Update on WordPress Tech Glitch

I get that software developers like to keep making things better. For me, if something works and satisfies my needs, I wish they’d leave well enough alone.

WordPress did something on their platform that inadvertently created my login problem. Alas, it’s not something they can fix by rebooting or whatever. Their developers have to invent a fix, or a workaround. I’m guessing the problem has affected more users than me.

Time line for the fix is indeterminate. I can still get into my site, using a different pathway. But it’s not working the way it did or, in my view, the way it should.

O ye of little faith user of the internet that I am, I’ll repeat my warning: if I’m suddenly off line, it’s almost certainly not me. It’s the software developers, trying yet again to re-invent the world. Stay tuned.

Tech Glitch with My WordPress Login

A glitch has developed in my access to my WordPress site, and I’m working with their tech support team to resolve it. Right now, they agree there’s a problem but clearly tech support doesn’t know exactly what it is or how to fix it. I can’t really kvetch, because I’ve been using the site for nine years largely without a spot of trouble.

If I suddenly disappear, it will mean that efforts to fix the problem have made it worse, and I’m temporarily locked out. Here now, and if locked out, back when I can.

Xfinity/Comcast and the Art of the Deal

I don’t really need a new TV/internet plan every year or every two years, but Xfinity/Comcast is structured to make you at least think about it, with the goal of having you consider upgrading to more services. They get you into contracts that expire, then your monthly fee jumps way up. You then have to call or go online to consider a new plan.

I really hate the process, because I don’t have a grasp of the basic info I need to make a good decision. I was looking at a plan with internet speed quoted in “Mbss.” I texted Matt to ask if what I was looking at was sufficient to upload pics to my blog, and he responded “Is it MBP’s or total total MB per month?”

Well, I hadn’t a clue. He went online and found what I was looking at, and was able to point me in the right direction.

Then I have to get a new router, either renting theirs or buying my own equipment. Buying is more cost effective, so I went on Amazon and found what I needed. Now I have to get Matt to help me install.

I also get Netflix with this new package, and wasn’t able to access without a window that asked me to pay a monthly fee. I’ll wait to get my new router up and running, then solve the Netflix problem. Then I can go back to watching Frankie and Grace, which I used to follow but dropped when I dropped paid Netflix.

Xfinity/Comcast really, really wants you to bundle services and buy their home security system and voice, neither of which I would use. It’s cheaper, I suppose, to take the bundled services and just disregard what I don’t want, but I really dislike buying things for which I have no use.

Seems like a lot of commotion for the little TV I watch, but the things I like don’t easily bundle into a package: NBC Sports for Tour de France, Showtime for Billions, CNN, and Sundance for old re-runs of Criminal Minds or Law and Order that I watch when I need something mindless and soothing.

I refuse to fill out their “give us feedback on your recent transaction” surveys, because I’m not a fan of their whole biz model. I’d be happy with what I have indefinitely, but will be back again in a year or two looking at something new.

 

Conscious Aging: Electric Car

I got my first ride in Matt’s new car, an electric Tesla, what the kids call “Daddy’s fast car.” The car is fast indeed, and peppy, and quiet. Matt says it’s good in the snow. He charges it overnight about twice a week at home. Operating it is much less expensive than a gasoline-powered car: no oil changes. No carburetor. No transmission. Just two batteries, and a control panel that looks like your computer screen. Did I mention that the car drives itself along a straight route, knowing when to stop, knowing how to navigate curves, knowing where all other cars are in relation to it? In this pic Matt has his hands lightly on the wheel, but the car is driving itself. The computer screen is giving real time information, and that’s where everything happens: no more control panel, gas gauge, seat heater buttons, clock, speed indicator.

The control panel also has funny things, to keep driver and passengers amused: you can program it to fart from any seat. I know, boy humor.  My late husband Jerry would have found this hilarious.

I told Matt I’m sort of thinking of getting a new car, and he said I should absolutely go electric. No sense buying a gas propelled car any more — that era has passed.

It would be an adjustment, but I’m open to the thought.

In the pic, notice the dashboard. There’s nothing on it — just the computer. Oh, and the car updates itself on a regular basis, just like your phone or free standing computer.

Remarkable.

Would You Like to Hear “You’re Dying” from a Robot?

Telemedicine is a wonderful thing, extending the care available at top flight hospitals to people too far away to access that care in person. The applications of telemedicine are many: my UW health system offers a video chat with a physician if I’m not able to get in the car and drive to a neighborhood clinic or urgent care.

But is it a suitable way to tell an old man that he is dying?

Granddaughter Annalisia Wilharm, 33, was alone with Quintana when a nurse popped in to say a doctor would be making his rounds. A robot rolled in and a doctor appeared on the video screen. Wilharm figured the visit was routine. She was astonished by what the doctor started saying.

“This guy cannot breathe, and he’s got this robot trying to talk to him,” she said. “Meanwhile, this guy is telling him, ‘So we’ve got your results back, and there’s no lung left. There’s no lung to work with.”’

Wilharm said she had to repeat what the doctor said to her grandfather, because he was hard of hearing in his left ear and the machine couldn’t get to the other side of the bed.

“So he’s saying that maybe your next step is going to hospice at home,” Wilharm is heard saying in a video she recorded of the visit. “Right?”

“You know, I don’t know if he’s going to get home,” the doctor says.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/mar/09/california-robot-tells-grandfather-dying

Well, that feels terse.

Apparently the elderly man, who subsequently died, did receive his initial diagnosis from a live physician in the room with him. But this news, that nothing more could be done, came from a robot.

I think it’s tacky, and dehumanizing. You?

