Supercalibleeping passwords . . .



After many years of faithful service, my old printer developed a terminal case of the Fading Stutters* and expired just when most of Jane’s final school assignments were due, because that’s how we, and by extension our possessions or indeed any item or creature we look at casually in passing, roll.

On Friday, I went shopping for a replacement.  I’d done some research and had decided it was time to splurge on an all-in-one.  Faxing isn’t something I’m likely to do at home—seeing as we don’t have a land line, anyway—but scanning and copying have somehow become integral to my life as a parent and blogslave.

I like Epson,** and there were several models of all-in-ones available at the local Electronics Store Which Shall Not Be Named.*** I walked around comparing ink and features and dimensions and general sexiness—it would, after all, be living in my bedroom office.  After clocking in a mile between aisles, I finally determined that the only real differences between the current top of the line home model and the previously current top of the line was a spiffy  keypad for the fax function I’d never use,  extra-large ink cartridges that hold a third more ink while being twice as expensive, a smaller paper tray for reasons I didn’t understand,^ and two hundred dollars.

I chose accordingly.

Turns out that most all-in-one printers are wireless now, which seemed like a good deal at the time, since we were forever plugging and unplugging various devices into Old Printer, which may or may not have factored into its demise, but was darned annoying at best.  It would be convenient to be able to print from wherever in the house we happened to be.

So I brought home a big box o’ technology, moved Old Printer from the top of my stubby, two-drawer filing cabinet to the floor, unpacked New Printer, removed fourteen thousand pieces of blue tape, packing strips, and static film pieces, plugged it in, and launched the installation Wizard.

The Wizard suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable, but not to sweat it—I could just enter everything on the printer’s touchscreen.  As long as I had my WiFi password.

I thought about this, then sent a text to Watson: “What’s the WiFi password again?”

She replied.  “S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4 which is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized.^^  Unless it’s been changed.”

Right. Okay.

The Wizard prompted me to enter the login—which is slightly shorter—and password.  It also reminded me that everything was case-sensitive.

I should mention here that the touchscreen didn’t offer me a keyboard. It offered me a flat version of a spiffy numerical fax keypad. So, as I tapped a specific button, the associated letters appeared on the screen first as capitals, then lowercase, and then the actual number would appear.

This means to enter a capital S, I need to hit the 7 button four times (PQRS).  To enter a lowercase s, I have to hit the 7 button eight times (PQRSpqrs).  And to enter an actual number 7, I would have to hit that blessed button nine times (PQRSpqrs7).

I should also mention that the keypad issues a happy BLEEP with every single tap.

There was a LOT of happy bleepin’ bleeping going on by the time I finished.

But I did, eventually, finish and do hit Done.

It processed, then beeped a little less happily, flashed me a message, and issued a report sheet stated the same thing.


I tried again, and was beeped, flashed, and handed another report.



Once more, with triple checks of each precious pixel representation of a letter or digit and gritted teeth.



I texted my husband.  “Did you change the WiFi password?”

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “It should still be S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4. That’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized, if it helps.”

I tried again, with quadruple checks and crossed fingers and the burning of sage.



It was some comfort that the speed of the printing was as impressive as advertised, though I was sure it would be even MORE impressive if it would graciously allow me to print something other than an error report.

The Wizard, at this point, had become bored with my incompetence and was taking a nap. I woke it up and made it take me through the whole thing again.

The Wizard patiently suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable.

I texted my husband. “Do we have a USB printer cable?”

“No idea,” he replied.

So I went to the location of my secret cable stash—the garage—and began unsnarling them. I had cables for cameras and eReaders and MP3 players and nuclear countdowns and found evidence suggested they were starting to sprout like spider plants . . . but nothing looked like it might connect my printer to my computer through the USB port on the front of New Printer.

On the way back to see the Wizard, I stubbed my toe on Old Printer, which was crouched in front of my dresser, looking forlorn, trailing cables.

Trailing. Cables.

I studied the image the Wizard was helpfully showing me of a USB printer cable and where it would be inserted. I looked at the port on the back of New Printer. I yanked out the silver cable from Old Printer and looked at the end.


Five minutes later, we were in business.

No, I lie.

Two hours and five minutes later, we were in business.

And then our Internet connection went down.

Oh, bleep.




*Which I believe might also be a disease that sheep or goats or horses might have, but since neither are known for their print quality even when they’re healthy, I’m not going to bother looking it up.

**Not only for dot matrix nostalgia—Epson produces workhorses that do what they’re supposed to do until they drop, stuttering, in exhaustion.  Other brands are susceptible to Grawlix Tourette’s, which is amusing, but wastes paper.

***Because The Convenience Of Its Brick And Mortar Location Only Marginally Trumps The Abysmal Lack Of Customer Service Let Alone Eye Contact From Its Staff, That’s Why.

^Maybe the spiffy keypad takes up too much room?

^^No, not really. But pretty close.



