F

Four-THs

Like you, a little enthusiastic about art, tech & things in general - - "THis, THat, THese and THose" to make each day interesting... and now, taking up the #100Days writing

Timely action

[045] ... [General]


Last week brought in some bitter news. Passing away of two known people, a lecturer during college and a classmate. The first one was taken with a bit of acceptance since he reportedly was not keeping well for quite a while. I last saw him twenty years back before he moved moved out of the city and later lost touch, but many of us kept remembering him for his contribution towards a particular subject though for a short while. A few of our senior mates who had a longer relationship with him during the college had maintained contact and kept us informed. The news of the second one was totally unexpected. A quiet sort, suddenly seemed vocal through messages recalling the college days and events.

Ironically I had phone numbers of both and somehow never called up, may be since already connected virtually, and neither did they. It reminds us to correct ourselves and attend to such when the going is good than repent. Dozens of messages perhaps can't equal a couple of minutes over the phone, or still better, meeting in person. Sometimes we feel irritated when someone keeps calling every week though there's nothing new to exchange--or may be they have a point...

Foot and Feet

[044] ... [General]


There are many who like to take a walk no matter what the distance is, in comparison some can't do without their vehicles even for the shortest of places. It's probably a different matter in countries where the sidewalks are broad, the air is clean and not much traffic to bother about coming in the way of pedestrians making it a delight. In most other places it's different, trees on the sidewalks that bulge it out, parked vehicles, frequent dips in level where a house needs an entry from the road and so many hindrances that deters the purpose. Half the time you are forced to be on the edge of the road, carefully watching the vehicles, with extra caution at the junctions to cross over amid wreckless drivers who hardly give a damn to those on foot.

I am used to walking since school days, taking the long route effortlessly with my brother under the tree lined broad roads that never tired you out despite the heavy schoolbag on the back. The habit has continued. Sitting in front of the PC through the day calls for some loosening up in the evening, and the very first few strides freshen you up. Combining with a bit of shopping, an hour and a half or more passes away quickly. A bit of change in scene and passing crowd no doubt clears your mind if stuck with a problem, bringing fresh thoughts. Since two years a friend put up nearby is joining, but he finds the process of navigating through all the hassles cumbersome, but can't avoid and slowly catching up, preferring to take less crowded crossroads. He went abroad for a few months and was surprised how he could make three kilometers each way easily when doing half of it takes longer down here.

Some prefer to walk in public parks, but we get bored taking the same circuitous route methodically, more concerned about counting the number of rounds. No doubt the ambience is cleaner, walking on the roads is more our way, to observe, discover a new outlet which you had missed, bump into someone unexpectedly, wondering what stood on an empty site when the building suddenly got demolished to make way for new, taking new routes, trying coffee midway at different hotels and so on that adds to the charm.

Long ago when travelling by bus was common, people who walked were referred to as taking "Route No. 11" indicating the two legs. Sidewalks is perhaps an American expression, down here it's still footpaths for those on their feet. A friend has a favorite joke whenever we walk on a commercial street, pointing to a location where the footpath is exactly a foot wide, from whatever is left out after encroachment by the building next, conveying it literally. In a way the feet on a foot is more nearer to life...

Just the needed

[043] ... [Internet]


Browsing the Net is no doubt useful and enjoyable so long as you get what you want, but can't really avoid the unwanted. It comes bundled with the Ads that surround the required part, scripts that do other things in the background and other distractions that need plug-ins to circumvent. Some browsers do have the Text-Only or Reader mode to display just the required on the desktop, masking those extras, but often the links within the text get removed or the navigation doesn't work etc., which's okay just to read articles without the external references.

One easier way perhaps to solve both is to look for those services that are designed to aid you automatically than needing add ons. Greycoder is one such I came across that lists the links to Text only sites of many types that work on the phone as well.

At your sevice

[042] ... [General]


A few years back I had been to the kind of a central hub with the line of shops on a long road and in the numerous adjacent alleys, each selling all sorts of electronic stuff and the computer related. You are sure to find anything if you have the patience and time, nothing is denied by any owner. You wait thinking the assistant is looking up among the loaded shelves in the rear, while one other goes about to obtain from some other shop. You are happy the job is done, and he too for serving you through the maze of network that only they know thoroughly.

