Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category
Very late in the year, I bought myself a present.
Speaking of segues, I got two of these for my birthday:
Technically, I got one of those and its enantiomer, as we used to say in organic chemistry.
What did I buy myself? A cell phone number! Yes, I who am interviewed by folks writing articles on high tech and social media (really!) can finally text. I’m learning how to do it.
Not long after I learned my number, I received a series of texts from a Marc I do not know. He was asking me how the new job was. I tried convincing Marc that I wasn’t who he thought he was sending messages to, but Marc expressed only appreciation at my attempt to put one over on him.
A week later, Marc texted me again. This time, I asked him who he thought he was writing to. I guess I convinced him, and Mark explained that he was using Yahoo Messenger to chat with Imre Glaser. Given his name, I quickly tracked down Imre. He used to have my Montreal cell phone number but had recently moved to Ontario and gave it up. Rogers recycled it to me. – but Imre had forgotten that he had set Yahoo Messenger to forward IMs to his (my) cell phone. Not many people know where their phone number came from, but I do. I should form a club.
By the way, Imre, I got call for you tonight from the Ottawa region. You should text me your number so I can send these people your way. You know my number, I assume. You can text it to me because I know how to text now.
Now, if I could only get FaceTime to connect….
I thought I would receive mail when a comment was held for moderation, but apparently I hadn’t set that correctly. A few comments have been held up because of that. Also, the story of my car’s unsafe liaison with another is still in progress, so I’m going to hold back on that for a bit. It’s nothing major unless you count gall, and then not mine.
I had a restful holiday. The five of us spent a week and a half in Houston. I spent a lot of that time sleeping. I also bought new shoes. They look like this:
I wrote a long and detailed account of how I solved problems with my Chrome browser intermittently pooping out “Aw, Snap” and “Missing Plug-in” notifications, only to have an “Aw, Snap” page obliterate my advice. At least now I don’t have to admit I was wrong.
I’m going to revert to using Safari until this is fixed.
While on the subject of tech, let me introduce one of the products my brother sells. By name, it’s the GelPoint Path Transanal Access Platform. Below, you can see an animation of it in action. I recommend you expand the video to full-screen.
The GelPoint Path Transanal Access Platform may or may not be abbreviated to the GelPoint Path TAP, and surgeons may or may not refer to the procedure as “TAP that ass”. The company did not answer my e-mail inquiry.
Before you get all huffy about my disrespect for a potentially life-saving device, allow me to state that I see the unquestionable value of having one’s ass TAPed. So bugger off.
Bonus blog preview:
Coming up soon… a story of how my car got rear-ended.
Several friends and clients have lost automatic syncing in recent iTunes updates on the Mac. It even happened to me.
Somehow, the updates to iTunes 10.4 misconfigure iTunes Helper, which is behind-the-scenes software that, well, helps iTunes weave its magic.
Here’s how to fix it on Snow Leopard. This fix may or may not work in Lion, too.
Plug in your device and open iTunes. On your device’s Info page, uncheck “Launch iTunes when this iPhone/iPad/iPod is connected.”
Unplug your device and restart the Mac. Launch iTunes, then connect the device. Put a check back in the box next to “Launch iTunes when this iPhone/iPad/iPod is connected.” If this is solving your problem, iTunes should ask if you want to install iTunes Helper. You do.
That should do it for you.
Growing up, my favourite book was “Arty the Smarty”. It was about a small, wiseass fish who outsmarts everyone. I wonder what I saw in that. You can read its acid-browned pages for free online. My copy looks exactly the same.
I’m making changes to links and link categories on my WordPress dashboard and they take fine. The changes are not, however, showing up on the blog itself.
I had just updated to WordPress 3.2.1, if that’s a clue.
Is there any help out there?
Stupid WordPress. I had to go to the Widgets page and put the new category in as a new Links widget. The links updates just took a while to register.
As promised, me at karaoke.
