Welcome to my mad life!

See my artworks in my professional artist site: http://www.artatheart.com.au/ and the blog is at http://artatheartoz.blogspot.com/. To check out my upcoming eBook on Art Success, go to http://www.artsuccess.info/ (it's a blog too). To see my life as a CAD Consultant and AutoCAD programmer/trainer, go to http://www.cadsource.com.au/ and the blog, with heaps of tips and tricks, is at http://cadsourceinternational.blogspot.com/. To try out our favourite food allergy recipes that are actually quite delicious, visit http://www.eatwellanyway.com/. Enjoy!


mad busy funster professional artist painter teacher author technologist mathematician CAD consultant entrepreneur investor gluten-free animal-loving nature-loving joy&serenity-seeking Ironman triathlete

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How I Got My Files, Links and Notes Organised, Centralised & Mobilised: As Easy As 1-2-3

There are vital pieces of information that I need to have access to, as well as add to, regardless of where I happen to be. Regardless of which computer I happen to be sitting at in our own network, or whether I am out on the road with my laptop, or if I am on the road with only my mobile phone, I need access to important bits of information, such as files, lists, scribbles, notes, web bookmarks etc.

After investigating a lot of different applications all around the place, I have settled on 3 lovely, useful, and mobile-able software applications (apps). The best part of all is that they are [More...]

Monday, February 7, 2011

Things About Me That Might Surprise You #2 - Training Cirque du Soleil in AutoCAD

Well guess what I really can swear quite delectably in French after training the Cirque du Soleil technical crew on site in 3D AutoCAD… they swear extremely well in English and French!!! It was the funniest training session I have ever given…

Cirque du Soleil

I trained them in one of the smaller yellow and blue tents on site, called the Technical Tent. In every room was a small closed circuit TV screen that was focussed on the main centre stage of the performance tent, where the performers would practice during the day. While our sessions happened we could watch the tiny little Chinese girls practice their juggling.

I understood a little of their French but picked up a couple of swear-words from them as well.

One French Canadian woman sat at her computer and swore and yelled at the computer every time it didn't do what she wanted it to do. She preferred swearing in English with a lovely French accent, I thought it was hilarious. She just yelled "F@#$! F@#$!" continuously at the screen, really loud. It didn't help much. The other people in the class didn't even notice.

One fellow in the class had hurt his back quite severely in an accident while doing some rope rigging on the roof of those huge high tents they have… he could hardly sit still for longer than 5 minutes with the pain in the training session, so he asked his best friend sitting next to him to use a long piece of gaffa tape on his forearm to rip out all the hair off his arm. This idea was to distract himself from the pain in his back. When his mate tore it off he yelled with delight - and it helped him - true story.

On one day I told them that with all the shenanigans we were getting a bit behind schedule with our training. Then when I got back after lunch I saw them all sitting quietly at their computers – and every one of them had taped their mouths shut with gaffa!!!!! Truly! I laughed my head off at their dedication to the teacher. More yells as they took the tape off after forgetting about facial hair etc.

Even more surprising, the company was so happy with the training in Brisbane, that they flew me down to their next location, Melbourne, to train another lot of people.

Above is a little watercolour painting I did of the view I got as I walked over to the circus site every day. The tent was situated alongside the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

GOMA Artworks moved as flood level rises

Hi there, I saw this on ABC Online and thought you might be interested: you can see photos of the water sitting all over the cultural centre...

Artworks moved as flood level rises

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Toowoomba during the flood tragedy but safe

I am at an arts retreat called McGregor Summer School from 5th - 15th January 2011. Right in the middle of the Toowoomba flood tragedy, during Australia's "inland tsunami".

Luckily we seem to be up on a bit of a ridge here at the Uni (University of Southern Queensland), so apart from moats around the building and huge puddles, potholes, mud, lashing wind and rain, we are all ok and safe.

We all had no idea what was going on for a while until we caught the news one night. The volume of water coming out of the sky constantly here means that there are torrents and puddles everywhere as it tries to drain away. Everyone’s walking around in thongs the whole time because you can’t go ten metres without having to cross water up to your ankles and then your shoes and socks would get soaked.

