TechFail, December 2012 edition

Internets, I swear to gods, I am deeply grateful to have enough income to spend on Shiny Things. I DO love my Shiny Things. But wow, sometimes transitioning from one set of Shiny Things to the next is positively crazymaking!

As I’ve mentioned on the various social networks, I opted to get me a MacBook Pro rather than a MacBook Air–and among the many reasons for this was to allow myself budget to also upgrade my iPhone. The phone was still working okay, but as it was a 3GS, it was getting long in the tooth and pokey. I didn’t like the idea of being about to fall off the support queue for devices that could run current builds of iOS, and I was quite sick of the erratic performance of the 3G network in Seattle.

I swear on a stack of the complete works of Tolkien, though, that I I did not lose that phone just to have an excuse to get a new one. It was nevertheless deeply, deeply aggravating to lose my phone at work, pretty much necessitating me having to buy the new device. The old one, I note, never did make its way back to me.

Meanwhile, I got the new laptop yesterday! Which was shiny and lovely and all… but then things started getting aggravating when I tried to migrate data off the old laptop, Winnowill, onto the new laptop, Aroree. Mac OS provides a lovely Migration Assistant utility that’s supposed to let you hook two computers up and slurp data from one to the other. I had this going over an ethernet connection last night, and it was chugging happily away… until it hung at the “40 minutes left” mark.

It stayed that way for well over an hour, up until I finally decided screw it, I had to go to bed. So I put the laptops in our guest room, so that their cords would be out of the reach of the cats. And I went to bed.

Got up to discover that Winnowill’s hard drive had gone to sleep–but that when I woke her up again, she was still stuck at the “40 minutes left” mark. AUGH, I said, time to break out of the Migration Assistant and try Plan B. Aroree was happy to do this and return me to Mac OS.

Winnowill, not so much. When I broke out of Migration Assistant on that box, she froze up. I had to power cycle the box. At which point it completely refused to boot, and I got a flashing gray folder with a question mark in it. Mother Google informed me that this is Mac-OS-ese for “your startup disk has vacated the premises, your file system is fucked, and you better pray you have a good backup”.

AUGH, I said. But, my belovedest userinfosolarbird, possessor of wit and wisdom, proposed the plan of grabbing the external drive off our Time Machine server and slurping data out of my last backup directly from that. We enacted this plan. THAT worked, and I have as of this writing recovered the vast majority of my data off of Winnowill. I’m happily typing away on Aroree. There are still some kinks to be worked out, but by and large, I’m back in business.

Winnowill, though, is toast. Dara further cleverly proposed tonight that we take Winnowill’s hard drive and try to boot it in her older laptop, Kiliandra, just to test whether another computer could boot the same drive. This test failed, though conversely, Winnowill was able to boot Kiliandra’s drive. Relatedly, I had just replaced the battery in Winnowill; it was starting to bulge with heat damage. Our working theory at this point is that perhaps the battery going bad in Winnowill adversely impacted the drive, and I happened to get just lucky enough that the drive held out long enough for Aroree to show up AND for me to recover data out of my last Time Machine backup.

We have no way of knowing at this point, but that’s a real plausible theory.

And in conclusion, HOLY CRAPWEASELS, damn good thing I had a working Time Machine backup, innit?

Now to let Aroree’s first, gigantic backup (214.17 GB, baby!) complete. Then I’ll need to finish smoothing all the other little rough edges left over from the data transfer–and THEN I can get back to work.

Couple all of this with how a major project at work has been making my entire team kind of crazy, and I swear, I’ve been spending this entire week trying to remind myself that no, it is not advisable to throw ALL OF THE COMPUTERS OUT THE WINDOW. It only helps a bit that I was also amusing myself by bitching about this in French too. Because some things are irritating enough that you need a whole extra language to contain the bitchery!

Aren’t computers FUN?

More fun with studying French in SuperMemo

Here’s an unexpected side effect of doing the prepositions lesson in SuperMemo: I’ve been able to catch certain examples where the written sentence presented to me is NOT the same as the spoken sentence that the speakers in the lesson deliver. I’ve caught at least three examples like this–one of which actually affects the preposition I’m being asked to fill in! Which is NOT helpful when I’m struggling with telling the difference between “de” and “à”, I can tell you!

