My ultra-boring life

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What were we thinking?


Well, we're moving. The deal with the 1/2 acre lot fell through (as near as we can figure, since the builder never called us back. Bad builder! Bad bad!), and there weren't any other open lots in the area we wanted so we decided to look into pre-built homes. Surprisingly, we found a great one in a great area on the very first day, made a bid and it was accepted. Normally I would prefer to wait on such a big decision, but the real estate market around here has been so hot that if you wait, you miss your opportunities. So we're moving a week before Christmas and I'm panicking, I'm afraid. Anyone out there love packing enough to lend us a hand? Sigh. It'll all be worth it in the end. Right? :)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Money again

It's all about the money, ain't it? But I guess a lot of it is about what makes us happy, too. So lately I've been trying to figure out what makes me happy. And I sure like messing around in the kitchen, so I've signed up to start selling Pampered Chef. I love kitchen gadgets, I love people, and I wouldn't mind a little extra cash, too. I think I even like kitchen gadgets and cooking more than I like computers. Gee whillikers!

And while I'm on the subject -- we have a pre-construction meeting with a builder next week on a local 1/2 acre lot. I'm not sure it's in our price range, but heaven knows it would be a good investment! Especially if I can build a good enough kitchen to do awesome little kitchen shows. Our realtor has been great so far; I just hope we can build something in our budget that we can work with. Anyone know a really good lender?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Blogging

This is a blog about blogging. Mostly because I really haven't anything else to say, but I want to say something just to get something posted. I guess there are a few things I COULD say, but I won't, because they are too personal or they might be hurtful to someone or whatnot. Hence the nature of blogging. I've heard blogs also called 'online journals', but I can't imagine this being anything like a journal. Journals, while meant to be read sometime by someone, are mostly private things. Blogs by definition are talking to the whole world, so you just can't say anything you want without risking some sort of repurcussions. For instance, I can totally talk about how awesome Reese's Big Cups with Nuts are and how they need to be on the market all the time. Whee. Innocuous, but fairly impersonal. But if I wanted to talk about how a certain ex-coworker of mine is a lying, backstabbing lazy jerk who couldn't run a network well if his life depended on it, well, I'd have to be very careful, because it might get back to him. I could (and, okay, I probably did) discuss such things ad nauseam in my REAL journal, but I won't discuss them here. Because saying everything that pops into our head or baring our emotions like nudists never helped anybody. Someday, though, if you want some dirt, and if you are very nice to me, I have some journals I'll let you read. All for the low, low price of wading through adolescent pinings over some television character or another. :b

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ahhhhhh.....Serenity

I don't know why I'm even bothering to post this. Every other blogger, webcomic, and webaholic out there has most likely seen and loved the movie. I really can't add anything to what has been said. But I feel like I NEED to say something about it, like it enhances my pleasure more to proclaim to the world that this is an AWESOME MOVIE. Kind of like the same part of me that gets mad when I read reviews from morons who didn't like it. The fight scenes were good and the humor was good and the surprises were truly shocking, but most of all I enjoyed how tight the scripting was. The viewer was brought to speed without unnecessarily painful exposition, questions were answered in logical, well-paced ways, and everything seemed to have a point and be well character-driven. I loved it. Even my husband, the frequent nay-sayer, loved it (which thrills me. I've always received 10 times the enjoyment when it's shared). So, if you haven't seen it, go and see it (though be aware it does get pretty violent). It's awesome. I want, no, I NEED to go and see it again. If not for my own enjoyment and edification, then for the sequels. We must ensure sequels.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Volunteering & SCIENCE

If any of y'all are in the Boise, Idaho area and are the least bit interested in science, you should come on down to the Discovery Center on Tuesdays between 9 and 1. I volunteer there during that time and it's a kick in the pants hands-on science museum. Right now we have lots of little robots and cool things like that. I work with great people down there and the exhibits are great, even though the museum is extremely small compared to other science museums I have seen. I really like the work, too, I'm on a demo team that teaches stuff to classes that come in. Though I have to admit that part of the reason I signed up is so I could play with the exhibits a lot. ;)

Which reminds me that I need to go get ready to go. I'm still fighting the depression and anxiety and even though I love being down there when I'm there, I'm always filled with dread at the thought of leaving my house. Anyone else get anxiety like that? I really have to force myself into commitments or else I'd be in the house watching TV and playing games or surfing the internet all day, hiding from things I 'should' be doing. BLEAH!!! I want to be functional again already!

