Here We Go Again – A Microsoft Rant

Microsoft has done it again; they’ve “improved” their Word product. 

Three features that I’ve grown used to are suddenly no longer functioning correctly after the latest MS “update”. As a writer, I liked the recently used files, pinned files, and the bookmarker that lets me pick up where I left off the last time that I was in a document. Stupidly of me, I like them so much that I trusted Microsoft to leave them as they are.

No.

I’ve been dealing with Microsoft products for over thirty years. Their updates and improvements regularly ripped up what I’m used to using, slowing me down, wasting time, and adding unnecessary aggravation.

My latest used files, according to MS Word, was in September of 2016. This is from a program that I use every day. The pinned files? All unpinned. Thanks, Microsoft. You’re a fucking peach. 

After finding the files that I used yesterday, the bookmark for where I left off is absent. I know where I was working, etc., but what the hell?

Of course, I must laugh. I must release long, bitter peals of angry laughter because, while Microsoft taketh away and fouls things up, it urges me, “Look! Look at our bright, shiny, NEW stuff. We’re improved, not like the sucky old product that we used to be.”

  1. Why should I look at your new and improved shit when you just removed my normally used shit, Microsoft?
  2. Why can’t I keep using the old, sucky shit.

(And yes, I recognize that the MS Word features that I’d grown accustomed to using were themselves new features, once upon a time. It’s great that they created an provided them. But can’t they see how it builds distrust when they do this sort of crap? It’s like good ol’ Charlie Brown trusting Lucy to hold the bowl. She always pulls it away, and he keeps believing that THIS TIME it’ll be different. Then, Lucy, like Microsoft proves, nope, we fooled you again.)

It’s the world’s way, innit? Don’t know about that, but it sure as hell is the Microsoft way.

GRRR.

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The Perverse Inverse Law of Hurrying

Have you ever noticed..?

You’re trying to hurry. You’re eager to get started or — shudder — you’re running late. Perhaps you overslept or ignored the alarm clock, or kept playing with your pet (and that’s not a euphemism). Maybe you can blame it on your computer – “Did you see today’s headlines?” – “I was this close to a new high score.” 

Whatever the reason, cause, or excuse, do you see how it seems to cause everything to automatically go against your efforts to be quick? Lines form, traffic jams, the computer takes it time applying a gajillion updates, and the people ahead of you can’t find their credit card — debit card — cash — checkbook.

Your mind gets in on it. Suddenly you remember, Damn it, I forgot my list,” and you need to retrace your steps, or you can’t find your keys/glasses/shoes —

Or the toilet stops up, and the water rises —

Or a car’s blocking your vehicle in.

It’s enough to make one scream.

Super Rant

I have a super rant today about the overuse of super. Things are super-clean, super-neat, super-simple, super-priced, and super-super. It’s super-irritating. Like literally, super has lost its super meaning, becoming another empty word used as a synonym for that overused word, very. Guess this is progress, or just change. It’s how the language grows, mis-employing words that aren’t understood to give them new meaning.

I guess I’m an old crab. Coffee, and make it super-quick.

#AWL

Time for a rant. Are you ready, boys and girls? Point of order, sir, but this is as much a whine as it is a rant.

Okay, point accepted. I’m full of complaints and do a lot of poor, poor, pity poor me first-world blues rants. This is another. That aside, let’s rant.

I’ve written fifteen novels. 

People say, “Fifteen? Really?”

Yes, sure, but that’s a number. There’s a story behind the number. There’s an asterisk beside it.

The first novel, as with many writers, was five-star crap. In the crap world, five-stars means it’s the worse possible crap. There’s no crap that exceeds its crappiness. It was an experience, though, that helped me understand more about my writing process.

Knowing that it needed more attention and focus than I was willing to give it, I printed out the stack, along with editing notes, and put it on disks, and set it aside. Someday, I’ll return to you, I promised it.

“Point of order, sir, but, despite that quantity, maybe you’re not a very good writer.”

Thank you for pointing that out. You’re right. That might be the case. I’m trying to do the best that I can. I keep trying to improve.

“Another point, sir.”

What now?

“Isn’t this really about your laziness and unwillingness to learn?”

Excuse me, but who are you? How did you get in here? Out, out, damn you.

Being obstinate, I proceeded to write five more novels. They were probably three-star and four-star crap. I knew where they had problems and what needed to be fixed. I didn’t want to fix them, because I wanted to write more and I didn’t want to bother with editing and revising. I liked writing, not editing and revising. I promised, someday I’ll edit them, but I knew that model a novel and setting it aside for editing and revising at a date TBA was unsustainable.

The next novel that I wrote, I said, “I must edit and revise this one. I need to learn that discipline.”

So, I did it. Yea, me! Sure. I then sought agents. I followed all of their parameters for submitting to them in hopes of persuading them to represent me, find a publisher, and get the novel published.

After almost a year of dealing with that, going through five agents, I hated that process. Maybe, I convinced myself (without too much difficulty), self-publishing is the way to go.

