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      Wednesday, February 02, 2022

11:56 AM - 02/02/2022

The topic: I’m still alive and kicking

I have my fingers in so many pies right now, that my mind is on overload ("what should I do next?") and I end up doing not very much. Of course, this cold (for me, anyway) weather doesn't help. If I'm cold I want a blanket over me and, honestly? For the majority of my adult life blanket = nap. Back in my late teens, I'd be at my boyfriend's house and if I got a blanket, his roommate would comment "say goodnight, Dianne".  'Cause I'd be asleep in less than five minutes.

And here we are. The middle of a southern California winter. Most of the nation would consider our weather balmy. My fingers, toes and nose would disagree. Anyway....

So, here are a few things I WANT to do.

Use my We R Memory Keepers Cinch machines and make something with them. They're little binding machines using spiral or those plastic thingies for little books or journals...well, I guess a journal is technically a book. Or calendars or fun cards. So many ideas rolling around in my brain.

Catalog all of my movies. I got this scanner thing last year to keep a record of the movies we have so I wouldn't buy streaming movies if we already had the hard disk. Movies we hope to be watching in our little outdoor movie theater (when the damned weather warms up). I think I mentioned this last year.  So far, I've done the Blu-Ray movies. Seriously, I'm sure we have thousands of movies and I've scanned maybe fifty at this point.

Speaking of the outdoor theater, I updated the page to mention that I decided to ditch the bluetooth for the headphones and just connect them with wires. The sound is immensely better, but...to my ears, it's now muffled. I got a new little device that I hope will allow for the adjustment of bass and treble. I need to test it out, but, damn, it's cold outside! yes

And, let's not forget the 3D scanner kit I got last year. For the business. Brian wants me to do this. It took five months to get delivered. I got it as a Kickstarter and I see it's way more money that we paid for it. Brian wants to make pieces that he'd like his supplier to produce. After the mess he's been going through for the past couple of years, he feels it would be so much easier if he could make one piece, I scan it, then print it out with the 3D printer and he sends the sample and the files to the supplier. That's the plan. I got the stuff set up, felt overwhelmed, put it back in the box and played Candy Crush instead.  So, that's something else on my "to do" list.

I also want to catalog all of my CDs.  Remember I started this last July? Ha! Zero progress made. 14110113

I have projects from the last few years I never shared here. I have photos and movies and they just keep stacking up. I need to get on this! So many fun things I've made! This past week I think I finally found the easiest way to take little movies to show the interactive cards I've done. Got it all set up and tested it out, looks like it will work. Now, to just do it.

And the animules. Lots of photos and little movies, the kittens will be six months old on the tenth. They're growing so fast! To my eye, they still look like kittens, but in photos? You can see the adults they'll become.

I want to reorganize my craft supplies in the garage. Have I mentioned it's cold?  Well, it's colder in the garage. So...that ain't happening any time soon. I've been trying out new kinds of markers and brushes and media, that I really do need to figure out where to put everything so I'm not digging through boxes. Although I finally did get the Lawn Fawn supplies categorized. Which has been a really good thing. Although it appears I lost a couple of dies between my workstation and the envelope where they're supposed to live. Damn it.

And I still need to wash the floors. That hasn't been done since before I got my hip replacement. Boo!

And I don't know if you heard about the plane crash in El Cajon last month. Well, it happened about a mile from us. We heard a weird noise, the lights flickered off, then back on, then went off. The weather was crappy, the airport is behind a hill (you can see the hill sometimes on the backyard camera) and the pilots messed up. Very little damage on the ground, but the plane was demolished and the four people on board died.

We were lucky, our power wasn't out for long at all. But it broke my exercise bike. Pedaling was like walking through thick mud. I got a new one! And it took the two of us about two hours to get it up and running. I promised I'd ride it. It has some programs that I can follow a picturesque route using my phone (which I actually figured out to get running on the extra room television!). I rode it for the first time this morning. I had to. I promised.

I ordered it on Amazon and they shipped us two of them!  WTF?  Brian dragged one into the house and I contacted Amazon and the second box was picked up within forty-eight hours. Those boxes were over a hundred pounds each!  What kind of mistake was that?

