Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Persian/Farsi Translation Needed

Can you tell me what this says in English? I think it's in Persian. It can be seen on Google Maps here.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't say 'Hollywood'.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Killing Turtles and News Words

From a Greepeace ad.
Today I drank a carbonated beverage through a plastic straw, the whole time nagged by the guilt of knowing that in some distant acid-laden ocean in the not-so-distant future a cute little sea turtle will die a slow, horrible death by being impaled on that very plastic straw. 

So I wrote my name on the straw before tossing it in the trash. I left a note for the cleaning people to dump my trash in the nearest ocean, the Atlantic. I hope they get mileage. Long after I've become one with our dying planet a picture of the turtle skeleton with my straw in its nostril will be posted on the interwebs and I'll gain international fame as 'Turnauckas, Slayer of Turtles'.


A pet peeve of mine is 'news words', words or phrases that get picked up by the press and used to death. It started with the BBC's Brexit coverage but now I hear uncertainty' everywhereMakes me wonder if there's someone giving instructions. 'Make sure you stress the word 'uncertainty'. News alert: Nothing in life is certain. Except, perhaps, the dire need of a thesaurus.

And it's 'unclear' why. A house burns down and the press says the cause of the fire is 'unclear'. What they really mean is that the ruins are still smoldering and nobody has a clue what started the fire. Why not just say the cause is unknown, or under investigation or so strange we can't tell you until you buy a subscription to our news service? 

'Uncertainty' and 'unclear' are perfectly good words but if I was grading essays I'd have to wonder how so many students thought they could get away with such blatant plagiarism.  

I'm certain if you listen you'll catch a lot of these 'news words' but I'm unclear why.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Build Yourself a Pi-Hole

Web ads irritate me. What can I say, I'm easily distracted. A text ad in a side bar is one thing, but when I browse to a page and an animated woman steps forward and starts talking I lose it. The advertisers and trackers have gone way to far and I install ad and script blockers on my browsers by default.

What would be really cool would be to block the requests for ads and trackers at the router level, protecting everything connected to my network regardless of O/S or browser. Even my phone (while it's on Wi-Fi) would be protected.

Turns out there is such a beast, the Pi-Hole, a DIY DNS server built on a Raspberry Pi. I won't get into the installation, the instructions are dead simple (interesting expression). I went from bare RPi to 100% operational in about an hour. And if things go haywire, rolling back your network configuration is very easy to do.

I've had mine up and running for a few weeks now and I don't pay attention to it any more but watching the stats for a few days was a real eye-opener. You think you own your smartphone or tablet? Ha! These devices phone home more than...I don't don't what but they sure do a lot of chatting with people who want to know all about them, and by extension, me. 

I know having a smartphone is kind of like using a customer loyalty card at a grocery store. I get fabulous discounts in return for letting marketers virtually follow me around the store watching what I buy. But holy Toledo...well, see for yourself.

If you already have a Raspberry Pi laying around the investment is zero +time. I'm using an RPi 3B+ but the CPU load is very low and a lower powered Raspberry Pi should work fine. YMMV, of course. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Llama Llyrics

I've been mostly away from social media for a year or more and forget how all this stuff works. I'm only back because I'm an insecure attention whore who needs the praise of others for self-affirmation or something. Gotta work on my psychobabble.

I started writing a poem. Don't know if I'll finish it. But it starts like this:

Tinkle tinkle, little bells
Why does llama have two 'l's?
Does a llama have 4 knees?
Does a llama ever sneeze?

Tinkle tinkle little bells
A quiet llama never yells.

A masterpiece. Now I need to add meaningful tags so when people search for 'llama poetry' they find this post. I need to setup Blogger so Helvetica is my default font instead of Velveeta or whatever it is. 

I also need to find a way of unifying my social media site postings, which is kinda why I'm writing this otherwise pointless post.  I post on 2 photography sites. Of course there's Facebag. And Twitter. Instagram is mostly phone-only. My work is meant for the big screen so I don't care so much about Instagram. 

I need a way to post once and have that post re-posted to other social media sites. It's getting to the point where taking and editing a photo is easier than uploading it then posting links everywhere else.

I think the term of art is workflow. Yeah, I need to develop my workflow. I also need to clean the cats' litterbox. Maybe I'll think about my workflow while cleaning the litterbox. How's that for multi-tasking, huh?

I just did an image search for llama bell and discovered it has something to do with Fortnite. Swell.

In case you're wondering, I'm mostly ok. Dora and Alfred are thriving. And it's snowing. I'm seriously considering baseball cleats so I have a better chance of walking on snow and ice without falling. I'll have to check with HR to see if that violates the dress code. I may need a letter from my doctor.

But first, the litterbox.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Speaking of Home

The English language is an odd beast, seemingly with more exceptions than rules. Whenever I hear a non-native speaker stumble or just completely crash I remind myself that they speak English a whole lot better than I'll ever speak Mandarin or Urdu.

It's especially hard to get American English idioms. We seem to love using them even when their use obscures rather than clarifies. When stocks go 'through the roof', what does that mean? Why not just say stock prices went up a lot? What's more than 'through the roof? Through the clouds? Through the ionosphere? Through the Van Allen Radiation belt? 

When writing news stories a little color goes a long way. Tell me what, when, why, where, who. Season to taste. Lightly, please.

The subject of idioms got me thinking and I decided to commemorate the event by jotting down a few house and home related examples. Enjoy, share your own favorites and remember to give ESL speakers a break. It's always hard to get used to a second home.

This Old Idiom House

I was floored,
My blood pressure was through the ceiling
Right through the roof.
I was up against the wall.
My plan went out the window.
Even if it did blow the doors off the competition.
It crossed the threshold.
My team was in the cellar.
They were in the toilet.
Down the drain.
Took a bath.
But they're in a hot stove league.
So I back-burnered it.
The window of opportunity closed.
I kicked it upstairs.
Then I was called on the carpet.
So I cut a rug.
With my kitchen cabinet.
Toys in my attic bought in the bargain basement.
Played with my garage band named House Brand.
Great foundation.
House rules.
Home rule.
Packed to the rafters.
I'll couch it in these terms: I chaired the meeting after getting up on the wrong side of the bed so we tabled the proposition.