Category Archives: Technology

Saturday Mornings Are For Mime

I appreciate all the support I’ve received after divulging my technical difficulties with you yesterday. In fact, I had several readers request that I take my own suggestion and post a series of pictures, miming the video blog I’d worked so tirelessly to post.

Truthfully, readers, the video blog I have planned wouldn’t make much sense mimed. Especially since one of the major reasons I did the vlog was so you could hear me sing.

Maybe.

And you’re welcome.

BUT, when my readers speak, I listen. And so, for your reading (viewing?) pleasure, here is a Saturday Mime Fest that I will call…

How I’m Feeling Today
 
I…
hate…
Technology.
It’s driving me crazy.
So, before I do something drastic…
Or lose my mind completely…
…I’m going to take the day off.
Perhaps I will crochet…
…or read an excellent book…
…but most likely, I will just watch the Food Network and relax.
Have a good weekend, readers!

Please Stand By

I was super-excited about my blog yesterday. I had an entire video blog planned out, down to the last shot. I eagerly got to work, setting up my camera, giggling with anticipation at the antics I had planned for you.

However, Technology had another plan for me yesterday.

Source

First, the dusty old digital camera that I use to shoot my video blogs just wouldn’t work. I couldn’t even get the stupid thing to turn on with fresh batteries. I mean…it is held together with scotch tape and spit, so I should be TOO surprised that it’s finally gone to camera heaven.

But–there was a solution to that problem. We actually have a hi-def video camera that I can use to shoot my blogs. Only problem with that—I’m fuzzy on how to convert the files so they’ll work with my video editing software. But…no biggie. I’m a smart girl. I’m college educated. I figure, I’ll figure it out as I go along.

So, I set up again, using my fancy-schmancy hi-def video camera. I shoot all the different bits of the video blog I had planned. I preview them on the computer. I’m a happy girl. Then comes the time to figure out how to get them from camera to hard drive. Right. The part I figured I could figure out.

Thirty minutes of mashing buttons, reading menus and crossing my fingers, I turn to the internet for help. I find the instruction booklet and, ten minutes later, the video files are uploaded onto my desktop. Fan-freakin’-tastic.

The next step is to create the Photoshop files that will be the intro and exit for the video blog. You know…the ones that look like this.

Making good progress now, I happily click on Photoshop to set to work.

Except it spazzes out, flips me off, and crashes.

Source

Seriously?? I try again, opening the software and hoping for the best.

It crashes again.

At this point I turn into Cathy from the comic strip.

Source

Ack, indeed.

Thirty more minutes of head-scratching, forehead slapping, and muttered cursing, and I *think* I’ve figured out the issues. I begin downloading a few updates and, deciding to get creative, pull out my sharpies instead. ‘I know!’ I think, ‘I’ll just draw my little intro/exit panels and then scan them into the computer! Genius! Clever! Endearing! I’m such a time-saver.’ So I whip out some card stock and let my inner child out. And the panels turn out super-cute.

At this point it’s almost noon. And the computer is still downloading updates for Adobe. So, I stick with my scanning plan and fire up the ol’ HP.

And get approximately one scan completed before it goes belly-up, too.

See how cute it is?!?!? Argh!!!!

At this point I’m beginning to think that all the electronics in the house had a midnight meeting and decided to play an early April Fools joke on me. Only I’m not finding it humorous AT ALL.

So guess what happens next, readers??

If you guessed fist-shaking, more cursing, and another half an hour troubleshooting yet another tech issue on the web, you’d be correct.

By now it’s way past lunchtime. I decide to reboot the computer, take a few minutes away from the whole thing, and enjoy my turkey sandwich on whole grain bread. Funnily enough, said sandwich doesn’t do much to lower my blood pressure, which is pulsing through my veins like a freight train. Nothing like frustration to get the heart pumping.

So, lunch finished, dishes washed, and I’m ready to face my foe again. In a last ditch effort, I decide to hold my breath and open Photoshop again, since I can’t get the printer working. And…EUREKA! It works! I quickly bang out my 4 panels, save them to the hard drive, and prepare to edit my video blog.

Usually this takes about an hour. Longer if I’m adding sound effects and whatnot. But yesterday’s vlog was pretty straight-forward. I already had the songs I needed, the panels were finished, so all I had left to do was cut out the unwanted bits of video and get everything in the right order.

