Change of camera

It’s now nearly three weeks since I have seen the camera I carry with me most of the time – a Canon G16 – and I have decided reluctantly that it is permanently lost or stolen.  My superior SLR camera – a Canon D70 – sits idle most of the time, as it is too heavy and cumbersome for daily use. (I bought it for foreign, exotic travel, which sadly has not happened since.)

So… I decided to trade in the Canon D70 for something in between the two, on the grounds that for daily unexpected snaps, my Appke iPhone will do.  I have abandoned Canon, after 20 years, and opted for a bridge camera (one down in quality from the SLR  but less cumbersome): the Sony RX10 II.

That may mean gibberish to those of you not into gadgets like me, but I’m delighted with the first attempts, though it is going to take me quite some time to master this new beast.  Here is the first picture I took when I got home, sitting on the sofa, aiming the camera at the kitchen area, and then cropping this bowl of fruit.

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Hopefully I will be up to taking photos fo the grandchildren, who start to arrive today. And I have to look after this one better than my poor G16!

IT support dans le coin

Strange to find myself doing computing support for a number of friends given my lack of training.  But the number is diminishing: Sylvia, sadly, is no longer able to use her computer, Richard (who has a fiendish ancient PC – à bas Windows 7) may soon be moving to Brittany, to be nearer his children, and Christine Capieu (former co-musician) seems to have lost interest in me and her computer since I no longer play in public ensembles… …

That leaves my physio, Joceline.  I created her site for her some years ago, using a Mac program called Freeway.  But it was becoming increasingly irritating having to respond to her requests for changes three or four times a year, particularly when she created new courses when I was in hospital.  So, I have rewritten the site using WordPress, a free open source system, independent of platforms like Windows and Mac OS. Last Friday I did a successful short training session with her and already she has created a new page on her site Dynamique Corporelle.

 

Bravo Apple

I stopped off at the Apple Store on my way to the airport and came out with a new iPad – despite the fact that once again my sick iPad had refused to display any of its symptoms in the shop.

In my early visits to the store I was put off by all those young things dashing around with iPads in their hands. Very much impersonal employees of a large enterprise. But after two visits sitting around observing them at work I have been impressed by their expertise – and the way they have clearly been trained to be polite and welcoming to customers.

Above all I have been impressed by the staff at the ‘Genius Bar’ (what an awful name), particularly after this last visit, when I went armed with EU documentation on my consumer rights. I didnt need it. The young man listened to me, obviously accepted my diagnosis of an intermittent fault, and proposed without more ado to replace it. It looks as if de facto Apple has quietly turned their one year guarantee into a two year one.

I then spent well over an hour setting up my new iPad (it has still not finished downloading things like photos and music from my iCloud backup!) I think the staff were relieved they had a customer who could do this, as they were inundated by people asking for help.

phew.  I had not been looking forward to two weeks in England without my right hand assistant.

More computer problems

No sooner than sorting out what turned out to be a defective plug for my computer monitor than my iPad went on the blink.  Devastating for someone who is joined at the waist to her technological gadgets.

For a few weeks the iPad has been mysteriously rebooting.  Then it refused to ‘wake up’ altogether, despite my doing routine technical checks.  Time to call in the experts, so I booked another appointment with the ‘Genius Bar’ at the Apple Store in Montpellier.

Guess what, the iPad suddenly decided to boot up!  I explained the symptoms, though, and the guy went through a number of checks, including establishing there was not a battery fault.  He did show me a couple of dodges for cleaning up memory but confessed that he was not sure what had been going on.  With fingers crossed I took the iPad home.

For a couple of days it behaved – and now it refuses to do anything.  It lies looking at me reproachfully, its screen black and silent.  No more Today programme lying in bed, no more reading the Guardian over breakfast, not more TV on the sofa.  Not to mention frequent consultations courtesy of google throughout the day.

I have booked yet another appointment at Apple Store, en route to the airport on Tuesday, and face two whole weeks in London without iPad.  Although only 15 months old, the one year Apple warranty no longer applies.  Should it need replacing or expensive repairs, I’m going to quote EU legislation at them: the 1999/44/CE directive tries to extend European guarantees to two years.  It is a grey area but worth a try.

