Getting to Know Your Tools

Sometimes perfect strangers come up to me and ask me to help them with their computer, smart phone or office equipment complications. Happens  a lot in the buildings I work in but I’ve had folks approach me on planes and trains as well. To the best of my knowledge I don’t look that much of a brain. Or do I? 

I didn’t have a ton of computer training in high school, I did take a programming class but was really bored with it (this was the mid 80s) as it had a lot to do with math and I’m not really a fan of math. What we learned was really simple stuff with dots that moved across the screen or functions that calculated numbers and the like. For me not really of any interest at all and the one thing besides pot and alcohol that held me back in high school was pure boredom.

What I find most interesting about it is that I can actually help these people, I may not even be familiar with the software or equipment that they’re using but I somehow just know which menu’s to explore to make it function as they had hoped. I figure this stuff is just natural to everyone and wonder why they even call me to ask. In the office building almost everyone who moves in with their new PC’s have issues making the internet work (no one with a Mac has reported an issue – just saying) and I end up in their offices in their Control Panel adjusting their firewall and internet connection settings. It’s usually a day after they move in that someone points them in my direction for help and sure enough after the visit they are up and running.

Back when I was working overnights at one of my first office jobs I was asked frequently to do computer stuff to help out the secretary. That gave me the opportunity to explore the computer and discover all the ins and outs of what was making it work. I started on the notion (possibly out of ignorance) that I couldn’t do anything to hurt the computer, once I made that decision it was a lot easier to look around and explore a bit. The way I see it, if the company thought a lowly office guy could screw up their system with a few keystrokes they shouldn’t have released it, I still kind of look at it that way and it only gets me in trouble once in a while. After I had done the menial tasks on the word processor or spreadsheet I’d look around in the file and root structures and start to change things to see what would happen.

The functions of all software programs seem to be laid out the same. We have File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools… well those are the basics. From those basics I can always figure out where to go and what to tweak. I really wasn’t all that happy when Microsoft changed some of the menu functions on their software with Vista, but it’s still all fairly intuitive to me. Once you get used to some basic rules you can work your way out of almost any problem or make your program do what it is that you wanted it to do.

Before you try anything new back up your system, make sure you don’t lose all your hard work because you’re experimenting with things.

I tell my regular IT customers all the time “Oh, that’s easy to do” and they look at me with fear in their eyes. Take the time to explore your equipment, the more you use it the more comfortable you’ll feel. I really think that your best option for problem solving on your computer or technological device is to explore it more, find out what it can do and tweak things here and there. The more you play with it the more comfortable your going to feel about it when a little blip threatens to interfere with your project or just your average day. Don’t wait until your having an IT problem to find out more about your tool, it’s a tool and like all tools, you should know how to use it.

Timelines, Tuxedos, and Travel

This morning I have an appointment with Jody at Macy’s by Appointment to find the right tuxedo for me. Jody’s helped me in the past pick out some great clothes and he’s a really friendly guy too. I have no idea how long this will take or what I’ll like or dislike. I’ve thought about wearing a white tuxedo, but the last time I wore one my life changed for ever… which it will again, but I’m looking for more of a smooth transition. Since the wedding invitation had top hats, I am seriously considering a top hat – it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bill showed up in a cowboy hat. I wanted to get matching tuxedo’s but Bill didn’t think that was relevant so he’ll do his thing and I’ll do mine *sigh*. At least I know he usually has good taste.

Thursday morning I’m heading back to San Antonio  for an extended weekend. Bill and I will be going over the DJ questionnaire among other fun things. It’s been about a month since I’ve seen Bill and it’s hard to be so far away, thankfully our next visit happens mid-April when Bill heads to DC for a week of touristy goodness. He wants me to show him DC as I know it, but seriously all I know about DC is how to avoid tourists… and he’s coming as a tourist so that’ll be hard 😉

I can’t really believe that we are a little over three months away from the wedding day – where the hell did the time go? Everything seems to be happening at once now and more and more of it. Flowers (A Simple Ceremony), DJs (Love in the Mix), Menu’s, Photographers (LostRacco), Hotel Rooms (Marriott San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf), Wedding Cakes (CakeWork)… there is a lot going on. I’ll be asking a friend later today if they’d be interested in being the point person during the big two days. If something goes wrong I want someone else to be able to make decisions for us as we’ll be rather obsessed about ourselves those days I think.

I’m also thinking that I need a really good bachelor party and considering that I’m getting married in San Francisco during gay pride weekend there should be lots of fun things for a sober guy who’s going to get married the next day to do. I think I’m supposed to let Suzanne (my best woman) plan all that, I’ll have to check the rule book, but hopefully we’ll get to see lots of hairy bear (bare) chested men and dance and stuff… who knows. Bill thinks he’s too old to have a bachelor party the night before the wedding, he’s an earth person and can drink. The wedding’s not until 2 I think he could pull off a nice night on the town with his friends – oh well, his choice I guess.

