Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sorry If Mr President

Sorry if I don't stand up and thank you Mr. President. You announced recently you're proposing a 1% increase in retired federal employees annuity, and this week it was announced it will be 1.7% to be in line with the calculated Cost of Living Adjustement (COLA).

Well, let me say the 1.7% increase will just cover the increase in rent I pay effective January 1st. It won't cover the increase in my health, car and apartment/property insurance. It won't cover the increase in the cost of my utilities. It won't cover the increase in the cost of food.

It won't cover the increase in the cost of everything else for next year. I don't know where they get the COLA figure or where you got the measely 1% figure, after all you've frozoen our annuity 3 of the last 5 years and only one of the other two years was over 2%, the 2012 election year.

Gee, sounds a lot like election year politics buying our vote with our annuity increase. And so accordingly we might see another reasonable increase for 2016 election year politics? And in the meantime throughout your presidency we've lost money!

You talk a lot about supporting federal employees and retirees but you don't do anything to help us financially, not even speak up for a fair wage and fair increase in salary and annuity for us. You've consistently offered less than fair increases, something the Republicans didn't do!

At least Bush raised salaries and annuities to match the real cost of living increase than some pseudo-number adjustment for what I don't know but not real life. You're worse than the Republicans for telling us one thing and doing another.

Hell, you won't even stand up and fight for us against Congress. You won't offer a fair increase and make the case it's necessary and doesn't bust the budget or the deficit. You don't do anything but offer pennies on the dollar we're trying to live on.

Over the course of your presidency I've lost a minimum of about $300 a month net income from the freeze and pittance of adjustments for the 4 of the last 5 years. Wait, make that 5 of the last 6 years now. Sorry if we don't say thank you, but use a different expression which isn't positive.

Monday, October 20, 2014

OS-X Safari

I use Apple's browser Safari almost exclusively, mostly because just a few years ago it was known to be the least robust and the most W3C comliant browser (Microsoft's Explorer the opposite due to their own non-W3C features and interpretation of standards).

I suspect that's still generally true but I also keep Mozilla's Firefox, Google Chrome, Chromium, and Sea Monkey on the Mac to use for testing Web pages occasionally, Sea Monkey because it has the feature to mimic other browsers including Explorer.

That said, over the last few years I've grown to think Apple is paying attention more attention to how Safari looks than how it works for users, and the latest iteration of it with version 8.0 with OS-X 10.10, Yosemite, is more of this direction.

The look of the new Safari, while I understand is designed to be easier to see (colors, font, etc.) it's worse for most folks who liked the old style and fonts and old setup. So here's what I don't like about it so far.

First, the layout with the fading gray designed, meaning it changes tone from the underlying color of the Web pages as you scroll up and down, is irritating, and it can only be changed with the systemwide setting to turn off transparency which does the same for the menu bar and dock.

Second, the font on the edit bookmarks pages is several sizes larger than with Safari 7 which I like the font style and size. Safari 8 is for the people who can't see or read smaller font, and it can't be changed with any setting.

Third, while it continues to remember the location of the window when you open Safari it can't remember the size of the window you want. I use a fixed size blank image as a local file to set the window size of any browser but only Safari consistently loses the user setting.

Fourth, I want the activity window back they removed with Safari 7 (was in Safari 6). It was handy to keep open to watch Web pages load to see what was slowing the loading or causing problems. There's no good replacement for it as the developer window is for individual Web pages and takes up the window space for the Web page.

Fifth, Bring back the the title bar! This is standard HTML code for people to add it so people see the name of the Web page. There is nothing for Safari 8 which does not make it W3C compliant for displaying header information.

Sixth, bring back the open tab button they removed from previous versions of Safari. Yes, you can hit the plus sign to open a new tab or use the keyboard shortcut (command t) but the button was easier and visible with the other buttons than a small one at the end of the tabs.

Seventh, stop changing the way Safari handles userids and passwords. With every version and iteration of versions, Safari changes remembering to autofill the userid and password for various Web pages, where sometimes it fills and sometimes it doesn't. Be consistent.

