August 29, 2013

Hello - ello - ello

A bit echoey in here isn't it.  Wonder if there is anyone hanging around?  It has been a heck of a few weeks.  I feel like popping in to dash off a short post and never quite make it. 

Work has been work.  Had a power supply fail the other day and it took quite a while to get everything back up and running.  Most annoying. 

The real fun has been in our quest to update the furnace and air conditioner.  The house is 20 years old this year and the units are builder models.  They have about run their course of life. Especially the furnace.  Oil burning furnaces don't last nearly as long as natural gas.  So it was time to start the process of installing the new before the weather gets down into the single digits and the furnace just stops.  

We're going to put in a heat pump for those "tween" times of the year when it's above 40 degrees, but the house needs some heat.  It always makes us crazy turning on the furnace when it's still "light jacket weather" outside. But I refuse - utterly refuse - to spend all day in a house like an icebox.  The heat pump will work beautifully to warm the house to a temp I can live with and it's way less expensive than oil.  

Naturally it can't be that easy.  You really didn't think it was a simple matter of picking units and having them installed now did you?  Really?  

This is me we're talking about. Nothing is EVER simple. 

When they finished the basement in this house, they put in 2 rooms, one we use as the tv room and the second was a bedroom including walk in closet and 3/4 bath and door to the outside, I use it as my office.  In between these 2 rooms is the unfinished bit used to house the furnace and hot water heater. 

The door to the unfinished bit is in the tv room so everything has to be dragged through two rooms to get it in and out.  Lovely... but that's not even the worst.  

When finishing the closet and bathroom, they closed off access to the point where the utilities enter the house through the outside wall. They ran the line for the freon from the outside a/c unit over the ceilings of the closet and bath.  With the new units having much higher pressure, the old line must be changed out.  Soooo... they wanted to drill yet another hole in the side of our house, under the porch to run the new line.  

Ummmm... no.  Just no.  We don't need any extra holes in the side of the house.  

We called a local contractor.  He brought his guys in and they pulled down the center parts of the ceilings of each room.  Now the new lines can be run.  Then the contractor will come back and patch the ceilings.  

The contractor is also going to run some conduit.  The cable, phone and electric all come into the house at that same point.  If any new lines need to be brought in (such as fiber optic) it will be an easy matter and no one has to tear down anything or poke any new holes in the house.  

If you're keeping score, we've got... all the closet items sitting in the back of the tv room.  Holes in the ceilings of the closet and bathroom, sticky plastic all over the floor to keep things fairly neat. And we still haven't finalized the heating - a/c units we will be putting in. 

Here's hoping we can figure out which units to install that will work best for us and get them in before the first snowfall.  We shall see. 

BTW - it was a good thing I cleaned out that closet a couple weeks ago. Made it so much easier to drag all the stuff out. At least that part went right. 

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 09:37 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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August 19, 2013

A sure fire method of frying the brain cells

I'm still cleaning closets.  I have completed 5 and emptied a 6th. At this point my concentration is completely shot.  

It's not that cleaning a closet is particularly hard physical work... well, except for dragging out some of those book boxes.  It's all the decisions. 

The first decision is the only easy one.  Is it trash?  Okay then throw it out.  I'm running across plenty of trash which means I'm able to pare things down by maybe a 1/4.  I like that decision.  

Once I have decided it's not trash... this is where it gets difficult.  Am I going to keep it or will it go to charity?  If charity, which charity?  If I keep it where will it live now? Are there other "like" objects in other closets? Is there space for this one or do I need to move the entire lot to a bigger place?  In this closet?  A different closet?  In the box it has been in? In a different box? Do I need to buy a box or boxes? If so what size and how many?