BAD DVD-Rs

Just so you know, if you're looking for good, cheap DVD-Rs, leave Velocity brand off your list. I got a pack of 100 8x for like $30 from Amazon and I thought it was a great deal until I started burning -- or trying to burn -- with them. At least 1/3, more like 1/2, end up being bad. I have NO problems with the DVD RWs or other DVD Rs I try, so I know it's not my burner. Bleargh.

States I've been to (and a cool website too)



create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide


The places I've been to are in red. Pretty cool site, eh? My goal is to visit ALL the states. Especially New England. Between that and visiting the real England, I've got a lot of travelling to catch up on!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Inbreeding

I was just working on my genealogy file in PAF and discovered that you can plug in 2 names of anyone in your file and find out how they are related. Especially cool because I can't remember what all those genealogical terms mean anyway. :) But I found that Jake and I are 9th cousins! Ironically through the same ancestors through which my parents are also 9th cousins, once removed. Weird. No wonder our gene pool is getting all funky. :)

Later when I am not so lazy and I have merged a few hundred more duplicate names (currently my GEDCOM file has over 22000 names and I would guess at least 5000 are duplicates. I've only merged about 780 so far.) I will post the files here for the world to see and mock me about how I can't keep a decent GEDCOM file. :b

Saturday, July 23, 2005

On my own again

well, not really, but at least jobless again. I was laid off from my job yesterday. Actually not a terrible blow or a surprise, because I was working very hard to scrounge for work there (my position was new, so it was pretty obvious after not too long that it wasn't really necessary). OK, I wasn't really working HARD. The whole fiasco was a serious struggle with guilt over my bipolar and depressive tendencies helping me to work less effectively, combined with not really having enough work to do. I actually feel like it was a great blessing, having a job that paid me that well to mostly just stay at home and do very little. My benefits are all from my husband (except for the adoption bennies, darn it all), so that won't be a problem. We can actually stand losing the income, though it would still have been nice to get out of debt faster.

The big problem I am having now is finding a sense of purpose. I am 34 years old and I can find no reason for my existence. For someone who needs to be needed, this is a painful state in which to be. The big question right now in my head is 'why' -- not 'why did this happen?' but 'why do anything?' Everything feels rather pointless. I really don't want to go back to computer work. I really don't. But I have no idea what I want to do, which leaves me not wanting anything. Argh. If anyone has inspiration, gumption, and care, please pack them up and send them to me. I seem to have lost all mine.

Monday, July 11, 2005

My new office

Remember that bit about me, about my being lazy? Well a good example of this is our office. We moved into this house in December of 1999, with an office that we decided to leave unfinished to save a few bucks. The office quickly filled up with analog (paper) and digital information and I found it too much just to keep the dang place organized, let alone finish it. Needless to say, this sure made it hard when it came to my current job, where I work from home.
Well, NO MORE. This weekend my Mom and sister were in town and my in-laws came over for the culmination of months of real planning and supply-purchasing. We removed everything, cleaned up the subfloor and walls, then painted (a nice eggshell in a very pale sage green), put in maple laminate flooring, replaced my old desk with a nice new one, and I am currently sitting in such a nice, organized, color-coordinated workstation that I hardly know how to get anything done. :) We haven't put everything back yet -- not even close, actually -- but the layout changes are already such a huge improvement that I don't know how I was able to stand it for 5 and a half years in such a dump. And considering that with the paint, painting supplies, flooring, new desk and new organization doo-dads we spent only about $400 total...well, I don't think we did badly at all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fixed Length Format

Just as a matter of course, I am here to start something of a petition to BAN ALL FIXED LENGTH FORMAT DB FILES!!! oooo I hate 'em. Gimme pipe-delimited. Gimme XML. Something, ANYTHING besides fixed length. (okay, maybe not ANYthing. Comma-delimited is rather evil too.) As someone who often has to put together means to 'port data from one type of db to another, I have to say that fixed length is the devil, which is only made worse by the fact that it doesn't even have to be there. XML is my friend, though. Mmm XML.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

TiVo Panks and Payets

OK, first, lemme sum up. In our house we talk about spankings a LOT. It's just what we do, okay? And get your mind out of the gutter! Sheesh! Anyway, because we talk about them so much, the term has been shortened to 'panks' which is fairly obvious. Mostly we talk about panking the kitties. Because they like to whine a lot and throw up on the rug. But we love our kitties, way more than should be allowed, so we also give them a lot of pets, which in our familial silly-speak becomes pronounced something like 'payets'. So, in my lust for alliteration, instead of 'picks and pans' (good and bad), I'm giving Panks and Payets. So there ya have it.

