Ten Years of MZ Online!

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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Productive Saturday!

Well, it's not often I feel great amounts of accomplishment on a Saturday. I always go into the weekend thinking Great Things(tm) will be done, but they very rarely are. Perhaps it's more the fact I've been at home since Wednesday afternoon...?

First off, I started (and more importantly, completed) a project I've been meaning to do for some time -- clean up the shelves in the office. It's not that they were really dirty (although, they did get dusted off), but they were somewhat disorganized and just needed to be gone through. So, I took literally every item off the shelves and physically cleaned the top two layers of shelves. Then I lowered the brackets by one snap for both the upper shelves. This was mostly so I can fit taller items on the top shelf.

Once that was all completed, I went through everything on the shelves. I ended up throwing out probably 1/5 of what was up there. Most of that stuff ended up being old manuals for things I no longer have or old catalogs for theatre scripts. I also 'retired' some books. They'll go into my attic collection the next time I open up the attic (in the meantime they're just going up to our bedroom to sit next to the attic door as a reminder). I also had some old computer parts up on the shelves; those will go into the appropriate storage unit (attic) with the other parts.

When it was all said and done, I have over half of one shelf section available (essentially 1/4 of the shelf space I was taking up before). It is amazing. I should take a picture (except there's other stuff still cluttery around that makes it look bad -- I may have to work on the rest of the stuff tomorrow).

The neighbor came by with the snowblower today to do that stuff (excellent). I'd done all the shoveling around the car and whatnot, but then I went and dug out around the mailbox so the mailman can get closer with the car (aren't I nice?). Actually, I saw he got close enough with the car today (but it must've been quite a reach). Even if he doesn't mind reaching out to the mailbox, I cleared it off for myself (in that case) because I like to get right up to the box with the car. So that's done.

On another unrelated subject, we made a wild rice soup tonight for supper. Fantastic! I love that stuff. It's a bit of a pain because it takes so damn long to make (it's an hour just to cook the wild rice -- that's before you add anything else), but it's really good (and warms up good for lunch).

And this afternoon/evening I've been working on my del.icio.us stuff. It's admittedly not as cool to me as the flickr thing, but it's growing on me. Especially due to the tags and stuff. As I was going through my browser's bookmarks (which I deleted as I added them to del.icio.us) and tagging them, I really thought about how I'd probably visit a few of those old sites more if I just had them pop up with other results and not be buried deep within some bookmark folder to be resurrected in a bored time (rather than when they may be handy). And even since I added them, I've already used the tags. It's awesome. I don't really care if anyone else goes through them -- they're handy for me.

So once I completed that, I added another section to my sidebar here with my del.icio.us information and whatnot. I guess I figure if someone's here reading this much stuff...they might as well be able to see what else I've been looking at. :) I'm also trying to think of some more information to put in my other sidebar sections (namely the links and miscellaneous sections). I have some ideas, but I have to think about them yet. We'll see...

So, my Saturday wound up being a load of organizational stuff...which is necessary at times. I don't mind it. It's kinda in my OCD nature.

Since tomorrow's Sunday (it would mark the official one-week anniversary of this new venture), I think we might end up going to do some shopping in Alexandria. We'll see. There are some things we should probably pick up (like cat & dog food amongst other things) before the baby comes so it's all taken care of.

So until next time...

--MZ

The Dogs Get Attention


Matt & Dogs
I went out in the morning and gave them a little
attention after the overnight snowfall and wind.
Both of them had actually been buried in the snow
at one point in time during the night.
Beth captured this picture when I was out giving the dogs some attention (while I was shoveling snow). It was still snowing (and definitely blowing) at the time when I was doing this, but it was pretty calm on the immediate yard. These two absolutely love the snow. We had them out for a walk yesterday afternoon for a bit and they were as happy as could be.

Ahh, for a simpler life. :)

--MZ

Friday, March 2, 2007

Miscellaneous Near-Evening Rambling

I think I've managed to get my Flickr blog settings correct (the way I want it) related to not the picture itself, but rather the text underneath the picture. I've got a few I could post about (I might do that later this evening) to do a final test, but I'm pretty sure it'll work.

As 'promised,' I have a few items I found written down that never got rambled about. First off was an interesting bit of random knowledge I picked up in Winnipeg when I was there at a business meeting in December -- they can take up to a full year of maternity leave. I would imagine that would be a blessing and a curse. After all, I don't know if I had a year off of work if I'd actually go back.

