Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ah, the Good Ol' Days of OV to WinHelp

From: me

Good point Paula – and I totally agree that retyping may be easier in some cases. I wasn’t trying to make a blanket statement that my guestimate of 1 hour would apply to Carrie’s content.

In fact, now that you mention it and I reread my post, there was no way you could have known that I was remembering 10+ years ago when I worked for a different employer. One of my projects was to convert hundreds of OfficeVision (an AS/400 word processor) documents to Word / WinHelp. That was when I ended up with a master.cnt file and 100 .hlp files, when it was all said and done. I don’t know if you remember that, but a lot – and I mean A LOT – of people on HATT helped me through that conversion, like Char, Rick Stone, Paul O’Rear, Bill Swallow, and you. <grin> Please, don’t be insulted if I didn’t specify you in that impromptu list!

During that conversion, there was a wide range of page lengths. Some of the existing documents were really short – a page – but those counterbalanced the ones that were 50+ pages. I’m remembering a specific existing 65 page doc that was part of that conversion. It had not only content about the menu options that were on the screen, but bundled with it, there were implementation procedures of let’s say 6 steps each. The system I was working with was for a billing system used by telecommunication companies and this specific one had 15 menu options. One of the things I was also dealing with was cleaning up garbage like:

“To run the <State_Name_Calling_Plan> menu option, the user must have authority granted by your system administrator or another authorized user, if you don’t have a system administrator. Running the <State_Name_Calling_Plan> menu option requires that the user has an authority record set up through the Authority Maintenance menu option, which is conveniently located on the System Controls menu. If the user does not have access to the System Controls menu, the user cannot access the Authority Maintenance menu option to set up authority for this menu option – it must be granted by your system administrator or another authorized user, if you don’t have a system administrator. The <State_Name_Calling_Plan> menu option cannot be run during the Billing Cycle. Consult the documentation provided about the Billing Cycle to determine when the <State_Name_Calling_Plan> menu option should be run and what menu options must be run before the user can run the <State_Name_Calling_Plan> menu option. ”

Can you hear that blurb screaming, “Rewrite me! Please! Save me from this dribble! Create snippets about the <State_Name_Calling_Plan> menu option, about Authority Maintenance, about the System Controls menu, and about the Billing Cycle! Please! I’m begging!” I wish I had that source file available to look at, but it’s on a CD-R at my former employer. Cleaning up junk like that is why I wrote, “you guestimate that on average, it will take you 1 hour to convert each “chunk” to your new tool. You came up with that number because you have several long topics that will counterbalance several small topics that will take minutes to convert.”

Anyways, that’s where my head was at when I responded to Carrie’s post.

Happy New Year! We are planning to watch “Grown Ups 2” with our 17 year-old daughter, her friend that is a boy, and our 15 year-old son. BTW, if anyone saw GU2 and thought it was awful – it’s on a bunch of “Worst Films of 2013” lists – feel free to save me! At 44, it’s safe to say my “out all New Year’s Eve” times are over.

From: Paula R. Stern

The first question is why it would take an hour to convert a chunk of information? If that were true, you could type that chunk faster into a new tool than that estimate. If you really think it would take that long to go from any tool to any tool, that's what I would suggest you do – just go type it over again, given that a chunk really shouldn't be longer than a page (and often less).

Without commenting on what tool goes to what tool – most content can be imported in far less time than one hour per topic/chunk. Honestly, if it would take that long, you could probably export it to PDF (takes minutes); export that to Word – with the latest Acrobat version, what you get isn't that bad - and then import it into RoboHelp, Flare, whatever.

We are in the process of moving one client to RoboHelp – they are using Doxygen at one daughter-company; LaTeX at another. As part of the rebranding, we just took PDFs from each of these outputs, exported that to Word and reformatted it properly according to the new template. A 100 page document (probably around 200 chunks of information/topics), took us less than 5 hours to import and reformat. Importing it to RoboHelp shouldn't take more than 5 hours once it has been properly formatted – if that.

So, I estimate 10 hours – let's double it for argument's sake and to make the math easier. So – 10 hours to import 200 topics comes to 20 topics an hour, or 3 minutes per topic.

Using your equation of 1,000 topics – we're talking 50 hours – or $2,500 – even doubling that – you still come to $5,000. The learning curve for some applications is longer than that. Again, this is a real life, just done example of moving from PDF to a help authoring tool – in this case RoboHelp, though I have no doubt Flare would be just as fast.

I agree that going into AuthorIT would take much longer and be more complicated but if the direction is AuthorIT to RoboHelp (or Flare), honestly, piece of cake.

From: Rhonda Bracey

Spot on Paul. And don’t forget the cost of training, and perhaps getting in a consultant to help set up new templates etc. for the new tool. Back in 2009 I wrote a blog post on just this – I still think it’s as relevant today as it was then: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/the-real-cost-of-new-software/

From: Me

I realize I am chiming in a bit late, but I wanted to point out the ‘hidden cost’ to converting from one tool to another - the total number of hours you will spend just to get from your current tool to your new tool.

