Category Archives: doom and gloom

Yahoo.com is becoming more and more appropriately named

Lately I’ve been working on a plan for stepping up my creative activities, which includes making some adjustments to my online presence.  I’ll spare you the tedious details, and only mention that one step of the plan involved creating a new Yahoo Mail account that I could associate with an already existing Flickr account.

Well, my plan has been foiled, thanks to a new and very stupid Yahoo account creation policy:  It turns out that, as of recently, Yahoo will no  longer allow someone to set up a mail account without providing a mobile phone number.  I don’t have one of those damned things, nor do I want one.  Even if I could get one and keep it running for a reasonable price, having it would make it easier for people to bother me, which I don’t want.  And (seriously people) – text messages??!?!  No way.

I may be able to work around this problem some other way, involving using an existing, unused Yahoo Mail account instead of creating a new one.  That is assuming there is no further demand for cell phone information when I set up the association with the already-existing Flickr account—an assumption which, as of today, I no longer consider safe.

An additional, worrisome question is whether Yahoo plans to extend their Nazi-esque mobile phone policy to existing users in general.  As of today, they have not done that—I just successfully logged out of my primary Yahoo Mail account and then logged back in.  They do pester with the “what’s your mobile phone number” thing at every single login now, though.  If they make that mandatory, I’d be faced with the very unwelcome choice of abandoning my old accounts entirely, or shelling out the damn money to buy one of these goddamned phones.  (I notice WordPress is getting pretty pushy about mobile phone authentication as well, although I don’t believe they require a number just to create an account.)

It actually makes me wonder if Yahoo! is getting a kickback from the phone companies to do this.  It wouldn’t be at all surprising, would it?  I can certainly believe that the large phone companies, all of whom are scum, would stoop to this sort of strategy.

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Filed under annoyances, brainstorming, doom and gloom, Flickr

Annoyances.org apparently gone

It’s been a long time since I was there last, but when I attempted today to pull up the classic website annoyances.org, all I got was the message “Annoyances.org is temporarily down for maintainance [sic] and will return shortly.”   But, based on accounts posted here in early 2013, it appears that the temporariness of that maintenance is getting pretty non-temporary.

One poster at that Majorgeeks link very helpfully posted the link to the Annoyances website via the Internet Wayback Machine:  http://wayback.archive.org/web/*/annoyances.org

Using that, we can determine that the issue started right around the beginning of the year, 2013, and has been going on ever since.  To access an actual archive of the site, you’ll need to go back to late 2012 or earlier.

I wonder what other cool, 1990’s-era websites I always used to like have quietly disappeared like that.

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Filed under annoyances, computers, doom and gloom, general geekery

Irony

Something just occurred to me.

I have been an Apple user since…..well, maybe 1982? Something like that. It was before the Mac came out anyway–a computer math class in high school in the early 80’s, programming in AppleSoft on an Apple IIe. Not a bad computer, for that time, incidentally, even if it was possible for me to physically type enough text to fill up the entire RAM capacity of the computer. LOL

Anyway. The point is that I’ve been an Apple user for a long time. But something occurred to me, as I’ve been looking over my last few posts on this blog tonight. As a long-time Mac user, I’ve slung more than my fair share of criticism towards Microsoft, especially back in the DOS and Windows 95 days. Nevertheless, I have to admit that, possibly, my favorite application of all time is a Microsoft product: Microsoft Excel.

And, my most-loathed application of all time is Apple’s Time Machine.

What a dilemma. I, a long-time Mac user, have proclaimed my all-time favorite application to be a Microsoft product, and my all-time most-hated application to be an Apple product. WTF?

Hmm. Well, I have no particular insight into that question at the moment, but I do feel moved to traverse the garden path for a bit, as it were:

Every once and a while, my dentist, knowing me to be a computer geek, asks me for a recommendation or other pertaining to hardware or software if he’s got a big upgrade coming, or whatever. Over the years, I’ve found myself less and less sure of what to tell him. Gone are the days when I could brazenly brag about how I ran my iMac with no malware protection whatsoever. Granted, I still do that (depending on what you consider “malware protection”–for instance, is Adblock Plus considered “malware protection”? Or NoScript?). But long gone are the days when I would unconditionally recommend a Mac system.

At the same time, though, I have never gone so far as to actually recommend a Windows 7 system to anyone (with the exception of the odd Windows XP user wondering if it was a good idea to upgrade–short answer, “it ain’t bad, you’ll get used to it, and I don’t hate it myself, which is more than I can say about a lot of upgrades”).

