26 May 2008

Okay, remember how a few months back, I spent a day in geeky abandon, obsessing over the logo used in the main title sequence of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles? This is what I ended up doing with it:

This was probably the last graphic I made for fun and not profit before my beloved laptop, Synergy, died a death. Hence a lot of the radio silence from me, as I waited until I could a) afford a new PC and b) get it set up at home. The new PC is, possibly ironically, named Mr Smith, thus continuing my habit since the late 1980s of naming my computers after fictional AIs. I still have a lot of tricking out I still need to do (like remembering to transfer all my Custom Shapes and PhotoShop brushes from work to home), but the last week I've started on the massive backlog that built up while I was offline nights and week-ends.

I will say, however, that suddenly finding myself with time in the evenings, a friend got me hooked on Bones and I marathonned the first three seasons, prior to the finale a fortnight ago. Mainlining that much story in so brief a period of time, right now it's like a mad summer fling. By the time I hit the s1 Christmas episode "The Man in the Fallout Shelter", I was hooked. By the time I reached "Two Aliens in a Spaceship" I went from "God, this is fun" to "OMG this is really brilliantly done" due to the writing and stellar performances. I will say that while I enjoy the Old Skool sexual tension between Booth and Brennan (I did grow up with Scarecrow & Mrs King, Remington Steele, and Moonlighting after all) it's Hodgins and Angela in whom I've invested massively. I just am totally charmed by them, and hope series 4 does well by the Squint Squad. TJ Thyne and Michaela Conlin just light up the screen, and I've come to really love Tamara Taylor as well (though I do miss Dr Goodman, I recognise the story came first, and Cam was a smart story choice). And I really hope we see Zack as recurring, so his storyline could get closure too.

But overall, I really do love the character-driven stories, organic character development, and just the care taken with the relationships, particularly in the first two years (season 2 is so far my all-time fave, for consistantly solid storytelling). A lot of the things I have issues with the most recent episodes I think may be pacing and structure related to the WGA Strike. But it's so amazing to see a hit drama with such strong female characters who act like real women. I'm not just talking about Bechdel's Rule. It's amazing seeing female friendships portrayed so strongly, and consistantly. And also, how much do I love that the chicks in the Anthropology Unit all have the kickass offices with sofas, while the boys have workstations? Tiny, tiny workstations?

Sorry. Just had a moment of total geek girl glee.

I've also spent the last few months at my day job, attempting to if not master, then at least learn the basics of laying out websites using CSS. Hence the revolving (and hopefully ever increasing) styles you can load to view my homepage. Like many people gone crusty and curmudgeon-y before their time, having to learn new things makes me cranky. Like most people, I am slow to change because I like knowing what I'm doing, and doing things well, and being able to present myself at my best. And no-one does things well when they are still learning. And dude, it sucks. It's a basic human thing: we all love doing things we're good at, and want to be good at new things immediately. It's also reality that it takes months if not years to master new tools and rewire our brains to use them as effectively as possible. Being Old Skool, I code by hand. And CSS Layouts are a tough new thing to master when you're a Homebrewer, and need to know what every line of code does and why, which you obviously never learn if you use a WYSIWYG and only ever look at the front end design. It would be like an Engineer never getting out of the simulator to get her hands on an actual internal combustion engine. Building things means knowing how exactly things work together, so you can pull it apart and put it back together better stronger faster. And also, in the corporate world, as quickly and efficiently as possible, on a client's whim.

So it's a really steep climb. I picked up HTML instinctively, and worked with it for over 10 years, learning and assimilating new developments as I went. I've have been laying out sites using tables for so long, it's second nature. I can still look at a flat graphic, and tell you exactly how to cut it apart, and lay it out in HTML, before ever even sitting down to write a line of code. I've never used an algorithm to slice and dice a site; it feels alien and wrong to me. But layout using CSS doesn't work the way HTML does. And not all browsers render the same code the same way--so there are elaborate fixes and patches and tricks you have to learn, akin to what you had to deal with back in the late 1990s, coding for both Netscape and IE. So there's a time warp element too, of living in the future, yet experiencing frustrations I haven't had to deal with nearly a decade. But I'm determined to get there.

Speaking of time warps.... next blog entry, I promise, Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers nostalgia.

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