It’s been just under 2 weeks, and I’m still working on getting the technique correct. I’ve been going to the forums for help with troubleshooting.  I’ve been correcting things here and there, but apparently other things must be going wrong.  I think the next step is to have my portafilter modified.  I’m a little stuck and don’t know where to go from here except for that.  I’m risking my only portafilter and I can’t get a replacement until April (in case something goes wrong with the modification)  I know my machine and the beans are capable.  It’s just me that’s left!

This was an attempt to show the forum the level of roast of my beans, but maybe everyone’s monitors aren’t color-calibrated.  Get on that everyone!
These beans were a little darker than normal espresso.  They say that darker roasts need a lower temperature.  Since my machine isn’t adjustable like that :( I have to get a lighter roast.  The current bean I’m using is supposed to be more temperature forgiving, but I’m not having any success.  It must be something other than the temperature.

Oh well, the troubleshooting continues.  That’s all a part of the fun for me.