Category Archives: Technology

Talented Phones

Good morning Everyone!

old telephone

Photo Credit: Purchased from

Some of you probably remember using phones where the receiver was attached to the main phone with a wire that kept you close to the phone when you were using it.  In order to figure out the range of the cord, you needed to look at the length described on the package and then mentally decrease it by 1/3 to compensate for the way even the best  phone cords tangled.

tangled telephone cord

Photo Credit: Purchased from

To those of us who were slaves to the cord, the cordless phone was revolutionary! You could talk to your friends and family on a cordless phone and still move around the house!  It was astonishing.  The cordless phone allowed us to talk on the phone and still cook, dust, fold clothes, iron and let the dogs in and out of the house.  It rocked!

Today's Cell Phone

Photo Credit: Me!

At our house, we always like to have the latest, greatest electronics (well, some of us do – for myself, I’m drawing the line at Blu-ray DVDs) so, of course, we have cordless phones. Our favorite type for the last two decades or so has been the AT&T Dect 6.0. It does everything you would expect a household cordless phone to do in the modern era – it has three handsets expandable to 12 (not that we’ll ever have or need a house that big!), takes messages, has an intercom feature and lets us have caller id and call waiting when we are willing to get off our wallets with the phone company and pay for them. They also have one other, non-advertised, talent – they are extremely gifted at camouflage. In fact, if the Russians ever invade the great state of Alabama, my three cordless handsets will be the last thing they will be able to find!

We have three people in the house, so you would think keeping track of a cordless phone would be easy – one phone, one person – but it’s not.  Take for example, this seemingly innocent couch top.

couch top

Photo Credit: Me!

Yet, upon closer inspection (usually accompanied by a fair bit of mental censorship as we hunt for the phone while its ringing), you find the following:

Cordless Phone Handset in Couch

Photo Credit: Me!

I believe that certain of the handsets have their favorite hiding spots.  I thought this one was particularly clever the other day.

For the casual observer:

cordless phone and iPad

Photo Credit: Me!

For the accomplished phone set hunter:

cordless phone and iPad

Photo Credit: Me!

Sometimes I think the poor things just get cold, and need to warm up. When that happens, their favorite room is my daughter’s room. For example, take a look at my daughter’s sheets from the other morning:

Cell Phone

Photo Credit: Me!

A careful search (by me, not her) revealed the following:

Cell Phone

Photo Credit: Me!

Sometimes all three handsets have decided to hide in her room!

I also think the handsets are capable of developing their chameleon-like abilities. Handset 2 had been missing for about five days, and we thought we had searched everywhere, including in this box right beside the phone.

Cordless Phone in Snack Box

Photo Credit: Me!

Today, however, I happened to drop something on the floor, and reaching down to pick it up, noticed the following:

Cordless Phone in Chip Box

Photo Credit: Me!

I can’t wait to see what they come up with next! [I think!]

Have a great day everyone!



An Unexpected Detour on the Information Superhighway

Good morning Everyone!

The day after Memorial Day, I spent about an hour working on a “Beginning of Summer” post.  I saved several drafts of it while in the New Post area, but while I was trying to upload some of the pictures, I got a message that my computer was blocking out certain images.  Since the message gave me the option to do so, I chose to look at everything without blocking.  The computer obliged me and reloaded WordPress, but somehow in the process, all the work I had carefully saved was lost.  FN.

Uh Oh!

Uh Oh!

This poses quite a mystery to me, since I can’t imagine what happened to all that information which was supposed to be safely stored on the WordPress servers.

head scratching, wondering, thinking

From by Broderbund. All rights reserved.

We have digital internet, which means that information from my computer passes to the WordPress server in separate packages of information, called bits.  In a perfect world, I would be the only person working with the WordPress servers, and my little packages of information would be the only ones out there traveling the information superhighway.  In that case, the travel would look something like this:

digital internet bits

One Traveler on the Information Superhighway

Since, as you already know, this world is not perfect, I am willing to bet that there is NEVER a time when only one person is using the WordPress servers, and that more often than not, the path to the WordPress servers looks like New York City traffic at rush hour, something like this.

