Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Break in the Routine

Today (by which of course I mean yesterday; my days run from afternoon to the following early morning) hasn't exactly been filled with "adventure, excitement and really wild things;" but it has been a bit of a rutbreaker. Just for starters, I was interviewed today by a reporter for the Tucson Citizen. It would be nice if the interview were about my wild success instead of dismal failure, but that's how it is. The reporter was looking for a story on how the recession was affecting people who recently became unemployed here in Tucson, so I emailed and told him. It seems to me that my particular story is kind of noteworthy, not because of me but because of the way it illustrates the larger problem. Every "permanent" job I've had in the past 15 years was with a company that has now gone bankrupt, closed its doors or both. I went back to school to get a degree in a high-paying, high-demand field, and it's currently doing me no discernible good. And I didn't even mention the whole health insurance issue. The article is supposed to run on Friday. I'll link to it when it comes out.

The other thing I did today, besides the dog park and watching Doctor Who, was follow through on the second email from AOL about AOL Pictures shutting down. As with AOL Journals, American Online has made arrangements for a simple conversion process to another service. This one is called PhotoWorks, and it's free. Well, sort of. I read part of the new member FAQ, and there's a catch. The site is run by American Greetings, and they want you to buy something, at least once a year - prints, calendars, custom greeting cards, something. If you don't, your free storage goes away. After that, you would presumably see the image on the left instead of your lovely pictures. I got this result tonight one one of my entries, and I'm pretty sure it was my fault. I had accidentally deleted a couple of images, and copying them back into that album didn't restore the link.

I had already saved everything stored in AOL Hometown (which is also gone now), but had not grabbed this stuff. Fortunately it was extremely simple and quick, at least for the relative handful of pictures I had on YGP/AOL Pictures. I logged in from my Mavarin screen name, which isn't even my main email account, although I treat it as such. It didn't matter. It grabbed everything I had stored from any screen name, including the images that used to grace my earliest entries from my old AOL Journal Musings from Mâvarin. I had already gone through the Blogger versions of most of those entries and relinked to the same images as stored on, but it was still good to grab what was there.

For one thing, I rediscovered some 2004 Tuffy pictures that I didn't seem to have on my hard drive. They were taken with the old Mavica, an early, bulky digital camera with such low-res photos that we used to get twenty of them on each floppy disk, which is what the camera used for storage. Unsurprisingly, they're not great pictures, but I'm fond of them. I still remember the day I took some of them. One thing I did tonight was save them back to my hard drive and clean them up with PhotoStudio. It helped a lot.

My PhotoWorks albums were kind of an odd lot. There was an entire album of someone else's fall foliage shots, and another one of somebody's messes from a discussion I had with other journalers back in 2004. I also had a "scratchpad" album with one photo, a "shoebox" album with 51 photos, a few albums I put together on purpose for various incarnations of AOL profiles and AIM pages, and a bunch of albums named after individual Musings entries. Most of the latter had one or two photos each. Surprisingly, there were also a number of journal-based albums with zero photos each! I'm not quite sure what happened there, but nothing seems to be missing. I deleted the empty albums and consolidated the onesies. From here they could be re-linked to the relevant entries on the Blogger version of the old journal, but as I say, I'd already relinked to most of the same images as stored elsewhere. Just as well, really.

The most annoying part of the process was dealing with a few old Woohoo slideshows. These were the cool AOL Pictures slideshows that had various effects available for the transition from one image to the next. My favorite by far was the "Ken Burns" style, named for the documentary director's technique of panning across still photos while zooming in and out on them. I had one of those set up for a slide show of a 2004 trip to Las Vegas, and another one was on the main page of the St. Michael's website. With the transfer to PhotoWorks, those Woohoos were gone. I had to fuss with the St Michael's page for a while to get the more boring Picasa version of the slide show in place, realign the table it was in, and fix some text that the site's host service, GoDaddy, kept resizing as tiny.

While I was at it, I also put in a bit of time tagging a bunch of the Musings entries. There are over 600 entries, so it's way too tedious a job to do all at once. Another problem with some of the old entries is that spaces between words went missing in a number of places. This used to be an ongoing glitch in the early days of AOL Journals, and the transfer to Blogger seems to have exacerbated the problem.

You may have noticed that I've been fussing with the sidebar for the Outpost in recent days. Blogger recently introduced much better sidebar widgets, now called gadgets. My favorite is the blogroll-style linking lists, one which you can display the most recent entry of each blog and the first image in that entry. I found that very handy last weekend in keeping track of who has posted their Round Robin entries. It's also a very fast way to see what interesting things people are up to generally.

Anyway, I've set up a more exclusive "Recent Robins" list in place of the old static one, listing only the people who played last weekend. If you play along with the next one, "On My Table,", your blog will be added to the list. A second sidebar gadget section, titled "Weekenders," will similarly link to everyone who does one or more Weekend Assignments. Everyone else whose blog I visit with any frequency (or feel that I should) is on one or more of the other sidebar lists. If you're a regular reader and I'm not linking to your blog, let me know and I'll probably add it. I purged quite a few inactive or defunct blogs with my recent update.



Becky said...

I spied the word "biopsy" and read back to see if you went into any more detail on that front. But I didn't see it. At any rate, I wish you well and a good outcome/negative result on that front.

barrettmanor said...

You may be interested in the PBS production, "JFK: Breaking the News." Appropriately, it was produced by KERA in Dallas. This documentary takes a look at how the event was a turning point news reporting. It's quite fascinating.

I have some bits from a local newspaper I plan to post today - if I can get my sinuses under control.