Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 2011 Recap

July has come and gone and for the second month in a row, I haven't finished anything.  Though, I'm a few days early with my recap post (see what's coming up in August for an explanation) so I could sneak something in.

I have still been working on things though.  If you check out my Things In Progress, I have over 20 on the go.  So I'm not worried.  Yet.

What has been keeping me busy?  Well, the biggest, most exciting thing in July was getting the Mac.  I've written a couple of posts about it, including a lengthy one about learning to use it.  I am at the point where I can do everything I need to do with it.  I'm learning the short cuts and can get pretty much everything done but I still need to learn all the tricks and awesome stuff that make a Mac so much more than a PC.  I'm planning on accomplishing this by getting a reference book and so far, there's been very little published on the new operating system.  I should be able to pick something up soon and get this Thing finished.

I've had a couple of sessions with Kitchener photographer Doug Wilson to teach me how to use EDP's DSLR.  I have one more session to do with him on travel and then I'll have learned how to use EDP's SLR.  Since EDP is coming to that one with me, I haven't been able to schedule it with Doug yet but that should happen early on in the month, which will complete this Thing, as well.

Another thing that's seen some progress is learning to play the drums.  I switched to a new teacher this month.  His name is Dave O'Neill and so far, things are really going well.  He comes to the house for an hour lesson every other week.  He's teaching me some stick handling techniques & control (you could compare it to scales on the piano) and this interesting exercise of varying where the bass drum hits on my basic beat that I know.  This is actually really tricky.  I have an entire page of different bars and I've really only mastered the first one.  Point is - the drum lessons continue and it's been a lot of fun so far.

And now, for my other on-going Things that are no less interesting or important but I have less to say about:
  • I have six book recommendations and have started reading Kirsi's recommendation, the Happiness Project.
  • I got my letter written earlier this week but then discovered I was out of envelopes.  I picked up more this morning so I'll be addressing that and throwing it in the mailbox today.  I've missed the last pickup for July so it won't get moving until next month, just like all my other letters.  I must make a point of sending my next letter earlier in the month.
  • Penny and I have walked 58.84 km together.  That's about 12 km this month, which is pretty good considering the heat.  
  • My TBR pile is sitting at 48 books and I've finished 28 books in my 50 book pledge.  Yeah, I know my TBR pile has grown but it's because of my new book club. 
  • I don't even want to talk about what the balance in my TFSA is.  My company's share price seems to think it's in a Limbo contest and has done nothing but drop this past month.  I blame RIM.  Or Greece.  
  • I've been watering my orchid and it's made it past the one month mark.  It's started to drop some flowers but I'm hopeful that's normal and not a sign of the orchid's impending doom.
  • We saw Weezer and the Hip on July 1.  Weezer was way better than I expected and the Hip was awesome, as always.  That's the first of five concerts done.
  • I've donated 13,250 grains of rice and made 5 microloans (and my sister has made 2!!)
  • It would seem that I neglected to record any Wikipedia articles I've read this month, so my official total for that is still at 60.
  • The pile of things to get rid of is growing.  I had been hoping to do a major sweep of the house this month but that didn't happen.  

What's on tap for August, you ask?  Well, I'm writing this early because this long weekend is going to be a whirlwind for us.  Today is errands and laundry so that tomorrow morning we can pack for our road trip to Halifax.  In the afternoon, we're heading to the wedding of one of EDP's closest friends (it should be a great wedding - this couple is lots of fun.)  We're coming home, sleeping for as long as possible and then leaving home shortly before noon.  We'll drive straight through to get to Halifax early on Tuesday morning, do some sightseeing on Tuesday, EDP has class on Wednesday and Thursday (which is why we're going), we'll do a bit more sightseeing on Friday before starting the drive back with stops in New Brunswick and Quebec.  Oh, and we're bringing Penelope.  Really, this is all just a very long way of saying I'm going to be crossing three provinces off in my quest to see all the provinces.  Oh, and I've got another concert in August.  Maroon 5, Train and I will be at the Molson Amphitheatre on the 22.

Aside from that, nothing specific is planned.  Day Zero is telling me I have 884 days left and with 95 Things still to go, I need to target finishing something every 9-ish days.  Ack.  Yeah, okay, I'm gonna find something to knock off quickly before the end of the month actually hits.  Watch for another update soon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Learning how to use the Mac

So while it took me a while to actual purchase a Mac, it wasn't an overly difficult task.  All Macs, even the most basic, are more computer than I need so it was pretty easy to figure out which one to get.  I must say, I'm loving the 21.5" wide screen.  It isn't any taller than my PC but it's about twice as wide.  But that's not the point.

