Category Archives: Tech

Eurvosion 2021 #openup

Haven’t heard all the Eurovision finalists who will be performing in Rotterdam tonight, but I’m rooting for Malta and Iceland. I enjoy many types of music, but I LOVE upbeat dance music, and both countries have fun entries.

I’ve been watching Eurovision since 2012, when I used a VPN to watch the BBC coverage led by Graham Norton. Don’t have the VPN anymore, so will either watch the YouTube stream or OMNI Television, who are the Canadian broadcasters this year. Neither of those options will have commentary, so might listen to Ken Bruce on BBC Radio 2 at the same time to learn more about the performers and their songs.

I believe the last frontier of the online world that needs to be sorted out is the ability to watch terrestrial television stations live from anywhere in the world. I would gladly pay the BBC to be able to (legally) watch their stations live, without the cat and mouse games. By now this should be easy.

Ogham

David Sparks points out that the Mac special character and emoji list can be customized in some very cool ways. You can add dozens of sets, including divination symbols, Egyptian hieroglyphs, cuneiform, and the mysterious Glagolitic and Ugaritic. I added the ancient Celtic Ogham set, which I first learned about from Diana Beresford-Kroeger. An alphabet based on trees is thrilling to me.

Trees speak to each other through chemical and electrical impulses, and they speak to humans, too, but we are often in too much of a rush and too loud to hear them. Find the tallest tree in a forest some moderately windy day (don’t try this in a hurricane!), something that is waving gently back and forth like a birch or poplar, and press your ear to it. You might hear the wind through the branches, the creaks and crackles of the vascular system, the roots and leaves, all of it. Trees exist at a different speed than we do, rooted in one place, reaching high, making the best of where they have landed, providing shelter, feeding and drinking, sleeping and dreaming.

We live with hundreds of tall teachers.

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.