Sunday, 11 May 2014

07:59 – Once again, USPS didn’t bother to show up. Fortunately, I had only one kit sitting waiting for pickup yesterday, so I’ll only have to send one email to apologize for the shipping delay. I will email our congressman tomorrow to complain. That’s seven days so far this year that USPS has skipped our route for no reason. Our local postmaster should be fired.


45 thoughts on “Sunday, 11 May 2014”

  1. Okay, here’s the agony of my recent Firefox experience. It’s long, but nobody else has posted, so this should make up for that.

    Firefox really gets me riled up. Just like any big organization, they have become so smug that they really do not care what their customers/users want. You will get what they give you, and screw your wishes and desires, and those of all other users. Their forums refuse to address real issues, and quite repeatedly, the changes they make upset users terribly, and break things that were already working.

    I am just finding out about ‘bill pay’ from my bank, as a kostenlos way to transfer money directly to my kids’ accounts. I never used bill pay before, even though Germany has not had checks since the early ‘80’s, and every transaction there is electronic, from one person’s account to another’s — including businesses. In Germany — even before the days of home computing — you go into a bank, stick your ATM card with a chip in it, into one of many terminals in the lobby (actually, they have closed the teller windows almost everywhere, so all there is, is a room of terminals), put in your password and proceed to transfer money. If it is something like a utility bill, you will have received a 4×7 piece of paper with all the information on it. Put that into the terminal; it gets scanned; and instantly displays who money should be transferred to, and how much. All that is necessary is to click ‘submit’, and the transaction is done.

    If transferring to an individual, you get their bank account number, which includes all necessary routing, punch that in, and it instantly shows who the account belongs to. I am not sure how you could screw up with that system, but DIL did. Repeatedly.

    Bad thing about our bill pay system, is that punching in the routing and account numbers, does not confirm who the account belongs to. If ever a system was designed to engender errors, that is it! Some things are so plainly stupid with huge cost consequences, that one wonders why they continue when an enlightened, better way exists. Like the US putting sewers and pipes under streets, instead of sidewalks. Let’s just keep making it necessary to tear up streets at great expense, instead of having tiled sidewalks that can easily be removed and the buried pipes, cables and sewers reached without jack hammers, heavy construction equipment to haul the rubble away, and the necessity of repaving a street — very, very often within weeks of a brand new road having just been laid down.

    So, I was trying to access ‘bill pay’ for the first time, when you have to enter various infos (European spelling of the plural of ‘info’), lie and click “I have read the terms and conditions and agree to them”, and then you are supposed to be transported to the working bill pay application. Not on my machine. I got caught in an endless loop, sending me back to the initial bank login screen. Call to the bank: ‘We don’t support the Firefox browser version you are using. That’s the problem. We recommend you switch to Internet Explorer.’

    Well I ain’t gonna use IE, because just the week before all this began, a huge security hole was found, typical of IE, and even Microsoft implied that using another browser was safer, until they fix the flaw.

    Very, very busy time for me, so I abandoned tackling the problem and did a wire transfer from my account to the account of the kid needing money, at some significant expense to me. Which then got screwed up by my bank, as they accidentally transferred the amount twice in the same day. Wire transfers are the same as using a debit card (don’t use debit cards when not absolutely necessary): the transaction cannot be easily disputed, and getting the money back relies entirely on the receiving party being honest, and then going to the effort and expense on their part to return it. So my kid got twice what I intended, as the bank could not recall the second transaction. Since I promised to keep the 2 kids even in my financial beneficence to them — ugh! I do not even want to think how that affects my own account balance and budgeting. Good thing I only had 2 kids. The 5 stepson has, would send me into receivership.

    Eventually (couple weeks later), I tried to access ‘bill pay’ on the Linux Mint laptop, that uses a version of Firefox which is not as up-to-date as my Windows installation and falls under my bank’s ‘supported browsers’ statement. It works. But at the step immediately before failing on the other computer, it shows me a dialog: “Firefox prevented this page from automatically redirecting to another website. Allow?”

    Click ‘allow’ and I am into bill pay. So I know it is the stupid bank, who is not motivated to deal with browser updates, falsely telling me that there is nothing they can do to help me. After researching the issue, an obscure single entry on the Mozillazine forum (which forum is NO LONGER supported or run by Mozilla, because they are not into helping users anymore) says that the cookie options are responsible for this behavior. Changing the following option — Tools > Options > Privacy > Accept third party cookies: [to] “From visited” — solves the problem. Somewhere along the line of updates (it appears around v27.x) Firefox changed that default option to “Never”. It is clear that your bank does not care about this, either. They are big enough and have enough money and clout that they only bother to make their sites compatible with IE and then their work is done — wash hands.

