Coffee heat rising

Cutting Out the Technohassles

Y’know…computer technology is amazing, and an amazing gift to humanity. But…

Yeah: BUT… It’s also a a curse, most often manifested in the form of endless technohassles: long, complicated struggles with the operating systems of every damn thing we need to live our lives in an “advanced” society — from can openers to phones to cars. The telephone is a particular problem. What used to be a simple enough device is now a portable mini-computer and an indefatigable carrier of nuisances. Nuisance procedures, nuisance programming, and most of all nuisance calls from solicitors and hustlers combine to make us feel miserable and harassed.

What to do about it?

Well, I have A PLAN.

Mwa ha ha! It just came to me as I was out driving around in search of gasoline and fresh bread:

Henceforth, one day a week — one whole 24-hour day from 6.a.m. to 6 a.m.— will be declared, promised, and dedicated as a Techno-Free Day.

  • No computers
  • No computers disguised as telephones
  • No email
  • No online news
  • No blogging
  • No telephone interruptions
  • No online scams
  • No nothin’!

The accursed computers go off and stay off for 24 long, quiet back-to-back hours.

This will mean, as you might imagine…

  • No aggravation
  • No frustration
  • No unsolvable ditzy impossible-to-grasp problems
  • No pestering
  • No unknown parties tracking what we do
  • No distractions
  • Minimal annoyance

Yeah.

Seriously: I have HAD IT with the constant technologically-driven distraction and annoyance.

And…I’ve decided I deserve a break from it — as should all of us.

Pick a day of the week, then, and…revert to the freakin 1950s!

  • I like to read the morning news. Fine: zip down to the grocery store and buy a newspaper before breakfast.
  • Create an answering machine message saying something like “I do not answer the phone or check my email on [thus-and-such a day]. If this a real call from someone who knows me personally and has a real reason to speak with me, please leave a message and I’ll call you back tomorrow. If it is an emergency, please call 911. If you are a phone solicitor, please find another use for the time you would waste filling up my machine with your pitch.”
  • Do not answer the phone.
  • Do not even turn on the computers.
  • Find some relaxing and fun things to do outside the house and go do them.

It is time to disconnect from all the crazy-making techno-crap. I can’t stand another minute of it!

A-n-n-n-n-d….Another Day in Computer Hell

The Macbook still is running amok, though the ancient iMac seems to be working fine.

I’m told my Apple ID password has been “updated.” I did NOT reset it. If it’s been changed, I have no idea what it has been changed to.

I’m still getting into DropBox and iCloud. But…

Incoming emails are going into the “Archive” folder. Sent emails appear to go out as multiple copies — in one case, 15 or 16 of them! — though it’s unclear whether more than one copy reaches a recipient. Asked one recipient if he had received a pile of copies, and he said he did not.

Messages that I’ve sent to others are landing in “Archive,” too.

So…I retrench by going over to Funny about Money’s G-mail account. Some messages do seem to be getting through. At least one ended up in The Copyeditor’s Desk’s G-mail account — and no, I did not misaddress it.

Sent messages show up in MacMail’s “Archive” folder, not in “Sent.”

An email sent from the Funny about Money G-mail account arrived with a return address for The Copyeditor’s Desk. No, I did not send it from the CED G-mail account.

An email sent from the Funny about Money gmail account arrives in “Archive.” It does not appear in “Inbox.”

An email sent to myself from MacMail lands in the “Junk” folder. MacMail will not let me mark it “not junk.” Manually moving it out of “Junk” to inbox causes it to jump back into “Junk.”

Nothing I do seems to fix any of these problems. How can I count the ways I am fed up? 

The plan now is to jump Apple’s ship. This will entail an involved, brain-banging process.

