Airy feeling

My policy with vehicle tyre pressures is to check them with every second fill of fuel. The latter having been somewhat rare of late, only one refill in April, and another on Thursday just gone. I also run pressures around 12% higher that recommended on the car's tyre info placard.

Remind me not to check my tyre pressures at the last fuel stop I visited. I felt the car’s ride to be a tad harsh, I put it down to my choice to run higher pressures.

Turns out the actual pressures, measured with a calibrated & accurate gauge were 25% higher than I’d thought them to be. The tyre gauge at that fuel stop were wildly out. I mean, 43 psi in the front tyres of a light car was as much as the recommendation for the front wheels of a well-laden 1-tonne capacity van on light truck tyres.

Expensive mistake, inappropriate usage.

I like to use my 13-inch MacBook Pro (Escape) in bed, but that has led to problems. Today I collected it from the Apple authorised repairers I had taken it to four days earlier. The problem was one of the two Thunderbolt 3 ports wasn't allowing USB-C connecters to be pushed all the way into the port, so I couldn't use it for charging or connecting peripherals. The other port was being cranky as well but not to the same extent.

The service department determined both ports were heavily encrusted with dust and one was loose inside. A few times the Mac had fallen from the bed, landing on various edges, leaving significant dents in the aluminium top case. One such dent crossed the loose port diagonally, meaning that particular impact had caused internal damage ultimately rendering the port unusable.

The way Retina MacBook Pros are constructed is that the top case also incorporates the trackpad & battery as one complete unit, making for a somewhat expensive repair should something be broken. The serviceman was able to get the ports working by removing the dust but one port would still be loose inside. I had noted that battery capacity over the month of April 2020 had dropped below the minimum recommended 80%, indicating the battery was dying off.

Can you see where this is going? I now had two reasons to replace the top case: one to replace the battery & another to rectify the dents on the edge plus to finally secure the loose Thunderbolt port's internal fixings. I then had to weigh up the cost. It was going to be approx. ⅓ of the cost of a decently-specified base model 2020 13-in MacBook Pro. Also, mine was less than two years old so I considered it worthwhile to proceed with the repair.

Now that's done I need to re-evaluate my usage of this laptop. I will still use in in the bedroom but not on the bed, instead at a desk. This should keep it away from dust & accidental falls from the bed should I doze off while using it. Plus, when not in use, it will be put into a hard-shell laptop briefcase along with its backup drives & assorted peripherals & dongles. I shall also buy some "canned air" from an electronics hobby store. This is a can similar to an aerosol can but filled with desiccated compressed air, delivered to where it's needed via a thin plastic tube. This will be used regularly on the Thunderbolt 3 ports.

I'm using FruitJuice, an app that monitors the battery health & calibrates it when needed. FruitJuice will let you know how long to stay unplugged each day to keep your battery healthy, it aims for at least 20% of the battery life expressed in hours. I'm using the app now to run the initial Maintenance/Calibration cycle. This involves fully charging the battery then running on the battery until it's used 80% of its charge. Then it is fully charged again and ready for regular use.

Resolving resolutions.

In 2011 I bought the Navigon GPS navigation app for iPhone/iPad on a ½ price sale, mostly using it with an iPhone 3GS. When the iPhone 4S was released the following year, I ordered one asap. It duly arrived & I set it up by restoring from an iTunes backup of the 3GS. Everything worked well except for Navigon. It just didn’t look right. After a week I took it to an Apple Store to get it checked out.

It passed all tests with flying colours, so it should, it was new! Except for this bloody navigation app. In desperation the expert swapped the phone over for an identical one, I had my laptop along & restored the first 4S’s backup to the new one. But nothing changed, it wasn’t a hardware issue, we assumed. I went my merry, if somewhat confused way without a resolution to the problem.

