Aby-a-Day – 13 Februari: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking (Silly Singapura Saturday)

The other day, I looked over and saw Izaak licking my laptop.

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It was perfectly clean. Nothing at all lick-worthy there.

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I have no idea.

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And it wasn’t just one or two licks. He licked my laptop for a good five minutes.

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Why, Zak? Just…why?

Aby-a-Day – 8 Februari: Izaak remembers Pat (Hipstamatic Monday)

On Saturday, there was a Zoom memorial for our friend Pat, who died suddenly last week. Björn and I both attended (never Zoomed before, so that was interesting), and it was quite lovely. Interestingly, Izaak also attended. It was like he knew an important Singapura person had passed away and wanted to be there, too.

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Zak wasn’t the only Singapura at the memorial. You can’t see him in the photo because of the lighting, but one of the last boys Pat bred, Zain, was also there. It seems Zak was amused that Zain was there, but squirming and not sitting nicely like him.

Aby-a-Day – 14 & 15 November 2020: Learning curve (Serious Saturday and Sunday)

Okay, so the new laptop arrived on Friday. I spent the rest of the day and part of yesterday transferring data from the old MacBook Pro to the new one.

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Problem is, I had to upgrade the system. I don’t have a choice; there’s a Magic Keyboard that I don’t think will work with the older software. However, I must say, the thing is wicked cool. The functions you have change depending on which application you’re using. In Facebook, you get predictive text like on the iPhone. Listening to music on iTunes, you have the play, pause and skip functions. And in photo apps, you get controls for whatever you’re doing.

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Also, no need for passwords; there’s a Touch ID button so you can log into everything with your index finger.

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However…I am absolutely bereft without Photoshop. I did everything I could find to work around it…to no avail. I have been using Photoshop since…1997, I think. I can do everything so reflexively…Why, Adobe, why?!

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Well, I absolutely do NOT want to pay $20.99 a month for a subscription. So I’ve been investigating other apps that have very high ratings. I’ve downloaded a couple of trial apps. The first one I tried was Acorn. It is highly rated, especially for Macs, and it’s only $29.99. It’s pretty nice…but I couldn’t figure out how to do simple tone, colour and contrast corrections (the things that are so easy to do in Photoshop). I’ll go back later and play with it. The other one I am trying is Affinity Photo, which is a LOT easier to figure out. It’s much more similar to Photoshop, and it can open .psd files. I can also import all my special brushes into both Acorn and Affinity, which is awesome. It’s $49.99…but it seems worth it (and, okay, it’s a lot less expensive than Photoshop was).

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As a bonus, in learning about these two apps (and another one, Affinity Designer, which looks interesting), I discovered I can also import my brushes into Procreate. That means no more having to finish drawings in Photoshop…I may just be able to do everything on the iPad now.

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Still, I really want Photoshop back. I have a lot of work and research to do in the next ten days.

Aby-a-Day – 5 March: “Night” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Night.”

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Every night, Björn and I talk to each other on FaceTime. Sometimes Jacoby joins us.

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He loves to hang out while we just spend time together. And one of his favourite things to do is rub up against the edge of the screen.

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Jake and Tessie both love to rub their jaws against the corner of the screen especially. Sometimes they also bite it, so I’d like to warn everyone who has a MacBook Pro with a Retina screen that they are NOT impervious to cat teeth. They have left bitemarks on my screen! Actual bite marks! So be very careful. I’m actually getting a screen protector to help keep them from damaging it any more. I haven’t had a chance to put it on yet (that is another story entirely, which I will eventually tell), so I can’t vouch for it personally, but it has pretty decent reviews on Amazon.

The people at the Apple Store had no idea that the screens were softer than cats’ teeth though, so I thought I’d let you all know. This has been a public service announcement. 🙂

Aby-a-Day – February 3: Wordless Wednesday (Facetime with Björn)

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Aby-a-Day – December 16: Wordless Wednesday (So…this happened)

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Aby-a-Day – December 15: Lust in my heart (Cartoon Tuesday)

Over the weekend, I had to go to the Apple Store on Boylston Street. While I was there, I had an awesome and fun conversation with two Apple Store guys, Max and Dan. We had an absolute blast talking about everything – especially cats.

