About that summer cold…

I am getting more stuffed up as the evening progresses. I do not like this. But I’m not complaining.

Yes, I am. I am totally complaining.

I’m going to re-read A Complaint Free World. I need to get back on the complaint-free bandwagon.

And never catch another cold again.

Fake edit: I have just ordered an official™ Complaint Free bracelet. It’s purple, so I’m pretty excited. It will apparently take 10-25 days to get here, so I’m going to get in a serious pile of complaining in the meantime, as a healthy way of purging it from my system. Yep.

April, the shortest month of the year (when it comes to blog posts)

April was a bad month. Let me make a list:

  • I bombed out on a relatively easy goal for Camp NaNoWriMo 2018
  • I had to visit the emergency room after two days of throbbing pain in my mouth
  • I had to visit the dentist due to the above and get a semi-tooth yoinked due to infection
  • I had to take antibiotics due to the above which have fun side effects like diahhrea
  • I barely ran at all due to weather, my suddenly sore knees and general ennui
  • I gained 1.1 pounds (I’m actually surprised it wasn’t more)
  • I felt like no progress was made in work-related matters (this may change)
  • I wrote almost no fiction at all
  • My one-post-per-day blog rule fell to dust (this is post #21 and I’m pretty sure I’m not cranking out nine more tonight)
  • Other stuff

There were also some good things and I am more hopeful for May. If nothing else the weather should be better.

Also I’m going to start the 21-day complaint-free challenge again. I feel like I went from being super-observant in watching what I was saying (ie. complaining) to just opening my mouth and spewing rants almost randomly. I need to get back on track and find my inner teddy bear.

In which Chance Miller showcases the world’s largest couch

How else do you explain this line in his review of the Zag Slim Book keyboard for the 10.5″ iPad Pro?

I’ve spent far too many hours searching in couch cushions for my Apple Pencil

Does Chance Miller really spend hours looking for his Apple Pencil in his couch? Is his couch as big as a city block? Perhaps. I’ve seen some pretty big couches. Or maybe he is perpetually losing it in every couch he encounters, as he goes through life dangerously nurturing his couch obsession, risking permanent loss of his Apple Pencil.

More curiously, he states that “I’m hard-pressed to find a reason to choose the Slim Book over the Smart Keyboard” then lists the Slim Book’s superior features:

  • a holder for the Apple Pencil (take that, couches!)
  • backlit keys
  • lasts for up to two years on battery
  • costs less
  • a full set of function keys (wait, he doesn’t even mention this, though they are plainly visible in the review’s screenshots)
  • a decent amount of travel in the keys
  • is easier to use on your lap
  • is more versatile, with multiple viewing angles
  • includes a palm rest
  • has a much sturdier stand

It’s clear why one would be hard-pressed to find a reason to choose the Slim Book when its list of superior features is as big as a couch.

But wait, let me provide the full quote from above:

I’m hard-pressed to find a reason to choose the Slim Book over the Smart Keyboard, but I’ve grown very accustomed to the typing experience the Smart Keyboard provides

Thus proving himself utterly mad for preferring the terrible, joyless, noisy MacBook Pro keyboard. Okay, to be fair, I actually find the Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro to be superior in feel to that of the new MacBook Pro, but he still professes “to love” Apple’s keyboard design and specifically calls out the MacBook Pro. Insanity!

Mostly, I wished he had written “I’ve spent far too many years searching in couch cushions for my Apple Pencil” just to see if the editor was paying attention.

I bought a book about not complaining (this is not a complaint)

I picked up a book about not complaining. It was on sale, so I certainly will not complain about the price. We’ll see if it, along with my newly-infused Kaizen brain, can overcome the negativity and gloom that has descended over me during the past year.

I’ll admit, it would help if Trump got kidnapped by Bigfoot, too, but I can’t pin my hopes on such a happy thing occurring.

So here’s hoping A Complaint Free World helps.

I’m typing this on my MacBook Pro, so I’m going to get in one last complaint, again regarding its extremely low travel keyboard: Do not like.

There, done!

Never mind the flying cars

All I want from the future where technology is grand and filled with miracles is a cure for the common cold.

Which I caught late yesterday, perfectly timed for the weekend.

Grr.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Cranky Sunday

My inbox is now filling up with notifications of great Cyber Monday deals, which, by coincidence, are pretty much exactly the same as the Black Friday deals. This and another four weeks of Christmas music everywhere you turn.

It’s not that I hate the holidays or anything…but I kind of do. Christmas in particular–you know, that nutty holiday originally celebrated as the birth of Christ–is now like U.S. elections, seemingly never-ending. And there is no subtle context here, no need to dig to find the reasons, it’s simply because the retail sector wants us to buy their junk and if they can convince you to start Christmas shopping in September, I guess they figure you’ll buy more stuff rather than just get your shopping done three months early and spend the rest of the time annoyed by the millionth playing of “Jingle Bells” on any store’s music system.

The best part about my complaint is that A Charlie Brown Christmas pointed all of this out 50 years ago, and It’s a Wonderful Life did it 19 years before that, in 1946. I’m pretty sure there are cave drawings of carolers being attacked. This is to say that not only is my complaint not new, it’s as old as the universe itself, or pretty close.

