Tag Archives: technology

Close to the Edge…

I did some of my WP stuff on Julia’s netbook last night. For those of you too young to remember them netbooks were low in power and small in size. You could use them to access the internet and nobody has produced them since 2013. I’m pretty sure the average modern phone is more powerful than a netbook and think they have been replaced by tablets. The sad thing is that my computer seems to be even less powerful than the netbook – the netbook, for instance, can show the pictures on my blog posts, but the computer cannot. It occasionally showsd one, just to tempt me into thinking everything is working, but next time it is back to a blank space and frustration.

Yesterday after noon I accomplished about 15% of what I meant to do, which was annoying, so today I have set myself a target of 100%. In addition, I want to attend to the blog and check emails.

It has just taken me eight attempts to access the emails. Why? I don’t know.Probably just that technology hates me and is trying to drive me over the edge. It is getting close to success.

I’m trying to check on an email I sent a few weeks ago, and not succeeding. I’m just getting a rotating circle and and no action. I have logged out and am now preparing to struggle to get back in.

Still waiting…

I may do something else.

Still circling…

There must be something wrong at their end. I will close down in a moment and try to log in afresh.

Ah! Action!

It’s decided to tell me it can’t perform the action I requested. I requested it to open a file to check on a sent email. You’d think I’d asked for the secret of life judging by the time it’s taking and the secrecy surrounding it.

Believe it or not, since BT launched their “new and improved” email service it hasn’t been as good or reliable as it used to be. A suspicious man may try to link the two things.

I once had my car serviced. Next day I drove about sixty miles down the motorway and sixty miles back up (I have found this is generally a good way of getting home). On the way back.we stopped at a service area for toilets then drove the remaining 20 miles home. On the ring road we noticed a peculiar smell, and when we stopped at lights we found ourselves surrounded by a cloud of white smoke. The brakes were seized on and were smoking.

On Monday I went to the garage and explained what had happened.

“Ah yes,” said the man, “when people have trouble with cars just after servicing they often blame it on us.”

I wonder why…

I’m putting a picture on, but without enthusiasm. What’s the point when I can’t see it? It’s not even the picture I wanted, because the screen moved after I pressed the button. You will have to imagine me rolling my eyes and emitting a great “tut!”

Later addition – I just went back to try the email again. There’s a great red stripe on the page now, announcing they have a problem and are working on it. I’d guessed.

Rejection!

The title isn’t quite accurate, but headlines often aren’t. However, there is an element of truth in it, as you will see if you persist.

Despite me rushing to finish last night’s post by midnight, my days don’t really run from midnight to midnight and I often work an hour or so into the night while it is quiet. This is particularly the case at weekends when I can get up later to compensate.

As an example, I did some decluttering this morning then set my alarm to give myself just over an hour at the computer before warming up the soup for lunch. Julia decided this would be a good time to start work on reorganising the kitchen so my writing efforts are now accompanied by the clatter of various kitchen implements (mainly noisy ones) as she composes a symphony for baking trays and raised voices.

I did think of inserting a witty quote on marriage here, but couldn’t find one. I suspect all the wittiest quotes are written by people who aren’t married. The ones who are married just nod and keep their heads down, which is why they are still married.

I’m playing WP Roulette here – if she reads this I’m in trouble. If not I will live to moan another day.

That’s why I work into the early hours.

And that was why, about half an hour after posting I decided to look at one of the magazines that had some submissions from me five weeks ago. I was surprised, and a little put out, to find that they had published the next issue. I don’t mind rejection too much, because it’s part of writing, but I don’t really like being ignored.

Anyway, it is what it is. I read a few of the haibun and decided to see when the next submission window opened. While I did that I noticed a note saying that if you don’t get an acknowledgement within in two days you should get in touch. It was a lot longer than two days, but I double checked, found I definitely hadn’t had one and decided to take action.

Two Cyclists

As recommended in many articles on writing I dropped the the editor a short polite note to check if they had received anything from me and checking the best way to submit next time round.

The marvels of email and the time difference between the UK and USA meant I had a reply within half an hour. It seems the automated submission form is suspected of discarding a number of submissions and is now out of favour.

Ah well!

When it comes down to it I checked the two pieces I’d submitted and decided they weren’t all that good anyway. Internet oblivion is probably the best place for them. Anyway, even if they had been brilliant you can’t turn back time, despite Cher’s singing and the services of a good plastic surgeon.

