Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Swabbing the Rest of the Deck

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 19, 2015 @ 3:51 pm PST

userpic=pirateNow, mates, time to swab the rest of the deck. The cookee said that he couldn’t use these tasty chunks in the stew — they just didn’t blend right. He says we should throw them overboard:

Music: Ghost Brothers Of Darkland County (2010 Studio Cast):Brotherly Love” (Ryan Bingham and Will Dailey)


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Chum Locally: Southern California News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Sep 04, 2015 @ 9:59 am PST

userpic=los-angelesThis collection of news chum (perhaps the ultimate for this trip, or the penultimate) all relates to Southern California:

ETA: Some sad news:


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Unintended Consequences

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Sep 04, 2015 @ 9:14 am PST

userpic=im-with-stupidThe process of clearing out the accumulated links continues, although I’m getting close to caught up. This groupa-three deals with some unintended consequences:

  • Unintended Consequences of High Definition. Bloomberg has an interesting article about how the growth of high-definition video has made the prop master’s job harder. Simply put: the detail now visible means that props have to be stunningly believable, although that can create problems with things like realistic fake money. Wood has to look like wood, not plastic. Words on printed items need to be sensical. Logos of products need to be believable. What used to be visibility to a 2″ circle is now down to a ⅛” circle. Dust, dirt, and paint chips are visible.
  • Unintended Consequences of Answering Your Phone. Have you ever gotten a phone call, answered it, and … nothing. NPR explains how this simple act of answering your phone can be the start of phone fraud. This is how fraudsters determine there is a human on the other end and the number is a valid number. From there, it escalates…
  • Unintended Consequences of Conserving Water. The LA Times has an article about how all the water saving during the drought is creating a big problem. Sanitation districts are yanking tree roots out of manholes and stepping up maintenance on their pipes to prevent corrosion and the spread of odors. And when people use less potable water, officials say, there’s less wastewater available to recycle. Water suppliers, meanwhile, say the dramatic decrease in consumption has created multimillion-dollar revenue shortfalls. Shorter showers, more efficient toilets and other reductions in indoor water usage have meant less wastewater flowing through sewer pipes, sanitation officials say. With less flow to flush the solids down the system, those solids are collecting and can eventually damage pipes. [I’ll note there are similar problems with power districts as people move to self-generated solar: suddenly, they don’t have the revenue to pay for all their power plants.]


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Things That Are Going Away… But Maybe Not

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Sep 02, 2015 @ 9:35 am PST

userpic=zombieAnd the process of cleaning out the links continues…. this collection brings together a number of stories about things that are going away… but then again:

  • Maui Potato Chips. As I’m on the island of Maui right now, let’s start with something that I’m craving, that used to be easy to find, but now is very difficult to find: The Original Maui Kettle Cook’d Potato Chips. When I was out here 30 years ago, they were everywhere (and you used to ship them back to the mainland). Today? You’re lucky to find a small bag for $7.99 in a few stores. They’ve been replaced by a knockoff chip from the state of Washington. Washington?!?!? But if you know where to look, they are still available. (but of course, I can’t eat them — I’m watching my weight and blood pressure :-( )
  • Renaissance Costumes. I’ve written before about how  the theatrical landscape in Southern California is changing due to the machinations of AEA. Many theatres have retrenched in various ways, and this is now starting to have ripple effects. AJS Costumes, a large theatrical and renaissance costumer, has started a GoFundMe to help them survive the ripple. As they write: “As you may or may not be aware, the live theater scene in Los Angeles has been going through an upheaval for the past several months.  Changes in the local 99-seat theater community are causing many theater companies to be very conservative in selecting their projects.  To avoid collapse, many theater companies are doing smaller productions, with less costume design needed, and fewer period plays. The rental business and costume design services of AJS Costumes has slowed to a trickle. This downturn has been sudden.  It has been unforeseen.  It has been devastating.   Despite this crisis, we are continuing to serve our clientele and assure you that all outstanding orders are being fulfilled.   But in order to survive, we must explore and secure new income options for our shop.”
  • Verizon Contract Plans. You may have heard that Verizon was getting rid of subsidized phone plans. That’s actually not true — it is only true for new customers. Old customers — as long as you keep renewing or have phones on the old plan — you can keep it.
  • iPod Classics. Well, they aren’t going away. You can even do as I’m thinking of doing and put in a SSD. But, alas, Apple is declaring them obsolete as of Labor Day. I’m sure you can still get them repaired, although some parts may be harder to get.


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Chips In The Stew: Technology News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 15, 2015 @ 2:25 pm PST

userpic=verizonIn my continuing quest to work down the saved links, here are a collection of links associated by the fact that (a) they are related to technology (and perhaps cybersecurity), and (b) they were interesting to me. Note also that I’ve added some links to my post on Windows 10.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite operating system, Android. Here are some Android related articles:

Let’s now look at Windows and other software:

