AN EXCELLENT WORDPRESS UPGRADE

Yesterday I decided to put a new header on my template. I do this regularly and there doesn’t need to be a special reason. I just feel like it. I used to put up a new one daily, but that got old after a while, so now it happens when the spirit moves me.

Notice that where that they are all shown as “purchased” now

In the beginning of January, I re-upped my “customization package” with WordPress. This package gives me more space for photographs (I need it!), my own domain, no advertisements  and recently, unbeknownst to me, access to all the templates. This was not true in the past, so I was delighted to discover it.

It didn’t change anything for me because I’m always looking for the same basic shape and format, mainly because the material I’ve created fits easily into that format. I don’t have to start reformatting the entire template. But you never know. I might decide I want to try something really different. Anything is possible.

New Header Image formatting

Little did I know that much more change was on the way. This time, when I went to change the Header Image, the design format for my template had changed. Big time.

All my previously embedded headers were gone.  What had been my header image (including my site information) had transformed into a logo which seemed etched in virtual stone and was part of the format of the theme.

New fonts!

I couldn’t find any way to remove it. If I put in another pictures in the header image area, my old image was glued in the middle of it — not what I was trying to accomplish. But I was sure there had to be a way to dislodge the old image and I stuck to messing around with it. I am nothing if not tenacious.

Finally, I tried a different (not very different) format, but it had the same problem. Next I returned to “Plane,” my previous format. Having move to different theme in the middle, then coming back, I hoped that might have dislodged the old header image.

It hadn’t. But I kept messing around with it until finally, hosanna, the old image went away. I’m not sure exactly what I did that was different. It seemed I was just repeating the same stuff, but this time, it worked.

Phew.

This was my  existing theme, called “Plane” and no, I have no idea why they name them what they name them. Even though it’s the same theme, it looks quite different.

On  my computer, it is wider. The pictures are wider too. Both important pluses for me where how a pictures displays on-screen is a big deal.

As far as typeface issues go, WordPress added some new fonts. Oh yay! Excellent! The site’s title now appears on top of the picture, so I don’t have to keep creating special headers and can use any picture and my site name with tagline will appear above (on top of) it.

Aside from that glitch where it didn’t want to say good-bye to the old image, this is an excellent set of improvements for those of us who with a customization package. It would have been a nice touch had someone mentioned to me that this was going to happen, however.


What is it with WordPress that they can’t bother to tell you anything before they do it? For a company deep in communications, they really don’t communicate well.

I’m happy with the changes. Very happy. I can only imagine what less computer savvy customers are making of the changes, though. I hope they’ve put some explanations online for us to read.

I don’t know what they did or why they did it, but it’s a major improvement and one for which I’ve hoped for a while. They’ve been removing pieces of the customization package for years. This is the first time they have ever expanded it and done it well. The wider stretch on the computer screen is a major improvement for photography. The text is also a slightly bigger and my eyes are saying “thank you.”

I like the new fonts, one of which I’m using for my headings and a different new typeface for writing.

Well done, WordPress. Next time, you think you might consider sending a notification? Please?

IT’S EXPONENTIAL, DR. WATSON – BY TOM CURLEY

This subject keeps coming up. Will our children have anything to wonder about? Is all the exciting stuff done? Are our regressive president and backward politicians — here and in other countries — going to stop science from moving forward?

I think that NOTHING will stop science from moving forward because nothing has ever stopped it before. Not war or the Black Plague or the Crusaders or Genghis Khan. Our politicians can slow it — for a while — but nothing will stop us because we are ready to move on up.

So. I’m running this again. Because it is worth thinking about.

SERENDIPITY

I’m not the first person to see this, but have any of you noticed that 2018 seems like 2017 on steroids? January is barely half over, and it seems like over a half-year has gone by. In 2017, we experienced “Trump Time.”

A crazy story that would have normally lasted a week or two, or maybe even a month, lasted for two days, tops. We were reeling from the insane shit the Shithead-in-Chief did on a Monday, only to completely forget about it because he did something even crazier on Tuesday. And that’s how it went all year.

But something happened, or seemed to happen on January 1, 2018. The crazy went into overdrive. I say ‘seemed’ to happen because his turning the crazy up to eleven was inevitable.

Why? Well, it’s because of the word exponential. Most of us know what it means, but I think most of us…

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SO WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR SUNDAY?