Here’s an example where I’m seeing this happen.

Sa mère est très têtue, alors je doute de savoir la convaincre. This is the sentence I see as the written example. The speaker saying the sentence, though, does not say savoir! She says pouvoir, which I’m pretty sure is the actual intended sentence.

And here’s a sentence I’d like to someday be able to say about myself–well, after swapping in the correct pronouns:

Cet écrivain est devenu si populaire qu’il peut maintenant vivre de sa plume.

And I like this one just because whose wife wouldn’t like a black jaguar? (And sure, the example’s probably talking about the car, but I’m pretty sure my femme would prefer an actual jaguar. ;D )

Je pense acheter une jaguar noire pour ma femme.

I like this one just because it pings in my brain off the Le Vent du Nord song “Les larmes aux yeux”:

Pendant la cérémonie de mariage, les larmes me venaient aux yeux.

So, fun! I’m getting better at listening comprehension though as well as general reading. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t keep up with an actual full-speed French conversation yet… but I’m pretty happy with the bump up in my comprehension. We’ll see how things proceed!

Good news everyone!

This is definitely one of those times where I need me an icon of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, because he’s totally in my head right as I type this!

But the news, oh, it is good. It is SHINY. Internets, I’m getting promoted! QA Engineer II, baby! This comes from an excellent year of slurping up Python and finally bending my brain around class-based coding–this is what I get for having learned how to code long enough ago that object-oriented programming wasn’t really a thing yet, so it took me a while to get the idea down. But it’s in there now and WOO! PROMOTED!

*does a little dance*

There is compensation involved, a raise as well as a bonus, and oh, there will be a Shiny Thing. A very, very Shiny Thing. It’s about time to upgrade my Macbook, and this news is going to let me do it!

Winnowill, mind you, has served me well (and only those of you who are fellow Elfquest fans will understand the number of giggles I get out of typing that phrase, ha!) and does hold the record to date for longest-operating laptop I’ve ever owned. I got this MacBook back in December of 2007, which means that as of this December, Winnowill will be hitting her five year mark.

However, that’s an eternity in laptop terms and Winnie IS getting a bit long in the tooth. Specifically, she is just a touch too old to be able to run Mountain Lion. So I want a laptop that’ll let me continue to be upgradable along with the OS, at least for the next five years or so! The only question is going to be, whether I commit to a higher-end Macbook Air (because SO SHINY), or whether I go with a Macbook Pro.

There must be much comparison of specs. And thinking hard about what I need out of the next Laptop of Awesomeness to join the Murknet.

Though I gotta admit, if I wind up with an Air, that box is totally getting called Aroree. <3

As to what I’ll do with Winnowill–actually, I’m not convinced yet I’ll be decommissioning her. Winnie DOES dual boot between Lion and Win 7, and having Win 7 around is handy sometimes, not only for testing purposes but also just for playing our games! And as Mac OS continues to develop, it’ll be handy as well to have a somewhat older version around. So we’ll see. If I wind up with an Air, Winnie could also continue to be my iTunes box since I DO have a certain number of bands for whom buying physical CDs is still absolutely essential! (Great Big Sea and Le Vent du Nord, of course!) So many choices before me!

And SHINY THINGS! And promotions! And another awesome year to look forward to at Big Fish! Which, I might add, is now the longest job I’ve had EVER, as I’ve passed my previous record of 3 years, 7 months–which was how long I was at Attachmate. This coming January will be my four-year mark!


Taking a net furlough for a few days

After this weekend kicking me in the teeth, I’m not feeling up to dealing with the Internet for the time being. I need some me time, people. So I’m going offline for a few days.

Anybody who needs to talk to me, please send email, text, or call. If you don’t have the means to get hold of me in any of those fashions, I’ll talk to you when I come back later this coming week.


Anna vs. H. pylori, or, the Very Bad No Fun Not Good Weekend

A lot of you who follow me on the social networks and/or who also follow userinfosolarbird got all this in real time as we were posting about it, but for those of you who might have missed it, I was in the hopsital from Wednesday night until yesterday morning. What put me there was a bleeding stomach ulcer which turned out to be the kind caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Which fortunately means that this is a very easy type of stomach problem to deal with; I’m on a big honking fleet of antibiotics at the moment as well as an acid-reducing stomach med and I should be fine in a couple more weeks as my system recovers.

