Quilting Tip: 2

28 07 2007

A nifty piece of equipment I’ve been using since I did a paper piecing workshop, is a 1/4″ ruler. Known as “Add-a-quarter”, this ruler is 6″ long, about 1″ wide, and has a raised 1/4″ lip which hooks nicely over the paper piecing edge so you cut a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance every time! I’ve now added it to my Amazon store if you want to buy one.

See http://www.quilt-pictures.com/add-a-quarter.html for more information on how someone else uses this handy little tool.

Quilting Tip: 1

28 07 2007

The other day I heard a really good tip from Alex Anderson of “Simply Quilts” fame. She suggested using the cutting mechanism on a dental floss container to cut sewing/quilting/embroidery thread when you can’t take scissors on a plane or other public transportation and you want to continue working on a piece.

I’m not sure what you do about needles… I’d have thought that if scissors or thread snippers are banned, then sewing needles would also be banned. But maybe not.

Lost your car?

25 07 2007

Ever lost your car in one of those multi-level carparks? Some carpark owners try to do the right thing and use animals etc. to ‘label’ the levels; others just use really big numbers and/or colour-coding. Despite that, people still can’t remember that they left their car on the ‘level kangaroo green 3’. (Aside: There was a memorable Seinfeld episode about this…)

Well, the solution is here! Craig over at Out of the Box blogged today about using the camera in his cell phone to take a picture of the sign of the level he’d parked on. So simple. So brilliant.

Of course—in true Craig style—a parking inspector/security person quizzed him about him taking photos in the carpark! At least he *saw* an official in the carpark where he parked—I don’t think I’ve ever seen one, except for those at the exit who used to take your money in the days before everything became fully automated.

Expanding column issue – solved!

25 07 2007

I’ve been working on a website for a client and had everything working using CSS except for some issues with the left column. This left column contained some navigational elements and I was using a background colour (I also tried an image) and a small right border to visually separate it from the main content area.

The problem was that no matter what settings I applied to the CSS, I couldn’t get the background colour (or image) and border to expand to the length of the content in the main section. I was able to set a min-height to force it to be at least a certain length for the shorter pages, but for the longer pages, the left column colour and border just stopped at the 600px minimum height I’d specified.

After some Googling and not finding anything (mostly because I didn’t know what terms to search for!), I called my friend Char in Boston… who happened to be in California at the time… and she helped me with some sites that she’s used. (She has had the problem too but couldn’t remember what quirky thing she had to do to solve it, and not being at home, she couldn’t access that info easily either.) After a bit more sleuthing using those sites as a starting point, I found the answer here: http://www.positioniseverything.net/articles/onetruelayout/equalheight

As I’m only testing in Firefox and IE6 at the moment, I ignored some of the warnings about interesting things that happen in other browsers and went ahead. All I had to do was add about 4 lines to my CSS – and it worked!

Here’s what I added:

* added overflow: hidden; to my wrapper (#content) DIV
* added a new style definition as follows:
#MainContent, #ContentLeft
padding-bottom: 32767px;
margin-bottom: -32767px;

(My elements are called #MainContent and #ContentLeft).

I then tested in Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 6 – and it works in both for long and short pages!!! Now to download IE7 and test there… If that works too, then I have a winner!

Thanks Char!

Update: Yep, works in IE7 too!

Internet connection

24 07 2007

Yesterday I got a call from the local Telstra technician about the fault iinet lodged on my behalf last Tuesday. He came out in the rain and checked the connection at the station about 50m from home – and found a wire that was so close to being separated it wasn’t funny. He was surprised we had ANY connection at all, and asked if we’d had noise on the phone line – we had.

So he snipped the wire and replaced that section then came to the house to check that all was well. Everything seems hunky dory now – good speed, clean line for calls.

It took a week since I first complained about the connection to iinet to get it fixed. Yes, I cancelled the fault on Tuesday morning, but got it reinstated last Tuesday afternoon. So, even accounting for that, it still took SIX days to get fixed. It’s not as if the technician had to come from far away – he’s the local guy who lives in town and looks after the town.
My business relies on a stable internet connection, and for that reason I pay a heap of $$$ to iinet every month to be on one of their Business Plans, with a special business support number. Six days is too long. Had the connection been down the entire time, I think I might have sent them an invoice for lost income… I’d like to see how they’d react to that! They have no problem sending me an invoice each month for a service that was effectively out of service for seven days.

Street-wise emus and kangaroos

23 07 2007

One of the things that many in the US have often asked is “Do kangaroos hop down the main street?” Those who have actually been to Australia never ask this question, and it often amuses us Aussies to answer “Yes”, just to see the reaction.

