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Accessibility

When some­one asks, “Is (X place) acces­si­ble?” the answer is “no” if there are any stairs involved in get­ting there. It doesn’t mat­ter if every­thing inside X is on one lev­el but there are three “lit­tle” steps at the front door, or “just one flight of stairs out front.” Those “lit­tle” steps aren’t so lit­tle for those using scoot­er and wheel­chairs. The answer is also “no” if there is no whol­ly acces­si­ble bath­room near the main area. 

Just once, I’d like to arrive some­where to find a place tru­ly acces­si­ble instead of hav­ing some­one who’d claimed acces­si­bil­i­ty say, “Oh, I didn’t think about those lit­tle steps!” or “But that’s just one flight of stairs!” or some such stu­pid thing. Even though I hap­pen to be able to walk most of the time, if I’m using my scoot­er, there’s a rea­son for it. If I were to get off of it to walk up those few steps, where am I to store the scoot­er? 1 Plen­ty of oth­er peo­ple can­not walk up those steps. 

Why choose an inac­ces­si­ble place of busi­ness, any­way? Why are builders con­tin­u­ing to build inac­ces­si­ble res­i­dences? It isn’t expen­sive to build in acces­si­bil­i­ty in the first place, com­pared to ren­o­vat­ing for acces­si­bil­i­ty. Has all the talk of the aging of Amer­i­ca meant noth­ing with regards to home design? 

Every­one is just tem­porar­i­ly abled in the long run, any­way. If you buy or build a house, it pays to go ahead and con­sid­er whether or not it would still suit you if you were injured in some man­ner. Could you get around on crutch­es or in a chair? If (shock­ing thought) you were to want to enter­tain some­one who uses mobil­i­ty devices to get around, could that per­son even get in your front door? Any door? I’ve lived in places where the answer would be a resound­ing “No!” and even if we got the poor soul in through, say, the garage, she couldn’t get up to the liv­ing areas. 


1 A sig­nif­i­cant investment.

Who do you trust with your children?

I keep see­ing news sto­ries about kids dying in day­care or at the hands of oth­er peo­ple to whom their par­ents have entrust­ed them, and every time there is so much shock and rage as if peo­ple can’t believe it’s hap­pen­ing. I am so tired of it. Pay attention! 

How many of the peo­ple in these cen­ters did the par­ents actu­al­ly meet before leav­ing their chil­dren there? Did they meet any­one? Did they spend any time there?

If you leave your chil­dren with child­care providers, how did you choose them? How well did you vet them? How often do you drop by unexpectedly?

Would you trust every sin­gle per­son in that facil­i­ty with your car keys? Just hand them over and let any of them dri­ve your brand new ride away, no ques­tions asked?

How about your wal­let? Just give it over, tell them your ATM or cred­it card PINs, give them carte blanche?

If the answer to both of the ques­tions isn’t yes, why are you leav­ing your chil­dren with them?

County Blah

Why do we have a reverse-911 sys­tem, if the coun­ty won’t use it to tell us things like, “Hey, we had a water main break and you need to boil your water before using it.”

We’ve had so many water main breaks in the last year that I’m glad we don’t drink tap water, any­way (even with boil­ing, it tastes nasty to me). We do cook with it, though.

Oh – I guess since we don’t have (or want) a land line, they wouldn’t call us any­way, would they? It seems to me that cell phones should be includ­ed some­how, based on the address on the account or where you are when an alert goes out, or some­thing. Since more and more peo­ple don’t both­er with land lines, that’s a sig­nif­i­cant issue.

So, yeah, boil­ing water ’til Wednes­day after­noon at the very least. I’m glad I looked at the local newspaper’s web site!

And That’s the Week

I con­sid­er Sun­day the first day of the week, rather than the last.

It was a week full of appoint­ments for the girl, and get­ting paper­work shuf­fled to var­i­ous bureau­cra­cies. Sam and I had love­ly dates Wednes­day and tonight, although both of us were so exhaust­ed Wednes­day that we turned in much ear­li­er than usual.

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Stoopid School!

I just found out that DeVry didn’t “pack­age” my finan­cial aid for this semes­ter. Huh? I reg­is­tered the day reg­is­tra­tion opened, or near­ly so, as I recall. I wasn’t sched­uled to grad­u­ate. I did every­thing I’m sup­posed to do, in fact. Some­body there just dropped the ball.

Why isn’t that sort of thing auto­mat­ed so that doesn’t hap­pen? It isn’t as if the place spe­cial­ized in, oh, tech­ni­cal degrees or any­thing like that, right?

Then they inform me that because of their mis­take, my stu­dent loans are also screwed up, and I’m going to end up owing them over $4k for the semes­ter! What?!

