Sometimes I despair

Two things have me shaking my head and wondering about people and/or organizations over the past couple of days.

Two days ago I posted a piece I called “Am I really Canadian?” clearly labelled and tagged as “Humour”.  This was intended to poke some fun at three of the stereotypes to which some Canadians cling.  From the first comment I received on this posting, obviously my attempt at humour failed, or the poster failed to notice the “humour” label and tag.  Maybe I should have thrown a few “eh”s into the piece. Perhaps it would have sunk in that way eh?  I won’t copy his comments here, but I’ll refill my coffee mug while you read the posting and comments.  There, I’ve now got a nice hot coffee beside me and you’ve finished.  Is there anything in that posting that honestly warrants his first comment?  As I wrote in my response to Rusty Blackwood, I credit my followers and readers with the intelligence to tell the difference between my serious postings and those I put up just for fun – to provide a laugh in someone’s day.  Obviously “snaughty” needs to lighten up a tad.

The other matter is more in the lines of being a frustration.  Last May I went to Future Shop to buy a laptop.  I felt I needed one for the photo business, at least the way I’ve got it set up.  I found a nice Lenovo B575 that seemed to suit my needs.  Unfortunately the only one they had left was the demo model, which they sold to me at a discounted price since it was the demo.  In my posting “Dear Mr Gates” of October 18, I lament that this new laptop runs Windows 7.

Since this was a demo, all I really got from Future Shop was the laptop – no documentation of any kind from Lenovo.  Granted there is a “Lenovo Users’s Guide” on the hard drive, but that basically tells me how to do things like change the battery or replace the hard drive.  That isn’t the kind of information I need.

Being a Canadian machine, this laptop has an English/French keyboard.  Every so often I will somehow turn on the French characters, but since I touch-type, I don’t often look at the keyboard when I’m working, so have no idea what key, or combination of keys I’ve pressed to perform that action. At the moment, I also have long nails for some photoshoots, which don’t help the typing either.  Nothing I’ve tried seems to turn the French off again. I usually have to exit the programme I’m working in and start it up again so the system will reset to English.  If I haven’t saved my work recently, that can be a royal pain.   Another problem is this: how can I clean the screen without damaging anything when a simple soft cloth to remove dust won’t work?   These are not covered in the installed manual, which, as I wrote above, seems to deal mainly with hardware issues.

Yesterday I finally remembered to contact Lenovo to ask about a manual on the care and feeding of the machine for things other than hardware problems.  The person I spoke with directed me to a website where I could download a manual.  It turned out to be the one I already have on the hard drive.  Not satisfactory.  Tried Google.  Every single listing was for that same manual.  That isn’t what I need to know, people.  I have a letter to be mailed to Lenovo on Monday morning explaining my predicament and it ends by saying (I’m paraphrasing now) “if such a manual doesn’t exist, can you at least answer these two questions”.  Ah well, this is just the latest installment in my ongoing battle with computers.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and pertinent information) too.

Cat.

I didn’t ask for it

I’d like your opinions on something:

The past two years, I’ve used software from a company called UFile to prepare and file my income tax return online.  In each year, I’ve gone to a nearby store and purchased the disc myself.

Last year there was a change in my status and I didn’t care for some of the information this change seemed to require on the form, so thought I’d use some other programme this years.   My former partner also used this same software, got the same questions and, being more patient than I, contacted Revenue Canada, or whatever it calls itself now, only to be told they didn’t require any of the information UFile asked for and told her how to handle that portion (it involves reporting a lot of zeros).  That response only confirmed my decision to look elsewhere this year.

There’s the background.

Three days ago I received an email from UFile telling me I wouldn’t have to go out and buy the disc because they were mailing it to me.  Of course I still have to pay for it.  To date, Revenue Canada has not listed Ufile among the approved  software for preparing my 2012 tax return, yet yesterday I received the new disc in my mailbox.  They have not yet responded to my email asking why they are sending me unapproved software.

Here’s where I’d like to hear your views: This was sent to me unsolicited; the package does not display a return address, so I can’t send it back and, as of 11:55 this morning (Eastern Time) UFile has not been approved by the feds, so it may be useless anyway.  Am I honour bound to pay for this?  I hadn’t planned on using this software this year for the reasons I wrote above and did not request they send it to me.  It is currently sitting on my desk, unopened and being ignored.

Thanks for your views on this.  Since it’s Friday, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

More from the computer wars

Before I start, I notice that recently I’ve had a new reader from New Caledonia.  Welcome.  I hope you enjoy what you’re seeing.

