I am not fond of traveling. I like going places. Over the past several years my wife has dragged me to destinations I resisted. And it was great. New places are fun. Adventures are everywhere. And adventures r' us, if you catch my drift. But, traveling in a car is not fun, it is better than an airplane but only because of the relative proximity to the ground. In a car it is much closer. In a plane the ground can be a long ways away, same with a boat. In a boat you could be hundreds of feet from the ground and not even know it. All of that water really messes up your opportunity to see exactly how far you are from the ground. You might look over the side and think "huh, the ground is probably right below the bottom of the boat." When in fact it is way down there, and the area between you and the ground is filled with sharks, giant squid, eels, and god knows what else... oops, sorry about that.
Anyway, I like going places, just not all that crazy about getting there. Once we get there, and have fun I like to post reviews on Trip Adviser. That way people will know what a good time I am having. I never leave bad reviews. People all over the world will think "that moron sure picked the wrong place to eat this time didn't he?" People all over the world calling me a moron and thinking I don't know how to pick a restaurant makes me feel uncomfortable. When we do stop someplace that is less than review worthy I just don't review it. I don't lie about it. Unless omission is a lie. Now we enter a terribly complex philosophical question better left to people who can handle writing a bad review without worrying about their reputation.
This weekend we are going to the Swapper's Day in Johnstown Ohio. It is billed as the world's, maybe it is just the nation's, possibly just the state's biggest yard sale. By any of these measures it is a big yard sale. And it has seven trip adviser reviews. A yard sale with trip adviser reviews, that just kills me. Some good, some bad, none right in the middle though. Which really bothers my sense of symmetry. Not that I can do anything about it.
Back to my point. No matter where you are traveling you can probably find someone who loved, and someone who hated it. Technology brings us these wonderful insights. But, I think it is more about us than it is about the food, event or attraction. We only see what we are looking for.
I will give this post 5 stars, it may not deserve the grade, but I really had fun. The service was
excellent and the help was above average. What do you think?
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Tomorrow I am off on a new kayak adventure. I have a new launch site, I have a new Launch Site app, that gives me multiple choices. It was a second choice, I was looking for Paddle Ready from the American Canoe Association. I watch a lot of their "how to paddle" videos on YouTube. I have watched so many of their videos I have become an expert at watching YouTube videos. Really, an accomplished video watcher, almost a journeyman video watcher.
In many ways their videos are perfect. They are short, less than three minutes normally, focused, (paddling for dummies) and feature a pleasant, friendly person with a reassuring voice. All together it makes me feel comfortable. They say things like "kayaking is very safe." Now I can breath again. But, they have an app, and I can't find it.
I did find this app, though. It lists all off the sites to launch a canoe, kayak or paddle board. I was pretty happy to find it, even though it might not really add much to my already legendary app collection and feeble kayaking knowledge.
My barber, the inestimable Ted, is an avid kayaker. Much more avid than I, he tries to be on the water by 7:00 in the morning. Many times he is, what we in the nautical world, call a destination boater. He launches, paddles to a spot with a restaurant and has a meal. He is dedicated to kayaking. He has a fishing app, though as far as I know he doesn't fish. It gives him the water temperature and wind conditions on lakes. When we were going to Lake Superior, and I was getting my pre-vacation hair cut he told me the water temperature was 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Knowledge I did not need. It was cold, but wonderful.
On the ACA app you can diagram a "float plan" to give to a loved one. If you don't come back they can send somebody looking for you. I don't really need that, I never get far enough away from the shore that I can't get back, and kayaking is insanely popular around here, but a kayaking app sounded cool.
I do think the Launch Sites app is better for me. Here is all the launch sites around my location, and this is just the city proper, really. The state is silly with places to launch my kayak. It has a rating system and a place for photos. I will add mine and live the "sailor life."
Life is funny. You don't always find what you were looking for, but you can almost always find something. And if you aren't careful you can find a way to combine things into a hobby, and then who knows what will happen, maybe a blog post.
