OpInionAteD - Menno Aartsen Rants and Raves - July 28, 2022

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Thursday, July 28: Heat, and then some

Keywords: A/C, Edgestar, Franklin Hotspot, T-Mobile WiFi, streaming, rugby, blogging, TV dongle
kitchen viewThe heat has finally gotten here, the Pacific Northwest is broiling to the point that the Housing Authority has authorized to keep the Community Room's A/C on, and is providing bottled water. As far as my apartment is concerned, my heat pumps keep it all very manageable. Temperatures are up to the point subsidized portable A/C units are available to folks with low incomes, something that indicates global warming is catching up with the general population, this is an area where traditionally few people had A/C, but that is changing rapidly. I got lucky, I suppose - I'd had air conditioning on the East Coast as far back as when I lived in New York City, but when I applied for a subsidized apartment here in Seattle, the first thing I did, even before the application had been approved, was invest in a couple of reconditioned portable heat pumps, more or less "just in case" - buying them in winter meant I got them cheap. I knew that once I had a lease and needed to buy furniture and things and move and my rent would almost double, I would not be able to afford A/C units, as well. I rarely run both of my (14,000 BTU) units at the same time, but we've reached that stage now, at least until next week. The picture here is one of the testers I took with my reprogrammed Nikon, but for illustration, one of the heat pumps is left in the picture, that's the one I crank up to keep the place cool at night, when I turn the one in the bedroom off, too close to my bed to sleep.

You may recall I got a T-Mobile WiFi Hotspot via the wonderful interconnection.org folks, and that this occasionally "hiccups". Then, last week, I found these WiFi routers at Amazon, heavily discounted, so I just ordered a spare, and then when it gets here I'll see if I can get it to work with my existing subscription. It is exactly the same unit T-Mobile sells, down to the branding, so the idea of having a spare, rather than having to request a replacement, is brilliant. Yes, I may get a 5G unit when they get cheaper, but for now, the 4G LTE version does just fine, I can stream UK and US TV without problems.The router interconnects my laptops and a couple of cellphones, as well, so I should be OK.

Eh? Ireland won the series from the All Blacks, in New Zealand, of all places? The mind boggles. A lot of sports going on, anyway - from the Tour de France and Women's International Soccer to various cricket tournaments.. I've not followed much of it, I like sports live, but some of it isn't a television sport, in my book.

I've not been blogging very actively - I mostly need to catch up with the broadcast TV I do on my "other" laptop, and I gradually lost most of those facilities, and have not gotten around to putting that back together - if I even can. Microsoft is in process of discontinuing Windows 8 and 8.1, and that effectively means the half life of my Windows Media Center is nigh. It isn't an issue, and I may be able to find a Windows 10 source of broadcast TV, I have another dongle, but even Windows 10 isn't going to last, assuming I can find a fuctioning load, which I should have on disk somewhere. The "other" laptop was designed for Windows 7, and so may only be of limited use, it does not even natively have USB3 ports. We shall see, I like futzing, but I may well rely more on the faster, more advanced HP 2570p I use much of the time.


Thursday, July 14: Nikon, decoration

Keywords: Camera, backlight, wall ornaments, apartment, storage, sleep methodology
magnoliabedroomI hadn't used my Nikon in quite a while, and when I finally did I really couldn't get the focus right, I'd had problems with my external flash before. Part of the problem was that I just didn't use it enough to get the controls straight, until today, when I got annoyed to the point I took some time to figure out where I went wrong. There are rather a lot of settings, and my former prowess seems to have stayed the other side of age 70. Anyway, long story short, I finally managed to take a new picture of my bedroom, with the sun streaming in, but with the flash working right, as you can see on the left here. I wanted a well lit shot with light streaming in the window but the black sheets properly lit, and I guess I finally managed to get the camera to behave, I hadn't noticed the screw-on battery compartment was a bit on the loose side. New rechargeable flash batteries seem to have helped too, because the wide angle setting of my main lens is 17mm, I have to bounce the flash to "fill" the shot properly. Finally worked that out, today. On "auto", too *smile*.

And no, if you were wondering, I don't do pictures on walls. Never much did, anyway, but as I did away with books and bookcases, pictures and paintings went the way of the dodo too. I must say I like plain white walls, and what visual aspects I have consists mostly of screens, which have moving pictures on them, insofar as they do. No TV in the bedroom, either, I understand watching TV or a screen before bed impairs the sleep pattern, so I've taken to reading a physical book before bed, which the medical profession says makes for better sleep.

I am quite pleased with the way the apartment has turned out - plenty of space, no clutter, plenty of storage, I've done reasonably well. And no, that's not a small bedroom, it is a huge bed - the absolute largest I could get at Amazon, in fact. The kitchen is uncluttered, and my corner of the building is generally quiet. Having the corner space means I have only one neighbour - well, none, at this point, as the neighbours passed away / moved out, and no new tenants have yet materialized. Even then, the Housing Association still has to do the mandatory refurbishment, so that will be a while. Currently my upstairs neighbour, who had a fire in her apartment, is storing some of her stuff there. In many ways, I realized I used my big house in Virginia more as a storage space than as anything else, and having to get rid of the clutter before moving to Seattle was, in hindsight, a godsend. The pawn shop in Virginia paid for the Uhaul and the gas, so to speak... ;)


Thursday, July 7: Exercise, routers

Keywords: walking, heart rate, heat pump, A/C, T-Mobile, Franklin router
heart rate monitorWhile I am (for COVID reasons) still not going to the gym, I walk as much as I can, meaning I try and get a solid half hour walk in around my neighbourhood, every day. That's the medical recommendation - half an hour of brisk walking, and I wear a heart monitor when I exercise, so I have a statistical overview of my efforts, and just maintaining a spreadsheet keeps me on my toes. I have lost well over 15 lbs since giving up alcohol, by the way, something I hadn't even anticipated. The HRM (heart rate monitor, pic top left), however, didn't always work, and I found that the mobile phone I normally carry interferes with the phone that I have the monitoring app installed on, so I now just carry the monitoring app, and I get perfect readings. It is known that multiple devices with Bluetooth and WiFi will interfere with each other, so that solution was easy.

Much to my surprise, swapping the heat pumps led to one "finicky" unit running better - I recall I bought that reconditioned, and it always had a problem starting a heating cycle when the ambient temperature got up to 65, but as of yesterday, when I moved it, it is working fine. It is the unit that is a bit noisy, but as it sits in my bedroom, and I don't use it at night, that's no issue. I had been all over the internet to see if I could find a replacement, but it does not now look that that's necessary. I noticed that exactly the same heat pump is available with a different brand name, no idea why that is, but at least I can get a replacement if I need one (and have 600 spare $$s).

