Nothing to Say?

So, itʼs two months and a week since my last post. What else isnʼt new?

Well, jaw-droopingly enough, The Lovely One  has actually asked me to try posting regularly. (I know — tradition holds she hates any time I spend at the computer, even writing, and she has always thought my pathetic posts here on Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog were, uh, pathetic.) So at her behest more or less, letʼs  conclude the ten-week hiatus:

ClocksI have been doing nothing much with those 69 days. nearly nothing at all. (I did finish and revise a short story to submit for possible publication — the result still suspended in the atmosphere somewhere/somewhen. “Scholarsʼ Folly” takes Søren, sans Judah, from northeastern Iberia to Córdoba for a really bad day with supernatural intrusions, his subsequent ethical self-flagellations being reserved for what will become the following chapter in the final novel. However, that effort filled less than a week, really, the original composition having been part of my NaNoWriMo 2012 enterprises. The revised product was e-mailed for editorial consideration way back in mid-January.)

Today, having actually gotten a break from nearly daily snowfall (no lie — culminating in three days of flood-inducing rain), punctuated by regular weekly blizzards (both requiring me to shovel rather than head out to exercise first thing in the darkness before dawn), I did my time on the elliptical and came home feeling genuinely determined to do something (for once) today.* So here I am pecking away…

Unfortunately with nothing to say.

You see, that (lack of postable content) has been the major problem (other than lazily and worthlessly diddling all my time away each day) preventing the blog from acquiring updates. Nothing to say…

(And when I consider all that I found myself able to blather in 2010 when I did the post-a-day thing so glibly and logorrhea-cally, perhaps the current chastity of content seems less pitiful and more prudent. Perhaps.)

The same lackluster life (mine) has also prevented me from keeping my letter-writing particularly current (and I do need to write both to my long-suffering aunt and communication-deprived bother later today or no later than tomorrow). I havenʼt even added more than a few thousand words to my creative endeavors. Plenty of mental composition but nearly nary a word even smartpenned to paper for eventual upload into the (contemptibly frustrating) digital presumed-reality.**

However, even with this despicable deficiency of (for equally miserable want of better terminology) subject matter, I felt as though I must post something. So this drivel is it.

Enjoy!

* Of course, my eff-viscerating, worthless computer has had other ideas: those first few sentences have taken some seventy minutes to get on the screen, as multitudes of pointlessly intrusive background processes have taken over the computerʼs processor cycles ahead of my considerably-less-than-feeble keyboard smashing (but regardless how fiercely I punch a key, for some reason Spotlight uselessly updating its database or the virus-protection programʼs mercilessly intrusive “Behavioral Injection” activities take precedence regardless). Yep, nothing has changed; and the computerʼs incompetence frustrates me and drives me away from the infernal screen/mouse/keyboard to do something that might seem potentially productive (or at least less emotionally traumatic) — like reading the Kindle instead (but more on that tomorrow). Appleʼs demonic apparatus and its meddlesome softwares even contrived to get me to delete somehow the original final sentences of the parenthetical conclusion of the paragraph above the one to which this footnote appends.

** And now, suddenly there is no ceaseless drive-grinding (blessed silence on that front for my tinnitus to fill with ethereal cacophony of unreal audio-effervesence instead), and the menu meter indicates merely four percent of the memory and processor active — thus my letters and words actually transfer from brain-and-fingers through the keyboard to the machine and thus the screen (and eventually, we hope, onto you). Astonishing.

Facebook Timewaste

Once again, I do have reports on reading (and recommendations thereby/fore), not to mention some travel and maybe even other items, for future posts — assuming as inevitably ever, the damned device permits.

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Effing Mountain Lion

FML. My computer cannot keep up with my typing (and although I type relatively quickly, I do not type really, really fast, so anyone would believe that a modern — no, not contemporary, but still modern — computer could keep up with my only-human typing speed; that supposition would be wrong). So what is the problem?

The infamous chiclet-keyboard (with the inimitable Gwen Hernandezʼs incredibly useful Scrivener for Dummies right there, close to hand when needed.