Random Thursday: Library Edition*


funny pictures - You have some overdue library books

On the first of November, our library patrons will have the option of receiving automatic notices—about available reserves and overdue notices—via text instead of e-mail or phone.

Our e-mails go out at 6am, so the question was whether the issuing of text messages could be adjusted to a more reasonable time.

It can . . . which made me wonder about the possibilities—and the subjective definition of reasonable:

“This is the Public Library.  How may I help you?”

“You people texted me at two-thirty this morning!”

“I see.  May I have your library card number please?  Thank you.  Ah, yes, sir. You appear to have  several books that are months overdue.  I’m afraid we’ll be calling you bright and early each and every morning until they’re returned, or you pay to have them replaced.”

“You can’t do that!”

“It’s in the terms and conditions you signed when you registered for our texting notification service, sir, right under the warning that your carrier’s usual text fees will apply.”

“I never agreed to that!”

“You initialed both boxes, sir.”

“But . . . but this is harrassment!”

“You could always return the books, sir.”

“My taxes paid for those books—and they pay your salary, too!”

“I see.  Well, I suppose we could make an exception in your case.  How’s this—you return three of the five books and pay all of your fines, and we’ll move up your daily reminder to one am.  Agreed?”


I love this bookcase . . . but where do you start shelving?

epic win photos - Moebius Books WIN


Library Principles for Students, from the Old Testament
(adapted from Ian Frazier’s “Lamentations of the Father,” by librarian extraordinaire, Jim Farrington)

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the Library.

Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the Library.

Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the Library.

Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the Library.

Of the round pies of baked dough, topped variously and wondrously with goodness of the Earth, especially with extra garlic and double cheese, you may eat, but not in the Library, neither may you carry such therein.

Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but not in the Library.

Of the juices and other beverages, you may drink, but not in the Library, unless it is that drink of two parts hydrogen and one of oxygen and only then should the mixture be held in a container of the prescribed shape and nature that miraculously do not spill even when uprighted.

Indeed, when you reach the place where the Library carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

Laws When at Table, in Carrel, or in Wingback

And if you are seated in your comfy chair, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even though this might be something you would do in confines of your own domicile, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke.

Draw not with your pens or pencils or other implements of writing upon the table or the books before you, even in pretend, for we do not do that; that is why. Yours shall not be the last eyes to gaze understandably upon the words so written, and they should be as fresh for your followers as for you and your antecedents.

On Vocal Discourse

Do not speak loudly with thy neighbor or study mate within the Library; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you find a troubling idea foisted upon your eyes between the bindings of a book, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not; only remonstrate gently with a knowing nod, that you may correct the fault of the author in your own essay.

Likewise, if you find your mind wandering from the soulfulness of your studies, again I say, refrain from conversing with whoever be at hand so that others might not be so distracted.

Play not the electronic gadgets fitted to your ears at such a volume as to cause others to march to your drum machine.

Though the need will eventually arise that you must give in to your ignorance of a matter bibliographic and throw yourself prostrate to the all-knowing ones behind the Great Oaken Desk in the Campbell Reference Center, wail not despairingly nor gnash the teeth loudly, for the sound carries great and far in that part of the Library, and then many of your peers will know of your misfortune; behold, I whisper myself, yet do not die.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Attempt not to repair broken word carriers with your own tape, for these are matters better left to our specialists.

Forget not that to steal is one of the original sins, and you will be punished woefully, if not now then in the fullness of time.

Although the Library’s computers are capable of seeing many wondrous sites in the World, look not upon the lascivious or unscholarly among them, nor print endless reams of things of which those who pay your bills would not approve.


New technology has always required some adjustment . .  .


* Downith started it by sending me this article—it’s not overly funny, but it is important!

Happy International SysAdmin Day!

They are all too often the unsung, where-the-hell-have-you-been heroes of the digital age.

They are the reason I can publish a post on this blog and that you can read it and comment on it (ahem).  They are the reason you can send an e-mail to someone, or receive it.  Or play WOW.  Or google.

They’re that good.

They are the reason you can access what you need when you need it—and\or the reason you can miraculously access it this morning when everything went blue-screen belly-up yesterday because of something you don’t even know you did.

Retrievers of files, repairpersons of abused workstations, destroyers of malware, and the one group of people (besides administrative assistants) with whom it behooves you to be on friendly terms. 

Most of them are way cooler than you are anyway.

These are the people who can reset passwords, figure out why your sharepoint documents just disappeared, and fit you out with a keyboard that doesn’t eject the Alt key when you hit the spacebar (true story). 

They may even ‘forget’ to tell Admin that you’re the one sucking all the bandwidth watching Miley Cyrus’s latest pole dance on YouTube while you’re supposed to be doing spreadsheets.  You know who you are.

Remember:  The SysAdmin pluggeth and the SysAdmin can unpluggeth.