I am using the numbers in this example because I suck at math and I’m knee deep in work so bear with me.

Let’s say your hourly rate, whether you are salary or not, is $50 / hour. That’s the number your employer uses for calculating its salary budget. Further, let’s say in your existing documentation, you have 1000 topics or chunks of text that need to be converted from AIT to RH, Flare, whatever. Further, after analyzing your content, you guestimate that on average, it will take you 1 hour to convert each “chunk” to your new tool. You came up with that number because you have several long topics that will counterbalance several small topics that will take minutes to convert.

So, with your 1000 hours of work, multiply that by your hourly rate ($50) and you get a conversion “cost” of $50,000 and after your employer spends $50,000, they will *just* have your existing content transferred from one tool to another. There won’t be any “normal” updates of your content. The newest feature that all your customers are begging for? It won’t be included. The new topics you are planning to write based upon your Support department’s Top 10 Questions We’re Asked on a Daily Basis – those won’t be done. You will simply have the exact same content you have now but instead of opening AIT, you will open RH, Flare, or whatever.

And, if you fire up your calculator and divide 1000 hours by 40 hours, you’re looking at 25 – 40 hour work weeks that will be spent converting and, really, how many of us spend 40 hours only on a single task? It’s never been realistic in my nearly 18 years of being a technical writer.

Good luck with your situation - I hope it works out well for you. Please keep the list informed of what you end up doing!

From: Carrie Zinck

Thank you all for your advice regarding the switch. I’m very interested to see how many of you suggested Flare as a better solution. As I finish this comparison matrix, I’m going to add Flare to the list and see if that might be a better compromise.

I so appreciate you all!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Please Press Pause to Continue

I don't plan an exhaustive rundown on all of the highlights / lowlights of 2013.

Highlights of 2013

  1. Reaching our 20 year wedding anniversary.
  2. Reaching 3 years / 1096 days sober.
  3. Seeing the following in person:
    • The Harlem Globetrotters at the iWireless Center with the entire family
    • Shinedown / Three Days Grace / POD at the iWireless Center with Kevin
    • Multiple Iowa Hawkeye basketball games with Alex
    • Shinedown / Skillet / Papa Roach / In This Moment /We as Human at the US Cellular Center with Alex
    • Multiple Iowa Hawkeye football games with Alex
    • Saxon & others in Cedar Falls with Kevin
    • Bayside in Des Moines with Megan
    • Gene Hoglan drum clinic with Alex
  4. Playing not one, but TWO gigs with Lou's Classic Ride.
  5. Completing another excellent year at my employer.
  6. Achievements of the kids: 
    • Alex earning a spot on the Iowa City West freshman basketball team 
    • Megan earning a spot on the Iowa Ambassadors of Music European tour.

Likely Highlights of 2014

  1. Reaching our 21 year wedding anniversary.
  2. Reaching 4 years / 1461 days sober.
  3. Seeing the following in person:
    • Skillet & others at the iWireless Center with Alex
    • Bayside, if they add an Iowa date in 2014 with Megan
    • Metallica, if they tour *anywhere* close to Iowa.
  4. Playing more than two gigs with Lou's Classic Ride
  5. Completing another excellent year at my employer
  6. Achievements of the kids: 
    • Alex making the Iowa City West sophomore basketball team. 
    • Megan going on tour in Europe with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music tour in July 2014
  7. Completing the reconversion of my 4000ish CDs

Lowlights of 2013

  1. Numerous funerals and wakes
  2. Experiencing a hard drive failure with my 63,000+ music files
  3. Not producing music reviews
  4. Not seeing friends nearly enough
    • not an exhaustive list, but off the top of my head
      • Serbi
      • Brian Rock
      • James
      • JR 
      • Phl
      • BSS
      • Kevin
      • Todd Eadie
      • John / Yvonne
      • Bill / Debbie
      • Dave / Cindy
      • any member of the MMC group

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Recent Bayside News

One of my favorite bands, Bayside, announced some tour dates in 2014. The closest possibility I have in seeing them on this tour - they do not have a date currently scheduled in Iowa - is Saturday, March 8, 2014 in Chicago. The likelihood of me going to that show is somewhere below zero so, in the meantime, I can just watch this video.

