Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Google! 🤨

 Went to send an email this morning using my Thunderbird email program.  Been using it on this same computer for a decade or so.  Used my Google Gmail account that is my sort of default these days.

Got a security alert.  Had to go downstairs, get my phone, tap the button that said "Is it you?".  OK.  Fair enough.  I then got six emails from Google to two different email addresses telling me that someone had tried to sign in to my Google account from Windows.  Six!

Then I got another Push notification on my phone to tell me the same thing and now a seventh email from Google suggesting that I update my Google to confirm the account on my "new Windows".  Did I mention that I have had this computer for about ten years?  No new Windows since the upgrade to 10.  

The email also suggested that I confirm what devices might have access to my Google Account.  Did I mention that I have had this computer for about ten years?

And the VPN wasn't even running because I'd had to shut it off earlier in order to get a website to load.

All to send an email to someone. Good grief!

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Even God only takes a tenth

 Haven't really paid much attention to my ebay sales.  I periodically sell stuff.  I do reasonably well because I have been careful over the years to treat my buyers and sellers well, so consequently I have racked up a 100% positive rating with well over 500 reviews.  My sales have slowed up quite a bit because my job has changed, so now it tends to be here and there that I end up with something to sell.

Just sold some Harley tools however.  $240 selling price for a set of cam tools that retail for about $450.  I had an extra set and didn't have any use for two.  Since these tools pretty much can't break or wear out there was no reason to keep them around.  Listed them three or four times and finally got a buyer.

Ebay just sent me $209.58.  They took 12.58% of the sale price.  Seems a little excessive considering the millions of transactions they do and the minimal overhead costs of running a massive server farm.  I wonder what their annual profits are but don't care enough to go look it up.

I've long been wishing for an alternative given ebay's rabidly anti-gun stance but it still remains the most effective way to turn stuff I don't need into cash.  Maybe I should have listed them on one of the local sales sites like Craigslist or Offerup.  Wouldn't have cost me anything to sell and I still should have been able to get $240 for a nice set of specialty tools.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Done with The Wheel of Time (Serious Spoilers)

 I mentioned that I wasn't thrilled with the initial episodes.  I watched the first four, however, and there are just so many serious issues with the story line that, when combined with the meaningless changes that didn't add to the story at all, that I just can't be bothered.  I won't watch more.  Here are the details:

SPOILER ALERT

Major Plot Problem (and by major I mean catastrophic):

I mentioned this before but women could be the Dragon Reborn in this version.  Can't happen.  Not because women are inferior or because it is a story about men but because the whole premise of the story is "two types of power, women and men".  The men's half is tainted from when the Dark One was sealed up in his prison.  The men who were left went insane and broke the world.  The women are still around three thousand years later doing their thing, part of which is to stop any more men who can use the power before they go insane and break the world again.  Men and women MUST work together however, to stop the Dark One when he eventually does get out of his prison.  IT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE STORY.

Minor Plot Problems (and I use the word minor advisedly.  Some of these are major, just not central to the story)

1. Perrin is married and kills his wife accidentally during a trolloc attack on the village.  Why?  Serves no purpose and doesn't advance the storyline.

2. Mat is a thief and his parents (at least his father is) are abusive neglectful alcoholics.  Why?  Changes the character completely.  In the book he is a good kid from a good family with a serious sense of mischief.  Serves no purpose and doesn't advance the storyline.

3. Nynaeve is captured by the trollocs, escapes, and then follows the party. Why?  In the book she follows the party because she feels that they need her help to avoid being used by the "witches" of Tar Valon, the Aes Sedai.  What purpose did the capture serve?  None and it didn't advance the storyline.  Why wouldn't she just go back to the village?  Unless, of course her motivation is the same as in the books, in which case the capture and escape serves no purpose.  

4. The party joins with a group of Aes Sedai who have captured a "false Dragon", one of the men who can channel.  Why? In the book they don't.  In the book they are off doing other things.  Apparently the only purpose this serves is to allow Nynaeve to do something that is well beyond her (or anyone else's) power namely...

4.  It takes training and hard work to learn to control the power.  Throughout the first and second books both Egwene and Nynaeve are being trained.  It is a long and difficult process.  My recollection of the long term story is that it is multiple books spanning two years, during which time they are constantly studying and growing more powerful.  Apparently not in the TV show, however.  Nynaeve somehow manages to heal everyone in the room plus re-confine the bad guy plus do something completely impossible namely ...

5. There are limits to the power.  For example we learn multiple times that "death cannot be healed".  Aes Sedai and Rand (the male lead) alike do not have that power.  And yet we see Lan Mandragoran lying dead on the floor and somehow she heals him in a burst of power the like of which no one has ever seen.  

Girl power, apparently.  Much like in the recent Star Wars debacle, things that took years of study and hard work in the original took minutes for the rebooted female star to master.  And it's not like we needed it.  The female characters in the books are strong and powerful.  Good or evil, they exist on their own terms.  So why change it?  I don't know and I guess now I won't find out.