I took a different route on return and was surprised by a small and quaint hotel, the type your father took you when still at school. Each was known for a particular dish and taste and people seemed to enjoy going around to all. They all had things in common and a similar ambience. All furniture in solid rosewood (or stained to look like) that wobbled nevertheless, stiff backed chairs and all tables topped with white marble. The waiters eager to serve rattled off the day's menu orally and never minded to serve just a coffee that came in thick walled glasses, frothing and aromatic. With a narrow billbook, a strip of three tiny ones with perforated edges in the shirt pocket, the amount, however complicated when each from the group ordered differently, was mentally calculated, scribbled with the pencil coming right out from behind the right ear where they remained tucked, and handed over with grace. Usually all paid at the high desk at the entrance where the manager sat majestically welcoming and thanking the to and fro flow of customers, promptly giving back the change out of large drawers with steel bowls holding coins of many denominations, tapping the deskbell to call a waiter or a cleaner to inquire about the status of a parcel that someone waited for. The waiters (or servers then) didn't seem used to or never expected to be tipped.

A novelty perhaps then, those models lagged behind, replaced by a different self-served, sterile and antiseptic, and all tasting alike joints, and are hardly to be seen except by chance in remote places, like in my case. It's good that a few still brave to exist, taking you back in time when going to a hotel was an event, often with family and friends, than just a routine for a gulp these days. Or may be I should make it a point to visit just for the sake, now that the C-19 syndrome that kept us away from crowded places has reasonably eased out, to venture out to find if they managed to survive...

'Era'tic

[041] ... [General]


Came across a bundle of neatly stacked large-sized paper envelopes, and was surprised to see many old newspaper clippings that my father had carefully preserved. Some were older than thirty years, turned a bit yellowish but clearly readable. Some were clippings and others a full two to four full pages, neatly folded. It was interesting to flip through old content, mentioning many people now no more, political news of yester years, Ads of many products in black and white, grainy photos of buildings that are gone and snippets that are so nostalgic.

Those full pages had interesting info around what was clipped. Some were dedicated to movies in a gridded form, small and big, with just the name or serving as little posters, with the different theatres screening them and timings. Obviously those were the days when movies reined, and most tried to catch up with the missed ones through reruns as a morning show somewhere, or get to know where all the current ones were released to plan their family weekends.

Ironically these days too there are full pages devoted, not to movies but mainly to various electronic gadgets, phones in particular, or the discount sales and weekend offers. Movies, having seen their salad days hardly figure anywhere, overtaken by the OTT, cable TV and other forms of entertainment.

Times change, and looking at older news of every decade is like passing through the altered strata that we have been through. Save a copy of today's newspaper, someday it will take you back to an era, which like all other eras that our fathers and grandfathers mentioned with reference to the present: was so good...

The power factor

[040] ... [Technology]


Earlier there used to be reports of the phone's battery exploding while charging or when attending to calls with the charger on. Whether that happens to some very low-end unbranded models or due to a sudden surge, it is better to play it safe.

I had mentioned a note taking app that had some tips, and one such was Using your phone while it's charging can damage the battery. This is why the cords for chargers are so short.

When I looked up to verify the above advice the results were mixed, ranging from no harm if the battery is already fully charged, to the charger getting overheated and to avoid, and so on.

It does happen that you occasionally land in the above situation, and we generally swith off the power while keeping it connected to attend a call and power on again as a safeguard. It's another issue that we sometimes forget to swith on again, defeating the purpose and wasted time.

I first came to know of "Battery conditioning" when the technician advised to maintain the laptop or phone for better battery life. That's to first use up fully whatever power the battery holds initially on purchase, charge fully later and repeating the process three times. I have stuck to the advice, and don't really know if it has helped. At least there has been no problems.

May be if the manufacturer included such tips it would result in making things last longer, than looking about to encounter varied individual opinions. Or may be wait for the solar powered ones like in the old calculators, if at all feasible for the gadgets in the hope of better security, or even to reduce e-waste...

Personal choices

[039] ... [Technology]


We all have some pet stuff to carry out particular works that makes us feel comfortable. It's probably knowing how it works that makes working with it a breeze. I have seen people with old vehicles and keep getting it repaired than change over, some even cling to an old screwdriver and such for personal reasons.