The infamous chiclet-keyboard (with the inimitable Gwen Hernandezʼs incredibly useful Scrivener for Dummies right there, where it always resides, close to hand when needed).

Well, up front I should admit that I donʼt lways hit every key precisely (particularly on this damnable chiclet Bluetooth keyboard*). For example, that missing “a” in the previous sentenceʼs “always” is probably not the fault of the computer but of this user (of course, the spelling-correction feature is underlining the defective “lways” — both above and in this parenthetical insertion, but I intend to post this initial message for 2013 just as my computer — and I — create[s] it, more or less**; likewise, if I adntʼ mad Typinator change m regular mistyped “setnence” to sentence, that ould have remained wrong as well). I also, as suggested already, have a horrible tendency toward typos — dyslexic fingering that creates jumbled words with letters misordered, some of which I have programmed to get corrected*** (as noted above), some not. Both kinds, however, stir up Mountain Lionʼs intrusive correction suggester (putting up a blue suggestion of what I presumably was supposed to mean to type below the active word onscreen), which although helpful once in a blue moon, usually serves merely to slow down the computerʼs response to the continuation of my typing (which I guess could be resolved, at least somewhat, if I watched the screen and not my fingers/keyboard — as if that will happen at this very late stage in my typing life). Thus, third, I should acknowledge that I myself have created many intrusions into the ordinary typing process, some (if nch) my help to slow down th computerʼs acceptance and display of my maladroit dgitsʼ dance across the excruciatingly tiny keys.****

So some of my curet problems must be ascribed simply to me. (That boldfaced bit of idiocy is an automatic correction, believe it or not, for current!)

I missed BehavioralInjector_64 using 83.3 percent of the RAM by less than a second before the screencapture camera clicked. Drat.

I missed BehavioralInjector_64 using 83.3 percent of the RAM by less than a second before the screencapture camera clicked. Drat.

On the other hand, and that other mitt is the thrust of todayʼs post, none of this was a problem before I “upgraded,” witlessly, moronically, to Appleʼs system 10.8.2, the savagely unready-to-be-released Mountain Lion. (I know I have moaned about this Windoze-like***** set of programming incompetence already, but… ) I have begun to discover that the problem seems to reside with the vast number of processes that think whatever unimportant background activity (like updating Spotlight or too-frequently backing up to Time Machine or whatever mds and mdworker, among too many other gnomically-named bits of coded nuisance, keep attempting to do behind my back, without my permission) is more important than the actual task at which I am genuinely at work (meaning that my typing or program-opening or whatever comes a distant third to whatever other disk-grinding busy-nesses are happening about which I do not care). And I am not the only one.

Some of the worst offenders are processes from programs I have installed (namely Syncoveryʼs totalitarian backup agent and Intego VirusBarrierʼs horrible BehavioralInjector — whether underscore32 or _64, the former being the more dictatorial and domineering). However, using Activity Monitor, I can quit those processes (usually — sometimes it takes ten or fifty quits to get BehavioralInjector to stay absent/inactive). Appleʼs own intrusions are not so user-friendly. Furthermore, that aforementioned spinning beachball has really gotten irritatingly omnipresent!

And that, my friends, is why I keep not getting much done. (Amusingly — and I intend that word literally, etymologophiles — these processes donʼt interfere with getting online. Much — see beachball reference above.)

Maybe now, with as few issues in the most recent paragraphs as there were, I can get back to work on important fiction (really).

* Really, Apple? You couldntʼ make a real keyboard that connects wirelessly? Really…

** The less being that whatever I noticed was wrong when I finished, I boldfaced. (And I wonʼt comment on what I may know were my own issues and what the fornication-worthless software/hardware permitted to be wrong.)

*** Another standard correction, which the computer currently finds nearly impossible to handle adequately is the transformation of straight apostrophes to curly typographerʼs apostrophes (and since I cannot get PopChar to function today — more computer trauma, I guess — I canʼt show a straight one). What happens is: all too often the apostrophe gets inserted after the final s in a possessive (I am coming to think because of the ridiculously slow and intrusive correction-suggester); several examples have occurred in todayʼs post.

