Words of Wisdom for Today

“We will move forward. We all can’t be perfect – and in our imperfections, we find ways to be better” – Jennifer Zelazny (me)

Levels of Attire for a Consultant that Works at Home

After working at home for over a year now – my spectrum of “dressing up” has so many new levels – here is my personal dressiness hierarchy:

  1. The bottom: No shower – wearing pajamas
  2. Errands/average day: Shower – warmup pants, or shorts, with flip flops with a t-shirt
  3. More dressed up: Shower – nice shorts, golf shirt, flip flops
  4. Even more dressed up: Shower – nice shorts, golf shirt, sandals
  5. An outing: Shower – jeans, nice golf shirt or t-shirt, sandals
  6. Another outing: Shower – jeans, nice golf shirt, shoes
  7. An occasion: Shower – nice pants, nice golf shirt, shoes
  8. An event: Shower – a suit, heels

Why do I even mention this? The other day I had to just laugh at myself because I actually thought that “if I put sandals on instead of my flip flops – that might looks bettter..” Fun times.

If You Want Something Done Right…

Finally we got a nice break in the weather here in Chicago over the weekend and it was time to get a new grill. In the past I had always bought grills that were pre-assembled but they never had an ignitor that actually worked. All the wires were always in place, but I could never get it to work (not even my Dad could get them to work). I am not a huge flame fan so lighting the grill with a lighter always made me nervous. Any way – after putting the grill together myself this time, I am proud to say that the ignitor finally works! Needless to say, this was another example of “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” Fun times 😉

Always Use a Doctype

After spending an hour on something that should have taken me 20 minutes – I wanted to pass on something I should have caught right away. The problem: you use CSS to lay something out and it looks great in Firefox and Safari – but not in IE. At this point I validate the CSS to make sure I did not forget a bracket or something stupid. Next step – validate the XHTML. This is where I would have solved my problem, but I failed to take this step. At that point I would have seen that the script I was working with did not have a doctype defined. Once I added in the doctype – everything loaded as expected and I could not believe I missed something so basic. Lesson learned – and hopefully you will know now as well to make sure a doctype is always set.

Room and Board Customer Service

I recently picked out and bought a desk for my office from Room and Board. The desk was delivered to my house yesterday and I could not be any happier with the experience. Since I am in the service business myself, I am always appreciative of great customer service and wanted to share my experience.

After the delivery, I got an email from a Room and Board employee:

Checking in with you to make sure that you are pleased with your purchase.
If there is anything that I can assist you with, please let me know.
Thank you for shopping at Room and Board.

Since I have been extremely satisfied, I decided to let them know by replying back to the email:

Hello. Thanks for checking in. I have been a Room and Board fan since the day I walked in your showroom in Wilmette. I have been extremely happy with your company’s service throughout the entire process. Your web site is easy to use, the people I spoke with at the warehouse were nice and the delivery men were very courteous and on time. I love the desk and look forward to complimenting it with other pieces in the near future.

Overall, the quality of the actual desk is great and expected, but what was not expected was to be treated so well. I am definitely a customer for life.

Secure Email, Secure Web Site – Thanks

One of my top pet peeves in my field is the use of self-signed SSL certificates for public web sites. I have no issue with using self-signed SSL certificates for a development environment or something internal, but when you have outside users, you need to show them that they can trust you. Just today – I got a “secure” email from my student loan company (which first got marked as junk). When I clicked on the URL in the email (https://securemail…) I got the error message “certificate was signed by an unknown certifying authority”. My blood began to boil.

A. You have all kinds of personal information about me, my loans, etc and you cannot pay $199 a year to get a certificate that my browser recognizes and trusts?

B. You make an extra effort to send a “secure email” to a “https” (secure) site, and choose to setup a “securemail” sub-domain – and when it comes to the certificate, you skimp? Wow.

Land Rover Anniversary

It has officially been one year since we bought our Land Rover. Did I write this down? No. Land Rover sent us an “anniversary” present in the mail with a card. We got a very classy box with a card, a $2,000 off coupon for a new Range Rover (thanks – that should cover the floor mats) and a Land Rover duffle bag. I am continually impressed with the service and thoughtfulness of this company.