The second item was also related to the most recent trip I took to Canada. On the way back from Winnipeg, as I got closer to the border crossing, I could see something strange in the distance. It looked like a line of trucks which indeed it was. As I got closer, it became apparent this was more than a traditional 'line' of trucks. This line was over three miles long! They were crawling along quite slowly, but I'd never seen anything like that before. Ever. My border crossing was pretty trivial compared to what that endeavor must've been. Yikes.

Anyway, I think one of this weekend's projects (maybe I'll start tonight -- we'll see) may be to go through my extensive bookmarks and do the del.icio.us thing. Now that I've sufficiently got the Flickr and Blogger business working well, it's time to move into that.

Who knows what's next -- an account at YouTube, I suppose. While I can do some video editing and whatnot, I don't have a digital video camera (or any sort of video camera), so I'm limited to what I can capture off a satellite receiver (or VCR). Not too sure I'll be doing the YouTube thing (posting, that is) anytime soon.

--MZ

A Suitable Template

I was going to mention this earlier today when I wrote the other post, but I finally settled on a template (and also figured out how to customize it better). Oddly enough, this is the template I initially chose. I spent some time yesterday evening (actually, spent a lot of time) trying to get a really sleek-looking template working. I actually got it working without too much trouble; however, it wasn't a template of the newfangled XML variety. That basically means it's not compatible with the new widget and layout stuff (which I really like).

So, after a few hours working on that, I gave up and reverted to old faithful here (the current template you see). I was then determined to get it looking more like how I wanted it. After doing all the old school template stuff, I actually was able to determine how the new ones work out (at least I have a much better grasp on it). So, then came the fun times.

I now have the template modified in a similar way I had wanted from the start. Most of these changes are related to the sidebar content. I would still like to widen the template some (I might do that at some point in time), but since I got more content in the sidebar now (and have it laid out how I want it), the page looks more well-used (aesthetically). So that a Happy Matt makes.

I've been doing some cleaning up on my desk (while I've been developing stuff today) since it's kinda cluttered, and I've come across a few notes I made related to posts I wanted to make on my old news system (but never did). I might ramble on about those things later today. We'll see. I know anyone reading this can't wait.

And speaking of reading -- I made convenient links for feeds over in the sidebar. Not trying to sound too narcissistic, but I've got my own feed showing up right in my quick links in Firefox. Fantastic. :)

Anyway, that's all for now...

--MZ

What a way to sleep!


Koshka at Night
Here's an example of what they (both) have been
doing at night lately -- digging a small hole and
sleeping in it. This one is Koshka's.
I took this picture last night earlier -- Koshka's curled up in a little hole she made in the snow (in the middle of the yard). It's the craziest (and rather cute) thing -- but they stay really warm and seem to enjoy it.

Beth told me at one point in time during the night that Koshka was completely covered by snow. Kurva's harder to see at night because she's further away from the yard light and on the other side of the garage from the house.

More to come...

--MZ

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Mid-Afternoon Rambings

So we had some snow and wind overnight. I think we actually got around 4 inches of the stuff; in some places I noticed drifts a good 6-8 inches deep (when I went out at 10 to get the mail). I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed thus far with the snow event. Granted, I've been at home all day...but still.

I still hold out hope that this evening will be nasty and unpleasant. We need a good blizzard-type of snowfall. :)

Regardless, I've spent most of the day getting things up-to-date on my computer here at home for development. Haven't managed to do much development as of just yet (although I've done some), but I did get both environments brought up to speed and checked out code from the server at the office (I love CVS). In actuality, most of the time spent was getting a certain development environment (which we use for handheld development at this time) installed and configured. It's a bit of a beast. The nice part is that now it's done, I'll be good to go for some time.

So the remainder of the afternoon looks like development time...unless more emails come in (which surprised me some -- I've had more email contacts with clients today than all week so far combined).

This evening's project I believe is to change the template here again. It is too Visual Studio-ish for me. So, I believe I'm going to host the images for a template I downloaded and go with it. Should be good times. I think it looks cleaner and better utilizes space than the ones I've tried so far.

Anyway...that's all for now!

--MZ

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday Evening Thoughts

It's been pretty quiet this afternoon/evening, but I write most of that off on the impending winter storm. Unlike the last one, this might actually turn out to be the Great White Wall of Death. Already it's more impressive than the last one...and we're only a few hours into it.

