November 30, 2004


Solace is in the news...
Posted by Jess in Announcements

Now that I actually have to depend on myself to make a living, I have no problem with shameless self-promotion. :-)

Part of an ad campaign for our town's weekly paper consists of a nine-week rotation of ads, one of those weeks being "Center Staged" and given an article about your company.

Last week was my turn, and aside from a few errors (mostly dates and things like that), the writer did a good job.

Even Reboot got some action... when the woman from the paper came over to take the picture, she fell in love with Reboot (actually, her own words - "She's like a well-behaved toddler") and wanted her in the picture.

Note there is no mention of Lotus Notes... this was purely a focus on my residential alter-ego. I try very hard to keep the two seperate. The whole point is to make things as easy as possible for my guests (clients), and nothing would scare away a potential guest faster than seeing the words "Enterprise Messaging".

Click the image for the larger, readable article:


November 26, 2004


Comments will be approved before posted...
Posted by Jess in Announcements

The comment spam problem is becoming too much to handle, and I found I could solve this problem by upgrading both Movable Type and MT-Blacklist (the comment de-spammer).

The upgrade went well, at least as well as Perl scripts can be (in between the chmod'ing, ftp'ing in ASCII, fixing the "Error 500 Internal Server Error", etc. But aside from some minor cussing, it went well, really.)

Sadly, after much debugging and telnetting to run the perl script on the server, I noticed that my web host is missing a crucial Perl module, 'storable.pm'. In the meantime, I've contacted them to ask if they will add it for me. Here's hoping.

I supose that's what I get for upgrading before checking to make sure my web host meets the minimum requirements. ;-)

So, due to this, no spam blacklist for me. However - the new features of the latest Movable Type alone will help me tremendously. One feature is that I can now approve comments before they are posted here. I am taking advantage of this. I apologize, but it will be much nicer for everyone overall.

I know I should be runnning this on Domino, the problem is that I really, really love my site's look and feel, and I just don't have time to see if I can convert the design over to a Domino database, as much as I'd love to.

However, I *am* in the process of learning how to develop databases for the web better, starting with my own business site. You can check it out here if your firewall allows outbound port 8081. I'm running it on my old-comp-wannabe-server from home, and my ISP blocks incoming port 80. It's not much yet, but it's a start! Right now the only link that is active is the "More information about Solace."

I'd love to hear some feedback. Developing on the web has always been something I wanted to learn how to do better.

November 19, 2004


Sno-Caps are NOT portable.
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

Among the other seemingly useless observations that pop out of my mouth from time to time, I had mentioned to Matt once that you never see Sno Caps anywhere but a movie theater.

Remembering this, he came home from work the other day with a box of said confections, plunking them down on the table and saying he found them at the grocery store.

We were enjoying them for a bit over a nice movie and a fire, when I happened to notice the words "On the go" on the top of the box.

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Huh?

Besides the fact that the box doesn't close (see the picture. It doesn't even have those tabs like cereal boxes do), the candy itself is not necessarily filling enough to constitute wanting to take it with you in case you get hungry later. "Nothing like a nice Sno-Cap to take the edge off. " Hmmmm... Nope. Doesn't work.

On the back of the box, they have a "Questions or comments" number. So Matt called, because at this point, we really, really needed an answer for the reason to have an "On the go" slogan for candy that really isn't an on-the-go kind of candy.

After waiting on hold for a few minutes (is the Sno-Cap question hotline REALLY that popular?*) a woman answered the phone, and told Matt that she really had NO idea what the line meant either, and she was going to forward his question to the marketing department.

Bonus! To thank us for calling, she asked for our address so she could send us lots of free chocolate.

I still don't have my answer. But soon, all too soon, I'll have some delicious other Nestle products to make up for it.

I can live with that.


* No, the Sno-Caps questions are few and far between. Most people call Nestle for recipes, apparently.

November 11, 2004


Matt's name in the credits of Game Boy Advance - The Incredibles
Posted by Jess in Tech Talk

Matt's C++ Unicode page on this site gets a good number of hits, mostly from Google searches, and also Unicode.org's "Resources" links to us here.

About six months ago, Matt got an email from somebody who needed help with some code. Matt worked with him for awhile, and the problem was solved. The very next day, Matt got an email saying that the gentleman had been stuck on that doozy for awhile, thank you very much, you're a lifesaver, oh, and by the way, it's for The Incredibles for GameBoy Advance and your name is going to be in the credits.

Sweet!