As time goes on I’m finding that I have more and more sympathy for editors. It can’t be easy at the best of times, particularly when you see the number of submissions some of them get, and when the technology turns against you it must be hellish.

It’s a big day tomorrow – three submission windows open and I have submissions prepared for each one.

The game’s afoot, as Holmes said, though when I check the quote I find that Henry V said it first. Tricky things, quotes.

 

 

A Deep Distrust

I hate computers.

I’ve been having trouble getting information from Ancestry UK, which is why the Heeley article wasn’t as well researched as it could have been. I had cleared my cache/browsing history as recommended but was putting the other actions off, as messing with computers is always bad news.

Tonight I deactivated my browser extensions. No, I haven’t a clue what they are, why they are necessary or why I ever needed them if I can, it seems, do without them.

Then, as that didn’t work, I downloaded a new version of Chrome. Probably. I’m not sure there is a new version for those of us running XP or Vista.

Anyway, after a wild white-knuckle ride of button pressing and trepidation I still have a functioning computer. I still don’t have a functioning Ancestry site and I’m having to enter passwords every time I visit a site, but it’s mostly working so thank goodness for small mercies. I’ve attempted things with computers that have ended far less well than this.

I always say I’ll make regular back-ups and all that stuff but I never do. It’s a serious worry that all over the world nuclear missiles are being controlled by computers, and computers are in a perpetual state of decay.  It starts with a gradual slowing, moves on to shedding various functions, like Ancestry, and ends up launching a missile at someone who retaliates automatically and triggers Armageddon.

grayscale photo of explosion on the beach

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There is, of course, the possibility that computers hate me, which would explain a lot.

In an alternate universe, where they don’t trust computers they put the nuclear bombs under the care of highly trained teenage soldiers, who are likely to push the red button to see what happens. Or they may let computer geeks look after them. That’s unlikely to end well either.

While I’m here, did you know you can buy glow in the dark coins? I didn’t until someone asked if we wanted to buy one last week. We’ve had ones with copper from HMS Victory, bits of Avro Lancaster bomber and bits of meteorite embedded in them, even ascratch and sniff pizza coin, but never one that glowed in the dark.

They are advertised as “irradiated“, which is not the first word I would choose if I was trying to sell something. It’s close to “bubonic” and “carcinogenic” on the list of words you wouldn’t expect to see in an advert.

In the manner of these things, once I started looking I learned things I hadn’t realised I didn’t know. I had never heard of these, for instance.

Authors, Austen and AI

I’ve just been reading this. I’m now more convinced than ever that technology is not for me. Having just read an article that tells me future books are going to be written by Artificial Intelligence. This is depressing. However, it isn’t as depressing as reading the AI attempts at classic literature.

Even more depressing, I read that the average reading age in the UK is somewhere between nine and eleven. There are a number of statistics around this, with a variety of measurements and interpretations, but it means that a lot of adults struggle to get by with reading. A significant proportion can’t read simple notes or road signs. I am worried by this for a number of reasons. Not only will these people not be able to enjoy the pleasure of Wordsworth or Wodehouse, but there is a distinct possibility that they are a danger to other road users. That, I suppose, is why so many road signs have pictures on them.

The state of the nation’s education system was first revealed to me when I was recruiting school leavers to work on a poultry farm. I told the careers advisor we would need people within reasonable literacy and numeracy skills but after they sent several illiterate candidates (because it was only a poultry farm) we reverted to advertising in the local paper.

I won’t even mention my view of careers advisors because I think we covered that a few days ago, but I was shocked to find that it was possible to pass an entire school career without learning to read and write.

blur book stack books bookshelves

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

So much depends on being able to read. In fact everything depends on it, including your academic results in other subjects, and your success (not necessarily monetary)  in life. Yes, you can be successful without being a great reader but it must be harder.

You can either believe me about this or you can search the internet. The only trouble with the internet is that there is so much information, often gathered and interpreted differently, that it’s hard work putting it all together. You read one list of the top ten nations for literacy and then you read another and only a couple of the countries are duplicated. Unfortunately they tend to agree that the UK is about 17th. It’s not a disaster, but it’s not very good either.

One of the sites I read had a question from a user asking if anyone out there had read 100 books. People were generally quite polite, but they did mention that they had read 100 by the time they left school or had read fifty or even a hundred in a year. It all depends on what you call a book. I’ve probably been going through three a week during lockdown, but we’re talking about Golden Age and modern cosy crime books, so they aren’t actually hard.

