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wtfudge is a lovely weblog that uses blogger to track my thoughts, etc. it is an offshoot of hellaboss.com where mathew hoy does code, content, and creative for all things lovely.

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Location: London, Canada

a buddhist, vegetarian, and beta-geek, i build web sites, am an iconographer, write, doodle, and noodle. i like cookies and candy and fruit juice. do you?

Thursday, September 30, 2004

you have the right to be confused

yesterday a business card was left in the side-door of my house (the one i don't use and therefore didn't see it until this morning). from far away, it looked like a card from the canadian forces, a group i have nothing to do with. turns out, the card is from another group i rarely interact with - the london police department. there was a date, time, and phone number on the card, directing me to call the traffic office. after calling just now and discovering that the constable is on vacation for a little while (training, she said), i left a message for him to call me back on saturday when he can.

the entire ride to work today had me scratching my helmet as to what they could want and have broken it down into 2 things: 1) i got a traffic ticket 2 weeks ago while parking near the galleria. machinations undisclosed, it turns out the ticket was in error and i'm not required to pay it. that may not have gone through the system. 2) i'm driving a motor scooter and do not have a motorcycle (or class m) license.

the latter is more likely the issue (as it sounds rather insane to not have the proper papers to operate the motor vehicle). in order to operate a motorcycle in "yours to discover" ontario, you need a class m license, or a beginner's m permit while you wait to get the full thing. the law is very hazy about exactly what this means, however. i have heard from some people that you need a license if you're not riding a moped. i've heard that the moped classification covers any motorised bicycle that has an engine value of 49 cubic centimetres or less. i've heard lots of things that contradict each other.

one day last summer, i went to the source. i called the london police department the day i was going to buy the scooter. i called up and got officer x (i wish i'd gotten his name now). the conversation went like this,

"hello, my name is mathew hoy and i'm buying a motor scooter today from hullygully. i have a question about licensing requirements."
"okay shoot"
"do i need to have a motorcycle license to operate the scooter, or can i register it as a moped (and not require an m license to operate it)?"
"it depends on the size of the bike"
"the engine size is 49ccs."
"nope"
"nope i don't need a license?"
"right."
"so all i need is a helmet and insurance to operate my scooter?"
"that's right."
"well, okay! thanks!"
"no problem. have a nice day."

and that was it. we rocketed off to hullygully, paid for the bike (~$2300cdn) and left it there. i got all the papers (sans-one, in actuality) and took them to the license bureau in cherryhill near where my wife's pa worked before he moved his office. i went up to the counter with the documents and was told i was missing one that hullygully should have given me (don't get me started about hg!). back i went to hullygully to get the document. i then decided after the clerk told me, to head to the bustling metropolis of lambeth to the license office there to get my papers. i went in, gave them the documents and was issued a shiny red moped plate (which means i'm not required by law to have a class m license). i then drove back to hg, got them to put the plate on the bike and got my wife's bro to drive it home (i was nervous about it still and didn't want to mess up - i'd never ridden a bike before).

i've been driving around the city since the summer without incident. i've been stopped in traffic next to police officers, in front of police officers, and driving past their speedtrap spots. i've never been given more than a quick smile, shrug, or ignore.

i'm a little nervous about what'll be said. i expect that if this is about the bike, they'll tell me to take it off the road until i get an m-class license for it (or beginner's permit).

that said, here is the phase 2 problem with owning a motor scooter that requires an m-license in the province of ontario:

in order to get your full m license, you are required by law to operate your motorcycle on a 400-series highway where speeds are posted at 100km/h, but are laughingly ignored by speeding motorists during the driving test.

it is unlawful to operate my bike on such a highway because i can only go 60km/h. i plan out every route i take so that i stay on -=60km/h roads so as to keep up to traffic and not impede other motorists.

in order for me to get a full m license, i need to own (or borrow) a regular motorcycle and ride it on the 400 series highway system (something i've never done before). my bike has an automatic transmission. a regular bike does not. i don't know how to drive standard (boo-urns, i know) and will have to learn how to do that too.

i can do what my wife's mom does and get a class m beginner's permit (you can drive dawn to dusk, no passengers, no booze, stay off 400 series) and hold it for 90 days. at that time you have to repay to keep the permit ($57.50cdn) or go on to get an m2 license (which is $75).

what a silly billy! a rock and a hard place. a conundrum. out of the frying pan and into the... okay, sorry. to ride a scooter in ontario can be a difficult thing with lots of ups and downs that require specific challenges unrelated to the successful operation of my bike.

and session-two notes for my next class have begun. as has the turning in of homework assignments.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

i would recommend a mac

tonight was the first night of teaching and it was a blast. i had lots of fun fielding questions from everyone in the class and recommending things to them. like a 15" powerbook. and firefox. everyone seemed to be having fun with the presentation too, though some people were a little confused at a few points.

we ran the full 3 hours, however. even a few minutes afterwards. homework assignment for next week is/was to bring in 3 web links that point to either web design portals or to resources that will help you build web sites. very awesome. i'm going to compile them all for the class so they can learn from each other.

charging ipod. sexually.

what? oo! jez! oi, i'm game. :)

we have a winner!

i finally won a game of solitaire on HellaPod. i'd played about 30 times and was actually going to post to ask if anyone had managed to win a game of it to see if it is actually possible.