At one point in our chat, Max took me over to see the new iPad Pro. Now, I just got an iPad last year, and I really can’t afford one now…but oh…there’s more to it than just the iPad itself. There’s the Pencil that goes with it. And Max also showed me a sweet little app by Adobe called Photoshop Sketch. He quickly showed me how it worked, and then invited me to try it out.

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So, of course I drew Jacoby. Max was impressed, but as you all know, I’ve been drawing cats for a few years now.

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Then, Max had me do a quick watercolour background. Neat thing about watercolours in Sketch: the pigment will spread, just like on paper, unless you turn on this little fan and dry it out.

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Once we had Jake and the background, Max showed me how to put them together…in Pages, a word processing program that reminded me a LOT of my old friend

Aby-a-Day – October 25: Have WiFi, Will Facetime (Selfie Sunday)

The MBTA Commuter Rail system is not the greatest in the world, and its infrastructure could use an overhaul…but it does have free WiFi on most trains.

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So, on the way home from the NEMO show last week, Jacoby and I FaceTimed with Björn while we rode the rail.

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FaceTime is a huge part of our relationship. I shudder to think what we would do without it. Thank you, Roberto Garcia.

Aby-a-Day – September 3: Finishing touches

I finished the iMac cat bed back in April, but it wasn’t really finished.

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It was definitely cat-bed ready…

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But there was still this huge gaping hole in the side where the I/O port and door once was.

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I had the keyboard, and the hockey puck mouse…

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…And I found a replacement I/O panel to fill the hole.

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And as good as that looked, it still didn’t look as good as it would it it had the original door, which would restore the iMac to its full native egg-shaped glory.

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It turns out, that I/O port door is a rare and sought-after item. Apparently, back in the day, these things were wont to fall off and get lost, so they’re kind of hard to find. Somehow, after a LOT of searching all over the world, I found Herb’s RetroTechnology Stuff and he had a deadstock, still-in-the-original-factory-packaging I/O port door with a Bondi blue porthole for sale at a reasonable price. He actually had more than one!

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Oh, what fun it was to peruse Herb’s shop! And then, ordering…well, it was like a trip back in time to 1997, when you used to pay for things you’d won on eBay with a money order, and your purchase wouldn’t ship until the seller received the payment! Good times! And, appropriate to the period of the iMac I was semi-restoring.

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And look how great it looks with the door!

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I love the porthole for the cables.

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I wanted to attach the keyboard and mouse semi-permanently – at least, I wanted the as attached as they’d be on a real computer. Since there was no real USB ports to plug the cable into, I just threaded it through the I/O port where it would have attached.

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Then I used cable holders inside the iMac to fasten the cables. I know it doesn’t really affect the usability of the cat bed as a bed, but I like it.

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I made a cushion for the bed with “Plug and Play” fabric by Robert Kaufman.

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My first bed wasn’t great, but Angel liked it.

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I had read some articles about making a washable pet mattress using shredded old clothes as stuffing, so I tried that.

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It was rather dense and somewhat lumpy, but it still seemed to make a pretty good bed.

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Or so I thought…stay tuned.

Aby-a-Day – September 2: Wordless Wednesday (“You call that a mouse…?!”)

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Aby-a-Day – August 31: Think different (Miniature Monday)

While searching the internet for parts to restore the iMac cat bed to mint condition (sans innards), I discovered the most wonderful thing: a miniature iMac!

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Well, of course I had to get one. Turns out, it was pretty easy to modify, too. The screen came right out with a minimum of hassle – much easier than the real one!

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It also just so happens to be the perfect size for the Elleo Jacoby ball jointed doll.

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I even made a little cushion for it…just like the big one!

Aby-a-Day – July 4: “Time” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Time.”