In the interim, the T-Mobile T-9 Franklin Hotspot continues to malfunction, and I still cannot figure out why. Just as I was about to turn in, last night, it lost its WiFi, but the hardwired connection (NDIS over USB) kept working. I powered down the laptop, and sure enough, by the time I got up the internet service wasn't working at all, hardwire or otherwise. I was planning to call the service folks again, even though it was Sunday, but after futzing a little bit, which included removing the VPN DNS addresses, and manually resetting the router, it all came back. I still have to talk to the support folks, and see if they can send me a replacement, something is squirrelly, I've had four unexplainable internet failures in three weeks, but for now, things seem OK.


Thursday, June 30: A/C on, Hotspot fixed

Keywords: heat pumps, A/C filters, Mobile Citizen, T-Mobile
Edgestar heat pumpIt is time for some more maintenance - swapping my heat pumps, which helps clear out any debris that might have gotten into the hoses, and because one of the heat pumps is noisier than the other, I am better off with that sitting in the bedroom (where I don't run a heat pump at night). Mustn't forget to replace the A/C filters next month, those cut-to-size filters I get at Amazon, wich have a "sticky" layer on one surface, are a godsend. The initial heat wave over, it's best to do some of this stuff now, before summer hits for real, probably in a few days' time. For those of you who are thinking about getting portable air conditioners, get dual hose heat pumps, because the single hose variety will suck air you've just cooled or heated out of the room, and use it to power the heat exchanger. I mean, it works, but that is hardly efficient - my heat pumps are dual hose, so any air the compressor needs it gets from outside. I had a single hose unit, a few years ago, and decided it wasn't terribly efficient, so I sold it, and replaced it with a dual hose unit, which heats as well as cools, and gets its exchange air from outside. It is a little more expensive, but it works very well. Interestingly, summers are getting hotter in the Pacific Northwest, and one charity, which provides energy subsidies to those less well off, has now begun to provide free portable A/C units to the poor, those that qualify for energy support already.

I only just noticed I hadn't done any walking for most of the week, but spent much of my time fixing my laptop network and the network interface - my T-Mobile Hotspot had conked out repeatedly, for no clear reason, and I didn't get it working again until I spent some time on the phone with the folks at Mobile Citizen (mobilecitizen.org), which provides technical support for the retiree discount internet service I lease from Interconnection (interconnection.org). They talked me through a full reset of the Mobile Hotspot, something I eventually figured out how to do myself, when I understood some of the settings in the wireless router just did not work right. The Hotspot provides wired (NDIS over USB) as well as multiple WiFi services, and for as long as I am not trying to do fancy stuff this works just fine. The only "problem" was that Mobile Citizen replaced the Sprint Coolpad they had originally issued with a T-Mobile Franklin T-9 hotspot, more or less without warning, and so I didn't really have a chance to experiment with the new settings, not helped by Mobile Citizen stating it was a 5G device, when in fact it supports only 4G LTE.

Mobile Citizen was very helpful, though no solution was immediately found, a Sprint (now part of T-Mobile) customer support agent spent well over an hour on the phone with me, and then opened a trouble ticket with T-Mobile for me, to be actioned the next day. After a huge amount of troubleshooting, as he was on the phone with T-Mobile technical support, I turned off my VPN, which directs my internet to dedicated DNS servers, this is how I access some European services. Once I had all of the networking on my laptop looking at default services (= T-Mobile's default DNS), Internet service came back, though I had to reboot both the Hotspot and the laptop to get it to actually work. A short while later, normal Internet access came back, and after I finished up with the support person, I reprogrammed my network stack to access the VPN, and somehow, magically, that worked. I don't really know how I got it to misfire, this has happened a couple of times over the past week, but at least I now have some kind of solution that works.

Sunday, June 26: Summer's Here!

Keywords: HP laptop, solid state drive, eSATA, backup, weather, COVID, King County Health, car maintenance, Durango
Durango outsideWhat with Summer arriving, I've done the necessary car maintenance, or rather, had the various mechanics do it, the last job was topping up (myself) the refrigerant in the A/C in my trusty old Dodge, in the pic top left. It was more a quick check the A/C was OK, it did not need a lot of refrigerant, literally a top up, so I can be pleased with the maintenance I had done previously. The A/C, additionally, comes on whenever I use the defroster, which means it runs in winter, occasionally, especially in cold and rainy weather, it isn't just "hot weather apparatus". But it's fine, checked the oil and other fluids, tires, I needed to top up the oil a few weeks ago, after the oil change, once it had run it wanted another half quart, I added some 10W40 High Mileage oil, always a good idea in an old V-8 in summer, it normally wants 5W30, next will be the air filter, and that will be it. It is doing well for an old car, fingers crossed, I could not afford to replace it.

The weather is improving, here in Seattle - today, for the first time this year, the forecast calls for 74 degrees, and we'll take summer from there, I guess. I've just replaced my A/C filters, so I'll be able to run the cooling cycle in my heat pumps as necessary. Having said that, we're waiting for the sun to put in an appearance - hopefully, once FedEx delivers my refrigerated medication shipment, I'll be able to do my daily walk, it is frustrating not to be able to go to the gym due to COVID. People do go and work out, but I just don't yet want to take the risk, considering the COVID statistics in King County. The COVID "hit rate" has been going up slowly (that's number of cases as well as deaths) since April, so now is not a good time to experiment with exposure risk. Having said that, I can take my daily walks, much like I used to in Lynnwood, before I got my gym membership.

So I had two external eSATA cables, with USB power, and at some point I could not get the (external) drives they were intended for to work any more. Turns out the cables (both!) simply died, I ordered another to test (with Amazon, you can just return something you don't want / need), and that worked just fine. Not only that, running a backup over eSATA (one internal, one external) is blisteringly fast using SSDs, something I didn't know. It is kind of important to do these backups - one of them, using AIS Backup, failed, I have no idea why, and I have to do it all over again. But since I can run the Microsoft backup over SSD/eSATA really fast now, it isn't that much of an issue. I just need to grab a Windows recovery DVD and test that I can talk to the 4TB backup SSD over eSATA. Should be OK, but one never knows for sure unless it's been tried, right? I just received the second eSATA converter cable I ordered, and that works fine, too. What it boils down to is that I can largely dispense with the USB connectors, and at least use large 2 to 4 TB) disks on eSATA. USB3 is supposedly fast, but the USB ports all share the system's bandwidth, where the eSATA ports (two internal, two external) get locked down on the system bus, where nothing can interfere with it. I've tried the backup drive on eSATA, more or less for the first time, and that runs swimmingly fast, from the look of it faster than USB3. Since I lost a partial backup on USB3, the other day, it looks like backing up via eSATA is the more sensible solution, especially since my HP 2560 only has USB2, but it does have eSATA, and because I have docking stations for both HP's, they both have three eSATA ports, one of which is internal. The drawback of eSATA is that the drives have to have a separate power supply, either a USB port, or an external 5VDC power unit.