Continue reading “Anna vs. H. pylori, or, the Very Bad No Fun Not Good Weekend”

Et maintenant, une journée avec Anna

Dans ce post, je vais pratiquer mon français! Si vos etes un francophone, j’invite vous à m’enseigne si je faire une erreur!

Au matin, j’étudie le français avec SuperMemo sur mon iPhone. Je peux étudier sur le bus pendant que je vais au travail.

Je suis un testeur pour notre site web à Big Fish Games. (Je ne sais pas–une testrice? Je teste le site web!)

Lorsque je rentre chez moi, j’écris des romans fantastiques. Mon prochain roman sera publié en avril 2013!

Je joue la musique aussi! J’aime tellement le groupe Great Big Sea, qui a m’inspiré apprendre la guitare! Mais, j’aime maintenant la musique traditionelle du Quebéc! :D La musique du Québec m’inspire d’apprendre français, pour comprendre les chansons merveilleuses! J’apprends aussi la podorythmie à faire avec ma flûte!

J’ai tellement trop choses à faire–ma tête est très plein! Mon cerveau explose! Mais, je suis très heureuse. :D

A moment of medical self-reflection

I went in for my semi-annual checkup with my endoc this evening, the last holdout of my adventures with the BFFN. Which went well, as expected, though I had to sheepishly explain to Dr. Kohn that I was ragged around my edges thanks to dental surgery AND fighting off a cold. And on the way out, I added to her that I had learned from all my experiences with cancer how to tell when my pain tolerances were maxed out, and that I’d be heading home to lie down.

Which is all true. In the last couple of years I’ve gotten way better at telling when my system has been overloaded due to pain–which historically I’ve always had a problem with. I’m usually able to shrug off minor pain, until it builds and builds and eventually suddenly POW, I’m tired and cranky and nauseous and out of cope. That kind of pain is almost more draining than the blatant, outright agony of something on the scale of oh, say, breaking my arm (still my benchmark for Worst Pain I’ve Ever Been In).

All of which is a roundabout way of me deciding I should probably ask my dentist for a refill of the painkiller. My personal supply of cope has been stressed this week, even with preventive measures of working from home for two days in a row so I could continue to recover but keep working at the same time. I’ve been fighting off that cold, which impacts my reserves. And we’re about to head into an Excessive Heat Warning situation starting tomorrow, which is also not fun for my reserves.

So yeah. Surgery recovery + cold + high heat = I’d better call the dentist in the morning and ask for more painkiller. A decision part of me is chagrined about even with my more mature self-awareness about my medical limits–even with that, there’s an instinct of “I should just be able to handle the pain! I’ll be OKAY!”

Even now, it requires swallowing a bit of pride to be able to let myself say, “Actually, it’s OKAY to admit that I’m in pain and that I need a bit of assistance managing it. That is, in fact, the wise thing to do!”

This post goes out to all my Internet friends who face similar changes on a daily basis, or to those whose loved ones do so as well. This is me saying yeah, I hear you. And also, take care of yourselves and your loved ones! Especially if you’re in the Seattle area, and you have no air conditioning, and you’re joining me in facing the 90F+ heat adventures tomorrow.

The Great Canadian Adventure, Days 4 and 6–Montreal!

I don’t have any pics from Montreal, I’m afraid, so y’all are going to have to just make do with my textual descriptions to cover Days 4 and 6 of the Great Canadian Adventure–which I am combining on account of Memoire et Racines, Day 5, gets its own post!

The bulk of Day 4, really, went to the train trip from Toronto to Montreal. userinfocow saw us safely off to the train station, and once we got safely ensconced on the train, it became readily apparent that why yes, we were about to head into Francophone Canada. There was a Francophone family sitting across from us, and several of the train staff sounded to me like native speakers of French. What with hearing all those folks talk, I pretty much reaffirmed that I still can’t follow French at conversational speeds, but I can at least pick out days of the week!