“Time,” said Ford Prefect“is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” Apparently so is the timing of posts on my blog as of late. I have been, as you all know, rather preoccupied in recent weeks, as evidenced by the rather spotty posting on this blog. Don’t worry, there will still be an “Aby-a-Day,” but the days may be scrambled, or they’ll all come in a bunch. However, there will still be a daily post, so at the end of the year you’ll get your required 365 posts 🙂

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One reason for all this is that my computer has been tied up on FaceTime quite a lot, and I’ve not been able to work on new photographs. Never fear, faithful readers, I will make time and get back to the regular, daily posts.

Aby-a-Day – April 20: Someone is sleeping in my bed! (Miniature Monday)

Look who’s sleeping in the iMac bed!

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Like most new cat beds, it’s been out a week, and no one has been seen sleeping in it yet…except for mini-Jacoby.

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Oh, NOW someone else is interested in it!

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Jacoby really didn’t seem to know what to do about his Mini-Me being in the bed.

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Not that he really wanted to sleep in it.

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He just didn’t want anyone else to be in there.

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Even if it was (sort of) him!

(Also please note Jake’s rear foot in that last photo – if I was to draw a cat with a foot like that, it would look so wrong…and yet, there it is!)

Aby-a-Day – April 16: I think, therefore iMac

When the iMac first came out, with its pretty colours and its friendly round shape, I really wanted one. But when I needed a new computer in 1998, my dad offered to sell me his old Macbook (which, while not as pretty or colourful, was a better computer, and it was a laptop rather than a desktop and therefore more portable), so I ended up never getting one.

However, with people on Etsy making and selling cat beds made from gutted iMac cases, I finally had my chance to finally get an iMac. The finished cat beds were a bit pricey, especially with shipping, though, but hey: I have an art degree! I can make one all by myself. I just needed to find a dead iMac to cannibalise first.

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I had been discussing iMac cat beds with my friend Barb (who lives with the lovely blue-cream torbie Aby Sky), and she happened to come across a 1998 Bondi Blue iMac G3 while at a thrift store. She snagged it for me and gave it to me last August at the NEMO cat show. Since then, it’s been sitting in a corner of the living room, waiting for me to get up the nerve to tackle dismantling it.

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Okay, so now that I have the iMac, where to start? I had found some instructions online that explained the process, but apparently they were for a different iMac G3 than mine. The instructions told me to start by unscrewing two screws at the top…but I only had one screw at the bottom. Okay, so I had the wrong instructions as a guide, but I could figure this out…

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I also pretty much ignored all the warnings about dissipating electricity from the CRT (I also didn’t have this link until just now). However, I knew that it hadn’t been plugged in for a very long time. Before Barb was able to get it to me, she’d had it about a year not plugged in, and the person she got it from also hadn’t turned it on for at least a year. Add the 8 months I’d had it, and it had been a non-electrified doorstop for almost three years. I figured it was pretty safe.

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So I got to work. Instructions or no, once you get going it’s pretty much intuition. Interestingly, however, the information I found when I Googled “iMac G3 Cat Bed” was much more helpful than than I’d found when searching for “iMac G3 How To Take Apart!”

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The pieces just naturally came apart in a specific order. The fact that the iMac is translucent helped the dismantling process a lot because you can actually see where the screws are. You just need to suss out how to get to them. This would have been a lot harder on an opaque machine.

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It’s pretty amazing what you can two with only two screwdrivers, determination, and brute strength. Putting it back together was much easier – basically just the opposite of taking it apart.

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On this particular model of iMac, the CD drive was a tray rather than just a slot, and it was attached to the metal guts rather than to the plastic casing (Evidently, this makes it a rarer model, since Apple only made iMacs with tray-loading CD drives from August 1998 to October 1999 – all the other iMacs had slot drives). Unless I wanted a hole in the front, I needed to figure out a way to stick the door back in. So I used silver-grey Sugru, a moldable glue that turns into rubber when cured. I basically filled in the space between the case and the door with Sugru. While I was at it, I also filled in the earphone and microphone jack holes with bits of Sugru too, just to make it look nice.

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Without the guts to weigh down the case, the round shape was unsteady, and the built in folding kickstand thing wasn’t enough to keep it from rolling around. What I needed was some little legs to hold it up. I thought about it for a few minutes and then went and dug out these pretty plastic corks with plastic tops I’d saved because, dammit, someday they’d come in handy!

