IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING: COMPUTERS AND GLITCHES – Marilyn Armstrong

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?

BAD WEEK, GOOD WEEK, BAD APPLICATION – Marilyn Armstrong

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?


GRAMMARLY HAD SENT IT TO DRAFTS BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T LIKE MY GRAMMAR.


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.

THREE IN THE MORNING AND THE PAGE NUMBERS WON’T WORK – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

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.

75-PowerNIK-CR-70

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” IS THE NEW “GOOD” IN TECH SUPPORT – Marilyn Armstrong

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.

YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE

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.

THE PLAN IN ACTION

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.

WOULD IT KILL THEM TO INCLUDE A MANUAL?

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.

CustServCartoon

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.

THE WONDER OF THE WEENIE – By Tom Curley

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.

thestar.com.my
thestar.com.my

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
arthit.ru

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.

blog.kaspersky.com
blog.kaspersky.com

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.

alf.image.com
alf.image.com

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.

truvisionvr.com
truvisionvr.com

(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!

dykiegirl.wordpress.com
dykiegirl.wordpress.com

“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.

lotr.wiki.com
lotr.wiki.com

“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.

WHAT COMPUTER TO BUY IF YOU DON’T HAVE MONEY? Marilyn Armstrong

My granddaughter is in college. Twice. She’s studying to be a beautician AND a psychologist (online). She’s a bit busy which is fine because it keeps her away from men. She has really terrible taste in men. But at her age, so did I. Actually, thinking about it, most of us had terrible taste in a lot of things, relationships being just one of them.

iPad

What she would like and I wish I could give it to her, is an iPad. I simply don’t have the money. If Garry had not co-opted my Mac for his voice recording work, I could give her that, but it’s taken. I actually, for the first time in my life, have only one computer. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have a broken one in my closet in the bedroom. It needs a new battery, but I can’t find anyone who knows how to get one. It wasn’t a mainstream computer and there weren’t many of them made. So it’s in a case at the bottom of my bedroom closet. Not too useful.

Macbook Air

Garry has an iPad that he doesn’t use much, but Garry keeps things. He doesn’t give them away. He saves everything, including things he hasn’t had any actual use for in 50 years like his Marine Corps dress uniform into which he can still fit.

I was thinking of getting her a Chromebook. Garry has one and he uses it all the time … but he doesn’t have to write papers for school and Chrome only has Chrome documents and stuff like that. I do not know if it would handle the workload she has got.

In return, she would like to paint our front door. She likes to paint. Actually, she has always liked to paint but I must discourage her from getting excessively artistic. That door will need to be painted again and again over the years and she may not be around to augment her artwork.

Chromebook

Anyone know enough about the Chromebook’s OS to tell me whether or not it’s up to managing a college student’s part-time work? This would be the “lightweight” computer. The heavy one is one of my old laptops that has a dead battery. Effectively, it’s a desktop computer.

I have no idea what it would cost to replace the bad battery. Another question I need to ask … but out here in the boonies, it’s hard to find someone to ask. We don’t have a lot of computer experts lurking around and those who are lurking are basically … well … me.

Maybe second hand? They rebuild iPads, so maybe?

All input gratefully accepted!

NOT A PENNY FROM ME OR MINE – Marilyn Armstrong

I am a Liberal Democrat.

I currently get about 20 emails a day asking me to contribute to a campaign or to the party coffers for some good  Democratic cause or other. I support almost all of these causes, but I’ll never give them another dollar. I will unsubscribe to all 20 of today’s emails today or tomorrow. As soon as I have time.

Why? Am I a fervent advocate of reforming campaign corruption? Do I harbor a passionate, idealistic need to change the system and alter how politics is funded?

It turns out, I am a fervent advocate of campaign corruption reform and I do harbor a passionate need to reform political funding, but that’s not the reason. I’m also poor, but even that isn’t the reason.

72-Lost-Dutchman-newer-GAR-Superstition-011316_186

In 2008, I donated three dollars to Barack Obama. I was pleased when he got elected. I donated a few more dollar in 2012. As a thank you, I got spammed.

