Coffee heat rising

Dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century

Given a choice, we fossils would have preferred that the Cretaceous had lasted a while longer. All these little mammals running around—pesky things, and they make all sorts of nimble demands. 

Last night I went to log on to my credit union accounts and instead got a message informing me that henceforth the CU will charge a fee to deliver paper statements to customers who have online access. To get statements free, we have to agree to accept e-statements. 

Fine, I’ll figure this out later; leave me alone and let me get my chores done, thought I. 

But nay…the only way you can move forward into your accounts is to click “accept” or “decline.” There’s no “I’ll think about it” choice. When I tried to back out, up popped an error message informing me that Safari no longer will suffice to navigate the CU’s site, and that I must have a new version of IE  or (hang onto your hats, folks) Netscape.

Netscape? It went down in 2008. 

So I sent a query. This morning comes this reply:

If you are using a MAC the only browser we support is Safari, versions 1.2 and 3.0. You must use this browser in order for all the options to work properly. 

Huh? Safari 1.2?? I thought the last surviving copy resided at the Smithsonian. Safari 3.0? That came out…when? In the Mesozoic? I’m at 3.2.3, and a more recent update keeps bouncing at me like Cassie the Corgi with a ball, begging to be installed.

They say you can view your accounts with any old version of Safari, but you can’t perform the functions you may need. 

Meanwhile, nothing said about the fact that you can’t proceed to your accounts without accepting or declining their “offer.” 

Well, I guess we can say good-bye to the old-fashioned, customer-friendly service that is the specific  reason some of us prefer credit unions to banks. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Bye, Little TV Set; Bye, Evening NewsHour

Speaking, as we were yesterday, of Evan Mecham, Arizona’s late great moronic governor—a man who could whip W in an Olympic-level stupidity contest, hands-down—in just a few weeks now I will lose the TV set that allows me to watch the PBS Evening NewsHour. This is the only source of in-depth national news that’s easily and consistently available to me.

NPR does run some news, but most of it is commentary and yak. The actual news reports are short and perfunctory. And because I listen to NPR mostly in the car, getting the news this way is a catch-as-catch-can process.I try to read a national newspaper in the morning—the local metropolitan paper has been converted to a tabloid and no longer carries much news at all—but there just isn’t enough time to do more than skim the front page. Often I can’t even get that much read.

What does ole’ Evan have to do with a television set, and why is it about to go away?

Evan Mecham’s tenure in the Governor’s mansion was a nonstop sideshow. Every day he would open his mouth and something ludicrous would come out. It soon got to be so outrageous and so hilarious that everyone went out and bought a small, cheap television set for their office so as to catch the latest antics as they happened. I picked up one at Smitty’s, the now-defunct supermarket chain, for about $40 (can you imagine?).

Mecham was thrown out of office in 1988. But my little Evan Mecham television set still runs cheerfully, after more than 21 years of faithful service.

dcp_2326These days the Evan Mecham television resides on top of the refrigerator. I’m usually fixing dinner right about the time Jim Lehrer comes on, and so that’s when I turn the TV on to watch the news. The little television set is so old it probably doesn’t have a connection for the new HDTV box that we’re being made to purchase if we want to keep watching TV off the air, nor is there room on the fridge for the box and special HDTV rabbit-ears: two new dust-catchers.

[Oh, lovely: 4:22 in the morning and the locals are shooting at each other. That sounded like a semiautomatic pistol, rather than the usual streetsweeper. Close enough to set the dog off…jerks!]

Where were we? Oh yes, the television: Our beloved government’s enforced changeover to something many of us don’t especially want or care about will render my old friend unusable. And in doing so, it will bring a stop to my watching the evening news. It will close off a major source of news for me.

The local PBS station does rerun the NewsHour on one of its new ancillary HDTV channels later in the evening, but by the time I’m ready to sit down in front of the bigger television, I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I usually fall asleep within a half-hour after I turn the thing on.

To my mind, a TV set is no decorator item. I do not want a battleship-gray eye staring at me in my living room, and I consider it rude to have the thing nattering on and on while guests are here. The main TV resides in one of the back bedrooms (so designated “the TV room”), and there is noooo way I’m bringing that thing and its ugly HDTV rabbit ears and its dust-catching HDTV box into the front of the house. Even the smallest of new TV sets, at least as far as I can tell, are so absurdly expensive that I can’t afford to replace the little guy.

So, come February and the mandated switch to HDTV broadcasting, it’s good-bye to Jim Lehrer.

Amazing,isn’t it,how these technological advances enrich our lives?

Do me a favor, please…

Would you do a little Christmas lagniappe for me, please?