    Having contempt for users/customers/citizens is now an ingrained way of life with big business and government. I see lots of messages from my bank telling of hiccups in the bill pay system. Not all bills can be paid via direct account transfers, so — in those cases — the bank itself writes checks and mails them when a direct transfer is not possible. If the payee changes addresses and the bill payer does not make the change in the bank’s system, the check gets lost in the mail. Duke Energy pulled that here recently. Without telling anyone, they changed the address for payments. The only place it showed up was in the pre-printed return address on the invoice. Actually, Duke borders — no, actually I think it crosses — the line of being evil IMO. I know intelligence level of users has something to do with it, but Tiny Town is not known for intelligence of the inhabitants. Quite the opposite — school system here is in competition for being dead last in the state. Dozens upon dozens of people using bill pay did not catch the change of address, and/or were using the equal monthly payment plan, and their checks were sent totally without their intervention — probably they did not even open the monthly bills. Consequently, Duke cut off power to a huge swatch of people here. As a result of that, the bank sent out messages that they could not be held responsible if Duke changed its payment address and the bank then sent the check to an incorrect address. Checks were not getting to Duke, so off the grid you go! Not only that, but late charges mounted month after month, so getting the power turned back on, meant being held hostage to those charges, in addition to their fee for pulling the plug and turning it back on. I tried several times to get Duke to just hit my checking account with the monthly bill. I started years ago on that (7 years ago to be exact), but after this recent debacle, I am not going to give Duke that right. The head of their Indiana operations is currently under scrutiny for felony offenses like price-fixing while in office, and his buddy Republicans are trying to get him off through technicalities, just like that never-prosecuted felon president, Richard Millhouse Nixon.

    It is pretty clear from the work that I do, that both corporate institutions and individuals are contemptuous of the law, and therefore the law does not deserve obedience. A big problem looming ever larger as our increasingly repressive laws and regulations are ignored and the TSA and SWAT teams swarm over ridiculously piddling and non-threatening issues.

  2. But that is not all. I would not upgrade Firefox at all, if I could back up a bunch of iterations. I do not let it upgrade automatically, but I do let it tell me when an upgrade comes out. At this point, they have screwed me so many times, I figure getting raped is nothing new.

    So yesterday, it told me urgent upgrade for security issues was available. Strongly recommended. After I took it in the butt again, there was a screen with the particulars. I saw ZERO security holes patched, but a massive change in the look, feel, and placement of things.

    Last upgrade, I already fought off an attempt to move the tabs to the very top of things, instead of immediately above the web content, where they belong. Tab Mix Plus fixed that last time. This time, it didn’t. I’m getting so angry by now, I am foaming at the mouth and went for a drink. Orange squash, actually — from Britain. I can get it in the foreign section at Meijer’s.

    So I google a few expressions involving the placement of tabs. One yields a plug-in FROM Mozilla, called Classic Theme Restorer. I download it. It tells me my version of Firefox is incompatible and I must download the beta version for it to work. That turns out to be a flat-out lie, but so common in these days when truth is trampled by imaginary realities. So, I upgrade to the beta version, which I am now running — v30.0b.

    After upgrading, that same damned lie appears, telling me the plug-in is incompatible with this version. I successfully install it anyway, and the info after installing makes it clear it is — and was — compatible with the version I had before upgrading to beta. A half hour of trying various options that were not at all descriptive enough (developer shorthand I am sure), and I am pretty close to being back to where I was with v27/28/29.

    Part of the changes are 100% artistic. Instead of squared off tabs, now they slant, like tabs on a real folder, making it impossible to fit as many tabs in the same space. Who are these jerks making ‘improvements’? Various returns on my googling make it clear that Mozilla has insulated itself from user complaints, and no longer has/allows interface responses from developer employees to user needs and questions. Most of the fixes are from former Mozilla developers. Moreover, it turns out that breaking banking ‘bill pay’ operations has been a problem since 2011. Mozilla blames banks for not working with the so-called security upgrades to Firefox. But you know what? I cannot blame the banks; breaking stuff with every iteration gets tiresome — especially when it is caused by some developer’s idea of “security”, like changing cookie defaults.

    My advice is if you have a version of Firefox that does what you need, turn off upgrade notifications, ignore any talk of upgrades, and be happy. Mozilla is out-of-control. I already suggested an ouster of the admittedly very cute Mitchell Baker (but who actually looks a LOT older than her Internet pics), who is solidly unconcerned — perhaps even completely ignorant — about any complaints of Mozilla operations. But I am now beginning to doubt that would make a difference. She is cuter than Fiorina. And based on the recent ouster of Brendan Eich as CEO, I will bet Baker is not a Republican. That is a big plus in my book these days.

  3. Shazzammmm! Wow, that was a lotta text to get to this:

    “…both corporate institutions and individuals are contemptuous of the law, and therefore the law does not deserve obedience. A big problem looming ever larger as our increasingly repressive laws and regulations are ignored and the TSA and SWAT teams swarm over ridiculously piddling and non-threatening issues.”