Friday, June 10: Drive swaps

Keywords: HP laptop, solid state drive, Google mail, POP and IMAP, video broadcast recordings, SSD transfer rates
The "worksurface" you're looking at is actually my 6x6 foot dining-table-cum-desk - I figured that I could clear the table quickly enough to use it for entertaining, serving dinner, as the computers I use are smaller "business notebooks", and the larger screen is a lightweight Sceptre LCD monitor, easy to move and remove, and only used as a computer monitor, connected to the docked HP laptop on the left. Having both a smaller desk and a smaller dining table in the same room didn't seem the best way to go. Of course, I have no family close, and no kids, so my furnishing needs are different from those of my neighbours - I don't have a settee either, mostly because slouching would really do a number on my lower back, damaged as it is from a vehicle accident in the 1970's.

Magnolia deskThe reason I have two mobile phones is simply that I believe in spares, one of these not only has my old East Coast number, but receives my emails, duplicating what comes in on the laptop. The other is my "home phone", I use that for my local calls, and there are some duplicate apps that are important to me, like banking and VOIP. That way, if one of my handsets fails, I don't lose the stuff I need, which is mostly both on a laptop and the primary handset. The phone I carry on my hip has navigation and my health app, which I use to monitor heart rate and other health functions. Not all apps agree with each other, so having all you need on one handset is generally asking for trouble.

Google has now disabled both POP mail and IMAP, if used from third party applications, which is really annoying, I am no longer able to retrieve Gmail using my standard mail application. While that still works with my own domain, I am going to have to stop using Google mail - and I do not really understand why IMAP works with Android phones, but not with Windows laptops. Does not make sense.

In the meantime, I've decided to swap my video broadcast drive, which is getting old, with the 4TB SSD, which is more or less new. Not being electro-mechanical, the SSD should last a long time, and I have the ADATA diagnostic software needed to monitor the drive. Of course, the very night I began moving almost 2TB of TV programming to the SSD, there was a power glitch - the drives came back, but the transfer rate more than halved, so I am going to have to try that again.

One day later, and I did manage to copy most of the broadcast video - I have a sneaking suspicion the old hard drive just has a hard time keeping up with the 4TB SSD, which isn't just a lot faster than the "regular" drive, but, using an older eSATA interface, which runs at 1.5GB/s, while the external eSATA SSD rates at 3GB/s, while the internal drive, which does the buffering, runs at 6GB/s. Anyway, this is done, and the old 2TB external ia in storage, though I will likely retire it, drives don't last forever. Something I like about the "big" SSD is that I can check its state using the diagnostic software ADATA has made available, though there is some diagnostic software for the older drives, too.


Wednesday, June 1: Banks and phones

Keywords: HP laptop, solid state drive, international bank accounts, price increases
HP 2570p business laptopWhile I had intended to move the 4 terabyte SSD to the older HP laptop, necessary it isn't, and when I tried to format the "big" SSD all I ended up with was a repeated access failure. So I eventually gave up - the 2560 with Windows 8.1 Pro now has a 2TB hybrid drive - part SSD, part conventional - while the 2570 with Windows 10 Pro has a 2TB SSD. Both run fine, for as long as I have patience booting, they both have a significant load of data on them, and I need to give them the time to get running propperly, with all of the Intel drivers loaded and running. Cutting corners is not in the program, nor is it really necessary, I have an Intel "Rapid Storage" app that autostarts and helps check drive runtime parameters.

Then, I needed to replace one mobile phone, got the new SIM card installed and working, removed the SIM card I had used for testing, and called T-Mobile again to see if I could additionally turn the spare phone off and save myself some money. Much to my surprise, that was possible, and the assistant helping me do all this told me I can switch to an "Unlimited 55+" calling plan that saves me an additional $50 per month. As I had used the older Blackberry only for navigation, and I have Google Maps on my new phone, I am pretty well set. So now everything is working, I am saving some money, and I've got a decent new phone with facial and fingertip recognition, which is convenient.

I had not been able to access my European bank account through its webpage, this since November of last year, I'd spoken to folks in their office, but nobody ever managed to turn it back on. From when they started with two step verification, I just couldn't get their system to call me for verification, which is what its security depends on. Then, yesterday, I can't even remember why I tried again, but it suddenly worked. Whether this has anything to do with my new phone I don't know, but I have access. It isn't an account I use every day, but I like being able to check balances and stuff, if I do not access periodically they send me nastigrams about data security. Having spoken to the bank again, I've managed to turn on the mobile bank app as well, so I can now access my account both on the web and on the mobile, meaning I have a backup access method if one does not work, as has happened before. European banks aren't as "astute" technologically as American banks are, honest. As I use a relatively slow WiFi Hotspot, this isn't luxury, if the interface is slow bank access can be problematical, but one out of two usually works. Occasionally, I have to switch off WiFi and revert to 4G LTE on one of my handsets, as the Hotspot isn't particularly fast, and is shared by several mobile devices and two laptops.

On the financial front, I am for now doing OK, though the price increases are not making my life easier. To all intents and purposes, the war in Ukraine has effectively halved my savings, which weren't huge to begin with. Just keeping my fingers crossed I am not going to run into big medical bills or unexpected car expenses. I don't know where I'd be without my HUD subsidy - when I got the lease on this apartment I had no idea the Fed would be subsidizing my utilities, and not until the next year did I realize I actually get some money out of that deal every year. Not too shabby...


Friday, May 27: Fixing systems

Keywords: Windows 8.1, HP laptop, EPG123, Android Blu, endocrinologist, walking, exercise
street viewI spent the better part of a week fixing all sorts of technical things. My Windows broadcast recorder stopped working, twice - it runs under Windows 8.1, on a dedicated HP laptop, but the Electronic Program Guide I use, together with something called Schedules Direct, wouldn't work for a week, and I could not figure out what was wrong. Then, after I reinstalled the app, it came back up, only to die again a couple of days ago. This is all shareware, so there is little support online, but I followed what instructions I had, and this morning everything appears back to normal, "normal" meaning I am able to copy the recorded TV programming to the external disk I have hanging off my other HP laptop. ready for playback, which I usually do in the evenings.

I've now got the new mobile working reasonably well, and I think that between the Blu handset and my trusty Android Blackberry, I can likely dispense with my third mobile, equally an Android Blackberry, but an older one, which is slowly dying. As I don't need that unit any more (I used to use it for navigation with a Nokia app, but it just isn't reliable any more) - when I receive my new SIM card, and install it, I'll just switch to Google Maps on the Blackberry, where my phonebook lives anyway.

