A most happy holiday weekend to all my Canuck friends and followers!
James Burke and his late 1970s series Connections must be to blame for why the Professor and I always feel compelled to link up random comments about small seemingly innocuous “things” with their place in the far larger scheme of things. All those little bits of our world that we have become accustomed to, that we attribute or ascribe, that we deny or decry, sometimes have far different origins and infinitely more complex backstories than we take the time to consider.
Bringing such thoughts to others’ attention inevitably gets us into trouble. There seems to be a really fine line between revelation and lecture where offering up an alternate explanation for why things are often comes off as just plain pedantic. In real life, physical or verbal indications give one a relatively good idea of which direction the conversation will be going but in the virtual world context is variable and tone is highly subjective. Sometimes we are left unsure of just how much more to say or even whether to pursue the thread.
Our interactions on social media can be problematic for no good reason and bring to mind that uncontrollable kid with no censorship filters at the luau running around arms flailing, screaming “Why? Look at that! NO!” and then crawling under the table howling “Impossible!” when you offer an answer. Entering into such “discussions” becomes a fire-walk of promethean proportions. Meanwhile, his parents are otherwise occupied or (un)concerned and the guests are casting sideways glances at each other. We are left with the impression that maybe it is better just to drop it and help ourselves to some of the better libations. But doesn’t someone have to say something?
What to do, what to do…
A post this morning about a film that would convince us that climate change is all about individual denial rather than the larger issues of corporate and governmental malfeasance makes one wonder just what it takes to make the public realize they are being duped at every available opportunity. It also brought to mind the 1976 film Network, directed by Sidney Lumet and written by the prescient Paddy Chayefsky, in which the machinations of the media, the dehumanization of the individual and one very angry man all collide in a very public meltdown.
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad.
We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore.
Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD!
I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!
I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!
And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome, god-damn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network.
Television is not the truth. Television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business.
We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear.
You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal.
It’s the individual that’s finished. It’s the single, solitary human being that’s finished. It’s every single one of you out there that’s finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It’s a nation of some two hundred odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods.
The whole world’s people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things.”
Over a quarter of a century later, with the entrenchment of Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the excerpts above taken from Howard Beale’s rant are no less searing. In fact, one might say we didn’t pay any attention at all, didn’t heed the warnings of those like Beale, and the many others from Snowden, Suzuki and Nader, Thoreau and Carson to Wordsworth and Ruskin, who got in our face about how we are constantly letting ourselves get screwed. Time to wake up from that insensate sleep of denial and make some changes: be Beale and rant because eventually someone will have to listen.
funny guy, not so funny topic
I swear it wasn’t there 2 days ago
It seems to take a lot of fancy dancing on our part just to keep up with all the innovations that Apple and the 400 or so app providers we use keep churning out, so we’re not always completely pleased when notified that it’s time to upgrade to the “latest version”. Half the time something really nifty and easy to use is gone, disappeared with no explanation, leaving us to Google and in worst case scenarios, search support (which more often than not doesn’t provide an answer).
We upgraded to Yosemite and had to spend way more time reconfiguring things we really don’t know much about than should be necessary. We’re more of the “turn it on, it works, let’s go” type of user, accustomed to having things where they are supposed to be and in working order. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that the download icon was gone. Not there. It used to have it’s own pride of place with a lovely dropdown menu that you could track all that stuff you just had to have in one place. Endless navigation and clicking ensued to find out just what were we supposed to do now. And as much as we searched, all we could find was that it was no longer a familiar part of our browser window. No explanation, no logic for its removal. We finally figured out to set our preferences to desktop rather than a downloads folder just to make sure we were actually getting what we wanted.
This morning we noticed that our happy little icon is back. Let’s see whether it has the full functionality of its parent. We do love change, of sorts, but the Big 5 Challenge is not a fan when things that are supposed to streamline our workflow and make our lives easier are just dumbed-down. Don’t assume we don’t need those features that worked beautifully and were a part of what drew us to you in the first place – hello Apple… is there anybody actually out there that is not trying to justify their salary by fixing stuff that isn’t broken?
“When do you get annoyed?” – on the bus or in the car, up close and personal, way too far, by too much noise or too much talk, by things that stick on shoes when out for a walk… We would love to know when you get your knickers in a twist.
For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this challenge can be found here: Need more info, want to browse past themes or get the badge for your blog? See HOW DOES THIS WORK.
Funny how the complete draft of a post can be so clear right before one falls asleep and then the next morning we find ourselves trying to pick up the rather frayed thread to weave it all back together… Some things set us off easily perhaps more than they should and with that being said, it is a good thing that we have the sense to value sleep more than firing off email responses at 12:30 am. In the light of day they make much better copy and transform us from snarling hell-hound to obstinate rat-catcher with a mission.