Look for pictures and a lengthy description of tomorrow's (Sunday) adventure tomorrow, or Monday. It will be around here somewhere. If you know of a good kayaking app let me know. And if like kayaking or canoeing, or hiking, biking, or sailing, post some pictures. I have started a new group Here.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
This morning I read a fascinating article about work being done with the aim of being able to transfer human consciousness into electronic systems (i.e. a computer). It's suggested that this may be possible by the early 2030s, meaning that, theoretically, it could well be a possibility for a proportion of people alive today to undergo this process prior to death. In effect "we" could never die.
Depending on the emulation of the brain, would we have emotions as we recognise them? If in a computer, we could take any physical form we desire - if we desire one. So would we all have robot bodies that visually look like extremely attractive humans, or at least an optimised image of our past selves (for myself I'll have mine probably look like how I did in my early twenties, with the excess fat trimmed off)?
|Or maybe not.|
Will we even have bodies - will wealthy individuals own a selection of bodies, like cars today? Or perhaps you will be able to rent bodies as desired, spending most of your time in a solely electronic existence on a server within a datafarm somewhere, but when you had earned enough money for a holiday you could rent out a body which could be designed for your preferred activity. Maybe if you wanted to go rock climbing you could hire a body optimised to climb difficult precipices, climb mountains and see sights that no basic human could ever manage.
One of the most interesting points is that potentially we could be ourselves (at least, we would believe that we are) but be able to think much faster, not get tired, and so forth. In a shrinking labour market, as technology reduces the amount of humans needed to work, there would be massive demand for these artificial humans to work as being far more efficient than normal humans. In a labour market already heading that way, this could be the final nail in the coffin of the idea that "everyone should work", ideally giving rise to an idea that "everyone should contribute", and that contribution could make many different forms - art, research, work (if it is an option open to them), or perhaps supporting their community?
If the transfer of people from biological bodies to artificial constructs became common - as prices came down, I could see the argument being that it would be cheaper to transfer people into an easily maintainable and upgradable body made out of plastic and metal, rather than try to keep functioning an ageing and increasingly prone to failure "traditional body" - eventually you could see a significant proportion of our population being electronic. Perhaps at some point the majority.
Industries such as food production would become increasingly unnecessary, as food wouldn't be needed for energy, and I imagine any taste sensation desired by people in electronic forms could be downloaded and enjoyed. Like listening to a MP3 music file, or streaming a TV show on Netflix, you could "play" the taste of enjoying a top quality steak, or smelling a flower bouquet). Would we begin to let farms run into disrepair, or carry out projects to turn them into biodiverse environments?
So much of our current lives would be unnecessary. If we existed electronically, would we have physical homes, as we recognise them? We could have an electronic version of the home that our program enjoys, which would be far more massive than anything that we could afford in the real world anyway. One only needs to look at the popularity of games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft to understand the possibility of a non-physical reality to live within.
|You too could live in a house like this.|
Obviously there are significant religious, moral and ethical debates regarding this idea, and I can see many people saying that they wouldn't want to be transferred into an artificial body, and I certainly understand and respect that view. However, I'll throw this comment out there - if one of the reasons that people create is so that when they're gone there will be a trace of them still "out there" (and it is one of the reasons that I blog and make YouTube videos), wouldn't the best thing to give to posterity be an actual copy of me, that can still interact with future generations and continue to create?
Monday, March 20, 2017
Again, what did I know right? The hard sell was applied to me and I wasn’t as jaded as I am now, so when the Sprint operator told me that I could get a free Palm Centro if I switched over to Sprint, I believed them when they said that market research said they had the best service in the area. I have unfortunately been with Sprint ever since. I had a Palm Centro (which had no reception) followed by a Palm Pre (which had no reception) then a Samsung Galaxy Epic (that had no reception) followed up by a Samsung Galaxy S4 (with no reception). This is where things started getting bad. My S4 had issues let’s say. This isn’t Sprint’s fault of course, but it did start the train of thinking which enlightened me. Sprint wouldn’t upgrade the phone with the bad camera. I can accept that I have never had cell service worth a damn but a bad camera? No way.