**** That would translate as: “some (if not each) may help to slow down the computerʼs…” (Hmmm… you can tell that these footnotish interjections were created down here as I wrote because with these, too, the number of errors decreases with time. Interesting?)

***** Shall we enumerate every Microsoft Windows nonimprovement since XP (and most before)?

Did anyone get the punning initial acronym? Apple… ? (Itʼs not my life that I was addressing.)

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Oh, Yeah, Sadly, Itʼs “Tech Frustration (5)”

…evidently also known as the “marble of doom”

Among the (many) complaints registered at the (ineffably slow) App Store against Appleʼs (unutterably poor, slipshod, pathetically inept) major dose of incompetence, MacOS 10.8.2 Mountain Lion,  is the curse of the spinning beach ball — meaning that multicolored whirling circle which indicates that something is happening (but nothing relevant to what you just wanted to occur on your computer) although nothing ever does develop.

Wait, please wait… Wait… Keep on waiting…  Wait, please… Wait.

Since yesterdayʼs attempt at calm reason (and closure) to my endless agonies with the recently installed system “upgrade,” that curse has been the essence of my longsuffering digitized existence, so much so that I actually shut down my iMac yesterday evening, screamingly frustrated beyond toleration and belief at hours of naught but “spinning beachball” nothingness, knowing full well that starting up this morning would be just another intolerably prolonged procedure, involving several stalls and resultant forced hard restarts —until I succeeded in causing a reboot in “safe mode,” which recently, at least, has actually worked and from which I can restart successfully (adding a mere hour to my morningʼs start-of-business).

I have also learned more than I really care to know about various processes on my Mac that can eat up all of the available active RAM — some being Appleʼs intrusions and some evidently resulting from my virus-protection package, Intego’s Virus Barrier X6 (version 10.6.18 for anyone counting), or so say the various Mac discussion sites discovered by my googling queries on such arcane processes as “launchd” (and many related programmed routines) “mdworker” (and its associated agents), “BehavioralInjector_32” and about a half dozen more — some of which it is safe to quit and some not, each of which can overflood the available memory and leave my computer just an electricity-sucking, luminescent lump of inactive digital dung.

A seventy-minute wait last night left the memory overfull and the cursor a movable spinning beachball. A marble of doom. So I finally, frustrated, shut down…

And felt much better almost immediately!

And then the new day dawned…

Right now, my memory meter (I having earlier quit several of the noisome processes already today) is not glowing all red with usage overplus, but nevertheless for every letter I attemp to tpe ere* in Scrivener, I only get a few, the calculated result being somewhat worse than uploading my hen-scratchings with the smartpen for interpretation (OCR?) and transformation into digital text. Maybe itʼs a sign that any work I accomplish today was meant to be handwritten?

And Lady Lovelace forfend that I should attempt to use the control-click over my own typos for a fast revision — oh, no, that just means two solid minutes of the dreadful beachball spinning.

Lus he disk is being ccsed nns I hbkgrn — Plus the disk is being accessed nonstop in the background.

Snarling sarcastic “thanks” for hindering all efforts, Apple… **

* That this is the kind of utter putrid crap my computer puts out when I am trying to type at a normal speed — I meant, “I attempt to type here” but as an example I left it as was (that passage at least being partially comprehensible, unlike some of the previous skips that deprived this text of whole words and phrases and ran letters ten words apart together into a nonsensical jumble).

** Babbage forbid that I might actually be able to use this computer for something other than its own care and feeding.

Now letʼs discover how many hours of pointless beachballing must be involved in transforming this file to HTML, copying said code, pasting into WordPress online, editing and proofreading and eventually posting…

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Technological Frustrations (4)

I had intended to detail the many frustrations and hours of hangs and freezes and days of re-installation of MacOS 10.8.2 Mountain Lion. But I have begun to bore even myself, and after the not-just-offline-but-off-computer-altogether experiences of last week, I have begun to forget everything I had fumed inside and planned to write.

I think Iʼll just bring this recent thread of technological frustrations to an end — let us hope not just a temporary conclusion.

