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Our landline rang this afternoon – a rare thing these days – and just as Uncle B answered it, our phone line died. Phone, internet, all of it. A spooky crackly sound came out of the receiver and that’s it.

We know who called. It was a living person, not a dead pet or anything.

A brief conversation with our supplier later, and they’re sending an engineer in the morning. It’s just us, so something physical probably happened to our line. It’s been hella windy lately.

No internet for the evening? That’s unpossible! Have you tried turning your phone into a hotspot? Turns out it’s super easy. You just poke that button in the picture.

The first time I did, it I had to set up a name and password (name: weaselfone password: mustelid. Help yourself). It’s painless and almost quicker than our router. I recommend it in a pinch.

But of course, it’s burning data, so I won’t linger.

April 17, 2024 — 7:37 pm
Comments: 4

Yes, I believe they would

Have you switched (I won’t say upgraded) to Windows 11 yet? I’ve got two machines running it at work and I can’t see much difference.

The Notepad has multiple tabs now and doesn’t automatically close the file when you close the program. There’s that. I use Notepad a lot, so I noticed it right away.

But the main thing is they moved the Windows key – the one you click to open programs – from the left corner to the middle left. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

But they didn’t leave the left corner empty. Oh, no. There they put a news aggregator. So however many times a day you go to open a program and poke that corner by force of habit, you get a faceful of Microsoft-approved headlines.

I learned pretty fast not to do that. Mainstream news! Brrrr.

Do I think Microsoft would make a whole ‘nother operating system just to try and steer everyone’s news consumption? Yes I do.

By the way, Windows 11 updates on exactly the same schedule as all my Windows 10 machines. I bet there aren’t many differences under the hood.

April 15, 2024 — 7:12 pm
Comments: 9

Stop making me learn stuff, dammit!

Still struggling with VR technology. Specifically, UEVR – a mod that supposedly lets you play existing games made with the Unreal engine in VR. Which is lots of games, including lots I own and like. So it’s really, really worth it.

Most VR games suck, because they count on the VR wow! factor to distract you from shitty graphics. (I’m lookin’ at you, Gorilla Tag).

All the cool YouTubers say it – just plug it in and WHEEEEE!…it doesn’t work.

The mod operates by injecting itself into the running code. That is also what viruses do. So Windows Defender slapped it out of my hands as soon as I tried to download it, and at every step along the way.

Anyhoo, that was Obstacle One. I won’t bore you with the rest. I’ll get there in the end, but’s it’s all so tiresome and it’s Booze O’Clock. I wish they’d stop making me learn stuff. I’m too old for it.

Have a good weekend!

March 22, 2024 — 9:02 pm
Comments: 2

Cursed, I tell you

Last night’s post has vanished without a trace. It was just a boring thing about trying to get the Hogwarts game to run in VR, but that’s not the point. It’s not in the database; it’s not in drafts. It’s just…gone. Uncle B saw it, so I’m not nuts.

This afternoon, I was Googling around, trying to find out how to draw a page border in Google Docs, and I clicked on a popup I really shouldn’t’a. My ‘cookie warning’ reflexes took over and I batted it away carelessly.

Sure enough, I caught a dose of the “You’ve visited illegal infected website” scam.

It’s fairly harmless. It just makes that or a similar message pop up every few minutes in hope you’ll click on the link (where the real mischief would happen).

To my surprise, Malwarebytes couldn’t find it. I gather it acts like some kind of…fake browser plug-in? I deleted the most recently installed program and rebooted, but no. In the end, I had to reset the browser. Which closed all my tabs. Which really bummed me out because I keep, like, thirty open tabs as reminders of things I need to do.

I wonder if the missing post will ever float back in…?

March 21, 2024 — 7:51 pm
Comments: 8

Where will I get my conspiracy theories *now*?

Looks like my Twitter is borked. No idea why. If I were suspended, I would expect it to tell me so. My work account seems okay. Is yours working?

I’ve had a technology day, whether I liked it or not. I bought the Hogwarts game in the Steam Spring Sale and I’ve spent my day trying to mod it to work in VR.

Just a couple of clicks! say the YouTubers enthusiastically.

Feh. There was a time in my life when I loved figuring out a new piece of software. Now I just want it to shut up and work.

March 20, 2024 — 6:55 pm
Comments: 8


I’ve spent my whole evening trying to get my Chromecast to talk to my phone. It all started when I wanted to show a clip off Xwitter to Uncle B and ended an hour and a half later in tears. Metaphorical ones, but still.

Why is technology such shit?