I really must start a better balanced reading programme, a few more classic novels and some non-fiction. That, however, is a diversion. We’re talking about literacy, not about me squandering my life on whodunnits.

I’ve tried various ways of reading a better selection over the years, but it always degenerates into a discussion of why I hate Don Quixote. I just re-read that post, from 23 April 2016, and found the sentence “I had muesli for breakfast as I wanted something smallish in case I set my socket off.”

No, I haven’t a clue what I meant to write.

I’ve just been reading the local literacy project website, and have decided to start volunteering once lockdown ends. Really, I should have been doing it for years.

The question is whether I volunteer to help adults or children.At least, by telling you all I am making sure I can’t back out.

boy in white and black school uniform reading book

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

 

Real Men don’t use Switches

My computer has several idiosyncrasies, such as a missing On/Off switch, several pieces of missing software and a habit of randomly refusing to start. The switch was originally faulty rather than  missing, but where a faulty switch refuses to start the computer, a missing switch allows me to touch two wires together and get it going.

A faulty switch is a nuisance, but a missing switch is merely a cosmetic issue.

I’m not sure what happened to the software, but several years ago I started getting notices that things weren’t installing themselves on start-up. I tried reinstalling them and I tried letting the computer correct the fault. Neither approach worked. Now I just keep cancelling the attempts to reinstall and after thirty seconds of button pushing everything seems to work and the only fault is with some photo software. As the average computer seems to have several ways of coping with photos, this isn’t a problem.

Which gets us to the real point of this post. The computer refused to start tonight. It sat there on the table when I returned home and whirred into action when I hot-wired it, but there was little action. The green light on the DVD player flashed and the blue light by the main switch (or the space where it used to be) came on. There was even a gentle buzz, but the main flashing blue light and the expected sound of internal arrangements sliding into place were noticeably absent.

I administered a sharp tap to the casing, which always seems like it should work. It didn’t. Then I hit it with a book. Don’t judge me, I grew up when electrical goods were different.

Finally I switched it off and started again. How, you ask, as I have no switch and the computer wasn’t working enough to allow me to close down normally. Well, that’s where the power cord comes in. Or more accurately, gets unplugged.

It’s not quite as sophisticated as a switch, but it does stop the flow of electricity. There is the occasional crackle, suggesting that the power might be about to flow somewhere unwelcome but it hasn’t happened yet and if it does it might solve the atrial fibrillation so it’s not all bad.

When I plugged it back in it started at once and gave me the choice of starting normally or (the recommended method) letting the computer have a shot at fixing itself.

I tried the latter method and you know what? It just kept going and grunting and churning and telling me this could take several minutes and…eventually…repeating itself and not starting.

So I pulled the power cable again, started it up again, told it to start itself normally and a couple of minutes later I was in. That’s why I’m now able to write about the shortcomings of my computer and my troubles with technology.

We never had all these problems when TV was black and white and phones were attached to the wall.

The photo shows what happened in the shop a few weeks ago – leaving us staring at blue screens for ten minutes.

Just Seconds Away…

I can now press buttons when I’m posting and expect that the desired result will be just seconds away instead of the 8-10 minutes it too with the netbook I just opened WordPress, clicked a few buttons and found myself, twelve seconds later, ready to write a new post.

Or, more accurately, staring at a blank screen.

It’s debatable whether this represents a world of possibilities or fear of the unknown.

I’m similarly poised in haibun terms. After a spell which featured a rejection and an acceptance that required so much work I might as well have walked away and written something new, I began to struggle. I was also finding it difficult to write with the netbook.

Fortunately I was able to keep writing using pen and paper, even if I couldn’t prepare it for submission. Finally, editing in my email programme, I managed to get two submissions prepared and send them off. I’m waiting now, but the result doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that I’m back in the game.

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Gull on Llandudno Pier

We had a Painted Lady in the garden again when I returned home, though it’s painful to watch them as I can see the way the red valerian is dying back as summer progresses. Three sightings is a pitiful result compared to the counts we used to get on the farm, but then we are working with a small paved area with red valerian a small buddleia and a few other odds and ends.

It looked like the valerian was colonising a few inhospitable cracks in the garden next door, but their normal zero-tolerance policy for wildlfe cut in after a few exciting weeks and they have returned to formal wasteland status. And there I was, thinking that I might be helping to establish a wildlife habitat.

