Monday, May 22, 2017

Android Guhhh...

So Google just announced an upcoming innovation called Android Go, which will be a branch, sort of, of the next version of Android. It's meant for low-end devices that don't have the power or storage of phones like my Nexus 6P or tablets like my Pixel C.

Sounds nice, right? I still have a Nexus 5 and a couple of older tablets lying around that might benefit from being able to run a lite version of the latest Android operating system -- they've all been dropped from the update schedule and are stuck with past versions of Android.

Well, apparently not. It reads as if the devices Go is meant for, are new lines that will begin to ship next year.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Summer Comes Unfashionably Early Hereabouts

I wanted to keep the Chugwater scene until Memorial Day, but yesterday the temperature here on the home acres in subtropical west Georgia topped 90 degrees so I figured it was time to go with the summer backdrop.

Meet Red Canyon again.

Update, Thursday afternoon: Meanwhile, in Wyoming...

Yes, that is the same webcam that took the image I was using as a backdrop until yesterday.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Where Do You Go When the World Is Ending?

Apparently, Norway.

It’s not just Donald Trump’s volatility, or the unfitness of his cabinet appointees, or his possible collusion with Russia, or the certain prospect that everything from health care to quality education will soon be inaccessible to great numbers of Americans.

It’s that with or without Mr. Trump, America may no longer be the America that I returned to from Norway (after my girlfriend and I were unable to obtain visas) and whose blessings and opportunities eventually made it possible for me to make a career and a life.

Lefties, if Trump is that bad, the resulting damage will be global, not strictly limited to central North America. There will be no escape on that portion of continental Europe closest to North America. There will be no escape in Australia. It might not even be safe on the Moon, or on Mars, if the way you're describing him has any basis in reality.

The first thing all you bed-wetters need to do is examine your premises. You've convinced yourselves of something that millions of your countrymen don't see. It may be that they're blind, or hypnotized, but you need to consider the possibility that you're wrong.

It's what a rational person would do. And you do want us all to believe you're rational, right?


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Two of the Seven Are Locations We Rented From

Blockbuster Video is a shadow of the forgotten past.

...except in Alaska. Seven (according to Blockbuster's website -- yes, they still have a website) out of twelve remaining U.S. stores are in Alaska, including locations on College Road in Fairbanks and North Santa Claus Lane in North Pole. When we lived in Interior Alaska there was no broadband internet, and you couldn't stream movies on dial-up. You probably still can't.

And apparently even those in Alaska who do have broadband now, 18 years later, can't afford to stream movies. And I suppose Netflix DVDs may take weeks to arrive, coming as they do by slow boat from Seattle.

In our Alaska days you rented movies on VHS tapes; we didn't even have a CD player -- actually a CD-ROM drive on a Windows 95 computer -- until 1996. Our first DVD player didn't arrive until we'd moved down here to metro Atlanta. And we did rent from a Blockbuster store (now a Verizon store) about three miles from our first Georgia home, until we signed up with Netflix and helped sign Blockbuster's death warrant.

Which apparently hasn't been carried out yet.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

New Toy

When I opined to Mrs. McG that it was time to replace the troublesome ZTR mower, I expected to be in for a ... discussion. But in reply to my proffer of the new tractor-style mower I thought was the best choice for the money, she said -- in effect -- "want me to come with?" So she came with, and today I finally got the front yard and field mowed.

We stayed with the same brand; the John Deeres cost more, and the reviews were disconcerting. The cutting deck is eight inches wider than the zero-turn, so the job gets done quicker. And whatever mischief this tractor is going to do hasn't happened yet, so I can approach the job with confidence I'll actually be able to do it.

It's also a higher ride, like graduating from a sedan to, say, a Bronco on a three-inch lift. That may make for some precarious moments on a part of the property I still have yet to do.

But unlike the ZTR or the used Craftsman mower the ZTR replaced, the new tractor can operate powered attachments. When we move to Wyoming the snow-clearing attachment will come in handy.

Friday, May 12, 2017


Over the last few days I've been noticing that some of the images posted on various entries here have disappeared and had to be re-uploaded. Previously I'd had to re-upload my mugshot and title banner as well. Only now have I realized what's going on.

