Attestation and other curiosities

it’s a good thing I know our license plate number

attestationAttestation seems like a very fancy term, maybe a serious disease. It is actually “a legal acknowledgment of the authenticity of a document and a verification that proper processes were followed.” When I digitally enter my Census timesheet, I have to attest that I worked those hours. Before my wife goes to school, she has to promise that she’s taken her temperature and is well enough to come in.

We both need to wear masks to work. As noted, my head is bigger than hers, bigger in fact than most people’s. She apparently didn’t notice this at first and randomly assigned the first masks to us and our daughter randomly. But now she can tell, just by looking, which mask belongs to whom; I cannot.

It always reminds me of The Price is Right

We got A NEW CAR! Most of the summer, my wife admittedly obsessed with the price of used RAV4s. This editor’s letter in the August 28 issue of The Week actually mirrored her experience.

“Every dealer I spoke with had sold out of decent and affordable used autos…” This is a function of the pandemic, but also “some of the cash they might have splashed on vacations or restaurant meals is instead going to new wheels.”

That was certainly true of us. We had a vacation budget that went unspent. So the used vehicle is instead a current one. My wife bought it out of town for logistical reasons, so I never saw it until four days after she purchased it.

YouTube

I only recently discovered that my wife is also a fan of finding helpful hints on YouTube videos. I’ve been watching them for years – here’s one on changing the battery on a CVS bathroom scale, which is similar to one I used.

The recent requirement I had involved not just recording on Zoom, which I figured out. My question was to FIND my #ZOOM RECORDINGS, which I needed to retrieve so I could read to our Sunday school class.

Cellphones

On my cellphone recently, I received a text that read “[Tik Tok] **** is your verification code, valid for five minutes. To keep your account safe, never forward this code.” Since I’ve never been on Tik Tok, I will assuredly abide by this.

Speaking of cellphones, I got some bogus company calling my Census phone to say it was needing to update my system. Spammers are everywhere. I ignored it, correctly.

I’m rich!

Surprise money. I got a check from Wells Fargo for $159.13 for some fiscal malfeasance that they had undoubtedly committed. I’ve gotten these types of checks before, but usually, they are for $7.81, or at the most $24.59.

The good old days

I was looking to find a list of the current members of the Cabinet because, geez, who can keep track? On Google, page one, there’s a pulldown list that lists Barack Obama’s cabinet, fueled from this page. I have a… certain disdain for the current batch, especially Bill Barr. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Embracing the technology, right?

Why did I NEED Venmo?

every-virtual-meeting
Every Virtual Meeting: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License
When I was talking to a librarian friend of mine recently, it occurred to me that embracing the technology is often a cost/benefit analysis. So I’ve been pondering my adoption, re-adoption, or rejection of the same in the calendar year 2020.

Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts: I had Skype over a decade ago. I didn’t use it much, didn’t like it. But since March 15, 2020, I must have used one of them at least four dozen times. BTW, EVERYTHING in the cartoon above I have witnessed.

Facebook: I have no idea how I receive the items I see first in my feed. Lately, I’ve found it necessary to delete people, almost always friends of friends. Actually, I like to keep people I know and disagree with so that I don’t get caught up with too much confirmation bias. I tend to retain the ones I know IRL. But stupid stuff, usually with misspelled graphics, not so much.

Twitter: I still don’t “get” Twitter. My blog posts go there daily, but that’s it.

Cellphone: I eschewed getting one at all for years. Then when I did, it was a dumb phone. I finally yielded and got a smartphone when I lost my flip phone a few years back. But because I often misplace it AND the battery drains too easily, it was often off. And I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

Necessity is a real mother

That changed, not because of the COVID-19 but because of my father-in-law’s illness. My brothers-in-law and their wives were discussing issues via text. I wasn’t on the chain, because they didn’t have my number. I learned to have the phone on, and charged, regularly. My wife had a phone from the Pleistocene period, so she traded in her phone this calendar year. The kicker is that while I would receive the group texts, my wife would not. She could get individual texts, though. We don’t understand the issue.

Here’s a problem with being behind the curve. When getting instructions from the manual, or from other people, they operate on the assumption you’re just upgrading. The truth is more prosaic. I HAVE NO IDEA how to fix these things. Fortunately, I have a teenager. Still, I’m going to get ANOTHER phone for me, because the memory is so poor, and because I can seldom see images people text to me.

