October 17, 2020

I have more than 11,000 posts and just under a million views. Since you have made working on WordPress increasing unpleasant and difficult, I find it highly likely I will have to end our relationship in February. I would like to get a copy — a READABLE copy — of my posts, if not for the entire 8 years I’ve been blogging, but for at least the past three or four years. Is there any way for me to save my contents in a way that is readable and not a mass of coding, encryption, and pointers?

The answer arrived today:

Gabriel Maldonado (Automattic)

Oct 18, 2020, 10:50 UTC

Hello there!

You can export a copy of your content under Tools > Export . You can see further information about this here: https://wordpress.com/support/export/

This is readable if you open it with a text editor, but will also contains a lot of other stuff like image paths, types of blocks, dates, etc, … as is created in order to import/export content between sites. So the only way to have the content only would be to copy/paste these manually into a different document.

As an alternative, there’s also a number of “blog-to-book” services like FastPencil and BlogBooker, let you import your WordPress blog and turn it into a printed book:


Gabriel Maldonado
Global Happiness Engineer @ Automattic.com

The export from WordPress is useless, so my next goal is to see if the software works and is affordable! But for any of you think of leaving WordPress but don’t want to leave all your material behind, maybe this is a viable answer. I’ll see what more I can find out. I have 11,000+ blogs. Subtract a couple of thousand that are reblogs or all photographs, let’s say 8,000 and then subtract another couple of thousand that aren’t good enough to bother with … so maybe 5,000 when all is said and done? It’s still a lot of posts.

I suspect BlogBooker is the better tool. They don’t provide a lot of information — like how many pages it will handle, for example. And I can’t figure out if you need MS Word to use it or not. You’ll need to take a look at it yourself. WordPress doesn’t give you a lot of choices about how to download. You can’t select particular years. You can also select smaller amounts (drop-down menu). Mine is too big to do in one gulp.

I would like to have more choices, but that’s not going to happen. Nor am I intending to make this into a book, though I suppose I could do that too. That’s what these software packages are intended to do.

You may want to do some more searching and see if there are other packages that could work for you. Also the title length of the blogs is very long — too long to export from your computer to another, so I have to get back in touch and find out how to shorten those titles and make them exportable so they CAN be imported. Right now, it is beginning to look a lot like copying and pasting a LOT of posts. It’s a huge job. My headaches thinking about it.


Although, a fool and his money are soon parted,
you don’t need to be a fool to be parted from your money. 

You don’t have to be a fool to be unwillingly parted from your money. You can merely be an idealist with a mediocre ability to judge the honesty of others or, as I seem to be, too trusting for your own good. Alternatively, an internet connection and a minute or two of carelessness can do the job. Or a router that lacks the most up-to-date protective software — and we’ve been looking for one that does have the most up-to-date software and they aren’t even for sale yet. How about a cellphone with a back door? How about a worm in your root directory?

Anyone can get hacked including the most sophisticated users. You don’t need to be old, stupid, or technically challenged. Hackers are smart. They have software and hardware more powerful than yours. If they are out to get you for whatever bizarre reason, they can do it. It might take a while, but they’ll get there.

It might not even be an internet problem. It can be an inept roofing job, an incompetent plumber, or simply a really bad workman. Maybe you hire a contractor who doesn’t complete the work, but walks off with your down payment. Unless it’s a lot of money, the odds are that you’ll win in court, but wind up with even less money than you had before. How about inspection companies that fails to notice any of the problems in the house? Were they inept or paid off? I could go on and on, but why bother? Especially when you get on in years, you become a target for every scammer and spammer on the Internet or any guy who owns a pickup truck and a ladder.

Your only other choice is to not go online — which given our current reality, is hardly realistic — or let your house fall apart. another impractical solution. So many things these days you can only do online. Our State government pretty much runs online. That’s how you get your driver’s license and your registration. These days, if you don’t have a cell phone, you get punished for it.

I am not alone in worrying about cell phones. I recently spent the money on an “unhackable” bag which supposedly protects credit cards and my cell phone. No matter what anyone says, they are easily hackable for anyone with the right software and you can buy the software online. People to distrust? How about anyone you bump into in the grocery store or hospital waiting room. I finally have a good phone and I enjoy it, but it worries me. It works better than our regular “landline” which isn’t a landline, but runs on VOIP on our WiFi. I often wind up using it rather than the other phone because it has better sound and on a good day, I can see my friends’ faces. But it worries me.

