Coffee heat rising

How Much Time, Lord…

…is freaking wasted wrestling with computer software?

This afternoon, in one tiny household in the middle of one faceless city parked in the middle of a far-flung desert: three hours. That’s this afternoon alone.

I’ve lost track of the number of hours I’ve spent on the phone with Apple Support, to say nothing of the number of hours consumed by driving back and forth to Apple stores, by trying to figure out a problem by myself, by reconstructing lost data…ohhhh good grief.

Seriously: the Apple Support folks are a godsend. Without them, by now I would have picked up a number of expensive gadgets and thrown them across the room, to collide at a high velocity with a wall.

Which, one might speculate, would be counterproductive.

These computers we all have, all the manifold devices most of us tote around with us: they’re wonderful devices. They allow us to perform feats of data entry and calculation that would have consumed our lives had we tried to do them with a typewriter or an adding machine or a spreadsheet. This is because they do these tasks at outrageous speed, with little need for thought from the user.

So….why does riding herd on the damn things still consume our lives?

It is Saturday evening. A weekend. Remember those? Do you remember them as “free times”? I sure do: once upon a time you didn’t spend your weekends working.

Today I was on the phone with Apple from 3 in the afternoon until 6 — three hours — trying to figure out why Apple’s iCloud keeps nagging me that something is wrong. Wrong? Wrong with a password, we surmise. Between me and the two excellent gents I worked with, we changed my passwords at least three times, in three different venues. Finally we got online and got iCloud to accept the result…only to find that iCloud decided to quit sending my email to my computers.

The second of said gents, gazing upon the little mystery through a direct connection to my computer, quietly performed a bit of prestidigitation and…zap! Undid whatever was done and disappeared both the conundrum and the endlessly nagging, pointless messages.

In the course of this, I lost track of what we were doing, became hopelessly confused, thought I had lost the new passwords, discovered they were not lost after all, and then realized…waitaminit…these passwords we’re using that are now magically working? They’re the same damn passwords we started out with! And yea verily, they’re still all different.

That’s right. We spent three hours farting around and ended up right where we were at the outset. Only with the software inexplicably working.

For the nonce. We’ll see what it’s doing by the break of day.

Here’s what I think about this:

Yes. The 21st century’s astonishing technology does speed our work miraculously. Makes it easier to perform, by far. Makes our product look far more professional than most of us used to be able to produce with a typewriter and a photocopier and a calculator. BUT….no savings in work time ensues.

Vast numbers of hours may be saved in the performance of routine and mind-numbing tasks. But do we use that saved time in worthwhile pursuits like watching soap operas and shopping for underwear? Nooooo….

Hell, no! Any and all free time is devoured by learning new and unnecessary changes in the software and hardware, by trying to keep the software running, and by figuring out and fixing whateverthefuck is wrong when the damn things go down. In fact, I’d venture to say most of us spend more time working, when you add in the time required to learn, relearn, and re-relearn the endlessly morphing technology and in keeping it running, than we ever did at work with our antediluvian tools.

So confusing and baffling are these ubiquitous devices that even the experts get confused. Two of them, over the past few weeks, have told me that the reason for the mysterious nuisance messages from iCloud was that the passwords on my two Mac computers are different. The key, they felt, lay in syncing passwords. Ideally, I gathered, the same password should be used for both computers. And possibly it should be used for iCloud, too.

After all that wrestling to make this happen, after finding a gigantic glowing golden FAIL at the end of that rainbow, this evening the guy who answered the phone at Apple said…well…noooo… The computers’ passwords do not have to be the same.

Make up your minds, guys!

This one, it appears, was right. We ended up with different passwords for the MacBook, the aging iMac, and iCloud…and with the click of a couple of buttons on his ends, he magically disappeared the iCloud problem.

What the problem ultimately was, I have no clue. Nor do I want to have a clue.

THIS is not what I got a Ph.D. in English literature and history for…

MacFiasco, continued

😀  Welp, come to find out: the Sierra operating system has a reputation for effing up Apple’s MacMail function. Whyyyyyy did I not think of looking this up sooner? Too H&H, I guess. That’s harassed and hysterical

What I don’t understand is why it didn’t crash MacMail sooner.