Every Democrat running for any office in any American state, as well as every liberal group with a cause, sent me thousands of emails several times each week and sometimes, per day. It might have been even more, but somewhere along the way, I lost track. So we’ll just call it a mountain of mail.

All of them told me in some wildly hysterical way that some candidate I’d like to see elected was missing a mere $320 for the month and a few dollars from me might make the difference. They started out by asking me to sign a petition, after which, they wanted money. A little money but I could send more and I could set it up to come out of my account automatically every month. And that was just the beginning.

Every other minute, there was a new cause as well as a few hundred more emails. It reached an insane crescendo and I spent entire days deleting everything without even trying to see what it was. One day, I spent an entire day, morning to evening, unsubscribing. The incoming mail dropped to a bearable level. For a day. And then it began to rebuild.

Every time I considered signing a petition or read an online post, I was automatically — without being notified or offering my permission — was subscribed to the site and mailing lists. I was a piece of data. Being mined.

I don’t care how good the cause is. That’s wrong. And it’s spam. They succeeded in making me unwilling to ever give them any money ever. I do not answer surveys. Nor do I fill out petitions, no matter how much I sympathize with its cause.

Uncle sam political cartoon 1899

The Democratic Party — all political parties, their candidates and causes (I actually found myself on the Conservative Republican mailing list because I read an article somewhere and they also signed me up) — are on my “not one red cent” list. Because a $3 dollar donation got me spammed. I was buried under electronic propaganda.

Know that if you are naive enough to provide your phone number on a petition or survey, expect never-ending intrusive phone calls. I think if they want my opinion, they can pay for it.

The political funding system needs reformation. Equally in need of reform is the way all political groups feel free to use your personal information for their own purposes.

They will subscribe you to their mailing and calling lists because you tried to read their literature. Which, in theory, is what they want you to do. Participating in politics — trying to be a good citizen — will get you bombarded with propaganda until you declare a plague on all their houses.

By: politicalavenue-com

It’s not okay. Really, it’s not. It’s intrusive and sneaky. It is a massive abuse of my right to privacy. I did not agree to let everyone in the world use my personal data for their own goals.

Visiting a web site does not imply permission to invade my privacy. I do not know how other people handle this sort of thing, but it means that I will never donate a penny to anyone running for office — or in support of any of their causes. Ever.

Vermin Supreme poster

They — both parties, all parties, all the pols — have done it to themselves.  Before pointing fingers at “the system,” they need to admit that they are the system. They are the abusers. While they are busy investigating Google, Facebook, and Twitter, they might take a look in the mirror and consider how they are doing the same thing. That it might be for a better cause — in my opinion — is neither here nor there.

I am not a piece of data and I do not want to be mined. Don’t put my name or my phone number or my personal preferences on your database. Don’t bury me in emails or phone calls.

Instead of getting me to sign on, you got me to sign off. Was that what you wanted? If not, reconsider your methods.

THE ULTIMATE POWER OF THE WEENIE – By Tom Curley

You can’t use the word “p#rn” on Google because as everyone knows, Google is so carefully-regulated and selective about who publishes on their site, one need never worry about what one might see there. It’s the word, NOT the subject of the writing that is at issue. Do they have any human beings who know how to think in their administration? Or is it all accountants, computers, and software hunting for buzzwords? I am not the only one wondering about this!

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 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. But, 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. However, there is a larger truth which is widely known but rarely talked about regarding the porn industry. Porn has been a major driver, financial backer, and early adopter of technological innovation since the beginning. Since forever.

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

thestar.com.my
thestar.com.my

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 all distorted. He would then paint that distorted image onto the tapestry. If you looked at the tapestry the painting made no sense.

anamorphic art
arthit.ru

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 first invented in the 1800’s 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.

blog.kaspersky.com
blog.kaspersky.com

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.

alf.image.com
alf.image.com

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.

truvisionvr.com
truvisionvr.com

(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!

dykiegirl.wordpress.com
dykiegirl.wordpress.com

“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.
lotr.wiki.com
lotr.wiki.com

“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.

