The Second Last Moon Of July

Moons have many names. Blue Moons and Harvest Moons, and Blood Moons and Hunter Moons — but they all tend to be full moons. This is the Second-Last-Night-Of-July Moon of 2016, and behold, it’s not even half. As for what I was doing out on the balcony taking pictures of the moon at four o’clock in the morning … I can only claim insanity.

How can one even dream of sleeping, when the night looks like this?

Just keep the howling to a minimum, or you’ll wake the neighbours.

All photos copyright © Bjørnar Andre Haveland

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Due east, full width (18mm)

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As the world goes potty: Outhouse pics!

Taking a much needed minor mental break from U.S. Presidential Elections, world-wide terrorism and a thousand other terrible things in the news, with a handful of photos that I took in 2007 of the old outhouse at my aunt’s summer cottage in Sunde, Sunnhordland, Norway. This is about as countryside as it gets.

This outhouse is pretty much part of family history, though it is no longer in use, having accompanied family gatherings, or rather loving family feuds over games of croquet and long, exhausting evenings of Gin Rummy or Monopoly. The surprising appearance of modern sanitary plumbing and porcelain facilities eventually led to the relocating of the entire business of doing one’s business to the indoors. As for whether this should count as a gain, or a loss, is still pretty much to be decided.

I do, however, vividly recall childhood summer days, my years barely into double digits, when the making of a man stood in the choice between a) fleeing the spiders and other crawlies that lurked in every crack and nook and cranny, silently plotting to end you and eat you, or b) bravely finishing the current chapter in an old and wrinkled Donald Duck comic book, one of several that had lived to see many a “sit and think” through the ages, and had presumably been left there by one of my older cousins on previous, similar quests of personal ballast disposal.

Here’s to the years!

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Home (and relief) is where the heart is.

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The rusty ol’ hook of privacy.

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If the door is ajar, it’s unoccupied … at least by people.

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Just your friendly neighbourhood “nope”.

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Rooting for Hope, not Hate

This Facebook post of mine, which I wrote it in response to the terrorist attacks in Oslo on July 22, 2011, popped up as a Facebook Memory today.

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Photo of a butterfly.
Archive butterfly photo © bjornarhaveland.net

I take it as a tiny reminder to myself from five years ago that, although terrible things happen in the world, and terrible people make them happen, all is not terrible, that there are wonderful and beautiful things still in the world, and that we need to see and remember those wonderful and beautiful things or else the terrible things may make us forget them, and choke us with fear and horror.

There is beauty and wonder great and small in nature around us, but most importantly also in us humans and in the things that we do together and for each other, and in the children whom we raise to live in the world and the society which we leave to them, who will be people like us and have to live with the consequences of the choices we make and the actions we take.

It is important that we hang on to those things of beauty and wonder because they’re what we must work hard to keep, and with what’s happening in the world it’s easy to lose sight of them. It’s too easy to divide humans into “them” and “us”, and to say that we must hate “them” to protect “us”. Blacks and whites. Easterners and Westerners. Christians and Muslims. But if you look at the terrible things that some people do, you will find that they are doing them out of hate. That’s what hate does. Hate divides, and hate destroys. Hating has never made anything better. Telling people to hate other people, even other people who hate, will only make matters worse, and if we embrace hate, even if only to protect ourselves from others who hate, then the beautiful and wonderful things that we want and need to protect and hang on to won’t stand a chance. Either they will be ruined and gone, or we will be too blind to see them.

It doesn’t matter if the hate or the arguments that support or encourage hate come from a terrorist group, or from people among ourselves, or from politicians and national leaders who base their political careers or election campaigns on hate rhetorics. It is destructive whichever form it takes.

I don’t believe that the wrongful or hateful actions of one person or a few individuals represent the entire ethnic group or nation or religion to which they belong.

I don’t believe that the murderous actions of a lone hateful Muslim lorry driver in Nice represents the average Muslim, any more than I believe that a lone Christian white supremacist on a murderous shooting rampage in Norway represents the average Christian.

Nor do I believe that Daesh or IS represent the average Muslim, because much as they are a threat in the West, they are at least equally much a threat to other Muslims in their home countries.

And I do not believe that Christian extremists who kill people at abortion clinics, or Christian evangelists who say that the real tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Miami is that not more gays died, represent the average Christian.

We as humans must deal with those who do terrible things, but not with hate. Hate is their tool, their weapon, and if we try to use it, it will turn back upon us and take us down, and we will become precisely that thing which we tried to fight against in the first place. Then we will be doing the work of the people who do terrible things for them, and then they will succeed anyway.