Meanwhile the trip to Montpellier was not entirely fruitless: I bought a new Macbook for Sylvia (and have been trying to fit in sessions setting it up ever since) and then my friend, Dessa, and I went on to a Skoda garage, to research Yetis.  She badly needs to replace an ancient and dying Saab, but has very specific requirements such as automatic, lots of space for dogs and rubbish, and yet no wider than 1.8 metres because of the scarily narrow and winding approach to her house.

I know that approach because not only did I collect Dessa for this trip but had to return the next day to deliver the various things she left in my car!  She lies in a beautiful house with absolutely stunning views 18km from my house.  The last seven kilometres are up a steep, narrow (single track) winding road with problematic hairpin bends, particularly if you are driving in the dark (or worse still, at sunrise or sunset). The last kilometre passes through various places with rocks or buildings millimetres from the side mirrors. Makes the road to my house feel like a motorway.

Apps that don’t work

Diary of a sad techie nerd.

Having downloaded the Easyjet app for my iPad I decided to use it to book the ticket for my forthcoming trip to the UK. Initially it seemed really well designed, but then – too late – I spotted that it had not offered me the chance to give information on my electric scooter and it had sent the confirmation to an email account I closed down over a year ago (how did it do that when on the website on my Mac the correct address is given?) . What’s more there was nowhere to correct the address – again.

When I moved over to my Mac I found my account had not registered the booking (sent to me at the old address of course) and I ended up trawling through the site to find the phone number for a human. Amazingly the human, called Martine, was very nice and helpful, and said she would modify my booking address and gave me another number to ring about my scooter.  I rang off, gratified at the ease with which things had been sorted.  So I thought….

Back to the app to check in.  All very simple – except that Easyjet refused to accept the format of both my date of birth and my passport expiry date. I found on googling that I was not the only person.

So, back to my Mac again.  Just to punish myself further I then decided to look at the completed check-in statement on the iPad.  Surprise surprise, it says I am not checked in yet.

At this point I have given up, but am prepared to do battle at the airport if necessary.  And I’m about to complete my satisfaction questionnaire.  You can guess: it will be nice about Martine and rude about the app.

Computing tangle

I came back to a complete computing mess. First I had to sort out the cables for computer, display, printer, scanners, usb hub,speakers …. They had all been turned into spaghetti by the cleaners who prepared the house for my return.

Worse still, I found my whole website account, including blog, suspended. It turned out that the annual automatic payment had not gone through. Some problem with my credit card (but I had not received an email to tell me this!) I spent a large amount of time sorting this out.

Then I found that the usernames and passwords for various bits of my site, were not working. I had tried to tidy things up in hospital but have succeeded in making them worse. I now have to wait 24 hours before I can modify web or blog pages or use my email accounts. grrrrr. I wouldn’t mind except that I suspect that tomorrow I will yet again have to contact my service provider’s (very good) support service to find out which of the many user ids and passwords I have are the current ones!

I always tell the various people I help with their computers how crucial it is to keep a note of all login details – and to edit these when changes are made. Nw it’s my turn to listen to myself. Sadly my things got into a cobble when in hospital, not knowing which changes had gone through or not.

I stuck at sorting out the mess today, with several online chats with my internet provider’s very good support service and I’m almost there. The website, blog and email accounts are working again. Phew. (Spoke too soon – another 30 minute hiccup, when nothing worked and I lost this entry while saving, Working again, but I suspect I may fall behind a firewall again.)

A technology fan – but not today

Ever since I arrived in this hospital I have been asking for a wifi connection (a service included in their brochure). And I have had the same sort of problems as in the Centre Ster in winter. First it took a day to be given the password.

Then it didn’t work – I got a message there were too many users. Ah, said the secretary, it’s probably a storm somewhere. No, no, I insisted, it means that there are too many people registered on the router, no doubt because the names of patients who have left have not been removed. Oh, she said, the computing guy who looks after their system only visits once a month. Can’t he be telephoned, I asked. She said she would do it the next day (Saturday). So of course nothing happened till Monday. Et voila, today i could go onto the internet at last. Except, except, I can’t use email. This happened at Ster, so back I went to reception and asked if email services could be enabled for room 102. Again I had to press my case and she says she will email the computing guy tomorrow, but it might take several days. I of course could not resist saying it was a couple of minutes work….

