I was so pleased to see I could replace the standard alarm wav files on my Microsoft Surface with custom alarm wav files of the same name (C:\Windows\Media\Alarm01.wav). Who wouldn’t want to hear their cat meow every time a dental appointment looms on the horizon? Or hear their cute little one shout “Chwweeerios” on birthdays?
However, I am a little puzzled as to why the capability to record simple wav files is no longer standard within the Windows environment (example: Sound Recorder). The only thing I can find standard on the Microsoft Surface for audio recording is the Voice Recorder and it only records in the m4a format. So of course if I use the Voice Recorder to record my rabbit snorting like a pig I will now need to download additional software to convert the m4a file to a wav file and then place the wav file here to replace an existing alarm wav file: C:\Windows\Media.
This entire process is fine for me but it is too time consuming and complex for our business users and even if they were willing to do it, I am not keen on introducing a third party product for something that does something so mundane as converting a m4a to a wav, it would need to do more like also bake chocolate cakes or somehow make my pale skin a pretty tan color.
Are you a newbie developer in the world of web content maintenance? If you are then be aware of the Adobe PDF Endless Pit of Destruction and Pain (aka APEPDP) so you can avoid the horrors it may bring.
What is APEPDP? In a nutshell it is the delivery of web content to the masses in the form of a PDF document that may subsequently awaken a nightmare of maintenance and usability issues for as far as the eye can see. This is an example of how the horror may unfold:
- A client creates a Microsoft Word document.
- The client converts the document into a PDF document.
- The client gives the PDF to the web developer or webmaster to add to a web page.
- Another client, sometime later, sends a request to the web developer or webmaster to make changes to the PDF document mentioned above.
- The web developer or webmaster tries to locate the original Word document from the prior client only to find that no one has the original Word document.
- The web developer or webmaster recreates the PDF in Word.
- The web developer or webmaster makes the new changes in Word.
- The web developer or webmaster converts the Word document to PDF.
- The web developer or webmaster replaces the existing PDF on the web site with this new PDF.
- Users visiting the site now have to install the Adobe Reader if they do not already have it, wait while the PDF loads (the user may not even get this far if the device they are using is not capable of reading PDF documents) and if the PDF does load the user now is inside an environment unlike anything in the web site they were just on, this separate PDF environment has rudimentary navigational options, no back button, limited search capabilities, no visible url to give the user an idea of where he or she is and often hard to find print options.
A few tips for avoiding APEPDP
- Train users to use web content management tools so they can create content themselves. Based on my experience with web content management tools in large and small organizations, I do not recommend them at this time unless you have enough IT staff to train and retrain users on these systems since many users will use them so infrequently that they will forget how to use them.
My family had quite a scare when I was a little kid in Ohio. My parents and I found members of our family unconscious in the house due to carbon monoxide poisoning (there were no audible alarm carbon monoxide detectors back then). My family was lucky, after a long hospital stay my peeps walked away with a second chance at living long and happy lives.
With all of the fantastic gadgets we have now, we have a long list of sweet solutions to choose from when it comes to safety. In the mix of cool technology, I worry some of the electronic solutions are being ignored because of the large volume of false positives we hear every day with things like car alarms going off in parking lots and I also worry that very reliable older solutions are falling by the wayside, solutions like animals. Please consider mixing electronics (like audible detectors) with animal solutions in your safety plan for a solid defense against unexpected dangers – especially dangers that can occur when you are sleeping.
We hear so many stories in the news of families claiming pets saved their lives during events like house fires in the middle of the night and in my many years of raising dogs, cats and bunnies, I have found that all three animals are very good at alerting the family to perceived threats via loud behavior (bunnies thump their back feet – it is so loud it sounds like someone is pounding on a door, dogs bark and cats cry or pounce on you).
Pets are a big responsibility. They can be annoying, loud, mean, crazy, weird, and selfish – you know, basically all of the things we are on rare occasion – but consider getting one anyway. Pets often want to make you happy and keep you safe since they think you are a giant food machine that doles out love and delicious meals in the form of limitless crunchy pellets in a fancy bowl on the kitchen floor.
Excellent move Burger King, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your commercial that activated some Google Home Devices: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/burger-king-launches-ad-on-google-home_us_58ee23dfe4b0c89f912307f9. The strategy was clever and made good use of the tools at hand.
I think activities like this are truly the only way some customers are going to understand the potential side effects of having digital assistants in the home and having them on all the time.
If you have a digital assistant in your home, take precautions now if you can to avoid unanticipated outcomes.
Even something as simple as your old answering machine has now become an ideal portal into your home for prank callers to call and leave commands for ordering all kinds of goodies for you without your knowledge or controlling various electronics within the home.
I recently volunteered in a short computer education program for a small group of homeless people at a local shelter. I was to teach users various introductory computer skills.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the students. Also, I’m a computer programmer, not a teacher, so I wasn’t sure how helpful I would be to them. I also knew several of the users faced not only homelessness but also prior incarcerations and or mental illness.
I am posting the results of this program to not only raise awareness of the needs of the homeless but to also highlight some of the challenges I saw them struggling with in class and some of the wonderful surprises I noted during my classroom time with these men and women.
The protocol was men on one side of the room and women on the other; they ranged in ages from 30 years to 60 years of age. There were about twelve students, two instructors and one monitor who stayed in another room close by. The class was one hour in length once per week in a lab of computers with keyboard, mice and an overhead projector/computer for the instructor. One instructor stayed at the projector to demonstrate various computer tasks and the other instructor moved about the room.
Initial student behavior was a heart breaker for me: many of them would not make eye contact, they would speak softly – unsure of themselves and their words. Normally this behavior is something I witness in children who are shy and are learning something new but to see this behavior in adults was very difficult. Their behavior was a reminder to me of how hard things have been for them. Thankfully this behavior improved as they learned new tasks. By the end of the first class I was seeing smiles, excitement about learning and many questions were being asked.
