Notable News (w13-w22)

In the last couple of months (ten weeks!), there was really nothing new on the domestic front. The same old routine. Spring finally came, the air warmed up and (after a little icy setback) the buds started to open, quickly blossoming into a late summer. I experienced, again, some health problems which kept my moral down for a while. I had my old computer repaired and finally got a new one, which meant lots of hardware and software installations, reorganizing the working area, etc., which made many onomatopoeias come to mind (Aauugh!, *whimper*, *Phew*).

PearlsBeforeSwine-20180106I tried to apply to a couple of new jobs in order to get out of the nut house where I works but with no luck. To make things worse, the company we hired to repair the balcony & backyard keeps dragging their feet and nothing seems to get going. I want to prepare the garden for the summer but will we be able to do any gardening? My life seems on hold. I have many new project ideas to keep me busy but there’s so little time, so many things to think about and to do, all at the same time, that’s overwhelming, mind-crushing, depressing even…

I spent so much energy running like crazy at work (and for a whole week the temperature in the library was between 24 and 28 ºC!), coming back completely exhausted, hoping for a new job (or some sort of fairy god-mother intervention), waiting on the contractor (I took some vacation in order to rebuild the garden after the works would be done, but I feel I wasted my time…), stressing about health problems, reorganizing my computers and my network (extending ethernet to compensate for Bell’s weak wi-fi for example) that I really didn’t read or write much. Again, getting caught with life so much that… I forgot to live! It seemed that time was slipping through my fingers like sand. I felt (and still feel) tired all the time…

When I am at work I feel miserable but, when I am at home and look at this house — this little and comfortable nest, or safe-house, we have set-up for ourselves — I feel pretty good and content. I have everything I need and could ask for (okay, maybe not that marble bust of Lucius Virus or a more quiet and pleasant job — but, who knows, it might come someday). So, I have no real reason to be unhappy (beside watching the news, of course). I just have to tell myself that, again and again, and repeat it,  each time I have to face the darkness…

However, I was not completely idle. I wrote a little (commenting on Le secret des vietnamiennes, Venise and Bug, as well as a few movies). I also attended the Congrès Boréal, went to Ottawa to watch tulips and to the annual book sales of the libraries (so far I bought a few novels and about thirty-five manga!). Unfortunately, I mostly kept myself entertained: I finished to watch The Durrells, some old favourites TV series like Homeland or The Expanse, and tried some quite excellent new series like the remake of Lost in Space, Little Women or The Good Karma Hospital. I even discovered a new TV service, BritBox, but haven’t had time to try it yet.

PearlsBeforeSwine-20180111On the world stage we find the usual disasters: Trump ramping and raving (blaming everyone but himself), floods here, volcano there, many more sexual scandals, ups and downs in North Korea, war looming in the Middle East (Gaza, Iran), add another ebola epidemic, or an occasional school shooting and you have the picture. But there are also some good news, like a very Royal Wedding! [See detailed day by day events for April and May]

Through all this I tried to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

[ Traduire ]

Continue reading

*Phew*

I seems now, after nearly a week, I am finally done with the computer set ups. Of course, it wasn’t without pain and efforts.

First, despite the promises of the “Genius” that served me at the Apple Store, the technician had installed the *previous* macOS (10.12) instead of the latest one (10.13.3). It speaks volume on the heaviness of High Sierra when Apple’s own technicians want to save time (and cut corners) by avoiding its installation! Therefore I had to spent the first evening with my brand new/refurbished MacBook Pro (June 2017) updating the operating system. To add injury to the insult, Apple pushed the 10.13.4 update the *very* next day, so I had to go through the whole updating process AGAIN!

