A Small Brag – re Amazon Kindle book reviews

From time to time I get a request to review a book. I’m listed as reviewing poetry, but have been sent other genres as well.

It’s work and I take it seriously. I try hard to be consistent with star counts. I send the draft review to the author for approval, which happens almost every time.

I post the review on Amazon next to the Kindle edition of the book, and sometimes elsewhere. GoodReads is a frequent request.

I do this for free. Sometimes one or more of my authors will review some of my work, sent to them electronically. I choose writers I personally considered to be five-star talents.

Most of these authors don’t even reply to my request. Even ones for whom I’ve reviewed several Kindle books.

That’s OK. I do a review for you with no obligation on your part.

I will confess that I (almost always) really enjoy these works, and frequently learn something  – a bonus.

So, if you find me on the Kindle Book Review Team, you will know where to send your work.

I’ve done about 170 ‘formal’ reviews, and half as many informal/have a look please, ones as well. That’s the brag.

Beat the Tom-Tom

This is a silly post, but I am annoyed with TomTom (the GPS manufacturer.)

If you look up a current product on their website, you’ll see that lifetime map updates are guaranteed.

If you buy a TomTom car GPS, you’ll find a coupon marked “do not lose this” which gives you lifetime updates.

If you forget this coupon, they’ll try to charge you for the maps the GPS box says are free.

It gets better. When your device gets too small for the map, they create a smaller version (covering less of North America) which works.

Then they tell you that your device is obsolete, and you need to pay for a one-time last-time map update.

I’m not paying for a map update. They can cut me an Eastern Canada Only map that will fit in my device.

Lifetime maps means just that.

Guess what I’ll do if this machine gets abandoned? Small claims court? Switch to Garmin?

That’s silly. But so is TomTom to ask me to pay for what they promised when I got their machine.

Don’t touch that dial: on police cameras

There was an ‘incident’ in the USA where a police camera documented police officers planting evidence. They had forgotten something about their police camera:

apparently, these cameras always keep the last thirty seconds, and when activated, keep that plus further footage. Thus the officer thought he was controlling when recording started, but inadvertently captured the previous thirty seconds as well.

Unfortunately, it appears to this blogger that police frequently get off either very lightly or scot-free. The Forcillo case in Toronto is going back on appeal.

Here’s what I think the rules should be for police cameras:

  • always on.
  • always streamed to cloud storage which is audited daily for no gaps.
  • always available to all parties in cases of possible police action being questionable.
  • always directly identifiable as to what officer is wearing the source of footage.

In an ideal world, all officers appearing on police camera would be automatically identified. Chip implant? Facial recognition? Permanent log of who was where?

Police forces will scream that this puts them at a disadvantage. I beg to disagree:

  • Police are armed, can make arrests, have a lot of discretionary power.
  • Full disclosure of police actions will create, eventually, public trust.
  • Officers who cannot earn public trust should not be armed nor badged.

Comments, anyone? Anyone willing to put their real eMail and make a real comment here?
That’s today’s dumb question.

Mutiny: on the Bounty

We have the video of POTUS Donald Trump tossing paper towels into the crowd on Puerto Rico.

Fortunately, Bounty is made by Proctor & Gamble, a fine US (continent) company.

Puerto Rico is broke (to put it nicely; roughly eighty billion dollars in debt with no real assets) and now their crops are gone (and their houses.)

But, thanks to Donald Trump, they now have very nice paper towels. Perhaps Mister Trump believes the commercials: that the paper towels can clean up any mess.

That makes him today’s Person of Interest.

United? Nations?

This post is about Justin Trudeau, today’s Person of Interest.

Here you will find one (of many) analyses of Trudeau’s speech to the UN. I will content myself with these observations:

  • Given the large number of international concerns running right now, it is odd that Trudeau would talk about how badly we’ve treated our aboriginal people.
  • Given that the UN will have no part in fixing a purely Canadian internal problem, it is odd that Trudeau would mention it on this particular stage.
  • A cynic might think that, by exposing our ‘dirty underwear’ Trudeau is trying to distract public attention from other real problems, including: broken voting reform promise; blowback on tax reform; dealing with Donald Trump.