Beth got out of school early today, since they cancelled before the end of the day (even though it was only 2:30). I waited at work until she got home (mostly so I could verify if I needed to get anything at the grocery store before I headed home). But, I was on my way out of work by around 3:20. Of course, by the time I got out of the grocery store (you seem to run into everyone you know when the place is busy), it was more like 3:45 by the time I was on my way home. Yeah, I used it as a convenient excuse to leave work early.

I honestly don't intend to actually go to work tomorrow -- it's supposed to be worse after all. So after I did some regular work this morning (and up until lunchtime), I started gathering up items to bring home with me. That mostly entailed copying a load of stuff to my flash drive (and grabbing some CD's and a book), but it still takes time. And it wasn't a complete waste; I was intending to bring some of this stuff home soon anyway, because I'll be working from home for a while after the baby comes. So in a way this impending snowstorm is a good thing for me, because I'll have everything at home here configured for development and whatnot beforehand so it'll be easier when it's really necessary.

On a slightly different subject, I'd like to extend a hand to folks who work in customer service who actually do care about the average person. I had the fortune of working with a person over the phone today who, while she was simply doing her job, really did go an extra step. Going so far to suggest that I refer to her extension for any future questions. That's not all she did, but I actually felt like I wasn't just wasting her time and felt listened to. In a society that often treats customer service a lot like 'next number,' it seems as though it's often difficult to find the people who enjoy their jobs and actually treat people's concerns and questions as real. Or just do their jobs well.

Of course, the fact I wasn't belligerent probably helped (not that I ever intended or had the need to be that way). By and large, I've had pretty good luck overall (I'd say 2/3 of my 'customer service' type of calls in the last six months have been what I'd qualify as 'good' experiences) as of late.

So yeah, that's about all I've really got to note right at the moment.

Just because I found the video for it (and laughed a lot): Beer Launching Fridge

It's a hell of an idea -- and it looks mechanically sound. Very cool stuff.

Until next time...
--MZ

More Political Correctness?

So I'm watching a series TV show that had its season premiere tonight (and yes, I've admittedly become a sort of fan of this show). Normally I wouldn't be able to do this on the actual premiere night (since it's a Wednesday and I'm usually not home at the time of the show), but I had the luxury.

Anyway, on to the point. I'm watching this show, and someone actually used the following phrase:

Vocationally Challenged

Since when did it become politically incorrect to call someone unemployed?

--MZ

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Messing with a Template

I wasn't going to write any more today, but I'm playing around with templates a bit. My current conundrum is how to handle the sidebar. I like the sidebars, don't get me wrong, but I'd also like to have more usable space for the post itself. So, let's make the 'main' area wider. Seems fair enough, right?

I don't mind designing for the 800 pixel wide group, but realistically, unless you're still in Windows 98 (or have some express need to be at that (800x600) resolution, you're going to be at 1024x768 at a minimum... So let's design for a width of 900 -- a good, aesthetically-pleasing background behind it all, but more usable space for content. All of the machines on which I work daily (home and at work) are set to 1280x1024, so when I look around...I see lots of wasted space (and the need to scroll vertically).

Ah well. I'm going to sleep on this template for the evening. I'm not sure that I really like the whole 'Visual Studio' type of effect it has. It's clean, but it looks to Microsoft-ish (like I'm some sort of posterchild). If I like it, I might try messing with its settings to widen it. If not, I'll probably end up modifying the template I had before (which means resizing some images and hosting the changed images myself) or go with an un-hosted (meaning I have to host all the background images) template I found this evening I really like to better suit my unhappy self.

Time will tell, I guess... Until then...

--MZ

Video Time!

So I'm going through some video links and just generic YouTube browsing, and I come across this:


Now, keep in mind that I'm a geek when it comes to weird things like this, so I really enjoy it. One of my side projects now is going through my old bookmarks and adding them to del.icio.us. Once I get that done, I'll directly share stuff like the TWINKIES project and the overclocking an old 486 CPU by housing it in a refrigerator.

Anyway, that's for another day, but in the meantime...here's a few other links to videos I find oddly funny:

Family Guy -- The Big Bang Theory

Family Guy -- Suicide Bomber


Sometimes I find Family Guy to be a bit boring, but the social commentary is absolutely amazing at times. I can't believe they actually tackle some of these subjects. Other times, I feel as though I need to have a PhD in Pop Culture when I watch. Ah well...moving on...

