Monday, May 8, 2017

The Square Peg – Batteries Not Included… Well, Maybe They Are.

The Square Peg – Batteries Not Included… Well, Maybe They Are.
© S. Bradley Stoner

Well, Bob and Duncan are at it again. It doesn’t take much. I could hear them nearly a block away.

“I’m telling you, it was a Toyota SUV!” Duncan shouted.

“Bull crap!” Bob shot back. “I follow this stuff, you know!”

“Nuts… you wouldn’t know a backfire from a fart!”

“Oh yeah?!”


“So fellahs, what’s this erudite conversation all about?”

“Don’t call this argument erudite,” Bob warned.

“Okay, what’s this stupid argument about?”

“See?! That’s what I mean, you just trade one slur for another,” Bob groaned.

I looked at Duncan, who was smirking just a little. “Does Bob know what…”

Duncan cut me off. “I don’t think so. He probably thinks a thesaurus is some kind of dinosaur.”

“Hey! I’m standin’ right here, you jerks! And I know what a thesaurus is… besides, that has nothing to do with the topic of discussion.”

“Okay, so what are you talking about?” I asked.

“New speed records at Bonneville,” Duncan said.

“Oh, you mean that Toyota hybrid that hit 307 miles per hour yesterday? Yeah, I saw a clip on the early edition of the news this morning.”

Bob shot me a sour look. “Not you too! There ain’t a hybrid out there that can go that fast!”

“Well actually,” I said in my best sportscaster’s voice, “there is. And Toyota, while fast, still isn’t as fast as that all-electric Venturi… that sucker went over 340 miles per hour

“No way,” Bob snarled. “No all electric car could go that fast.”
“You’re stuck in the nineties,” Bob, Duncan offered. “Heck, the 2010 Tesla Roadster had a top speed of 248 miles per hour and could turn zero to sixty in less than four seconds.”

“With what? A fifty-mile extension cord?!”

“Geez, Bob… Google it.”

Bob turned on me. “Yeah, well if they’re so great, why are you still drivin’ a 2005 Explorer?”

“It’s paid for and has only a 111,000 miles on it. It’s good for another ninety thousand at least. Besides, I’m waiting for one of those flying cars Uber is investing in. They say it will be operational by 2020.”

Bob snorted. “You and the Jetsons… good luck with that.”

I shrugged. “I’m just thinking of all the money that could be saved in road building. Just think, all those miles of highway could be replaced by air parks and home landing pads. Besides, I’d trust an autopiloted aircraft a lot more than an autopiloted car.”

“Yeah, look at the tests they’ve already done That Terrafugia is really cool,” Duncan chimed in.

“I give up!” Bob threw his hands up in the air and stomped off.

“Good thing you didn’t tell him about what you’re building in your garage.”

“Shh…. Nobody’s supposed to know about that.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Square Peg – Eureka and… Just When I Thought It Was Over

The Square Peg – Eureka and… Just When I Thought It Was Over
© S. Bradley Stoner

 Image result for funny computer and politicians images

First the good news. EUREKA! My new computer is working and online. I got my copy of MS Office Professional installed and cranking and, despite some minor setbacks, I managed to connect to my Outlook email account. What a pain in the patoot that was! But it’s working fine now, so it’s all good.

The bad news? Well, it’s a MicroMush thing. Those #@!%*&^ Windows 8 updates. Yep, it tied up my computer overnight. Why you might ask? Well, it seems Windows 8 gets stuck in this loop that causes an update failure… then the dad-gummed machine has to spend 3+ hours “reverting.” Why it can’t just go, “Oopsie… we couldn’t install your updates,” and release the operating system is beyond me. Anyway, I found the solution to that issue online… from a programmer. It was really rather simple. Just go into the settings and select “Never Check for Updates.” Like the man said, who’d want to update to Windows 8.1 anyway… it’s a giant cluster… substitute the word of your choice here… and it doesn’t work worth beans.

So, everything is working now and I can get back to writing. I’ve put off at least three projects while I dealt with computer issues. Glad that’s over. So, I found my happy place, right? Not so fast buster. As I’m happily cooking along, the phone rings. WTH?! I thought politics was over for at least two years. But noooo… Somebody decided that, since we’re not focused on national and state elections, now would be a peachy time for local elections. And while local politicians don’t have the budget the biggies do, they apparently have enough to buy robocalls or have sufficient volunteers who have nothing better to do than call me up to ask me to vote for their candidate. Or worse, those idiots who conduct skewed polls. You know the kind.

Ring… ring… ring…


“Good morning. We’re conducting a brief scientific poll for Nobody-Gives-A-Crap Poll services. Can you spend a few moments with us?”

I open my mouth to say, “No,” but I don’t get the chance.

“Now, may I ask if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent?”

