Off topic

So WordPress has taken to annoying people with “writing prompts” which are … well I don’t know what they’re supposed to be.

Anyway one that was thrown at me today was: “Describe the most ambitious DIY project you’ve ever taken on”.

Everyone who knows me is now laughing so hard.

I think they’d need to describe the terms. What do they consider “ambitious”? And for that matter what is a “DIY project”? Arguably “ambitious” would be challenging to one’s skill level, so right there we have a quantifying problem. Also “DIY project” could be deemed anything undertaken alone, which may or may not include professional endeavours – again an issue with quantifying.

Since I personally have renovated entire houses solo (and I don’t mean acting as the general contractor with others doing the work), designed and redesigned power systems, and indeed planned entire new vehicles … uh, not your average skill set in operation here. I’ve never considered any of it “ambitious”, but there sure have been a lot of DIY projects over the decades!

This image has nothing to do with the post.

Oh noes

Welp, it happened: I got slammed with the WordPress Inoperable Version Dumb To The Nth. Fortunately I had this ‘backdoor’ link saved. This when I’m about to pick up my new addition to the tool box today. If this work-around their idiocy fails, that’s it. I do not care to suffer the slings and arrow of outrageous stupidity, nor fools gladly. Or even at all.

For today, then, this “Ditchumentary”: some images I took to document the flooding at the neighbours’ caused by run-off from the hill behind them where illegal logging was done. I doubt they’ll be able to do anything about it.

Looking West towards the flood.
Right in front.
Further West, showing overflow on to the road.

So many things going wrong here these days. Still no chance of vaccine and the case numbers are rising like crazy because people won’t follow the rules. I did a survey for the hospital visit and it was obviously designed to prove the results they wanted in four areas, three of which had nothing to do with the visit. Have not heard about future consultation, so I guess I just wait until the next emergency.

I’d better go get that package today as I’m feeling pretty nasty and depressed.

As March winds down

It seems everywhere I look on WordPress these days there is a resurgence of complaints about what they are doing. Some people have apparently lost the Classic Editor entirely, while others are struggling with some bastardized version which is nearly as bad as the Blockhead Editor abomination. I guess they really don’t want us around anymore. Someone should mention to them that killing your customers is not a good business plan.

They aren’t alone at this: several places I do business with have been changing their rules in an effort to … what? Cope with easing COVID restrictions? Or just drive people crazy? The recycle center has now twice sent little notes of disapproval for using “the wrong bag” on returnables. The first time it was for the same type of bag I’d been using for nearly a year. The second it was for using exactly the type of bag they said I now have to use. If you want people to recycle, you make it easy for them to do so. Not more difficult than filling out the tax forms (and boy has that been a nightmare this year for everyone).

So while there is still no chance of even getting on the waiting list for the vaccine we don’t have enough of and I’m still waiting on test results that will tell me what direction my health goes in next (odds are it will be ‘downhill’), I present a few images made now that I can get about a bit again. Providing I don’t slip on the ice or WP doesn’t shut down the only usable editor they’ve got on me, I’ll keep snapping away in the hopes it will brighten someone’s day.

Three friends. (G11, cropped from full image taken at maximum telephoto.)
Rare photo of Marley not being a silly goofball dog. (Pentax K100DS.)
Bark unlike a dog. (Pentax K100DS.)
Glowing cloud. (Pentax K100DS.)
Duncan in a noble pose. (Pentax K100DS.)
A sliver of moon. (Pentax K100DS.)

Incidentally, I’ve discover the Pentax’s kit lens does not focus properly at distance. It is pretty small change between 7′ (2m) and infinity, and with age it has become too sloppy to be correct. The only way around this shortcoming is to either focus manually (which is difficult for me) or use a small aperture to compensate with depth-of-field (which is less than ideal too).

Anyway, having sorted out that camera as much as possible I have switched back to the Olympus E410 for my walk-a-rounds. It has the longer zoom on it (150mm max – equal to 300mm) in case I spot a bird. I find much of my photography is done telephoto so why fight it? Still wish I could get the longer zoom for this camera, but that is not yet to be.

Art at the end of February

When life hands you rubbish, make art. Some slob tossed this in the driveway. (Pentax K100DS)

Well this has been a week. A week of weak. I’ve had several days in a row where just being alive has been a major effort. No answers to that problem either, as the last ‘diagnosis’ (guess) turned out wrong like all the others. If it’s a new disease, will they name it after me? What a way to achieve immortality!

