AS THE CLOUD ROLLS BY, DOES YOUR LIFE ROLL WITH IT?

A DNS server went down Saturday afternoon around 3 in the afternoon. It stayed down until past 10 in the evening. Which meant there was no Internet access for a big swatch of Massachusetts’ cable subscribers.

It was inconvenient and annoying, but not tragic. My posts are written and scheduled in advance. I was finished answering most comments and email. I download — not stream — my audiobooks, so I’m not dependent on having a WiFi connection for listening. That’s also true for my Kindle books. I download batches of books at a time … and I keep my Kindles charged, in case the power goes out.

My photographs are on hard drives here, in my house. My editing software is not internet based. So if I’m on vacation and there is no WiFi service? I can download photos and edit them.

But many of my friends and neighbors were more than merely inconvenienced. Their entire world is dependent on being able to connect. They don’t know anyone’s phone number. All their address books are online. They stream their music, their movies, their books. They store their applications and photographs “in the cloud,” which means …

Does all your stuff live in a cloud?

Does all your stuff live in a cloud?

Yes, you guessed it. No WiFi, no nothing!

Call me crazy — and many of you have — but I think we are overly dependent on our Internet service providers. Even if you don’t hate your cable company (and who doesn’t hate their cable company?), servers go down. Service goes out. Power goes out. It’s amazing they don’t go down more often.

If your power goes out … do you know any of the phone numbers of your basic emergency services other than 911? Do you know your doctor’s number by heart? The electric company? Your fuel supply company? Whoever services your heating system?

Do you have an address book that isn’t online?

If you lose your cell phone, can you get in touch with anyone, even your best friend? Do you have a land line — or something like it?

Just wondering. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

(As the Clouds Roll By, 1947, directed by Richard Whorf, with June Allyson, Lucille Bremer, Judy Garland, is an MGM musical.)

REMEMBERING ROOMBA – THE ROBOT VACUUM THAT COULDN’T

roomba1

No, he couldn’t and didn’t.

I don’t remember exactly when Roomba, the vacuum robot, was first introduced. It must have been more than 20 years ago because we were still in our 3-story townhouse in Boston. We didn’t have any dogs yet. We were still deep into a world full of cats, maybe a couple of ferrets too. Regardless, the television was full of advertisement for this the exciting new robot vacuum.

I had my doubts. Roomba didn’t look likely to do much in the cleaning department. Cat hair is notoriously pernicious. The most powerful vacuum cleaners are hard put to pull it out of rugs and furniture. I had curtains I knew would never come clean. When I would finally took them down, their next stop would be the trash. The hair of the cats was so embedded in the fabric, nothing would make them clean again.

roomba2

Nope. Not true. Just sat there chugging in place while the battery wore down.

Still, Roomba was tempting, though not for the advertised reason. Those early versions of Roomba were not terribly expensive, less than $100 (or maybe just a little more?) and both Garry and I were still working. It didn’t seem a lot of money for something that might provide a great deal of amusement.

Amusement? What about cleaning?

None of us expected Roomba to actually clean. Just looking at its design and its lack of power, I doubted it would do much of anything … but it might absolutely drive the cats bonkers. The amusement factor alone could make it worth the price. Big Guy, Spanky and Pookie would get crazy and we hoped drive us to paroxysms of laughter. Big Guy was already completely obsessed with electric trains and slot cars, so a robot vacuum cleaner seemed the logical next step.

I ordered one. With mounting excitement, we unpacked Roomba and charged him up. Given his very small size compared to the amount of animal hair and other dust and dirt, he didn’t look likely to accomplish much, but we weren’t expecting much … at least not in the way of cleaning. Our amusement expectations were far higher, though.

Sadly, neither cleaning nor hilarity ensued. Roomba got stuck under every chair, every piece of furniture. He did not navigate around obstacles nor did he climb onto the area rugs to clean them. He didn’t even change direction when he bounced into a wall. Poor little thing just sat there, chugging hopelessly while the cats turned up their collectively snooty feline noses and walked away, tails high with disdain.

Note the puzzled Australian Shepherd in the background? Appropriate.

Note the puzzled Australian Shepherd in the background? Appropriate.

He cleaned nothing and proved a poor source of amusement. What we nowadays refer to as “a waste of money.” But the idea was good.

I’m assuming, now that there are so many models of Roomba and his companion that supposedly scrubs floors … and the price is hundreds of dollars more for even the most basic model, that the technology has improved.

Frankly, I’m skeptical. Roomba was not merely not quite good enough. Roomba was useless. Even when he actually managed to find a piece of floor flat enough and uncluttered enough to attempt to clean, he didn’t pick up enough dirt to make a noticeable dent in the dust and dirt.

