Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Week of E-Waste

This past week was an incredibly hectic one. I have been running around at work almost every day trying to put out various firestorms ranging from broken printers to kids screaming for cookies and the right to use my laptop. The most aggravating of these problems had to do with my electronic waste project.

For those of you who follow regularly, you will remember that I have been working on getting materials translated and printed for the Cinqo de Mayo festival that was held on Saturday, May 2nd. I sent my files off to the printer on Tuesday and believed my work to be done. Unfortunately I got a call as I was driving to work from the printer, saying that the text of my files was very bitmappy and wouldn't look very good as printed. It turns out that they needed a publishing program file to make sure that there weren't any unnecessary artifacts with the picture.

Herein lay the first problem: they suggested using InDesign or Quark to remake the flyers. Unfortunately this was not possible, as neither I nor CommonBond have access to those programs. I reached a workaround by promising that I would get them a .pdf file from Microsoft Publisher, which seemed to be the most agreeable solution.

I rushed to work, thanking the Lord that I don't have open lab or classes on Thursday mornings and started working on the project. I ran into problem #2 almost immediately: My office computer did not have Publisher installed on it. Not to worry, I said to myself, I'll just use one of the lab computers! The Publisher system worked on those computers and I quickly whipped up a document and went to save. Here we run into problem #3: I couldn't save in a .pdf file, only a .ps. Problem #4 consisted of none of the computers having the necessary programs to convert a .ps into a .pdf. I tried the computers upstairs, my supervisor's computer- none would work.

The solution was found through a lucky combination of my love of open source software and 40k blogs. It turns out that a week ago or so one of the blogs that I read over at FTW had an article on creating magazines and had posted a link to Scribus, an open source version of InDesign. I had downloaded it and summarily forgotten about it until I was desperately looking for help online. I quickly booted up the program, made a relatively ugly version of the document thanks to my unfamiliarity with Scribus and its inherent user hostility and sent a .pdf copy off to the publishers.

The hectic morning developed into a hectic afternoon (planning a dessert party for volunteers, open lab's many wonders) and was followed by a hectic corps day in which I drilled through concrete for 7.5 hours and got to drive through rush hour traffic on I-94 with a screaming baby in my car.

Saturday was a bit better- the day was crap (none of my students showed up, kids were demanding a lot of attention), but the evening was at Cinqo de Mayo. All of my materials were there, there was a latin beat being played across the street, and we managed to capture a lot of attention and hand out a lot of flyers thanks to our dancing cell phone costume. Oh, and we won "Greenest Booth at Cinqo De Mayo" as well!

And on Sunday I rested, and it was Good.

Pics of this weeks adventures can be found here. C'mon, you know you at least want to see the dancing cell phone...

*edit* An addendum to the talk of Friday's corps day: I just got this e-mail from one of my supervisors.

"Hi Max, Carolyn wanted to make sure you got a special thanks for “drilling into concrete all day long” on Friday. Happy Monday!"

Until next time...

"I do not like work even when someone else does it."
- "The Lost Napoleon" by Mark Twain

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