marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

It came in the mail today. I asked Other Person to install it only to be told, "Oh, yeah, sure, that's easy!" Ten minutes of scattered, "Oh, my GOD"s later, I took it it was not that easy, but he got it done (after the Scroll Lock key literally jumped off the keyboard as he pressed the keyboard in, and after he found he couldn't lock the keyboard because the locks aren't moving, and might be there just to make it look like the keyboard it's supposed to look like but actually isn't).

The keyboard, now that I'm typing on it, doesn't feel too great. I don't know if it's the unusable locks but it looks and feels too "springy" and the space bar and letter "a" tend to miss unless I consciously pound them. I tend to pound on keyboards, anyhow (yes, I'm The Most Annoying Typist, ever) but apparently I'm not pounding on the "a" or space bar hard enough.

It's also missing the joystick, or whatever the little doohickey's called between the "g", "h", and "b" keys, as seen in this picture. It came in handy when my touchpad malfunctioned - which it still does at least a few times a month, usually after installing Windows updates. The joystick would work even when my touchpad went nuts, so I'd use it to restart my laptop until the problem fixed itself, or else to find and uninstall the driver when it wouldn't quit fucking up.

Besides that, the delete, insert, pause, escape and left arrow keys were set inside the keyboard crooked and off to one side by the manufacturer. This keyboard's mostly solved the problem of the bubbled-up from beneath look of the last keyboard, but there's still a slight rise above the upper right side that we can't quite figure out.

Once it was in and working, we decided it was mere aftermarket lookalike crap that will probably need replacing within six months. I'd replace it right now if I could, as the springiness is getting to me. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how nor where to order an HP-certified replacement, plus I'm thinking it might cost too much be feasible.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Other Person has gotten the Dell laptop working again. The "i" and "z" keys sometimes stick or die and yesterday, of all things, the apostrophe quit so I had to copy one out of a Google search for "apostrophe", because I'm really nothing without contractions. Today the apostrophe's fine and after I sat my index finger on the "i" for a few minutes it sprang to life, as well. The rest of the keyboard seems up to speed and the laptop no longer freezes.

I didn't pay attention to what he did to fix it because I was on his tablet, because my tablet keeps freezing up now, too, but from glancing at him now and then I gather it involved taking the laptop apart, blowing some things out, re-seating other things, re-assembling it, and perhaps the chanting of incantations. The Dell cost me nothing, I've already fixed it once, and I would've tossed it rather than gone through what he did, but I'm kind of glad now that he bothered. My blog looks pretty good on it (better than it does on our tablets - those turn the page gutters an ugly dark tan color that I wouldn't have picked myself).

My replacement laptop keyboard's due here by the end of the week, but I'm worried about it being a crapshoot, so I'm keeping the packaging and will re-seal it like new to turn around and re-sell ASAP if it doesn't work out. The thing is, since the storm, my existing keyboard's bent toward the top middle, so I'm thinking it's because something under the bent part corresponding to the motherboard overheated and warped, in which case no keyboard (except an external) might ever work again.

If it does turn out to be useless, I'll need a new external keyboard because the one I'm using now has multiple dead keys, just like the laptop. The dead keys on the external aren't dead on the laptop so I've just been using both of them at once. I wish y'all could see this - I'm like a DJ working keyboards instead of turntables, which is sort of amusing.

We've lost power four times since the storm, for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Last night was for a few minutes, a few days before it was for a few hours, there was a quickie the night before that, and it was out a few hours the weekend before last. Every time we've lost power since the storm Comcast's cable modem has totally wigged out. It's always been slow - it takes a good five minutes to reboot, find its own ass, feel everything out and start pumping signal again, but since the storm you can add "find its own signal" to the list of things it takes too long to do. It has to reboot multiple times to finally stop claiming our signal's broadcasting when, in fact, it's not.

What sucks is that to our phones and computers the signal looks like it's broadcasting, and when you connect it doesn't show a yellow triangle to denote limited connection issues. But when you try to get online you can't, and when you check the network list it shows a full signal but then says next to that, "No internet", in classic, "Oh, NOW you tell me" fashion. So we waste a) five minutes waiting for the modem to reboot and decide it can do this, b) another five minutes for it to realize it can't do this and is totally lying, and c) another 5-15 minutes for multiple reboots to take place to finally push the signal back to life again.