A “long log” truck; single span of about 40 feet. These are destined for log home construction. (Nikon P610)

Sometime in the future I should be getting an appointment with another specialist, regarding my hearing. I doubt there will be a resolution to that either, other than my sinking into a world of endless noise and no sound. It’s weird because I can hear all sorts of sound, even very soft ones, and sometimes ordinary sound is way too loud. The dogs barking can be downright painful. It’s just that over top of it all there is the constant noise(s) of tinnitus. It is not fun.

Another shot of Bleak Tree. (Pentax K100DS)

Quite a lot has been going on in the world around me that is just dumbfounding, to say the least. I’m not going to rant on about it because others have already managed that quite well. Suffice to say what I take away from the whole situation is an ever-stronger desire to not be a part of it.

You know why. (Nikon P610)

Of all the things I’d like to gain right now, mostly I’d like to have my ‘vacation’ room. Isn’t that silly? It’s supposed to be “tropical themed” so I can go in there and pretend I’m on a desert island somewhere. With sounds from the south pacific, including waves and ukuleles. I lack the logistical ability to do anything about it at the moment, from the finances to the actual physical strength to bring it about. But with all this crap going on everywhere I find what I really, really want is a room I can retreat to and shut the door on the rest of the world. I’m old; I’m not supposed to be a soldier anymore.

If you know photography or astronomy you know what’s wrong with this picture. (Pentax K100DS)

Today’s images are a mixture of artistic shots out of various cameras. I still enjoy doing that, when I’m able to get out and take pictures. Believe me, using the cameras you have is more rewarding than adding to the collection. But there are still one or two others I would like to have …

I’m outta here! Black-capped chickadee taking off. (Canon T100)

Finally, a couple of notes about WordPress itself: one, it seems to have slowed down immensely including handling image uploading/viewing – along with my no longer being able to access notices from my “front page” as it were; I have to go into “Reader” or “My Site” to see what they are about.

And two, I get a lot of likes for my simple efforts and I do appreciate that. What’s more, I almost always go to the person’s site to have a look at what they do. It doesn’t always work out, though, because my eyesight isn’t that compatible with some of the formats chosen by others to present their work. That’s a long-winded way of saying I can’t see gray print on a black background, for example. I’m sure it looks nice, I just can’t see it. Hence the very simple layout of my own blog.

Now if the weather will co-operate perhaps I can do some more photos.

Notes on the past week

It’s like this

Well it’s certainly been a week. That’s as much as can be said for it. Not much good going on anywhere, with COVID case numbers setting new and unwelcome records and whatnot. Weather has been no good in its special, unpredictable way too. My health has been acting up again as well. Plus, it hasn’t been good for taking pictures of anything around here lately.

I’m not having much luck getting a Canon 5D off E-bay (or anywhere else) or getting anything off E-bay. I swear that site is … about as bad as any other, come to think of it. (The Internet seems to excel in ‘bad’ these days.) I’ve taken to occasionally bidding on cameras which are offered too low just so the price will go up into sensible territory and no one will think there’s any chance of buying a camera worth hundreds of dollars for less than $10. Honestly, people! That “$0.99” starting price trick is foolish, and if Ebay didn’t charge for reserved price/minimum bid (regardless of sale) we wouldn’t have to see this silliness. Probably not the ‘sock puppet’ account bids either, for that matter.

Another thing I haven’t done is sell on Ebay. I came close, but in going through the process of setting up just one item for sale … something about it all made me uncomfortable. I’ve spent some time trying to figure out exactly what, and haven’t. Nevertheless it was a time to trust instinct and I did not go through with the listing. If I could figure out what was ringing the subconscious alarm bell I could probably find a way to assuage my fears and carry on. As it is, no. I don’t like the way the site is run nor do I trust it, when all is said and done.

Speaking of web sites and other stores, if you look at the amount absolute rubbish that comes out of China you have to conclude that half of their economy is dedicated to producing ready-made landfill content. If you’ve spent even 5 minutes in a ‘dollar store’ you know what I mean. Not only are the products of unacceptably low quality, much of it simply never needs to exist in the first place. Or to paraphrase a certain movie line “you were so preoccupied with manufacturing items that you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should”. Something like that anyway.

I sort of took some full moon shots with the 75-300mm Canon lens and a few others with the Nikon, but there’s nothing special about any of them. It’s the same moon as always, after all.

WordPress’s new Blockhead Editor is so bad they’ve had to start offering courses on how to use it. (This went down under “hide forever” for me.)

On Thursday I had an unexpected but necessary trip to “Bill’s Lake” which netted me a couple of toys, a new vacuum cleaner, some slippers, a considerable bill, and this picture:

’46/’47 Fargo truck.