Checking to see if we are home? Or just one of those automated services that dials a thousand number a minute. They don’t care if you are there or not. Out of all the calls they make, someone will be home. One of them will give them them just enough private information to misuse. Hackers get smarter every day and so do the phony roofers, plumbers, and handymen. Last time, they hacked my router. I got a new router. But I bet they have a hack for that, too. Meanwhile, I discovered I couldn’t update my router without a cell phone and even with a cell phone, I couldn’t figure out how it worked.

The only problem? All the new routers have the same hackable software as the old routers. In theory, they are working on better software. In reality, by the time they work out how to upgrade current software to beat the current hackers, new hackers will be miles ahead of them. In the meantime, watch out for guy with a pickup truck, a ladder, and a willingness to do the job at half the price.


Fandango’s Dog Days of August #30: MY BEST JOB EVER

I had been looking for a job that would let me flex my hours so Garry and I could spend time together. It was difficult. He worked terribly long hours, gone before the sun came up and not home until it was dark again. Ironic. Most people think reporters work “a few minutes a day” because that’s all they see on the news. Not true.To get those few minutes of finished news on the air, they drag themselves through every kind of weather — blizzards, hurricanes, bitter cold, unbearable heat — and endless traffic, from one end of the state to another. They are often on the scene of the worst imaginable horrors before the first responders arrive. They have to look good while doing it without a break for lunch or even a trip to the bathroom. Someone once commented it’s like being in the army, just without the uniform.

His days off were Wednesday and Thursday. That meant we had barely a few minutes after work to meet and greet each other. Everything else waited until vacation. By which time Garry was exhausted and needed two weeks of sleep to recuperate so he could go back to work again.

The good part of his job? He loved it. I think everyone in the news business is an adrenaline junkie. The thrill of getting the scoop, tracking down the story, coming up with a different angle on something every other station is also doing and sometimes, finding new information to crack open a case. Garry loved his work. He didn’t love every single moment of it, but he loved most of it, loved knowing he could make a difference, shine a light into a dark corner and fix something that had been broken. When I married him, I married his work. No whining about him missing all the family events, never being around to help with the housework or the shopping. I knew from the get-go I’d be keeping his dinner warm for whenever he got home. That was the deal we made. We didn’t spell it out, but we both understood. We were social equals, but his job came first. Period. End of story.

One day, I got a call. A large HMO was looking for a technical writer to put together documents for their various computer programs. Aimed at users, this was entry-level stuff. For me, used to working on really complex software, it was a piece of cake — with icing. I went to the interview. Bad news? It was a part-time job, paying a retainer. I would be paid for 20 hours a week at $25 an hour, which was less than my usual rate.

The good news? It was a retainer. All the freelancers out there know there’s nothing better than a retainer. I might work all 20 hours, or no hours, depending on what was going on. I would not be required to go into an office. Ever. I would work from home or wherever I and my computer might be, including the back porch of the summer-house on the Vineyard. It was half the money I’d been earning, but I could take freelance gigs to make up the gap.

I took the job. This was a gift from Heaven. I figured I’d be working most of the 20 hours. It turned out, there wasn’t any work. Or almost none. Weeks and months went by. I would call to find out if maybe they’d forgotten me and didn’t they want me to do something? No, everything was fine, they said. No problem. We’ll call you. Once in long while, they did call and for a few days, I worked. It was almost a relief. Even though it was writing I could do in my sleep. For five years, I got a steady paycheck for which I did essentially nothing. I did a bit of free-lance stuff here and there and was obliged to bring a laptop with me when I went on vacation, just in case someone needed me. I was getting paid for free.

One day, I picked up the Boston Globe and discovered the division for which I worked was being disbanded. Apparently someone noticed that no one in the department actually worked. So I called my boss, Anita.

“Anita,” I said. “I was reading the Globe this morning. Does this mean I have to look for a new job?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “We all do. But you’ve got three or four months, so you should be fine.”

I couldn’t believe it. They were taking away the best job in the world. I was going to have to go to work, show up at an office. I would have to stay there all day. What an awful thought! I went job hunting and found what would turn out to the best real job I ever had. Wonderful colleagues and a great boss, but it was work. I had to think a lot. It was like getting a masters in advanced database building using object linking. After I synthesized what I needed to know, I then had to use that knowledge to write and design documents. I was back to meeting deadlines. My 5-year paid vacation had not eliminated my skills. I was as good as ever.

