Friday, November 13, 2015

Image Search Default: Lowest Common Denominator

Is it possible that, of seven billion people in the world, not one of them used the tag "mystique" for an image, other than those who tagged the word as a blue female comic-book-and-cartoon character? Or have I found the weak link in both Google Images and DuckDuckGo? It seems that both search engines must default to the lowest common denominator...

When I did an image search on Google for the term "mystique," a full page of blue females came up. This is happening more and more often, as I search common words, only to find that some film or cartoon character has hijacked the word. It occurred to me that this was merely a Google bias, so I tried DuckDuckGo. Same result (though fewer images). DuckDuckGo did offer alternates in the form of certain old black-and-white films.

I don't know if it's a true search result, or a sad sign of the intellectual limits of modern society, that no images are considered to be filled with mystique, but that the definition of "mystique" (if we are to go by image alone) is "blue female in skin-tight jumpsuit."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Windows 10 - my first experience with Windows Phone-Tech Support. Meh.

I took the plunge. I upgraded to Windows 10. The devil kept asking me to do it. And now, I've just had my first experience with Windows phone-tech support. Meh.

Microsoft products are notoriously user-unfriendly, perhaps because so many features are generic, and are intended to work over a variety of apps, instead of being designed for one app, with specific, intuitive features. I, a lover of computer technology (in theory) have grown to fear technology (in practice).

In spite of my lingering fear of technology ~ and perhaps because of my love for some Utopian idea of it ~ I accepted that twenty-fifth offer from the Devil Himself and upgraded to Windows 10. I actually did this because my niece kept bugging me to do it, saying, "It's free! You'd be crazy not to!" And because my late Daddy always said, "Dang, girl! You always take what's free. You take a b'iled monkey, if it's free!" (That's "boiled monkey," for those of you outside of Appalachia).

After installing Windows 10, my first impressions weren't totally negative, as they often are with Microsoft products. Still, I had some issues. Windows 10 claims to let you add multiple email accounts. That option really just lets you add aliases. Sounds good in theory; but in practice... The "aliases" don't seem useful. Only certain email addresses can be used, apparently. The app refuses to accept my main Yahoo Business account, or my Windstream (ISP) email account. It accepts and recognizes my GMail address, my Hotmail address, and an alternate Yahoo Business Mail address. Clicking on "Mail" doesn't actually give me the option of using an alias, though. It just takes me straight to GMail. When I click on a link for a different alias, it treats the alias as a mail recipient, not a sender. Why would I want to send an email to my own alias?!

I battled these aliases for awhile, but realized that creating them didn't solve my problem. So next, I used the "Ask me anything" thingy that Windows 10 provides. "How can I merge two Microsoft accounts?" I asked. The thingy took me to a forum. Answer: two Microsoft accounts cannot be merged. One tech wrote that they can be linked instead, but the instructions lead nowhere (literally and figuratively). His instructions must not be for Windows 10. I was discouraged, but not devastated.

I hated logging on with Hotmail (which I rarely use). Still, I knew I could log on that way, whether I wanted to or not, and just feel inconvenienced about it. Frustrating, Mr. Spock. But not fatal.

Being stubborn, I persisted. I even managed to change my log-on to my main Yahoo Business Mail address. I thought that solved the problem. Truly, I still thought the problem was one of log-on preferences.  I didn't realize the problem was one of accounts. As I've learned, I have two separate Microsoft accounts, under two separate email addresses. In changing my logon, I only changed what I have to type to get to my desktop. Yes, I do enter my favorite Yahoo email address to log on--but it still doesn't give me access to the OneDrive account associated with my old Hotmail address.

I also didn't realize that the problem would be compounded as apps were added to my machine. The real problem became apparent after my first restart. The restart required a log-on (my Yahoo Mail address). Trouble is, that logs me into my newer Microsoft account, established under that email/user name. At first log-on, up came the option to install OneDrive on my computer.

Glad to do it! Wait a minute. My OneDrive is empty! Where are all my files?! See, I have used OneDrive online for quite some time, but ~ you guessed it. OneDrive (online) is under my other, older Microsoft account, my Hotmail address. I suppose the second account would require a totally different logon, if such is allowed in Windows 10. (Ack! Flashback to nightmares of merged forums and newly unrecognizable logons and passwords!)

The problem has manifested itself in this way: I have my old online OneDrive at, which is full of files and backups. I now have a new, empty OneDrive app on my computer, which is pretty useless unless I want to spend the rest of my natural life backing up old files and adding new files to this new OneDrive. (I can still get to the old online Drive and my files, thank God ~ just not through the OneDrive computer app).

Back to forum. How do I merge Microsoft accounts? Again, they cannot be merged. What to do? Call Microsoft. Yes, for the first time ever, I used Windows phone support. It was a complete washout. At first, Support just disconnected me, perhaps by mistake, or perhaps with foreboding, because the pre-recorded voice guessed what was to come.

Not to be so easily quashed, I called again. The second time (after hold please, hold please, hold please and literally the worst canned music I've ever heard) I got a human being. I started my question as a problem about logging onto Windows 10. "I've created two separate Microsoft accounts by accident," I said. "My new logon for Windows 10 is linked to one Microsoft account, but not the other. I need both." Sorry...

When the first phone-tech guy couldn't answer my question, he transferred me to another tech. Hold, hold, hold. Human! Yay? Nay.  I had to start all over and describe my problem anew. That's when I made a critical error. I did not tell him that I was having problems with my Windows 10 logon. I told him that my OneDrive app won't let me access my online files, because I have two separate MS accounts. He dispensed with my problem immediately: "Microsoft does not provide phone support for OneDrive." Thank you, goodbye. He was actually nicer than that, and seemed sad that he couldn't help.

Now, it occurs to me that, if I had thought to re-frame my question as a problem with Windows logon, I might have gotten some help. And now for another question... why can't these techs read my mind? Okay, silly question. But, why couldn't this supposedly intelligent, experienced fellow realize that my problem could be described as a Windows logon problem? I'm not the first user to stumble into the sad realization that two Microsoft accounts exist, and that multiple complications will arise from this.

Later, in my "start" folder, I played around with account settings. I've found an option which seems to have allowed me to "link" two Microsoft accounts. We'll see. If I have solved the problem, it is without any help from Microsoft Support.

Oh, and by the way... after the tech call, and after the restart: that search thingy will not work for web searches anymore. No ideas, there. Perhaps I have inadvertently blocked Bing.

Mild-mannered rant over.

My advice is, don't accept a boiled monkey, even if it's free.