22 July 2011

Blurb All About It, Part I

"Software suppliers are trying to make their software packages more ‘user-friendly’… Their best approach so far has been to take all the old brochures and stamp the words ‘user-friendly’ on the cover.” ~ Bill Gates
So you might have wondered where I have been all week. I have wondered that myself.
The short answer is that I am tired. And I haven't stepped foot in my studio except to sit at my computer for hours on end.
It's no wonder that I am tired.
After recovering from the intense heat exhaustion of last weekend's ball games (In case you were wondering, we ended up losing the championship game to a team that without the extreme weather conditions would likely not have been a match for us, but being down one of our best pitchers/hitters and then having our top pitcher and one catcher have to get pulled for extreme heat exhaustion did not help our case. The good news is that we have broken the streak and still have a winning record, 21-1, and hopefully can focus on winning again for our last, home tournament.), I have wanted to do nothing but sleep. Sometimes you have to pay attention to that.
And this week we had what would be classified as the closest thing to a tornado without really being classified as a tornado whip through the center of Stevens Point. I never lost power or even knew that more than a wicked thunderstorm rolled through. But hundreds of the tallest, fattest trees throughout the city have been toppled over as if they were dominoes one on top of the other. In a cemetary I pass every day no less than 12 of these massive trees are felled. Power was out (re: no internet Tuesday or Wednesday) and two underpasses were so flooded that there were two cars floating in one from the flash flood. We are all fine, but that has delayed things as well.
When I did get into the studio on Thursday I only sat at the computer (my Muse, she seems to have left the building). I took something like eleventy-bazillion pictures over the course of the tournaments played so far, and I needed to get them off the card and stored someplace. (I wonder if I am running out of storage space yet...must get another external hard drive, stat.)
And then there was the great idea I have to put together a Blurb book for the team (have you figured out that I am the sort of person who bites off more than she can chew, underestimates the time needed to complete something and apparently has delusions of grandeur? So yeah, whipping up a book to cap off the entire season in less than a week would be right up my alley).

There are three different options for making a Blurb: Bookify online (no downloading, simple layouts, for photobooks only, re: too limited for me); BookSmart download (*Free* software, customizable layouts, large or small projects, use your own fonts (did you know that I love fonts?)); PDF to book (for 'creative professionals', integrated with InDesign, completely out of my league). I figured I would be in the mid-range and *Free* sounded good. So I set about downloading the *Free* software.

{Screenshot of BookSmart. When I can access my computer again, I will try to get a screenshot of the pages I am working on!}

Maybe I should be skeptical of things that come with the pricetag of *Free* and especially of the moniker *User-friendly*.

Now that I have started in the *Free* and *User-friendly* software, I am wondering if I should have stuck with the online, limited version, with just a bunch of big pictures on each page. But I sort of think of myself as a creative amateur professional and have no concept of time, so of course I went for it.
It looks simple enough. You upload your photos (although why I am uploading them when they are on my computer is beyond me), choose the layout you want for each page (you can even edit the layout to suit the individual page or create some custom layouts that you save for future use), and then drag and drop the photos (resizing them as needed) adding text wherever you like. It even saves automatically (saves to where, I am not sure, but when you read on you will know why this is the best feature).
{Time-sucking good time since 07-18-2011}
I spent a lot of time the past few nights just deciding what that layout will be (which is actually a smart way to go about it since there are like dozens of possible configurations). I decided on giving each kid 6 full pages in the book, starting with a page with their name and number and a great tight shot of them hitting. There will be candids and tons of action shots, and since each kid excels at a different type of action (one is a pitcher, the other is great at sliding, etc), their collage pages will reflect that. I plan to take more pictures next weekend, including a family shot of each kid and have left spaces to drop that in there. And the last page in their 6 will be one great parting shot of them with a funny, inspirational or encouraging quote from baseball's greatest stars. I even found a post that I wrote two years ago about things that I hoped the boys learned through baseball and tweaked that to fill the first two introductory pages.
After late (late, LATE) last night I have all the templates set up, have started on at least half the kids and finished about 4 of them. I am up to 80 pages currently, with the potential for more when I add in some group shots, a page for the little sisters and brothers (and older ones, too), and the coaches. 
Sounds like I have a great plan, right? 
I should have known something was up when I went to download the *Free* and *User-friendly* software and was told there was not enough room on my hard drive to accommodate it. Uh-oh. So I removed somethings that were just taking up space, and had the computer do something that compressed things.
Everything worked fine...until I went to upload the photos. Seems I crashed the first book that I set up. Looks like you can't upload all eleventy-bazillion pictures at once. Okay, good to know. That was when I shifted gears and went with the layouts first, pictures second approach.
That seemed to work okay. But then it would get hung up on one picture or one upload and I would walk away for 20 minutes. And if I tried to use the internet and Word at the same time, the whole system would shut down. (And I was ordering shoes like these  and two dresses like those for my upcoming 25th class reunion...important stuff people!)