Then, of course, more doctor stuff, where I find my endocrinologist agreeing wholeheartedly that going to the gym, at this point, is not a safe idea. He and his entire family have just had a bout with COVID-19, and I guess the statistics in King County (Seattle and environs) don't look really good, at this point in time. On top of that, my thyroid hormone level is all out of whack, very likely a consequence of my quitting alcohol, which has so far caused me to lose a good 10 lbs of weight, which negatively affects my hormone level. So I am back to adjusting thyroid hormone medication level, which ususally takes a couple of months before I can see some results. All in all, the alcohol abstinence has medical consequences - apart from the thyroid hormones, I have more energy walking, and my heart rate is down, something I noe because I wear a monitor when going for a walk. All of that takes some getting used to, though none of it surprised my endocrinologist, while my rheumatologist stated my liver enzymes were "back to normal". Cool, I guess....

I am glad I walked today - that's becoming more and more of a habit again - it was overcast, but didn't start raining until just now, several hours after I got back. Condition is much improved, so I really cannot complain. Top left is just a view down the street, my building in the middle, I took this mostly because the sky was so pretty, it is getting to be spring, most days have a modicum of sun, heating is mostly off. Tomorrow I'll talk to T-Mobile and get them to activate my new SIM card, they didn't want me to install it unless they had me on the phone with a technician. Letchaknow....


Monday, May 23: Another dying phone

Keywords: Stars & Stripes, T-Mobile, cellphone, apartment
Stars & StripesLast year, the Stars & Stripes in front of our building was torn to shreds by a storm, but we never got a replacement, so the other day I bought a replacement myself, this time three sizes larger (5x8 foot) than the "residential" version we had. It actually looks great on the existing pole, see for yourself, and it wasn't blisteringly expensive. Somehow the main wing, complete with flag, looks better now, don't you think?

Hopefully, I'll have a new mobile phone in a couple of days - my main "home" phone is not behaving itself, I have a sneaking suspicion Google turned off some of its Android functionality for being "out of date", I am not getting incoming calls I can actually answer. This isn't a big deal, I mostly use my Blackberry mobile, but it would be nice if I had a fully functional "home" phone. Once it's here, I have to get T-Mobile to give me a new SIM card, but that shouldn't be a big deal.

I suppose I can be happy with the way the apartment now looks - one table, no cupboards, no sideboards, tidy cabinets, nothing on the walls, the fewer dark objects in a well lit space, the better it is. Kind of funky and well purposed.

All in all, the place is getting pretty tidy, I have leftover space I am not using, so I definitely uncluttered. If I want to throw a party or bring some guests over there is a community room downstairs I can requisition, complete with everything and kitchen and dishwasher, so, all told, this isn't a bad place at all.

T-Mobile kindly sent me a new SIM card free of charge, should get here in a few days. In the interim, I've taken the SIM card from my older Blackberry, which happens to be the same format my new phone takes, so I could try and install some of the apps I will need on there. Much to my surprise, this relatively cheap Blu handset is quite sophisticated - fingerprint sensor, facial recognition, and a VoIP app I use does much better on the Blu than on my Blackberry, I tested this earlier with my sister in The Netherlands. The only AP I am going to lose is CarooPro, which monitors my engine and records driving video, and that I kluged, it should not have been working for a long time, the manufacturer long since went out of business. I'll see if I can find a replacement in the Android app store.




Sunday, May 15: Creature Comforts

Keywords: cravings, bedroom, California King, liver test, Cuisinart, FedEx
bedroomI deliberately didn't put lots of furniture in my bedroom, all I really wanted was a California King bed, complete with a new double layered California King mattress, and a storage chest as a night stand - closet is behind me, the clothes you see are jeans, airing after laundry, behind the louver drapes is a black drop shade, so I can sleep in a dark room, not bothered by the neighbours and street lights, or the sun, even in the morning. The reason for the oversized bed was medical - I'd been sleeping in smaller beds for several years, but really wanted a bed that will let me stretch all over the place, which is very beneficial in dealing with my arthritis condition. And that worked, especially since this mattress has a top layer of memory foam, which is firm and does not "impress", especially since I rotate and air the mattress once a week. The memory foam and the new duvet are, together, a bit warm, but in summer, at least, there is the air conditioning, so it is not an issue.

Much to my surprise, after a blood test, just two weeks after I stopped drinking alcohol, my rheumatologist emails me that my liver enzymes, which were significantly elevated, are "completely back to normal". That's very good news, especially since I did not know whether or not I had stopped in time to prevent permanent liver damage. Not only that, I am saving more than $70 a week. And I am losing weight. All good, IOW. I just have to make sure I never get anywhere near an alcoholic drink again, because I know I will fall off the wagon. But good news, and I should thank my rheumatologist, who kept nagging me for well over a year.

My new Cuisinart 3-in-1 Microwave / Oven /Airfryer broke, I'd only had that since January, but much to my surprise, when I called Cuisinart they immediately offered a warranty replacement, even cross-shipping it so I can use the new unit's packaging to return the broken one. The replacement is covered by the existing three year warranty, so I cannot complain. Superb service, I must say, hopefully the replacement is of better quality. The unit is relatively small, and fits well on my sideboard, my old Sharp oven had really reached the end of its life, I'd had that since I lived in Virginia. The Cuisinart certainly is a better fit in my small kitchen.

Most of the shipping of things I've ordered over the internet no longer needs me to be home for delivery, considering there is a lobby / mailroom downstairs, but FedEx often breaks the rules. They were supposed to deliver a parcel yesterday, and eventually sent me an email stating "You weren't home". This is bull, when I know I have to let a delivery driver access the building I stay home, not the first time a FedEx contract driver does that. Supposed to be delivered today, so we'll see - I am expecting that Cuisinart oven today, as well, via UPS, so I will be here. Much of the rest of the time shipments are either Amazon or the Postal Service, and those are more or less automatic. So we'll see.


Sunday, May 8: Repairs and injuries

Keywords: 2nd booster shot, COVID-19, oil change, power outage, cravings, ramen noodles
noodle soupNo real reason to post a picture of a bowl of ramen noodles, other than that I had not eaten them for quite a while, and sort of "redeveloped" a taste for them. Having said that, I am adding some condiments, these days, like spicy thick soy sauce and spicy salsa, and then slowly nuke 'em to perfection. Very pleasant. I had stopped eating ramen noodles because of the salt content, but as I don't eat anything salty (I don't even have the stuff in the house!) I figure I can allow this one sin, once a day. Cheap, an' all - $0.99 for a bowl @ Fred Meyer.

After giving it some thought, I went and got my second COVID booster shot today. The CDC guidance on 2nd boosters is a bit iffy, especially the bit where you might not want the second booster if you might want a third, when it is offered. I'll see when that happens, but at my age, and with my medical history, I thought it best to get the second booster. Walgreens gave me a quick appointment, and that went off without a hitch, so we'll see tonight if there are any side effects - not that that worries me too much..

