Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quick Update

Keeping Up

Another month has gone by and my life is crazy-busy. I've got a Hebrew Exam on Tuesday and I've not done Hebrew in a week. Eek!

Today, I got a tetanus shot. Sophie bit me while I tried to pick her up. Let me explain...

I got up late today, having stayed up until 2AM working on the church technical budget. As usual, I checked in on Sophie. I found her lying in the middle of the room -- nothing unusual there, but then I noticed that she had made a mess, lost control of her bladder. She was not responding well to me, just barely acknowledging my presence. I saw she had diarrhea at some point, and I woke Cathy. I got the carrier, and, trying to lift Sophie gently into it, discovered that she was in a great deal of pain.

Sophie communicated her suffering by nipping at my hand near her face. When I persisted in moving her, she nipped harder, and tore some skin on my thumb. She wasn't trying to hurt me; the wounds are shallow and are scratches more than bites. The vet told Cathy later on that Sophie is hurting a great deal from a mammary infection, the poor thing.

Anyway, I got a tetanus shot today. Oh, and I got new glasses yesterday -- they have magnetic clip-ons for the sun. I like it.

Cathy's doing well, and is beginning to make jewelry again. I should take a picture or two... she's going to start selling them for some income.


Sophie is recovering, and the kittens are growing. They've really started exploring -- Linus is a particularly brave one, and he's taken to following Cathy around. Lucy and Marcy are absolutely adorable. Lucy was the first, I think, to drink water, and Linus led the way in using the litter box. Sally and Charlie are the largest kittens, and very playful.

Random Thoughts

I had to write up a technology budget for my church. It is interesting, because I had a need to replace a laptop, so I'm spending my first bit of significant cash. But here's the interesting thing... I also got my quarterly giving report. Looking at the money we've given back to God, and looking for a replacement laptop for a pastor helped me crystallize something I already believed in: stewardship. You see, when I make a purchase or plan a budget, I'm not just spending "God's money" (which is difficult to quantify), but also "your" and "my" money -- money worshipers have given faithfully to God. As such, I must spend it carefully, judiciously, as a good steward.

I already believed in good stewardship, fiscal responsibility, and fiduciary trust. However, getting my tithing report at the same time I needed to purchase a laptop helped me truly incorporate that belief.

Sophie's kittens are starting to eat

You can see above a very cute photo of Sally (left) and Linus (right) with a dirty chin. Sophie has a potassium deficiency (vet says this is common) and has gotten an infection in one of her breasts (also common). So, this was good timing for the kittens beginning to be weaned.

They're also getting litter-trained as I type.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cat Ride the Bus

The feline, which has a purple collar, gets onto the busy Walsall to Wolverhampton bus at the same stop most mornings - he then jumps off at the next stop 400m down the road, near a fish and chip shop.
So, there's a cat in England that rides the bus. I wonder who's it is?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Google 411

Try this out... 411 via an 800 number with no advertising (for now). Google Labs is experimenting with Google Voice Local Search. Call 800-GOOG-411, give it a city and state, ask for a listing, and it will return the results and connect you to the listing you choose.

The whole thing can be voice-navigated. I called and found my church and was connected to the main number. Way cool.

Naturally, unless you block your own caller ID, Google will gather information for marketing and later advertising purposes, as well as attempt to improve their service. According to their privacy policy, they will collect and store your phone number, and time of the call, and the voice commands you used, until they connect you to the listing. They don't collect this if you block your number.

You can use Per-Call Blocking (aka Selective Blocking) by dialing *67 before dialing the phone number. You'll have to dial *67 every time, though.

While Google promises to respect your choice to block caller ID, you should know that they don't have to. Because the other party pays for the call, FCC rules allow toll-free companies to use Automatic Number Identification (ANI) technology to identify you even when caller ID is blocked. FCC rules, however, limit parties that own toll-free numbers from distributing the numbers identified through ANI.

