June 28: Triple Occasion

June 28 will mark three big occasions.

First, one of my brothers and his wife will be celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary. What makes this feat particularly astonishing is that they’re both only 44 years old. You do the math.

Second, it’ll be the first anniversary of my adoption of Junior. I can’t believe it’s been a year already! So, I know that a year ago on Monday, I was in Moncton to show my new acquisition to my parents. Of course, now that my father is gone, I’m glad in a strange sort of way that he knew I finally got rid of that heap of trouble that was Homomobile. Being the kind of guy he was, he actually spent a lot of time worrying about me and ce maudit tas de ferraille.

Third and finally, Monday is Federal Election Day. And what an election campaign it has been! Who would have thought just six months ago that we might have given any thought to a Conservative minority government lead by Stephen Harper! Fortunately, the latest polls seem to be showing the Liberals ahead by a hair, but how that’ll translate into seats given our stupid first-by-the-post, winner-takes-all system is hard to say. I suspect I’ll be in front of the TV until the wee hours, for I doubt the pundits will be able to declare the colour (Liberal red or Conservative blue) of the minority government that’ll be formed. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that when the still very large number of undecided voters reach the ballot box, they’ll get back their senses and realize that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives would be too dangerous for all we hold dear in Canada. People who threaten left and right to use the Charter‘s Notwithstanding Clause sound too much like U.S.-Republican-wannabes who wished there was a Patriot Act here, too.

What a Month It’s Been!

Yesterday I was telling Indiana Jones, “You know, when I look at how much I’ve produced in the last month, I’m astonished.” As a consequence, though, aMMusing has suffered. I just haven’t been able to pull back far enough from my work to muster up any interest in blogs, be it my own or that of others.

Just about a month ago, I finally finished writing/editing/having vetted the contract that will become standard with all my clients. Notice the choice of words here: I didn’t say “standard contract.” That’s because my experience in the industry I’ve been operating in the last 7 or 8 years has shown me that some things need to be spelled out that aren’t usually spelled out in a so-called “standard contract.” Maybe that’s because what I do straddles the line between “products” and “services.” Maybe it’s also because I’ve detected — and this is only my experience — that some kinds of Web-related work is grossly undervalued. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to give my clients the proverbial “one-stop solution” for their Web-related needs, especially if their needs are to organize and present a lot of information. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been shafted a few time, although, fortunately, not very often. But whatever the reasons, a different kind of contract was called for, one that is designed to favour the client while being fair to the provider and that integrates such matters as “acceptable use.” Anyway, I’m pleased with the result; now I just have to get the thing translated to French. (I could probably do it, but it’s a time-management issue at this point.)

Next, I negotiated a new deal with a troublesome client. Depending on who you ask, the word “troublesome” might be applied interchangeably to the provider or the client. Nevertheless, in a week to 10 days, I should know the outcome of these negotiations and I’m hoping it’ll be favorable (to me). It was a tough slog, though.

Then, in addition to the daily content management work I do for various clients, I threw myself back into some serious programming for TextStyleM, specifically on a complex submodule within the intranet module I’ve been building. But then this activity got interrupted by a request. It turns out that for a job I’ve been doing pro bono, I’m entitled to a free ad in a special publication. The problem: I’ve never had the time to create a decent ad.

I simply couldn’t meet the deadline I was given initially (i.e., 24 hours!). But when I wrote back to the contact person and told her of my embarrassing predicament, she arranged to have the deadline extended for a few days. So, that gave me enough time to call The Magnificent BeeGoddess M and ask her if she could help me pull something together. Consequently, over supper we discussed “The Idea” (i.e., “What are these ads suppose to say?”), and 24 hours later, after some back and forth between us, she created this whole series of ads, which I love! (I already got a bit of feedback on them and it’s all been good. Anyway, click below to enlarge each one…)

 

But then that raised another problem. Because I’ve been so busy keeping my clients happy and working on TextStyleM, I was effectively the shoemaker with the worst pair of shoes — or to be exact, the webmaster without a website of his own! Although I don’t expect the phone to ring off the hook as a result of placing just one of the ads above, I couldn’t have this slogan and NOT have control of my OWN website! Therefore I spent a few days redesigning and writing the TextStyle website. You can take a look, but it’s still far from finished. It doesn’t help that I have to do everything in two languages simultaneously. (Note that the image that accompanies the text on the homepage and «The TextStyle Advantage» page changes depending on when you gain access to it. Currently there’s a rotation of 5 images. Although this rotation is currently hard-coded into the site’s template, I plan to make it yet another wonderful feature of TextStyleM which any of my clients will be able to use.)

The TextStyle site is not finished because I just HAD to get back to the above-mentioned complicated submodule within TextStyleM‘s intranet module. My deadline for completing this task in the end of this month. And while it’s been a massive undertaking, it’s going very well. Today I’m a bit stuck, though, trying to figure out the best interface to make the management of a specific set of data …well, manageable! And then I have to find the best way of importing several sets of data into this new submodule. But I’ll figure it out.

Once I do, I’ll be getting back to my own website as a top priority. That, along with juggling a few appointments I have slated with clients. So you might see more blogging interruptus here in the next little while…

She’s Officially Real Now

A few weeks ago, I told you that Poupoune had passed her law exams. Well, today’s the day she was called to the Bar. Suddenly I’m reminded of a phone call we had almost 5 years ago, when she announced to me that she had decided to start law school a few weeks later. Back then I didn’t doubt that she could make it. But I did worry about how huge and life-changing her decision was.

And there she is now, officially a lawyer…

Sizzle

Ah! Summer finally arrived in Nova Scotia yesterday. In fact, it was stinkin’ hot in Halifax: 32C (90F), which doesn’t happen that often. The high 20s aren’t that unusual in the summer, but the 30s are. Now we’re back on a stretch of high teens (high 60s F), with more sunshine than cloud and rain. That’s damn good, since May and early June were so grey and wet that most Haligonians thought that moss was starting to grow between their toes and under their arms.

Now comes the catch: Will I have the time to enjoy the summer (see previous entry)? It’s in times like these that I half wish I had a “real” job with paid vacation time. But, as usual, as much as that perk would be nice, I get an overwhelming feeling of dread just thinking about such a job. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to bring myself to having one of those again…

Fallen Again

I’m going through another one of those “I’ve fallen into the computer” phases. It’s so bad, in fact, that I’m having trouble sleeping these days. The schemas for so many functions or features I’m building into my TextStyleM‘s intranet module are coming to me faster than I can develop them. Last night, for instance, I was in bed for 3 hours, unable to sleep because I kept trying to think about how to solve a problem I’m having. (I had to get up and study some code as the sun was rising this morning.) And when that’s not what’s keeping me awake, it’s the thought of the basic core functions I still need to complete, which probably wouldn’t take that long to realize if I could concentrate on them, but I can’t because I’ve got a tight deadline for the more esoteric intranet features I promised to build (and which will lead to a respectable amount of cash upon delivery). However, when I’m working on a complicated module, I keep thinking of other features or enhancements I should build into it. It’s a bit like starting off with the idea of building a $100,000 house and ending up with a $350,000 house. And worse, once I’ve sold myself to the enhancements, I can’t bring myself to back out.

Anyway, this to say that I’ve been quite distracted lately whenever I’m around people, because my mind simply isn’t there. I’m also unable to pay much attention to the blogs I usually read every day; my attention span is shot for such things. I can’t even bring myself to steal a hour to give Junior a bath he so desperately needs right now…