  • First I’ll have to save as much data as possible to disk or to DropBox. This will be a trick, because for years the Macbook has refused to back up to an external drive.
  • Then I’ll need to trot over to Best Buy and score a PC, preferably as a laptop with Microsoft Office installed. (Mostly I use the big iMac desktop as a TV.) Get their techs to figure out how to access Dropbox and iCloud if possible and how to access MacMail (apparently this can be done, strangely enough).
  • Relearn the use of MS Office, which I quit using years ago. This will entail spending some unholy amount of time at GDU’s or at the community college’s computer commons, pestering staff to help me figure out how to use newer versions of the software.
  • Call Best Buy’s Geek Squad back in to attach the new laptop to the modem, which the Cox tech apparently up-gescrewed when he fiddled with it, fixing nothing.
  • Trouble-shoot God only knows how many new nightmares that this process necessarily will cause.
  • Eventually (I hope: not now!!) replace the iMac.

With any luck, by next week I can begin to migrate the Web Empire over into the PC environment.

It’s sad. I’ve loved my Apple computers, and I use them every day. But Apple has made it clear that the company does NOT want to deal with the likes of me. They’ve done everything they can do — purposefully or not — to make it hard for twerps like me to deal with them.

  • They moved their place of business out of the North Central district, closing the Biltmore store and leaving only the Arrowhead and the Kierland Commons store — each about 15 miles from the central part of Phoenix, through heavy, obnoxious traffic.
  • They do not have tech service that will come to your place of business or home to address issues (they never have offered any such thing, that I can recall).
  • An Apple store is a madhouse. How their employees retain their sanity (if they do) is a mystery.
  • If they suggest anything, it’s not remotely helpful. Apparently Apple repairs are expected to be a DIY adventure. Given the quality of their “class” on using the iPhone, they apparently don’t give a damn whether you ever do figure out how to use their devices effectively.

Meanwhile, Best Buy has staff who will come to your home, who are highly knowledgeable, and who can actually fix the current problem. These guys will explain what they think you need to know, so that by the time you’ve finished an exchange with them, you at least have some idea of what to do.

It’s hard to imagine how they stay in business. As one friend remarked, their customer-service behavior suggests that Apple has dedicated itself pretty much to the telephone business. Desktop and laptop computers are now a sideline — evidently one that they’d like to dispense with.

In my case, they’re gonna get their wish.

Another lovely day in beautiful Arizona…

So I thought I’d found the problem with MacMail, but that was wrong. It now appears that Apple’s elaborate data storage thing backs up all your mail, all your data files, all your everything. Apparently you get a huge but finite amount of space on this server. And…after the six or seven years I’ve been using the current Mac computers, it’s about full!

Everything you think you’re deleting apparently is not really getting deleted. All that junk mail, all those old emails, all those clients’ involved complicated academic papers, all those Excel files, all those notes you wrote to yourself….apparently they’re immortal!

Man, i yam all tech’d out!

This morning I traipsed wayyyy to hell & gone back out to Arrowhead Mall AGAIN, this time to take a ballyhooed class in the iPhone.

Do they have a dedicated space where you can listen to the tutor talk?

You had to ask? Seriously?

So there you are in the middle of the (very busy!)  store, one entire wall of which is open to the two-story-high ECHOEY concrete mall. The Apple tech is hollering to make herself heard, but you can’t hear her well enough to follow her because she’s zipping right along and she assumes you know something of what she’s talking about

The other issue is…this lady (or her boss) is NOT a teacher. The poor thing had NO clue how to organize content for a class or how to conduct a class. She was doing the best she could, which was charming and all, but at least for me, she wasn’t at all helping one to understand how to use the damn device.

The more I watched her, the angrier I got, thinkin’ I just wasted an hour of my time and a quarter-tank of $4.47/gallon gas driving out here.

Got up and left.

Stalking back out toward the Macy’s exit, I happened past a T-Mobile store.

Asked the guys in there, who had nothin’ much to do, if they could advise on how to learn to use the iPhone.

Sure! said they: YouTube! Do a YouTube search for “how to use the iPhone” and enter your model.  They’ve got instructions for every model, and their stuff is great.

I’m going DUH! Why TF didn’t I think of that?????

So it was out the door, feeling at once frustrated, put-upon, and stupid.

Cruising eastward, ever eastward through the endless fields of eave-to-eave plaster and concrete houses… Interesting. Really, they’re not so different from the houses in our less sprawling North Central tracts: just newer, closer together, and…more. Ever-so-much more of them.