    Yessir! That is correct. You have hit dead upon the situation, sir!

    We’ve been through that banking, money-by-wire, internet thing here as well, but our daughter has an account with the same bank as us and it’s only just across the border in Canada and the bank is a Canadian-owned bank. We’ve mainly done the transfer stuff in-person and have not dared to finagle this chit via the internet. For the very reasons you enumerate above, lost transactions, wrong transactions, double or triple transactions, etc., et-bloody-cetra.

    On FF I note that the most up-to-date version here on my Winblows machine looks amazingly like Chrome now and I have yet to find out how to pop open additional windows/tabs. I only use it for the AccuWeather lies and downloading music videos anyway.

    On Repubs and Dems: they both suck. A lot. The Stupid Half of the War Party and the Evil Half, except they’re both Evil and Stupid.

    I also saw the nooz about the IE security holes and the M$ “response” to it. Still mainly using Chrome; I wish there was one secure and stable browser we could all use but there ain’t. I’ve gone back and forth between them all since they’ve all existed.

    Looks like it’s just you and me, Chuck; everyone else must be wigging out with the Hallmark Holiday today; Bob’s filling bottles; greg in Oz is being fondled by comely nurses; SteveF is murdering somebody who pissed him off; and OFD here is breathing deeply of miles and miles of newly manure-strewn farm fields, which couldn’t be manured until the last day or so due to the waterlogged nature of most of the landscape up here, from horizon to horizon. Last time it was like this, they had two corn crops fail in a row.

    Mrs. OFD just called from Albaq. Nuevo Mexico, where the wind is howling in 60-MPH gusts and dust is flying and she has to work the rest of the week; I hope to hear something positive this week about maybe going back to Big Blue for the last year or two before they sell out completely and leave thousands more outta work and the economy here in even worse shape.

  4. I hear retirement from Big Blue is worth the hassle of working there. Actually, I do not have any real bones to pick with them (my dad thought differently with his seldom functioning mag card typewriter). It was so unlike them to open up the architecture of desktop computers so we could all have one. I may have more tasks rather than the promised fewer to do since personal computing, but man, I sure would not want to go back to the old ways.

    Editing video used to require about $500k and 2 rooms worth of equipment with a DEC processor in the rack to run the CMX editing software, plus 3 people to man all the equipment, but now I do it on a laptop with flash drives and DVD’s all by myself. Except for color correction for the serious stuff, which I send out.

  5. Happy Mother’s Day Mr. OFD and Mr. Chuck 🙂

    I mainly use Chrome on a Mac. My browser troubles come with certain State sites to pay employee UI, file quarterlies, etc. Some use IE **ONLY** so I keep a VM with W7 and IE. If I don’t use IE on Windows I end up in Mr. Chuck’s endless loop. Took a while to figure that out.

    My wife travels as much as Mrs. OFD. She’s off on a three weeker tomorrow. Coast to coast a couple of times. For her Mother’s Day treat, we went to a winery in Pahrump, NV. Nice wine tasting and large sit down lunch at the winery’s restaurant. Nice little community.

    http://www.pahrumpwinery.com/

  6. The only way I could retire from IBM is if: 1.) I got a permanent job there. 2.) They stay in business for another thirty years at least. 3.) I live another thirty years in good enough shape to work, i.e., haul ethernet cable under floor tiles, string it through ceilings, horse servers into and out of racks, haul other electronic equipment up and down flights of stairs and long hallways, while in between those times I sit at a desk and do the typey-typey thing with bash and vim. Also, the country would have to stay up and running and no asteroid could have hit the earth and split it like a bullet hitting an apple, and no worldwide pandemics that kill off the human race, etc., etc.

    Meanwhile they’ve been offering various retirement “packages” to long-term employees, which, as far as I can see, vary wildly in their desirability and effects. While also laying off as many people as possible and still keeping machines running to maintain the cash flow and profits of the upper crust. I suspect that the local site up here may have dumped more folks than they could really get away with, esp. in regard to the machines me and my guys supported; that chit can’t get off-shored or dealt with by peeps without security clearances. Thus a possible call-back.

    On the internet/biz thing; I kept running into scenarios where various corporate and gummint organizations can’t do their thing on any browsers beyond IE 6.

    Mrs. OFD is gone an average of two weeks a month now, sometimes three. All over the country; there’s only five or six states she hasn’t been to, among them Hawaii. She’s been to Lost Wages, NV; and New Mexico several times. Main states lately seem to be Kalifornia and Texas. But amazingly, she has gigs coming up in June for Albany, i.e. “The Capital District” down in the Vampire State, and Manchester, New Hampshuh. Unusual.

