nearly 7 hours of sleep a night. I do think that's part of it - since I started, I haven't once woken up with that slight panic pounding away in my chest. That pounding had hounded me literally every single day since 2003, and was responsible for two full blown panic attacks. But I don't think that's the entire explanation.

It's very weird; it's not worrying me at the moment, but it's rather disconcerting. I have a couple of theories, but none that 100% explain it.

Maybe I'm just happy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I did take pictures, really, I did.

Just no time to blog them yesterday. Here's a good one that shows what I'm working with:

There is bench space there. Look closer, it's under all of the crap.

I'm used to working in a lab that's, well, full. This shouldn't be a problem once I go through everything. The bonus here is that I'm the only one using everything; at my old lab, there was another grad student who used to leave his crap everywhere, his gel slabs on the equipment to dry and cement down, and rusty razorblades hidden in the weirdest places. I'm all for clutter, but when I asked him to clean up the stuff that was either a) damaging to the equipment or b) potentially dangerous for the rest of us, he copped an attitude.

(boy, am I glad he's gone).

OK... time to get dressed and head for the bus.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Work, now with 100% more blogability!

:-)

My own laptop is now officially on the network. I use the project laptop most of the time, but there are some programs that it doesn't have, that I have from my PhD work, so it was important to be able to use both with the internet to do database searching.

Plus, I can feel more comfortable blogging on my own machine.

It's interesting, how much I look forward to work now. My boss called in this morning, saying he wouldn't be in until 1pm, and that sort of clinched it for me. Before, that would give me prime goof-off time. Now, I see it as a chance to get lots of extra stuff done before he gets here.

(and no, dear friends, I don't consider blogging for 10 minutes goofing off... it could become goofing, but that's why I've relegated it to this one machine, which is also out of the way on my desk.)

I'll post some pictures tomorrow; I have to bring in my camera anyway to take a picture of the boss's chalkboard before I erase it. It looks like it has the grand unifying theory hidden on it somewhere, and I'd hate to be responsible for its loss.

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Week one - done!

Looks like I'm going to have to pay attention, lest I end up a hermit again.

This working full time outside the apartment just sucks the time away. But, it looks like I started off on the right foot - my boss is really sweet, and for the first time in a long time I understand exactly what I'm trying to accomplish with a project.

It's such a relief to wake up and not dread going into work :-)

I haven't knit much; my trekking sock is nearly finished, and I'm pretty sure I picked up way too many gusset stitches. I didn't have the heart to rip back, and it meant that the rest of the foot was shorter to compensate, so if they're really too big I'll either give them to a pregnant friend, or save them for a similar occasion.

I keep coming across hints that this Saturday is WWKIP day. Hubby was planning on exploring his new gym, and leaving me at the local Barnes and Noble - perhaps I should bring my sock.

OK... since I'm not awake, but I still have to get dressed, make lunch, and catch the bus, I'm off.

Monday, June 4, 2007

So I guess it's a known issue.

Safari isn't supported. This fact is even displayed on the help page.

I mean, come on. That sucks.

(Maybe I'd be less irked if I'd had more sleep last night.)

But, I discovered something yesterday that makes me happy (and yet again, a touch pathetic) - butter comes in sticks here in the good old USA.

The Canadians may understand this - recipes usually call for sticks of butter, and we get blocks. Big old one pound blocks that are impossible to cut evenly into 1/2 cup squares when cold. My revelation resulted in a happy banana loaf for breakfast :-)

I'm off to Day 2 of work, which happens to be the start of Week 2! It's pouring rain out, though, and I have several business offices to visit on my way; I'll have to buy an umbrella, methinks.