I'm pretty sure it's a surge victim, though it was on surge protector - but there's nothing the storm didn't seem to touch - so we're planning a trip to our local Comcast office soon to get another modem so big I'll need both arms to carry it out. I'm going to hate having to swap these things out every time there's a storm.

To finish what I started the night the storm hit, I installed the latest build of Windows 10 on my now-collector's-item Nokia about five days ago. My phone restarted to install updates required to get Win10 (one tree had hit the house by then; the second tree was about to) just as the lights went out. My phone only installs updates over wifi, which didn't exist for another 14 days, so once wifi came back the phone automatically picked up where it left off.

I had to use the WinInsider app as a workaround against Microsoft's official app, which blocks my phone from getting Win10 because it's not recommended on phones with only a half gig of RAM. It's running great on my half gig, though. It's opening and resuming windows, menus, browsers and the app list faster than Win8.1 did and looks jazzier, too. The worst problems are with Edge windows - they tend to crash as much as Internet Explorer windows do on 8.1 - and with the native email app, which opens with the keyboard displayed every single time. I can't figure out why the email app thinks it's the messenger, but one press of the back button makes it go away, so it's more "annoyance" than fatal flaw.

Battery life, once the primary dealbreaker on Win10, is actually better now than it is on 8.1, so if you're an 8.1 user with just a half gig of RAM it might pay to go the WinInsider route and switch to Win10 to preserve battery life, but no, I never said that, EULAs be damned. It's helped my battery - a lot. On 8.1 I had to keep screen brightness on "low" to get the battery to last more than a few hours, which made the screen really, really hard to see because my eyes, as we know, are not the greatest. On Win10 I can get 12+ hours on a single charge with brightness set to "high", which means it would last even longer on a lower setting (there's a "medium", too).

I mostly upgraded to Win10 to use my bank's official app, which isn't available on Win8/8.1, but the one thing I wanted it for - to deposit checks, which I get a fair amount of each month - isn't working. It tells me it took pictures of the checks successfully, then says it can't read them, and gives me tips on how to take the pictures so they come out better. Reading through the tips, I can see I've done exactly what they suggest, yet the app still fails to read my checks.

The worst thing about Win10 Mobile is the News app. I don't know if I've discussed it before, but I've been addicted to it on Win8/8.1 for years. It shows lists of headlines with a tiny thumbnail next to each one. You click an item and it opens full page with larger pictures, which, if you click on those, can be pinched and swiped from full-size (like the actual size they were published at, which can sometimes be huge) back down to article size. If you swipe left you get thumbnails of all the pictures in the article, and you can swipe through those without the accompanying text, or cycle through them with accompanying text, one picture at a time.

It's the greatest app for looking at pictures, but it's MIA in Win10. You can't change picture sizes anymore - the medium-ish thumbnails found in the articles are completely WYSIWYG, which results in a loss of context because pictures are so often essential to understanding what's going on.

The other thing missing in Win10 News is the entire list of headlines. Now there's huuuuuuuge thumbnails and huuuuuge titles with loooong blurbs, so you have to scroll and scroll and scroll to see even a tiny bit of what's going on. I liked the cleaner, simpler, and for lack of a better example, Drudge Report-style lists (they're much nicer/calmer-looking than TDR, but otherwise it's the same idea) and the fact that the lists were truncated at 3-5 items per topic with no blurbs (you click on a topic name to see the full list of headlines on one page).

There's no truncation in Win10 now, just endless scrolling. It's highly inefficient, and totally breaks my reading flow.

It's gone from:

WORLD

This item
This item
This item

To:

World

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

And you can just rinse and repeat forever. It's awful.

Loose ends

Sep. 16th, 2016 12:35 am
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Can y'all tell I got Comcast back? The truck was here, according to Other Person, just after 8am yesterday. Cable and Internet were back on within a few hours. This re-hooking of our downed-in-the-storm line (has anyone noticed I haven't named this storm? That I will never name it? That it's The Storm That Must Not Be Named? It's marked as "Hurricane Hymen" on my calendar) restored service not just to my apartment but the entire building and the one to our right, which is fully occupied, so it wasn't just us going without, after all.