What’s neat about them is that commerce is tucked in around them cleverly, so that no matter where your tract happens to be, you’re practically within walking distance of restaurants, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, auto repair shops, SOME kinda shopping.

Pump more gas. Continue eastward, ever eastward.

Arrive home. Snab the mail out of the box. And discover…

An IRATE message from Cox saying I haven’t paid in two months and I owe more than $250 and they’re gonna shut off my phone and internet service.

Say WHAT?

I thought the CU was supposed to be autopaying that!

Get on the phone: persuade Cox to call off the hounds.

Back in the car. Drive back up to northwest Phoenix. Charge into the credit union, which I’d just passed about a half-hour earlier. Discuss. Discover that no, we’re not auto-paying Cox, because I don’t trust Cox, which I consider to be a nest of crooks.

Drive home. Get Cox back on the phone. Charge $250 on my debit card. Pissed.

CU guy suggested setting Cox payments to be autopaid on a debit card. Done, even though this sounds like a sterling bad idea.

Four in the afternoon, virtually nothing of any value has been accomplished, and I yam whipped!

Let’s see if this works….

Here we are in Computer Hell. Everything in sight is crashing, malfunctioning, and running amok. Got a trip to the Apple store scheduled; had THE world’s most adorable Geek Squad dude show up and labor mightily. Wackiness continues.

Dinnertime is here, and the Old Bat has recourse to Bogle’s Best,.

LOL! Actually, that was supposed to be absurd, but the truth is — hang onto your hat — Bogle’s astonishingly cheap Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a damned respectable drinkin’ wine.

Tastes just fine and doesn’t seem to clash with much.

Except with Reality. Which, we might add, fits me well: apparently I clash with today’s Reality! 😀

The techno-frustration level exceeds Reality. In fact, at this very moment, a thought occurs to me:

Given the password to my Blogging empire and whatever secret codes are needed to operate the iPhone my son kindly gave me, y’know…in reality…or in Unreality….I would not need anything more than an iPhone.

Maybe I could do without owning and operating a laptop or a desktop?

Because as a past employee of the Great Desert University and of the Maricopa County Community Colleges, for-freakin’-FREE I can use their computer labs. Truth to tell, I don’t NEED to access all the horrors from my house or from my own (failing) computers. I could run over to GDU or to the closest community college, take a seat, and ensconce myself in my whole Computer Empire.

God’s truth is…it may not be necessary for me to own laptop at all. Especially since, far’s I can tell, the iPhone contraption IS a computer.

Why the f*ck am I torturing myself with this connectivity horror show? Why don’t I move the three-ring horror show over to the nearest community college or over to GDU?

Added benefit of moving the online empire away from the Funny Farm: it would force me to meet other human beings!

Truly. the roof has rotted away and is falling in on Funny’s blogging empire. I can’t get online to my email. I can’t print stuff in any rational way. I can’t…I can’t…I can’t…well, yeah: I CAN’T STAND ANOTHER MINUTE OF THIS techno-horror show!

It’s two in the afternoon, and just now I’m excruciatingly exhausted after hours of struggling with this computer horror and that computer horror, with gmail and Macmail and things I can’t even remember as the timer beeps to tell me lunch/dinner is ready. Please, please, dear God: take me back to the 19th century!

What’s a little American Civil War compared to what’s going on in the Ukraine, hm?

Shee-ut. Was Abraham Lincoln our protean Vladimir Putin?

‘Tis an article for the New York Review of Books…

MacHassle

Okay, so this morning I have to traipseagain — to the far west side, to the Apple store at Arrowhead Mall, there to take a course in how to use the iPhone. My son gave me this thing months ago but, being no fool, refuses to try to teach me to use it. So it has set, brickish, on my desk for month after expensive month.

Yes. I do have service for it.

No. I do not know how to use that service.

Nor, entre nous, to I especially want know. Ohhhh goodie! Another intrusive device that effing solicitors can use to interrupt what little peace and quiet we have left.

But it’s now clear you can NOT do without a cell phone of some kind. And since I already have Apple computers, I guess it behooves me to use Apple’s phones.