There are, imho, many things Trudeau could have tried for progress or at least consensus on, including these:

  • Cholera in Yemen
  • Bombing of citizens in Serbia
  • Isolation of Qatar (mostly by Saudi Arabia)
  • North Korea with rockets and h-bombs
  • Hurricanes and Global Warming, and warming nay-sayers
  • Earthquakes in Mexico
  • The continuing fiasco in Haiti, where years later, little has been accomplished despite large amounts of money going to NGOs there, and a lot going to the US Army there (research this if you don’t believe me.)
  • Political and economic disaster in Venezuela, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Argentina.

Oh well. Sunny ways here, and dirty laundry at the UN.

Acronis gets my back up

I am updating this post partly in fairness to Acronis.

They did not respond quickly to my problem with Acronis 2018. I had decided to un-install it and try for a refund. They called me on my cell phone about ten minutes after I’d done the un-install and installed a competitive product. I asked for a refund and got it on my credit card a few days later.

What follows is my original post, unaltered, until you get to the bottom where I will mention Paragon. Original post continues right here.

I claim to ‘look after’ five different computers in this house.

I acquired Acronis 2018 to use as backup for the newest computer,  a Zenbook for my wife. She can watch useful videos in her art/sewing/ studio instead of lugging subsets of equipment to the desktop downstairs.

Acronis 2018 made exactly one backup on a 3 terabyte Mybook Live, USB 3. It refused to make a second backup on the same drive connected the same way. It gave an error to the effect that the backup location could not be found.

Acronis 2018 could not make a recovery bootable USB because the screen was too big (mostly blank white space) with no scroll bar.

I overcame this by un-locking the taskbar (to get one extra screen line) and created a bootable USB. This machine has a different bios from what I’m used to, but it’s rather easy to choose a USB boot if one is available.

The boot leads to a blue screen from which a recovery canNot be launched.

I am considering my options with regard to this purchase. I think that if I solemnly swear that the product does not work my credit card company will reverse the charge.

Acronis 2017 was an oops moment. I wanted to increase my 2016 3-license agreement, but despite promises via eMail of a deal, the site would not make it cheaper than purchasing one new license. Not being prescient, I did not realize I’d need more than one more seat, so I got a 1-license Acronis 2017.

2017 has one bug. From time to time a window pops up saying ‘operation failed.’ There is no clue as to what operation. I think this happens when there is no Internet and it tries to find updates. This message seems to come up shortly after a cold start. 2017 is installed on an Acer Switch Alpha 12.

Acronis 2016 is a 3-license deal and is on two desktops and the older Zenbook. It works fine. I built recovery USBs on each machine separately and tested, getting to the point where it was asking: ‘do a full recovery’ or ‘what files?’ So I assume this would work if I needed it to.

There was a problem with 2016, however. On my wife’s desktop (after it had been used several times) it said I had installed it on more than three machines and I had 30 days to fix this. After some discussion Acronis allowed that it was legally installed after all.

I have no idea why Acronis would think it was on another machine. I have no idea why Acronis picked this particular computer out of three to complain about. It makes no sense.

So, today I downloaded (and paid for) a competitor’s backup product. This on the newer Zenbook. Sadly the install seems to need two executables so I guess I’ll actually have to read the manual. Sigh. There seems to be no rest for the wicked, or for sysadmin’s.

So, Acronis has my backup on four machines, and my back up on 2018 which I can solemnly swear is, on my installation, c..p.

I should mention that Acronis did give me a refund and did offer a fix. However I needed to back up my wife’s laptop ASAP and so got Paragon, an alternative. I downloaded the free version to discover that it does not support rescue media creation. So I deleted that and got the paid version.

I can Not create rescue media with this package either. It needed a Massive download from Microsoft, which had an error message; then rescue media creation fails every time. I have submitted a ticket to Paragon. I am hoping my wife won’t do something Very Dumb and we won’t need rescue media. But I want to build it anyway.

backup. sigh.

Pete Seeger and Donald Trump

Here is a hotlink to a YouTube (sound only) recording of Pete Seeger: Last Train to Nuremberg. You may wonder what this has to do with anything.

I saw this performed live in a taping of the Tommy Hunter show, decades ago. Seeger came out and said something like: “I’m going to play some songs for you, and we’re going to ignore all these technical people milling about.” He did, and they did. At one point some twit kept saying, ‘cut, Pete,’ and he didn’t.

Seeger played and sang Last Train to Nuremberg, explaining that he, in all honesty, played this song in every engagement. Simple as that.

Of course the Pete Seeger segment of the Tommy Hunter Show was short, and omitted the protest song. Of course.

