Archive for October, 2005

7 pumpkins on mantle with welcome painted in silver (one letter per pumpkin)
I love fall. Even though you can hardly tell it is fall in Texas by the weather, October is full of autumn reminders. Football, pumpkin carving, halloween, hot apple cider and cool crisp mornings. Without fail, this season coaxes me into the kitchen to whip up a few of my favorite recipes. (free drink to the first to guess the font used on the pumpkins)

I wish I could just invite you all over for a cup of hot cider and a slice of my brandy pumpkin bread…but it seems the best I can do is share a new recipe with you.

Carmel Apple Cider

Cider

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup water

Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Cider

  1. Bring cream and brown sugar to a boil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Stir in cider and water and raise heat to medium high.
  3. Heat just until cider begins to steam, about 4 minutes.
  4. Divide among 4 mugs, top each with 2 tablespoons of Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream

  1. In a small chilled bowl, whip cream with brown sugar until soft peaks form.

Now, I’ll just turn on the air conditioner so it is cold enough inside to drink the hot cider! Mmmmm, Troy, I’m still dreamin’ about the incredible gingerbread you made for me on Wednesday.

Have you ever heard your mac make the windows start-up sound? I found it oddly unsettling, even though it was the solution to my challenge.

The quest that lay before me this morning: Help a mac user get their paws on the MS Access database that underlies one of their dynamic web sites.

Solution:

  1. Install Remote Desktop Client (RDC) 1.0.3 for Mac OS X version 10.2.8 or later
  2. Set permissions for their user account on the central Windows Enterprise Server to allow access via “windows terminal services
  3. Configure Remote Desktop Connection to make a connection to my central Windows Enterprise Server

Why post this solution? Because all my google searches informed me that what I just did was NOT possible. Even my help desk told me it couldn’t be done. So, for all of you out there trying to open a .mdb file on a mac, there is hope! Hope, thy name is “Remote Desktop Connection”!

I could just hug someone on our system staff right now for enabling and documenting windows terminal services! But I still can’t shake the queasy feeling in my tummy from hearing my Mac make such PC type noises!

Confession time. In 1989, I went to the movies with my sweetheart to see “Henry V“. I thought the movie would be a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s play, so I was quite surprised as the dialogue began in iambic pentameter. For the first 10 minutes of the movie, my brain was overworked as I adjusted to old English and the beat of the Bard.

During this film, I fell forever in love with Shakespeare. Oh sure, I had read Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet and Julius Ceasar (just to name a few). But I’d never been swept away by the words. I didn’t know that Shakespeare was meant to be heard, not read. (okay, so maybe the charming Kenneth Branagh had a little influence too.)

For me, the defining moment in the film is Henry V’s Saint Crispin’s Day Speech just before the battle of Agincourt. To this day, these words give me courage that we few, we happy few, can accomplish the greatest of all feats.

Today, I encourage you to pause and consider honoring Saint Crispin’s Day (October 25th) by celebrating lives well lived, beliefs held dear and shoes well made.

(Special thanks to my friend, Madog Cochfarf, for keeping’ the spirit of Saint Crispin’s Day alive!)


Every month my team gathers for “Show & Tell”. One lucky victim volunteer leads a discussion on a cool project or discovery they have made in our field of web design and development. This month I asked if I could take the team on a virtual fieldtrip to Australia to hear Tantek Çelik’s presentation on The Elements of Meaningful XHTML from Web Essentials ’05.

Armed with Tantek’s podcast and slide presentation (released under creative commons), I was able to transport the team to this amazing conference session. And while nothing is better than actually attending the conference, I will admit I discovered something very special during this podcast.

Imagine, getting to listen to Tantek with your whole team. Being able to pause the presentation to discuss a point more deeply or ask clarifying questions. And while I’d never interrupt Tantek in the middle of his presentation for a team discussion…the ability to pause during his podcast was priceless.

The depth of our team conversation during and after the podcast surpassed my expectations. I watched the power of collective wisdom unfold. The brilliance of Tantek plus the creative minds of my workmates gave me goosebumps. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the podcast yourself. Or better yet, listen to it and share it with your workmates.

Have you had similar experiences? Do you have any podcasts that you’ve found particularly stimulating?

I was struck by a quote today, and couldn’t resist sharing it with you:

Avoid being a perfectionist. In the Malaysian culture, only the gods are considered capable of producing anything perfect. Whenever something is made, a flaw is left on purpose so the gods will not be offended. Yes, some things need to be closer to perfect than others, but perfectionism (paying unnecessary attention to detail) can be a form of procrastination.

Interesting, thought I; and yet, the part about being imperfect so as not to offend the gods, doesn’t sit quite right with me. A memory from one of my very favorite books, Plain and Simple by Sue Bender, flashed into my mind. Off I went on a scavenger hunt, looking for another quote I had found inspirational many years ago. And if you’ve read Sue Bender, you’ll smile when I say, “first I started off, quickly scanning the book for the quote. Pushing to find the answer. Then I relaxed and enjoyed the journey of being back inside Plain and Simple. I may find the quote, or perhaps I dreamed it. Either way, there are treasures here.” Interesting how relaxing into the moment was intrinsically rewarding.

So, here goes…ideas in my head, inspired by Sue Bender, adapted to my life:

Plain and Simple

I worked with no plan – letting the spirit take over. When my ego got out of the way, my work had an inner light – something beyond me. Intangible and real. It is mine and not mine.