I also got the old Wii up and running again. Exploding batteries had damaged the balance board and the wireless sensor. Thank goodness for eBay. Now it works. Brian says we need to start doing something (we haven't walked for a couple of months, my digestive system isn't back on schedule for some reason and it's no fun to be a half mile from the house and try to make it home before there's a nasty situation).

I've been doing jigsaw puzzles! Those are fun. Problem is, not much room and it's hassle to cover every night (kittens, am I right?). I found a case? over on Amazon that seems to work nicely. So, now I can work on one as I want to, not because I need the room.

And that has been my last couple of months. Pretty boring, don't you think?  I'm hoping getting back into an exercise routine helps me to get off of my ass and get things done. I always like making progress and that's something I haven't been doing too much of for the past few years. Bad hip, Covid. I do have a couple of the comorbidities that increase my chances of hospitization, should I contract the virus. I'm obese (there, I said it), I have high blood pressure (drugs take care of that) and I'm old. Yes, I'm totally vaxxed and boosted, we wear masks in public, but I'm not ready to die just yet.

I have stuff I need to get done.

      Monday, February 07, 2022

06:54 AM - 02/07/2022

The topic: Where does the time go?

It's kind of hard to quantify or categorize the time sucks in my life. One of them is my Epson R1900 printer. If it worked as it was supposed to, there'd be no problem. But there have been modifications made. This is my second R1900.

I'm pretty sure the printhead blew out on my first one back in July, 2020. I was printing out pictures of Ike on large format photo paper and all of a sudden, there was a definite blue tinge to the photos.  (Time out, Wendy is demanding attention.  Okay, she's done.) Over a month trying to fix the problem and nothing worked. I ordered all sorts of nozzle cleaners, thinking it was just a clogged nozzle and money out the window, it wasn't.  I tried different settings on the computer but the colors just never came out right again.

I ended up getting another R1900 on eBay. I had also ordered replacement ink tanks from a seller on Ali Baba. The company here in the US told me they were no longer available here. Great. So, I got them from China. It took a couple of months before we got around to getting the replacement printer set up. Physical modifications had to be made so that I could run the continuous ink system. For the ribbons that carry the ink to fit and holes in the case for the waste ink container. Without a waste ink system, the ink just builds up in the pad in the bottom of the printer and will eventually kill the printer. I also switched out the waste ink container with a milk carton. Brian drilled holes in the top of the cap, one for the tubing, one for air.

Now, with our office setup and where my printer is, something happens with the ink tanks that isn't pleasant. The sun will hit them just right and heat up the ink. And it will actually start to flow and the tanks end up empty.  All ink is now mixed in the waste container.  It's a hassle to fix, I have to refill the containers and use a syringe to pull the air out of the little cartridges in the printer and have the ink flow back in to them.  It hasn't happened that often because I had paper with foil on it blocking the sun's rays.  When I changed out the printers, I neglected to redo the block and just used a large piece of paper. Obviously, that's not going to work. Taking care of this problem is really not my most fun thing in the world to do. Last weekend, I refilled the tanks. Saturday morning, they were completely empty.

Which brings me to where the time goes. The project for the morning, a calendar for Brian, nothing fancy, had to be put off until I got this taken care of.

The milk carton was half full of old ink. I emptied it. I refilled the tanks. I pulled the ink through the ribbons into the cartridges. I printed out the sheets of nozzle checks, to make sure the ink was flowing freely. It was not. Clean cycles. Nozzle checks. Clean cycles. Nozzle checks.  It took a few hours until the printer was once again ready to print. Thank goodness.

Now, this calendar I print out is a yearly calendar with just the weeks. I made this because people who ordered months ago would like to know how far along their order it. Brian quotes a certain amount of weeks when they place their order, but life happens and the time to the manufacture of their product gets longer. After seeing him trying to count weeks with just a wall calendar, pulling up the pages to go to the next month, I came up with this. It's a plugin for Word and Excel, by the name of WinCalendar. It's been a big help to him. I print it out on 13" x 19" cardstock paper. This is an important detail for the remainder of this story about lost time.