Not that I’m likely to continue using MacComputers much longer. The fact that you can’t get adequate service for these devices from Apple tends to discourage….especially when Best Buy will send a guy out to your house tout suite if you have an expensive contract with them. Especially when getting service from Apple entails driving halfway to San Diego or halfway to Payson, trying to explain to explain what’s wrong without the salesman/tech dude/whateverheis being able to see what’s happening or being able to ensure that it’s not a connectivity issue, leaving the device there for days, then having to schlep across the city to retrieve it, schlep back across the city to get it home, and then try to reconnect it to power and modem and godknowswhat, all by your untechie little self.

The Best Buy techs do know how to fiddle with Apple products, it’s true. But PCs present a number of advantages, not the least of which is that MS Word on a PC does a far, far more professional job of word processing.

Apple’s Pages word processor…ugh! What a piece of junk. The damn thing double-spaces between paragraphs, forgodsake. Well, actually, it spaces-and-a-half between grafs.

No. You cannot submit that to a scholarly journal.

No. You cannot format a manuscript for a typesetter with any such stupid gaffe in it.

I haven’t even tried to use their spreadsheet software. Why, when Excel does the job just fine?

The prospect of trudging across the city again this morning does NOT appeal. It’s a 45-minute drive out to Arrowhead Mall. Admittedly, Arrowhead has its appeals — it’s a very nice mall. But…but…I should drive 45 minutes through lunatic traffic for window-shopping?

Well, it’s almost 9:40. Better wrap this up and start driving…driving…driving…

MacNever-Never-Land

In the horror story department, we’re in full “Creature from the Black Lagoon” mode!

Spent the entire afternoon at the Arrowhead Mall Apple store, halfway to San Diego. There, they tried to persuade me that I need a new MacBook. Could be, but I think not. The problem is, newer Apple computers don’t run MS Word and Excel! While Apple has supposedly equivalent programs, these are fine for hobbyists but they don’t rise to a professional level. There’s no way in Hell I can use Pages to edit an academic paper! (or any other kind of document for publication, come to think of it…)

Told the guy I would check with my financial adviser about pulling three grand(!!!!!!!) out of savings.

After traipsing across the Valley and about being persuaded that I need to buy a new MacBook, along about 3 in the morning, when I started drafting this little rant, I was SO exhausted physically and mentally I could recall almost nothing about that little adventure.

Because Google has three accounts – CE Desk, FaM, and Camptown Ladies – it’s extremely difficult to find a “sent” email, because it’s difficult to find the accounts and difficult to get into them. I haven’t used these accounts in years, don’t know the passwords, and this whole damn thing is driving me crazy. If the Macbook goes down, thereby losing memory of the passwords, I am screwed. screwed, gescrewed.

Meanwhile, MacMail — the program I use for ALL my email shenanigans, went down. It would only send and receive emails from its “Archive” folder. (Archive???????)

After reboots from both computers, it seemed to be working…provisionally, sorta.

I also think I failed to call Best Buy and cancel purchase of a new PC. But the truth is, I’m now soooo tired and so confused and so upset that I don’t know that I DID go through with buying one. Think not…but… About all I could recall was that they were supposed to send a tech out here. I paid for a BB service contract but at first was frustrated in trying to get someone to come out.

The password hassles get worse and worse. I simply can NOT remember the bottomless pile of different, ever-changing passwords, and right now I can’t even recall how to find the 23-page list of the damn things. Here, too: more than one copy of it. I find one dated 2021 but it doesn’t seem to have yesterday’s inventions.

Gmail FAM says my Apple ID password has been changed. But I don’t know what it’s been changed TO. I can’t find a note in the TWENTY-THREE PAGES of goddamn passwords. So I went over to https://iforgot.apple.com/password/verify/appleid to try to reset forgotten password, and it says vickyhay@mac.com is not my Apple ID: “vickyhay@mac.com is not valid.” Well…what is, then?*

Now I find a scribbled note that says the Apple ID p/w is, appropriately enough, [even more redacted] 22. This gem is dated April 8 and stapled to a summary of concerns about the peripheral neuropathy that I wrote for MayoDoc.

gaaahhh! We’re not in Kansas anymore, that’s for sure.

***

Awake in the wee hours: worrying, harassed.