I no longer feel alone in the creative process. Now I want something from you. I want to reach out and say, “Join me – now it’s your turn to find what you need in the work. ” I wanted to create an empty space. a “fertile void,” as the Chinese say. The Amish often leave a space. a seeming mistake in the midst of their well-thought out plans, to serve as an opening to let the spirit come in.

These words are so deep in my soul. They forever changed my vision. Imperfection is beautiful.

The feature story on my university’s home page today is:

No Boys Allowed: Friendships among high school girls can promote academic success

Hard to resist reading further! My initial reaction “No Boys? No Way!” But being quite fond of listening to different points of view, I tossed aside my initial reaction and began reading the article with a critical eye.

With math and science test scores narrowing between the genders, the mystery remains as to why girls pursue majors in math and science less frequently than boys. The research of Muller, Riegle-Crumb and Farcas shows a correlation between girls choosing to pursue math and science and positive female role models and friendships.

“For girls, female friends with higher grades function as role models who do well in the subject, set norms about working hard, establish a competitive but friendly environment, offer emotional support to surmount the difficulties of pursuing advanced courses and counteract any discouragement they might face.”

So, techno girlfriends, does this ring true to you? How did you end up in the male dominated field of information technology?

My love affair with the Siemens SX66 is now on day 18. (Read about our first moments together). While it still thrills me to have this sleek and powerful device in my possession, because it is just on loan to me, I can be objective about it. The key question, will I buy a Siemens SX66 for myself when (and if) I have to give it back? Considering that the price tag is currently hovering at $499.99, I’m certainly looking at the device with a critical eye. (No honey, hiding my credit card won’t help one bit.)

So, it is time to do a plus/delta on the SX66.

Glenda's PDA, Mobile Phone and the Siemens SX66.

Assumption: The Siemens SX66 would function as both my pda and mobile phone.

Plus – what are the advantages of buying the Siemens SX66?

  • One source for all my contact information. I have hundreds of contacts on my Dell Axim X50v (pda), and I also keep my closest friends/co-workers in my Sony Ericsson T616 (mobile phone). I really HATE having two data sources. The Siemens SX66 would forever solve this data duplication.
  • Fewer battery operated devices in my wallet. I prefer to carry an itty bitty little purse. It is a challenge to fit my phone, PDA, iPOD and SanDisk MobileMate in my Brighton mini-purse. Being able to combine my phone & pda will give me some breathing room and reduce the weight by 3 ounces. Sony Ericsson T616 = 3 oz. Dell Axim x50v = 6 oz. Siemens SX66 = 7 oz.
  • Thumboard (sigh) – who knew I would be so enamored with a teeny tiny keyboard. All I can say is who ever designed this thumboard really cared about usability. I love how the keyboard slides out for use, but tucks away when not needed. The keypad is easy to maneuver and the raised dots on each key let me know where I am. The backlighting makes it super simple to use in low light.

    Why is a Thumboard so important to me? Well, until accurate voice recognition software is available, I find a keyboard to be my fastest method of input. I know I could carry a mobile keyboard (like the yummy Targus Universal Wireless Keyboard, but even that is a bit too bulky for my taste. The thumboard is the prefect compromise for my mobile input needs. As Goldilocks would say, “Ahhhh, this one is just right.”

  • Skype – The ability to put the Siemens SX66 into wifi mode and make a Skype call for free! I was thrilled to discover that I could install Skype on this device. But I was skeptical about the quality. Could this little half-breed really have enough processor speed, wifi strength, battery life and sound quality to support a Skype call??? And the answer is….YES! In fact, this phone saved me the other day when my laptop Skype was misbehavin’. I whipped out the SX66, established an 802.11 connection, logged onto Skype and talked for over an hour to a friend in the UK. Didn’t use a single second of mobile minutes. Isn’t that just dreamy?

Delta – what features do I still think need improvement.

  • Fragile Sync/Power Port – I’ve had tons of professional and personal experience working with mobile devices. From putting on an event with 200 iPAQs, to coordinating a fleet of 30 Dell Axim X30s for a handheld museum guide. Under my desk, you’ll find a happy little gathering of iPAQs, Dells and Toshibas of all different varieties. (In fact, I think they are breeding down there). This exposure has taught me a very important lesson. Sync/Power Ports that require locking sync cables are fragile! By locking sync cable, I mean, you have to press two buttons on the sides of the cable before removing it.

    With every day use, I’ve consistently found that locking cables wear out the sync port to the point that you can no longer establish the connection! Egads! How will I easily keep the device charged? My personal solution, I’ll buy a second sync cradle to keep on my kitchen counter for the nightly battery feeding. The sync cradle does not have a locking connection, and is therefore much gentler on the sync/power port.

  • Battery Life – I’m a bit worried about the battery life of this device. I’m prone to exploring the edges of mobile computing. My wifi and rich media habits chew battery like crazy. Running low on power would be a triple-whammy for me…depriving me of my mobile phone, wifi connection and my onboard data. Guess I could carry a spare battery or think about getting a backpack that generates electricity.

So, back to the key question. Will I buy a Siemens SX66 for myself? That remains to be seen. I certainly don’t need it. Do I think it would be the most perfect Christmas present? Well…I would certainly feel like a pampered princess if Santa slipped this delightful device in to my stocking.

Is it just me? Or do you feel like you are living inside a movie as you wander through your day with your MP3’s overflowing in your ears? Does the music color your vision?

I find that my life looks different depending on what track I choose. The music sets the tone for the scene I’m living. And the ideas that flow are amplified by the spirit of the song.

I feel a dialogue occuring between what I see, what I hear and what I imagine…as I dance through my life. Now, if I can just remember not to sing at the top of my lungs!