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.

Same as it ever was

UnknownMeeting today was surprisingly productive, honestly.  I don’t have a lot to say about it other than that, but it was nice to go to an all-day teacher meeting and, other than introductions in the morning running a trifle longer than they needed to be, not feel like my time was being wasted at any point.  I think I’m going to like this job.

Also, the whole day was a constant whipsaw between “holy shit, nothing ever changes around here” and the odd feeling that by being gone two years I had missed out on everything changing.  At the same time.  Which was deeply weird.

Also, my day started at eight, and I’m tired as hell.  Morning coffee is going to go back to being a high priority for me, I think, after a couple of years of it not being especially essential.  Also returning to my daily lifestyle: my laptop bag, which as of today contains not only the Macbook Pro and iPad Pro I already owned but also a Chromebook.  Because I need to be a nerd across multiple operating systems, dammit!  But Google certification for my Clark Kent identity is in my near future, and I’ll be spending a lot of time screwing around with Chromebooks this year, so I figured I ought to pick up a relatively inexpensive one.  So: new hotness.  I will be The Master of The Googlez by the end of the month.

And then I got home and no dog greeted me at the door and everything was sad again.  It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before I stop noticing she’s gone.

In which I need an app

Maybe the internet hivemind can help me out with this one.  I need an app that fits the following criteria:

  • Preferably iOS, but I can make Android work.
  • It is mainly a contacts app, but– and this is critical– it does not fuck with the existing contacts on my phone.  I need this for work and I don’t need ten thousand customers clogging up my contacts.  A database app with fully definable input fields would work just as well.
  • It allows me to add pictures and notes to said contacts.
  • Email addresses being clickable to send a message would be useful.
  • It is fully searchable/sortable in any of those fields.  In other words, if I want to find anybody named Smith, I can, if I want to find any entries I created in January I can, and if I want to find anyone who was looking at a particular piece of furniture, I can.
  • Ideally, it has OCR and can scan most of the important stuff into an entry from an invoice or a computer screen so I don’t have to type everything twice.
  • Free or a one-time payment, preferably less than $10, but I’d look at something more expensive if it hits all those points and I only have to buy it once.

Suggestions?  Don’t say Evernote, Evernote’s useless.