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

Which, before I get started, reminds me *glances at title*...I have two problems with writing - besides, of course, the inability to proofread my own writing as objectively as I proofread in general, and a style so elastic that 10 years of online writing hasn't narrowed it down to anything in particular (but in truth, there are at least two major styles I display; one's very hard to use because I never use it, so it gives me a headache like the one I have right now; the other's conversational and therefore almost too easy to use; I don't like either) - commas and where they should go, and when to use 'that' or 'which'. And yes, I know the Internet's a thing I can use to look up the answers, but my mind riots against commas and wants to switch up when I use 'that' for 'which' with wild abandon and I'm getting so tired of fighting it.


  • The kittens need to be re-weighed for their next round of Activyl because the doses come in two sizes: over or under nine pounds. They were in the 6-7lb range a month ago but kittens do strange things, like grow, that I have to take into account in order to not under or overdose them.
  • The kittens completed their third round of dewormer two days ago. Never saw a worm again after the lone worm I reported before their first dose.
  • Tab-tab tried to reproduce with Pip the other day. They're boys, so I take it it's time to look into the removal of that which produces the need to reproduce. Income's been too low lately to consider it.
  • Roof's still not fixed. I was actually glad the due date of last week came and went because it was supposed to get fixed just before Matthew was to hit, so I figured the roof would get fixed, fly off or get broken by the trees in the next storm, then have to be fixed again. Spare me my rich landlord's crying about having to fix the damn roof twice. At least if it ever does get fixed, we're getting a new roof, end to end. No more leaking in my bed every freakin' time it rains. Yay-ah.
  • Comcast lied about giving me most of the credits discussed in this post. It's not that I never got them - I saw evidence of at least two: one under "My Account" on their website and one in an email confirmation, but the first $75 credit I saw was apparently rescinded by an auditor before it could be applied to my next bill, and the next $75 credit never showed up. While I had $50 credited by them last week to partially make up for one missing credit, I agreed to another $75 to settle up, but still haven't seen it, despite more promises made by an escalation agent than I can even count. Hours lost toward trying to get credits promised, both in person at the local office and on the phone: at least five. Years off my life over the stress of fighting with Comcast for the better part of three years over so much stupid shit: at least five. I've been in bad relationships with actual people that were easier to endure and ultimately to just get the hell away from than Comcast is.
  • I need to do more online surveys and start selling on eBay again. I put off doing eBay over the storm last month and haven't looked back and can kind of understand my trepidation over it now: I'm afraid another storm will hit and I won't be able to ship items on time because of it. Things like that terrify me because I want my customers really happy.
  • I need to roll my phone back toWin8, though it kills the battery to run Win8. 11-3-16: done, about a week later. Everything's fine except the battery. Pictures won't sync from Win10 Mobile to OneDrive. I can log onto onedrive.com and nothing on the phone now is there, which gives me the most fragmented mess of pictures I've had since before I owned smartphones. I have to manually import the pictures now but sometimes the laptop won't recognize my phone as something that can have a picture on it, another bug I can't contemplate without flailing, so it won't find anything to import and why, Microsoft, why do you make our lives such living hell.
  • The Dell got a new keyboard. Unlike my laptop's replacement keyboard, it's a genuine part and works flawlessly. I wish I had it that easy on my HP - but, fwiw, the seller's refunded 75% of the purchase price, so ultimately I only paid $5 for it.
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.

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

I've dragged the Fuel around to three different places in the last year in which it gloriously continued to not work. Moved to a new place this week? And suddenly it works...I mean, does the phone function better in certain locales or something? I don't get it.

This was the phone I replaced with a Nokia Lumia 635 almost exactly a year ago, which runs Windows 8 natively (it upgrades to 8.1 automatically if you don't change the settings) which has, for a Lumia, a really low-end camera, only a half gig of RAM, and no app makers who want to touch it, so back away slowly and please don't design or even merely port any apps for it in the process. Windows phones are the Black Plague of the smartphone era, in which devs take one look at them only to run away screaming and begging for mercy.

Windows phone plans also cost more; on the Fuel I could get away with a $35 pay-as-you-go plan which limited nothing except data and picture texts. On Windows the cheapest plan is $45; it is unlimited, but outside of occasional heavy spates of phone use (like getting set up to move, job hunting, or calling fucking Comcast) I don't even need that. I do most online activities from my laptop and am not a heavy texter, caller, or web user.