I dealt with it for as long as I could, a couple of years in fact. The Sprint service like the camera on my phone didn’t work in 3 places, at home, at work and of course, everywhere else. When it was time to upgrade the phone they wanted my contract changed, or another couple of years added to my old contract or 700$ for the phone. Sprint (like Verizon) uses the non-standardized CDMA style phones. Unlike the GSM phones that AT&T, T-Mobile and the rest of the world uses you can’t just buy a new phone from anywhere and snap your SIM card in it. As long as you use a network based on CDMA you are using a phone made specifically for the provider, and when Sprint decides you aren’t getting one you can’t just go to Amazon or Best Buy and buy a new one. I was desperate when I bought a used one.
The HTC One Max that I bought had a camera that worked great! Of course it was clunky and nothing else worked very good. As a Sprint customer I have been programmed to accept phones and networks that don’t work. In over 10 years I have never had a good phone call on Sprint. I have never had actual 4G and I have had nothing but headaches. The worst of the worst was that phone was a total burden while I was on my cruise. It was a pain in the ass to carry, hard to handle when I wanted to take a picture, and I decided I was going to get a new phone when I got back whether Sprint provided it or not. I’m sorry to make this a long post but I need any of you reading this to understand what happened and why I am actually writing this. Bear with me a bit longer.
I ordered my new phone (Samsung s7 Edge) and got a call a few hours later telling me there was a problem with my order. It took the usual hour and a half on the phone to find out the order was cancelled and nobody knows why. I still don’t know why. I was told I had to go back online to order again but when I tried my upgrade availability was reset to March 2019. They could cancel my phone on a whim but not change my account back to the way it was? Assholes! Two hours of phone call later and they assured me it was reset. An hour and a half of phone call the next day and they assured me that they had fixed it. Day 3 and I was finally able to re-order my phone. By day 5 I was forced to spend almost 3 hours on the phone and 5 (yes FIVE) sales associates later, I found out there is a problem but they don’t know what it is. The last person in the chain asked me to give them 24 hours and he would call me back. I was exhausted and accepted this, but I promised myself that 24 hours was the end.
26 hours later I was forced to call again, because nobody got back to me. Like the same idiot who dealt with Sprint for ten years I checked voice mail, e-mail and text messages all day. After 20 minutes on the phone they were ready to start passing me around again. I said no, and that someone on the other end of the line actually had the nerve to get crabby with me because I wasn’t willing to speak to someone else “and be enjoying my new phone as soon as possible?” This was when I lost it. I was dealing with a phone bank spanning several continents, trained to treat people like a used car dealer. Without repeating the language I demanded that the order be cancelled so I can switch providers. The person on the other end of the phone was happy to do this and it was the only “easy” thing I have ever done with Sprint. I mean what the hell is wrong with these people?
Here’s what made me really angry. I decided to go online and sign up for AT&T. Took me about 15 minutes to switch my number over and within an hour I had my new phone. Seriously, programmed, charged and everything, I just had to pick it up on my way to the airport. I went with AT&T because I will NEVER play the CDMA game again, and I don’t trust T-Mobile. Everyone I work with have Verizon phones and they get a couple of bars where I get none, but they still have to beg to get customer service or new phones without trading a baby or a car title for it. They own your ass after all (CDMA). I at least knew should I have an issue I can buy a Chinese phone for peanuts and if it lasts 6 months who gives a crap? What I didn’t know was that it was all a lie. Every bit of it was a lie, and I could smash my television every time I see a Sprint commercial.
Saturday, I went into work and I placed my new phone on the desk where I always left my Sprint POS. My factory is in the middle of nowhere. I mean we are lucky to get electricity much less phone service. The phone made noises. I picked it up to see that I had alerts, and not the “you have no service” alerts my old phone gave me. No I had 4 bars of 4GLTE screaming in app updates, text messages and emails. I felt like a connected human being for the first time in … ever! The same at home. My new AT&T service is rocking strong everywhere. I was completely furious with Sprint and the worst was yet to come. I still had to go home and completely cancel the Sprint account, and I probably don’t need to tell you where this is going, but I will share this for those who think they are alone.
