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User Journal

Journal Journal: Freespire vs. Mepis 4

Over the weekend I installed Linux on my friend's old computer. Since she's a Linux newb, and since Linspire recently went free as in Freespire and free CNR, I decided to try out the distro of newbs.

Overall impression of Freespire: Disappointing. I'm not one of those Linux purists who thinks Linspire is all wrong, that mixing proprietary things into Linux is sinful and we need to keep the newbs at bay. I actually respect Linspire for its efforts at making Linux more mainstream. But I'm not impressed with Freespire. It's pretty, but a distro needs more than prettyness, even with newbies. CNR, their click-n-run warehouse that's supposed to be the easiest way to install programs ever, is just a bloated, confusing piece of shit. My friend couldn't figure it out at all, and even I had difficulty navigating its convaluted interface. And it kept crashing, because it used too much memory because it's a bloated piece of shit. Freepire also had a number of other problems on my friends computer. It wouldn't detect her cd drive or usb(even mount didn't work), flash was stuttery, her favorite game (Puzzle Pirates) wouldn't run, and things kept crashing. I went over to the Freespire forums and discovered that other people had simular problems. Unfortunetly, none of the threads had solutions. They had plenty of responses, but all of them were just people saying they had the same problem. Well, that's depressing. So I futzered around with that for a little bit, and then impatient me decided to check out the new Mepis.

I liked Mepis 3.4, and recommended it to people in the past, but I hadn't tried Mepis 6 yet. It turned out to be absolutely perfect for my friend. It recognized all her hardware, Flash worked, her game worked, and no crashes. Synaptic was a little confusing for her, but she liked it better than the gigantic, memory-eating maze that is CNR. It took little effort to get her computer set up to do everything she needs it to do, which after Freespire, was quite a relief. I'm surprised Mepis isn't more well known, it's certainly a great distro.

User Journal

Journal Journal: More dumb coworkers.

"Elley, I can't attach this file to my email. Can you help me?" the call comes over the cubicle wall.

We went over this yesterday. And the day before. "Sure!" I'm getting paid to be here, so I'll pretend to be cheerful.

He clicks on My Documents to show me the document he wants to send. Then he goes to Outlook and clicks insert file. His documents show up. "Where is it?" he asks.

"The name starts with with a "C", so why don't you scroll down to the "C"s?" He looks at me blankly. "They're in alphabetical order." I explain for the 80th time. Then I grab the mouse, scroll down, and show him.

"Oh" he says. I'll be explaining alphabetical order again later today. Sigh.

I think when my company hires people (outside the IT department) they show them a computer and ask the applicant if s/he knows what it is. If s/he says no, then s/he gets hired. That would explain a lot.

Despite the fact that everyone here has a computer to work on, very few have any idea what they're doing. The marketing guy appearently designs websites in his spare time, so I had some expectations of him, but his knowledge is limited to slapping a few pictures together in Dreamweaver. He doesn't understand how to use Windows Explorer. Seriously. Oh, he does have one other skill, which is installing pirated programs. Yeah, that's great.

There's one other guy who seems into computers, but I let him install flash on his computer, so I'm afraid that he's going to get fired when his boss notices he spends his days watching Foamy the Squirrel. So sad.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Women in Computer Science

So, I'm reading this book. Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. This book is the result of the authors spending several years in the '90s interviewing Carnegie Mellon CS students to try to find out why so many women drop out of computer science. The book could have been my college story; despite going to a different school a decade later, I had so many of the same experiences the women in the book did.

I, like many of the girls in the book, started out loving computers. I got my first computer when I was 6, and my dad had one before that, so I literally don't remember a time when I didn't use computers. I had internet before any of my "real life" friends, I played computer games, taught myself web design and BASIC programming. Computers were my hobby, my passion. It was obvious I would go into computer science.

Fast foward to a couple years into college. I didn't like computers anymore. Playing with my computer no longer made me feel like the master of my domain; it made me feel like an idiot. I concluded that computers just weren't for me, and I dropped out.

What happened? Even I didn't know. What I wish I did know then was that my story wasn't uncommon. Woman after woman the authors of Unlocking the Clubhouse interviewed showed up freshman excited, passionate, and smart, but when they were reinterviewed sophmore year, they were depressed, had no confidence in their computer skills, and ready to quit.

There's a lot reasons for this, and I would probably be doing the book a disservice to try to condense them all into a simple little blog. The biggest reason I see though is that women all too often put ourselves down. Coupled with guys' tendancies to put themselves up, and it winds up being a disaster for women's self esteem in a male dominated field. Two female English majors who just got "A"s on their essays can tell each other how they did so bad and how they suck at English and they're fine, but if a female CS major tells a male CS major how that last programming assignment was so hard for her and took her days to complete, and he shrugs it off as too easy and says he only spent half and hour on it, then her self-esteem will just drop right off and she'll doubt she belongs in CS.