I’m glad you asked.

I am a long-term Kindle user. I started using one when they had keyboards and no WiFi. They’ve come a long way since them

The Kindle is my reader and my audiobook listener. I have thousands of books and probably even more audiobooks. I also have a ton of music, too. When I don’t feel like reading in bed, I watch Amazon Prime for movies and TV.

My HDX 8.9-inch Kindle was getting old. I liked it for its size. As my eyes have gotten less sharp, I find I need a bigger font. To use a bigger font, I needed a bigger surface and my previous 7-inch Kindle was too small. It was also old enough several parts no longer worked. When I got the “big one,” I thought I would might continue to use the small one when I traveled, but I discovered there was no going back. That 7-inch device is somewhere in a dusty corner of my bedroom — long out of use.



The Big HDX has been great for the past four and a half years. Lately, the battery has not stayed charged very long. Download speed has slowed, too. While I can still download and play books or music using my Bluetooth speaker, it takes a long time to download and the device doesn’t connect well or consistently with the router.

The last time I called Amazon for help, she subtly suggested I might consider a newer model. I pointed out my older HDX was a better model than the newer ones.

“True,” she said, “but even good ones get old. Everything gets old.” I pointed out that I was getting old. She sighed and agreed. That call was two years ago. What was getting old then, got old.

Meanwhile, Garry stopped using his 7-inch Kindle because it was too small and too quiet. The email stopped working months ago and it too has just been gathering dust. I thought “I could get him a new Kindle for his birthday.” Which is in April. Except I don’t wait for holidays or birthdays. I’m not a good “waiter.”

For the past month, I was checking prices on new Kindles. Prices have dropped a lot, but the other day they were also having a sale. Wonder of wonders, a twofer sale. Two 8-inch Kindle Fire Tablets for $99! They were also available in multiple colors, so I chose one in red and the other in black. I invested in two 32 GB micro SD cards ($10 each) plus two modest covers (also $10 each) and nice pair of Bluetooth headphones for Garry.



Today, I spent all day setting them up. Normally, they are not difficult to set up and in fact, they come pretty much ready to go. All your Amazon stuff automatically downloads to your new machine. All your previous settings, your books, audiobooks, music, and games.

All I had to do was log on. Except the first one I set up was for Garry. It needed to have his email address in it rather than mine. Google went wacko. I set the password and after accepting it, it would promptly reject it. I would try the new password on the computer (Garry’s computer) and it rejected it, so I changed it, but when I tried to use the new one on the Kindle, it wouldn’t recognize it either. It took half a dozen tries until finally, one password was accepted on the Kindle and the computer. Yay me!

The last time I had this particular problem, it was an iPad that refused to recognize the password. It’s good to know that problems repeat and don’t even have to be on the same kind of equipment.

Then I paired Garry’s Bluetooth headphones and turned them on. Garry put them on his head and … smiled. Yay me again.

Then all I had to do was the same thing on MY Kindle. But at least I didn’t need to change passwords. I did have to pair my new Kindle to my old speaker, but that only took a couple of rejections before the speaker calmed down and decided it was okay to unite with a new device. I feared it might be faithful unto death.

I probably should mention that Alexa comes bundled with the Kindles. I have NO idea what to do with Alexa. Anything that works on voice never understands me. There is something in me that deeply resents sitting and trying to get me voice-activated system to understand me. So I disabled Alexa. If someone can explain to me what, exactly, I could do with Alexa, I might try it. But as far as I can tell, the only thing I could use it for is ordering stuff on Amazon. I think I’m safer doing that by hand. Accidentally ordering stuff on Amazon? Does that sound like a good idea?

So that was how I spent my day and if I didn’t get much else done, I feel I have, nonetheless, spent my time profitably.

NOTES AFTER SOME HOURS OF USING IT:


There was far too much spooling on video. I never had that problem on the older HDX. Also, I’m not thrilled with their new format, though I suppose I’ll get used to it. It’s fine for books and audiobooks, but not so fine for video. It IS much lighter. The battery is definitely an upgrade.

I may continue to use the older 8.9″ HDX for video, though. All that spooling makes me crazy.

IS THERE LIFE WITHOUT COMPUTERS?

You see stuff online — Facebook mostly — about “could you live in this lovely (log cabin) house (in the middle of really nowhere) without WiFi? And everyone says “Oh sure! I could live in that great little house — in the middle of a huge woods by a cold lake where the nearest shopping center is 50 miles on dirt roads — forever without so much as a VOIP phone.

