What I’m Up To

Maria Speaks Episode 24: What I’m Up To.

This short podcast brings listeners up to date on what I’ve been up to since my podcast suddenly stopped in November, along with a repeat of my pledge to keep coming up with new podcasts weekly.


I promised a new podcast every week and I’m trying hard to deliver. This week, I’ll bring everyone up to date on the things I’ve been up to. Of course, there are always more details in my blog at www.aneclecticmind.com.

I promise I’ll try not to bore you.

Work in Progress

About a month ago, I started working on a new book for Peachpit Press called WordPress 2: Visual QuickStart Guide. I’m working with a co-author on the project, Miraz Jordan. Miraz lives in New Zealand, where it’s always tomorrow. I’m recording this on a Sunday evening and, at this very moment, Miraz is probably hard at work on a Monday afternoon. I think it’s kind of unfair that she gets an extra day on the deadline. Or is that one less day? Too much sangria this afternoon to think it out properly.

WordPress, for those of you who don’t know, is my current blogging platform of choice. I started using it late last year and quickly fell in love with it. Since then, I’ve sucked down all the information I could about it and I think it’s safe to say that I experiment with it daily. I love its flexibility most of all — the ability to build all kinds of features into a blog-based Web site and to have it look just about any way you like. But I felt I needed a seasoned expert to help me write the book, so that’s why I asked Miraz to join me. She’s been using the software for years and has over a thousand entries in her blog at mactips.info. Check it out.

My other current writing project is actually a DVD training video for macProVideo.com. It’s about Microsoft Word for Macintosh and, if I can figure out how to narrate while I’m performing tasks without sounding like an idiot, I might get it done sometime soon. I know that writing a script for each segment isn’t the way. I quickly discovered that I can’t read a script and perform tasks at the same time.

Computer Woes

If you follow my blog, you know that I had a series of computer problems this past winter.

First, my main production Mac’s hard disk got scrambled and required professional help to bring back from the near-dead. I backed everything up, reformatted that drive, and reinstalled everything.

Reformatting my main hard drive is a maintenance task I used to do every time I upgraded to a new version of the system software. Mac OS X’s time-consuming installations and hidden preference files made it a bit of a chore, though, so I stopped.

Reformatting and rebuilding a hard disk is like a massive spring cleaning. Imagine taking all the furniture out of your home, stripping out the carpet and tile, sandblasting the walls and floor, and putting brand new versions of everything you had back in. The benefit is that when you’re done, everything is right where you put it, all in one piece and easy to find. You also throw out a lot of junk you didn’t really need.

Moving is like that, too. You throw away stuff when you pack, you move the boxes you packed, and then you throw more stuff away when you arrive in your new place. Sometimes I think you should unpack at your old home just so you can throw away the second time without moving it first.

The second computer problem was way more serious. My Web server’s hard disk crashed. (There must have been something in the electricity this past winter.) The drive was a complete goner. And, of course, the DVD drive in that computer was already toasted. So I had both replaced and rebuilt the Web server from scratch using whatever backups I had.

Of course, I didn’t have everything backed up. This was my third hard disk crash since 1989 and you think that by now I’d learn. I didn’t. My two WordPress blogs (aneclecticmind.com and wickenburg-az.com) had their databases backed up — thank heaven! — but the theme files, plugins, and other stuff that makes up a WordPress blog had not been backed up. Neither were a bunch of the image files. Because the themes were so heavily customized (due to all that experimentation I bragged about earlier), it took a lot of rebuilding to get it back to what I wanted to see. wickenburg-az.com is still not 100% back — it’s missing lots of pictures.

It’s kind of weird because I was never really happy with my first version of aneclecticmind.com, but I’d put so much work into it that I wasn’t willing to change it. Then all that work got wiped away, as if my computer sensed my dissatisfaction and wanted to prod me into fixing it. So when I rebuilt, I made it more to my liking. I’m much more pleased with the current site. But I really wish my computer hadn’t taken so much with it.

Miraz and I will be covering backup strategies for WordPress blogs in detail in our book — or on its companion Web site. I don’t want any of my readers to go through what I went through. What a waste of time!


I’ve also been flying. A lot.

March was my busiest month ever at Flying M Air and I actually earned enough money to pay the helicopter loan for the next two months. I did charters to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, photo shoots at proving grounds and golf courses, real estate tours, and a charter to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. (Helicopter Zero-Mike-Lima, there’s an airbus on short final for runway 7 left. Do you have him in sight? Sure. I’d have to be blind not to see him.) All that and the usual round of 25 minute and 50 minute tours.

March was also a record breaking month in a bad way. In one week, two different passengers broke my record of no pukers in my helicopter. One of them puked in my lunch bag. (Watch the leather seats and the carpet! Move the microphone away from your mouth!) They were both kids, so I can still tell people that I’ve never had an adult puke in the helicopter. And I have a new policy: no flights over 1 hour long with kids on board.

Yesterday, I flew more than 90 people at an airport event in Buckeye, AZ. So I have June’s loan payment taken care of, too. Looks like I’ll be able to keep the helicopter a few more months.

I even flew today — two flights totaling an hour and a half. Where are these people coming from? And where the hell were they in January and February? And will they stay long enough to take me through the long, hot summer?

Listener Feedback

I got one bit of listener feedback recently from Justin. Or maybe it was Jason. I’m sorry. I accidently deleted your e-mail. Justin or Jason got a new iPod Nano and wants some iPod tips. I want some, too. I’ll have to look some up, put together a podcast, and record it for us. Until then, I recommend doing a Google search for something like iPod tips. I did it and found a bunch of sites. Unfortunately, I’m not prepared to comment on their quality.

If you have feedback about this podcast or my podcasts in general, send them to me at mariaspeaks@mac.com. I’ll try not to delete it before I commit your name to medium-term memory. I do take requests for topics. As Justin or Jason has learned, I don’t always get right to the request topic, but I eventually get there. This just hasn’t been the best week for thinking about new things. Too much old stuff to think about.

Thanks for listening. More next week.

What do you think?