Quite the display piece at a very high-quality Timber Yard. Difficult to photograph because of its location high up a steep bank and quite some distance for the 10X zoom of the Fuji. I was standing on Jojo’s rear bumper to get this, and needed to be on the roof. Some measures I will not go. Fargo trucks, btw, were a ‘companion brand’ to Dodge offered so that Plymouth dealers would have a truck to sell (thus increasing Chrysler’s market share) back in the days when multi-brand dealerships weren’t allowed.

I went shopping again on Friday for things I was going to get Tuesday but had to ignore in order to keep the venture down to something manageable. Missed six things off the list, which I then had to go back for on Saturday. Sometimes my failing memory worries me terribly. But then I forget about it.

So what is ahead? Not much. The Horrible Holidays are upon us, which I try not to participate in at all. they will be easier to avoid under pandemic conditions. Honestly it’s the forced social interaction requirements that spoil things. Better to have a spontaneous get-together next July, assuming we are out from under the disease threat by then. Although it seems Dear Leader here may have sold us up the river on vaccines. Not only are we sans paddle, but the canoe we’re in looks much like a coracle with holes in it. Looks like we’ll be getting too few doses spread out over too much time, and that will not break the transmission pattern.

The Master Plan is on hold, which is my way of trying to trick the universe into giving me what I want through a complex and near Machiavellian form of Zen. If something that will further the plan comes up, it comes up. I will not hunt for it.

Once again most days have become “just get through today” days.

Life is like that.

The WordPress Trick (they hid it well)

With a huge number of people posting complaints about the “Block Editor” (“Blockhead’s Editor”) in their blogs you’d think WordPress would take the hint, since it’s being applied with a 56 lb. post maul. But that remains to be seen. What has been seen is that even the people who manage to use it don’t like it much. It violates the basic engineering principal of “K.I.S.S.”: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
What also is evident as that some people have found the secret passageway to Classic Editor. After reading many blogs about this I noticed it doesn’t seem to be in the same place for everyone. Aha! Another page of How Not To Do It programming from the Facebook manual on making a mess of your web site.
And when we find it, it’s not quite the same as before. But will it do? Will it work?
Here’s how I managed to locate it:
1). Go to “My Site”, find “WP Admin” on the left and click that.
2). (This is the tricky bit) Select “Posts” and “All Posts” (do not select “Add New” here).
3). You get a screen which has “Posts” and a blue “Add New” after it with a drop-down arrow which if selected gives you the editor options. Vis:

Secret link to Classic Editor.

Now your actual experience may vary, and it could be this only still exists because they forgot to take it out. There were two other links to the Classic Editor before, one with the Blockhead’s Editor which never functioned for me and the other under “New Post” in the Admin section which has since disappeared.
Will this one remain? Will they foul it up even more? They certainly have done a fine job of alienating users with this “upgrade”. Why did they do it? I suspect it’s a plot to get free users to pony up for the ‘commercial’ version which allows the Classic Editor download. Something like that anyway.
Whether incompetence or greed is behind it, they are bastards for doing it.

WordPress is DEAD

UPDATE: They seem to have fixed the “no media access” problem, but it is still running unusably slow.

Well I’ve just wasted a good deal of time attempting to write another blog entry and finding that not only is the site running like molasses in Winter but it won’t let me access my stored media – keeps shutting down the window.

I suppose this is a ploy to get people to pay for it. Nice try. If you want to offer limited services for free, don’t curtail them and then offer to give them back for money. That’s dishonest. I’ve barely touched the allotted storage capacity here and it’s become a struggle to produce even a short entry.

No, it is not my computer or Internet connection: this is the only site acting up at the moment. I’m well-familiar with how these things work and how to tell which part is not working.

Let me know if it ever works again.

Shifting Sands of Time

Lately I’ve been spending a lot less time on Facebook, on purpose. It was a good idea when it began, but blunder after blunder in its operation and updating has turned it into a cringe-worthy mess of a social media website. Since I’m retired and not all that healthy, I do spend a lot of time on-line. Or at least with the computer fired up and the browser open, which isn’t exactly the same thing. So instead of the mind-numbing horror that is Farcebook I have been perusing WordPress more, and using it more.

At first I was seeking commiseration with my health problems among those with similar trouble. But I stumbled on a few interesting photography blogs and have since been wading waist-deep in them. I suppose this is psychologically beneficial in that it’s something positive to focus on (the fun of photography) rather than something negative (the health troubles). Although there is some negativity in that I don’t get to indulge in photography as much as I want either.