Sure you could. NOT.

I know I couldn’t and wouldn’t even want to try. Because that’s not life or at least not my life.

There was a time when I could imagine a life without computers. I think that was before I owned a computer, before every house everywhere had one or many computers. Before every single thing in the house got “connected” and computerized in some way. Before your toilet got so smart you have to argue with it about the whole “flushing” thing. Before we had things in the house that you could talk to and would more or less would run your house for you, even if you weren’t there personally.

To be clear, I don’t have any of those super smart appliances because while I dearly love WiFi, if the power is out I need to know the toilet will flush anyway and the refrigerator will keep the food cold as long as I don’t open the door. I want to be smarter than my toilet or refrigerator. Call me crazy, but I like to keep at least one leg up on life.

Yeats in Sligo
Yeats in Sligo

But life without any computers? Without a way to blog? Oh, I suppose I could use a typewriter …  but what would I do with it after that? There IS no blog without WiFi. And my wrists would not thank me.

Can I survive without Photoshop and Topaz filters? Without a Kindle? Or a GPS?

That sounds more like death than life.  A computer is not just email. It’s all kinds of communications and these days, it really IS communications. Pretty much all communications is electronic in one way or another. Photography and writing. Paying bills, shopping, and entertainment. Games. Keeping in touch with the world and the people in it, without whom life would be incredibly lonesome.

So if I must have a life without computers, I am probably dead. Unless there are afterlife computers. You know, from Comp-AfterLife.com? Those “special” computers so the undead can keep in touch?

CIRCLING WINDOWS 10

CIRCLES WITHIN CIRCLES

I cannot blame Windows. It was me, or rather … me and a dysfunctional Malwarebytes plus two “disconnected” (but not really) hard drives … and being told I must become the administrator when I am the administrator.


What?


I got a message from Malwarebytes of a new update. Free. Just install it.

So I installed it and it deleted itself. Completely disappeared off my hard drive leaving a blank. It even removed its short-cut symbol on the desktop. I sighed. I have had trouble with this application before. Malwarebytes fixed it, but it took a week of back-and-forthing with the technical squad and I didn’t feel like it. Just not in the mood.

I tried backing up to see if I could recover the previous version, and I did, but it didn’t restore the broken application. It restored pieces of it, and it didn’t work. It just sat there. I tried one more restore, but that errored out. One of the more annoying problems with Windows operating systems is they never tell you why they are malfunctioning. They throw an error and leave you sitting there, staring at the screen saying WHAT? What was THAT?

So today, I tried to check the weather and all I got were ads that wouldn’t even let the program upload. I deleted what I could and realized … I needed Malwarebytes. That’s why I bought the program in the first place, to prevent this type of crap from happening. It isn’t viruses. It’s just garbage from advertisers.

I decided to restore Malwarebytes from scratch since I have the original receipt and key. This should have worked, but it told me it couldn’t complete, some kind of error. I could “continue and ignore” the error, but I got one of the Windows warnings that if I did that, terrible things might happen to my operating system. And I got another message telling me that the computer couldn’t find its hard drives.

What? WHAT?

So I diddled around and eventually, everything found everything else. Voila. No idea when they decided to disconnect, but I had a sneaking feeling that underneath all these other errors was that I needed to run the “network” function and connect everything to itself. Mind you, the computer was running fine, except for Malwarebytes, which wasn’t running at all.

I decided to delete Malwarebytes because it was listed as a program, but it wasn’t really and it didn’t work. It wouldn’t let me. It said I need to be an administrator. I am the administrator. I am the ONLY administrator. It is my computer. No one else has ever used it and when I look at my account, it clearly shows me as The Administrator.

I rebooted. I still couldn’t delete Malwarebytes because I needed to be an administrator. Eventually, it wouldn’t let me administrate and it wouldn’t let me out of the loop because I had to be an administrator before I could escape.

I rebooted.