Lastly, while Android et al is not a very secure operating system compared to say, Windows et al, which no one's hacked (why bother, when most people can't get a banking app that works on it) Windows 10 for phones isn't prime time ready so I wish EVERYONE would stop saying it is. I was running the latest Preview build until last night, and believe me, after several backbreaking days of moving into my new place, unpacking, moving heavy furniture around and so on, the last thing I felt like doing was playing tiddlywinks with an OS. But I rolled it back to 8.1, and I'll tell you why.

Try "SIM Card Error: your phone is missing the SIM Card/make emergency call" messages flashing across your screen day and night when the phone has a perfectly good SIM card that Windows 10 just happens to be frying like an egg beneath the battery, which itself is frying an entire chicken in about 10 minutes flat. Try hitting the search button in the phone app and the phone dials 911 or else the app crashes. Try editing a text message and the cursor places itself over the send button and you try not to have a heart attack because that was a freaking MISSPELLING and I wasn't done fixing it yet!

Try most of the apps that worked just fine on 8.1 crash like jets out of fuel on Windows 10. Try the phone is laggy, unresponsive, and restarts itself at least three times a day for no reason because it apparently got a wild hair up its ass to just do that.

If one more person gets on an oh-so-authoritative Windows 10 blog and says Windows 10 for phone is "ready" for anything but pointing and laughing at - much less for daily driving - I will have a cow. Y'all can help me name it, if you want.

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

In my next to last post I gave, without exactly meaning to, a pretty full review of the Nokia 635 smartphone running Windows 8.1 (tl;dr: it's not perfect but it's pretty neat, especially compared to any run of the mill Android). What I neglected to mention was anything about Cortana. She's the entire reason some people buy a Windows phone and why they love using one. She's Microsoft's answer to Siri and Google NOW (which is Google's answer to precisely nothing, but that's another post.)

I didn't mention Cortana because a) I've never been terribly impressed with her and b) it annoys me when other people are. There are movies these days about losing a love conquest to an operating system and while I didn't exactly have that problem, back when Cortana belonged to someone else's phone it could feel like a love triangle - especially once her name got mentioned more times each day than my own did. While I'm very low-key about it (perhaps "simmering, backburner rage" would be a good way to put it) I'm a green-eyed little monster and I don't cut operating systems much slack simply because they're not human. Pffft...tell that to someone who thinks they are. Or who wishes they could be. This shit really does happen! So yeah...fuck you, Cortana.

Jealousy aside, I can see the utility of having Cortana because she can do things like replace me altogether mark down appointments, give you reminders, look up maps, find answers to burning questions, wake you up in the morning, describe your route to work, tell you what your girlfriend ought to make for dinner, and so on. But she's no Siri.

I've never owned an iPhone so I can't say exactly how well Siri works but I have a feeling Cortana can't hold a candle to her, and if you're going to replace me supplement the existence of another human being with a lifelike app, at least be as good at it as Siri. Without knowing what Siri's capable of or how short Cortana falls of her glory, or why it should even matter if she's as good as Siri or not, here's a short list of things I wish Cortana could do besides go get hit by a car so I can make her my slave learn to see her as a valuable addition to my life:

  • Speak first. At least once in a while, because for a homewrecker she is the shyest thing ever. When I open her app she should greet me first. It's like when you playfully poke someone in the back and they turn around and say: "Hey!". By opening her app I'm giving her exactly the same poke so I shouldn't have to say, "Hey Cortana!" on top of that and then wait a few more seconds for her to finally turn around and say "Hey!". I poked you, damn it - SPEAK.
  • Speak more. I mean, why does it always have to be, "Hey, MM" every single time? Sometimes I'll change it up by saying Hi, Hello, Hey, Hey there, or What's up, Cortana? But each time it's just the same old, "Hey, MM" in response. I feel like I'm talking to an automa--
  • Lose the app. If she was really smart she'd be ever-present. This would require the phone to always listen, of course, but as long as I could trust that the feed isn't stored anywhere this could be the coolest thing. You shouldn't need to click/poke/tap or summon your personal assistant with anything more than the sound of your own voice.
  • Converse by text. Not many people will recall - because not many people ever used it - but back in the day Google had search by text. You texted your search terms to Google's number and Google sent back a link to search results. Similarly, I want Cortana by text. She should always be there, the top thread when I open my texting app, and opening her should summon a nice, "Hey MM, what's up?". I want Cortana By Text for privacy reasons and to keep the the house quiet late at night. The acoustics here are terrible; voices carry, even through thick, solid slabs of wall, and I'm tired of not being able to silently summon her without going directly to her app.
  • Give her multiple and quite plastic personalities. Not so she can have a bunch of them at once but so I can choose the best ones to inflict on others, especially those who think she's so charming. Cortana the at first Budding then Raging Feminist, for instance, could be my best fucking friend, forever.
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