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And look, someday they did! They make perfect legs for the iMac bed. I stuck them on with some black and white Sugru mixed together. I was hoping for a lighter grey…

(As a side note, that hole in the bottom side of the iMac is where all the USB and other ports were, and apparently, once upon a time, it had a little door to cover it. This seems to have been lost over the past 17 years, but I was able to find a replacement online, and I should have it tomorrow!)

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Unfortunately, even when cured, the Sugru wasn’t strong enough to hold the legs on when the iMac was right side up. You can see the left leg already starting to give way. I’d need to reinforce the legs to make them stronger. Okay…back to the drawing board.

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I cut away the Sugru holding the legs on, but left the base I’d built. Then I found two wood screws that would fit through the ventilation holes on the iMac.

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The screws I found were longer than my corks, so I found another plastic wine cork (without a decorative knob) that had been saved as a cat toy and cut two slices from it to lengthen the legs to fit my screws.

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I also couldn’t find any washers that would work. So I cut two circles out of thick black leather and made my own washers. Also, if you look in the back, there’s a knob of silver Sugru. The first screw had nothing to screw into once the guts were removed (it screwed into the metal), so I stuck it in at the top with some Sugru and then built a Sugru base for it on the inside. That should hold it.

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Once I had my cork-knob legs and the cork extenders screwed in, I covered them with blue and yellow Sugru mixed together to make green. This started as a way to fill the gap between the two corks and help to anchor the base to the iMac…but it evolved into a way of making the legs a solid colour and making them look more like they were meant to be a part of the iMac bed.

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While I was smoothing the Sugru, I got the idea to decorate the legs, so…

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…I dug out these little cat-face stamps from CatHands on Etsy that I bought ages ago for making silver clay bracelets. The faces were small enough that I was able to fit all four on each leg. Stamping the faces on also hides the bits I wasn’t able to get perfectly smooth.

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Here are the finished legs. They should hold even the heaviest kitty now! And they have cute little cat faces on them.

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For now, I just put a random cat bed into the iMac, but I’m going to make a custom-fitted cushion using this fabric which will be stuffed with old shredded T-shirts to make it washable. But it’s done enough for now, so I showed the finished bed to Angel first.

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She seemed a little trepidatious at first but quickly settled in.

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See Angel? It’s pretty comfy, right?

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Then I showed it to Jacoby. He wasted no time in stepping inside and making himself comfortable.

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Jake approves of the new bed!

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Please also note that I kept the original keyboard (which is attached to the iMac case by threading the cord through open holes in the back). Cats like sleeping on keyboards, so might as well keep it. I also need to find one of the original “hockey puck” iMac mice to complete the ensemble – this machine came with an Apple “Pro” Mouse which doesn’t match as nicely (plus, it still works)!

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I wonder who is going to “own” this cat bed?

Aby-a-Day – October 26: Cats use laptops too, they just type with their butts

As I’ve mentioned before, Angel really loves sitting on my laptop.

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If I don’t remember to close it, Angel will sit on it. She’s messed up a lot of my settings (once she changed accessibility preferences and I had enormous text that kept speaking to me – it took me two days to figure out how to turn that off), and she’s even managed to reorganise my desktop icons.

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And I know she’s not the only one; there’s an entire website devoted to cats on laptops.

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While I wish Angel wouldn’t sit on my laptop when it’s open, I know it’s my own damn fault for forgetting to close it. And at least she doesn’t barf on it, the way my Siamese Harri used to do. So it could be worse.

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Still…bathing on my open laptop seems a bit much.

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I fell asleep on the sofa and forgot to close the laptop…and woke up to Angel taking a full-on bath all over my keyboard.

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She was really going at it, too.

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This was a serious bath…

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…she was even doing the biting thing with what’s left of her little front teeth.

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There wasn’t much I could do about it…so I did what any cat owner would do. I grabbed my camera and documented the scene thoroughly.

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She was also completely unrepentant.

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I swear she’s actually smiling in this photo.

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“What?”

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“Oh, well, back to it, then…”