I was spoiled.

Never again would I feel comfortable working a 9 to 5 job although I worked them for twenty more years. I got terribly restless. Merely having to be in one location for all those hours made me twitch. I got my work done and done well, but I wanted my freedom back. I wouldn’t get it until I retired and that was a long time in the future.

I was ruined for the real world.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #83: Who’s controlling what?

One of the big issues with WordPress’s decision to create a kind of block format that is very unappealing to most of us who aren’t here to make money but joined to show off our art, write about issues that matter, display pictures … the artists rather than the money-makers. I’m sure that a lot of us would happily at this stage hop to another platform … but what platform? Medium? They don’t sound like like they would welcome my freewheeling style. Blogger? Has anyone ever gotten a dialogue going on Blogger? I couldn’t. Eventually, I simply gave up. So Fandango’s question is simple and basic:

I think the answer is really that technology controls us. I wish it weren’t true. I don’t want it to be true, but it is. Without WiFi, there’s little I can accomplish. My bank is never open. Everything happens electronically by cell phone and computer. We live in a small town where shopping is limited. There is, for example, no camera store. If I need a lens, I have to buy it online. It’s hard to even find a contractor to do work we need to do. There isn’t much work, but we are a little too far from Boston to commute … and who in their right mind would want to commute to Boston?

These days, WiFi is not a luxury. It’s a utility controlled as a monopoly by whatever town you live in. We don’t have any choice but Charter and they can charge whatever they want since they have no competition. And, because we are a low-density population, other companies aren’t exactly fighting each other to come here and open businesses.

What we have is a lot of natural beauty, the winding Blackstone River and its tributaries, a long history dating back to the early 1600s … and WiFi for everything else. So yes, we are controlled by our technology. Sometimes it’s a marvel. Other times, you just need one long downtime of your cable and suddenly, you feel helpless. Your computer breaks and panic ensues. Your cell phone bites the big one and you literally don’t know how you’ll get through another day.

Yes, we are controlled by our technology, especially right now when we are living in a plague-ridden environment.

What can we do to change it? I don’t know. Nothing right now, but maybe in the future we’ll discover other ways of living. I know I didn’t grow up owned by technology, yet over the decades, I’ve rolled right into it. Haven’t we all?

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TOOL? – Marilyn Armstrong

Blogging Insights # 36 — Devices

And the question is:

You could probably take an educated guess from the picture containing the question, but in case you aren’t sure, it’s a laptop. It’s a hunky laptop with 16-gigs of memory and almost 2-TB of memory — SSD plus standard (fast) HD. I don’t need this machine for blogging, but I do need it for photographs. Not only do I need the power (because Adobe is a real memory hog), but because I need the real estate. It’s difficult to edit a photograph on a tiny screen. Actually, it’s impossible. You simply can’t see enough of the graphic to do the job.

Text doesn’t take up much space in computer memory, but photographs do. Videos are even bigger. I have more than 100,000 photographs on this machine and probably another 50,000 only on backup drives. But those aren’t the only reasons.

I’m a 10-fingered touch typist because I went to a New York city high school. For anyone on a college track, you had to learn typing, both boys and girls. They theorized — correctly — that once you got into college, you would probably be writing paper for your course and good handwriting notwithstanding, your professors were going to want your paper typed. In one of their more remarkable — and valuable judgments, they made everyone learn touch typing. It was the one really useful class I took in high school, along with swimming lessons (we had an Olympic-sized pool, probably the last high school in the city that still had one). So, whatever else I learned, I could swim — which saved my life at least once and probably more than that — and I could type. Who knew I was going to spend half my life working on a typewriter or computer keyboard?

And finally? Laptops have a full-size keyboard. I can poke around the iPhone for short texts, but by the time I get to a full paragraph, I’m too tired to bother with more. That’s why kids don’t know how to use English as a language. In an attempt to make their texts shorter, they’ve invented a whole sub-language consisting of common computer expressions. I don’t understand more than a quarter of them — maybe even less. Then they get to college and they really think LOL is a real word and try to use it on compositions for English classes (I know a couple of English professors). They don’t learn spelling or punctuation, either. It’s all Emojis and contractions.