i start teaching tonight. i'm tweaking my presentation as we speak and having butterflies in my stomach for some reason. i love speaking in front of others, but i think it's because i want to teach sooo much that i don't want to mess up.

and i'm *this close* to being caught up at work too. i've just a few things left to do.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

geek of the week

schematic drawing of HellaPod

that's right kids, i am the geek of the week. don't ask me why, but i've always wanted to do some technical drawings since i was very wee and after reading and looking at this project in awe, i decided to go into things babytalk speed.

ipod battle submission

that said, i hate to see dubs go out in a blaze of no-space glory, especially with this entry. i should have buffed up the pod a bit, i guess, but what can you do? sorry dubs, but i met your challenge this week too.

all this ipod battle stuff has had me thinking this week - i'd like to make it a full-time site if i can (or at least a pet project for a month or so) that encourages people to submit an image 1x per day for an entire month. we'd likely need some boss hosting and database systems for it (which i don't have). if you're keen on helping out this project, please drop me a line (m at hellaboss dot com). i am very eager to get this going.

as you do.

veer

not swerving, or sideswiping, or slowly/sharply turning from a target, or from a vector route.

no, i'm talking about the stock type and photo house based in calgary (where grant hutchinson works, by the by). for a project at work, i required some stock photos and instantly thought of veer. having gone to their web site and persuaded (now) 2 companies to purhcase their superhot snaps, i actually got to talk to a sales rep (hi chris!) on a) the phone and b) the email about photos, features, resolutions, geekery, lightboxes, and more.

veer's catalogue is incredible. i work for a dental equipment company. i ran a search in veer's royalty-free snaps for smiles. i got 454 pages of results (at 24 images/page). that kind of selection is incredible for me and my workplace. the only thing bad about it is the time it takes to go through each snap to ensure it's the one you want.

refining the search, i entered, smiles, open mouth and got 154 pages of results. wow. incredible.

anyways, after creating an account, i got access to the everrocking flash zoom tool that allows you to scooter up close and personal on any picture saved in your lightbox (aka: the found-image reservoir™). using flash, this lets you zoom in on a picture you've chosen to get a better view of it. at first (since you can click on an image 2x to zoom it) i thought the zoom reflected the snaps at different stages/levels of resolution. in the end, no, just a slick feature. i mailed 'em about it tho, worry thyselves not.

i placed the order for 4x pictures for our web site. we bought 4 high-rez snaps that we can use wherever we want, should we decide to hang onto 'em. that's right - there is a 7-day return policy on all royalty-free images. if you get 'em and don't like 'em, you can return them within 7 days for a full refund. another great deal.

and i might get a free hat out of the deal because chris the support person (sexless, just in case) was so delightful.

need stock photos? try veer. and shop canadian!

hosting, php, faintheart

in a panic after i realised that one of our servers doesn't support php i remembered that our other one, with (mt) mediatemple does. i have to break some code out of a conatct page and put the script on the other server. whew.

so far, our hosting experience with mediatemple has been nothing short of stellar. we're using the ssadvanced server package with 1 gig of storage space and more. the tracking results are excellent using urchin, there is php and mysql potential, subdomains, and 10000 email addresses.

in the beginning when looking for a new host, we looked at a few companies around the world and two who were close to home. the ones close to home were not suitable at all. their customer service was terrible. one nameless group's web site told me info x. i wanted to know info x+1 and i mailed to ask them for an answer to a question i had. they told me to refer to their web site in a standard form letter. naturally, most of the info i'd included in my email came from their site. it was quite obvious i'd done some reseearch from them. another 2 companies didn't answer my requests back at all. so, they were out.

in the end, not only did (mt) mediatemple respond when i asked them a question (with a 3 page letter filled with more info than i could possibly want to have, or read in an afternoon), but a sales rep called me using my email signature to make sure i got the email. on the phone, he was relaxed and honest, and very professional. after that call and reply, i advised my current workplace to go with them. and so far, they haven't let me down.

for the hellaboss site, i use blacksun servers for hosting. i did some freelance work for a pal of mine a while ago and in exchange for the work, i offered to "be paid in hosting for a year". the blacksun servers are adequate. nothing special. there is php and urchin tracking. there is no mysql (hence the reason there is no discernable web log over there) support. they have been down about 1 day in the last 1 year of hosting however, which is a big plus. sending in a tech support question got me a reply 5 days later (i have to be honest in saying that i expect someone to be online all the time to answer queries for some reason).

at the end of this year, i'm looking to keep the domain, but transfer it to another location.

right now my options are blacksun (again), (mt) mediatemple, and segment publishing (segpub) - an outfit owned by pals of mine in australia. i don't trust any local shops to save my life (except maybe tracy's fabled hosting service), notably: execulink is out of the running for me.

now, i have been considering hosting my own site, using tangimac, my old (gasp!) tangerine imac that needs to be dusted off and set up again. i require a static ip for it to run, however and have no idea how to do that (yet).

the point of this post?

i'd like to hear your opinions on your host, who you recommend, and more. what experiences have you had with your web host (good/bad)? their tech-support team's turnaround time? who hosts you? who do you host (if that's the case)? uptime? space? bandwidth overages, transfer, and most importantly, price (cdn $ if you can, darlings). your replies will certainly affect who i decide to go with for the next year (or more).

also, i'm looking at this dissection (not for the faint of heart).

