Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Apple of my ay yi yi

October 19, 2020

Old Sparky is back on the job.

Rarely do the multinational corporations come in for praise here at Ye Olde Chuckle Hut.

They routinely claim to stand behind what they sell, but often can be found standing directly behind the customer, wearing a predatory expression and not much else. Just who exactly is the “end user” here?

That being said, here’s a tip of the Mad Dog sombrero to the support folks at Apple. They got right on the twitchy 2014 MacBook Pro I sent them, found a fault in addition to the one that I had diagnosed, repaired both, and shipped the sucker back with alacrity. Saturday delivery, before noon. Booyah, etc.

There was one small hitch in the gitalong, and in the end (har de har har) it proved to be no hitch at all.

When support notified me via text of the second fault and asked permission to fix it (for an additional three hundy and change) I was unable to approve the additional work online, either via Mac OS or iOS. Couldn’t get an active link on the “Git ’er done” page. God damn it all anyway, etc.

So I rang ’em up. Mind you, this was on Tuesday last, when the product barkers were pitching the brand-new iPhone 12 to the rubes. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry! I was expecting a long wait and a short reply that proposed my going and doing something to myself of which I would not approve.

Nope. My call was answered promptly, the support person kicked me to his supervisor, and she sez to me she sez, “Lemme handle that for you.” Including covering the additional cost.

Frankly, I was dumbfounded. The tab was not unreasonable, a whole lot less than buying a new MacBook Pro, and I was prepared to pay it. But all I had to spend beyond the initial repair estimate was a simple thank-you for the generosity.

“Yeah, you gotta lotta Apple product, been with us a long time,” she replied cheerily. Right on both counts, with everything from iPods to iPhones to iPads, MacBooks to Minis, PowerBooks to PowerMacs, going all the way back to 1990 and that first Mac SE.

Frankly, the only way the experience could’ve been improved is if they’d given me a loaner to drive while my MacBook was in the shop.

“Here, take the keys to this 16-inch 2.3GHz 8-core MacBook Pro with the 16GB of memory and the 1TB SSD, take ’er for a little spin while we work on the auld fella here.”

I guess they figured I didn’t need the bait. I’ve been on the hook for 30 years.

It’s a wash

October 7, 2020

The Granite Face on the Whitewash Trail is no place for an elderly fella with a dodgy ankle. But I’ll probably hike up the sonofabitch anyway.

Once I saw a young man yell “look” in the lobby and let his prick hang out; he closed his overcoat then and tried to run out the door, rather swirled clumsily in the revolving door. One woman screamed but most people shrugged.  Depressing. He needed help. A lock on his zipper for beginners. — Jim Harrison, “Wolf.”

Faced with the ceaseless weenie-wagging that constitutes our national politics it’s easy to forget that the world remains a remarkable place.

Yesterday during a brief hike in the Sandia foothills my iPhone hooted. It was a text from Apple advising me that it had received my MacBook Pro, shipped the previous day, and that the agreed-upon repairs would commence directly.

It was not that long ago that I would have had to wait until I got home and checked the answering machine to see whether the typewriter repairman had gotten around to my Royal manual yet.

Of course, my hip pocket was a quieter place back then, what with no mobile phone and a wallet that bordered on the anorexic; no matter how I stuffed it with money it always vomited it up somewhere.

And if I’d wanted to snap any photos during the hikes I was mostly not taking I would’ve had to pack along the Pentax MX camera I had acquired in a trade with an iffy acquaintance. I got the camera, some cash, and a bit of the old nose whiskey, and he got my S&W .41 Magnum (I was slightly overgunned at the time).

Later this gent would draw a short stretch at Club Fed in Texas, not far from where Apple is resolving the shortcomings of my MacBook. Not for anything involving the .41 Mag, or me, happily. Last I heard he had become a respectable citizen and taxpayer, a credit to society, just like Your Humble Narrator.

Time passes, and things change. For instance, it was probably fortunate for me that I shipped my MacBook in when I did. Just this morning MacRumors noted that this mid-2014 edition of the venerable 15-inch laptop will be added to Apple’s list of vintage and obsolete products come Halloween.

The 13-inch model I’m using to create this post is already on the list, as are all the other Macs in the house, save the iPhones and iPads. The 2014 MacBook Pros are supposed to remain eligible for service indefinitely, says MacRumors … “subject to parts availability.”