Five minutes into the process I’m noticing that Windows Live Movie Maker is doing something weird with the videos. Something about processing them before I can edit them so that they can be viewed properly. I shrug it off as something to do with the video files from the camcorder versus the POS camera, so I shrug it off and keep at it.

Forty-five minutes into the process, things start to slooooooow doooooooown. What normally takes the program 3 minutes to open is now taking 6…then 9….then 12….

Seriously. Yertle the Turtle was faster than my PC yesterday. (source)

At this point I begin to consider the likelihood that I’ll have to make a run outside for an ax to protect myself against the evils of technology looming in my home. Because I’m seriously concerned that there’s an electronic uprising on my hands.

Just as I add the last few touches to the video blog, and manage to save it, Movie Maker shuts itself down. I’m absolutely flabbergasted. I reboot the computer again, hoping everything is going to work out. All I have to do at this point is save the blessed thing to YouTube, and then I’m home free. But alas, each time I try to open Movie Maker after that point, it shuts down before I have the chance to do much more than pray.

By the time my husband gets home from class, I’m a frazzled, angry, frustrated mess. I try to explain the problems I’ve been having, dumping all my displeasure on his already burdened shoulders. He diligently sits down at the desk, and I’m convinced he’ll have me up and running again in no time.

In short, my husband dealt with computer issues from 3:45 to 5:30 and only managed to fix the printer.

And so, I throw my hands up in the face of technology today and say, “I quit!”

(Except I really don’t. Because I’m determined to get that video blog posted. It may not be today, it may not even be tomorrow…but it will be shared, one way or another. Even if I have to mime it in photos.)

Prepare Yourself For Organizational Awesomeness

If you’ve been reading Abby Gabs for long, you’re well aware of my OCD. You knew of it from the very beginning. You know how it likes to take on new forms on a regular basis. You’re aware of how it affects my party planning, shopping habits, and my enthusiasm for alphabetical order.

In case you’ve never read those posts, or are a slightly new visitor here to my blog, let me boil it down for ya, real simple like.

If you want to get me excited, let me organize something. Color coding? I’m in. Alphabetized lists? Oh yeah, baby. Need someone to de-clutter your closet? *MOAN* I am so your girl.

Taking all of this into consideration, you can imagine what creating a weekly meal plan, and subsequent grocery list, means to me.

It is easily a one-hour process. First I make a list for the days I’m shopping for—breakfast lunch and dinner. Then I take into account what nights the hubby will be dining with me, and what nights I’ll be eating alone (those nights mean I get to eat yummy things he won’t eat….like vegetables. And fish.) Then I go through all my recipes, find the ones that sound intriguing for the week, and fill in my weekly meal plan list, lickety split. I double-and-triple check to make sure all my days/meals are covered, that I’m not fixing anything Brian-unapproved on a night he’ll have to eat it, making sure I remember leftovers to be consumed as well.

Once that list is done, it goes up on the giant dry-erase board in my kitchen, so I won’t forget what I’ve spent 30 minutes planning.

Once that list is complete, I can now compile my grocery list.

For most normal people, that means jotting down the things you need for the week in whatever willy nilly manner they see fit.

*CRINGE*

Not me. My list is written in categories–by aisle–and alphabetized within each category.

Naturally, this takes me a little time, too.

So yesterday, I’m sitting at the desk, surrounded by all my planning tools. (Notebook for lists, internet open to Weight Watchers and my favorite recipes folder, Brian’s schedule…there may have been a ruler and a highlighter at the party, too….)

In the midst of my planning, my genius husband says, “I wonder if there’s an app for that?”

 *The skies open up and angels sing the Hallelujah chorus*

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the world’s most awesome app, Our Groceries.

It’s so awesome, it shoots stars and hearts at you when you open it.

For those of you who love organization as much as I do (read, fellow OCDers) you may want to take a deep breath. Because this is gonna get right pornographic here in a second.

This app is AMAZING. You can create your lists right from your phone, or on their website. Not only can you create grocery lists, you can also add an ingredient list for your favorite recipes, too. And no need to enter in each individual thing one-at-a-time. Oh no. Our Groceries allows you to enter the ENTIRE LIST, all in one fell swoop.