Interestingly, though, I have an old iMac with a gigantic screen that serves as my substitute for a television these days — for watching the evening news, Rachel Maddow, and various streaming movies & TV shows. So I wasn’t using it to read email. Therefore, I didn’t notice that all the email that was merrily getting lost on the MacBook was coming in just fine on the old iMac. The iMac runs on the El Capitan OS. We’re four versions later now…

Y’know…if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

This is yet another of the many things that render me nostalgic for the [hated] Smith-Corona: the endless iteration, reiteration, and re-re-reiterations of operating systems. Like unto the endless demands, re-demands, and re-re-demands that you enter a goddamned impossible-to-type secret code, every step along the way.

So Brandon, the latest in a string of (very generous, very anxious to help) Apple techs, spent another two hours on the phone this morning, trying to get the damn email system to work. Finally, all things failing, he resolved to “escalate” the issue to Engineering. This entails installing a special tracking and recording program on the Macinoid, which records a couple sessions of antics and ships them through the ether for some other wretched tech to figure out.

All told, then, I’ve spent about 12 or 13 hours on the phone with Apple over the past week, trying to fix the damn email system. Wasted hour after wasted hour after wasted hour…

And all of this is now made rather moot, as I threw in the towel a couple of days ago, spent several more hours gathering as many email addresses as I could find into a gigantic mailing list, and sent out a notice to something over 300 people to the effect that they should get in touch through my gmail account.

This vast hassle should, I hope, result in my catching most incoming, until such time as the MacMail is fixed. As a practical matter, that gmail account is set to forward messages to MacMail, so if and when MacMail ever returns to normal, I can just go back to bidness as usual, without having much to say about it. Or anything to say.

But in the meantime, there’s no way I can possibly round up all the names of all the various correspondents in all the various sub-segments of my life to clue them about the email address shift. So Mr. Tech & I are trying to figure out if it’s possible to set up an outgoing auto-reply Mac message to tell people go to the Gmail address, or better yet, to forward to Gmail. Then I would disable the forward from Gmail to MacMail and use Gmail exclusively. On the front end, that is.

I hate this, on several fronts. The obvious — extraordinary time wastage — is the least of it.

I do NOT want to do business — or even carry on my idle social life — on Google. It’s not that Apple doesn’t spy on you. It certainly does. But not, I believe, to the outrageous extent that Google does.

Paranoia aside, I do NOT want my clients and friends to be blitzed with fucking ads when they’re trying to get in touch with me or trying to discuss business issues.

Personally, I use an ad-blocker, which solves that problem on my end. But apparently a lot of people don’t. Otherwise there would be no reason for Google to sell ad space on your private email messages, would there?

Accessing my email on the Web is cumbersome, inelegant, and annoying. I don’t WANT to have to keep a tab in Firefox open at all times to get at my email, nor do I want to have to physically check in to the email in-box to determine whether anything new has arrived (MacMail silently signals you of incoming, which is good. Very good. Traipsing to some Web address in Firefox: not good.)

The extended time waste has meant I’ve had neither time nor energy to work on updating the various bookoids I started posting at Plain & Simple Press. So that puts the eefus on any schemes over there. Did manage to post a couple of rants about my least favorite examples of cant and cliché, but as for anything creative? Not so much.

Other dramas seem to have subsided.

The cancer that is not cancer remains — so far — not cancer.

Cassie the Corgi, while surely not entirely her Old Self, is much better. This morning she swiggled down a fair quantity of water and strolled away from the trough without a single coughing fit. Nor did she cough and gasp for breath after having been lifted off the bed, for a change.

Still…she has slowed down a lot. It’s as though she went from being a vigorous and energetic dog to an old lady in the course of a month or so. Maybe, though, that’s the way of the world. For most of us.

Ruby the Corgi launched into full out Savage Guard Dog Mode the other day when a bum came into the front courtyard, pretending to be a tree-trimmer looking for work. She is a yapper and does bark at every moth that flies past the house. But this was different: she was alarmed and enraged. And hair-raising. They say corgis are actually short German shepherds. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But she does seem to have the Ger-Shep ability to discern between the harmless eccentric and the potential menace. Interesting.

I’ve given up worrying about the money predicament. The worst that can happen is that I’ll go broke. BFD.

The scheme to learn how to use the iPhone La Bethulia gave me has been put on hold until such time as I can betake myself to an Apple store. Now that Apple has shut down its centrally located Biltmore shop, the “lessons” Apple is supposedly offering will entail a 35- to 40-minute drive every time I want to learn some aspect of the gadget.

Mijhito says he can wipe La Bethulia’s data off the phone and then help me figure out how to get online, but neither of us has been able to break free of our respective hassles long enough to accomplish this. So…the device awaits.

