Feeding the Techie Beast

Behold the new view from my desk chair:

Sony HS95-PS Monitors

Mmmmm, triple monitors. Yup, I finally did it; I bought a third computer monitor. I picked up the first of these beauties years ago when they were on sale at the PX, and when I got it set up I promptly decided that it was the best, most beautiful computer monitor ever. Clean, clear, glossy and beautiful color with a sleek design all wrapped into one. I went back and bought another for ITMan the next time they had them on sale, while he was out of town. He’d just gotten promoted, and he’d been lusting after my monitor since I bought it.

Then I bought a second one for me, but in a smaller size. That was silly, to buy a smaller size, so eventually ITMan bought me another 19″ one while I was out of town. So then there were four, but one was still smaller. ITMan’s desk played host to the 17″ and one of the 19″ ones, and the other two 19″ monitors were on my desk. One big happy family.

What? What was that? Why do we need more than one monitor per computer anyway, you ask? Having more real estate on my Windows desktop enhances my workflow when I’m programming and web designing. It’s great to put the code editor on one screen and see the actual output on the other. I’m constantly working on more than one thing as well, not to mention quilting stuff thrown into the mix off and on, and it’s great to be able to put some windows on the left and some on the right while I work, and have the basics like Outlook and Firefox up and running all the time.

And ever since ITMan bought the second 19″ monitor for me, I’ve been secretly dreaming of a third. I cased ebay for a month or so until I found someone selling a slightly used one who would ship here, and Voila! I’m in heaven with so much space! Of course, it wouldn’t have been normal for this addition to the work space to have gone off without a hitch, and true to form, adding a third monitor wasn’t just plug’n’play like it should have been, oh no. Without getting too deep into what’s idiotic about this HP computer I have at the moment, I had to buy a second graphics card to be able to hook up the third monitor. Buying a second graphics card was the work of moments at Tiger Direct, and once I had that installed, it really was easy to get the third one playing nicely with the other two.

That hungry techie inside of me is appeased for the moment. ITMan just shakes his head at me. Just so that I could watch his face, I told him I really needed another one to make an even four, but then I’d have to have a new desk to fit them all. I was kidding. Three is plenty. Most of the time. 😉

Oh, the background you see on the monitors is my favorite from Digital Blasphemy. His desktop backgrounds are available in many sizes and configurations, like double and triple monitor setups and widescreens. Ryan does some awesome work!

New! Gallery of Inchies

I’ve made a gallery to feature all the Inchies made for Elemental Changes. I’ll be adding photos to the Gallery as I finish the Inchies; I have 144 Inchies done of the 510 needed for Elemental Changes.

The Gallery is powered by a lovely piece of open source software called Highslide, made even easier to use by the Highslide JS Plugin for WordPress. I discovered Highslide through Kristin’s blog.

Enjoy the Inchie Gallery! More to follow…

WFMW–Sizing images for your blog

Adding pictures to the posts on your blog is a good thing, providing interest and illustration and giving readers a glimpse into your quilty world. Sizing images correctly is a must though, since images that are too big for the layout of your page will cause other elements like sidebars to move around and end up out of position, and pictures that are too small are just difficult for readers to see. Here’s a quick tutorial (I use Photoshop Elements, but the theory is the same for any graphics program):

Open the image in Photoshop (or whichever graphics editor you use) and edit the color, fix red eyes or crop the image to delete any unnecessary background from the shot. Once you’re satisfied with the image, you need to know the size of the space where the image must fit, in pixels. That’s the important part here. Inches mean nothing, it’s all about the pixels.

I generally worry more about the width of an image, because that’s the dimension that will cause the layout of my pages to break if it’s too big. I use a tool called MeasureIt, which is an add-on for the Firefox Browser. When you have MeasureIt installed, you can click on the icon and then click and drag on your screen to measure an area in pixels, like this:

Finding the pixel size of an area with MeasureIt

I’ve measured the width of my post area, and I know that my image can’t be wider than 491 pixels. I usually stick with about 450px, because I like to leave a little room around the image, and it’s an easy number to remember when I’m sizing the images in Photoshop.

In Photoshop, there are two ways to size the image properly. You can use Image>Resize>Image Size, and then enter the width in the Width field, making sure that the box next to “Constrain Proportions” is checked at the bottom, and that the drop down menu next to the Width field says “pixels.” Once you enter your desired pixels for the Width, the Height will change automatically if “Constrain Proportions” is checked. Click “OK” to resize the image and save it. Read More

Quilty cases for the iTouch

iTouchAfter all that paper yesterday, I came home and had to have some HOF (hands on fabric) time. ITMan and I each received a slick new iPod Touch as a late Christmas present. We got them free because I took some programming classes in November and December. Great freebies! Not that we needed new iPods, but we do love our techie gizmos…

So now comes the inevitable search for just the right cases for the things. I’ve really never had cases for my other iPods, because I generally don’t take them out of the house. I connect them to players and speaker systems just to make it easier to have more music at my fingertips in whatever room I’m in without burning cd’s constantly. ITMan has a case for his iPod Video from DLO, but it’s really trash, since the case itself put scratches and permanent marks on the face of the iPod after long term use. Isn’t that what cases are supposed to prevent? Obviously, we won’t be buying cases from them again.