This was months and months ago, and we have been eagerly awaiting the game, which is now available along with the movie. Sure enough, in a "Helixe Special Thanks" section, all by himself, there's my Matt!

So thanks Jeff, you were true to your word. And congrats Matt, I'm proud of you!

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November 08, 2004


I meet the best people in my job...
Posted by Jess in Geek Humor

In addition to consulting for Lotus Notes/Domino, I also am kept extremely busy in my residential computer consulting business. My time per week is usually spent 40% Lotus work, 40% residential, and the remaining 20% are all marketing and bookkeeping*.

One of the reasons I love my job is because I get to spend time meeting new people, and then finding out how they are on subsequent visits. I love being a part of these people's lives, and I myself am richer for knowing them.

Among the highlights:**

  • During a lengthy check-disk operation, I commented to Karen about her Mini Cooper I saw in her driveway. More specifically, I asked how she liked it, as I was thinking of getting one. "The problem is," I had stated, "there aren't any dealers around here to test drive." Imagine my surprise when she hopped up, threw me the keys, and said "This is gonna take awhile, right?"***
  • Phone call: One teary bride-to-be, two hours away from her wedding ceremony. The problem? Her wedding vows were conveniently typed in a Word document, yet inconveniently password protected. As she hadn't touched the document since the engagement, the password was equally as inconveniently forgotten. I recovered the password, which was '1 2 3 4 5'. How convenient.
  • Upon talking to Mrs. Parker, who is about 86 years old and couldn't get online to play Bridge, I discovered she recently went to the doctor's office for her yearly appointment. Mrs. Parker was horrified that her doctor wanted to give her medications for her aches and pains. "I'm 86 years old! These kneecaps aren't new, you know. Are you telling me there's no wear and tear? They're supposed to be achy."
  • I visited Joyce and had several return visits, the ‘Illegal Operation’ messages were not going away no matter what I did. Joyce had a home office, and was distraught as she could get no work done. Finally, in an act of desperation, I asked to observe Joyce as she worked for a few minutes. As the windows flashed and the documents were opened, printed, and then closed (before they were even finished opening), sure enough, the confused, disoriented and maltreated computer responded the only way it knew how – by popping up the Illegal Operation box and promptly fainting. The only advice to Joyce I had was to tell her to stop working so hard.
  • And finally, Mrs. Shannon, the sweetest, kindest, most soft-spoken lady I’ve ever met, who preceded every single sentence with, "will there be a charge for this?" I sincerely wanted to say "No, not for you Mrs. Shannon, not ever." And if I didn't have to make a living doing this, I probably wouldn't have charged her.

* Bookkeeper. This is the only word in the English language that has three double-letters in a row. Don't say you never learned anything here. Or at least anything less useful than an average night of Jeopardy.

** All names have been changed. This IS Rhode Island.

*** Mini Cooper. Mmmmmmmmmm. Me want.

November 02, 2004


Another Halloween gone by...
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

As usual, Matt and I had fun handing out candy this year.

Halloween used to be just another day for me, but over the past three years, I have started going to Halloween Horror Nights, have attended Bill and April's Halloween-themed costumed wedding, and gone to the Jack O' Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Since then, I have embraced my "Inner Halloween" and have come to love the night that I loved just as much when I was a kid. Apparently, the night loved the kids back. Sunday night was 65 degrees! It almost made me pine for the days when my mother used to make me wear a thick, heavy jacket over my costume. Wait, no it didn't.

There's nothing like a nice, heavy corduroy jacket to crush a pair of fairy wings on a bright autumn evening. But I digress.

There's one thing that living in the suburbs did teach me about trick or treating. Kids remember the "good houses". Matt and I both remembered how much fun we used to have trick or treating, and so we usually become a parent's nightmare (because we feel that the kids shouldn't be the only one getting scared). That's why we always give out the BIG full size candy bars. None of this "fun size" business (which really isn't that fun, actually). Thanks to stores like Costco, and BJ's, it's pretty inexpensive.

Oh, and we also dress up to answer the door. The kids and parents love it, so that's why we do it. What fun is trick or treating if the people who answer the door don't want you to have fun?

We got a lot of toddlers this year. Lots of ninjas, Cinderellas, one Dora the Explorer, and one very cute, very small red dragon perched in his daddy's arms. We had a feeling that when we were giving him candy, mom and dad were reaping the results of THAT one.

All in all, it was a fun night for everyone involved. I'll post some pics of our Halloween costumes when I get them off the camera.


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