The only problem I've heard is that in Kate French's clay sculpture class the clay isn't drying so every now and then the sculptures are collapsing. So really we are incredibly lucky when you see the heartache going on elsewhere.

Murray's Art & Framing, the art shop that supplies all the art materials for each class every day, has a shop in the centre of Toowoomba that was caught up in that flash flood that happened. They have a photo of the water up to the eaves! And of course the b#&%$% insurance companies refuse to insure against flood so that poor small family's business is ruined. Imagine all the art materials destroyed, let alone the framing supplies and equipment and the orignal artworks sitting in the shop!

No-one can drive out of Toowoomba at the moment so if that is still the case at the end on Saturday then rumour has it they are going to let us stay on at the college (rather than sleeping in the car!!!) I have no idea how long I will be stuck here.

Phil is stuck at home at Rancho Relaxo, dry, but the suburb of Bellbowrie is surrounded by water and the only shops inside have gone under. He is without food supplies and power's off for 5 days so luckily there are nice neighbour friends with food & generators!

POSTSCRIPT 16 Jan 2011:

Today I got out of Toowoomba and got home safely, and the 10 new (wet) oil paintings got home safely too. Bellbowrie is no longer water locked and we can get to the shops, and we have power. It is lovely to have the little family all back together again. Little burmese furball Gaia is so happy to see me again that she is miaowing and running up and down the full length of the house now that her play friend is back, I am sure if she knew how to she would wag her tail.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Backups, Notes, Tablets and Dragons

An author friend of mine recently told me that he had lost all the files he had been working on over the Christmas holidays, when one of his computers had a failure and his USB drive became corrupted while working with it on a second machine.

What surprised me to hear was that the USB drive was holding the only copy he had of all his latest writing. In the process he lost a major work, plus hundreds of articles that were sitting waiting to be used.

What I do with my most important files is to have them in three places: on the C: drive I am working on, plus two external backup drives, solid brand ones such as Seagate or Western Digital, one in an off-site fire-proof safe and one always plugged in to the machine for regular automatic weekly backups. The two backup drives are switched over monthly. That way I always have at least two copies of each file, so that if a drive dies I am only a few days out of information (since the last automatic weekly backup). In the worst case scenario if there is a fire or theft and my two current desktop drives are lost, then I have the backup in the fireproof safe, which may be on average 2 weeks out of date (at worst 1 month).

I have a backup drive for each machine, and automatic backups set to Thu at 5pm on all machines. (you can also set the backups to daily if you want).

I never rely on little USB drives for the master copy of my data as I personally believe they are too unreliable, and are too easily lost. They are so cheap, I worry about the quality control of the factories churning them out in some of those countries. I just use them for temporary backups or temporary transfers between machines.

I have set up the Windows automatic backup on my Windows 7 machines so it backs up every Thurs at 5pm. I investigated the software under Windows 7 operating system and it is very good for both backups and retrieval, as well as being able to browse your backed up files and only retrieve a single file etc, so we’ve standardised on that now. I was previously using PDF 995 but I no longer use that since the Microsoft backup seems very good now.

Our accounting system books is manually backed up to a USB drive at the end of each mass entry session by the bookkeeper, as well as the standard backups.

My precious photos are not deleted from my camera until there is at least two copies on my drives somewhere.

If you need to work on several machines then there is a fantastic piece of software that I discovered recently that they have added into the Microsoft Office Suite called OneNote. It’s a bit like Word except you can paste almost anything into it, like pictures, screenshots, web pages, web links, even whole files, anything. It’s fantastic for authors, researchers, creatives, anyone.

The reason I mention it is that it has an amazing feature that it will synchronise between several machines. I have one set of Notebooks, and I can open them up on any machine (so long as they are networked) and they automatically synchronise with the latest version that I modified on another machine. The synchronising works even if the machines are disconnected (offline) from each other. Each machine keeps its own copy so that you can work on just one or the other and let them synchronise later any time you like.

OneNote is my number one favourite piece of software these days, I use it far more than Word, Excel, anything. It has decreased the piles of paper all over my desk and the best thing is I can find things much faster than I ever used to be able to with the swamp of paper, because it has a great search facility. Best of all, everything is being backed up - so one less thing to think about if there is a fire or flood!

