Posted in Videos

Invigorated by YouTube

For so many years I mostly ignored YouTube. I hated the name, which sounded rude! I would check out music or a Simon’s Cat animation, but mostly internet videos were an irritation. I hate going onto a news page and finding it slowed down with embedded video clips that take up space and don’t even have captions, and you have to carefully scroll past the wretched things in the hope of finding actual text… a commodity that becomes rarer and rarer, especially in the news world. When friends post video links, even to Simon’s Cat, I follow with great reluctance. From past experience I know I would enjoy the video, yet am still reluctant to be drawn in.

Then I realized I can follow videos (to a limited degree) provided they have automatic captions. I gain access to things I would otherwise have no access to at all, such as some radio shows. Unfortunately, BBC trailers on YouTube never seem to have captions. Somebody consciously removed autocaptions and hasn’t replaced them with edited ones? Oh well, I won’t watch them.

The majority of videos on YouTube have autocaptions, however, and I’m grateful, even though they are garbled in places. You find yourself mentally changing words or glueing a selection of them together to transform into the word that’s intended. Breakfast means Brexit. Barney means Barnier. Mr Young Kerr is Mr Juncker. Jumani chairs might have been Jean Monnet chairs. Large Parrot is Nigel Farage. I will have to look for other examples. What does ‘rather eat a mockery knee’ mean? (Approximately 38.20 mark on LBC’s EU Army video).

I don’t just watch political videos… I was surprised to discover how therapeutic some of the other offerings are, with repeated mantras and soothing delivery. Seeing someone sitting down and looking you in the eye; their humorous expressions, quiet confidence and polite acceptance of you (though of course they can’t see you)… it has an amazing effect.

Up till now, articles and blog posts are all I’ve ever looked at. I enjoy those that take you on a journey of some kind, even if a bit rambling sometimes. I hate shallow, repetitive ‘sound-bite’ dribbets that don’t tell you what you really want to know. Instead they repeat bare facts you might be having doubts about… people parroting each other without appearing to question the information. You think “but is that really true? How do they know?” and search for something more. It’s frustrating when nobody really goes into it… you wish they would look deeper, or wider (at different situations). Like when you want advice how to repair a friendship and instead keep finding stuff about married couples when that’s not the dynamic you were interested in. It almost makes you question your own validity… like “I’m not the important person here; I’m not married… none of my issues are relevant.” That’s not a good example, as there’s actually plenty of stuff that addresses platonic friendships, but you get the drift.

Then I ‘discovered’ YouTube videos; or, should I say, discovered I can make much more use of them than I realized, provided they have captions.

Videos can be short or long; they can amuse, tell you something you never read anywhere else, or merely repeat the same tired points and — guiltily — you find your attention wandering. Sometimes you watch to the bitter end while distracting yourself scanning the comments underneath, but other times you realize it really wasn’t what you were looking for, so you move on. Small blame to the speaker, whose video will make all the difference to somebody, somewhere; no doubt setting that person on a new voyage of discovery.

Last night I felt anxiety like a growing block of ice that threatened to keep me from sleeping, so lulled myself with watching YouTube videos. It worked amazingly well. The speaker in question was a great story-teller, and when she recounted a dialogue I could really empathize with, complete with expressions of remembered shock and confusion, I found myself weeping with laughter. My mother was sleeping in another room so I was trying to keep it quiet, but became so hysterical I had to muffle myself with handfuls of cloth.

I don’t know if I would have reacted that way if I’d read the relayed conversation in an article. I might had chuckled to myself, even laughed out loud, and probably nodded a lot as though to say, “yeah, I know that feeling!” but I’m not sure I would have had the uproarious reaction that I did.

Unnerving but therapeutic. “Wow, I’m not the only one who feels at times as though nothing makes any sense! And all the time, it was because of something going on with the other person.”

The anxiety in my chest suddenly melted, washed away in a surge of positive emotion. After that I was able to sleep, waking in good humour. Several hours later, I’m still feeling shaky but relieved. The video was expressive in a completely different way from written articles. It was not just the message that came across in bold technicolour, but the person herself.

Nevertheless… the underlying reasons for my current bout of anxiety are still there, and I’ve not yet done anything with those. I must try, over and over, if that’s what it takes. Only then can I sleep properly, though these videos are a good reminder that you’re not alone and other people have similar experiences.

This morning I found myself watching something I thought tremendously relevant on all kinds of levels….