Oooo the power just blipped 3 times and our new UPSes stood the test!! HOORAY!

Anyway, back to the distraction queen. For our anniversary (which actually isn't for 3 weeks but there was a sale) we bought a TiVo a couple of weeks ago. I have an unseemly amount of affection for this electronic device. I want to hold it and squeeze it and call it George. I haven't really watched it that much -- that's apparently Jake's job, as he rewinds 50 times more with the Tivo than he ever does with DVDs or VHS tapes -- but I LOVE programming the durn thing. I am recording all episodes of Good Eats with Alton Brown, because he is super cool, though I don't want to watch them that much. I am getting to watch shows I never remember to watch. I am recording all Jimmy Stewart movies (which I am also not really watching, but it's nifty all the same). It's AWESOME. I suddenly understand why someone would have a terabyte of drive space in the house -- to record things you never really intend to watch. Simply because it's cool.

One of the things we were so excited about is the Tivo-to-Go feature, that lets you pull the shows from the TiVo to your home network and then burned onto DVD with Sonic's 'MyDVD' product. It warned us that it takes a while to port the data, and they were right -- 45 minutes to move a 30 minute show! Bleah! But I can deal with that, because, while slow, it works. What they DIDN'T tell us was that Sonic's product, the ONLY product that can transcode the TiVo data into DVD images readable by most DVD players, is a PIECE OF STINKY POO. It has terrible memory management, so the more you edit (say, removing commercials from 6 episodes of Good Eats), the slower it gets, 'til even with half a gig of RAM I'm crawling after 30 minutes. Then heaven forbid you actually try to burn anything. Shut down everything on your machine including background processes, get it started, wait 2 hours, crash your entire system, and start all over again. Dang thing. And of course since I am using the trial version, there is no way to reach anything resembling technical support. Their website is OK (I'd give it a C+), though, and I just found some info that says to try burning the image to your hard drive, then using other software to move it to DVD. Apparently there is a big conflict with their MyDVD software and anything else that might have, say, come with your DVD burner. Weenies.

Must be going back to the working thing. And must stop eating sugary substances in the morning.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Medicine

OK, sorry for the long wait between posts, if you are caring and all that. I wrote 2 wonderful, brilliant, Pulitzer-prize winning posts, but in my fervor of typing I hit the exact right keystrokes to completely obliterate both of them before they saw the light of 'net. Now you guys get to have this dreck instead. :b

Anyway, medicine is an interesting thing. I've heard it said that we work to pay for the medicine to fix the health we've destroyed through too much work. Or something to that effect. In many ways, in America at least, I think that it's true. With the epidemics hitting America of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, most of which are most effectively fought by physical activity/work (the poor man's exercise) and eating more whole grains and fruits and vegetables (again, the traditional poor person's fare...see a pattern?), there's certainly something to back that adage up.

Still, I for one am appreciative of modern medicine. I have one of those unfortunate physiologies that reacts most poorly to our overabundance of rich food and ease, and being rather nerdy and therefore having a proclivity for more sedentary, unhealthy activities such as coding into the wee hours whilst eating rather imbalanced fare of macaroni and cheese with potato chips. Can I help it if God gave me a brain and a rather extreme fear of pain? My body takes these poor habits and magnifies them with a metabolism that works at only about 60% of normal, a condition called Syndrome X, or Metabolic Syndrome, or pre-diabetes. As my body does not metabolize fuel properly, it releases extra insulin which is then not processed promptly. The extra insulin damages tissues in the body, locks fat into the cells, and some of it transforms into other hormones such as estrogens and androgens, which in turn cause their own rash of grief. I would go into some of the symptoms, but let's just say these are the root cause of my childlessness and have put me into the hospital more than once.