Well, yesterday we found a town where kangaroos and emus *do* roam the streets!! Despite the wintery weather (rain, strong winds, cold), we took a drive to Donnelly River, then on to Manjimup and Pemberton and back.

Donnelly River is an old mill town. Like many small towns in the southwest of Western Australia, when the timber mill closed the town died. But they kept the houses at Donnelly River and have made the place into a holiday village where you can rent out a whole house or two or three for a night or a week at a time. There are a couple of places like this in southwest, and they are ideal for large community, corporate, or school groups – or just a very big family!So we drove through the two streets in Donnelly River. And saw about 6 kangaroos and at least a dozen emus just wandering about without a care in the world. Some were strolling across the old school yard, others were lolling about on front lawns, some were lurking near verandas, others were sheltering out of the rain under trees in front yards, and still others were ambling down the road.

To the Americans I’ve kidded about this, I take it all back! Donnelly River is one town in Australia where kangaroos and emus *do* roam the streets!

More pictures of the kangaroos and emus at Donnelly River…

Emu strolling along the main street of Donnelly River

Non-existent customer service

23 07 2007

Yesterday we drove to Pemberton, some 60kms from here (see next post for details). One of the signs we saw coming in to town was for Jarrah Jacks Brewery and Woodsmoke Winery. Jarrah Jacks have won a few awards for their beer, so we decided to stop in on our way out of Pemberton. After negotiating the very pot-holed dirt road for a kilometre or so, we arrived at their magnificent building in a most beautiful location high on the top of a hill overlooking vineyards and a large dam.

We got there around 3:15pm, so there were few tables of people on the veranda still enjoying what remained of their Sunday lunch, or just having a lazy Sunday afternoon in a beautiful spot. When we fronted the bar/serving counter are there was just one other person in front of us – a guy paying his bill. There were four people behind the bar doing all sorts of things. We waited. We waited some more. Another couple came in, and one of the ‘busy’ staff decided to serve them. We waited a bit longer. The staff member serving the man in front of us said “Be with you in a minute.” Then promptly ignored us to tell another newcomer to the serving area about their snacks. The other three staff remained ‘busy’ but not with customers. We left.

We had waited at least 5 minutes for service that never came. It’s not that we weren’t noticed – at 6′ 3″ my husband is not unnoticeable. It’s not that they were busy with other customers – they weren’t. It’s not like it was closing time – they close at 6pm on a Sunday. We were ignored, plain and simple. Maybe each staff member in the serving area thought someone else was serving us. But I think that’s giving them too much of the benefit of the doubt. Personally, I think that the staff were too intent on their ‘chores’ to bother with paying customers. Bad mistake. We won’t be back.

Catching up…

21 07 2007

Phew! It’s been a *busy* week this week… Work for the new client has taken up much of my waking and thinking time, but I’ll get there.

Here are some updates from the past couple of weeks that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while – I’ll do them all at once and get them out of the way:

  • Mandalay Road Estate released their new Zinfandel vintage a couple of months ago, so we headed over there about a month ago to try it. Good stuff! New labels too, very in keeping with the whole “Road to Mandalay” theme. Early birds got a good discount on the new vintage too – $20 a bottle instead of the usual $25. So we bought a few… plus some port. We spent a lovely couple of hours tasting wine with Bernice and Tony, the owners and winemakers. We’ll be back!
  • We went to Bunbury for an appointment on Tuesday and popped in to a furniture store to see if they had any likely sofas (yes, the sofa saga continues…). They had one that suited our needs – and it was a sofa bed too! And they could deliver it the next day! I measured and double measured it after the last sofa fiasco, but when the delivery guys arrived with it on Wednesday they said it wouldn’t fit. Oh no! However, I *knew* it would – they only had to turn it on its side and it fitted through the doorway perfectly. Thinking outside the box was not up these guys alleys…
  • I’ve been having trouble with a R-E-A-L-L-Y S-S-L-L-O-O-O-W-W internet connection all week, and have spent many hours on the phone to the Business Customer Support section of iinet, my ISP. The first two people who dealt with the issue were very helpful and walked me through a whole lot of stuff to do isolation testing to confirm that it was somewhere on the phone line between me and iinet. The next people I dealt with over the following days obviously can’t read, because I had to repeat the issue and the steps already taken to them both. I’ve worked in enough IT companies to *know* that issues and steps taken are recorded – hell, I even had a job number that I quoted each time! At every step, I was promised that someone would get back to me – no-one ever did. iinet’s customer support has always been good (I’ve been with them for close on 10 years), but this episode has soured my previous good experiences with them. My guess is they’ve grown too big. At no time could I get one of the original staff who dealt with the problem on Monday back on the phone – they were always ‘out’ or ‘on another call’. Anyhow, the connection seems to be back to what it was. But I still don’t know if the fault was fixed (I do know a fault was lodged with Telstra by them), or if it’s a lucky chance that it’s back working again. BTW, isolation testing is no fun… I had to disconnect my server from the router, connect the router to the laptop, connect the laptop/router direct into the phone line, etc. Sounds simple, but that’s after power cycling the router a couple of times, rebooting the server, trying all three phone line extensions with and without filters, etc. etc. And most of it was done on the floor. All to confirm that the connection was like walking up to your thighs in treacle! Even slower than dial-up.
  • An observation about the one of the project teams I’m working with in Brisbane – there are about 27 on the team, five of whom are female. Which sorta fits the stats thrown around about the dearth of women in IT in Australia. Of the five females, one is a support person, one is a ex-geologist, two are programmers, and one (me!) is a technical writer. So two of those five are in the ‘helping’ side of IT.
  • Some sad news. A guy my husband played basketball with and against for many years passed away a day or so ago. He would’ve only been in his 50s, fit as a mallee bull, and was still coaching kids’ basketball teams. Vale, Mike.

