Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th, one of my favorite days and just another way to kick a superstition in the butt. The origin of which is as vague as the superstition itself. One includes the combination of the number of people that attended the last supper (13) plus the day Jesus was crucified (Friday–the next day after the last supper). Another is Friday, October 13th, 1307 when France’s King Philip IV ordered the abrupt arrest of all the Knights Templar. There’s more of course but lets not drag things on shall we?

It doesn’t really matter these days what with the latest generation of adults showing an amazing ignorance of the past. Even in music. Kid sits on the curb avidly listening to Led Zepplin’s  “Stairway to Heaven” and then asks me if they were a new band. Never mind knowing where an ancient superstition hails from. But I digress.

So what’s my plans for the day? I think I’ll kick 4 butts at once. I’m going to haul out our extension ladder, find a black cat and a mirror. The cat can walk across my path while I’m walking under the ladder smashing the mirror. All on Friday the 13th.

That ought to tempt fate a bit–or not.

Anyway, Happy Friday the 13th and may the farce be with you.

friday the 13th

The Dumb Home

The ‘smart home’.

More and more over the last few years I’ve been seeing that term in all sorts of places. Online magazines, articles, news and such, and it’s all about being connected, always connected. And now you can even order a “smart home” built from the ground up, one of prefab jobs I guess. Start out fresh with a clean  slate and nothing but dirt and a foundation (a smart foundation by any chance?) and go up from there in a very connected way. And when the builders/electricians/plumbers/technicians are finished?

Smart refrigerators, smart thermostats, smart electrical sockets, smart light switches, smart light bulbs (that function as wireless thingies as well), smart stoves, ovens and microwaves. Smart everything including the toilets and you can monitor and control everything from your smart phone. Oh yeah, the house itself is smart as well with (smart) security cameras everywhere, smart windows and walls plus a (also smart) security system (with smart locks no doubt) that will notify the local authorities if you decide to use the bathroom in an unsafe manner. And all this has brought me to this conclusion:

I have a dumb home.

A very dumb home for that matter. I mean, we don’t even have a thermostat let alone a  ‘smart’ one seeing as how we heat with wood and all. All of our appliances are as non-smart as they come with the possible exception of our new-ish home entertainment center which includes a smart TV and we don’t even let that connect to anything from the outside either. Sort of forced non-smartness. So it just kind of sulks in the corner and plays DVD movies at us upon our request. Even our vehicles are dumb. No touch screens in the dash, no rear-view cameras, no GPS navigation or satellite radio–nothing like that. Just plain old knob and button type vehicles that I’ve driven all my life–more or less. Yup, our home is definitely dumb which has led me to yet another conclusion:

I like dumb.

I’m not sure I could acclimate to living in home that’s smarter than me. I spent many long years working and playing in the world of computers and electronics and I’ll admit that I’ve not lost my love of gadgets. However, a home that depends entirely on  smart-gadgets to operate is all fine and dandy until the power goes out. Then what? Sounds like the smart home would suddenly revert to downright stupid.

When the power goes out at my dumb old home, especially during the winter, at least I know I’ll still be warm and cozy and the gas stove will still work. Meanwhile these smart home owners will be hoping their backup generators will start so they can reboot their homes.

Maybe my old place isn’t so dumb after all?

Learning SEO stuff all over again

For those who have known me through this old blog of mine over the years, the ones who are left probably recall that I once really knew what I was doing back in the days. That, however, has changed and it became obvious to me just this last couple of days. I have to learn that SEO stuff all over again.

I’ve always been a happy blogger or at least a content one as long as the platform I used behaved itself–which occasionally it didn’t. Things were rather more difficult in the early years since the platform I used and still use was terribly primitive as compared to today’s version. Still, it was always a good feeling when you managed to ‘hard code’ a widget into that pesky sidebar you’d been working on the past week. Nowadays it’s all point and click and I couldn’t ‘hard code’ if my battered old soul depended on it.