    I suppose I’ll have to set up a belated Mothers Day lunch or dinner somewhere or maybe I’ll just do something fancy right here. Bring in some flowers. Sent the latter down to my own mum in lovely Maffachufetts,where she may or may not remember who I am; very lucid half the time and another dimension the other half. Born in 1932 during the Great Depression. Had to have her legs broken as a baby to straighten them. Now 82. Meanwhile MIL is 86 and drives all over hell, moves furniture, paints landscapes, and flies around the country with Mrs. OFD, so she’s down there right now in New Mexico. Her OLDER sister paddles a kayak around the lake here, rides a bicycle, and drives a car around with shades on like she’s fifty years younger. Mrs. OFD rides hosses, moves furniture, paints pictures, makes jewelry and teaches all them really intense classes.

    OFD hisself can barely make it up the friggin’ stairs and gets up a couple times a night to pee and then wheezes hisself back to sleep. What a goddam wreck.

  7. Lynn was visiting his Mom today (actually since Friday night) in the Port of Lavaca. About 120 miles down the coast. Mom is doing OK and Dad is still recovering from cancer treatments that were mercifully short and successful. Took Mom and Dad out for lunch after church (got the obligatory Mother’s day sermon) and then got flowers for her afterwards before I took off with the rest of Texas driving around the state.

    Our new 75 mph speed limits were well in use today with many people continuing them into the 65 mph nine county region around Houston. Houston is known as an EPA air pollution non-attainment zone and has special limits on just about everything. Until the sheriff’s deputy joined us and caused quite the backup. You know, living in a state that is 800 miles across and 400+ miles south to north (on the short side), people really want to drive about a million miles per hour here.

  8. Good to know everyone was out taking care of Mom. No moms in my close family anymore, so no celebrations here. My kids are planning a big one for Father’s Day, though. None of these Hallmark holidays in Germany, although there is a thing called Herrentag, which I guess would translate to something like Man’s Day — there is nothing like a mother or father’s day. Herrentag is always on Ascension Day, which is Th 29 May this year. That is a general public holiday, too. Half the male population goes out and gets plastered at the local pub. Lots of broken glass on the ground for the following workday, as breaking empty beer bottles is some kind of insane culture necessity for German men. All is swept perfectly clean within 2 days, however. Most men are worthless at work the next day.

    I have one day of respite from work tomorrow, then the schedule hits heavy again. I will be exorcising profanity from one of Demetri Martin’s comedy CD’s tomorrow. (There is not much with Demetri; he is one of the cleaner acts out there.)

  9. This is the first time in 62 years that I won’t be able to wish my mother a happy Mother’s Day. A little melancholy, although my mother insisted that the day was invented by Hallmark. I suspect Barbara and Francis feel similarly.

    Daughter (18) Skyped from Ecuador to wish her mom a happy M.D.. Oldest son (who was born on M.D.) will be 30 on Tuesday. He’s in China and did not call. Middle son did not call, but he manages a restaurant and M.D. is busy for him. The thought of having a 30 year-old child makes me feel old. My step father said he felt old when his oldest daughter retired.

    Perfect weather here today. 69 and sunny. Dinner on the deck.

    Rick in Portland

  10. Back in the Eighties it was almost impossible to be sacked by IBM. When they wanted to trim fat they had voluntary redundancies which the wrong people (the good ones) took, while the duds held on for dear life. Then they changed policy and just sacked who they wanted. Now they, and Evil Doers in Suits, and the rest just sack as many as they can so the bottom line looks good. I hated IBM because of what they did to CDC, they rehabilitated themself by supporting Linux, now I am starting to hate them again.

  11. Chuck writes “Duke borders — no, actually I think it crosses — the line of being evil” and then “I tried several times to get Duke to just hit my checking account with the monthly bill”. You sure you really want that? I find bank security in the USA to be so pathetic – there’s no way I want people accessing my account (I do still have one) directly.

    In Europe, having an account number lets you transfer money in, but not out. In the US, having the numbers off the bottom of a check gives you, practically speaking, full access to the account.

    I remember settling my mother’s affairs, where companies wanted me to give them her account number over the phone. Apparently they could deduct money with no written authorization – based on my authorization over the telephone. Even though they only had my word, over the phone in the same conversation, that I had any right to authorize anything. Absolutely frightening…

    Re Firefox: I have exactly one website that is compatible only with IE or Firefox. Since I’m under Linux, that means Firefox. That is absolutely the only thing I use Firefox for – otherwise, I switched to Chromium (the open-source version of Chrome) years ago. The user interface is more stable, all of the Chrome plug-ins work. Recommended…

  12. My browser troubles come with certain State sites

    As one who develops applications that run on (in) a browser I know many of the pitfalls. I have been chastised for my rather simple, but functional web pages. I keep them simple because I know they will work on all browsers. When you start adding the latest wizbang feature of HTML5 you find lots of problems. I minimize the use of cookies or other items that must be stored on the user’s computer. I minimize the use of javascript and what little I do use is kept very simple. Java is entirely out of the question.