All in all the train ride from Toronto to Montreal was pleasant. They gave us an excellent lunch, including wine, a tasty chocolate mousse for dessert, and surprise extra chocolates to finish us off. We were slightly disappointed that there was no actual dining car–we ate right at our seats–but this was more of a question of just needing somewhere to get up and wander to, as opposed to eating locale. The trip was long enough that it would have been nice to be able to stretch our legs. That said, though, other than that, it was an excellent train ride all around.

Montreal itself was nice, once we finally got there–not that we got a good look at it, really, until we dropped off our stuff and headed right back out again for our dinner plans for the evening! We stayed at the Hotel Lord Berri, which turned out to be a nice place, and I was a bit surprised to discover that they’d given us a room with two queen-sized beds. Dara made a joke about wondering when the convention was about to get started, given that that room configuration is one we normally have for Norwescon.

Montreal’s Metro system was, well, pretty much a subway system. Not terribly different from any other I’d been on before, with the exception of the stop announcements and the ads in the subway cars being in French. I did amuse myself frequently, though, trying to figure out which signs I could read at first sight.

And dinner, as it happened, turned out to be with none other than userinfolyonesse, along with userinfopywaket! We left the hotel and jumped right back on the metro system we’d just gotten off, and went ahead a few more stops to meet them over at a place called Chez Chose for dinner. If you’re ever in Montreal, Internets, I totally recommend this place. Our waiter was very friendly, and took the time to translate everything on their menu for us as well as chat with us in general. The menu in question wasn’t large, but we wound up trying a good half of the items on it and sharing them around the table. The only reason we didn’t go for dessert is because Vicka recommended a good gelato place nearby, about which we were all very amenable given that we wanted to walk off our excellent dinners.

The gelato turned out to be at Suite 88, and YOU GUYS, this stuff was the fluffiest gelato it has ever been my pleasure to eat. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Gelatiamo here in Seattle, but Suite 88 totally gave them a run for their money–and especially given that they had an amazing chai flavor that damn near made me swoon on the spot. SO TASTY. And we had more pleasant conversation there along with our desserts, and hung out there pretty much until it was time for the place to close.

From there, Vicka and Pywaket walked us back to our hotel–because again, we needed the exercise after our excellent dinners, but also because Dara and I had been on a train for much of the day and we wanted the walk. Fortunately it wasn’t too far of a walk at all, and the parts of Montreal we were walking through were comparable to downtown Seattle in terms of general walkability. We saw a LOT of people walking, too, which was awesome.

Did I mention that both Chez Chose and Suite 88 were on St. Denis, which is apparently the Street With All of the Awesome Things on it? Well, all the awesome things except for the Archambault, the chain music store which happened to have a store right on the same block as our hotel! I’d discovered this place online trying to hunt down places from which I could order Quebecois trad music, and the proximity of one to our hotel was irresistible. So on Sunday morning, after we got back from Memoire et Racines, Dara and I ducked in there to check the place out on our way to heading out for the rest of the day’s amusements.

Me, I scored two albums I wanted to get–the remaining album by Genticorum that I didn’t have yet, which is to say, their first one. AND, an album by Les Frères Brunet, which is to say, André and Réjean, of De Temps Antan and Le Vent du Nord respectively! I’d been wanting one of their albums ever since I discovered they had a couple, so as to give these boys a fighting chance against their bandmates, the bouzouki-playing Beaudrys. (Though going up against the Beaudrys IS a high-stakes endeavor, given my natural bias in favor of that instrument, André IS a podorythmic fiddle-player and that’s just about as awesome!) Dara on the other hand amused herself mightily in the store investigating their second floor where they kept all the instruments–and I do mean ALL the instruments, given that they had enough stuff up there to start a full school orchestra! She was particularly impressed by the bass ukelele they had, and if we’d had any ability to bring that thing home with us, I suspect we would have done!