Other than that, I realized a couple of days ago I had skipped an oil change, at least I think I did, so I got that taken care of today, with expensive high mileage oil. I hadn't had any problems, but better safe than sorry, even if it did set me back $101, which is a lot for an oil change. Mind you, Jiffy Lube did a great job, took maybe ten minutes, and I didn't even have to get out of my car, all new to me. For safety's sake, I'll do another in 3,000 miles, usually I take longer between oil changes, but I do need the old girl, and forgetting an oil change scared me.

Now, I'll go and nurse my sore shoulders - one, the right one, I hurt doing stuff on the car, and the left, which took the COVID booster this morning, is beginning to hurt too, more or less as expected. Blah ;)

As if that wasn't enough, on Wednesday I am sitting in a dark apartment, with a power failure affecting much of Magnolia. Thankfully, I have some battery based UPS units, so I have some ways of having light where needed, a clock that keep running, and a laptop that is usable, all with spare batteries. The battery powered T-Mobile WiFi Hotspot helps too, it'll power itself from a USB port on the laptop too. I had not expected to need the power units, but I am glad I got them, this is the second major power outage I am subjected to. It wasn't too bad - didn't run out of battry power, and the powe failure lasted only from just after 7pm to around 8:30, good show Seattle City Light.

Al in all I can't complain, and I can't say I've had much in the way of withdrawal or cravings. It looks like alcoholism, to some extent, is less to do with the chemical dependence, and more with the habits one develops in order to be able to imbibe much of the day. I am partly excluding the chemical dependence as I've always been able to stop, at night, and not develop cravings overnight, different from nicotine dependency, where a heavy smoker will wake up during the night and have a cigarette. In my case, I would get up and go downstairs and check email and have a smoke, I never smoked in bed, that can really set your house on fire. But it is the habit forming that is an important factor, I would do whatever I needed to do that involved driving or going places, shopping, or meeting people, and would not hit the booze until I had finished my activities, and was home, without the need to go anywhere. The probem then became that I was not able to stop drinking until I went to bed - strange, that, I have no idea how that habit developed. Anyway, it is largely behind me, I just hope my liver is improving, and I can change my habit to be totally independent from the time of day.


Monday, May 2nd: Booze Off

Keywords: alcohol abstinence, Ukraine, Magnolia, Spring
Magnolia neighborhoodIt may be the overdose of information coming out of the Ukrainian theatre of war, but the longer this lasts, the less I understand it. To some extent, the Western media I inhale are probably overdoing the amount and diversity of information, but what Putin wants with Ukraine is completely beyond me. The death toll, civilian and military, is already beyond horrendous, and nobody seems inclined to even try to stop the buildup. That puzzles me more than I can tell you.

Yes. I am in my second week of alcohol abstinence, I can't say I've felt much of an effect, other than that I do not doze off in the afternoon, and have more energy. It'll be interesting to see how I pass the nights, but then I never drank during the night, or, indeed, in the early morning, I hope there isn't a change there. Hopefully the weather will stay amenable, I've started walking again. Curiously (but maybe because this is week one) I have practically no cravings, but then I never drank myself into a stupor. I do notice that I am getting more active, as in, working on the car, setting up my next COVID booster shot, of course, the improving weather helps.

It is clear I have to "remodel" my life, having drunk so much for so long, it has only been for the past few days I've managed to do some car maintenance, which I had been more or less neglecting for a while. Especially the move to a single apartment in a part of town were I didn't know anybody was, well, different. From when I moved to Washington State I have lived in shared accomodation, and that came with a socialized limit on alcohol intake. But from when I moved into an apartment I could basically go crazy with the drink - excepting, that I needed to not imbibe when I needed to go somewhere, drive, that sort of thing. I don't drink and drive, because that eventually gets you into real trouble.

I still have a habit of doing alcohol-free stuff in the morning, so I can do stuff I have to be compos mentis for before I hit the bottle. And I am still not driving places in the afternoon, having planned my activities around alcohol for so long. All, of course, now obsolete habits, but there you are.

The picture above is just a bit of Magnolia, captured on my (now) daily walk. I am still not comfortable going back to the gym, perhaps in a few weeks' time, after tomorrow's COVID booster starts working. So far, so good, all tests come back negative, and this even though by now a few people in my building have contracted COVID. But the weather is majorly improving, and my health monitors show progress.


Monday, April 25: Fire and change

Keywords: Seattle Fire Dept, Windows 8.1, Windows Media Manager, broadcast recording, building fire, quit drinking
Seattle Fire DeptI can't quite figure out why the Windows Media Manager on my Windows 8.1 laptop is working again - it stopped, I couldn't access it, and then yesterday it began scheduled recording again. All I can do is make sure I don't change any settings at all, and keep an eye on the EPG123 application, which retrieves broadcast programming for the Windows application. All I use it for is the recording-to-disk of broadcast TV, so for as long as I have it working there isn't a need to futz with it, the only other purpose for the 2560p HP is maintaining backups. I had wanted to move my 4TB SD drive there, but as that seems to break some software, I'll leave it. No need.

When I looked out my window, first thing in the morning, and saw a giant ladder truck with flashing lights right outside my window, I knew we had an issue. The Seattle FD fire trucks in the picture above were for real, a few days ago, there was an electrical fault in the crawlspace above my upstairs neighbour's bathroom, and this being an apartment building, and the fire less than accessible, Seattle Fire pulled out all the stops - and that does not include the various trucks behind me, as I took this shot from the intersection, to the left is my building - you can click on the picture and see a larger version. Seattle Fire did a terrific job, pulled out half a ton of smouldering insulation from the roofspace. I got lucky, no smoke, no damage, even though SFD virtually demolished the apartment above me. And no, the firemen you see in the picture were not waiting for the bus....

What I am hoping to do is stop drinking alcohol, I got another nastygram from my rheumatologist, it is simply time. I had tried to get treatment through my primary care provider, but she never came up with anything, and I probably should have connected with my health insurance sooner. So I am hoping to empty the bottles, after all, I quit smoking cold turkey in 2010, and that worked without a hitch. So this one, which should help my health and save me money, should work too. Wish me luck and perseverance.


Friday, April 8: Everything seems to work...

Keywords: 4G LTE, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, colonoscopy, hotspot bandwidth, spare equipment, Tru coffee brewer, Senseo pods, Spectre 4K monitor, Fire stick 4K
TRU pod brewerDefinitely wobbly, this morning, after my colonoscopy. Not that there was anything wrong, but a pretty strong anaesthesia, with some extra oxygen, and I am, of course, 74. But friend and neighbour P. dropped me off at 7:15am, and picked me up again around 10. Thanks :)

Thankfully the apartment smelt fresh - I had left an air conditioner running, not a luxury after spending 10 hours in one apartment with induced diarrhea, due to the bowel prep, and that was not fresh, especially if you consider I didn't shower this morning. But it all worked out surprisingly well, and the doctor was an artisan - no cramping, no more diarrhea, one of the better ones. Come back in three years :( she said - still some polyps, possibly larger because I postponed the colonoscopy due to the COVID risk involved, but no alarm bells.