Given the gawdawful hassles entailed with Apple over the past week or ten days, I’m none too sure I really want to sign up to use another Apple toy.

The plan to send out proposals for the “drugging of America” book went somewhat astray. Have been way too overwhelmed to take on anything new just now.

The swimming pool resurfacing job proceeds apace. Yesterday the jackhammer crew pounded away for the entire day: a good eight or ten hours. The entire house vibrated nonstop to the pounding. Naturally, it rained on the debris they left in the open pit, but early this morning a couple guys came over and shoveled out the rest of the stuff.

Aaron, the guy in charge, came over and pointed out that they’d busted just one tile, but he was pretty sure they could reattach and grout it back in so it no damage would be visible. If not, we’ll reinstall the whole border of tilework, which will add another two grand to the job. But it looks pretty promising. The crack on the north side, he thinks, is probably not structural because there’s no rust and no dirt visible in it. They will reseal that and fix the grouting around the affected tiles. there’s a small rusted patch in one area, which he also thinks does not represent significant damage to the rebar. Otherwise, he feels the hole in the ground is in surprisingly good shape, considering its age.

So tomorrow they’re supposed to come ’round and clean the scale off the tiles. Then they’ll try to clean out and reactivate the unused line that originally was installed to accommodate the pool cleaner…and I forgot to remind him that they need to figure out why Harvey isn’t running adequately. And finally, they’ll apply the new PebbleSheen surface. This has a supposed 20-year lifetime. The plaster job I put in after I moved in 14 years ago had a max 10-year lifetime, so I expect this stuff will last until I croak over or until they carry me off to the old folks’ zoo.

An hour and a half to go here, and I want a nap. Realized one reason I’m too tired to function in choir after a few hours at the front desk is simply that I’ve fallen into the habit of taking a short snooze in the afternoon. That would be because 6 a.m. is really sleeping in for me…usually I’m up and about by 4 a.m., and often by 3. Doesn’t seem to matter when you get your sleep in, but you do need to get some of it.

A-n-n-d It’s Back to Nightmare Central

Okay, with any luck the Human is now recovered enough to cope with another headache-filled day.

When the Apple tech left off on Saturday, we still had not solved the problem with my MacMail. This was after a total of around six or eight hours wasted on the phone, wrestling with it.

Yesterday he had something come up and took a day off work. So this morning I called his extension & left a message.

Meanwhile, yesterday along came a demand, in the part of the email still working, that I pay for the use of iCloud. I believe this to be phishing, because the sender’s email was not at or anything even vaguely resembling it. Not impossible, though: right now the only way I can get at my email is through iCloud’s server: somehow my regular MacMail account has been disabled. But whatever: I am NOT paying for iCloud, a service that I do not want and that I highly resent having foisted on me.

While I’m waiting for him today, I guess I’d better prepare a mailing list for a message I can send out from Gmail, telling all my friends and business acquaintances to deep-six the Macmail address and use one of the old gmail addresses. This REALLY pisses me off, because compared to Apple’s mail program, Gmail is cumbersome to use and a damn nuisance, and of course, Google wants to serve you ads. I don’t see them, because I use an ad-blocker; but presumably ads will be sent, in every message, to my friends and clients. Which I do. NOT. appreciate.

Even more than I do NOT appreciate Google spying on every word I transmit through my private goddamn messages.

And mean-meanwhile, in the headache department: The swimming pool repair company’s guys showed up at 6:30 a.m. to start jackhammering the old plaster off the pool.

WHAT a freakin’ racket! This is an all-day project: they’ll be banging at the pool’s gunite walls until late afternoon or early evening. It’s one bitch of a job, and one gawdawful noisy job. Its only saving grace is that it must annoy the hell out of the annoying neighbor behind me: revenge for the business with the flammable debris dumped behind the wall on the 4th of July.

The thing is, these guys — all Mexican laborers, nary a one of whom speaks English — are working completely unprotected. They have no ear protection, no eye protection, and only a bandana tied over the face to keep the fine, lung-cancer-inducing plaster dust out of their noses.

And that is fuckin’ inexcusable. What does it cost to buy your employees — or contract laborers, which is probably how these guys are paid — a few pairs of ear-plugs, some cheap plastic goggles, and nose masks? Exploitive bastards.

Trying to think of a tactful way to suggest this to our honored pool company owners, but failing just now to come up with any polite words. Maybe I could send them away until Swimming Pool Service and Repair comes up with some basic safety and health equipment?

That, of course, will entail having to hire some other company to finish the job…presumably also with unprotected and probably illegal workers.