It’s so awesome, it’s like the fourth of July every time you use it.

Once you enter your list, you can categorize each item in whatever manner you choose. Just want an alphabetized list of all the items you need to pick up? Sure thing. How about common items first, then less common below? Alrighty.

It’s so awesome, it has it’s own squad of cheerleaders.

ORRRRR….you could be awesome like me and create categories that represent each aisle in your grocery store, and then put them in order according to how I personally like to shop said store. (That’s right. I’m awesome.)

It’s so awesome, it makes babies happy.

Yes, you heard me right. You can create your categories, then drag and drop them in the order you want them in. This, for me, equals shopping bliss.

It’s so awesome, even Mary Poppins would be impressed.

But wait! There’s more!

I’ve always wanted to say that.

This app can be shared between phones. So, if you and your spouse each have the Our Groceries app, and you create a grocery list from your laptop, he or she will have that list in their phone and can stop to pick up dinner on their way home.

WITHOUT that annoying “wait did you say ‘jeez’ or ‘cheese?” conversation!

Scenario #2: You spend 20 minutes jotting down your grocery list, grab your purse and keys and breeze out the door. As you’re parking your car in the grocery store parking lot, you realize that your list would be really helpful….if it wasn’t still on your desk at home. Never fear–Our Groceries is here!

Scenario #3: You’re out and about and think to yourself, “Dish detergent!! That’s what I keep forgetting to put on the list!” Whip out your phone, friends, and add it to you list. Voila! Instant memory aide!

Seriously, this app is worth checking out. My only complaint with it is that it’s a little too easy to accidentally check things off the list. But that was easily remedied with a little tweak of the settings. It should also be said that if you download the free app, there will be ads. However, I find them unobtrusive. If, however, you disagree, and you’re willing to pay for the app, you can download an ad-free version (which varies in price depending on your carrier.)

Finally–an app that has my attention to detail. Halle-frickin’-lujah.

I need to go, now. It’s time for me to be alone with my new favorite app.

I’ll Pay You To Shoot Me Now

This is me:

This is me after this morning’s workout:

Daid. You know, like the word “dead” except southern-ized…

My ever-supportive husband decided to bring home this:

It’s a game. For the Kinect. Or it could be considered a torture device.

Don’t let the bright orange packaging and the beautiful people on the front fool you. This is not a game meant to make you laugh. This is not a game that will give you the experience you’ll be talking about after your next party. This is Chinese water torture in a box. SERIOUSLY.

Taking the game completely out of the equation, it’s bad enough to do 20 squats on your own. Just you, your adorable yoga pants, and the sweat rolling down your brow. Now add the additional frustration of making sure the camera can see you and every part of your body. Now add even MORE frustration when the camera does NOT see you and every part of your body, and while you’re squatting like a professional, all it sees is your knees.

Don’t believe me? Ok then, squat. Now hold it. Now keep holding it while I tell you, “Reader, try to squat a little lower. Keep your knees over your toes and really feel the burn in those gluts! Come on now, Reader, you can squat lower than that! I don’t think you’re squatting low enough. SQUAT YOU PATHETIC PEON!!!” Meanwhile, the counter that’s supposed to say you’ve completed 12 squats still says 1 because your avatar is stuck in a position reminiscent of an Olympic gymnast.

And let’s talk about the floor work. Push-ups. Ok, great, I’m all a-twitter. Except once I get in my push-up position, arms already quivering, the Kinect is like, “Hey, dumbass, we can’t see you. Move back.”

So I stand up, move a quarter of an inch closer to my couch. Get back down in the push-up position. And then, “Woohoo. Moron. Over here. You’re too close to the camera. Move back.”

Beginning to get aggravated, I stand up, move as close to my couch as humanly possible without lounging on it, get back down in the push-up position. Yay! It’s reading me! One push-up. Two. Three. The end is in sight. And then….”We’re sorry. We cannot read your movements. Please move back.”

It’s a good a place as any to stop, right? Stupid robot.

Ok, ok, so, it’s not all bad. The workouts really do get your heart rate up there, and for the most part, the Kinect does read your movements pretty well.  The little rubber band-y thing that comes with the game really works for the upper-body exercises. (I’ll have Arnold Schwarzenegger arms by summer.)