Anyway, as part of the Black Friday consumer madness I went out and bought groceries, none of which was holiday-themed.

Then today I went out and bought an Apple Watch. But I did it because my partner also got one and somehow that made it seem logical and proper. Plus today is neither Black Friday nor Cyber Monday. So I’m good.

Yep.

(I’ll have my thoughts on the watch in a few days or so once I’ve gotten used to it. I got the smaller 38 mm model and will say already that it’s lighter and more svelte than I had expected, so that’s a plus. I kind of think Steve Jobs would have hated it, though. More soon™.)

But I registered!

The other day I found that my copy of mIRC was showing as unregistered, with the nag screen back in place, something I hadn’t seen for years. I’d just done a Windows update so naturally assumed it was to blame because it was a convenient coincidence.

I had my doubts, though, so when mIRC opened a browser tab that took me to a handy “register your copy of mIRC” page, I looked it over and found this:

Question: Will my registration work with newer versions of mIRC?
Answer: If you are a home user, your registration entitles you to ten years of free updates to new versions of mIRC.

I looked up my original registration email and discovered I had done so in 2004. I actually got a bonus year out of registering, apparently. Strangely, I was still annoyed. On the one hand, getting to use the software for ten years before having to pay again is a pretty good deal when most similar recurring licenses (Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.) charge yearly. And yet there was something about the program wiping out my registration as if it never existed–and doing so without warning–that rubbed me the wrong way. I started looking at open source IRC clients but eleven years of using mIRC has made me very comfortable with its interface (and quirks and flaws, of which it has more than a few).

Right now I am running it in “free” mode and putting up with the nag screen while I ponder what to do. I’ll probably pony up the $15 registration fee and be good until 2025. By then I’ll have forgotten all of this and will write this post again.

Physician, heal thy selfie

All you need to know about the decline of our civilization is that iOS 9 includes a new “selfies” folder for photos. The geniuses at Apple (they have geniuses there, you can book appointments with them at Apple stores) believe that enough people use their iPhones (or iPads, perhaps even the gigantic iPad Pro coming out in a few months) to take photos of themselves with the front-facing camera to warrant a specific storage location for said images. And they are correct, as the web is awash in digital self-portraits.

Admittedly, my complaint (er, observation) feels somewhat “old man yells at cloud.” It may be that we as a (modern) society have always been vain, it just wasn’t as easy to record in high-definition sound and pictures and spread like some doomsday flu all over the world.

Not surprisingly, there is actually a collection of iPad selfies put together to (wordlessly) mock the very concept, on a website also not surprisingly called ipadisnotacamera.com. Here’s one that nicely illustrates how most tablet selfies simply make the operator look like they don’t know how to use a tablet:

Just about to give the iPad a good scrubbing in the sink, no doubt.

In the future we’ll probably have micro-drones following us that are programmed to take the equivalent of selfies at key moments, using sophisticated algorithms to detect important events like “having food for lunch” or “posing with BFF for the billionth time” or even “chasing away fearful old man who hates how technology enables people.”

engadget.com: Big Picture Edition

engadget is a fluffy tech website. It doesn’t provide pages of benchmarks and charts like AnandTech or in-depth analysis like Ars Technica. It provides stories about consumer electronics in simple, easily-digested stories. And that’s okay. I don’t always want comprehensive.

The site has apparently gone through a quiet redesign in the last few days or an intern has gotten his unauthorized hands on the code. The main change is the left column that lists stories in chronological order has been widened. Eyeballing it, it now seems to occupy a little over two-thirds of the page. As every story also includes an image below the headline, the images are correspondingly bigger, too. The image in the Vimeo story shown below is 960×535 pixels. My browser window (on a 24″ 1920×1200 pixel monitor) is currently sized to 1512×1000 pixels (this is somewhat randomly chosen but seems to work for my browsing needs). This means the image–a stock photo of an iPhone showing Vimeo’s Cameo app icon–is the single largest element in my browser window. The actual content of the story is reduced to three lines before I need to scroll to see the rest of it.

Larger than life
Would you like a very big image? Yes, you would!

Having stock photos and other unneeded images dominate the page is bad design. I don’t know why they would do this, there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for it.

Anyway, I don’t have the time or inclination to complain further. I’ll just stop here with another image of another story from the site. Enjoy very large stock image!

Also larger than life
Robot hand likes friendly pretend smartphone.

Why can’t I rent Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

Back in the olden days if I wanted to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind I would go down to the video store and rent the DVD. In the real olden days I’d rent the VHS tape. In the really olden days I’d rent the VHS tape and top-loading VCR because who could afford one of those exotic machines, anyway?

But I’d be able to get the movie.

Today, with everyone who tried competing with Blockbuster starting up some on-demand video rental service you’d think it would be easy to rent the movie online. Apparently not, though, as my best result so far is to buy the SD version off iTunes for $17.99 and it doesn’t even say which version it is.

Look, it may be the crazy future world of 2014 but I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. I don’t expect flying cars or baby machines. I just want to rent an older movie I enjoyed. Is that too much to ask?

(This was prompted by the DVD player hooked up to the TV not working properly. Curse technology and how it breaks down.)