Category Archives: tech

a job i am totally applying for

Today, moments after I hung up from Skyping with my mom, I found a job I really want. I mention Skyping with my mom because in that conversation I’d been talking about how when I graduate I’ll be looking for work all over the place, and how one of the upsides of being unattached is being able to be mobile, and all that jazz, but also how I’d only try working in the U.S. if it was a great job. We talked about places I’d be more or less interested in. At no point in this conversation did Alaska come up.

Of course, Alaska is where this job I found is.

But I think I’d be a pretty excellent New Media Producer for the Juneau NPR affiliate. Here’s a snippet of the job description:

… an individual with experience and skills in journalism and online content management, including writing and editing for the web, graphic design and site management.

I could completely do that. And do that really well. And it would actually integrate my journalism side with my digital librarianish side (you know, content management kinds of things).

Anyway, I’m putting together an application for them. It’s probably a bit of a long shot (I am a foreigner and all), and it’d mean I’d have to finish my MLIS with a couple of web-delivered courses (which wouldn’t be a big deal), but it could be neat.

Sorry this didn’t happen an hour before you called, Mom. I might have been more excitable.

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like talking in my sleep

So apartment hunting in Vancouver from Sydney was something I was kind of dreading. But since Holly decided she’s staying in Harrisonburg after Xmas, at least I only needed a place for one person. Last weekend I spent a big pile of time going through Vancouver listings using PadMapper and the UBC apartment listings. This is how I met Emma, who has a room in her Coal Harbour apartment (a character building with hardwood floors no less). We exchanged emails and she called one of my references, Marlis.

Now, Marlis is a chatter. An excellent one. Last February when someone stopped in to pick up a wine rack she was selling they talked in the living room for 45 minutes, prompting confusion in the kitchen as to whether this was someone she knew or a stranger. It was a stranger. This served me well, because when Emma called Marlis, they talked for 45 minutes, and Marlis told Emma everything she needed to know about me, so there was practically nothing for us to talk about on Skype the next day. Which, as you may be aware is good, because it’s a lot of work for me to be chatty.

I completely credit Marlis’ talking with getting me this place, because really, I’m some strange guy who’s going to be sharing space with Emma for months. She needs to have some idea that I’m not creepy or disgusting (which I’m not, but it’s much more useful to have third parties confirm that). Thank you Marlis. (If you’re in the market for a photographer, check out Imaging By Marlis, as she’s pretty great at taking pictures as well as talking to people.)

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tools of trades

The last couple of nights our evenings have been spent in our back courtyard with Holly playing guitar, trying to remember songs she used to play, and learning ones she wanted to. She’s using Javier’s guitar, and his wonderful capo, which was evidently a present from Carola at some point. It was one of those presents I get the feeling that Carola wasn’t too impressed with – it’s just a bit of plastic – but that Javier and anyone who plays his guitar really appreciates. It’s a really good little tool.

The other tools in use out there to sing Bonnie Raitt songs is the internet, which I enjoy. Monday night Holly was using her laptop till it ran out of battery, but last night it was her phone. My job (which I was a bit lacklustre in) was to touch the phone’s screen every once in a while so it wouldn’t shut down to save power. The phone, of course, didn’t know its screen was being read by someone whose hands were full of guitar. I felt like a piano bench sharing page-turner while read my book.

Over the weekend Holly was working at Masterchef Live, assisting her Chef in a dozen cake-decorating workshops. She got me a free ticket for Sunday so I wandered around. It was like a comic convention or games convention but for food. T-Fal was a big sponsor and there were Chilli sauce vendors and Dr. Oetker’s and organizations that run team-building cooking workshops and vinegar makers and organic farms and even the Australian military was there doing workshops and recruiting.

Holly got to hang out with Adriano Zumbo a bit and she was well-impressed with his regular-person niceness. I got to meet some of the people Holly works with and I’ve heard so much about. They have very French accents.

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doing things

It was a long weekend here, but I still don’t know why. We walked along harbours and tried to stay out of the wind and drank coffee and read about aboriginal plants in the botanical gardens and marvelled at how much was closed on a holiday. It felt really peaceful even in the CBD (central business district – do places outside Australia use that terminology? I can’t remember ever hearing it before).

I’m down to two months left at Prosentient. I’m currently working on the new website. It’s lots of CSS coding (markup? probably a real programmer would take issue with calling CSS code) which is a good skill to have I guess.

But I’m getting itchy about this whole work thing. Every moment there is time that could be seeing and doing awesome things. Like going to see a bunch of Sydney artists do a Tom Waits night at the Vanguard. But we’re doing that tomorrow night. It seems like a classy kind of place so I’m quite interested in how it’ll compare to the Tom Waits Birthday parties I’ve been to at Times Change(d).

I made a butternut squash soup for dinner tonight. It was quite tasty. Holly likes soups much more than me so I’ve been learning to make a few of them. Her aunt’s lentil soup is so good. We’ve made that recipe once every few weeks.

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flying customs of the uncommon slacker

I arrived in Australia after a flight I was glad to sleep through a lot of. The fifteen hours from Vancouver to Sydney is a long time to be in a seat. I was in the window seat, which is good for sleeping but bad for getting up to pee and feeling like an asshole because both of the people between me and the aisle were asleep when my bladder reached its limit. I was limber and ready for this kind of occurrence, though. I launched myself over their somnolent forms, using the armrests between them as stepping stones. They were awake when I returned from my piss and walkabout so I repeated my stunt with a very close audience.