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

quite a few updates

first of all those astute readers would have seen the update i did to HellaBoss yesterday concerning the class i'm teaching (gasp!) next tuesday. since then, i've taken it down however to make room of item x.

item x is a take on dan cederholm's round-corner backgrounds from both his (terrific) book, a list apart article, and via a chat we had the other day. his demos are terrific, but seem to only cover fixed-width background images. i was keen on getting it to work if the masthead in question stretches the full width of the screen in a liquid way.

so, after some talking with dan the man, i went ahead last night and did it up right. to come: the floating div needs to be hacked in ie6.

have a look!

in other news, i hit the college and picked up my book for the course. it's a great book - i've got another book by the same publisher on unix for mac which is a terrific resource. i waited in line for about 30 minutes at the registrar's office until someone asked what i was there for. after i told them i was going to be teaching (which got a lot of "huh? you're a youngin'" stares from other line-holders), i got taken out of the line to a special spot to talk to someone right away.

after a bit of running around (i spent ~1.5 hours at the college), i finally got my book and saw the classroom (windows comps, ie 6, ns 4.08, corel paintshop image softs). don't worry, i've already asked the course controller to hook up the lab with photoshop and firefox, but not sure that they will be able to. this is going to be an interesting class!

Monday, September 20, 2004

go ?, young man

i just remembered another thing about toevolt on the weekend. coming from london, with not much experience driving in toronto, we were following the map provided by the event that we printed from the web site (yes, in magenta).

however, for a conference on accessibility and usability, the map had no indications of which direction was north. while it turns out that the way the text reads points to north, when you turn the map around to get a sense of where you really are, it was difficult to recall which way (in one of the many panics we were in) was north to orient ourselves.

re: caption tags - mm? i'll look into it today and see what i can do about that string of snaps below. thanks to dan for the link!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

took long enough..

my hellapod battle snap is a little late this week, but in the end, i'm pretty happy with it. it's the result of going down to the park to listen to the ipod, trade in some old cds ( got the latest ladytron disc), and read dan cederholm's book. a very great read so far, i've already learned a few things i didn't know before, or hadn't really spent much/enough time investigating.

ipod in the park

Saturday, September 18, 2004

big ben, parliament

joe clark

as i'm sure you can guess from the snaps, today was the infamous toe-volt (also discussed at tracinovich's site, crashoverride.

joe clark

the presentations were all pretty good and all had some valid points to learn. i was a little disappointed with the events during dan cederholm's presentation, as i was keen to learn much more. things were very interesting. from the get-go however, there were tonnes of questions lobbed his way concerning text-size and making text scale at relative levels rather than using pixel settings (as i often do). i took a few notes and luckily, bought a copy of his book, web standards solutions" to learn more later. dan was a great speaker. informative, etc. i wish the ?s would have waited until the end. let me just reiterate that i wasn't disappointed with cederholm's presentation, just the constant string of interruptions during it.

frank manno

unrelated to the order of the snaps, joe clark spoke on wcag (web content accessibility guidelines) and how it applied to us. this is very much an area i would like to get more into and learn about. i was impressed with his style of speaking and presentation. i wish he would have talked more about how edward tufte is a moron in the hallway.

frank manno

javier's presentation was about information architecture and how to build sites for all audiences. it was well-received and will be downloaded this weekend. i learned lots over the course of today.

chris, tracy

tracy is a great navigator who always brings the right map and is keen on puppies. and nintendo parking garages.

dan cederholm

worst alt tags ever, by the way. doing this quickly before bed. two delightfully blurry snaps of cederholm (sans-b.p., by the by. after i'd confronted him aboot it, i realised i was missing them too and that made things even funnier!).

dan cederholm

lunch was very tasty and free (which i always like). in the end, there are a few things i wish i'd done before the end of the rillybig shew: got dan to sign my book, took pictures of the fairgrounds - the venue for the event was like it was out of hairy potter, taken some snaps of the custom tee i'd made for the event, taken more tees to share with others, and in general, taken more snaps.

chris b.

on the way home, tracy and i were talking about doing our own event in london which might be cool. we need to meet more about it however, before we go ahead with planning.

cederholm cornered! quick, buy a book for $20!

lastly, it was nice to finally meet frank in person and his pal, mike(?). chris was nice to meet again and to others, it was nice geeking with you on a saturday in autumn.

Friday, September 17, 2004

tachyon

if you're a keener at fanshawe college this fall and winter, you'll be happy to know that i've been asked to teach html level 1 and level 2 back to back starting september 28 and continuuing through until december 7th. classes run from 7-10pm and there are 5 sessions in each one.

you'll also be happy to know that i've accepted the post. teaching web dev! yay!