My wifeʼs laptop is operational but not up to snuff (meaning service pack 3 level and thereby able to support her bought-and-paid virus protection). My iMac remains always on so it doesnʼt have to restart (which Mountain Lion, at least on my computer, cannot do — boot reliably). We remain frustrated… by technology…

Joys of Technology

A glimpse at the Kindle Reader app in action (on top of this post in composition)

On a brighter note, we have new technological toys with which to play. The imminence and arrival of mine kept me distracted from any kind of real accomplishments for well over a week. And my wallet suffers not merely from the acquisition of these new devices but an addictive loading of information and entertainment.

I bought us both Kindles (our first — unlike her early-adopting boss, I thought I would save my cash and acquire my Kindle for well under a hundred bucks*). Mine is indeed the very (currently) cheapest, most basic, old-fashioned, ad-spewing version of the amazon.com product. In black, with the little buttons and square four-way steering tool at the bottom. And I adore having 200 books (many of those absolutely free or utterly the cheapest possible — and collections of dozens of books in each**) in my pocket wherever I go (no more deciding which books to take on vacation now!).

However, I mostly sought out electronic reading devices for The Lovely One. Ever since her emergency eye surgery in 2008 (for a detached retina) and the consequent reshaping of her eyeball, she has found it very difficult to read. With the Kindle able to present text in various sizes, it should make reading more pleasant and possible for her. And she has the new Paperwhite Kindle (again, I fear, the least expensive of those models), so she can even change the font (within the five available possibilities), not needing to tire of incessant Courier and Helvetica, as I apparently must too often endure. The Paperwhite also illuminates itself, so she can read in the evening, or in bed (as I seem always to do). She may still need her “cheaters,” but now she can read (we hope)!

Aside from my greedily filling about a quarter of my Kindleʼs drive with books new and old (and not all of them freebies or buck-or-two volumes as time has gone on), I have no gripes or qualms about this bit of technology, new to us…

…except…

Perhaps I am as stupidly ignorant as I suspect and suggest, but I find the Kindle Reader app for Mac rather ridiculously does not permit a user to copy the text he or she is reading. As I wanted to pass on to My Beloved (from an e-book travel guide I had purchased for Kindle use) a tidbit of information about our intended destination for this yearʼs approaching vacation, this limitation frustrated me (see, the titular theme does indeed persist) until I realized that I could snap a screenshot of the appropriate selection (now, through several software bundle purchases having no less than four screen-capturing programs***) and use PDF Pen Pro to OCR the several sentences into selectable, editable text.

Satisfactory? To be sure. (At least so far… )

And now for some Andalusian research in advance of NaNoWriMo, drawing nigh.

* I had the same attitude/policy toward the iPod — preferring to have my MP3 player for hundreds less than the original prices (and, until recent years, more and more file storage). Itʼs a lesson deriving from my late youth, when calculators were the cutting edge of novel technology (and which not I nor any of my family could originally afford) but which consistently halved their previous prices, while improving the device, year after year, buying season after buying season.

Being an elderizing codger, I still use a calculator — seems so much more direct and simple than booting a computer (assuming, of course, that such a procedure, starting up a computer, is even possible) and then opening a calculator program.  — Not quite aged enough for sliderule mastery, though…

** complete Sherlock Holmes, Lovecraft, Victor Hugo, H. Rider Haggard, James Joyce, Dostoyevsky, Dickenson, Poe, Shelly, Keats, Yeats, Walter Scott, Robert. E. Howard, the Babylonian Talmud in English… (I could go on — you know I could — but you have endured enough. For now.)

Besides, check my screen-capture illustration for todayʼs post to see some more of my recent reading.

***  — I still choose Voilá for constant menubar presence and use, although SnagIt, Clarify and Skitch remain in the Dock (and I would appreciate any input or feedback on othersʼ program preferences and insights).

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Tech Frustrations (3) — Apple Edition, part one

Having resurrected Janetʼs laptop (at least to an almost acceptable point, admittedly lacking virus protection), I proceeded almost immediately to screw everything up to an almost unbelievable degree by upgrading my iMac from Snow Leopard (MacOS 10.6.8) to the current Mountain Lion edition (MacOS 10.8.2 — with another improving update already available and suggested).

Big mistake. Huge, as a matter of fact.