So I did that.

It was another process to learn, with as many obstacles and challenges as Ninja Warrior. Yes, the book was published. Yes, I sold some copies, but not nearly as many as hoped. I knew that I would need to market the book.

Oh, boy, more to learn.

I wanted to write; I didn’t want to learn how to market myself and my wares.

I told myself, someday I will. Then I wrote and self-published three more books, with just as little notice and sales, reminding me again and again, you need to market these books.

But…but…but…

Yeah.

Here I am again, this time with a complete series of five novels. Here I am again at the crossroads. Find an agent? Self-publish? Screw it all and just keep writing?

Not wanting to, first, hunt down a cover designer, copy-editor, acquiring an agent drew me. That’s the original dream, to write a novel, find an agent, have the novel published. In a sense, I’m returning home by taking that route.

Yes, I was again easily persuaded because that self-publishing journey had been less than rewarding and satisfying. I’m hoping that this journey will be more so.

I began with the standard search process. Who is out there? What do they want?

Lo, Jane Friedman had a decent article about finding an agent, and pointed toward #MSWL – Manuscript Wish List. That’s helpful, I thought with new gleams of hope.

Hah.

I have such rose-colored glasses, they should be illegal so that we can all save time and energy.

#MSWL has a search engine. What genre do you want? Put it in. Here’s the results. Wow, pages of results. How exciting.

Not after reading a bit more.

I searched for science-fiction. #MSWL’s search results include whenever science-fiction is mentioned. This includes when agents say, “I don’t want to see any science-fiction.” Ah. That was certainly fucking useful.

I spent hours searching #MSWL and PublishersMarketPlace, seeking someone interested in someone like me. I found some promising folks.

Well, it’s the year’s end. Many of those agents aren’t accepting right now. Check back in a few days, weeks, or months, and then they’ll be happy to see your work.

What agents say they want on their website, in their Twitter blurts, in articles and interviews, and in #MSWL do not align. One will say that they’re looking for SFF or some science-fiction variant while the other locations won’t mention it. Yes, and I understand from my efforts that it’s hard updating everything and every place.

YA seems to remain the hot market, judging from the number of agents hunting for YA manuscripts.

Also clear is that most agents will reply to you if they’re interested. They’ll usually respond in two weeks. However, if they’re not interested, you’re not going to hear back from them. Do not, of course, submit multiple submissions or simultaneous submissions, or anything like that, because that’s not far to them, and please don’t follow-up to see what’s going on with your query. They’re busy, you know.

That was the stake through my heart last time, that one-sided dimension to this whole business. Sipping a glass of medicating wine last night, I reflected that I needed to start #AWL – Author’s Wish Lists. But hell, that’s a short list. We want an agent. We want published. We want a painless process. Who doesn’t? Well, I could stipulate that I want an agent who wants me, that I want an agent who will respond to me to tell me, no, thanks.

Yes, before anyone notifies me of the obvious, that this is a competitive business, and yes, I know how many struggling writers are out there trying to find agents and get published, and, yep, I’m aware that others have gone through this, and that agents have limited resources, so they’re very sorry, but that’s what the situation dictates.

Yes, I know.

My muses are awake. They want to write. Do you see how many stories are out there, waiting to be written?

Rant over. Back to whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

Brace Yourself

Brace yourself. It’s time for another first world rant. This time it’s about my car.

It’s a lovely SUV, a Mazda CX-5 that I’ve had three plus years. One of its many features is that it reminds me when maintenance is required. This vehicle requires more maintenance than any car I’ve ever owned, which includes Porsches, BMWs, Audis, Mercedes, Chevys, Nissan, other Mazdas, and Fords. Although the car is comfortable and reliable, this constant maintenance thing pisses me off.

So that’s number one. But here comes the reminder. Once it decides that maintenance is required, the message in orange is displayed whenever the car is started.

Here is what pisses me off. That thing is so inaccurate. The good Mazda people put a little sticker on the windshield, too, so I know exactly when it’s supposed to be returned for maintenance. According to it, my car should go back for maintenance by January 10, 2019, or by 33,000 miles, whichever is comes first.

My car has 30,000 miles. According to MY calendar, it’s not yet December, let alone January of 2019.

Yeah, it’s a nice feature. Too bad it doesn’t work. Makes you wonder about the rest, doesn’t it?

New WordPress Editor

  1. Is anyone else using the new WordPress Editor?
  2. Does anyone have any particular issue with it?
  3. Is anyone starting to hate it as much as I am?

Well, to elaborate on the last first, you probably read that and thought, I don’t know. How much are you starting to hate it?

I expect a learning curve with any change. But when I follow the process and it doesn’t come out as expected, forcing me to begin trouble-shooting, only to discover there isn’t any trouble-shooting to do, leaving me unable to post what I want when I want to post it, then I begin to hate the application. 

Like, that whole thing with blocking a paragraph to work on it is irritating. So is the inability to use MS Word commands that I’m used to having.

