Dealing with technology still a PITA

You would think that with all the advances in technology and software that things would have become easier.  Windows 10 and other operating systems have taken a lot of the guesswork out of figuring things out for yourself.  Even with that convenience and efficiency, there are still things that are more complicated than they really need to be.

WordPress

This is an awesome platform and WordPress is the Amazon of the blogging world.  Sites around the world utilize this software and you would think it’s really easy to use.  Well, if you’re on WordPress.com hosting, it is.  They do all the hard work for you.  As soon as you venture out into the world of self-hosting, you are plucked from a comfortable chair and plopped down into an iron maiden of obstacles.  I’ve just spent several hours migrating about 1GB of posts, media, pages, etc. from a WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site.  You can see from the time of this post, it was a rather difficult task and those that know me through my previous writing, a challenge is never something I back down from.  It’s almost done, fingers crossed, the media came through this time.

Mobile Plans

The days are gone where you had to miser your minutes and perform phone calls with lighting precision.  Text messages used to be costly as well and spamming a friend was as costly to you as it was to them.  With unlimited calling and texting, the only thing left is data plans.  Not 10 years ago, an unlimited data plan, that you mortgaged your house to pay for, was truly unlimited.  Sucking up 5GB cost the same amount as 25GB and there was never any throttling to lesser speeds.  Mobile carriers are now offering what they call unlimited plans, but if you read the fine print, they really are xxGB’s at high-speed and then limited speed after you reach that limit.  I guess unlimited data is technically true, but who wants to try to watch a streaming video at 3G speeds.  That’s just crazy talk.  I won’t even get started on the amount of money it now requires to keep your constantly connected life actually connected.

Screen Resolutions

I remember a day when the ONLY resolution you could do was 1024×768.  Readers that remember Windows 95/98 are all too familiar with that rather piddly screen real estate when tying to view your high res porn.  Now you have 2K, 4K, 4KUltra…..  it’s enough to drive anyone insane.  Add to the confusion by making a 4K resolution available on a 13.3″ screen and it’s enough to make any normal person go blind.  I was smart, I opted for 2K on a 13.3″ screen yet still have to run at 150% just to see most things on the screen.  Why not make a maximum resolution fit the screen size because the day is coming when 4KUltra is available on a 10.6″ screen and it will most likely be from Microsoft.

At the end of the day, all we really did was solve a bunch of problems from years past and replaced them with new problems.  And people wonder why I’m rejecting technology in certain parts of my life.  I just don’t have the time anymore.

The 1 in 500 years storm

This is the first major storm that I’ve experienced where I’ve had a direct connection to victims that I know personally.  I don’t have the experience to even start to imagine what they’re going through right now on the ground in Texas, Houston especially.  The videos, pictures, first hand accounts and emotional posts to Twitter don’t even come close to conveying what all those people are now having to endure.  People are saying this is a historic storm that has shattered records since we’ve been keeping detailed weather reports, well that’s not quite right.  We’ve had category 4 storms in the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico before.  We’ve had devastating damage from winds before too.  What truly makes this storm, as opposed to others, is the sheer volume of water that has fallen in such a short period of time.

Yes, I’m going there.  Climate change.  The Gulf of Mexico is unusually warmer than in previous years.  Is that an anomaly or is it getting warmer and we’re on the start of the trend upwards?  The weather pattern that is holding what’s left of Harvey, currently a Tropical Storm, is odd for this time of year.  Is that an anomaly or are weather patterns now starting to slowly change because of increased temperatures and moisture in the air?  This country is on a dangerously slippery slope with our withdraw from the Paris Accord, a climate change denier is now heading the EPA and has already started rolling back regulations.  Fossil fuel companies are getting more subsidies than ever before and have been making record profits despite a glut in crude oil prices.

I don’t think this will be the last storm that will redefine the record books and in fact, I think it is the first of many that will increasingly demonstrate that we’ve been complete idiots in this country for ever believing any of the crap that climate deniers have been shoveling for years.  We’ll get our chance to make a difference soon enough.  Gasoline prices in the United States are going to spike significantly in the aftermath of Harvey.  40% of crude oil refining is based along the Texas coast and those refineries are months away from full capacity.  Oil platforms in the Gulf are largely undamaged, but they have nowhere to send the oil even if they did start extracting again as they’re fitted for pumping crude to shore via pipelines.

