Communica­tion is key: Giving the hard sell on “soft skills”

(Cross-posted from Medium.)

A row of women seated in front of what appears to be an enormous telephone switchboard

Today at school we got an hourlong presentation on using LinkedIn effectively, which ended with a summary slide of statements we were to evaluate as true or false. One of these was “You should add soft skills to your skills,” and the “correct” answer seemed to be, more or less, false. My hand shot up, and I said that well, actually, soft skills are extremely important in tech, as they are everywhere, and that if you’re an excellent programmer who can’t communicate with other people, nobody with any sense is going to want you on their team.

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Getting to know you…🎶

(Cross-posted from Medium.)

Nice dress, Julie.

Tomorrow is my first day in the immersive curriculum of the Grace Hopper Academy full-stack JavaScript “bootcamp,” (as opposed to the part-time, remote portion, which has been going on since April), and we’ve been asked to write a blog post introducing ourselves to our classmates and anyone else who happens to stumble in.
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Note to self: Keeping my new inkjet printer alive

Back in October, I company-ized myself into an LLC, and on the advice of my travel guru Gil Saunders, I got a credit card that will give me 30,000 airline mileage points if I spend $1,000 on it within the first 90 days. So then, hmmmmmmmmm, what can my business spend $1,000 on, to get me half a trip to Paris?

Well, shifting my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription to annual and putting it on the card took care of more than half the challenge. :/

And then I replaced my inkjet printer, which—like every other inkjet I’ve ever owned—had died of infrequent use.

As anyone who’s owned an inkjet knows, if you don’t use it often enough, the heads dry up. Then you end up having to run the head-cleaning utility all the time, which wastes a lot of ink, and you have to replace the ink cartridges all the time, which wastes a lot more. And since printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on the planet, wasting it is baaaaad. Besides which, eventually those underused nozzles get permanently gummed up, and the machine stops working altogether.
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Note to Self: Transcribing Podcasts

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, and I wanted to try making transcripts of one series, because, well, podcasts are a terrible way to store any information that you actually want to retrieve. And then a friend on Twitter was lamenting about how the process of transcription sucks, and another Twitter friend pointed out glitchdigital/video-transcriber, and I decided to try it.
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Degristling the sausage: BBEdit 11 Edition

Women in uniforms standing at long tables, handling sausages.

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called “Degristling the sausage” to explain my method of using BBEdit to get a list of which CSS classes are actually applied in a given EPUB file, out of the sometimes hundreds that are included in the stylesheet. Apparently I’m not the only person who needs to do this sort of thing, because that post has stayed in the top four pages on this site ever since, and clever people keep linking to it.

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One hour and eleven minutes of me trying not to swear

The awesome Laura Dawson invited me to do a webinar on the basics of book design, as part of a series for Bowker’s SelfPublishedAuthor.com. Our kindly hosts/co-presenters at Data Conversion Laboratory have posted a video of the session, so now you can follow along with bated breath as I try to remember not to say “fuck” for more than an hour.1 Can she do it? Watch the video to find out!

Because the video is video and my slides are about fiddly details, I’ve made my segment of the presentation into a PDF, so you can see what I’m talking about: “Making Beautiful Books” webinar slides (2 MB)
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  1. Yes, my portion of the presentation ran about fifteen minutes too long, because I hadn’t timed it beforehand and couldn’t see my system clock while screen-sharing the slides from PowerPoint. Sorry, Allan. []

Manually editing ruby on Chinese characters in InDesign

WARNING: The following is exceedingly geeky, but I’m posting it here so that six months from now, when I’ve utterly forgotten how I did this, I can look it up. And who knows? Maybe someone else will want to know how to do this, too. Or will want to tell me I’ve been doing it all wrong.

Although the Chinese-owned publishing company where I now am managing editor mostly produces English-only books, occasionally I do have to deal with Chinese characters in InDesign. This week, I started working on a series of dual-language poetry books that were previously published in China, and I want to rework these into a single parallel-text edition for U.S. readers, particularly students. Fortunately, the Chinese edition was set in InDesign—this is not always the case—so I’m able to rework the files we received from the original publisher.
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Castoff Calculator

Wang 700 Advanced Programmable Calculator

Yesterday at work I was generating price breakdowns for a bunch of POD printing situations, doing it the old-fashioned way by dedicating a separate chunk of a spreadsheet to each variation, when it occurred to me that maybe it would be easier to set up a dynamic calculator for these scenarios in Python, which I’ve been studying on and off (mostly off) for a while now.

Then it occurred to me that I might not even have to leave the comfort of my spreadsheet, since most such applications include functions for calculating and doing other useful things. I rarely use anything more complex than =sum(), but I know the other stuff exists. Mostly I needed to be able to set up conditional behavior, so as long as there was an if/then function . . .
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What stupid is

illustration of four cats, one of which is wearing a dunce cap

I was sitting on my couch hoarding a “Sharing Size” box of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies and clicking and re-clicking “x new Tweets” this evening, when I was rescued by a friend who was having some technical difficulty with an e-book she was building. A few of our Twitter friends made suggestions on how to troubleshoot the issue, and I did, too, but to no avail. I asked to see the file, she e-mailed it, and not only did the file also crash on my machine, but it caused a seemingly permanent crash-on-launch issue with Adobe Digital Editions, the application we were trying to view it in. I use ADE every day, as I borrow a shocking quantity of e-books from the New York and Brooklyn public libraries, so this was not a crash I could just ignore.
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