Last week, Brian mentioned needing a calendar that had more than just eighty weeks on it. Otherwise, I'd be making a new calendar as he closed out a month. I figured I'd make a calendar with maybe about a hundred and fifty weeks. I'd use two pages and tape them together. Sounds like a plan, right?  And it would have been if I hadn't made one stupid mistake.

I had the calendar up in Microsoft Word. I had all of the holidays listed out, having unbolded the names from the default settings. I had the margins set to super thin, trying to take advantage of the paper size. They were wrong. Every frigging time I reset the margins and printed out the calendar, Saturday was cut off. It was so frustrating! I spent way too much time trying to get this thing formatted properly.  I did make a mental note at one point about the printer. I was sure it printed 13" paper, no wider. For some reason, I had to move the guide to the right about an inch. So, gee, maybe I've been thinking about this all wrong all these years, that maybe this printer actually prints 14" wide. I wondered if I could find paper that size. (Do you see where I'm going with this?)

I got a tape measure out and measured the current working calendar that was hanging on the wall. Yeah, 13" x 19". I couldn't for the life of me figure out where I was going wrong. I was getting close to serious frustration tears.

Then, hours after I started, I held one of the pages that I'd been printing that day up the the calendar on the wall.

Not the same size.

The paper I was trying to print out a 13" x 19" graphic, was only 12" x 18".

Yeah, I swore. I swore a lot.

I checked my paper stash and got the right sized paper. The first print was light, I had to do another head cleaning (after the nozzle check) and the next calendar was perfect.  This time I made two calendars, with one month overlapping. I cut out part of the bottom part, taped it over the top and now there is a one hundred- and forty-two-week calendar hanging on the wall. The little strip hanging over the edge is a piece of the too light calendar that I've numbered from 0 - 50. Now all Brian will have to do to see how far out an order is from the time it was placed was put the 0 on the date the order was placed and go to the current date on the long calendar and match up with the number on the strip. A whole lot easier than counting each week.

Something that should have taken less than an hour took the entire morning. This is where the time goes. I'm always thankful for the projects that don't have issues. 

photos    geekstuff   

09:12 AM - 02/07/2022

The topic: Do you like to try new things in the kitchen?

These. I tried making these yesterday. Lemon cream turnovers.


I learned some things.

Number 1: if the recipe calls for "whipped cream cheese", buy whipped cream cheese. Forget about making your own "whipped cream cheese".

Number 2: when the recipe says to "quarter the pastry sheet"  don't believe it. The pastry sheets I've found online (trying to find sheets that are square) are 10" x 15". This is the size of the sheets in the freezer. Quartering that would give you four 5" x 7.5" pieces of pastry. Do you know how hard it is to fold a rectangle (not a square) evenly from corner to corner?  There is definite overlap. Don't believe the quartering thing. It won't work. I ended up with six pieces of puff pastry (which were no way, no how, five inch squares, although they would have been if I'd used a ruler to slice them, but that's not quartering) and, boy howdy, was the end result a mess (I did find a dough cutter set with the largest one being 5" square...it will be here on Wednesday.) And since there were six instead of four, I made more of the filling! Which was really yummy!  But a messy, messy mistake.

Number 3: don't overfill the pastry dough. Just don't do it. Take my word for that.

Number 4: referencing rectangles instead of squares, it's pretty hard to get all of the edges closed with the fork. It really is. And without closed edges, guess what happens to the filling when it gets hot?

Number 5: DO use parchment paper or foil to line the baking sheet. This was a HUGE mess. I'm glad I got this one part of the instructions right.

Number 6: the egg wash...brush it on? with what?  A brush? How exactly how would you clean this brush? Something I've wondered about since my twenties.  For these turnovers, I just used a paper towel to brush the egg was over the turnovers. Silicone brushes! The answer to my question. In my Amazon cart right now.

They actually turned out nicely.  One of them was almost perfect!  The other five had filling that kinda, sorta left the dough and I tried scraping that off of the baking sheet and putting it on the dough. These turnovers were mostly flat.