I really love my computers. Both of them. I even love my Kindles. I’m also getting quite fond of the iPhone because it has good sound levels and Garry can actually hear it. I can Facetime friends with a lot less complexity than Zooming or Skyping. That being said, the iPhone is pretty much a communications device for me. It has a couple of other uses, especially in an emergency, but it’s too small for me to use for blogging. Also, I do a lot of rewriting … and that too requires real estate. I used to have a desktop Mac that had a huge and wonderful screen, but it finally got old and died.

I use my iPhone to take pictures if I don’t have a camera and I really want it, but it isn’t going to replace my cameras. The pictures are good, as long as you don’t try to enlarge them. That’s when you can see the difference. Fine for snap shooting cute dogs, family, the friends — but the lens has significant limitations. It’s definitely better than not taking the picture at all, but if I have a choice, I’d rather use a better camera.

So there you have it. As for all the places you can blog, I’m not a toilet writer, I never take buses because we don’t have any, and I get seasick trying to read or write in a car … and anyway, we never go anywhere these days. We didn’t go a lot of places before, so the fact that I could blog from my treehouse is entertaining, but not especially practical.


A computer can be the simplest way to do things and it can also be insanely  complicated. For some reason, my computer — after the last Windows download which might have something to do with it (or not) — has slowed down to a slow crawl. A couple of other things might have something to do with it too, like a lot of temp files from installations, logs dumped by various application, lots of download for installed applications — files which are typically rather huge. You can keep install files, but you don’t need to save them. They use a lot of disk space.

Having last night finally found the last piece of grammarly and removed it, I discovered that all my desktop shortcuts had lost their icons. They worked fine, but the little pictures we use to identify them were missing.

I rebooted, figuring that was the problem. And it didn’t work. I refreshed the screen. That brought back two icons.

It was late. I was tired. So, I opened properties and looked for the little “change icon” hook. Missing. I rebooted again. Now, about half the shortcuts had a “change icon” function, but they didn’t have the icons that came with the particular applications.

Another reboot. Suddenly, the correct icons began to appear. All I had to do is click change icon, then click the icon that was already there (so why wasn’t it appearing on the desktop?) and I was home free.

By then, it was two in the morning and as I got up to get something to drink then go to bed, both dogs were standing next to me in the kitchen. How did they know I was going to the kitchen? Both of them were asleep in the bedroom. They have an otherworldly sense of when a cookie might be coming their way.

It didn’t occur to me until today that maybe I should make sure all these shortcuts go to the correct applications.

Now, I’m trying to reinstall missing applications and filters. I’m reaching my “too tired to care” moment. Of course, our beloved Charter Communications is rewiring this entire region because the poles are very old and lopsided, so they been glitching on and off for the past few days. I don’t suppose THAT could be the problem?


It was a bad week in a lot of ways. Non-deliveries, late deliveries, missing parts, and a lot of increasingly aggravating conversations with Amazon. I spent more time on the telephone with Amazon’s customer service than I have writing posts or taking pictures. I was beginning to feel like that was my new profession — arguing with customer service.

Today, things suddenly looked better. Although the delivery of shampoo and conditioner to my friend didn’t happen, she did call the post office and they said they would straighten it out. Apparently, it didn’t go to their PO Box because it was delivered to the wrong post office, a problem they have had before. So she should get the package tomorrow. And I refinanced a very bad loan with a much better loan that will leave us a bit of money to repair the back door, put a storm door on the front and back — and if we are very lucky, repair (I’d rather replace, but that’s not in the cards) the deck. If we can salvage the steps and the substructure and just put in a new deck and rail. The steps are the most expensive part.

To top it all off, we got an actual apology from Amazon, saying that they are not in the business of making life difficult for customers and gave me a private number to call should I need to discuss anything with anybody. I never expected that — which made this a pretty good day.

We also managed to swing a loan in less than four hours, It replaces a very bad loan i should never have signed and am very grateful to be free of it.

That made me wonder whatever happened to the application I put in for the loan for a new boiler. I hadn’t even gotten a note for the application I sent to them and it had been a week since I sent it.

So I went into  National Grid to look for a copy of the sent document. There was no document. No copy. On stuff like this, I always CC myself. I finally managed to dig through my gazillion emails and found … are you ready?


