A CONNECTED LIFE

A CONNECTED LIFE

These days, connections mean so many things. Our friends and followers on line. Our friends in the “real world.” The plugs and wires that run from our appliances, widgets, gadgets, and other devices to a power source.

It’s cable, satellite, FIOS, WiFi, and 3G.

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Electricity is the bottom line for most technology. But there’s more. The roads and bridges that allow us to drive from here to there. The pipes which bring water from the well to the house. The slot on the computer into which I can plug a memory card, turning digital data into an editable image.

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All these connections are part of the intricate web of our connections. We need all of them to be part of this techno-connected society. The more technology we use, the more dependent we are on our connections.

We take them for granted and barely notice them when they are working.

One day, there comes a storm. It knocks out the electricity. Nothing works. No connections. The well pump stops and there’s no water. The clocks don’t tell time. The background hum of our stuff disappears.

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No beeps, whirs, or clicks. If an outage lasts longer than batteries, there will be nothing. Those of you who depend entirely on “the cloud,” aka “other people’s servers” for music, movies, books … you have nothing even with battery power. Because without electricity, there’s no Internet, no cloud. No iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix.

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The silence and darkness are frightening.

Connectivity is life support. We have forgotten — in many cases, never knew — how to live without it.

ONE SIZE NEVER FITS ALL

Just when I think this subject has been dealt with, finished, over and done … it pops back up again. For reasons that remain a bit murky to me, a few large software and other organizations still believe the tablets and mobile phones are going to replace computers. Laptops and desktops … gone. Everything now gets done on tiny little thingamabobs.

side view alienware closeup computer

NOT!

About four years ago, tablets were the thing. Articles everywhere explained why tablets — and other small devices — would replace computers. The laptop and desktop are dead! The techno-pundits agreed: no one would need a computer because everything would be done on a small, portable device.

The short-sightedness of that statement still echoes in the air. Of course it didn’t happen. Sure, everyone bought a tablet. Or two or more. But no one threw out their computer, either. Turns out that each device has a purpose and an appropriate use. It isn’t and never will be “either-or.”

Venu 8 size compared to phone

I don’t have anything against portable devices. I have a smart phone. Sometimes, I even use it. I have a couple of tablets and have had as many as four, including an iPad. I didn’t like the iPad (gasp!) and gave it to my granddaughter who had a valid need for it in school. The others, I passed on to people who didn’t already have a tablet or three. The price of tablets has dropped so much — frequently offered free when you buy a cell phone or laptop — it’s getting hard to give them away.

I have a terrific gaming 14-inch laptop on which I’m working right now. I also have a desktop with a big HD monitor. I rarely use the desktop, but I keep it because you never know. Garry has one too. Ditto.

The big desktop monitor is a touch screen. It used to go nuts if a fly or a mosquito walked across it. I eventually gave up and turned the touch functionality off. It was a viciously difficult angle at which to use ones fingers, especially if you have a semblance of fingernails. It killed my wrists and shoulders.

WHAT ARE TOUCHSCREENS GOOD FOR?

Not much, actually. The little ones are good for checking email and making brief responses … and sending texts. Taking a quick glance at a website. Reading a book. Looking at (but not editing) pictures. Listening to music.

SO WHAT’S MISSING?

The ability to create anything or do any actual work. Too small for a spreadsheet. Without a keyboard, no writer would try to do anything longer than a paragraph or a quick typo fix.

And then there’s the inaccuracy. You cannot edit a photograph — or anything really using a touchscreen.

my office and desktop computer

YOU CAN’T DO “BIG” USING “TINY”

Those who extol mini devices as a total computer solution have never designed a book, made a movie, edited a photograph, used Photoshop (or any Adobe product), converted a book to a PDF or edited a manuscript. I know this because it’s impossible. All other problems aside, little devices are too small.

This is not my opinion. It’s fact. Mac, PC, Android, Linux — size matters. You can argue this until you’re blue in the face. It won’t change anything. Oh, and some of us really can’t read tiny type. Like more than half the population, for example. Far-sighted people and anyone over 40. Just saying.

VIRTUAL KEYBOARDS ARE FOR VIRTUAL TYPISTS

I read an article that explained how you can type just fine on a virtual keyboard. No, you can’t.

tablets kindle iPad

IT’S A BIG WORLD

I like choice. I like having different devices for specific tasks. You can’t replace everything with one thing  and there’s no reason you should.

Diversity makes life interesting. We don’t have to go to the same church, read the same books, believe the same stuff … or use the same computer

One size never fits all.

WHY TABLETS DIDN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS

A few years ago when tablets were the next big thing, there were articles everywhere explaining why tablets would replace everything else. All the techno-pundits said no one would need a computer because everything would be done on a small, portable device.