Back in Business

  1. Foreword
    • The holidays are now behind my family and I. We went to Balltown on Christmas Eve. I started this blog post yesterday and was going to post up to #5, but it has turned out, instead, to be a much longer post. I suppose I could split up each day into its own post if I wanted to artificially inflate the number of posts for the month. 
  2. Christmas Eve (Tuesday)
    • Santa was very good to me. I got the Bourne trilogy on DVD, which I started watching with Jonathan & Tyler. Karen also gave me a pair of running pants and Iowa hooded sweatshirt as well as the wireless keyboard I'm typing on right now. It's a tradition to get a Christmas tree ornament and mine was a miniature KISS lunch box that I plan to use for storing loose change instead of actually putting it on the tree.
    • For Karen, I bought a $50 iTunes gift card and a keyboard that lights up for her iPad. I was very nervous and fearful that a gift card would be considered "not putting thought into her present" but it worked out fine. I was happy.
    • The kids were given gifts, but went to bed disappointed because they thought they were getting iPods for Christmas. We gave them other presents on Christmas Eve.
  3. Christmas Day (Wednesday)
    • We all got up and went to 8 AM Mass at Balltown. Church was not crowded. 
    •  During the Sigwarth gift exchange, I ended up with a transparent scarf, a pearl necklace, and a bottle of lotion. I started joking that the scarf was a shirt for Karen and that I would give her a pearl necklace, and that the lotion was aphrodisiac lotion. It was funny.
    • At night, Louie had a cold / cough so he went to bed. That left Mark, Susie, Jean, Karen, and I to play Shanghai rummy and then horse deal, a card game where you bet. I don't really like horse deal and kind of whined about playing it. At the end of the game, though, I made $1.30, which was ironic because I didn't want to play it in the first place. Jean called me a "hog" because I won that much. That same night, Mark and I watched some episodes of "Duck Dynasty" before calling it a night.
  4. 12/26/2013 (Thursday)
    • The Great Political Discussion took place between Louie and I. 
      • For reasons I don't fully comprehend, Louie and I got into a long 30+ minute discussion about politics and the state of the Republican Party. As someone that enjoys stimulating conversation, I really enjoyed the point-counterpoint nature of our conversation. I liked how I was able to formulate an argument/point and get Louie to either agree or concede that what I was saying made sense to him. You see, Louie is about as Conservative as they come. He is still under the belief that Elvis started the downfall of modern culture. He talked about how it used to be that you worked at the same employer and when you retired, they took care of you because you had been loyal to them. I pointed out that that era is over. Technology is taking away jobs and people don't stay at the same place for their entire careers. 
      • When I said that, I was thinking about how the employer I worked for a dozen years serves companies that are providing, among other services, landline telephone service to their customers. One of the three reasons I left that employer is because I felt that the market was shrinking and I didn't see a way for that market to exist in a decade or even less than a decade.  
    • After the Great Political Debate, we played cards. 
    • After playing cards, we went to see Lou's sister, Alice, at Stonehill nursing home and sing Christmas carols. 
      • On our way out of Stonehill, there was a door open to a resident's room and what I saw made me realize I am human. A woman was in a bed and she looked like she was not breathing well. She looked like she was in pain, as she slept. I felt really sad for her. 
        • Jonathan noticed I paused as I went by her room and commented that he felt bad for her. 
      • It made me realize that someday, I will be old and someday I may look like that. I don't necessarily like nursing homes in the first place, but to then see someone like that, who *looks* like they don't have a high quality of life just makes me not like nursing homes even less. I hate the idea of all my life being confined to a room the size of the den I'm sitting in and not really doing anything except waiting to die. I don't want to 'go out' like that. I don't want to push myself in a wheelchair or not be able to take care of my self when I have to poop or pee. I don't want to walk around with a walker that has tennis balls on the bottom so that the walker slides across the linoleum.I don't want Megan or Alex or anyone, for that matter, to come visit me and to talk about 'the good ol' days' when I wasn't in a nursing home. I'd rather just be in a car accident or have a massive heart attack or something quick so that I don't sit there, trapped in my own body, waiting to die.
    • After Stonehill, we went to Happy Joe's in Dubuque for supper. The pizza was good, but we were seated next to the video games and the window where you can stand and watch pizzas be made. There was a large group of kids, ages 2 - 4 (my guess) and they were LOUD! They were having a good time, but it was clear that the parents of these kids were not being parents.
  5. 12/27/2013 (Friday)
    • We left Balltown for North Liberty later than I wanted to, but it worked out fine. After getting the truck unloaded, I was strong-armed into playing Pictionary when Megan's boyfriend, Logan, came over. It was really kind of awkward because it's not a lot you can do with a fifth person. Eventually, I grew tired of being "all time timekeeper" and "all time guesser" and went and sat on the couch. My intention to have Karen model the shirt I won in the Sigwarth gift exchange flew out the window when I got really tired and fell asleep on the couch. I guess I was anti-social, but driving home took a lot more out of me than I realized.