digital bits internet routing

Many Travelers on the Information Superhighway

The beauty of the digital internet and digital bits and routing hardware and software that I don’t begin to claim to understand is that, in a heavy traffic situation, the little bits of information coming from my computer (the red stars) somehow know to search for the least traveled route to WordPress, meaning that my information still gets to WordPress very quickly, even if the path to WordPress taken by my bits is longer than the original route.

digital bits routing alternative

My Bits Taking the Road Less Traveled By (With apologies to Robert Frost

So far so good, right? Everyone still with me? Anyone need an air horn blasted by their ear to wake back up? Here’s the problem, however  – when I saved my work on WordPress, my bits started traveling from my computer to the WordPress servers, but in the interim, when I told my computer to show me everything, the bits disappeared. WHERE DID THEY GO? Where do all the bits that somehow drop out of sight end up? After careful thought, all I can offer you is a few suggestions.

lost bits routing digital internet

Possible Detours on the Information Superhighway

Take Saskatchewan, for instance.  Saskatchewan is a Canadian province directly north of the states of Montana and North Dakota, with a population of just over 1,000,000 people as of 2011.  A bit from the Great State of Alabama would enjoy kicking back in the summer there for vacation, where temperatures range with highs between 75 and 82 in July, while back here at Alabama we will be somewhere between 95 and 100 with 100% humidity.

moose, royal canadian mounted police

Welcome to Saskatchewan!
from; Copyright protected.

Timbuktu, on the other hand, represents mystery and adventure and a bit aiming for a little excitement on vacation could do quite well kicking around there for a while.

Safari, traveler, explorer

A Bit Exploring Timbuktu; from; copyright protected.

As any airline traveler in Alabama knows, Alabama bits must go through Atlanta to fly to anywhere else in the United States or the world, AND the Atlanta airport takes some skill to navigate correctly.  I am positive that there are thousands of bits wandering desolately through the Atlanta airport looking for the right flight to take them on to their ultimate destination.

Aerial, Atlanta Airport

Atlanta Airport; Photograph released into the public domain by Nikon

A bit that is either 1) just plain lost or 2) looking for a very quiet place to relax  could end up somewhere like Franklin, Georgia, population approximately 950 people, on the banks of a river with a river walk and a boat launch.

Bits that wind up in Seattle are looking for higher education at the hands of Microsoft, Cray or Amazon, among many other available tech companies in the area.  Since a higher education takes years to achieve, these bits will stay off the highway long enough for it to have changed completely and for them to have forgotten their original mission.


Downtown Seattle; photograph by Daniel Schen, from Wikimedia Commons

The bits that end up in Shangri-Law, the corporate law division of the paradise known as “Shangri-La”  live in a fantastic venue, but have to work hard, too.  It’s not easy policing the information channels of the world to ensure that Shangri-La remains a myth and that any information that might allow world travelers to discover its real location is removed or distorted.  These bits also will not be allowed to leave without a complete memory wipe, lest they deliberately or inadvertently lead others there.

Shangri-La, Sky Captain

Shangri-La, the location of the celebrated corporate law firm of Shangri-Law

I envy the bits in Never-Never Land – they get to play in the many computer games Peter Pan and the Lost Boys have acquired over the years (just because they don’t grow up doesn’t mean they haven’t kept up with the latest toy trends.  Rumor has it that even Tinker Bell has been seen playing with her cell phone and a fashion designing app.)

The bits that end up in the South Pole are dedicated to scientific research, since that is the only reason bits or people currently travel to the South Pole.  It makes me feel a little bit better to know that at least some of my earlier post was lost to ensure the advancement of humankind’s knowledge about the world we live in.

Penguin, South Pole

Travel Poster for Bits Enticing Them to the South Pole
from, copyright protected.

If you have any stray bits wandering around out there, I’d love for you to let me know where you think they might be hiding!

Have a great day!


FN.  There is nothing, I mean NOTHING, more irritating to a writer than to completely lose a piece he or she has put time, energy and imagination into writing.  It’s almost impossible to recapture the flavor of the original piece from memory.

Car Talk from Alabama

Good morning, everyone!

I drive a black 2010 Hyundai Sonata that I really enjoy.

push button cartoon

From Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

One feature in this car that impresses me is the push button start.  Now, I know that push button start is not really a modern invention – many cars in the fifties and early sixties had them – but the computer chip in the “key” that tells the car that it is okay to open or start when the button is pushed is new.  As long as that computer chip is about one foot from your car, all the push button features will work.  The reason I enjoy push button start is – just imagine this ladies – I never, ever have to dig through my purse to find my keys.  That is really cool, no matter who you are!