I used to post once every day or so, I had plenty of visitors and several contacts of the ‘Blogging Pro’ variety. I even earned those badges on that pesky sidebar I mentioned earlier. I was known to help other folks who were just starting out their own adventure in blogging using the same platform I was. I didn’t even charge them–glad to help since there were those who helped me early on.

And any post I published could easily be found on the first page of any major search engine. I really knew that SEO stuff back then

But that was then. It certainly isn’t now.

So what happened? I slowly stopped writing up posts is what happened. No real reason for it at all, I just seemed to fall into some sort of semi-retired somnolence as my (writing) imagination slowly fizzled out. No matter what I did I couldn’t come up with a single worthwhile thing to post about.

Fast forward to today (about 2 years of very sporadic posts later), I decided to see if I could get back into it a bit. I’d always kept my blogging platform updated with the latest virtual doo-dads and upgrades so no problem there and the site worked slick enough but that was about it. It was when I went looking for the old ‘Google Webmaster Tools’ that it finally hit me that I’d been gone too long.

Google webmaster tools was gone. Where did it go?

After much anguished searching I finally found out that ol’ GWT had been totally revamped and was now called ‘Google Search Console‘. So I guess I’m no longer a web master but a…uh…search? A console? A search console? Whatever.

I also found out that although my site was still listed in the ‘Search Console’ that was about it. During the transition from’webmaster’ to ‘search console’ Google had managed to not only strip out my sitemaps listings but removed my site verification as well. The verification I so carefully and manually ‘hard coded’  long ago.

Thankfully, the ‘hard coded’ verification code I had placed in my site’s engineering section  back in the stone age was still there and I was able to verify it once again. Then it was resubmitting the XML sitemaps but wait–there no sitemaps to submit. The damn things were apparently missing and I had to go find them again. Then I found out the reason they were missing and had to re-install a plugin that I removed a couple of days ago, along with said sitemaps. Then I had to regenerate and re-submit and verify some more and take care of crawl errors which were thankfully few and…

By this time my brain was so overheated my eyeballs were bubbling. It wasn’t used to being used for so much for so long since it’s been so long since it’s been used for anything much. Probably need to give it a rest and let it cool down some before I attempt anything else.

Confusing paragraph, yes?

So I guess I’m in for a re-learning curve if I’m to continue on. A lot of things have changed as far as blogging is concerned. Different rules, different online environment, different everything. Lots to learn.

Well, what the heck. I’ve got all winter and perhaps it will wake my brain back up?

Messing Around

The title says it all really. I started out booting into the Windows 10 side of my machine in order to update Microsoft’s latest (my main OS is Linux Mint just so you know) and just started farting around with all sorts of things afterward–always a mistake on my part.

I ended up playing around with MS’s new-ish Edge browser with it’s new-ish extensions feature, loaded it up with my usual password manager and ad blocker then I went on a viewing binge just to see how this new-ish browser worked on my usual sites including the back end of my old blog here. That’s where the trouble began.

I had to update whatever plugins needed updating as I had gotten a bit behind of late but then, much against my usual better judgment, I got into screwing around with a couple of other themes losing the “Note to my readers” widget along the way. How I did that I have no idea. If you move a widget from the sidebar to the “Available widgets” column it’s not supposed to just disappear is it?

Whatever.

So I switched to Firefox, changed everything back sans the missing widget and wrote this short little post for no apparent reason. Oh yeah, I also had an SEO plugin that kept complaining about how lousy my posts were written with respects to search engine optimization plus it also kept telling me that I had to write this that way and move that this way and where’s the damn key word anyway?

So I removed it. I feel much better about myself already.

I told you it was just a short little post.

They only last 5 Years

This post is about your everyday household major appliances. What you bought way back when that worked fine for years (and years) vs what you were forced to replace it with when “ol’ trusty” finally gave up the ghost. Unfortunately, my wonderful wife and I had to go through this very same thing, replacing 2 major appliances and 1 could-be-considered a major appliance and all within a 2 year span of time.