He was eventually consigned to a box in a corner and ultimately thrown out with other stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ll be charitable and suggest maybe Roomba has improved during the past 20 years … but unless someone gives me one for free, I’ll stick with traditional vacuums cleaners. Because they actually suck dirt.

I’m sure the day of the robot will come. But I don’t think it’s here yet. Where’s Robby when we need him?

robbyTheRobot

 You, Robot – The Daily Prompt

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS – GENETIC MEDDLING

I while ago, I wrote about how oranges were now larger than grapefruit. The change has occurred rather abruptly. Although the oranges are huge, they aren’t sweeter or juicier. Most of the larger size is an enormously thick skin. And the oranges go bad and rot in record time. Oranges used to keep for weeks when refrigerated. Now, they last a couple of days at best. Many don’t last that long.

They’ve already done in the strawberries. Whatever those huge soggy red things are they are foisting off on us and calling strawberries? They have less taste, aren’t sweet … and become inedible almost immediately. Between buying them and them rotting is no more than a few hours.

The next fruit to get hit were green grapes. They appeared at Hannaford in April. Huge. They are firm when you buy them, but turn mushy in hours. At best, they are peculiarly tasteless. They haven’t ruined the red grapes yet, but I’m sure they’re working on it. I told Garry that the best way to judge whether or not they have messed with the genetics of the fruit or vegetable? if it looks too good to be true, it’s is.

So what’s next? The cattle? Sheep? Bet they are already doing it. How about dogs and cats? Perfect specimens that can win “Best In Show” every time, but are oddly vacant and lacking personality.

How about children? No more problems trying to keep them from misbehaving in school. They’ll be very well-behaved, all the time. Because we’ll engineer the mischief right out of them. What could go wrong with that?

I am convinced that this is the way the world ends. They genetically change our food. Eventually, genetic meddling  with some kind of animal or vegetable produces an unexpected result and people start dying. By the millions. All over for humankind.

And we will have done it to ourselves.

The big fruit is the orange

The big fruit is the orange

The Hollow Men: T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

I


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the


This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

THE OLYMPUS OM-D E-M10 — REVIEW

Marilyn Armstrong:

An excellent review of a camera I hope to buy. Superb technology at a fair price. Olympus. My favorite cameras.

Originally posted on atmtx photo blog:

Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens

Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens

Do you want a more detailed review? Please continue reading.

I like to start by thanking Charles from Olympus for letting me use the camera for an extended period. I shot this camera on many occasions and have even blogged about it couple of times (here and here), several months ago. If you read those early posts, you know that I often shot the E-M10 alongside my Fujifilm X100S that I purchased around the same time.

By almost every measure, the Olympus E-M10 is superior to the Fuji X100S. It focuses faster, the EVF works better, it’s more flexible and it has interchangeable lenses. I’ll give the Fuji the edge for high ISO quality and it’s probably a bit sharper. However, I’m splitting hairs here. For most people, you won’t notice a difference. Color wise, they both have their advantages…

View original 3,304 more words

STILL STANDING

Object Lesson – Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?


Interesting subject.

Depending on when they became a friend. Some of my earliest friends … like my cousins … see me as that weird, overly intellectual kid with buck teeth and frizzy hair. They would think of me with my nose always in a book — and they’d be right.

The local little girls with whom I grew up would probably remember the piano — and the books. If I wasn’t playing Chopin or Beethoven, I had my head in a book.

indian corn kitchen windowThen, we get to college. I was first a music major and the people I met then think of me as a musician — and remember the piano. But a couple of years later, I found the radio station. That group is likely to think of me as the other half of my first husband, who was a very popular guy and the Fearless Manager of the radio station.

Then, I was off to Israel. A confusing time, but call me a deck of cards. We played bridge obsessively, often until the sun rose. And the bread baking too. And the computers, which were just beginning enter my life. Israel was the bridge between old and new me.

Back to the USA and add some stuff: the omnipresent briefcase because I was always working. A computer. And most important, Garry. Then, after a while, hospitals because for the past 12 years I’ve been in and out of them. Still there are the computers and bless his heart, Garry.

Throughout this entire time, you would always finds lots of animals — cats, dogs birds — children. And cameras.

Life changes. We change. Our technology and tools evolve. But there is an essential “us-ness” that stays, forming a core which makes us who we are. I hope that’s mostly what people who really know me recognize.

I’m not my computer, my blog, my books, my collections, or my husband. I’m just someone struggling down the lumpy road of life, hoping to get through it still on my own feet. Getting to the end still standing would be an achievement.

ANOTHER ONE JUST LIKE THE OTHER ONE: PANASONIC LUMIX DMC ZS-25

Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS -25

Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS -25

I had no intention of buying a camera. I wasn’t looking for myself. Someone else was looking for a camera and I was just doing a little research.When Adorama popped up with a refurbished Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS-25 16.1 MP for under $100, I said “wow.” (There were only two at that price and both have been sold.)

