Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back in the Olden Days...

“Back in the olden days,” I used to say to my nephews and nieces… and so began my story. It started out as tongue in cheek. Maybe they’d expressed surprise at one of our old-fashioned household gadgets, or lost the remote control. “Back in the olden days,” I’d say, “we used to have a TV with buttons on it. We would get up and walk over to it and push a button. Then the picture would appear and we could watch TV.” I’d also act as interpreter for one of Mom’s stories, since they predated mine by a good thirty years; but I’d heard them often, and could tell the kids what she meant. Her stories usually started out, “Back in them days,” or “Back when we lived on the mountain…” Sand Mountain, Alabama, really did seem like an olden culture, of a faraway kind that Rod Serling might have transported us to. So, when Mom started talking, I'd butt in with, “That’s another name for a mule,” or “it’s a coal-burning stove,” to help the kids when they got that distant, puzzled look. My poor mother is over eighty now, and life in the olden days really does seem olden now. Technology has passed her by, and nothing irritates her more than “them kids a-tweetin’ on their Twitters” all the time. One day, in the middle of my olden-day story, I realized that “olden days” was no longer ironic. My explanation of a thing had entailed two or three other definitions to back up the original one. This was many years after the date that my nephew had looked at me in surprise and said, “They had record players back then?!” (“Yes,” I had explained. “We used dinosaur teeth for the needles.”) I had not had to explain to him what a record player was, or a needle. We still had that frame of reference in common. My only consolation in knowing that I had crossed over some threshold into the truly “olden days,” was that my nieces were now carrying on the tradition. One day my 25-year-old niece came in looking bewildered. “You’ll never guess what my kids never heard of!” (talking about her classroom). That’s the day she began her first story with, “Back in the olden days…”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

See, that's why I hate technology... !

A rather terrifying thing... I'd just spent half the night updating my blog labels ~ streamlining, deleting. Maybe I made my blog less navigable, but there was a gist to it. I thought I might switch gears, broaden the theme of the blog. Well, really ~ I just got tired of tech stuff. That was the theme of this blog: Internet history. Just my own personal history ~ the 'Net and all things tech-y.

At one time, I needed this blog. That's how it all started, as therapy. I wanted to tell how I started my first web page: all the trials and tribulations of building it. The frustration of not being able to make the Web do what I wanted it to do. I wanted to tell about brick walls and detours; the many things I've learned. I wanted a record, too. I was tracking down a memory, wasn't sure when I'd changed a host or somesuch.

I also needed to tell how a certain forum had impacted my life ~ in a good way ~ and how really rotten it was when the forum just... went away (back when trimmed the fat off their list of topics and fired all those guides).

I guess the therapy worked. I got over it. I got side-tracked. The need to tell my story has faded away. It doesn't seem so important now. I grew tired of the theme. I'd been thinking, for some time, why not let the blog be about all things dinosaur-ish? not just tech.

And now to the terrifying thing...

I'd double-checked and deleted a couple of obscure labels ~ just cleaning up a bit. Then it happened. I clicked the "Posts" button. No posts appeared. "There are no posts," it said. No posts. 117 posts, gone in an instant. Into the twilight zone. That's what I thought. I clicked again. Nothing.

Well, if it had been a permanent delete, it wouldn't be the first time. That's how life is, in the Age of Technology. Thankfully, the posts were not gone. The blog was not wiped clean. It was just a gremlin, one of those bizarre little glitches, a momentary fluke. But it might have been truly terrifying. Not for the rest of the world, of course. Just for me. The Lone Blogger. I don't even know why anymore. Computers! How they've simplified our lives... (Ahem. How they were supposed to, that is.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Windows Hourglass and the Wicked Witch of the West...

windows hourglass wicked witch

Sometimes it seems like years that I've stared at that damned hourglass, the famous, infamous, notoriously unappreciated Windows hourglass. In my case, it usually comes just before the white screen of death. Over the years, everyone gave advice. Run Linux. Get a Mac. Right now what I'm running is Windows XP; and of course, the hourglass just ran out on that one. The problem may not be Windows in the first place. I'm always working on some hand-me-down, obsolete dinosaur ~ that's the real problem. The current jurassic fossil: ten years old and counting. Can't remember if my laptop is older or newer than that. I call it The Fire Hazard. Anyhow, everyone else has moved on to Smart Phones. I'm still not ready to go there ~ image editing is hard enough on a big screen. Sigh. It wouldn't be so bad if every piece of new technology didn't cost about what a rotten used car costs. Whatever piece of new equipment I'm coveting is always somewhere out there in the hazy distance. Ah, computer envy ~ don't you just love it. It would help if I knew how to maintain a computer. Anything I get is likely to end up in the same shape as this one. Well, things aren't likely to change for me anytime soon; but I do hope that future generations have a nice, smooth, easy time of it with technology perfected... and no more hourglass.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Google Plus versus Follow

Well, I see that it has been over a year since I've blogged this one. Just... caught up in the growing complexities of life, I suppose. And I certainly have gotten off topic. I had meant this blog to be a more-or-less chronological journal of my understanding of the Internet, and of the development of my website. Instead, it has become a catchall for any tech thought, pet peeve, or general rant that pops into my mind: a virtual glass bowl or ash tray for the (figurative) stray pins, paper clips, and unidentifiable bytes I find lying around. Today's gripe: Google has arbitrarily discontinued the "Follow" button from Blogger. I noticed this because all of my two followers were gone from another blog of mine. I suppose I missed Google's memo, drowned among the countless list updates that fill my inbox. I see why they're ditching "Follow." They're forcing us, instead, to add a link to Google Plus Circles. Forcing us to be more public than we want to be. See, I wasn't happy in the first place when Google jumped on the Facebook bandwagon with Google Plus ~ especially since they'd already betrayed users during the Google Buzz rollout. Ch-ch-ch-changes (without warning)! But, no surprise that they're imitating Facebook ~ everyone else is, too. Facebook just got too popular. No-one could compete (but everyone knew they had to). It's not as if Facebook is more private. In fact, their privacy "slips" have been notoriously intentional. (I tried to write a blog post on the most recent weird Facebook-privacy robo-outer I discovered, but explaining it was just too complicated and involved a new species, besides). But Google! They're so... worldwide. I mean, if Google ropes us into their idea of social (which, ahem, they just have, in my case) ~ what do we have left, in the way of privacy? Nothing. But should I worry? I mean, they already have Google Maps (rather frightening detail, that dead raccoon I saw on street view, and the red hummingbird feeder I saw on my friend's porch, 150 miles away). And why should I be concerned anyhow? My life's pretty dull. But I can't say I want some stranger looking at my hummingbird feeder. And I, with my sugar-water...