Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yes! Another Young Knitter!

I got this email last night:


I'm Sally Cooper using my mom's email to thank you for your help learning how to knit. I wanted to learn so that I had something fun to do with my grandma when she visited in summer.  Only thing is, my mom isn't very good at knitting, so I needed to read some on the computer after she showed me the basics.

Your page ( had some great stuff!  I really liked some patterns I found because I'm just learning how to use them.

My mom also found me another page that was my second favorite: (  It is made for kids and has llama finger puppets on it that were so fun to make.  My mom said that if I sent a good email, you might put it on your page and other kids could learn from one place!  That would be so cool!

Let me know if you like the page.

Thank you!!!!!!!!

Sally Cooper
12 years old
Didn't Sally do a nice job on her note?  Anybody got some other great links for fun knitting patterns for kids to share with Sally?
Happy Knitting, all,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Inspiration at Marg Coe's Blog

Marg has two new scarves she's knitted on the LK150 on her terrific blog.

The first is a hand-tooled transfered scarf in white:

The second one, which is a short-rowing project:

Marg included a pattern for the second one. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mind-Blowingly Beautiful Cape

LouLou on the knitting list made this cape, and send us to a linked picture of the style:

She said she knitted it in 8 sections and mattress stitched it all together.  Lots of work, but oh, so lovely!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cool Dyeling Post at Knotty Knits & Naughty Kids

Very interesting - dyeing of a shawl that had lost its color:

Alarming, isn't it, that the original yarn lost almost all its color?  And that short-rowed shawl must have been very time-consuming to craft.  I encountered these kinds of defects even in very expensive yarn back when I had a yarn shop. 

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ways to Learn Systems Administration

Suppose, as an accidental systems administrator, you realize that you have a lot to learn.  For instance, in my case, I hadn’t managed a network in a while when I started managing this network, and in particular, the server software was unfamiliar.


I actually sat down and made a list of what I realized I didn’t know.  Of course, there were lots of other things I didn’t know – but I couldn’t list those, could I?   The things I didn’t know fell into two groups:  things about our own network that ought to be documented somewhere, and general knowledge of the software and systems.


See What You’ve Got:  Regarding our own network, I asked around and discovered that someone had a computer inventory.  It was just for fixed assets, but by adding a little additional information, it was a great start.  I snooped in cupboards, closets and drawers, and I got everyone to turn in the software disks that they were hoarding.  I created an updated inventory with such useful things as service tags, and I sorted through all the software disks to see what we had.  Getting people to cooperate with this was a gradual process, but most people are more than happy to relinquish their private CDs and information as they realize that you will take good care of their user needs.


Finally, I created one updated, decent inventory and built essential documentation, like our server settings.


Take Classes:  I took classes, both at a college and from a popular business seminar company.


Find a Mentor:  I have several people who help me when I have questions.  I work at a nonprofit and I pay attention to what our volunteers do in their careers, then I make a point of getting to know some individuals who like to help our organization and give good, sensible advice.  These folks are helpful and constructive, and they challenge me to stretch and learn.  A great mentor always has the attitude that you can learn to do it – he doesn’t do it for you, but he shows you what to look for and suggests ways you can improve.


I am picky about whose advice I seek, avoiding people who merely want to criticize or impress.  Remember the old saying, “Real men don’t eat quiche”?  Well, my opinion is that real a man eats what he chooses to eat and doesn’t worry about his manly image! Correspondingly, it appears to me that truly smart systems people don’t need to tell everyone how smart they are all the time or tear anybody else down.


One of the fabulous things about a mentor, who’ll find time for you when the system’s down and your head is starting to ache, is he’ll look at your situation with fresh objectivity, and he’ll make great suggestions that didn’t occur to you.  He might run through some troubleshooting steps, and maybe there’s something you forgot to do because of the distractions that come with an outage. 


Read Books:  I have purchased some reference books that I need frequently and I keep those at hand.  I have a limited tolerance for reading documentation (sigh) but find that, by reading a little every day, I can build some genuine education. 


Learn the Software:  When somebody asks me a software question, and I don’t know the answer, I like to go to my desk and work with it until I find the answer, then give it to the user (unless I’m madly busy).  Reading the help screens and clicking around is a bit boring, but over the long haul it builds knowledge and adds value to my services.  Generally, if one user has an issue with the software, it’s bothering other people, too.  When the next person asks the question, I can help them quickly.


Subscribe to Tech Mags:  Lots of great free stuff there, and besides, you can get a lot of this online now.


Call the Manufacturer:  Sometimes this is absolutely the last thing I want to do.  I want to throw on a band-aid and move on.  However, the things I call about are usually known issues and the support people will tell me very quickly what software to uninstall, which driver to update, etc.


Use the Internet:  I join online groups and list-serves.  I run Google searches all the time.  I read user forums.  I read lots of everyday user product reviews before I buy equipment. 


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Network Loop

I had my first "network loop" last week. Apparently this is a miserable problem for many a systems administrator, but it didn't happen to me, until now, anyway. Why? Well, we didn't have any wireless routers at our office until recently.

Someone came in and had a poor connection using wireless, so plugged in an ethernet wire. At that point, the laptop is connected to the network in two ways, forming a loop, along which packets of data traffic ran in circles and made our lovely little network into one big traffic jam.

I have told my notebook users that they must use only one connection - wireless or wired, but not two!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

HDMI to DVI? to VGA?

HDMI or High Definition Multimedia Interface, developed to transmit high-quality sound and picture over one cable, has rapidly become the standard for digital TVs. Brand-new TVs and home theater components usually have HDMI – but since the technology is so new, you probably own electronic audio/video gadgets that don’t have it.
Going from the present back, back in time: HDMI is digital. DVI is sort of a compromise. VGA is analog. (And if, like me, you remember black-and-white TV and three channels, you are a dinosaur. Hold the HDMI cable in your hand and repeat after me, “Wow. High definition video and eight channels of audio transmitted on this little cable.”)
Of course you want to use your old equipment with your new equipment.
I needed to use HDMI output from a new computer to run a projector, which had only VGA and DVI inputs. This one was easy – there’s a cable you can buy which goes from HDMI to DVI. That gets you a picture with DVI.
On the other hand, if I want to use a projector, monitor, or television that only has VGA, there’s a much bigger gap to bridge. I have a humongous high-def projection television in my family room with only VGA input. An ordinary converter cable won’t work.
The problem here is that HDMI includes a technology called HDCP, High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection. This security scheme (which is either a copy protection strategy or simply to ensure high-quality content, a matter of opinion) uses special information that gets passed between the sending device and the receiving device. If the video-sending, HDMI equipped gadget doesn’t receive that signal, all you’ll get for your trouble is a black screen on your television, monitor, or projector. To send pictures from HDMI to your VGA equipment, you need a special powered converter and appropriate cables.
One that I saw, doing some searches, is the HD Fury, about $140 (no affiliation).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mama Told Me There'd Be Days Like This

We were down most of the afternoon today, and I couldn't fix it. It had to wait for service from a vendor. The staff were far more patient with being down than I was.

Absolutely the hardest situation for me to deal with when we've got a real problem, our staff can't work, and all I can do is wait for someone else.

Nice Office 2007 Tip

Here's a nice little tip for users adapting to Office 2007.

Most people miss the one-click icons prior versions had - for instance, opening a file, quick printing, and print preview. You can put icons back for these!

Go to the right of the big Office button and look at the icons - Save, Undo, Redo, and then a tiny little arrow pointing downward. Click on the tiny arrow, and a list comes up of icons you can add; click on the ones you'd like, and they'll appear in this small strip area at the top of the page.