Dripping power

21 07 2007

Watch out for dripping power! And for just one customer in the Greater Perth area (wherever *that* is) to have reconnected to the internet…

I just received this network status notification from iinet (my ISP):

Technical Summary:
Due to storm activity, power has been dripped briefly to several suburbs in the Greater Perth area. This has caused a large volume of customers to become disconnected from the Internet, temporarily increasing load on the authentication system in Perth. This issue appears to have been overcome, and customer who have regained power should be able to reconnect without further issue.

I’ll have more on iinet later, but for now, this made me chuckle!

Week in Brisbane: Summary

17 07 2007

I’ve been back a few days now (and as busy as!), so this will be a quick summary of my week in Brisbane last week:

  • VirginBlue flight left after 10:30pm on Monday night. They stuffed up the seat allocation so this guy and I were both allocated the same seat. The steward had a hissy fit at me and was rude and obnoxious. I posted my letter of complaint to VirginBlue today. Will I fly with them again? Nope. Not if I have anything to do with it! Their motto: “The on-time airline.” My experience? That’s BS!
  • Had meetings and workshops with the new team the entire week. Great group of people. Mixture of software tech-heads and geology/mining people.
  • The company is very transparent – employees at all levels are kept informed of the bottom line at all times. The company doesn’t have ‘feel good’ mission statements or sprout off about how much they value their employees – they just do it! Actions speak louder than words and their actions the entire week were terrific. There’s no need for talking the talk if you can walk the walk.
  • The social events they had organised for the team were great. On Tuesday night we had dinner at the “Pig and Whistle”, an Irish pub in the Brisbane CBD. There were probably about 30 of us and the company picked up the tab for the food and the drinks. On Thursday night we went to the Strike Bowling Bar to do ten-pin bowling (Craig, you’ll be impressed! I chose the lime green/yellow/fluoro bowling ball!!). Lots of yummy finger food and snacks served. Open bar… yes, including cocktails! Mmmm… Long Island Iced Tea and Caprioska! After the bowling, we adjourned to the pool tables. Some left at a reasonable hour; some were still there at 3:00am!! (or so we heard the next day – it sure wasn’t me!)
  • Our Perth team stayed at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane, about a 20 minute walk from the office. Breakfast was excellent. Rooms were good except for the tiny and very awkward bathrooms (The toilet was directly behind the door, and you couldn’t open the door more than halfway as a result. Reaching around the door and the toilet to turn on the shower was an exercise in contortion!) Internet access was…. wait for it… 55c a MINUTE!! Highway robbery. I checked email etc. at the office. Even though the company paid all charges, that to me was an absolute rip-off.
  • Qantas Club at Brisbane Airport on Friday night was standing room only! I’ve never seen a lounge that busy. After the flights to Sydney and Melbourne had left, it cleared out enough to find some chairs to sit on.
  • Qantas flight home was uneventful – and on time. Got in just after 11:00pm Friday, grabbed bags, caught shuttle to carpark out in Woop-Woop, car started OK (but was FILTHY), overnight accommodation was cheap but fine.
  • Drove home on Saturday, stopping off in Mandurah to get fuel, put car through car wash, grab a late breakfast (mmmm…. Aussie meat pie!), look at sofas in a couple of stores and write down measurements of those I liked. One in particular took my fancy. After the last experience with sofas, this time I asked for a tape measure when I walked in and wrote down details of the height of the back, the width, and the depth of the seat. I won’t get caught again.