While the phone number on all my business cards was transferred to a new account easy enough, the second line had to be a new number. Sprint kept loading the other line with the former numbers of derelicts and/or crack addicts. No matter how many times it got changed, angry people at all hours of the day would call for the former owner. Like the misery of changing that number over and over so was the agony that I knew was coming to cancel it. This is made even worse by the extreme hatred I was feeling for Sprint in general. I was kind to the first Indian who lied to me about service upgrades and telling me about how there was no supervisor available to cancel my service. I told him, they wouldn’t call back politely and held firm to talking to one now. The second Indian was more frustrating as he lied about the service and went as far as to tell me that a new phone would maybe solve my problems. A new phone would have solved THEIR problems, and it was like another stab in my angry ribs. There was no supervisor above him available. I lost my temper, I’m human.
There was another Indian in there but he got the one word treatment from me. “Would it help if we sent a network upgrade to your phone?” Seriously, I would have fallen for that 5 years ago, but it is 100% factually impossible. He would put me on hold for 10 minutes here 10 minutes there each time getting on the line lying to me about service upgrades and how there wasn’t a supervisor, but they would call me back. I would say “no they won’t I am sick of the lying I will wait,” and you know what is really sick? They don’t take being called a liar personally or get indignant about it. They actually know and accept that they are lying. That is pathetic at its core.
The last one (it works like this first one almost no English hoping you will hang up, second one better English hoping you will think that it was all a translation issue but you will still hang up, third one even better English, better lying, con artist who understands the brush off then finally ..) was actually an American. This is the finish line folks. She will lie to you, she will try to blame you, she will act like it can all be fixed. She took her yelling and screaming like a boss, let me tell you. She finally agreed to cancel the service once I convinced her that I would actually go to the nearest Sprint store and create chaos. I had actually reached the point where I would go to jail after making a mess of a Sprint store, and they had driven me to this!
Like a used car dealer this is no way to treat people. Some people hate how I treat used car dealers, like they are subhuman. I’m sure there are places where they are perfectly fine people but they aren’t around here. The cell phone companies have a better model for treating you this way because they just make you deal with a gauntlet of phone operators. On the other hand used car salesmen always treat me good because I am up front that I will come back. I have even dragged one out of his office and made him drive around with me in a car with a clanging transmission. It took this dealership a month of lying to me about fixing the transmission or telling me it was my imagination. This is why the whole phone game is pure genius. Most people won’t deal with this, and that is EXACTLY why, when I see the guy from the old Verizon commercials saying that Sprint is within 1% of everyone else, I lose my temper a little bit. I assure you that the Sprint service isn’t even worth trying, regardless of the cost. Paying half price for 0 or full price for more to a lot more than 0? Think about it folks, before you end up being a bitter old blogger writing about a stupid cell phone company.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Of course the Cult of Bah-Waaaaah [CBW] haven't really had a chance to react to the new changes, as most of them are still licking the wounds of knowing that Google+ Classic is going away forever. I personally haven't used "classic" in well over six months, so I don't even remember whats was so good about it. Unfortunately like everything, old code has to be dismantled for the new. Apple people probably don't understand why they truly like Apple over Microsoft, but it has a lot to do with faulty proprietary code and cost. Microsoft used to go through agony and painstaking detail to make sure that the 1984 version of Quicken for DOS would still work on a Windows 98 32 bit platform, and to do that they had to write 40 kazillion lines of buggy code, but if they didn't do that, the CBW would descend on them like flies on crap. They would take to every form of available media (at that time radio and newspapers, with an occasional magazine articles) comparing Bill Gates to Adolf Hitler, and swear they would never forgive Microsoft.