IT’S THE LITTLE STUFF THAT GETS ME – Marilyn Armstrong

EVEN WORDPRESS CAN’T BE THAT BAD, CAN THEY?
Even my computer is part of the plot against us! It's Alienware!

Even my computer is part of the plot against us! It’s Alienware!

I definitely have a few bones to pick and I’m going to start picking right now. You see, I have these questions. Important questions. And there are, as far as I can tell, no answers to them.

1. Why does WordPress allow us to approve or disapprove comments, but anyone can follow us? Doesn’t that seem wrong to you? I leafed through my thousands of “followers” the other day and exactly as expected, most of the recent ones are spambots. Short of using Captcha, which I consider cruel and unusual punishment, there doesn’t seem to be any way to prevent the spammers from following. I can get rid of their comments, but I can’t get rid of them.

2. No matter what you do, every pingback has to be personally moderated … yet if you allow reblogs — and most of us do — these do NOT need to be moderated, not even for those who have never commented and are essentially anonymous. Thus my posts have been reblogged on all kinds of horrible sites where I would never go, much less see my work posted. Forgive me if the logic of this eludes me.

3. Object linking has become the function that powers our internet experience. For those of you who don’t know much about programming and computer development, a “link” is really an embedded address. Thus a pingback is actually an object “pointer.” It takes the address of a website or some other thing on the internet (it could also be an email address or a picture … or a part number in a database), embeds it in a graphic or text so that when someone clicks on it, it takes them to that place. Like the transporter on the Enterprise.

Bonnie guarding my computer

It’s the computer equivalent of “Scottie, beam me up.” The other day, all my links went wacko. If I clicked on a notification from a follower, I got sent to the Reader … but not to that blogger or that post. Just the top of the Reader. Sometimes, I got the message that the address didn’t exist.

I panicked, contacted WordPress. Who said they would check it out. Yet, before they even had a chance to look at it, it fixed itself and the problem disappeared. That was when I got a notice that other people had begun to have the same problem.

Is our technology beginning to fail because chaos reigns and magic is loose in the world?

4. When my links went berserk, my knee jerk reaction was to get mad. After all the goofy “upgrades” WordPress has been making to their user interface (in my world, it is known as the GUI, pronounced Gooey, or graphical user interface), anything is possible.

I assumed this was another bizarre piece of programming they were foisting on me. Eventually, I realized even WordPress could not possibly consider this acceptable. Not unless they were all taking some heavy hallucinogenic drugs up in the office.

So there you have it, my contentious bone picking of the day.


Watch your links. Keep watching your links.
Aliens are invading the servers.

 

WHAT NOT TO DO WHILE RUNNING DIAGNOSTICS – Marilyn Armstrong

Why is my computer freezing and sending me blue screens? I guess I should run some system diagnostics. I ran them recently and I was assured everything is hunky dory.

If it’s so hunky and dory, why does it keep freezing?

Diagnostics-89

FREEZE!

No, Marilyn! You cannot run diagnostics while surfing.  Bad Marilyn.

MORE FREEZING! 

No. You must not check email. Okay, check it, but don’t send anything. Shoot. Frozen again.

PUZZLEMENT

Why is it prompting me to update the drivers I just updated? Should I do it again? Nah. Waste of time.

BAFFLED CONFUSION

Why is Dell installing the software again? This is the fifth time. It’s installed. Geez. It’s just doing this to aggravate me.

HEADACHE, POUND, POUND, THUD

I need lunch. Afraid to leave the computer. Who knows what mischief it might get into?

STOMACH GURGLING

Bathroom, I don’t care what’s going on. I gotta go NOW. Computer? Sit! Stay! Don’t do anything while I’m gone.

FREEZE!

I guess no matter how boring it is, I should NOT play Bridge while running diagnostics.

ANOTHER FREEZE!

I suppose this means running diagnostics is not a perfect opportunity to thoroughly clean the keyboard.

HUH?

My system is fine. Absolutely nothing wrong. So what’s with all those Blue Screens of Death referencing my video card? Let’s stress test the video card.

ZZZ

This is more boring than watching paint dry. Are we there yet?

Diagnostics-91

RESULTS!

