Sunday, October 18, 2020

A massive segue complete with digressions and a bit of rant

 I was in the shower thinking of many things. It's a good place for that. In no particular order, the photo selection for the senior's presentation and how to present it, computer software upgrades with 32 and 64 bit considerations just to make it more complicated than it already is, the train wrecks that are the Alberta and American governments, and reflections on life with and without a particular big orange cat.

What links it all together? A country and western song, of all things. You can listen to it here. (This is a live version, slightly different from the studio version I know, watch at least to 3:15 where it starts going pear shaped.) It would be nice if I could time the text here with your reading and listening speed so it all comes together at the right time, (and you'll know when that is when it comes around), but nobody is that good.

So the senior presentation. You saw the choices yesterday. It's tough sledding trying to eliminate photos form the presentation, but then I had the happy thought that maybe I didn't need to. Maybe I just needed to consider the order in which they are presented, and I'd stop when the time runs out, (or they make me stop, whatever).

So what's the best tool to present a bunch of photos? Good question. And before you say it, there's a specific Microsoft program often used for such a task, and it's a swear word. One of my minor goals is to never sit through such a presentation again, and certainly never inflict one on anyone else.

So the photo editing mac has some choices. I was thinking of doing it in something called Keynote, and exporting the file to my laptop. Except my laptop doesn't have Keynote on it. Which got me researching which version of the OS has it (one after what I have, I think), and my long time readers will know I dislike updating software. My laptop will run the latest version of the Mac OS, called Catalina (for whatever reason, and why they can't stick with a simple numbering system that works perfectly well is beyond me) 

That will get Keynote on my laptop. But. (That is a huge but, that really ought to be capitalized, and in bold, so just imagine I did it that way) Catalina makes all the applications be 64 bit rather than 32. Which could be a nasty surprise for someone who "upgraded" without thinking about that. (I'm going to pass on a digression explaining what 64 bit vs 32 bit software is) (and I remember the kerfuffle when software changed from 16 bit to 32 bit, and I'm not going to explain that either) 

As an alternative, it turns out (or at least I think it turns out) that I could do the presentation on the photo editing computer, and export it to my phone, and then during the presentation do it from my phone to the projector. (uhuh, and if you believe that, I've got a bridge to show you) although I might do that just to see if I can, but I'll have the presentation on my laptop. I can export it as PDF, or so I've read. I can also put the photos on a USB stick and plug that into the projector computer. I think. Something will work.

A side issue I had to think about is what the laptop is actually for. It's mainly for writing, and I use a program called Scrivener, which I love to bits. (32 of them, in case you were wondering, which is the problem) They do have a 64 bit version. But. (Another but, although not quite as big a but as the earlier one) It's what ELSE they have done along the way that concerns me. Being an old fuddy-duddy, I don't like change. (where have you heard that before?) I'm trying to find out more about the new version.

There's also something called Aeon Timeline that needs to be updated. I don't use it as much on the laptop, preferring the big screen of the photo computer. but sometimes it's handy. Which means upgrading it as well so the files are compatible. (And talking to dropbox which I'd turned off (or I think I turned off) because they pissed me off) At least Lightroom on both the computer and laptop are 64 bit compatible, even if the laptop version is older.

Both computers nag me to update software, which annoys me, but it annoys me even more when software upgrades itself, and then I'm surprised and have to think about how to do stuff, and this has happened several times while people are watching, which explains why I don't use Evernote anymore.

Which all got me thinking about how freaking many applications there are running on any of the computers, and how complicated they, and how complex the interaction is. Some of the things they do amaze me, and make me happy. Other things not so much.  Some days I'm amazed the computers work at all. They keep getting more complex, which gives the hackers more cracks to try to exploit.

(Which got me thinking of digital memory. You may have seen the photo of a 5 MB hard drive being loaded into an airplane in 1956. It's about 6 feet high, 6 feet wide, and maybe 3 feet deep. Yes, feet. It's huge. If it were sized proportionally to the SD Card or USB stick right here on my desk  (both of them are 32 GB) it would be invisible. It had an average access time of under a second, and that implies some access times more than that. Which is unbelievably painfully slow by today's standards. But that's what 65 years of progress will get you.)

