Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not Much Going On

Working on the MuseCon program book, at least when I don't have "Titanic" rehearsals. That's about all that's going on.  

I do really really need to start getting swivels sewn onto the three dozen tails I ordered for Anime Midwest. I think I'll put some other tools/lacing projects away, and bring the tail bin out to the living room instead.  

Last weekend I got all the content into the MuseCon book, and formatted, by lunchtime/early afternoon on Sunday. Which is ahead of what I've done other years. OTOH, rehearsals mean I'm not really that far ahead. Tonight is the deadline for final updates, and tomorrow I start attacking line/column/page breaks, and other more persnickety formatting-ish tasks. 

Initial formatting short version: more than one way to skin a cat is a good thing. 

Initial formatting long version:

Last year we extracted the data from the Programming spreadsheet, Ron did unnamable things to it with one or more perl scripts, which turned it into XML files, which I then did other arcane things with in InDesign to auto-magically get the right paragraph formatting applied to the appropriate chunks of text. This year the same attempted process failed. The problem stuck on getting the data out of Excel and into a usable comma-separated value file. 

Fortunately, I'd just bought an updated e-book of an InDesign typography book I had, which jogged my memory on using different clever tricks to auto-magically format paragraphs (a "paragraph" being any chunk of text with hard returns on either end). It didn't end up working quite like I thought it did, which is probably why I gave up on it last time I tried, a couple years ago, but it worked reasonably well.  Essentially, you set up a series of cascading/looping paragraph styles, and tell InDesign to apply them to your text. 

Comparing cascading paragraph styles to converting everything to XML for auto-formatting, the cascading styles attack had fewer steps where something could break, which is where the overall  XML process failed this year (ie: never got an XML file created).  However, the cascading style attack does not deal with a step in the cascade that may have a variable number of paragraphs, which was, IIRC, trivial to a non-issue in the XML method. So I had to cascade-format smaller chunks of text, instead of everything at once. In the end, I think this cascading styles and XML methods worked out to take roughly the same amount of time, effort, and poking at things, it just worked out differently in terms of who (Ron or I) poked at things, and with what tool. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Calm, Happy, and Ducky

Nothing to see here, nobody is ranting about some convention that we're not vending at, and have developed a sense of happiness about it.

"Titanic" rehearsals are keeping me busy, and up past my bedtime.  Well, not last night; last night I got out on the early side, but stayed up with Ron watching an episode of "Jeeves and Wooster". D'oh!

And we have a duck nesting in one of the planter boxes.  

One of the planter boxes that was experiencing wall issues.  Which Robin didn't discover until after he'd started work, and wall fell over go thud.

She's in the section of the box still standing, to the left of the window-well enclosure.  That piece of wall will stay until her eggs hatch and she and the babies leave the nest.  Because of the whole federally-protected migratory waterfowl thing, but even more because nesting mamma duck, awww.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stick a Fork in it, We're Done with Teslacon

Still nothing from Teslacon. Supposedly vendor confirmations went out Wednesday via e-mailed PDF. Well, apparently that didn't include "sorry, you weren't selected" letters, or else they're doing vendors in rounds until the room is filled (which is what I suspect), but not actually saying that.

Just sent this to Teslacon:

"Given the delays in vendor confirmations/denials for Teslacon I have accepted an offer for vendor space from another convention. Therefore, Otter Necessities will not be available to vend at Teslacon."

I'm very proud of myself for not sharing my candid thoughts, or taking advantage of the fact that my FaceBook persona is pretty disconnected from me, because I don't want to burn bridges. Not that I think Teslacon has left any bridges for me to burn at this point.

Feeling a little iffy about the decision, despite the fact that I'm well and thoroughly tired of feeling jerked around, and had been pretty much hoping we wouldn't get in, because then I wouldn't have to decide. But enough is enough - I could hope that we'd be treated better at the convention, ie: with basic respect, but I'm not seeing any real evidence that it would happen.