I called today to get the rest of the credit I was promised for the outage, which lasted 14 days - nine of those because our neighborhood's utility and communication lines were destroyed, another five because whoopsies!, Comcast forgot to hook our particular line back up. The lady who took my call was polite but mystified, because according to her, Comcast had already processed the credit in question and it was for $75, not $25, which was an earlier credit that had previously been applied, so she wondered aloud why I would keep asking for a $25 credit that had already been processed?

Convinced she was confusing this month's outstanding credits with last month's for $94 (which included a $75 credit along with many others) I asked if she'd mind if I log into my online account while she stayed on the line so I could take a look at what she was saying. She pointed out the credits would be applied to next month's bill, not this one. I checked and sure enough, in the column of credits waiting to be applied near the end of the page was one for $75, and another for $25.

THEY JUST TOOK ANOTHER $100 OFF MY BILL FOR REALZ

Folks. They've taken $200 off my bill in the last few months, essentially extinguishing my July and August balances altogether. I'm...simply astonished. After I got done processing this she informed me that while the website will say I owe however much, my total amount due is just $87, and that won't even come due for another month. I haven't paid Comcast more than $10 to keep current since sometime in July, so this is just amazing.

We had people - a husband and wife - over for dinner this weekend and the obvious lack of service at the time came up. The guy was like, "*eyeroll* OMG, Comcast, I hate those motherfuckers, they're the worst." I was like - completely serious: "Uh, yeah - I know, but they're getting better?" only to watch his face hit the floor. But I'll give credit where it's due, even if I was about to start a blog about them after they nearly drove me insane doing the exact opposite of what they're doing now - *not* giving me credits I was promised for all the snarl-ups they were pulling on us back then.

Today I called the city to find out about the credit and extension on bill payment the neighbors claimed was being offered to extended storm outage households, only to be told no such number existed and if I thought I'd reached it in error to hang up and try again. Seriously, there are no such animals. This is why you never listen to your neighbors.

It's like playing Telephone - whatever the truth might be when the first person hears it, by the time it gets to you it's a different story altogether. The truth is my household qualifies for an extension based on good payment history, length of time at this residence, and so on - but those are the only households getting them. That's just business as usual, not in honor of going any length of time without power. Even if it's - innocuous enough in nature, I guess - I hate storytelling.

As to the Great Mystery Of the Simultaneously Malfunctioning Keyboards right after the storm, I think it's been solved. Other Person now tentatively blames the makeshift battery and charger he hooked our laptops to early that morning for shorting our collective keyboard circuitry out. Which...considering I'm not a trained computer tech nor an electrician - is a plausible enough theory, I guess. He does have a volt meter and I'm wondering how it could be used to test said posited theory for correctness.

He also has a now-malfunctioning charging cable and the laptop battery must be pulled and the laptop restarted once every hour or so because it freezes up - which are all issues that did not exist before the storm. It ran like a damn top and I know it because I was the one who fixed it before I gave it to him, and I used it quite often after that - mostly as a file server so I could auto-play music on Youtube while using my laptop for other things.

As to my laptop, two nights ago I removed the keyboard, cleaned under it, pulled off the (many) affected keys, cleaned under those, re-assembled everything, re-sat all the connectors, and had the same non-working keys, so Other Person took it apart a third time to cut a sliver off the top of the keyboard cable to form a new connection to the motherboard, then reassembled everything, re-sat all connectors, and I still had the same non-working keys, so I ordered a replacement off eBay. The damn keyboard cost more than what I sold my entire HP laptop with the bad graphics chip in it for last month - which of course had a perfectly compatible working keyboard, although the left Ctrl key was dead and there was some other non-working key, I think.