Doing What's Right

I would like to think we all have standards of some sort. I expect people to treat me with respect as I will treat them with respect. Other people demand to be catered to at all costs – all the time. This morning at the train station the police were out and about issuing tickets for all people who crossed the tracks (there are 3 sets – closest: from Chicago, middle: express trains to and from Chicago depending on the time, far set: local to Chicago). Anyone who has ridden the Metra for a few days/weeks/years has crossed the tracks (after looking both ways of course) to catch their train (and we have also seen people get killed doing the same thing too). It is not always smart, but when you know the schedule, you also know what other – if any – other trains are coming and going. This morning, I was trying to catch an express train. Unfortunately, the train showed up early, and after seeing the police there, I was not going to cross and get slapped with a $250.00 fine. Don’t worry, some idiot did…and got fined. What I loved best about this situation came after the guy got issued the ticket. The people who could not cross the trains (where I was standing) starting yelling and swearing at the police officers for “not letting them cross”. Not only did the people yell at the police as the train sat at the station making up for it’s early arrival, when it passed, a mob of people went over and got in the police officers’ faces and began complaining. As frustrating as it was to miss my train, at least I could see the point of the exercise. The police were trying to help prevent careless crossers from being killed.

I felt pretty good about myself not getting all flustered and patiently waited for the next train…until an express train was on it’s way through and someone started crossing the tracks just as the bells started to go off. The crowd of people started talking and yelling at the police to ticket him. No ticket. The crowd then started talking about ok – it was like a yellow light. Then…after the express train made it past our stop – bells still going off and lights still flashing, the “yellow light guy” crossed the other set of tracks and the police did not blink. You can imagine the crowd…yelling at the police to give him a ticket , etc and I have to say at that point I also joined in. Did the police officers even attempt to ticket him? No. Double standards? Yes. I have always said this…I can understand and appreciate standards…but double standards drive me crazy! Fun times. Happy Birthday A!

Color, gimp.app, and Photoshop

I love Photoshop. I always have. I can still remember the first time I saw it. It was version 3 in a computer lab at Penn State, running on 7100s with Mac OS 7.5.1. It was a rainy day and I was enlisted to help the instructor keep the class of PSU faculty and staff on task as well as help with any technical difficulties. One look at the program and I was in love. I spent many of the following weeks in that lab on the weekends, after training faculty, staff, and students creating all kinds of graphics and whatnot for fun. Since I believe that software should be purchased and used as the license agreement states…I gave up Photoshop at home and now only use it at work for work related projects. As most people know, I like to do a lot of projects at home…so since I did not want to put out tons of money for Photoshop, I decided to try gimp.app…an open source graphics program.

Most of my time spent in gimp.app is enjoyable. I love working with graphics, but for nights like last night, I wanted to buy Photoshop. Why? Color. Alone, Photoshop is worth the price tag for color options. I am extremely picky with color…and with every design, I get more pickier. I have a fully functional XOOPS install up and running, but I refuse to provide a link for people to see it because I am unhappy with a shade of blue. I spent two hours yesterday in gimp.app struggling to get a decent color, without any luck. Perhaps it is learning curve…perhaps it is user interface…perhaps it is just me being stubborn, but I just wanted to let everyone know that the hold up with my XOOPS install is because of color. I am trying to stick to my overall template, but sometimes color drives me so crazy I start from scratch because I cannot handle it (look at the serveral versions of jappler.com I went through this year). I am hoping to figure my color problem out tonight, but I am confident if I had Photoshop…I would not have any problems.

PS, I am downloading the PS Elements demo right now.

Humidity

This humidity is driving me crazy…how is it that so many others, including myself live in an area that has such extreme temperature changes? I remember a few months ago barely able to go outside to walk Triscuit in the cold, now here I am with extreme heat and humidity. On another note…I have been using public transportation for a number of years now, but never did I see what I saw today…someone clipping their nails over their purse, then pushing the clippings into her purse. Wow.