From  Copyright protected.  All rights reserved.

From Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

However, about three weeks ago, I came home for lunch one day, and when I got ready to leave the house, the car wouldn’t crank with the push button start, even though the lights in the car and everything else except the engine were working.  I tried everything I knew to do, from using the emergency start key to charging the battery with our portable battery charger, but nothing worked.  Defeated, I called the office, where one of my co-workers was gracious enough to come collect me and take me back to the office.

woman with rolling pin

The Effect the Innate Sexism of all Mechanical Objects Has
Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved.

The plan was for Mark to check the Sonata once he got home, but before he did, while he went inside to change clothes, I tried the battery charger again.  It still didn’t work.  When Mark came back to the garage, he took the portable battery charger, connected it the exact same way that I had, and of course the car started right away.  (For the women:  Don’t you find the innate sexism of mechanical objects frustrating?)

The car ran well for a few days, but then it refused to start again while Kayla and I were running an errand.  This time I took the portable battery charger, hooked it up, and the car started right away.  I think the car knew that Mark was within calling distance.

When we took the car in for service the next weekend, the kind people at Parker Tire tested the battery for us while we were getting new tires from them.  It was only at 200 crank amps when it should have been at 500 crank amps.  I’m not terribly familiar with what a crank amp is, but since I can do basic math when I put my mind to it, I know that missing 300 of anything tends to have a negative effect on an object.  I was relieved that Parker Tire replaced the battery for us, and I happily drove away, knowing that my battery troubles were finished.


From  Copyright protected.  All rights reserved.

From Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

Last weekend, Mark was helping with inventory at his plant, so Kayla and I bought some Christmas decorations for the outside of our house.  I asked Kayla to shut the trunk once we got everything out, but about three hours later, when we were finished, I walked into the garage to discover that the trunk remained open.  Wanting to be sure that the battery was still good, I got in the car, pushed the button, and nothing happened.  I was upset, of course, enough so that I made a special trip into the house to inform Kayla that I was not happy that she had forgotten to close the trunk.

I came back out into the garage, wearily hooked up the battery charger to the car yet again (really, I’m getting to be quite good at it), and tried to start it by pushing the button.  Nothing happened.  By now, I wasn’t just annoyed, I was exceedingly annoyed – even though the trunk had been open, a new battery shouldn’t go out like that.  I made sure everything on the battery charger was working, and tried one more time before I went to call Hyundai.  The car still didn’t start.

Push button start punch line

From Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

I got ready to go back inside to call Hyundai, and automatically reached for my purse.  At that moment, I realized that the car was not turning on because it lacked the key.  My purse, with key tucked in it, was safe in the kitchen.


I apologized to my daughter, got my purse, and of course the car started like a charm.  Problem solved!

Have a great day!


Apparently, Absent-Mindedness is a Condition Without a Cure

Good morning Everyone!

I would like to be able to tell you that my 3 1/2 week absence was due to something spectacular, such as completing a full novel during NaNo month, FN. 1, but, alas it is just due to puttering around with various things, some of which I am sure I will share with you later.  I am fortunate enough to have a story or two to share with you that will at least make you smile, if not laugh.

Cell phones, smart phones

In my “little black book”, which these days is basically my cell phone, I have two cell phone numbers that have multiple sixes in them.  One of those cell phone numbers belongs to my sister, and the other belongs to my friend.  A little while ago, I spent the night at my sister’s house in Huntsville, and was able to leave later than my sister and her husband did.  I enjoyed sleeping in, and their dog was happy to have me there, but when it was time for me to go, Wolfgang had to go into his crate.  He was NOT happy about it.  I sent a text to my sister telling her that “Your dog is not very happy with me right now.”  I shortly received a reply to my statement – a question mark from my friend, followed by the pertinent observation that she very much doubted that her dog was unhappy with me, since she didn’t have one!

You’ve guessed it – I had mixed the two numbers up.  I sent the correct text to my sister, apologized to my friend and that was that.

