Exploring The Microsoft Surface

I’ve had a Surface for several months now. Only recently have I explored this thing in greater depth.

Just discovered the hand writing input option. which I’m using right now. It’s pretty good, in my opinion.There are some things it’s taking me a bit to get used to. One: the way it processes when I get to the end of entry line. Sometimes it takes a few seconds to catch up. On the other side, every so often it will start to process my entry mid-word.  Things often get weird. Every so often it will let me keep adding letters. Other times it just stops and gets funky. Probably my learning curve.

Have you spent any time on one of these? What did you think? I actually rather like it. We’ll see. I plan to explore it more.

Wil Wheaton, The 21st Century and Trollish Sucky People

I’ve been following Mr. Wheaton’s blog about as long as he’s had it. Went from the first page, to Wil Wheaton in Exile (when his site got gummed up and he migrated to a WordPress hosted site), and so forth. I’m a Trek fan who really appreciated Wesley Crusher. And I appreciate his openness in regards to his struggles with clinical depression.

Recently, there he crafted a blog post expressing his disappointment with Lego. They launched a Next Generation line of characters. Wesley Crusher is crying. I thought that was pretty petty of them, and was remarkably unimpressed with a company that, I feel, has done a great job in so many other areas. He and I agree, his fans had a wide variety of responses. What you should expect.

Today he posted an update to the situation. So, some crappy bloggers took his post, misrepresented him, and then invited the loathsome hoards to descend upon Mr. Wheaton. I’ve seen this so many times, and truly hate it. It’s a wearying exercise, trust me. In my decade+ of blogging, I’ve dealt with this myself. Fortunately (at one level), not at the scale he’s dealing with.

Sucky, crappy people seem to have the run of the internet and we have little-to-no recourse, save blocking and deleting each turd left in our blog’s yard. It’s annoying enough to deal with the petty negativity. Lately, this crap has been filled with violent threats, racist vitriol, rape threats, threats against families and children. This simply frustrates me to the point of near rage.

What to do? Well, we can report those who cross the legal lines (threatening to rape or kill some is a crime, dumbasses!). But, how often does anything come from that? I’ve long recommended ignoring them, yet that doesn’t seem to work all that well.

That’s the deepest frustration: our powerlessness to stop this nonsense. Not without damaging the free-speech quality of the internet. At least, I’ve failed to see a viable solution emerge. I’ve mostly abandoned comment-threads. There are days I want the old internet back. Where people were (much more) decent to one another. Maybe that’s me hearkening back to time that didn’t exist. But I will still wish for a world where people interact with respect and dignity. So I dream.

And a new printer acquired…

As I lamented earlier this afternoon, my Canon Pixma bit the proverbial big one and has now migrated to the decaying pile of electronics in my garage. Soon the man in the cart will come by crying “bring out your dead” and out it will go.

So, after a bit of research, I opted for an Epson XP-640.

With good reviews (4.5ish on both BestBuy & Amazon), decent print times and decent cartridge replacement prices, seemed the best best for our needs. Mostly what we do at home is print out the occasional homework assignment, Amazon return label…stuff like that. Don’t need anything grandiose.

I must say that the installation process was straightforward and remarkably uncomplicated. And connecting it to my wifi was easy as well.

Feeling good about the choice. My old Canon, and considerably more moolah, connected to our wifi network without too much aggravation. But after “a bit” (a couple of months…not too sure), it wouldn’t connect to the network. Sneakerneting it with my PC direct connected to it via USB worked tolerably well. It was something I “was going to get to”…and, well, you know…life.

Anyway, we’ll see how this plays out with the networked printing. I’ll probably explore printing from my phone on this. But now, as I’ve been fighting a cold and am feeling dreadful, I’m going to take a nap. If I don’t lay down, I’ll be napping at my desk.



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Canon Pixma MG6620 Error Code 5011

A few days ago, my Canon Pixma MG6620 failed. I wasn’t able to get around to fixing this until today.

The ink cartridge carriage was stuck on the far right side. Looking closely, there was a white plastic piece that was pushed out from the back that blocked the feed path.

After looking around the device, stopping and restarting it several times, I finally consulted Google. There I came upon this:

I received Error Code 5011 code on my PIXMA MX922.  This is what worked for me:

  1. Press the ON button once to turn OFF the printer
  2. Press and hold the STOP button for two seconds
  3. While holding the STOP button, press and hold the ON button again.  Release the STOP button.
  4. Press the STOP button four times.  The yellow warning light will flash off and on.
  5. Release the ON button

At first read I thought “this is stupid”. Looking around the web some more, and trying a few other random things, I finally came back to this and figured “whatever, let’s try it. Worst case scenario I just wasted a minute or so”. Anyway, it worked. It looks like it resets the device.

Just to add to the fun, my computer wouldn’t connect to the printer. Uninstalled from my computer, powered the printer off, and now it won’t turn on. I’m about done with this blasted thing.