The next step was to order a stand, a bunch of cables and hard drives to install the MBP at my desk, with a larger monitor, wireless keyboard & mouse, as well as a Time Machine backup and a clone of the hard drive (just in case…). Finally, I had to install all the necessary software for my work (Norton Security, MS Office, LibreOffice, Photoshop, GIMP, VMware Fusion, DropBox, iMovie, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, etc.) and set up iCoud (because the 250 Gb SSD storage of the MBP is a little tight for me; from now on I will store all needed (texts, images) files in iCloud (200 Gb) and be able to access them from ANY devices!).

Then I moved the old iMac from my desk to the salon where it will become the new, more performing, media center. I needed a new HDMI cable to hook it up to the TV and had to install all the necessary software needed to perform that task (VLC, Kodi, Transmission, RipIt, Flixter, PopCorn, Toast, etc.).

The Mac-Mini was then moved from the salon to the bedroom to serve as secondary media center, along the Apple TV, for late night viewings. Not much install needed there besides hooking it up to the TV and to a wireless keyboard and trackpad (instead of a mouse).

It was a long process and I encountered only ONE major problem. At some point, and without any obvious reasons, all the pinned notes (the most important of course!) in the Notes app simply disappeared without a trace. They were not deleted. They just disappeared. And I couldn’t recover them. Very annoying! I had to performed a convoluted recovery process where I isolated the iMac from the internet (to prevent Notes from synching) and copied all the vanished notes into TextEdit in order to recreate them in Notes. Then the MBP Notes refused to synch with iCloud, so I had to turn it off and on, causing it to erase and re-download all the iCloud content again. Nothing more was lost and now everything seems to work (but, still, now I’ll maintain a backup of the notes, just to be sure).

And voilà! Now I can finally write.

Unfortunately (since I also tested my new media center by catching up on my viewings [The Walking Dead S08 eps 13-15, When calls the heart S05 eps 5-7, Homeland S07 eps 4-8, The Durrells S03 eps 3-4, Little Women eps 1-3 and The Terror ep 1], did the laundry and took at least one walk in the park) I don’t have much time left to write anything… As usual.

The next step: solving the damn weak and spotty wifi problem, do many projects around the house (spring cleaning, prepping the backyard for the summer, start gardening, etc.), read more, and, of course, try to catch up a little on my writing!

[ Traduire ]

Notable News (W07 – W12)

In the last five weeks, nothing much happened on the domestic front. The weather slightly improved each weeks (now it’s mostly above zero, although the east coast kept being hit by one  nor’easter after another!) and the sun feels much better (warmer) since we switched to daylight saving time as it sets much later now. The snow is melting. The job is as tiring and frustrating (absurd) as ever, but I think I am dealing better with it. Zen and all (trying not to give a f*ck).

I got my DNA testing results from 23&me and it is rather disappointing. I am genetically boring: one hundred per cent europeans and no variants detected for major health issues (save a higher risk for macular degeneration and celiac disease). The physical traits reports are hits and misses. I still have to read everything in details, but I feels it is more amusing than really useful.

I didn’t write much (although I did a few good comments on What the Health, An inconvenient sequel, Le chat du rabbin 7, Reine d’Égypte vol. 1 and vol. 2-3, on Kim Thuy’s conference and her book Ru) because I have been constantly busy trying to solve multiple problems. I have the feeling that nothing works properly anymore! Everything seems buggy: the WiFi, the blog, the computer (at home and at work), and even the electricity (causing the lights to flickers almost constantly, turning off and on the TV or the computer)! Is the world starting to slowly brake down all over? The entropy! The entropy! Seriously, if all this is a simulation (or a dream) slowly shutting down, maybe a reboot would wake me up? Or maybe not. But this constant fighting to maintain the cohesion of the universe is getting tiresome (if not unbearable, yet).

I called Hydro Q and the flicker stopped (for now). Tried to install network extenders but Bell’s wifi is till shitty (neither Apple Airport or Netgear worked; should I try another brand? More pods? To be continued…). The computer finally died (there was a problem with File Vault being on but the main problem was the hard drive after all) and is now at the repair shop. My desk feels empty and working in the salon on a combination of Mac-mini (which I normally use as a media center) and iPad, is rather uncomfortable. I am planing to purchase a Macbook soon… But I wasted so much time doing all this… it is frustrating.