Nuremberg was (you maybe knew this already) the site of war criminal trials. Listen to the song a few times; it’s free: Seeger’s song tells us that we are all complicit. Simple as that.

Donald Trump got elected. We are all complicit. Simple as that.

Donald Trump will tear the USA apart. We are all complicit. Simple as that.

The American magazine Atlantic has a couple of articles (among many) about this.

I expect readers of this blog to click on hotlinks and think for themselves. I’ll content myself with one quote from each, emphasis mine:

The trick here is that the administration and this shadow government are one and the same. Even as the public government sputters, other elements of the Trump administration are quietly remaking the nation’s regulatory landscape, especially on the environment and criminal justice.

The 45th president, Donald Trump, might pose the gravest threat to the constitutional order since the 37th. Of course, he might not. Perhaps we’ll get Grown-up Trump, an unorthodox and controversial president who, whatever one may think of his policies and personality, proves to be responsible and effective as a chief executive. But we might get Infantile Trump, an undisciplined narcissist who throws tantrums and governs haphazardly. Or perhaps, worse yet, we’ll get Strongman Trump, who turns out to have been telegraphing his real intentions when, during the campaign, he spread innuendo and misinformation, winked at political violence, and proposed multiple violations of the Constitution and basic decency. Quite probably we’ll get some combination of all three (and possibly others).

The Atlantic rejected my poems decades ago. I once owned an issue which dealt with the gun used in a massacre in the USA. (Loaned the mag and lost it. Damn!) Atlantic is a very fine magazine and I have no reason to trumpet it. No special interest. They don’t like me.

Pete Seeger is deceased. If you click on the hotlink at left, you’ll find out what else he did as a protest songwriter/singer.

Donald Trump is very much alive. If you google search for Trump News, you’ll see his/our latest folly.

We are all culpible. If we let this go on.

OK, dumb question?

What will you (personally) do about this?


One Big Wheel

This is a metaphor.

We are watching a circus performer on a flat stage riding a unicycle. It’s a bit unsteady, to say the least. Help or advice are not accepted. Balancing corrections are happening all the time. Almost random changes of direction seem to be built into this situation.

Now the performer announces that he’s the biggest wheel rider, ever. The wheel expands to match his ego. Stability does not improve.

This post is under ‘Person of Interest’ category. It does include a dumb question.

Can you guess who the Big Wheel rider is? Will he fall off?

NAFTA and ‘renegotiation’

NAFTA is not a trade agreement. It is an owners’ agreement.

NAFTA allows the means of production to be moved to wherever labour is cheaper, environmental controls laxer, taxation slacker, or even corruption more lucrative.

The move of Canadian jobs to Mexico was predicted. The subsequent moves to China, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, etc etc were predicted.

NAFTA benefits large corporations and by direct effect, their top executives: those in the bonus pool.

Don’t expect major concessions from these corporate executives. They are not altruistic. They are not nationalistic. They fancy themselves as being an independent species, superior to the mere peons who work for them, and customers who chase the lowest price.

Expect the POTUS to do a lot of in-USA manufacturing posturing. Don’t expect him to get many concessions from his loyal Wall Street ‘friends.’

You were scrolling for the dumb question? Here it is.

What do you think? Are you as cynical as this blogger?

Minimum Wage, and Galen Weston

Here you will find that Galen Weston made some 8.5 million dollars two years ago. His most recent salary is, I believe, over nine million dollars.

Galen would have us believe that the new minimum wage will put his company in difficulty. Some $190 million per year in extra expense. Let me quote a few parts of that article. Emphasis mine.

“We are flagging a significant set of financial headwinds and the organization is mobilizing all of its resources to see whether or not it can close that gap,” Loblaw chair and CEO Galen Weston Jr. told analysts during a quarterly earnings conference call.

Earlier Wednesday, Loblaw reported a second-quarter profit attributable to shareholders of $358 million, or 89 cents per diluted share, up from its profit of $158 million or 39 cents per diluted share a year ago.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for thinking that Galen Weston and his company can afford to pay his employees a living wage.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for suspecting that the $190 million is not a deliberate underestimate. I’ll bet it’s worst possible case.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for noting that the year over year difference in profit is $200 million, and that’s for a quarter – not the whole year. So they have $610 million extra after covering the minumum wage hike.

I used to like Galen Weston. Oh well. Have a nice day.