Now, for years dating back to the ‘80s and our first computer, a Commodore 64, I’ve been engaged in a running battle with these infernal devices.  Every now and then, the system will enlist the aid of printers and software in these skirmishes.  Last June my trusty HP 4580 died after about 4 years of service.  As I’m a photographer, I decided to replace it with a new HP Photosmart.  I chose the 5510, figuring that for the $20 difference, I could turn the paper over myself whenever I wanted two-sided printing.  The theory behind the PhotoSmart was good, the practice was not.

Right from the beginning I had problems with the paper feed, the machine frequently feeding two or more sheets at a time.   This would not normally be a problem unless you’re printing a multi-page document.  Although it was a PhotoSmart (it said so right on the label) it wouldn’t print 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 photos straight, no matter what I did or said – and I’ll admit I used some very unladylike language.

After a week of these irritants, I contacted HP, who sent me a replacement.  I was not impressed with this second machine.  I had a week old printer which I had purchased brand new and they sent me a refurbished unit as a replacement.  Not that it mattered much for the replacement was worse than the original.  Where the original would feed two or three sheets at a time, on occasion the replacement would feed as many as eight at a time.  I returned the replacement and decided that, once the ink in the original was used, I’d replace it.  The ink ran out just after Christmas, so this past weekend, I went shopping for a printer.

The replacement is yet another HP, an Officejet 6700 this time.  Yes, it’s more printer than I really need at the moment, but that could change.  This one not only feeds just one sheet of paper at a time, it also prints photos straight.  And, I got it on sale.

Software will occasionally enter the fray as well.  As I wrote in “Editing ain’t easy”, I’m helping a friend edit her manuscript.  She uses MS Word to write, whereas I prefer WordPerfect.  I’ve been using WordPerfect 12, while she has a more current version of Word which WP 12 doesn’t recognize (I get “unknown format” messages if I try to open her documents in WP).  My computer came with something called “MicroSoft Word Starter”, which is a pain in the ass to use.

She usually sends me five chapters at a time.  I’ve been downloading them, then opening them with this MS Starter monstrosity.  From there it’s been a matter of copy and paste into WordPerfect.  Although WP won’t recognize the format when I try directly, I have had no problems with this method.  That is, no problems until today.  Today, I had the five chapters copied, but when I went to paste in WordPerfect, I got a message reading “out of memory”.  Excuse me?  A 93KB document is “out of memory”?  Okay, ran a programme to clear the clipboard and get rid of the junk files that always accumulate.  Just to be sure, I also defragged the drive, then tried again.  Same message.

To see if it was WordPerfect or my system, I decided to try to copy and paste the chapters into Open Office.  Worked just fine.  As I wrote, I’m using WordPerfect 12, which is ancient by software standards and thought that although WP12 had worked well for the first 35 chapters, perhaps it had reached the end of its life.  Went onto the Corel website and downloaded a 30 day trial of the newest version – WordPerfect X6.  Installed it and tried again with the same result.  Obviously I’ll be on the phone with Corel in the morning.  I discovered that while the 93KB total was too much for the available memory, each individual chapter was small enough to transfer.

When my friend sent more chapters later (I should have them done Jan 4 for you) I decided to give WP X6 a try.  Opened the Word files without breaking a sweat (figuratively of course).  Problem solved.  Or rather, that problem solved.  Now I have to rework my budget to find the money Corel wants for the new WordPerfect before the end of the 30 day trial.

I hope 2013 unfolds just the way you’d like it to.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love (and cooperative computers) too.

Cat.

not their jurisdiction

I’m still in the process of proofreading my friend’s manuscript, so haven’t checked my email and spam much the past two days.  Found this from yesterday sometime:

FBI OFFICE <postmaster@deneme.com>
    
10 Dec (6 days ago)
        
to undisclosed recipients

Attn please,

This message is coming to you from FBI office here, We are writing this mail to inform you that your (Inheritance winning awarded funds of $1.5million) has been totally converted into a ATM Master card and it’s to be delivered to your address via courier service, Be inform that the courier delivery company will deliver the card with all the manual and instruction both with PIN code to access the Card upon receipt. It’s the best option to receive this amount since every attempt failed, therefore you will need to contact the Barrister that helped in re-claiming the check back and converted it into an ATM visa card with his address below:

Barrister Necter Polimars
Email: barristernecter-@superposta.com
Phone: +229 98651731

Send him your current address where the check should be delivered to and remember to indicate the Reg:code of ATM-0034 to him when making contact with him. Please also choose the courier service you would like to deliver the Card Post office is also working but could take the card much time to get to you.

Please endeavor to inform us once you have received the ATM Card.

Sincere regards
Robert S. Mueller

FBI Monitoring Team Service

Once again, sign number 1 is “undisclosed recipients”.  If it was intended for me, why not just send it to me?   Where do I go next?

Well, the email address of the sender “deneme” is the same address used in the earlier phishing expedition for gmail information – see my posting “This is a fake”.