It turned out that the problem was resolution. The 4S had a Retina screen, but not so the 3GS. About 6 days afterwards, an update to Navigon arrived, CALIBRATED to suit the higher resolution screen of the 4S. Ultimately, the resolution of my issue was greater resolution.

Accented delivery

Following a special meeting of the Mac User Group at the then Secretary's residence in suburban Melbourne, a couple of us stayed back to finish off our hostess’s drop scones served with her husband’s delightful orange marmalade.

One committeeman asked the Secretary where she was from, “I’m thinking from your accent, you’re from Yorkshire?”
“Correct,” she replied.
Our intrepid enquirer proceeded apace, turning to her husband, a medical professional and said, “I admit to having trouble placing your accent, where are you from?”

“Driffield*,” was the very dry response from the specialist.

*Driffield is a farming area in the Gippsland rural region of the state of Victoria.
The doctor’s family had lived in the area for over 170 years.

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Short-term memory

Phoned my Mum for Mother’s Day. Chatted a while, told her I’d see her when the travel restrictions are lifted. It’s not far, just over 40 km. But that’s unnecessary travel. Had a text from my sister asking if I’d contacted Mum. I answered “yes, about four hours ago. Why?”

“Because she doesn’t remember your call.”

My Mum is almost 90, still in her own home, gets help with her medication each morning as it’s now locked away. But council helpers don’t come until 11 am on weekends & that’s too late, her med are to be taken morning, noon & night. My brother in the next town has been on the unlocking schedule alternating with his wife and kids, aged 21 & 18, both driving their own cars now.

I can do my part but not until the travel restrictions are lifted. I’m immune-compromised & am taking this COVID 19 stuff a lot more seriously than others seem to be: the roads are getting busy again on weekends.

I'll be there on Thursday! At midnight tonight, a fifth item of permitted activities becomes active: visiting friends or family, provided there are no more than 5 people in the dwelling at any time.

Generosity

One of my cousins, divorced from her abusive (and jailed) husband survived breast cancer had the problem of educating her two beautiful daughters to her high standards. She was at her wits end when salvation appeared in the form of her ex-husband’s brother, a successful businessman. He guaranteed that he would pay their education costs for the remainder of their primary schooling & the entirety of their secondary as well.
Plus, my cousin now has another man in her life, kind, passionate, loving & generous himself.
She deserves no less.

Small world

It was 1975, I'd arrived at a new secondary school for year 11 studies. At the first assembly of all 600+ students the teachers were introduced, including the new PE teacher, one Mr Burke, a fellow I estimated to be in his late 20s.
A month or so later, while shopping with my mother after school in a the next town down the road we came upon the aforementioned PE teacher.
Mum asked me if I remembered Denis, the son of her very good friend Dot, from Teachers College in the late 1940s, because that's who Mr Burke was.
Turns out I was about right with my age assessment of the fellow, along with other family members I'd attended his 21st birthday party eight years earlier.

Not yet Zoomed out.