Seriously. Even now, they asked if I really wanted to send a note that had a variety of grammatical errors and vague sentence structures. Did I want to send it? it was a loan application and they hadn’t even sent a note telling me that rather than sending it, they had dumped it into drafts. Is that legal? I’m glad I suddenly realized that I hadn’t heard from National Grid!

How dare they do that! I deleted Grammarly — and you should too.  It’s like a worm and gets into every piece of your computer where there is any text, including picture captions.

The amount of harm they could have done me — and I hope have not yet done — is ugly. I was one of the people that years ago Grammarly selected to “test drive” the application when they were planning to charge everyone $12/month, but I could have it for free for three months. I turned them down, said that was much more money than anyone writing a free blog would ever pay and that frankly, I didn’t like a lot of their writing rules either. It was inappropriate for a casual writer or any fiction writer. Or anyone using a local dialect or using words of which Grammarly doesn’t approve.

Until WordPress decided we didn’t need a spell checker anymore — and recommended the free version of Grammarly — I never expected to encounter them again. Lately, they have become very aggressive. They are at the beginning of every YouTube video. and they turn themselves off when they please, on when they feel like it. Undependable at best, but this was way over the top. How dare they?

If you are using Grammarly, be very careful. I have been saying for a while that I’ve been losing emails. Having them vanish and apparently, Grammarly is why. If you are running it, maybe you don’t want to use it after all. If they decide you aren’t using the right wording, important business documents can and possibly already have, disappeared.

So it was a bad week, a good week, a better week — and a really bad application that has (I hope) finally been expelled. It wasn’t easy getting rid of it. I found that it had embedded in every possible part of the computer.

I deleted it from my hard drive, deleted it from Chrome, but it was still in there and I had to expel it from WordPress using their special code. There were versions of it all over my computer, like a worm or trojan virus.

It’s a devious and intrusive — and potentially DANGEROUS application. Be careful.


I was up until very late last night because Garry got a new computer. Setting it up was easy because these days, everything is automated. And he didn’t have a lot of documents or photographs to move. They are all on my computer.

He has decided he’s going to try writing a book … and his Google book or iPad weren’t going to do the job. I did all the basic setup and downloaded Apache Open Office, which is free (but they will gladly take donations). It has everything (and more) than MS Office. It works on any computer. It really is free.

I have been using it on all my personal computers for the past 15-years. To be fair, I haven’t done any serious work on it. I wrote my book using Framemaker, which was Adobe’s anti-intuitive documentation software which I just happened to own at the time. But when I finished my book, I never renewed it. I’m not sure Adobe makes it anymore.

It was the software for non-fiction authors. If you were working on a doctorate or any material that needs glossaries, appendices, indexes, et al, Framemaker was the software. Expensive, but everything Adobe makes is pricey. I got Framemaker and Photoshop as goodbye gifts from my last job. It was great for designing my book, but for normal every day writing it was overkill.

Meanwhile, they kept charging more and more for MSOffice and it wasn’t worth it. It was so over-automated that it did what it wanted, but almost never what YOU wanted. OpenOffice is much less automated — and free.

But, as I said, I never used it for serious writing. While I haven’t been using it, the application has changed — for the better. If Garry is going to use it, I will have to teach him to use it. How can I teach him to use it if I don’t know how it works? So, after Garry went off to watch old Western movies in the bedroom, I created a small file. No problem with setting up fonts and formats.

Then I figured Garry was going to need page numbers. So hey, I’m a class act with software, right? I set up a footer then went to look for the page numbers. Two hours later, I still couldn’t figure out how to put in a simple page number in the middle of the footer. It would set it up left-right for a book, but I just wanted a simple number, middle of the page in the footer.

As the night began to turn into morning I found something that looked like it might work, but I think you can only see the numbers if you print the document. I was ready for bed, not printing. Oddly enough, I didn’t print it today either. Maybe tomorrow. Or Sunday.

I think I need to go back to Apache and watch some of their videos and read some of the documentation. During 20 years of retirement, I might have lost my touch! It was a humbling experience.

THE COMING OF THE iPhone – Marilyn Armstrong

My son talked me into it. It was the best deal I was ever going to get. My cousin’s son and my best friends’ sons did the same for them — all at the same time. It’s probably the quarantine that did it. They said that we were seriously in need of good telephones and, it was time they did something about it.

I guess we’ve reached the point when our kids are in the lead which is great. I needed a break!