Boo. …

Some like it hot

September 17, 2020

Lessee, there’s freedom of the press, freedom of speech,
and freedom to run like hell from the cops with their heat ray. Got it.

H.G. Wells got it wrong. Mars isn’t the problem.

Before the feds drove protesters from Lafayette Square in June, according to an Army National Guard major who was there, the Defense Department’s top military police officer in the Washington region emailed officers in the D.C. National Guard to ask whether the unit had “a microwave-like weapon called the Active Denial System, which was designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays.”

According to The Washington Post:

The technology, also called a “heat ray,” was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on human beings.

Pentagon officials were reluctant to use the device in Iraq. In late 2018, The New York Times reported, the Trump administration had weighed using the device on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border — an idea shot down by Kirstjen Nielsen, then the Homeland Security secretary, citing humanitarian concerns.

But in the email, on which DeMarco was copied, the lead military police officer in the National Capital Region wrote the ADS device “can provide our troops a capacity they currently do not have, the ability to reach out and engage potential adversaries at distances well beyond small arms range, and in a safe, effective, and nonlethal manner.”

Federal police ultimately were unable to obtain a heat ray device — or an LRAD — during the early days of protests in D.C., according to the Defense Department official.

“During the early days,” hey? Don’t forget to wear your Alcoa cammies when you’re out smashing the state, boys and girls. And spray yourself with a little olive oil, maybe stuff a few onions, taters, and carrots into your undies. The “Martians” are going to need a lunch break at some point.

A Grimy Handshake from Patagonia

September 13, 2020

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits
the Cibola National Forest.

I’ve somehow gotten myself on Patagonia’s mailing list, probably through buying stuff from them — and good stuff it is, too — and they sent me a note the other day linking to a piece by Mike Ferrentino.

Yes, that Mike Ferrentino, he of the Grimy Handshake. His stuff is even better than Patagonia’s.

Anyway, Mike wrote about wilderness, and why he no longer poaches trails there, and it’s worth your attention.

In other wilderness-related news:

• A forest ecologist from CSU-Fort Collins wonders whether some iconic forests might fail to bounce back after a wildfire.

• Trying to take pix of the fires? Ian Bogost says your phone’s camera was not built for the Apocalypse.

• Have the orcas finally had enough of our bullshit?

Hot links

August 29, 2020

Technology can’t solve all our problems.

“Elon Musk shows Neuralink brain implant working in a pig.”

No, not that pig. More’s the pity.

Kibboleth

August 12, 2020

I had one of these back in 2001. I got all the strength training I needed pushing the sonofabitch when it broke down.

Top-shelf “van life?” Four-figure “smart” strength-training equipment?

Betimes one wonders whether The New York Times ping-pongs back and forth between Manhattan and San Fran without paying much attention to what’s in between.

Clearly, what Joe and Jane Sixpack are crying out for in Middle America is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a factory-installed Tonal.

Either that or, y’know, like, a Bug vaccine, dinner with friends, and maybe a fucking job.

Let’s ask Studs Terkel, shall we?

Just another manic Monday

July 20, 2020

Anybody else feel like their rhythm is a little off? Like you’re dancing with one foot in a bucket?

Makes it hard to shake your moneymaker, that’s for sure.

Today we had a routine AC/furnace check on The List, and in Plague Time these things are scheduled in a window rather than on the dot. Ours was from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is a really big dot. Basically a picture window.

I took five at the Piedra Lisa parking lot to snap a quick pic while letting a fleet-footed woman blast past.

I didn’t like the view, but there it was. I usually do a medium-long hike on Mondays, but we both overslept and by the time the morning chores got done I had about 45 minutes to work with if the dude was closer to 10 than 2. Herself had the usual conga line of nightmares moonwalking through her office and I didn’t want to slip another foot-dragging zombie into the mix.

So, boom, I’m out, I’m back. Zip and zip and zip. So pro. No word from the dude. So I figure I’ll do a little light resistance training just ’cause. The phone rings halfway through, a number I don’t recognize, but I pick up on the off chance it’s the dude, which of course it is. He’s five minutes away and on the move.

Anyway, we passed the checkup. The heat heats and the cool cools. I managed a third of a hike and half of a weights session. Herself made bank. What’s not to like?