< update >
such a geek. first thought after, "wow, teaching!" was "oh man, i can get ed. discounts on apple goods as a teacher at the fanshawe computer store!" and checked out apple's site for discounts (~$100 cdn on everything).
< /update >

ipod menu idear

i wish there was a feature/app that put the current battery level of your ipod as a menubar item that was changeable between a percent and a graphic image. it gets annoying to look at the ipod to see if it's charged or not, and to see if the battery bar is flashing or if it's steady. i think that would be a pretty killer app for ipod owners (mac and pc too).

do you think this would be a pretty cool app? know how to do it? want to try to figure it out with me? let me know!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

of mice and mayo

met with chris tonight at williams downtown, one of 3 people i know of going to toevolt this coming saturday. originally, we were supposed to meet because we'd be traveling down to toronto together, but that's changed. he has some other things to do and as such, can't come back with mr(s). t and i on saturday night.

so, we decided to meet anyway and it was a fun time. at first, things were a little shaky since we'd barely talked on email before, but by the end we were talking geek and mac os freeware until the other outdoor patrons were going pomme in the face.

it was a good meeting and lots of fun.

note to allmaple! get some of those trudeau shirts in, willya? we've been waiting since mid-summer!

last night

there's nothing quite like being the first one to work in the morning, especially after a lovely scooter ride in what should be rough and wintery weather, but turns out to be rather darling. the ride to work was nice, but i put my new raincoat under the seat, just in case. also under the seat for those interested is a hat, a water bottle, my mileage book (which needs to be swapped with a new one) and pen, insurance card, and owner/operator's manual for yoshi.

for a while i've been thinking of doing a web site that features all of the gear i use when riding the bike, as well as a mileage tracker, and some snaps of yoshi's finer closeups. i've also been thinking of creating a scooter-based event in london called scooterjam where scooter owners and appreciators come by location x to talk bikes, shop, etc.

related, i was toying with the idea of making scooter gear for scooter folks. instead of being forced to wear duds offered by motorcycles (assless chaps, anyone?), or expensive armour (the new bmw catalogue is HellaHot, but way too much cash). i came up with a few things including backpacks, helmets, coats, gloves, raingear, scarves, etc. in this case tho, i've no idea how to move forward with it. i can't really sew well. i know no one who can.

whew. also backburnered right now, but moving up to the bigger front burner so as to get more heat is the HellaBoss redesign. things are moving slowly however, because when i just start moving on a tangent, i see something else online that blows me away and i get caught up in that and lose focus. the HellaBoss stuff now is really starting to look good. i plan to show mostly icons and illustrations on the site. nothing too exciting.

last night's run was okay. i only ran for 10 minutes, but i was really pushing it. i ran about as much as i'd done previously (~17 avg. min run) in 1 go. i did take a brief (untimed) walk to catch my breath.

i started writing in a journal too the other night. the perfect capper to the day. sitting on the new couch under the light and writing down what happend during the day. last night i wrote down what i did to make gourmet spinach grilled cheese (my own recipe) for dinner.

the niffer returns tonight from her folk's place.

Monday, September 13, 2004

how bout those who swing both ways? ac/dcs?

because of this huge organisational kick i've been on lately (and after reading some interesting bits online..), i've decided to try to redo the way i check email, collect it, keep it, and more.

i came to the realisation today that 99% of emails that i get are messages from people that are updates on their lives. roughly 1% are messages to myself from work, colleagues, files, etc. - or the things that i really need to keep on garbo.

so i've wiped my entire email folder system and started from scratch.

that's tonnes of email from friends and family, my wife, volunteering, etc. all gone. a complete mail refresh.

after thinking about it for a while, i wasn't sure why i was holding onto it. i mean, email from a pal who tells me updates on his or her life is great! i love those kinds of emails. new babies, new houses, lottery winnings, soccer scores, movies they'd like to attend with me/us. those are exciting emails.

but in 2 or 3 months (or with my attention span, tomorrow around 10am) will i remember what they said? will i care? is it wicked not to care*? by that time, i'll have seen them, their babies, houses, sportcars, cotton candy, stereo machines, arnold palmer hand sanitizers, cat odour-supressant, paintjob, nosejob, newjob, and snowjob. by that time, i'll have either a) forgotten their email or b) not cared about the content anymore.

i was hella nervous about it at first. deleting email is a bit like removing part of your memories forever. those emails about setting up going to see ranger rick meets the bobsie twins at rainbow and then out for desert afterwards are great to get and take part in.

but today after looking at emails that were over 1 year old, i realised that the content of the messages weren't important anymore. the mails were planning camping trips which have already taken place, people buying new houses (which i've already been to and commented on in real-life), car dilemmas, and more. what was the point of keeping them around? i'd moved on (especially in terms of my memory - i didn't remember 3/4 of the ~1000 email messages in various folders that i went through, one at a time) and realised i would never look at them again.

so, i took a deep breath, ungrouped the threads in apple's awesome mail application, and started the delete-button-pressing.

i wiped all of my friend folders. all of my job search folders, all of my.. well, actually, i don't remember what other folders i wiped. that's how much i remember a) the contents of the folders, and b) what the actual folders were in the first place.

truth be told, i didn't really pay much attention to the messages in the folders unless they had attachments, which i kept. for about 30 mins while i went through them. i discovered that many of the files with attachments had already had their contents downloaded to garbo. why were they still around? sentimental value? because i wanted to clog email? because i wanted to waste precious hard drive space (by precious i mean this: regardless of the size of my hdd, whenever i get around 1/2 full, i panic. i have 40 gigs left and am getting nervous because i had ~80g. silly. that's a tale for another day, however).

so i wiped them and created a new structure. i created a structure that looks like this:



that's right. from close to 100 folders in the sidebar (hello xpad!), i've now got 3. 5 if you count my inboxes (there is one for my isp mail account, and one for hellaboss).

the way the folders work is this: when mail comes in, i delete it (after reading it, natch) if it's any kind of message from pals that i can reply to quickly. if it's got some important info in it, i flag it and move it to the flags folder. if it's business-oriented, i move it to the appropriate client folder (the client folder breaks down into x subfolders). if the message is something that i need to keep (directions for a camping trip, ideas for a community feature on wtfudge by a pal or two (hi frank!), or something else like that, i've put it into the archived folder.