Until a few weeks ago I was using a different Google account, which I have recently had deleted. And apparently pictures posted from a Blogger account that is linked to a deleted Google account, get deleted.

I'll have to make time to sift through the old posts to find which images I have to re-upload, but until then some of the posts may not make a lot of sense without the picture.


Update: Turns out that on about a dozen of the posts the missing images are screenshots of tweets by Twitter accounts that no longer exist, and I didn't bother to save the screenshots. So, there's no point keeping the posts. Nearly all of the remainder have been repaired.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Getting It Is Better than Having It. Or Throwing It.

Ever since I got my first Android device -- a 2012-model Nexus 7 tablet, on sale at Walmart about the time the more advanced 2013 models were released -- I've scorned the Google Fit app that has been pre-installed on, if not that one, every one I've acquired since.

But now that Mrs. McG and I are shelling out perfectly good money for our YMCA memberships, which include the use of a fitness activity tracking app, it occurred to me just today that Fit might be a halfway decent, uh, adjunct. It effectively turns my phone into a pedometer so that I get credit for things like wheeling the trash barrel out to the road, or checking the mail.

In the olden days when the mailman brought the day's junk mail and bills right to the doorstep, that wouldn't amount to anything, but I logged nearly 500 steps just going out there and back. It was as much distance as I'd logged using the YMCA walking track last week after Dan wore me out having me use the resistance machines. Though a couple of days prior, before his brutality, I'd managed more than half a mile.

It may help motivate me to walk out to the mailbox more frequently, and make me more likely to get my saddle sores to the actual Y for the other kinds of exercise. Meanwhile my activity log for this week has been rescued from being entirely blank.

Just the other day Mrs. McG was lamenting not knowing where her pedometer was. It didn't occur to me then to tell her her phone could be her pedometer.

Update, next afternoon: the above was merely an estimate, so today I checked more closely as I brought the trash barrel back to the house. There and back again was 440 steps. What that translates into in miles is anybody's guess but mine is, between one-sixth and one-fifth of a mile. If I walk to the mailbox every day that's a mile a week.

Gotta log that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Well....... That Happened.......

I finally -- finally! -- doused myself with tick repellent and went out to the shed to get started on what I expected to be another tedious process of getting the mower up and running for another long, hot season of yard care.

Just for the hell of it I mounted up and turned the key, expecting the usual to happen, which was nothing. I'd bought a battery charger a couple of months ago on that expectation. In fact I have in recent years become so exasperated with this mower that I hate even the thought of trying to get it going in the spring. Which is why I touched it for the first time today after putting it away last fall.

Lo and behold, the mower cranked. And then it started! Wowee! Like so many preparations I make for the recurrence of bad things, the charger turned out to be more good-luck charm than actual tool.

The inner front yard has been needing attention so I headed over to get that done while the gas in the tank held out. I finished one quick turn around the edges, and the transmission gave out. Again. No power at all to either transaxle.

I hate this mower. I hate all zero-turn mowers. I hate this brand of mower.

I'm not a big fan of any mower, but if it will just do its damn job without costing me double its purchase price in repairs over just a few years, I can work with it. These ZTR mowers, though, seem to run afoul of Scott's Dictum.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Talking Back to Pop Tunes, 4

Frankly, I just like the follow-up song better. Even despite the occasional bursts of atonal instrumental noise that obscure certain lyrics, I mostly understand them.

But all those decades ago when you released this first one, I couldn't make out the words at all. In fact the singing was so muddy I was never really sure what the song was even called. As a result my mind apparently misremembered it so badly that I even made up a more interesting lyrical meter than what I found today when I finally stumbled on it thanks to Youtube.

I was so sure I was going to want to buy it, as I did the later one, that I almost went ahead and did so before looking up the lyrics and listening along.

Snore. Apparently the only thing holding my attention was the mystery of what the damn thing was about. Guess what it was really saved by was its unintelligibility -- which, far from being zero, was pretty damn close to one.

21st Century Anachronisms, 1

To the sound of a phonograph needle scratching across vinyl in the age of .mp3 music, and the continued use of "dialup" in the age of touchtone and smartphones, add this:

Why does the trashcan icon lack wheels and a hinged lid?

