stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I'm currently reading Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel. (I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg when I was on an adventure-novels kick; The Prisoner of Zenda, Captain Blood, and one or two others were also part of that haul.) Three thoughts come to mind.

1) Spoilers. Going into the novel knowing the identity of the Pimpernel probably diminishes its effect. (I would quite possibly have guessed - the trick Orczy played has become common since her day.) Fortunately, apart from the broad context, I know nothing more. I can foresee some of what will come - I just finished the scene where Marguerite is blackmailed by the French agent - but no more than in outline.

2) Reigns of Terror. Orczy, of course, makes an effort to get the reader to sympathize with the poor persecuted aristocrats, and I try to let that happen; but I keep remembering the bit by Twain, comparing the several-months-long and bloody Reign of Terror with the slow-motion, thousand-year Reign of Terror, in the opposite direction, which begat it. Lavoisier was certainly not the only unjustly condemned victim, but the whirlwind doesn't really care who sowed the wind. (I also find myself remembering the next-to-last paragraph of Lincoln's Second Inaugural; but that's another issue altogether.)

3) Typography. There are, naturally enough, numerous French or French-derived words and phrases in the text: entr'acte, coup, and the like. I would prefer to believe that Orczy wrote them, in the original, as I just did, and some blunderer, transcribing it for the Project, interpreted the italics as indicating emphasis and thus replaced them with ALL CAPS. If the Baroness herself is responsible, all I can say is QUEL DOMMAGE!
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
The story begins with a grooming appointment.

Gracie had already had her trip to the groomer, and it was Buster's turn. I picked up the phone and punched in the groomer's number. There was a dial tone, the familiar sequence of tones, and... nothing. I tried again. I got the number of another groomer; no good.

It occurred to me that I didn't remember receiving any phone calls for several days. (I get lots of phone calls. "CALL FROM UNAVAILABLE". Hey, buddy, if you're unavailable so am I.). I e-mailed my brother and asked him to call me, and to e-mail me if he couldn't get through. Sure enough....

I handled the grooming appointment by walking to the nearest groomer - a bit more expensive than my usual, but much closer - and making the appointment in person. (Buster looks much better; they even managed a semblance of a puppy-cut.) I also made a vet appointment (Gracie had picked up an ear infection) by giving the data to my brother and having him call the vet.

I don't really use the phone all that much, and I am still a champion-class procrastinator, so my efforts to resolve the situation were desultory. I fiddled with the phone; no dice. I downloaded the manual for the phone, but found nothing useful. I bought another phone and plugged it in to another jack; no luck. I made a mental note to, somehow, contact AT&T.

"I should call the plumber about the phone isn't working"
"I need to make another vet appointment the phone isn't working"

This morning, I finally figured out how to contact AT&T, initiating an online chat. After about half an hour, most of it consumed by the usual trivia, I was told that I had the wrong agent, and she would transfer me to someone who could help. We went through the trivia again, and I was eventually told that this was the wrong office, and I should call ###-###-####. I pointed out that this was impossible, and was given a URL instead.

I copy-pasted the URL to the address bar. I spent a few minutes ticking boxes and filling in forms, and was told that they could not process my ticket.

I returned to the page I'd been at before, clicked on a different button, and began another chat. After another round of trivia, the agent suggested that I reset the modem. (My phone was not, and never had been, connected to the modem, but wotthehell....) This, of course, broke the connection. I waited a few minutes for computer, router, and modem to make nice, and restarted the chat. New agent. More trivia. "Is the phone connected to the wall jack, or to the modem?" The wall jack. "Plug it into the modem." This I did, and voilĂ , I had a working phone again. I thanked the agent, gave him top marks on the Customer Satisfaction form, and disconnected. (I made another couple of tests to make sure all was well, and it was.)

I went over to my other phone, which was connected to a wall jack; its screen now says "Check phone line". I'm assuming that AT&T has cut off all of my wall jacks except for the one dedicated to the modem. Not sure I'm happy about that, but also not sure I care enough to kick up a fuss.

Gotta call the plumber tomorrow.


May. 28th, 2017 04:46 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Something odd has been happening on my desktop computer.

