Tag Archives: school

Technology… Gotta Love It

Apparently technology is not my friend this week.

As I mentioned last post, my WordPress-powered site punkeroo.ca committed suicide last weekend when I tried to update the WordPress software. The front page is still accessible. I can probably still post blog entries. But the links are broken and I just can’t figure out how to modify the theme. So in the interest of time I started this site, so I can blog while trying to learn how to build a site which does exactly what I want it to do. This will take time. Maybe forever. But I maintain hope that one day punkeroo.ca will again be a habitable space with all the comforts of home.

Fortunately, in preparation for updating, my site and database were backed up to my 1tb external drive. I’m lax when it comes to backing up files. I know I should do it regularly. I know drives crater and chips fry. I know I could lose all my precious data, pictures of the kids, half written stories, and old school work. But it just never crosses my mind. So my external drive, which I have had for a couple years doesn’t have a lot on it. I backed up my laptop a few months ago to reset Windows to factory spec. Some older files from my last laptop were stored there. And of course my punkeroo data. It worked fine.

Then two days ago I decided to install Adobe CS5 on my laptop. I had it archived on the external. I plugged it in. Waited. Nothing. Tried various things. Still nothing. I gave the drive to a friend who knows about this kind of techy stuff. He pronounced it dead. I gave it to my partner for a second opinion. He put it in the freezer. Very little possibility of retrieving any data, but I guess the freezer trick is worth a try. Meanwhile, I picked up a cute little 1tb usb drive at Futureshop. I think I better start backing everything up regularly. And learn how to use the cloud. And maybe Dropbox. And whatever else there is.

Last night, while staring at my greek homework, I began to wonder why my phone would not display the greek text properly. I mean, if I could access Perseus Project from my phone then I could work on my greek anywhere, anytime. Like at the laundromat. Or in the car (as a passenger obviously). I mentioned it to my partner, and he suggested checking the tablet. It too produced a wonky display of the greek text in the browser. We looked for settings, checked his phone, and searched the net. In examining the weird display I realized that some characters, specifically letters with accents or other diacritical marks, were simply absent. I sent an email to the Perseus Project webmaster asking for ideas.

This morning I had a reply. Apparently there is some problem with Android devices and polytonic greek fonts.  We spent the next couple of hours searching the net for explanations of this issue and possible fixes. Turns out Google simply can’t be bothered to expand its unicode support in the Android operating system. Academics, religious scholars, linguists, teachers, students etc. have been complaining to Google about this issue for years. We found multitudes of forums discussing the limitations of Android, work-arounds, rooting, apps, fonts, the benefits of Apple products (which fully support the extended unicode charcters for greek, hebrew, and other problematic languages), etc. Every suggested fix we found either involved rooting the device, which I will not do to my brand-new-still-under-warranty phone, or doesn’t work on any OS newer than 2.2.

Finally, just when I though all was lost, and I would have to actually purchase an IPod or IPad, we found a few posts suggesting that Android OS 4.3 may provide some support for an extended character base. Further research revealed that the 4.3 upgrade paired with Firefox for Android seemed to be working for some people. My Samsung Galaxy S4 has recently upgraded to 4.3, so I gave it a shot. Lo and behold the Perseus Project website displays perfectly! Now I can read Aristophanes’ Lysistrata anytime, anywhere. Or I could if it weren’t so bloody tiny. My Asus EEpad Transformer, however, is running Android 4.1 and is not upgradable. It’s also two years old and out of warranty, so I think I’ll be learning how to root a tablet.

Of course, with my recent run of luck, I’ll probably brick it.



New Year’s Resolutions (Better Late Than Never)

I actually thought about my resolutions on New Years Day. By the 2nd or 3rd I knew what I wanted to say but, thanks to having no understanding of the supposedly simple Word press software I use on my punkeroo.ca site, said site is totally screwed up. All I did was try to update! So for now I am here on a WordPress.com site. Hopefully I can resurrect punkeroo.ca soon.

Anyway, better late than never so…

My New Years Resolutions

1. Write a novel.

2. Blog.

3. Obtain my highest grades ever.

4. Save, earn, obtain money.

5. Build the life I actually want.

These are the big, important, and hopefully attainable goals in my life right now. Subject to change, and of course there are others, but I feel quite committed to these 5.

