Tag Archives: computers

Four Steps Back for Every One Step Forward…

Are you old enough to remember the joys of the Smith-Corona portable typewriter? That cunning machine had a strategy to drive its users nuts: it would allow you to type a manuscript page calmly enough, normally enough, without too many hassles…until you got all the way down to the bottom of the page. That would entail, oh, about 300 words, if there were no heads or subheads, no indented block quotes, no lines of poetry, or whatnot. Around 1,794 characters, including the spaces. Not counting the characters that you had to type over twice using correction tape.

Then, on the very last line, some 23 double-spaced lines down the page, the paper would slip out of the platen and SCOOTCH up as you typed, causing the bottom line to bend and slide off the bottom of the effing page.

So you would get to waste some more time typing the entire damn page over.

Computers are like that. Only multiplied by ten to the power of 100. Like the Smith-Corona, computers have a malign intelligence. Only they’re much, much smarter than a portable typewriter. Whatever a computer can screw up, a computer will screw up.

Yesterday I spent FIVE HOURS on the phone with three Apple service reps, trying to figure out what MacMail did with incoming notifications from Facebook. After I’d tried to organize the mailbox so as to get the perpetual blizzard of Facebook blather under control, MacMail started to disappear all notifications from Facebook.

The method I use is the one I use to derail spam and to organize statements from creditors: set up a separate “mailbox” in Mail (this is actually a “folder” or a “subdirectory,” depending on what brand of jargon you favor) and then write a “rule” (we call that “code”) to tell MacMail to send any messages from XXS to that mailbox.

Complicating matters, I belong to two Facebook groups and imagined that I would like incoming from each of those groups sorted into their own, separate “mailboxes.”

This was working well until my fingers slipped on the accursed MacBook touchpad. For those of you who are not Maccie, the Macbook inflicts a keypad that responds to “gestures.” Wiggle your fingers wrong on the thing, and you’ll give it some command that never entered your mind. Apparently that’s what happened…though we never did ascertain whether that really was the issue or what.

All of a sudden, no notifications of any kind came in from Facebook. Ever. Nothing. Nought. Zip. Radio silence.

I ended up having to reboot my computer from Time Machine to reset MacMail to a point before this little fiasco occurred. Were it not for DropBox, wherein most of my data reside, I would have lost four days worth of work!!!!!!!

Fortunately, everything was saved to DropBox, and fortunately I have an ancient iMac that can access DB…because engaging Time Machine did cause the MacBook to forget four days worth of content and to forget what the directory structure of DropBox looks like.

Needless to say, I got exactly nothing done yesterday. Unless you count wrestling angrily with a computer system as “something.”

I’d intended to finish today’s Ella’s Story episode so I could post it today. But by the time I got done untangling the mess, I was weeping with frustration and rage. Gave up. Went swimming. Fed the dogs. And went to bed.

Because Facebook has grown significantly as a part of my marketing schemes, and because a LOT of my friends surface there and a lot of back and forth goes on, I discarded the initial, commonsensical idea: Just let it go. Really, I didn’t feel I could afford to let it go.

Also, none of us knew exactly what was hanging up MacMail, or whether some other part of it would crash in the near (or distant) future.

This morning, after we deleted all the mailboxes, all the rules, and everything that had been done in any program over the past four days, Facebook messages are coming in, and they are (once again) being routed at random into “Trash” and into the regular “Inbox” (no, thank you, goddamnit!) and into the reconstituted “Facebook” inbox. As it develops Facebook has 87 gerjillion ways of fashioning its “return” address, so that it’s almost impossible to set up your system to bounce the junk out of your work in-box.

Some of us do not WANT to be interrupted every three minutes by yet another silly message about Donald Trump, dancing ducks, or fabulous new recipes. But that is not the point. Facebook makes its own goddamn self the point, whether you like it or not.

At any rate, even though the system is now working the same as it was before yesterday’s antics — i.e., “not well” — I still have not written today’s Ella squib.

I will try to get it up tomorrow. If I live that long. If I don’t have a nervous breakdown by then. If I don’t throw the damn computer across the room.

Writing, Editing…Editing,Writing

Tireder than all my tribe…

Ran out of copy for Ella’s Story, so this week had to write the chapter that will go up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. And so I suppose it will be, until I come to the end of Ella’s part of the Varnis ramblings. It really is just a side story…there’s more, a great deal more, focusing on a different but related set of characters.

But meanwhile an editing job came in the day before yesterday. Haven’t even looked at it, because I’ve been so focused on trying to get Ella, Chapter 23 out by tomorrow ayem. This is an R&R (“revise and resubmit”) of an article I’ve edited before, so I’m hoping (against hope…) it won’t be too difficult to read.

Speaking of the crack of proverbial dawn, one would be a lot less tired (and get a lot more work done) if one’s dogs did not develop the habit of demanding to be let out at three in the morning.

This has gotten to be a nightly thing.

First Ruby starts to squirm — corgis are small dogs, exquisitely cute dogs, dogs that are smarter than humans, and so succeed in taking up residence on the human’s bed. She makes her musical whining noise, which is not really “let me down” but means something more like are you awake?

This works well to awaken Cassie, who having an aging digestive system has not done her thing before bed-time and so now is taken by an embarrassing urgency. If the human does not get up and let her off the bed, something even more embarrassing threatens to happen. From there, it’s race to the back door and shoot out into the backyard in search of satisfying relief.

Dogs go back to sleep forthwith.

Humans…not so much.

So by 4:30 or 5, time to roll out of the sack for a doggy-walk before it gets too hot, the human is in full zombie mode.

I’m thinking tonight I’ll take them for a walk as soon as it’s dark and the sidewalks have had time to cool off a bit. That will be soon — it’s already 8:00. If I can wring them out before bed-time, maybe they won’t roust me in the wee hours.

The scribbling for free and the editing for dollars projects are seriously complicated by the absence of the MacBook Pro. Apple, faced with at least one lawsuit (to which I happen to be a party now) and with a cacophony of more than the usual number of angry, bellyaching customers, decided to replace the machine’s defective keyboards for free.

Since mine intermittently declines to type a letter “b” or recognize the action of the “return” key, last week I dragged it down to the Apple story and turned it in to be fixed. I hope.

“Fixing” a computer, I’ve learned over the years, usually means “screwing it up in new and creative ways.” So as you can imagine, my enthusiasm for this process knows plenty of bounds.

The contraption is not supposed to be returned before tomorrow (Monday), and probably later than that.

In the meantime, I’m working and playing on an ancient iMac desktop, a big old thing that I use as a substitute television, streaming videos from Amazon and YouTube. And lemme tell you: that frikkin” HURTS!

Another function of old age, in addition to a certain tendency to insomnia, is hurting joints. Especially hurting hip joints. When I sit in an office chair — any office chair, for any length of time (even just a few minutes) — my hip starts to hurt so much I can barely limp around. The laptop brings a stop to that by letting me sit in a soft easy chair with my feet up on an ottoman. In its absence, I get to enjoy extravagant pain. After a couple hours at this desk, I have to perform a series of physical therapy exercises just to walk the dogs around the block.

Welp, I cannot write another word, and if I don’t get up from this bone-crushing chair now I will not be able to walk to the bathroom, to say nothing of a mile into Richistan and back to Normal Acres. And so, away…