After a recent blaze of discussion with [personal profile] ideological_cuddle about his predilection for the iPhone (brief synopsis: "Convince me I want this damn thing" - of course, he couldn't) he mentioned the beauty of Windows phones. Since I've been wanting to flee the Android ecosystem by hook or crook forever and since I used to use my ex's Windows phone to surf the Web almost every night, and because I've had a thing for Windows phones since they uh, came out, I decided right then and there that my next phone would have Windows. And it does! It's amazing how these things can work out.

Because I have budget limitations this is the one I got - it's nothing fancy but it works. For those not inclined to click through or who simply like words with their pictures, it's a Nokia 635 running Windows 8.1 with just half a gig of RAM and a quad core 1.2GHz processor. It's identical to the slightly older 630 with the sole addition of 4G LTE. While there are small quibbles about performance differences between the phones, with the 635 coming out better or worse depending on whom you believe, I won't be discussing that.

This phone is an upgrade (for me) from an LG Fuel running KitKat - a phone that still works perfectly, but the camera broke a few weeks ago so that when you open up the app now to take a picture (or a video) the screen is solid black. All the pictures (and videos) come out solid black, too (but the video portion still captures sound). I'm not sure what that could mean...has the lens shattered? Is the camera software seizing on me? I tried a phone reset but that did not fix the problem. But I'd bought the Nokia by then, so it doesn't matter.

When people talk about how blazingly fast Windows phones are, with any amount or next to no amount of RAM - and trust me, they do - it's true: you have to ignore the piddly amount of RAM because the devs seemed to have optimized the OS to run with as little as possible. The only thing that's not been so fast is the lock screen: sometimes I can't get it to work. It can take up to a half dozen tries, swiping my fingers in all possible directions before the unlock keypad finally scrolls into view.

Also, the battery is awful and I'm not sure if I should go for a replacement or if they'll all be like that. And does this phone get hot when used out in the sun? After 10 minutes, yes, you can fry an egg on it. And the screen does have some glare. This can be helped by reducing screen brightness, but as your hostess is ever so slowly and rather subtly going blind (and it does seem to be a light and angle-based blindness, denying me the dignity of just going all-out blind like any normal person would do) that's not a great option for me. So yes, an anti-glare screen protector is on the way.

But the phone is beautiful and swift and does things you only wish Android phones could do without needing an app for that, which makes up for most of what's mentioned above. AT&T, a network I've never used before except perhaps unknowingly as a fallback CDMA carrier (I was with Net10 before this phone, and with TracFone - Net10's owner - before that) seems pretty good so far and call quality seems kind of flat but perfectly loud and clear as needed. The speakerphone works great (I make most calls hands-free except for any requisite dialpad-pounding involved, and Android's speakerphones have historically been unpredictable and tinny-sounding, featuring harsh reverb and a terrible echo along with mysterious, eardrum-piercing noises).

When I say this phone is beautiful...I hate to drool on it like I have on just about every Windows phone ever, but the style of this one really is quite "wow". It's one long sheet of solid Gorilla glass (I think this is the first phone I've ever had without a screen made entirely of plastic) with no buttons. The screen wraps around to the back, which is all plastic. I went for all-black; while there are wild colors involved in this style a) I didn't have access to them at the store I bought this phone at and b) I wouldn't have chosen them, anyway. Black is better.

I miss the buttons along the bottom as most Androids can wake up from pressing one and I'm all about getting things done fast and effortlessly - even something as seemingly trivial as a screen wake-up. You wake this phone from the power button on the middle right side, but I'm used to that button being on the top right on the Fuel, so I haven't gotten the hang of moving my finger down where it belongs. The button above that is the one I keep hitting. It's the volume control, but I'm so used to pressing there that I just. Keep. On. Hitting. It. Until finally I realize it's the wrong one. And yes, I always look around afterward, waiting for someone to observe my dyslexia-by-proxy and shake their head and mutter, "You idiot. Wrong. Button.".

But outside of wrong-buttoning, a lock screen that's not wanting to give up its ghost and a battery that scares me, the phone is a pleasure to look at it and a pleasure to use. The strangest thing about it has been that I'm used to Android's dialpad button placement and a link for contacts being at the top of the phone app, not along the bottom as an icon-only thing like it is in Windows. But searching contacts is actually easier than it is on Android: just open the contacts list, hit the pound symbol along the top, start typing and what you're after pops into view. I really like that.

