This and That – Perspectives

This: Digital Perspectives

I’m reading “Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport. I’m at the part where you do a one month Digital Declutter. I am supposed to step away from any technologies (apps, sites and tools on my computer or mobile phone) that I can take a break from without creating harm to my personal or professional life. Fortunately, I am 50% there even if I do nothing because I don’t have a mobile phone. I don’t have a professional life either… or much of a social life…

As for Apps, I can easily slim down Facebook. All I have to do is ‘snooze’ a few people for 30 days. I can clean-up my Twitter feed too – unfollow, block. News Sites? Shouldn’t be too hard to stop reading the news for a month… I’m feeling calmer already…

That: Funny Perspectives

My Twitter feed can be quite fun some days:

 

And the Other: ‘Rona Virus Perspective

I’ve read that a lot of people put on weight during the lockdown…

 

I Found my Pizza Crust

Before the ‘Pizza Crust’

In the big scheme of things, it was a little blip. I logged onto my WordPress blog a few days ago, and instead of being greeted with my WP Admin page, I was looking at the contents of the WordPress Feed Reader. Instead of seeing my personal Dashboard, I was seeing the endless list of what other people had posted and what WordPress thought I should read, etc, etc.

I was not amused. Granted, I could still get to my WP Admin page in a few clicks, but that wasn’t the point. When I log on to this account, I want my information to be the priority.

I won’t go into great detail about the discussion I had online with three WordPress ‘Happiness Engineers’; the rating I gave them when I got a cheerful email asking me to rate my help experience; or the message I posted in the WordPress Forums.

That’s now water under the bridge because this morning when I logged on, life was back to normal. My WP Admin page was the first thing I saw. That wretched Reader was back where it belonged – a tab at the top of the page.

The ‘Pizza Crust’

The ‘pizza crust on the sidewalk’ was the email that I got from WordPress (in response to my message thanking them for fixing my problem).

Isn’t that just a hoot!? They changed something in order to fix something which then broke something else, which when they fixed that, it also fixed something that they didn’t know they had broken.

Refreshing honesty and a good outcome for all. Life is Good.

What Say You – have you found any ‘pizza crusts on the sidewalk’ lately?

This and That – Sunflower

A Sunflower in the hay field across the road. For some reason, there were only about a dozen of these cheerful flowers in the quarter section.  The blooms lasted for about 2 days before the swather cut them down. Timing is everything…

The Quippery

Speaking of music, I downloaded Copy Trans Manager and used it to upload music to two little (and old) iPod Nanos (second and third generation.) The program works well and it was ever so nice not to have to put iTunes on my computer.

Steve Jobs apparently once joked that Apple’s iTunes software for Windows computers was extremely popular, because “It’s like giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell.” I disagree. Getting iTunes off your computer  – now that is hell.

Speaking of age, here are all my Age Quotations. I have friends I should send this link to, but right now I can’t remember their names. So please forward this to your friends… etc.

When Life Gives you Lemons

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This is a motivational phrase that encourages optimism and a positive attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune.

So, here is my Lemon story:

Bad news: My Lenovo Computer got fried and it was going to cost a grievous amount to fix it.
Good news: The ASUS Computer I bought to replace it had more features than the Lenovo, and cost less than the Lenovo had… maybe that should have been a warning sign.

Bad news: The ASUS was temperamental and did not always play well with Windows updates.
Good news: The store where I bought it has a helpful geek who could always fix the computer within minutes of my arrival (unannounced).

Bad news: The ASUS got stuck in BIOS diagnostic mode last weekend. Diagnosis: the hard drive died. The computer had to go to the computer hospital for repairs.
Good news: The computer is still under warranty.
And more good news: There is an ASUS repair depot in my Canadian province – otherwise the computer would have had to be shipped to Texas.

My 9 year old Sony laptop – slow, but steady. Built to last!

Good news: My last data back up was 7 days previous, so I didn’t lose too much stuff.
Good news/bad news:  My back-up computer is a nine year old Sony laptop with Windows 7.

It was a speedy machine back in the day. Today – it is feeling its age. It took a few hours to prod it into action. I updated the OS, installed a Security system, and downloaded a few of the programs I like to use for photos. I was good to go. The computer, on the other hand, has let me know it has a few strict guidelines:
– it will not say, for certain, that it will work and play well with any of those newer, snooty programs that believe Windows 7 is old and outdated.
– it doesn’t like to multi-task. Therefore it will not guarantee that any task I ask it to do in the morning will be completed before mid afternoon, if I am also asking it to do something else.

A bit more bad news: It is also dawning on me how many things I didn’t back up – like web browser bookmarks and all the little digital post-it notes on my ‘desktop’. I’ve also lost quite a few flower photos that I had recently downloaded from a new camera.

