31 October 2007

Email on mobile phone

I now have email working to and from my mobile phone, but only through an Australian email address that I almost never use. Of course I can forward other addresses to that one if I want to check all my mail using my phone while I'm in hospital or travelling without the computer. In theory I can also read web pages on the phone itself, but I'd have to be fairly desperate to try that on such a small screen. Next step is to get the phone working as a modem for the computer, for use in remote parts of the country when I can't find some other connection.

25 October 2007

Ubuntu upgrade to Gutsy (7.10)

I upgraded to Ubuntu 7.10 ("Gutsy Gibbon") last night. OpenOffice.org and Thunderbird both stopped working. Probably not coincidentally, those are the two programs where I had been using versions that I self-installed (because I wanted a more recent one than was in the repository). Spent some time solving those problems. I installed Thunderbird from the repository and it works, so that's good. OpenOffice.org was more of a problem. Previously both my self-installed OOo and the one that came with Ubuntu worked; after the Ubuntu upgrade both versions of OOo crashed continuously and in the same way. A bit of research revealed that many people are having the same problem, but the cures vary a bit. I finally uninstalled both versions of OOo and reinstalled the one from the repository, after which that one worked fine. It's not ideal for my work writing documentation, because the icon set is different from the standard OOo set, but that's of minor importance because someone else is now redoing all the screen captures in a consistent style for the OOoAuthors books. Other than those problems (now solved), everything seems to work okay. I checked things like the DVD player to make sure it hadn't also broken, but it was fine.

24 October 2007

New mobile phone

I got a new mobile phone. I didn't want one, but the CDMA phone system here is being replaced early in 2008 by something called NextG (for Next Generation: how Star Trek-ish!) so I had to get a different handset. I've been putting off getting one until the phone company offered me both an acceptable phone (the early models didn't have various features I wanted) and an inducement that appealed to me. A month or two ago they started offering a Nokia 6120classic phone with the Symbian operating system and all the features I wanted (as well as lots of other features of no interest to me). This week I received their latest inducement offer: $100 credit on my phone bill, so I decided to go ahead and make the switch. The phone has more features than many of my former computers and my cameras. I'm sure I'll never use most of them! I spent some time with the instruction book, learning a few of the most-needed features.

15 October 2007

Expatriates voting in US elections

I just learned that I can vote in the US Federal elections next year! I had always thought that I couldn't, but apparently the law was changed a few years ago. Now Americans living temporarily or permanently abroad can claim as their "voting residence" the state in which they last voted in the US, whether or not they ever intend to return to that state, or have any other connection to it (property, business, etc), and registering to vote does NOT carry any obligation to file a tax return in that state. This information was sent to me in a note from the "Voting Assistance Officer" at the US Consulate in Sydney, which referred me to the Federal Voting Assistance Program's website. It's really interesting how things have changed: for many years I got the distinct impression that the US government actively made it difficult for people to vote if they lived abroad; now they are actively encouraging and helping people. I haven't decided yet whether to register or not. Meanwhile, a date for the Australian federal election has finally been announced: 24 November. The campaign has been going on unofficially for several months now, so it's good to finally have a date set. The "news" during election campaigns is even more boring and tedious than usual.

12 October 2007

Marina construction update

Vast amounts of digging and moving of dirt is going on.

04 October 2007

Hip + related medical stuff

Trip to Mackay today: the surgeon says I'm doing very well. I walked in without using a cane or crutch, so I suppose that helped. We filled out the paperwork for the next operation, so that's all organised for 6 November. This time we'll stockpile only 2 units of blood instead of 3, and the surgeon has agreed that unless I really, really need the blood, I won't get it back (because of the bad reaction I had last time). He thinks I might have had a reaction to one of the additives; the risk of another bad reaction isn't worth it for a routine transfusion. I had gone in prepared to argue that point rather strongly, but I'm very glad that I didn't need to. I also mentioned the muscle cramps I've been having intermittently in the operated leg, and he said (a) that's normal and (b) his recommended treatment is to drink tonic water, the kind with quinine in it (he said many brands remove the quinine, so I need to check the label). I said "I suppose I shouldn't be too generous with the gin" and he laughed. Lastly, I asked about the edema in my left knee and he said (a) that's normal, (b) be patient as it will eventually go away and (c) pressure stockings might help. We had quite a long chat about this and that, because his next appointment had cancelled so he had plenty of time. For example, we talked about how much people differ in their reactions to chemicals. He said he had always disbelieved the idea that food dyes caused behavioural problems in children -- until one of his own children showed unmistakable symptoms that could be correlated precisely with comsuming certain processed foods and soft drinks. His other child shows no symptoms whatsoever from eating or drinking the same items. Afterwards Eric and I stopped at the blood bank to drop off paperwork, and I chatted with the head nurse there about my reaction to the transfusion last time. She showed us the list of additives used in their blood storage packets; Eric will be looking them up on the Internet later. After that, we went to the store in Mackay that sells Apple computers, so Eric could look at the new 24-inch iMac. It has a shiny, very reflective screen, which he doesn't think he'll like.

03 October 2007

Marina construction update

Most of the water has now been pumped out of the enclosed area and the mud is drying. As these photos show, digging equipment is removing the mud from some areas and dumping it in other parts of the site. Under the gray mud (which varies in depth) is a layer of clay or other (brown) dirt, which is being used to construct access roads (probably temporary). Lots of dust and noise is coming from this work. It's slightly better than the pounding noises when the metal barriers were being hammered into the dirt, but the beep-beep-beep of the backup warning signals on the trucks and other equipment is seriously tedious.

02 October 2007

Technical editors' website redesigned

After months of off-and-on work on my editors' website (setting it up in WordPress), I've finally got it to the point that I'm ready to reveal it to the world. And so I have! http://www.jeanweber.com/newsite/ The design (template) breaks in Internet Explorer. I don't have the time or energy to figure out how to fix that. I'm no longer doing this professionally, or with a view to attracting clients, so I've decided to be bloody-minded about it. I put a note on the first page that says "get a browser that supports standards". Some pages are out of date, so I still have a lot of maintenance work to do, but at least the major conversion work is done... except for the old newsletters, which will gradually be converted or absorbed into the main site.