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Welcome!

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on September 23, 2013 in Personal with Comments closed |

Welcome, traveler. Thank you for visiting. Now take a few minutes to browse, to enjoy and show that you were here with a comment!

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Updates: The Never Ending Story

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on February 12, 2016 in Internet |

It is indeed a wonderful feeling to be back with a software package which works for me, and which allows me to access the Internet, my mails and all that involves. It is almost as if a blindfold has been removed from my eyes, and my hands released from their bonds. Now all I need to know is how to remove, and permanently ban, these automatic downloads of Windows 10 to my computer, which I do not want and will never use.

Drawbacks to returning to Windows 7? Not yet, unless you count the updates. Going back to an installation version – factory fresh – meant that I did not have the full, updated version of Windows 7. It’s rather like buying a smart phone: you get the latest version, all glittering and fresh, and the first thing you have to do after configuring it with all your personal details, is update the software.

Update

Photo Source: Alex RobertsCreative Commons

So I have spent the last few days just letting my computer run and download the updates it needs to be safe and secure. Anyone any idea what that means? For those interested in facts and figures, just for Windows 7: first download package, 27 items. Second download package, 91 items and, as this was preparing to install, a message that another 97 vital / important and 9 optional updates were waiting. In the end these 91 turned into 21 as some of the previous updates negated them. All these done and finished, and another two updates this morning – plus the unwanted Windows 10 trash – and it looks like we are on the way to trouble-free surfing again.

How do you write ‘sigh of relief’?

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Testing, Testing: One, Two, Three

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on February 10, 2016 in Internet |

I feel as if I am coming out of the desert, as far as Internet is concerned, and returning to civilization, finally. If you’ve been keeping up with the story about my trials and tribulations with Windows 10, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If not, let me just say, the biggest mistake I ever made was installing Windows 10 which has proven, for me at least, to be an aggravated assault upon my calm demeanor and a cause of more frustration than I can possibly hope to convey in one blog post.

I have given up. Completely. No more trying to correct the software errors in Windows 10, no more downloading useless updates, no more frustration over not being able to connect to the Internet or, when I can, having it freeze after just a few minutes. Even the Microsoft internal problem checker told me that the problem is with the software, but not how to fix it. So, thank you for all the fish, Windows 10, but I’m out of here. Welcome back Windows 7.

Relief

Photo Source: Hartwig HKDCreative Commons

This was the last stable, working software that I had on my computer and I am now returning to it. Microsoft can offer me as many inducements to return to Windows 10 as it – as a corporation – wishes, but it just is not going to happen.

I spent yesterday configuring a new laptop with Windows 7 Professional, then setting up all of my mail accounts again, since they cannot be exported and simply incorporated in a new system. I’ve changed all my mail accounts to SSL, just needed the incentive and, thanks to the Firefox system, imported all my passwords, my links and my settings. If only Microsoft offered such a system.

My aim of posting something every day, which worked in January despite the efforts of Microsoft to thwart my plans, is not going to happen this month, but at least I am still here. Much the wiser, perhaps a few grey hairs from the stress and strain, but still ready to go and ready to keep this little part of my cyberworld alive and kicking.

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Windows: Let’s Just Reinstall That, Shall We?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on February 5, 2016 in Internet |

What do you do when you’ve tried everything else and nothing seems to work? If you’ve any sense, or if you’re as stubborn as I can be, you start from scratch and try to get it right a second time, or a third, or… especially when you have no real choice.

Today I managed to reinstall Windows 10. Now, this was not quite as easy as you might imagine: no go to the web site, download the program and there we are. First, since I’ve been having all these Windows 10 problems connecting to the Internet, I have to get to the Microsoft web site. The question is, where on Microsoft? As many know, download.microsoft.com has apparently been removed. Everything is automatic, except repairs. A quick Google and… well, no, because Google is one of the sites I cannot connect to. Bing is fine, I can connect to Bing, but not necessarily any of the sites linked in their listings; especially not if they are linked to Google Analytics, Google API, Google Fonts and so on.

I finally managed to do it, and downloaded the files to begin the download of the files: you know how it is.

Install

Screenshot Source: Greg FischerCreative Commons

Sitting in front of a computer which is busy installing something, watching that bar or, in this case, circle gradually edge towards 100% is so 1996, but we all do it. I did it: I watched and I hoped and it got to 100% and I sighed with relief, and then it just kept on going with those silly ‘Hallo!’ messages, because the installation still wasn’t complete even though it said it was complete and…

I clicked on Firefox and it did all those things that it did before I reinstalled Windows 10. That is, not the things it should have done, but the ‘I’m not opening any web sites today’ things which so frustrate. So I ran Zone Alarm’s tune-up and cleared the one hundred and forty-five errors it reported which, I would guess, are not really gone, just temporarily patched.

And I keep on wondering how long it will be before I just swing this monitor towards the nearest wall in frustration and go back to using a far more efficient and trustworthy typewriter.