Now a little explanation of each.

1. Write a novel. Seems pretty huge. But doable if I stick to it. I have carried plot lines, characters, settings, whole worlds in my head for as long as I can remember. Often I have made some attempt at committing something coherent to paper, with varying degrees of success. But distractions, depression, discouragement, fear, or laziness have always prevented me from completing any given project.

This year shall be different. This year I shall, in the words of the almighty writer god Chuck Wendig, “finish my shit!” This year I shall follow the teachings of my writerly guru and spew words onto pages even if they suck. I shall frog-march myself through the muck and the mire of fear and self doubt. I shall chain myself to my laptop with sound proof headphones in coffee shops, the library, or under the bed to rid myself of distractions and excuses to not write. I SHALL BE THE NEXT GREAT CANADIAN NOVELIST!

Realistically, I have a number of good, solid tools at my disposal. I have explored the “Snowflake Method” of outlining and structuring, and with a few tweaks I think its a good fit for me. This from someone who has never outlined an essay or short story in her life. I have the infinitely inspirational blog of Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com. I highly recommend him to any would-be writer, as long as said writer has a sense of humour and a tolerance for gratuitous profanity. I also have a Facebook meme, which has strangely graven itself indelibly upon my mind. It crossed my newsfeed on January 1st. It said simply “Today is the first of 365 blank pages. Fill them well”. Mind-blowing epiphany! 365 pages = 1 novel. -ish. Certainly a workable first draft, and not an overwhelming demand on a day-to-day basis. So that is my goal.

2. Blog. Hence this site. I began blogging on punkeroo.ca when my little boy and I went on a 5 week trip east in the summer of 2012. I enjoyed it. Blogging that is. But found it difficult to keep up while traveling. My access to reliable internet was spotty at best and editing photos and video was time consuming. I posted as much as I could, but gradually fell behind. By the time I returned home it seemed redundant to continue and other demands of life took precedence.

But now I feel that I want to blog regularly. Maybe not every day, but whenever I have something to say. I plan to use this blog as an outlet, as writing practice, as a way of keeping in touch with people, and as a way to build a presence and an audience for my future novels. So feel free to share this blog with all and sundry. Once a week I will post a response to Chuck Wendig’s Friday writing prompt. Other post could be anything and everything. Buyer beware.

3. Obtain my highest grades ever. Apparently I am well on my way to this one. I got 91.6% on my Christmas exam in Linguistics 1F94, the highest grade in the class. Mind you, it is a first year course, and I am accustomed to the demands of 3rd and 4th year courses, but still, not too shabby. I have three courses this term. Introductory Lingistics (1F94), Intermediate French (1F50), and Greek Comedy (4P31). I went into this year with 19/20 credits towards an honours degree with a 75% overall grade average. I have been attending university on and off since 1997. Eventually I will graduate, probably with a degree in Integrated Studies. Which means I don’t have any specific degree because I take classes from whatever department looks interesting at any given time.

This year I have tackled 3 credits – 2 more than usual. Linguistics and French are first year classes, full year (Sept-Apr), one credit each. Greek is two fourth year half credit courses. First term was Greek Oratory, which I failed. I have not taken a course in Greek for 6 years I think. Translating ancient Athenian legal speeches was one hell of a slog. It got better as the term progressed and grammar and vocabulary started coming back to me, but I was just too far behind to pull it off. Too often I simply was not able to prepare the entire reading for class, I missed some classes because of illness or the kids or whatever, and my memory was not up to the task of translating under exam conditions. However, this term will be better. As poorly as I did last term, the practice has prepared me for this term. I am starting fresh, with a subject I am familiar with, a (to me anyway) more accessible text, and a determination to do well. Also our assignments are on metrics, which I enjoy.

So, this term I have the potential to do very well. My marks in my two full year courses are about 90% and 85%ish going into term 2. And the new Greek course, while still challenging, is well within my ability. 95% – here I come!

4. Save, earn, obtain money. Pretty self explanatory. I’m tired of being poor. My prospects for employment are dismal, but there are other options.

5. Build the life I actually want. This is complicated and I don’t feel like talking about it. Suffice it to say I don’t like my life and changes are immanent. Even if I have to break the rules.

So that’s it. New site, new year. Heavy to-do list.

Enjoy 2014.