Some of the topics we covered that the students showed great interest in:
- Understanding the keyboard (how to make capital letters), the space bar functionality and the purpose of the number keypad.
- Understanding the desktop.
- Understanding search engines and navigating the web. Tips on identifying malicious sites and false news information.
- The process of Opening, saving, closing, and creating new Microsoft Word documents.
- How to password protect a Microsoft Word document. The students discussed lack of privacy openly at this point, really emphasizing a desire for privacy.
- How to manage images (getting them from one device over to another, getting them from an application like Facebook down to a device, and emailing them to others).
Some of the problems they face in daily life regarding technology:
- Several of the students mentioned difficulty in accessing email programs from public terminals. They noted that not all of the libraries and public technology centers in town allow users to access the same email programs; some email programs are blocked at some locations and not blocked at other locations. In turn they end up frustrated and are unable to access their email for long periods of time resulting in them often forgetting passwords and having to set up new email accounts and then they of course have lost their contact lists from their prior email account.
- Lack of frequent access to devices and or computers for learning and general use. When they do have access, they are often alone, without any technological assistance for times when they encounter issues such as not being able to access email.
Spending time with these men and women is something I will never forget, I hope I was able to help them as much as they helped me.
In remembrance of my recently departed (and perfect in every way hamster) Snowflake Brownie, I created a new web site dedicated to all things hamster: http://www.myhamsterzoo.com that utilizes HTML Responsiveness (so basically the web site lays out in 3 nice columns when the web site is viewed on large monitors and then morphs into 1 nice column when the web site is viewed on small devices like smart phones).
My provider, Network Solutions, offers web forwarding so since I already have an existing web site, my plan was to create a page on my existing web site and forward this new domain of http://www.myhamsterzoo.com to my new page (http://www.mummey.com/myhamsterzoo.aspx) on my existing web site. All was well at first. HTML Responsiveness was working as expected with web forwarding turned on but then I went one step further in the options of web forwarding and selected the option to have the URL masked from the visitor (this means the user, when visiting http://www.myhamsterzoo.com, would be forwarded to http://www.mummey.com/myhamsterzoo.aspx but the user would not see http://www.mummey.com/myhamsterzoo.aspx in the address bar, the user would continue to see http://www.myhamsterzoo.com. Unfortunately, taking advantage of this additional web forwarding feature of masking broke the HTML Responsiveness. With this masking feature turned on, the web site remained in the 3 column layout no matter what size the monitor was so I have since turned this masking feature off so that HTML Responsiveness will work.
I believe the reason this has occurred is associated with the masking feature dumping this web site into an iFrame and the tags in the iFrame may not contain things needed by HTML Responsive layouts (i.e. meta tag like meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″), even though I have these requirements in my page. I’ve notified Network Solutions regarding the matter just in case they have a solution or alternate options.
Critical Side Note:
In researching what domains were available that contain the phrase “hamster” for this project, I learned there are quite a few “hamster” sites out there that are beyond disturbing so I would recommend absolutely positively NOT incorrectly typing this url (http://www.myhamsterzoo.com) when attempting to visit my awesome new hamster care web site and make ABSOLUTELY SURE that if you mention my hamster care web site to anyone that you check, double check and triple check that you gave them the correct url of http://www.myhamsterzoo.com because holy molasses on a cracker with a shot of whiskey, you don’t want to go to the wrong hamster url, unless of course you want to harbor horrific memories that will forever carve out a cozy section of your brain for quiet nights when you are feeling vulnerable and are questioning the existence of humanity.
Reflecting back on a year can be disturbing, I try not to do it because it usually dampens my spirit for a hopeful new year. But a few things happened this year that warrant documenting for future alien races who may eventually invade our planet and quickly deplete our precious supply of Brussels sprouts, they are as follows:
Smart humans are still falling for email trickery. You received an email from a well-known company like UPS but the return address ends in something like .bo.net.zipperola.magnifique? And it says they have a really important package to deliver to you? AND they’ve attached a zip file to the email? Just delete it and get on with life and find comfort in the knowledge that one day the true instigators of such shenanigans will ultimately end up in a massive volcanic-like pit drowning in their own liquified lies.
There are humans with eyesight that really do steal from humans with no eyesight. I had seen this horrid behavior play out in movies and I read about it in biographies of blind humans but on some level I just didn’t believe it could actually happen. Unfortunately it does happen. I witnessed it for myself in a little café this year. A well-dressed woman snuck in, looked at the blind employee, snatched a soda and snuck out. “Sticky fingers” was so focused on the blind employee that she never saw me standing in the middle of the isle watching, in complete shock, her misdeed.
Social media and online comments regarding news articles can sometimes paint a disturbing view of society due to some participants being whackadoodles and at the same time incorrectly assuming they are hiding under a velvety warm cloak of anonymity. I tried Facebook for a portion of the year, it was a delight but it took up too much of my time and so many folks were posting lengthy tirades that I found negative, draining and unproductive because they often didn’t include possible solutions, just many complaints about various things. I also tried Twitter this year, this one may be a keeper for me: I can deal with it in under 15 minutes each day, it is easy to hide useless information and I can swap treasure hunting stories with a cool old dude who is a total stranger in Australia at 2am if I want to – seriously fantastic.
I want a self-driving car. I doubt I will ever trust it but it would be off-the-charts sweet to knit an entire blanket on a long drive to Ohio (if car sickness doesn’t kill me before I get there).
People have asked to have meetings with me in preparation for another meeting with me. Oh dear. This one is so odd I don’t know how to deal with it.
I will never run for political office….of any kind….for any reason…ever….ever…ever….holy moly.