What Happens With Unprocessed Emotions by Richard Grannon

It turns into something you don’t entirely expect, but speaks a lot of truth. If videos were always predictable, we would soon give up watching… a tip for YouTube in their quest to keep our eyeballs in thrall. Not that Richard Grannon was really endorsing our addiction to social media.

It is true… I’ve been sucked into this alternative reality — this other place that feeds on itself and grows and becomes more real with every passing moment. Even after watching the video I’ve just linked to, you absolutely know you’re going to check your news feed, write a blog post, and occasionally check your emails, then maybe try another video. You are not stopped by the realization that it’s unhealthy and you’re only frittering away your time because you can’t be bothered to think or do anything else, partly because you do get things from it that you wouldn’t find in your own environment… and you meet people you would never have talked to normally.

Oh… as Richard says, that’s not necessarily a good thing, especially if you have a picture in your head of a person, and that person is very different in real life. Which can be good, because maybe you wouldn’t have known how decent, kind, intelligent or witty that person was if going by visual impressions. Then again, you do get caught out the other way as well, so we really need to take our time getting to know people, both online and in the real world.

Richard made a real case for not distracting ourselves from the way we feel. Ultimately, we need to put our devices aside and get to the bottom of why we feel the way we do, and what we can do to improve ourselves and our lives.

Talking of anxiety, I could feel it mounting again when I read this news article by The Guardian: Stares, Glares, and Internet Dating: The Harsh Reality of Life with a Disability. It was the bit about managing life as a deaf person. Things get worse instead of better… it’s as though people (government agencies, public services, businesses and organizations) have less and less time and space to worry about you, even while expectations increase, pressure mounts, queues lengthen and people are summarily punished for not conforming as expected. I could tell you stories of my own about the difficulties of getting through and making my concerns heard, but I don’t really want to at this point in time. I’d rather forget…

Posted in Rants, Technology and Software

Instagram: Tiger by the Tail?

A few days ago I set up an Instagram account for the first time ever. Everybody else seemed to be using it, I thought, so why not me?

I haven’t been happy so far. I’m so focused on settings and problems that I haven’t looked around much to see what other people are posting.

1. There’s no official Instagram app in the iPad App Store. Eventually I discovered they didn’t make one! We can only use the iPhone app with no way of forcing it to work in landscape view. Viewing it in portrait mode is unnatural and uncomfortable, so I don’t spend long doing that.

2. I can use Instagram from the mobile browser, but it’s spartan. There are things I can’t do unless I switch to the uncomfortable sideways app.

3. Nobody seems to like the way the feed works any more. People complain that the same posts they’ve already seen and commented on hang around for days on end. There’s no logic to it and you can’t target your viewing unless you visit each Instagram friend individually.

4. You can’t hide your follower lists from anyone following you.

The real kicker, though — the most mind-bendingly crass thing — is the way it notifies people you know (mainly Facebook friends) that you have just opened an Instagram account. This happens to some degree even if you didn’t use your Facebook sign-in. As soon as I created mine, it suggested I follow various Facebook friends. I’m quite sure they could see me too, even if they happened not to receive a direct notification.

This isn’t what I want. Even if I jump through hoops trying to keep my Instagram account anonymous, I wouldn’t be able to fully trust it, because who really knows how these social media sites work? Are you sure you understand all the ins and outs, who-can-sees, and who-can’ts?

I feel like a fly floating on the surface of a big pond with very little understanding of how things work and almost no say over my visibility. I’m simply not a fan of this idea!

It’s not that I really care if family and acquaintances can see the uninspiring photos and pictures I come up with, but I feel held back. If I was in a mood and ‘liked’ a grumpy quotation, those who have closer ties to me would wonder if I was grumping at them and what the issue was!

Socializing would be a lot less fun if you had to worry all the time about who was privy to what. Your rabid SNP cousin might blow his top if he knew your political views, which is exactly why you don’t talk politics to him but might to someone else.

Or perhaps this is the idea… we all have to have very bland, politically-correct conversations that don’t move too far from the weather?

I made my Instagram account private but am considering closing it altogether because I can’t see myself using it. I felt confused from the start… “what do I post here? Family stuff or arty, self-expressive stuff?” I considered setting up a second, more private account, then realized anonymity isn’t guaranteed anyway.