I just watched a painful video on Windows Vista's speech recognition capability. I've not used it (as I don't have Vista), but there are times like this that simply typing out the code would be a better option:

Vista Speech Recognition

And last but not least this evening, a really cool juggling-type of thing:

Juggling in a Cone

Until next time...

--MZ

What do YOU want?

You know, sometimes there are just days when you expect to do great things, only do be bombarded by the random. Not that it's not a welcome change at times (it has its place), but I picked this picture of Felix (with the above title) as a fitting representation of my day at work.

Oddly enough, I only dealt with one client on the phone today (and that was a good conversation). I'm not complaining about people, either. My day today was originally going to be dedicated to adding some new functionality in a program (as per user request and upcoming deadline). But, as I was driving to work I decided that I actually should work on some other things -- a few of the bugfixes and loose ends which are out there (hence the 'what do you want' thing). I guess my justification for such a change is simply that there are more people (I use this loosely, implying a wider variety of clientele as opposed to sheer numbers) who have been requesting a few fixes and changes that have been shuffled into the 'to do' pile. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue (I could keep working on one thing for a while), but with the baby coming and whatnot, I got to thinking about it -- it just makes sense to tie up some of the loose ends (and risk pissing off fewer people) before they get too far out there. Another thing is that there's an impending winter storm heading our way (I'll write another post about that)...so it's good to try maximizing the time at work I can get.

But, the good news is that as of the end of this business day, there are fewer loose ends out there, I directly heard from a few folks who are now taken care of. That makes for a Good Day. And I'm open to more 'what do you want' stuff. :)

--MZ

Monday, February 26, 2007

Old School Tech Support

I've been meaning to post something about this for a while, but I'll do it now.

It's a video over at YouTube -- Introducing the Book

It's a fantastically funny bit, especially if you've ever done any level of tech support in the past.

--MZ

It's Never A Mundane Day...

Oh, the simple joys of Monday. Or not.

There's always something (or ten things) that happens to come up on a Monday. For starters,
my drive in this morning wasn't terribly difficult. Our road was a bit of a mess as the plow had only made one pass when I'd left, but it wasn't the end of the world. The highway into town was covered in ice (but at least no slush or remaining snow so that was nice), so overall the trip took longer than normal (which was anticipated). Then I had to shovel snow when I got to work. That actually wasn't that big a deal, but it's just extra stuff I was hoping to not need to do. After that, it was the normal Monday whatnot of getting caught up while trying to stay on schedule.

Beth had another prenatal appointment this afternoon, which went off without any sort of hitch. Her midwife made a comment something to the effect of 'it feels like there's a good amount of hair on the baby's head' to which I responded 'Congratulations, you're having a bear!' Seriously, I doubt that she'll be giving birth to the next Donald Trump, but some hair would be good. Don't need no bald baby coming... Anyway, an 'any day delivery' is normal now...so it's a waiting game. I know she's ready for the end. :)

So after her appointment at the clinic/hospital, we made a quick stop at the library to see if they had a particular movie she's intending to use in the classroom. That only took a few minutes, and we were shortly back at my office. A normal day...

Until I got out of the car. I immediately noticed that the front driver-side tire of the car looked a bit low. Upon not much more detailed inspection, I saw a big galvanized screw sticking out of the tire! Beth had to do some grocery shopping (on the other side of the alley from my office), so I went inside and did a few things at my desk while she did that. I came back out to notice that the tire was even more flat than it'd been just a few minutes prior. So, that in mind, we got in the car and went down two blocks to the co-op to see if they could sneak it in for a fix (keep in mind it was 5:15 and they close at 6).

When I walked in the door, I asked the tire guy if he could patch a tire quick. He said yeah, opened the door, and I drove the car in. Sweet. 15 minutes and it'd be fixed. So Beth went two blocks further to another video store, and I backtracked two blocks (to the office) so I could shut it down, get in my pickup, and pick her up at the video store to return to the co-op.

By the time I picked her up and drove to the co-op, the car was sitting outside again. Went inside to get the keys (and pay the bill) and we were on our way. That was a good way to end the strange day. I did many things I hadn't intended to do...but I guess that's alright, too. Tire got fixed for $13 (it's usually cheaper, but then again I've always just brought the wheel, not the entire car). Either way, I still can't complain and things are back to normal.

After we got home, I decided it was time to mount the [infant] car seat base in the car. That was pretty simple (even though they can be complex, reading the directions is really the way to go). So that's one less thing to deal with. Now we can simply strap the kid in the carrier portion, then drop it in the car and we're good to go.

