Monday, April 30, 2018

Hoorah! Hooray! The 1st of May ...

So just why exactly is it that I keep buying Samsung gear? I mean, the hardware isn't actually awful, but the software is - to put it mildly - shit. Soul-destroying shit. Like, shit that even The Eater Of Souls would be a bit embarrassed about. I mean the Samsung software, nine times out of ten, won't even recognise Samsung hardware - how shitty is that? And of course, you realise this just at the moment when you have a Critical Need. Case in point, I have to go see the accountant tomorrow, and he'd like a scan of all my phone bills for 2017. "No problem", I thought, "I just start up the printer, select 'Scan to PC', then scan each page into a single PDF document."

(Now that's another thing, for of course the Linux systems around The Shamblings™ willfully do not recognise USB scanner/printers, and I just had to clone the hard drive on the Windows laptop to - hopefully - avoid eternal slowdowns due, I suspect, to bad sectors. That too, of course, was due to a Critical Need: and even as I type, despite having happily rebooted with the cloned drive Windows now tells me, after another reboot to try to fix the scanner problem, that it is 'attempting repairs". I see that I shall have to buy another laptop, although I doubt I'll be able to get one with Windows 2000 pre-installed.)

Yeah, whatever, no bloody problem. Eventually the sucker comes out of reboot and I start the printer, select "Scan to PC" and after a bit it tells me that the PC doesn't exist or will not connect. Fall back to Plan B, which involves starting the Samsung "Easy Document Manager" (excuse me whilst I vomit down my sleeve from sniggering too much, also the red wine has to go somewhere) to scan multiple pages as a single PDF. Apparently, the printer exists and it scans - which is kind of an improvement. I scan twelve pages, and then I want to save the resulting document.

Of course I can't choose the name I want for it - that would be too useful - nor can I even choose where I want it saved, for that too might be too firm a nod in the direction of user-friendly (or at least, not actively user-hostile). What the hell, I know from long experience just where it's going to be saved so I push the button and eagerly check up in "My Documents/Scans" and what do I find? Twelve documents, one per page. The soft pulpy sound you hear is my forehead, hitting the desktop.

I gave up buying Samsung phones a while back, just saying.

(Bloodied but unbowed, it turns out that I can, in fact, change the directory for saving scans. But that's not in the scanner application, too easy. You have to run the Samsung "Easy Printer Manager" app - of course! because scanning has everything to do with the bloody printer - and you can do it from there. Running that also seems to fix the connection problems. Who'd have thunked it? Have I ever mentioned that I HATE software developers that are allowed anywhere near a user interface? To tell the truth, I think I hate ANYONE that has anything to do with a user interface. But that's just me.)

There's a brocante in Lézignan I pop into (into which I pop?) on a regular basis, hoping against hope that I'll find another shallow sideboard to match the one that we picked up from there about six months back and which is now in the dining room concealing vast quantities of shit like gratin dishes and cast-iron casseroles and ancient Temuka coffee mugs (wedding present by the way, thanks to whoever it came from because I really can't remember these days) and other stuff, and which also gives us some sorely-needed room to stick vases (overflowing with daffodils and irises just now) and gewgaws and stuff.

I didn't, of course: wasn't really expecting to, 'cos I think the one we did manage to find was made to measure some 80 years ago and the odds of picking up another one are pretty low. But I did find a 1960's white suit, just my size, made by some company in Romford that specialised in ripping off Carnaby Street gear for the mods back in the day: and even better, I picked up a carving fork and a serving spoon, all for the princely sum of €20. I must admit, I got the suit because it looked suitably poncy, and the fork because it felt suspiciously heavy, and the spoon just because it seemed a shame to leave it there.

It got to me, I admit, and I dug out the magnifying glass and checked out the maker's marks and it seems that I now have in my possession a 1930's Christofle sterling silver carving fork (around €200 on e-Bay, your mileage may vary) and a Ravinet & Denfert plated spoon from around 1912, which is apparently worth at least the amount I paid for the whole damn lot. For once, I seem to have come out ahead of the game.

Now, why is it that GPS hates me? Having occasion to take Margo through to the airport at Toulouse the other day, just to be absolutely certain I didn't cock things up I took my phone, called up Goofle Maps and programmed my destination as being "Toulouse Airport". It very sweetly asked me exactly where at Blagnac I wanted to end up, I told it "the short-term parking, P0, thank you very much my good lady" and off we headed.

Truth to tell I don't know why I actually did that; I know bloody well how to get to Blagnac and on top of that it's so well indicated that some of the signposts are even in Braille, for the benefit - I assume - of blind drivers. Whatever, I quite happily managed to get us onto the western periphérique (for Ms Goofle wanted me to go up the A62, on the eastern side, towards Bordeaux and then cut down southwards but I wasn't having any of that nonsense) and then the bitch said to take the next exit.

Godnose what I was thinking - although let it be said in my defense that it is not actually impossible that the route she'd selected was maybe 40m shorter than going my way - but I followed instructions. She took us along a kilometre or so of approximately-paved road to some little hamlet called "Pech David" and proudly announced "You have reached your destination!". Followed by "Would you like to continue to short-term parking P0 at Blagnac airport?".