These big companies may say, even believe, that they have opened up the internet, simplified it, made it easier, automated everything and connected everybody, but in fact they are closing down the ways you can productively, safely, freely and confidently use it. Everything’s so automated and ‘smart’ and omniscent that it’s out of each user’s control exactly who can see what you’ve posted and where, and I’m sure this has already led to problems for many people.

You wonder what’s the point of having these different forums anyway, if they’re all interlinked to the degree that you can follow one person from Facebook to Instagram to Pinterest to…? It seems like too much bother; just amalgamate the lot into one single interface! One App to Rule Them All.

Instagram might have been fun on its own. I could have got used to the square format and would enjoy creating the right kind of images. Unfortunately social media communicates *too* much on our behalf, and we no longer know what we’re doing. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Posted in Books

Pulling Up the Drawbridge

tired of your world?
try on another’s skin
read a book

I used to read all the time, but it’s an ability I’ve largely lost. I dip in and out of this book or that, and it can take me a long time to finish anything. Today, though, I found out that books still have their place in the world, even in mine.

I’m upset just now about a lot of different things, some of which won’t be resolved any time soon. There’s nothing I can do but wait. I couldn’t concentrate on anything I was meant to be doing, so curled up on the sofa and read.

I was previously dipping into this book for minutes at a time, worried I wouldn’t finish by its library due date, but today wrapped it round me like a blanket and read all afternoon and evening: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

It was brilliant and I would recommend it whole-heartedly. It upset me a lot. πŸ˜€

I know that doesn’t sound so good, but I don’t regret reading it. It gives me a different understanding of what it must be for people to go through memory loss.

The main character talks about being treated like she’s back in school… I could relate to that, as the same thought flashed through my head during a meeting with a nurse. Being talked to like I was six was a very big reason I rebelled and refused to have anything more to do with her proposed anxiety treatment.

Yet anxiety is a horrible thing… I wonder why it should hit me so hard that I needed to pull up the drawbridge and hide inside a novel. I don’t think anything will change me, and maybe it’s not out of the ordinary… we all get overwhelmed at times. I wonder what life would be like if no one ever felt fear?

Whatever… I was surprised how quickly I went from only being able to concentrate for a few minutes to spending hours reading. People talk about how the internet and ‘information overload’ has changed the way we read, think and engage. Perhaps, but I don’t believe it’s a permanent change. If for any reason you mentally disengage yourself from your internet habit, you can still take up a book as though nothing else exists.

Have now begun Dark Eden by Chris Beckett.

‘Hmmph, hmmph, hmmph, went the trees all around us, pumping and pumping hot sap from under the ground.’

See you when I get back. πŸ™‚

Posted in Lost in Thought, Observations

Five Things I Learned

We’re into March already! Five things I learned this year so far:

(1) Treat your Mah Jong tiles with respect.

(2) Artists use battery-operated erasers.

(3) In Scotland you get a free bus pass if you’re severely or profoundly deaf. You still have to state your destination, which is not so hot if you have quiet or poor speech.

(4) There are no more photo booths in town. Even that technology seems to have ‘moved on’, at least locally. (Runs from various digital cameras pointed in her direction).

(5) It seems possible to replace just about any part of a blender — including the jug, supposing you broke it. Possibly depends on the model and the manufacturer, but always worth checking.

Posted in Technology and Software, TV and Films

The Sky’s the Limit

Mum was tempted by an offer of four trial months of free Sky TV (after Β£75 initial set-up, delivery of Sky box and installation of mini-dish). So now we have a dish on our house too.

It’s been enjoyable so far, though it’s shocking how little is subtitled, including programmes which are subtitled sometimes, and other times not. They must do something about that, as it seems such a waste of energy and resources.

We have seen The Colour of Magic amongst other things, very good.

A few days after the Sky box was installed, we tried to watch a DVD. Nothing happened… I suspected the DVD was playing but not showing up on the TV screen. I crawled behind the TV and changed the Scart cables around – the Sky guy had placed them so that they both ran from the TV. I put the DVD player in the middle, taking both cables so that the TV had one and the Sky box had the other.

The DVD sprang to life on the TV screen (already part of the way through).

After watching the film, we tried to watch Sky again, and this time Sky wasn’t responding. Again I crawled behind the TV and switched the cables round to Plan C… this time I discovered that it mattered which Scart socket you used! I thought it didn’t matter, but it does. The Sky box has one socket for the TV and another for the video or DVD player, so this time I put the Sky box in the middle, with one cable running to the TV and the other to the DVD player. The sockets on the other units matter as well, but I swapped the Scarts round till I figured out which ones worked.

