In which I level up

Well, at least I can’t claim that I didn’t get anything accomplished over my Winter Break. You may possibly recall– I’d forgive you if you didn’t, but you might– that I took a three-hour test in September to gain Level One Google Certified Educator status, which signifies that I understand The Googles, The Internets, and The Tubes. Well, as of this morning, I have taken another three-hour test, and now I am Level 2 certified, which signifies that I understand … well, The Googles, The Internets, and The Tubes. I’m really not sure what the hell the difference is between Level 1 and Level 2 certification other than that 2 is a bigger number than 1 and the Level 2 test cost more money to take. As far as I can tell the test was exactly the same kinds of questions and I don’t feel like I needed any deeper understanding of anything to pass this one than I did the first one.

The punchline: they “give” you, as in they actually email it to you, that .png file up there so that you can put it in your email signature file to show off your new fancy-schmancy Level 2 certification. They did the same thing at Level 1, and I dutifully dumped it into my (otherwise quite minimal) .sig file for my work email.

I just spent half a Goddamned hour trying to add the Level 2 image next to the Level 1 one, and I can’t get it to work. I can get a little box with a question mark in it to show up, and that’s it– nothing I can do can get this image to show up in my signature file despite the fact that I have done this before with the first image. And, for that matter, I don’t remember any trouble doing it the first time. I can only assume that something is actually wrong with the functionality right now, because I’m not doing this wrong. It’s just not working. I just love that I want to show off my literal certification in Knowing How to Gmail and I can’t figure out how to do it.

EDIT: After typing this, I tried the exact same thing I’d been doing, and when I did it this time the interface that popped up when I clicked the “Add Image” button was completely different, featuring two tabs that weren’t there before. And despite that, it still didn’t work. Then I tried to do the exact same thing I’d been doing all along, only in Chrome instead of Safari, and it worked fine. So I’m not taking the blame for this, Goddammit.

Come see me at Laffycon Before Christmas!

So, first things first:  I’ve got an event tomorrow that I haven’t had time to publicize yet!  Lafayette, I’m giving you another chance to come buy all sorts of stuff from me!  I will be at The Laffycon Before Christmas at Carnahan Hall in Lafayette, IN tomorrow from 11 to 5, with the usual assortment of books and bookmarks and I dunno maybe some candy and stuff.  These same folks also have a two-day event in April that I’ll be attending, but this is a chance to get your friends and family some Luther Siler books for Christmas!  Great idea, right?  

In other news: my desktop computer, which has served me loyally since 2011 (!) is trying to die on me, and an adequate replacement for it is going to cost more money than I have, so … yeah.  Come buy books.

Also, I saw SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE last night, and a highly positive review is heading your way soon, along with a review of Michelle Obama’s book BECOMING.  So.  Busy weekend.  

In which I’m certificated

UnknownFrom the Not Especially Important Life Achievements file: I spent the last couple of hours (they give you three, and it has to be all in one sitting) getting my Level One Google for Education certification, which means … I get to put that little image to the right there in the signature portion of all my email messages and make people who don’t know better think that I’m really impressive and knowledgeable about The Googles.

It does not really mean that.  I had to sign an NDA before taking the test, and I’m not about to take the risk of pissing Google off, so I’m not going to share a lot of details, but I suspect the vast majority of those of you reading this right now could go into the exam with no preparation of any kind and pass it.  This particular level of certification doesn’t really signify any particular expertise other than 1) that needed to know that the certification exists, and 2) the desire to actually hold said certification.  There is a Level 2 certification and also a Trainer certification, and I suspect I’ll be getting both over the course of the next couple months, but until then: Hey!  I’m Level 1!  Woohoo!

Now let’s see what sorts of other trouble I can get into with what’s left of my weekend.  It’s been cool the last couple of days and I’ve had a hoodie on, so the happy season has begun.  Will there be tortellini soup for dinner tonight to celebrate?  Yes there will.

