Saturday, September 19, 2009

Life is Good; My Toys are Working

Knock on wood. Throw salt over your shoulder. Or whatever it takes so that I don't jinx my now-working techno toys.

I figured that since I whined and cried so much when they didn't work that maybe I should give an update.

Cute Green Dell—CHECK.

It's working great. Runs QuickBooks perfectly. Love playing Spider and Mahjong.

Downside—I hate the version of Word that comes with Vista. It's totally revamped and so NOT intuitive. Ugh! Plus I hate that every time I turn it on, it wants to download some new update. Seriously.

True Blue Mac—CHECK.

Now that I no longer use the Virtual PC software on it, My MacBook Pro is back to being reliable and working wonderfully.

As expected. No weird stuff going on here.


Palm Centro Phone—CHECK.

I love this thing! It's so totally cool, so ME! It thinks the way I do. I love, love, love it. If I were a cell phone, I'd want to marry it—that's how much I love it.

Downside (no one is perfect) (except my Mac)—It gets slightly warm if I talk a long time but other than that, perfection at its peak. And it now sports a gorgeous dark red cover that I did, indeed, get for $4.

IOGEAR Bluetooth USB 2.1 Micro Adapter—CHECK.

It took some time to get the Hot Sync between my Centro and my computer to work out. My sister's bluetooth thingee turned out to be an earpiece, not a USB adapter. (She obviously does not understand truly technical vocab, like "thingee.")

I tried several bluetooth adapters which did not work. I finally found one, the IOGEAR Bluetooth USB 2.1 Micro Adapter, which WILL work with the Vista 64-bit system on my Cute Green Dell. It DID recognize my phone, they politely shook hands, but to do a Hot Sync requires that you create a virtual serial port, and blah-blah-blah. Whatever. I don't know how to do that and I don't want to have to think that hard.

So I plugged it into my trusty Mac, and voilá! Presto, chango—they immediately became BFFs. I am now synced.

Magic Jack—CHECK.

This thing is amazing! I disconnected my business line when Rosehaven closed its doors. I've needed a second line but haven't been able to justify the expense. This thing only cost $39.95 and includes a full year of unlimited local and long distance calling. Additional years of service are $19.95.

You simply plug it into your comnputer's USB on one end, and into a phone on the other end and you're good to go. I have been totally impressed.

So. That's it for the techie update. I really ought to charge these companies for the free advertising they just got, huh? And I suppose I should have posted this on my review site, rather than here. But, oh well.

Now I'm off to work on one last techie fix—a website. This is the exciting new thing I've been hinting about for months and months. As soon as it's good to go, I'll make the official announcement.

Now playing on my iPod: I'm Alright by Kenny Loggins

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena

I first met Joyce DiPastena when her book, Loyalty's Web, was up for a Whitney Award in 2007. I like to read all the Whitney Finalists, and I thoroughly enjoyed Loyalty's Web—even though it was a romance. Medieval romances don't bother me as much as modern-day romances. In fact, I kind of like them. (Shh, don't tell Julie.)

So when Joyce asked if I'd like review her newest book, Illuminations of the Heart, I jumped at it. I started reading it as soon as it arrived from her publisher, Walnut Springs Press.

Promo Info:
Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem: her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri.

Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, she is directed by her late brother's will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother's friend, Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator's shop -- until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guilt he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?

Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman's shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston's soul and make his heart beat for her alone?
This is one hefty book. At 425 pages, it's a longer read than I usually enjoy in a romance, and sometimes I thought the personal issues could have been resolved a little faster, but overall, I hardly noticed the length of the book because I was caught up in the story line and the historical aspects.