I also needed to learn to text. Owen didn’t care so much about the rest of it, but he needed me to text because whenever I called him at work, even if the rest of the day had been boring and nothing happened, the moment I called there would be ten people lined up waiting for him. One of Murphy’s Laws.

So now I have an iPhone 11. That’s the small one (I don’t need a giant phone — at that point, I might as well get an iPad and I don’t like them, either, but Garry has one and he does like it so maybe I’m just not a Mac person.

I also got a new set of regular phones for our regular number. I will happily give my cell number to people I want to hear from, but I’d be just as happy to not have everyone calling me all the time.

I don’t understand most of how it works, but I can, reluctantly text. He’d buy and pay for the phone and the monthly “rent” if I would learn to text.

As far as cameras go, it’s a pain in the butt to transfer pictures from the phone to the PC. I don’t know if it would be easier to transfer them to the Mac, but my Mac has no decent photo software and I don’t have the money to buy it right now.

To use the pictures, I have to mail them to myself. Since I take a lot of pictures at a time, I usually have at least a few dozen to download. The photographs are physically large but only 72 pixels — which I find odd. For all that, they are sharp. I wonder who makes the lenses?

For unknown reasons, the camera doesn’t recognize the difference between a short movie and a photo. When you press “photo,” you get whatever it feels like giving you. It’s an existential photographic implement. It probably was raised in France.

It is useful to have something that is small, light and can take respectable pictures, but if you really want art, you need a camera. Focusing on an iPhone is slow compared to a camera. I suspect most people just take the picture and edit later (if they bother to edit). Most snapshooters don’t edit and all they are going to do with the picture is mail it to friends or family. That’s easy. Anything else is klutzy and ponderous.

Still, having something in your bag with which you can take pictures is useful, especially when you are someplace you weren’t planning to take pictures. But LOOK! There’s the most handsome squirrel or duck you’ve ever seen giving you his or her “good side” from a nearby branch. Assuming you can get the camera set up in time, you’ll get a clear, sharp photograph. For me, it will always be a way to shoot when I wasn’t planning to take pictures. I can see how for people who don’t post photographs online or on a blog, it is the “Brownie camera” with a far better lens and some cumbersome wide-angle and telephoto capabilities.

That is always the problem with something that does everything. It never does one thing perfectly but does many things pretty well (if you are lucky).

I took pictures at the dam the day before yesterday. I didn’t take my camera because it’s so heavy, but the day was beautiful and we were actually outside in The Big World.

The pictures are surprisingly good. It also took me the better part of the afternoon emailing them to myself. You can email them individually or as a compressed file, but one way or another, there’s a good deal of work you will need to do from the computer end of the process.

I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to hold the phone without my thumb in the middle of the shot. I still haven’t fully downloaded all the pictures. I probably never will. It’s too much like work.

I can text — slowly — and as a telephone, it’s loud enough for Garry to hear comfortably and that’s a big plus for him. It’s the first time he’s had a cell loud enough to hear clearly since we owned our first Blackberries. Those were classy phones! No photographs, but great sound, a clear signal, plus a usable keyboard. A great portable “office” to carry with you wherever you went. Lacking bells and whistles, but a fine working unit.

So, in summary, for a cell phone, it’s a good camera for grabbing a snapshot on the go.

IT’S ALL CONNECTED – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s the little things that trigger epiphanies. Those tiny moments of recognition that make me say “Oh! I see!”

A few days ago, I took my Panasonic out of my shoulder bag where it lives. I’m very careful with my cameras. When I’m shooting, I’m so focused that unless I adhere to a strict routine, I lose stuff. As I’ve gotten older, I lose stuff anyway and I don’t want to lose any cameras, so I follow my checklist to make sure that no camera or accessory gets left behind. I pull the camera out of my bag, stuff its sleeve in my pocket, take my pictures, and put it all back. When I get home, I pop the SD card out, plug it into the computer, download the pictures, put away that card and put a new one in the camera.

Back into my bag it goes. I know if I keep to the program, I will always have a camera where I need it. For some reason, the last time I used it, I didn’t put it away and left it somewhere. I’m sure I had a reason, though I can’t recall what it was. I forgot it until last night when I picked my bag and noticed how light it felt. What was missing? Ah, the camera.

“Hmm,” I said. “I didn’t realize that little camera weighed that much.”

