Oh the pain… the pain!

Oh the pain of having your mouse pause every few seconds for several seconds as you’re trying to work – welcome to my hell.

I crack open Adobe InDesign CC to work on the ethics manuals today and due to the large number of hyperlinks and hyperlink destinations within these documents my several years old PC is just groaning under the strain. It’s paltry 8GB RAM and spindle-based hard drive are just not up to the job.

What makes this whole experience sheer murder is knowing that I am shortly to receive a new Windows 10-based Dell Laptop with 32GB RAM and 512GB Solid State hard drive. As I sat there today I willed the email to arrive in my inbox telling me my appointment was tomorrow, I would have happily cancelled any appointment for it to arrive, sadly it never arrived. Instead my mouse barely moved as I continued to add hyperlinks and hyperlink destinations to my document and my frustration grew with each addition.

Thankfully next week off… hopefully that email arrives whilst I’m away.

Are our PC’s sentient?

There seems to be something awry with my Windows 7 PC at work this week, it seems to be grinding to a halt doing just about anything for some reason. Whether I am working on the new ethics manuals in InDesign, or the mundane task of data quality audits in Google Chrome and Excel, my PC is just acting as though it has developed the flu.

I actually do wonder whether our PC’s are sentient, knowing when they are not far from being put on the scrap heap. I should have a lovely new SSD-based laptop by the end of next week, or early of the following week; has my PC picked up on this and cracked the shits?

Today I sat at my PC and my mouse wouldn’t move across the screen as it should in a fluid movement, instead it was a jittery jerked movement, barely registering that I’d moved the device at all. Unlike yesterday when I had InDesign open with a document having a large number of hyperlink destinations, today all I had was Google Chrome and email open. I opened Task Manager and 91% of the paltry 8GB RAM it has was gone, what the hell is going on, that shouldn’t be the case. I later rebooted the machine as I was fed up with not being able to work, our IT Department was applying updates in the background again — they’re meant to do this late each Thursday (but never do!).

I can’t wait for my new laptop to arrive, solid state drive, 32GB RAM and a fast processor, not to mention larger screens where currently I have these awful small ones that aren’t suited to my day-to-day work. I will be on cloud nine once the new system is deployed.

What a week

It has been a busy week in this party of one.

Last week I was told I would be working on refreshing the Research Ethics manuals that are currently under review. My part involves redesigning and making these manuals look fresh, they’ve licensed similar manuals from another university and wanted to use these as a basis for improving our own. The source documents are particularly wordy, especially the comment insert boxes which I think are over-the-top wordy. I sent through an initial design for the first document on day one just hoping for some feedback, little did I expect glowing feedback and no requests for changes, does this ever happen?

The most challenging issue I have with these documents, apparently there will be 46 in total, is that they will all interlink, and will be PDF’d. I did an initial test after creating the second document the following day, queue alarm bells, it just didn’t work within Microsoft Word, the links were trying to call the word documents and in specific locations. Perhaps it is my lack of knowledge within this area, I don’t typically need to do such things. Another annoyance was how the footer was behaving, on some pages text would but up against, on others there would be a decent gap, it was bugging me on so many levels.

I decided today I would move to InDesign and see how this application handled interlinking, I knew for sure I was not going to have the footer issues. It took me hours to get my document in, build the hyperlinks up, and get the commentary boxes in place; it is certainly nowhere near as fast to get the document to the same state as it was in Word, but the look is far better for the extra effort. I now need to prepare the second document to allow me to check linking between the two and InDesign performs – CROSSING FINGERS!

I met this afternoon with representatives of our IT department to discuss process mapping I’d been working on recently within our department. I’ve worked within Visio for a few years, however I’ve always done so without any formal training, they will be training me to work to their formal EPC specifications and storing the diagrams within their server. All is still created within Visio, however to a formal structure with naming conventions to maintain consistency across diagrams. Some of the diagrams we have outside of their system are highly detailed and difficult to read when scaled to fit an A3 page, I noticed they mentioned breaking down but it will be interesting to see how they go about this – will be appreciated by all the ability to read once more.

Been a bit of tiring week too, worked a 14 hour day Wednesday between work, then working at home for one of the schools on their website… utterly exhausted after that one, slept like a log. I am grateful for the weekend now and chance of a sleep-in. Thank heavens is winter and sun not rising early right now! Enjoy the weekend, I shall, not raining – woot!

HTML Emails: Ugh!

Our Communications Coordinator has just gone on leave at work and whilst she’s away I’ve assumed responsibility for the research newsletter. We’re not talking some massive broadcast here, it could be much bigger, but they really don’t push distribution as they should. Currently it’s run on this bullshit old listserv, talk about hello 1990s. Finally, I have managed to wrangle the manager into letting me move them to the modern era of email campaigns and tracking user interactions.

One of our other team members uses MailChimp to send broadcasts to businesses about events, so I thought I’d also investigate despite having previously used Campaign Monitor. Like CM it was a simple interface and ended up being simple to establish my desired template, import our existing user list and begin next week’s newsletter. That’s where my being impressed ended, as I was entering the newsletter I noticed it was not so nice with handling the formatting, I was forced to double-return to separate paragraphs – WTF!? It turns out that MailChimp was not using paragraph tags on the content, instead it was just separating each with break tags, queue my horror.