But, I will say they were damned good.

Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?



      Thursday, February 10, 2022

07:53 AM - 02/10/2022

The topic: PC audio

Remember last year when I did this? I'm still glad I did it.

The speakers I was using with my computer were pretty old.  I mean before Amazon old.  You know, old. I dug through my boxes of "retired" equipment and found speakers I got in 2013. I checked on Amazon, they still sell them for ten dollars less than I paid for them.  I shoulda waited...nah, I used them as speakers for one of our old flat screen televisions when the sound went out. (Honestly, I'm old school, I just don't see how a flat screen television can have decent sound. Our latest one seems to, but I ended up getting a sound bar and we also use headphones when the A/C or furnace are in use because we can hear the car crashes and the explosions just fine, but for the speaking parts?  Volume up! Then volume down! Repeat as needed.)

Anyway, I got these speakers set up with the computer. The sound wasn't ideal. Muffled. Tinny. Sounded like cheap speakers (I wonder why?).  I tried installing an old equalizer program I'd gotten, DFX. I got it like a hundred or so years ago and since my license was for an old version, it wouldn't install. I tried installing the latest version, but kept getting the same error message that there was no settings file.

Well, this past month I really wanted to fix the sound. And I went back to the website where I'd originally gotten the DFX program.  Hey, look! The most recent version is now free!  Oh, yeah, free is good. I downloaded it and had the same problem, same error message. I installed it on the laptop with zero problem, but the PC just kept puking out that error message.

I posted on their forum (where it said they check the forums on a weekly basis) and two weeks later, still no response. I posted my disappointment at the lack of help and went off to see if I could find a reason for this message. And I did. It seems this is the message you get when your computer believes that you are not authorized to view this file and you do not have permission to open it.  Okay, I've had this problem in the past with other software, but it isn't something I've had to deal with on a regular basis, so I had to look up instructions. And I found them.

It took me a couple of tries to get the right owner from the list, but the software opened right up and now my old cheap speakers sound just fine.

The software can be found at FXSound.com. It really is a great equalizer program.

plex    music    geekstuff   

10:07 AM - 02/10/2022

The topic: When the Avengers had vet appointments on the same day

I made these with my Epson R1900 printer. The same one that was giving me fits this past weekend. They came out so nice. Our personal information is on the other side.

First I found the plastic cards, then I was thrilled to see that there was an actual guide available for my system. At first I was just going to use zip ties to attach them, but found these little clips that made it look so much more professional. And the hole punches I had weren't going to be exactly right for what I wanted, so I got one of these! It punches the perfect size hole for these cards and the clips.

The photos below were all taken on the same day.

Even with the tags on the carriers, Steve and Goose came home with different colored paper collars.  And they're still hard to tell apart. Goose's fur is a little longer than Steve's, one is darker than the other and Goose has a more round face, where Steve's is more triangular.

They've grown a lot since then.


spayneuter    photos    geekstuff   

      Sunday, February 13, 2022

07:48 AM - 02/13/2022

The topic: Quick tip

For a cheap backdrop for taking photos

Poster board and Contact paper.

For not very much money, you can get a pack of poster board and different flavors of contact paper so you can have a different look as you like.



      Saturday, February 26, 2022

09:29 AM - 02/26/2022

The topic: This and that

Yesterday morning I noticed the weather laptop had rebooted the afternoon before. The problem was that the two applications that it runs, weren't running. The photos from the roof that are sent to the weather page every fifteen seconds weren't sent and the weather station itself wasn't updated as it should have been. And that sucked because we had the coldest morning we've had in years.

So, I did some research and found possible ways of the system bypassing the login page (stupid for us, there's no one here but Brian and me) and having programs automatically run at startup.  I figured I'd work on that later.  When I was thinking about this yesterday afternoon, I realized it would be a lot easier to do if I had a keyboard for the laptop. The laptop is raised and out of the way, it doesn't have a battery (eBay purchase a while back) and has to be plugged in. It runs 24/7. All of the USB ports are taken (geek stuff, fans, mouse, VGA to HDMI adapter, etc). To do anything on it that involves typing, I have to stand on a stool. It's pretty awkward. Last night I checked to see if the laptop has bluetooth and it does. So, I ordered a bluetooth keyboard that should be here today.  The cool thing about that is I can use the keyboard with my phone (much easier for text messaging) and the television (logging into streaming services is a real PITA). It should be here today and hopefully, I'll get the laptop so that I don't have the problem of losing data when it reboots itself.

