Monday, July 18, 2011

In case an actual person cares…

I have temporarily retired a post from December 16, 2010, about shopping at IKEA. Apparently, a robot or two have turned up that post and are generating page views to that particular post. A similar thing is happening with the Google translate feature, through which someone (thing?) is calling up a mediocre rendering of the IKEA post. The care label images that I posted there have also made their way into various image databases.

I can see basic information about traffic to the site through blogspot statistics, which is how I have an idea of what's going on. I wondered if, perchance, someone had taken particular interest in my thoughts on IKEA and had forwarded the link to a bunch of people. But I think the robot theory, which I read about on a google forum, is a more likely explanation.

Anyway, in case you are a real PERSON and are interested in that post, please contact me via email at

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ending a long blog break

The Fourth of July has come and gone, and I have taken a long break from blogging. Among other impediments, the slow and methodical collapse of my laptop has kept me distinctly off-line. I'm working my way back into things electronic.

When was that wedding in England, Kate Middleton and her prince? Miriam was searching for images of Buckingham Palace for a school report. She was working at my desk, on my laptop, because that's where we have a printer. Suddenly my computer screen began to shudder. There was even a Safari screen warning of a possible Malware site, which at least opened the idea of something suspicious having happened. I rebooted and had several OK days. But the problem returned. Was it the screensaver going kerflooey? Then things worked fine again--well enough to download "The King's Speech" and play the whole film from iTunes to our TV screen. (If you've never rented a film on iTunes, you might not know that it takes several hours to pull in a feature-length film.)

I ran the little diagnostic CD, but it cheerfully reported finding nothing amiss. Repeatedly. The final death throes involved a flickering screen, freezing mid-task with no response to force quit moves, loss of mouse functionality, and finally the dreaded "You will have to shut down your computer and restart" in English, French and Japanese before the whole thing just stopped reacting at all when I pushed the power button.

Due to geography and the scarcity of Mac repair service, we got two trips to Stuttgart out of our quest to revive my 2008 MacBook Pro. Its predecessor had required a new hard drive at about this age, so I wondered if it might be that. The tech simply took the machine in hand, looked quizzical when I mentioned the virus alert, and said they'd be calling us.

Am I making this dramatic enough? It turned out to be the graphics card. A new motherboard took care of that. And they replaced the DVD drive, which I'd noticed failed to play a disc once, but I thought it might have been the disc. The motherboard was under warranty, and the DVD drive was a reinvestment we decided to make. We bantered back and forth on terminology until I grasped what had been repaired. "Hauptplatine" is a motherboard, for example. But not the "Festplatte," which is the hard drive. Nothing amiss with my data. All done.

In other news, we had a quiet celebration, just the three of us, on the Fourth of July. No one else around here seemed to notice, although if I mention "Unabhängigkeitstag"* (Independence Day), my German counterparts nod their understanding. Still, no fireworks (I understand you see them around the US Army bases in places like Heidelberg). No holiday. Just a Monday evening, and us three having a little pan-fried steak (we don't have a grill yet, having left our ashy Weber back in the States). And Miriam's fabulous flag cake.

A family collaboration: "Bisquit" cake (Mary), whipped cream as frosting (Markus), and the stars and stripes in blueberries and raspberries (Miriam--who also served as instigator of the project).
*For anyone with a desire to pronounce this delightful word:
["ç" is the phonetic symbol for the sound at the beginning of the English word "hue"]