I convinced the manager to look at Campaign Monitor, I prefer this product anyway having used it for several years, and I knew it most certainly did not have lazy formatting. Tonight I setup the same template and tomorrow will import the list. The beauty of CM was it offered additional font choices not available on MailChimp, the choices were visually more preferable for our newsletter. I think CM also handled the whole Desktop / Mobile / Tablet scaling better than did MailChimp, I could be wrong and maybe it was just Outlook.com web client not scaling imagery, I am not sure.

I look forward to our first campaign going out on Monday and being able to provide the managers statistics from the first week so they can see interactions by users, and how many of our user base are interacting with us, something we have never known. The statistics may help them to better target those things they provide and perhaps eliminate items in time that perform poorly.

macOS 10.12.5: Needed further testing, Apple

Apple released its latest slew of updates for macOS, tvOS, iOS and watchOS earlier this week, one can only be grateful for unlimited internet quotas these days as it all adds up.

Whilst my iPhone, Apple Watch Nike+ and Apple TV all updated without problem, my MacBook Pro 15″ with TouchBar has started to exhibit a few problems in the past day or two. About two days after I’d installed the update I was swiping back from ‘Space 3’ which had Mail to ‘Space 1’ only to be greeted with a lovely red bar where all my desktop icons should have been. This kind of graphics tearing had appeared when these new MacBook Pros were initially released as drivers were immature at the time, thankfully by the time my own machine arrived Apple had just two days beforehand updated macOS to resolve the issue.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 10.48.32 amThis issue is a tad annoying, though more annoying I cannot see others reporting the issue, am I alone in experiencing this issue? Then today I put my MacBook Pro to sleep as I went shopping and have this evening opened to surf the web etc, however upon opening the lid it booted up displaying the Apple logo. Initially I had thought I’d shut the Mac down and just forgotten doing so, however the dialogs displayed alerting me to the fact that there’d been a kernel panic related to CPU interrupts.

I have to say that 10.12.5 is really turning out to be a bad release for me and my MacBook Pro, I really do hope that 10.12.6 comes along quickly to resolve. Whilst talking of wishes, I certainly do hope that 10.13 brings greater stability than we’ve seen with 10.12, I would much rather see Apple focus more on quality code rather than banging it out, stop focussing on yearly releases and focus instead on doing a better job than you’ve done in the past few releases, quality has certainly suffered.

iOS 11: Hopes

I’ve been a long term user of iPhone, having jumped onboard with its release here in Australia with iPhone 3G. Currently using an iPhone 6S Plus it is amazing to compare that old phone to my own when I come across it occasionally.

Over the time I’ve owned iPhones of course it’s operating system has changed and improved greatly, and even been renamed. However, despite the improvements there are always niggling items we’d like to see improved. For me my wish list for iOS 11 would be:

Podcast app: The Podcast app is generally okay, however Cupertino we have a playback problem, it just randomly stops playing. Initially I thought this related to Bluetooth playback interference from nearby users, however it only ever seemed to happen with this app and a search online revealed others too experienced the same issue. Thankfully they suggested use of an alternate app, Overcast. I’ve just downloaded and will trial before I delete my podcast subscriptions from the Podcast app.

App updates: A move to patching instead of full downloads is long overdue here. When we see Facebook issuing updates every two weeks that now weigh in at 244MB it gets beyond a joke. The other day I had Facebook, Microsoft (Excel, Word and Outlook), Google Sheets, and a few others on the list for update, total download size in excess of 1GB. I’ve regularly updated a Microsoft app only to have them two days later issue an ‘oops, bug fix’ .1 release and another 250-300MB download, I’ve got better things to do than download 10-20 sizeable app updates.

Siri: Let’s face it, Siri is really not that useful, more a casual tech fling with a bit of sass. All other virtual assistants seem well ahead of her now, though I do hear language support is her one remaining win. It would be nice if Siri’s capabilities were greatly expanded, if she could interact with other applications and perform tasks within. It would also be nice if ex-USA support for Siri was greatly expanded, it’s far to USA-centric at present, a large number of features work within that country but step outside that country and support drops off.

Cut/Paste/Insert: I find I go to paste/insert something into an email I’m writing and it’s an almighty effort, wish was easier. Perhaps the addition of a keyboard button might assist here with addition of 3D touch to reveal desired functionality?

Photos: There doesn’t appear to be a means of specifying a face from which Photos app can then learn other photos within your library, it’s so frustrating. I tried doing on my Mac but it didn’t flow through for some reason. I feed discouraged from any continued use of the Photos app on the Mac now, I only opened this app on the Mac in hopes of specifying a face and hoping it might sync via iCloud to my phone and iPad, but this never eventuated.

iTunes Sync: When syncing with iTunes I get annoyed that iTunes will restore apps that i have previously deleted from my iPhone. Why does Apple restore apps to my iPhone when I have removed them? If I chose to delete them surely I don’t want these any longer, right?

I do wonder what Apple is going to announce at the WWDC in June, will be interesting to see if maybe they’ll finally address some things, finally. I did read the other day the iTunes Podcasts app is being renamed Apple Podcasts, so looks like it will finally get some love, exactly what who knows.

Facebook, I’m curious

The past week I have noticed a blank notification within my Facebook app on iOS, I have no idea who this is; maybe it is a Facebook coding glitch?

Facebook iOS app notification shows blank person notification
The notification just shows the standard blank person icon and a time, nothing else. With the other notification included in the image you see (blacked out) a name, what they were doing, on what, and how long ago. 

I’m curious, why is it happening suddenly? Glitch in the matrix? Anyone else seeing this?