This time we could watch Sky, and we could also watch a DVD if we switched off the Sky box first. But the Sky picture was green!!

“You’ve lost all the red,” said Mum, accusingly. After a little head-scratching, I crawled behind the TV again and discovered that one of the Scart cables wasn’t as well pushed in as I thought; pushing it all the way in was all that was needed to restore ‘normal’ colour to the TV screen…

We now have a TV set-up we can continue to use.

The excitement wasn’t entirely over, as Mum got a letter saying they were going to start debiting her account at the end of the month… she phoned and said she’s barely even started the four-month trial period she was promised, and they said they accidentally sent out letters saying they would, but they weren’t going to, and Mum’s money is safe for now.

Funny how it’s never easy.

Posted in Desktop Pictures, Life and Family

A View of the World

I set my Mac’s desktop picture to change every half hour at random. Life is exciting now – you never know what it’s going to be! I’ve had two violent purple ones already.

My desktop picture folder was tidied up and includes a large selection of old desktops from both Mac and PC, along with a few I made or downloaded from the web. My favourites are the dinosaurs from ITV’s Prehistoric Park. There’s one with a prehistoric croc eyeing a young dinosaur coming down to drink, and I pointed at the croc and said “you’re in MY world, croc, and in MY world you don’t get the dinosaur.”

I’m afraid my world isn’t a very nice one for crocs.

As for the PC’s old desktop pictures, the Mac has been trying them on and laughing wildly. “Look at these old bloomers!” It better watch out, as the PC has stormed off in a huff once already. Well, the Mac probably wouldn’t admit it in a million years, but it rather likes the PC’s old iceberg picture. It promptly chose that one when I said it could pick whatever it liked.

In fact, I’m now feeling guilty for all the years I’ve forced both computers to stick with whichever desktop I told them to use – they must have got very bored.

Anthropomorphism isn’t daft – it’s a curse. You spend so much time feeling sorry for every dead leaf and speck of dust that it’s just horrible. When I was six or seven, I was watching something on TV in which they were testing the wing or tail of a plane. It fell apart and I started weeping. My grandmother asked, “what’s wrong?” and I said I really had no idea. The piece of metal fell apart and it just made me sad. She laughed, and said “they were only testing it.” I’m not sure it made much difference. The world oozes tragedy from every pore.

Posted in Rants, Technology and Software, Trolleys

So-Called Progress

It’s not a coincidence that Mum ordered a printer so soon after I bought mine. She was going to buy more ink for her old one, and I told her the breakdown of my old printer was a blessing in disguise.

On-line reviews showed that people who were dissatisfied with their printers weren’t even waiting for them to kick the bucket. They checked out the competition and made the switch. It saved time, money and energy in the end. Makes me think of the old adage that we should not throw good money after bad, which is what you are doing if you hate your printer but continue to buy expensive inks for it. Your continued patience probably encourages the manufacturer to assume that the model is a winner.

It took the breakdown of my printer (and subsequent reading of reviews) to challenge my old-fashioned mindset. When I buy something, I expect it to last for years. To me, a printer is no more disposable than the oven. I would want to be relying on it for as long as possible. Anything else seems a sad waste – till one day you wake up and realize the real waste lies in:

  1. the ink (due to a bad ink-changing system)
  2. the paper (when the printer makes a mess)
  3. your time and patience (when a simple printout becomes a battle of wits and takes all day)
  4. your money

I don’t believe all printers are as bad as that, but I used to – it was all I knew.

There was one other printer I was completely happy with, and was sad to lose when I upgraded my computer. It was the Apple Stylewriter. That never gave me a day’s trouble. It stood upright and claimed very little room, but its reliability was the real plus. I would rather have a huge and reliable printer than a neat and cantankerous one – a simple one that works rather than a complicated one with lots of flashing lights and doodads that keeps me guessing.

I once believed in progress – imagine that! I genuinely believed that updated products were better. I was horrified to find myself buying some real lemons all of a sudden. The items I found reliable and cheap to run fell by the wayside and weren’t available any more. I’ve had particularly bad experiences with fax machines.

I didn’t mean this to turn into a diatribe on so-called technological progress (which feels much more like provide-the-manufacturers-with-undeserved-largesse)… I only looked in to apologize for my recent silence.