That being as it may, the over-all effect is good I think. I will write more about my own efforts with cameras, put up some samples to show I’m not just whistling Dixie, and try not to drown myself in the inevitable melancholy of my age vs. the younger generation. (Generally I’m pleased to find younger people interested in the subject and trying their hand at it, but sometimes the relevant facts of chronology hit me like a brick to the back of the head.)

I won’t be going full-bore photo here, as that is for those who pursue with passion and I’m just an old guy who still messes about with pictures for his own amusement rather than with any delusional aspirations of grandeur.

There’s probably no real point to this post (I have a tendency to lose the thread of what I’m talking about; a minor flaw of working on one’s seventh decade) other than to warn people of things to come. Anyway, it amuses me.

An explanation


This is a message that can come up on WordPress when you click the magic ‘X’ to bypass certain suggested reads. I wondered why it happened with a few of the suggestions. Pawing my way through a large number of links, I began to see a pattern. It had some odd outliers until I thought about it awhile.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that these sites that can’t be dismissed are paying WordPress for one of their ‘premium’ plans which is supposed to … well who knows what. Increase the chances of your being noticed I guess. All I noticed is that it’s more aggravating, not more interesting. As such they are invariably sites I’ll never read through.

So if you’re paying for this ‘bonus’ maybe you ought to reconsider. It’s money for nothing as far as I can see. Straight out of the Facebook playbook for suckering users.

And now a word to our sponsors

Shut up.

Okay, that’s two words. And I’m about to add a lot more.

If we take it as a given that the purpose of advertising is to attract customers and get them to buy the product, is it not logical to assume that annoying customers is a bad thing to do? There are many ways to annoy customers; the content of the ad itself is chief among them. But the Internet has given us a much more powerful way to drive away business: the pop-up ad. It’s not limited to just the little block ads either. Perhaps a more accurate term would be the “in-your-face” ad.

When you click a link to read something on a page we want to read what we went looking for. We do not want to see the screen suddenly pirated by another display that insists … well, something. I don’t know exactly what it’s trying to do because there’s nothing that makes me click ‘X’ faster than some smart ass interrupting my endeavors.

It’s bad enough that news articles are accompanied by side bars with annoying attention-grabbing flashes and even automatic video (another horror story), but do you have to interrupt the text paragraph by paragraph with not only links to ‘related’ stories (better left to the end of the current reading) but also promotions for things which it is unlikely anyone will look at merely because you did stick it in the middle of the read. This is not the way to engage your audience: it is the way to drive them away.

“Uh-oh! Looks like you’ve got an ad blocker!” Well no kidding, idiots. That is because your ads are so damn annoying no one wants to see them. Really people do not mind advertisements if they are presented in an acceptable fashion. “HEY STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND BUY THIS CRAP NOW!” is not an acceptable fashion.

Facebook is the champion example of how not to do things, with their ‘sponsored posts’ shoved into your news feed. It’s spam, that’s all. Why do you think FB Purity is so successful? Because Facebook hasn’t got a clue as to how to avoid pissing people off. They seem to take perverse delight in it, and rework their script every so often to circumvent the latest efforts at stopping this nonsense. If their advertisers ever wake up to the fact half of Facebook users don’t exist and the other half don’t look at the ads that company is going to have a sudden problem in the income department. Frankly, they deserve to go bankrupt because they have so horribly and commercially bastardized what is basically a good idea (sort of like what happened to any holiday you care to mention.) And when it comes to FB’s claim of “targeted” advertising, have you ever seen an ad that actually interested you? Probably not, because their analysis algorithms seemed to have been created by elementary school children who can’t even get the hang of the concept of a single selection criterion, never mind the plural form. In fact the businesses are paying for “targeted” ads and getting generic random-hit probability instead. For this they pay a premium.

Some bright spots have even come up with a method of making auto-run videos that so far no browser setting or extension can prevent from happening. Not all of us have unlimited data to waste on your not-at-all-important message. And the rest of us don’t want to be interrupted in what we’re doing anyway. Seriously; put your videos where the sun does not shine upon them.

It didn’t used to be like this, of course. In the simpler, better days of the Internet ads came in fixed blocks like ‘banner ads’ that sat quietly at the top and/or bottom of the page until the viewer looked at them. The technology now allows people to be forced to look, whether they want to or not. Net result: one less potential customer for every intrusive ad displayed. The exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

I am reminded of an election for mayor in a town I used to live in a few years ago. The candidate who won was the person with the fewest campaign signs cluttering up the countryside.

Food for thought.