When it comes to computing and Internet, a browser naturally becomes an integral part, and there are so many of them to choose from. Most seem like toothbrushes with fancy handles and shape, working the same way since they run on the same engine, but with a different interface. Perhaps a browser needs to be trusted like a car driver whom you employ since they become a part of your family and have access to most things personal.

I have been with the Opera browser since long, right from when it had an integral email client, RSS reader, Newsgroup support and a Notes tab that served all the main aspects of online activities. Opening pages in tabs than launching a separate browser instance for each click is the novelty that attracted then, and I have stayed put. It has gone through much change, and I like many wasn't happy when it shed its original form to become something else, a Chropera as many called it then. Over time the feeling died down and we now are used to the new ways. When people need time to get adjusted to their own wife's new hairstyle or looks, this is natural.

What I find appealing is those handy features that they introduce first. Like the Paste and Go in address bar that makes navigation so easy, the pop-up menu with Copy, Search and other options that springs up when selecting text, built-in VPN to mention a few. Integrating popular messaging apps, syncing your favorites or bookmarks across devices, snoozing an idle tab, battery saving, speed dial for regularly used links, native Adblock and a few such could also be among the firsts, but am not sure. An attractive interface with the title bar turned to take on tab links with a corner menu (like the system menu) saves screen space, pages load fast, and a host of add-ons make things easier.

Well, this is not a review but just a way to acknowledge what I have liked and continue to use, and though it appears to have a smaller user base in comparison, manages to keep bringing newer features...

Days and ways

[038] ... [General]


If it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium was perhaps the way the tourists determined the place they were in while on an European trip. Somehow, though bowled over by the grandeur of European architecture and planning, I have missed seeing the movie of 1960s, and hope my guess is right. But no prizes to guess the significance of Tuesday if you are a Windows user. If it's the Second Tuesday, it has to be Updates, and promptly they do come without a fail each month. The huge downloads, prolonged background harddisk activity when the old gets replaced, like the waft of aroma from the kitchen on something cooking, and the final restart to convey you are all safe till the next routine. We just obey, belive and follow the process unquestioningly, better than religion. Like the face mask since almost three years, it provides a psychological assurance on your digital wellbeing.

The second day of the week is somehow significant. In some parts it is avoided to start anything new. Saloons take the weekly off, many avoid clipping nails, don't know if some don't even shave on the day. While in some, it is undoubtedly auspicious. It is the opposite again for Thursday. We had moved to a different region during my school days, and eyebrows were raised when I was on the way for a haircut and was advised to postpone.

Not sure if these are mere beliefs or based on ancient sciences that tied various aspects of cosmos to our existence to benefit from. There are parts of the world which doesn't give such a damn, or may be restrict to just a few in the year.

Getting used to

[037] ... [General]


A note taking app that I had for a while contained sample quotes, tips etc to convey various formatting options. One such was: Take a sip of coffee before adding sugar, you won't need as much sugar for it to taste as sweet afterwards..

What I found interesting was its similarity to many things in life. Often great expectations lead to heartburns when not working the way expected. Just doing whatever you are on with total dedication leads to better results without the preconceived positive results. Getting used to a bit of hardship keeps us prepared for the more intense ones, than the comforts of indulgence all the time.

Today is neither Sunday, nor am I used to delivering sermons! It was just a passing thought on something that we all encounter in our lives and merely drawing parallel...

Ways with PDF

[036] ... [Technology]


When PDF drivers became available to convert your other format it used to be fun, seeing your own output in the reader or browser that otherwise were used to open ready stuff like help files and such. Over the years the portable format has become de facto for most of our daily needs from bank statements, eBooks, receipts to almost everything online. There has been continuous development to add further features than just be content with the original conversion.

A few years back I came across a website with such PDF related utilities. Though I still use some of them, the developer's name was proving evasive, and since writing from the phone didn't have the patience to boot and verify from the programs on the PC. With many guesses, Govert's Tools for Plotting, Printing, PDF got located. I was glad the site still exists and going strong. Though many PDF programs offer in-built tools to manipulate in your way, you can find here some that we often don't see in others. Like PDF Cropper to remove white space around in drawings or text when the margins are huge, or PDF Tiler to produce custom-sized thumbnails of all the pages in a document on one page etc., apart from others for rotating pages with some added features to scale them the required way, creating booklets, Search & extract required pages. You can find utilities under PlotPrint to deal with CAD plot files, and a Convert section to output to other formats.