It is, thankfully, getting close to Spring, most days are sunny, with the odd shower and an overcast day in between. I've still got the heating on, but not at night, with the duvet and memory foam mattress that would be overkill. All I want now is for the daytime temperatures to "up" to where I can take my walks again, and I think the COVID spread is pretty much down to where I can hit the gym again. That would be so cool!

So I recommend having spares. This morning my coffee maker (a Tru device bought on Ebay in 2018 that takes coffee pods) packed up, made horrible noises that meant the compressor was dying, and I was able to grab the spare from my spares cabinet and make a fresh coffee. I'd bought those because there are few machines that take those Dutch paper based filter pods, common in Europe under the Senseo brand, but here in the US, no more. Turns out a vendor on Ebay still has plenty of those Tru Senseo "knockoffs", so I just bought another one, I had kind of expected they would no longer be around. I bought a "regular" espresso machine on Amazon, so I am covered both ways, for, all told, $100 or so. Especially with my favourite La Llave fine ground dark espresso roast it is much like espresso con crema. So I'll see whan the new machines arrive, I'll be able to chuck the second 2018 machine, and should be covered for the next few years, that is, if the cheap Yabano "full" espresso machine is as good as it looks. Umm, actually, I'll continue using the 2018 TRU machine I now use, and store the "new" Tru for future use. No need to chuck a working coffeemaker, and at some point these folks on Ebay will run out of stock, always assuming these Tru people stopped making that particuklar machine years ago. I've never seen one anywhere, except from this one Ebay seller.

The other "spare" I've repurposed is the 4K Spectre TV set / monitor, which had been sitting in a closet - I bought it for its 4K capability, but at the time had no 4K video source. With a new APC UPS mains feed I've been able to connect the Amazon 4K Fire TV stick to the 4K Spectre set, and finally have 4K streaming broadcast TV with a gazillion channels. I don't know how it manages to pull 4K out of my Hotspot, but it does, and it looks great. Clever blokes, them Amazons. My other Spectre screen is full HD, which is what my HP laptops will provide, brilliant for regular broadcast TV. But the colour rendition and resolution of the 4K set off the Fire stick are truly stunning, I am watching some BBC series as I write this. Skin colour is amazing, honestly.


Monday, March 28: Springlike

Keywords: 4G LTE, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, colonoscopy, hotspot bandwidth
Here in Washington State, many COVID restrictions have been dropped - in my building, no more masks, no more social distancing, though masks are still required in some stores, health care, long-term care and correctional facilities, and please like airports and airplanes where Federal requirements mandate them. I take a swab test once a week, just to be on the safe side, I actually postponed my colonoscopy twice, "out of an abundance of caution" until the testing requirements were scaled back.

I am having a hard time believing this is the end of the pandemic, if only because China and some European countries are showing outbreaks again. Not here in the USA, so far, but there really isn't a reason why COVID-19 won't spread again. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed, and keep an eye on the CDC statistics. Just don't count on "getting lucky", for now.

While not looking forward to next week's colonoscopy, it has to be done, and if it's good enough for Joe Biden, who had one recently, it should be good enough for me. Last time around, the physician couldn't evacuate the excess air, and I was in agony for a day or so, I just hope this time things go better. I've gotten some of these "Depend" things, just in case the bowel prep gets a bit "hefty". Never has before, but better safe than sorry.

In the interim, I figured out what the problem was with the Franklin T9 hotspot / router, which turned out to be caused by a bandwidth limitation set by the manufacturer, which nobody told the users about. All it needed was to set the bandwidth to "unlimited" (doesn't mention that anywhere in the instructions) and things are fine, and the service as provided by Interconnection.org is truly unlimited. It also has a higher WiFi bandwidth, so I am happy all told, with a strong (80 - 90%) signal strength, better than the Coolpad. I am glad I have that sorted, especially since the support team told me I was wrong, even though I could see the router function had stopped working - the Hotspot is both a wireless terminal and a wireless router, with one port hardwired to a USB3 port @ 425 Mbps. As it turn out, while I had to shell out an additional $14.95 to get the new router, the monthly charnge is unchaged, $11.95, so after sorting out the problems I am defnitely happy, especialy considering the TMO device is more stable, a little faster, and has better reception. So there :)


Wednesday, March 23: Definitely No 5G, they said

Keywords: 4G LTE, COVID-19 test, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, airfryer, Cuisinart, Firestick, 2021 tax return
COVID19 testBoth the Fed and the State government are now making COVID self tests available - one (thankfully negative) you see to the left. They're free, and delivered speedily by Amazon, and one can re-order. I never had any symptoms, so hadn't had myself tested, but now that I have a supply I do this every week, considering we no longer have to mask and keep our distance.

While, as I mentioned, my new T-Mobile Franklin T9 Hotspot isn't a 5G device, it is more capable than the cheaper Sprint Coolpad it replaces. Its WiFi is faster, and yesterday, when I used my 4K HDTV Firestick with it for the first time, I noticed Alexa voice actually works with it - that certainly wasn't the case when it ran over the Coolpad. I am not necessarily an Alexa voice afficionado, I do not want to provide Amazon with "inside" data on myself, but it is nice to actually have it working reliably. I've got to where I can reboot it every day, I don't like an internet host sitting on my network with one "forever" IP address - call me paranoid.

If you're into data security, make sure you change your network interface, IP addresses, etc., on a daily basis - if a miscreant finds your IP and network segment, chances are that if they can't find you the next day, they'll move on to someone else. One thing the Coolpad wouldn't let me do, and the T-Mobile device does, is stop broadcasting the SSID. Yes, there are tools they can use, but making it as hard as possible to detect you is the name of the game. As I said, if it is too much work they'll move on to someone else who does not make it hard...

I've not eaten French fries for many years, but having discovered air-frying I am afraid I am indulging. Especially since I threw out my old Sharp multi-oven, and replaced it with a smaller Cuisinart multi-oven with an airfryer basket, which can do convection, broiling, microwave, and airfrying, if desired all at the same time, fries are the ticket. And (I swear) I lose weight. The Cuisinart basket actually gets rid of some of the fat producers build into the frozen fries (yes, they do).

Now, I need to get to my 2021 tax return. I normally have that done earlier in the year, but I have been procrastinating, and this does have to get to the IRS by mid-April. I actually ran into a snag when doing multiple accounts, and I think I was just being stupid, and haven't "cycled back", as they say. So there.