What I don't understand is why some of this wasn't caught during testing, which means the developers at Apple either didn't test for it, didn't see it, or knew it and ignored it, which means they don't care about users than about their idea of users.

And that's been a problem the last few years with OS-X itself and some of the apps where they're more focused on enhancements and new stuff or designs than on fixing old problems or not creating new ones. They seem to introduce more new problems than they solve.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

OS-X Yosemite

Well, I succombed to my stupid side with Apple. After installing OS-X Mavericks, 10.9.0, shortly after its release and found it had persistent problems through 10.9.2 and even resident in 10.9.5, I installed OS-X Yosemite, 10.10.0, yesterday. And what prey tell did I learn?

Of course beside the obvious stupiditly installing the initial version of OS-X's IOS for Desktop computer, which I learned the licensed and public beta testers cheered, I have no doubt there are a lot of good thing under the hood of it which makes it better.

But it's clear Apple is making Yosemite for two things. The first is to expand the new iCloud Drive, formerly iCloud for all Maverick users, for everything Apple and hopefuly everything user, as long as the user uses it, which I don't very much (still have 99% of my free space available).

The second is the graphic user interface (GUI) for the Desktop, Apple applications and other stuff you use on the computer, a late 2010 Mac Pro in my case (sorry, no plans yet to move to a new Pro for another 2-3 years when Apple stops supporting them).

The interface is a major change from Mavericks, which I thought was worse that Lion, but then Yosemite is even worse as everything uses flat, 2D views which are very much almost cartoonish looking, like IOS where Apple asked the local elementary school art students to design it.

Yeah, I hate it, from the color of the dock, which mimics the backgroundy you can't change except to the dark mode or the transparency to gray, and the flatness of the icons with the little dots for indicators the app is open.

All the windows are like someone put a translucent screen over them so they're faded and you have to squnit to see what's there. And who thought of the default choices for the folder colors? They had to be on something. I liked the colors and now the mismatch with the folders I've created.

What's worse is that if you change the color or other options in the finder windows, you have to find how to do it globally (haven't found it yet) or by folder, like folks are going to do that. What's wrong with just good ole' plain colors?

Ok, enough there. On to other stuff. First, the installation didn't have any major problems, some small one, Google searches found answers for, but after getting it running I rebooted and it didn't, reboot taht is, where all I got was a black screen.

I had to power it down and back up and then after it booted and was running rebooted again for a clean restart and everything seemed ok, until the Time machine backup didn't start and I had to manually relink the HD. It's running again but uses a lot of GByte's for file cache when it runs.

Second, Safari is another step backward for Apple. Really, they changed somethings you can't control  which seems really dorky since it's supposed to be "user-friendly". I found the font size for the edit bookmarks so large it's hard to move links between folders as the list goes well below the bottom and you have to hold it to scroll where you want to put it.

Apple should give users some control of that font size. It was perfect for me under Safari 7, but apparently big fonts is now the order of the day for this, but all the other fonts are small(er). Go figure their thinking.

And why get rid of the title bar? I like it, it's part of what people code into their header html code so people know what Website they're visiting. Why not give users the option to view or hide it?  And what happened to the "new tab" button"? I like it because it was handy. I hope someone creates an extension for it.

What you will notice the biggest change is iTunes. First books are gone from the iTunes store, they're in iBooks now, which I assume is liked to iTunes for your devices (only have one iBook because the author only offered it there).

Apple continues their really dumb idea of not allowing users to load all the album artwork when you open iTunes and keep it in active memory until you close it. You have to scroll to get all the artwork loaded and then rescroll regularly to keep it in active memory because it's moved to inactive memory and lost for quick display until you scroll again.

They had this with iTunes 10, dropped it in iTunes 11 and now 12. It's very irritating to those who look for albums by their cover to wait for the artwork to load or reload. Apple argue memory isn't the problem except for laptops but then pull this trick to save memory. Make it a user option or menu choice.