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It didn’t happen. Everyone bought a tablet, but no one threw out their computer.

I don’t have anything against portable devices. I have a smart phone. Sometimes, I even use it. I have two tablets and had as many as four until I gave two away.

tablets kindle iPad

I have a terrific 14-inch laptop and a desktop with a big monitor. I rarely use the desktop, but I keep it because you never know. The big desktop monitor is actually a touch screen. It used to reconfigure itself when a fly or a mosquito walked across it. I turned the touch functionality off and use a mouse. If I hadn’t been able to get rid of the touch technology, I would have been forced to defenestrate it.

Warning: You cannot edit a photograph — or really, anything — using a touchscreen.

my office and desktop computer

I’m sure those who extol mini devices as a total computer solution have never designed a book, made a movie, edited a photograph, used Photoshop (or any Adobe product), converted a book to a PDF or edited a manuscript. I know this because it’s impossible. All other problems aside, little devices are too small. You can’t edit a big thing on an itty-bitty screen.

This is not my opinion. It’s a fact. Operating system is irrelevant. Mac, PC, Android or Linux, size matters. You can argue this until you’re blue in the face. It won’t change anything.

VIRTUAL KEYBOARDS ARE FOR VIRTUAL TYPISTS

I read an article that explained how you can type just fine on a virtual keyboard. No, you can’t.

IT’S A BIG WORLD

If I’ve got room in my house for every kind of device, surely there’s ample room in our world for everything. Personally, I like choice. I like using different devices for different tasks. You can’t replace everything with one thing  and there’s no reason you should.

An office

One size never fits all. Diversity makes life interesting. Let’s celebrate our differences. We don’t have to go to the same church, read the same books, believe the same stuff … or use the same computer

If everybody would quit trying to force their opinions on others, life would be better. For everyone. So live. Enjoy. Let everyone else do the same.

HOW TO FORCE A REDIRECT TO THE CLASSIC WORDPRESS EDITOR INTERFACE

If you are struggling with the horrible new interface WordPress is forcing on you, here’s a workaround. This is a reblog. Actually, it’s a reblog of my original reblog published in March, but apparently many people missed it.

Share it with your beleaguered WordPress friends!

Update: I heard from the script author and this is what he says:

Hi Marilyn, I’m the author of that script that you use. I’m glad you’re finding the script useful, and thanks also goes to Dennis for spreading the word.

I noticed you said in a forum post that “This redirect does NOT work on Mac, sorry”. Could you please elaborate on that? It might be more difficult to get working on Safari, but it works just fine if you use Firefox or Chrome, both of which are available for Mac.

Diary of Dennis

classic editor wordpress

The Solution To Use The Classic Editor

If you are blogger at wordpress.com, this post here will help you to solve a big problem. As you have noticed, the decision makers at WordPress want to force you to use the recent new editor interface that is purely designed for mobile devices and for users who only create short-form content. This is of course a pain if you are desktop user and if you like to create long-form content as well. In this post you will learn how to get back to the classic editor permanently.

In the new editor form, we had a link back to the classic editor but that link is now gone too. WordPress does not have the intention to give us the link back as you can read here in the forums. If you go through this huge forum thread, you will find out…

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SHARING MY WORLD – ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH!

SCENE I. France. Before Harfleur.

Alarum. Enter KING HENRY, EXETER, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, and Soldiers, with scaling-ladders
KING HENRY V:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
Exeunt. Alarum, and chambers go off.

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Sorry, I just had to do that. Now, back to our regularly scheduled broadcast, already in progress.

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #23

For your blog do you basically use Mac or Windows applications.  What type of device laptop, desktop,tablet, phone or pad?

I work on a powerful little Alienware gaming machine running Windows 7 Professional.

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I also have an iPad, which I don’t enjoy, but it comes in handy if I want to check something quickly from the bedroom.

I have an 8.9 inch (big) Kindle HDX which runs Amazon’s proprietary Android OS. Smooth as silk, it’s a reader, music player. Great for movies and audiobooks, too. It has excellent sound quality, with headphones, but like the iPad, isn’t loud enough with its speakers alone. I’m thinking of getting a wireless Bluetooth speaker to use with all my small devices.

The iPad is easier for general use than the Kindle because I can run Chrome on it, same as my laptop. It automatically has my contacts, bookmarks, usernames, etc.

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The Kindle is more fun, but both tablets have a place in my world. The iPad sound is not nearly as good as the Kindle, by the way. Not even in the same class and its tendency to lock up or never finish loading is maddening.

In my office, I have a big desktop with a large HD monitor. Runs Windows 7. I don’t use it much these days. The laptop is both faster  and more. And I like not being locked away alone in my office.

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to?