I have been following Andrew Mellen's advice of "one home for everything and like with like" so this requires quite a bit of thought.  It's tiring.  (BTW I highly recommend his audio book - very very entertaining)

The interesting thing is how much stuff is scattered throughout the house.  It's not exactly messy.  Most people think I'm rather too severely tidy.  But take something like lightbulbs.  We had lightbulbs in numerous places. Packages and individual bulbs randomly set down on shelves in plain sight or hidden behind stacks of other items.  We often bought more bulbs because we didn't know we already owned a package of a particular type.  Now I have one entire closet shelf with 4 bins of lightbulbs in various shapes, sizes, and wattages.  Need light?  Look there. 

The same applies to things like extension cords, travel toiletries, camera equipment, etc. 

Things are coming together... slowly.  Once I finish all the closets I will have to move on to drawers.  I rather dread that.  Even more small objects stuck in drawers and more decisions.  Maybe by then I will be an expert or this last large closet may just do me in.  

If you don't hear from me again, I'm probably collapsed over one of the boxes of books and papers, mind blown.  I foresee sorting those is going to be one hell of a job. 

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 10:26 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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August 13, 2013

Location, Location, Location.

There is a new post making the rounds on Facebook, the usual dire warning type post complete with many exclamation points. We all know it's bad news when the title includes lots of exclamatory-ness. Naturally I had to check it out. 

It's a link to a blog post on a news story about photo geotagging. Go watch the news story, I'll wait. 

Back now?  Okay!

Ah metadata always there to make life interesting.  I was surprised to see the story popping up now as this is old news.  I was also surprised by several things within the story itself.  

I thought most people already knew their cellphone cameras added location information (unless you specifically turn it off).  Judging from the posts of the story and the comments, guess I was wrong.  And yes, you can turn off the feature on your phone, we will get to that presently.  The only thing that didn't surprise me was the reporter going completely over the top for the presentation. 

Some people like telling all their friends exactly where they are all the time.  Other people would prefer to give out their location only at select times and to those they want to tell, not the entire world. If you prefer the second option, you need to be very proactive about looking at new devices and web services to be sure your privacy is protected. Sad to say, but almost nothing "just works" the way we think it should. It's just easier to click through the little screens that say "We'd like to use your location to make this app work better. Okay?"

In the story itself I was taken aback when the reporter interviewed the cop.  It could have been judicious editing, but it looked as if the cop had no idea this could be done.  I find it hard to believe in this day of cell phones and "find my iPhone", he has no idea that geotagging pinpoints the device exactly. If this is the case, his law enforcement education is woefully lacking.  

Then there is the mother who is supposedly handed a phone by a newsman and asked to snap many pics of her daughter for the story. I believe they specifically said she was handed the phone.  Did she want her 15 minutes of fame?  I would never take a strange phone and start taking photos of my child.  What happens to the photos after the story is done?  The pics go with the phone, unless receiving a new phone was a perk of the story.  Once they take the phone, she has no idea what else might be done with those photos (which were naturally geotagged to help move the news story along).  Perhaps I'm the only person who thinks like this.  I find her actions in putting her daughter on a news segment to be at great odds with her desire to protect her privacy.  The story did not need a cute little 4 year old to make it newsworthy, the same message could have been presented using adults.  

All that's left to say is, yes you can turn this feature off.  The place to do this is generally in the "Settings" portion of your phone.  I don't know what it's called on Blackberry, Android, or Windows phones, but on iPhone it's called "Location Services".  The latest version of iOS at this time is 6.1.4 and it can be found under "Privacy".  But, don't stop there!  You also need to look at each app you use.  For instance, if you like Instagram, you have to turn off the location option for that.  Facebook (which I believe has it's own photo app), the same. Twitter, naturally.  Any app with a "camera" feature has its own location setting.  Check them all.  Luckily iOS has them all in one spot.  

Don't turn off all the location services, they are useful for other things. 

The only camera location I leave on is Evernote.  Since my Evernote is private, I use the location feature to add things like restaurants.  Evernote Food gives me a feature that will show a map of all the restaurants I have visited in a certain area if I have made an entry from there. It's nice. 