What’s App?: When I went to a conference in Indiana with kids from my church and others from the presbytery last summer, it was decided that we’d use What’s App. to communicate on the huge Purdue campus. On my phone, at least, it operated slowly, and occasionally not at all. So…

Why do I need this?

Venmo: When I needed to download the Venmo app, I had to dump What’s App and two others. And why did I NEED Venmo? Because the teachers at her school use it. They collected money back in March because they thought a couple of non-teaching staff were going to get laid off. As it turns out, they weren’t. Meanwhile, a couple of teachers are retiring at the end of the semester.

So we (I) had to get the money from Vera, who had collected the first $30 and then transfer it to Chuck, who was collecting for the retirement gift. This took about three hours, my phone is so wonky. Now why Vera couldn’t have sent the money to Chuck, keeping us out of it, I don’t know. Venmo is a sister company to PayPal, which I’ve had for years.

eBay: I’ve had it for years, but seldom use it. I wanted to get cards for our SORRY game. I could have bought a new game, but the rules in Fire and Ice are very different. i figured out my password and got new cards for $5 plus nearly as much for postage. But it’s good. We use them.

Instagram: Even my daughter couldn’t help me with this.

When your blog provider says upgrade

I got this message recently: “Debian and Ubuntu are operating systems that power a huge chunk of DreamHost. And, like any operating systems, they receive regular updates to fix bugs, improve stability, and add features. We will be upgrading your Virtual Private Server from version 14.04 (also known as trusty) to Debian 9.12 (aka Stretch!)”

OK! I have no idea what that means.

Date of upgrade: Tuesday, June 9th
Maintenance Window: 8:00pm-10:00pm Pacific Time
Expected downtime: 5 minutes
You may notice that your sites become unreachable for about 5 minutes while we perform the upgrade. Don’t worry – this is normal!

And I was working on the blog RIGHT AT THAT TIME, losing a bit of work. But it’s all good now.

Analog guy: watches, cellphones, WordPress 5

These instructions, if I understood them, might even be useful

analog guy
from techshirts.net
I am an analog guy. I was reminded of this yet again when I pulled out my watch from my mail drawer – don’t ask – and started wearing it. It’s SO much easier telling the time with a 90-degree flick of the wrist.

Sometimes, when I needed the time, and no one has a watch, it seemed laborious for people to pull their various devices from their pockets. Also:

  • My blog briefly became much more difficult to create. As someone explained to Dustbury: “WordPress 5 changed to an entirely new editor where construction of a post that historically just involved typing now involves pasting together a series of blocks that have to be added, for example, just to have quoted text. Am I missing something?”

It was dreadful. Usually, I write in my test blog then cut and paste the whole thing, except for images, into my real blog. The new and “improved” system made me enter the text one paragraph at a time. I didn’t see a way to switch back to the familiar. Fortunately, Dustbury directed me to the Classic Editor plugin, which restores the previous editor.

Oh, the weird sizing in the text of this post – WP5. I could have rewritten it, but…

I’m also using FastCGI, and I don’t even know what that means.

  • One of my buds has been experienced the blue screen of death repeatedly on his laptop and asked for assistance. He was sent these instructions, which, if I understood them, might even be useful. I experienced this irritant once myself, but the hard boot seemed to work so far, knock wood, or knock pixels, or whatever one raps upon.
  • I pretty much hate my current smartphone.

  1. It’s too small. It’s not just that I misplace it in the sofa or between the creases of my backpack. I was in a hotel in DC, sitting at the desk in my room, and it seemed to just disappear. It slipped under this odd, unnecessary ledge.

  2. It doesn’t always work. When I fully charge it, then turn it on, it’s already down to 95%. I had it at that conference in DC and the only way to get the schedule was by downloading the app. Well, in this hotel, there were four floors BELOW the lobby, and the app did NOT work on the lower two floors.

So when I get a train ticket or tickets to Yankee Stadium, I order them online but get physical copies rather than getting them on my phone. An analog guy, I tell you.