A house without any stairs and an all-wheel drive car for winter. I know that’s two things, so if I had to choose, it would be the house — with a garage for the car.

Can you change a car tire?

I’m embarrassed to admit, no. Never have. For this reason, I have AAA. I call. They come.

TECHNOLOGICALLY UNTETHERED

Writing Space – Where do you produce your best writing — at your desk, on your phone, at a noisy café? Tell us how the environment affects your creativity.


If you’d asked this question a year ago, I would have said “my office,” because that was where I did everything. These days, I do everything on the laptop in the living room, often with the television in the background and dogs jumping on and off the sofa.

75-OfficeHDR-CR-2This probably doesn’t sound like an ideal arrangement for a writer but it suits me — at this point in my life. As recently as a year ago, I would not have been able to write like this. Even now, I can write much faster in a less distracting environment … but it seems I can write anywhere if I have a:

  • Computer
  • WiFi
  • Comfortable chair.

Note: If it’s morning, I also need coffee.

You’ll notice the list is bulleted, not numbered. This is because I don’t want to imply an order to these requirements. I need all of them, but not necessarily in sequence. (Once a tech writer, always a tech writer.)

The rest of the stuff I need is in my brain, which is convenient because I don’t have to remember where I left it.

WiFi and laptops changed everything. As long as I had to be wired to the network and the only powerful computer I had was on the big oak desk, that was where work had to be done. I worked at home much of the last 15 years of my professional life and built a structure at home to accommodate it. I also needed a door to close when I had to work without interruption.

The world, my life, technology … everything, really … has changed. I’m not on anyone’s clock, not even my own. I don’t have deadlines except for those I create for myself. My granddaughter grew up. My husband settled into retirement and developed his own rhythm, avocations and interests. The phone stopped ringing.

It’s a quieter life, even with televisions and nutty dogs. WiFi and a laptop let me do whatever I want anywhere it’s comfortable.

We used to dream about “a portable office.” I was working at Intel while they were refining wireless technology. It wasn’t entirely reliable yet, but I was assured it would be very soon and then, everything would be wireless. I was dubious, but here we are. Aside from needing to plug into an electrical socket, we are free to roam.

Roam was not built in a day, but it’s here. Now, if we can develop a way to get electricity without a cord or build batteries that work like the battery Jeff Goldblum had in “Independence Day,” we will be totally untethered.

I would also like to grow wings and fly. Is Intel working on that?

BACK IT ALL UP!

I was just reminded of something. I go long periods and don’t think about it, but I shouldn’t, and neither should you. By “you” I mean absolutely everyone. Whatever you do — write, take pictures, or whatever — if you do it on a computer, back it up. I learned the hard way.

ILOVEYOU (aka Love Letter), was a computer worm that attacked tens of millions of PCs on and shortly after May 5, 2000. It showed up as an email message with the subject “ILOVEYOU” and an attachment: “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”. The  ‘VBS’ file extension was typically hidden by default on PCs back then. It wasn’t on my computer, but I worked on a development team on my computer at home — an early telecommuter — so it wasn’t unusual for me to get files full of code as part of my job.

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It took a mere few seconds to destroy every single jpeg on my computer. That represented all of the photographs I had ever taken that I was storing on my hard drive, more than a decade of family and artistic pictures. It only took a few hours for a fix to be created and distributed, but it was too late for me.

I had been backing up to CDs, but I hadn’t backed up my photos, only financial records and my writing because that was work-related.

I lost hundreds, maybe thousands, of photographs.

External hard drives existed, but they were uncommon and expensive — very expensive. Now, there’s no excuse. You can get a huge external hard drive for short money. I back up intermittently to my two external drives, but a make sure to move files between my laptop and my big desktop everyday, and I save things online too

Eventually, I have 3 or 4 copies of everything, not counting whatever I store online. I don’t feel it’s too much. You can’t have too many backups of things that are important.

Even if it doesn’t seem very important. it can suddenly become very important if you have lost it forever and can never replace it. Back everything up. If it’s important enough to save it on your hard drive, it’s important enough to back up.

You can, for example, get a 3 TB external Seagate drive from Amazon for $139 including shipping. One and two terabyte drives are less expensive. If you don’t like that, there are ample choices for every budget. Don’t make excuses. One day, something bad will happen. A hard drive dies on you. It happens. It has happened to me twice. The first time, it was a secondary hard drive and I got enough warning to get my stuff off the drive. The second time, a message in a black  message box — I’ve never seen one like that before or since — appeared on my screen saying that there was a problem with my hard drive, back up now. By the time I finished reading the message, everything was gone.

But that time, everything was backed up. It was an inconvenience, not a catastrophe. I had learned my lesson.

You don’t have to learn the hard way. Back it up. All of it.