OVERCOMING TECHNO-LUST

When you love cameras, there’s always a danger you may decide you need another, even though you don’t have enough time to use the ones you already own and can’t afford a new one.

It’s no different than other forms of techno-obsessive behavior.

cameras

It’s all techno-lust, the almost physical need to acquire the newest piece of technology.

Over time, most of us learn — the hard way — that newer isn’t inherently better. That there are a lot of reasons to wait and see if the latest really is the greatest — or is actually a step backward from what you own.

pentax q7 camera in case

What to do when the desire to shop for something shiny and new, with the all the bells and whistles hits you? Your hand begins to shake on the mouse. You want it. You want it now. You don’t even know what it is, but that’s not the point. You are overwhelmed by techno-lust.

96-HyannisHarbor-ZS19- GAR-3

I get my jollies by going on Amazon. I look up cameras I already own. Read hundreds of favorable reviews about my cameras. Discover this one is a marvel of optics and photographic technology. That it has a viewfinder with 100% field of vision. Never mind whether or not I use a viewfinder. What’s important is that I have one. This camera can shoot a leaf on a tree 1000 feet away with perfect detail and no significant image deterioration. I know, I’ve done it.

I can pat myself on the back for my astuteness in purchasing this modern marvel.

gear cameras chargers

Then, if I must buy something — just because — I always need an extra battery, a new SD card, or a filter. In the end, I’ve spent less than $20. I’ve fed my obsession, had my shopping fix, and reinforced my fundamental belief that I am a Shopping Goddess.

The danger is I might discover something I didn’t know was out there, which I absolutely must have, if not today, then eventually.  So I have to stay focused, only look at cameras I own or those which are equivalent  but inferior to the ones I own.

Putting stuff on a wish list is almost as good as buying it because it satisfies ones urge to click.

I advise you not use this remedy when you are half asleep or under the influence of anything. It’s alarming to wake up in the morning and discover you are the proud owner of something you will be paying off for the rest of your natural life. Or longer.

me with olympus selfie

Cancelling and returning stuff is such a pain. Especially when you would rather keep it.

Meanwhile, my money remains where it belongs. In my account. Does this count as a vicarious or virtual shopping experience? Both?

I’D LIKE TO THANK …

I had one of Those Days yesterday. I got up feeling pretty good. A bright, sunny day suggested I might want to take a few pictures. I went to open the window … and the shade did a cartoon thing, snapping itself all the way up and curling tightly around the wooden roller. When I tried to unroll it, it fell down and landed in a heap at my feet.

I should have taken that as a sign, but I shrugged it off. Just an old shade to replace No biggie. Thus the day progressed through some electrical? Software? glitch which deleted all my saved emails addressed to me from me. All the saved information carefully put in labeled folders … trashed. Thank you Google! At least you didn’t erase them. You have to be grateful for what didn’t happen. Keeps things in perspective.

72-Juncos-Mar8_02

I was still  working on sorting out the mess at midnight when the WiFi went out. We recently replaced the router and since then — about two months — haven’t had a minute of trouble with it.

I sighed. “Guess I’ve got to reboot the router,” I told Garry, who was deep into deciding what to record on the DVR and had problems of his own. I rebooted the router. Came back, but still no WiFi. Went back, did it again, and realized the modem looked unhappy. The lights were blinking, not emitting the steady, solid green glow I have come to associate with a happy, healthy modem. I unplugged it, counted slowly to 25, plugged it back in. Nope.

On a whim, I looked at the telephone. “No line,” it announced. The green light was out.

Charter Communications was down.

I couldn’t call on the phone since the phone runs on the WiFi that we didn’t have. I found Garry’s cell phone, looked up Charter’s number in my paper notebook. After the last few fiascos when I couldn’t get to my contacts because they are online and there was no “online” to get to, I’ve gone retro. I keep a notebook with handwritten contact numbers. The electric company. Charter. My doctor. The two pharmacies. The septic guy. The well guy. My best friend. My cardiologist. Our dentist.

I called Charter. Got the robot. I shouted my answers into the phone, probably waking all the people in the house, but not disturbing the dogs. They are never bothered by whatever mom is doing when she has that thing in her hand. It’s not edible, so it isn’t their concern.