Anyway, that's about all for now. I think I'm going to go hang out on the couch for a bit.

Until next time...

--MZ

Koshka In The Snow

You know, if only life were this simple. Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, here was Koshka in the fresh snow. She'd dug herself a little depression (hole, if you will) and decided to use it for naptime. Truth be told, she actually slept there all night.

Of course, when I went to bed last night, I could hardly see her. Her own body heat had made the hole deeper, so she was level with the snow. By the time you got the yard light factored in, it was difficult to see her.

They absolutely love the snow, though. They're much happier sleeping in the snow than in their doghouses. Oh, for the life...

--MZ

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Conversion Complete (More or Less)

Well, as it turns out, I did actually manage to get many more pictures online and ready to go. This includes many more than I ever had online before, and it's absolutely fantastic!

The new archive is over at Flickr -- a place I really have come to love in the last 48 hours. I've had an account there for a few months already but never really used it at all. I've only touched the surface of some of its features, but I really have come to love the organizational capabilities -- it makes life so much easier (especially to share).

So anyway, I would encourage anyone interested to go check that out!

In addition to that, I've officially switched the news system (there's a big disclaimer on the main page) to point to this location for news tidbits of mine. I intend to do some work around here when I get a chance (more specifically, I'd like to modify the layout template to appear to fit the old template and looks more accurately). But, I have also noticed how much easier it is for me to manage news tidbits (blog entries if you will) here.

I love technology. :)

Anyway, I have a few more actions to complete with the old photo system on the website before I sit down for the evening. That in mind, until next time...

--MZ

Great White Wall of Death

I magically 'stole' that fantastic title from Jason DeRusha of WCCO TV. He used it so magically in a Video Blog that I just had to use it here. In fact, I liked it so much that I changed my MSN display name to that.

However, I'm afraid that at least here (in West Central Minnesota) that a white wall of death it certainly was not. We got several inches of snow (I'd have to guess about 6" of the magic stuff), but the most impressive drift I saw this morning when doing some shoveling was about 18".

I like snow. I really do. I had been hoping for a snowfall like this for some time now. But I was left a bit disappointed in that we didn't get more. Now, I'm not asking for something like the upstate New York bit (where they had like 10 feet), but that 1-2 foot range would've been nice. Ah well, c'est la vie!

One nice thing about this particular storm was that I've only had to go clean off the Internet dish once (and that was when I was already outside). It's been a good consistency snow, and I can appreciate that. Fairly easy to shovel and move.

So, while I've not experienced a Great White Wall of Death, I have been fairly productive. We managed to get the wallpaper border up (although not necessarily well) in the baby's room. It's on the walls, and it'll stay up there, but there are some parts which need some attention. The adhesive didn't always like me. I'll probably get some more pictures come this afternoon or in the next week or so (pending a delivery).

And speaking of delivery -- Beth went to get the mail yesterday (Saturday) and upon returning to the house informed me that she would not be going into labor this weekend. That's probably a Good Thing, seeing as how it'd have been a lot longer (than the normal 15 minute) drive into the hospital had that need arisen. I haven't actually left the yard (although the snowplow went by this morning and our neighbor (bless his heart -- he's awesome) came with the tractor and blower to clean out the driveway (and my massive pile of snow behind the car from shoveling)), but I'm pretty sure we could make it (although it'd be slower than normal) to the hospital if need be. It's only a mile and a half to the highway...

In the meantime, I'm still working in Flickr -- this time uploading some of my 2007 One-Act pictures. We'll see how much more I do today with that picture endeavor after that's complete. I have plenty of things to write about, so I might spend some more time over here... And changing the old website to reflect this new stuff. I feel so high-tech now. :)

Anyway, until I feel the need to ramble more...

--MZ

Flickr On!

I was intending to make the initial post here yesterday, but I ended up getting enamored with Flickr and spent most of the day working with it. In a very short time, I had uploaded something like 600 images, about 2/3 of which were on the site (mzonline) before.

It's very exciting, because I can finally (with some ease, actually), integrate (read: link) one with the other and display some of these pictures that even I'd forgotten about. The organization capability is amazing. I've obviously still got all of the originals on my computer (which I could use in the event of needing a print, etc.), but it's so nice to be able to quite easily make these images available again.

So, of course, I've been working more on that today... The goal is actually still to 'go live' with both this system and the Flickr bits today. Realistically, this just means I finally make the links from one site to the other.

More posts to come today, though...

--MZ

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