Welp, I haven’t heard a thing from the Apple guy. So it’s off to compile a list that can be sent out from Google, and then say good-bye to Apple Mail.

Safe! Mode, that is…

Did you know an Apple computer can run in a “safe” mode? I didn’t. I thought that was a PC thing.

Yet another fun day of computer-generated time suck. Damn, but I have just about had it with the computer hassles. But one thing you do have to say, in the redeeming feature department, is that even though Apple ‘s in-store service may have jumped on the Skateboard to Hell, their phone support can NOT be beat. Those people who get on the phone with you and listen to your weird story and figure out what you’re talking about and then even figure out how to tell you to fix it: they’re the real Geniuses.

Right. So… (have you noticed that this is the new [Silicon] Valley Talk? Ask someone a question, and they’ll invariably preface their response with “Right. So…”

Wife: Did you have a nice day, dear?
Husband: Right. So yes I did. It was a very nice day.)

Okay, right. So this morning I drove to South Phoenix to meet with the PoD dude, trying to figure out why the PDF for the latest Magnum Opus’s cover art will not load. After some fooling around, we realize we can get the new wrap-around image up there, but we need to reformat cover 1 because the byline is dangerously close to the bleed border. So now I have to jump through those hoops: unfortunately, I used the image I’d built for the ebook cover and just dropped it into the template for the print cover, so I couldn’t just grab the byline and move it up.

Two hours later: I’m headed home and stop by the Safeway to grab a couple of small things. It’s now after noon: hungry time. What should I find on the bargain counter but THE most gorgeous rib steak, grass-fed free-range Angus, big enough for three meals, take an extra 30% off the marked-down price! Dang!

Having grabbed this, I streak home, relishing the prospect of a spectacular midday dinner, the steak on the grill, the onion softening and browning sweetly in the skillet, the salad rich with tasty goodies.

And indeed the sliced onion was cooking when I went to shoot off an email to a friend and discovered…No Chance. The MacBook was disconnected from iCloud, which you are now forced to use if you wish to have a MacMail account. Cox, for a change, seemed not to be responsible for this. But whatever the problem was, it afflicted the big iMac, too. Not only could I not fix the email, I couldn’t get online at all!

Since you have to get online to contact Apple and ask them to phone you, this meant I had to carry the Macbook (it contains details you must report on the form  you send to Apple to persuade them to call you) AND one of my wireless house phones over to the neighbor’s house. Put in an order using her PC…and realize the phone is out of juice. Its damn battery is dead!

RUN back to my house, clinging tight to the computer. Get in just as the phone starts to ring.

The young woman I spoke to proved to be exceptionally smart. At first she figured it was a connectivity thing. But we were able to prove that Cox was fully online. Both computers were connected. Not a connectivity thing…

Various maneuvers having failed, eventually she said, “Let’s try rebooting in ‘Safe’ mode. Sometimes this will repair any number of problems.”

Well, I know what “Safe” mode is in conjunction with PCs, but had no idea the Mac had such a thing, or that it had much practical use.

Turns out that to acquire “Safe” mode, you reboot but hold down the “Shift” key as soon as the screen turns black, and keep it held down until the machine completely reboots. This causes all sorts of flashy things to occur, until eventually you get the usual desktop, possibly (as with a PC) slightly…disturbed.

While this is going on, she keeps assuring me that the procedure can induce a certain degree of self-repair. If we’re lucky, it’ll work.

If we’re not, she does not volunteer what we will do then.

Incredibly, though, it does work! After a lengthy can-can, the thing comes back online, and lo! MacMail works. Firefox works. It lives!

And strangely, whatever happened on the MacBook also applied to the iMac, as if by magic through the ether[net]. No longer offline, the iMac also found itself suddenly speaking to MacMail and Google. That was a relief.

Hoping against hope, I checked to see if the corrupted font had somehow repaired itself. Well, no: every word that I have ever put into a Friedlander template for the purpose of publishing it as something resembling a book is now useless. Any of those books that ever needs to be revised or edited in even the smallest way will have to be reformatted from title page to author’s bio in a new font.

Oh…I haven’t told you about the Font Corruption Adventure, have I? Well, that will have to form the topic of another post. (Here ‘tis, over at P&S Press!) It is 109.5 out there on the back porch. After engaging not one but TWO computer fights, one of them involving sprinting through 110-degree heat, I am tired. The dogs and I are going to sleep through the heat…and so that tale will have to wait for a new day.

Image: DepositPhotos, © julos