The washing machine

Okay, once upon a time…

There was this washing machine, a top loader Kenmore, bought  new sometime around 25 years ago. It worked wonderfully, never once failing to do the job right up until last year when it simply refused to do anything at all. Just died all at once. Alright, inconvenient but not unexpected. After all, 25 years of good steady service out of a washing machine is more than acceptable.

So we wandered up to our local Sears outlet and ended up buying a fancy front loading machine with all the bells and whistles to replace “ol’ reliable to the tune of around $700 marked down from $900 or so (what a bargain). Prices on washing machines have sure gone up. Still, it had an excellent rating and all that.

But it will probably only last 5 years.

That’s what the tech told us when it was being installed. “Yeah, don’t expect the electronics in this thing to last more than 5 years”, he said. “These are what you call throw away items”.

Ah, great. We just spent $700, marked down from $900, on a “throw away item” that will typically only last 5 years.

Right. On then.

The hot water heater

Once upon a time…

There was this power vented, gas fired, hot water heater (the kind where the exhaust can’t be piped into a chimney so it requires a blower and it’s own exhaust pipe to the outside) that was lurking in the corner of the utility room of our house when we bought it. I don’t know how old this thing was but the tech we had in to replace the pilot mechanism one year asked us where we got the museum piece from. Apparently this particular hot water heater was built back around 100 years ago? Well, at least 30.

I tried to drain the sludge off the bottom of it a few months ago and when nothing came out, not even water, I decided to have it replaced there and then before the bottom gave way entirely.

In comes the new power vented gas fired hot water heater with a price tag of $1700 (installed) instead of the usual $700 (installed) for the non-power vented type and the old one was carted off while I wept silently cuddling my checkbook to my chest. But before the “installation expert” left, who had basically stood around criticizing the two techs that were actually installing the thing, I asked him how long these new fangled, electronicized, computerized water heaters lasted these days. His reply?

“Well, don’t expect the electronics to last more than 5 years”, he said. At least he didn’t say it was a throw away item?

Next

The microwave

Once upon a time…again…

So maybe a microwave doesn’t qualify as a major appliance in this day and age but considering the microwave we recently replaced was built sometime around 1978 (Amana Radar Range), it most definitely qualified as “major” back then. Hence the inclusion in this post. It was also huge-ish and it had to be replaced with one that was just as huge-ish.

And just for the record, the old Amana had given good reliable service for 38 years before it went up to the great radar range in the sky.

So again we meandered up to our local Sears outlet…*

*Look, we live in a little town in Vermont near the Canadian border, which has the all-out audacity to call itself a city, that has anything you’ll ever need as long as it’s groceries, over priced cars and trucks, farming equipment and accessories and little else. All priced at what the market will bear–which is as much as they can get away with. Except our little Sears outlet. Now where was I?

…in hopes of finding another huge-ish microwave (and we tend to use every inch of that hugeness) with a price tag that wouldn’t force us to limit the groceries we needed to buy that week. In short, we found one with the same huge-ish dimensions as our antique had priced around $250. And this time we could damn well install it ourselves.

But while our usual Sears rep showed us the various microwaves available and the pros and cons of each, he also included what seems to be the standard disclaimer that comes with any modern consumer type appliance that could possibly contain a microchip. When asked what the approximate life span of these new microwaves were he responded:

“Well, these are basically throw away items these days so I wouldn’t expect them to last more than 5 years.”

And so…

So now we’ve had to replace just shy $3000 worth of appliances that, according to those that sell and/or install them,  will only last 5 years before we have to either fix or replace them. Really?

I started thinking that the old USA had become nothing but a “throw-away society” quite a few years back but I never thought it would go this far or become this expensive. What’s really bothering me now is that my low-mileage new-ish car which replaced my old high-mileage one has several on-board computers and electronic gadgets installed in it including electronically controlled steering, brakes and and accelerator.

And it’s already 2 years old! That only leaves 3 years left before everything craps out. At least that’s according to what I’ve been recently told about anything that contains any sort of electronics.

So can anyone tell me how long a horse lasts?