My computer couldnʼt even restart the first time after the Apple App Store application had installed the new system. (And I had hesitated over the many complaints in the reviews section, wondering why Apple didnʼt think anyone needed an installation CD from which to restore the system when necessary, and it has been necessary — five times up to now, and thatʼs not shutting down daily as I had formerly done). And the installation took four hours (maybe a little more)!

I made my twenty-dollar mistake on Thursday evening, September 27, and I was frustrated and computer-deprived for the next three days, reinstalling the system all over again twice (and learning all about what the new installation had done, not to mention getting almost instantly sick of that tan cordillera/sierra felineʼs glare). The biggest flaw (for me at least) with Mountain Lion is that the software cannot restart from a hard shutdown/restart (meaning pushing the little  power/startup button on the rear left of the computer when everything suspends activity unalterably — freezes or hangs) or in my experience from an ordinary restart sequence (even the one Apple imposes with the installation — and upgrade — packages).

As I reported in my own review of the product once I had successfully gotten my iMac operational again (the following Sunday, then Monday):

Got really tired of seeing this visage on this screen in the past three-and-a-half weeks (five times, friends and comrades — so far)

Installed Mountain Lion (MacOS 10.8.2), foolhardily, Thursday afternoon (four days ago, as I write) — net result: couldnʼt get my iMac to fully restart afterwards… Constant, invariable hangs/freezes once the lovely new constellation desktop picture loaded.

Reinstalled said system, using the hidden Recovery partition this installation creates (and, buyers, do make sure you already know your Apple ID and Password [and LAN/Wi-Fi access code/password!!] without software assistance when installing this premature ejaculation of a product) on Friday evening after a whole night and day of forced restarts after start-up hangs, but no go on fully loading on restart, even after the four-hour download and installation. 

However, Saturday morning, inexplicably and without any changed approach on my part, when I tried another start-up, the system loaded and worked… until some programs wouldnʼt open and I decided to restart the computer… Naturally: hang city all over again…

No luck all day Sunday, either (even leaving the stalled start-up alone for hours and hours). The “consult the Apple Support Forums” option presented by the recovery partition merely takes you to standard info, no real help. Except perhaps for restoring from Time Machine and runnning Disk Utility (no problems of that kind in my case), none of the options works without internet connection (thus the need to have your LAN password ready before trying anything from the recovery partition).

Reinstalled for the third time this morning, Monday, and even before the promised three hours and 41 minutes (download and installation) had elapsed, we were up and running. Wowza.

Iʼm planning to leave my poor, abused machine continuously on for a long time today (tomorrow… into next year?) to let Spotlight index (if it actually is — estimate is back up to 20 hours, after ten hours on). And get three or twenty good Time Machine backups complete. Surviving so far without troubling Apple support by phone, although they were VERY helpful once in the distant past.

Anyone think I can afford to shut down (ever) without needing to reinstall yet again?

Hardware Overview:

  •   Model Name: iMac
  •   Model Identifier: iMac9,1
  •   Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
  •   Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
  •   Number of Processors: 1
  •   Total Number of Cores: 2
  •   L2 Cache: 6 MB
  •   Memory: 4 GB
  •   Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz
  •   Boot ROM Version: IM91.008D.B08
  •   SMC Version (system): 1.45f0

Not really recommended, based on my experience. I should have heeded all those earlier reviewers with problems!

Too harsh, thinkest thou, O Gentil Reader? Itʼs only gotten worse…

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Apple Sucks (Redux)

The (not quite in focus) little drive that could… in action (see its little blue light, indicating disk activity?)

Maybe Apple doesnʼt suck? Except in its Asian hardware…

Clearly, tech ace Aaron had it right. My iMacʼs optical drive is fried (great choice of substandard equipment there, Apple guys). I know because I have worked around the problem.

Although I was temporarily dwelling within a mile of an Apple store over the New Years weekend (more on that another time very soon), I decided not to carry the huge computer down Michigan Avenue from our temp residence amidst/against the crowds of post(?)-holiday shoppers thronging and clogging the Miracle Mile. Nor did I select to bring the iMac along on our four-hour drive to downtown Chicago (and then back home again) on the shot that batting my elderly eyelids at the Windy Cityʼs Apple Geniuses would get me a replacement drive for the pathetic original.

