Movies

Feb. 27th, 2011 07:32 pm
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I've recently been working through some newer movies due to free redbox codes.  I've been rather appalled by how horrible some of them have been, especially if you look up their overall viewer ratings.  Personally I expect a movie that was rated say B or better to be watchable.  To not include ridiculous amounts of gratuitous nudity (Piranha 3D, should have been a SyFy original, did it really need nude swimming set to classical music), or to be twice as long as it needs to be (Paranormal Activity 2, did they really own a dog? my dogs are within a foot of me just about all the time, I can't get them to go away, where was their dog for half the movie).

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I'll admit that I've only very lightly dabbled in JavaScript before this.  I tried two books and got frustrated just skimming them.  I'm going to have to try another.  I spent yesterday trying to get better Search Engine hits for a very old animal care website I maintain.  Since I don't have Dream Weaver anymore, and this page uses templates I wasn't looking forward to it.  I have a spry menu and since I couldn't set it as a library item when I was using Dream Weaver I had kind of given up on being able to edit it once and have it dynamically change on all the pages.  So I've been opening every file and pasting the new menu in addition to fixing the page titles, changing my h3 headers to h1 and fixing page description and keyword issues.  I got all the CSS into one file and am using classes on the body tag to change colors.  I'm painfully proud about that as I redid this site last before learning advanced CSS.

This morning as I have 350 or so more files to open I thought what about googling java script menu load.  This  wonderful site popped up.  I did some programming in college (mostly crashed lab computers) so I really just need syntax and such.  It was painfully simple, and my new JavaScript menu file is also simple.  It is a set of 117 document.write commands with my spry menu list tags in them.  It took less then 20 minutes to work out the kinks and it freaking works.  I replaced the code on all the pages of the huge menu with 3 lines for the script call and a link in the header.  I think I'll make one for the footer as well, though I can change that with find/replace easily.  It was just the multi-line menu that notepad++ would not search through.  Using simple noscript tags I can just make them appear where the menu would if someone has JavaScript turned off.  This site is on a cheap shared server and I don't know enough programming to play with PHP outside WordPress yet, so I’m finding this an awesome solution.

Downside: I still have to open all those files, and now I have to reopen the ones I fixed yesterday.  It will probably also kill my XML sitemap as it will appear there are very few links on all the pages. 
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I fiddled with my portfolio contact page today.  I have some how avoided using forms in the last 10 years of web design.  I avoided forms for two reasons, number one had to do with a lack what to do with them (i.e. no databases running), and number 2 was validation.  I didn't want useless info, though I hadn't figured out what I wanted anyway.  When I worked at a small website the programmer did all the forms and database work, I jut had to leave space for them.  So far it turns out they aren't that hard. 

I mushed together 4 different script chunks with else statements, and spent a hour figuring out where the brackets went, but it does work now.  It is not pretty, but I'm not getting any errors and it is validating that there is text in each input, and that the phone number is all numbers and the e-mail address is at least the right format.  All in all I'm quite proud of myself for my first attempt. 

Tomorrow I'll see about limiting the length of the one textarea I used.  I also have to fiddle with my mother's business website and give it a contact form as well.  E-mail me links just don't look professional. 

I also finally decided that the wordpress I have been fiddling with is going to be my photography portfolio.  I'm a little too limited in using my design portfolio for photography.  WordPress would also be easier to update.  I'll probably be redesigning my mother's site as well with WordPress so she can change text as soon as it occurs to her, and post a blog as well. 

Now if only someone would come out of the woodwork and offer me a job doing this I'd be happy.  I really don't want to apply to that pet store chain again, but so far they are the only retail store that calls me back. 
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I used a trial version of DreamWeaver CS5 a few months ago to redo my portfolio.  I already had a very elderly version of DreamWeaver.  When I started designing with Spry objects (I would like to note here that if you sue DreamWeaver's default CSS layouts your spry menus will mess up in IE) the old version of DreamWeaver stopped being able to open files.  It would freeze and shut down if I tried to open any of them.  When the trial expired I was left with files I couldn't open unless I was willing to edit the code by hand.  This wouldn't be too bad except one of the sites has 300 or so files and updating the templates was now impossible.  In the last few weeks I've been killing the spry menus because they were ugly compared to newer ideas I had. 

