Mom came over yesterday with her laptop so that I could fix her email account. She’d received no email since I set it up on June 6. 

I know the problem before I start. I had to change the password on the 6th because Mom couldn’t remember the old password. So at some point she got a password prompt and didn’t know the new password. Fine. All my fault. 

This is what troubleshooting looks like. 

I open the laptop and mail client. It says the settings are invalid. Ok. Oops. Mom isn’t connected to my wireless network. I connect her or, at least, try to.  My wifi password is super long, but by my third attempt I know I’m typing it right. The error it is giving is “failed to connect. “. I run the Windows network diagnostic tool even though that never helps. “Try connecting to a wireless network,” it suggests.  Useless. That is what is failing!

Now I pull out my laptop. First I check her email account online. Maybe she’s locked out – I’ll fix the account and forget about her laptop. No dice. The account works perfect. It is certainly the email client. I’ll need to connect her laptop to correct and verify. 

I check my wireless. I have a dual band modem. Only one band is showing up on Mom’s laptop. Hmm. Maybe the two bands have different passwords?  I dunno I only use the one band – the other one. So now I log onto the router. 

Note: I started with her email client then her network settings then her server then my network settings and now my router. I’m far away from the actual problem. This is when Mom goes: “Maybe we should call your brother. He can always fix it.”  I’ve now been taking a while and my stomach is a bit upset. 

“This he can’t fix from work.”  My answer is a little peevish. 

Back to the router. Yep. The two band passwords can be set independently. Great. But…they are both the same. Nuts. Ok. I look at the firmware level. 1.0.  I’ve never updated this thing. Gar. 

Now I’m at the router site downloading the latest firmware –  2013 was the last release. My router is both ancient and out of date. Terrorists have likely been using my network daily. I have to drive to the router to check part of the model number. Mom is watching mystified. I haven’t touched her laptop into over 20 minutes. I insist it is all under control, but I don’t really know that. The firmware update is a shot in the dark. Tier 1 script-like troubleshooting. “Is it up to date? No? Then update before going to step 2.”  The next step would be real troubleshooting. I’d need to consult the event logs and see why the connections were failing, research it on the web, adjust settings and retry and repeat. It would be annoying for what I knew to be, at heart, a bad password issue. 

When I was in the router earlier, I didn’t see the firmware update option. So I look at the instructions on the support site. Nuts. It is a friendly video instead of a document. Grr. I play it. It takes 5 minutes of annoyance before it tells me where the menu option is. On the way there it provides helpful warnings like don’t do a firmware update wirelessly. I have no cable so I ignore that advice. I think it is unlikely the upload will corrupt and if it does brick the router? Meh. It is ancient, I can get a new one. 

Mom notices though and asks if I should plug it in. I wave down the concerns. 

5 minutes later I’m done. The firmware upgrades fine. My settings are retained. My laptop still reaches the Internet. I connect Mom’s laptop with no issue (both bands are no visible). I fix the password in the mail client and download a week of email. 

That was the highlight of my birthday. My upset stomach made the rest of the day unpleasant. 


  • Even simple issues can turn into a pain
  • I bet my router will work better with Windows mobile devices now
  • Having the customer watch you work and suggesting calling your brother for advice is annoying. 
  • Troubleshooting is just chasing the issue from one state to another until it works or you’ve found a bug that needs to be reported. One annoying step at a time. 

Outside Mulligar

The play the family went to see yesterday was called Outside Mulligar and it was excellent.  But I am having a hard time describing home.

The play is a comedy, but any description of it makes it sound quite sad.

The play is about two Irish families that live on adjacent farms outside the town of Mulligar.  Each family is composed of a parent in their late 60s/early 70s with a recently deceased spouse and their adult child who still lives at home.  The play starts with the Muldoons (Aofie and Rosemary) going over to the Reilly’s (Tony and Anthony) for condolence tea after the funeral where Chris Muldoon (father and husband) was buried.

Loss and the fear of loss is a recurring theme in the play.  So are faith, pride and how those intersect with love.

Does it sound like a rollicking good time yet?

The plot points in the first scene revolve around a plot of land with disputed ownership and the disposal of the Reilly family farm when Tony eventually passes.  But the play doesn’t care about its plot.  It resolves each of these plot points by the end of the first set of themes and introduces new ones for later scenes.