Question Mark

Obviously, having made that mistake once would have cured me from making it again – or so anyone who doesn’t know me through this blog would think.  Apparently I am a slow learner, though – this weekend I sent a loooonnnnngggggg text to my friend about a project we are working on together.  Shortly afterwards, I received a response, which was simply “?” from my sister.  I mentally shook myself, sent the correct text to my friend, apologized to my sister and have resigned myself to waiting for the next installment of the story!

From Print Shop Professional 3.0Used under license; protected by copyright

From Print Shop Professional 3.0
Used under license; protected by copyright

Have a great day!


FN 1.  “NaNo” stands for National Novel Writing Month, or something like that.  It is fairly well-known among writers.  It always is in November.  The challenge in NaNo month is to write an entire novel, or 50,000 words, whichever comes first, in one month.  I fully intend to participate in the insanity one year, but this year was not it.

I think I need some more electronics….

Good morning Everyone!

Last night, Mark and I were researching an issue that required us to consult two different websites at the same time, so he pulled out his iPad and I pulled out mine and we began.


An iPad

(Excuse me just a minute while I retrieve a stray handkerchief from No-no.)

Dog, Chewing, Handkerchief

No-no caught in the act!

While you may think two iPad’s in one family is excessive, that only begins the tally of the various computing electronic gizmos we have wandering around the house.   In addition to the two iPad’s (2), we also have my trusty Acer (3),  from which I write and find illustrations for my blogs and we have a Le Novo laptop (4) which we bought for Mark’s work three years ago that now we use for financial stuff, since his new job provided him with a laptop for his use. (5).  His work laptop comes home every night in his briefcase and goes back to work in the briefcase in the morning.

Briefcase, Laptop

Mark’s Briefcase is bigger than this!

My work computer (a Dell Inspiron) is a frequent but not permanent visitor at home, so I won’t include it in the tally.  A defunct Hewlett-Packard laptop (6) roams around the old house at will – it was Mark’s work computer for about five years, until it caught a virus that we couldn’t cure.  We have the HP NetBook (7) that was a Mother’s Day gift for me and which we now have passed down to Kayla.

In addition to the computers, we also have one iPhone (Mark’s)(8) and one smart phone (mine) (9), three Kindles (Kayla’s Kindle (10), my original Kindle (11) and my Kindle Fire (12) which Mark and Kayla gave me for Christmas last year) and one defunct Blackberry with no service that Kayla gets to use for her pretend cell phone.  (13).  I’m not entirely sure that we ever got rid of my first car phone, a bag phone that we got in the early 1990’s and which I used until 2001, but I better not count it since I haven’t visually verified its existence for a year or two.

Cell phones, smart phones

That doesn’t even begin to count the various toys that Kayla has which have some variation of a computer chip in them, since as the Nintendo DS and her portable DVD player.  (The portable DVD player was much cheaper than installing a DVD player in both cars and keeps her very entertained on long trips.)   Nor does it include the biggest computing devices in our possession – our two cars.  You’d be surprised (unless you’ve ever had to have work on one) how many parts of an automobile now require a working computer chip.

And of course, each electronic computing device comes complete with cords, charging cords, instructions and all other kinds of stuff that are just begging for me to lose them.

I guess the bright side to this embarrassment of riches is that we have the makings of our very own Cray computer should the world-as-we-know-it ever come to an end!

I think I need some more electronics…..

Have a good day everyone!


Cars I Have Known – George I and George II

Good morning Everyone!

Most Americans spend a lot of time in their cars.  At least, most Americans in the mid- to small size cities without subways and good bus systems do, as do most of us in the rural areas.  In the rural/small town areas of this country, in fact, cars are essential to reach the bigger cities when we need doctors whose specialities aren’t present in our community, more advanced hospital treatment than our solid, dependable and beloved local hospitals can provide or we need to buy various items that we can’t find in our towns.  In small towns and rural areas, our cars are also essential just so we can get to our jobs, which often are located somewhere other than our town or community (trust me, there isn’t bus service between two small towns such as, for example, Rockford, Alabama and Goodwater, Alabama).   My commute is about a 45 minute commute (35 miles) and I am lucky to have such a short one. 

For whatever reason, some cars stay just cars the entire time they are with us, while we each have other cars that rank as “special” cars – cars that somehow were not “things” but personalities and that, beyond all reason or explanation, we learned to love.  My first car and its later successor were such cars. 