At this point I was not really up to irony, nor even sarcasm, and in any case I suspect it'd be wasted on the damn thing, and when I saw - vaguely, I didn't have my reading glasses on me - the twisty-turny route she'd planned I just contented myself with a few choice expletives, ignored her wailing and killed the bloody app, then did a U-turn and got to P0 in about ten minutes. Gods below, I hate those things.

Summer seems to have arrived - as in, we've had three consecutive days of 25°, and I have made an executive decision and turned off the central heating - and to celebrate, Mary rang to say she'd organised a little walk, would I like to come along? Despite the fact that Mary's "little walks" are well-known as being anything but I accepted, just because it was such a beautiful day and I felt like goofing off, so about 10:30 Rick and Mary and Cash and Terry and Martin and Angela and two of their friends from the UK and I and all five dogs turned up at Minerve.

Don't know whether I've had occasion to mention the place before, it's an incredibly quaint village on an outcrop of rock in the middle of some gorgeous gorges, where the Cesse meets the Brian. (Yes, these are actual, real rivers.) This being Rick and Mary we turned off the road onto a little track heading precipice-ward that was prominently marked "Do not take this track" and went down. And kept on doing that, round the hairpin bends and through bits where all those tons of cliff-face are actually hanging over your head, and a few other places where a false step on the muddy trail would send you down to be impaled on some sort of shrub, and finally we made it to the river bed and the old Roman bridge that crosses it.

Of course Emma "accidentally" fell into the river but never mind, she needed a wash anyway. And she dried out in the sun when, after another 40 minutes or so clambering back up (Terry did fall off the edge once, luckily not too far, and he swears that Indra just sat there and sneered at him) we found a bar that would deign to serve us and sat out on a terrace with a lovely view enjoying our beers.

I have been triggered again: my own fault, as I'm too stingy to shell out for Microsoft Office (also, let it be said, when I set up the Web version of Office 360 that came with my laptop as an option it stubbornly refused to do anything but spin at 100% CPU use for a few minutes before dying, which started our brief relationship on completely the wrong foot). So I use LibreOffice, the FOSS suite that almost - but not quite - does the job; I say "almost" because for anything involving graphics it will usually wibble them into incoherence by ignoring transparency and location information (I have found, on opening a Word document, all the embedded images displayed on the first page, and the watermarks have become opaque), also it sometimes refuses to edit documents that it has itself created.

But this particular little hiccup is not as serious, just intensely annoying: if, in a cell of a LibreOffice spreadsheet you should happen to type a URL, it will recognise it as such and immediately make it read-only. If you have made a mistake typing your URL you cannot correct it: unless, of course, you right-click on the cell in question, click on "Options", then "Format", and turn off some arcane option. Damned if I know which particular mouth-breathing bottom-feeder thought of that one, but I do know that it's considered to be a feature, not a bug. "Hey look, we've got this really neat feature! You can't edit spelling mistakes in your spreadsheet!" Some people should get out more often, just saying.

French banks are an odd mixture of high-tech sophistication and abysmal human stupidity. José, our menuisier mate from Montbrun, replaced our front door recently and, as one will, I paid him for that. Eye-wateringly expensive, but the alternative would have been to get some standard door made out of corrugated cardboard so I made out the cheque secure in the knowledge that the revolving credit facility I have with the bank would ease the pain to some degree. Hell, I even rang the bank and confirmed that when they got a cheque for 4000€ I would get an email and would just have to confirm that I wanted the credit to apply.

Of course that did not happen, not quite as planned anyway. For a few days later I did get an email, telling me that I was in overdraft and would I consider doing something about it? More phone calls, and the discovery that, for some reason which doubtless seemed good to them at the time, the credit had been capped at 0€ - about as useful as the proverbial tits on a bull. That was the burning stoopid, so I organised a short-term loan. Back in the day you'd have needed to go into the branch office (in Chambéry, so not helpful) after making an appointment and then sign reams of paper before waiting ten days or so: within 30 minutes of my rather annoyed call an email turned up with the documents as a PDF, I clicked on the button saying "Append digital signature", got an SMS with a one-time validation code and typed that in, and apparently Robert is my mother's brother.

Also in the face-palm/WTF department, whilst I was waiting for little Suzi to get her WoF (much to our surprise, despite the fact that she belches gouts of grey smoke every time you turn the key in the ignition she passed the pollution tests: but after ten years of driving around with a comforting orange warning light on the dashboard we were finally told to get that fixed. Which involved getting Roady to order the part, their fitting it yesterday and my organising a second WoF appointment for today: so you can imagine my pleasure when I drove off there and had that self-same warning light come back on. Never mind, fixed, done.) I had time to wander around Biocoop, the little "bio" co-op supermarket. Where, as I think I've said before, I won't buy vegetables because they don't have the turnover so some of the lettuces have been sitting forlornly on the shelves for months (I'm pretty sure there was one there that waved at me, think I last saw it there in February), but they do have interesting sugars and flours, and I'm a sucker for those things.

Anyways, the point is that they also sell "bio-organic" pet food, although I personally doubt that either Felix or Fido could give a tinkers. The brand is "Yarrah" (not Australian, which was my first thought, but is instead proudly made in the Netherlands) and on the tins it says - and I am not making this up - "Pet food not tested on animals". Around a picture of a bunny with a big cross over it. Seriously, people?

And right now sumer, as it does, is icumen, and the fields are full of wildflowers and up in the pinède it smells rather like an excellent dry martini (twist of lemon, forget the bloody olive). Mind how you go, now.

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