It all started with a simple message – “No notifications yet“. Perhaps some of you have also seen it recently on your mobile WP apps, maybe we’re the only lucky soul. In any event, we had been otherwise occupied with real-life stuff over the last few weeks and didn’t pay it much mind, but then it started to be a ridiculous reminder that something evidently wasn’t right and so we emailed Tech support with a query. Before we launch into this lengthy tirade, let it be known that we have had some amazing help in the past from people at WP who actually did get it and this whole incident unfortunately fell at the tail end of a series of less than inspiring customer-service encounters. Run-ins that left us wanting to shred something to bits and shake it ’til it gave up.
One would have thought that having a WP.com blog meant getting a simple, direct answer from our loving host but that would have been too easy: in order to find some resolution we were requested to open a new account at WP.org (oh joy, another password to keep track of) and repost the same query all over again. Now, being one who can appreciate the finer points of “staying organized” (.com’s answer) we went through the motions. A day later we were asked whether we were actually logged into the right account and that’s where we almost lost it. Logged in? To the mobile app on our home screen that stays open all the time so we don’t have to clumsily type our lengthy coordinates into the tiny log-in window while we are being jostled on the bus or playing co-pilot in the car. Logged in to the one account that we’ve been logged into since we downloaded the app onto our mobile devices who knows how long ago? We guess the answer to that would be, well ya…. “Try logging in and then out again” was the stellar follow-up: sounds like someone has been taking lessons from tech support at our internet provider – should we try kicking it also?
At the risk of sounding like an old codger irrevocably set in our ways, we are absolutely not thrilled with the new, improved WP mobile notifications. Now we have little stars (ooh, just what I need – another gold star for my collection) and word bubbles that (take a few clicks to) change colour to prompt us that this is what the attached content is about because no one knows how to read anymore. Sadly, the cross-platform links have not quite gotten the kinks ironed out so if you have read, answered, approved or commented on any of the notifications on, god forbid, your big clunker of a monitor that you can’t carry around in your pocket, the mobile versions haven’t gotten the memo: you’ll just have to read it again to change the colour of that nifty star/bubble – because you just have that much time. We always thought the point of mobile was to make life easier, simpler, less time-consuming, to let us get from A to Z in as few steps as possible. Apparently not, and that’s just the start….
Click on your notification and what do we find? Gravatars and relevant info on who liked what, ok, that looks good; what we commented and the reply – uh oh, there’s a star prompting us like the ghost of Facebook to attach significance to “Thanks for the info…” – really? Now we have this added feature to further an already overburdened sense of guilt that we’re not engaging enough as it is? Aaaacccckkkk….. What happened to being able to click on the link in a notification to actually see what we are being prompted to approve? Not there anymore. It means we have to go back to the monitor, sometime later, today or tomorrow, and wonder what or who we are forgetting and why we need to do this all over – again. Why is the spam flag now hidden under “more” and why should we have to go through extra steps to get to something that used to be right there under our noses? What does “edit comment” mean? Are we censoring our reader’s replies now on top of everything else? Isn’t that rude and a bit pompous? If we don’t like what people have to say about us or what we’ve posted can’t we just not approve them, ignore them and eventually they’ll disappear like in the good old passive-aggressive days of yore? It all smacks of the mega-corporation malaise, the one where someone in the back room is trying to justify their paycheque by tweaking things that don’t need to be fixed and taking away features that were actually useful and worked properly in the first place. Upgrades don’t always mean better, lately they seem to mean guess what’s gone. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a whole lot we can do about it but foam at the mouth like some rabid dog. Not nice at all. And it’s really not a good look for us.
Do we really need all this aggravation or should we just roll over onto our backs like an unconcerned puppy waiting for a scritch and something better to come along? It’s been exhausting and so we will follow our dog’s lead and go and lie down until we’ve forgotten about it and it’s time for dinner…
This fortnight the Big 5 Challenge asked – “Who do you resemble?” – mom or pop, lion or lemur, celebrity or saint…
We would love to know who is on your list.
For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this challenge can be found here: Need more info, want to browse past themes or get the badge for your blog? See HOW DOES THIS WORK.
After a long and unexpectedly protracted hiatus from the blogosphere where one day just rolled into the next without a blip, we find ourselves back at the keyboard. Admittedly, it would have been easy to let things lapse just a little bit longer but like that thank-you letter to Aunt Joan for the bespectacled crazy cat-lady slippers, it just had to be done.