Jolly Update

Jolly the Trolley is still going strong. The other day Mum gave me a lift, and she took Jolly out to the car while I locked my door. I hurried out, flung open the passenger door, and found Jolly sitting in my seat, firmly strapped in.

Well, if he can remember to buckle up, so can everybody else.

Posted in My Cats, Technology and Software

Wrestling with the Printer

Thursday 28th September

It was nearly 5 and I was starting to give up on my new printer – then the courier came. He strode purposefully past my window with a large dark green box in his arms. Not wanting to keep him waiting, nor yet seem too eager, and not wishing to rush outside with open arms just in case he strode up a neighbour’s path instead, I jumped up and galloped out into the hall. There I stopped, and tiptoed a little nearer to the door, grimacing when a panel in the floor clunked noisily. I ran my fingers through my hair, straightened my shirt, and waited.

The bell rang, filled with slight reproach, as though to say, “I hoped you would be waiting right here.” Like something let off the leash, I scurried to the door and yanked it open.

“You are…?” he glanced at my face and saw from my look of happy expectancy that I was. The box was placed in the porch and he stepped forward to hand me a little machine for signing a digital squiggle.
“Ooch!” he said suddenly, dabbing at his face and plucking something away.
“Oh” – I said, apologetically. “It’s the cobweb.” I had seen a small brown spider spinning its home across the entrance a few days ago but had done nothing about it. I hoped the spider was alright.

I signed my squiggle and thanked him, and off he went. As he passed the porch, he looked back and gave me a wide grin. I smiled, but wondered if he was laughing at there being a cobweb across the entrance to my lair.

I dragged the box into the house. It was unexpectedly heavy. My old printer was as light as a bubble. I tore off the dark green bag and there was a very strong cardboard box inside, with pictures all over it.

My Canon printer.

Humming happily, I opened up the box, pulled out some ink cartridges, a print head in a bag, some leaflets, a CD, a CD-Rom tray, a mains cable, and a packet of postcard-sized photo paper. I placed them all on the desk to one side, and one of the ink cartridges promptly fell on the floor.
“Rats,” I said, “bet the instruction manual says ‘do not drop the ink cartridges.'”

Somehow I wrestled the printer out of the box and got it up on the desk between the two computers. The sloth and I sat and looked at it. It wasn’t just heavy, it was huge. Big and heavy, to me, means strong and solid, demanding respect. My last printer felt like a child’s toy, and skidded across the desk if nudged.

“Um,” said the sloth, “I think you’ve put it the wrong way round.”
“What?” I stared hard at the printer. “Oh. I think you’re right. Well, while we’re looking at its rear end, we might as well check where all the sockets are.”
We had a close look.
“Yes, the main cable goes in… there. And… er… that’s for the USB cable.”
I was using my old printer’s USB lead and was relieved when it fitted exactly. It was already attached to the iMac as I hadn’t disconnected it after the demise of the original printer. Turned the printer round and plugged it in without turning it on at the mains. Grabbed the Quick Start Guide and began reading eagerly.

It said the computer must NOT be on.
Ulp. I hastily powered it down and turned it off at the mains, then resumed reading.
It said I shouldn’t drop the ink cartridges, and should store them out of the reach of small children. “Ha!” I thought. “I don’t have any small children! I’m alright there – smuggity smug.”
Something moved next to my chair. Sharky was peering up at me with his sharp oriental face, preparing to leap onto my knee.
“No! Gerrout of here! These are tricky operations!”
Sharky thought I couldn’t possibly mean it, and gathered his haunches under him, preparing to spring. I half-stood, and he took the hint and left the room, his tail twitching with annoyance.

Somehow I got the print head installed, after slight confusion about what and where the print head was. After multiple repeated exhortations from the manual not to touch electrical contacts or anything inside the printer, my hands were shaking. Trying not to touch anything at all, I placed the first ink cartridge in its slot. It scraped slightly and I paused, feeling as though I was trying to disarm an explosive device. I seized the cartridge again and began to click it into place.
“Me eat naow!” cried a voice behind me, very loudly, and I jumped out of my skin. The red lamp in the printer flickered on.
“Fusspot, please! I’m busy!”
The Siamese cat turned and walked away, grumbling to himself.

I was only setting up the printer for 40 minutes or so but it felt like an eternity. I was convinced every move I made would damage the printer or one of its bits. When I finally put the paper in and printed my first page, it was much crisper than a similar printout by my old printer, and I was delighted.