Elvi has already remarked at my resemblance to Julian from “Trailer Park Boys”, although my rum and coke is in a taller glass.
Bonus tech solution:
The video embedding function native to WordPress will not work properly with unlisted YouTube videos. Use the Viper’s Video Quicktags plug-in instead.
For months, our wireless router has been acting up. It’s a Linksys WRT54G by Cisco, possibly the most popular home Wi-Fi router on the planet. Ours is a Version 6.0.
This router would occasionally go wonky, by which I mean that it would maintain Wi-Fi connections with our laptops and my iPod touch but would not relay traffic between the devices and the Internet. The home network DHCP worked fine and all devices had valid IP addresses, but they simply could not connect to the Net.
I wasn’t eager to buy a new router – we just had to buy a new stove because our old one became too costly to repair. I found this thread in the Cisco forums. It describes the same issue. Although no one directly solved the problem, I did find hints there and elsewhere online. After fiddling with a few settings, it looks like I fixed the problem.
For posterity on the Web and to help teeming crowds with the same problem, here’s what I did. I’m not sure if any one step or a combination of them worked, I just know that I now have stable Wi-Fi. I opened the router management pages with my Ethernet-connected iMac and:
Having done that, I saved my configuration and reset the router. I updated the firmware, then restored my settings. The router has worked perfectly for four days.
The Montreal Gazette’s Habs Inside/Out site has grown over a few short years into the de facto destination for English-speaking fans of the Montreal Canadiens. The word “Habs”, of course, is short for “habitants”, which is what the early French-Canadians – the Canadiens – were called in the 17th century.
The Club de Hockey Canadien Inc. asked the Gazette to stop using the word “Habs” in reference to its Web site. It’s arguable whether or not the Canadiens can uphold a trademark on the nickname, but the Gazette capitulated and renamed the site Hockey Inside/Out.
Notwithstanding some grumbling from the hoi polloi, such a change is easily accomplished. You register the new domain name, hockeyinsideout.com, and transfer the content of your habsinsideout.com site to the new domain. Sure, you may have to change a few links here or there with a global find and replace, but the site will remain robust.
Instead, the Gazette took the opportunity to move the entire site to WordPress. What a hellacious mistake. The site has lost all reader comments and much of contributor Mike Boone’s post-game analyses. I can’t even show you what the old site looked like because the Web team has trashed the CSS code it used to use. Even links to old stories no longer work.
Audiences are conservative. They don’t like change. In this case, the audience is right. Take a look at this malfunctioning page of crap. It used to have dozens of comments. Go ahead and try the link to Boone’s “Quick Hits/About Saturday afternoon…”. Or try the link to the unhappily formatted “Afternoon delight”.
I’ve just spent two weeks at my dad’s apartment while his wife was back home in the Bahamas taking care of affairs. I did pretty darned well without a newspaper. Missteps like this make it easier.
Bonus knee news:
I can walk at about 90% efficiency thanks to physio. I can’t run, skate, jump, etc. yet. I do know that jumping off a bench hurts.
Marion and my dad arrived in Montreal Thursday afternoon. I spent most of Thursday arranging things for their arrival and slept over there to help get my dad to his hospital appointments Friday at dawn. I got home Friday around 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, I took Marion to flesh out her necessities. Prepaid cell phone service was going to get expensive, so we got her a Public Mobile phone. Her apartment building is supposed to come with free wireless but the only adequate thing about that is the free part. The signal is so weak, it’s unusable. The building management kindly recognizes that and will take $30 off the rent for renters who get alternate Internet connectivity.
Given the uncertainty of the length of visit and living arrangements, it makes sense for Marion and her old iBook G4 laptop to get mobile Internet rather than wired broadband. And that’s where our story begins….