seems a little odd, but i'm good at keeping an empty inbox. and that's the key to this way of doing things. inboxes need to be empty. after all, they are inboxes. they are the first step to processing digital communication between my contacts and myself. if you've got in and out boxes on your desk at work, you know that it's better to have nothing in the inbox and lots in the outbox (in case the boss walks by). that's how i think email should work. when email comes in, you need to deal with it. read it, keep it if it's important, temporarily keep it for later if you need to think of a longer reply, and/or delete it when you're done with it. keep that inbox clean and clear!

i sat down to think about why i was keeping certain messages and not others. some, i'd realised, i was keeping because the sender wasn't in my address book and i wanted to add them. in that case, rather than keeping them in the inbox, i just added them to the address book, and deleted the mail.

in other cases, they were really good mails with questions i wanted some time to respond to. while i needed to keep them, after i'd answered them, i had no use for them anymore. so i either replied to them, or moved 'em to the flags folder. in other cases, messages were from pals with a new baby that i thought my wife would like to see. instead of holding onto them forever, i forwarded the messsages to her, and wiped them. sounds cruel, but i'd seen the baby in real life. while the pictures were HellaCute™, i didn't need them anymore. but my wife might.

in the end, i cleaned out all my mail messages and feel much better about it, but have some gripes about apple mail that i might not understand yet. maybe you can help:

a) i can't seem to make mail rules that, after i flag a message, move the message to the flagged folder automatically. what is the point of flagging them if i have to move them myself? that seems like just another step in the process.

b) i wish i colour-code or label email messages instead of flagging them. i would love to be able to colour code messages in the same way that i do with my note-taking. blue mails are from work, red are quick messages, etc. while i know i can apply rules that will do this. in some cases i can't apply rules because i don't know the kind of messages they are until after i read them. and once i've read them, i can't change the colours. maybe.

how do you organise your email? any comments or suggestions on how i can make my system work better? can you answer my questions? post away!

*belle and sebastian, the boy with the arab strap.

ps: i also want to clarify that i did wipe messages from my wife. most were either a year old, or "how is your day at work so far?" messages. hardly the stuff i need to keep around, even after they are answered. i'm posting that because there might be some upset about my lack of attachment to messages of sentimental nature.

neato.



i was experimenting with quicksilver today and found that you can mail from the application. for those who know that already, great. for those (like me) who didn't/don't, it's a pretty amazing feature.

you don't need to lift your fingers from the keys to do this. you just hit applekey+spacebar to bring up the quicksilver submenu, then type [period] and start entering text. hit tab and arrowkey down to "send mail". select who you want to send the message to, and hit return. boom. the message has been sent. and you didn't even have to go into to mail and click any toolbar icons to do it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

spending spree

this weekend the niffer and i bought a couch, a new mouse, iron-on transfer paper (the reason coming later in the week..), and some blank cds. i finished up a client project which felt good to get rid of (though it was a delightful little project) and i fixed the contextual menu slowness that's been happening on garbo for the last little while.

i also started playing halo again. looking forward to trying out the new mouse with it. the mouse is a microsoft periwinkle wireless usb mouse. so far, it's a great little thing with no wires and a special preference pane that allows me to adjust the tracking, etc. for it.

for the scooter, i bought a new waterproof jacket that prevents me from getting soaked (again).

and my bank account is weeping.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

dubs' challenge part deux

okay, so he hasn't posted his new image yet, but i wanted to get another image in there before he did. and here it is:



that's right dubsie - i'm 1up on you. ;)

upgrade

new feature at wtfudge: mail this post to your pals. like a post? think a pal could use the note-taking post? click the evelope button beneath the post and email it to a pal of yours.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

notoriety

after reading some interesting (albeit diffused) ideas about note-taking, i've decided to post my current way of doing things for the mildly interested.

i take notes and take notes and take notes. i jot down events, then talk to myself about them on paper. for those who know me, it's a lot like how i act and talk. i go off on tangents, playing with words while i go, composing silly rhymes and songs at the drop of a hat. i'm good at word puzzles and rearranging letters. i love the jumble. i love(d) wheel of fortune when i was a kid. i was good at spelling - and good at misspelling words in ways i thought they should be spelled to make more sense. i like colour, but i love color. like that.

in college, highschool, elementary school, i was a terrible note-taker. in the later levels of education, i had 1" binders stuffed with paper that i didn't use. i wrote down notes in awkward ways (more on that later) and could never find them again. i had coloured cardboard tabs in those binders, but they did nothing but give me a new place do doodle and write down terrible poems, role-playing game stats (rifts was a fave), write about cute girls, and tell brief, 1 paragraph stories to no one in particular.

as i moved out of college and onto a computer, my note-taking skills were supposed to get better. i was supposed to be "getting it" and keeping files and documents in folders on my hard drive where i could find them more easily. i kept documents in my documents folder and images in my images folder. my freelance work was in a freelance folder, and my music was in a music folder. things were good and i was happy.

for about 1 week.

after a while, i created a new folder on my desktop called current projects. i kept all my client freelance work in there. my pictures folder began to include downloaded system icons and album artwork, both of which could be justifiably kept in other folders. i found i create a file and that it could fit into 10 folders at the same time.

