My New Year’s resolutions -> insert appropriate profanities here

I guess I’m supposed to be listing my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017. The thing is … I don’t do the whole “make a promise and break it in record time” commitment shtick. By the way, did you know shtick is in the Word spell check dictionary? I’m impressed. Anyway … I’m sitting here having my usual latte in a slightly new location listening to people blabbering on about their plans for tonight. They have to have that last drink before the year is out, they have to make their resolutions for the New Year, they have to … have to … have to…

Is there something wrong with me that I see tomorrow the same way I see today – Sunday, the day that follows Saturday? Same as it did last week and the week before.  I don’t quite understand the rush to have one last whatever today. (Hopefully) I’ll be around tomorrow to have a drink or whatever floats my boat.

So, after listening to so many around me rattling off their list I’ve decided, shit yea, let’s make a list of promises. And here it is:

1 – “Coffee first. Schemes later.” ― Leanna Renee Hieber, Darker Still
Find a café within walking distance that doesn’t burn my damn espresso. No seriously, espresso tastes like crap in a cup when it’s overheated.

2 – “I like the word ‘indolence’ It makes my laziness seem classy” Bernard Williams, philosopher
Stop procrastinating and reset Word defaults so I don’t have to keep adjusting them. Yes, I am that lazy.

3 – “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” ― Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Throw out the 10 tonnes of crap I’ve accumulated over the years. I’ve been looking at the stuff I own and came to an epiphany over the holidays – I don’t need nor want it. All I want can fit into one small room.

4 – “You ate ALL the popcorn” My mom, Dec. 23 2016.
Eat more popcorn … that’s self-explanatory.

5 – “Life without noodles isn’t worth living” Goddess of 1967 – film by Clara Law. Increase my noodle intake. It’s fallen to an appallingly unsafe level lately.

6 – “The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones.” – Gabirol, The Choice of Pearls.
Be patient when I’m in public. Okay, I blew that one within 30 min of writing it down.  I’m putting an exemption in: I can be snarky & pissy to anyone carting about an SUV sized designer purse, cutting in front of me and swinging the useless piece of shit purse so it hits me on the head … I’m free to retaliate in any fashion I deem appropriate.

7 – “Nice girls don’t swear” Dumbass saying that should be drop kicked into a past century.
Swear less. Another one I blew out the door in record time (see #6). Maybe I should just cut down on a specific swear word. That’s it, I’ll stop using the F word altogether.  This might be a bumpy January.

That’s about it. I think I can manage 4 and 5 quite easily. I already bought two bags of my favourite popcorn so I’m ahead of the game.  It’s a crapshoot as far as the rest.

UPDATE: 7:17pm and I already chewed through #7 and the F word promise. Screw it…

 

 

Read & Write literacy extension for MS Edge – help for vision impaired & learning disabilities

Read & Write literacy extension for MS Edge – help for vision impaired & learning disabilities

Icon for Read & Write browser extensionI’m always poking around the Microsoft store looking for Edge browser extensions. Until now, the offerings have been a wee bit slim. But… huzzah … a few new extensions have found their way to the store. I tested out two and, well, I’m impressed. You get one today, maybe the other on the weekend…  depends on my mood. Read & Write, from TextHelp (https://www.texthelp.com), gets a nod for the single most useful extension I’ve seen to date. It’s also available for Firefox and Chrome if those flavours suit you more.

Read & Write is an excellent piece of assistive technology that reads webpages. People with vision issues, reading or learning disabilities or learning English will find this immensely useful.  Once installed, you have a number of options that include reading a page or paragraph, simplified page layout, definitions and reference lookups.  The voice is fairly easy to listen to and understand. The odd word is not quite right, but mostly above par for pronunciation and enunciation. One mildly amusing aspect with any software like this is they read literally – if there’s a typo on the page, that will be read.

It’s easy to use, just click the speech button on the toolbar and then hover the mouse over the text. The software does the rest. I put together a short video of Read & Write in action so you can hear what the voice is like:

It offers a couple of options handy for day to day use, including a built-in dictionary and Simplify. The dictionary is self explanatory.

Sample of a simplified page produced with Read & Write extension

The Simplify feature is outstanding. It converts the page to a high contrast single page of text only. It strips out the clutter and makes the speech to text option run flawlessly. It’s also handy for anyone who want to print a page, without all the images and ads.  As a bonus feature, tap the minus/plus signs to increase the text size for easy reading.

The little picture dictionary is embarrassingly fun to use.  If a person is unfamiliar with English, the simple pictograph images are a perfect way to show the meaning of the word. A stroke of genius. Not all words have pictograph definitions and once in awhile it throws up a cryptically funny one:

Sample of Read & Write's picture dictionaryNot sure why the little stickman looks so angry but he looks like his blood pressure is through the roof.

Occasionally the extension stutters and doesn’t start reading immediately, but by and large, it’s reliable. At worse, all you have to do is turn the extension off and back on again. I was a little disappointed it didn’t read my Outlook email. But there are some pages that simply won’t work with the extension because of the way they are designed, such as Twitter. However, for the majority of webpages, the extension does the job.

If you know someone who might benefit from this extension, pass along the name to them – Read & Write extension for Edge, Chrome & Firefox. I have a number of customers I’m going to install it for. It’ll make some pages – the ones with itty bitty type – far easier to manage. Download it direct from the Microsoft Store or use your browser’s extension feature to install it.

 

A little something for my construction fans – VIDEO of an auger in action

At one point last week, I realised not many of my readers will have actually stopped and watched the big augers in action.  So, I went out just before Christmas and stood in the COLD taking a couple of short videos. You’re welcome. I loaded them up on Youtube Christmas day but was too tired to do anything with them.

The company doing the work is Rumble Foundations out of Mississauga. That’s all they do – foundations for big builds. I was poking around their website and figured they are putting caissons in. If I’m wrong, please correct me. I’d be happy to be educated on the process. They’ve done a lot of the big jobs here in Toronto, but this is the first time I’ve paid attention to what they are doing. I have to say, I really expected this work to be far noisier. I’m sure it will get pretty loud at one point during the build, but the augers themselves are surprisingly muted.

Here’s the first one:

This one is better – they were drilling near the entrance and I was able to catch a great video of them dumping the dirt off the auger itself.

I enjoy watching this one. It’s fun to watch the auger spin in reverse and throws all the dirt off. It’s like watching a dirt vortex whirling about. I’m not sure if that means I’m a complete and utter geek or I desperately need to get out more. Anyway, come back in a day or two and I’ll post some excellent photos of what happens when they drill down into rock. It was illuminating and amusing.

Most of the noise on the first video is the sound of the wind. When I went out the second time, there was zero wind and let’s you hear, up close, the noise, which isn’t a lot considering the equipment.

After posting the videos, I realised Rumble Foundations really needs a Twitter and Youtube account. That would be an account I’d follow. They could load up lots of shots fo their work so people here in Toronto start to understand how complex the work is.  Enjoy the videos. As I said, come back for more later in the week. I have some great shots. I’m also working on more digital art (non construction related, I promise) but it will take time to do. My Wacom is getting tempermental, as is my trusty laptop. Time to consider replacing both in the new year.

If you’d like me to poke around getting more videos of the work in progress leave a comment here or on my Youtube page and let me know.