We must try to do just things, not with hate against those who do terrible things, but with love for the wonderful and beautiful things that we don’t want to lose. Only then can we deal with the people who do terrible things without losing those things that are precious to us.

I really, really think that this is not just important but completely essential, if we as humans are going to be able to become who we wish to be. We must be very mindful of what kind of society we want to have, and leave for our children, and how our attitudes and actions may help or hinder us on our way to that goal.

While I was writing this, not one but two butterflies fluttered in through the open balcony door, made rounds around the room and fluttered back outside, as if to remind me of the beautiful and wonderful things that made me start writing this in the first place.

I’d just like to say that I wish you all a wonderful, beautiful day, every day, filled with more love, and less hate, with more joy, and less fear.

Pokémon GO: in the Wrong Direction

Updated on 18-Aug-2016. Look for the green text below.

For the record, I play on an iPhone 5S (16GB, currently iOS 9.3.2), which is what this article relates to. Your system may be different, and act differently. Also, this issue is real per July 21, 2016, but may hopefully be sorted out in the future because I find it bloody annoying.

So I just jumped on the bandwagon and started playing Pokémon GO about a week ago, in secret, because at the time both my daughters’ phones were unable to run the game. Now, having acquired new phones for them (that game was only one of many reasons to upgrade), I can finally crawl out of my Pokémon GO closet without fear of facing a teenage lynching mob for doing so.

Whilst playing, I’ve noticed that the in-game compass has ideas of its own about where the heck north is supposed to be. That doesn’t matter so much when you turn the map around manually with a fingertip, but if like me you prefer to have it automatically point in the direction you’re looking or walking, it can be a pain in the wossname. I think I’ve sorted it out enough to manage a workaround, though.

It seems the game will assume that whichever direction the phone is pointing when the game starts, is north. If you happen to know where north is, simply point your phone that way when you start Pokémon GO.

This, of course, requires that your phone’s compass knows which way is north. I’ve also noticed that during game play, or after closing the game app, the iOS compass app will be all over the place and require a calibration. The compass app itself can take anywhere from seconds to several minutes to discover that something is up, so I’ve found that going into Settings → Privacy → Location Services → System Services → Compass Calibration, and turn that one off then on again, will force a calibration. Mind you, the time you spend doing that, may often be more than what the compass needs to figure it out by itself anyway, so you may prefer to simply wait it out.

I couldn’t find anything about this issue anywhere else, hence this blog post. In the event that I am not the only one experiencing this problem, I hope this may be of help.

UPDATE 18-Aug-2016

  • I have upgraded to an iPhone SE, and I still experience the same issues as I did on the iPhone 5S.
  • After a couple of responses (one so far in comments below) I now know I’m not alone in experiencing (or to be annoyed by) this.
  • I’ve noticed that, even if you set the correct north, the Pokémon GO compass tends to drift so that, after a while, it will no longer point in the right direction.

My 16th Tech Support Anniversary

Today, according to the company database, 16 years have gone by since my first employee email account was created. My 0x10* anniversary, if you like.

* The computer term 0x10, or 1016 or 10h, means hexadecimal 10, which is 16 in human terms. This reference only proves what is already well known: that I am a nerd.

Back in June of 2000 I started working for an Internet Service Provider (ISP), in their customer support department, back when everything Internet and computer related was still pretty new to most people, and dial-up was still the awesome order of the day. Much has happened since then, and the scope of my support work has expanded considerably — from merely account registration, email setup and landline dial-up settings, to iPhones, tablets, DSL, fiber and mobile broadband, Internet television, as well most kinds of technical computer and Internet related problems that home and office users may experience. I’ve been doing this for sixteen years now, more than a third of my forty-seven year lifetime, and I still love it.

Love it? Surely you heard that wrong! No doubt you know full well that customer support is one of the most thankless, mind-eroding, depressing and cursed kinds of jobs any human can have, right?

Not in my world, I promise you. Computers and Internet are among the most all- pervasive things in people’s lives these days, and it doesn’t look like they’re going away any day soon. Problem is, to a lot of people it can be infuriatingly difficult to get to grips with the tech, to use it correctly, and downright impossible to figure out when something goes wrong. And I’m not talking just about the elderly. Clients of all ages call in, some of them to complain, sure, but most of them are simply asking for help, even just for a hand to hold while they try to get through things that seem far too frightening to deal with on their own.