I could spend a lot on how different iTunes is with Yosemite, and everyone has their own opinion, but at best to me, you have to spend time and get used to it as you can't change it, whether it sucks or not, it's there, get used  to it.

This is just the start of my walk through. I have some other issues to check, like the bluetooth which doesn't work with the iPhone and rarely works with the iPad, and there I'm getting a list of small things there was no reason to change but they did.

In short Apple has forgotten change for the sake of change isn't always good, and with Yosemite, it's worse, from the cartoonish IOS look for a desktop computer (really Apple?) to the faded look of the application windows, along with the stuff they removed people liked.

Friday, October 10, 2014

CS Monitor

I have a subscription for the weekly Christian Science Monitor, which if you're not familar with isn't about religion but news and information about the world (check their Website), which I started last month with the first month free.

They offer the weekly edition in two formats, print and digital, the latter through their app for iPads and other tablets or through their Website. The price, $5 for 4 weeks, meaning you're billed 13 times a year instead of 12, but then the newspapers do the same with their subscriptions.

That said, I wouldn't use the tablet app, the iPad version in my case, to download the latest, or archive ones which are also available, even if you use a wifi connection. This is because the tablet version of the magazine runs just over 200 Megabytes per issues, which can eat space on your tablet real quick.

What you can do is to access your account through their Website with your computer or tablet, open the issue(s) you want and save them as PDF files (one of the menu bar options) which reduces them to about 20 Megabytes, and you can then open and read them with any PDF or e-pub reader.

Granted you don't get all the features and functions with the tablet version, but you can save a lot of space on the tablet and still read the issue. I use my Mac to access the account, save the issue and transfer it to the iPad through iTunes, but you can also use the iCloud if you want.

I'm not sure this is what the folks at the Christian Science Monitor had in mind, but to me, it's the better way to manage space on a tablet. I also found that their server for the app on the tablets occasionally loses my account which then prevents me from accessing the issues, including those I've already downloaded.

Anyway, just a thought about a good weekly magazine.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


What good is AT&T LTE service if it doesn't work at home? The best I get is 3 of 5 dots highlighted and it won't connect to anything Apple, like the iTunes and App stores, or to many Websites, including my own. All I get is the box saying, "Cannot connect to [insert destination]".

In addition I can't get iCloud to update anything on either the iPad Air and iPhone 5S, along with apps which use the iCloud to transfer data or documents. This isn't new, it's been on and off for years but I would suspect more consistent service in an semi-urban area so close to towers.

I live in a semi-urban area, meaning former rural area converting to suburbs, which is just across the Narrows Strait from Tacoma and near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and just a few miles (where I walk almost daily) from the town (officially a city) of Gig Harbor.

AT&T touts their LTE service and I'm well inside the area serviced with cellphone towers but apparently not good or close enough to count, except of course for the bill I get and pay every month for the LTE service. Why don't they credit people who can't get the service they're promised by AT&T?

I've been a customer of theirs from the early 1990's with the old brick analog cellphones, but apparently that doesn't count much if you can't get sufficient coverage in your own home, just a short distance from cellphone towers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

OS-X Mavericks

I upgraded to OS-X 10.9 Mavericks and have updated every version since its introduction, and while I would recommend for a number of reasons, I wouldn't for a few which is important depending on your computer.

And the most important of these is memory. OS-X Mavericks in each iteration has become more of a resource hog than any previous version of OS-X, which to me peaked at OS-X 10.7 for efficiency and user control and friendliness.

I say this because I keep the Activity Monitor open shortly after rebooting or starting the Mac Pro I have with 16 Gigabytes (GB's) of memory. As much as folks talk about cpu speed, it's really not as important as memory, in part because most newer one run faster than people use a computer or think while using it.

And what changes that speed is Internet access speed and the number of applications running which goes back to memory. And my gripe against OS-X Mavericks and Apple programmers. They're putting so much into the operating system it's memory consumptive. It's a memory hog.