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Akismet: That File Is Just Too Big

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on February 3, 2016 in Internet |

Did I mention that I have been having problems connecting to the Internet and accessing my site since installing Windows 10? Well, yes, I did and more than once. As an update: I can’t say things have improved, although I have managed to access today – as you can see! – and write something. At the moment, since the last cumulative update a few days ago, there are as standard sixty-five errors being reported by Zone Alarm, up from a decent standard of twelve. No improvement in sight.

One of the things that I have been doing is trying to find out exactly why I cannot connect. Is it the server, the router, the web site, the browser, the Internet, the software, Windows 10 or Firefox? Using Microsoft’s own problem checking software I came across a Network Protocol error or two, something about sockets not being defined. Theoretically, since I am now here, this has been fixed. I have yet to reboot and see if I can connect again; write while the going is good!

MySQL

Image Source: Aimee RiversCreative Commons

I also went into my server, as you can see from the list above, and took a look there. One of the reasons being that one file in MySQL appears to be slightly bigger than it should be. In fact, at 146 MB it is the biggest file there, which it shouldn’t be. It should be small and unobtrusive, because it is the comment meta file and this, according to the big beans who know, is cleaned out each time Akismet – which feeds it – empties the spam files. Comment meta is a protocol of each action Akismet performs in recognizing and deleting spam and includes headers, titles, links, sender and full text.

Clearly, since I had nearly 70,000 entries, Akismet has not been cleaning out the database at all. Could this be one of the problems? I don’t think so, but I emptied it all anyway and optimized like a super hero. I shall go back in and check regularly to be on the safe side and, for anyone who doesn’t access their database regularly to give it a look and make sure everything is working as it should, I recommend going in and taking a good look at your own comment meta, if you use Akismet. It might come as something of a surprise to you how much database space it takes up!

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Watermarks: Killing The View

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 31, 2016 in Photography |

We all need to protect ourselves, in one way or another, and the Internet, as much as real life, is no exception. We shield ourselves with firewalls and anti-spy software, virus destroyers, spam filters and anything else which seems to be the fashion of the moment. Some are good and effective, some not.: we learn through, sometimes bitter and expensive, experience.

Much the same with photography: if you’re going to upload photographs to the web, and not set them as Creative Commons, there is a strong desire to protect your artistic property, even when what you have photographed has been captured and shared by countless thousands before you. Each image is a work of art, an individual and unique creation, so why take a chance?

Well, you took the chance you’d have your property stolen and used elsewhere as soon as you decided to publish it on the Internet. Someone, somewhere could have a strange interest in your snapshot, recreate it and, with perhaps a slight alteration – such as with Instagram postings – sell it for a high sum. You, as the creator, get to see nothing of the profits, none of the fame your image brings in.

Watermarks / Copyright

Photo Source: Saad AkhtarCreative Commons

The answer, for some, is to stick a watermark on the face of their image. Some do it decently, some obscure their work so effectively that the picture is useless. How many times have I seen a wonderful photograph obliterated, ruined by an almost transparent watermark? And then, as my image above suggests, there are those with highfalutin ideals who believe that even their worst snapshot is a work of art – which it might be to some, but we’re not all professionals – and they have to protect, have to stake their ownership.

I know all about the frustration of finding a photograph on the Internet which belongs to you, but has been used by someone else without your permission. On the other side, I also know the frustration of trying to find the owner of an image to see if it is Creative Commons or can be used for a post here, not always with success.

We live in a world packed with wonderful technological advances. If we’re prepared to pay good money to protect our computers, and our lives in the Real World, why not for protecting our images? Why not employ software with incorporates a hidden watermark and allows your works to be traced? Fine, a decent script watermark at the edge of an image works too, although these can be cut out, but real protection comes from hidden security, the type that isn’t expected, isn’t immediately obvious.

And it lets people see your works which, for all of us, is really the be-all and end-all of what we do, isn’t it?

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Reading The News With A Political Slant

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 30, 2016 in News & Opinion |

If you give ten people a piece of text, ask them to read it and then write down their impressions, you’ll probably get ten different answers. This is something known only too well to the police: ask all the witnesses to describe the man who robbed the store, you’ll get widely differing versions.

And so it is with politics: everyone has their own version of what is being campaigned over, what the hot topics are, who is leading in the polls, who is going to occupy the White House for the next term. And they all have their opinions about the other candidates too, more often than not, however, based upon a short glance at information rather than an in-depth reading.

Hillary Clinton Endorsement

Screenshot Source: Chris Cillizza / Zeke Miller /Jim Roberts / Twitter

It is a sad face that those who believe in one particular form of politics, be it left or right, liberal or conservative, do not want to hear what the other side has to say. Whether they fear being convinced , of having to change their opinion, or of hearing something that makes sense and which they would, not knowing who had said it, support, is another matter entirely. We live a news-life of snippets, headlines, opening paragraphs and, above all, prejudices.

Now, it may well be that this screenshot gives such an impression. The final Tweet here clearly shows another screenshot which says: Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination, and yet. And yet Zeke Miller writes something completely different, whilst referring to the same article from the New York Times as his colleagues. Is it possible to read anything else into those words other than a clear endorsement for Clinton? And, if so, how?