George I was “my” car until I graduated from high school and went to college, leaving him in the worthy hands of my sister.  He was a 1960’s something light blue Volkswagen Bug.  (The official name of the Bug was the Beetle, but somehow Bug stuck in the imagination of the American populace.)  George II was a gift from Mark for our anniversary years ago.  Mark found an old Volkswagen Bug for sale, and in secret renovated the car to look exactly like George I.  It was a wonderful gift!   (Both cars were in our possession before the age of the digital camera and so unfortunately I don’t have pictures of them to share with you, but combing the internet I have been able to find pictures that come very close to what George I and II were like). 

The Back Seat - Note how the driver's side front seat is folded back to give you access to it.

George I stayed in my family from the time I was in about 2nd grade until after I was married, a span of almost 20 years.  For those of you who never got the chance to meet a Volkswagen Bug, it was a very basic vehicle.  It only had two doors, and to reach the back seat you had to pull a lever that would allow the front seat to pull forward.  George I and II’s interiors were black.

A Bug Engine in the back of the car

The engine of the Bug was essentially air-cooled, although there is some sort of a thing-a-ma-bob-er in the engine that was normally packed with oil – maybe the air filter???  (Mark, help me here if you read this!)  The most unique characteristic about the engine of the Bug was that it was in the back of the car, while the trunk was in the front.

Bug Trunk in Front

When I was about Kayla’s age, our family was stationed in Taiwan as part of Dad’s job in the Navy, and during that time period George was the family car.   George’s back seat could comfortably fit three small girls, and if you threw in the boot, we could squeeze in a few more children at least.  One time, George managed to transport four adults and five children on a trip outside of the capital city, Taipei.

The space between the back blue seat and the grey fabric on the wall that you can see if you look closely was the boot.

What was the boot?  I haven’t been able to find a good picture of it yet, but the boot was basically a space in the back of the Bug between the back seat and the back metal part of the car about 12 – 18 inches wide and four feet deep and as long as the body of the car, which wasn’t nearly as expansive as it sounds.  Still, it was big enough to fit small children (hush – this was before mandatory seat belt laws and air bags) and a bag or two of luggage. 

Sample front interior of the original Bug. Ours didn't have a basket.

The interior of the Bug was unique also.  The steering wheel was narrow, and had the then Volkswagen symbol, an outline of a castle, in its center where the horn was.  The Bug was solely a manual transmission car, so the gear shift was the lever in the center hump of the floor board.  The Bug had no air conditioning, beyond what I called 4 – 55 air conditioning (4 windows open at 55 miles an hour), which made driving in Alabama in the summertime once the Bug became my chariot in high school interesting, to saw the least.  The Bug had a heater though.  The heater was in the floor board and powerful enough that you would have to move your ankles out of the air flow every so often if you didn’t wish them to be burned.  (Why didn’t I just turn the heater off?  Because the heat, as plentiful as it was on the floorboard, hadn’t quite risen to the top of the car yet.) 

Note the Castle symbol on the steering wheel - and no, we never had fuzzy dice on our rearview mirror.

Both George I and George II were faithful, uncomplaining, dependable and in spite of their idiosyncracies incredibly fun to drive, and I miss them even while I am grateful for my current vehicles and the modern comforts they provide. 

Oh – and the battery was under the back seat, and you had to remember to add water to it periodically. 

What about you?  Do you have a car in your past or present that has been more than just a mode of transportation for you?  I’d love to hear about it if you do!

Have a great day!


Say What???

Good morning everyone!

I love WordPress.  I really do; in fact, I love it so much that when I started my second blog, The Football Novice, I didn’t consider using any other software, but immediately went to its sister site, 

However, every once in a while, usually after I insert a picture, it gets temperamental.  Not a full-grown fit, mind you, just pouting, doing things like not letting me post two pictures in a row without a line of text in between , or changing the font of my post without warning, then reverting to the original font after one paragraph. 

I have discovered through trial and error that the best way to try to fix those little irritating changes is to switch over to the HTML tab and see if anything looks unusual.  Well, actually, since all of the HTML code looks unusual to me, I look to see if anything looks more out-of-place than the rest of the HTML code listed there.  So last week, when my font changed for one paragraph after inserting a picture, and nothing I could do on my regular screen (the tab marked “visual” where my writing usually lives) worked, I bravely ventured forth into the world of code. 