What a palaver setting it up – but I love it.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments for this entry when it was on Blogigo:

1. Pacian wrote at Sep 30, 2006 at 21:59:
I’m going to attempt some html…

Sharky thought I couldn’t possibly mean it, and gathered his haunches under him, preparing to spring.

I know a cat just like that. Even if you shoo him away, he comes back a few seconds later. Once he’s got it into his mind to jump onto something he’s normally allowed to, he absolutely *has* to do it, even if he jumps back down a few seconds later.

2. Pacian wrote at Sep 30, 2006 at 22:01:
Failure! My beloved phasis tags, unrecognised!

3. Diddums wrote at Oct 1, 2006 at 14:32:
Bad luck about the failed tags!

Cats seem to think ‘no’ will turn into ‘yes’ two minutes later and that we can have no good reason for stopping them from sitting where they like. Maybe it’s partly our fault for saying ‘no’ and then feeling twinges of guilt at their woebegone faces and scooping them up for a big hug. And maybe that was their aim all along…

Posted in Editing, Technology and Software

Smitten by a Printer

I was kept up all night by Microsoft Word. Even when you think you understand it and can find your way around it, doing things other people don’t even know Word can do, it still has the ability to baffle. I looked up a few ‘Word help’ sites on-line, but they don’t say very much, are too basic, and are chirpy and cheerful at a time when I’m keen to wring someone’s neck.

I enjoy the challenge of reducing a wild, fighting document to something pliant and beautiful, but when I think of all the time and sleep I’ve lost, and the frantic rush just before a printing deadline when everybody’s waiting for me to come up with the goods, and Word isn’t letting me do something that should never have been a problem in the first place… that makes me quite angry.

My printer broke down in the middle of it all. No, actually, I was glad. I’m usually upset when things of mine break (I don’t know when I last broke a mug) but I didn’t like this printer. Even as I turned away from its rapidly cooling corpse and my forehead met the desk with a thump, I thought to myself “I can buy a new printer now. And it won’t be the same make!”

I lifted my forehead off the desk and pointed my mouse in the direction of Amazon.

Not just because I’m a shopaholic who was fed to the back teeth with her old printer anyway, but because I felt bad about it and wanted to leave that moment behind. Move on, move on, move on. Get from a bad place to a good one. Despair begone and hope enter in. I didn’t want to fork out for a new printer, which was partly why I was upset, but let’s just get one and get it over with.

In fact there’s such a bewildering choice out there it took me two nights. I talked to everyone and read all the reviews and shopped around from site to site. I stared at pictures and thought about what I needed. I narrowed my shortlist to two printers – one laser and one inkjet – and they were so much the opposite of each other in their pros and cons that I couldn’t decide! I slept on it, hoping for a definite decision during the night, but in the morning was still irresolute. So I bought the one I wanted instead of the one I thought I should probably get. I bought the Canon inkjet.

Those two nights – it was a good thing I held back, as the price came down while I was staring at it. The other printer held its price steady.

I’m looking forward to it so much that just now I went back to Amazon and pulled down its picture just so I could stare lovingly at it. I showed it to Sharky, who was sitting on my knee. “Look – there’s our new printer.” He looked at it for a few minutes while I clicked back and forth between views, but he didn’t seem very impressed. I downloaded one of the photos so I could admire it when I leave the site. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, not for a printer. Not for anything other than a kitten or a teddy bear.

Maybe I just needed something to smile over and look forward to. I’m not down in the dumps; just tired. It’s one of those times when things are breaking down all around you – the PC’s hard drive packed up recently, taking a handful of pretty graphics with it, and I’m still waiting for a replacement. I didn’t particularly miss the PC, sitting blank and empty beside me, but today it hit me that I miss Paintshop Pro.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments for this entry when it was on Blogigo:

1. drifting wrote at Sep 27, 2006 at 09:05:
Word drives me nuts sometimes. Microsoft applications are not particularly ‘user-friendly’. I get so sick of the auto-formatting that Word insists on doing when it thinks it knows what I want. Excel’s help is not very helpful. Access is a nightmare. I need a new harddrive but just can’t afford it at the moment with the car bill coming up….
It is nice to get that document obedient, though. Just takes a lot of frustration!

2. drifting wrote at Sep 27, 2006 at 09:07:
Btw, I have to say I thought your title meant you’d meant a human printer… hehehe! It’s probably just as well to fall in love with an inanimate object – less hassle!