We missed you. There were moments in the craziness of this past month’s real-life project that we yearned just to be blogging – to toss everything aside because it was becoming a chore, a bore, an insurmountable task for which our skill set seemed ill-equipped but we survived. We proved that given enough sheer will-power (and divine inspiration) we could overcome the limitations of time zones, scheduling and other parties interference and interest (or lack thereof). We learned that sometimes you have to push to get what you want and know is right and sometimes you have to put your faith in the person handling your stuff at the other end and just hope, pray and cross your fingers that they too have your best interests at heart.
We’re far from done on this one. Many times we moaned to ourselves that we were too old to be doing this, that in an ideal world we were supposed to be retired by now, but we did manage to hurtle across the first deadline panting to lie winded for all of five minutes before leaping back into action. Our suppliers delivered, as promised, leading us to believe that the true meaning of service is indeed being perpetuated by a small group willing to make sure things get done right. Karma points all around – on to Part Two.
We did meet a few truly nice people, people who went out of their way to pay attention, say something good for a change, be encouraging about what we’re doing and yes, even get excited of the prospect of things going forward. Much like all our blog readers who waited patiently for our return.
We’re glad to be back. We will, shortly, indulge in a bit of shameless self-promotion to show you what we have been working so hard on for longer than we care to admit.
Forgive us, in the meantime, if we are a bit rusty in our routineness…
Across the Bored and fellow blogger Bennetta Faire always get to bantering about life, laughs and literary pursuits whenever the occasion arises. Despite growing up on opposite sides of the continent, we manage to share common bits of life experience from vintage recipes and favourite print ads to those odd pop culture references pre-internet and yes, even pre-colour television.
Our conversation are sprinkled with silly sayings, all-encompassing adages and candid colloquialisms spouted by ancestors and peers alike. Some of them are humorous, some cheerful and sweet, some down-right awful for each one carries with it a vivid memory of occasion and the personalities that favoured them.
One in particular that still raises hackles is “What does that have to do with the price of eggs?”. Perhaps if it had been used as a philosophical preface to ponder the deeper meanings of life it would not have rankled as much but it was usually used when an argument had been lost and there was no foreseeably valid point to be made in order to win said discussion. Drove. us. Nuts… and still does.
Are there any phrases that are particular to you, your friends and family or culture that you just love and use on a regular basis? Care to share those you despise and would have disappear into the fog of never-to-be-heard agains? Drop those idiosyncratic idioms into the comment box – you might pick up a few beauties to be used at your next dinner party…
Across the Bored woke up on the right side of the bed, had a pleasant breakfast and accomplished a few chores before getting down to some serious blogging this holiday morning when, once again, our temper was set off by a small but annoying discovery.
WP has seen fit to remove blog names from the new posts in the reader…. has anyone else noticed this or is only our monitor plagued with an appalling lack of identification under the tags and photos? Is this not just a tad insulting to those who spent some considerable amount of time “Choosing the Perfect Blog Name” or paying good money annually for a dedicated domain? If we wanted to be anonymous we wouldn’t be blogging, we would live in some remote location with no wi-fi and carve our memoirs onto a log. Days were when we could workaround the dreaded “403 Forbidden” and even put up with unexpected cut-outs and missing posts but this Big Brotheresque move really sucks.
Soon we will just have barcodes….
The blogosphere has conspired to keep Across the Bored from being productive, choosing instead to thwart our multitasking efforts at every turn by throwing a whole toolbox of technological wrenches into our proverbial gears – pulled out of the ether for no apparently good reason, a dastardly deviant glitch-fest has boggled the mind and tested the limits of our patience. The dreaded “403 Forbidden” has been appearing every time we have tried to access all your lovely blogs from the summary readers on the WP iPhone and iPad apps (good thing we still have a “real” computer monitor to track you down with) and it has also refused to actually register our “likes” even though it has told us it is “liking” and goes so far as to question whether we want to “unlike” once it has convinced us that we have been a good blog friend. We managed to discover this nifty little fact when we were forced to go back through the regular reader and catch up on over a week’s worth of missing blog posts. Missing? Oh yes, scads of your well-crafted, interesting, amusing and enlightening posts have not been appearing on our mobile reader – not even a summary, nothing…. We thought everyone was on vacation, it is July after all. So if it seems as though we have been remiss in visiting, commenting, liking and generally being the trickster that is Across the Bored, we apologize. We will do things the old-fashioned way for a while, sit a spell, save our eyesight and see things large and lovely the way they should be.
join society – get a job
at the least, do charity work
When we hurl something into the blogosphere it is always interesting to see what boomerangs back. One of the pleasures of logging on to our WordPress account is checking out who has been reading our latest posts, seeing the familiar gravatars of those who follow and comment, the reappearance of bloggers catching up after life has set them in a different direction and, best of all, the new reader. We feel it is only polite to return the effort and go and have a look at the blog behind the icon – sometimes we are pleasantly surprised and other times just downright peeved. Today was one of those days….