Yes, I’m fight­ing this. That school has screwed up some­thing every sin­gle semes­ter I’ve attend­ed it! Unfor­tu­nate­ly, so did SPSU. Is this just a giv­en with col­leges? They only hire the incom­pe­tent, or they don’t hon­or com­pe­tence, or what? I know that schools usu­al­ly pay less than oth­er employ­ers, so maybe they can’t com­pete and don’t care to try?

For your sakes, I will not upload a record­ing of the bel­low of inar­tic­u­late rage this crap pro­voked. I think it would have bro­ken my micro­phone, anyway.

Some people

What is it that dri­ves some peo­ple to con­stant­ly seek argu­ments? It doesn’t mat­ter what you say, they have to pick at it. I tru­ly think, on one mail­ing list, that I could just post, “Oh, I total­ly agree with you” and a few peo­ple there would still find a rea­son to bitch.

I have to won­der what they’re like in real life. Scratch that, I know what they’re like. You say, “What a great day! Every­thing smells so clean right after it rains!” and they respond with, “I hate all the mud” or “Damned coun­ty still won’t let me water my grass” or some­thing else that’s neg­a­tive, in a tone that indi­cates they sus­pect you to be per­son­al­ly respon­si­ble for the rain, and maybe the drought, too. If it hadn’t rained, they’d gripe about that, too.
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Disappointed!

(I’m hear­ing Gary Old­man in The Fifth Ele­ment when I read the sub­ject there. Yes, I prob­a­bly could have found a sound clip and includ­ed it, but I’m count­ing on your imag­i­na­tions and mem­o­ries here.)

Well, I final­ly got around to read­ing the rest of Fledg­ling, the Liaden Uni­verse nov­el pub­lished by seri­al­ly by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller in 2007 using the storyteller’s bowl con­cept.1 Sam has record­ed the final chap­ters for pod­cast­ing and is edit­ing the record­ing this week.
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Posts Finally Working!

Last night I realized that something was Wrong with this blog. Several days of posts hadn't, and I couldn't even leave a comment on an old post. The error message I was getting (database access denied) made no sense.

The MySQL information hadn't changed. I tried changing the database password and updating the settings—nope, no good. I could view the db in phpmyadmin, and it was just fine. I could back up the database there, and change things, and I was using the same login information. So why couldn't WordPress do anything?

We've been using 1&1 for at least a year or so now, I think, and haven't had any real complaints. I hate calling anybody's tech support, but they're usually better than most, as they haven't outsourced that to India. Reluctantly, I finally called.

If you ever call 1&1 and "Grace" answers, just hang up and try again. Better yet, keep her tied up on the phone and try from another line, just to be sure you'll get someone else. She simply can't understand English well enough to function in any job that requires telephone interaction, and her technical skills seem to be abysmal (it was hard to tell, considering the language issue). I was on the phone for more than 90 minutes, and couldn't get anywhere. I kept asking to speak to her supervisor, and she kept being obstructionist.

She asked me to spell the name of the affected domain (technomom.com) over and over and over again. I did so, very slowly and clearly, at least five times. What did she do? Inform me that gbncom.com was working just fine, and ask me what error message I was getting!

Other than the fact that the end in .com, do you find any similarity in those names?

I finally got her to this site, where the errors were clearly visible to every visitor. Then, finally, she started talking about escalating the problem to someone else. She wasn't sure who, though, and claimed that nobody there can make outbound calls, so she couldn't have that person (or her supervisor) call me back. More holding. Thanks Goddess for unlimited cell minutes! I really, really need to get a headset, though, as I was in more and more pain from simply holding the telephone.

At nearly 5, "Glen" finally got on the phone. He said he has no input regarding the hiring of "advisors" like "Grace." If the supposed supervisor doesn't, who does? In any case, he finally pinpointed the problem: the database was full. To be accurate, it was more than full, 47mb over the size limit!

Honestly, I hadn't checked that. But how could that happen? And wouldn't I get some kind of notice or warning? Well, no, they don't have anything in place to warn users when databases are getting too big. That seems like a ridiculously easy thing to put in place, but apparently it isn't important to them.

I was aware of the 100mb limit 1&1 places on MySQL databases on our plan, but every time I'd looked at the usage, every database had 97mb free, or more! Blogs are mostly text! The images I do post aren't even stored in MySQL!

After getting off the phone, I looked at the size of all each table. The culprit was the cache for the Joe Tan/Silas Partners Flickr photo album plugin. I didn't notice, when I installed an upgrade to the plugin, that it defaults to showing all of the Flickr groups you're in. There's no way that I can see to disable caching, either, and it seems that somebody browsed a lot of group photos at some point over the weekend. Clearing that cache took me back to being way, way below the database size limit. If you use that plugin (which is great, BTW), check the settings!

So that's why you're seeing my blog posts appear late. It's better than "the dog ate my blog posts," at least. Isn't it?