The point is - buying was easy.  Learning is hard.  When I unpacked it on Thursday night, EDP had to show me how to open a new tab in Safari.  And it took me a good 5 seconds to figure out which icon was the mail client.  But I'm slowly figuring things out.  Mostly by googling everything before I do it.

While I was waiting for the Mac to get here, I signed up for a couple of workshops at the Apple store in Square One.  This morning, I headed over for a Getting to Know Your Mac workshop.  In some respects, it was a huge waste of time.  In others, it was really valuable.  Part of the problem was that they didn't have enough demo computers for all of us.  Another piece of the problem was that there was a couple there who didn't have a Mac, they had an iPad.  So they kept asking "will this work on the iPad" and it derailed our trainer from focusing on the Mac stuff.  And then on top of all that, the store was really noisy so our trainer had to repeat herself a lot.  But, I learned a couple of great little tricks and am feeling more confident about using the Mac for day-to-day computing.  I was supposed to go back for a workshop on the new features of Lion but I cancelled it after I got home today.  I am definitely not going to learn all the ins and outs of a Mac by attending these workshops.  Today's workshop taught me about some of the features I was most excited for with Lion, anyway.  And it's a long drive for an hour workshop.

I've been working on importing my photos and my iTunes library over to the Mac.  Both have been lengthy processes because I have a lot of music and a lot of photos.  My iTunes library is about to finish importing and if I've done things correctly, I shouldn't lose my playlists or ratings.  There is a good chance I messed it up though - you can't just copy and paste your library file from the PC because paths are constructed differently on a Mac and a PC.  So I've had to do some editing of an XML file and I'm not quite sure I did it right.  We'll see in 15 minutes when my library finishes copying from the PC.

Once I get that done, my biggest thing left before I can wipe the PC will be deciding what I'm going to do about my personal finance software situation.  For years, I've been a user of Microsoft Money.  I have years and years of history in it.  It tracks my investments, my accounts, my budget.  All that stuff.  Well, not only is it not compatible with a Mac but Microsoft doesn't even make it anymore.  I've basically got three options - one is to install Money on my netbook and continue with business as usual on it.  Another is to run Fusion on the Mac so that I can run Windows and install Money on the Mac.  Or I can find a new piece of software that will let me import all my history into it and give me the same kind of reporting and functionality as Money.  You'd think that would be the easiest option.  But it would appear that no one offers everything that Money did.  I spent a good chunk of the afternoon installing trial versions of about 8 different programs.  None of them were really right for me.

So that's where things stand.  I'm feeling more comfortable with the Mac than I did when I set it up.  I'm starting to learn some of the short cuts and commands.  But I still need to get a book and work through it.  I've probably mentioned this before but there is so much that a Mac can do and if I don't take advantage of those things, I might as well have bought another PC.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Coming to you live from my brand new iMac!

Shiny new iMac
Right, not exactly "live" - even Apple isn't that good but holy moly was this thing ever easy to set up.

ONE cord.  I had to plug it into the computer and the electrical outlet.  I had to turn the power on to the keyboard and to the mouse.  I had to turn the computer on and click the mouse and I was in business.  Seriously.  That's all it took.  Maybe a dozen screens to choose my language, country, wireless network, etc. And boom, I was ready to go.
Decrepit old PC...

It's so pretty....

Like...  Really, really pretty.

And is superior to my PC in every possible way.  Did I mentioned ONE cord?!?  ONE!

With all its cables
Anyway, this weekend, I'm signed up for two workshops from Apple - one on getting to know your Mac and one on the new operating system.  Those should both help me figure enough out to do some basics until I can find something more in depth to teach me all the tricks.

So now it's time to say good bye to the PC.  Everyone wave to PC, he won't be here much longer!

Monday, July 18, 2011

So what's new with you?

Not much?  Oh good.  Let me tell you what's new with me.

I still haven't finished any more Things.  But I've been making some good progress...  

My orchid is still alive and in 3 hours, I will have kept it alive for one entire month.  Only five to go.  I feel this is a really big accomplishment for me as I recently determined that my cactus is pretty much dead and the cause of death is going to be recorded as lack of water.  Please feel free to send chocolates or other consumables to both congratulate me on my orchid's milestone and help commemorate the life of my cactus.

I've started reading the Happiness Project, which was a recommendation from Kirsi*.  I've got half the books picked out for this Thing and I've been giving some serious thought about who to ask for the other six.  I'm really pleased with the recommendations I have so far so now I feel a lot of pressure to get six more good ones.  

