Slow, modern Heptameron story four (IIII)

When I was in 6th grade, because it was an election year, we had subjects and teaching about the federal (United States) election, which included an “election” that I think the entire enrollment of the school voted in. I was irritated because we had to form a line and go to vote, like it was a mandatory vote. I think this was irritating because I knew the real polls weren’t enforced, and also this exercise was a dead end ballot, that the results would not do anything.

The conference room had ugly bright pea green angular utilitarian chairs, I think ugly drapes on the windows, a fireplace that might have been real, and an incongruous clock. They had PTA meetings in there I know, and it was part of a 2 story … carbuncle? … attached to a late 1800s brick thing that was outrageously badly retrofit. I need to tell the story of the buildings at this school some time, they were a hoot and not.

Fortunately it was really a secret ballot, and I confirmed that I could vote for “whoever I wanted” by asking my teacher, so I wrote on my paper the name of someone who was running for president, but was a total loser and probably didn’t even have ballot access in my State. I didn’t know there were such things as protest votes, but that is what it was. When our teacher reported the results at lunch the next day, I cast one of two 3rd party votes. I don’t know who the other was, and I told one staff at the place, since retired and maybe died, that I voted for this other person.

Slow, modern Heptameron, story three (III)

Back in 6th grade, I attended on instruction at a perennially, nearly terminally underfunded private school and read young adult books assigned in the class.

One of them, that I honestly lost and never found, was a historical fiction. The plot was split between a historic past and a present day. A character in the present learns about her family as we read it ourselves.

At one point in the “present” part of the plot, the principal character is describing a friend rehearsing (I accidentally typed “prehearsing” – I think that should be a word.) to sing for a solo song in I think a school play. She describes what the actress is doing in a way that made it sound so silly and stupid that for maybe 2 or 3 minutes I could not stop giggling to myself. This in a classroom where ~20 of us were supposed to be silently reading this chapter.

I did try my hardest to not laugh and I think the teacher saw that and didn’t say anything. I am glad that she took that route because it worked out the best. She was a good teacher. Not perfect, but … that’s hard when you are teaching. She had students that year, one in particular, that made her work much harder than was right. The “one” I am thinking of was a very malicious girl who nearly got the State Police called for a physical assault against a student she sat next to.

Trying to find a story, found some others

In a response to a long ago post about ephemera, someone asked for a particular story. Now, nothing is so hard to get as spent old textbooks that aren’t unquestionably out of copyright, but I found two of them for loan via the Internet Archive:

Lavender Skywriters and Adventures to Remember. The first one is, I think, a combination of 3 grade levels, but I’m not sure now where I read that.


Continue reading Trying to find a story, found some others

Slow, modern Heptameron, story two (II)

Back in 7th grade, I attended on instruction at a perennially, nearly terminally underfunded private school and met the person who, in elapsed time, has been the longest friend I have had to date.

(Side story.) In the first “Harry Potter” book, the school librarian is described as “looking like a perpetually underfed vulture”. Perhaps from experience, I parsed it as “perpetually underfunded vulture” for years.

Continue reading Slow, modern Heptameron, story two (II)

New theme for accessibility / a11y

I have changed themes to one that is “accessibility ready” per WordPress, so persons with screen readers and others can hopefully have a better use of it.

Otherwise, I have been transcribing image content into captions for screen readers. This makes it easier to decide what to write there and excuses me from writing insolent captions about bad user interfaces.

Question to screen reader users: is it better that the descriptions of the images go in the “alt text” or caption? If they end up in alt text, sighted persons rarely see them, which is why I have been avoiding them for now.

Slow, modern, Heptameron and its first story

I ran across on Patreon, a project I am not a subscriber to now, called “Decameron Project” after the most famous Italian original. That reminded me of my more preferred Heptameron, that is a collection of evidently true stories from France in the 1400s or so.

Along that line, I have determined to write down these little true stories as I remember to and have the energy and time. Here is the first one:

Continue reading Slow, modern, Heptameron and its first story

Microsoft’s half-and-half troubleshooters

It’s another interface proofreading failure from Windows!

Introduced in, I think, Windows Vista and retained to date, troubleshooters are standardized appearance little programs that Windows runs to solve a few common issues, like networking and sound. The current list is at Windows Settings > Update & security > Troubleshoot.

Here a screenshots of two of them, with the same irritating mistake of not making the instruction text agree with the options presented:

Playing Audio [Windows Troubleshooter]. Select a device to troubleshoot / […]Select one of the listed devices or […] select I’m having problems with a different device. / Options: NVIDIA High Definition Audio is disabled, I don’t see my device listed
I do not have enough interest to install Vista or 7 in a virtual machine and see when the wording changed and which is the original. I first noticed this, with the same text problem, in the Devices and Printers troubleshooter on April 13, 2019. Aside for looking stupid, this can’t make accessibility sense. Anyone that uses a screen reader, let me know.


Bad user interfaces in microeconomy (personal finance)

I’ve posted previously about unneededly bad credit card forms on websites before, so here is one from a site I left the information off of in the image, so do not remember its name:

Credit card information entry form on a website. Expiration date is a drop down field of month and year combined, values begin 02/2020, 03/2020, … ending 09/2021. The form also requires selecting the “Card Type” (Visa is displayed/selected).