I SAID GOOD DAY!

too-many-emailsToday was the first day in the new building where I didn’t spend the entire day running my ass off.  I spent the first teacher day and the first two days of school putting out fires and solving problems as quickly as I could– and, when necessary, that’s pretty fast— and today was the first day that felt calm.  Honestly, there were points where I was almost fishing about for something to do.

Or, at least, I would have been, were it not for the fact that I get a hundred goddamn emails a day now. There are about sixty staff members and associated personages in my building and thirty-some-odd people who have my job, and a few of us need to sit down and have a talk about what emails 1) do not need to be sent to everyone on a mailing list and 2) do not need to be sent at all.

For example: the next person to send me an email that just says “thanks” is getting smacked.  Because I just archived that email thread, goddammit, because I dealt with whatever you needed and I’m done with those emails now.  Probably 10% of my email is just “Thanks!” or something similar, and sometimes that “Thanks!” is sent to fifty people, and … goddammit, stop.  Say “Thanks in advance!” at the end of the first message.

(Note that compared to literally every other gripe I’ve had about a job ever, I recognize that this is minor.  But still.  Stop it, people.)


The last two books I’ve read have both been one-day reads, both because they were good and because they were really short.  You could do a lot worse than checking out The Armored Saint by Myke Cole and The Descent of Monsters by J.Y. Yang.  They’re both novellas, and while Yang wrote their book specifically as a novella the one weakness of Cole’s book is that it feels more like the first third of a long book rather than an entire book by itself.  It’s a minor gripe, though. Check ’em out.


Speaking of books, N.K. Jemisin won another Best Novel Hugo last night– I need to reread the Broken Earth trilogy soon– and you should read her acceptance speech, which is awesome.

A slightly unfair early review of my new Chromebook

Chromebook-15_gallery_03Eh.  It’s fine.

Okay, I can probably come up with more to say than that– since I was specifically asked in comments yesterday to provide my thoughts on the new toy, and since hell if I know what else I might blog about tonight otherwise.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time this year messing around with, learning, and teaching Google tools (along with a lot of other stuff) and it didn’t take a whole lot of effort to talk myself into buying a Chromebook so that I can see what Google’s tools look like on hardware Google crafted especially for them.  Plus I got paid $200 for the training I was at over the last couple of days, so I figure that paid for the computer.  Yes: I bought a laptop that cost $200.  The point of Chromebooks is that they’re supposed to be cheap, and while my easily-available options ranged up to $750 and I actually looked pretty hard at one in the $450 range, I did actually end up buying the second-least-expensive one I could.  It’s an Acer Chromebook 15, and not the one that’s a two-in-one and can be folded into a tablet and that comes with a nicer screen.  The tablet mode is utterly useless to me and I don’t need a high-def screen for something that will be used purely to handle non-computing-intensive, non-video-related tasks.  The one I bought supposedly has a touchscreen; I have not touched it and it’s entirely possible that I never will.  I don’t know why a laptop would have a touchscreen and I don’t want one.

However: in general, I’m pretty pleased with it despite the lack of enthusiasm in the first paragraph.  The monitor is huge, the laptop is reasonably light, and most importantly after eight hours of basically constant use today the battery was still at 70%, which impressed me, particularly since working on documents that other people are editing at the same time has been murdering the battery on my Macbook Pro.  The keyboard isn’t all that much different in responsiveness and feel than my Macbook (which surprised me; I’m picky about keyboards) and in general the build quality feels pretty nice for something I only dropped $200 for.  I would expect it to be built from cardboard at that price.  I have some concerns about the power supply– the plug that actually goes into the laptop feels kinda dodgy– but I noticed no other obvious issues in a day of pounding on the thing.  It could definitely be a bit faster, but again: $200.  If you’re deeply or exclusively tied into the Google ecosystem, you could do worse than this little machine to navigate through your day.

If I hate it in a week, I’ll make sure to let y’all know.