Already Here

From this article:

“My dream is that someday employers will say, “Let’s hire anybody but a college graduate. We’ll teach him what he needs to know for our work. Check out the homeschoolers—they are a really sociable lot.” Imagine getting a fresh and intelligent young worker at age 18, rather than a stultified parrot at age 22.”

I personally know of three companies who already practice this.  All are startup technology businesses, all are incredibly successful, and not one has an HR department.  And one of the three has no female employees.  None.

Unnecessary Change

I am often teased about my resistance to change, but in fact I’m quite comfortable with it, when it is both necessary and/or beneficial.

Case in point:  last week I got sick of my phone performing random changes on me — e.g. switching to “Airplane” mode (a 3-button operation, so not a “fat-finger” or “butt-dial”  phenomenon) without my input — and a battery that had been charged t0 100% but had somehow shrunk to less than 50% by the time I got to the supermarket.  New Wife was having similar issues to mine — also un-prompted but different in type — and as we’d bought them at the same time some four years ago, we decided to get replacements together over the weekend.

Because I have ZERO tolerance for inanimate objects and even less with technology, we went off to the T-Mobile store at the mall so as to preclude situations like me hurling the new phone against the wall.  I had done a little research beforehand and decided on the model already (Motorola 4G something because I don’t trust 5G just yet) and as luck would have it, the store had them in stock — the last two, by the way — and so we sat down and got the friendly young customer service kid (thanks, Carlos) to perform the magic which would transfer the data on the old broken phones over to the new ones.  (It says something for the modern generation that he was able to perform said magic on both phones simultaneously without any hassle whatsoever.)

Of course, there was some work left to do — reinstalling the few apps I need to keep my life organized — but that was no problem because I’d done it before with the old phone, so easy job.

Then as I started to familiarize myself with the new phone’s operation, my irritation started its engine and the rev counter began to head towards the red line.  For starters, the familiar operation buttons at the bottom of the screen

…had been replaced by the inscrutable

…which requires one to swipe up to go back to the Home screen.  The “Back” and “Show Open Programs” buttons?  Gone without a trace, sunk quicker than the fucking Bismark.  You can show the open programs, but that requires two or three non-intuitive steps to get there, and I still haven’t found a replacement for the Back button.

WHY?  What possible user benefit does that change provide?

Next comes the incoming phone call answering screen, changed from:

…with, once again, a single button:

And because I get few phone calls anyway, I haven’t yet been able to figure out how to send the poxy call to Voicemail if I’m busy or don’t recognize the caller.

One again:  WHY?

The older screens were both functional, easy to understand and required absolutely no change, nor time spent in learning how to work the fucking things.

I remember back in the day that when buying a new car, learning how to work the thing required about 30 seconds — where’s the indicator lever, where are the light switches, how does the fan/AC work — and you could drive straight out the dealership and carry on with your life.

Now?  You need a 30-minute tutorial from the sales rep, and you’d better not lose your instruction manual (which itself requires a tutorial on how to use it, because car manufacturers insist on trying to make a single manual cover all the different models at once, rendering the thing as inscrutable as the Rosetta fucking Stone).

The new phone bullshit is even less justifiable.

I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the new phones use the smaller USB-C plugs, thus rendering all my old backup power cords redundant and requiring the purchase of a few new ones, to drive up the transaction cost.

Technological change is fine, but making it more difficult to operate on the most basic level does nothing but cause unnecessary aggravation.

New Wife locked the patio door before leaving for work so that my new phone wouldn’t turn into a submarine (the pool is but a few yards away from our apartment).  She is wise, and knows me well.

The only positive thing about all this is that the new (and larger) phone still fits in my car’s phone holder, so there’s that.

