back in the Reich
Tuesday, December 12 2006
Last night and into today I found myself involved in a technological drama surrounding the publication of a newsletter. The newsletter existed as a file on various computers, both here and at the animal sanctuary hoping to publish it. Being a Microsoft Publisher (.pub) file, it was too large to email using the web-based free email systems favored by the various animal sanctuary activists (Gretchen included) doing the editing. I came up with a simple solution, which was to upload the file to a web server so that anyone who needed it could download it and continue work. (This is how I do nearly all of my remote work.) Everything was working fine until it came time to send the file to the printer down in New Paltz. At this point we ran into one of the most boneheaded default settings of Microsoft Windows, one that makes me want to cry every time I see it unchanged. No, I'm not referring to the bepuppied Windows XP search wizard with no place to type a search term (though that definitely qualifies). In this case I'm referring to the "hide extensions" setting, which makes it so no one ever really knows what kind of file they're dealing with and makes it impossible to change that kind should it happen to be wrong. None of this would have mattered had not Internet Explorer chosen to change the .pub file on the web to an .html file on a desktop (but with the .html part hidden), causing an employee at the print shop to give up and demand that one of us drive down and deliver the file on a CDR. When I talked to her this morning on the phone, she sounded the way I imagine Paris Hilton would sound if she wasn't a wealthy heiress but instead had a shitty job at an Upstate print shop. She had a bitchy arrogance about her, as if she assumed there was no way I was going to be able to fix this problem over the phone. But fix it I did. Chances are, if a Windows machine is being permitted to hide its extensions, its user can benefit from a conversation with tech support.
I went on a wide-ranging errand run this afternoon. It wasn't so much because of any specific thing I needed. I tend to get cabin fever at this time of year and nothing really drives away the funk like a tall glass of whiskey, or, in today's case, a drive around the town. I started at P&T Surplus and worked my way back to the commercial strip along 9W. I was even inside Bed Bath and Beyond, where I took note of rack for modern toothbrushes. It was a rack with a line of enormous holes awaiting penetration by plumply ergonomic modern toothbrush handles. For some reason it was decorated with a garish beach scene.
I was admiring the chain saws at Home Depot when an old man started talking to me. He had such a thick German accent that I could barely understand him, but once I focused on the way he pronounced vowels it all sort of cleared up. He was one of those guys you try to avoid talking to because once they get you they never let you go. At first he offered me advice on chainsaws, though he claimed he was now too old to wield one. It turned out that he was about to turn 90 and had come to the United States when he was 37. Now he owns a "farm" up in Saugerties worth $600,000. He complained about the school taxes but said that money was no longer a problem for him and that he was finding it difficult to spend it all before he died. I suggested that he travel the world but he said he had no interest, perhaps because every time one goes through customs it's just another chance to be unmasked as that death camp guard one was back in the Reich. Fun times!
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