Everything is freaking fine. I’ll tell myself that the next time it locks up. Thanks for nothing. Another afternoon I can never get back.

EPILOGUE

It turns out that the fancy sound I use is part of the video card. This is the “fancy” sound most people only use when they are playing video games. I use it all the time because the sound is so much better than the standard sound. But, that means I really am using my video card for the sound I’m playing — while I’m photo-processing.

So if I’m listening to an audiobook while trying to process photographs using both Photoshop and Topaz filters, everything runs fine unless there’s a particularly big draw on the memory. Then, it just locks up the computer. Sometimes it brings up the blue screen, indicating a video card problem. It isn’t video or at least, it isn’t only the video.

It’s the combination of video and audio together.

The answer? I could choose to not use the fancy audio sound which runs on the big graphics card. Except, I don’t like the other sound.

Better yet, I can play the book on my Kindle and process photographs on the computer. The audio doesn’t use much memory, but Photoshop with Topaz uses a ton of it. And I’ve got 16 gigs of memory on this computer. It was a lot worse on the old computer which had a mere 12 gigs.

SPAM! – Marilyn Armstrong

For a long time, I got two spam messages for every real hit on my site. I was getting almost a thousand spam messages on heavy days. WordPress finally fixed the bug, but it was overwhelming for a while. Was this a record?

I have many questions about spam. The big one is simple. How did a slimy, over-salted canned meat come to be synonymous with electronic junk mail?

Even more puzzling is that people some people still actually eat Spam. You may take that any way you like. In case you didn’t know, it now comes in a variety of flavors. Yum!

Most of my spam comes from a Spanish list server (lista de emails … anything you get from this address is spam) or outlook.com — and 80% of these were porn. The rest are bots and scams. Legitimate companies do not send thousands of illiterate, nonsensical messages to random blogs.

Then, there are those who ask for advice. They use some version of this message as a comment to a randomly selected post.


“These are in fact fantastic ideas in concerning blogging. You have touched some good things here. Any way keep up wrinting.


Huh? What? It gets better. For completely incoherent, this is one of my favorites. I receive several dozen of these every day:


“Fine way of explaining, and fastidious paragraph to take information concerning my presentation focus, which i am going to convey in academy. Watch Elementary Season 1 Episode 5 Online”


I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A few of my best friends and followers always get mixed in with the spam, so I can’t delete it without looking at it. I have to read through it. Sometimes there are 10 to 15 pages or more, but since there are usually a few real comments mixed in, I have to at least look through all the pages.

Every once in a while, something looks like it might be the real deal … a true comment, but I can’t always tell. When in doubt, I spam it.

If you’ve been trying to comment and aren’t showing up, probably you’re getting dumped into the spam and because I don’t recognize you, you’re getting deleted. If you are a real person, please say something that identifies you as a human and not a machine generated message.

I apologize in advance if I have over-zealously deleted you.

I know that I am by no means alone in getting tons of this garbage. And with all the “spam bots” all over the world, it’s only going to get worse.

So, what do these spammers hope to accomplish by sending me this stuff? The messages never have anything to do with my posts. All are repetitive and obviously generated on a computer programmed by someone whose native language is not English. Most of it is gibberish.

Then again so are many posts on Facebook, so maybe that’s not a good example.

There are the spams that warn me my blog doesn’t display properly on the sender’s computer in Internet Explorer. Why would I care?

There’s are three or four versions assuring me I am brilliant, they love my post about (insert post title) and promise they will tell everyone how useful the information is on my web blog. They always call it a web blog like they just learned the term.

The thing is, while there are many ways you could describe my site, no one could honestly say (not even me) that it’s full of useful information. My stuff may be interesting, thought-provoking, occasionally funny, off-beat and apocryphal, but useful?

I don’t consider it useful and I write it.

There are those that request I exchange links with them and those that would love an invitation to write for my blog, those who suggest I come to their site to see huge penises, hot lesbian sex, hot gay sex, hot sexy sex, huge breasts, gigantic butts, and attractive ladies doing disgusting things with inanimate objects. If not, they would like to sell me some Viagra.

Does anyone actually believe this will generate business?