What else...oh, I found out this morning that my two year old camera will take time lapse photos.  I got some bubble guns from Amazon and the cats have fun chasing bubbles. I took video last week and found out this morning that I did not take video last week. I guess I didn't push the record button. Great. Anyway, I searched to see about time lapse and my camera and there was a short video about settings for time lapse and yay! I hope to try that option out soon.

I ordered some pasta from Walmart, the guy sent it from his Amazon account. With a gift receipt. WTF? Sad thing for me is I hadn't checked pricing and it was over four dollars cheaper at Amazon than I paid at Walmart. Life, am I right?

I printed these (found on thingiverse). I doubled them in size and am working on a backing for them. They're going to be super cute when I'm done. There are more, but one thing at a time.

We started watching Orphan Black a couple of weeks ago. We're hooked. We're in season three at this point, averaging three episodes a night.

Lawn Fawn came out with their latest collection. So many cute things this go round. I wish I could buy them all. I did get some stuff, so I'm happy about that. Now, I just have to get busy making things.

I did get some cheap webcams on Sidedeal.com last week. They're for bloggins, I guess, they have a light around the lens. That should help. I tried one out with my video capture software and it looked good. I figure I will use them to take video of stuff I'm working on. At least, that's my plan at this point. I just need to get my ass in gear and do it.

Not really a lot going on right now. Well, a lot of small things, but nothing major. Which is good. Like Michael Bryce says in "Hitman's Bodyguard" - "boring is always best". Story of my life.

geekstuff    craftstuff    catstuff   

      Sunday, February 27, 2022

11:16 AM - 02/27/2022

The topic: Well, that didn’t go as well as planned

Trying to set up the weather laptop to auto start on reboot and there's a problem with logging in.

I got this laptop for cheap on eBay and it came ready to go. But it had a set user name that I've been unable to change or get rid of.

I am now in the process of completely and totally re-installing windows and getting rid of the stuff I wasn't using.

Then I'll put the programs back on that I was using and leave the other ones (graphics programs, for instance) off.  I don't use that computer for anything besides the weather station and the roofcam.

Not thrilled.

weather station    roofcam    geekstuff   

      Monday, February 28, 2022

06:37 AM - 02/28/2022

The topic: Singing taps for the laptop

It's done. It's history.

It died. Couldn't take the pressure.

Seriously, it had been running hot for a while, I had external fans aimed at it to keep it cool for a couple of years now. It just couldn't take the work I was having it do yesterday. The system fan gave a couple of whirls and noises and it just refused to boot up, no matter what I tried.

It told me it had a NTFS file problem. I ran setup at startup and did the checks listed. It repeatedly shut down during the memory check. Bad memory? Dunno. Don't care at this point. I'm done babying it, it's done working for me.

And I'm okay with that. I got it as a cheap refurbished unit on eBay years ago.  I've more than gotten my money's worth.

Speaking of eBay, I have a new refurb unit on the way. It's like the one I got for my NAS system, except this one has double the hard drive. Which I don't really need, since I'll just be running the camera and weather station.  I set these both up on the NAS last night, got them up and running, so I know they'll work on the one getting here Friday. It shouldn't take much time to get it going.

In other news, I did not make enchiladas for dinner last night. Ran out of time. But I did make deviled eggs. I hard cooked the eggs in the Instantpot, put them in an ice bath after they were done, washed my equipment, peeled the eggs and put them in the fridge while the laptop was reinstalling Windows. Hours later, after Del Taco for dinner and the camera and weather station were running from the NAS, I shut down my computer and made the deviled eggs.

laptop    geekstuff   

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lisaviolet is sixty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

In her spare time, she makes pretty things to sell in her store.

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