UPDATE: So, the thing is intermittently failing to power on, the error code comes back, then clears, and is not coming online. I’d say it’s time for a new printer. Not sure I’ll opt for a Canon right now. grump

UPDATE 2: A new printer has been acquired


Oh, YouTube Red, so close, yet so far

I’ve been hoping for YouTube to make upgrading to Red family plans easier for a few months. Imagine my delight to read this, then:


So I scurried over and clicked the “Upgrade Now” button, and…well…nope:

I thought myself so clever, setting up my family on a Google Apps “Standard Edition” (ancient predecessor for G Suite) back in the stone age (they stopped supporting it in 2012). It’s been nice having the family email accounts all together and under my administration (“Dad…I forgot my password…again…”). So, no Red Family plan for us…for now, at least. I suppose I can use an independent gmail account to do this. I wonder if I can share with a G Suite account from a personal account? Hmmm…

Anyway, I’m annoyed. Not angry, not going to abandon the Googleverse just yet. But, well, “harumph”!


That time I tried to get a job in Antarctica

Back in the mid-80s I came across a job opportunity in Antarctica. An expedition was looking for database managers. I’d just finished up a technical program for Information Processing. I’d built dBase databases, and pushed the information through Lotus, then used Word Perfect and (I think) Pagemaker to build presentations. I note some additional skills, like I’d converted an electronic typewriter so that it was a printer. I could print letter quality docs straight from my PC. In 1986 that was a unique thing.

I had a vision of the whole journey. Very wrong, of course. Laden with naivete. If I’d pulled that off, though…so much would’ve been different. 
I was certain I was a great fit for the job, and that I would get it.

I didn’t get the job. 

Back then, I was lucky to received a typed postcard (perhaps a simple 3 x 5 card) acknowledging receipt. Though I received the “No Thanks” letter a few weeks later, it was still pretty cool. The disappointment strong, yet without bitterness.

Looking back, it’s striking how much job hunting has changed. Starting with research. Now, with Google, I could’ve learned about the lead scientists, the focus of their research; I didn’t even know their names! 

The typed responses tell me they probably processed a handful of applications. I read about this in an article somewhere. There were no online job boards. A job board was, literally, a bulletin board with job postings on it. They evolved to binders in college placement offices, (and other spots, too). Nowadays, with the online job-search eco-system they’d have hundreds, if not thousands of applicants. An upside: the acknowledgement and decline processes should be fully automated. And the larger recruit pool gives them a better chance at finding a more specific skill set. But, still, thousands of applicants…

It’s striking how different life is now. But it doesn’t FEEL that different. Well, not until I look back. Not that much simpler, though, as opposed to the adage air “simpler times”. The complexities were different. I’m happy, for the most part, with the path of our evolution.

Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir Live “Cloudburst”

I love Eric Whitacre’s work. His music speaks deeply to me. His Virtual Choir pieces, though, achieves the highest levels of awesome.
This one, Cloudburst (where gets bonus points from me as he based on an Octavio Paz poem) is stunning. Inspired by a Midwestern thunderstorm, the song captures the audio essence of the storm. From a musical perspective, I adore his use of clapping and finger snapping to achieve the feel of heavy rain. And his interweaving of harmony and dissonance really strikes a chord (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

Regarding the virtual nature, in addition to the choirs in the auditorium we have 30 choristers in 30 countries, all Skyped in. Pushing the technical boundaries, too. I delighted at the way Eric dealt with the lag: the piece was written to use it. Turning a liability into an asset is genius.

So, please, enjoy Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir performing “Cloudburst” at a TED talk.

And now, Google Music

I value knowing what’s going on in the tech world. Yet, there is so much change, coming so fast, that sometimes I miss the obvious.

I subscribed to YouTube Red some time ago. My focus: ad elimination. So much of my family’s video time is spent on YouTube, so it was a prudent investment.

I didn’t realize that the subscription includes Google Music. I discovered this today, so used it as my music delivery mechanism. Music is such a core part of my being, that the way I access it has value.

I like the interface. So far, the selection has been solid. Spotify, of late, has been quite a resource hog. Accessing via a web browser seems to use resources better, or at least more gently.

Anyway, I’m exploring shifting over fully, and cancelling my Spotify account. I’ll be diving deeper into Google Music and share what I learn.

The importance of my calendar, and other tools 

Oh, trying to stay on top if the mania of my life. It’s not easy right now, nor has it been so in ages. Trying to get everything I want to do done is hard. 

My friends and family know that I need to enter anything asked if me into my cakebdar. If that doesn’t happen, it’s likely to get lost in the blizzard that is my life. Generally I grab my phone and plug “whatever” into my calendar. And those tools have evolved. 

Up until a few years ago, I was a hard core Franklin-Covey devote. My lovely leather planner went pretty much everywhere with me. Now, I’m pretty fully electronic, for good and for ill. I believe there’s value in interacting with paper. Stuff seems to get into my brain better that way. But the convenience of tech, using multiple devices to access and manage stuff, and the ability to have reminders pop up have become crucial. 

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a took called IQTell.  This was a solid blend, integrating my different streams of information, email, calendar, notes (including Evernote, one of my key organization tools), and tasks into a cohesive and thoughtful system. Sadly, they’ve announced that they’re discontinuing this guy. And so I’m, yet again, seeking a new system. Right know, everything is getting dumped into Evernote, which isn’t feeling too effective. 

I’ll be writing about that over the next few days.