Meanwhile, back in the README file

I've just spent the last day trying to get Adobe's Flash developer suite to install so that I could compile an FLA file to a SWF. I started with Windows emulation and Wine. I found after getting everything set up it would have never worked. Fail. Then I spent a chunk of time getting VMWare Server (beta 2) working with lots of thanks to Leigh. Using the install disk that came with my laptop (which has never been used) I proceeded to install Vista on a 16G partition of my laptop harddrive. That took a long time. And then I downloaded Flash (again) but this time into the other part of the machine (seemed faster than figuring out shared partitions). Installed Flash (which took another long time). Went looking for the FLA file only to find that it was actually an MXP file (an extension). Double clicking on the extension resulted in Flash giving me nasty looks. So I went back and read the README file again.

This product is distributed in two forms: as a Macromedia/Adobe Extension and as a compiled SWF for web developers without a supported version of Flash.

Compiled? Already? And sitting in my computer? Twice? Can I please have the last 24 hours of my life back? I promise to read the documentation next time instead of just looking at the pictures in the install directory. PROMISE.

In other news: I'm very happy to now have my own testing environment for Windows. I will no longer have to email friends and ask them to take screen shots for me when I'm working on new Web sites. This is me putting a positive spin on things. Raise a hand if you don't think I sound entirely convinced yet...

A moral dilemma of mammoth proportions

A bit of back-story first... I have a lot of clients that run interesting and unusual businesses. When you consider the sheer volume of clients that I have, most are independent, local businesses. One of my newest clients is an elk farmer. To protect the innocent, I'll refrain from linking to their Web site.

I got the following email from this client recently:

Here's a little question for you...on my laptop, when I use any microsoft program - word or access - if I type the word "elk" it turns automatically into "bison". Is there a setting I can change to stop this from happening??? ...as there is a big difference between elk and bison and we carry both in the store so I am constantly typing elk as "ekk" If you know anything about this I'd sure love to hear how to fix it.

Please follow the links to Wikipedia if you are unclear on what an elk and a bison look like. I'll wait. (Hint: one has antlers, one has horns and they're about as different as a moose is to a cow. Which I understand might not help to clarifying the matter.)

After spending an inappropriate amount of time laughing at this AutoCorrection I wondered what advice I should give back to my client. I know how to delete AutoCorrections in OpenOffice.org, but I'm not entirely sure how to do it in MS Word. Should I do the research and explain how things are done in Word? Should I email them back with a link to OOo and say that Word is broken beyond repair? How would you handle this situation?

PS Choose wisely--they're farmers stuck on dial-up.

Update Thanks for all of your suggestions to date! I have emailed my client back with a link to a tutorial that I think will work for them as well as a recommendation to try OpenOffice.org. I should have clarified in the original post: I'm a Web developer. My clients know their contract does not include desktop support. And, no, this is not a prank. I really did get this email.

Miles and Milestones

Have you ever had one of those incredible days where the world seems to have a crush on you? Today was a very big day for me. And I mean very big. All in one day, and in chronological order:

  1. I swam a mile.
  2. I booked my flight to Hungary for DrupalCon, where I am a confirmed speaker. This is the furthest I have ever traveled, and the first time I have visited a country that doesn't speak either language that I know.
  3. I found my book, Front End Drupal, on Amazon. I've (mostly) kept this a secret, but seeing as Amazon knows about it, I thought I should tell you too.
  4. I was accepted as an Ubuntu Member by the Americas regional board. This was by an overwhelmingly fast, and positive unanimous vote (start reading around 2:16). The biggest change is that occassional blog posts will now also be syndicated on Planet Ubuntu (thanks for the plug, James, I'll see you there!). Thanks also to everyone who supported my application.

And now, in the great tradition that James has started by launching onto Planet Ubuntu with a poem, I give you one from Emily Dickinson. I picked it as a reminder that we really are changing the world with our contributions to FOSS. We are making a difference. Here's to world domination of Free and Open Source Software and to the ethics of being collaborative and open.

We never know how high we are
Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)

We never know how high we are
Till we are asked to rise
And then if we are true to plan
Our statures touch the skies

The Heroism we recite
Would be a normal thing
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
For fear to be a King


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