In the realm of You Break It, You Own It, I had a whoopsie! of my own a few months back when I smashed Other Person's tablet on the floor while vacuuming (the vacuum hit an end table, the tablet bounced off it and hit the floor with a loud thud!, and with that I was the owner of a fairly new tablet with a badly cracked screen. Go me.). As I like to say: "I don't make many mistakes, but when I do, they're complete fuckups!" I've been so unwilling to own this tablet, in fact, it's been hiding in my file upstairs for months, but with my replacement HP malfunctioning, I've been using it to bang out a few posts.

I hate it as much as I ever did, and OMG, how I hate it, let me count the ways. But I did buy Other Person a replacement with mostly better specs and much more storage, so yeah, at least I have something, however half-cocked it might be, to use now that our laptops are all screwed up.

The city hasn't picked up all the trees. Some, but not all. So it's gone from looking like a war zone to looking like a place that had a war. It's a subtle difference, at best. Our backyard, once a thing of wildly serene beauty, is still a disaster. The front and the bit of land by the road is actual blight. I'm beginning to get a sense of what it must've been like for Hurricane Andrew and Katrina survivors in some of the worst-hit areas. Even what we went through (this was one of maybe the top 20 worst-hit areas in the county, if not the entire state) had to be nothing compared to the damage from more serious storms.

It's changed me, somehow. I think the main change is I was never afraid before, but because the storm left more trees than it took, now I'm fearful of what never bothered me, like the wind. I can't be myself. I can't forget what happened nor what could - not just how bad it was but how much worse it could be. I'm no fool, either, which is why I probably would've been gone already if I just had the funds to go play somewhere else.

The third kitten we brought in about a month ago has been scooting its bottom across the floor to wipe itself every time it takes a dump. Don't ask me how much mopping I do because I can't stand to see his skid marks on the floor. I'd been silent on the topic because I didn't want him to have to go live back outside, but then maybe three nights ago Other Person commented that all the skidding must mean Tab-Tab has worms. I'm like, "Noooooooo, nooooooo, nooooooooo, I've never seen worms in their poops, it isn't possible." All the kittens are enthusiastic coverers so I have to get to the litter boxes pretty quickly, but as long as I'm a) awake and b) home, I do catch and check almost every poop, and I hadn't seen a single worm, so I felt justified in objecting.

But, intrigued by his theory, I immediately looked online for why kittens scoot their butts and yes, worms seem to be the main reason. The cat or kitten could also just be a clean freak (it's like the feline version of OCD, and can occur even when the cat's tested negative for every worm known to humanity). (ETA: even after deworming, Tab-Tab continues to scoot his butt around, so the OCD theory might hold some water.)

Running the clean freak theory by Other Person did not result in a feeling of relief for either of us, so I started catching every kitten I could in the act, lifting them out of the litter box with one hand before they could cover while training a flashlight on their poops with the other, and still I came up dry. Yesterday looked like a rinse and repeat with Tab-Tab, this time in the upstairs litter, which meant he'd be wiping his butt on the already-rain-soaked carpet. I lifted him out, trained the flashlight in, and for once he didn't wipe his butt because I scared him so much screaming "OH MY GOD!!!" that he ran like his butt was, yes, on fire. I thought it was a piece of kitty litter, at first. Then it began wriggling and finally stuck its head out of the poop toward me. My stomach, even thinking about it now...

I'd been suspecting worms based on the looseness of some stools I've seen - but lacking evidence did not want to act. This completely re-arranged yesterday's plans, since we had to go about 20 miles out of our way to a feed store that sells an OTC that a person at the local animal control who I know recommends and says is as good as what the vets prescribe. Which was important, because one thing we don't have right now is the money to drag five cats to the vet for stool samples, weigh-ins, and prescriptions (the vet charges double for each tablet I got at the store, not to mention charges for an office visit and god knows what else).

