..: Seat of My Pants :..

Monday, November 11, 2002


My grandfather on my mother's side flew biplanes in WWI, and received the DFC. Too old for WWII. On my father's side: I am unsure what my grandfather did 1914-1918; probably in medical school. However, he was a doctor in a small town in Norway and together with his wife raised my father and his two brothers through three (four?) years of occupation by the Germans through WWII [EDIT: my father read this and corrected me to the following - April 9 1940 to May 1945] . My father was born in 1933. Good family friends (my other parents) back home in Alberta are now in their 80s. Don drove tanks in Italy in WWII, and I suspect Nancy worried herself sick in Ontario through the war years.

Got to work at 7:40 AM

Read/replied to email, checked server space left on SAN allocated to SCC after major image purge Friday November 01, 2002. Checked CCI intranet we have set up here to disseminate information regarding the Editorial Replacement project amongst the employees and discovered some poor colour on several images placed on the site. Downloaded images to desktop, fixed colour and density, then emailed results to a colleague that is beginning to share responsibility with me for maintaining the site (even though I have signons to do this myself!).

Realized with a start at 8:55 AM that I was skedded to be in a CCI course all day all this week. Grumps. Realized also that I will only make 5 of the 9 days of the course as I will start a SQL Server course next week off-site that will itself be four days long. Whipped stuff together and headed off to the class to find it didn't start until 10 AM. Good. Three phonecalls from the computer room (datacentre) with problem tickets assigned to me (2 for one user in Editorial - Business) and 8 emails (in about 10 minutes). All of a sudden, 40, 50, 60 emails flow in from the SCC server (config'd so I am messaged when there is a file looping in the error-tracking system that can't get routed to an error folder and so the server app just keeps barfing up the same file in error until someone actually stops the process and fishes in and removes the offending file). Its been fixed suddenly by a colleague who has the server mounted as a volume and has deleted the file from there, forgetting that it deletes the file entirely instead of moving it to the trash. I can't poke at the file now to see why it looped. This happens three more times during the day, generating nearly 800 error emails (!), and I still don't have a copy of any offending file by 6 PM in the evening.

Sent email to reseller of the forthcoming jukebox thanking him for pre-shipping the dual channel SCSI card (Adaptec 39160) and SCSI cables (Centronics to VHD). This will allow me to test functionality of the card and its driver at the server before the jukebox arrives (in a week?). I'll do it at night, when I have time, instead of sleeping.

Went to course at 10AM. It is a course on usage of the new pagination system layout tool we will be using as a newspaper and that I will be helping support as an IT git. While I had some training on this system in Denmark last spring during Survey Training there, I (and the class of 5 - three of which besides me were also in Denmark) am bowled over by the ineptitude and counter-intuitiveness of Layout Champ, the core application that is this course's focus. I mention in class a desire to go back to CCI and bang some heads together, but then remembered that vikings probably wore helmets for just this reason.

Break at 11:30 AM. Two phonecalls at my desk in queue: data centre and call from home. Gratefully answered the latter. All was well. Rushed up to user in Editorial-Business to talk about issue perceived there with Adobe Illustrator. Back at my desk I located the phone number for Illustrator-Macintosh tech support at Adobe and called them. Got a Customer ID and had to barf up a bunch of crudentials. Got disconnected. Called again and entered the Customer ID # instead of going through the hoops again. Number not recognized. Called again, got into the wrong queue. Called again and was routed by the first person to the wrong area. Glad these calls to California from Toronto weren't on my nickel. Hung up, realizing that class had re-convened ten minutes ago.

Arrived in class breathless and absolutely floundered for an hour trying to catch up those ten minutes. Never really did. Started bleeping over stuff because I could not see any involvement for me in that support area, but perked up when we talked a little about importing images and setting up dummy placements on the page. Sat through more utter frustration and peabrained GUIs until lunch.