  6. 12/28/2013 (Saturday)
    • We watched Aron, John and Sarah's 2 year-old son. He is a cutie. He will sit and watch Star Wars and be mesmerized by what he sees on the screen. I think it is flipping awesome.
    • After we watched Aron, we went to Fred and Julie's for conversation. Mark and Mary Kurth were there too. We were there for about 3 hours.
    • When we got back and settled, it was nearly 11 PM. I rented Elysium from South Slope. I liked it to the extent that I understood what it was trying to say about taking care of Mother Earth and about being good citizens to each other. The plot is that all the rich people leave Earth and live on a space station that orbits it. On Elysium, there is no cancer or illness, but on Earth, it's really bad. The director of District 9 directed this movie and there were a lot of similarities in the way it was filmed. I am kind of glad the DVR, for some reason, doesn't allow you to pause because I think it skipped over a scene where there was probably graphic surgery. I know movies are fake but this surgery that they were going to do? It looked like it was going to be VERY real. I ended up staying awake, watching it, until 1 AM.
  7. 12/29/2013 (Sunday)
    • I was wide awake at 7:15 AM and came down to the den to continue the reconversion.
    • The agenda for today includes a trip to Cedar Rapids. 
      • We are going to 11 AM Mass at Saint Thomas More. 
        • I have not played drums during Mass for over 2 months and have no reason to believe the trend will end today.
      • I'm not entirely sure what the timetable for today is, at the moment, as far as who we are going to see first. It doesn't really matter to me, I guess. It's the time of excursion on a Sunday I know I have to do, but it's not all that joyous or exciting to do. Both items on the agenda (seeing Dad, seeing Mom) have to do with the end of their time on Earth.
        • When we see Dad, he wants to go over where he keeps all his financial information so that, when he dies, I know where every thing is located. Personally, I want Karen to hear all that he tells me, just so I have her to rely upon to make sure I understand all that is said to me. 
        • When we see Mom, it's basically visiting a shell of the woman that raised me. When Megan and I went up to see her a couple of weeks ago, I liked that when she saw me, she smiled. Other than that, I don't like visiting her and it's not because I don't want to visit Mom, as a person, but she is not my mother, if that makes sense. My mom had a Master's degree and taught kids to read for 40+ years. The woman I visit at the facility where she lives now is not that woman. The woman I visit can't construct a sentence, can't say my name, and has a left hand that is crumpled. I find it very ironic that she can't use her left hand because all her life, she was left handed. The room she sleeps in has no inkling of her personality - it doesn't have pictures or anything. It simply has a bed that is provided by the facility.
    •  When we get back from Cedar Rapids, I am not entirely sure what we are going to do. I would like to continue with the reconversion. I have one of the Elkader PCs running Windows Media Player because my other primary laptop's CD player doesn't seem to want to work today. 
      • I am considering trying to get a second PC (one of 4 towers that are currently idle in the den) running so that I can be ripping 2 CDs at the same time, but I don't think I have a second functioning PC. 
        • The larger issue is I don't have the room, physically, in the den to set that up so that I could have multiple keyboards functioning at the same time. At work, I had bid on a metal desk with a return, but the way it has turned out, I am glad I didn't bring it home. While it would have been so nice to have it so that I would have the physical workspace area to have multiple PCs ripping CDs at the same time, we need the space in the den for the occasional air mattress. 
      • According to the schedule I made for the reconversion, I should be complete with Spindles #3 & #4 by December 31, 2013 but, and this doesn't make a lot of sense to me, starting Spindle #5 today and finishing it by January 5th, 2014.  Only being able to rip a single CD at a time is slowing me down. That schedule also didn't take into account that I was in Balltown. I had thought about taking the laptop to Balltown to work on the conversion, but as things played out, I really didn't have any time to work on it. 
      • We do have a Toshiba laptop and I'd get that going, but I'm not really wanting to do anything with that laptop at the present moment. I need to make sure I have all the files I need off of it and then I am going to get it reset to the factory default settings. There is a lot of junk that needs to be blown away. Essentially, the problem is that junk and crap was downloaded to it because I didn't make the kids non-admin users. I gave everyone admin rights and that has resulted in a junky laptop.
  8. Epilogue
    • As 2013 winds down, I realize that I have a lot on my plate and I don't see that ending anytime soon. I look forward to the days, weeks, and months ahead. I don't consider this my final post of the year - I'm simply summarizing the post.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Change in Status