An announcement came. “There’s an outage in your area that might be affecting your service. We assure you we are working as fast as we can to resolve the problem. Would you like us to call you when the issue is resolved? Say “yes” or “no.”

“YES,” I shouted.

“Is there anything else with which we could help you?”

“NO,” I yelled.

They started to babble on about something else, but I’d had enough and disconnected. Closed my computer. Turned out the lights. Went into the bedroom where Garry was settling down to watch something recorded using the big Sennheiser earphones.

“It’s Charter,” I shouted. He didn’t have his hearing aids in.

“What?”

“Charter.”

“Good old Charter,” he said.

I started to laugh and couldn’t stop. “They won,” I said between laughs. “They beat me. Charter. Google. Everything. They can break things faster than I can fix them.”

“Give up,” advised Garry. “Tomorrow …”

“Is another day,” I finished. But I kept laughing until I fell asleep. I had been defeated. Just one of those days. Thank you Charter. Thank you Google. Thank you for reminding me I can’t fix everything and sometimes, the only thing left to do is throw your hands in the air and surrender.


DAILY PROMPT: I’D LIKE TO THANK MY CATS

WHAT HAPPENED?

Around 3 this afternoon, something happened.

I know when it happened because the big clock radio on the end table started blinking and began counting from noon, which is what it does when it loses power for as much as a nanosecond. I didn’t notice for hours because the cold drink cup was blocking my view of its screen. It’s an angle thing.

Philco Clock Radio CD

Hours later, I noticed my computer’s battery was low. It shouldn’t have been because it’s plugged in. So, I looked down and saw the big surge protector into which everything is plugged, was off. I turned it on.

At some subsequent point in time, I searched for a saved email (in Gmail) which contained information I needed. It was missing. I checked in other folders, in case it was misfiled. That was when I realized every email I ever sent myself and saved in labeled folders, was gone. The folders weren’t empty. Email from anyone who wasn’t me was still there.

Only emails in folders were affected. Only emails addressed to me, from me, were deleted. The kind of thing I couldn’t do intentionally if my life depended on it. I’m not sure it’s possible to do it on purpose. Supposedly putting emails in labeled folders protects them from exactly this kind of disaster.

Lucky me, they hadn’t vanished entirely but had been moved to the trash.

For the past  seven hours, I’ve been sifting through trashed emails, nicely blended with actual trash. I have to find my saved data, contacts. Conversations with authors, friends, utilities, banks, bloggers … everything I’ve done, ordered, negotiated. All the stuff thought I had backed up by saving the emails.

alienware side view computer

How could a global delete from all folders and sub-folders occur while leaving my inbox untouched? Yet it happened. Did one of the dogs step on the surge protector and turn it off? Did that somehow trigger a global delete of emails addressed to me, from me? How? What else happened that I haven’t yet discovered?

I’m tired. I’ve got a headache. I can’t empty my real email trash until I’m sure I’ve retrieved all the stuff that matters. Thousands of emails are sitting in the trash folder awaiting my attention. I’ve restored a couple of hundred, but haven’t looked at the rest. It’s overwhelming.

What happened? Anyone have a clue? I’m all ears.

NET NEUTRALITY BECOMES THE LAW OF THE LAND| ZDNET

Kindle and iPad

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted today to accept FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal that the Commission “use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open Internet protections.” Or, to put it in plain English, your ISP must provide equal broadband access to you or any site — Amazon, Netflix, etc. — without slowing down or speeding up sites for additional fees.

As expected, the vote to treat ISPs as common carriers passed by a party line vote of three Democrats over the two Republicans. Under this regulation, broadband Internet services will be governed by Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Mobile broadband vendors, such as 4G providers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless will also be regulated as common carriers based on Title III of the Communications Act. It should also be noted that since Wheeler made his proposal, the FCC has redefined broadband as delivering at least 25-Megabits per second (Mbps).

The Republicans claimed that the FCC was over-reaching its authority by putting in a secret Obama plan for net neutrality. Wheeler dismissed this as nonsense in his final speech. He summed up, “This is the FCC using all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers; to ban paid prioritization, the so-called fast lane. [This] will not divide the Internet into haves and have-nots.”