Make money?

If they believe this, why do they believe it? Does anyone ever respond to these “messages”?

So many questions, so few answers. If anyone has an answer, let me know. I’m baffled. It’s not the only thing about which I’m baffled, mind you, but most of the others are more serious.

Meanwhile, feel free to visit the Spam website. You’ll be glad to know that Spam comes in a wide variety of flavors, including a low sodium version that dodges the question of all that fat but it does lower the salt level. The site includes recipes, a Spam Museum and an online shop where you can buy Spam gear, such as caps, tee shirts, and other strange and wonderful things.

So maybe I do include useful information. I guess it depends on how you feel about Spam.

INSTALLING A PRINTER AND WHY I HATE THEM – Marilyn Armstrong

I hate printers. I also hate copiers, scanners, and fax machines. The only other things I hate are telephones. To be fair, I hate all telephones, not just cellular or mobile ones. I don’t understand them and they don’t understand me.

Just saying.


These days, when you buy a printer, you are also buying a scanner, copier, and it probably is wireless and can run on Bluetooth. I get an entire package of things I hate.

I still hate all of them, whether in one package or many. I got my new printer a while ago and finally got around to installing it yesterday. Maybe I should have waited.

When you are setting up a new printer, what can you do if your WiFi simply won’t “see” it?

It turns out, the most popular technique is highly technical denial. This means you turn everything off and go shopping. Really, any outside-the-house activity will do the job.

We went grocery shopping.

When we came back from shopping, I realized I had to confront the printer again. Another one of the small aggravations of modern times: new computers — like this one — don’t have DVD players. I bought an external one, but first I tried downloading the setup instructions from the website. This is supposed to work just like the disc, but unsurprisingly, did not.

Probably, because the WiFi did not find the printer. Or maybe there was some other inexplicable reason.

When your WiFi won’t find a device, there isn’t much you can do about it. You can wave your hands in the air like a fan. Maybe that will blow the WiFi in the right direction. You can shake your devices — but this may turn out to be a disadvantage because it might break. Then you’ll have to return it and start all over again.

Then, there’s cursing. For many people, that works well, but for me, it’s another distraction.

Turning everything off, then turning every back on is one of the most popular and effective ways of convincing something that isn’t working to work, but this time, it didn’t. I should have known. If going shopping didn’t fix it, I needed a new approach.

It’s so simple …

So, after we came home and I realized it hadn’t magically fixed itself (damn), I hauled my laptop and DVD player into the office. There are — as it turns out — alternate instructions which only appear when you click “NO, that didn’t work either”  for the third time. At which point alternate instructions pop into your browser.

These are apparently dangerous weapons of mass destruction and can only be used if your WiFi absolutely can not find the printer, even after you wave your arms and whisper the name of the manufacturer while burning incense.

It turns out, you have to press the WiFi button until the ALERT button flashes twice. Not three times. If it flashes three times, you have to start over.

Next, you have to push the start button again, at which time the WiFi button should start to flash very quickly. Not slowly. Slow flashing won’t work. They also don’t warn you there’s a pause before it starts rapidly flashing — but if you push it again, you have to start from the top.

If all goes well, at this point, unless your WiFi is actually out, you should have a connection.

Then you push another button while pressing the third button. Which prints a sheet which you will attempt to scan. Which inevitably produces an error message. If you try to do it again, all it will do is keep printing the same page.

I said screw it and gave up. Then, I decided to register the printer. It turns out, I can’t. Because I am a Canon user — but have no idea what my password used to be. I’m exhausted from carrying the laptop around and having to follow all those instructions.

Since the printer has been found by the WiFi, it would surely print if asked. If the WiFi had found the printer all by itself like it should have, I wouldn’t have had to do any of this. Windows would have taken over and installed everything. Immediately.

Good news? The printer says it works. I’m trusting this is true because I’m not sure about the scanner. I’ll save that for some other day. Like maybe never would be the right day.

Have I mentioned how much I really hate printers? I used to hate fax machines and copy machines too, but now they’re all one thing. So I have just one thing to hate instead of three.

Is this a good or bad thing?