The play cares about its themes and the relationships between its characters – those still alive and those that have passed on.  This is where its heart lies and where it finds its source of humour.  So much of the humour deals with reactions to loss that you might think it is a black comedy, but it isn’t.  The play is seat and good natured throughout.

The writing makes it hilarious.  The play doesn’t have jokes.  It has pacing and flow and stories that are brought to life by the actors.  Of the actors, the lady playing Rosemary really nails her role.  She’s given a strong part and has to move quickly fro emotion to emotion while staying funny at all times.  She does it with aplomb.

Of course, the play plays to my interests.  It is two families of Irish spending their entire time arguing with one another.  That just works for me.

A typical exchange that shows the interchange of sadness and drama occurs at the begging.  Elder Tony is telling his son how this is the second wake he has been to for Chris Muldoon.  The first was decades ago.  Muldoon and his wife had a baby boy who they names Chris Jr..  As Tony yells it the boy came out half size and shrank from there.  After a few weeks (days?) the boy passed away.  The town wasn’t aware of the boy’s passing or his name so when the paper published the notice for the wake all Muldoon’s pub friends showed up with the whiskey ready to toast their deceased friend.  But they walked into the wake to find a tiny white box less than a foot long and their friend standing behind it.

The humour came from how Tony told it and how Anthony reacted to the news.  But at the same time you were laughing the story itself was so sad and pitiful you were almost in tears.

That is how Outside Mulligar works.

If you get a chance go and see it.

Day for Night

Day for Night is my Hip album. 

I was around for New Orleans is sinking and Up to Here. In college I soaked in Fully Completely and Road Apples. I picked up the EP through Columbia House. I was always a fan. Loved the Hip. But not enough to go out to a Roadside Attraction for instance. 

But the the fall of 1994 I was living at home again. I was working at the museum. I travelled to Edmonton and stayed at Paulys and picked up the new release while in the city. And Day for Night was the soundtrack of my year off from university. 

Weird album. The singles had no hooks like earlier Hip singles – it was a move towards more lyricism started in Fully Completely and finished at Trouble in the Henhouse. But the whole album created a feeling and I had the album on repeat for a year. I can still play it and bring myself back to that time. There is a scene in High Fidelity where Rob organizes his albums autobiographicaly. Day for Night is at the centre of my autobiography. 

My first Hip concert was the Day for Night tour. I couldn’t understand most of the on stage rants with the echoes of Rexall, but it was still mesmerizing. My conceptions of a perfect concert are either giant Stones productions or the on stage antics of Downie. 

The video game Doom II plays with Day for Night in the background. Impossibilium, I have no idea what it is about, but for me it is about defending Earth from demons with a BFG. 

That year was a break from life. A break I didn’t see again until 2010 and hopefully won’t see again until retirement. A million things happened during that break then I went back, graduated and got a job. 

Other music that year? John Prine and Metallica’s Black Album. That was the museum. Day for Night was home. 

The final Hip album has now been released. It won’t sit on my psyche like Day for Night – no Hip album will. Nuts. I always thought there’d be another. 

Take care Gord. Hope to see you in July. 

Two interesting Stories

The Rebel banned from Government access. Globe and Mail article

In this age of digital and guerilla journalism, who decides who a journalist is?  Certainly it shouldn’t be the government. If there is to be value in journalism, it must allow for access to the government and criticism of the government. If the government controls access they are controlling more of the message than they should. 

The government are preparing a report, but it should be journalists (legacy and new blogger types) who tell the government what it means in these times to be a journalist. 

And here Apple is opposing a court order to create a back door in their software. Globe and mail link

Neat. Interesting that this went fully public. This is part of the reason why organizations like mine are concerned about any cloud services. (Not that this is a cloud service case). 

Mostly I’m surprised and happy it is necessary. Modern fiction always gives the impression the organs like the FBI and NSA can always easily bypass these controls already. 

Code will be copied. If Apple creates a back door, somehow that will get in the wild. Then all security on iOS devices is ruined. 

On the other hand, if Apple is even able to create such a bypass it means there is a flaw in the security architecture. Possibly unavoidable on a proprietary device/OS like the iPhone. 

The relationship between both stories is that decisions here ultimately impact our ability to have critical debates in the public sphere. 

Year in Review

I’ll look back at the year that was.

It was a year of transitions.  Which I hate, but which turned out really well.  For me this was a very good year.