Really, if someone came to me today, or during the past few years, and asked what sort of system they should buy, I’m honestly not sure what I would say. It’s my feeling that there is really no good choice out there, or that (really) the best choice is to simply stick with what you have. Out of Windows, OS X and Linux, each has their advantages and disadvantages. I stick with OS X because it would cost me too much to switch, given the gains I would realize. Maybe the correct answer to the question is, “it doesn’t really matter all that much.”

Then again, it can be said that desktop systems aren’t the main issue anymore. The real question these days is what sort of mobile device to get. Android? iPhone? Blackberry?!?! Hmmm.

[For me, the answer is “none of the above”, because 1) I detest the expense involved in any of those systems, 2) I don’t want people to be able to reach me that easily and 3) “the cloud” is a BAD idea in most cases. In the long run, I am guessing that this will spell my demise as a “tech” guy, due to the world’s moving into a realm of stupidity and me refusing to follow. Oh well. Ask me if I care. No. Why do you ask?]

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Filed under annoyances, brainstorming, computers, doom and gloom, general geekery

Lion set to maul PowerPC apps

If you want to get a new Mac that is capable of running PowerPC applications, ACT NOW. It won’t be much longer before all new Macs come with “Lion” preinstalled, meaning those PowerPC applications WILL NOT RUN. This is, in my opinion, a mistake on Apple’s part. They should have waited at least another couple of years to do this, but I suspect their rationale is that some large developers are dragging their feet and the only way to get them to fall in line was to force the issue. Unfortunately, this means that anyone who NEEDS an older, PowerPC-only application that is now out of development is out of luck. Got some cool old game or toy that’s fallen by hard times and hasn’t been updated in the last six years? Too bad. MAYBE someone will write an emulator. Frankly, I think Apple should just start including emulators as part of the system, maybe for an extra charge. I’d seriously consider paying extra for a set of Mac emulators that would allow me to run old 68000 and PowerPC applications.

Just taking a look at applications on my system that would be broken if I upgraded to Lion today:

iCab 3
Filemaker Pro 7.0
Creatures 1.1.1 (a neat artifical life simulator that I go nuts over from time to time)
AppleWorks 6
Quicken 2004
Ptah (a neat little image viewer that I really like)
Graphic Converter 5.9

I’m sure some of these would be upgradeable. Some I wouldn’t care about. But a couple I would really miss if I lost them. Nothing Apple has come up with in recent years compares to AppleWorks 6, for instance. I’ve tried iWork, and found the spreadsheet module, which is the part I use the most, to be so tedious and frustrating that I’ve taken to setting up tables in TextEdit using tabs instead of enduring the hell of “Numbers”! Creatures, I’m pretty sure, would be lost entirely. That would suck, as it’s fun to play around with on rainy November Saturdays. According to it’s website, it’s gone open source, but that was over five years ago, so who knows what the status of it is now. Ptah is one of the two most elegant JPG image viewers I’ve ever encountered (the other being JPEGView, a nifty little program released back in the Macintosh LC days). It operates on a very simple principle, and that is, if you press a single key on the keyboard, it will replace whatever image is currently being displayed with the NEXT ONE. You and double-click on the first pic in a folder, then just keep hitting the “n” key to view every single image in that folder, one by one, all conveniently resized to fit on the screen (another keystroke will zoom it up to 1:1 size), and with minimal distractions cluttering up the screen. Does Preview do this? Maybe–I actually couldn’t tell you. Preview, to my way of thinking, is a pain in the ass. Essentially, Preview is to Ptah as iWork is to AppleWorks: buried up to the neck in design, and generally insufficient in functional elegance. In any case, Ptah was $5 shareware that I paid for in 2002. It hasn’t been available for years, from what I know.

I have discovered some good news today, though. My all-time favorite Usenet news reader, Thoth, has received an upgrade making it Lion-compatible, provided I re-register it (meaning pay an additional shareware fee). Since this is one of the finest applications I’ve ever used, and since I’ve been using it for quite a long time now and have never had to pay for an upgrade at all, I consider an additional $25 to be well worth the money. Quite frankly, Thoth has never been equaled by any other newsreader I’ve ever tried. I was starting to resign myself to eventually switching to Unison, which is an ok program (and definitely improved over earlier versions), but frankly, I just like Thoth better. It’s a good app for control-freak power users like myself. ;)

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Filed under computers, doom and gloom

Wayward Wind

Earlier this week, apparently, a jet stream moved and set up a gigantic storm stretching across most of the eastern United States. A huge storm, I’ve never heard of one this big. Larger than most hurricanes, if judging it by the size of the front in this weather map (click to make it bigger):

And look at the size of that low pressure zone! Holy crap!