We have gotten used to spam, whether in huge amounts or just a dribble, it always winds up in the same place. It can be humorous for its grammatical errors and syntax on steroids, it can complement, cajole or attempt to lure but most of the time we take it at face-value for what it is – a blatant attempt to get us to buy cheap Louboutins, NFL jerseys or unmentionable appliances and all we have to do is press delete. There is a new form of spam rearing its ugly head into our awareness, one that disguises itself in the form of a blog, has a face and name that looks legitimate enough and “likes” usually only one of our posts. So what do we do? In the hopes of finding a like-minded blog filled with new, interesting, insightful and educational content we put aside our cynicism and deep-rooted mistrust and click on the name lurking in our notifications. What do we find? The pasty, sun-glass wearing, muscle tanked, baggy shorted kid sitting with a beer and a laptop on a beach in Thailand telling us how we too can join their ranks, give up our day jobs, fulfill our wildest dreams and make thousands of dollars a week blogging. Really? Shades of virtual Jim Jones….
We have nothing against making a buck. The Western world has taken pride in its promotion of every man being able to make something of himself, to make pots of money from silly gadgets or brilliant inventions, to go out and become rich or famous or just get by but there is a caveat – you actually have to work for it, put some effort into achieving your dream. We are so sick of entitled brats from all walks of society thinking they deserve the money, the toys, vacations, cars, houses and consumer-driven trappings without actually doing anything for it. What makes them think they are so special, so talented, so deserving that they feel they have the right to do nothing and then come and tell us we are the idiots? Alot of us have productive, creative lives doing something constructive, giving back to society any way we can, paying our taxes and putting money back into the system so that young people will benefit from social security, health care and government programs when they do grow up. As much as we might bitch and complain, that’s life. We have jobs and if we are able and socially responsible, we create jobs. If we are lucky enough to give others the benefit of our wisdom, we pass it along by teaching, blogging, doing charity work, building wells in Malawi and saving orang-utans before they reach extinction. We do because we can.
So, don’t bother visiting if you are trying to sell us a short-cut to paradise, get rich quick scheme that is too good to be true. Don’t like our post if you just want us to go back and like you so you can make money without being a productive member of society. Don’t tell all your friends who make tons of money by posting “make a quarter for every inspirational quote” about this blog. Don’t expect us to support you in your quest for instant gratification.
We don’t care.
No end of computer-related problems today ranging from the ridiculous to the absurd with absolutely no help to be found in tortuously long and convoluted supports, help pages and discussion forums until the muses deigned to illuminate with an elegant and simple solution… as usual. Got it all cleaned up nicely and was feeling most proud of ourselves when, just to add insult to injury, we discovered that the photostream on iPhones keeps all those lovely photos that weren’t on your camera roll for a mere 30 days and then sends them off to join all the flotsam burning up in the tail of the comet now passing through our neighbourhood. That’s what we get for not reading the fine print…
For the past few days Across the Bored has been coping with some technical difficulties stemming from an upgrade to Mountain Lion that incapacitated our various computers simultaneous internet access. Leaving us more than a little aggravated with technology that hasn’t had all the bugs completely worked out and being from the school of turn it on and it works perfectly every time, you can imagine our frame of mind when we logged in this morning and figured out what the New Year’s resolution in the R&D department of virtual reality was – change everything that was working fine to something completely different that will aggravate everyone already having to deal with getting back to a normal routine… Anyone else out there a little, to be politically-correct, perturbed by the recent changes in the reader? Now I’m not one to stand in the way of innovation but there is a difference between needless tweaking and substantial improvements – new posts on the right, no – move all the images to the left and crop them into partial crap, blog names and post titles on top of the images, no – that’s no good – put them below where we really have to search for them; put the LIKE in bold , no – smaller font – no bigger, bolder font – no make it into a star… and why are the tags in a position of prominence BEFORE the title of the post and why can you not get directly to the page where the blog is anymore without having to navigate all over the place? With all those lovely new icons on the upper right in the toolbar, why can’t one of them lead directly to the dashboard… Isn’t anyone aware of the 3 clicks and you’re dead rule?
HANG ON – MORE CHANGE TO COME – WE’RE NOT FINISHED YET
Someone in a dark back room has a whole lot of time on their hands, so like the inimitable Charlie Brown said…