Archive for the ‘Techno-travails’ Category

Stormy weather

July 30, 2022

The AcuRite is wrong.

Yesterday’s power outage apparently electroshocked our weather widget into insensibility, so now come morning I have to step outside for a quick assay of the meteorological situation.

How tedious. A fella could get sunburnt, windburnt, soaked, frostbitten, lightning-struck, run over, or shot like that.

When Herself joined that long line for AcuRite’s online support chat yesterday their people proved less than supportive, shrugging their virtual shoulders and mumbling, “Hey, what could I tell you?”

However, I see from their website that AcuRite will happily give us 10 percent off purchases and keep us abreast of “exclusive offers, new products, and other useful content” if only we will sign up for their email list.

Nope. Let ’em step outside and holler if they have something to say to us. We are currently experiencing a heavy call volume. Please continue to hold (me bollocks).

Toasted

July 29, 2022

Skeeters drove Herself indoors to sit in the dark and play with her iPhone.

A power outage woke us at 5 a.m., and the usual comedy ensued.

I keep a largish Mag-Lite under the nightstand for the illumination/bludgeoning of evildoers, so I grabbed that and wandered around El Rancho Pendejo trying to remember where all the other battery-powered lights were hiding as Miss Mia Sopaipilla followed me ahead of me yowling, “WTF, dude?”

With the Petzl headlamps and BioLite lantern located I stepped outside for a quick assay of the situation. It was the usual weirdo, with half the cul-de-sac dark, and an iPhone peek at the PNM website disclosed a 40-something-user outage, no cause determined, restoration of power guesstimated at a couple hours.

Some dope fiend probably liberated a transformer, I thought as I made coffee on the gas range by Petzl-light. Afterward, Herself went outside to feed the mosquitos on the patio while I dug out my little JBL Bluetooth speaker, dialed up R.E.M. on YouTube, and cranked “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)” at maximum volume for the amusement of the neighborhood. Or not.

“Shut that shit off,” Herself advised. But I played it right to the end and then danced around the house singing, “It’s the end of the toast as we know it,” because our toaster is not gas-operated. Oatmeal would have to do.

Unplugged

February 17, 2022

The Blizzard of 2022 has yet to eventuate.

Looks like the deer were carboloading for a reason. Snow started falling overnight, and it continues as we speak at midmorning Duck! City time.

No accumulation to speak of. But the power and the Innertubes have crashed once apiece.

This is a good thing, as it curbs the Zoom meetings and the doomscrolling. Russians invading? Omicron subvariant spreading? “Freedom Convoy” and Canadian coppers doing it hand to hand?

Whoops, we’re back up. As you were. …

Winter is coming?

December 29, 2021

I’ve put more white powder than that up me snout on a weeknight.

I know, I know — don’t tempt the Fates, never let your blog write a check that your ass can’t cash, and so on and so forth.

But sheeeeeyit: You call this “snow?”

The Bread Box is baked.

The appalling lack of precipitation aside, it was not so warm outside today, and not so hot inside, either.

Our $20 garage-sale bread machine seems to have toasted itself after a year of medium-heavy use, churning out a bleak pan of something one might expect to find in the toilet at a dive bar on St. Paddy’s Day if the menu featured a questionable shepherd’s pie and some heavily stepped-on blow.

Thing is, y’see, I have about 20 pounds of Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour on hand. So I may be forced to learn how to bake bread the way me forefathers did, only without the dubious advantage of being knee-walking drunk.

Or I could just buy another Toastmaster on eBay.

Dropping the Peloton

December 16, 2021

OK, so this is only one story, but still — is anyone surprised that another pricey indoor-exercise phenomenon may have gone kerblooey?

Quoth The New York Times of the once-mighty Peloton:

The pandemic status symbol, which customers once waited two months to get their hands on, may soon become the modern equivalent of the 1990s NordicTrack: a high-priced piece of exercise equipment that becomes a glorified clothing rack, cluttering up a home until it is sold or dispatched to the curb.

Signs of its cultural downfall are hard to ignore. Sales of Peloton’s stationary bikes and treadmills fell 17 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2021, and the online resale market is flooded with used bikes selling at a discount.

Those of us who have real bikes* and ride them outdoors have seen this buyer’s remorse before as we pedal around our neighborhoods with one eye peeled for hidden treasure at the garage sales.

The Fitness Flavor of the Month (stationary bikes, treadmills, free weights, etc.) may be rockin’ around the Christmas tree, but chances are it will drop right out of the Hit Parade by Valentine’s Day. Goodbye, laundry room; hello, eBay. This exercise shit is hard! Who knew?

Those of us who have real bikes* and ride them outdoors, that’s who.

Dodging pickups and potholes, patching punctures, ducking and moving, bobbing and weaving, wearing all manner of kit through all four seasons — it’s so … random! Also, fun. Plus, like crucifixion, it gets you out in the open air.

Of course, some of Peloton’s plummet can be attributed to the stir-crazy dashing back to their gyms, where for a small consideration they can ride other people’s exercise bikes indoors. This explains much about the state of the human condition at present.

* E-bikes not included. See “Fitness Flavor of the Month.”

Playing with blocks

March 31, 2021

I came back from a 7-mile hike to find a buggered WordPress interface.

Here’s something I don’t like: Unasked-for, unannounced and unwanted changes to a product I use daily.

WordPress pulled one of these switcheroos on me yesterday, reconfiguring its “navigation experience” to make managing its sites “more intuitive.”