At this point, I realized I could not become the administrator because I am, so it was asking me to do something I could not do because I am that thing and I was …

(Drum roll and trumpets, please …)

In a loop. The ultimate circle of hell for computer users. You can’t do it, whatever it is because you aren’t an administrator, but since you really are the administrator, you can’t become one because all those boxes are checked. Sometime around this point I discovered a previously broken piece of the application has been fixed. When I got this computer, the restore system would only let you restore the “C” drive. The “D” drive — which is huge and contains all my documents and pictures which is pretty much what lives on this computer — had to be backed up separately. Which I do anyway, so I didn’t care. But now, you can. So I added the “D” drive to the restore function and things began to roll along. Suddenly, I could create a restore point for both drives, something I haven’t been able to do since I got the computer.

I created one. Astonished that this event had occurred and being suspicious by nature, I did it a couple of times more, calling each restore point “testing 1” “testing 2” “testing 3” until I was finally convinced … it worked. Damn! Was it because I had done the networking thing and the computer finally knew it really has two hard drives?

I then tried to delete Malwarebytes again and it didn’t work. Again. It still wanted me to be an administrator, but by now, I realized this really wasn’t a Windows problem. It was a broken application.

Back to installing a new copy of Malwarebytes. When I got to the place where it told me if I clicked “Continue,” terrible, awful, dreadful and dire things would occur. Possibly making my computer stop working entirely. 

OH NO, NOT THAT!

“Screw it” I said … and clicked the (potentially) fatal link. The application rolled merrily along and installed itself flawlessly. It then scanned the drive, fixed everything, and set up a new — FUNCTIONAL — short-cut. I could have done all that stuff in the first place. But to be fair, I would not have known I needed to network the computer to explain to it that it really does have two hard drives. Nor would I have realized — miracle of miracles — I could set a restore point for both drives.

I suppose I ended up on the winning side of today’s “loop warfare.” You want to know about circles? Computers. Looping their digital lives through the circularity of binary heaven. If anyone wants to know why I haven’t been online today, I was in a circle. Me and my computer, doing the little loopy dance. But I won … I think.

SEARCHING FOR STUFF THAT ISN’T THERE

My granddaughter needed a copy of Windows 7 to try and reload the laptop I gave her last year. I found one, finally, after finding at least a dozen version of Windows XP. How old are the XP operating systems?  They are still sealed in their original envelopes. Would they run on newer computers?

I found a sealed version of Windows 7, but I had no idea what computer it was supposed to run on — or even if that computer is alive. I think it may be the one I have in my bedroom. If so, it already had its operating system replaced.

Kaitlin tried to use the DVD, but the computer said it didn’t know what that thing in it was. It didn’t even ask for the serial number. It wasn’t going to get fixed tonight. She finally gave up and called Jeremy, the Guy Who Fixes Computers.

The last DVD in my world

During all this racing around, I realized I had no idea where the stuff that came with my new computer might be. I tore the house apart looking for the set of discs I was sure came with this computer. I did find the ones that came with the computer that Garry is now using. That was when I realized … I don’t have a set of discs for this computer.

It doesn’t have a DVD player or writer. It can’t natively run a disc. I did buy a USB auxiliary for it, in case I want to play music or install something that does come on a disk, but otherwise, I’m searching desperately for something that never existed in the first place. If I don’t back up the system to a hard drive myself, I have no back-up. There’s little point in doing that anyway because they keep changing the system, so whatever you save is useless a few weeks later. I back up data, but as for the system?

How would I use the backup even if I made one?

I sat down. Tired, sweaty, and covered with dust.

The good news? I cleaned out a lot of junk. The bad news? There so much more junk remaining. I have crates of old software and manuals and widgets and connectors for computers I haven’t seen in years. We may not have as much paper as we did, but we’ve got a lot of everything else. DVDs and remote controls and batteries. Truckloads of stuff I have saved for years and have no use for. Never did.

And meanwhile, I am hunting for discs for a computer that came without discs.

Is there a Jeremy who can come and fix my head?

FLOATY BOATY ODDBALLS

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: July 23, 2017


I don’t know if you could really call these oddballs because I took them on purpose. I’m one of the people who goes in for minor surgery and wants a local so I can watch the screens while doctors do whatever they do. Okay, probably not for heart surgery, but for other, less life-and-death stuff. I wanted to watch them do my knee years ago, but they wouldn’t let me.

Bridge and controls

So here I am, on the boat. And there are all these exciting controls with colors, beeping, and chirping. You can see how deep the water is. See the sandbars. Figure out current, waves, water motion. That’s totally cool.

My favorite control
Let’s not go thirsty.

I took pictures. What else could I do?