Little Miss Sunshine

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The Google Doodles have been (IMHO) a bit hit-and-miss lately, but this one made me smile.  And it may be in celebration of Roger Hargreaves’ birthday, but it’s a beautiful day in Ottawa – just perfect for Little Miss Sunshine.

PS. Forgot to mention, this is not the only Doodle for today. Go to and refresh to flip through them all. Which is your favourite?

Zemanta Fail


Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...

When I started this post, it didn’t look anything like it does now.

It usually takes me several days to work through a post, from first draft to complete rewrites to editing, editing, and more editing. And when your writing time is carved out of stolen moments (sleeping baby? quick! type!) and fraught with interruptions (“cookie pweeze. COOKIE pweeze. COOKIEEEEE!!!”), it can take a very long time indeed.

Which is why a tool like Zemanta, which promised to take care of some of the niggly details – like finding relevant pictures and links for me while I focus on content – looked so very promising.

It is also why, when I installed it and my next Losing It in Ottawa post suddenly disappeared, it was very, very frustrating. Kick-and-scream-and-cry frustrating.

Days worth of stolen moments, gone. And on a post with a deadline.

As is my wont, from time to time (ok, pretty frequently), I vented on Twitter. I didn’t send my tweet to Zemanta, but they noticed it anyhow. And replied. Impressive, no?


Here is the conversation:

I had to do a double take. Surely I must have mis-read their comment. Surely they were saying something about their next version, not mine.

Seriously Zemanta? A chuck on the shoulder and a “you’ll do better next time”? No mea culpa, no link to where I could report a bug, no placatory freebie? I didn’t expect a freebie. I didn’t expect anything. I sure as hell didn’t expect this.

My first impression of Zemanta was really rather positive. It installed easily. It was free. I could see that it was going to save me time with the finishing touches. But rule number 1 in software development: do not lose the user’s data!

Rule number 2: if you do, don’t try to tell them you did them a favour.

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The Self-Cleaning Pet


About a year ago, after years of hemming and hawing and debating whether it would be a completely self-indulgent gadgety boondoggle, we bought a Roomba.

It was initially very popular around here. The grown-ups watched it wander the house while postulating on its mapping algorithm. We contemplated attaching googly-eyes. Miss Bea (then 18 months old) squealed with delight as it bumped into walls, turned around, and trundled off in another direction.

Unfortunately, the squeals turned to screams when it came out from under the bed and nipped her ankle. And who could blame her? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

And to do him credit, Roomba turned right back around and hid under the bed.

I’m still torn on whether this was a good purchase or not, and the debate has come to the fore as I contemplate Roomba’s wet-land cousin, Scooba.  But first I figure I’d better be sure Roomba was the right call.


  • It vacuums the floor by itself. Duh.

Don’t like…

  • Self-cleaning is actually a bit of a misnomer. If you want Roomba to keep working you have to be meticulous about taking it apart and cleaning it regularly. You have to take apart bits you didn’t even realize came apart (it should really ship with a break-out photo)
  • It works best without too many obstacles (ie, the ideal is one big, square room with no furniture). It can navigate around stuff but the more complex it is, the longer it takes.  And the more battery it burns through.  And this is important because…
  • The battery sucks. There’s no two ways around it -> the thing is less than a year old and the battery no longer holds enough charge to do my entire front hall. It’s replaceable, but I’m procrastinating because I’m pretty sure it’s also pricey.

So basically I have to not only tidy before running it, I have to shift things around and compartmentalize the house into ever smaller bits in order to get it to work.

To be fair, this will probably not be necessary once our livingroom is no longer home to a toy kitchen, a Jolly Jumper stand, a playpen, and a rocking-moose.

At this point we need to decide whether to get a new battery and/or wait until the livingroom has been ‘simplified’.

But don’t just take my word for it…

I recently read a glowing review on Cool Mom Tech. If you’re thinking about a Roomba, you might want to check that out.

In fact, there are tonnes of reviews online, many of which cite the same quibbles as mine. I just wasn’t listening. I reealllly wanted a Roomba.

And as I say, there’s still Scooba to think about ;).

Dear Picasa, I’ve met someone else.


Picasa and I aren’t really seeing eye-to-eye these days.

It’s a shame, really, because the relationship looked so promising at first. I loved the one-stop shopping for photo organizing, editing, and publishing. The editing capabilities were spot-on what I needed, and easy to use.

But then I noticed, while he got along fine with the rest of his google-family, he got in the way whenever I wanted to hang out with Flickr and Twitter.  And truth be told, DH never really liked him.

Over the past 6 months or so I have had my albums disappear (losing untold hours of work), wrestled to migrate my pics to an external drive, and jumped through endless hoops to get my photos – with my edits – anywhere other than

Then I met Picnik.

“Jump Right In”. No Kidding. I didn’t even have to sign up for an account! I grabbed a recent photo, started editing, and posted it to Flickr in a matter of minutes.

Minutes spent editing, not hoop-jumping.

The interface is clean and easy to use. There are a bunch of cool features in there that I haven’t even tried yet.

And seriously, you don’t even need an account. You can upload a photo, play with it, then post it and/or save it to your hard drive without giving out so much as your phone-number email address.

Oh, and Picnik gets along with all the cool kids:

It feels a little weird that Picasa and Picnik already know each other, but we’re all grownups here. We’ll get over it.