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Arnot Hill

Update

Well, it’s been a chequered few days.

I’ve struggled with technology in various ways, but am managing to get round the problems in a variety of ways (even if I did fall asleep before posting last night!)

I’ve put photos up for the Scone post, as I said last night, and I’ve now put photos on the enamelled  coin post. With any luck I’ll get some on the Harlow Carr post next. That might be tomorrow as the netbook doesn’t make things easy.

I’ll keep plugging away and next week I’ll try to get my laptop in for repair.

Moan, moan, moan, etc…

Today’s photo (which I already used on the enamelled coin post) shows a parcel I prepared for posting today – every stamp ends with half a penny, a coin that was withdrawn in 1984, In other words, all the stamps are at least 35 years old. The fact that we are now using them on envelopes indicates they may not have been a great investment.

 

 

Stamps from 35 years ago…

The William Caxton stamp is actually from 1976 – 43 years ago. A lot has happened since then. But not to the stamp – it just lay there in an album and did nothing until I pulled it from a packet, licked the back and stuck it on an envelope.  It’s now on its way to London, and probably to a bin.

I can’t think of a title – it’s that sort of day

We just had an interesting problem. Julia is working with an old notepad, or whatever we used to call small computers before we had all the stuff you can get now. You know the one – it looks like a small laptop instead of the current ones, which look like large phones. Having said that, a lot of phones also look like large phones compared to the old-fashioned phones. Life, and fashion, can be strange.

After charging and setting it going she found the screen was upside down. It took ages to sort out, particularly as she can’t read upside down. I can, as it’s a useful skill to have when visiting offices and trying to sell things to people. She was adopting a female approach – logic and trying all the buttons in an orderly fashion. I tried route one – went on my laptop and typed in “upside down screen”. Thirty seconds later the problem was solved. Sometimes a direct approach is best.

I’m now basking in self-congratulation. Julia is, it seems, unmoved by my brilliance.

To be fair, she’s probably still confused that I didn’t try hitting it,which always used to be my preferred option. Over the years I’ve discovered that hitting computers hardly ever works. That’s a feature I’d like to see on modern technology – a special reset switch that activates when you hit the malfunctioning item.

The answer, in case you ever need it, is – Control + Alt + the Up arrow.

I’ve finished my list of local Farmers’ Markets, though it’s likely to be of limited use to most of my readers. If anyone wants a copy (covering approximately a 40 miles radius round Nottingham) let me know and I’ll send you a copy.  There are 26 of them.

The poppy photo? Well, I always like to have a photo if I can, and it seemed seasonal.

Ned Ludd’s Disciple

When a man of a certain age (convinced that instruction manuals are for wimps and you can mend things by hitting them) meets a delicate piece of technology the results are rarely good. Card readers, unfortunately, tend to be delicate. One of mine actually fell apart because I looked at it sternly.

In the latest incident of Luddism yet another card reader has bitten the dust. It was a good one too, but it was plugged into the side of the laptop as I turned in my chair and caught it on the arm. Result: the two pieces of the plastic shell clattered to the floor and the remaining bits, still plugged into a USB port, sat there, bent and useless.

The red light still works. It’s a hopeful sign, but that’s not really the number one useful feature of a card reader.

I’ve had to face facts and admit I have to buy another. I don’t buy them off the internet after the last one (the one that fell apart after the stern look) so I have to arrange a trip to ASDA, which is the only local shop to stock them.

In the 21st century you’d think there was a better solution, but the built-in card reader in my laptop is currently refusing to work. It does that periodically. I’d like to think they would last as long as the laptop but they don’t. Julia’s doesn’t work reliably either.

It’s frustrating when you can’t move photos from camera to laptop.

After a trip to ASDA I now have a working card reader again. I nearly had breakfast while I was there, which would have been bad in a number of ways, as they are both fattening and poor quality. Fortunately the service was so bad that I had plenty of time to rethink my decision whilst waiting, and eventually decided that it wasn’t worth waiting any longer for a second class breakfast. I was thinking of writing to complain, but it seems wrong to complain that they saved me from a plate of greasy calories.

The photos are from the garden. They don’t really relate to the post, but it’s just nice to have some photos. The morning was warm in the sun and cold in the shade, but a Red Admiral flew past and settled in the sun for a while.

It’s a bit random, but I thought it would be nice to get a few pictures in. Next post will cover my trip to the Men in Sheds.