It just occurred to me to check, and my portfolio is now open able in DreamWeaver again.  The WYSIWYG interface is completely destroyed, but that isn't what I was interested in anyway.  I've gotten used to code view.  Yeay, automatic link checking and template abilities.  Now I just have to hand code some changes into some templates for my huge site and I might be able to get it back to easy to edit, though I'll have to replace the Spry menu bars with some other JavaScript. 
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I finished up my little thing today in InDesign.  I didn't reopen it in Quark yet.  I think InDesign has a huge advantage with alignment.  It has snap center and edge lines.  You can drag boxes around and they will pause when centered or side aligned with other boxes.  This is mighty nifty.  I assume Quark has that somewhere as well, but since it wasn't turned on lining things up was a nightmare.

You can also fill boxes with whatever you want.  They aren't automatically set to text or image.  You can change it around without having to reset the box.  I didn't fiddle with running text around irregular images or anything but boxes yet.  I haven't found an easy to clean up photo yet.  I really miss shutter stock and being able to just download an already masked and clean image of exactly what I want.

I eventually caved and started making master pages and styles.  I'm not good at that until I have more of a basic outline in place.  Of course by the time I have an outline I have enough content that styling gets messy.  It mostly worked, though I'm having issues staying attached to the master pages for some reason.  I expect there is some box I'm not ticking off.

I was lazy on my blog this week and missed two days.  I've been stuck inside due to the 3 feet or so of crusty snow we have.  I could be hiking, but I don't really want to.  When the snow is this deep you only really see birds, and most of them are on feeders.  That leaves photos of my critters to post, and there are only so many of those I do in a week.

WordPress

Feb. 3rd, 2011 05:23 pm
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After several hours I am finally figuring out how WordPress works.  I've been fiddling with the Twenty Ten Theme, since I assumed since it is the one you start with would make changing it easier.  Nope, full of overly obsessive CSS.  I downloaded a few other themes and their CSS is much cleaner.  Twenty Ten likes declaring classes and ids in several places, and not grouping them in ways that seem appropriate.  Admittedly I like there being so many classes, but not many of them were for things I was interested in.  I don't need 40 classes for comments.  I've been creating extra div ids to go around the existing ones to use some extra wide backgrounds.  I also wanted to fiddle with the way the dates showed up.  My CSS and loop files are starting to look a little odd. Firebug has been an absoulte lifesaver in weeding out what is doing what. 

Now I just have to decide what the theme of the site will actually be so I can create some visuals.  I want to do something with board game pieces and scrabble, but that probably isn't going to work out.  I am desperately missing when I had money for stock photos, rather than scrounging around for photos I've taken or stuff I can photograph.  I'm also not the best at coming up with the overall theme.  Give me an idea of what you want something to look like and I'm great.  Come up with the entire idea myself, not so great.  I also rarely plan out an entire design at one time.  I'm not so great at the big picture, more of a details person. 

It's too bad the WordPress posting interface throws iffy code.  I'd love to get this blog at least XML coded clean, I know CSS compliance is not happening.  That just means I get to play with opacity and all those other CSS3 things I want to try. 
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I made sure to not check what time I finished it at last night.  Nothing ruins a good book faster than realizing it is 2 AM.  The book was Goblin War by Jim C. Hines.  It was about as funny as the two previous ones, though I think I liked the first one the most.  mostly I'm happy I finished a book and didn't feel too guilty about doing so.  Now I just need to pick back up that book on human body language so I can decipher what other people might actually mean when they say something. 