There are a couple of basics to HTML code that I have figured out on my own.  Any HTML code will be written inside the greater and less than signs.  (“<>”).  Sometimes, inside the bracket there will be some kind of letters, or the “/” symbol and some kind of letters.  This is turning something on or off.  The one I recognize the most easily is <ul>, which turns underlining on, and </ul>, which turns underlining off.

The culprit last week appeared to be a code called <div>.  Not having a clue what that meant, I did what any reasonable person would do, and googled it.  The first site I found said the following:

The command encloses, defines and contains an HTML document division. In the Netscape browser it functions essentially the same as the <P> (paragraph) command. In the Internet Explorer browser it is designed to be used in conjunction with Style Sheets.

Of course!  Why didn’t I think of that?  Needless to say, that didn’t help me a lot.  However, I did find a web site that took pity on less technologically advanced folks (I am a wife, mother, dog owner, lawyer, writer and lots of other things, but NOT a software engineer!), and explained things in a much simpler manner.

If you need it, go to OM4, according to its web page, is an Australian web site design and development company for small business.    Basically <div> on WordPress tells your blog page that you are changing to a different type of page/formatting.  Now that, I understood!  OM4 explains many other commands in that article as well. 

After getting rid of some <div> codes, my text was finally correct, and I could breathe easier, and publish my post.

Of course, there was always the option of posting it with the unintentional font change, which would have saved me a great deal of time, but the perfectionist in me just couldn’t handle it!

Have a great day everyone!


Inventions I Eagerly Await (Or Not) – Update

Good morning everyone!

At the risk of being labeled a hopeless nerd (I can’t, unfortunately, qualify for geek because my technological level of expertise falls terribly short), I will confess that one of the magazines that I get on my Kindle is Technology Review, which is published by MIT every other month.  It covers technology breakthroughs, and by technology they are not limiting themselves to computers and cell phones, but include breakthroughs in medicine, energy, genetics, automobiles, physics, chemistry and anything else you can think of.  They also manage to present material in a way that a layperson can, for the most part, understand.  One section deals with new inventions, which may not be ready for mass production yet, but at least are up and running with prototypes.

Gadgets Galore!

In steadily working my way through June’s publication, I came across two inventions, one bewildering, one encouraging.

The Withings WIFI scale

We will start with bewildering first.  A company called Withings, whose website is located at, has invented a scale with WiFi capability.  That’s right, this scale will kindly, if you tell it to, post your weight, fat mass and body mass index on your Twitter or Facebook account for you.  To be quite frank, the very last place I wish to share that kind of information about me is on Twitter or Facebook!   Why you would even think that someone would want to do so is beyond me.

To be fair to Withings, the scale will, if you choose, discreetly post such information to more private places, like your smart phone or computer, where only you can see it; I can see some value in that.  Even better, if my doctor’s office would purchase such a scale and link it to my records electronically, I could go to the doctor without ever having to see what my weight is!  (I mean, face it folks, most of us know whether we need to lose weight or not; do we really wish to be constantly reminded every time we need to see the doctor for something like strep throat?)

One of Google's seven self-driving cars

The more encouraging invention is Google’s fleet of seven cars that it has equipped to be able to drive themselves.  It consists of six Toyota Prius’s and one Audi TT.  Some of you may recall that the self driving car is one of the inventions I am eagerly awaiting. ( See, Inventions I Eagerly Await.)  Google has at least managed to create prototypes, although currently they are nowhere near ready for mass production and still require a driver to be able to override the computer system in case it gets confused.  Still, Google has come a long way with these cars.  They have equipped them with video cameras, radar, laser sensors (and of course, Google’s navigation system) so that the computer guiding the car will have a 360 degree view of the road, and be able to orient itself to the direction it is traveling and figure out where it wants to go.  In over 140,000 miles of trials (I think – it may be more now), the cars have had only one accident – and that was when one of them was rear-ended by another car.  In those 140,000 miles, they did require minimum driver intervention once or twice, but at least we are getting closer.  I will watch the evolution of this invention closely so that as soon as they are available and affordable, I can own one.

There is, alas, no word out there regarding the driving vacuum cleaner.  See, Differences Between Men and Women.


Have a great day everyone!