Teen Assaults Teacher, Activist Worries About Teen?

A 17-year-old run­ning back assaults a high school teacher for doing her job.1 He toss­es her around and breaks her finger.

Who would you wor­ry about? The attack­er, or the victim?
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Um, no, that isn’t what the password is “sposed to be”

My school “upgrad­ed” its Ora­cle-based stu­dent records man­age­ment sys­tem weeks ago. I know that it is Ora­cle based because ever since the “upgrade,” every time I try to access my “stu­dent por­tal” (my pri­ma­ry means of inter­act­ing with the school, as an online stu­dent), I get an “Ora­cle Site Builder” page.

Since the actu­al class­es are done on anoth­er site and I could still log in there, I kept wait­ing for the promised fix. The tra­di­tion­al “screwed up the finan­cial aid” prob­lem has got­ten to the point where I real­ly need­ed to get in to see what they’ve done so far, though, so I pushed fur­ther today than I have before and final­ly pushed a “help” (I use the term very loose­ly) desk per­son to actu­al­ly help me.

He took down all my infor­ma­tion and said that he’d have to go to his boss, but he’d call me back Real Soon Now. I had oth­er irons in the fire, as well as his (rather unique) name, so I consented.

Odd­ly enough, my phone rang again in about five minutes.

“We nee­da ver’fy your info­mashun.” (I’ll have to drop the attempt to repro­duce the child’s mush­mouth here. My spellcheck­er is hurt­ing too much.)

Ok — we went over my stu­dent num­ber and so on again.

Boy: “You don’t have an account.”

Me: “You mean my account has been delet­ed in your upgrade?”

Boy: “No, that can’t hap­pen. You ain’t nev­er had an account.”

Me: “That’s non­sense. I can log in and get the Ora­cle Site Builder page, there­fore I have an account.”

Boy: “We can’t log in, so you don’t have an account.”

Me: “Why are you try­ing to use my log-in? You’re sup­posed to be try­ing to fix my account, as an administrator.”

Boy: “We have to be sure you’re real­ly hav­ing a problem.”

Me: “You mean that you assume I’m lying before you’ll do anything.”

Boy: “No, we just have to be sure you’re not doing it wrong.”

Me: “Well, obvi­ous­ly, you’re ‘doing it wrong’ because I’m sit­ting here look­ing at the Ora­cle Site Builder while you can’t log in. Do you want me to e-mail you a screen print as proof?”

Boy: “What pass­word you using?”

Me: “What kind of ques­tion is that? I don’t give peo­ple my pass­word. Don’t be stupid.”

Boy: “The pass­word don’t work.”

Me: “That’s because you don’t know my password.”

Boy: “It’s sup­posed to be (stan­dard default password).”

Me: “No, it should NEVER be (stan­dard default pass­word) after a user’s first log-in. In fact, if your sys­tem were set up prop­er­ly, it would force users to change the pass­word after the first log-in, and at least once every 30 days after that.”

Boy: “No, it’s sup­posed to be (stan­dard default password).”

Me: “Are you an IT major?”

Boy: “Yes, and the pass­word is sup­posed to be (stan­dard default pass­word). If it ain’t, we can’t log in to people’s accounts.”

Silent­ly think­ing “and that’s the point, dolt,” I went in and changed the pass­word to (stan­dard default pass­word), since that’s just about all I could do.

Me: “Ok, just to make you hap­py, I changed it. Try to log in now.’

Boy: “Now it’s right.”

Me: “So you can fix it?”

Boy: “I have to call you back.”

Me: “I don’t think so. I’ll just stick with you. That way if you find any­thing you don’t under­stand in my records, we can work on it together.”

Boy: “You have to call (num­ber for por­tal help desk). They have to fix it for you.”

Me: “Why didn’t you send me to them in the first place?”

Boy: “I had to see if you real­ly had a problem.”

I changed the pass­word while he was giv­ing me the 800 num­ber, of course.

Boy: “What did you do?”

Me: “What­ev­er do you mean?”

Boy: “The sys­tem says I have to log in again.”

Me: “Well, sure­ly as soon as you saw that I real­ly had a prob­lem, you logged out, since you had no fur­ther rea­son to be logged in as me. Nor do you need to log in as me again. I changed the pass­word again.”

Boy: “You can’t do that. It’s sup­posed to be (stan­dard default password).”

Me: “Have your sysad­min give me a call if he has a prob­lem with it, but so far you’re the only one who ever has. Buh bye!”

I haven’t found any­thing he changed in my records. Not yet. I just don’t trust the lit­tle bas­tard. It also fright­ens the hell out of me to real­ize just how many stu­dents must not ever change their orig­i­nal pass­words, since he’s accus­tomed to blithe­ly log­ging in to everybody’s accounts, and it’s appar­ent­ly a stan­dard prac­tice in the department!