Still plan on attending Teslacon, since it does look like it is cool, and sources say attendees enjoy it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Shopping and Other Natter

No particular big projects this weekend, but some shopping and working on this and that.

Saturday morning we went to the local Tandy/Leather Factory store for various things. They had leather on sale that we use for molding hard pouch fronts (and other things), and smaller/lighter pieces also on sale that I got for belt loops. Yes, I just got leather for and made a bunch of belt loops a month or so ago. And I've gone through most of them already.  Also  got a punch for rounding off corners, and a rubber pad for using under the Universal Mangler when cutting, in hopes it will be more quiet.

Saturday afternon we went to Ace Hardware for extension cords (for the new air conditioners for our bedroom), and found a folding utility table that followed Ron home, for use as a work table at events, and for whatever else we might need a work table for. 

Saturday afternoon Ron set up the new work table, and then tried cutting with the Universal Mangler on a piece of plywood with the new rubber pad on top of the plywood. Definitely quieter than the cutting board on top of the hollow plastic table. Ron didn't want to just experiment on scrap, so I laid out three large square hard pouch backs, with long flaps, to put leaves, and gears, and scales on.

Saturday afternoon/evening I reduced the leather that I got for belt loops to a pile of belt loops, some sporran dee holders, and a pile of scrap. I saved all the scrap, weighed everything, and determined that I used 85% of the leather/had 15% scrap. I've been SWAG-ing 10% wasteage. But, the pieces I cut the belt loops from were fairly small, so there would be a higher scrap ratio than cutting down sides, I think. I have two black sides coming (scheduled delivery tomorrow), at least one of which I can probably completely cut down in one sitting, so I may repeat the experiment with one of them - I've thought about doing it before, but we're not usually in a position to completely cut up a whole side at one go. 

Yesterday I worked on four of the six pouches we cut out last weekend. They're not ready to lace together yet, but we got significant work done on them.

Found, by recommendation, a new leather supplier on Saturday - Hide House ( I'd heard of them before, but hadn't followed up, or else they hadn't hit my radar. Saturday I signed up for wholesale pricing on the website, and they're definitely worth buying from at wholesale prices. They have what I suspect is the leather that I have in red and blue that I've been kind of hoarding, as well as a nice green. I'll probably order some green in the near future. 

The orders of tails and hardware that I placed yesterday were out for delivery when last I checked, and I expect my two sides and more hardware tomorrow. 

Hopefully we'll get more of the rehearsal schedule for "Titanic, the Musical" at tonight's rehearsal, so I can get a better idea of how many of them I'll be at (default schedule is 6:30-9:30 Monday-Thursday nights). 

Finally ordered/paid for the proof press this weekend, as well as a couple pieces of bookbinding equipment - I'd planned on getting a cradle for punching the sewing holes in signatures/booklets, but I also added on a finishing press. I don't actually expect to need the press to start out, but I decided to splurge on that, as the other intermediate equipment is less expensive, so picking up the other things will be easier than deciding to buy the press. Hopefully that makes sense. 

Ron's now up to three versions of sporrans with eyeglass cases on the flaps. 

The first one, you may recall, was made by me the Thursday before ACen, while waiting for the plumber.  Unfortunately, it had three problems. The first was bad gusset design, which wasn't too terrible. The second was that it was up on top of the pouch on the flap, which wasn't a great location. The third, and worst, was that I got it onto the flap completely crooked. It got Ron through ACen, but that was about it.

The second was made shortly after ACen, with a better overall design and location. 

Then Ron made a third one, which is pretty similar to #2, with minor upgrades. At this point he thinks he's got the design and construction figured out, and is debating if he wants to make some pouches with the added pocket for sale - it was intended to hold glasses, but it could hold any relatively long and narrow thing. 

Ron's also been working on new cost computation spreadsheets. He's using more auto-magic functions than I did (or quite know how to do).