This is to document that on Saturday, December 21, 2013, I accepted a change in my relationship with Dailyvault.com. Jason, the editor, emailed me and in a very nice way, pointed out that I had contributed 3 CD reviews in 2013. That doesn't include the concert reviews I wrote but the gist is the same - my productivity was shit. I have excuses and reasons, both, for my lack of volume and only one word to describe it: disappointing. The year has been a series of broken promises that I made to Jason, the latest being that I was going to write reviews of the new Dream Theater DVD, the self-titled Dream Theater CD, and the two Five Finger Death Punch CDs and have them to him by the end of the week of December 20th. Here it is, Sunday, December 22, and I have an intro paragraph done for the self-titled Dream Theater CD.

Here's a new word: pathetic.

So, with all of the evidence mounted against me, I accepted the role of "Contributing Writer" whereby I am not held up to the same requirement standards of submitting reviews as often as expected. The writer guidelines are clear and it's also clear I did not meet them.

I wouldn't feel bad about this turn of events if DV was a site that I had just started writing for in recent years, but that is not the case. I began writing for DV when I desperately needed to write music reviews. It was after ICON, a local newspaper in Iowa City, had an editor who, frankly,. He  didn't like my writing. During his tenure, the only CD review that was published was one while he was on a brief sabbatical when he was having knee surgery. That review of Sammy Hagar's "Marching to Mars" was also the first review that DV published: http://dailyvault.com/toc.php5?review=261

Damn, I still like that review.

Anyways, I am hopeful that shifting to CW will be the kick in the ass I need to resume writing music reviews.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nailed it!

From a Bill O'Reilly column:
Astounding 72 percent of American adults believe big government is the biggest threat to them; 21 percent say big business; five percent big labor. Now that is a repudiation of liberalism -- pure and simple. However, the folks have not yet connected the dots.

They don't like big government. They feel its intruding on their freedoms but they have not linked it up to the Democratic Party and President Obama. Part of the reason for that is the utter incompetence of the Republican Party which still isn't able to present a clear picture of how massive government out-of-control spending and over regulation is harmful to the folks. Unless the Republican Party can find a leader to do that, the country will remain divided."

I am not a mindless Bill O disciple, but his last sentence sums up what I believe. 

Google Has a Sense of Humor

Duck Dynasty

I support Phil Robertson. I don't think the show can exist if he is not on it.

I've watched the series for several years I routinely watch the show on Wednesday nights and record it on the DVR if I'm not home.

I think the show is hilarious and cite these as my favorite moments:
==> the episode where Uncle Si states that "fried shrimp" come from the ocean.
==> the episode where Godwin gets his hot tub set up in his front yard
==> the episode where Jase brings a dead beaver to Willie's kitchen sink.
==> the episode where the lizard gets out of its cage in the warehouse
==> the episode where Willie and Si ride along in the police car and pull over Willie's sister-in-law
==> the episode where Miss Kay invites herself along on her grandkids' bowling excursion
==> every episode ending with the family praying before they eat.

I don't know how the show exists without Phil Robertson.

I wrote all of the above as background for what I think about the explosion of controversy that has rocked our country the last couple of days. First, just to be clear, this is what Phil said, in part:

[Sin]’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical

When this came out, the GLAAD organization released this statement, but I'll quote one part:

Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. 

Who is the GLAAD organization to presume that they know what "true Christians" believe?
For my own reference, here is a link to the interview that sparked this controversy: http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson?currentPage=1&printable=true

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pause? Nah, I Don't Know what the Hell that Means

Thankfully, or perhaps not, this week has flown by. I had an awesome 1:1 with my manager today. It was fun to realize that our meeting naturally was extended from 30 minutes to 60 minutes because we were having a really good conversation. On top of that, when I got out of my meeting, I was assigned to help Alan, a co-worker, get a document ready for distribution. There were 1181 instances of "Normal" style in that Word document when I started working on it and when I handed it off back to Alan today at 3:15, there were none. No bold characters because of pressing Ctrl+B. No italic characters because of pressing Ctrl+I. No underlined characters because of pressing Ctrl+U.

Then, on top of all of that, I finalized another document for a different client and got that off my desk.

I felt productive.

Until I realized that the document I had started to work on first thing was still not done. Then I felt like the hours in the day went pass me too damn quick.

After work, Karen and I went to Best Buy to exchange her Samsung tablet for an iPad. She didn't like the apps that came with the tablet, even though it's the same OS as her Samsung phone. She is now wading through setting it up. Unfortunately for Karen, I know nothing about iPads. I mean, NOTHING. I cannot be her technical support, even though I was roped into being her TS because she needed the incoming and outgoing mail server names. I called our ISP to get that information.

Anyways, the big story around here is that there's a winter storm coming and when it's going to arrive is a guessing game. We are going to Alex's game at Cedar Rapids Xavier tomorrow and it starts at 4:00. That means I'm actually picking up Karen a little before 3:00 so we can make it up to his game. 

Outside of a great week at work, I didn't spend time on the conversion other than Monday night. I am trying to get my 2nd spindle of 100 CDs ripped prior to Monday AM. I know that next week, with Christmas, will be interesting to see if I can get it done.