Errrr No Thank You

I’ve already griped about the new Win11 OS from Microsoft (motto:  “It would be a great world without customers”), and now all my fears are being realized.  My laptop’s CPU (“brain” for those like me) is probably not going to be able to handle this shiny new gizmo*:

Windows 11 is arriving later this year as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, but many are discovering that their hardware isn’t compatible. Microsoft has altered its minimum hardware requirements, and it’s the CPU changes that are most surprising here. Windows 11 will only officially support 8th Gen and newer Intel Core processors, alongside Apollo Lake and newer Pentium and Celeron processors.
That potentially rules out millions of existing Windows 10 devices from upgrading to Windows 11 with full support, and even devices like Microsoft’s own Surface Studio 2 which the company is still selling right now for $3,499. Older devices that aren’t officially supported will be met with a warning during the Windows 11 install that the upgrade is not recommended, but the OS should still install.

Nope;  not gonna do it.  I have absolutely no idea what processor I have — oh wait:  according to the little sticker on the laptop bed that I’ve never bothered to scrape off, it’s an “Intel Core17 8th Gen (whatever that means) — so maybe I’ll be okay… [scans link]  okay, there it is:  Win11 will work with the “Intel 8 (Coffee Lake)” WTF does that mean?  “Coffee Lake”?  Why the hell do I have to clutter my (own) memory with their fucking internal buzzwords for a whizbang piece of silicon or whatever it’s made of?

I also note that the Intel 8 is the oldest processor that can handle Win11, so — and forgive me for being cynical — whenever the Microsoft Tech Gods decide that Win11 v3.0 is the Best Thing Evah, guess which processor will drop off the list first?

Then there’s this gobbledygook:

Windows 11 would also require TPM capable of at least 1.2 support and UEFI Secure Boot. Both of these technologies are designed to improve the security of Windows, and prevent malware and ransomware from tampering with encryption keys and other secure elements of the operating system. Now, it appears Microsoft may be mandating TPM 2.0, but again, we’re checking on that.
While Microsoft has required TPM support for OEM hardware certification since Windows 10, it hasn’t actively required Windows to have this fully enabled. That’s changing in Windows 11, and it means if your laptop or PC shipped without these BIOS options enabled then you’re going to have to go searching for a setting to switch on.

And the last bit of fuckery:

Microsoft is also requiring a front-facing camera for all Windows 11 devices except desktop PCs from January 2023 onwards.

As it is, I cover my camera lens with tape except when doing videocalls, so I don’t really care about that — until Win11 mandates that my camera has to be on at all times when using their poxy software… and then:

Just because.


*thanks to Ace for the link

RFI: Brave Problems

I know a couple of you folks use the Brave browser, and I need a little assistance.

When I create a bookmark for a page, it doesn’t appear anywhere:  not in the folder I select, nor, it appears, anywhere else.  This happens regardless of whether I use the little Bookmark shortcut on the left of the URL, or hit CTRL+D.

Brave’s homepage doesn’t seem to have any actual help functions — only FAQs and a forum to which I can’t submit a query, or start a thread.  Highly irritating.

Any advice or assistance will be appreciated.

 

2020 Hangover

…and not the kind which follows delightful over-indulgence in alcoholic beverages, either.

No, I’m talking about the spiteful year of 2020, which saw us spared only a plague of crotch-eating crickets (no idea how it missed that one), but saw fit to land three quick punches in the face during the last three days of December.

1.) The clothes dryer packed up — heating element just quit, making it about as useful as a stud bull without testicles — it would go through the motions just fine, but no result.  And — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — it happened two months after the manufacturer’s warranty had expired.  However: when I was rummaging around in the papers surrounding its purchase so I’d have the details when I arranged for a service call, lo! there on the invoice was an additional cost for:  ta-daaaa! an extended warranty (which I hardly ever buy but I had this time), and it had over a year still to run.

This didn’t end the problem.  I called Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM, as they call themselves now) to see what they could do, and was directed to their (outsourced) repair company who handled such calls.  After grappling with the poxy automated telephone system — add this bastard thing to my Ten Hates — I discovered that this outfit was only responsible for the warranty on items purchased since 2019, and my purchase from 2017 was handled by yet another company, and no of course they had no idea who that could be.  So I called NFM and politely asked what the fuck they were doing by sending me to the wrong address, so to speak.  To be fair, NFM was as always a delight to deal with:  attentive, sympathetic and helpful, they apologized fulsomely and sent me to the proper company who, of course, had an automated telephone menu which eventually got me the number of a certified repair outlet in my area… whose number was no longer in service.  So I went back to the company’s poxy website — which was designed by the same people who designed the ObamaCare government website — and eventually found a place which promised to send a guy round after the New Year to fix  the dryer.  (To be continued.)

