Friday, January 26, 2007

Starting the new job

Well this is day 3 (Wednesday). I have a desk (a nice one, I have a window right beside me), a desk phone and an email address. The local IT support folks have not completely embraced my Powerbook - I shall have to use a Windows-based laptop for file and print, but I can use the Mac for everything else. I'm still waiting for a mobile phone (using my old one, and not many people need to call me at the moment), and I can't order business cards until my exact job title is settled: I'm trying to avoid "Solution Architect", which I dislike for a number of reasons. Mainly that the word "solution" implies a "problem" and has an automatic negative connotation for some customers.

I've met about 50 people, most of whom I'm going to have trouble recognising next week, I'm waiting for Sun to validate my partner organisation status, so I can get access to Sun partner web sites, and I'm now at that awkward point where I'm not quite engaged with the job. This gives me some welcome free time, which I'm trying to put to good use, because I know how short it will be.

Being able to use my Powerbook here is a relief: the last bank I worked for wouldn't let me connect my Mac to their network, and I am partially crippled without access to my DEVONthink database, my Circus Ponies Notebooks and sundry other vital apps.

I use DEVONthink to store the masses of technical documents that I have collected over the years, including huge PDFs of course manuals, html, text files, Word docs and you name it. The only thing it can't deal with is Open Office/Star Office docs. Notebook I use for all sorts of things - I keep different Notebooks for different subjects. I have one for general technical notes, one for the company I'm working for (handy to store phone lists and network info, like where is the DNS and what's the default route). I also keep one where I just store interesting quotations, a sort of day book. Also, a general scribble book, where any random notes get put, such as phone messages, to do lists, and the like. These two applications have saved me countless hours, and have justified their purchase over and over. I did review other products before I settled on these two, and I'm not saying that they are "the best", but they work for me.

I'm now testing a new application, called Yojimbo, from Bare Bones Software. I've no idea why it is called Yojimbo - I assume that someone at Bare Bones is a big fan of Akira Kurosawa. The application has some overlap with both Notebook and DEVONthink, but it also has some unique features: it can recognise when what you are trying to store is a serial number or activation key, and it can encrypt passwords. I'm composing this draft blog in Yojimbo. It has a thirty day trial, and we will see how addictive I find it: will I buy it, or not?

One of Yojimbo's big claims is the ease with which it can store bookmarks and copies of web pages. Trouble is, I use to store bookmarks, and Furl to store copies of web pages, and then they're available to me anywhere I have an internet connection, regardless of what machine I'm using. But I do recall one horrible day when had an outage: the cold sensation of sheer panic when I realised that I could not reach my bookmarks was not happifying. Fortunately, it came back (and I did a hasty export to HTML).

(A bit of a break there, and it's now Friday, the Australia Day public holiday)

A happy thought struck there - can you get bookmarks from to Yojimbo? The answer is "yes", and without too much pain, either. A nice man called Kenneth Kirksey has created some AppleScripts to get bookmarks out of and into Yojimbo (find the links here). The scripts didn't quite work for me, but a little minor hackery got them going. I'd still like to know why the original scripts didn't work, but to do that I shall have to learn AppleScript. So I popped out, at lunch time yesterday, to that mecca of the book buying public, the Kinokuniya store in George Street, to buy a book on AppleScript. I'll let you know how I go.

I'm sitting in my favourite armchair, in my family room (what we call the big room that runs across the width of the house, at the back). Outside the sliding glass doors that open into the backyard, I can see my white cat, Percy, sleeping on top of the barbeque - I think the black cover on the thing holds the heat of the sun, and it's one of Percy's favourite places for a nap. The day is warm and rather humid, and Mungo (the ginger heffalump) is lying on the tiled steps to the upper part of the garden, with his chin resting on one fat ginger and white paw. I can hear various birds in the trees outside: from the sound of it the rosellas and the mynah birds are having a dispute. The rosellas moved into our bush cherry tree a few months back. They are pretty birds, and fond of the fruit the tree produces, and also of the grevillea bushes in the front yard. Unfortunately, their inter-rosella conversation is a noise rather like a squeaking hinge, which is a bit trying. Right now, however, they are squawking at the mynah birds, who are squawking back. The mynahs are an introduced pest, not native to Australia, so my sympathies are with the rosellas.

All in all, things are peaceful (birds not withstanding). I installed a wireless network point in this room last weekend, and this is my first opportunity to really try it out. Working well so far, and a nice change from my rather overcrowded study. I have a Rain Design iLap laptop stand, which keeps the heat of my Powerbook off my legs, a pair of Dimpgel wrist rests, one on either side of the Powerbook's mouse pad, and I am quite comfortable. The breeze coming in through the open door is cooling the room, the sun is shining, the birds are arguing and the sky is blue. Mungo has just relocated to the rug inside the door, probably because he's too hot. Percy has dozed off on the barbeque with the tip of his tongue sticking out. All's well with the world, at least in my corner of it. I got stuck with "Solution Architect" as a job title, but at least it's not "Senior Consulting Project Engineer", which is what Sun called me at one point: try filling that in on a few forms, and see how you feel about it. Hopefully I'll get business cards soon, and next week I should get my corporate issue Blackberry. Nothing like a new gadget to play with!

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