Camera and mouse

It was late. I was on my way to bed but stopped in my office grab an extra battery which was when I noticed the camera lying on the desk. I must have put it there when I put the battery in its charger. I picked up the camera and thought “Gee, I should swap the battery and charge this one. I’ve been using it a lot.”

I have quite a few spare batteries. There is nothing that will ruin a shoot more completely than having a battery die in the middle of a shoot and realizing that’s it. No more juice.


I popped the battery out and went to put it in the charger. I looked at my power strip. Six chargers. Impressive for a strip that only has 6 plugs.

This being a Panasonic battery, I tried putting it in the first Panasonic charger on the strip. It didn’t fit. I tried the next one, but it didn’t fit there either, which shouldn’t have surprised me because it was Olympus charger and this was a Panasonic battery, but who can read black lettering on a black charger in dim light anyhow?

There was one charger in the strip I hadn’t tried. Unsurprisingly, the battery popped right into place. I looked around and realized I have two extra Olympus chargers nearby and an off-brand charger whose purpose I do not recall. The chargers in this group each attach to one arm of an octopus splitter. With a wrinkle of concern, I realized I had no room for another charger and sure as the sun will rise, I am sure to need one. I wondered where I could possibly put it.

Epiphany.  Bong. Whack.

Where the cameras live

I have a lot of cameras, computers, tablets, readers, telephones, printers, transmitters, routers, modems, Roku, DVD players, etc. I don’t even know how many there are. I don’t even know where I’ve put them all. Or if they work. They have accumulated. There are the old ones I used until I got newer ones. Then there are the backups I never use, but have in case a piece of equipment fails. Spare telephones, extra cameras. Even a couple of miscellaneous computers.

Everything uses batteries including items that plug into a socket somewhere and most things seem to need a WiFi feed. No room is exempt, from kitchen to bedroom. We have electronic toothbrushes in our bathrooms. After even the briefest power outage, my entire house starts blinking.

The night is lit by the soft glow of red, blue, and green LEDs. It’s never fully dark or entirely silent. Everything flickers, whirrs, buzzes, clicks, beeps, and dings. The telephones variously whoop, bong, or play obnoxious music. Even my wallpaper (the stuff on the computer, not the walls in the kitchen) makes splashing sounds as my virtual dolphins leap in an electronic sea.

My universe collapses in the face of a power outage. Nothing works if the power’s down. I am slavishly devoted to technology and the thought of having no electricity for even a brief period makes me shiver with dread.

Everyone these days seems to have a vast quantity of electronic gadgetry, no matter what they say because nothing is simple anymore. The microwave, the refrigerator, the range, and the oven are computerized. Those are merely the basics.

I had to reboot my bed the other day.

I may not, in theory, need so much stuff, but I can’t imagine giving anything up.  I love it all. I even love the things I don’t use, cell phones that served me well and obsolete computers or cameras which have been replaced by newer models. They are my Hall of Fame collection.

Accumulation will never stop. Garry’s new computer is on the way and who knows how many peripheral items it will spawn.

I swear this has all crept up on me, slipped into my life a gadget at a time — a computer, a modem, a router, a laptop, another computer another and another. New cameras replaced old ones and they were themselves replaced by even newer gear. New gadgets were invented and became indispensable. As technology continues to evolve, each piece of equipment will be replaced eventually by newer versions. Like virtual seasons in an endless cycle of beeping, flashing and whirring change.

Excuse me. My oven is beeping. Dinner must be ready.


Bad customer and technical support is the new good. You only think it’s bad. The problem is your attitude. Or so they’d have you think.


All the big technology companies are working hard to save a few bucks. Competition is fierce. Every penny counts. Since executives won’t accept lower pay nor will stockholders accept lower returns, it’s customers who fill the cost-cutting gap.

Death cust serv
In the race to be the cheapest, tech companies stopped including chargers with devices. No manuals. No system software. No reinstallation software. Short power cords that don’t go from an outlet to a desktop. No connector for printers, speakers or whatever. Everything you need to finish setting up costs extra.

Customer service was the first thing to go. They hired people who don’t know anything, don’t understand or speak English. For all I know, they don’t understand or speak Spanish either. They aren’t trained, don’t know the products. And since manufacturers no longer include documentation, you don’t have the option of taking care of it yourself.