This is an interesting way of allowing the user to enter the information. By typing it off the card surface, the browser will automatically zero in on the correct one except:

  1. Credit cards (that I have seen) do not write the full year out. A card expiring in August of this year would have 08/20 on the face of it, not “2020”.
  2. As a prevention of incorrect data entry, it’s not good either. If someone enters “01/22” they are not going to get 01/2022 but probably 01/2020. If this field was a text entry field with validation, it could automatically add the slash (alot of telephone number fields will generate add the punctuation this way) and, if really needed, the millenium-century digits automatically.

A firm I do business with recently updated their bills (good, the old ones were quite constrained in their content, the template could barely do histograms) and then their website. I get a paper bill and pay it on their website. Here is how an account standing of earlier this year was shown:

PAY BILLS / Amount Due / $ 98.1 / Late Charges Added after 03/04/2020 / Buttons: Pay by check / Pay by card

Their site coding cut off the one-cent digit because it was a zero (bill was 98.10 USD), thinking it was not a significant digit. If this was almost any other unit, this would have been fine: 98.10 gal = 98.1 gal; 98.10 kg = 98.1 kg; 98.10 kWh = 98.1 kWh. (I am not getting into the legal metrology here.) With money, or at least United States dollars, if it is a noninteger, single cents (hundredths of a dollar) are significant no matter what.

(In some contexts, like motor gasolene and taxation, mills [thousandths of a dollar] shown as are as well. Their symbol is ₥, U+20A5, not ℳ U+2133 sometimes used for the old German Mark. The old pharmacy unit minim uses the two Zodiacal M-like signs for its symbol.)

In the United States, there are 3 business entitys, called credit bureaus, that business firms send information to and purchase from, about what finantial obligations people have obtained and how well they have managed with them. In other words, what loans and credit cards they have and if they pay them as the contract says. A while ago now, a federal legislation requires that the 3 of them allow each person (= SSN holder) to get 1 free report from each of them each year. (There are other times when a person can get free reports, such as if they are refused a contract because of what is on one.)

The firms are approachable through a website so you can access them three-in-a-row style more easily. When trying to do this this past new year’s time, I got these strange appearances:

ExperianDisappeared.png showing Equifax listed twice, TransUnion once, and Experian missing. This was in Internet Explorer 11 because at once time Equifax (or Experian?) would throw an error in other browsers that wouldn’t tell you why it happened, you just had to know to use IE.

XunionDisappeared.png showing Experian listed twice, Equifax once, and TransUnion missing. I was using old Edge to see if it was browser or cache dependent and it wasn’t.

Interestingly, the website says that through February 2021, they will all offer free reports weekly. This is nice for Equifax, but the other two have consumer (= SSN holder) memberships where you can do that anyway.

Experian tries to upsell you more than TransUnion. They also let you only get a new one weekly, while TransUnion lets you refresh it daily! Experian’s has this method of trying to get your credit score (not report) to improve by looking at your utility payments. I did it with my phone bill, and my number got worse. They let me take it back out and gave me some normally paid stuff for free. (None of them, or anyone else, pay/paid me anything to post this and it’s unlikely they know who runs this blog.)

Finally, a company Chemwise from OhiO that wants to recycle nastys like elemental mercury and nail polish. Sadly, it really looks like their web developer is driveler in the business of design and construction, or worse. My account summary was this the first time I logged in (before placing any orders):

My account - Chemwise2.png
Chemwise’s My Account summary page (excerpt, edited): Member Since […] 2019 / Payment Dude Date: […]/2017 / Last Payment: Received […]/2017
Along with some subscription information that was incorrect, I supposedly had been billed and payed for services two years before I opened my account. This was such an obvious thing that I emailed them immediately and received on the next business day a reply to ignore this because it was a mistake. I eventually closed the account because their services wouldn’t’ve fit my need.


Entertaining PDF errors in old (“legacy”) Edge

My opinion on Microsoft’s newest idea of their web browser, Edge, being taken from Google’s “Chrome” engine is based on surface impressions only. I still don’t use it for anything, but in earlier days noticed it had some really neat error messages. Firefox got rid of their “This might void your warranty!” warning on about:config, after (more understandably) removing the description of web cookies as “delicious delicacies”.

On December 19, 2019 (I’ve been planning this blog post since then), I tried to open a 0 byte PDF file in Edge and got this:

Scroll with lines of text blowing off the paper. Message: This PDF is corrupted / We won’t be able to open this one. Button: Report problem Link: Privacy statement

The information becoming mixed-up-ness, “blowing in the wind”, is a powerful one to me. There is some reference I am missing remembering, but I think it is close to Weir’s “Silent Conversation” ex-Flash game.

Around April 3, 2020, I made the same mistake and got this instead:

Folder standing up partially open with flying bug (looks like bumble bee) circling out of it. Message: Nothing to see here / Oops! Looks like this PDF is empty. Button: Report problem Link: Privacy statement

The bug-flying-out-of-container is symbolic of emptyness, and is usually seen in reference to an empty wallet. The explosm people (one of them) used this to advantage in their #1654, where two moths (?) were exchangeable for a gigantic horsefly (?) at a bank.

Sadly, to me, all that is gone now and we have this uninspired looks-modal-but-isn’t error:

We can’t open this file / Something went wrong. / Button: Refresh

Boring, less useful than the revised “legacy” message, and a useless option. I call this a loss. (Am filing it under “Interface Hall of Shame” because they went backward in usefulness of the message.)