Video of Sophie & her kittens

Sophie is well again and the kittens are really big for just three weeks. Cathy named them after the Peanuts cast.
Charlie - solid dark kitten
Sally - dark with tabby stripes
Marcy - black & white, dark head, no white line on top
Lucy - black & white, dark head, half a white line on top
Linus - black & white, dark head, full white line on top
And, of course, Sophie is the momma.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vista APPCRASH error with spoolsv.exe

I'm running Vista Ultimate and I kept getting this message: "Spooler SubSystem App stopped working and was closed." The details indicated the following:
Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
Application Name: spoolsv.exe
Windows Vista has a nice "Reliability and Performance Monitor" which gives you an index of system reliability. Just click START and search for "Reliability" or type in perfmon.msc. It tracks application failures, so you have an idea when things went downhill. I could tell that the application failures I had were related to spoolsv.exe and began on 03/26/2007.

While the "Reliability and Performance Monitor" tracks application installs, it does not seem to track printers as hardware installs. Fortunately, I realized that I added a network copier and allowed it to install the drivers, which were actually designed for Windows XP.

So, you you keep seeing spoolsv.exe appcrash errors in Vista, try removing the printer AND the driver. Here's how:
  1. Go to the Control Panel and click Printers
  2. Right-click on the white space and click "Run as administrator > Server Properties"
  3. Click on the "Drivers" tab, click on the offending printer and click on the "Remove" button.

    When prompted, click "Remove driver and driver package."

    Answer "Yes" when prompted to delete the driver.
  4. You will then see a dialog indicating that driver package information has been collected. Click on the "Delete" button.
  5. Back in the printer list, delete the offending printer by clicking on it and pressing the Delete key on your keyboard.
For really stubborn printers that refuse to delete, note the files the printer driver uses and delete them while in safe mode. To do so, on the "Drivers" tab (see above), click the printer and click properties. Sort the "File" column alphabetically by clicking on the heading. Write down the files involved and also write down the "driver path" above the "File" column. Delete these files in safe mode, then repeat the removal procedure above.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sacred, Secular, Shelby?

I've noted that information seems to be a primary need at our church, as well as a great source of frustration. We bought a product from Shelby Systems which should resolve the issue. The functions of Shelby, however, were portioned out to three individuals, and apparently one person is gone. Unfortunately, nobody had a grasp of the system at this point, at least well enough to leverage it against our present challenges.

My paid responsibilities involve IT, so I must learn Shelby. My intern responsibilities involve the gathering, distributing, and using of information -- which should involve Shelby. Given that my heart lies in making ministry happen, I find this rare opportunity to combine my secular talents with my spiritual passions.

I am truly looking forward to making IT work for ministry. How energizing!

Almost lost Sophie yesterday

Wow. We almost lost Sophie to a fever yesterday.

We got ready to head to the shelter's weekly adoption at PetsMart early Saturday morning. I went into the "office" to feed Sophie and check on her kittens and found her laying under a table on the other side of the room. That wasn't completely unexpected, as Sophie has to start weaning the kittens this week.

But, she didn't come to me like she normally does. I left the food by her and brushed my teeth. When I came back a few minutes later, she still had not touched her food. She felt warm to the touch and her breathing seemed rough compared to a few minutes ago. I got worried.

Cathy & I decided to take her to the vet in PetsMart, Banfield. We have an arrangement with a couple of Banfield locations; they give us a 15% discount for shelter cats. Anyway, by the time we got there, Sophie was panting. They promised to call.

Half way to the adoption we got another call - Sophie has a 105° fever (a cat's normal temperature ranges from 100.5° to 102.5° Fahrenheit). A sustained temperature of 105° causes serious complications, such as delirium, seizures, immune failure or brain damage. They were working on bringing her temperature down -- we OKed the estimate, although it was a steep price.

About 1 P.M. the doctor had not seen any decreases yet. The tests all came out negative. Sophie had an infection driving the fever, but the cause was unknown. In fact, if they couldn't break the fever before 5 P.M., we'd have to pick her up and take her to the emergency room. The local Banfield suggested that, given the available information, we should have Sophie euthanized; we left the adoption to pick Sophie up, hoping and praying for a change. I was terribly distressed.

After we arrived at Banfield, we were told that her fever finally peaked and her temperature was down to 102.8° (still high, but better). We were told that Sophie's temperature dropped about 2:30 P.M., and with antibiotics and fluids she may yet recover with no permanent damage. We picked up Sophie, an I.V. bag of fluids, and some antibiotics. We took her temperature hourly last night, and it remained the same, but she took some food.

Today, she's looking better. Her last temperature was 101.5, and she's drinking and seeking attention again. Thank God.