At intervals (it appears to be once an hour, at about the :45 mark), a small, empty, and transparent frame appears on the (primary) monitor; it grows rapidly, to perhaps 20% of the screen, then vanishes. The event takes less than a second, so I haven't been able to catch what process is involved.

Should I be worried?

ETA: I now find that, for that split-second, it also grabs focus.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
After posting grades last Monday, I spent the rest of the week loafing. (Well, I had to reply to a few students asking why they got the grades they got....) No cooking - just frozen dinners, sandwiches, and cereal. No trips to campus - I did connect to my office computer a couple of times, mainly to look up the grade spreadsheets. It was too rainy, most of the week, to walk the dogs.

However, loaf time is over. I may not be teaching this summer, but I do have a lot of things to do. I have to get a new passport; as of midyear, TSA won't be accepting Illinois state IDs. I have to put the finishing touches on Taxonomy I and submit it, and begin writing TII and outlining TIII (and maybe TIV). There's lots of housework that needs doing. I'm recording my library on the latest version of my library DB (and there's been a story or two I should tell, in that connection). I'm contemplating revamping my finances database yet again. I should also prep for my fall classes; two of them are courses I haven't taught in a while.

There is a big pot of arroz con queso cooking away, for this week's dinners. I want to start using my new stock pot, and to try out some more Indian and Middle Eastern recipes. The dogs need grooming (this week!) and visits to the vet, preparatory to their badly-needed dental work.

I've drawn up a (still incomplete) To Do List. I've done that before. The trick now will be carrying it out.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Sigh. The latest Windows update seems to have borked my audio. System sounds work, but WMP and YouTube both are silent. Settings asserts that my NVIDIA HDMI Output is "Not plugged in". I've checked on line, but the suggestions either don't work or can't be carried out. The old standby, "When in doubt, reboot", has been of no use either. Anybody know anything?
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
For several years now, I have been able to access my office computer from home. Recently, though, it stopped working; I'd click on one of the (series of) links involved, and the browser would just sit and spin.

Last week, the IT people announced that the system would be revamped to accommodate Windows 10 as of Tuesday night. Today, I finally got a chance to check it out.

If I go in using Firefox (my browser of choice), I can get in, but an annoying pop-up, asking permission to do such-and-such, makes three or four appearances, and the browser seems confused until the connection is completed. Likewise if I use Edge (which I'm trying to avoid).

You know which browser gets me in without any fuss? Internet Explorer.

Yeesh. I've put IE on the status bar, with the link to the office computer as home page. This is the only thing I'm going to use it for.

No Reply

Mar. 11th, 2017 09:05 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This is odd, and rather annoying.

I do not have a Twitter account, but there are a dozen or so feeds that I follow. When I check on one of them, there is a link labelled "Tweets and Replies", which displays the obvious. I like clicking on that, in particular with some of the humorous feeds. But...

If I click there on my new desktop computer, I get a solicitation to sign up for Twitter - and the tweets-and-replies feed does not appear. This did not happen on the old computer, nor does it happen on my laptop.

Anybody know what could be happening there?
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I went over to Best Buy this morning and described my problem, with sketches. One of their salesman offered a solution, which I bought. On the way out the door, I looked again at what I'd purchased and realized there was still a problem. I went back in and laid out what I'd realized. The salesman was unbelieving, and we spent a few minutes discussing the nature of reality. The discussion led nowhere, and eventually I left again, rather disgruntled.

On returning home, I verified that the proposed solution wasn't, and that the salesman was, indeed, mistaken about the nature of reality. However, one of his comments led me to examine things again more closely, and eventually I hit on a solution. It involved cannibalizing a cable from an old monitor (said cable being, again, something the salesman had denied existed).

In any event, the deed is done, and I once again have dual monitors. A bit of futzing with the Display settings was necessary, but only a bit. I am content, and also a bit contemptuous.

Moving Up

Mar. 9th, 2017 06:34 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Well, today I bought my new desktop computer. The changeover went smoothly; I've been able to transfer almost all of my old system's capabilities. The one thing missing is the dual-monitor setup; the way I handled it last time isn't going to work now. I'll have to run over to Best Buy again tomorrow (three days in a row...) to alleviate the situation.