It is for two reasons. After rebooting the memory wired and system memory related to users applications but not actually application memory starts with about 1.2-1.3 GB's and just grows from there to where after a week it's up to over 3 GB's.

That's the kernal_task, SystemUIServer, and programs. The other part is inactive memory, which is not known in the Activity Montitor window anymore but third-party applications will calculate it.

This is important because every application you open, use and close, only removes the file cache you used, and that's only if you don't clear that or wait for the daily maintenance to clear it. All unused (opened and closed) memory is kept to restart faster if you want to use it again.

This means if you open, use and close a number of applications, the active memory keeps building. And then there is the file cache. After rebooting it will grow to over 2 GB's just from the temporary files the system opens and the user files with application opened on login.

This is where the purge command is handy and something you should become familar with as it's a part of OS-X, but with Mavericks they changed the command to require administrator password to execute and it only clear the file cache and not inactive (unused closed) memory the previous versions of the command did.

This means the total used memory just keep growing. Under Mavericks the cpu now takes nearly half the total memory just to set up and start working, meaning after all my normal apps I use are opened and I've clear the unused file cache. And it only gets worse from there.

When I do start working now the cpu will easily get into the 12-14 GB's range and it's not hard to open applications and files or have the hourly Time Machine backup kick it to hit the 16 GB's of the Mac.  Which is my new problem.

It's a late 2010 Mac Pro, the last of the currently supported Mac Pro's. All previous ones are not OS-X Mavericks compatible and these won't likely be compatible with the next version of OS-X after Yosemite as Apple pushes people to the new Mac Pro's.

So I figure in 2-3 years I'll be replacing this Mac Pro with a new one, probably for the same price plus the peripherals which may not be compatible with new Mac Pro, which is two printers and two scanners.

They will pretty much determine how and when I upgrade since one scanner has no new one available for new Mac. It's a Nikon 35mm slide scanner Nikon long abandoned support for the hardware and software. The other scanner, an Epson V750, has a new model if it doesn't work.

The two printers, an Epson R2400 has new models and the HP 2605dn also has new models. Those can be replaced. The issue is that there are no new dedicated professional level 35mm slide scanners offered today, all are the consumer versions and no match for the Nikon.

Anyway, I wandered off the subject, which is Mavericks and it's pseudo-efficient memory usage. It may be efficient but it's a memory hog doing it, and I don't expect Yosemite to be better but worse.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dreamweaver CC

I've been a longtime users of Dreamweaver (DW), long before Adobe bought the company and when it was one of the few, and the best, standalone Website design, management and development applications from idea to the Web in one application.

That said, I've kept using it as I'm comfortable with it even though 90+% of my work is done in writing code - I don't use wysiwyg Web editors except Adobe Muse I play with for ideas, but since Adobe has released versions (from CS3 to CC/CC 2014) it's almost been different ever upgrade.

And they really screwed it up when they released DW CS6, which was in part why I bought into Adobe subscription service (for that, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.) where they have released DW CC and DW CC 2014, and why this post.

I like DW CC despite a few quirks you can change but after opening I reset a few things and I'm back in business, and DW CC 2014 is similar but seems to remember the settings I change when you open it saving a few keystrokes.

But DW CC 2014 has a frustrating quirk which, according to the Adobe DW forum, is frustrating a number of users, in part because there's no fix, except it's in the next update due out when Adobe decides to release, which is an issue with the subscription model.

Anyway, the quirk is the horizontal scrolling is backward, left move the content of the window right and right move the content left. It is correct in DW CC, so I just went back to using it until the next release of DW CC 2014.

The one good note about Adobe with their applications is that they don't replace versions but add new ones, so if you're like me, you have everything from Creative Suite (CS) 3 to CS 6 and now CC and CC 2014, but only CS 5.5/6 and CC works with OS-X Mavericks (OS-X 10.9.x).

Anyway, small point but interesting how programmers, testers and management can overlook an obvious mistake of scrolling. How many used the app in pre-release and didn't say, "Hey, the scrolling is backward!" and no one said, "Hey, let's fix it."