This is why I am glad for modern medicine, with the caveat that finding good health care is a lot of work. I used to just go to the doctor when I was sick, and I usually had to be pretty dang sick to go. I accepted whatever they told me, and if they didn't tell me something, I didn't even think about it. But years ago this disorder I have was getting worse and no doctor did so much as run a single test on me or prescribe more than a birth control pill to control the most obvious symptoms. I had been given hints at a disorder that would make it difficult to have kids, but that was it. It was only through a conversation with a friend who happened to have the same disorder that I started to discover there was more to this than that, and she directed me to online resources that opened a new world for me. I cried as I discovered that many seemingly unrelated symptoms I had had over the years were related to this, which gave me hope that things I had considered personal failings might actually have an organic cause and be treatable. I also found my doctor, who is the greatest doctor in the world. My first visit he did a complete workup and scheduled a slew of tests -- the first ever for me. He promised me he would find out what this was and treat it accordingly. To have such attention and respect paid to me -- well, I have to say, I cried again. I've stuck with him ever since, but I also do my own research. There's a lot to know out there, and doctors get lazy same as anyone else. So do the research. And don't settle for bad doctors.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More from my Cool Brother Joey

My cool Latin-speaking brother was so impressed with the blogging system that he had us help him setup his own blog. It doesn't have anything on it at the moment, but it will. Oh yes, it will, and it will be COOL.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Being Bipolar

I have bipolar II disorder. I bring this up because I'm struggling with the symptoms today and in trying to understand and deal with the disorder, I hope that talking about it will help -- at least hopefully help others that deal with this same problem.

Bipolar 2 is different from regular bipolar disease (aka manic-depression) in that there are not full-blown 'manias' -- in other words, I don't hallucinate or completely lose control, I just get rather hyper and talk very quickly and overcommit myself.

What does this sort of thing mean? Well, if your first instinct is to step back and think I'm a loony, then you should stop learning your medical diagnoses from TV shows.

However, this thing does cause problems. Months of depressions so deep that I can barely function, let alone tackle and move forward with my life. Weeks of excited, frenetic energy where I say and do things that embarrass myself and others. I overreact to emotional situations and have trouble concentrating on tasks. Recently I started medication for the disorder and that brings its own baggage. My head feels stuffed with cotton, making it hard to think as clearly or as quickly as I used to. And as I move forward day by day in the normal patterns free of the extreme highs and lows, I find it very difficult to know how to move forward without the jet pack of hypomania to drive me. Before, everything was either awful or awesome. Now everything just sort of..is. How do normal people live like this?

But my family says I am better, more even-keeled, easier to get along with. I know personally that tasks are generally not as overwhelming as they used to be, and honestly, the lack of the constant voices of self-derision telling me how I couldn't do anything and that I was a failure, that's nice. I wonder how I grew up with this (since I've had it since I was very young), and how I would be different if I didn't have it.

And I think, if I had never had to learn to deal with the depressions, if I had never had the grand ideas of the hypomanias, my life would not only have been dull, but I would not have learned oh so many great and wonderful things that not only help me through the real highs and lows of life (because those sorts of things just happen, no matter how you are wired), but help me to help others who haven't had the opportunities of the same perspectives. And I'm actually grateful. Because God knows what he's doing -- and knowing that brings me peace.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Freedom of Religion

I'm probably not going to be saying anything here that hasn't been said before, but it chaps my hide so I'm going to say it anyway.

When our country was founded, one of the founding principles was freedom of religion. Religion was core to the life of every person in the colonies and the countries they had come from, even if they personally did not believe. Church was not only the primary social venue, it was where people received their news, their education, where public records were recorded and kept, and where people were laid to rest. Whether you believed or not, the churches were fundamental to every part of life. However, especially in Europe, the churches went beyond simply being ubiquitous to being very powerful. The few denominations in existence held great power in all of the governments, from creating and enforcing laws to crowning the rulers. People who spoke or acted against these powerful political bodies were ostracized, punished, driven from their lands, bankrupted, even killed.

So when our founding fathers looked to create an ideal government, they put forth the ideals of freedom of religion in the form of separation of church and state. With this in place, no one could be punished by the state for what they believed or how they worshipped, unless in doing so they violated some of the other laws. It took quite a while for this to really be well enforced -- there are countless examples of citizens in this country having lands and property taken, being denied the right to vote, and other injustices. But there were a lot of things we didn't get right in the early years, and we're getting better now.

But in the course of getting better, I fear that we are starting to go to an extreme that hurts us almost as badly as the Church of England hurt the early Pilgrims. In fact, we are starting to embrace a new state religion -- secularism.