Work – I don’t talk about work much in here.  But it is central to what I do.  Work is going well.  Not perfectly – it has its ups and downs, but well enough.  There are big projects going this year – there seem to be big projects every year – bt the projects this year are complicated and interesting.  Plus I received a kinda promotion.  This is all good.

A bigger transition was getting my new wheelchair at the start of the year.  When I was much younger I looked at the limitations Dad faced in his wheelchair and I could never imagine myself in one.  But when it became obvious I needed one, the wheelchair opened up options that had previously closed.  It is versatile.  I can get around the city.  It is comfortable.  It is good.

I went on a few small vacations this year.  Nothing fancy.  But it was really the wheelchair that made that possible.  It has been a number of years since I had a vacation where I left town.  It was a nice opportunity.

Of course the biggest change was moving.  I loathe moving.  7 months have passed and I am still not completely unpacked.  But I am down to just three unpacked boxes now.  I’m still not completely comfortable here.  It feels too much like my parent’s place.  But it is home too.  I also asked a lot from my friends for the move.  They came through for me, but it was obviously an imposition.

But the new place is great.  The biggest benefit has been getting closer to work.  My commute is 45 minutes shorter in each direction.  At least.  In the morning that is 45 minutes I sleep in.  In the afternoon it is 45 minutes extra I spend at home.  The downside is that those 45 minutes were when I composed this blog in the morning.  I still haven’t found another time when I have the opportunity to do that.  After work, I do not have the energy – I want to do nothing but veg when I get home.

The next benefit is getting out.  With the new home location and the wheelchair, I can get out in the summer.  Public transit works.  Cabs work.  and I’m close enough to Whyte avenue that I can just drive to interesting places.  That is cool.  I drove down to the folk fest this past summer.  That was awesome.  I came home again soon because it was too blinking hot and my hat wasn’t enough shade, but going into the creek ravine is pretty awesome.

The third benefit is the care here.  I’m not getting much more than I was before.  But that added touch is a vast benefit.  The biggest change is increased reliability and dependability.  That is huge.  Sometimes you don’t know you were wasting time worrying about something until you stop worrying.  The second change is an added touch of homemaking – they do a little around the house.  The third is flexibility – as my needs increase I will be able to get more services.  That is pretty nifty.

A lot of my unpacking finally happened in December.  We had a new carpet installed in the spare bedroom and all the boxes and shelves needed to come out.  Once the boxes were out and I was able to get at them and, more importantly, the shelves that the contents needed to be transferred too, I was finally able to make progress in unpacking.  I was also able to ask for help with several smaller tasks than the giant task, “please unpack 25 boxes for me.”  Finally now that I’m almost completely unpacked, I’m starting to feel at home.  My photos were only founds a week ago.  It is nice to have them up.

The next task at home is to go through things and find out what I don’t need anymore.  But I can’t do that while Mom is here because she believes everything should go.

Which brings me to the floods.  Those are the largest hardships of the past year.  Two burst pipes in my old condo.  9 months apart.  The second rendering the place unlivable for a few weeks and likely to be under renovation for five months – they say three, but I’ll believe that when it happens.    But those were the largest hardships to affect me directly.

Several of my friends and family had relatives pass that brought sorrow to their lives.  Not everyone will be looking back at this as a good year.  My thoughts remain with them.  My prayers too. It seems unfair and diminishing to say nothing more. I apologize.

OK – books and stuff.  One drawback of the wheel chair is that it isn’t comfortable to read in.  At least not compared to a lazyboy.  I haven’t been able to just sit and read to three hours since I got it.  It has cut into my reading a lot.  Since I finished reading Connie Willis, the only novel I’ve really loved is The Slow Regard of Silent Things.  It was an excellent story.  The other great read of the year was a four volume set of the history of role playing games.  It was seriously awesome.

Comics are even worse.  I’m in a bit of a rut. I’m enjoying old standbys, but not much new stuff.  I can think of Seconds and Ms. Marvel as two new books that standout.

Movies have been good.  But I’m not sure it has been a great year for movies.  The most fun I had watching shows were Guardians of the Galaxy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Locke, and Captain America.  But there were so many more which let me down in small or big ways.  Sigh.    Hopefully I’ll find some gems as I begin to see the movies released right at the end of the year.

