Saturday, December 08, 2007

Exams, Leap, Weather etc.

If someone had come to me on the day I graduated University, and said "when you are 48 you will still be studying and sitting exams", I think I would have assumed that they were crazy. However, this morning I sat the Prometric exam for the Hitachi Data Systems "Storage Foundation Modular" course (HH0120), and I'm studying for a couple of Juniper router exams that I need to get out of the way before the end of the year. I passed the HDS exam, but the Juniper exams promise to be tougher, so I'm spending my "free" time - such as that is - studying. Hence the silence for the last week. However, I need a break: my head is a whirling mass of acronyms and vendor jargon.

In the last 45 minutes we've had one of the big sub-tropical storms that make Sydney's climate so interesting. Thunder, lightening, thick black clouds and torrential rain. I unplugged my machines and went and read a manual until the storm passed, and from the sound of it, it is now moving East and out to sea. Mungo, who doesn't approve of weather with sound effects, went and hid under the dining room table. Percy, who knows that the safest place in the world is my lap, came and sat on me. Percy loves a lap, which is fine in winter, but not entirely comfortable on hot, humid days. I should probably be grateful that Mungo rarely wants to sit on me - no human lap is big enough, and he tends to cut off the circulation to your legs if he sits on you for long. However, as a general rule, if Mungo wants to sit on you, you are either in his chair, or he feels unwell and needs a hug.

I notice that the folks from Furl have finally fixed their export facility. Now I just need time to munge my Furl archive into EagleFiler - suggestions, anyone? I've never needed to do a bulk import before.

Someone asked me to look at Leap a while back. I did look, and while it is a nice application, I'm afraid it may be one whose time has already passed. If Leap had come to market a year ago, before Leopard, I think there would have been general rejoicing. But the improvements to the Finder in Leopard are such that I'm having trouble seeing what functionality Leap gives me that I can't get from the operating system. For example: when I went to book my Prometric exam, the call centre person asked if I already had a Candidate ID number. As far as I can recall, the last time I did this type of exam was in about 1997, and the system was being administered by a company who was subsequently merged/bought out/consumed with or by Prometric. I said I might have an ID in the old scheme, so he looked up my name, and sure enough, he found a match. But he needed the street address and phone number that I had when I last used the ID, to confirm that it was me and not some other person called Melodie Neal. So I said "that was 10 years ago, the company I was working for is gone, I don't recall the street address (I could drive there, but that doesn't help), and I certainly don't know the phone number. Give me a minute". I went to Finder, ran a search on my old employer's name, filtered on Kind=Document and Last Modified=Before 1/12/1997, and easily found an old contract with the required information embedded in it.

Quicklook and Coverflow allow me to glance at documents without launching their normal handling applications. So I'm afraid I don't quite see why I would need Leap. If I've missed something here, could someone please point it out to me? Note: any further grumpy exchanges between developers arguing the merits of their particular preferred language/architecture/whatever should be conducted elsewhere. I tolerated the last one, but you guys need to understand that most of us ARE NOT INTERESTED. We care about the end result, not how you got there. If this seems odd to you, please consider that for me, as an infrastructure engineer (the person who racks the kit, runs the cables, configures the firewalls and writes the operations manuals), some of the worst problems I have ever had to deal with have been caused by developers. Developers who assumed that the infrastructure could run their software (you never said you needed a proxy server!), or that the firewalls would pass their packets (you have got to be kidding: you can't use ftp to transfer medical records to another country!). You assume the plumbing will work, I assume the software will work. The details are your problem or mine, depending on our specialities.


There was a break there, because Steve (my husband) came home from work, and we started our normal end of day routine. We have a sherry, debrief on the day's activities, and start dinner (he cooked, bless him). It's now Saturday night.

Now, before I forget: volume 2 of Blue Mountains Music is out. Do yourself a a favour and go here.

Also out is an update to the Bento beta. On brief inspection I can see no changes, so I assume it's mostly bug fixes.

I've no significant response to my previous post on Mac-compatible, PDA-portable databases (other than comments from other folks who would like the same thing). This is a bit sad: here is a clear requirement for a product, and we have people trying to write replacements for things already provided natively in the OS. Sigh.


JRP said...

Enjoyed this blog entry; I just posted a similar take on Leap as a response to a previous entry. One thing I'm curious about: Do you still use Circus Ponies Notebook or do you use EagleFiler exclusively for note taking, etc.? Also, re DevonThink, do you feel the tagging function in EagleFiler is equal to the AI in DT in terms of search? And does EF have the equivalent to "see also"? I'm trying to decide if it makes sense for me to run both programs. Thanks for any comment.

Melodie Neal said...

My current workflow is as follows: all note taking for training courses, meetings etc actually happens in curio. I do still use Circus Ponies Notebook: if I want to scribble down a phone number or an address, or park some chunk of text for further manipulation, that is likely to happen in Notebook. If I need to draft something - a blog entry, a letter, I generally use Notebook. I have a couple of ongoing Notebooks that I use to manage particular data. One is for notes relating to my current employer, and contains things like my staff number, registration numbers for different vendors, phone numbers for vendor help desks, and notes about who is responsible for what. Another notebook contains my running notes on particular technologies, a growing set of "recipes" for how to do certain things that I know I won't recall next time I need to do them.

EagleFiler does not support "see also". but if you go back to this older post, I explained how to achieve a similar effect. That post is part of a group that I wrote in April and May 2007, on organizing information. They are rather long, but you may find them useful.

I find the tagging function in EagleFiler quite adequate for my needs, and I'm not adding much new information to DevonThink - only very large documents (mostly training manuals running to hundreds of pages) get stored there. All the small snippets get dumped to EagleFiler.

This is all still evolving for me, and a key aspect of the choice of application for task has to do with document formatting. I can't store a word processing document in DevonThink, because DT will alter the formatting. Notebook is great for drafting documents that require a bit of formatting, but where I don't want to be bothered with a major reformatting task if I need to move the content to a different app. The internal organization of Notebook - pages and sections - also suits the way I think. Curio is perfect for anything that may need a diagram drawn on the fly, but where layout can be more freeform. DT suits the heavy lifting of really big PDFs, though I suspect that I could now achieve the same results using Leopard's Finder. I don't think that I use all of DT's features, must go back and read the manual again.

Hope this all makes sense, it's 7AM, and I've only had one cup of coffee.


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