I’m excited and nervous about all that still has to be done… I’ll have to pray about all that.

Upgrades

Doing a few minor upgrades to the blog, more storage and a design that works with mobile devices a bit better. Hope everyone likes it as it should be very cool on an iPad and or smart device.

I added more room so I can incorporate more photos and be more of a visual blog, we’ll see how that goes. I’ll start by adding this photo of Bill and I that I really like.

I get to see my guy in just three more days, can hardly wait.

Attack of the Bridezilla!

So there is some debate about who’s the bigger Bridezilla, while I’m certain I’m not a Bridezilla at all, Bill seems to think that I am. So I’m interested in your opinion based on the information provided below:

  • Wants a church wedding: Bill
  • Wants to elope: Jamez (is in love, yes, but needs less pomp and circumstance)
  • Wants flowers for all the family and sponsors – Jamez
  • Wants a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner: Bill (it’s a small ceremony, but someone has lots of big ideas for it)
  • Wants a reception: Jamez (I figure if all those people are coming – we have to feed em)
  • Wants a dj for the reception: Jamez (if we’re going to feed all those people, we need to provide a way to burn off the calories)
  • Wants a photographer: Bill (I figure all our friends will take pictures why pay someone to do what our friends are already doing?)
  • Wants a red-velvet cake with cream cheese frosting: Bill (I don’t like cake)
  • Thinks we need to designate one of our friends or family as the “coordinator”: Jamez

Thanks for participating in this very unscientific poll, this will help someone get over their denial.

Squeamish

Many years ago my mother was in the ICU after having surgery and us kids got to go in and visit her. Almost immediately upon seeing her with all those tubes in her and looking rather ragged I felt faint. I wanted to grab on to something to hold on and then there were nurses all around me asking if I was ok, I had no idea if I was ok or not I just really needed to get out of there.

In 1995 after I sobered up, my best friend Suzanne went off and got a brain tumor. I’m almost certain that exercise is the cause. So being a good friend I was there when she checked into the hospital with her husband, parents and another friend. As the doctor described the procedure in detail (“we will be entering your brain by placing an instrument under your lip and it has a little clasp…” or some disgusting thing) to Suzanne and family I had to excuse myself and soon was in the bathroom where I fell over. Suzanne was worried about me – they weren’t doing anything to my brain, I’m just squeamish.

Then in 2004 while working at Children’s Hospital in DC (yes, I know – a hospital what was I thinking. But I’m a computer guy, not a person that had to deal with the icky stuff) a patient that loved me (who doesn’t?) was in the hospital having surgery and I had to be there for the little guy. That was hard, I not only was there for pre-surgery but then visited him in his room for several days after.

So, you’d think with all this experience that it would get better or that eventually this silliness would just go away entirely, but last night I picked up my cat from the vet. She had a mass removed from her right shoulder and is all stitched up now. Sure enough every time I see it I’d like to pass out. She’s a trooper, not really happy to be wearing a cone on her head but not crying, I’m the weak one.

I’m not entirely sure where these things come from, maybe I’m just designed to be this way. When I was very young I did have surgery on my eye. I don’t recall many things about that but my Mother had said that I was very good until they tried to take me home and I threw up. All I remember from that time is when the medical folks were talking to me about the anesthesia and the mask they were going to put on my face, but I don’t remember wanting to faint the whole time I was there.

Anyway, I hope Mouse gets better quickly and I really hope none of my close friends or family end up in the hospital… it’s hard for me to visit.

Relax – While I Can

Flew down to San Antonio this weekend to see Bill! 🙂

I awoke before the crack of dawn to get to the airport for my flight that was to leave before 6:00. Alas, when I arrived to check my bag I was informed that my flight had been delayed until 3:00 p.m. There didn’t appear to be any weather issues in DC or in Memphis so I asked the guy, why didn’t they send an email or call me? “It just happened” he said. *sigh* So I was re-booked through Atlanta and made it to San Antonio only one hour after I had been scheduled to be there. Then I hopped in a cab for the house as Bill had work.

When he arrived home and we kissed a bit we headed off to Chris Madrid’s for one of the best burgers I’ve ever had (the fries were pretty good too). After our meal we headed off to Best Buy to look at a new refrigerator for the house as the current one isn’t keeping things cold anymore. We found a lovely model that’ll be installed this coming Friday. I also got to drool over the 27″ iMac they had in the Apple section.

Saturday was just a nice quiet day with Bill, part of which was spent lying on the floor listening to Oscar nominated songs of the past on NPR. Sunday after breakfast and a trip to see my future in-laws we headed back to the house to prepare to the Oscars. We didn’t talk or worry about the wedding, or about much of anything, we just spent time together which was nice.

Monday came too quickly and I was packed and out the door for home. Can’t wait to see him again, only 25 more days. 😦