i began to save files and make aliases to them in other spots so that they were all linked from the same file. so i could find the files no matter what folder i was in, or on what tangent i was.. on.

all this made for nothing more than confusing folders filled with bits of other files that had no place being where they were. i had documents lying all over the hard drive, often multiple copies of them, which did nothing but confuse me and help fill up my hard drive more quickly.

i posted to my web site for help. i asked others to tell me how they organised their files and folders. suggestions came, but nothing helped.

then, i got to thinking. and acting.

i got up from the computer and got a pad of paper.

i wrote notes. stupid notes again like i did in high school. ones that were related to others. ones with huge arrows that felt like sub-thoughts, like ideas within ideas. things were working well - flowing along. i was happy to be off of the computer to make notes.

then i got fired from an old job that in the end i didn't want anyways. a place where getting mental patients to do your work for you so you don't have to pay employees wasn't the kind of place i wanted to be. luckily, they felt the same way and gave me 5 weeks of severance.

during that time, i hit up the notepad again. only this time, i found a new weapon. then, i found a job placement where i got to employ my new system and found that it worked famously.

and i'm going to share it with you in case you're bonkers like me. the following is written like a gradeschool science fair project experiment summary. sorry for that. i didn't want to do it, but in the end it works. slag through it, won't you?

< purpose >
to write better. to take better notes. to learn more. to communicate with myself better. to remember more. to find information better and more quickly. etc.
< /purpose >

< hypothesis >
i think that this method of writing is great for me to help me take notes and improve my personal, working, and educational life. it may not work for you at all, but i think it will for me. (note: it does. i just needed to fill in this section to go with the overall schema).
< /hypothesis >

< materials >
- 1 piece of paper (or 1 notebook, 1 memopad, 1 forearm, whatever. just as long as you have something on which to write notes. as you'll hear later, graph paper is best - you can draw better grids with it)
- 1 four-colour pen. the kind with the blue bottom and white top. they are made by bic. the seem french. the colours are black, red, green, and blue. the white upper part has a ball on the end for decoration, putting in teeth, tying string around, and otherwise twiddling and fiddling.
< /materials >

< method >
take a piece of paper. lined is good, graph is best. at the top of the page, write the date in black. the black ink of the pen is used for all of the grid-laying. it is the constructor colour. with it, you lay out lines, create arrows, draw boxes, circles, rocks, hens, and picture frames. it is your solid. it is your touchstone. it likes you and likes to help. let it.

anyway, put the date on the page. upper right corner. this is why graph paper's best. you can put the date high up and not lose margin space. or space to other annoying "white space". you can get the most out of the page. and you can turn the page landscape if you want and still have lines to write on. yay graphpaper!

underline the date with black. 2x.

the system of writing the date is important. you must learn to write the date in a new way that isn't like how you did it before, but is incredibly better and makes much more sense than any other way you've been taught. i'd never really been taught. i didn't ever care. i just wrote stuff, left the date off and got lost.

you need to write in descending order. it's the key. the date format is this: XXXX.XX.XX, which can be translated into: YYYY.MM.DD. even further, that's 2004.09.08 (today's date). it is written in descending order because i realised when i was working on my computer that the best way to keep track of a folder was not to label it because labels ended up meaning nothing in the end, but to date and label each folder.

it just seems to make sense to me to write the date this way. you overcome y3k (or whatever) by writing out the entire date. you don't waste time writing wednesday and trying to remember if it's wednsday or wednesday or wensday. you can organise folders in this way too, which helps you keep newly created folders on top of others when you sort by name.

with this system, you can easily see when a note was written and where it should go in case it gets out of order. if you need to (and sometimes i do..), you can go further with it and include the time in the number. 2004.09.08.7.45 is an example of this. i use periods so i don't have to waste time with a colons (2 dots) or on a keyboard, shift semi-colon. who wants that? boo-urns. the date is there for you to see quickly, as is the time if you need it.

now we'll break down the other colours on the pen. they are:
red
green
blue

the red ink is used for quick notes. the red means fire. it means rockets. it means dynamite. it's a dynamic colour and is exciting. notes taken in red are 1 lines long, often less than 10 words. anything over 1 lines needs to go somewhere else.

green ink is a personal note. like a shopping list, to-do list, note about what magazines i'd like to subscribe to, fuel paid at the pump, running times, appointments, etc. green is natural and you're notes to yourself are natural ones.

blue ink is a corporate colour and means work, or professional notes. to-dos at work, meeting minutes, etc. are all blue notes.

coloured notes can be attached to other another. for example, if you're working on a php project and realise that it could help your blog, make a green note about it. if this helps you remember that you need to buy cheese, jot that down in red.

that's an important paragraph because we're at one of the most important steps: arrows and lines. when you take a note and it's related to another, switch to black and arrow them up. you can use lines too, since arrows usually mean that the info goes 1 way and sometimes it doesn't.

i forgot an important part of the process. that's creating a margin. the margin should be a black line that runs down the page (whatever side you want is fine with me) from the top to the bottom. it should be about 4cm from the side of the page where you decide to put it. this is where you keep your main red notes and green notes. while important, they are secondary if you're using this system at work (and i do). in this case, what's important is that you use most of the page for your work notes.

begin to take notes. notice that you can look at a sheet of paper covered with notes and tell them apart by looking at them. you can see how they are connected. you can see what you need to buy at the store on the way home. you can look at a splotch of paper that's covered in ink and not dismiss it because you won't find anything on it. you will.
< /method >