The keyboard layout on the new computer is a bit different from that on the old, and it'll take me a while to adjust my typing instincts. The "fn" key is where the "ctrl" key is supposed to be....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I just downloaded three books to my Kindle, and then, as usual, went to put them on Calibre. I was expecting that they'd be DRMed beyond Calibre's capacity to strip. I was not expecting Calibre not to be able to find them.

Anybody have any idea what's going on here?
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
I am planning on buying a new desktop computer this coming Thursday. On my current desktop, I have a number of Access databases and Word documents that I'd like to move over to the new machine. Is there a way that I can move my copy of Microsoft Office over as well, or am I going to have to get a new copy of MO?
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Some time ago, when the Millennium Update borked my internet connection, [personal profile] kk1raven warned me that the rollback fix would not last forever - that, eventually, a new update would recreate the problem. I had had some hope that this would not happen, after several uneventful updates, but it was not to be: this morning, I again lost contact.

This time, though, I had an option, in the form of my new laptop. I trotted over to Best Buy and bought and installed a router. I still can't get online from my desktop - I shall probably have to replace the five-year-old machine - but the laptop is an almost-satisfactory substitute.

I was going to resume discussing my break, but that will wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, I am insufferably pleased with myself. (Demon of procrastination, avaunt!)

[Yes, I'm aware of the irony in that last paragraph.]
stoutfellow: (Winter)
It's been quite a while since my last substantive post - over a month, I see. A good chunk of that was my trip to San Diego, another the first week of classes, a third the lack of a gap between the two....

So. (Sorry, D.) The most important thing from before the trip was a couple of visits to Best Buy, from which I came home with a laptop computer, a new landline phone, and a cell phone. The laptop I bought for two main reasons. One was so as not to have to borrow D's computers while I was in SD. (He'd given me permission to bookmark links on his computers, but I feel uncomfortable with that. I still had to piggyback on his WiFi, though.) The other... I've downloaded or received by e-mail quite a number of recipes. Unfortunately, they're on my desktop, and I have no printer at the moment; if I want to use them, I have to hand-copy them. Now, I can carry the laptop, recipes included, into the kitchen with me.

I'm sure I'll come up with other uses for the laptop as time passes.

The landline? My old phone was, well, getting old. The keypad buttons were no longer reliable; sometimes I'd have to push a button several times to get it to register, and sometimes the connection would drop before I could get the whole number in. Also, the screen for the caller ID was tiny, and it was getting harder and harder for these aging eyes to read it. So I got a new phone, with a great big screen (and a voice to go with it). As an unexpected bonus: unlike the old phone, if a caller doesn't leave a message, this phone doesn't take one. (Hearing "Message #n. :silence: End of message" gets really annoying, especially after returning from a trip to find 87 messages waiting.) I've put it in my den, which shortens response time, most of the time. Right now it's sitting on top of two adjacent stacks of books, themselves on a chair. I've got to clean off the big table so I can put the phone there.

As for the cell phone, I've had too many flight-delay mishaps over the past few years, and I'm fed up. Now, if something goes wrong, I can call D from the/an airport and let him know what's up. Of course, I neglected to put his number in the phone before leaving. I did put C's and E's in, though, and was able to handle this trip's flight-delay mishap. (My flight from St. Louis was delayed three freaking hours. They did rebook a connecting flight for me, so points to them for that, but there's a huge difference before getting in at 7PM and at 11PM, especially with two hours time difference.)

Lots more to talk about, but I'll try to stick to one topic a post.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
My new Library database is up and running. There are some major features I still want to add, but I'm putting them off in favor of getting the basic catalog entered; I'm also making minor improvements more or less on the fly.

One new feature - and I should have added it to earlier versions - is a way of keeping track of where books are in the house. Many of the locations are bookcases, but quite a few have the form "Den:Desk" or "Main Bedroom:Dresser". For those, I'm taking the cataloging as an excuse for long-overdue cleaning and clearing. I've uncovered a lot of manuals for software I've long since abandoned - OS/2, Borland C++, early versions of Civilization - and they're going into recycling. A few superficially similar books, though, I'm hanging on to, more or less as museum pieces. The Personal Computer Book, Complete with up-to-date Brand Name Buying Guide (copyright 1982) is one such. (I'm tempted to leaf through it, just for the memories....)