After that was another place I wanted to hit–the Renaud-Bray bookstore, again on St. Denis! This specific bookstore had come heartily recommended by the redoubtable Cow, so I wanted to raid the place to pick out a couple of books in French to bring home. What books I got are called out in this roundup post, but to that I will add that the staffer at the store was most helpful when I pulled him aside and explained that I was trying to learn French from novels, and that one of the ones I wanted being YA was in fact okay. He said he was doing much the same with English, which was amusing! Dara kept chastising me for not deploying more French than I did, but she was right, I was nervous about it. And at any rate, given that everybody we kept buying things from in Montreal was perfectly capable of English, I didn’t need it much anyway!

Most of Sunday afternoon went to meeting up with Jill, one of my Kickstarter backers, and that was a nice encounter in general. She took us to get bagels from this place, and while they haven’t trumped my and Dara’s beloved Siegel’s in Vancouver, they did nonetheless have a very tasty Everything bagel. And the three of us did in fact wind up meeting up with Vicka again, for more ice cream! Jill and Vicka got to language geek as both of them have linguistics backgrounds–even if that part of the conversation rather left Dara and me in “I LIKE PIE” mode.

It must be said, though, that the ice cream place we stopped at had maple ice cream. With bits of maple sugar in it. And OH. MY. GOD. That was unbelievably tasty. I had to slurp mine down faster than I wanted, since I made the mistake of getting it in a cone prone to ice cream melt! But it was deeply swoonable while it lasted.

From there we had to scamper back to our hotel so we could pick up our bags and head out again for the metro, and our train to Moncton! About which I’ll elaborate in an upcoming post. Of Montreal in general I’ll say that I felt as though I barely saw the place, given that much of the weekend was spent in Joliette. Dara and I both definitely want to come back and see the bits of the city that we didn’t have time to see.

Next post, though: Memoire et Racines! :D :D

The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 3!

And now, let’s get back to recounting the details of the great Canadian Adventure, shall we? Because I gotta tell you people about Memoire et Racines, not to mention GBS, but I ain’t skipping ahead!

Our last day in Toronto involved less wandering around than the two previous ones, in no small part because we needed to keep some time free for userinfosolarbird to get back to Chez Cow and prepare for her house concert! But that said, we did have a good wander about through the late morning and early afternoon.

The first stop of the day was at the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park, so that userinfocow could drop off tasty Montreal bagels for a friend. On the way, Dara and I spotted various amusing signs out the windows of the bus, so I took pics. I was disappointed that “Dragons and Skulls” did not in fact sell either dragons OR skulls–it was apparently a defunct Chinese gift shop. “Adult Movie Pet Food” just made me giggle on general principle for the juxtaposition, while “Cabbagetown” made both me AND Dara giggle and think of Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s cabbage vendor NPC!

Once we got to the Legislative Building, we peeked into the lobby, as far as we could get in the building without joining one of the formal tours, and we did snap a few pics while we were in there. There was nice art on the walls as well as the ceremonial mace used by the Legislature.

After that we wandered through a bit more of the park, specifically cutting past a building that userinfocow told us was the medieval studies building for the University of the Toronto. There was a neat sign there all in Latin–and how many signs do you see on colleges anywhere, TOTALLY IN LATIN? I also rather liked an ivy-covered arch nearby.

Then we cut over to the Village, Toronto’s LGBT district, and I snapped more pics of urban art that caught my eye on the way. We stopped at Glad Day for books (where I picked up a potentially interesting novel called Three, mentioned in my last book round up post). We stopped for yogurt (which was tasty). We popped into a candy store (where I giggled at the sight of an ancient Six Million Dollar Man lunchbox, which I recognized because my brother had had one of those when I was a kid!). And we stopped to look at an AIDS memorial, which was touching.

But the thing I liked best about this particular day’s wandering was Riverdale Farm. I hadn’t ever encountered an urban farm before, and it was really pretty neat to be able to wander through a farm right in the middle of a major city.

Once we were done wandering around the farm, the weather took a turn for the worse–and just as we made it off the bus near Cow’s place, it finally opened up raining. I’d brought my raincoat, thankfully, so I didn’t get too wet. Dara was not so lucky!

But it was all good, because the rest of the day pretty much went to Dara’s house concert. Attendees If and Sarah were very fun to chat with (and I in particular had great fun talking to Sarah since she works for Kobo and I was pleased to be able to yak about putting Faerie Blood up on Kobo’s new Writing Life site), and they took well to Dara’s music, particularly “Sad Muppet”! A very nice way to round out the Toronto phase of our trip!