Lazy daisy

Lazy daisy

It came with a Sony 16GB SDHC card and a cute little case (original from Panasonic). It is not new, though it certainly looks and feels new. It’s refurbished by Panasonic and comes with a new camera warranty. Resistance was futile.

I have a legitimate excuse. No jury would convict me.

Day lily, back lit

Day lily, back-lit

My “go everywhere” camera has been the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS-19 and the ZS-25 is essentially the same camera, with a higher resolution. My old camera has a nasty dent on the lens where I gave it a whack about a month ago. So far, it has been okay, but hitting a lens hard enough to dent its case has inevitable repercussions. It doesn’t owe me anything.

The ZS-25 uses the batteries and charger I already own. It’s the same size as its predecessor. So, of course I bought it. Then I had to do a little test drive.

Japanese maple and sunlight

Japanese maple and sunlight

Although the specs make it seem they are the same camera, they are not.

The Leica lens has the same zoom (20X). Both old and new lens are F3.3-F6.4. But the depth of field is different. It’s noticeably shallower working close on the ZS-25 and it has a more attractive bokeh. The color is true — less green, more neutral. It focuses faster and recycles much faster. All useful improvements.

The menus have been simplified and it is noticeably easier to find the functions I use. I like the streamlined controls, too, though I miss the on/off switch. It’s now a button, like every other camera. The view screen has the same specs, but because you can adjust it for varying light conditions, it seems brighter and sharper.

My last red lily

My last red lily

The little ZS-19 has performed yeoman’s service for me. I’ve carried it with me everywhere for two years. It has shot more frames than the rest of my cameras combined.

I am pleased to be able to continue using essentially the same piece of equipment. It suits me well. Compact and light, good lens. Not the longest super-zoom available, but long enough — and wide enough — for most purposes.

My ZS-19 has been a very satisfactory camera and its granddaughter, the ZS-25, seems likely to be equally satisfying. I’m more than pleased.

Camera Effective Pixels 16.1 Megapixels
Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter 1/2.33-inch High Sensitivity MOS Sensor / 17.5 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
Lens LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR / 12 elements in 10 groups / (3 Aspherical Lenses / 6 Aspherical surfaces / 2 ED Lens)
Aperture F3.3 – 6.4 / Multistage Iris Diaphragm (F3.3 – 8.0(W), F6.4 – 8.0(T))
Optical Zoom 20x
Focal Length f=4.3 – 86.0mm (24 – 480mm in 35mm equiv.) / (28-560mm in 35mm equiv. in video recording)
Extra Optical Zoom (EZ) 25.3x (4:3 / 10M), 30.0x (4:3 / 7M), 36.0x (4:3 / 5M), 45.0x (under 3M)
Intelligent Zoom 40x

MASS DEMONSTRATIONS TO PROTEST NON-HUMAN UNION

Mutants and Hybrids

If you were one part human, two parts something else — another animal, a plant, an inanimate object — what would the other two parts be?


WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2014 – DATELINE WASHINGTON D.C.

Those who recall the furor over Gay marriage should probably have expected the hysteria over the legalized joining of humans with their favorite technology, animal, mineral or plant.

As millions of teenagers race to fuse with their cell phones, nerds with their computers, aviators with fighter planes, animal rights activists with their favorite vanishing species (leading some to wonder if this will not signal the death knell for many species) and tree huggers with large forests, fundamentalist Christian groups — never imagining the far-reaching implications of this law — scramble to get out of church and on the street.

GodIsFunny

“Clearly,” stated the Reverend Righteous P. Indignation, spokesman for the Church of the Ridiculous Assumption, “This is not what God had in mind. Although the Bible does not specifically mention marriage — or fusion — with non-human things, this can’t be right in His eyes.” Indignation’s statement was greeted by catcalls, neighing, bleats, beeps and a goodly amount of shrill ringing.

Many, mirroring the human yearning for the freedom of flight have chosen to become two-thirds bird. Racing enthusiasts have become mostly horse, often with the rear end as the dominant segment while their bookies have chosen chainsaws and jack hammers.

While corporations hustle to reinvent themselves in light of a weirdly altered target audience, communications providers from television to Hollywood try to reconfigure everything from seating in stadiums to snacks at movie kiosks.

The potential impact on major sports has not yet been calculated. Some prefer to be a ball and others a bat, so to speak. Simultaneously, the IRS is — at long last — revising the tax code before everyone gallops, flies, beeps, whirs and chirps him or herself forever out of reach of tax collection.

Only Walmart, ever sanguine, merely widened the aisles in their super-stores.

“We never care what customers look like,” said a spokesman. “If they look or behave like sheep or cattle, as long as they pay at the register, everyone is welcome at Wally World.”

MacDonald’s had no comment.