What I liked is them being offered as individual, small-sized portable apps without needing to install, with .NET being the only prerequisite.

Things that matter

[035] ... [General]


Yesterday I noticed my friend with a new handset, one of the current premium models supporting 5G, and though that generation of network is yet to get rolled out here, the device is ready enough. Being used to seeing him with a new one once every or two years it wasn't surprising, but since the last one was equally good and hardly any old, it was assumed to have run into problem of one sort, which if was in my custody would never have happened. It proved true on learning low battery yield (naturally with many social media apps running) and a cracked screen (obvious seeing the way he, like many others handle the stuff). I on the contrary don't bother for four to five years till it no longer appears on the supported list with no updates, promptly putting it back to its original packing with the catalog intact. An outer case is a must since it keeps falling down however careful, and saves much botheration.

My first was a Windows Lumia that I really miss, and still have it as a standby to serve as an external device. It has lived its life, graduating from Windows 8 to 10, promptly bringing updates, having hosted and removed dozens of apps, capturing hundreds of photos and kept me connected. It still works when charged and wakes up with a double tap for audio-video stuff flawlessly, acts as a second camera when on tour, to set alarm, maintain a Contacts backup and all such that doesn't need a SIM. It was reset just once during the five long years when the Wi-Fi hotspot feature suddenly conked out, but otherwise served without errors.

We develop a friendship with many items, and though lifeless become a part of us that we retain for the memories attached and keep it safe, though some see it as junk to be rid off...

Ant-ology

[034] ... [General]


We always leave behind our trail, through footprints or tyremarks or may be even through the chain of events, though not to aid others to follow-up. The same however doesn't apply to the digital ones that lead to getting tracked, analysed, processed, and made use of in suitable ways by the bigger ones, keen on knowing you better than your own family. At most you can hoodwink to an extent through a VPN if really concerned, otherwise it's too clear, but how many really care?

Often we suddenly find a line of ants systematically originating and ending up at some point that only they can sense and find it suitable for their existence. It's more in summer, but many a time even during other times. I have realised that though quite irritating, this line-up leads to correction at our end. Like something edible left uncovered that the tiny beings can sniff out so easily, or little crevices that they detect and plan to turn into home during the colder days.

Since a few days I have been encountering these visitors all of a sudden, and detected both the above issues to be the cause. First it was a piece of sweet that had attracted them, and despite cleaning up when they changed track to appear elsewhere, a crack in the tile joint which had gone unseen and needed sealing up. So the next time you see such, think it's time to attend or mend, than reaching for a spray can. Poor things need to exist like us after all, and just return back or change route once convinced of changed circumstances after some hectic group discussion.

Our digital footprints probably act the same way for the concerned to take notice. Only, unlike we sealing a crack or cleaning the edible spillover, they leave it as is for us to continue unawaredly...

Misleading opinions

[033] ... [Technology]


Once you own a smartphone (almost mandatory these days anyway), it's natural to populate it with all sorts of apps, with both the really required and the ones that someone suggested or now being talked about, or when finding an alternate. Before installing, most go through the app's description and the users comments. Invariably you bump into many whose reviews don't rise above what's already pointed out by others or an outright thumbs down, and it's easy to make out such MeToos (no ill will intended, just an observation) going by their standard narration. They all seem to begin with "After the recent update..." without mentioning what really doesn't work; they always have "down load" or "up load" issues; they don't find it "use full"; they generally have "wrost experience" and so on that hardly explains the nag. Though most developers provide decent details, many either seem to ignore or go through, only to lament with misleading opinions. I have tried some despite the many negative expressions when the concept was appealing, and found no issues.

Not sure if the users are to be blamed or instructed on how to use, or in cases where the programmer ignores to mention the required parameters. Curiously there's no way other users can assist those facing problems, it's all left to the developer's response. Like those who blame an email service for blocking their account when obviously they are on VPN, encrypting all the Internet traffic that shows them from different locations the world-over each time, leading to suspicious activity. Or banking apps that need some large memory and resource and runs slow or refuses to open when the user has multiple apps running in the background or swaps SIM slots. Sometimes you expect the developers to comedown to the normal user's thinking level and approach, and suggest obvious workarounds than an all too standard "We regret" or asking to raise a ticket or email them.