When I decided I had to have some sort of case for my newer iPod nano that I got last Christmas, I made a little quilted sleeve from fabric and thin batting. I just wanted something to protect it when I sling it into my purse on trips or something, and this way, there’s nothing inside the case to scratch the finish on the iPod. Perfect. So when ITMan and I were contemplating cases for the iTouch, he mentioned that some sort of a sleeve would be all that was really needed, so I whipped up two cases with that in mind:

iTouch Cases

Soft on the inside, cool looking on the outside. I was going to say “pretty,” but ITMan probably doesn’t do “pretty.” He did spend quite a bit of time picking out his own fabric for his case though, finally settling on the red silk dupioni. The purple silk dupioni was a close second, but in the end he liked the way the red silk shimmered. I chose a couple of coordinating cotton fat quarters for mine, and made the front from one fabric and the back (which also acts as the flap to enclose the iTouch with a bit of Velcro) out of the other.

I left the seam allowances on the outside and used the serger to finish, because I didn’t want the seams on the inside causing lumpy bulk. There’s nothing on the inside but batting, and I think it was Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 Black, or maybe it was Dream Cotton in black. Either way, it’s the perfect thickness and very soft and didn’t cause any problems with the machine when I quilted it to the top fabric with no backing.

Now I’m looking at mine and thinking how cool it would be to add some embellishments, like beads, embroidery, crystals, buttons, etc., etc.! Or I could make another and embroider and embellish before assembly. Hmmm, I could get totally sidetracked making these. It would be like making fabric postcards, but making something useful (I’ve never done the postcard thing. What do you do with them besides send them away to someone else, and then what do they do with them??) I’m not sure I have time to get involved in making more of these, but I might not be able to resist this temptation…

Is there a “Turning 40” quilt pattern?

I must be getting old. It doesn’t seem like 40 should feel that old, and in fact it didn’t bother me when I turned 40 in March this year. Of course, to my children, I’m ancient, and to my husband, I’m young. I’m nine years younger than ITMan, which is not so much, until you remember that he grew up in the 70’s and I was an 80’s child, and there are some vast differences in attitude based on that. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective when you’re talking about age. To me, 65 seems old, but now some of my readers may be sending “Who’re you calling old?” comments my way. 😉

Forgetting things almost always bites you in the butt, one way or another…

Whatever your perspective on the age issue, I’m starting to feel old sometimes, like when I can’t remember things. Part of the problem is just having too much creative stuff bouncing off the walls in my head, and the non-creative stuff just can’t compete so it just gets out of the way and then goes into hiding. (As an aside, I don’t have nearly as much trouble in the memory department as ITMan, who seems like he’s battling early-onset Alzheimer’s sometimes!) I write more notes these days, which is a good thing because I absolutely HATE to forget things. Forgetting things almost always bites you in the butt, one way or another, by inconveniencing yourself or worse, someone else.

It’s finally gotten to the point where I write notes about sewing machine settings or other quilting-related tidbits about certain techniques, so that I can remember them when I go to do something again. Only problem is, I tend to lose little bits of paper quite easily. Ok, they’re not exactly lost, just buried under other bits of paper, and sometimes fabric and such. Read More

Techie Coolness: LibraryThing

Visit LibraryThingI discovered LibraryThing a couple of weeks ago, and I’m in book lover’s heaven! I could instantly see major potential here, and I’ve already started to get a couple of long-term goals accomplished. Ever since I started writing at Quilt Epiphany, I’ve wanted to make a Library page, showing all the quilt books in my collection, and either linking to my review of the book (if there was one) or to the book at Amazon.com, or both.

I do have a Worpress plugin called Amazon Media Manager (AMM) which makes it possible to insert a pretty picture of a book or product into my posts and have it linked directly to Amazon where readers can buy it. Oh, and the veritable river of cash that flows from the Amazon Associates account into my wallet is staggering, as well. 🙄 However, while AMM works great for one at a time inserts, or lists of two or three books or CD’s in the sidebar, I just couldn’t see spending the amount of time it would take to input 140 quilt books into my AMM list, and then program the thing to display them on a separate page. Never mind.

Here’s why LibraryThing is such a killer app. I made a free account at LibraryThing (a one step, two word process, believe it or not), and added a couple of books to my Library. It’s a simple process, since you can either enter the ISBN of the book, or search by title or author, and then select from a list to add the book to your Library. You can see the contents of your library, add tags, write reviews, share your profile with other users, see what other users are reading, etc. This is social networking for book lovers, Read More