I’m hoping once we buy the little gizmo that allows you to mount the Kinect to the wall, it will give us that extra foot of space we need to be read properly.

For now, I’m just as annoyed as I am sore. I’m sure I’ll be more sore as the day goes on. In fact, I’ll pay you to shoot me now to save me the pain later.

Verizon Wireless–The Cell Phone Company of Champions

My husband and I have been very happy and satisfied customers of Verizon Wireless for about 7 years now. Every time we get to upgrade to a new phone, we get a little giddy. It’s got something to do with gadget envy…I’m not sure everyone suffers from that ailment, but we have it in spades in our house.

About 2 years ago, I became the proud owner of a Blackberry Curve. It was my very first smartphone, and I was THRILLED with it. Beyond thrilled. There may have been dancing. This phone was my faithful friend for 18 months. We went everywhere together, and I spent hours updating my Facebook page, looking for recipes, checking my email, and sending text messages. It was a match made in heaven.

This is your phone.

And then….

This is your phone on drugs.

My phone was taken over by tiny gremlins.

Ok, so, I can’t PROVE that there were tiny gremlins in the phone, but it started ACTING LIKE there were tiny gremlins in the phone. First, the track ball started acting possessed. I would tell it to click on Item A, and after clicking, it would shift to Item B and choose it instead. THEN, it started freezing. First once a day, then twice…until eventually, I was having to take the battery out three or four times a day just to get it to work.

I put up with this for about 4 months before saying anything to my husband. Why? Because I loved my Blackberry. And I love Verizon. And I’m not one to rock the boat. Usually.

Then the gremlins started messing with my head. One morning, I got the cheerful alert that let me know I’d received an email. I unlocked my phone, opened the messages icon, and, lo and behold, the date for the day was February 6, 2057.

Heh?

I was Back to the Future for a few days before finally breaking down and telling my husband that I was desperate for a fix.

(PS: Click on that link. Seriously. It’s hilarious.)

So I said to my husband, “Let’s take it to Verizon and see if the Powers that Be can fix it!”

When I mentioned that my Blackberry was breaking my heart, and I was worried I was going to have to put her down, lots of friends came forward with advice and warnings.

“They’ll never let you upgrade early, unless you threaten to switch companies!” Kellie said.

“Make sure you get a guy. Then you can flirt, and they’ll TOTALLY let you upgrade early!” announced Ariel.

“Best of luck…they’re sticklers about the whole “upgrade” process. You may have to complain to customer service!” Tammy offered.

So, off we went to the Verizon store. Best case scenario, they’d give me a new phone and I’d be on my merry way. Worst case scenario, I’d have to wait until April 5 to do my upgrade, like usual.

So we signed in. I explained my problem. B and I perused all the shiny new phones, and I dreamed of the day when I would have one of my very own.

And then…”Ms. Abby?”

I turned, and there was Luke. My hero. My savior. My Cell Phone Guru.

I went through the problems with him. He laughed at all the appropriate moments, we bantered like old friends, and somehow, in that small 10 minute window, a kizmit connection was made.

Luke disappeared for a few minutes, and came back to tell me the best of all good news.

No, he’s not going to buy me a house. He’s not Oprah.

But…

“Ms. Abby, they’re going to go ahead and let you upgrade to a new phone early!”

The skies opened up, the sun streamed down, and angels sang on high.

My New Droid 2 Global. No gremlins, only fat adorable angels.

And so, though I’m sad to lay my Blackberry to rest, I’m thrilled to the bone with my new phone. The customer service we received was spot on, and I dare say, we even enjoyed ourselves while at the store. Luke will forever go down in history as “Best Verizon Guy EVER,” and all my faith in Verizon has been restored.

Thanks to you, Verizon, there’s a new love in my life. (No, not the fat angels. The Droid 2 Global.)

It was Love at First Sight.

**Please note that Verizon did not pay me to write this blog. This is a true story, based on my personal experience, embellished adorably with photo-shopped pictures and commentary. Perhaps you’ve had a different experience, and for that I’m sorry. My response to that complaint: You need Luke. He’s the bomb diggity.**