    I do no validation on the client as that requires javascript. All validation is done on the server as I am able to do much more extensive validations and do it easier than javascript which is really difficult to use. If you have an error in javascript it will just fail with no real message and finding the offending item is not always easy. A1 is not the same as a1, which to me is really stupid.

    Back in the early days of the web doing as much on the client as possible was the norm. I did not agree. This was back in the AOHELL days with 56k connections. Even with client side validation it was still necessary to validate on the server to avoid the user messing with the HTML. You may save a couple of round trips to the server which in the slow speed days was desirable. But not for applications where the data integrity is critical. Ever heard the stories about people buying stuff on the web for pennies on the dollar simply because the user modified a hidden form field? I rest my case.

    I also do not use graphics on the application pages. Yeh, it may look somewhat better but graphics are resource intensive and cause display problems. All my web application pages are built dynamically on the server, there are no static pages. All this requires code and when you start getting fancy with the web page it just adds an unnecessary burden on code maintenance. Applications should be made to be functional, on all browsers (IE 8 or above), not rely on some HTML5 feature that is not fully supported on some browsers, not rely on javascript code to resolve problems on the client or rely on extensive cookies.

    My many years of coding in multiple languages has taught me that fancy may look good, but simple is better in the long term. Now where did I put that single ALGOL statement that was 66 lines by 132 characters long?

  13. This all sounds like advice that I saw many years ago about building decent web sites, IIRC, it was called “From Sucky to Savvy” or sumthin like that, and the guy had all the same advice and procedures; keeping it simple. This would have been around 1998.

    I hate waiting for pages to load because there’s a ton of spiffy graphics and whiz-bang videos and all that crap. Much more hate and loathing if it’s a site that I *have* to deal with for financial matters.

    60s again today headed to 70 or so, sunny with blue skies; just took the last cat in for neutering, and now for dump run, other mindless errands and chores, and working on IT certs again while not hearing from anyone about any jobs, natch, as it is Monday and no one works, ditto this past Friday, when even fewer peeps work. I guess for the remaining work force in the country, if one is lucky enough; is that the right word?, the weekend begins on Thursday afternoon, after Hump Day when nothing is done, either. All the work seems to happen on Tuesdays.

    YMMV.

  14. I have only occasional minor problems with FF and Chrome. I use IE only for Windows Update.

  15. Ya old geezer!

    Pffftttt, I have half a mind to use my slide rule to whip some sense into you young whipper-snappers.

    Pascal replaced Algol in 1970!

    Not on the Burroughs large systems as I was still using Algol in 1979 when I left the USAF. Wrote half a dozen custom language compilers using Algol that would generate directly executable medium systems code or pseudo code.

  16. USPS – They’re just doing their part to save money. This in the local rag’s digest this am…

    Postal Service reports quarterly loss of $1.9B
    CALIFORNIAN NEWS SERVICES
    The Postal Service reported a second-quarter loss of $1.9 billion, despite increasing its revenue by $379 million and expanding its shipping-and-package business by 8 percent compared with the same period last year.

    The latest display of red ink prompted more calls for Congress to pass postal reforms to help fix the agency’s persistent financial problems. The numbers released Friday marked the 20th time in the past 22 quarters in which the USPS has sustained a loss. The USPS lost $5 billion last year while reporting its first revenue gain since 2008. The agency has not made a profit since 2006.

    What to you think they paid Stan Lee to appear for two seconds in the latest commercial? AMAZING!

  17. @Chuck, Continuing a conversation from many months ago: I complained that many songs sounded to me like they were mixed badly, with the voices not having the prominence I expected. I gave an example on YouTube, you listened to it and said it was just fine, and wondered if I had some hearing damage.

    Well, after some increasing tinnitus I had a hearing test today, and you were absolutely right. There’s a big fat notch at around 4k. Not worth doing anything about, as long as the tinnitus doesn’t get worse, but there it is…Dr. Chuck was on the money.

  18. I’ve got the tinnitus in my right ear for some strange reason after many years of rock concerts, firearms and explosives.

    Some may consider this a liability, but I can attest that it comes in right handy around here some days….

  19. I think my hearing is fine, although Barbara would probably say otherwise.

    I didn’t attend all that many rock concerts, although I did hear The Who, The Rolling Stones, and a few other loud rock bands live. I think The Who took the prize for volume, but I’ve also fired more than a few .44 Mag rounds without muffs, and they make The Who sound like they’re whispering.

    I remember the first time Barbara was around a .44 Mag being fired. We were in one lane at the indoor range. She was shooting either .45 Auto or her .357, which aren’t exactly quiet rounds. But then the guy in the next lane touched off his .44 Mag with a full-bore round. It kicked up dust in our lane, and Barbara said later that she actually felt it vibrate her internal organs.

  20. I dunno what caused the hearing loss for me. My best guess: around 10 years ago I started in on a lot of home renovations, with some fairly loud power tools. Nowadays I always wear ear protection, but at the start I wasn’t always good about that.