One final note is that currently, there is no scheduled rehearsal for LCR. I know that life is busy for all of us and I totally get that. I am as busy as Matthew, who is dealing with some issues and as busy as Joe, who is dealing with a search for a new job. I haven't really talked to Brian lately but I would guess that he is busy as well. When we find the time to play together, I think we sound good. I think if we were to get a gig in early 2014, it would be beneficial to us as right now, we do not have a 'next gig' scheduled, unless you count being asked to play the Courage Ride in August 2014. I definitely think we need to gig somewhere prior to that! I am hoping something materializes sooner than later. I miss playing with Joe, Matthew, and Brian. I miss the opportunity to play songs I like. I miss playing:
  1. "Switching to Glide" and 
  2. "Saturday Night" and 
  3. "Gimme 3 Steps" and 
  4. "What I Like About You" and 
  5. "Big River" and 
  6. "Stuck in the Middle" and 
  7. "Rocking in the Free World" and 
  8. "Paranoid" and 
  9. "Rock and Roll All Night" and 
  10. "Lonely Boy"
I think those are the top 10 songs of the ones listed on the LCR Master List page that I want to play at our next rehearsal. I don't think that our next rehearsal will be in 2013, unfortunately. I am hopeful for early January 2014.

It was also announced today that Bayside is touring in the spring of 2014 but, thus far, they are not playing in Iowa. They are playing in Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis, but not stopping in Iowa City or Des Moines. That's too bad although they are playing in Chicago on a Saturday (!!) so I can at least pretend that it is possible that I will go to Chicago to see them play.

Monday, December 16, 2013

15 Day Increments, Not Weekly, Not Daily

I am going to track the reconversion through a separate page, rather than burying it in the flow of posts. Look to the Pages list to the right.

Do What Matters

Just now, I read Do What Matters and I'm sitting in awe. I subscribed to the Must Be This Tall To Ride blog a week or so ago. The author is 34, divorced, and is an advertising copywriter. In other words, we are not in the same place on our life journey. He writes about love as something to cherish because love never fails. I find his writing style to be engaging and witty. The other day, he wrote about his son swearing at school and it was a funny post.

What is important to me? I answer, "My wife. My children. My Catholic faith."

Then I get into materialism.

My CDs / cassettes.
My journals.
My drums.

If I could write posts as interesting as what I've read at the Must Be This Tall To Ride blog on a regular basis, I would be happy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Guns - Sleep - CD Conversion Continues

  • If I was drunk the night before and I awoke in a haze, I am fully convinced that this article about gun violence since Newton would sober me up prior to reading the information about February. I could barely stomach reading this article. The tragedy, the sadness, and the horror of what we, as human beings, do to each other is terribly chilling. It would make me frozen in a sauna.
  • Just for the record, no, I did not drink booze last night. I was watching a Hallmark movie and between 9 and 9:30, I fell asleep. When I woke up on the couch, I promptly went to bed. I fell asleep almost immediately. I have been fighting off a cold and I think yesterday's excursion to take the boys to West to catch their bus, followed by driving to Marion, then shopping, then to Coral Ridge Mall, and then home... well, I think it was too much for me and so I tuckered out.
  • I'm starting the second spindle of my CDs. I am somewhat disappointed that it seems there is no mention - anywhere - of one of my favorite punk bands called The Twits. It's like their CD, which I have listened to countless times, does not exist in the world. Searching for "The Twits" is an exercise in frustration. I find this: http://www.bandmine.com/11020682 and a lot of help that is.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Zoey's for lunch

I was born in Cedar Rapids but today, I have been two places I have never been to before.  1st is Linn-Mar High School and 2nd is Zoey's Pizza. I am sitting here alone because Alexander and Karen went to the popcorn store across the street. I am hoping that the food is goodgood because I suggested coming here . I have also learned WWE is coming to Cedar Rapids on Saturday March 1st!

Phil Collins

I don't give Phil Collins enough respect as a drummer or as a musician. I have always cautiously liked his work with the 80s version of Genesis - "Invisible Touch" was a great album that I wore out on cassette - but I haven't delved into the progressive rock side of Genesis. That all said, this is an amazing song.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Reusing Content

Megan and I did go to see my mother last night. She was in a really good mood.

Meanwhile, one other thing about this week at work. In the user guides I work with in MS Word, I’ve found a really powerful strategy. I can create a cross reference to a numbered step. This has helped me out a lot with steps in procedures that are repeated in multiple procedures. For example:

Procedure 1
1. Go to Path 1 > Path 2.
2. Edit this.
3. Do That.
4. Click Save.

Procedure 2
1. Go to Path 1 > Path 2.
2. Do That.
3. Edit this.
4. Click Save.

I set up cross references to each numbered step in Procedure 2 to each numbered step in Procedure 1, assuming all the text is the same. Then, if I make a change to any text in any of the steps in Procedure 1, that text is updated in Procedure 2.I was working with content that had the exact same navigation path. As I played around with the wording of the navigation, I was able to update all 4 procedures very quickly. 