I seem to have misplaced my duster. That, I'm going to need.


Nov. 20th, 2016 07:59 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
1. A couple of weeks ago, my thermostat started misbehaving. I had it replaced last Thursday - just in time; we've been having subfreezing temperatures overnight the last few days, and NWS says that will continue for at least the next few.

2. For Thanksgiving dinner this year, I'm making a chicken curry. Haven't made curry in a long time.... I'm also going to try my hand at cheesecake, using a simple recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. ([profile] coalboy, I'll try some of the recipes you sent me later, but for my first try I want as few complexities as possible.) I'm considering home-made bread (haven't made that in a long time either) as well, and I'll definitely go with salad-in-a-bag. (I've been using that to garnish my meat-and-cheese sandwiches lately, too.)

3. The new library database project is proceeding well; I have discovered the wonders of bound forms! For some reason I had an antipathy to them in my earlier projects, but they seemed necessary for a couple of the forms I needed for this one, and I've realized just how much they simplify things.

4. I still haven't finished the Taxonomy paper. There's not much I need to do, but I haven't had the oomph. Must get it done before the onrushing end of the semester!
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This is what happens when you feed the output of a tuba into voice recognition software....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Things that I enjoy. Things that make me happy. Productive things, and frivolous things.

At the store today, I bought a box of Keebler Pecan Sandies. I almost never buy cookies, doughnuts, pastries etc., but I felt the need. (Unfortunately, on returning home I discovered that I'm low on milk.)

People on the LMB list have been posting spoilered comments about Penric's Mission, so I went online and bought an e-copy, which I am now reading. I also picked up Connie Willis' Crosstalk, Becky Chambers' A Closed and Common Orbit (loose sequel to The Long Voyage to a Small, Angry Planet), and The Gate of Gods (the last volume of Martha Wells' Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy).

I've begun constructing the new version (#4) of my library database - designing forms one by one, adding and testing features one by one... This one will be much better designed than its predecessor - smoother operating, with far fewer dinky special-purpose forms. I learned a lot from the finances and Skyrim projects.

The dark shadow lurks in the background, popping up and distracting me at vulnerable moments, but I begin to see the road ahead. I couldn't find any large safety pins at Shop'n'Save, but I'll get one soon.


Sep. 24th, 2016 05:51 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Wednesday morning, Microsoft downloaded the Anniversary update, and borked my Internet connection.

When I got to the office Wednesday, I searched for solutions and found several - none of which proved to work.

On Friday, I complained to V about my problems, and about my need to take the computer over to Best Buy and the Geek Squad. (I saw no other alternative.) She kindly volunteered to run me and the computer over there after work. The Geeks said that they'd have to work on the computer for about a day; V agreed to a second run as soon as it was fixed, as long as it was done by 3:30 on Saturday. As she dropped me off at my house, something she said suggested that the time limit was 3:00.

Saturday, 2:30. I noticed a message on the answering machine, though I had not heard the phone ring. It was from the GS; the password I'd given them wasn't working. I picked up the (land-line) phone and started to dial: 6 (beep) 5 (no beep)... 5 (no beep) 5 (no beep). I hung up and tried again. 6 (beep) 5 (beep) 9 (no beep).... Several frustrating minutes followed. On one attempt, I made it through the full nine digits and the first two steps of the phone menu before the line went dead.

I saw no option but to run over to Best Buy, deal with the password problem, and use their phone to call V. It was 3:08 by the time I got there - but, fortunately, it was in time. The Geek Squadder had rolled back the update, muttering something about "old machines", and everything was working again; V carried us back home, I reattached all the connections to the tower, and voila! I'm back in touch.

I shall have to get a new land-line phone - and, as backup, at last, a smart phone. I have been reluctant, but needs must.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I just received (and deleted) a phishing e-mail which, after making its pitch, ended with a PSA about texting and driving.

:shakes head:


May. 26th, 2016 01:44 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I think I can live with Windows 10; I've been able to get it to do all of the things I need it to do, without too much fuss. I like a couple of the new games - TriPeaks and Pyramid.

I am, however, grossly offended by the fact that whenever I call up either of those games, MS breathlessly informs me that they'll let me cheat if I watch one of their ads.


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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