Of course, many people will deny this. 'Secularism is not a religion, duh,' they will say. But according to the dictionary, one of the definitions of 'religion' is 'A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.' And with the way that many people argue and pursue the complete elimination of references to a deity, it can easily be described as 'zeal' and 'conscientious devotion.'

If the secularists agree to that point, the rejoinder could no doubt be, 'so what? Mine is the TOLERANT belief system, not oppressive and intolerant like those religious wackos.' To which I must point out that it has been many, many decades since there was true oppression by religious organizations in this country. You are not required by law to pay any kind of tithes. You cannot be denied housing or education or a job because of a different religion. You can't be thrown into jail because you don't believe or be tortured or killed because you spoke against a church. However, more and more these days it is becoming difficult to live a religion in this country. At this point in time, the problems seem minor. But anytime a group is barred by the government from publically stating or displaying tenets of their belief, particularly when that group is the majority, then we are treading on very thin ice. We can't pass laws or try to interpret existing laws to punish our citizens for their beliefs. That's an obvious road that we dare not go down.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Money

Money is a funny thing. It doesn't matter if you have a lot or a little, it is something way too easy to obsess over. My husband and I find ourselves in the position I have long had as a semi-goal: we can spend $20 here and there and not really notice. I have been rather poor most of my life, yet I find this position more 'natural' feeling than the poverty I had forever. I wasn't ridiculously weak most of the time when I was poor, and we're still not terrible about spending money (crud, we're still using folding chairs from Wal-Mart and a table I got as a hand-me-down about 10 years ago), but aside from the more constant panic, not much has changed. We still say no to most of the stuff I want (well...the stuff I want has graduated from cheap lamps to SUVs) and still have problems paying off debt (though we don't get into new debt) and we still live like recent college grads. (Which I still claim to be, no matter what you say! lalalalalalalala) But when I deal with friends and family on tighter budgets, I feel bad at how our DINK (Double Income No Kids) position has made me more lax about money, while they usually need it more than we do. But then I remember that it all evens out -- I WANT kids but can't have them, and we paid our dues with finishing college and working towards good careers from a young age, which hasn't been easy and often isn't fun. I don't want to do this all my life, and when I stop I'll be struggling financially same as all my friends and family -- though they will have stronger money-management muscles than I by then. So it all evens out. Eventually.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

webcomics

I'm freakin' addicted to the things. Some I am dying to know what happens in the story and I spend every day watching for updates so I can find out what's going to happen next, one tiny bit at a time. Some I just love for the art. Some I'm not sure why I read them every day, though I would feel sad if I didn't. But most are ridiculously silly and they bring that funny little feeling to my mouth that makes me happy. Lots more than most syndicated comic crap does. I wonder if webcomics would be more successful if we called them 'open source comics.' :)

Monday, March 14, 2005

My Brother is Cool

Or weird. Take your pick. He is a genius of ancient history and languages, and he's also rather...unique. So for fun he translated some Britney Spears into Latin. He's looking into translating them into Akkadian as well but he says he doesn't have the grammar skills. Not that any of the rest of us would know the difference. :) So even though I don't particularly care for Britney Spears, I gotta share this with all y'all.

Oops Id Egi Iterum
sic sic sic sic sic sic
sic sic sic sic sic sic
Puto me id egisse iterum
Feci te credere nos plus solis amicis
O infans
Id vel videtur similis dementia
sed hic non vellet dicere meam esse gravem
quod amittere omnes meos senss
Ille prorsus est solitus mei
O, Infans, infans

Chorus:
oops, id egi iterum
Lusi cum tuo corde, Amisa sum in ludo
O infans, infans
oops putas me in amore esse
esse missam desuper
non sum innocentissima

Vide, mea difficultas est haec
ego solum somnio
cupio heroes vere esse.
Fleo, videntibus diebus
Poresne videre me stultum in multis modis
sed amittere omnes meos sensus
Ille prorsus est solitus mei

Repeat chorus

"Omnes conscendete"
"Brittania, Ante is, desidero te quidam habere"
"o, est pulchrum, sed exspecto prominuto, nonne hac...?"
"Ita, ita est"
"sed putavi anum id in oceanum in fine iecisse."
"Infans, ivi deorsum et cepi tibi"
"O, tu egise non debes."