A Very Brief Experiment

Blogger™ users have the option of using their Google+ profile instead of the more limited Blogger profile. There's also the option of using Google+ for comments. I detect a lingering twitch of hope by Google that the + might still become the platform of choice for us content-generatin' types.

One upside to linking the blog to G+ is that I can auto-share new posts from here to the other platform. The downside is that my preferred compact handle -- McG -- would no longer be an option (unless I choose to make it my entire Google identity, which I'm not sure I could anyway).

As for Google+ as a comment platform, the sorting options are "Best" or "Newest." I've always preferred "Oldest." What with being a fart of the not-so-fresh variety myself...

I learned all this by trying it out this morning. You'll notice everything is back the way it was now.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Misadventures in PC Rehab

Aw, c'mon -- if you think that title refers to offering Gitmo detainees subsidized housing and free health care in the big American city of their choice as an incentive to tell their captors they've denounced terror, you just don't know me at all.

I have custody of two Windows 7 PCs that used to belong to Mrs. McG's late mother: an HP desktop and an Acer laptop. Yesterday I isolated the files on the laptop that Mrs. McG would want to keep, and copied them onto a thumb drive (the desktop's contents likely will require more than one trip). Then I gave the laptop a mindwipe, hoping the machine's peanut-butter-and-molasses performance would disappear along with the remnants of all of Marie's old software that hadn't come off the disk when I uninstalled it last year. Restoring the factory installation of Windows took some time, and Windows Update consumed some more hours installing all of the updates Microsoft had issued for Windows 7 over the years. Actually, there weren't as many individual downloads as I was fearing.

It did stop tripping over itself in trying to carry out the simplest tasks, but there were two tasks I set it that it just couldn't do. I tried to install the PC-to-cloud sync utilities offered by Google, Dropbox and Microsoft. Somehow Dropbox didn't even need to ask for my login credentials, having perhaps smartloaded them into the installation after I'd logged into the website to get the software. It worked like a charm, taking only minutes to sync the cloud account's contents onto the Acer's hard drive.

Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, however, couldn't find their way to the internet to log me in. Both installers had accessed the internet to bring in the complete software, but once the software was complete, nothing.

I have 17-plus gigabytes of data on those cloud accounts. Without a working live-sync utility, that laptop is no good to me.

Oh, and it's still slower -- by oozes and farts! -- than this Linux machine I've been using these last couple of years.

So, back to Gitmo with it. I'll eventually get around to lobotomizing the HP too, but I don't expect better results. Besides, I've had lousy luck with desktop computers since moving to Georgia. Surge protectors don't really seem to work all that well hereabouts.

Update, Sunday: I downloaded a version of ChromeOS from CloudReady, which installed okay -- but the screen flashes so much I could barely do anything with it. This Acer laptop seems to want to face the firing squad.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Few Minutes Ago at Yellowstone

After several minutes of teasing its audience with a series of spurts and gurgles, Old Faithful finally went off with a photogenic display while I was watching on the live webcam.

The live action was even better looking than this; the static webcam's shutter speed isn't as good as the video webcam's frame rate, and the former's captures aren't uploaded quickly enough even during the prediction's time window.

I wish park personnel would update the eruption forecasts more frequently. The geyser erupts several times a day but the prediction on the livecam web page only seems to be updated a couple of times each day.

Late Last Night

If I were still on Twitter you could've already seen these, instead they were shared exclusively (at the time) with Mrs. McG:

Media in Europe and Australia are speculating that an unusual sudden meeting called at Buckingham Palace means Prince Philip has passed away. He's 95.
11:55 p.m. Wednesday, May 3

By morning, of course, it became known that rumors of the Duke of Edinburgh's death had been greatly exaggerated. He's merely retiring from public duties. Still, before the full story had yet been released there was this:

Buckingham Palace denies. In other news, a building spoke.
1:33 a.m. Thursday, May 4
So he's still alive and kicking, but Fleet Street won't get to kick him around anymore.

Aw, Crap

Of course the timing of Netflix's release for rental of Rogue One was on purpose, but I've never paid attention to "May the Fourth." Now it seems when I watch the DVD tonight I'll be taking part in a mass observance.

Yuck. I'll watch it tomorrow. In the original Klingon.