However, I did take Aaronʼs other advice and purchased an inexpensive add-on USB optical drive/DVD burner. Lacking any originality or willpower to find a better deal, I went straight for his suggestion — the Samsung drive available at amazon.com. The device arrived really quite quickly, not long after Christmas, and I got it operational by unboxing the slim little bit of blackness and plugging it into one of the three USB expanders dongling from the iMacʼs ports. Truly plug-and-play.

My single big concern with buying a new drive was adding something else to the tangle of wires extruding from the iMacʼs USB ports. (I had experienced some troubles keeping my back-up drives loading until they got their own dongle, the same one into which I plugged the two USBs for the Samsung optical — I might as well keep all “drives” together, I thought, productively, as it turned out).

The new drive is operating right now, uploading some newly acquired (Christmas-gift) music into iTunes. And I am merrily listening to the third of the Steig Larsson The Girl Who… books as (I attempt to pretend) I take my early morning “run.”

Except for a periodic issue not recognizing that a CD is a CD and instead offering a Finder window saying the disk is unreadable and do I want to format it now, the new drive works great (and I am currently giving it a workout, uploading all the CDs I had put on hold for the recent months of the built-in optical driveʼs death throes).

Best of all, the import speeds on the new drive beat the old one all hollow (and typing those words, I really wonder where the cliché “to beat something all hollow” originates). Even Audiobook CDs import in just a few minutes (for some reason those always seemed to take the longest, on The Lovely Oneʼs HP laptop and with the built-in optical drive on this iMac). Pretty cool seeing those 15.3x to 17.1x import speeds in iTunes.

Oops. The drive just pulled its “donʼt-recognize-this-disk” routine, and I stupidly hit the “Ignore” button instead of “Eject.” The disk isnʼt visible on the Desktop, and I canʼt get the drive to open its bay by pushing on the front, either. Now I think I have to restart the computer to get the disk out (or maybe… Iʼll just unplug the USB cord from the drive and see if that works — it did). However, itʼs a good sign I had better wrap this up and move on to other, probably more important activities.

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Apple Sucks!

Apple Sucks Facebook page

I have a problem with Apple, Inc. Once upon a time, just over two years ago, my iMac worked fine. I especially appreciated being able to insert CDs and have them play or be able to import them into iTunes and play my music on my computer or iPod digitally.

All that changed about eight months ago, however. After one or more of the companyʼs upgrades (I really should put that word in quotation marks) — or else when I foolishly spent my own money to upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard, the computer no longer usually accepts disks. It scans them and scans them and then ejects them without ever even mounting the disk on the desktop, nor does iTunes open automatically as it used to do (and as I still have the preferences set to do when a disk is inserted). 

I am inserting disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after disk after… and having them each and all invariably rejected even as I type with incendiary fury on my pitifully pathetic Apple Bluetooth Chiclet-key keyboard (will it stand up to the task?).

Sometimes if the computer “eats” my CD, I can get the damned awful device to recognize, sometimes even play or import the CD by restarting. But thatʼs not how a computer should work (nor is it how it is supposed to). And I imported thousands of CDs (almost our complete collection) without an issue over three years, 2005-2008, on my wifeʼs wretchedly vile HP laptop, into iTunes (for Windoze). Obviously and certainly something (very bad) has happened.

Whatʼs wrong?

Clearly, Apple has chosen to make the CD-playing process worse. I believe (and saying “I believe” without any further support is all the “evidence” our politicians appear to believe is necessary these days, falsely) the wicked corporation has made it harder (impossible, in my case) for consumers to avoid using the proprietary iTunes Store to get music. And thatʼs wrong. Thatʼs evil.

And I am calling them out on it.

Apple sucks. (And I will not use the iTunes store, ever, until my own CDs are able to mount again. Please join me.)

Ah, the incredibly incompetent machine just ate the last CD inserted. Time for another effing restart, I guess.

* Of course, I would gladly accept anyoneʼs assistance or advice on correcting/improving this situation…

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.