Oops Id ego iterum cordi tuo
amissa sum hoc ludo, o infans
oops tu putas me desuper missam esse
non sum innocentissima

Repeat chorus twice

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Adoption

OK, I'm freaking lazy about posting to this crazy blog, I'll admit it. But if there is one thing I am good at, it is procrastination.
Case in point: I turn 35 this year and we are just now getting the paperwork done to try and adopt. I've known for years that I can't really have my own children, and I've always wanted kids, but the opportunities never really presented themselves very well. Finally a couple of years ago I realized that, like contributing to your 401k or going to college, the window of opportunity to maximize on certain life events was rapidly shrinking and I needed to get moving. It's really easy in today's world to think that we have lots of opportunity. Somehow it almost seems like we are entitled to more youth. But I've had enough illness and struggles the last few years to know that getting older already stinks and I really don't want to be going to my child's high school graduation in a wheelchair, so no matter how old I can 'technically' have children, I want to do a better job than that. Which means that I can't wait until everything is perfect, ironically.
So once I prayed and decided with God that this year would be the year, things miraculously started falling into place: my husband lost a weak job (that had nevertheless given him marketable skills) and got a GREAT job with great benefits. I lost a job where I had learned a lot and was able to get a job with a company large enough to offer adoption and legal benefits. Both our incomes increased and my faith in God has been once again pushed to complete Awe.
So we're adopting. I'm actually very surprised that more people don't adopt. I've heard all sorts of horror stories about drug-addicted babies and 10 year waiting lists and things like that, but always from people who have never adopted themselves. From what I have seen, the program we are going with through our church has remarkable success, and everyone I know that has adopted through this program has received beautiful, healthy children in 6 to 18 months. I won't get my hopes up for perfection but I have faith that this will be a good experience, though I'm already terrified that I'm going to be the worst mom EVER.
Still, one thing I know for sure -- though the child we receive will not have our genes, she will be OUR child. I don't think that people are simply gene packets begging to reproduce. I believe that we are all living souls, that exist as more than our bodies and we have a purpose for being here, that God has a plan for each and every one of us. And as part of this belief I think that Heavenly Father puts our families together if we seek His will in the matter. So whatever child I get will be the child God wants me to have, no matter how she comes to me. For this I am grateful. That is, I feel grateful while I am still far distant from stinky diapers, anyway. :)

Monday, February 28, 2005

Interoperability

OK, I'm going to geek out for a minute here.
I don't particularly care for Internet Explorer or Outlook. It's not a matter of hating Microsoft's ill-gotten monopoly so much as I really don't care for their feature set. I've worked with GroupWise as a full PIM/Groupware it whomps Outlook's keister all over the playground. I switched to Firefox a while ago and if you're reading this you probably already realized how much it kicks IE's tail. However, I also work in a very corporate world and am completely shackled to IE and Outlook, which causes me no end of frustration.

With my last job, working in the smaller-business sector, I experienced some frustration because of the many products we used that wrote only for Outlook and/or IE. Now that I'm on the corporate software side, I get frustrated because we're even MORE shackled by the legions of businesses that use those standards, almost forcing our hands. And it all comes down to 1 word: interoperability.

In my mind, I haven't generally considered Microsoft products to be a shining example of 'playing well with others' -- however, when you control most of the interfaces and basic software (OSes, document production, PIMs, browsers, etc.), you automatically LOOK more friendly automatically without even trying. On top of that, if your architecture is rife with holes and security issues, it's easy to use those holes to 'hook' other software into your own. So we end up with this nasty cyclic pattern:
1. Developer programs new software to interface with Microsoft products for reasons including: a) heavy marketing from Microsoft, b) ease of hooking into the software, c) easiest to program for maximum interoperability for existing users, increasing customer base.
2. Users wants developer software bad enough that they make sure to use Microsoft products for complete functionality.
3. Microsoft product usage goes up as people switch to inferior products to get 3rd party software.
4. Decreased market share weakens competing software, making it harder for them to develop interoperability solutions.
5. More Developers go to 1. because of 3. and 4.

I hate it. I really do. But as a business consumer, how can I justify buying a product that, despite its better functionality in its limited scope, drastically limits my options for functionality through integration and interoperability with other products I need? And as a developer, how can I justify the time and money into full development of integrations with products that represent such a small market share, particularly when those products are often much more difficult to develop for?