Coupled with this macro, my life has become much more automated:

Sub RefreshAllFields()
' Macro to update whole document, Fields and TOCs
Dim oStory As Range
Dim oTOC As TableOfContents
Dim oTOF As TableOfFigures
  For Each oStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
    If oStory.StoryType <> wdMainTextStory Then
      While Not (oStory.NextStoryRange Is Nothing)
        Set oStory = oStory.NextStoryRange
    End If
  Next oStory
For Each oTOC In ActiveDocument.TablesOfContents
    Next oTOC
For Each oTOF In ActiveDocument.TablesOfFigures
    Next oTOF
End Sub

I've Got Chrsitmas Spirit, Yes I do! How about you?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Another Career Update

First, just for the record, last night, we did not have Lou's Classic Ride rehearsal. For the record and because I may not always remember what I did, here it is: I watched TV and fell asleep relatively early.

Thinking about it today, I realize it would have been a good night to work on the conversion projects, but I did not. I was tired. The day began by taking the boys (Sam Goldsmith, Seth Goldsmith & my son, Alex) to basketball practice at Iowa City West in the morning. This meant my alarm went off at 4:30 AM. Alex and I left the house at 5:10 AM and by 6:00 AM, I was sitting at my desk. It will be the same schedule tomorrow as well. Alex's team voted to have an early morning practice, mainly so the team will be free to watch the Iowa / ISU men's basketball game tomorrow night. The team's original schedule was for them to get done with practice at 6:30 PM. Because I am an early bird type of person, I volunteered to drive in the morning, even though I think that getting up early will result in not working on the conversion tonight.

Second, the reason for my post. In my cubicle, I have a schedule for a document that needed to be written. These were the project milestones:
  • First Draft Complete: 12/6/13
  • Development Review Complete: 12/10
  • Updates Complete: 12/11
  • Development Approval: 12/12
  • Published: 12/13
I am happy to acknowledge I *did not* keep that schedule. This is the actual schedule:
  • First Draft Complete: 12/6/13
  • Development Review Complete: 12/12
  • Updates Complete: 12/12
  • Development Approval: 12/12
  • Published: 12/12
I was done an entire day EARLY!! I received information about some UI changes on Tuesday, 12/10, and then, yesterday, I was in a 1 hour meeting where the document was reviewed. After the meeting, I made the updates. This morning, I sent the document out! I am happy to have completed this work.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Career Update

I chuckle when I think about how life has so dramatically changed both in my attitude about my life and about my attitude about my career. It is well documented on this blog that I love my current job. I really do. I get rather animated when I think about Confluence and reusing content. I can include a snippet in multiple pages and, when I update the snippet, the multiple pages are automatically updated. It is so powerful! I want to use that strategy in my Word docs as well to avoid making multiple updates to text that has traditionally been copied and pasted multiple times. We have a section in our user guides that duplicates content and, per a client, it is necessary to have that section. Therefore, I am using bookmarks and cross references within Word to automatically regenerate that section. It is somewhat time intensive to set up, but it is going to be really sweet when it is fully operational.

And it's not just using snippets and cross references in the docs I work on that makes my job awesome. Before I write about 2013, if you knew me in 1992, you knew me as a different person. I was an English major and I had a college professor. He did not like that I didn't actively participate in class discussion. To this day, I don't know why I was intimidated by speaking in class, but in his letter of recommendation for me that I had asked him to write for me, he wrote about how my verbal skills had been slower to develop. I have never forgotten his opinion of my verbal skills and it has repeatedly challenged me to be a more vocal person when it comes to my personality in the workplace. It turns out it was the kick in the ass I needed.

I thought about him when I was on the phone recently with a co-worker going over proposed changes to a user guide that a client wanted to have us make. When I explained my reasoning, I had a flashback to spring 1992 when I had to defend my term paper through oral arguments. I did so much better in 2013 and my oral defense of my reasoning for the way in which the user guide is structured and written compared to that term paper. The best part of that phone call? My opinion was respected and the majority of changes I rejected because they didn't match our department's style guide were accepted by the client. I had a good day.

Another thing that happened was I got an email from a co-worker. I've been working on completing a column in an Excel file. I am 12% complete. My co-worker emailed me to ask about my status and I had to explain that I had been working on other projects with more pressing deadlines. I wanted to write back to her that I had made more progress than 12%, but I couldn't. I thought about this Dilbert when I was writing my response.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Trapped Under Ice


We just got back from the Mass at Saint Thomas More where the candidates for Confirmation were introduced to the assembly. I'm not usually concerned with what people wear to Mass. During the summer, I routinely wear shorts and a shirt with a collar.

But Confirmation, in the Catholic church, is a BIG deal. It's one of the Sacraments. It's where the candidate says, "I believe in God" on their own. At the Sacrament of Baptism, the candidate's godparents made that statement for them and then, at Confirmation, it's up to the candidate to say, "Yes, I believe in God." It's a big deal.

But why doesn't our parish, Saint Thomas More, get that? Why are Confirmation candidates looking like they just got down with basketball practice and wearing a sweat suit? Why are the parents of these candidates saying, "No. Absolutely not. You are NOT wearing that to 11 AM Mass when you are being introduced as a Confirmation candidate."