In the news, the world doesn’t seems in a much better shape. More Trump-related scandals (Cambridge Analytica, Stormy Daniels, he fires Tillerson and McMaster, tease trade war and impose tariffs on steel & aluminummostly for China, proposed talks with North Korea, etc.), more school shooting this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland (Florida), serial bombing in Texas, another democrats’ victory in Pennsylvania slowly tips the scale, emboldened Russians assassinated a couple of former spies in Britain (one with a nerve agent!), Steven Hawking died, etc. The good news is that the students from Parkland are old enough to become activists (#NeverAgain) and, for some, to vote in the mid-term election in November! An end to this nightmare really seems possible…

Anyway, as usual, I managed to stay a little acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered many notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

[ Traduire ]
Continue reading

Aauugh!

(The entry’s title is a quote from Charles Schulz’ Charlie Brown)

The lights keeps flickering… The WiFi is often spotty and unreliable… And now my iMac is a zombie! Isn’t there anything working properly anymore ?!!

Ever since the last major OS update, the iMac started freezing now and then. Actually : almost every hour! So, I was suspecting a problem with Time Machine (it was freezing just as TM was about to start an incremental backup). I turned TM off, which didn’t totally solved the problem but considerably reduced its frequency.

Then, yesterday night, out of the blue, the iMac started to freeze again every few minutes. It slowed down to a slow pace and all applications refused to start and giving a “this application is not responding” instead (well, Safari was painstakingly loading).

My computer is a late 2012 iMac, with a 21.5 inches screen, 2.9 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, 1.12 TB Fusion Drive and it is running MacOS 10.13.3. I admit, it’s already more than five years old. Any suggestion to solve this problem?

I unplugged all peripherals and restarted several times with no change. Finally, I decided to restart in Safe Mode and ran a few diagnostics, repaired the drive, checked for virus with Norton Security, but everything seemed normal save that the problem was PERSISTING even in Safe Mode !

Therefore, could it means that’s an hardware problem rather than software? Maybe the last update didn’t play well with the Fusion Drive, like I’ve heard on some board?

Until I fix this (or replace my iMac with something new — not better, you can’t get that these days), I am stuck working on my even older Mac Mini (Mid 2010) or on my iPad ! I guess I know now where this year’s tax return will go…

Continue reading

An inconvenient sequel

an_inconvenient_sequel-cov“A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought the climate crisis into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Former Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy.

Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.”

[From the official web site]

Continue reading

Notable News (W43 – W06)

So much happened in the last four months (since the last notable news entry), that I wouldn’t know where to start. I’ll try to recall the highlights, but I’ll try to be brief.

On the domestic front we had a bout of extreme cold (while in the opposite hemisphere they had the hottest weather in nearly eight decades!). For the rest of the time we had the (now) usual cycle of freeze (snow) / defreeze (rain) with more snow than usual (at least more than last year; 195 cm so far). At work it is the usual hell, but I guess I came to term with it, becoming more zen (i.e. no giving a f**k) but I am still set into trying to find another job (in a quieter library, some place closer to home, maybe some desk job but I would rather prefer to keep working with books).

My blog was hacked and I finally made a move to a proper WordPress hosting. It is still a work in progress (still lots of repair to do), but I am now very satisfied with the look of the new blog. Of course, I’ve been more busy working on the blog itself and I didn’t write as much as I would have liked (but, still, I kept busy with some reviews, an essay on the art of reviewing and some articles like a biographical notice, a bibliography update, indexes, etc).

I had lots of trouble to have the city cut a branch of the tree in front of our house because it was touching the electric wires. The expensive repair/renovation in the backyard & balcony couldn’t be completed before the arrival of the cold weather (bad planning and lots of wasted time). The stupid contractor didn’t even provide an invoice so we cannot file our subsidy demands and he didn’t even bother to respond when we demanded that the work be completed in a timely manner in spring!