The printer goes down. After much thrashing, I get it fixed. Along about 1:40 AM, the test emails I sent to MacMail about 25 minutes before  come through to vickyhay@mac.com. Why? If emptying out MacMail’s diverse inboxes worked, why did it take so long for a message to come across? It did come from vickyhay@mac.com. Could the issue be solved????

Well. If so, it’s solved in the weirdest of all possible ways. incoming mails arrived in the mailbox called “ARCHIVE.” Why? Is all incoming being redirected to Archive? Why?

After traipsing across the Valley and about being persuaded that I need to buy a new MacBook, I am SO exhausted physically and mentally I can recall almost nothing about that little adventure.

Bear in mind: Apple closed its centrally located store, leaving one open in North Scottsdale, and one open in the depths of Southern California Redux, on the far west side. My house is equidistant between these stores: 14 miles from one and 15 miles from the other. So each trip to the damn Apple store consumes THIRTY MILES’ WORTH of $4.67/gallon gasoline!

Surely I didn’t say I WOULD buy a new $3,000 machine? I think I said I would check with Financial Dude about drawing down the money, and believe I did send him an email to that effect. But of course, since the email system doesn’t work, I can’t confirm that to be true.

Because Google has three accounts – CE Desk, FaM, and Camptown Ladies – it’s extremely difficult to find a “sent” email, because it’s difficult to find the accounts and difficult to get into them. I haven’t used these accounts in years, don’t know the passwords, and this whole damn thing is driving me crazy. If the Macbook goes down, thereby losing memory of the passwords, I am ge-screwed.

By the light of the setting moon, I also think I failed to call Best Buy and cancel purchase of a new PC. But the truth is, I don’t know that I DID buy one. I think they were supposed to send a tech out here. I paid for a BB service contract but think I was frustrated in trying to get someone to come out.

*****

Just went to https://iforgot.apple.com/password/verify/appleid to try to reset forgotten password, and it says vickyhay@mac.com is not my Apple ID: “vickyhay@mac.com is not valid.” Well…what is, then?*

*1:47 a.m. Now I find a scribbled note on a typewritten list of concerns that says the apple ID password is [redacted] for all devices. It’s dated April 8 and stapled to a summary of concerns about the PN that I wrote for Dr. Fields.

Now, reminded of this, I bestir myself to look at the case around the keyboard and find [redacted] is the password for all devices as of 4/14/22.

See what I mean about fading memory. Folks. April 14 was YESTERDAY!

Less than 24 hours later, I not only could not remember the new password, I did not even register that I’d taped it to the top of the freakin computer keyboard!!!!!!!

Now, at 1:40 AM, the test emails I sent to MacMail about 25 minutes ago have come through to vickyhay@mac.com. Why? If emptying out MacMail’s diverse inboxes worked, why did it take so long for a message to come across? It did come from vickyhay@mac.com. Could the issue be solved????

These incoming mails arrived in the mailbox called “ARCHIVE.” Why? Is all incoming being redirected to Archive? Why?

*****

What a horror show.

I think I’m gonna give this fiasco a week or two to clear up. If the mess is not untangled and cleaned up by about the end of the first week of May, then I’m just going to dump EVERYTHING and start completely over, probably with PC’s.

At least a PC is cheaper to replace than a Mac, and there are more PC gurus out there than MacWhateverThey’reCutelyCalled.

Don’t think I’ve described the scam artists who got ahold of me, talked me into buying a refurbished used MacBook (the problem doesn’t seem to be a hardware issue, you understand…so this is FAST talk that worked on a CONFUSED old lady). I bought the computer from some outfit on the far, far, far west side (surely more than halfway to San Diego), and on the way home picked up (as advised) a new printer at Best Buy.

Luckily for me, within a few hours I realized that hardware was NOT at issue here. So returned the overpriced used MacBook, but decided to keep the printer. Bought a service plan from Best Buy.

Cox Dude is now on his way over here. One theory is that the problem is the modem, not either of the computers. If that’s true, maybe replacing the modem will solve the problem.

That, I believe, is wishful thinking. I believe the problem is the MacBook or the combined iMac and MacBook.

Welp…we shall soon see!