< observation >
i take better notes. i am faster with thoughts. i can get things down on a huge piece of paper and fit lots more onto a page. i find it hard to get lost.
< /observation >

< conclusion >
the system works for me. and i hope it works for you.
< /conclusion >

there are other things too, like where to put the docs when you've filled the sheet. do you keep them around? if so, where? how?

i like to use spiralbound notebooks (sorta*) to note in. the small-ish ones. the ones you can keep under the seat of your scooter if need be, or in your backpack. heck, even xpad (my notepad of choice) is scaled to be that size for when i take notes on my computer. my categories in xpad are blue, mint green, and red, just like my regular notes.

i like the small notebooks. they are quick to get out and quick to put away. and easy to lug around. they are roughly 4cm thick and the metal spirals are roughly 4.5cm in diametre. the ones i use are by hilroy. you can get them a staples, or anywhere.

re: notebooks - binders are annoying. i considered using them for a while, but just couldn't justify the speed lost by having to open and close the binder rings every few minutes to put sheets in, insert others, etc. plus, the paper rips unless you get those ring protectors, and they're annoying and taste gross. so i don't use 'em. i use notebooks.

at first i didn't like notebooks either because you can't add pages if you need to cause there's more to talk about. that's why i use post-it notes too. not the big ones tho. in a pinch, i use the regular-sized ones, but prefer the ~3cm wide ones because they don't obstruct the rest of the page when you stick 'em down. those post-its can contain differently coloured notes just like the pages, but are often red notes because they're so quickly added and removed from the pages.

with this system, you may find that your notes are better taken and more easily read. the only thing that might seem geeky about it (well, aside from the fact that you've got a system to write freaking notes..) is that you're clicking your pen every few minutes in meetings or class. but sometimes it's fun to watch others flip out when you click it to draw black lines every few seconds.

ahh. give it a try and let me know what you think!

* by sorta, i mean that i'd prefer that they were filled with graph paper. in this way, i've overlooked the missing graph paper for the convenience of the size of the book.

that's why i'm looking at picking up a moleskine book in the coming weeks that's filled with graph paper that'll help me take notes better. once i get it, i'll post aboot it and let you know how it goes.

blewger

today was the day the blogger blew.

i wrote the previous entry this morning at around 8am or so and tried to upload it for 5 minutes when i eventually got a timed out message. i attempted it again and quit halfway through. later this morning, i checked my "edit posts" list and found that both times i'd attempted to upload the entry, they had been recorded and not displayed.

after seeing that, i tried to remove an entry by clicking delete. again, it timed out. i wasn't sure if the entry was there or gone and decided to leave it for a few hours.

finally, today at around 3pm i tried to upload the post again and it finally got through.

i understand that it's a free service that i am thankful for, but this isn't the first time that the ability to make a post has crapped out on me.

cheatin' hart

HellaPod is fully charged and ready to go for the day ahead at work. added rage against the machine yesterday, and edited my 'fourty ounce' playlist (my top 40 tracks) for a change of pace.

i'll be taking the scooter again because the niffer needs the car again. she required it yesterday too, so i rode yoshi to work in 16 tonnes of driving rain and wound up rather soaked to the bone. i was so wet that i had to borrow a pair of pants from a coworker. my little rain jacket didn't work very well (mainly because of the straps of my backpack, i'll wager.

so i went to wal*mart at lunch and bought what looked to be a fine, full-body variant of what i was wearing earlier in the day. i don't think it's waterproof. after work tonight i'll be going to novacks to have a look at their raingear (as i'm sure that it's all waterproof) and see if it's any better (of if i like it..). i'll be returning the gear i bought yesterday on the weekend.

i've also been turned onto the magic of xml and rss after downloading newsfire and putting some of my fave weblogs into it. sometimes i don't feel like going to sites and this is a perfect way to see what's been updated.

including wtfudge (atom).

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

work continues unabated

my street is being torn up to put down new drain pipes. this morning when the niffer left for work, she was greeted by a huge dump truck parked in front of the driveway. luckily i've the scooter and can just whip down the sidewalk if need be to get around the steel beasts.

running in this construction zone has been difficult. avoiding exposed drainpipes and leftaround equipment, negotiating very uneven ground (3' drops in some places between the sidewalk and the street), and muddy intersections. that's the excuse i'm using for not having done it in 3 days. that, and it was a holiday weekend.

this weekend was a good one however. got lots done including hosting jeremy and greg, bbq and swimming (x2), planting our new pear tree (perry), trimming hedges, mowing lawn, weeding front walkway, client freelance projects, and more.

looking forward to work today. moy out.

