Category Archives: Tech

Funize

Had an email from Google feedburner (or FeedBurner, as it once was) that outlined their plans to do something or other that won’t make any difference to me as I had forgotten I had used it for anything or that it still existed. They encouraged me to check out my feeds, and I found feeds for two blogs I had set up for others a decade ago, still ready and able to burn if they hadn’t been abandoned.

I was tickled to find that, in this mostly forgotten corner of the online world, someone is having mucho fun with tabs.

Troubleshootize
What web developers do when they know there are no ize watching them!

Newsy Nerdy Notes

I had a calendar subscription for moon phases that disappeared, so I went looking for a new one and found this lovely astronomy calendar from Canton Becker. He’s a website developer and electronic musician, and also includes his personal projects on his website. I love his Peace Channel dedicated to his father and inspired by his father’s Electric Sheep screensaver usage.

Not sure where I stumbled upon Justine Haupt, but probably from reading about her rotary cellphone while I was searching for a new flip phone. She is an astronomy instrumentation engineer and seems just plain brilliant. I especially love that she has a YouTube channel but doesn’t want anyone to subscribe to it! The rotary cellphone is so tempting, but I don’t need it…if you do, though, buy it and tell me about it!

Wifi QR code

With the new Bell Fibe system comes a new wifi network and password. I could set up a guest network for visitors, but opted again to follow Matt Haughey’s instructions to make a wifi QR code.

Thanks to Peter for first sharing this tip. His advice to get your own domain for your email prompted me to do just that, and start this website. Then I started blogging after his 2019 unconference. My advice is to follow Peter!

With every fibre of my being

OK, I get it now. “Streaming something” means it flows like a clear fast-running stream, not oozes like snowmelt into a mud puddle. When you press play on something, it plays right away, doesn’t buffer. Someone emails you a 6 MB photo from their phone and it pops right up, not stops your other emails from coming in for minutes. Want to download a movie? Whoomp, there it is!

Yes, in case you didn’t hear the cheers from Lot 11 and see the pigs flying over the frozen lakes of hell, we got fibre optic cable installed today at our house here in the boonies. Fibre To The Home. FTTH. For real. I honestly never thought we would ever have a wired high speed internet service here. I assumed something like Starlink would save us, or that super 5G with 20 Gbps that is said to be coming. Even five years ago FTTH out here was laughable.

A very helpful Bell Aliant technician from Nova Scotia spent much of today running the fibre op cable in our 1,000 foot lane, trudging through 3-4 feet of snow to run it from electrical pole to pole, then laid the final few feet over the snow (!) as a temporary measure until a contractor can return after the snow melts and the frost leaves the ground to bury the cable (maybe June?). The electricity to our house goes underground from the last pole, but we never buried a conduit to run fibre. When we built our house nearly 20 years ago, there was not even an inkling that something beyond the copper telephone wire buried along our lane decades ago would be run into our house.

In quick time the technician set up the modem and wireless television receivers. We kept a landline phone, and with a few taps on his mobile phone app, our phone was connected and ringing.

By coincidence, I had more coffee today than usual, so I was already very wired, but being able to zip around on devices gave me a different kind of jittery magical buzz. I downloaded MacOS Big Sur 11.2.3 on my new M1 MacBook Air in just a few minutes, in the middle of the day, no less, while lots of other things were running in the house. Knowing that the fast connection was coming my way, I had ignored the update as it would take hours, and then usually stall.

We got Fibe TV because that is my mother’s entertainment. We’ve had ShawDirect satellite television (and its predecessor StarChoice) for probably around 25 years. It was fine because we had no other option, but every few years the dish had to be upgraded and then the television receivers, and it was expensive and not a very advanced system, so won’t really be sad to say goodbye. The Fibe TV is so fast, and live tv can be watched on any device, recorded, rewound, video on demand, and on and on. I especially won’t miss trying to clean off the dish during a raging snowstorm so my mother can watch The Price Is Right!

I was even able to get my old Apple Airport Extreme and Express to hook into the new system, so that is acting as a janky mesh system for our non-WiFi printer and some other devices.

As long as we don’t mangle the very delicate cable on the ground (I have covered it with a piece of wood until I can fashion something more ramp-like for the furnace oil delivery man to drag his filler hose over), we will be connected to the modern world in a modern way. I see what you’ve all been talking about. It’s pretty nice to be zipping around with you.

The new normal. We’re supposed to be getting “up to 500 Mbps” down, but this is just fine for now. The jitter reading is my present level of caffeination, I guess.
The last few minutes of the old high speed. Yes, that was .756 Mbps down and .327 up. To be fair, we usually got around the 1.5 Mbps down that we paid $107 plus taxes and fees and nonsense a month for.

“Lets you tape like a rock star!”

While searching on a big box retailer’s website for a binder that comes with preprinted tabs for corporate records, everything but the desired binder popped up, including, for some strange reason only known to the algorithmic gnomes, this pleasing bit of plastic:

The description assures me it is well weighted for easy dispensing, and it sure looks like a fun bit of kit, but as I’ve decided I’ve contributed far more than my lifetime’s allotment to the non-biodegradable burden on Mother Earth, I will just appreciate that someone thought of it, and also chose the perfect catalogue number to boot.

Don’t Smash That Button

I’ve used this Instructable a few times to revive temperamental remote control buttons, and it is a very satisfying and easy job. Getting the plastic case apart is usually the most difficult part and just takes a bit of patience.

A bit of tinfoil from my hat.
Bonus tip: single use super glues can be used more than once, just stick some Blu Tack on the end and hack off when you want a little dab.

I fixed our DVD player remote yesterday and was surprised to see the original batteries from 2006 were still installed. They feel very light (7 grams less than a Duracell), and look like cheapies, but must be the best batteries ever made.

0% mercury, 100% magic.

Printer Fix

Mac OS Catalina 10.15.7 screwed up my ability to use our HP LaserJet 1200 printer last fall. Using it as a generic printer was fine until yesterday, when I wanted to print envelopes and no amount of reformatting worked.

Seems Apple revoked certificates at HP’s request (whatever that means, other than trouble), thereby screwing up lots of other printers. Thankfully a solution was found.

New printer drivers are available here, but make sure you run the HP Uninstaller first or scary popups will continue to haunt you.

Reeder

I’ve been using the OS version of the RSS feed reader Reeder for a long time. I probably would have used the iOS version more if I could have easily synced the feeds between devices, but I would have had to set up another account to do that and I just couldn’t be bothered to figure that out.

The latest version of both apps now support iCloud syncing, and it works perfectly. Reeder was stuck at version 3 for a long time and it looked like it might just fade away, but there have been two updates in the past year or so. A lovely simple app.

Greetings from Halifax Parish

As our home internet is through a Bell Aliant wired connection, location services on websites can be either scarily accurate (right over our house) or humourously wonky (Kensington, Summerside, Tignish, all dozens of kilometres away).

Today the weather widget on my iPad shows me as being in Halifax Parish, which is true, but I would guess 99% of Halifax Parish residents would not know that’s where they live. Samuel Holland divided Epekwitk into counties and parishes on his 1765 map, and Lots 8-12 were Halifax Parish.

My guess is you would have to go back to the 1800s to find this term being commonly used for this area, so how did the bots grab onto it and thrust it into today?