Having just flown across Canada twice in the past month, I was nonplussed with the movie selection (though again, Air Canada’s personal video players are a godsend on these long flights – thanks Austin for installing them). I watched a shitty Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie movie and marvelled at how little like an actual human Ms. Jolie looks. I also watched The Fighter, which I liked and The King’s Speech which was all right. I could completely see what Marlis was talking about in regards to that textured wall she wanted to shoot people in front of. It was a very good wall.

I slept too, which was a good thing because the grilling I got at Customs was the most intense I’d been through since those Minneapolis customs guys took apart my bag and read my journal. (Yes, this was worse than when Sean and I came back from our forest and desert travels.) I was hoping it would be sweet and easy, especially since I didn’t want to get into the complications of my occupational training visa that hasn’t come through yet. Just talking as if I was a tourist coming for a couple of months. And well, that story got stress-tested.

After standing in a big long line the guy who stamped my passport barely asked anything and I thought, “Ah well, that was pleasant.” Then as I got past those desks, there was a guy in a blue shirt who stopped me to talk. He was the one who asked what I did and how I knew my friends I was coming to visit. And when that was done I thought, “That’s clever of them to have a secondary person to do the questioning once you think you’ve gotten away with anything you’re trying to pull. All catching you off-guard because you think you’re in the clear and can relax.” While I was thinking that there was another blue-shirted guy who popped up at a post-luggage carousel choke-point and went through my story.

“How did you get the money to come on this trip?” I never know how to answer that. “Well, you see sir, 30 years ago my father died, leaving a clear line of succession directly to me when my grandparents died so I obtained a lump sum of money and bought a condo and then sold it to go to library school.” Or is this money the money I saved working at the library in Winnipeg? Money is such a fiction, who really knows where “this money” came from, unless you’re tracking the actual physical legal tender as it came from the mint. I didn’t get into that with the blue-shirted guy. I guess I just don’t look enough like a man of independent means to have my assertions of multi-month holidays blithely accepted.

But in the end I got through. And they didn’t take apart either of my bags when they did their quarantine X-rays. Australians take their quarantine seriously: all of us on the plane had to sit for five minutes once we reached the gate so we and our possessions could be sprayed with an insecticide. Did you know you aren’t supposed to bring wood to Australia?

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command line

I’m trying out blogging straight from Vim using vimpress plugins. Since it appears to be working I may have succeeded in becoming even more nerdy with my cute little linux netbook. I don’t see that as an altogether bad thing. Part of the whole thing about this computer of mine (as opposed to something like an iPad) is the idea of accomplishing stuff with it. I like the idea of this thing being a tool to help me make things as oppsed to a device to help me consume things.

I want to be more of a maker and less of a consumer, in general. There’s a Buck 65 line that says “I don’t want everything to be made easy for me.” And in some respects that’s true for me. A lot of respects, really. Getting a computer to work through its not necessarily user-friendly ways makes me happy. Though I’m not tossing my well-designed to make things easy Mac away just yet. This little box is for when I want to feel independent, when I want the challenge. I’ll jump back and forth between them as necessary.

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operating slut

My new (cheap) computer arrived yesterday and I’ve got Windows 7 and Linux up and running. It’s funny how Windows is easier in some ways (I’ve been installing programs and the Windows locations make more sense to me through familiarity) but any temptation to just stick with Windows 7 is stabbed by the fact I can’t change my background image. It’s a “disabled feature” in Windows 7 Starter to encourage you to upgrade. Sigh. I upgraded to Ubuntu where that shit isn’t a problem.

Anyway, since I charged it up yesterday I’ve been working on battery power and being happy with it. This’ll be a fine school laptop. Much better than an iPad. And the figuring everything out is kind of fun. Makes my brain feel a bit sharper. So I’m a 3 OS person now. Whee!

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y’know, like the hiphopopotomaus if he was a librarian

I’m poking around looking for good library blogs, as I’ve applied to library school for September, and it seems like a good idea to get in the heads of people in the profession. This looks like the group I was born to be a part of: The Society for Librarians* Who Say Motherfucker. Someday. For now I’ll content myself with being a regular dude who says motherfucker. To my mom’s chagrin.

Unrelated to motherfuckers, I got Excel to do something fun today. A person had a list of 12,000 numbers and was looking for the ones that only occurred on the list once. He was going through the list by hand deselecting everything that recurred, and it made me sad. So I said, “I will help you. Let me muck about in Excel and figure out a way to get that shit sorted, yo.” And I completely did. It wasn’t perfect (I had to check the first and last entry on the list by hand) and it wasn’t elegant (it took like four separate columns in the spreadsheet) but I made Excel do the shit I wanted and it saved a person from (and was faster than) deselecting 10,000 things from a list. Go me.

Also, we had a condo corporation meeting I was dreading all day. But it happened and now I don’t have to think about it for a while. Tomorrow I am going to sleep in and get some real things accomplished. Yes.

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tinkering is fun but time consuming

I’ve gone back to trying to get Linux onto my old PowerBook. It is a challenge. A fiddly fiddly challenge. Right now I’m stuck at the point where the PowerBook’s internal CD-Drive doesn’t want to cooperate as a bootable device. It will only boot from an old OSX 10.2 CD, not from my 10.5 nor my newly burnt Linux discs. That drive has given me a lot of grief in the last 5 years so I might go on eBay for a $50 replacement. Eventually. This is just something to do for the sake of trying to do it, so timelines aren’t real important.

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putter putter putter

I am half-heartedly going through my PowerBook, preparing it to be Linux-ized. Not because it really needs to be; I just feel like having a project to work on. I’ve never had a computer that both functioned and wasn’t being used regularly. There is nothing Linux will do for it that it can’t do already. Just to see if I can make it work. And it’s helping divert my new phone desire. Now that the GooglePhone is in Canada I’m having to stave off envious thoughts. It has a keyboard, which I find I miss from my old Treo.

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