Go to this site right here and enter a complaint about the theft shown at this URL:

http:// www.ebliss.us/2008/12/posting-bookmarks-online

You’ll need to remove the space after http:// that I inserted to avoid giving the jerk proprietor a gratuitous link.

When you get to the AdSense support site, click on “Report a Policy Violation.” Then follow the steps. Enter the “ebliss” homepage URL where it asks for the name of the offending site, and then copy & paste the URL of the post he stole from Funny about Money and put that into the box to report the specific offense. Remember to remove that extra space after the double slash.

It’s one thing, I suppose, for the damned scrapers to knock off a single paragraph and then post a link, though I don’t like it that they use even a few of my words for the purpose of making money off my work. But when someone takes an entire post and sticks it online under a slew of ads…no. That will not do. Especially when, as in this case, he presents it as his own work. And, as in this case, his site is swimming in ads.

Lately I’ve been hiding my byline in white type after the first graf of posts I think will be scraped, and then deeper in the post placing another byline with a link to a FaM or Copyeditor’s Desk post with instructions on how to report the theft to Google’s advertising department. This may (with luck, I gather) cause Google to yank its ads from the word-thief’s site, effectively putting it out of business. The schmuck who ripped off today’s post didn’t even bother to delete those, probably because he has a machine committing his thefts.

Gee. Imagine how nice it would be to have a robot that you could send out to burglarize houses, knock over jewelry stores, and lift Porterhouse steaks off the Safeway’s butcher counters….

Posting bookmarks online

The Mac has about a zillion bookmarks, most of them accrued since I started blogging a year ago. Many of these are things I’d like not to lose when the hard disk crashes, which as we know sooner or later it will. They’re backed up, of course, to a flash drive, which holds a lot of other “don’t-lose” stuff. But that doesn’t help me get at these bookmarks from a PC. More to the point: I can’t access most of my Mac bookmarks from FireFox, because FireFox apparently has a strict limit on the number of bookmarks it will read. It doesn’t see all of Safari’s main bookmark folders, and when you get into a folder, it doesn’t see all the bookmarks inside a large folder.

Annoying, since we’re urged to prefer FireFox over Safari for a number of reasons, not the least of them security.

Belatedly, though, I’ve discovered Google Bookmarks. This is a very handy tool. You get it by establishing a Google account (free: just open a gmail address) and installing Google’s toolbar. The bookmarking function appears on the toolbar. When you’re signed in to a Google account, the bookmarks you entered while you were lurking around that account show up on the bookmark button of the toolbar.

The clever Tina, my associate editor at the Great Desert University and my business partner at The Copyeditor’s Desk, set up a Google account for us quite some time ago. We use the e-mail account for our company address and Google Docs for tracking assignments and posting communal style sheets. Very handy. This enables her to view the bookmarks, too.

So I used that account to enter bookmarks from my GDU terminal as well as from the Mac. The campus terminal has a lot of links to university sites, purchasing agents, and the like. The Mac has most of the links for editorial blogs as well as the 87 gerjillion PF blogs I follow. I’m sure she’s not interested in personal finance blogs, but she has evinced an interest in blogging in general (having experimented with her own online journal at WordPress, she was amazed to find people actually reading it). I’ve posted 10 categories of blogging-related sites, from how-to squibs and SEO advice through complicated dissertations on monetizing. Someday she may find those useful. And maybe she’ll add some of her own favorite sites.

It’s neat to be able to share bookmarks with a limited audience. But what I really like about it is that if one or the other of my systems crashes, I won’t have to reconstitute long lists of URLs from some outdated back-up file. Yay!

And it’s free.
🙂

Seven technological wonders I wish we had

Why hasn’t anyone invented . . .

  • a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t make your ears ring?
  • clock/timers for microwaves and stoves that run on batteries instead of sucking household electricity?
  • a computer operating system that runs forever and never demands to be updated?
  • a freestanding, energy-efficient room air conditioner (not a swamp cooler) that doesn’t have to be mounted in a window or punched through a wall?
  • good-tasting mass-produced prepared meals with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or other weird ingredients? And that are not oversalted and oversugared.
  • an inexpensive hose timer that works when the water is turned to a slow dribble?
  • computer programs that work without passwords?

Handy li’l Quicken hack

By accident, I discovered that if you right-click on an entry in Quicken for Mac, you bring up a menu with several options. One is “report on [name of payee]” and one is “report on [category].” So you can create an instant report on a single category.

If you’re curious about how much you’ve spent in one category or how much you’ve been forking over to a single payee, this is very convenient. You can customize the dates to give you a view over a specific period, allowing you to see what’s been going on over a few weeks, months, or years.