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One of the calls I remember best from that first summer, or in fact from my entire career, was a then 84 year old lady who had just bought her first computer and needed help to get connected. The background story for this deserves some telling:

The reason why she had bought a computer at all at such an advanced age (as she herself put it), was that she lived just a couple of houses away from her grandson and granddaughter, who used to stop by every single day and spend precious time with their grandmother. Now that her grandchildren were growing up, they were also leaving home to study abroad, one in USA and the other in Australia, and they all found it difficult to no longer be able to enjoy the daily visits, so they had thought about alternative ways of keeping in touch.

Letters? No, snail mail simply takes too long, and is way too cumbersome. Phone calls? Nope. Not only are long distance calls expensive, dealing with the time difference would be a pain. The only logical choice would be email, since it’s practically instant, and can be read and written at any convenient time. Yes, that would be perfect. The crux? Grandma didn’t have a computer, much less an Internet connection, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her.

She’d asked the nearest computer vendor for something suitable for a beginner, especially one as senior as herself, and the shop not only sold her an affordable one, they kindly brought it to her home and connected it up, cables and all. Except for the actual Internet connection. She’d need to call an ISP for that, so she called us.

I took the call, and after a pleasant introduction, where she told me the above mentioned background story, I offered to send her our CD to install the necessary bits and bobs to get a new connection up and running with a minimum of manual work. Problem was, that CD would certainly not be in her mailbox until several days later (probably just one or two days, but that’s practically forever for someone who is waiting), and she didn’t want to have to wait that long. Could I please help her get started right away? She so missed her grandchildren!

Some may shudder and stutter at the idea of trying to verbally, on the phone, guide an 84 year old woman through the screen navigation and maneuvers required to configure a dial-up ISDN connection, on a computer running Windows NT4.0*. She could further inform me that, although she had on occasion used an electric typewriter, and was fairly familiar with her TV remote, actual usage of a computer was something she had until this day never been within a good stone’s throw of. She was literally sitting in front of a computer screen for the first time in her life. I may have hesitated for a moment, but shook it off and decided I was up for the challenge!

* Windows NT4.0 is light-years from being the user friendly system she had asked the shop for. I silently wished to strangle the salesman for this transgression, but let it pass — he had probably eyed an opportunity to rid the store of their last Windows NT4.0 computer, and there was little I could do to change that fact.

There was nothing wrong with her eagerness to get started. We began with the basics, which involved locating and pressing the power button to boot up the computer. She had no problem handling everyday concepts such as up and down, left and right, which is a good foundation for moving around the screen. We skirted swiftly past such things as what the mouse does (the cable points forwards, and *giggle* no, it’s not a foot pedal), left- and right-clicking, single- and double-clicking (a good rule of the thumb is that it’s always ‘left click’ unless I say ‘right click’, and always ‘single-click’ unless I say ‘double-click’). She absorbed concepts rather like a sponge absorbs water. Icons and buttons, windows and menus. Some things I had to explain twice, but rarely more. I suspect that she was secretly taking notes.

Fifteen minutes into the conversation we had successfully configured the initial connection to the registration server and set up a user account for her. Not ten minutes later she was connected to the proper dial-up and we had finished setting up her email in Outlook Express. That girl was running on sheer motivation! If she hadn’t needed me to tell her what to do, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up. She had her grandchildren’s email addresses, which they’d written down for her before they left for schools on distant shores, and before the half hour was up she had not only sent off her very first email to her granddaughter, but also received a swift and joyous reply, as the granddaughter happened to be sitting at her computer when the email arrived. Victory! I think I cheered out loud, because my colleagues were looking at me as if they thought I was mad.

She thanked me, and asked me to send the CD anyway, as she intended to keep it around to show her friends, telling them that “I didn’t even need to use this! Look, it’s still wrapped in plastic!”

As is usually the case in this job, with nearly all of the different people that I talk to every day, we never spoke again. Of course, being all new to the trade at the time I had no idea then how important this conversation would be to the shaping of my own perception of my work. Now, however, it is clear to me that what makes my job so enjoyable is that I get to help people with things that are important to them in their everyday lives. I’d make a terrible doctor, first aid responder or social worker, but this I can do. Helping make the world a better place, one person’s Internet connection or computer problem at a time.

That was sixteen years ago. I’ve no idea if the old girl is still around, but if she is, and I hope that she is, she’ll have turned a hundred years old this year, which makes my sixteenth tech support anniversary feel even more special. I truly wish that she and her grandchildren got much joy out of their long distance contact, and that it continued as amazingly as it had started. I’m grateful for having been part of that.

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