Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bump in the Road

So, here's the news about Useful Hymns, which has the unfortunate acronym UH. You were expecting by now to get the news that it was publicly available, right? Well, if you cared one way or another, that is.

It was darn close. I had the permission from the copyright owners of two previously published hymn texts to reprint the hymns with my original tunes. I had the proof copy in my hands, and was ready to make the final corrections before uploading the final document to Lulu and changing its status from "private" to "public." It would only have been a matter of a couple hours of work, and I actually sat down to do it... only to discover that my laptop would not start up. Its cooling fan had decided to join the choir eternal, and the machine would only start for about long enough to tell me this, before shutting itself down again.

I'm not concerned about the file. All that is backed up, multiple times, on a couple of flash drives. What I *am* concerned about is the software I need to complete the final edits. Two problems: First, I have a licensed copy of Finale (music publishing software) on my laptop, but not on any other computer at my disposal. I need this software to correct some voice-leading errors in a couple of the hymn-tune harmonizations in the appendix of UH - such as a case of parallel perfect fifths that I noticed only after having a proof copy printed, and a couple of mistyped notes that had slipped by me until ditto, and a change in another composer's arrangement of his own original tune, which he messaged to me. Second, due to either the version of Microsoft Word on my computer, or the "Cute PDF Writer" free-download alternative to Adobe Acrobat that I use to turn Word docs into PDFs, my laptop is also the only computer in creation (to my knowledge) that will turn my book into a PDF without butchering the fonts, including a rare melody font that I used to type the hymn tunes into the main part of the book. When I try to go through Adobe Acrobat or Photoshop, even after firmly instructing the print preferences to embed the specific fonts I'm concerned about, it still insists on replacing the melody fonts with something that looks like 26-point Hindi characters, arranged to spell gibberish. Obviously this would not be a good change. I really need my laptop back before I can publish this.

It gave me a nasty feeling of satisfaction to realize that my long-term project had gone from the "just a few last-minute corrections and it's ready for the public" stage to "indefinitely postponed" in the time it took for my laptop to scream "Ow! My cooling fan!" I mean, this is exactly the sort of stuff that naturally happens to me all the time. It's like the old Hee-Haw song said, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." Or to quote another lyric, "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world."

More recently, "indefinitely" has been downgraded to "about a month." That's because the guy who runs the local computer repair shop advised me he could order a replacement exhaust fan for my laptop, but it would take about that long for it to come in. It's amazing how poky things like this can still be in this age in which you can order most anything on Amazon and start looking for a small, unmanned aircraft to drop it off on your doorstep practically as soon as your credit card number is approved. If I ordered an out-of-print book from an online bookseller, even without special shipping, I could probably expect to see it sooner than a vital part of the Hewlett Packard laptop that, until recently, I would have used to order it. But there it is again. "God's in His heaven..."

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