Source: www.zdnet.com

This is something which affects all of us. It appears we finally have a victory. Let’s hope this is the last we hear of it!

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

3 PERFECT SHOTS ON THE PENTAX Q7

Three Perfect Shots

Take a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots.


The pictures are my living room, picture window, and snowy front yard between yesterday evening and this morning, all taken (finally!) on a teeny tiny Pentax Q7.  You cannot give this prompt to a photographer and not expect actual pictures. I don’t know if these qualify as perfect, but they come with an entertaining story of the continuing battle of human against technology. And, of course includes three pictures.

Taken by the light of a 40-watt bulb. Evening at home.

Taken by the light of a 40-watt bulb. Evening at home.

Weeks ago, I got a Pentax Q7, a tiny, light, compact camera which uses interchangeable lenses. Even shoots RAW, like a real camera. I had never used it, though it has been lurking in the office for a while. It was like an itch I could not scratch.

I got the Q7 on the advice of someone who has one and loves it. He got his in Hong Kong, but he was sure there’d be great deals on it soon. There were. I got it as a kit with 2 lenses for less than a point and shoot.

Spring hasn't come yet, but we live in hope.

Spring hasn’t come yet, but we live in hope.

It looks like a “real camera” that got put through a wash-dry cycle, and shrank to less than half its size. It’s tiny. Its lenses are weightless, but fast at f2.8.

So why had I never used it? It wasn’t for lack of trying. It was set to some weird color setting. Red. Hideous. I couldn’t figure out how to unset it. The manual, like most manuals for Japanese cameras, had lots of pages, but no useful information. How can they publish so many pages without saying anything? I could not find so much as a reference to “Bold Unicolor.”

I tried resetting the camera to its defaults. I went through every menu, every setting. I tried the White Balance dial and went deep into every possible variation on the many menus. Nope. It remained “Bold Unicolor.” I discovered I could pick a different unicolor. Yellow, blue, green, magenta. I could not turn it off.

We've got a bright blue sky and sunshine ... but it's cold out there!

We’ve got a bright blue sky and sunshine … but it’s cold out there!

I was positive the camera wasn’t broken. Also sure the Q7 is shortly going to be discontinued in favor of a newer model and may become abruptly hard to get — which would also explain its low price. Regardless, I was sure there was a dial, button, or obscure menu setting that would fix the problem. All I had to do was keep looking.

Finally, having reached the end of my patience, I turned it around and stared at it from the front. I talked to it and I think I wasn’t very polite.

I generally look at cameras from the back. When I initially get them, I check to see where memory chips and batteries go, where a USB cable attaches. I attach a strap, which I could do in my sleep. Unless I’m changing the lens, I don’t look at the front of the camera much. All the stuff I need is out back.

I sat there and looked. Realized I couldn’t see it very well, so I took off my glasses, turned up the light and squinted. Eureka! Tucked in next to the lens, near the bottom of the body, I spied a tiny dial with minuscule — unreadable — text. I could see there were settings on it (which I have not yet deciphered). One is a plain dot without text. I turned the dial to the dot and I finally had normal color.

I had been brooding over this for weeks. Longer, actually while watching my warranty run out. It haunted my dreams. Last night and this morning, I (finally) took a few pictures on this tiny camera. If you are over forty, bring a magnifying glass. And about that manual …

MARILYN GETS AN IPAD

Between the old router going bad and installing the new one, something caused the troubled laptop in my bedroom to go bonkers. It decided every certificate for every application and website I have ever used, or will use, was fraudulent. Although I did my best to fix it and I sort of did, but editing certificates is delicate and tricky.

Google Chrome went berserk and refused to let me connect. To anything. Even after finally finding a way to uninstall Chrome, it took a lot of coaxing before I could get Internet Explorer to run. In this case, the problem turned out to be IE. Its awful design. A feature, not a bug.

ipad3-image

I tried to use my 7-inch Kindle Fire HD to do everything, but it’s too small. I can’t load my website. Since (I believe this fits into the “irony” category) WordPress has “improved” their software to make it “mobile friendly,” it has become actively hostile. WordPress sites used to automatically resize. Now they won’t load at all. I could buy a cheap PC, but they run Windows 8, which I hate. Microsoft says I should want it, but I don’t.