The Great Canadian Adventure, Day 2!

Day 2 of the Great Canadian Adventure involved more wandering around through Toronto, and in this particular case, that meant that our fine host userinfocow took userinfosolarbird and me along Queen Street towards downtown Toronto. The plan was to stop and have lunch and hang out for a bit, until it was time to meet up with Susan, my Le Vent du Nord fandom friend!

Queen Street was a good walk, not too strenuous or long, especially given that I’ve done comparable walking daily getting to and from work. There was a lot of construction along the route, but there was also some nice art, like the animal mural we found under one particular bridge! And I gotta say, I really like the random bits of under-bridge art we’ve seen in Toronto so far. Apparently Toronto’s bridge trolls are quite artistically inclined!

I didn’t get shots of all of the animals on that mural, but yeah, it was very pretty.

We eventually wound up at a place called the Distillery, this neat little walkable market area down near the lakefront, with a lot of nice old brick buildings. At the Mill Street Brewery pub, we stopped for some very tasty lunch. There were super-tasty pretzels with sea salt, and this day’s venture into Cider Science brought us Thornbury Cider. Which was tasty, a bit sweeter than the stuff we’d had the night before, but still not quite as intense as Strongbow!

Then we wandered more around the general Distillery area. We stopped in a tiny sake shop, which was awesome. The guy at the counter was very knowledgeable about the various sakes they were selling, and Dara and I did “Tasting Flight”, which was small samples of three different kinds of sake. We wound up buying a bottle, and Dara was particularly happy to be able to swap a bit of Japanese in conversation with the gentleman.

And we found some seriously neat skiffy-esque sculpture!

After the Distillery, it was time to head to the St. Lawrence market and meet up with Susan! Cow parted ways with us at that point, but it was great to meet Susan face to face. It was not surprising to me in the slightest that one of the first things she did was hand me one of the smaller posters for the Le Vent du Nord show she arranged, hee!

And it was also not surprising that the boys of Le Vent du Nord were one of my and Susan’s primary conversation topics. But we also yakked about Doctor Who, since Susan was wearing an adorable “Doctor Pooh” t-shirt–think Pooh with the Tom Baker scarf–and about audio equipment, Toronto, our various personal histories, the St. Lawrence market we were wandering through, and more.

The market, by the way, is worth mentioning just because it reminded me a lot of Pike Place, only more vertically oriented rather than sprawling. Much of the same kind of stuff sold therein, only involving a lot more maple snacks. I bought maple candy and icewine candy, the latter of which I hadn’t heard of and which proved to be tasty.

We wandered around the University of Toronto campus a lot, too, which was a nice place to walk. By the time we got there, though, a thunderstorm was rolling in–and neither Dara nor I had thought to prep for a thunderstorm! Dara didn’t have her umbrella, and I didn’t have my raincoat. DOH. Taking shelter from rain did however find us a neat arch with a WWII memorial.

The plan HAD been to take Susan to dinner, but we wound up blowing the time we had available just by talking and wandering! We did at least have a chance to duck into a cafe–again, to hide from rain–and drink hot beverages and yak more. But eventually we had to return Susan to the subway so she could scamper back to Uxbridge by bus. And Dara and I made our way back along Queen Street, heading back to Chez Cow!

On the way, we saw a spaceship building. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t an actual spaceship.

It got to serious raining by the time we made it off the streetcar, so we ducked into the first open restaurant we could find, a pizza place. Which had perfectly acceptable pizza, and a friendly waiter who told us he was from the Yukon and that he quite disliked the bit of Toronto he lives in, but that he quite LIKED the bit the restaurant was in! I.e., Cow’s neighborhood, Leslieville. We are so far in agreement on the excellence of Leslieville.

It continued to be quite thunderstormy as the night progressed, to degrees I haven’t experienced since I was a kid, or since Dara and I were in Orlando for the Worldcon in the early nineties. I dreamed of lightning as I slept. And I’m told that Toronto really needs the rain, so it’s all good.

Today, though, I’ll be heading out with my raincoat!