We have a new wifi router, which was the start of the problems. I put in the new password, no soap. Then I thought maybe the Chromecast was trying to connect at 5GhZ when it’s an original and can only do 2.5GhZ. So I tried going into the router and renaming the two connections so I could tell which one it was trying to open. And that broke everything.

I know just enough to fuck everything up completely.

Anyway, I’m going to add alcohol to this mix. That always helps. Good weekend!

March 15, 2024 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 3

They’ve deep-sixed their own product

There’s been much hilarity this week about Google’s Gemini and its allergy to images of white people. They’ve had to pause marketing of the image generator.

Someone asked Gemini to explain how it works and it did. Basically, when you ask Gemini to make a picture, your prompt first goes to the language model, which is instructed to insert words like “diversity” into your phrase before passing it to the image generator.

This is an extremely dumb and crude method of getting the result they thought they wanted. There’s no attempt to distinguish between plausible diversity and historical impossibilities, which leads to hilarious images like a racially diverse Waffen SS. And my personal favorite: a 17th Century English king eating watermelon (Gemini couldn’t recognize the racial stereotype because the model itself had injected race).

I can’t get over how crude this bodge is. The irony is that if they hadn’t messed with it, it looks like they had a pretty good image generator on their hands. They have damaged their product, perhaps fatally.

February 22, 2024 — 7:13 pm
Comments: 8

Ow! My butt!

Oh, man…I’ve just sat through an interminable Zoom meeting. My backside ain’t built for this.

At the start of the meeting, I was invited to try the new AI Companion, which I was told would create a synopsis of the meeting for me.

“Great!” I think, “it can do the minutes!”

It can’t, no. It can tell you things like whether your name was mentioned, which I guess might be useful if you were reading news on your phone the whole time and wanted to know if you’d been assigned a job.

I asked it to catch me up and it gave me a one-paragraph synopsis of a 90-minute meeting – which, to be fair, was surprisingly accurate. But useless.

It sounded like something a gifted middle school student would turn in for a book report.

November 7, 2023 — 8:24 pm
Comments: 3

Public service

In the thread below, OldFert asks if there is any way to watch Tucker without a Twitter account. I didn’t know, so I made one. You can watch videos with a direct link.

Episode 1 June 6 Topic: Ukraine
Episode 2 June 8 Topic: Taboos
Episode 3 June 13 Topic: Trump’s arrest
Episode 4 June 15 Topic: Wannabe dictator
Episode 5 June 20 Topic: Hunter Biden
Episode 6 June 22 Topic: RFK’s campaign
Episode 7 June 28 Topic: War in Ukraine
Episode 8 June 30 Topic: Rachel Rick Levine and Mark Milley

I’ll try to remember to post a link when he resumes. He hasn’t done any in July; he’s on vacation. He also did an interview with Russel Brand that was supposed to be good, but Russel Brand makes my teeth itch so I haven’t watched it. I’ll find and post the link if desired.

You were allowed to explore hashtags without an account, if you could get past the login screen. Click a tweet to squeeze past and then click Explore in the upper left corner. I’m getting a 404 now, though, so it looks like he’s plugged that hole, too.

July 11, 2023 — 5:45 pm
Comments: 7

My needs are simple

My favorite podcast app is shutting down. They’re being absorbed into the subscription service of their parent company (SiriusXM). Because of course they are.

I hate monthly fees.

I’m bummed because I paid for it. Eh, it was a one-time fee and a long time ago – it doesn’t owe me anything – but I’d gotten used to it and I can’t find a substitute I like.

What I want from an app is simple: when I subscribe to a podcast, I want it to go all the way back to the first episode and play the lot, in order, remembering what I’ve already listened to. Download to listen offline is useful, too – my garden activities sometimes take me out of range of the wifi.

I’ve tried several that I shall not name because my phone is in the other room and I’m too lazy to go get it. One didn’t let me sort from oldest to newest, so I had to scroll past pages and pages manually. One gave me a free period after which it wanted to charge a modest annual fee – but give us your credit card information up front, luv. (I actually did give them my payment details, but my time anxiety was so grievous, I deleted the program almost immediately).

One – and I remember it was the Google one – would only play one episode of the thing I wanted to hear, after which it switched me to a podcast from the front page that it apparently really, really wanted me to listen to.

I’m sure I could learn to drive any of those apps eventually, but remember: lazy.

At the moment, I’m on the free version of Spotify. I get the feeling it would much rather I listened to Taylor Swift, but it’s doing okay with podcasts so far.

Do you have a favorite podcast app? Why do I anticipate most of you boogers telling me you don’t listen to ’em?

July 10, 2023 — 7:49 pm
Comments: 19