The Lemonade part of the story. I’ve had a home computer of some description for over 30 years. This is the first time a hard drive has failed and the worst case scenario is I’ve lost a very, very small portion of the data I’ve accumulated in that time. In the big scheme of things, this is a nothing event!

When you have finished backing up the data on your computer, do tell me the worst computer failure you have had!

Security – A New Year – Time for New Passwords!

Happy New Year to you all!
Do you have a List of Resolutions?
Thought about adding ‘New Passwords’ to that list?

The Quippery

In 2011, The Car Guy’s Yahoo Mail account sent out invitations to most of his contacts to use Viagra. After hours of looking for a breach, I realized that the account had been hacked through Yahoo itself. We secured the account with a new password, but the whole episode was a good reminder of why it is a good idea to change passwords frequently, and have different passwords for different accounts.

Strong passwords are also highly recommended. Some sites require specific combinations, though not quite as rigorous as this password protocol that I made up:

The Car Guy and I developed and memorized a few mnemonic phrases. They form the first part of our passwords. The second part of each password varies from site to site. We’ve memorized most of them, but keep them all in a database (without the mnemonic part) for those days when we can’t find our car keys, let alone remember a password…

Do you have a Password ‘System’?

First Look at Windows 8.1

This is the last post on my old computer… probably. The average operational lifespan of a laptop is apparently about  5 years.  The useful lifespan can be as little as 2 years, thanks to an industry that is based on the concept of planned obsolescence.

My laptop just passed that magic 5 year mark and it has become quite crotchety. It often gets up in the morning and can’t find it’s mouse. I have to turn the computer off, unplug it, plug it back in and reboot it. Then it finds the mouse, but it might refuse to talk to the memory stick it was good friends with just the day before.

Last week my laptop decided to issue a gag order on the Internet Security software. I eventually had to let a tech support guy named Raj in India sort the whole thing out. That wasn’t exactly a quick fix, either. I watched Raj work for over an hour, and while I understood everything he did, I sure wouldn’t have had the courage to muck around the registry the way he did!

The writing was on the wall, however, so I started to look for my next laptop. What I thought I wanted, and what is available, are two different things. What is in the store to try, and what is for sale online are two different things too.

In a complete departure from my normal shopping routine, I bought a new computer at the second story I walked into. Then I spent the next two days second guessing my purchase – mostly because I second guess every purchase I make. The Car Guy just shakes his head at my dithering – “It’s not like you have to live with this decision for the rest of your life, you know…”

I have been trying to bond with my new computer. The learning curve has been monumental because the operating system is Microsoft Windows 8.1. I’m only fluent in Windows 7. My experience so far has been sort of like going to the dentist, shopping for a bathing suit, starting a diet and finding a dent in my car – all on the same day.

My Desktop
An early version of my Windows 7 desktop – the sticky notes haven’t taken over the screen yet…

Windows 8.1, I’m sorry to report, has a split personality. The dominant persona is a bossy ‘App’ based creature that wants to tether me to the outside world in order to force feed me content on a page full of  colorful tiles. I’m not all that interested in most of these tiles and apps, however. I want my Windows 7 messy desktop with the links to my programs and my digital yellow sticky notes and my calendar gadget…

Wait! I just found a Windows 8.1 tweaking website that tells me how to get back to a Windows 7 feel. Today is going to be a good day to try out all sorts of things…

Are you a Windows or an Apple person? What version of OS are you using? What does your desktop look like?

iPad Draw Something! How to Make S’Mores – Traditional and Super Simple

TRADITIONAL S’MORES

Ingredients: graham wafers marshmallows chocolate bar or Nutella

Technique: First, the ideal marshmallow cooking stick must be found, and then whittled to the exact right point. The stick has to be brandished like a sword by a child (or someone who is child like) for a few minutes, until some mom says, “Put that stick down before you poke someones eye out!”

In the meantime, someone has to build a fire. Probably a number of someones – the paper bringers, the match finders, the log splitters, the kindling scroungers. Then there is a discussion of how best to stack the paper, wood and kindling. Once the fire is off and running, the ritual of telling stories, adding more wood, and poking the fire with a big stick, has to take place. When mom says, “Put that big stick down before you burn up the forest!” it is time to get out the marshmallows, and find the very pointy sticks again.

Once a marshmallow is skewered, they are slowly browned until they are golden on the ouside, and drippy goo on the inside. Alternately, the marshmallow can be burned to a crisp in just a few seconds. In addition to the Marshmallow Cookers, there is the Keeper of the Graham Wafers and Chocolate. This person will line up the graham wafer squares on a suitable surface. Alternate wafers will have a square of chocolate or a smear of Nutella put on it.

The Marshmallow Cooker presents the cooked marshmallow to the Keeper of the Graham Wafers, who will try to sandwich the marshmallow between two wafers without burning their fingers. (This ‘recipe’ for Traditional S’Mores is dedicated to the 305 families of Hidden Valley, Alberta who lost their community (and all their campfire rings) in the Floods of 2013.)