Being “Elder” in Tech World – That Is, Over 30

I am actually elder by any definition, as I anticipate my 74th birthday on Cinco de Mayo.

In the world of technology, people apparently start feeling long in the tooth when they are over 30. Worries about whether they have the suppleness of mind and appetite for risk to keep up, or even make the grade, are not unfounded. Hiring in Silicon Valley, apparently, slows down for 34 year olds and up.

Enter Modern Elder, a week long luxury retreat in El Pescadero, Mexico. The place is pricey: $5000 for the program, including lodging and meals. Attendees — most of whom are in their 30’s and 40’s — get to share their feelings about aging in a young industry.

Modern Elder was started by a hotelier turned Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and it is aimed at workers in the digital economy — those who feel like software is speeding up while they are slowing down, no matter how old they really are. Tech is a place where investors are wary of funding any entrepreneur born before Operation Desert Storm, where Intel is under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for age discrimination, where giants like Google and IBM regularly face the specter of class-action lawsuits from workers north of 40.” 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/technology/modern-elder-resort-silicon-valley-ageism.html?wpisrc=nl_technology202&wpmm=1

I’m almost tempted to sign up for a week at this place — although you can’t just go, you fill out an application and are accepted or not — just to show the assembled company what a real live elder looks like.

Who Invented the Digital Camera?

Probably not who you might think, someone who works for one of the tech companies pushing out phones with fabulous digital cameras like my Pixel 3.

The inventor of the digital camera was a Kodak guy, Steven Sasson, who took the first successful digital picture in 1975.. Kodak was issued a patent for Sasson’s invention in 1978.

Kodak didn’t benefit, of course, although I hope Sasson did. Kodak was still making tons of money from film, and couldn’t imagine the day anytime soon when that wouldn’t be true. Kodak thought that developing countries would go through the same cycle with film that the U.S. had, and that the company had a lock on decades more profitability from film. That, of course, proved to be a strategic miscalculation that cost the future of the company, as Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012.

https://rochesterbeacon.com/2019/02/18/a-conversation-with-the-inventor-of-the-digital-camera/

The Kodak story is a case study in business schools, and not of much interest to anyone else other than the Kodak retirees who have seen drastic adjustments in their pension and health care benefits. But the point is intriguing: what game changing breakthroughs are out there right now that lots of us are not seeing?

Any nominees? Driverless car technology, maybe?

Conscious Aging: My New Ring Front Door Bell

How much do you think about your front door? How much do you want to think about your front door?

My new Ring system, which allows me to see and interact with anyone at my front door no matter where  am, is basically cool. The electrician installed the device and got power to it, but I had to follow through with the Ring app to get the thing working. I’m pleased that I was successful.

The system, though, verges on TMI — too much information. I now get notifications if there’s an incident within a 5 mile radius of my home — say, a package theft. I’m not sure blissful ignorance isn’t the way to go here. I’m going to have to reduce the sensitivity of the warnings. I’m getting way more info than I want.

I also get notifications every time there’s motion at the front door, including when I come in with groceries or whatever. I get that the system doesn’t distinguish between me and a random visitor. The system works on motion. But I don’t need to be notified that I came through the door. I already know that.

So, do I like the Ring doorbell system? I think so. Would I recommend that you install? Depends on how much you want to think about your front door. 🙂

Conscious Aging: My AI Assistants

My Google Pixel 3 phone has an assistant, whom I can summon with the words “Hey, Google”. I also now have Alexa, in the form of an Echo Dot, that I summon with her name “Alexa”. I didn’t exactly set out to have Alexa as my new friend. Amazon is offering all sorts of specials leading up to Christmas, and I needed a new doorbell. They offered the Ring Video Doorbell for a good price, and basically bundled the Echo Dot with the doorbell almost for free. I assumed one had to do with the other, but no. Sara says Amazon is eager to get Alexa out there, and is bundling the devices that carry her capabilities with a lot of things.

No, Alexa and Hey Google do not talk to each other. They are competitors, not friends. 🙂 And yes, it is possible to activate these devices when you don’t intend to. I actually summoned up my phone assistant, even though I don’t remember saying anything remotely like “Hey Google”. The device startled me when it asked if I needed to make a grocery list or anything.

Sara and Ben promised to set both Ring and Echo Dot up for me, but they’ve been traveling. I needed an electrician anyway to install motion activated lights in the  yard — my latest armament against the raccoons that continue to bedevil my new sod — so I had the guy install my Ring. I set up Alexa myself.

I went briefly through all the things Alexa can do, and right now I’m using just the minimal level to play classical and Christmas music and a wicked good Joan Baez mix. The Echo Dot isn’t even connected to my Sonos sound bar yet, although I see how to do it. Actually, Google knows how to do it. As you may recall grandson Archie saying, Google knows everything — even how to expand the use of a competitor’s products.

My problem with making the most use of the technology I have is that I’m not curious enough to fiddle with it. I get the latest acquisition to do what I most want, and then let the vaster capabilities remain unused.

I think I will try to introduce Alexa and Sonos to each other, just to see if I can do it.

Lordy, “introduce” sounds as if I think of them as human. I don’t actually, even when they talk to me unbidden.

On Wednesday night when I was writing and listening to Joan Baez on Alexa. my Hey Google buzzed to ask if it could do anything for me. You don’t think Hey Google was jealous, do you?

Finally Prevailing over Target

I haven’t been able to stop the flow of unwanted Target online ads by repeatedly clicking “unsubscribe”, but I did succeed in diverting the ads to my Spam folder. Instead of seeing a missive from Target in my Inbox every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I now delete Spam every few days, the unwanted ads lumped in with the rest of the junk mail.

I consider it a victory.