I was too persistant to just drop out and let that be the end of it. Six months later, I was back in class, and this past March I graduated. Now I have a job that, for all my compaining, is really a great job. I've got my confidence back in technology, and I love playing with my computer again. I'm not finished with the book yet, but the next chapter is about the positive changes made by CMU since they did their interviews. So, happy endings all around?
User Journal

Journal Journal: More complaining about my coworkers. 1

One of the things I do most at work (besides read slashdot) is make reports and send them to people. One person I send reports to every day decided there was a problem with the last report (there isn't, she's hallucinating). However, instead of calling or emailing me for clarification, she emails my boss's boss (who never reads the reports I send him) and the owner of the company (?!?!?!). Well, eventually my boss's boss forwards this to me, so I email him back and explain, politely, that she's on crack, and then email her and politely ask why she's on crack. Now he emails me back, basically saying that she said it said that, and asking why it said that, and I just want to slap him and say "it doesn't say that! you have a copy of the report, just look at it!" She's currently ignoring my emails asking why she's hallucinating. She's tried to avoid me ever since she called me one day to bitch that her email program was telling her that [name] was not an valid email address and, instead of coming over and "fixing" her computer, I explained how email addresses are properly formatted. She took that as me telling her she's an idiot, instead of "doing my job" and now appearently hates me and will email other people questions that should go to me so we can play telephone instead of her actually talk to me, and make me look bad to the higher ups in the process. Bitch.
User Journal

Journal Journal: MS Office 2007 Beta

From boredness at work I bring you: This lame review.

First Impression: It's pretty. But, um, wtf? They killed the menu bar. Which they did for IE 7, and the new Office kicks the shit out of the new IE in the prettiness department. Word even has a shiny blue gradient background to go behind your documents. Yay shiny.

So then I try using it for work, and I get all confused. How do I open files? How do I undo? Where is the autosum button? See Office 2007 replaced the menu bar with something called "ribbons", which look kinda like the menu bar except clicking on them changes what looks like the toolbar except it's the ribbon or something instead of opening a menu. It's wierd. I want my KOffice back, but I never had that at work anyways and this is at least prettier than the old MS Office so at least looking at it's wierdness isn't painful.

Figuring out how to do things wasn't as hard as I thought it would be at first. To find the autosum button, I clicked on the "Formulas" ribbon, and there was the autosum hieroglyphic, accompanied in big letters by the word "AutoSum". While I'm annoyed at having to click an extra button, I realize that if I had learned on this Excel I wouldn't have manually summed things up for so long until someone finally told me there was an autosum button.

So I tried Word, Excel, and Access, and all do what they did before, but with ribbons instead of menus and toolbars. The ribbons are well laid-out, and have easy to understand labels on almost all the icons. If you've found Office programs confusing in the past, you might want to check out this version because it might be easier for you.


1. My current annoyance is that it doesn't play well with Office 2003, which I need to use for work because I don't trust a beta Office to do everything right, or at least the way my coworkers are used to (I send out a lot of reports made in Office). Mostly that's a Windows problem, but Outlook 2007 would have uninstalled Outlook 2003 (at least it warned me) and part of my job involves telling people over the phone how to fix Outlook 2003 and that's *much* easier to do with it in front of me. So no new Outlook for me. Also, now all Office files default to 2007 (which is expected, but not what I want) and right clicking and choosing "Open with" gives me two options, both of which open 2007. *sigh* Still trying to figure that one out.

2. Office 2007 doesn't read ODT. Why? Because Microsoft sucks.

3. The eyecandy is nice, but it makes it useless for what I usually use Office for: pretending to work. Now, when people glance at my screen, instead of seeing some boring document, they see pretty shinies and come over to investigate. Since my "work" tends to be reading erotic fanfic copied from the internet, this is bad.

4. Office 2007 requires activation to use. I'm guessing once the final version comes out, all beta versions will be deactivated. This could be bad for some people, especially because Office 2007 saves by default to a different file format than previous versions. So if you don't plan on buying it, or don't expect your company to buy it, be careful and don't get yourself locked out of your data. Of course, if you're really paranoid about not locking yourself out of your data, you should just download OpenOffice and save everything to ODF and be done with it.