Firefox has made a serious dent because it appeals to so many different levels of consumers. But IE will have an iron grip on most corporate users because of intranet and other internal functions that need integration with 3rd party products that have been too hard-coded towards IE. I know many of my daily work functions are now browser-based, and I HAVE to use IE for them because that's the way they were coded.

PIMs, however, make me extra sad because they are so deeply rooted in corporate structure. Many people in a work environment live in their PIM -- e-mail, calendar, task lists, etc. Integration with this piece of software is therefore vital and incredibly common, and I fear GroupWise is being driven from the playing field, and I can't fully blame Microsoft, because if Novell had been able to make Groupwise easier to integrate with it, they might have had a chance.

So when Bill Gates says that Microsoft has goals of greater interoperability, be afraid. Be very afraid. In this world, being the best isn't what it takes to win. It just takes the slightly better 'ease of integrating' and 'commonality of use' to win the lowest common denominator card and teeter that market over the edge.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Changes

This week my husband found an old tape of mine, so yesterday I was listening to Aerosmith while I cleaned house, and it brought back a lot of memories. Aside from remembering how extremely obsessed with sex that Aerosmith was, and the memories of riding in the back of a green 1968 Camaro in an unusually precious window of time, it reminded me of tapes. You know, tapes. The kind that were our lifeblood when we were young and we had so much more time and mental energy to spend on music. I mean, they were ubiquitous, because they were so portable and adaptable and versatile. I remember seeing shiny brown nests of ratted tape innards strewn on roadsides or in trees and thinking, man, someone either really hated that tape or they are missing it right now. You know, that sort of thing. The kind of thing that makes the 80s seem so much more far away. At any rate, that started a train of thought, as those things often do. I remembered what a pain tapes were. How, if you didn't like a song, you had to either fast forward, timing it perfectly to the end of the song, or (as I usually did) you had to suffer through it. How you usually had to physically be there to turn the tape over when you reached the end of the side. And how they got grainy or tangled in your machine when you had listened to them just a couple of dozen times. And all this got me thinking about how nice technology is today, with CDs and MP3s and computers. No rewinding, no fast forwarding, no turning over, no suffering through songs you're not real keen on. Which got me thinking about how kids today never have to learn patience and long-suffering and things like that, that we learned from suffering through cassette tapes. Darn spoiled kids. Get off my lawn. :P

Monday, February 21, 2005

@#$%!*#!

When I was a teenager I was a pretty good kid. Got good grades, ran errands, babysat my younger siblings, went to church, etc. This led to my being labeled something of a goody-two-shoes and I found people who hardly knew me predicting my behavior -- often accurately. For some reason this made me livid and I started doing something for the shock value -- cursing. It didn't take long for this to become a habit at school, at home, everywhere. As teenage rebellion goes it was pretty mild so there weren't many repercussions, but as I got older I became more ashamed of the habit and found myself not quite able to shake it.

The more I tried to overcome the habit, the more it seemed to dig in and the more my anger and frustration with myself grew, until I realized a very important thing: no matter what we call them, the words themselves are not bad. They have no power, except what we as listeners give them. When I realized this, the power that the guilt held over me diminished and I was able to control my mouth better. I still swear in private and that has been the cause of some embarrassing situation on occasion, but for the most part most people don't know I have such a potty mouth. :)

Different cultures, different classes, even different families often have different ideas of what constitutes a 'bad' word. We can't always know what those words are for each and every person we encounter, but we can usually have a pretty good idea of the most likely offenders and we show respect for the listener by avoiding the use of these words. It's one of the many rules of conversational etiquette that most adults don't even think about anymore, though depending on the company we may sometimes slip up.

I find even my potty-mouthed self still flinching internally sometimes at the traditonal 'bad words,' but I don't react because I know that most speakers don't mean to offend, and if they do mean to offend, I certainly don't want to give them the satisfaction, especially over something so powerless and silly! So I actually get rather annoyed with persons who react with shock or disdain at the vocabulary of others. There can be absolutely nothing admirable gained from such actions. No one will be impressed by your show of 'innocence.' No one will think that you are superior because you are offended. You may, however, alienate or discomfort the speaker and present yourself as a judgmental snob or an easily manipulated fool, making any attempts at a good conversation or influence much more difficult. It's exactly like someone paying such close and critical attention to your grammar that they don't even seem to care what you are saying.