  21. Good point; I wear hearing protectors now with power tools, the motorized yard stuff, and firearms; at my age kinda like locking the bahn door after the hosses have gone.

    Saw the Who at the old Boston Gahden when they still had Keith Moon; he passed out fifteen minutes into the set and pitched forward across his drum kit. Concert cancelled. Well, postponed; they issued a rain check and several months later came back and played for four hours straight and blew the roof off the place.

    Saw an interview with Roger Daltrey and Townsend a while ago and they both said they’d tried to help Keith but he was a goner.

    I maintain their best album, and one of the best in rock, is their “Live at Leeds” record.

    This is possibly the only concert footage from that night, in 1969, a crummy montage with lousy sound quality but you get the idea of how they approached performance.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sanAHVITCDY

  22. I suspect a lot of my hearing loss was from my time in the service in very loud computer centers with hundreds of motors, fans, card readers and impact printers. Cannot get the VA to consider the same.

    Now I use hearing protection anytime I am around loud equipment, mower, weed eater, pressure washer etc. What I have left is not something I want to lose.

    I also have started wearing eye protection while mowing, especially weed eating or doing anything where there may be particles flying about.

  23. Back in the Eighties it was almost impossible to be sacked by IBM.

    My uncle retired from IBM a few years ago right before they were going to convert his pension plan into a 401K. He loved working for them and was the last CICS support dude.

  24. Ya old geezer! Pascal replaced Algol in 1970!

    The one true language, Fortran, was replaced by C in the 1980s and later C++. Turbo Pascal was an awesome IDE but Turbo C and Turbo C++ were the foundations of the PC computer industry until Microsoft got their act together to create Visual Studio.

    The one thing that I always did like about Pascal is the length built into strings. The one thing that I hated about Pascal was the pointer manipulations were just not as good as C.

    I note that the bigtime browser app writers (Google, Facebook) are moving into compiled code for their client side. The server side went back to C++ quite a few years ago.

  25. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, my parents’ neighbors were Bill and Dona Gallagher. He was a salesman for IBM and the thing I’ll never forget was him coming home literally half a dozen times a day to change shirts. I think he must have scheduled time for a change between each of his sales calls. Poor Dona had to wash and iron two or three dozen 100% cotton shirts every week.

  26. “I also have started wearing eye protection while mowing, especially weed eating or doing anything where there may be particles flying about.”

    Roger that. And long pants, maybe even shin guards. No sandals or bare feet like I see local cretins doing.

  27. What capacity tank Ray? I put in about 50-55 litres at a time for around $70.

  28. $77? I got that beat. My Roadmaster has a 26 gallon tank, and at $3.63/gal, I filled up on Friday for $86 and change. Filled it right up to the top of the filler cap, too, which apparently is impossible with new cars. No matter, because I always drive 60 miles or more right after a fill-up.

  29. Brad queried:

    You sure you really want that? I find bank security in the USA to be so pathetic – there’s no way I want people accessing my account (I do still have one) directly.

    Good point. I need to rethink all of my banking procedures. Two of the three utilities debit a trust account set up by my parents to take care of Tiny House before and after their deaths. Only Duke gets paid by check. Oddly, Duke is a dinosaur, and charges for every other method of payment (including cash) except checks and auto-debits of checking.

    Not much money in the trust account, but the auto-hits were in place because my mom was finally no longer able to take care of her own finances and the gas company is allowed in this state to turn off heat in winter for non-payment. Did not want that happening to my mom. I really long for the elimination of checks. I have had more problems with our checking system, and zero problems with the German no check system. Except that the government could both freeze and take money out of your account — and they did both in our case, mistakenly as it turned out.

    Re: USPS. My own experience seems to reinforce that our neighborhood does not get daily mail deliveries. I sometimes go for several days receiving no mail at all, then get a pile of it one day, with local mail that should be delivered next day, arriving as much as 3 to 5 days, instead. Our mailman parks in a particular spot on our street, not far from Tiny House, to have lunch, which means he is parked there for a good hour for lunch and deliveries to our neighborhood. In the past, I went by him every time I went out at lunch, but in the last 6 months or so, there are many days when I do not see his truck at all. So I don’t think skipped deliveries are confined to W-S.

    As far as the cost of the USPS, I don’t care what it costs, I want daily mail delivery and pick-up to my door — not a frigging cluster box a mile away, which would be disastrous in my case, as I am gone for as many as 6 days at a time, with NOBODY to empty a box for me when I am gone. Tiny House has a mail slot through the wall next to the front door, so the mail collects safely inside and nobody knows I am gone by mail piling up somewhere that can be seen by any and every body. Whatever it costs, postal service is provided for by the Constitution and is to be paid for by the US Congress. Pay the piper and quit bitching, Congress!