For me to really recommend a historical romance like Illuminations, it absolutely must meet certain criteria:
  • A believable, self-assured, strong-spirited heroine, who is likely to take matters into her own hands—Siri definitely fits the bill.
  • A hero/love interest that is compelling for reasons other than his good looks—it took a while for me to warm up to Triston, but he won me over.
  • A plot line that is more than just falling in love—there's some mystery, mistaken identity, some politics. Plenty more than just two people trying to get together.
  • Well-written, well-researched and historically accurate—this was amazing. I felt like I was actually there.
  • Some twists and turns that I didn't see coming—I'm not going to tell you what they were because that would ruin the fun. But it was great to be surprised.
  • I must get lost in the story and forget what time it is in my real-life—uhm, yes. I was late for a doctor's appointment because of this book.
  • Clean—no details from the bedroom—I could recommend this to my mother and my daughters with no hesitation.

Illuminations of the Heart met all my criteria—and more. I give it a 4 out of 5 for a romance.

You can purchase the book at or

You can read more about Joyce and her projects at her website. And if you're interested in medieval vocab or you want to read other reviews of this book, be sure to visit her blog.

And for all of you who actually read all the way down to the bottom, there's a CONTEST! Joyce is the queen of online contests (I just won a bunch of books from her. Thanks, Joyce!) For this contest, four awesome prizes are up for grabs:
An autographed copy of Illuminations of the Heart or one of three $10 gift certificates to go towards a purchase of one of Joyce's books.

To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post. Yep, it's that easy. To earn more chances to win, visit the other stops in the Illuminations Blog Tour and leave comments there too. All comments on all Blog Tour posts will be thrown into a pot—the more you comment, the better your odds of winning!

August 10
Mormon Hermit Mom's
Book Habit

August 11
Amesbury Reads

August 12
Heather Justesen

August 13
Rachelle's Writing Spot

August 14
Cami's Books
and Fit Mommas

August 17
Jewel's World

August 18
Of Writerly Things

August 19
Frespa Fan

August 20
Of Good Report

August 21
Rachel Rager

August 24
Boojoos and Aprilcots

August 25
Musings from an LDS Writing Mom

August 26
Queen of the Clan

August 27
Write Bravely

August 28
Dreams of Quill and Ink

August 31
Trisit Pinkston

September 1

September 2
Tangled Words and Dreams

September 3
Random-ish by Nichole
and LDSwritersBlogck

September 4
and latterdayauthors

September 7
Lu Ann's Book Review

September 9
Reading for Sanity

September 10
Taffy's Candy

September 11
The Write Blocks

September 14
Why Not? Because I Said So!

September 15
Ink Splasher

September 16
Reviews by Jaimey

September 17
Blog the Day Away

September 18
Walnut Springs Press

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Dad IS TOO A Genius!

These are my parents. They celebrated their 50th anniversary this past January. I have nothing but the utmost respect and love for them. They are truly two of my favorite people in the entire world. I could not imagine better parents, and I have no idea how I won the heavenly lottery that let me be assigned to them. I am grateful every day for them.

I wrote a tribute to my Mom here, and I've been meaning to write one to my dad. But this is not it (it's not eloquent enough), even though today I want to talk specifically about him. My dad is one of the smartest people I know—and when I call him a computer genius, I truly mean it.

So, imagine my surprise when someone said they thought I was dissing my dad's mad computer skillz in yesterday's post.

Okay, perhaps I tend slightly toward hyperbole here on this blog, and I have been known to be a tad sarcastic at times. But NEVER when it comes to either of my parents.

No, no, no, no, no!

They are both such wonderful people that I'm surprised they haven't been twinkled yet. (Mormon joke) (Except, I'm serious.)

My dad IS a computer genius. He got started back in the late 50s, early 60s and has done wonderful things. He was a programmer. He owned his own data-processing business for awhile. He developed a cool program to help the police track criminals. And even though he's retired, he still gets called in to consult on really complex programming jobs.

In fact, he's so smart with computers and programming that I can't even do him justice when I brag on how good he is because I don't really know what I'm talking about (as in, I don't have the proper lingo or the understanding of what he can do) (I DO know he's phenomenal).