Other Person, being a little more handy with pilling animals than I think I might be, handled the pill-popping while I stayed on hand to catch any flying bodies or pills. All the cats and kittens seem fine today.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)
  • Each person in this house has their own laptop. Both laptops were working before the storm. Once the storm hit, both laptop's keyboard's stopped working, at once. Two different laptops - an older Dell, an older HP, two kinds of breakdowns - my HP has every other row of keys out diagonally from the left halfway across, and all four corner keys. On the Dell, which I fixed up from the side of the road after someone threw it there a month ago, the keyboard's completely MIA, though on power-up it sometimes makes a fast, repeated system beep to indicate a key could be stuck. Both keyboards have been removed from the laptops, cleaned, blown off, inspected, reattached, retried, and remain unusable.
  • Cell phones that won't stay charged for more than an hour. There is actually not a good battery on any phone or computer in the house except Other Person's tablet, which I'm on now but hate, and my dumb phone.
  • No apartment in this complex having a gas stove. After this storm I'd almost give my right arm for one. I'll admit I'm way too much of a priss to go outside and kneel or bend - oftentimes in the dark - over the hibachi or tiny propane grill to heat water up or cook. Not that I can't do it - I just don't want to.
  • Not having the 240 volt connector for the dryer or electric stove.
  • Walmart's prices. Sent Other Person out tonight after admitting I'm way too much of a priss to go off cooking outside, on a special mission to buy a hotplate. How many burners, he asked. I'd prefer four, I replied, but they won't have that, so just get whatever they've got. OP soon calls me: "They have a two-burner for $29.95, or a one-burner for $9.95. Which one do you want?" Um, neither? "Get the two burner", I said, my eyes almost snapping from how hard they rolled. "How about I get two of the one-burners?" he said. I said, "Well..that would be $10 cheaper, so yeah."
  • My utility company. From hell. Also, note to self, it's not helpful to tell people going ridiculous lengths of time without power that your utility is everything theirs is not. As an aside, I desperately wanted to break things even before the storm hit after [personal profile] andrewducker mentioned he lost power in his flat - after going almost 20 years without an outage. I'm lucky if I get 20 days in any part of FL I've been in over the last 16 years. I've had five different utility companies but they're more or less the same: you will lose power at least two or three times a month, sometimes up to a day or more at a time, sometimes for three to four days at a time, and always for at least a few hours, and usually over very minor stuff...a squirrel on the line, the guy who hit a pole, the tiny storm that barely breezed your area with no rain or wind, the gal who farted in the wrong direction last Wednesday...that sort of thing.
  • That my cope was only going to last a week. That I was surprised it lasted that long. That I have an absence of grace under pressure. That I keep wanting to cry but I can't. That the Jewish part of my DNA convinced me from the first unavailable cell phone signal and two essentially keyboardless laptops I was presented with the morning after the storm that I'm just fucked. That I completely and utterly suck at everything. I know this is my depression, which was with me right up until the storm hit, which I knew I could only fend off for so long afterwards, and which I think I did fend off mostly over the sheer novelty of so much happening at once. I was shocked out of it, I tell you...it's baaaaaaack...
  • Speaking of depression, having what it feels like described to me - in case I don't know, though I told this person I had it before they launched into their description - while I'm going though the very part of it being described is not cool. Which happened to me in the days before the storm. People can be so fucking condescending. Say you told me you have an active and quite severe case of chickenpox going on for maybe one week now so I start describing the sores, the stink of it and how much it hurts and oozes and the all-over crusty scabs you've no doubt got. Hell, let's pretend it's totally re-catchable and this is the second hundred time you've had it in 30 years, yet here I am, breaking out every gory detail to show you how much of an authority I am on it, and to explain it to others, because right, let's not forget that part. Jesus.
  • Working/not working. I've been told to go back to one job I finished and do it again because other people trashed the place once I wrapped it up. But I'm not being told I'll be paid for the additional work, and I have at least one witness besides Other Person to prove I left things right to begin with. Outside of the waste of time this will involve, there's nothing. There's one app I have in elsewhere that the potential employer wants me to completely redo because they recently changed to a new computer system. I'm kind of bug-eying over that and trying to figure when I can keep the generator on long enough to get it done, as their app process, the last time around, took over three hours to complete. Incidentally, I long ago decided not to sue the background check company over one of the last jobs I applied to after a lawyer told me I'd lose. I didn't take the job, either, because after the background was finally done correctly - and came back clean - the boss called me in and demanded to know why he should hire me after he already had, and sort of made it clear I'd have to work twice as hard to be half as good, over something a background company screwed up that was no reflection on reality nor my character. He was a jerk, in other words.