Saturday, March 19: 5G? No 5G

Keywords: Russia, Ukraine, Seattle subsidies, HUD, 4G LTE, 5G, Sprint, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, Coolpad
It is still completely beyond me why Russia has invaded Ukraine, and what the purpose of the wanton destruction of their neighbour country is. He hasn't said anything that justifies his actions, when he went into the Crimea I could understand he wanted a Black Sea port, but even then, there were many options to negotiate. This time around there's nothing in Ukraine he needs, and causing a million people to move halfway across Europe isn't going to do anything for anyone. I am just plain old flabbergasted.

Here in Seattle, a number of subsidies are available for lower income individuals, from subsidized housing to Federal support with utilities and the like - they've done that very cleverly, HUD pays the Seattle Utility company a fixed amount per person per month, and at the end of the year any unused subsidy gets paid to the subsidy recipient. One thing I was told by the Housing Authority when I moved into my subsidized apartment was that subsidized internet and subsidized telephone services were available, and indeed, I was able to request cheap internet through Sprint, provided by a charitable computer and conputer services foundation. Until this month, I've only paid $11.95 per month for my 4G LTE Internet Hotspot. Then I received an email from Interconnect, the charity that manages this service, that the network was being upgraded, and I could not request their 5G offering. 5G, as it turns out, because Sprint was bought by T-Mobile, and a 5G Hotspot is one of their products. Subsidized (again) by the Federal government, the Hotspot is essentially free, and the service only $14.95 / month. I ordered on the spot, and am waiting with baited breath until the device gets here, today. Sprint's Coolpad was OK, but this should be a lot better - I had not expected to be able to upgrade to full 5G so soon! Keep y'all posted.

Ah, yes. Or rather, no! The replacement Hotspot is a 4G LTE device, what does make it faster is that it has multichannel WiFi, but the 5G isn't there, yet. The email, now that I reread it, says 5G is on the way, and this is the (required) precursor. While this Franklin device is faster and a bit more spiffy, and more stable than the Sprint Coolpad, and more expensive, 5G it isn't, that's coming "any day now". Bit of T-Mobile cheek, I just hope there isn't another price increase. The backbone is faster, and the TMO signal strength is better, so there you go.



Wednesday, March 2: And then there's Russia

Keywords: Dodge Durango, battery, O'Reilly's, gear shift, Putin, Ukraine, Russia
I can only apologize for not blogging, I just haven't felt like writing much, between the COVID (which I don't have) scares and old man winter and some unexpected (aren't they always) car repairs it's just been upheavelish.

While in the past I could always tell my car battery was "going down" when it required more cranking to start, this time it just died from one day to the other - one day it cranked just fine, the next morning it did not, you know, when you turn the key and all you hear is the solenoid clicking. One of my neighbours was very kind and drove me to a nearby O'Reilly's, where I know they stock just about anything car you might need, and sure enough, I walked out with a massive high capacity battery, at the reasonable price of $180, with tax. My previous battery, from WalMart, had lasted seven years, so I guess I can't complain. What was a really pleasant suprise was that the new battery cam fully charged, all I needed to do was install it, connect it, and Bob's your uncle. The Durango actually takes two sizes of battery, but as I had done last time, I figured the largest battery that fits in the well is the best, it cranks the big V-8 beautifully. I recall that when I bought the car, it had the smaller battery, and that always took a bit of cranking to get the engine to go. THis until I spent three mopnths house sitting in Thailand, and my landlord kindly started the car before my return, to make sure it had enough power, but then didn't drive it, and that killed the battery stone dead...

And then a couple of weeks before that, my gear shift lever began to act up, to the point that it became almost imposssible to put the transmission in gear. On top of that, by the time I'd got the car to the auto workshop by the Ballard Bridge, I found out that I would have to wait a week for repairs, and two other workshops were either closing or closed. Thankfully, my neighbour P. knew another garage, this time due South, and they had a repair slot available. Nice people, the place within walking distance of my apartment, but expensive. They had the transmission fixed by the next morning so I ended up happy, glad to have found a reliable workshop close by.

I am totally flabbergasted by Putin's assault on Ukraine - assuming this isn't a Russian war, but a "Putin Special". The only thing I can compare it to is the antics of Soviet and Russian leaders that went before him - Poland, Czechoslovakia, Chechnia, Afghanistan, too numerous to tally, but most of those previous escapades were related to the Soviet Union, not to Russia. So, despited Gorbachev, nothing has really changed. I am just at a loss to understand what he wants, and what he wants it for. For a Russian head of state to yell "nuclear!" at the top of his voice has to mean he has a death wish. Perhaps someone can explain to him he is in self destruct mode, and that never ends well.


Thursday December 30: Now the weather is broken..

Keywords: HP Elitebook, laptop fans, webserver failure, Blackberry, KEYone, cold, snow, mountain passes
Seattle Public TransportOf course, this is the month that everything breaks - now my webserver (in Singapore) springs a leak, and has been out of action for some six hours. They were unable to restore the disk, so may have to reinstall the server and restore the backup. I try never to fall into that trap, and replace the main disk on my laptops every few years, before they fail. That's one reason why I have now managed to fully back up my 2560, I have a 4TB SSD at the ready, so to speak. The two TB in the 2560 is fine, six or so years old, but hard disks isn't something you want to take risks with, and they're not hugely expensive any more. The drive in the 2560 is a hybrid disk, and replacing it with an SSD is something I had in mind for a while now. For now, I have replaced the cooling fans in both my HP laptops, just to make sure I am safe, one of them was running somewhat noisily.

Then, of course, after the webserver re-install, my mail service, which runs as part of the webservice, never came back. Eventually, the Singapore support team gave me new server parameters, that were never in the original instruction set dating back to 2018, when I moved my website to Singapore, and now everything is working again. The Blackberry KEYone, too, is working swimmingly, and I have now bought a charging stand for it, so it can charge overnight while sitting by my bedside. The KEYone I now have, coming from Canada, is probable a Rogers Telecommunications unit, but once I inserted a T-Mobile SIM card it fully supported its command set, as I believe most Blackberrys do. I actually just received a text message that the older Blackberry handsets ar, as of the beginning of 2022, no longer supported, that is to say those handsets that run the original Blackberry operating systems, rather than those that run Android. I have a couple of oldies that I use as alarm clocks, hopefully they wont be affected, I have not had SIM cards with service in them for years. Fingers crossed..

Next thing, at Christmas time, Old Man Winter hits, with temperatures going down to 17 Fahrenheit (-8 Celsius or so) and buckets of snow. I've had to clean the car twice in three days already - if I don't do that promptly, it's end up covered in ice. So far, so good - if I understand the forecast, the Puget Sound will warm up soon, but I think the folks in the foothills and the mountains are going to be stuck with several feet of snow for a while. The weather was so bad the skiers couldn't get to the slopes, poor things...

This also meant my mobile heat pumps have had a hard time coping - at night, I only use one, they're too noisy to have running next to your bed. So I've had to resort to the baseboard heaters that were pre-installed in this apartment, between two heat pumps and two baseboard heaters (which run on 240VAC) the place is nice and toasty, no worries. I'm just not going to think about the next electricity bill...