So, no, I wasn't dissing my dad yesterday at all. It was his skillz that helped me out with the virtual PC in the first place, which would have worked for most people, but not for the type of work that I do.

And when it didn't work for me, he suggested several options—I chose to get a new PC.

And after I had spent hours trying to transfer my files, he was able to take over my computer from 2,000 miles away and fiddle with it.

And when that didn't work (because of the way my system was set up and the way the VM worked), he was the one who suggested I back my files up to Mozy, then download them to my new computer.

And it worked great! It just took overnight for the process to run.

So never, never, never think that I'm dissing my dad. Or my mom. Whenever I speak of them, imagine me speaking in the kindest, most loving and respectful voice possible.

Now, when I talk about my brother or my sisters. . .

Now playing on my iPod: We Are Family by Sister Sledge

Friday, September 11, 2009

Compute This!

I'm not sure I need to add commentary to this image. I think it's plenty self-explanatory, especially given my absence here on the blog this week.

Except I really need to lament.

And bemoan.

And bewail.

I am a Mac. Have been since 1990-ish. Always will be. I have no intention of becoming a PC. But I've been forced to own/use a PC because some things just work better on a them (like QuickBooks).

I had this old PC laptop that moved at the pace of frozen molasses. Drove. Me. Nuts.

So back in June, my computer-genius dad set up a virtual PC on my Mac. To run QuickBooks.

Problem is, it wouldn't let me print.

Second problem is, it kept crashing my Mac.

And it ran as slow as slightly thawed molasses.

So I bit really hard on that proverbial bullet and got a cute green Dell on a back-to-school special. It's so cute. It plays Spider Solitaire and Mahjong—my two favorite time wasters.

It also runs QuickBooks.

And it's cute. (Did I mention that?)

Next problem, how to get my QB files from my virtual PC—which suddenly decided it didn't want to read a jump drive—to the new PC. It took an ENTIRE DAY! (Won't even go into those details.)

Then, I decided it was time to chew another bullet because my cell phone has been dropped on its head too many times and is cranky. I've been thinking about this a long time (almost a year). I want to combine some of my toys—iPod, Palm, Phone. I bought Meg's old iPod touch (which also plays Mahjong) thinking I could combine it and the Palm or another planner system.

Nope. I don't like the way it works for info management and I couldn't find a planning software that fit my needs. But it's still good for playing music, which I mostly only use in my office. So that's okay. Not a wasted expense, especially since my old iPod is broken and also because it was a good excuse to give my kid some much needed cash-ola.

Next plan of action was to see if I could find a way to combine the Palm and the cell phone. After lots of research—and an entire day spent schlepping around town trying to figure it all out—I decided on the Centro. (My sister has one and I've coveted it for months.)

I got a great deal on eBay. (I wanted the red one, but wasn't willing to pay an extra $60! Can you believe that?!? So I got the black one.)

(But I can get a red cover for $4.)

(ha! Showed them.)

(And the Centro WILL work with T-Mobile if you get the right kind. Look for Unlocked for AT&T/T-Mobile AND GSM.)

I was so excited when my Centro arrived yesterday. I loaded the software on the PC, went to sync up and. . . WHAT?!? My new PC uses Vista 64-bit which won't work with the Palm USB sync cable. But it MIGHT work with a BlueTooth thingee.

Okay, no problem. I'll sync it on my Mac. . . Wait! That doesn't work either!?

(As Brillig would say, "DOUBLE YOO TEE EFF??!")

At this point, I'm ready to throw all my techie toys out the window and move to Hawaii to weave baskets out of palm leaves for a living.

But, possibly good news (I'm not holding my breath), my sister has a Bluetooth thingee that she's going to loan me to see if that will work.

Please, if you have any extra credits with the techno gods, throw them my way.

Now playing on my iPod: Tainted Love
(I couldn't find the version I like, but this one will do—especially if you're a Twilight fan.)