Friday, September 03, 2004

dubs' challenge



well dubs, your challenge has been answered. not quite what i had in mind, but cool enough. hope it meets your strict standards. not only got HellaPod in there, but also 7 of me (the 6 reflected images, plus the real me who is somewhere in the image).

if anyone else would like to take the ipod photo challenge, please take a snap and post a link to it in the comments!

fudge, if you'd prefer, take snaps of either a) your ipod, b) your mac set up, or c) your pc set up and post links to them. the more the merrier! :)

casualday

ride to work today was delightful but the weather is certainly turning colder. or maybe it's just that i keep wearing t-shirts under my riding jacket™? whatever the case, it is cold, but still lovely and i hope to keep it up until at least november. especially if this year's anything like last year.

i love the ipod. did i tell you that before? my current fave thing now is to use ical like a mofo and sync it to the ipod. i find myself going through my contact list and updating people's records just so that i can see more info on it too. i'm at the point in my address book that i've got all my names in there, and all have as much info as i can find for them. i am disappointed that aim/ichat names don't sync over however.

another thing that excites me about the ipod is that it's a firewire device. never having one of those before, i'm glad to have a device that can plug into those sad and fast little ports in the side of my computer. any time i unplug them (which is rarely because i always charge the pod via the computer and not using the attached powerbrick), i switch the ports so they all get used. silly, yes?

i downloaded more music last night. 2 tracks by cibo matto and 2 by mason jennings. the tracks are so good that i'm going to buy the cds this weekend. speaking of which, pals of mine are coming down to visit on saturday to kick it with the niffer and i. we're both excited aboot that idea.

futureshop today is selling gba:sp for $99cdn. get one before the ds comes out! i'm going to wait until just after the ds comes out so that i can get one downtown at a pawn shop for $hellacheap.

in true moy style, i already grown weary the sidebar header type. that may change today.

< update >
sidebar type updated with HellaBoss fave, rosewood.
< /update >

< update part 2 >
new title too. hated the plainjane text. wtfudge now brought to you by HellaBoss heavy industries, inc. let's turn this motherfudging party out!
< /update part 2 >

Thursday, September 02, 2004

ya, ya, ya

finally got around to making some changes to the sidebar including replacing the sidebar titles with a more wranglin' typeface (giddyup std set at 26 point, strong) that is more fun and less-fancy than the one set by todd dominey at what do i know. sorry todd, i think the old sidebar was nice, but a little too fancy for me.

also, i've added links to the sites i read on a regular basis. be sure to check them out. yes, i've added HellaBoss at the top of the list (and bolded it). if you're not on the list and think you should be, let me know and i'll add you. the list is certainly one in progress.

nonmac

last night i spent a few hours working on some client projects: a poster and a brochure. i haven't tackled the brochure yet, but the poster is looking pretty fine. i'm using lots of gradients and drop shadows on the project, which, while it may sound like a trashy prospect, it isn't. things are looking good. i'm trying for a plasticine look for everything on the page, as though the items are floating from the page. and so far, so good.

in other news my old pals jeremy and greg are aiming to come to london for an actual visit in the next couple of weekends. the niffer and i are both very excited.

good eats are pretty fine last night. the episode was all about cooking in pouches.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

sorta kinda

i was looking on my ipod last night for a few songs that i had in itunes but weren't in my ipod for some reason. couldn't figure it out at all. it was getting odd too, because whenever i performed an ipod update, i would lose 5 songs or so. it was driving me a little batty. was checking all over the winternet for answers. apple discussions, ipodlounge, etc. nothing. just "sometimes if you pirate music you can't do it" and "install the latest system software", both answers i was already quite aware of.

if you're having this trouble, try this:

in the ipod prefs, you may have (like i did..) "sync only these playlists when you perform and ipod update" checked off. if so, check the "sync all tracks in all playlists" instead and perform a sync. all of your music should be on the ipod now (if it's not, i can't help you). from there, change back to "sync only these elite playlists" and have all the playlists checked off so you'll be syncing them all. uncheck them one by one and perform an update each time you uncheck a list item. you'll find the culprit list and you can choose not to sync it.

in my case, i'd created a few lists: "ancient additions", "recent additions", etc. when i was syncing, i had "recent.." unchecked so the songs in that list weren't copying over. i'd been assuming (which makes an ass of you and me, i know, i know) that all tracks were syncing and that the playlists were just a bonus, that the ipod was organising the tracks into the playlists like itunes does. but it wasn't. it was only pulling songs in the checked-off playlists to the ipod and not all of them and then the playlists. does that make sense?

okay..

the way itunes seems to work is this (please refute in the comments - i would love to figure this out!):

insert a cd into your computer (this is mac/pc i'm talking aboot. and be sure it's one that you own, by the way - don't pirate music! if you download a track and hate it, delete it. if you get one you like, buy the cd. onward..) and if you're connected to the web, itunes queries the cddb (cd database) and gets all the track names, album names, track times, (oddly, not cd cover art, which it should), genre, etc. and updates the track list.

you click import and itunes rips the tracks with the queried info in the format you specify (in preferences. i use aac quality all the time and actually have a playlist called "non aac?" where any files not ripped in aac format go so i can see if i need to clean up the list) to your master playlist. you can eject the disc now.

from there, you can create custom playlists or smart playlists (this is how i do the non aac one). you can either drag tracks from your master list into the sidebar-situated playlist you created (the icon is light blue), or itunes will do it for you based on the rules you specify (all songs over 5 minutes in length, for example. purple icon).

the way i see it, your songs all reside in the main/root playlist and the contents of the other playlists are shortcuts to the tracks in your main list.

shew!

this is how i'd assumed the ipod sync worked. that you had one main playlist and that the other ones just linked to the main list via shortcuts. that was my sync problem. i was only importing certain playlists because i was assuming the contents of those lists were pulling from the entire collection that was hiding on the ipod (in an invisible folder, by the way). not the case. if you import a playlist, it imports only that list and the songs contained therein. all others are left behind.

likely repeating myself a bit here a few times over, but i get it. do you?