    Sorry to hear of the hearing problems. The area from 4k to 6k is the sibilance region of speech and quite important to discerning what people are saying. My loss notch is lower, in the range of about 1.5 to 3k in left ear only. That was caused by wearing a headset in control rooms for a good 3 hours a day or more for about 35 years. Those systems only passed audio from about 1 to 3k, so that is why that has happened to me. I also have that learning response problem where I really cannot interpret what people are saying with a telephone (or intercom) up to my right ear, so talking on cell phones — which are not ergonomically designed like old-school telephone sets — is nowadays difficult for me what with the right ear useless for comprehension and the left ear subnormal in hearing. What I need is the old standard ergonomically correct handset connected to a cell phone. The speakerphone function works for me most of the time, however, and that is what I mostly use.

    For about the last year, I have experimented with a Winamp DSP plug-in called Stereo Tool. Young guy in The Netherlands coded it for radio stations, and it is brilliant. It already has replaced hardware devices in radio stations in Europe, and is now giving the American market some serious competition. In the past American radio technicians wanted single-purpose hardware solutions, but that is beginning to change, as America finds that the cost of stand-alone equipment is not only costly, but not upgradeable. Upgrading Stereo Tool is a simple matter of installing the latest version, but it needs to reside on a computer sitting somewhere, instead of a purpose-built rack device. For some reason, radio technicians in this country are loathe to use computers in that way.

    Anyway, I have spent the last year fine-tuning the EQ/compression to emphasize the vocal range of music and increase the clarity of lyrics. IMO I have been successful. Cannot tell you the number of mondegreens I have misunderstood in lyrics of songs I thought I knew. I intended to post my settings on GitHub, but life is so busy, and GitHub so complex for non-programmers, that I have no idea how to get it up — even with son and programmer DIL’s help. Stereo Tool with my settings would probably help Brad’s case. Does not work on YouTube, however — only locally played 44.1k digital material.

    Keith Moon lived near my British aunt Mary, whom I visited almost yearly from the ‘70’s into the ‘90’s. Well, Moon was near her when she lived in Ticehurst after she retired. That is in the area of East Sussex where Tunbridge Wells that Monty Python frequently made fun of, is located. Moon had a number of hot cars, frequently shopped in Ticehurst, and raced down Church St. where aunt Mary lived, in one or the other of his sports cars on the way to or from Ticehurst. Although I never met him (did see his car a couple times), he was very approachable with the townsfolk, very well liked, and the whole area was devastated when he overdosed in the same London Mayfair flat where Mama Cass Elliot had died. He lived on a big farm estate within walking distance from aunt Mary. A year or two after Moon died, my aunt moved twice more before ending up in Littlehampton on the south coast for her last 15 years. In Littlehampton, she lived right around the corner (about 50 steps) from Coopers, the store Ronnie Barker used as the inspiration for his “Open All Hours” (which Coopers never was) series. Barker lived directly next door to aunt Mary. Again, a star I never met, but whom she knew. In yet another strange coincidence, Mary lived most of her working life in Golders Green London, just up the road from the Golders Green Hippodrome, one of the first venues The Who played, and down the street from the Golders Green crematorium, where Moon was cremated and his ashes scattered.

    Meanwhile a 200 song CD set, compiled in Germany, just arrived. Bought it used for US$12. Has a ton of late ‘50’s/early ‘60’s rock and roll in varying quality. I suspect most of it is taken directly from vinyl; some tracks are really clean and good, others are not even the original hit recordings, but fake covers that many artists did to get around exclusivity clauses that prevented their songs from being re-released on collections by anybody else. Although I now have nearly every song in Billboard’s top 30 from 1955 through 2012, a lot of the quality is crap, so I am trying to fill in those gaps. This CD will fix about 50 tracks, but I have a long way to go to get all-pervasive good quality. In some cases I have as many as a half-dozen different versions of the same song, and I have yet to determine which is the highest quality one of each of those. Collecting and maintaining a large music library is a LOT of work.

    The Linux laptop suddenly cannot see the Windows computer. As far as I know, I have changed nothing in either computer or the router — no upgrades to any machine, as I do not do upgrades. Switched off the Windows Firewall, and that made no difference. Rebooted both computers — no joy. This after nearly 2 years of no-problem connections. I know I can mount the Windows computer in the Linux Mint one via fstab, but — after 20 years of desktop computing — this kind of crap should be a thing of the past.

    On the work front, the next 2 days were canceled a few hours ago, so that is a relief and gives me some more breathing room before I have to go out-of-town again for work.

  30. Chuck wrote:

    “My Roadmaster has a 26 gallon tank…”

    You’re relapsing Chuck. How many furlongs per fluid oz do you get? 🙂

  31. “The Linux laptop suddenly cannot see the Windows computer.”

    Are you running Samba by any chance? Probably not, but thought I’d ask.

    Meanwhile, try these two things:

    1.) Cold reboot the Windows machine; i.e. shut it down, unplug it, wait a few. Power back up, reboot and give it ten or fifteen minutes.