Apple on the other hand would kill itself every few years in the name of being cutting edge and inevitably less "buggy." People like myself would stick with Microsoft products because we could deal with bugs, upgrade when we needed to, and of course save a lot of money along the way. Apple people would simply avoid ulcers, buy a whole new system every couple of years, and get on with life. For decades, Microsoft completely dominated the market, Apple was laughed at by most, and I for one never thought that would change. Now I'm like a Cleveland Browns fan sitting in a sub zero stadium watching a consistently sub 500 team, talking about Jim Brown, and the good old days. Apple finally did win the battle by being new, less buggy, and continuing it's lack of backward compatibility. In the new "App driven" society, why not? Nobody cares about Quicken for DOS anymore, and basically do most things on a cell phone or a tablet, and if they do have a PC they treat it the same way they do the phone or the tablet.
Members of the CBW look at any improvement to Google Services like Google + or Blogger, and see irreparable damage, but what they should see is a little new and exciting. I open up my Blogger Dashboard now and it did take me a few days to get used to it, but seriously folks, I feel like I finally entered the 21st century. The old system was pretty much the same since the 1990s, not kidding. The new drop down menus on Google + are beautiful, easy to navigate, and finally organized. I've come to believe the reasons that the new Google + has it's drawbacks is because of backward compatibility and am looking forward to its demise. On the other hand if you are still a member of the CBW you can look at it this way, Google + may not be what you remember but it is still, free, ad-free and often drama-free. Can't say that about Facebook, and you'd be lying if you didn't admit that the Google + changes are far more tolerable than what Facebook puts you through every few months. While you're at it, try running 10 gigs of content on a Wordpress site like I do on Blogger. Some things never change, thank God.
Monday, December 26, 2016
I had a flash of brilliance the other day, while I was trying to think of something to get my father for Christmas. Now as a few of you know he had moved into assisted living months ago, and you know what that means, yes, he's living the fat life of catered meals, a maid, and cute young nurses checking in on him all hours of the day. In other words, he really wants for nothing. I figured the only thing he didn't have in his life was a way to stay in touch with the outside world, meaning his family scattered across the country. You would think that it would be easy enough for him to use a telephone, but he forgot how to use one about a year ago and refuses to have one now. Well ok someone who has given up on something as complex as a telephone and gave up on computers about two decades ago, doesn't need a computer, so I got him a computer.
Hold on, I'm not THAT big of an idiot, but I play one in blog. Yes I walked into Wal-Mart with every intention to buy my father a computer and I expected to spend all day Christmas day teaching him how to turn it on. A little father-son bonding time, which in the past had always degenerated into name calling, but I did actually have a plan beyond that. You see what I did was I walked in and bought the cheapest two-in-one they had (a Dell Inspiron 11 3168 11.6" Laptop, Touchscreen, 2-in-1, Windows 10 Home, Intel Celeron N3060 Processor, 2GB Memory, 32GB eMMC Storage) for $279. I had figured that, he could just touch the screen, and do basic things. A tablet was out of the question because he would balk at an online screen, and the tablets that come with a keyboard often don't work (very often) which would cause the "f*** it attitude" that usually ends the experiments.
Well to be honest with you all, I F***ING NAILED IT! I had the thing all set up to go before I even got there. Setting up the computer in front of him would have been the first failure of the 67 year old ADHD victim. I demonstrated how turning it off and on was a simple "opening" and "closing" the thing. I also showed him how he could just click the "e" to open Edge, and it would simply open a page with all the news, videos and sports he would ever need. Then I taught him how to click the "home" button to get back home. Techies may balk at Microsoft Edge, but let me tell you, if you are trying to get a computerphobe to use a browser, Microsoft also nailed it. We have now spent less than an hour and my father is surfing the net and better yet, he was enjoying it!