Be a human being, do whatever you can to help the victims of Harvey.  My company has pledged to match any donations up to $1,000 and I’m going to scrape together exactly that amount.  My company has an office, or did, in Houston that is now damaged beyond repair.  My co-workers house is gone, he was south of Houston.  Another friends house is sitting in 7 feet of water.  With an unprecedented storm comes unprecedented support in all forms from first responders to aid workers.  Do what you can to help.

Nothing stays the same

I want to start off by apologizing to all that follow me for my lack of activity the last few months.  Life has been rather hectic this summer so far and there isn’t any reprieve for me in the near future based on what I know is coming.  Sticking to a writing schedule has been difficult when there isn’t much time so spare.  The little downtime I manage to scrape together has been dedicated to real life things that have been pushed off due to unplanned events and not staying up to date on family event scheduling.  There is so much in the summer that needs to be done that doesn’t need to be done any other time of the year.  Making sure the lawn is mowed, yard work, making sure someone is watching my daughter (the wife is now working), parties and of course impromptu weekend get-togethers planned on a whim.

The wife is working now after getting a call from a mutual friend from the firehouse where she volunteers and is now the Treasurer.  Her friend runs their own business and after their book-keeper gave notice, they called my wife and offered her the job.  She accepted and it’s been an exercise in futility trying to work out camp, places for the daughter to go afterwards and changing work-from-home days on fly week to week.  I’m home today for instance, but my normal remote work days are Tuesday/Thursday.  For someone that relies on a weekly routine, it’s been stressful keeping up week to week with the ever changing responsibilities.  The extra money is definitely helping, a lot, but it’s slowly eroding my ability to stay somewhat normal and calm.  I’m finding that driving has started becoming a string of curses at other drivers for doing stupid things, which is how it started last time when I lost my crap across the board a few years ago.  It’s worrisome.

I’ve never liked the summer months.  It’s hot, humid and I’m generally not a happy camper unless I’m inside with ample air-conditioning cooling everything down, including me.  There are actually quite a few things that I don’t really like throughout the year, but tolerate for various reasons.  As long as I can get the downtime I need to tolerate the world, it’s all good.  What isn’t good is how I’m feeling now and not seeing a way back until school starts again for my daughter.  That leaves me with just over three weeks before a semi-normal routine returns to the household and, naturally, to me.

This coming weekend is, at this point, open with nothing planned until Sunday afternoon.  I’m hoping it stays that way.

Work – 1 / Life – 0

The last time I posted something was May 22nd and all my plans to stick to a schedule got thrown out the window. Work reared its ugly head and has been kicking my ass for the last several weeks with little reprieve or consideration for my personal time. Getting home after working since 5:30am meant getting dinner ready, cleaning up, doing anything that needed to be done around the house and nothing was left in the tank for me. I ended up going to bed most nights earlier than usual just to keep up with the next days work load. I’ve slacked on writing, reading and generally keeping life balanced with work. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, but it’s still a few weeks off at this point and will unfortunately start back up again towards the end of August.

I’m still writing sporadically for EatPrayVote.org as I still do managed to read the news every day and write when I’m passionate about certain subjects; mainly political stuff though. They’re quick drive-bys around 400-500 words mostly that are mostly reporting with a sprinkle of opinion for good measure. I find it cathartic to write out the politics clanging around in my head keeping me from becoming too jaded with all the crap that’s been flung at us in the last few weeks from Washington, D.C. Even writing political opinion has tapered off in recent weeks and I get about 2-3 pieces submitted and published when just a few weeks ago, I was submitting 1-2 per day.

Funny how you can make so many changes to keep things balanced between all your commitments and one thing can throw the whole thing out the window. I’ve kept pushing myself to minimize as much as possible and, interestingly, the less I have around me the easier I find it to stay closer to feeling balanced regardless of whether I actually am or not. The majority of the items that I find add value to my life have been moved and organized into my office space in the basement. The family is in a separate category of course, but material possessions now fit into a single 11×12 foot room with little feeling of clutter. Once I get the closet built around the radon mitigation tube going into the floor, I’ll have even more items packed away behind a closet door. It’ll quickly become a refuse that will help me recharge my batteries.