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Close Call: Donald Trump Shooting Threat

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 29, 2016 in Internet |

We all know how Twitter works: the older Tweets are at the bottom, you scroll down and read in reverse order. So the lower one of these two entries came first and it looks, if you happen to be reading my timeline, as if Mark Knoller is replying to Christian Datoc (as re-tweeted by The Daily Caller).

Now, if you take any notice recent political spoutings by Donald Trump, you’ll know that he claimed he could shoot a person on 5th Avenue and not lose any voters.

Twitter Timeline Proximity

Screenshot Source: Mark Knoller / Christian Datoc / Twitter

Put the two together, and you’ve got a good story, if only it was true which, as we all know, doesn’t stop some journalists from taking a chance and publishing without fact checking first.

Luckily this man was not shot by Donald Trump, on 5th Avenue or anywhere else. The reference is to a pheasant which Trump jnr apparently shot, also, as Mark Knoller notes, not on 5th Avenue.

My Twitter Timeline is a real adventure sometimes!

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Selfies: The Old, The Brave, The Strange

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 29, 2016 in Photography |

They’re not going to disappear, the self-shots or selfies. No matter how much photographers may wish it, no matter how silly, outrageous or narcissistic, society, young and old, is fascinated by images of themselves in all situations. Social history, in the form of a self-portrait caught on the spur of the moment, is being re-written by ordinary people.

Brixton Selfie

Photo Source: Ulysess Thirty OneCreative Commons

And, let’s be honest, some of the images we get to see, uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or wherever, tell a story many of us would love to hear, even if we don’t necessarily wish to experience the moment ourselves.

What was happening in Brixton, London, as this young man captured himself and his surroundings? A peaceful demonstration? Market day in the suburbs?

Cheap Wedding Photographer

Photo Source: Dave BloggsCreative Commons

Why did this couple decide to take the cheap way out and save on their wedding photographer?

Selfie-Stick Seller

Photo Source: Michele M.F.Creative Commons

And who is he? Someone on the prowl to take selfies for those without their own cell phone? They used to offer food for the pigeons but, now that feeding has been banned in many cities in Europe, other means of earning a living have to be found. Why not offer yourself as a professional selfie-photographer?

Self-taken, 1926

Photo Source: Alan CleaverCreative Commons

But for those who criticize this new trend, this stretching and craning and pouting at a small lens held as far away as possible to get just the right shot, a glimpse back to years gone by. Not the first selfie by any means, but a reminder that there is nothing new under the sun, and these could be the grandparents of someone today, standing in their garden, capturing themselves for future generations.

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One Season Ends, The Next Begins

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 28, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

Have you finished shoveling snow yet? Or has the weather changed where you are and the rainy season begun? If you’ve just managed to clear up all the mess after a successful Christmas festival, you’ll be glad to hear that things are moving on and you do not need to worry about preparing yourself for the next big thing to hit us all.

Easter

Photo Source: Carodean Road DesignsCreative Commons

Easter is just around the corner – in fact, it’s around several corners still, but there’s no need to tell some people how far off it still is – and the shops who sell all those wonderful candy and chocolate eggs do not want you to forget it. In fact, they really want you to buy your Easter eggs now and hoard them. The chances of children finding your hoard is small, the chances that you will succumb and eat all the chocolate far greater, and then you’ll need to buy even more!

So, off you go, do your duty and get the economy up and running again. Easter eggs are on sale in Germany, so I’m sure that you’ll be able to find them in your local store too.

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Flickr Explored: Things I Don’t Understand

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 26, 2016 in Internet, Photography |

Everyone knows Flickr. the site where people can upload hundreds of photographs for all to see, have them rated, favorited, shared and – when the Creative Commons license is used – use themselves elsewhere. Most people also know that it has an Explored page: a selection of photographs picked out each day which are considered better than the rest, or worthy of notice at the very least.

This is what I don’t understand: how do they decide which photographs are the best of the best for inclusion? It clearly isn’t a person, a real human being, making the choices. It must be a piece of software, and one where a human does not have oversight.

Lego

Photo Source: Stick KimCreative Commons

Or perhaps someone can influence what appears. I have seen so many sets of photographs – or images, not all are photographic – from a wide range of different people, which all follow the same theme. A little while ago it was buttons. Ordinary buttons which you’d find on a coat, a shirt, or piled up in second-hand shops waiting to be sifted through.

There is always a cat – in reality, there are always many cats – or an owl. There is always landscape, derelict buildings, people walking along the street. And something else which really puzzles me because I cannot see the artistic excellence which would normally make such a photograph stand out from the rest: Lego boxes.

Just a photograph of a box of Lego blocks, exactly the same as the image I’ve used here – although this one didn’t make it to Explored – with nothing added. Good, if someone had made a really complicated Lego set, or designed one themselves, that would be understandable. But a photograph of the box lid?

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