The picture to the left is a Seattle City bus that wanted to stop at the bus stop across the road, but slid all the way over and nearly ended on our doorstep - snow and warm roads and heavy frost, what can I tell you. The driver managed to stop maneuvering the giant bus, and then had to wait for three hours until a mammoth two truck could liberate him. The snow is still going, it isn't that common in Seattle, but this year, while everybody on the other coast has warm weather... I'll go and clean the snow off the car again this afternoon, will have to run out and shop tomorrow, although supermarket shelves are pretty bare. The big rigs that run the supply routes have a hard time getting across the mountain passes they have to traverse to get here.


Wednesday November 24: breaking equipment

Keywords: HP Elitebook, backup, Hitachi, USB3, interrupts, broadcast TV dongle, Blackberry, KEYone
Blackberry Priv 2I am not entirely sure why my "secondary" laptop, an HP Elitebook 2560p, is working properly again, but there it is. I had it, fitted with a USB3 ExpressCard, backing up to a large (3TB) external Hitachi disk drive, but at some point the devices stopped talking to each other. The 2560 sits on a native HP docking station, and between the dock, the laptop itself, and the ExpressCard adapter, it probably simply had too many ports and interrupts in use, especially considering the 2560 has no native USB3 ports. It bothered me in that I could no longer do a full system backup, something I discovered when I tried to replace the 2TB hybrid internal drive with a 4TB solid state drive I had lying around. That would give me more storage space (I use that laptop for archival storage and for recording TV via Windows Media Center) and the ability to recover a disk image. Because Windows Media Center will only run on Windows 8.1, I've kept that updated and functional, but recently, I noticed Windows Update was no longer running.

Long story short, with help from the Microsoft support database I got that running again, and for safety's sake, I ran all of the Windows repair tools I could find. They did not report very much, but somehow, the issues I had been experiencing got fixed, so now I am back to backing up a terabyte or so. Hopefully, all that works, and then I can try and restore to the unused 4TB SSD. That should make the old 2560p a lot faster, considering Windows 8.1 uses virtual memory off its hard disk to swap unused code to, not a luxury with 16GB of RAM. Not having a mechanical disk in the laptop should improve its running, though SSDs tend to run pretty hot.

Of course, after four or so backup sessions the laptop stopped talking to the backup drive, for no reason that I could figure out. Not the first time, but I thought I'd try some tricks, and one actually worked - removing the laptop from its dock, and running it standalone, which removed a number of ports from the operating system. Why that setup sometimes works, and not at other times, is beyond me - having said that, I did do a troubleshooting session, although that did not report "real" errors. My guess is that, in both laptops, I just have too many devices connected, too many interrupts used, and that the operating systems (Windows 8.1 in one, Windows 10 in the other) may grab more interrupts than are available, both laptops sit on a docking station, and so have more ports available than they are probably designed for.

I can see this especially when the older 2560 won't talk to my broadcast TV dongle, something that happens occiasionally, and I have never found the reason of. Using the dongle lets me record HD TV off air, I am lucky that I can even use an indoor antenna without having to get cable or some other kind of TV feed. I record the broadcast programs on a large external hard disk, so can watch stuff later on a large 4K screen at my leisure. The other laptop, the 2570, is able to generate a 4K output to an external screen, I eventually firgure out how to let that HP service two screens without overheating. Installing a faster Intel Core i7 CPU, and renewing the thermal compound on the heat sink helped a lot. So does blowing out the insides and the fan, once a month.

In the interim, my favourite Blackberry has died - partly my own fault, its touch screen came lose, I tucked it back in, it still worked, and then I forgot to fix it. So the next time I used it, during Fred Meyer shopping, the screen came out again, and I couldn't get it to work again. Since I rely on this phone for much of my daily activities, and get much of my email there, this wasn't good. I swapped the SIM card to an older Blackberry, which works fine, for now, but that won't run all of my applications, so I needed a replacement handset. Much to my delight, I found a new KEYone in Canada, and as I write this UPS just delivered it to my apartment, took just the weekend to get here from Ontario - right across the continent. The unit certainly looks new, I've plugged it into my laptop and it started charging - if all is well it should be the same hard- and firmware as the one I broke. It will take overnight, more or less, to fully charge the new handset - as I plugged it in I noticed the battery was empty, but by morning it had fully recovered. It took me half the morning to configure it and set it up, and as I sit here I am waiting for the first emails to come in, this atfer setting up the diary and the phonebook, which sync with Google. Should be good to go - let me see if I can set up my foreign banking up, and I'll be home dry... The picture top left is the old Blackberry, a Priv, which, out of retirement, saved my hide while I was waiting for the replacement Blackerry KEYone to get here from Canada. I am glad I hung on to some of my old handsets, at least I have the ability to carry on communicatering when something goes wrong. The Priv runs an older version of Android, so it can't handle every application, but it did what it was supposed to do...




Sunday October 17: Facebook & Fall

Keywords: whistleblowers, Facebook, weather, business cases, Puget Sound fall
hallowe'en October already, though the weather remains pleasant , the odd shower, but nothing untoward. Climate change, I understand, has "warmed up" the Puget Sound area, compared to the past, and I can still have pleasant sunlit afternoon walks, though less hot than the midsummer nineties. My heat pumps switch to heating much of the day, though I still have one running a cooling cycle overnight, mostly because this is a "warm" building, if you know what I mean.

The weather is important for my walks - due to my recent shoulder injury I can't work out at the gym, so I've reverted to walking, but the lack of a thyroid makes it hard for my body to regulate its internal temperature. So I try to stick to reasonable outside temperatures, bits of sun if it is available, aging definitely does not help. I must say that in this area of Seattle there's generally more sun than elsewhere, likely because of our proximity to the coast, today began overcast, it was supposed to rain, but the sun came out and stayed.

I am wondering why Frances Haugen decided to blow the whistle on Facebook , her previous employer. I can see the relevance, and she is certainly sufficiently experienced and erudite enough to have a valid opinion, but I don't understand the why. It is the one thing missing from her narrative: her personal motivation to come forward, and share (likely illegally) internal Facebook documents with the United States government. I personally am not convinced that what Ms. Haugen proposes in changes to Facebook's modus operandi will actually work - yes, some of it makes sense, but a service the size of Facebook will have a tremendous amount of stuff going on that is virtually uncontrollable - yes, what teens get up to on Instagram, in terms of body image, is unhealthy, but in the final analysis it is something the girls do, often to each other, it isn't "promoted" by Facebook or Instagram or whoever. Verifying the ages of members has never been possible - for each time you try, thousands of clever teens will find ways around it, all the while being chased by porn meisters and pedofiles, who do nothing else all day.
The time machine through Thursday September 16, 2021, with linkbacks to October, 2008, is here

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