The telephone number for the “barrister” has a Benin country code, which also seems a little suspicious.  And (and perhaps one of my English readers could advise me) I thought barristers did courtroom work and this should have been from a solicitor.

Now, I know I wrote about an ATM scam a little while ago, although I’m too lazy to look it up, but that originated from some other African nation.  Since the origin and the “barrister” are located somewhere in Africa, Benin apparently, and I’m in Canada, the FBI wouldn’t have any involvement in this anyway unless they were investigating it.  Also note the message merely states “FBI office here”, without specifying where “here” is.  Hell, we have FBI agents at the US Consulate in Toronto (special assignment dealing with gun smuggling).

If you receive this email just delete it.  If the FBI really wants you, they’ll come and get you – same as the RCMP would in Canada – so don’t worry.  It’s just someone trying to steal your identity.

Cat.

Flattery may get you deleted – reprint

If you’ve read “WordsupPressed”, you are aware that I no longer have admin access to my previous site, “Catsworld1″.  The site is still available for people to read however.  Over the past three months, I’ve noticed one of the more popular postings from Catsworld1 has been “Flattery may get you deleted” from September 17, 2012, so I’ve decided to reprint it here for my current readers and followers.

Flattery may get you deleted
Posted on September 17, 2012    

I found the following in my spam folder on WordPress this morning:

Amedar Consulting Group
amedar.pl x
Rady396@vp.pl
78.41.201.148    
Submitted on 2012/09/16 at 9:59 pm

I wanted to jot down a brief remark to be able to say thanks to you for all of the amazing pointers you are sharing at this website. My incredibly long internet look up has at the end of the day been recognized with sensible knowledge to talk about with my partners. I would express that many of us website visitors are definitely lucky to be in a fine site with very many special professionals with good hints. I feel very much lucky to have used the webpages and look forward to plenty of more excellent minutes reading here. Thank you again for everything.

On the surface, this sounds good.  But let’s take a look at it.  First of all, this was intended for my posting “From my television”, in which I take a swipe first at a Lumosity commercial – the one with the line “exercising my brain is hard” (no it isn’t – try thinking) – then rip into YouTube for their refusal to remove that anti-Islam film at the request of the White House.

So right there, they’ve missed the mark.  As for “all the amazing pointers” about the only time I write anything remotely resembling advice is when I’m warning about the possible dangers of clicking on links in spam, or responding to requests to help move “x” millions out of some African nation, usually Nigeria or Burkina Faso.  “Sensible knowledge to talk about with my partners”.  Right.  The tagline on the profile reads “the world as I see it”, so I somehow have doubts my personal opinion would qualify as “sensible knowledge” unless the reader agrees with my views.

The “.pl” extension in the address indicates it comes from Poland, so I’m going to be generous (it’s early in the day and that may change) and say the awkward phrasing is the result of some online programme, such as Google Translate, turning the Polish into English.

I have written of other messages from Amedar Consulting Group.  I’ve also mentioned before that, according to an article I read, more and more scams and phishing expeditions are coming from that part of Europe.  According to what I can find on Google, they appear to be a legitimate company, but I somehow question whether a legitimate company would resort to spambots on blogging sites.  And that is what this appears to be – major league spamming.  I’m also suspicious when I get glowing comments like this from a company, especially a consulting firm.  If it’s that good, offer me a job 🙂

Like all of us, we’ll gladly accept genuine compliments, but we are also quick to delete obvious flattery and scams.

To my followers and readers, thank you.  Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Since it’s now Friday night, I’ll change that ending to “enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

And, considering what happened in Connecticut today, please pray for the people of Newtown.

Cat.

Why do they bother hiding?

Nobody called me today.  Before you start the “well, if you weren’t such a witch, people would call”, or offering to call, I’ll explain.  Got a call today, just about lunch time naturally, and this is what my call display showed:

Unknown name (000) 000-0000.

Now, if there’s no name and the number is a string of zeros, obviously there’s nobody there.

Okay, seriously now.  It would stand to reason this call was from some telemarketer.  The  fact that it came at mealtime (lunch in this case) and the number was hidden is pretty much a giveaway it’s someone selling something.  Sort of the telephone version of spam’s “undisclosed recipients”. But, why do they bother hiding their number?

Are telemarketers really so out of touch with the rest of the world they don’t realize most people have call display and further that many people won’t answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize; or “unknown name” and “unknown number” or, as in this case what is obviously a fake number?

Since call display is now so common, I’m sure these pests have noticed a reduction in their contacts. Not sure if they keep track of those figures, but they probably should. I’m sure those numbers would confirm my previous statement.   Because these salespeople can be very obnoxious on the phone, and “no call” registries don’t seem to be effective, ordinary citizens are ignoring these calls more and more all the time.