So watch your own language. That'll reflect positively on you and it'll be enough for most sensible people to know how to speak around you. But chill out about the language of others.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Knowing God

OK, excuse the weakness of my writing on this one. I haven't had many opportunities to exercise my logic muscles for a number of years and they are pretty flabby. But as I've said, there are some things I just want to get out and this venue is more for me than for you, so here goes.

I've been bothered for a number of years at the attitudes of some people towards the concept of God. Specifically, the idea that God can somehow be defined by our beliefs or desires. All the time we hear people use phrases like, 'well MY God doesn't do that.' I see people choosing a religious denomination for its after school programs or how nice the people are or even how close it is to their house and if it's 'fun,' things that have little to do with their relationship to God. And, gratingly, the intense intellectual and archaeological studies of the near east 2000+ years ago and clinging dogmatically to the crumbs of information and the conclusions drawn from them in the mistaken belief that by studying the footprints we can somehow come to know & understand the person who made them.

Either God is, or He isn't. What you believe has no effect on that fact. If you are content with worshipping an idea, then go ahead, pick something that meshes with whatever values you want. Make it male or female or vengeful or fluffy or purple or whatever suits your fancy. Belief by itself has some power, so if it brings good out in you, that's great. But to really get more benefits out of the deal and tap into something that is more than yourself, you have to get to know the REAL God. Which means you may need to change some of the ideas or beliefs that you've had, since reality won't change to fit your beliefs, and when it comes to something as big and complex as the Creator, we can't expect to be able to know or comprehend everything about Him, either, no matter how much we study.

Archaeological studies can give some idea of things that have happened in the past, but they are incomplete and no matter how well-intentioned the interpretation of the data, interpretations on driblets are highly fallible.

Personally, I am a big fan of the scientific method. Simply, gather information and decide on a 'hypothesis,' or belief system that you want to test. Then test it, as spiritual things can best be tested. That is the first part of Faith and it's rather tricky with things like this, because of the complexities of getting to know anyone, so it's not like the results can be 100% consistent in the short term. But you take your hypothesis and test it. You pray, you act, you seek. If it grows in a positive way and you feel the positive effects of it, work off that and move forward. If you reach a point where you feel you have dead-ended, or received everything from that path that you can, then there is something else out there that can give you more truth and light and you might need to move to move forward. The important thing is to get a working theory. Even science mostly works with theories -- where they have enough data to move forward and it's not fact yet, but it's enough to work with. Scientists sometimes forget that and think that they are working with immutable facts more often than they are, while faithful persons sometimes forget that God works with facts as well as faith.

I'm glad God gives us the choices to find information on our own, but He still gives us sources of information so we don't have to be completely blind. I have tested my hypothesis and I'm glad I have; I feel a close relationship to God that has wrought miracles in my own life. Where do you stand?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sins v. Sinners

I am, in general, considered to be a nice person.

I say please and thank you, volunteer at hospitals, will watch friends' children for free, and even occasionally remember birthdays. I'm not perfect, of course, but in general, I'm not too bad.

However, I am also very opinionated. I have pretty strong opinions on a lot of things, and unfortunately, if you're strongly opinionated FOR something, you usually have to take a stance AGAINST something else. And I am here, gabbing away, for my own benefit. Because I want to rant about something. Get it out in the open. I've always been a ranter, and I've finally decided to take this opportunity to rant publically but not so forcefully that I'm a boor at cocktail parties.

So I want to get something straight. This is not a personal thing. If I say I don't like some activity or lifestyle choice that you happen to like, I am not saying that I don't like YOU. Everyone does things that are unlikable, including myself. It doesn't mean I don't like the person, but that doesn't mean I have to like the act or choice, either. So many of us get so caught up in defining ourselves with something that we do that we defend that activity like it's suddenly an act of self-preservation. This, too, I understand. When people ignorantly attack my religion, for instance, I feel my hackles rise.

So if you feel I have ignorantly attacked something that is precious to you, post a comment to it. But please, leave out the emotional rhetoric and present facts and legitimate sources. I am not easily emotionally swayed and if there are facts supporting both sides, I will probably not change my mind. But if I am honestly in the dark, I will admit it when I was wrong. And in the meantime, try not to be offended. If you can't help but be offended, you don't have to read this blog. Ain't freedom great?