(Yes, I bought two pairs of shoes and two dresses for one night. But the red one - that I really want - is backordered so it might be saved for another day. :-(
And don't get me started on the nightmare that is Norton with their automatic updates that kick in at midnight on my computer and ask me to install some Dell Resource CD every time (not supposed to happen but can't process unless I click cancel 16 times and then Norton's interface pops up as if I want to watch it tick through the process and as if I understand all the gobbledy-gook that it says I need to have 'repaired', and for the record I have gone through their customer "service", which by the way is completely outsourced and their solution was to give me even more days to this hell - needless to say I will NOT be renewing, but that won't come up until sometime in 2013).
So I sat with my eyes blurring over at about 12:30. And ultimately I had to force quit becuase the Norton running interfered with the BookSmart running and locked up the internet.
How I managed to get as far as I did is a mystery. And I can't wait to get back to *Free* and *User-friendly* project tonight!
But hey, I do like the results that I am getting. I am not ready to give up (I don't give up that easilty) and I am determined to beat this thing into submission (I am also tenacious if not stubborn). And hopefully next time I will have a link to a Blurb BookShow to share the entire book with you online!
So now it is your turn...
What has frustrated you the most lately?
How do you deal with frustration? Does it make you give up? Or does it make you dig your heels in deeper and spur you to beat it?


Brandi Hussey said...

Ugh, my friend, I'm so sorry! I get frustrated when things don't work the way they are supposed to. Booksmart is NOT supposed to work like that, no ma'am.

Chin up, though! I know you can do it. I did two massive Blurb books in a week - craziness, yes. But it got done!

JeannieK said...

What you going to do with the book when it's finished? It's going to be a lot of work, but nothing you can't handle. Whip It, Whip Good!

Whew, glad you did not get blown away by the storm. Sounds like straight line winds.

Frustration is waste of energy.

JeannieK said...

P.S. I'm really diggin the black dress. That would beautiful on you with your dark hair and eyes.

Pearl and Pebble said...

Well first congrats on even attempting this! Those update pop-ups make me beyond crazy because on top of being a nuisance, I just don't speak the langage so I can't tell what is dire and what isn't. How to handle frustration varies for me. As it turns out I crrently have a box of bon bons in the fridge and if I eat three pieces at one sitting, the beast can be tamed.

Kim Stevens said...

How ironic that both of our posts today deal with frustration. I am like you, determined to find a way. Don't give up on blurb, I have used it several times, once for a book (on my blog) and the other one just like you are doing, only mine is football. It's finished, I just haven't published it yet. You will be very happy with it!

SummersStudio said...

Well no wonder you are exhausted. If heat and outdoor activity weren't enough to do that already. The kids and their families will love the book so it's all worth it.

That storm sounds awful. I know how big and beautiful those old trees are up where you live. I always think it's quite tragic when you lose them. It changes the landscape of the familiar and comforting so much.

On the bright side, both the red and black dresses are killer. And with those shoes, you will be absolutely stunning.

Sally Anderson said...

Hi Erin -- I love making books like this and hope you're enjoying it in spite of the frustrations. Last spring I did a 100+ pager as a college graduation gift for the son of friends. I took it to Staples (after comparing prices w/ other stores) for printing and it cost more than $100 to print each copy. I don't know how you're planning to reproduce yours but thought you might like the caveat!