  • Evernote. Evernote is a wonderful note-keeping software than runs on your phone and your PC. Here’s how to make it more secure.
  • Libre Office.  I think in the battle of Free Office Suites, LibreOffice has won. Here’s an interesting article from a LibreOffice developer on the lesson’s learned from its success. [ETA: And if you still use OpenOffice, here’s why you should ditch it and move to LibreOffice]
  • Firefox. Although Firefox has improved greatly, it still sneaks in stuff. In this case, it is prefetching (or at least, pre-building the TCP connection) when you hover over links. Here’s how to stop the behavior.
  • Thunderbird. No article here, just some shared experience. We recently switched over to Office 365 and Exchange 365 at work. In the Lotus Notes era, I was lucky enough to have a Notes IMAP server, and happily used Thunderbird. It was a pain for calendar entries, however, saving the ical file and reloading it into Google Calendar. Here are some things that make my life easier — perhaps they will help yours. First, install the Exquilla Plug In. It is $10 a year, and allows Thunderbird to talk Microsoft Exchange. You’ll need the Outlook Web Address, and you’ll need to make the change in the URL they show. Next, at least temporarily, install the Manually Sort Folders extension. This allows you to move your Exchange account to the top and set it as the default. You can disable it when done. You should be prompted to turn on the Lighting calendar. After you have done so, add the addon Provider for Google Calendar. You can now add a new calendar and link it it to your Google Calendar. Remember to synchronize whenever you start up Thunderbird. Although you can’t accept events directly into the Google Calendar, you can accept them into your local calendar, and then drag them to Google. [EDITED TO ADD: An Update: Nevermind. This seemed to be working at work… until it wasn’t. There appears to be an interaction between Lightning and Thunderbird that causes it to (a) keep losing the folder pane, and then (b) keep crashing on startup. I had to disable Lightning and the Google Calendar Provider. Sigh.]

One last useful article: What to do when a CD or DVD is stuck in the drive.

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Something To Stew About

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jun 07, 2014 @ 10:55 pm PST

Observation StewThis has been another busy week, what with trying to get the truth out about the kerfluffle at the REP in Santa Clarita (#IStandWithTheREP),  my daughter Erin being in town getting ready to go off to a summer Yiddish program back east, installing and setting up a new password manager, and loads of stuff at work. Still, I grabbed a few articles of interest:


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A Matter of Time: Mail, Mobile Phones, and Mainframes

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Apr 04, 2014 @ 12:23 pm PST

userpic=anniversaryToday’s lunchtime news chum collection comes to you courtesy of Timex, for it is all about time and anniversaries. This is appropriate, as NIST is about to introduce a new, more-accurate atomic clock.

  • Mail. This week marks the 10-year anniversary of Gmail. Many of you may remember life before Gmail. I certainly remember the days of command-line email — /bin/mail, mailx, and numerous other mail readers (I was particularly fond of using email within emacs). Then we moved to nicer email clients, such as Pegasus, while the Corporate folks dealt with Outlook and Notes. Web-based email, at that time, was horrid — limited storage, limited interfaces, limited searching. Google changed all that with gigantic limits and great interfaces, all for the cost of your soul (no, that not right) your privacy (getting closer) the ability to search through your mail and sell you stuff based on it (that’s the ticket). Gmail isn’t perfect — there still isn’t the ability to work with digital certificates and encrypted mail. Hopefully we’ll get that. Otherwise, Gmail has become such a juggernaut (especially when combined with Android) that it is unstoppable.
  • Mobile Phones. Speaking of Android, this week is also the 41st anniversary of the first mobile phone call. Talk about life-changing devices. No longer can you hide anywhere — being incommunicado is now unthinkable. We’ve got from only a few having cellphones to everyone having them with them 24×7. In fact, you now no longer have just a phone, but an entire miniature computer with you. As evidence, I just added a page to my Passover Hagadah to remind people to turn off their cell phones; yet another form of escaping from slavery!
  • Mainframes. This week also is the 50th anniversary of the IBM 360 mainframe. Now, many of you youngsters (hey, you, get off my lawn) don’t even know what a mainframe is, so bear with me. Back in the 1950s, computers were one-shots — built for a specific purpose, for a specific task. Some smaller computers (such as the IBM 7090) started to come in, but they still often used plugboards and were unsuitable for the enterprise. In the 1960s, IBM introduced the 360 line — a range of computers, all running a common OS (at that time, OS/MFT) with common machine instructions that were extensible. Business could now afford computers. I programmed on a number of 360 systems: the 360/50 at LA Unified, the 360/91 and 360/75 at UCLA, and later, the 370/3033 at UCLA.


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Your Are What’s On Your Phone

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Mar 30, 2014 @ 9:15 pm PST

userpic=verizonYesterday, I asked people to suggest some of their favorite apps on their phones. Although few fave answered directly on the blog, I have gotten responses on  Livejournal, Google+, and on Facebook. The responses have been telling, less in providing useful app suggestions, and more in showing how one’s phone reflects one personality and lifestyle.

There are people who use their phones as a media center. These folks suggested apps such as Kindle, Netflix, Pandora, and such.  This is much less important to me — my media center is my iPod Classic, which holds all my music. I’d rather not use precious bandwidth for streaming media.

Others use the phone as a tool. These folks were suggesting apps such as rulers, levels, calculators. They were also suggesting apps such as terminal emulators to give ssh access, or (apropos for where I work) satellite monitors.

Still others use the phone as a tool in a different sense — learning about the environment. These folks included traffic apps, apps to provide social connections, and even earthquake monitoring.

One might even wonder whether the collection of apps on one phones is a signature for an individual…


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