I don’t usually answer any calls when the name or number is blocked, this week being an exception.  Building management has hired a masonry company to replace some brickwork in my building – on the outside wall of my apartment and the two above it – so my place sounds as if I’m inside the brick they’re pounding on. I answered one such call this past week by snarling “WHAT?” into the receiver.  I must have scared whoever called because they hung up.  Very disappointing.  Many, many years ago I worked in a place like that and rule number one was “don’t let the customer hang up on you – hang up on them first.”  Damn it, he beat me to it this time.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and identifiable phone calls) too.

Cat.

I think we’re safe

Recently I read something, perhaps in a Facebook post by someone, that said the Mayan long calendar is wrong about December 21, 2012.  The reasoning was that the Mayans didn’t take into account leap years.  The addition of that extra day every four years is bound to throw off the calculations, and does anyone want to figure out how many leap years there have been since the calendar was (a) created and (b) deciphered?

Speaking of deciphering, I saw something on television last night that said the Mayan glyphs were actually deciphered by a mathematician and librarian in Germany.  So, this once again brings up the question “how do we know the decoding was accurate?”   Mathematic formulae can do wondrous things (such as get me through high school math) but since the Mayan glyphs are pictograms and not words in a foreign language I would think any values assigned by the decoder would need to be rather arbitrary and based upon his personal experience and education.  Which, as I wrote above, brings up the question of accuracy.

I would also think that something else that would cast doubt upon the accuracy of that dating is this: in 1752, much of the world switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.  September 2 was followed by September 13, not September 3.  Those eleven days surely would have also affected the accuracy of both the prediction and the translation of the glyphs.  So, given these possible variables, I think I can safely say we have nothing to worry about, except possibly the weather.

In any event, I ascribe to the view of an “expert” interviewed by the Toronto Star years ago who, when asked what he thought would happen December 22, 2012, said simply “the calendar will start over.”  Think about it.  Our calendar ends with December 31 every year.  Does the world end?  No, the sun comes up January 1 and life carries on, Why should it be any different with the Mayan long calendar?

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

Why doesn’t this inspire me?

The following ad was sprawled across the top of my Gmail account a short while ago:

Fix My Registry Now (Recommended) Free Download. – fix-registry.winzip.com – Fix Registry Errors in 2 Minutes.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m always suspicious of ads that offer something free, especially when the offer involves my computer.  And the fact that this is “recommended” does nothing to allay those suspicions.  Rather, that just raises more questions, such as recommended by whom?  Of course that is in addition to the usual questions these kinds of ads raise.  Questions such as “what is this going to plant in my computer?”  And “okay, the download is free, but how much are you going to ask for to activate the programme?”

From the various security and maintenance programmes I’ve installed, I know there are ways of cleaning the registry.  That someone is offering to do it for me (“free download”) is not really very reassuring mainly because this isn’t a problem I’ve expressed any concerns over.

Once again, an offer like this might sound good, but unless you’ve specifically asked for help on fixing the registry, I’d ignore it.  As I wrote above, something like this will either cost you money or allow some stranger to install something nasty on your system.  And, if it does install some unwanted routine on your system, it will probably cost you money to remove it.  Stick with sites you trust.  Although, I must admit there have been a couple of times my securityware has detected, and blocked, keyloggers in Adobe Reader updates.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and honour our veterans today.

Cat.

Give me time!!

Recently I got a laptop and decided to upgrade my photo processing software.  This new programme is Corel Paintshop Pro X4.  I ordered it and of course it arrived before I got the laptop.  So it finally got installed in early June.  I couldn’t install it on my desktop because  X4 requires Windows 7 to work properly and the desktop runs XP.

The programme is okay, although I’m not sure if my irritants are caused by the programme itself or Win 7.  Anyway, that isn’t the purpose of this posting.  Since I bought this directly from Corel and registered with them, obviously I get various email offers from them.  That’s fine, I don’t mind.  One of these days they may actually offer me WordPerfect at a better price.

What I do find a bit of a pain is this: I’ve had X4 for about three months now, and since my previous version was X2, there are naturally things I’ve got to figure out that are different from the previous version as well as new features.  I’m now getting offers for discounts on Paintshop Pro X5. That’s what bugs me.

I’m still trying to figure out X4 (in fact there are things on X2 I still haven’t mastered) and they’re trying to sell me X5 already.  Please, Corel – give me time to understand what I’ve got before trying to upgrade me.  And sorry to burst your “new and improved” bubble, but there are some things I still find easier to do using Jasc Paint Shop Pro  version 7, which predates Corel acquiring the company.  Sorry guys, but that’s just the way it is.  Maybe once I understand X4, I’ll use it instead for those things.

Cat.