Which got me thinking about society in general and how things have changed. Faster. More detailed. More complicated. Just more. I remember back in the late 90's, someone explaining to me how their system worked for filing reports to a regulatory body. It was completely paper based, until the information got to the xl spreadsheet the regulator distributed for reports. Then a clerk looked at the xl, got a batch of files, filled in the appropriate dates and any other required information, and repeated till they got to the bottom of the report. A summary was printed and filed, and the xl sent off to the regulator. It was a manual system that worked because there weren't all that many vessels involved, and everyone understood the system. It wasn't fast, but it was reliable. I was horrified, of course.

The other day my business got a federal tax refund. Alberta too. That happened a couple days after my accountant filed my taxes. Used to be that you filled out the form in pencil, double checked all the numbers, then did a good copy in ink, and mailed it to the government. There was no doubt a system for it to be opened, read, assessed, and responded to, and it was manual. It usually took 6 to 8 WEEKS to get a response. Imagine that. Now it's completely automated, and mostly works, until it doesn't, then things get very sticky indeed.

But think of the effort that was needed to get there. Decades of evolving software that has to work at every step. Decades of hardware getting ever faster. People being trained and retrained how to use it. Now think of the overall system of government and how complex it is, trying to address the needs of the governed. All the money flowing back and forth. All the reports. All the laws, regulations, policies, complete with exceptions, restrictions, expiry conditions, and who knows what else all. All the conflicting demands, some from ordinary people, and some from extremely rich people who want the system to continue to their benefit. It's amazing that it works as well as it does.

And then there are the idiots that don't believe in complexity or truth. All problems have a solution that can be expressed in a tweet. Or with an emoticon. They believe in labels and that the label completely and accurately describes the thing. That anything they don't need is a frivolous expense that should be cut. That laws and regulations are 'red tape'. That all taxes are bad. That getting money from the government makes everyone else a moocher. 

The American government has become completely dysfunctional, breaking down under the ever increasing complexity conflicting with simplistic demands for cuts. Alberta is going down the same path. We essentially have a vandal in office, breaking things left and right, and doing it so fast that nobody can keep up. Billion dollar tax giveaways. Selling the parks. (yeah yeah, you SAY you are just delisting them back to Crown land, then elsewhere you say you are selling Crown land to coal interests, which is stupid because the coal industry is dying, as it rightfully should) Picking a fight with the medical system, DURING A PANDEMIC! Paying a buddy's kid $100,000 a year to do nothing, as a favour or to demonstrate loyalty to Harper. It goes on. (It's bad for my blood pressure to carry on, but I could.)

This is the part of the song where we find out what kind of train it is in the background behind the 400 head of cattle so mellow they're virtually sedated. (I think that's in the studio version, not the live version.)

Breaking things is always easier than creating them. It's the work of a moment for a madman with a hammer to destroy a statue that took an artist craftsman a substantial fraction of their life to create. Many of the people trying to get elected to 'reform' the system, or 'drain the swamp' are vandals, thinking it's easier to burn the house down and rebuild it, rather than do renovations. Except, people have to live in that house. (The vandal politicians have their own special house on a separate part of the property, just for them and their buddies.) 

Even life with a cat can be complicated, and moving to the simplicity of without is hard. The house seems emptier, and I miss having big orange paws all over the papers on my desk, even that sometimes led to cryptic keyboard commands being entered by those same paws, which then had to be figured out and undone. It's easier to sleep in, though Celina  sees no reason for us to be in bed while awake, when we could be out feeding or paying attention to her. She seems to be doing just fine, so far.

Of the Day
Sometimes this is how I want to respond to the world.


White Peony


1 comment:

  1. Now new is not always good and neither is old, but there are only very few cases where humour is not helpful, even during circus train wreck. I'm also a strong believer that zealots are dangerous and therefore should not be given power. Furthermore, they never appreciate their own inconsistencies and hypocrisies. Unfortunately Alberta currently has a zealot at the helm. Given a choice between that which shall not be named and post-it notes, the latter is more useful. Cheers, Sean


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