“For many of you, there will be little to no change in how you use WordPress.com,” wrote Austin Lao on the WordPress blog yesterday. The many did not include the one, which is to say this one. Me.

Engineers gotta engineer, I guess. But still, damn.

Tucked into the “enhancements” to the “navigation experience” appears to be a forced shift from the old “Classic” CMS to the Gutenberg block editor, which I have been resisting because I don’t like anything about it.Â

For starters, “intuitive?” Me bollocks. The old “New Post” tool was intuitive. The new one is riddled with perplexing popups and hidden widgets. I’ll find them eventually, I imagine. But it’s gonna be like digging in the back yard for buried treasure. Might be there; might not be.

It’s a small thing to complain about. I mean, out in the real world people are still catching The Bug®, drinking poison water, or getting boned by Matt Gaetz (eeeeeeeyeeewwwwwww).

But still, damn.

I’ve posed the traditional “WTF?” to WordPress. While I await a reply, I’m back in kindergarten, playing with blocks.

Update: One of WP’s “happiness engineers” showed me how to unplug The Great and Powerful Oz. Fuck that guy. Not the happiness engineer, the Wizard. Anyway, with any luck atall atall we’re back on track here.

WordPress-ganged

March 30, 2021

Don’t touch that dial.

Well. It seems WordPress has inflicted some more “improvements” upon its users. So, ’ray for us, right?

Eh, not so much.

I’m not certain but it seems that the sonsabitches have used their latest enhancement to the “navigation experience” to pry us out of the old-school CMS and into the Gutenberg block editor. I’ll have to root around under the hood a bit before I know for certain.

In the meantime, we may suffer from bloggus interruptus for a spell while I bang on a few things with this here ball-peen hammer.

The IT Guy

December 16, 2019

“Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father. …”

The problem with having an Apple orchard is that you’ve got to tend to the sonsabitches when you’d rather be doing something else.

Like, say, making money so you can afford to tend to the sonsabitches, or even buy a new one now and again.

I have five outdated Apple products in heavy rotation around the rancheroo. Three need OS updates, one needs a vigorous cloning, and the fifth — well, let’s just say that it’s devolved to running Adobe Photoshop 4.0 in Classic mode.

And yes, I said Adobe Photoshop 4.0.

“What’s it all mean?” you ask. Why, it means that yes, yes, yes,  it’s time for another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited this hot mess using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Asunder,” from Taylor Howard at Zapsplat.com. Typewriter sounds courtesy of Tomlija at Freesound.org. Emperor Palpatine comes to you from the Dark Side, while “Alarm!” comes from “Das Boot.” And “The G4 Awakens” comes straight from the 1999 G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac, which don’t need no steekeeng updates because it’s immortal, thank you very much. Lemme know if your iPhone is still working 20 years from now. But don’t ask me to work on it.

Climb every mountain

December 11, 2019

Operations at El Rancho Pendejo are sketchy, as always.

It’s only Dec. 11, but it seems my work for 2019 is pretty much done.

I wrapped the “Quick Spin” video on the Cannondale Topstone 105 for Adventure Cyclist on Monday, and yesterday I actually got a jump on 2020, scribbling a “Shop Talk” cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Today I’m contemplating some overdue computer maintenance — backups, updates, the poking with sharp sticks of things better left unmolested.

It struck me the other day that I’m a few iterations of operating systems off the back. The MacBooks are all running Sierra, but the kool kidz have long since moved on to macOS Catalina. So I thought I’d tiptoe up to High Sierra, see what the weather’s like up there. After all, I have the installers on all three ’Books.

Ho, ho. Pull off those hiking boots, Sir Edmund. The installers are all damaged, which is to say their certificates are probably expired. ’Cause, like, y’know, dude, sir, everyone else has, like, moved on to Catalina, an’ shit.

So I’m downloading a fresh installer as we speak. Shouldn’t take more than a couple-three days at Duke City DSL speeds. Then if I feel like getting the “two” in the ol’ one-two I can think about setting up the “new” iPhone 5.

‘Something Went Wrong’

December 8, 2019

Uh, can you be more specific?

Indeed it did. And so it begins, the Decline and Fall of the iPhone 5.

The New York Times apparently has cooked up an app update that my device can’t digest — the iPhone 5 peaked at iOS version 10.3.4, while the NYT demands 11 or better — and now I can’t surf the shit monsoon from my 7-year-old phone. Woe, etc.

The iPhone SE, ready for its closeup.

Asked for comment, the NYT Customer Care Crew advises, “We are no longer supporting older versions of the NYT app,” adding that geezers in thrall to antiquated technology should “use the mobile browser to access all content on nytimes.com.”

So I sez back to ’em, I sez: “Thanks for the reply. I already figured that out. The iPhone 5 maxes out at iOS 10.3.4, so using v9.11 of your app is not an option. I’m disappointed to learn that the NYT has dropped support for older versions of the app. My iPhone is elderly, to be sure, but not yet senile. For instance, The Washington Post app continues to work just fine.”

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Sonny Jim. Then get off of my lawn.

It’s not this iPhone’s first step on the slippery techno-slope, of course. I’ve already had to replace the battery once, and the Phone app itself has developed the palsy, seizing up and even crashing from time to time.

I can fix that, as I always keep a large hammer within reach. But first, I should probably unbox the iPhone SE that’s been hanging around idle for the past few months. Naturally, it, too, is a discontinued model, slated for the boneyard — and rumor has it that the Wizards of Cupertino are working on a bigger-and-better model for release early in 2020.

But mine will run the latest and greatest version of iOS. For now, anyway.