Speaking of which, here are two new recipes worth a look:

A simple no-cook pizza sauce from Kitchn. Herself likes these corn-meal pizza crusts from Vicolo and with two of those, this sauce, some mozzarella, a little leftover turkey-taco meat, and a handful of chopped black olives and mushrooms, we had two nights of dinner dialed in.

Turmeric and black-pepper chicken with asparagus, from Ali Slagle at The New York Times. This was really good. Simple and quick and versatile and really, really good. It goes into the rotation. But “serves four” me bollocks. The only reason we didn’t eat it all at one sitting was that we wanted some leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

The bad news: Our local Penzey’s Spices shop is closed. And that ominous oinking you’ve been hearing from Portland? It may be coming soon to a town near you.

Tweety gets K-popped, TikTok’d

June 21, 2020

“We are not amused.”

Adolf Twitler was light on adoring brownshirts last night in Tulsa, and some tech-savvy K-pop fans and TikTok users say they’re at least part of the reason why.

The New York Times got the story, which has since been picked up by other outlets, including The Verge.

Seems the social-media sappers blew up The Big Comeback by acquiring a shitload of tickets with no intention of using them for any purpose beyond creating an ocean of empty blue seats. And thus a stadium that seats 19,000 had just 6,200 nutters, not counting staff, media, box seats, or additional voices squabbling inside pointy heads behind beady, close-set eyes.

In an interview with Bloomberg, campaign spokescreature Tim Murtaugh sneered: “Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they’re being clever. Registering for a rally only means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number. Every rally is general admission and entry is first come, first served. But we thank them for their contact information.”

Well, don’t start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet, Tim old scout. Mary Jo Laupp, who posted her own anti-Twitler video on TikTok, told the NYT that many of the people who shared it encouraged people to get tickets using fake names and phone numbers using Google Voice or some other internet-connected phone line.

“We all know the Trump campaign feeds on data, they are constantly mining these rallies for data,” said Ms. Laupp, who worked on several rallies for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. “Feeding them false data was a bonus. The data they think they have, the data they are collecting from this rally, isn’t accurate.”

Pelotonnage

May 6, 2020

The actual outdoors. No instructors shouting at you. Free of charge.

I’m having trouble fitting into The New Weird Order.

The idea of spending $2,245 for a Peloton bike plus $39 per month for online classes*, so I can stay fit for … for. …

For what, exactly?

“Enjoying” a long and healthy life spent indoors, never more than a few steps from a screen?

I guess if the auto industry gets another bailout, as seems likely, these folks — the ones with all the money, anyway — will be able to have their “outside” and their screens at the same time.

* Incidentally, if you already own a bike, and you must do your cycling indoors, you can spend a few hundy on a stationary trainer or a set of rollers and join the free community of voices in your head.

So, 12 monkeys walk into an Earth Day. …

April 22, 2020

“What’s wonderful about the air, James?”
“Very fresh. No germs.”

They tell me today is Earth Day, and indeed, it seems we still have one.

An earth, that is. No thanks to us.

Yesterday I bicycled out to inspect the property and it looked pretty a’ight from just below the intersection of Tramway Road and Juniper Hill Road.

It probably helps that fewer people are motoring pointlessly around and about lately. I only start the Subie every other Wednesday, for purposes of replenishing the pantry. Though I did take the Vespa out for a spin yesterday, too (sorry about that).

The Mad Dog Media Entertainment Complex, featuring a Toshiba TV from 2008; a Mac Mini from mid-2010 (right); and an Apple TV from 2012 (left).

Today I celebrated Earth Day by not spending $150 on a new Apple TV box. HBO Now is dropping its support for older Apple TVs like ours (third generation), and so it was either buy a new one; try AirPlaying HBO Nowto the old box from an iOS device; or use the Mac Mini to stream the sonofabitch.

The last would have been easiest, if the wee beastie weren’t running an OS from 2013 (Mavericks). That dog won’t hunt, sez HBO Now. You gotta have Yosemite at bare minimum, and either Chrome or Firefox (ixnay on the Afarisay).

So I burned a little daylight this morning getting all those ducks in a row. If you monkeys smell smoke, well, that’s why. Ook ook ook.

Looking west from the foothills on Earth Day.