So go hug your IT people today.  If you prefer to hug metaphorically, bring them doughnuts and their caffeine source of choice.  A bottle of Excedrin may also be appreciated.  So is more budget and a lot more respect . . . but Excedrin helps.

Or just don’t  open any attachments today.  Or access anything.  Or break anything .  No ID-10-T errors today, please.  Go completely analog if you have to.  This is their day.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Network trenches!  We really, truly appreciate everything you do. 

And all the things you could do . . . but don’t.

The Saga of the eReader, part two

Turns out that there is a learning curve involved in operating the Sony Touch.  Or maybe it’s just me.

It took me ten minutes to borrow  a book from my library’s ePub service—mostly because it’s a very popular service so a lot of the books were already out— and two hours to figure out how to transfer it to my Sony Touch.  Or, rather, to get the Adobe Digital Editions software to even give in and admit that the Touch was plugged into my laptop.

It also took several frazzled calls to my friend Grace, during which I became a little testy, for which I apologize (sorry, Grace!).  But with her help, and a quick scan of the Sony forums, the trick was revealed:  download the Reader Library software from the Sony site, which is probably what I should have done first, anyway, and Adobe finally figured it out.* 

If you’re wondering which book I chose, and who wouldn’t, I went with an old favorite of ours:  Leaping Beauty  by Gregory Maguire (yep, that Gregory Maguire).   I can’t decide whether this is an adult book borrowing a children’s format, or simply one of the more cynical children’s book ever written, but I suppose it’s possible for a parody of fairy tales to be both, especially if they star a variety of anthropomorphized animals.  

And are written by Mr. Maguire.

Jane likes Cinder-elephant, Hamster and Gerbil, and So What and the Seven Giraffes, but  I prefer Goldifox and the Three Chickens, as it explains the importance of keeping one’s temper, not judging by appearances, and the value of a good night’s sleep.  

My next step is buying a book, which I think I’ll choose from the Sony store.*   Baby steps.


*I have no idea why this worked.  Maybe the ADE software gets jealous?

**Jane’s pushing for Ivy+Bean, but I think I’ll choose something a little  further inside my demographic this time.

The Saga of the eReader, part one

I resisted eReaders for a long time.   I don’t know if it was fear of change, the relatively low quality of fiction when eBooks first hit the scene, my love of reading in the bathtub (and the relative safety if I forgot where I was and took a book into the shower with me), or simple job security.

But my fear of change annoys me.  Most of my favorite authors are now releasing electronic versions of their books and a few have completely switched over.  I can be taught to take only hardcopy books into wet places or, possibly, to not multitask while bathing—odds are, I’ll only mess up once.

And since my library started offering downloadable eBooks* through Wilbur and NetLibrary, I’ve learned that the public still needs librarians—especially librarians who know a data port from a power port.** 

An eReader takes up less space, too.  I’m getting tired of lugging around reading material and manuscripts in my shoulderbag, not to mention the wear and tear—if I had a chiropractor, he’d be torn between his Hippocratic Oath*** or putting his kids through Yale.

Decision made.  Now, which one to get?

This was tough—so tough that, as I think I mentioned before, I e-mailed the tech-savvy and extremely patient Sarah Wendell over at Smart Bitches and told her what I needed in an eReader.  She suggested Sony or the Kindle.  My friend Grace had a Sony Touch and she showed me how easy it was to make notes on a pdf file.  Sold!

Except I’m on a budget.  So I started saving up the money with the goal of giving myself a useful Christmas present . . . and frittered most of it away on four all-weather tires earlier this month.   I sighed and started over, figuring it would make a good birthday present.  And it wasn’t like I really needed an eReader.  It’s a luxury item.

But it turns out that the finance people over at Honda forgot to stop taking car payments out of my account and I forgot that they aren’t supposed to do that anymore.  So a nice reimbursement check arrived last week that wasn’t earmarked for anything. 

Seriously.  Nothing.  Checked with my husband first and everything.  And I placed an order for a brand-new, shiny Sony Touch, a charger, and a carrying case before the words, “I don’t think so,” were completely out of his mouth.  I might have done a few steps of the New Toy Happy Dance.

Because a true story without a touch of slapstick isn’t one of mine, I must mention that one hour and seventeen minutes after I received notice that my order shipped, the clothes washer^ disgraced itself all over the floor and suffered a nervous  breakdown from, I assume, sheer embarrassment.

But that’s tomorrow’s post.

My brand-new, shiny Sony Touch arrived today.   And now all I have to do is learn to use it.  

Perhaps while waiting for the repairperson to arrive.  Or at the Laundromat.

Either way, I’m determined to have something to read . . . even if it’s only the user’s guide.


*If your public library doesn’t, you might want to say something to your director.   If they don’t know there’s a need for a service, they won’t provide it.

**Because, you know, they teach us to read labels in library school.

***Do chiropractors do this?  Do physicians still do this?  Because they damn well should.

^It was a ticking timebomb anyway—the warrantee and the service contract expired a while back.