Other things I like: my main MS email account is finally linked to a phone. I've never been able to check non-Google email on any phone without actually logging into the site - which I refuse to do from any phone browser for security reasons - so I went years without being able to use that feature in a meaningful way, as I only get junk and a little personal mail on GMail, which is quite intentional, again for security reasons. As an added bonus, my Google account is linked to this phone as well, so my Google and Windows email accounts are running as native apps.

When I first set up the phone I did something I never do and actually read (some of) the instructions, which was truly fortunate, as the ones I read told me there was an app for importing contacts from my Android phone. The one thing I'd dreaded about switching from Android to Windows was having to laboriously hand-type in every contact from one phone to the other. But the instructions took me to a link that explained there's an app for that called Transfer My Data; the app pulls data from your Android account right into your Windows phone.

I didn't believe it, of course, but I downloaded and ran the app, anyhow. It failed on the first run, imported all of my contacts on the second run, and imported less than half my texts and maybe a third of my pictures in each run after that. Repeated runs did nothing to change my luck. I wound up deleting incomplete threads from my texting app as retries were giving me what I already had in duplicate, then triplicate, and I gave up getting the rest of my pictures off of my Fuel. I can always import them from another source later (they're on Google Drive - and everything I imported to my Win phone and all that's accumulated since then is stored on OneDrive, so that should work out).

There's nothing I miss about using an Android except for Android apps that aren't being published on Windows. I'm a hopeless ColorNote, GO! homescreen and GO! texting addict - I was also a 1Weather addict, but the MSN Live Weather Tile is so good I'm not missing 1Weather too much. (1Weather crashed a lot, anyway. On every Android I ever had. They really need to look into that.)

This phone seems more grown up than my Androids did: it looks more grown up, the styling, fonts and display feel more grown up, and it displays my email (very grown up) and got me using IE like that's a normal thing to do, when being a Firefox addict since 2006 I thought it would be a difficult transition to make just for the sake of using a browser on my phone. But I guess from using IE so much on my ex's phone it simply doesn't bother me (which, after years of rebelling against IE, feels just terribly grown up). While I'd love to see Mozilla publish a browser for the Win phone platform, they need to fix Firefox on Android first. That's another post but the synopsis of it is this: outside of webpage display, which overall is okay, the browser sucks.

IE on a Windows phone displays webpages rather well. I have it set to load mobile websites first - and for sites that don't have a mobile option, display will be as nice or as shitty as the website's devs and designers make it. That's why responsive design is kind of a thing these days, and why people should be doing it. My own blog has a responsive stylesheet and it looks quite good on this phone (again, the ex's phone figures into this because I finished the design a year or so ago by checking it on that).

Other things that make this phone feel grown up: I linked a payment option to it (something I never, ever did on any Android) to buy my first-ever paid-for app - a sort-of replacement for ColorNote that displays a sticky note as a tile on your home screen. It's available for free but I bought it for the color and font options because I have this Pretty In Pink (and magenta) thing going on here and I love using handwriting fonts (an option ColorNote actually does not have).

The best parts of using this phone are how the lock screen shows how many missed phone calls, unread emails and texts I have and how it feels to use the native texting app. On Android I could never use the stock keyboard (too tiny and hard to see, so I'd make too many mistakes and couldn't find the subset keys fast enough or at all, depending on which ones I was after) and the only replacement for it that I could live with - the Big Buttons keyboard - has the same bug as the stock keyboard, wherein hitting the top right of any key risks selecting the key above it. Which I did constantly, right up until the very end.

The Windows keyboard has no such problems, and has auto-correction built-in for when I'm not paying enough attention. Auto-correct is right maybe 90% of the time (Android's native auto-correct never comes close) and when all else fails, it has a built-in Swype-y type of thing (just drag your finger around; the software will figure out what you mean with surprising accuracy) that actually works. I sent entire chains of texts with it one night because my eyes were tired, and while it was a bit slower than straight-up typing for all the corrections I had to make, it works better than Swype with less jitteriness and smoother, more swoopy glide-y stuff built right in. I had to say "swoopy, glide-y" at least once, because I always do when I'm talking about Windows phones...sorry.

But they're so swoopy and glide-y! It's simply amazing. Overall I'm pretty impressed with this phone.

Oh, and yes, the camera (my entire reason for buying it) works quite well. I just wish it had flash and a front-facing camera, too.