No company — not cameras, computers or software — includes documentation. I became obsolete years ago when the industry decided no one reads the manuals. So they fired the tech writers, put some generated information in an online PDF. They figured customer service techs would handle the fallout. But they don’t. Many of us would be happy to fix minor glitches but have no alternative to spending our time on the phone, frustrated and angry.


You can’t say they didn’t have a plan. Corporation had a really terrible plan. It was such a bad plan that everyone adopted it. Of course, these days any plan is a big deal being as we live in a nation that hasn’t had a viable plan for anything in more than three years. And now, we have a plague. How cool is that?Customer Service waiting It’s not a Microsoft issue or a Dell thing. It’s not a plan that anyone can claim as their own. It’s a cross-industry problem, affecting virtually every tech corporation in this country.

Bad has become the official new good. Really and truly good is remarkable and so rare.


In every industry, business, service — service support stinks. It doesn’t matter where you go. You’ll get the same lousy service. It’s the great leveler.


Sometimes, you get lucky. The guy or gal you connect with knows the product and you think “Wow, that wasn’t bad! Maybe it’s improving.” The next time, it’s the same old, same old. Mostly you spend hours online listening to the worst music ever written and every once in awhile they point out how important you are and the next time anyone can take your call, they will.

Okay then. I think it’s possible I’m still on hold.


There was an interesting article in the news concerning a porn site called xhamster.com. I don’t know why it’s called that and I really don’t want to know. They’re in the news because they closed off their website to anybody living in the state of North Carolina.

Why? Because of the harsh, horrible anti-LGBT law they passed. If you log onto their website from anywhere in that state, you would get a blank screen.

blank screen
Blank screen for you!

The tone of all the news reports and nightly talk shows was that this was a funny but useless protest. There are thousands of other porn sites where North Carolinians can … well, you know. As usual, the mainstream media and the nightly talk shows missed the real story. I am not offering an opinion on the virtues or evils of porn.

There is a larger truth. It is widely known but rarely talked about regarding the porn industry. Porn is not just dirty pictures. Porn has been a major driver, financial backer, and early adopter of technological innovation since the beginning of our technological revolution. That is to say, forever.

When mankind started drawing on cave walls, I guarantee you some of the first things depicted were people getting some Neanderthal Nookie.


Porn was very popular in the Middle Ages. Moreover, it utilized some of the earliest encryption technologies. I saw an exhibit in a museum once that showcased one of them. The exhibit consisted of huge tapestries painted with very strange distorted images. You couldn’t tell what they were.

What were they? Porn. The artist would draw the original naughty painting on a regular canvas. He would then look at the painting’s reflection in a cylindrical mirror. The image in the mirror would be distorted. He would then paint that distorted image onto the tapestry so if you looked at the tapestry, the painting made no sense.

anamorphic art

But. If you looked at the tapestry’s reflection in the same cylindrical mirror the artist used, the image would be reconstructed back to its original form. — “Naughty Knights 5.”

When photography was invented in the 1800s one of the earliest subjects was, of course, naked women. Having sex. When the telegraph was invented, telegraph operators were known to spend their off-hours “telegraph sexting”.

I didn’t believe it either.


OPERATOR ONE: Who you talking to?

OPERATOR TWO: I don’t know, but she sure can dit my dot!

The VCR became popular because porn producers started switching to videotape, abandoning film. Finally, you didn’t have to go to a movie theater for porn. You could “bring it home.”

VHS beat out Betamax because the porn industry chose VHS. Really. No kidding. That’s the way it really happened.


Porn money propelled other technologies, too. Online payments, DVDs, streaming video, and two-way internet chat rooms. Virtual Reality headsets were only been available for a few months before there was Virtual Reality Porn.


(I wouldn’t know this personally, but I read a lot).

So here’s the real story that everybody has missed.  One porn site blocked off an entire state. It has been viewed as a symbolic, but mostly useless protest.

What if they all did it?  What if all the porn sites got together and said to North Carolina: “NO PORN FOR YOU!”

no porn for you

I’ll bet you that anti-LGBT law would be overturned in about an hour and a half! Maybe less. Then, the porn industry would realize it’s true power! Imagine, Lysistrata on a national, even a global, scale!


“You won’t do what we want? NO PORN FOR YOU!” All the porn industry needs to do is come together. Organize.

Organize into a cartel.

A conglomerate

 A Ring.


“One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them.

One ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.”

Pray they use their power for good.