But TV has been incredible.  Between cable, Netflix and PVRs there is so much tv to watch.  Finally with the introduction of Brooklyn 99 there is even a comedy I’m happy to recommend.  Sonic Highways and Republic of Doyle just ended their runs.  I liked them. But the highlight of the year has been the Flash.  It rocks.  The list of great TV is pretty long. I could devote blogs to just the superhero shows. Or just the cable shows. .

OK – I think that covers just about everything.

Happy New Year!

Golden Age

Right.  You might have noticed a dearth of posts.  Here that is.  I’m sure there are other fine establishments you frequent with blogs that are, well, themselves frequent and frequented.

Not mine.  Not mine so much recently.

I blame television.  Mostly because I avoid blaming myself whenever possible.  It helps my self esteem.  Not that it needs much help.  I am pretty awesome.  Oh, I’m going to segue into a story that shows off my awesomeness.

We took a course at work the other week.  19 of us, but the important folks are me and 4 dudes on my team.  The instructor wanted to motivate us.  He said, “I’ve taught 1400 dudes, duders, el duderinos and assorted others (I’ve taken liberties with the dialogue.  Blame the Coehns.)  To each class I offer a bottle of champagne to all those who score perfectly.”

The instructor did this to motivate us.  One of the class who didn’t know me that well professed that I was sure to be one of those who won said bottle.  This despite the fact that the instructor also said he’d only ever given out 3.  I knew that my awesomeness had limits.  Caring enough to invest the effort to get 100% is beyond them.  Heck, I think there is even a good chance I’m not bright enough to get the score.  Maybe – but I do have a high opinion of myself.

Competition does motivate me though, but I thought 100% was unobtainable.  So I made a follow up bet with my team.  I’d pay them a case of beer each if they simply beat my score on the exam.  I indicated that the bet was to motivate them, but, just between us, it was mostly to motivate myself.  I hate losing.

How does this story demonstrate my awesomeness.  Well, I thought it would show my benevolence and my leadership skills.  But admitting I made the bet to selfish reasons basically tromps over those goals.  Darn.  OK.  Well at the end of the story I get the highest score and kick the butts of my team.  So – at least I’m good at taking exams even if I fail at leadership and humility. But y’all knew that already.

The story has a happy ending.  Although it wasn’t part of the bet one of my staff felt that the bet was only fair if he wagered a case of beer too.  So I won a case of beer.  It was delicious.

OK – back to the vacancy of my blog and television.  A good writer would segue back to that subject smoothly and show how the previous anecdote related to the main thesis.  But such a writer might not have deserted their blog in the first place.  You are stuck with me.

Or you would be, but I think I’m done for the day.  I’m feeling a bit hungry.  Therefore, I’m going to desert the blog once again and get some food.  I’ll explain about the television another time.

Maybe.  It is a bit of a cliffhanger ending to get you to come back.  But, spoilers, the television story has a lousy unresolved ending too.  Or it might if I ever write it.

Talk to you soon.

Locke – A review

I haven’t written in a while, but I watched a movie yesterday that I want to talk about.

Locke is a thriller starring Tom Hardy. You likely know Hardy as Bane is the last Batman movie. It is an odd thriller because it isn’t about a crime or killer. But the term is apt due to its suspense. Twice I had to pause the movie to process what was going on.

That intensity was what made the movie so cool. It is odd as well. Hardy plays a character called Ivan Locke. He is the only character on screen for the entire movie. He drives his car for an hour and a half to London while making calls on his car phone. That is it. That is the movie. Not a description that seems to imply suspense or intensity. But that is entirely the case.

It is a movie that makes you think. What kind of person is Ivan Locke? The movie certainly tells you what person he thinks he is and wants to be. It also gives you a bit of a lens into how some of those closest to him see him. Those views are not entirely the same.

The movie is about Locke’s choices and the consequences of those choices. I am not sure that people in real life often have defining moments. Sometimes we are courageous. Sometimes we are cowardly. Sometimes we are moral and sometimes not. But Locke chooses this car ride and his phones calls to be a statement that shows the person he is. That is one of the first choices he makes on screen. What type of person chooses a car all alone to be where they show their definitive character?

The movie just recently came out on DVD/online. I highly recommend it. I’ve tried to reveal as little of the plot as possible. I think it is a movie best experienced than retold.

Off to lunch for me now…