All in all, I think Office 2007 is a very pretty office suite that will be nice for newbies and people who never could figure out the more advanced features. Is it worth $150+ or whatever the prices will turn out to be? No, I don't think so, but to be fair I didn't review Sharepoint, or even all of the programs in the suite. I think if you've liked MS Office in the past and believe that office suites are worth paying for, then you'll probably be very happy with Office 2007. I personally just can't imagine spending that much for what looks to me like just eye candy. However, it's very likely that my job will purchase it for all of us, and, even though I shudder when I think of how much that will cost, I think my coworkers will like it very much. So, I think Miscrosoft will have a very pretty product by release date that will make them a shitload of money, and that was likely their goal, so yay for them.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I do have nice people at my job

I do have nice people that I work with too. Like the girl whose printer I just fixed. She didn't complain that I was breaking her computer, or she like how I was fixing her printer, or anything like other unnamed cow-orkers. She said "I should have thought of plugging it in" and that was that.

There also was the surprise birthday party they had for me last week. That was really nice.

So most people at my job are not raving idiotic jackasses. Yay.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Migrating from Thunderbird to Outlook 1

A couple weeks ago, one of my coworkers was bitching about Outlook, bitching about crapware, and then her Outlook crashed and refused to open. I thought this would be a good time to introduce her to Thunderbird. She liked the idea of not using Outlook, so I installed it and it imported everything all right, and I sent her on her way.

Well, she hates Thunderbird now and decided I needed to move her back to Outlook. *sigh* Alright, I thought, that can't be too hard. She got Outlook reinstalled and running, and asked me to transfer all he emails from the past couple of weeks from TB to OL. Sure, that can't be that hard.

Thunderbird doesn't have an export function.


Well, that's a problem. So I scoured the extensions website looking for something that would make TB export. I found one, but all it appears to do is move the mbox file from your profile to your desktop. Since OL doesn't read mbox files, that wasn't helpful.

So I search Google. Appearently, you need IMAPsize to convert the mbox files to eml files, then you go to Outlook Express (not Outlook?) move the eml files there, then, finally, you click export and it goes to Outlook.

Alrighty then. So I set about pulling her emails from the last few weeks (TB imported them from the past 2 years, but OL was able to recover all the ones from before she got TB). Unfortunately, crazy her had spread them out amoung 80 folders. Someone really needs to explain to her what "label" and "search" are. Also unfortunately, since she's a telecommuter, I was remoteing to her computer which she had connected through dial-up. So it was *scroll* *wait* *wait* *ok, computer finally scrolled* *click on folder* *wait* *wait* *folder, are you going to open?*

It took me 2 hours to just fucking find and put together all the emails she wanted transfered. 2 fucking hours.

I hate my job.

So that's why I'm spending the rest of the day on Slashdot.

User Journal

Journal Journal: WTF? 2

I hate people sometimes.

So, I removed spyware and viruses from this woman's computer and added firefox (and I didn't even hide the IE icons) and now I've broken her computer. Why? Because she can't connect to some random wireless network that she *knows* is there. It, of course, isn't her fault that she doesn't know how to connect to a wireless network or want to listen to me help her with it. It's my fault. And Firefox's fault. Even though Outlook can't connect to the internet either, it's firefox's and my fault, not outlook's and her disablity to comprehend any thing about computers. *sigh*

So she's calling me up at 4, and I better be about to fix it.

I hate my job.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bah

Hey there. I haven't writen in my journal in forever, but whatever, now I am. I'm having a candle party on the 13th (think tupperware party, with candles. Yes it's lame) so if your my friend you should come. Or not.

I've been volunteering at the local animal shelter for a while now, and now they've decided to pay me. Yay me. But they make me work harder, and longer, and come in 6 in the morning. But they pay me, so it's cool. Yay me.

My dad finally realized I know more than him about computers, which is way cool and a long time coming, except now he sends me really long emails asking stupid questions. "I can't play my stupid baseball game online. But you know everything about computers so you can tell me how to fix it just based on this retarded email". Then he calls me a couple of days later because I never wrote back, and I have to explain, no Dad, I don't know anything about your stupid baseball game and I really don't care. Then he emailed me again asking about his office "router" (it's a switch) and wondering if it has a firewall. This took 4 paragraphs. Sigh.

That's all for now. I'll talk laters.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bah 2

I finally got Final Fantasy X-2. Yay! But I had to have my boyfriend hide it from me so I'll do my homework and don't fail out of school. Unfortunetly, I'm a lazy procrastinator and I'm posting on slashdot instead of finishing my C++ project and playing FFX-2. Oh well.
Role Playing (Games)

Journal Journal: Yay 4

Yay! I got through my icky speech/debate thing! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. =)

Other than that, I've been playing FFX again. I can't wait for X-2. Six more days! (yes, I'm a silly fan-girl)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bah humbug 1

I have to give a speech in economics class on sales tax. The problem is, I suck at speaking, so I'm sad. Bah humbug, why do we have to learn how to give speeches in school? Can't we just accept we suck at it and learn stuff we can actually be good at?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Hi 3

Hi, I'm Elley. I think journals are weird, but in case anyone comes looking for me, now they will find something. Ok. Hi.

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