Can you tell all that reading in high school kind of stunted my social skills?  I sometimes feel like an alien stuck on a planet full of strange shape shifters.  They're all mimicking me, but I don't really know what they're saying. 
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The word who seems to mean shape shifting into a human.  I've never been a fan of being human.  Sure, it beats being most of the critters lower in the food chain, but I still don't get why we think we're so great. 

I think I'd go for something with wings.  Probably a mid to large sized accipitrid (hawks and eagles), maybe a Harpy Eagle or the like.  I would enjoy flying, but I'd rather not be directly on the menu for anything else, too stressful.  It would be best to stay off the menu for humans as well, but as a species we will eat just about anything.  I'd likely spend my day flying, and failing at hunting. 

My secondary option would be a midsized wildcat, such as a bobcat.  They're big enough to be largely left alone, but small enough humans largely ignore them. 
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As anyone in the eastern portion of Massachusetts is aware, there is a bit of snow hanging around, roughly hip deep on all the sidewalks.  About once a week we've been getting a new forecast of 8-12 or 12-16 inches of snow.  There is a pile of snow over 6 1/2 feet tall at the end of my driveway.  We now need a flagger to get out of it, as we have zero visibility.  Every snow storm the driveway shrinks down to just enough space for the cars to roll out.  The fence in the backyard isn't going to hold the dogs much longer as we have a foot of hard packed snow in the yard now.

Tomorrow and Wednesday we're getting more snow.  I guess it's almost a relief that so far I have had no need to go out in this weather.  With no job I don't HAVE to be anywhere at any specific time.  However that doesn’t get me out of the hour or two I get to spend shoveling every time, or clearing off my car in case the snow decides to freeze.  I haven't had to chip my car out yet, and the snow has been fluffy and light for the most part.  I am however finally getting a little tired of the snow.

I will say that any adult who doesn't own snow pants should really go out and buy a pair.  Get a good winter coat, waterproof gloves and some nice boots while you're at it.  I admit that having these things makes the snow a little easier to bear.  I go snowshoeing and spend a while each time thinking back to being 7 and not being able to give up playing in the snow until well after dark.  I recall the forts and the sledding.  I know that if I were 7 now I would have been outside digging and pretending every day for the last month.

I dare all the adults bemoaning the snow to get some nice warm gear and go outside for a while.  Embrace the free day from work and play with your kids in the snow.  At least stop obsessively buying milk and bread every time it might snow. 
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I expect I started seriously reading in middle school.  I read more in high school, but my middle school had a decent library and I remember spending a lot of time there. I don't remember what I was reading other then it being paperback.  Probably 90% of the books I've ever written have been small mass-market paperbacks.  Being lighter and cheaper was probably why I had access to them.

Once high school came around I was reading several hundred pages a day.  I remember burning through a series of books in a week.  I’d wait with baited breath for my favorite authors next book, then devour it overnight.  Oddly enough I don't remember much of what my homework in high school was.  I remember a little more work in college, but I was still a reading machine.  Even when I had a full time job I would burn through maybe a book every week or two.  I can read a 300 page paperback in a few hours.  I remember doing it all the time. 

Then I lost my job.  I’ve read a few books since then, mostly ones my favorite authors released, or something I got from the library.  Overall the reading has dried up.  I haven’t been buying books because they have no resale value and even if I get a book from the library I sometimes just stare at it then return it.  I had a few weeks where I was purging belongings in case I might need to move and I donated 8 moving boxes full of books.  I still have hundreds left. 

Reading has become a waste of time.  I’ve read a few graphic design program manuals, and such but few pleasure fiction books. Reading fiction books makes me feel guilty and sometimes nauseous.  As if I could do something else at 11pm at night that might get me a job, or a paycheck.  I’ve been sort of reading fan fic instead, but I’m fooling myself.  That is just as much of a time waste as books, it might even be worse with all the digging and checking I sometimes have to do to see if there is anything new.  

This weekend I had to take a short train ride in-town and I brought a book.  I’m now 80 pages into the book and really want to finish.  It’s sitting on my bedside table hoping I’ll just sit down and open it.  I don’t know if I can.