SUPER SIMPLE S’MORES

There are other simpler ways to make S’mores, of course. If you have a gas stove and a long handled fork, you are half way there! You can cook wieners that way too, though your mom may not like you doing that any more than my mom did when I was a kid.

 No gas stove? Well, there is always the Microwave Oven. Put the chocolate on one of the graham wafers and the marshmallow on the other. Pop it in the Microwave Oven for only a few seconds, then check to see if the marshmallow has started to melt. If not, microwave a few seconds more and continue until the marshmallow has expanded to about the size of the graham wafer.

Watch the chocolate too. You don’t want it to melt and run all over the place. Remove and make your chocolate marshmallow sandwich. Let it cool before eating. Each S’more will have about zmfxn calories and nbxz fat, sodium and sugar – but they are worth it.

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
-Erma Bombeck –

What are your S’More memories?

iPad Draw Something! There Be Pirates

The average man will bristle if you say his father was dishonest, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was a pirate.
– Bern Williams –

I’ve been drawing again. The Draw Something app on my iPad is letting me express my creative talents. Okay, I realize I am rather talentless, but I’m having a good time drawing.

Can you guess what I was drawing? The category was ‘There Be Pirates’. Does that help? The word was 5 letters long.

There are many very talented cartoonists on the internet – here are a few that I have discovered:

Aren’t these people good? They can draw clothes!

Since my last post about Drawing (A Drawing Game) I’ve earned enough ‘coins’ to buy colours – including green, which the Draw Something app doesn’t include when you first start playing.

Now I can draw grass. A green squiggly line is grass. A similar squiggly line, only in blue, is water. You can see from my drawing above that I’ve drawn water – and not just plain water, but waves. Can you see the shark in the water? I hope not because I didn’t draw one. I think it would be very hard to draw a stick shark…

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
John W. Gardner –

iPad Draw Something! for the iPad

Third Daughter and The Car Guy have been playing Draw Something on their iPads. They invited me to join, so I downloaded the App a few days ago. The premise is simple enough. Player 1 chooses one of 3 supplied words –  which they then illustrate. They send the resulting drawing to Player 2 who tries to guess what the word is. Player 2 is told how many letters are in the word, and they are given a selection of letters to choose from.

It is an odd game for us to play. None of us seem to have the artistic gene. Then, there is the issue I have with the colour palette. They only give you four colours: black, red, blue and yellow.  They don’t give you green. How can anyone draw without green?

Correct answers earn you some points and once you have enough points, I think you can trade them for more colours. Or maybe not. I’m not too clear about that part. But it doesn’t matter, because when three people who can’t draw very well play a game like this, it will be an awfully long time before we earn very many points.

Here is one of my very best drawings. Can you guess what word I was illustrating? It is 8 letters long and it has a ‘k’ in it.

How to Go Hunting for Computer Viruses

You have just received the “Novice Hacker Virus”. As we ain’t got no programming experience, this virus works on the honour system. Please delete all the files from your hard drive and manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list. Thanks for your cooperation.
– Source – Internet –

Wednesday wasn’t a real good day. I woke too early, couldn’t get back to sleep, and finally got up to begin a task that isn’t all that much fun – troubleshooting a problem with the computer. In this case, several computers, because I didn’t know which one had possibly been compromised by a Virus. Yes, I was going on a Malware hunt.  Let there be no confusion about my intent here. I was going to be armed, and I was prepared to kill.

But first I had to get dressed. I pondered what to wear for this distasteful job, and finally decided on the baggy look. Comfort first is my motto. And since I had exactly four delicious muffins to potentially eat, but I couldn’t predict how many muffins this job would take, I chose some baggy sweatpants. No point wearing something that wouldn’t expand to accommodate muffins.

I had no doubt I would be successful eventually, so I chose a T-shirt that expressed that. In fact, this T-shirt accurately depicts the full range of emotions that occurred during the day. From left to right:
– the ceremonial morning greeting of all in attendance (in this case the computer and whatever lurked in it);
– the eager pursuit of the prey;
– the mid-day panic when all the muffins were gone;
– and the expression of triumph when the task was completed.

By late afternoon (after multiple scans by multiple products on multiple computers) I was fairly confident that none of our computers had been infected by anything, and that the Norton Malware Software had not been breached. So I began the search for an answer as to why The Car Guy’s Yahoo Mail account had sent out invitations (to most of his contacts) to use Viagra or some such similar product. I eventually decided that because his contact list is stored on the Yahoo server, his account must have been hacked either through an external computer he had used, or perhaps from within Yahoo itself (if claims that this can happen are true.)

I know The Car Guy was upset that his contact list had been high jacked, but I felt that it was a bit ironic that the spam message that was sent out was a better match to the target audience than say Breast Implants or Gucci Handbags…