Yes, I’m getting old and cranky. So what’s your point.

All this leads me to my real question: how do I return to the previous editor? That’ll be this weekend’s project. 

The Amazing POS That’s the Free Mail Google offers

Warning: this snarky rant has some profanity.

Well, I should have known.

I’d been using Gmail for years. It started sliding down hill a few years ago. To save it, I went to Inbox.

Mistake.

Four years later, and a year of PERSONAL frustration for me, frustration that included random shifting of mail into different places. WaPo’s news letter will be in one place on one day, somewhere else the next.

Delete an email? Not under this POS. Delete may work. It might not. The emails show up again and again, driving me crazy as I remembered already reading that mail and deleting it, sometimes THREE TIMES IN ONE DAY.

Earlier this year, Google announced they’re dropping Inbox. Does that mean they fucking improved Gmail?

Not fucking likely.

Being Google, it still works like crap. However, they’ve managed to add several infuriating features. One particularly pisses me off. Each time I delete an email or change a tab — hell, anytime I do anything in Gmail, a small offer comes up:

Gmail Desktop

 

Nothing stops this zombie question. Can’t be turned off. It just asks me again, and again. Hide? Fat fucking chance. It comes right back up after I do something. Click the X? No, that shit doesn’t help, either. Yes, it offers a brief respite, but nothing more. It’s always there, obsequiously asking me if I want to use their fucking feature.

As Rake would say, “Oh, fuckity fuck, fuck.”

Parking Lot Rant #49

You ever encounter a parking lot with such maddening shapes, narrow lanes and tight corners that people seem unable to turn the vehicles without going up over a curb? SF-SJ Bay Area parking lots seemed home to those lots. Bad as they were in California, some of the newer shopping centers’ parking lots in Medford, Oregon (I’m pointing the finger at you, Trader Joe’s) are terrible. Yet, we must suffer and accept, or we wouldn’t have the store.

 

Minor Rant #143

We began having Internet connectivity issues in the beginning of May. It was intermittent, and service typically returned in a few minutes.

We were planning a trip, and busy with those details, so I didn’t call it in. On the day before we left, the outage was a few hours in the morning. Logging in at a coffee shop,  I sent my ISP, Ashland Home Net (AHN) an email through their support website. They said someone would get in touch with me.

They didn’t.

Returning after our vacation last week, we found our connectivity worse. Calling in meant waiting by the phone for return calls and staying home so they can come by and check our systems. But, last Friday, I called it in.

Yes, they could see that we were online but our signal was very weak. This would need to be called into the city IT.

The City of Ashland supports several local ISPs. They do so through a community-owned entity called Ashland Fiber Network (AFN). The city’s support helps reduce the cost, right, and provides an alternative to the big commercialized entities that dominate the field, like Charter, Century Link, Comcast (which all might now be the same company). I use Ashland Home Net to buy local and help defray that cost.

Friday our connection went out in the morning and returned in the afternoon,  apparently on its own. I called AHN for an update before they closed for the day. The agent said a ticket had been opened with the city. The city would call us. They would come by.

They didn’t. 

Our connectivity came and went through the evening.

Saturday found another outage that lasted several hours. Support was called. Messages were left. Nothing was heard back.

Sunday…the same.

Monday.

Internet connectivity was good in the morning. I returned from writing and walking at about 2 PM. My wife said the connection had dropped at noon. I called it in. The same agent that I spoke with on Friday told me, yes, a ticket with the city had been opened. The city will be calling me.

The hours passed…

I called them each hour to remind them my net was still down and that I hadn’t heard from the city. We heard back from an Ashland Home Net at 5:40 PM. Yes, a ticket had been opened with the city. Unfortunately, they were closed for the day. Nothing could be done.

Our connection returned at 6:53, and then left a hour hour later.

It came back again at 8:50, but dropped at 10:20, and didn’t come back.

We had a connection the next morning, Tuesday. Since I didn’t hear from Ashland Home Net or the city, I called AHN  to see what was going on. The agent said the city was backed up. They would get hold of me, but it would probably be another twenty-four hours.

“Really?” I said. “It’s already been ninety-six hours.”

“What?”

“We opened the ticket on Friday.”

“Your records show that the ticket was opened on Monday.”

“No.” I had my notes and referred to them.

“Oh, you’re right,” the agent said. “Okay, I’ll call the city now, and I’ll call you back.”

He did. “The city is sending someone out now.”

The city did. I saw their truck out there. I saw their agent. He went to the side of our house. I waited for him to come to the door.

He didn’t.

I waited for the city to call.

They didn’t.

Our connection was up and remained up, and it has since then. We’ve never heard anything back from the city or Ashland Home Net.

I’m going to give them a call when I get home today. I want to know what the problem was, or is, if it still exists, and what’s been done, or will be done about it.

Then I think I’ll check out other ISPs.

Just in case. Because right now, I’m not too damn pleased with Ashland Home Net, Ashland Fiber Network, and the City of Ashland.

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