We went to the Bell store in Place Alexis Nihon (when did it stop being a plaza?). We bought a Turbo Stick (model U998) and a three-year contract (which can be cancelled at any time without penalty thanks to the provincial government). She took the mobile-Internet stick and tried to use the building’s Wi-Fi to download Bell’s Mobile Connect software. Eventually, she succeeded – but she couldn’t get Mobile Connect to detect the Turbo Stick. She spent some time on the phone with tech support, who couldn’t help her to get it to work either.
I went over Monday to check it out and had no more success than she had, so I picked up the laptop and the stick and returned to the Bell store.
Nobody there had any idea what to do so they gave me a phone and dialed Bell tech support. An hour and a half later, tech support was able to figure out what they thought was wrong. We had installed the latest version of Mobile Connect and were trying to use it with an older version of the Turbo Stick. We needed to upgrade the firmware on the stick – but the firmware updater only worked in Windows.
Tech support asked the store employees if they could do it for me, but the employees were locked out from installing software on their computers. Tech support told me I could get it done or get a newer version of the stick at a Bell Product Assistance Centre, the closest one of which was in Plaza Cote-des-Neiges. Off I went, fighting rush-hour traffic to get there before it closed at 6:00 p.m.
I made it by 5:15 p.m. and Ivan the tech heard me explain what I’d been told was wrong. He took the laptop and the Turbo Stick into his back room.
He emerged 20 minutes later, telling me he couldn’t get it to work. I asked if if he had upgraded the firmware. This time, he heard AND listened, because he said he couldn’t do that. I asked if he could exchange the Turbo Stick for a newer version and he said he could sell me a new one, but that I would have to return the old one to the original store.
I admit, I lost it.
I yelled “What fucking bullshit!” and slammed te laptop shut. That wasn’t smart, but I did no damage. I went home, exchanged the computer for Child Three, and headed off to Monday night goalie clinic.
I got back to laptop at 9:30 p.m. I used Elvi’s Windows 7 laptop to update the stick’s firmware. Guess what? That’s right. It still didn’t work in the iBook.
I got back on the phone with tech support. The stick worked in Elvi’s laptop and it worked in my bitchin’ modern iMac, so we could conclude that the problem lies in the iBook. Tech support guessed that its USB ports don’t supply enough current to the Turbo Stick.
Next step in the plan, this afternoon, is to try a different model mobile-Internet device.
A week ago tonight, Elvi and I attended the Montreal launch party for Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360. Held in La Mouche on lower St. Denis, the party had free drinks and four playing stations (but no Playstations).
Kinect, of course, is Microsoft’s answer to the Wii, taken a step farther. The Kinect uses video and infrared sensors to detect the motion of your entire body. Through your motions, you control what happens on the screen.
We were able to try out a number of games. I shook my booty to “Funkytown” in Dance Central, which is the sort of game that benefits from the technology. The Kinect accurately tracked my smoov moves despite the gawkers around me as I tried and mostly succeeded in following the fly girl’s moves. Tremble mortals, and despair:
Another success was the beach volleyball, part of the Kinect Sports game. We got into it, and it was a blast to jump up and spike the ball, even if it sent my iPod flying out of my shirt pocket and skidding across the floor.
Unfortunately, there are deficiencies. The tracking was occasionally wonky. There may have been a finer resolution than the Wii, but it was less reliable overall. You need to stay in front of the Kinect; with the Wii, you have more freedom to roam.
Kinect’s biggest drawback is its allegedly best feature: the lack of a controller. It sounds freeing, except it’s actually more limiting. When playing Kinect Joy Ride, you had no way to brake or accelerate the car, the way you could with buttons on a controller. You could initiate a temporary speed boost by pulling back and pushing forward on the imaginary steering wheel but that felt awkward, like you were trying to induce whiplash.
And if you do buy Kinect? Forget Kinect Adventures. That was dull.
Bonus moving and shaking:
Child Three’s guinea pigs seem to fight quite a bit, with lots of shrieking, but Groucho recently took to flailing around on his back and shrieking. The vets tells us they have mites, which burrow under the skin and cause severe pain. They’re halfway through the course of two injections and we expect them to recover completely.