I had a one-on-one lesson with a local photographer today to help me learn how to use EDP's DSLR.  I met with Doug Wilson for my first of three sessions.  He gave me an overview of how the camera works and some of the technical aspects of taking a good photo.  I'll go see him again on Thursday and then EDP & I will go for one last session where he'll help us learn to compose better photos on our travels.  I'm really pleased with my choice to do the one-on-one sessions with Doug instead of taking a group class, like EDP did.  Not that what EDP did wasn't good.  He learned a lot and is a significantly better photographer as a result.  But I feel like I learned a lot in the hour I spent with Doug and I'll definitely have learned enough to use the camera when we're travelling, which is my goal.

Oh, and finally, I bought a Mac.  It will be here tomorrow so don't expect my week of no computer or TV to come any time soon.  I'm excited to have a desktop that actually installs updates, doesn't take a half hour to start up, has working USB ports and a keyboard that no one has spilled coffee on.  EDP will probably start using it for his photos and I'm looking forward to using FaceTime with my dog (she'll get the iPhone, I'll use the iMac.)

I've been working on some of my other ongoing Things as well, which I'll include when I write my July recap but I felt like it was time to give an update on some of the larger steps I've taken towards finishing some stuff. I'll leave you now with a photo that I took tonight of the aforementioned orchid that I took on EDP's camera on the manual setting.  

*Kirsi has started her own 101 Things in 1001 Days Project, which you should go check out because she's hi-larious.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

June 2011 Recap

So June is gone and I didn't finish any of my Things!  Sacrebleu!  But don't fret, I was working on stuff.

I started on keeping an orchid alive for six months.  I'm almost two weeks in and it's going okay.  It came with instructions to give it 1/4 cup of water each week.  I am still planning on picking up an ice cube tray to do the whole three ice cubes a week thing but so far, things are going okay.

As far as my lengthier, ongoing Things go...

  • The postal strike/lockout put a bit of a cramp in my handwritten letters but I did get a letter dropped into the mailbox on the 30th, albeit after the mail came so it will be stamped for July.  It's good enough for me, though.  Just to be on the safe side, I think I'll get my July letter off sooner rather than later.
  • Drum lessons continued but they don't go through the summer.  I did find some music for Eye of the Tiger.  I mastered the intro and the drum beat but still have the fills to figure out.  Maybe I'll finish learning it in July.  
  • Penny and I have walked a total of 46.48 km together. 
  • My TBR pile has decreased to 47 and I'm almost half way through my 50 Book Pledge with 24 books read this year.
  • I've donated a total of 11,390 grains of rice over at
  • I made my third microloan to Nelson in Bolivia.
  • I've read 60 Wikipedia articles.
  • We had an unfortunately unsatisfying Chinese food experience at the King's Buffet in Guelph (the Kitchener one is so good!)
  • I took Penny to see my Gran.  Penny got to play with a 98 lb boxer named Rocky while we were there.  She slept for almost a full day when we got home.
  • I added a few more things to the pile of stuff to get rid of.  I'm no where near 101 yet.

So what's coming up in July?  Well, today, I'm taking in my first of five concerts.  EDP & I are heading into the big city to see Weezer & the Hip, which is highly fitting for Canada Day.  The Hip, I mean.  Not Weezer. This will be the first time since we started dating that EDP & I didn't make plans to see fireworks for Canada Day.  I'm counting on being able to see some from the concert.  I hope that pans out, it's a nice little tradition we have going.  The Mac will also probably be purchased this month.  This morning, I couldn't even get my desktop to turn off so as soon as Lion comes out, I'll be ordering that sucker.  I have already pre-ordered Mac Lion OS for Dummies.

And, in August, I'll be starting on visiting all the provinces.  EDP has recently started working on a Masters degree at Dalhousie and each course has an in-person session at the end.  This term, he has to head out to Halifax at the beginning of August and Penny & I are going to join him.  We're going to drive - probably straight through on the way there but taking a bit more time coming back so I may be able to cross off more than one province with this trip.

Other than those things, I don't have anything specifically planned.  According to Day Zero, I have 913 days left and with 95 Things left to go, I should be targeting finishing one every 10-ish days.  So I think I'll try to make some good progress on the Things I have underway, start at least one more of the Things that'll take a while and cross of at least 2, if not 3, Things from the list.

Oh and one more thing - I think I forgot to mention in my May recap that I voted in the May 2 election.  The outcome is not what I had envisioned for Canada but I would be lying if I said I was sad we would have four years before the next federal election.