A funny thing happened on the way to the AUSOM Mac User Group's Annual General Meeting: Public gatherings of more than two people were banned as a response to the Covid-19 crises. The group had been dabbling in using the Zoom video conferencing & collaboration app to save a frail but mentally alert country member from the rigours of travel to & from the Genealogy Special Interest Group she was conducting.
With the shutdown of public meeting venues we (I was a member of the organising committee at the time) decided to investigate Zoom in far greater detail, doing a trial run with another committee member's Zoom business account to run a meeting online instead of the monthly April meeting that we'd cancelled.
This was deemed moderately successful but more members needed to come along electronically, so we bought our own Zoom Pro account and ran with that. The physical meetings we used to hold at the main monthly venue used three classrooms with a new Special Interest Group starting every hour and running for 50 minutes with a break of 10 minutes between hourly SIGs.
With Zoom you can set up Breakout Rooms and allocate members to those rooms from the main meeting area, which we designated the Reception. This was "manned" by whoever was the designated meeting host.
When a 50-minute session ended, the participant dropped back into the Reception meeting, to be reallocated another session unless they wished to stay in the Reception or leave altogether. Membership numbers were down on what was possible & it was very apparent that we were all feeling our way through the various aspects of using Zoom.
That's when we set up Zoom training sessions on Mondays & Thursdays at 3pm & 8pm, with each session nominally running for an hour. Breakout rooms were used, depending on the hardware each member used to participate. Most were using computers but some had iPads. The user experience is significantly different between a Mac computer & a mobile device. It's best if a trainer uses similar hardware to the others in each Breakout room.
Those training sessions were attended by 86 individuals, representing 25% of the Group's membership base. A similar number attended the business session of the AGM on May 2, with 91 members & 3 guests involved throughout the day.
This is still not good enough, though. With Breakout rooms only the meeting host can move participants into a Breakout room. However, co-hosts (each Breakout room trainer was made a co-host) can freely travel between any of the Breakout rooms as they desire.
It actually makes sense for each participant to be made a co-host thus enabling them to go from room to room at will. The host allocates a Breakout room at the start of proceedings as each (co-host) member arrives in the Reception meeting, then they are free to go into any of the other Breakout rooms when the current session ends, thus reducing the enormous load the host would experience.
A problem with thirty or more people all milling around (so to speak) in the Breakout room allocation list is that list currently has no search feature, meaning finding the member's name can be tricky.
As the AGM over Zoom was declared a success, it was realised by the incoming committee that further training sessions were necessary to reach & teach members new to Zoom.
They have designated each Wednesday in May, at 3pm & 8pm to be Zoom training sessions. I missed one of the previous round of training sessions through general tiredness, but attended the other 15. I expect to be available for the eight sessions planned for May.

Jabbed in the car park.

Had my 'flu jab today in the car. The arrangement at the clinic is at or near your appointment time you park in the ambulance bay (enough room for two cars parallel parked) and toot the horn once. A nurse protected facially with a full-face clear visor comes out pushing a cart with all the accoutrements aboard.

She then approaches the patient & gets their name before heading back to the cart to get the sterile swab, syringe & bandaid. A very quick jab & slap on the dressing then I'm off.

As far as the nearest vacant parking space in the clinic's carpark to wait 15 minutes in case some reaction occurs. One such reaction is sudden lowering of blood pressure. Should that happen, I was to lean on the horn & keep it tooting until the nurse & a doctor arrive.

I experienced no complications.

Fiery Time

It was January 8th, 1969 and I was returning home from a holiday in the west coast town of Warrnambool, in a car driven by my mother and with my three youngest siblings.

Mum decided to take a deviation southward to visit some friends in a newly-opened dairy farming area approx. 1.5 hours from our starting point. This added more time to the expected 6 hour trip, we originally had 400 km to travel to home.

We did not know what was happening in the outside world, the Heytsebury farming settlement had only recently been opened up, it was recently cleared forest and rather isolated.

My father meanwhile, was unaware of our deviation and was getting worried when we did not arrive home when expected. He knew (which we didn't) that devastating grassfires had cause the death of 17 people who had abandoned their cars at a place on the Princes Highway called Lara, approximately 2 hours from home.

He had heard on the radio that day of a mother and four children who had died in those fires when they tried to escape on foot. Can you imagine his terror and horror at hearing this news?

We knew nothing of this, except that it was a hot windy day, scorching temperatures with a hot northerly wind to make things worse. When we drove through the Lara area we were diverted from the highway onto some back roads because of the devastation and damage.

We could see that there had been grassfires all around but knew nothing of the horrific toll. Mum made the observation that we might have been caught up in it all if we had not taken the southern diversion and added two hours to our ETA.

At the time we couldn't understand why Dad was crying but joyous when we had returned unharmed, if somewhat tired from the trip.

The five kids were sent off to bed and our parents told us of the terrible news about the Lara fires and how lucky we all were that we had avoided it all.