That left me with three choices: Chrome, Kindle, and Apple. I’ve got an Alienware super laptop which I love, so all I need is something basic. To download and listen to audiobooks, check my blog and email, maybe play a game, and take a peek at Facebook.

My first choice would have been the big brother of my Kindle Fire HD, the 9″ version — about the same size as the iPad. But it has limitations. I need to be able to run multiple Audible accounts, which Kindles can’t do. Something to do with the Kindle OS. After a little research, I knew a Chromebook was too limited. It’s not a computer, just a way to connect to the web. Fine, if that’s all you need, but I need more.

I always thought the iPad was overpriced. I still think so, but I found a brand new 64 GB  iPad 3 for the same price as a big Kindle. I’ve had friends extolling the virtues of the iPad for years. I figured I’d get this thing. It would leap from its box and embrace me. Configure itself (like the Kindle really does), then clean my house and cook dinner.

Not exactly.

The iPad comes nicely boxed without any instructions.

These are ALL the instructions that came with my Apple iPad.

These are ALL the instructions that came with my Apple iPad.

If this is the only piece of Internet capable hardware in your possession, you’re shit out of luck. Everything you need is online … where you can’t get until after you set up the iPad. Not as easy as the lack of instructions would suggest.

Our nearest Apple store is more than 60 miles away and you have to make an appointment. They also need an attitude adjustment. The last time I was there, I wanted to install my iPhone into one of their bodily orifices. The limited service combined with their attitude made me less than eager to invest in their equipment. But Microsoft and Windows 8 had me cornered. I ran out of choices.

ipad3-specs

My new iPad did not leap out to embrace me. It was harder to set up than my laptop and much more difficult than the Kindle which doesn’t need any set up. The iPad lost the first two passwords I set. Unlike my PC, you can’t not have a password. You need layers and layers of passwords for everything. When it decided the password with which I’d replaced the initial password also didn’t exist, it asked for my birth date to confirm that I’m me. It then told me my birthday isn’t my birthday.

I don’t know much, but I know my birthday. I’m not sure what to do about it. Lacking any instructions, I can’t get into the computer to correct the misinformation it locked onto. It’s lucky I’m clever with computers. In the end, all computers are more alike than different. Interfaces vary, but under the hood, they work do the same stuff. Including the iPad.

I worked around its refusal to acknowledge my birthday, though I know I’m going to bump into the problem again. If anyone knows how to deal with this, I’d sure like to know. Meanwhile, on my fourth password, it acknowledged it and I moved on. I don’t understand why everything on an iPad requires a password, but it does. Apparently not every time you use it, but when you activate or install anything, it requires one, two, or three passwords. I swear I entered passwords 100 times or more during setup. It fought me tooth and nail about connecting to this website, but when I was ready to fling it out into a snowdrift and leave it for the dogs, it must have heard me thinking.  It gave up the fight and connected. It took another long battle to convince it to accept multiple Audible account, but eventually, it let me download books from more all my accounts. If I could have done this on Kindle, I wouldn’t have gotten the damned iPad.

I installed the latest operating system (8 point something) and it’s working. It only took most of an afternoon, which these days is rather a lot of configuring for a modern computer.

I was so pissed off with it for giving me a hard time, I didn’t want to use it, but I had to give it a fair try. For the last three days, I’ve logged several hours a day scooting around the Internet, downloading books and audiobooks. Listening to books.  Installing stuff. I’m not thrilled with Safari. It’s a bit clunky, though far better than IE. It’s not hard to be better than IE.

It is a great size. Nice big screen. Amazing battery life. Audio is good, though not loud enough. Graphics are high quality. It resists fingerprints better than a Kindle.  It’s slower than my other devices. Surprisingly sluggish when opening applications, downloading, and connecting to the net. It gets there, but I’m not used to waiting.

My expectations may have been unreasonably high. It’s not entirely my fault. With Apple enthusiasts telling me how fantastic the iPad is, how perfect, I expected fantastic.