I’m currently synchronising a set of notebooks for work, play, tech tips, writing, art and everything, across 3 machines – my big desktop, my laptop tablet PC, and my little mini netbook that I do most of my daily writing in. Check it out! It comes with the Microsoft Home Office pack that you can buy for an amazingly low price for several licenses. I originally got onto OneNote because I do lots of handwriting scribbling on my tablet PC. So now I don’t need to have a pad of paper at my desk all the time – just my tablet PC!

Also my hubby has just installed Dragon Naturally Speaking (because he hates typing) and it looks amazingly good. You just speak the words and the typing appears on the screen. In any program you might be using, such as Word, Outlook etc. It's very fast.


Monday, November 8, 2010

The mad paving marathon is finished at Rancho Relaxo

Last circle finished
Originally uploaded by JacquelineHill
We are doing a ridiculously out of control lot of renovations to our property on acreage at Bellbowrie, on the western outskirts of Brisbane.

We decided that we didn't want to look at asphalt from all the front windows of the house, that an arty paving design would be nicer to look at. So Phil (hubby landscaper) and I came up with this circular design and drew it all up in AutoCAD with dimensions.

It took several months, 7 full pallets of pavers, mountains of concrete, several sets of kneepads, and Phil wore all the fingerprints off his hands in the process. We have photos of all the stages along the way in the Flickr page :
- if you click on the set at the RHS called The Mad Paving Marathon, you can see all the photos.

Monday, November 1, 2010

National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo

After being inspired to write every day by http://www.750words.com/, I am launching on my quest to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of November. This is an international event that has been going a few years, check out http://www.nanowrimo.org/.

I have always wanted to write a book, but have not known where on earth to start. I remember as a child dreaming up plots of science fiction stories. Once I wrote an 8 page story as part of an English class exercise in early high school, I remember not meaning to write so many pages, but I got carried away with the story and couldn't stop.  The teacher was shocked at how good the story was and gave me a big red A++ for the mark. It was a complete surprise to me!

As an adult the urge has never left, but I have never known what on earth to write about (in fiction anyway).  I thought it would be nice to write children's books and then illustrate them.

In 2008 I scribbled some charcoal on a blank canvas, thanks to the great art teacher Donald James Waters, and ended up dreaming up a story as I was drawing. I finished up creating a mad Storybook painting called "The Spooking of the Blarts". The Storybook paintings, which have a whole story written and illustrated onto the one canvas, have now become a series (you can see these in my gallery) and will end up in a book. They always start with "Once upon a time in a place light years away..." and they are a lot of mad, silly fun that adults and children both enjoy.

So I found a way to have the creative ideas for my books, by starting with some art!!! Quite the opposite of what I thought (writing and then illustrating!), but it works beautifully.

The novel I have been inspired to write this month is along similar lines, but with a madcap heroine riding an organic self-healing mindreading spaceship containing a moody creative Auto-Chef automatic food-manifestation system that is prone to tears. Kat is on a search and rescue mission to find her mysteriously kidnapped best friend Zask.

I need to write 1667 words per day to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. Luckily I just taught myself touch typing in August so it's getting easier and faster to write almost at the rate my mind churns stuff out than it was before!!! I am sort-of-touch-typing currently up to about 30-40wpm, so not too bad.

This month coincides with my annual Christmas art exhibition (see http://www.artatheart.com.au/) so my daily routine starts with writing for a couple of hours followed by a full day in the gallery.

I can't believe my luck in finding such an ideal life, really, sometimes I have to pinch myself.

Postscript Dec 2010:

Not a bad start for my first year... I have definitely got into the daily writing habit, and have a good feel of what it's like to write in bulk!

At the end of November I managed to make it to about 42,500 words (the NaNo website was clagged up on the last day so I couldn't update the number). I didn't make it to the 50,000 but I did pretty well for the first go at it. The book is really fun, I've renamed it 'Kat and the SpaceBlaster'. I plan to finish the 50,000 words in December and then start editing.