The digestion problems I’ve had since the beginning of the year convinced me to finally submit to tests and I had to endure a coloscopy (the test itself lasted just fifteen minutes but the two days of liquid diet and “preparation” were hellish!). They found that I was suffering from fatty liver and a sigmoidal diverticulosis (which could complicate into a diverticulitis). More stuff to be careful about…

This string of problems made me rather depressed. What’s the purpose to constantly fight if it is to simply eat in order to work, and work in order to be able to eat? I felt like the entropy of the world was catching up to me: the world was stopping making any sense, I was getting tired and weaker, everything was crumbling around me! Fortunately, writing and working on the blog was some sort of therapy for me and I now feel much better. Spring will be arriving in a little more than a month (despite mixed signals from the groundhogs) and we’ll be able to enjoy flowers under the sun again!

In the news, Catalonia declared independence from Spain, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (killing all chances of peace in the Middle East), Disney acquired most of 21st Century Fox, the #metoo social awakening happened, the U.S. government shotdown twice, the Dow Jones droppedSpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla car as payload (!), there was a missile false alarm in Hawaii and Japan, we had various disasters (wild fires in California, mudslides, earthquakes, floods in Europe), and the usual Trump craziness makes me despair for some sanity. Finally, there nothing much on TV since it’s the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics!

Despite everything, I managed to stay a little acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered many notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

[ Traduire ]

Continue reading

Does that ring a bell?

Bell offers a notoriously bad service to its customers. In fact, as I mentioned recently, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services  tells us that 32% of all complaints from Canadian consumers are related to Bell! I experienced this personally numerous times (I once had five services with them [phone, cellphone, internet, web hosting and satellite TV] and cancelled it all because of a really bad customer service!). Recently, after switching internet & TV service from Videotron to Bell, my VoIP phone from a third party stopped working properly and, when I called Bell technical service, I was told that they didn’t support VoIP phone and that if I wanted a good phone service I should use theirs! Also, as soon as I started using their wi-fi, half my numerous devices using internet (computers, iPhone, iPad, VoIP phone, thermostat, WeMo Insight & Switch, Philips Hue lights, printer, garage door opener, security cameras, etc. — I have over twenty different devices requiring wi-fi!) wouldn’t connect properly through their WPS and it took me a long time to figure a way to have everything working in a decent and almost stable way (using a combination of DMZ and MAC filtering — as well as using my sister’s Videotron‘s wi-fi!). Clearly, this bad service thing is not a myth… At least it has a ring of truth, but I am sure many other people can confirm that.

I always wondered how come that a company with such a bad reputation would, first, manage to stay in business and, second, never make any attempt to improve either their service or reputation. This week, I just figured it all: why improve your crappy service when you can just charge your customers for an improved premium service ?!

For instance, if you are not satisfied with the crappy-almost-inexistant technical service, you can simply subscribe to their “Bell Tech Expert” service for only $6.00 per month! There’s no incentive for them to offer a good service if they are making money with the premium service option!

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 20.04.03Or, if you find their crappy, unstable wi-fi service unbearable, you can simply subscribe to their “Whole Home Wi-Fi” service that uses a network of pods plugins that works with the Home Hub 3000 to strengthen and optimize the wi-fi! Only for $5.00 per month extra!

Some people will put up with the crappy service and some will pay up for the extra (real) service. You subscribe to Bell because (you think) they offer more than the competitor for a much cheaper price, but you end up paying more anyway for what should be standard service…

Quite annoying!

Unfortunately, I could never go back to Videotron’s TV service because Bell’s system is really amazing. It’s only their wi-fi (and customer service) that’s totally crap. Unfortunately, this makes their offers of Wi-Fi pods very tempting…

But at least, now, the Bell’s secret is out of the bag!

[ Traduire ]