3. Diddums wrote at Sep 27, 2006 at 20:07:
That would be a match made in heaven, wouldn’t it – an editor and a printer! Even better if it was a writer and a printer.

What I find with Word help is it tells you stuff you know already – the troubleshooting information is thin on the ground. It seems to assume you won’t or can’t get into trouble. Or maybe they don’t want to have a huge troubleshooting section in case people think it reflects on the product! It doesn’t really, especially if it tells you what was going wrong in the first place. Then you would go “ah – silly me,” and fix it. I wish…

Posted in Rants, Technology and Software

Pointing Back Down the Trail

Mood: Cooler, under a Great Grey Cloud
Listening to: Some breathy noise (?)

This is a wee bit of a rant, but it’s been building up for a long while.

Luck at last! I obtained a second hand iMac G4 with System X. It was a big leap forward from my old Mac. It looks better, holds more, takes up less room, runs more quietly… and I can finally use the Firefox and Safari browsers.

I can’t describe the relief, as the old system was crumbling about my ears. When you’re on System 9, you can’t visit all the sites because of the unsupported browsers, and the ones you can visit load slowly and look terrible. You keep coming across people saying if you want to view their site properly you should switch to Firefox, Opera or Safari. Some say it more pleasantly than others – I don’t mind if it’s said kindly, but it makes my hair stand on end when someone says this in a waspish tone to the world at large. Perhaps they don’t realize you can only use Firefox, Opera and Safari if you have System X, and you can really only have System X if your computer is up to it – and not everybody can afford to upgrade.

Surfing around on my creaky old browsers in search of a compatible solution, I found some even worse attitudes – those who claimed (in accents of withering scorn) that anyone still using System 9 on the Mac should have their heads examined.

Well, I’ll try and be patient – perhaps they were only 13 and thought they knew everything.

If you’re still using System 9 on a slow old Mac that crashes when you have more than three windows open, takes ages to download a simple news page, has a really serious blackout when it tries to load a Sky ad, and there’s no chance of getting System X any time soon… well, iCab could be the way forward.

I had an iCab beta browser and it was very neat, very quick to download, installed beautifully, showed some sites correctly when I.E.5 didn’t, and visited those sites (may they crash and burn) which, if you tried to visit them with I.E.5, simply fobbed you off with a notice along the lines: “your browser is too old to handle our wonderful, sophisticated site. Go away and bother somebody else, you lowly earthworm.”

A friend from a computing lab tells me he refuses to visit sites like that on principle. Quite right too. But if you still need to visit such a site and I.E.5 doesn’t get you there, iCab might.

The main problem with my iCab beta browser (the version I had) was a JavaScript issue… probably something I could have fixed if I’d looked into it. Every so often it would freeze, and then deliver the following error message: ‘JavaScript execution is too slow or the script is stuck in an endless loop. Would you like to run the script another 15 seconds or would you like to abort this script or all scripts of the document?’

Needless to say I always opted for ‘abort’ – which usually meant bloggers in Blogger didn’t get my comments unless I went back to I.E.5 to deliver them. Well, as I said, maybe there was a way around that problem I didn’t find.

Meanwhile, Internet Explorer for the Mac has been withdrawn – there will be no further development and it’s no longer available for download. A potted history of this browser is in Wikipedia.

My sister didn’t seem to mind – she waved her fingers happily at the screen. “Bye bye!” she cried, beaming. I was just thinking I should check new websites in I.E., but I can’t… hmm. I shouldn’t get rid of my old Mac just yet, perhaps, as I still have I.E.5 on it. Maybe one day they’ll put it in the museum.

It’s fantastic not to have these problems any more, and to be able to see people’s sites the way they want me to see them. Yet I haven’t forgotten that, not so long ago, I was straggling behind – and it wasn’t out of sloth, cantankerousness or any other undesirable personal trait…

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted on Blogigo:

mistwarrier wrote at Jul 29, 2006 at 09:12:
fantastic about the new computer and am so happy for you

Pacian wrote at Jul 30, 2006 at 17:08:
Ooh, yes. You’ve touched on a pet peeve of mine here – computer snobs. It never seems to occur to them that people might not be able to *afford* an upgrade, or that they might want to spend their money on something other than computers.

Diddums wrote at Jul 30, 2006 at 20:08:
Sometimes I wonder if they know where to get things cheap, and assume it’s the same for everybody.