Why did I get so worked up? Because the internet is essential for my sanity here. Apart from FaceTime or Skype sessions with family and friends, I want it for newspapers, radio, books (via kindle) and of course to bore you with this blog.

I can use my iPhone for email, but the signal is very poor here, and certainly not strong enough for FaceTime. So emails may be fewer for the time being, but at least I can write my blog 🙂

Today was my first full day of physio: a full hour this morning with pulleys and weights to strengthen my leg muscles during this period of immobility. And then an hour with pulleys to strengthen my arms, in preparation for the day I use crutches (cannes anglaises in French). The physio thinks I might use tem before the end of the month provided I only use one leg. I’m not at all sure I have enough balance or confidence to do this.

My afternoon ended on a wonderful note – a long telephone natter with my old friend, Joanna Blythman. We talked almost exclusively about the pending Scottish referendum. I’m appalled by the fever of the yes supporters. I asked if I was going mad and if my judgement had become impaired. No, no, she said, agreeing with all my reasons against independence, and added that most of her friends (but not her mother!) agreed with us. (See for example this article by mp://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/10/scotland-yes-campaign-snp-pollyannas”>Carole Craig.). She is so upset by the demagogic, sentimental ranting and playing on the ‘we are victims’ theme that she is almost ashamed of being Scottish and is talking of leaving Scotland.

Nerdy Frances

Last year I started to use some public domain software called WordPress to write this blog, as well as slowly transferring the rest of my website to WordPress.  Things have moved on so much since I first started personal publishing on the web a dozen years ago.  In those days I had either to use complicated and expensive (less if ‘borrowed’…) software as well as being able to understand a bit about code.  Blogging tools or content management systems like WordPress have changed all this.  And better still, the basic system is free.

When I first started writing with microcomputers in the eighties, one of my early word-processing applications was Wordstar, and to this day I can remember that to make text bold you had to type ctrl+kb at the start of the text and ctrl+kk at the end.  (And you did not see the result till you printed.) So you had to memorise a range of sequences like this.  Then along came the graphic user interface (GUI), pioneered by Apple, with applications like MacWrite, later picked up by Microsoft with Word, where you could select formatting options for text from a toolbar or menu – and see the results immediately.

The transition to WordPress is a bit like this for web publishing: it is intuitive, code is hidden behind toolbars, menus and themes (like templates), and suddenly publishing becomes accessible to the masses, reducing dependence on technical staff. There has been a resultant explosion in the number of personal blogs like mine.  (In my case I do it mainly for my own pleasure rather than a desire to tell the world at large about my activities. It is therefore a bit like a semi-public personal diary.)

I’ve been finding the WordPress way of treating images a bit limited (unless I wanted to go back to writing code myself).  So last week I tried a new piece of software, or ‘plugin’, which works within WordPress to manage photos.  I chose a plugin called NextGen because it seemed to be one of the most widely used.  I have had several days of grief with it and wasted far too much time going onto forums for answers.

Then this morning I read about another plugin called Envira, installed it, and converted the April 6 images to it, all within the space of a couple of hours.  Typically I have yet to read the documentation…   It’s working hunky dory and I’m feeling rather pleased with myself.

Well, if I can’t be very physically active, can’t (as yet) play the cello much and am not good at reading, it is a good way to keep the brain cells working 🙂

 

 

iOS7

Downloaded the latest system for the iPhone and iPad yesterday – of course.  So far I’ve not had time to find out much about it, except that it has instant access to things like a timer, the camera and, on the iPhone,  snazzy  torch.  But the camera app is improved and one thing you can do is panoramic photos – the sort I used to have to ‘stitch’ several photos together to do.  I tried it out yesterday looking at the chateau opposite (in the last blog) and today, standing on the terrace:

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[Click on the photo to enlarge it]