Now, I could claim a party affiliation, but I really don’t have one, so I would normally answer, “Independent.” That usually garners a “Thank you,” and a click as the line goes dead. More recently, I’ve been saying, “Mugwump,” or “Smurf Party,” or some equally inane response. I have responded with, “I’m a strict Constitutional constructionist,” but that just seems to confuse them. I’m pretty much convinced they don’t know what that means. I doubt if they have even read the Constitution, and they likely think a constructionist is a carpenter or steel worker.

I don’t even know much about the candidates for Mayor or City Council, but I do know that a conservative has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected in San Antonio. Except for voting “NO” on improvements issues that will do little more than raise my property taxes, I wouldn’t be inclined to vote at all this go around. Not that my “NO” vote will carry a heck of a lot of weight, but I know how those things go. We passed a bond issue to “improve” the road that runs in front of our subdivision four years ago. The work was supposed to have begun two years ago and be completed within a year. Well, they started on it last year in August and it doesn’t look like they’ll be done until sometime late 2018. Right now it’s a pot-holed mess. Why on earth would anyone vote for more improvements like that?

The phone just rang again. The caller ID said, “Unavailable.” Yeah, me too.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Square Peg - I’ve Got Hardware, But My Software’s Floppy

The Square Peg - I’ve Got Hardware, But My Software’s Floppy
© S. Bradley Stoner

 Image result for Angry computer images

My oldest is being helpful. Yep, he decided I was living in the computer stone age. The old reliable computer I have used for the past eleven years apparently was too slow for him. It is for me sometimes too. Being on the cutting edge of computer technology, he decided to buy a government computer from surplus and rebuild it for me. It has a quad core Intel processor with a half terabyte hard drive. That means it is fast and can store a lot of stuff. Matter of fact, it can store everything I have on my current hard drive, my external hard drive, and still have plenty of room to spare.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like fast with lots of storage. I use a lot of program, some for my writing, some for research, and some for landscape and architectural design. Yeah, I know, I’ve got a lot of interests. Anyway, he also installed two monitor cards... you know, the fancy kind they use for gaming. I don’t game, but I do like the high resolution they offer. But, there was a problem. The cards are for DVI monitors. I have VGA. The connections didn’t fit. I told him about that.

“Well, that’s no problem,” he said. “You just need to get a couple of adapters. You can get them from Amazon. I’ll send you the link.”

Okay, one problem solved. On to the next. Once I get the adapters, I proceed to remove my old computer, replace it with the new tower, tighten all the bracket fittings (I have an under the desk mounting system) and plug all my connections into their corresponding receptacles in the new box. I turn it on. Poof! It’s up and running. Only it has Windows 7 loaded. I had a disk for Windows 8. Hey, why not be as new as I can without going out and purchasing new software? Yeah... I know. Cheap. By the way, to be honest, I don’t like either one. I like XP, but the new computer won’t load that... it’s out of date. Can anyone tell me why, when a company produces a software that is very user friendly and completely meets ones needs, they have to create something new and then suspend supporting the old one? Oh, shut up. I know it’s about revenue. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So, I get 8 loaded up and, of course, I have to register with MicroMush. I don’t mind doing that, I’ve beta tested some of their software with my developer’s membership. They ended that program a couple of years ago, but more about that later. Back to the registration. I duly filled in all the info they wanted. Then you know what they do? They send me a message that I have to go to my email and get a code to enter a password. Okay, I can do that. So I did. Of course I had to do it from my laptop, because when I rebooted after the installation and registration, I had a little Icon with a generic profile picture on it with a password box underneath and it wouldn’t let me in until I entered the password. Twenty minutes later, I actually got on my new computer.

Okay... software loading time. I had a copy of Office 2013 from the old developer days. I know, I’ll load that! So I did. It asked for the code key. No problem... I had one... again from the developer days. I put it in the little box. You know what I got? “This is not an authorized Microsoft...” blah, blah blah. Apparently the viability of my developer code key was ended when they ended the tech program. What a crock! It’s that revenue thing again.

Well, I could buy 2013 for anywhere from $90 - $375 from a second party on Amazon or eBay, but guess what? The cheap copies are “unavailable.” Nuts. I could get Office 365 for only $99... per year! Wow, that sounds like a good deal, right? Um, no. I bought my original Office for around $275 and upgraded three times for a total of about another $200 for a grand total of $475. I’ve had the final version of that program for six years now. Six years of “leasing” Office 365 will run just shy of $600. Of course they will tell you that you get automatic updates to the program. Yeah... and then you have to go to the tutorial to find out how to use whatever it was they put in their update. Geez!

My oldest called me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. I told him about my issues with MicroMush.

“Oh, no problem,” he chirped. “I have a copy of a newer version of Office with a valid code key. I’ll send it to you on Monday.”

Sigh. So, I’ll be setting up the new system on Monday... in the meantime, what am I writing this on? My laptop? Nope. I’m using old reliable. I’ll let you know how things go.