2.) The next day (before New Year’s Eve) was cold and windy, and raining buckets.  So, this being 2020, it came as no surprise when New Wife called plaintively from her school to inform me that Sputum (her Fiat 500, thus named because of its color) was refusing to start.  Lights were working, but engine she no crank.  She and the school maintenance guy had tried to jump-start the thing, but no luck.  Shit.  A new starter motor loomed in our future, $1,200 installed.  So I went over, tried to push-start the car (stick shift, yay) so we could at least get it home or to the shop (did I mention that the day was freezing, wet and windy?) and… no joy.  So maybe not the starter motor, but some chip in the ignition system?  Crap.  Called our car service guys (EuroSport in Plano, blessings be upon them), and they said that while they couldn’t attend to the car until the New Year (natch) because they were closed on New Year’s Eve, they’d organize a tow the next day and at least get Sputum to their shop.

I took New Wife to work on New Year’s Eve (half-day only) and waited for the tow service to arrive.  They did, and took care of the business without any fuss.  I went off and did the pre-NYE grocery shopping, then went back to pick up New Wife.

3.) And lo did the “Check Engine” light come on in the Tiguan — and to be fair to VW, that light only comes on when there’s something quite seriously wrong.  No chance to get the thing checked, of course, because New Year’s Eve.  I crept home nervously, therefore, and New Wife and I faced the prospect of no cars instead of two for the entire long weekend — and we had planned on going out a bit because we both had cabin fever and needed to.

So we spent the entire weekend cooped up in our apartment, snarling at each other.  (Okay, to be fair, she moped and I was doing the snarling, as you might expect.)

The following Monday dawned bright and fair — no rain, no freezing temperatures, this was 2021, wasn’t it? — so I took her to work and set about the business of getting both cars attended to.  Here’s the full report.

Sputum’s battery was dead — stone dead, despite the lights and such working — it was no longer capable of taking a charge.  So one new battery, duly installed, and the Fiat was as good as new.  The mechanic did mention that there were some signs of rodent infestation (nests containing acorns, hence squirrels), and they’d nibbled on some of the wires, but no serious damage.  (I mention this because it will be important later.)  Our apartment complex is quite heavily forested and there are a jillion of the little tree-rats all over the place, but can I shoot them out of the trees with my trusty Baikal pellet gun?  Oh no, because city ordinance #2375-4 para. 48 “No discharge of guns including pellet guns in city limits”.  Anyway, the outcome, Fiat-wise, was not bad especially as I discovered that this was the car’s original, four-year-old battery, so all in all, not a bad outcome.

And now we come to the Tiguan’s warning light.  “Kim, at first glance it looks as though you may be having an issue with the turbo”, a comment which struck fear to my heart (and more especially to my wallet) because a new turbo is over $1,500 and double that for installation.  So I waited with trepidation for the final diagnosis, hoping that maybe it was just the sensor that was at fault (only a few hundred dollars to replace that).

It was neither.  “It looks as though you’ve had some serious rodent infestation, and they’ve chewed the wires connecting the sensor to the turbo.”

Cost of replacing the wire (which, of course, in the modern parlance means a new sensor because it’s a single unit):  $160 plus labor.

So all in all, what had threatened to cost me close to $5,000 to fix both cars in 2020, eventually cost me less than $500 in 2021.

And the clothes dryer was duly attended to — turns out it was the control panel at fault, and not the heating coil or motor — and the fix took less than half an hour.

So life is good, so far in 2021.  But later in the month will come the Presidential Inauguration, whereupon I expect not only socialism but crotch-eating crickets to follow soon thereafter.

You heard it here first.