What else.  Lots really. Many of the things that bugged me are just picking and choosing bits of the story to make it more exciting.  Why show the trollocs invading the village other than to blow a chunk of your budget on special effects?  In the books Rand arrives back at the village and it is partially burned and there are dead and wounded villagers and trollocs.  Guess what, the part that is burned is central to the story and you learn more about what is going on.   Instead we get lousy special effects and no storyline advancement.

Or picking and choosing bits  to make it go faster although I'm not really too sure why there either. There are fourteen books and we are in season 1, episode 4.  Seems like they have plenty of time to get everything done.  

Some of the character choices just seem odd.  Some changes which directly contradict the book (Lan and Moiraine bathing together?) seem to serve no purpose other than to perhaps show how enlightened this society is, without all the oppressive sexual mores.  

I was still curious after the first two or three episodes as to how the story would play out but now, well now I've just lost interest.  When some screenwriter thinks he can do a better job of writing than one of the preeminent fantasy authors of our time, I think I can find more productive things to do.

Like read the books again.  That will fill some of my days.  If you want to give them a try, here's the first three for about $20.  Hopefully they haven't edited them to follow the TV series better.  And no, I don't earn a commission.

Wheel of Time, Vol 1 - 3

Boxing Day traditions (and their loss)

 A post over at Instapundit, and a comment I left.  I thought it would go well here.

For background, Boxing Day in Great Britain was (and is) the day after Christmas.  There are all sorts of tales surrounding it but generally they revolve around the staff getting the day off after having had to work Christmas and/or the gentry boxing up leftovers from Christmas to take to the indigent.  In Canada we did the following (quote from my comment referenced above):

For about forty years was celebrated at my friend's parents' house. Several hundred guests who would arrive and leave over the course of about ten hours. Copious quantities of food and drink. The kids (us) would get there at the beginning and hang out til the end. My friend's parents have passed away and the tradition went with them. For a decade or so was celebrated at my parents' house. All the kids, aunts and uncles, and cousins in the area would arrive about 1 pm or so and leave about 5 pm or so. My parents stopped doing it about four years ago when my mother could no longer handle the high activity level; plus most of the kids and cousins have moved away. The tradition has gone and none of the remaining kids seem inclined to restart it or take over. Seems to me that the current generation, myself included, seems to have lost interest in family. As the oldest male child I should be stepping up but I struggle to find the enthusiasm. Add to that the fact that I and one sister are childless and one brother has moved away with his family, the "get-to-gether" would just be me and the sister I see all the time anyway. Sad really. These parties stand out in my mind as highlights of my childhood and teen years.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

A rare white Christmas in the Pacific NW


 

Change

 


Apparently Canada, unlike the United States, now recognizes that having the Covid provides you with some sort of natural immunity, just like every other disease known to man throughout history.

Sort of wondering if I should go get a Covid anti-bodies test.  You never know and it sure would be nice to see my parents again.


Edit: A Covid-19 molecular test is the one you get when you actually have the Chinese flu.  So since I don't currently have the flu, there is no way for me to get this test.  Rats.  I overlooked that part on first reading.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Wheel of Time, a quick critique

For those of you not familiar, the One Power, the power that allows humans to do magic, is divided into two parts.  Saidin and saidar. Only women can use saidin and only men can use saidar.   Thousands of years ago the male side was tainted with evil and the men who used it went mad and destroyed the world.  The man who led that destruction has since been called The Dragon.  Prophesies say that The Dragon will be reborn and most believe that when he is, he will destroy the world again.

It's a good story and a good series of books.  Fourteen to be exact.  Eleven (I think) written by Robert Jordan before he died and the last three by Brandon Sanderson from Jordan's notes.   Of which he left many and detailed.

Amazon made a TV series.  Four episodes so far.  I have a few minor critiques of plot changes which don't necessarily make it worse, just different, and it has been enjoyable.  So far. They've changed a couple of the main characters in ways that make no sense to me and don't add to the story.  They've added details that don't make add anything to the story and could just as easily have been left out.

My main critique however would probably be that they seem bound and determined to finish the whole 14 volume cycle in two seasons or so, based on the pace that they have set.  I don't understand the rush.  If it is well done people will continue to watch.  Game of Thrones had eight seasons and having read both I think this is a better story.  

EXCEPT for the part where they completely changed the story and completely contradicted the whole premise.

Quote: The Dragon has been reborn but we don't know if as a boy or a girl.

Another quote, just in case you missed the first one: There have been many false dragons, women or men, who claimed the title.

Reborn as a girl and able to use the power that only men can use?

Women claiming to be able to use the power that only men can use?

I don't know what the driving force could possibly be but it has tainted every second that I watched, knowing that they completely missed or altered the premise of the series.  This also begs the question of how the story ends because

SPOILER ALERT

men and women have to work together at the end to destroy the ultimate evil that will break time if not stopped.   Together.  Each wielding the half of the power that only they can wield.