Last night I took a few hours to watch some Dr. Who, which was a feat in of itself as I had to utilize my VPN client to log me into a UK-based server to allow me to stream the content through BBC One iPlayer. The new season has started out slow and I’m looking forward to getting into some more action packed episodes. The mix of different writers has brought a lot of different types of stories and has varied the show without leaving behind the core of what makes Dr. Who “feel” like Dr. Who. It was good to get some uninterrupted time to watch some shows. I also am now taking the daughter to archery classes, which she’s been doing for almost a year now. I’ve started taking her because I want to start shooting with her and it just makes sense that I take her if I’m there already 🙂 I’ll be shooting with her next week as they didn’t have a bow big enough to accommodate my string pull distance.

I can’t make any promises when I’ll be back more regularly until I get a better idea of how things shake out at work in terms of audits and organization changes. I moved to a different building in the same campus and am now reporting to a new Director that is most certainly going to make additional changes. It might pan out that I get a bump in salary and position so that I can, at some point in the future, build out my own audit team. It remains to be seen how that plays out though, but I’m hopeful the changes will be positive.

Looking forward to some life when work decides to take some time off 🙂

Family ties to technology

I didn’t have a good weekend. It rained all day Saturday and we were running around all day Sunday because it was Mother’s Day. Of course the daughter decided that Sunday would be a day she would grind against the grain of everyone else and, as much as I love her, single-handedly ruined an otherwise good day with family. I’m starting to notice a pattern though and will be putting in some strict restrictions on the use of anything that contains a screen and run on electricity. She lost her iPhone for 4 weeks because of her last quarter grades. We both noticed a marked improvement in her attitude and behavior that regressed literally an hour or two after she got it back. The girl is hopelessly addicted to all things screen and her typical “I’m not stopping until I want to” attitude always gets in the way. My wife doesn’t help matters either as she is just as addicted to her mobile as well and it’s been a struggle to hold a conversation with her that wasn’t disconnected and unintelligible. I’ve since refused to talk with her when her attention is on the phone screen as I already know, you can’t multi-task with an electronic device, it just isn’t possible. Anyone out there who thinks they can multi-task; verbal conversation and use their phone, they’re just fooling themselves and doing two things barely mediocre.

My level of frustration the last few weeks has unfortunately gone up. My wife tells the daughter to stop yelling at her, yet my wife yells at her to stop yelling. It really is counter-productive in my opinion. I, on the other hand, have manged to keep my tone and outward display of anger to a minimum (for the most part) as it tends to get better results. Our daughter is old enough to know and understand the impact of what she says and how she says certain things, so there really is no excuse for downright disrespect for the sake of exercising control despite her losing the privileged of what she’s trying to control. The whole thing is just counter-productive and doesn’t really make any sense to me. The daughter refuses to do anything when she’s on her phone, playing what I consider real stupid time-suck games, and only listens to either of us once we’ve taken the phone away. Then of course its a fight to get her to do what we’re asking because now she’s angry she lost her phone as a result of her own actions; but it’s our fault, always.

The evaluation of technology in my life is taking a very dark and negative turn, to the point where I get frustrated with anyone using a device near me when I’m trying to say or do something. I’ve respected them by putting my phone, laptop, etc. down but rarely get that in return. The old adage “lead by example” just doesn’t seem to fit when technology is involved. I’m not even going to the “do unto others” space right now. My wife has conveniently forgotten, consistently, that I deleted Facebook and has conversations with me based on Facebook information. When I say I’m not on Facebook anymore, she’s reminded that I abandoned the platform and just stops talking; the subject doesn’t change, she just stops and returns to the screen. I just don’t get it. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, at least that’s what we’ve been told for years, but all I ever see is the negative side of it. People who can’t hold a conversation unless it’s in text form. Social gatherings consist of an entire table of people on their phones. Parents hold up iPads at recitals to “record” their children without a seconds thought of the 9.4″ of blocking capability the iPad produces for the people behind them. Having a conversation with someone under the age of 30 consists of “so”, “like” and “uhm” being practically every fourth word. Call me crazy, but I don’t say any of those words when holding conversation with people. Hearing them tossed at me just derails my train of thought and makes it difficult to actually listen.

There are days that I wish someone would set off an electro-magnetic pulse bomb rendering anything electronic essentially a brick. Our civilization would literally fall apart in the span of a few days though, so it’s not a wish rooted in logic. It’s a wish rooted in frustration, as in “See, technology doesn’t make anything better, none of you can actually hold a conversation to literally save your lives.” Our futures in this world are in jeopardy if we can’t learn to ride the fine line between technology assistance and technology addiction. The Internet was commercially available around 1992, anyone born after that date has never lived without it. What ever happened to learning the hard way first in order to appreciate the easy way second?