Category Archives: Technology

Effie reviews plans for the fuselage of Vic’s plane

As some of our friends know, my husband Vic is building an airplane. Vic is using public domain Piper plans for a PA-14, a four-seat bush plane, but our plane will have two seats. Effie, always faithfully curious of why we are occupying her floor space, looks on with supervisorial interest.



Filed under Action & Being, Cats, Effie, Encouragement, Home Life, Photos, Technology

Plug it in, Lady. . .

My camera quit immediately after I took the photos for the previous post. I plugged in its charging cord, which is plugged in to a four-outlet surge strip, which is plugged into a wall socket, same as always—except that my camera’s red charging light did not come on. This did not at all portend a good thing.

I called my husband, and gave him the model number of my camera’s lithium oxide battery. Owners’ manuals are good things to have for such occasions. My husband thought it was unusual for the battery to die so young. He would order two new batteries and spring for 2-day shipping. They were guaranteed to be delivered Memorial Day.

I conjectured aliens with remote devices, destroying all the lithium oxide camera batteries in the world, to keep conscientious terrestrials from photographing them when they finally invade the earth.

After talking to my husband for 23 minutes, I needed to charge my phone. I plugged it in to its jack, which was plugged into its USB outlet, which was plugged in to the surge strip, which is plugged in to the wall. My phone wouldn’t charge either. Now, this was truly weird.

Everything was properly plugged in. Aliens never come on Fridays. I looked at the surge strip. Maybe its switch was off—who remembers whether its black or red side is supposed to show? I switched the switch to see the red side. My camera’s red charging light came on. My phone’s charging screen came on.

I called my husband and confessed my mistake that the surge strip was somehow turned off. I have no idea how it came to be off. I never purposely turn it on or off; it’s always on, or should be. Effie certainly is not taking the rap for this. My husband belayed the battery order. A fairly good time was had by all. . . .

That red charging light on my camera looked so terrific. . .

Red on the surge strip means “On!”

I took the photos with my phone, which was charged first.


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Filed under Action & Being, Home Life, Technology, Weird

How I Foil Chronic Unwanted Phone Calls

Even my 2010 pre-smart phone can do it. Phone rings. I see it is not a number I have put in my phone, and those are limited to family, friends, and people with whom I have a business relationship. Caller leaves no voicemail.

I save the number to my list of contacts under the contact name dna1 – dna8 so far (dna stands for “do not answer”). My phone holds five numbers per contact: business, home, two cells, and fax. I have so far assigned five numbers each to dna1 – dna8. 40 dolts go unheard! I imagine a dna9 will ring soon, and I’ll have room for four more numbers under that contact. Each dna contact is assigned my phone’s best ringtone: No Ring. Soundless. I would not even know the dna called, but for the vibe, which is brief and innocuous. Dna also shows up in Recent Calls.

I presume dna people are persistent, and their proliferation may be due to their acquiring more and more numbers. It doesn’t matter. Each will only be heard once, and it will not be answered.

I find my method preferable to the National Do Not Call list. For one thing, they require your phone number and email address to register. I may be cynical, but I have to wonder to whom they sell these. My other reason is reliable hearsay, that people who register say they receive more unsolicited calls than ever.

The method I use to silence unwanted calls has worked well enough for me to want to pass it on. Every scrap of peace we can get seems very important these days.




Filed under Technology

Computer woes

My computer’s handwriting input panel is evidently in the throes of its fixin’ to die rag. When I resort to its virtual keyboard, it stalls, delays transfer of the letter I peck with my stylus to its screen destination, and, more and more frequently, refuses to acknowledge my stylus’s tap on the space bar. My husband has researched remedies and implemented various fixes. But improvement is transitory; my computer inevitably reverts to its frustrating behaviors. I fear my Samsung Slate is becoming a dear, as in an old, mind-corrupted dear. And the dear is only four years old.

Because of my own advancing dearness, I am grateful for the advent of stylus input, either by handwriting or virtual keyboard, because a chronic RSI makes it too excruciating to type. I simply cannot type with my fingers on a keyboard.

I tried for some time to use DragonSpeaking, a voice-activated means of actual type input. But evidently I lacked the sort of voice that commands accurate activation of these things. Thankfully, the handwriting input technology came out right about the time I realized I had no options but to concede to the reality that Dragon was never going to work for me. It was a doomed alliance, a case of different destinies.

To use the handwriting input panel, I print each letter in a space, and Slate either reads it, makes up something else entirely, or quits and forces me to resort to pecking on the virtual keyboard with my stylus. Right now, neither of my input options is working well or consistently, and frustration doesn’t help. It means writing less, “Liking” blog posts instead of commenting, calling friends on the phone instead of using guaranteed mutually convenient email, and caving to moronic truncations of words.

Another thing that is not helpful is being told that my computer is near or at the end of its useful life—an opinion one should keep to oneself, even if one is a very good friend of many years and an accomplished self-styled geek.

All right. I aspire to dismiss my frustration and somehow continue writing with more usual frequency. In the meantime, I will try to produce more and better photos.


Filed under Action & Being, Health, Technology

Friends don’t let friends download Windows 10

Why?? Isn’t it the best OS ever?

For some, it probably is. I miss Windows 7 Professional terribly. But I might keep 10. So far the leading disadvantage to switching back is undertaking the reversal of a long, grueling process.

I have a chronic repetitive strain injury. I have been unable to use a keyboard since 2009. I hand wrote and scanned my blog posts for a while, but they were, of course, not searchable. Then I tried DragonSpeaking, an exercise that taught me, in just three years, exactly how to feel completely misunderstood. Most people think I have pretty standard American diction.

I had heard of handwriting recognition technology, and my husband and I were tracking its advent to home computers. It wasn’t so long. I got my Samsung Slate PC in 2012. Its operating system was Windows 7 Professional. Two hours out of the box I composed and published a blog post on it. It has performed well on a daily basis and been low maintenance ever since. I can write in its “penbox,” as I call it, or peck at its virtual keyboard with a stylus. The Slate is similar to the MS Surface, which came out two months later.

Recently, my penbox began failing with more and more frequency, and some industry fingers pointed to the “outdated” operating system. I didn’t want to update, but finally I caved. The installation of Windows 10 took HOURS. I got MS phone support, and she was super; she completed the installation for me. But there are some disappointments with 10.

For one thing, the penbox is more difficult to use and less able to read my printing than the old one. But then, so far it hasn’t quit, either–but the old one endured a few years. W7 was intuitive and made it easy to set everything up. W10 is not. It took a while to figure out how to dump MSN as the default home page and replace it with my own choice. It might be intuitively obvious to some, but it’s not encoded in my DNA.

I’m not the only one who doesn’t see what MS sees. While picking up my new glasses, I mentioned to my optician’s assistant that I had made the worst mistake of my recent life last night. I responded to her engaged sympathetic look: “I downloaded Windows 10 last night.” She cringed. She’d done it, too. She regretted it but was going to live with it. Everyone says MS will make everything else useless soon anyway; best to buck up and get it free now. She said my optician downloaded it also, but he hated it enough to switch back. These are bright, tech savvy, heavy users. One accepts the probably inevitable; the other will hold out, probably hoping for a better option down the road.

At this point I’m somewhere in between.


Filed under Action & Being, News, Technology