Anyway, it's not our problem and can only guess and hint to both the sides on what might be the cause. The rest, up to them...

Anonymously well-known

[032] ... [General]


No one would believe it to be original if you invented a joke, which might have flashed suddenly out of a situation or through observation of something odd, a slip of tongue by someone and such by accident. Jokes are normally considered to be fatherless (OK, anonymous respectfully), no one knows the by whom and whens of its origin and they just go around without patents, often in altered forms, conveniently adapted to locally identifiable flavors when the original doesn't seem to convey the required punch.

One thing about jokes is the ready audience, even from those who overhear from the next table becoming a part attentively. It binds people and even sobers up flared situations. My first brush up with humor since younger days was through a relative who just needed to open his mouth to instigate nonstop laughter for the interpretation of normal things in his way or mimicking someone, and later through an elderly friend. Unfortunately both are in bad health these days and don't relate to their previous bubly selves.

The previous post on humor, and something I came across this morning, Old jokes, prompted to supplement this in continuation. Curiously, those who make others laugh don't do it much themselves. Not sure if we see it as funny, what's serious to them?

:-) and :-)))

[031] ... [General]


It's interesting how different people react to humor, varying from an uncontrollable laugh that runs to many minutes to a loud "Ho Ho Ho" or "Ha Ha Ha", originating straight from their abdomen, that curiously counts to just three, and suddenly stops like the rain after a cloudburst, as if nothing ever happened. Some have the habit of interjecting "Oh I know this one" no sooner as someone begins to narrate. My elderly friend mentioned a colleague who by nature never laughed. Out of challenge to make his lips curve through all sort of antics, seems the maximum yield was a faint smile. My father had a friend of the same wavelength. Even to the best of jokes his reaction was a standard "Nice, could be used somewhere!".

Comedy these days has turned mainstream on the television, from the stand-up to skits, a weekly affair on many channels. Frankly, humor is serious business if to be effective either just for fun or as satire, as a reflection of society or as a political take-off. Earlier the movies included humor as relief moments that really stayed on mind for long, than the loud, mere slapstick, and often crude with double entendre that we are forced to see. Of course no one forces, it's only with a hope of seeing improvements which never seems to come.

Surely, humor can't be a fountainhead, streaming all the time. You need a break to enjoy and get back to the next than keep laughing, assuming everything getting shown to be funny on the dedicated program. Luckily canned laughter that raised more laughs than what it implied to being funny has disappeared from sitcoms, at least as I know, or is it the live audience that have substituted...

So long you like it

[030] ... [General]


There was a time when movies (or motion pictures for the older generation) ruled as the sole medium of entertainment, after taking over theatre to an extent. Radio used to be the chief mode of audio entertainment for the masses (records or vinyl were still expensive) till the cassette players became common enough to afford, later the video tapes for movies, and then came the world of computing with CD and DVD that gave easy access, quickly followed by the affordable Internet with so many possibilities that even on the smartphones can take on.

Talking of movies, each has a way to enjoy. Some see it chiefly for entertainment, as a break from the routine, to get engaged for a while in exotic locales, some for the latest in wardrobe, makeup, hairdos and the works that quickly come into vogue (personally suited or otherwise), a few get into the depth of observing how a scene is shot, noting the director's skill of handling the story, where the camera speaks without the words, the flow of narration, how the music blends, the angles of composition, slick editing that juxtaposes scenes to rise above the mundane situations, and such finer aspects that the mere dialog or action loving don't really bother about; and many, purely for the sake of their favored actors.

Interestingly whether the TRP of television or the records of a movie, the statistics seem to just count the number of people who view, probably assuming each to be an avid fan. I mean unless you analyze viewership with how many really liked, got bored, said OK, or never bother about what they were part of, the results remain a vague figure, always seen in a positive manner.

Not only is film making expensive, time consuming, a gamble, requiring a whole lot of planning and execution, but also needs tying together the many departments to coordinate. Let's not bother of ratings and rantings, so long as everyone enjoyed...