To me, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Season Begins. ..

I am here at Iowa City West High School to watch Alex play in the second game of his high school basketball team career. They won the first game of the season last night. Coach put him in the game with a 18 point lead and 1:34 left in the game. Then there was a 7 minute scrimmage and Alex played the entire game. He was fouled in the act of shooting and then missed the two free throws, so I am going to hope that he has a great game tonight.

War on Christmas

I am not a fan of this guy. O'Reilly says the ACLU is waging a war on Christmas. This guy gets this majestic quote from an ACLU spokesperson who says, "What? Us? We aren't waging a war."

If the ACLU sees what they are doing as "right" why would they think it is a war? They think it is their mandate.

Personally, I say "Merry Christmas."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

27 Ways to Get More Sh!t Done

Great article about getting stuff done, which I really like.

But it's missing an entry.

28. Instead of writing blog posts for http://prhmusic.blogspot.com, simply keep track of great ideas for writing about later.

Sir Ozzness' Birthday

Ozzy Osbourne celebrates a birthday today. Here is my favorite song that he sings.

And the Winner is... Alev's "We Live in Paradise"!

I began the process of reconverting on Sunday, December 1, 2013, @ 8:15 AM and the first CD I converted was Alev's "We Live in Paradise."

I will have a project for the next couple of years. I see 3 major groups os CDs to convert:
  1. 2600 CDs on 26 spindles
    • That is not 2600 'albums' as I have several data CDs with multiple releases.
  2. 1000 CDs that are on one of my 2 wooden racks.
  3. 480 CDs from Mitch
    • Using the Craigslist site for Indianapolis, I connected with Mitch, who was selling CDs. When I returned from Indianapolis and the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) from 11/21 - 11/24, I brought with me 4 zipper cases of CDs. His ad said "500 CDs for $225" but my official count is 480.
      • Some are bands I listen to on a regular basis:
        • Alice in Chains
        • Stone Temple Pilots
      • Some are bands I do not listen to on a regular basis:
        • Smashing Pumpkins
        • The Cure
        • Ben Folds Five
I look forward to working on the conversion. I did not do so last night, but I plan to do so each night the rest of this week.

Grim Reaper

Ah, Grim Reaper.

I don't know why this band never got the accolades that other metal bands from this same era received. I know they were criticized by Beavis and Butthead - I vaguely remember their description of the singer as looking like a pig - but I didn't really understand why. It's kind of like a radio station never playing Poison but playing an Aerosmith tune that came out at the same time.

This song is on their second release "Rock You to Hell" and I have always liked the lyrics.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I am sitting here at Mass.  No, it's not started yet, but this is my first post I am writing on my phone instead of a PC.  This is not something I plan to do a lot of but it is nice to have the phone pick the next word for me.  The youth group sounds like they are missing some percussion, but as of now, I sit here and I am not sure if I will play drums.  Thanks to my big mouth. I am content to sit with Karen and Alex.

To Begin Again

After a short break, I'm sitting in the den with a CD ripping. For the sake of documentation, I re-converted my first CD at 8:15 AM on 12/1/2013 and it was Alev's "We Live in Paradise." I am going to add a tag "Conversion Projects - Redo" in addition to the existing "Conversion Projects" tag so I can separate the two conversion efforts.

I am also going to keep track of my file count for the redo and what percentage I have redone compared to where I was when the 1 TB hard drive failed, which was 64603 File(s) 541,778,588,259 bytes. For the sake of clarity, I'm going to say my previous conversion was at 64600 (minus 3 files) just so it is an even number. I'm pretty sure I had at least 3 duplicate files when it died.

In the meantime, I'm working on a list of all the directories I had so I can create a separate page on this blog and track when I reconverted the CD. I have an issue that I had a lot of folders / albums that were not physical CDs - they were downloaded from youtube.com, they were downloaded from publicists, they were borrowed from friends / family / neighbors and ripped, and I'm sure a lot of other ways that I can't think of right now. Thus, when I am 100% complete with the process of ripping every CD I own, the numbers between what I had and what I have will probably be somewhat close (because of the 480 CDs from Mitch in Indy), but it will not have my entire collection. It's not a 1:1 anymore.

I hope that this all makes sense when I am rereading it in the future. I will say that if my 1 TB hard drive ever comes back from the dead and I can retrieve my files, I can't honestly say that any hours I put into reconverting will be wasted hours.

It's 9:31 and I told Megan I would go with her to 11 AM Mass at 10 so that she could sing. Karen's in the shower but I need to slip in and be done prior to 10 AM. I don't know if I will play drums at Mass - it'd be okay to do so, but I need to be ready.

Club Scene in JW

The video below is from a movie that was rated R by the MPAA. Viewer beware!