    2.) Try connecting via its IP address instead of its name?

  32. What capacity tank Ray?

    26 gallons. I put in a little over 22 gallons. I normally get gas at Costco for $3.24 but had to pay a little more because I was on a short road trip.

    I got that beat.

    Indeed you do. It was a shock to me because I had been driving my Avalon at 29 miles per gallon. Truck is getting about 19. I can go further on a tank, 500 miles vs 400 miles, but the shock of filling up hits home. Most I had paid before was $51.00.

  33. Roadmaster gets about 26 mpg at 70 mph, but around 14 mpg in city driving. Big V-8. Forget the displacement, but that Buick is basically a Chevy Caprice of the same year with bigger bumpers. I’m guessing the engine is the descendant of the old Chevy 409. Actually, it is one helluva road car. Shocks are in great shape, and I see newer cars all around me bouncing with road imperfections, while my ride is smooth as glass. Gonna miss that when it gets replaced.

  34. I intended to post my settings on GitHub, but life is so busy, and GitHub so complex for non-programmers, that I have no idea how to get it up — even with son and programmer DIL’s help.

    Git and GitHub can be a bit tricky. What might be easiest, if you only want to publish what you’ve come up with and never really change it again, is to just get your son or DIL to put it up for you. If you do want to have a bash at it yourself, you basically need to go through the three stages described in this StackOverflow post:

    1) Create the remote repository — the git repository that is on GitHub. You can do this on the website itself.

    2) Create your local git repository, and add all your stuff to it. If you’re using git itself, and not a GUI tool, the linked StackOverflow post is a good guide to this.

    3) Set up the GitHub repository as a remote for your local repository. Then push your local stuff to the remote. Again, the linked StackOverflow post gives the necessary commands.

    If you want to understand more about what git is actually doing, check out Git From the Bottom Up. It’s freely available online, and really helped me get to grips with git.

  35. Thanks for that. Son and DIL were trying to explain this stuff to me, but I do not understand programming these days. I learned what little programming I know on the Sinclair, waaay back when.

    I will explore those references and see if I can get it uploaded. All it is is a text file that stores the Stereo Tool’s configuration. You would think that would be dead simple. I am told that GitHub is the only place to put things these days, although I understand that has as much to do with fashion as technical reasons.

  36. Truck is getting about 19.

    You are doing great for a 6,000+ lb vehicle that you are commuting in. If you wanted better mileage then you should have waited for the 2014 F-150 that comes out late this summer. The body is all aluminum with a corresponding weight drop of 700 lbs.

    Me, I would wait a while on the new aluminum F-150. They are riveting and gluing the body together since welding aluminum is not compatible with high speed assembly lines. I worry that they need some time (2 to 3 years) to get the kinks ironed out.

    The new CO2 EPA taxes coming out this summer will be about ten cents/gal of gasoline to start. They will double each year so it will be a few years before they double the price of gasoline.

  37. That’s the ticket; add those EPA taxes and then put RFIDs on all vehicles and tax them also on the miles they drive, so workers commuting take the biggest hits and let’s get on full speed ahead with crashing this economy totally. Jack up minimum wage and make ObummerCARE compulsory and grab all our retirement accounts and pensions in the bargain.

  38. The body is all aluminum with a corresponding weight drop of 700 lbs.

    Actually I did not want to lose the 700 pounds. When towing a boat that has a trailer weight of 6500 pounds I really want some mass in the towing vehicle. I don’t want the trailer dominating the towing vehicle.

    The aluminum is going to be more expensive to insure and repairs will only be in specialized shops for several years. Your local anvil and crowbar repair facility will not have the specialized equipment and training for some time.

    I opted to pass on 4WD. I have only had a need one time in all my years of owning a pick-em-up truck. That extra weight and drag I did not need.

  39. That extra weight and drag I did not need.

    Agreed. That’s why I divorced my first wife.

  40. Gotta have the 4WD here for wintuh and Mud Season…or….the many, many miles of unpaved roads in this state, where some locations still have dial-up modems and/or party lines on their phones. You can go stand in these places and easily imagine yourself back in the year 1900, which is why when everything falls apart and we’re back to that year, it won’t be as hahd for us.

  41. Actually I did not want to lose the 700 pounds. When towing a boat that has a trailer weight of 6500 pounds I really want some mass in the towing vehicle. I don’t want the trailer dominating the towing vehicle.

    I know what you mean. I used to tow a 28,000 lb fifth wheel trailer with a 10,000 lb crew cab dually. That trailer drove the truck everywhere we went, especially down mountains where I burned out the electric brakes and over-revved the diesel one fine day. My fellow engineers were turning white as we passed 95 mph.

    That is a big boat! Hope it has good brakes.

  42. Hope it has good brakes.

    I have surge disc brakes on all four wheels on the trailer.

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