Back at my desk. Answered more emails - one from a friend who sent a movie and asked if I recognized the person in it. I opened the Quicktime movie and blanched as huge breasts bounced across my screen and the camera wavered down across her midriff - force quit the app in panic lest anyone should be looking over my shoulder. Nice. Wrote him "no, don't recognize her" you little prick for sending it. He was serious. He said he recognized her from the latest Star Trek iteration. I don't even remember the series name as I gave up watching about halfway through The Next Generation. Called user in Editorial-Business for more specs and went up to third floor to pick up lunch in the cafeteria and see her at the same time (lunch: sweet/sour meatballs with sautéed onions on rice, Mango Snapple, Snickers, Mentos). It appears that she has two problems - the first I knew of (and had tried to call Adobe regarding it) consisted of Illustrator EPS files that seemed to be corrupted and weren't showing data properly in Preview Mode but were just fine thankyouverymuch in Outline Mode; What the f*? - the second was how to get Franklin Gothic Book as the default font instead of Myriad. Went back to desk and ate lunch while I had a look at a sample PhotoShop CD (free from Software Cinema, fully expecting to have my time wasted as I consider myself a PhotoShop Poweruser). Was pleasantly surprised to find it interesting. Got an email from one of the Books editors (broadcast to all employees), that he has more coffee table type books to give away in exchange for mini 50-75 word "reviewlets." I dash up and pick through remaining ten or so books (stack has already been ravaged by staff) and find: "A Palpable Elysium" by Jonathan Williams and "Architects of Peace" by Michael Collopy. Last week I picked and reviewed (and therefore kept): "Visions of Buddhist Life" by Don Farber, "the buddha - writings on the enlightened one" edited by Tom Morgan and "Full Moon" by Michael Light/NASA. The latter the most interesting, is a book of reprint images from the Apollo Missions. However, these were made from the first master dupes (Colour trannies and B/W negs) made from the originals in the late sixties/early seventies, and are therefore far, far superior in quality to imaging I have ever seen before of those missions. Who knew astronauts had stubble? The detail is that fine. One poignant image is simply a shot of the Moon's surface from chest level. On the dry, grey surface is a ziploc bag with a colour photo of the astronaut's family in it. Too cool. There is a companion website but not all links are working.

Back to class. Bitch, moan, complain (inside my head), how am I going to sell the usage of this app let alone support it in the newsroom? But loads of major dailies use it so we just have to learn to get along with it and join in the user's group woes.

Class finishes at 5 PM. I call Adobe again and jump through all the hoops to get to a human. Spoke for an hour; on hold for half of it - no joke! After FTPing the file in question to a temp address at their end, Adobe is unable to fix the corrupted Illustrator template other than to tell me to tell the users not to save templates as EPSs but rather a native documents (which I had mentioned I had already done before calling). He emailed me as well a standard release on changing the default font in Illustrator. Although the release denied responsibility for your implementation of their suggestion, it involved opening two files in a text editor (I used BBEdit) and copy-pasting some textual descriptor from one to another. This did indeed solve the default font issue. But further thought on this with a colleague suggested that if the pref were to be corrupted or lost or thrown out, the app would simply create a new one and you be back with Myriad. Test proved this out. So we opened a copy of the Illustrator application itself in ResEdit and went to the STR# resource. Under String 128 - General, I found a listing for Myriad - Roman. Copy-pasted here instead of in the pref, and closed ResEdit saving changes. Threw out Illustrator pref and restarted Illustrator. Magic! The little hack did its work. Franklin Gothic Book now the default font. Will disseminate *this* tomorrow.

7 PM. I check my pockets and find only dollar coins to take the streetcar home. It costs CAD$2.25 for a journey. IT has cleared out with no one around and only security at the main desk instead of the wonderful women who staff it during the day and who would give you their kids lunch if you forgot yours. Just then, pal across the Dilbertland-ness of IT appears and responds with "sure" and fists out at least 4 dollars in quarters from his pocket. Nice way to end the day.

I sync my iPod with several online news services, then plug into some Tom Waits while I head for the streetcar and read the day's news on the way home.


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