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

Ah, yes. The perils of the "team mother", I know them well. The only mom at every game (I have 4 kids, now grown) with a camera to her eye, team dinner after team dinner, scrapbooks created and printed for the seniors each year (and sport), team videos (first time I created one it crashed my computer 3 hours before the banquet - I managed to recreate it in safe mode with no music. The girls sang songs while it played :) , banquets, senior nights ......

I will tell you this - as stressful as it was, as many times as I bit off more than I could chew, I accomplished the tasks and did it with love and pride. My kids look back now with great appreciation and love for what their dad and I did. They fully appreciate our dedication to them.

It's so much more important now as we lost our oldest child at 19, 7 years ago. Our other three can't wait 'til they're parents and working on the same sort of projects.

Cheeseboy said...

Sorry to hear of the heartbreaking loss. Builds character for those kids though. Hope this project goes well for you. Good luck on the user friendly thing.

sandi m said...

Too funny. Last week I attempted to download pix from my camera into Word. It was a snap until I discovered that they downloaded in RAW format – so a one page Word doc with 15 pix was over 51,000 KB’s!. Talk about locking up your computer. Needless to say, I need some educating!

Are you going to THE retreat? Me, too. I’ll tell about a better way to secure your computer – for free. You do not need Norton – ever.

The book will be fabulous because of all the love, (sweat and tears), you’re putting into it. Can’t wait for the preview.

somethingunique said...

Hi Miss Erin,I'm so glad you and your family are ok, we had some pretty wicked wind come through last week too, trees uprooted and everything. I feel your frustration idk if it's my computer or what, Gaea thinks maybe my pics are too big but it takes me forever to do a post, even when i'm typing it is slow and appears several seconds after i type and when i upload pics they just have a mind of there own. I signed up for the premium package a "picnik" but i find it very overwhelming and with 2 big festivals coming up i don't really have time to play around on the computer,with school out routines are all out of wack i really miss my daily morning hop checking in with all of my blog peeps though it seem as though everyone is in the same place right now. I've been away for a week as well, just exausted after 3 days and nights in the studio with mayb 4hrs sleep total last week, all my supplies i ordered weeks b4 the strike for my festival last weekend came in all in 2 days last week Wed.& Thurs. my inventory was pretty low so i had 3 days to stock up.It went well though a big promoter that books festivals invited me to 2 of them in the next month both of them expecting crowds in excess of 250,000 people a little overwhelming as i am use to smaller ones, i'm trying not to stress myself out, i make what i can and like the guy said if i sell out, close the tent and go have some fun!!
Well take care & i have all the faith that you will work things out and your going to be a knock-out in either of those dresses and those shoes, your a beautiful women & your going to "rock" at the renuion!!!!!
take care & have a wonderful weekend ttfn Lana :)

Regina said...

Sad to hear about the extreme weather you have been experiencing, but glad to know you and family are okay. It is heartbreaking to see magnifient trees toppled, but that is nature. Hope your city plants two trees for everyone that came down. I walk away when I am frustrated and come back when I am calm and collected. Good luck with your photo book project, it is certainly not something I would attempt. My hat off to you! Have a relaxing weekend!

Mellisa said...

a) You're the best baseball momma ever!
b) Glad the tornado didn't cause any damage to your home/you.
c) Delusions of grandeur build character.
d) Hello hot tamale!! Those dresses...wowzer!
e) I am once again grateful that hubster is a tech guy...

Dawn Doucette said...

Darling Erin, If you have any hair left today after all that gobblty gook last night then kudos to you, one very strong (errr stubborn) woman!

Love the idea of the Book Blurb! How very cool. Great idea for parents or grandparents anniversary gifts too! Or Father's/Mother's Day too for that matter.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the shoes and dresses! You're such a class act! I'm completely drooling over the shoes. How adorable! Ugh, class reunions. Enough said.

Hope your weekend smiles on you with more creativity and less drama! You deserve a delightful day!


Gold Charm said...

Gorgeous shows.Often many ladies miss out this one and spoil their entire look...as much the accessories and the dress is important the shoes will lend ultimate support to tat look.

Unknown said...

Now Miss Erin WOW you blow my mind all the things you take on and yet still find time for everything else! You are a wonder to me!


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