It’s just amazing. Tornadoes from Wisconsin all the way to the east coast, heavy snows up in northern Minnesota and North Dakota, and dangerously high winds throughout almost all of the eastern US. Also reported have been record low barometric pressures, comparable to a category three hurricane. Wow. Kind of reminds me of that cheesey movie from several years ago, The Day After Tomorrow. Or, from even earlier, a very interesting sci fi book called “Mother of Storms” (will have to look up the author–I think his last name was Barnes, but I can’t remember which Barnes he was).

Somehow, though, we’ve been lucky where I live. Winds topped out at about 51 mph yesterday, according to the local paper, and no major damage in the area. Just some busted tree branches, blown-over garbage cans and a few minor downed power lines.

How did we get so lucky?

The wind continues to blow today. Right outside where I work there’s a series of high-voltage transmission towers going by, with four power lines threaded along them. They make an eerie, beautiful howl when the wind gets strong, up and down as the wind speed fluctuates, fading into nothing if it slows down too much. The lines stretch sideways in the wind, instead of downward. I wish I could go outside and just listen for a while. For some odd reason, I want this weather to last for days. I’ll be disappointed when the wind stops.

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Conundrum

Should you take the red pill or the blue pill?

The problem with this question is, what if the intelligence behind the illusions of the blue pill is just making you think you’re taking the red pill? Is your new reality just another layer of illusion?

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Filed under annoyances, brainstorming, doom and gloom, politics

Dry spell

Winter is now underway in earnest, and I’ve been in the midst of some photography blahs lately. The problem started when there wasn’t a single sunny day in the entire month of December, except for days when I was at work and couldn’t go outside. All others were cloudy, without exception. With sunrise being so late and sunset happening well before I get out of work, this was a pretty discouraging state of affairs. Even taking four days off around the Christmas holiday didn’t help—not one of them was sunny. Of course I took a stab at getting out with the camera anyway, on days when the roads weren’t clogged up with new snowfall, but I wasn’t exceptionally happy with the results.

Now that we are into January, the weather pattern has flipped and sunny days are much more common. As is typical, though, this means colder weather. Due to some car issues this year, I’m a little nervous about getting out into the middle of nowhere and leaving my car parked when it’s so cold out. A couple weeks ago it wouldn’t start due to an electrical problem. That issue has apparently been fixed now, but since then there have been some random instances of the blower shutting off briefly, or even refusing to start. Obviously I can drive the car without the blower, but it’s not pleasant when the heating system isn’t fully functional in the dead of winter. (And not being able to defog the windows in the morning is a real pain in the ass.)

I’m also getting discouraged about my new Flickr account. I had wanted to have all my old pics reposted over a month ago already, but I’m still dragging my feet. In fact, I haven’t made any progress in a while, except for deciding that there are definitely going to be some photos which will be skipped this time around. I’ve also realized it was a mistake to delete my old Flickr stream. Aside from casting off a lot of useless group subscriptions, I don’t think I’ve benefited from the switch in the least.

The final problem is more simple: I’m just not feeling all that inspired right now.

So for now, I’m amusing myself by trying different themes for this blog. I also want to take a look at the categories, because they seem like they could use some updating. There are also a bunch of draft posts that I should either finish or delete. Probably the tagging needs to be reviewed too. (Actually I hate tagging, but it is useful enough that I keep trying, as frustrating and imperfect as it is.) That’s also the main reason for this post—just to get myself doing something here, so I don’t let it slide completely, like I’ve pretty much done with my old Blogger blogs.

Speaking of which, I actually did take a quick look at my other blogs recently. Right now I have no ideas about what I would write on them, but there are at least two of them (out of four) which I would like to keep active. One is my SG-13 blog here on WordPress. I was reading some of my SG-13 posts last night and realized I’m very happy with a lot of what I did on that blog. I definitely want to get started on it again, if I can find the time.

Anyway. That is what has been up lately. :)

Oh—I believe Nikon is going to be coming out with a D90 replacement model sometime in the near future. I’d have to check but I think February was the time I heard mentioned. Sounds exciting! For a long time I considered the D90 to be the obvious choice for my next camera body. I even had the plan of purchasing one right around the time that the successor was announced, that way I’d get the D90 for a really reasonable price. Well, that time is now! And I am not ready to spend that kind of money just yet—I have credit card debt I’ve been dragging around since 1993 which is within two or three months of finally being paid off, so there is no way I’m spending $800 on a camera body until that is taken care of. However, this may not actually be a problem, since I have lately been thinking that the D90 successor might have some features that I could appreciate, in which case there is no rush. The other choice, of course, would be a D300s, and there is no rush on that either.

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Filed under brainstorming, doom and gloom, Flickr, meta, Nikon, photography