Here’s another thing. They tell you to “protect your social network accounts with a strong, unique password and use two-step verification, when possible.” Every time I do that, I manage to lock myself out of my own devices because I’ve forgotten the password of the second step in the verification. I know there’s a password saver thing, but…

To quote Brian Wilson, “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times…”

U is for Universal Serial Bus

I finally got a smartphone this year, kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

I needed a U post and decided on USB port. My first problem? Despite my use of them virtually every single day, I didn’t know what it stood for.

A USB port is a “standard cable connection interface for personal computers and consumer electronics devices.” Yeah, I knew that.

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, “an industry standard for short-distance digital data communications. USB ports allow USB devices to be connected to each other with and transfer digital data over USB cables. They can also supply electric power across the cable to devices that need it.”

When I first got chargers for my cellphones and tablets, they were in one piece, with a USB cable doohickey on one end and a plug on the other. Now they come with the cord with different size connectors on each end and a plug as a separate attachment, I gather for greater flexibility.

It has come in handy. At a conference last year, I received – well, I didn’t know WHAT it was. It had an In DC 5V port and an Out DC 5V port at the same end. It turned out to be a portable charger. You stick one end of a cord into a laptop or computer, and the other end into the charger. Then you use the charger when your cellphone or tablet is dying.

Oh, and speaking of phones, I finally got a smartphone this year, kicking and screaming into the 21st century. I can text without typing the 2 three times to get the letter C. I still don’t do it much, but I COULD.

It happened because I lost my not-smart cellphone in NYC in August; I didn’t really miss not having one until I traveled to Binghamton in early October. And while I could have gotten the same phone I had, with the same $7 a month deal, I ended up with an LG something-or-other for $35 per month package, which seems sufficient right now.

And I got a new bike light this year, which was expensive. But it is rechargeable. I had to take it to the bike shop to FIND the USB port, and someone with better fingernails than I had to take off the hard plastic piece hiding it. Plug it in, And There Was Light.

For ABC Wednesday

Remembering the accouterments

Technology doesn’t always work for me the way I understand it’s supposed to.


The day after our work trip to Syracuse in April, a remarkable thing happened. I brought my keys, my wallet, my cellphone, one of my Amazon Fire tablets, and my work identification to work. That had not happened in so long I do not recall when. Then it happened again on Thursday, June 1.

Usually, I know where my keys are, unless the Daughter has borrowed them, or they’re in a pair of pants that have ended up in the laundry. Still, it’s a good thing we have a spare house key.

Generally, I bring my wallet, though occasionally it’ll be in the OTHER coat. Loose change in the backpack, or an emergency credit card in the mail drawer, can be a salvation.

I like carrying one of my tablets to check emails and play games. I remember more than half the time. In fact, I now have TWO tablets because I misplaced one for a couple weeks, and then the other, eventually discovered in the clutter we’ve been tackling.

Incidentally, one of them, the 8, as opposed to the 7, can be charged for hours, but it will only show as 1% charged. I can then use it for quite a while before it really IS at 1%, then at 0%, and it shuts down.

There was a recent report that more people are living without a landline. That won’t include me for some time, unless, like the folks in Illinois might be, I’m forced to give it up.

It seems that either my cell is MIA, or it has zero juice. The other thing I’ve noticed is that my cellphone does NOT work well in my own house. When I call the phone company to get the landline fixed, I usually have to use it on the front porch.

But I seem most resistant to the ID. That definitely DID go through the washing machine, because my badge has a bit of of a psychedelic look. Moreover, almost every time I use the thing, I sing, “Let me see your ID.”

My parents used to call me the “absent-minded professor,” so I assure you that this is not a function of age. It’s just how my mind works, or occasionally, fails to.

As noted, technology doesn’t always work for me the way I understand it’s supposed to.

A friend of mine was visiting a friend in London, when two guys on a scooter snatched her phone out of hand as she was happily gesturing and chatting with her friend. Beyond feeling sad for her, it points to my distrust of becoming dependent on any device too much.

I made a tactical error on a trip to New Paltz, my old college town, recently. We were rushing to leave Albany, but I was short on cash. The Daughter’s phone says there’s a branch of my bank within a store in town, but when I get there, the store ownership has changed. It’s essentially the same establishment, with a different name, but no longer even an ATM. Fortunately there was another option only a couple miles away, but still…

The technologically bashful Arthur recognizes that all his new technology is a product of his great good fortune. So I reckon I oughtn’t to kvetch about my techno stress too much.