Here's the kicker folks. He asked me what the "microphone icon" at the bottom of the screen was for. As a power user, I don't even have a microphone on my computer, so I have never used Cortana. I clicked the microphone and said "Cortana, who won the Patriots game," and a sweet voice said, "The Patriots crushed the Jets 41 to 3, and have locked up the AFC East as usual" which made my father just sit up and smile. We asked about the weather, how the Celtics were doing, and a few other things that matter to my father. By the time I left he had actually cleared a prominent spot on his favorite end table and plugged the thing in because he was going to play with it during the game later. Trust me folks, anything that will draw his attention from a football game, BIG WIN! Best Christmas Evah!
Sunday, November 20, 2016
I finally broke down and bought a new computer because the computer I owned (that I bought refurbished at that) was getting to sow to accomplish things efficiently. My life is difficult enough without having to deal with taking twice as long getting anything done on a computer. I researched so that I could get the balance I needed at a price I could afford, and the name Lenovo kept coming up. My mind said "hey they own the IBM brands now so they have to be good" and they also just happened to have the features I wanted at a decent price. They were also on sale at Best Buy, which is basically all you have left when it comes to technology stores around here. Don't get me wrong this decision took me several weeks and finally the nerve to do it.
The Lenovo - 300s-08IHH Desktop - Intel Core i5 - 16GB Memory - 2TB Hard Drive came in after a few days, and I waited until the weekend when I had time to set it up. The speed was great, and I was able to process my huge website a hell of a lot faster. I was able to process my videos a hell of a lot faster, and I was able to free up a lot of time. Then things started going on the unit. First it was the wireless, but I ignored it because I could hook up the lan. It seemed like a stupid feature anyway. Then within a couple of months the unit was just shutting down on me, often. I ran the hardware scan that comes with the computer and it told me without a shadow of a doubt that the memory was failing. It also gave me a code so that I could give that to tech support. I was rather impressed at how easy this appeared to be.
It wasn't easy in the least. Tech support ignored me for days by e-mail. Then they acted flustered by phone. All I wanted was new memory, and I could fix it myself. No, they decided that I had to bring it into Best Buy and they would fix it. They made it sound pretty easy, so I drove out to Best Buy (about 20 minutes away each way) and spoke to a really confused employee who didn't seem to understand the easy fix policy. A manager finally came out after another 20 minutes to explain that the easy policy was they sent it to Kentucky, and Lenovo would get back to me. They assured me that it wouldn't be more than a few months. I was getting grumpy, so the manager offered to swap it out for another computer. Of course they don't have those here, so I would have to pick a different computer and pay a little extra.
Now let's talk for a minute about what happens when you are forced to trade in a new computer for another one, for those who don't have this issue. All the software I had gotten FOR the new Lenovo, probably gone. Most software licenses (not all) end with the computer they were installed on. Of course it bets having a computer that only can stay on for 10 minutes. I'd like to tell you how it went on the new HP I paid an extra $115 to upgrade to, but I can't. This brings us to the Best Buy portion of the experience. They didn't have any of the computers that were comparable for a nominal cost, so I had to plunk down the money and wait for the new one to come in. I waited, and I waited, and I waited.
When I finally called them on Friday I found some tech support that made Lenovo seem like a happy experience. I waited 25 minutes on hold. I know because my phone tells me how long I have been on it. I spoke to someone who took all my information and then put me on hold. 15 minutes later another person came on the phone and she couldn't understand what the issue was, because it said that I had taken the computer with me. She needed to put me on hold to speak to the warehouse manager. Another 10 minutes on hold and thankfully the warehouse manager must have been an honest person because he/she told her that I couldn't have taken it with me because it wasn't in stock that day, and I didn't get the one that came in that week because they sold it.
Well after she apologized to me she told me that they would ship me on. I hope to get it on Tuesday. Why would I give such a long winded and pretty lame review here? Well because after I put an honest review of the Lenovo, and the experience on Best Buy as the website e-mails kept begging me to do, it hasn't been posted and they deleted all of my Best Buy points. It goes to show why I iss Circuit City, but it also reminds me why the brick and mortar establishments are losing ground to the online sites. Newegg, Amazon or a myriad of other online sites wouldn't have put e through this, but the most important thing to remember is you get what you get when you forget where your purchases come from to begin with.