What I got is a nice, serviceable tablet. It’ll do the job, though I prefer a keyboard and a mouse. My hands are not what they were. Poking at it puts more stress on my arthritic hands than does a mouse. I don’t like virtual keyboards. My fingernails are always too long, fingers inaccurate, imprecise. And the iPad requires a solid poke to respond.

Do I love it? No, but it has a potential — and it isn’t Windows 8.  I’m sure I will make peace with it, but I wish I liked it more.

Would I recommend an iPad? It depends on what you need. I think I made the right choice, maybe the only choice. But if Microsoft would get their act together, I’d gladly return to the fold.

Evil Squirrel’s Nest Comic #144 — 1/29/15

Marilyn Armstrong:

Most of us here at WordPress have done our share of complaining about the stupid, counter-intuitive, unproductive, and dysfunctional software “upgrades” through which we have had to suffer. Leave it to Evil Squirrel to say it better …. and funnier. From Bill Brown, who really ‘gets it.’

DAILY POST – Burnt – As in burning your bridges and relationships with your customer? 

Q: Remember this prompt, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items?

A: How could I forget? It was just yesterday.

Q: That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

A: I would leave WordPress and would take a certain visceral pleasure in seeing you burn, then burnt. I wouldn’t try to save you since you have shown no concern for me or my interests or concerns, nor any commonsense about how writers, artists, and photographers work (that is, NOT on telephones!) … if there were any viable alternative to your platform, I’d be on it. So me? I say go ahead! Burn, baby, burn. I’ll bring the marshmallows.

Originally posted on Evil Squirrel's Nest:

comic12915

View original

GLORIA MUNDI! NEW ROUTER, NOT SICK!

Our intermittent connection problem went critical. We had been having connection issues since before Christmas, but I thought it was an outside problem. Charter being Charter, as it were.

netgear ac750 router

It took a bit of tracking down, but eventually, we realized that the old Linksys was in its sixth year, which for computer gear so critical to everything we use, is ancient. And it was failing.

Charter has been ramping up their broadband speed for the past year, so I knew it was likely the old router couldn’t handle the higher speed. But it was more than that. It was not broadcasting a strong enough signal. Diagnosis: Tired old router needs replacement and honorable retirement.

Amazon isn’t cheaper for everything, but for electronics, they usually have the best prices and selection. If you have Amazon Prime, they are offer the fastest delivery at no charge.

I’m a real fan of Amazon. They honor their promises. If you don’t get your package, they send another. If the product doesn’t work, they refund your money or send a replacement — your choice. They are nice when you call with a problem. Rather than go over to our local Best Buy or Walmart, we went online.

We were right. Amazon had great prices on a huge selection of routers. There were so many to choose from … and the technology has changed so much since the last time we installed a router … most of our time was spent trying to figure out what the descriptions meant, and which router was the right one for our house.

Owen said NetGear was easiest to install. Even though we’d been using Linksys for so many years. Since he was doing the installation, I saw no reason to argue the point.

We settled on NETGEAR AC750 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R6050). At $81.99 plus tax, with free 2-day shipping, it seemed likely to do the job. We ordered it Saturday and surprise! It arrived this morning, Monday. No, I didn’t pay extra for speedy shipping. Amazon is very fast.

It’s installed. It took about an hour, including some hassling with the wireless printer and some more hassling with the Roku. There’s one more Roku in the bedroom I will have to reset plus three Kindles. Owen’s has hooked up his laptop and tablet. My three computers and Garry’s two are also up and running.

Do you think we have enough wireless stuff around here?

The router works really well. No dead spots in the house anymore! Not one, not anywhere. Finally, we have full coverage through both floors and in every room.

What could NetGear do to improve the experience? Provide better instructions!

Every problem we encountered was not a problem. It was just something for which no instructions or explanation is provided. I know everyone thinks tech writers are obsolete. I AM a tech writer. But seriously, folks. How much could it cost to hire a tech writer for a couple of days to write proper, English-language instructions? We work cheap!

Reading through reviews on Amazon, I’m betting 90% of the complaints were failures to understand what to do. Better instructions would solve the problem.

Can you say “Happy Ending?” Sometimes, things work out better than you expect. This is one of those times!