I need to find a job, and then maybe some of the guilt will dissipate.     

Why?

Jan. 28th, 2011 04:11 pm
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I opened this account for two selfish reasons.  The first was just to track the many excellent stories I'm reading on live journal, without obsessively checking each link each day.  The second reason I only discovered after I signed up.  I intentionally set up this account without contact info, and without any of my standard e-mail addresses.  I don't want it attached to who I am in the real world.  I'd rather no one searching my e-mail address or name finds it.  I expect many people intentionally have this setup.

It occurred to me that this solves one of my recent problems.  Back in March I lost my job (internet company not enough business to keep me).  I had two months severance, went on unemployment for a while, and spent my time applying to jobs, or trying to brush up my out of date web design skills.  I redid my portfolio (three times) and included my blog as a design reference.  Suddenly I couldn't post personal information on it.  I had outed myself.  This has led to my blog being very slowly updated as a potential employer may see anything I put up.  No more rants about coding issues, or random complaints.  Those might reflect poorly on my prospects.  I may in the future change it back, or design something else as an example, but for now I've felt bottled up inside.

I can't post about dropping unemployment at the end on November and only buying food for the last two months.  I shouldn't post that I'm paying rent by doing manual labor or home repair for my landlord, or that I'm down to $800 or so dollars in my Savings Account.  I can't complain about minimum wage retail jobs that won't even call me.  I graduated college; I have decent interpersonal skills, how qualified do I have to be to work a register at Kohls?  Is there some giant glaring defect in my resume, or is the fact I won't list the 6 hellish weeks in August I worked at a pet store (never again) making it seem that I have not worked for 11 months and must be unemployable?

I shouldn't post about dropping my thermostat 5 more degrees and putting heat sources on the reptile cages for the first time in 6 years( I'm hoping electricity is cheaper then gas).  Graphic designers probably shouldn't admit that they hate advertising and are quickly deciding that the current world is so over commercialized it actually makes them feel sick sometimes (nothing like having no money to help you notice the buy buy buy mentality).  I don't think mentioning that my dog's food is almost 1/5 of the money a month I spend on food, or that I'm trying very hard to keep credit card debt from being another thing i have to pay every month. 

Random pictures of my dogs or repeated pictures of my other pets seem lazy for my blog now.  I feel like I need to go out and photograph everything just so that it can be posted on my blog, or stuck on my portfolio.  Mind you since I lost my job I have dropped the amount of photography I do by a huge margin.  Last summer was probably my slowest for photography in the last 5 years.  Which I find hugely depressing, but photos aren't making me any money, and when you're staring at your bank statement and wondering what you'll be eating next month it's hard to pull up creativity.  It's a viscous cycle. 

It never really bothered me the idea that everyone could read what was on my blog.  I expect if they did a small amount of research they could figure out who I am.  The upside of live journal however will be not telling anyone about it.  My mother reads my blog (everyone's mother peobably reads their blog) and that slightly limited what I would post.  I'm going to try hard to not let that happen here. 

Hopefully here I will find a place to stick my annoying thoughts without worrying a potential employer is picking over it with a fine-toothed comb.  I'm off to go finish obsessively setting alerts for transformers fan fiction now.  I refuse to feel weird about it. 
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The Lion King.  It wouldn't be quite so bad if the recent DVD releases didn't have extra garbage songs added to make it fresh and new.  What was wrong with the movie before, and why can't I get the movie to play without extras?  I guess I could say the same thing for Beauty and The Beast.  Does Disney not get that plenty of their revenue is adults buying a movie they saw as children for their own children (or themselves)?  I want a movie to be the same as it was when I was young, not edited because someone thought they can make more money if they keep altering the movie and adding songs without the original performers.  Do they think we can't tell the difference?  This has led to me only really enjoying Disney movies that were released to DVD for the first time.  Mulan and Tarzan are still the way they were released in theaters and watchable.  I expect when they re-release in a few years some new junk will be added trying to get people to purchase again. 

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