Of course we all want things like Maps and Weather to work.  Think about how an app might use your location and whether the service for that app needs to be active. If not, then turn it off.  For example I do not use IMDB to purchase movie tickets (a new feature they offer) so I don't have location services enabled for that app.  Yes, it requires some thought.  If you aren't sure, turn it off. You can always go back and turn it on if you use the app and need it. 

Thus concludes today's short seminar on your phone and your location.  Of course this will not stop the NSA from tracking you, but we can't have everything can we. 

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 08:41 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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August 09, 2013

An Absolute Certainty

A reminder:

If you have boxes in your house that have not been opened in 7+ years.  You do not need whatever is in them.  Unless they are sentimental items, they need to go away.  

Yes, I'm cleaning out a closet, why do you ask?

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 11:37 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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August 02, 2013

Fixing a nagging annoyance - aka: it's all in what terms you search

It's no secret I love my iMac.  I adore its little apple shaped heart.  Most definitely.  Mainly because many people have developed such lovely apps that make it so much fun to use.  Alfred, Text Expander, Mail Act-On, 1Password to name just a few of my faves.  And Don McAllister's Screencasts Online to walk through how these work and take full advantage of the features. (BTW - Don has a free trial if you want to check it out!)

I have also been a long time user of Firefox on all my computers.  I like Firefox because it handles fonts so well. Also because Ad Block Plus works so beautifully.  

There is, however, a drawback to Firefox, especially on my iMac... it is a memory hog. Big time.  There has been much written over the years about the memory leakage. Firefox must periodically be restarted to make it give up the memory it has acquired.  For me this is a royal PITA.  

My poor old Mac is getting a bit long in tooth.  It's maxed out on memory and every OS update takes up just that little bit more.  It could be that Mountain Lion is the last OS that can be installed on this particular machine.  We shall see.  

In the meantime I have periodically tried to use Safari for my browsing.  "Tried" being the operative word.  

The problem, surprisingly (and most irritatingly), has always been with fonts.  Steve Jobs was all about the fonts... so what the hell happened to Safari?  I have no idea.  If I set a minimum font size, it messes up far too many web pages.  If I don't, then every time I open Safari or a new page/tab on Safari, I have to tweak the zoom on it.  Yes, I still have a "home page".  It's a private netvibes page I made for myself with all kinds of RSS feeds on it.  

Upon opening the homepage in Safari, the fonts are so tiny, one would need a magnifying glass and perfect vision and you'd still get eye strain!  Therefore I have to use the Cntl+  to increase the fonts. Every time for every new page. GAH! This is wearisome and should be unnecessary. 

In Firefox, opening the page shows fonts  quite nicely sized based on my font settings in my preferences.  I have no idea what the difference is between the two browsers.  Nor do I really care.  I just want it to work.  It also means I keep going back to Firefox even though I have to close it (and all apps associated with it like Evernote) every so often.  

I have done all kinds of searches on fonts and Safari and I have seen all kinds of results.  None of which helped me.  Until today.  Not sure why, but today I tried yet again with a search "Safari 6 fonts" in duckduckgo. I don't believe I have worded it exactly that way before.  

The top result was this page: 

Which led to a Macupdate page referencing this little extension for Safari:

I had never seen this before!  Where has it been? Why were the search engines hiding it from me?  I downloaded the extension and I didn't have to tweak a thing.  The extension "remembers" the "zoom" font size for every page.  

VoilĂ !  Problem solved, no CSS required.  I have opened and closed Safari and other windows/tabs and it really works!  I will have to make a donation to the developer.  

I just wish I had found it sooner.  It really is all about the search terms.   

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 11:40 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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Another WW2 Veteran

In the annals of life stories, Squadron Leader Tony Gaze lived his life to the fullest and then some.  He has passed away at the age of 93. 

Squadron Leader Tony Gaze

A life well lived indeed.

Rest in peace sir.

Posted by: Teresa in Military at 09:07 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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August 01, 2013

Remembering the Warsaw Uprising

A city remembers every year.

It's a video and it won't let me embed it. Oh well.  Very short under 2 minutes long. 

Posted by: Teresa in Military at 11:35 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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