In Memoriam: Canon PIXMA MP610

(A follow-up to Wednesday’s post, which I’ve also posted to the Off-Topic form at the Chartered Institute of Editors & Proofreaders (CIEP), of which I’m a member.)

I can’t even remember when I originally bought you, definitely late 2000s. Your print head had trouble with ink in your later years, much as my own head lacks for hair, but you struggled on regardless. You finally keeled over while I was fetching some more plain paper… but did you have to do that right after I’d changed the black ink cartridge???

(Regains composure, continues.)

Farewell, old friend, you outlasted two PCs and one Mac, and helped me send out lots of parcels over the years as I’ve decluttered, as well as documents, scans and the occasional photo print. I’ll miss your duplex printing, which came in mighty handy but is now deemed a luxury reserved for pricier models, and your relatively low running costs for an inkjet.

(Choral music plays, printer lowers into recycling skip.)

Okay, a little artistic licence above, as I need to have a laugh after cursing for a few hours the other day. Poor thing literally popped its clogs while my back was turned, I found it without power and nothing I tried has revived it. I tried replacing the fuse in the mains plug to see if that was the culprit, but it looks like something inside the printer has shorted out, alas.

After a lot of research, I’ve ordered a mono laser printer, the HP Laserjet Pro M15w, that will handle my modest printing needs while not costing me an arm and a leg. (And, I should add, was actually in stock and available to buy – I have a feeling a lot of printers have been sold during lockdown as more people switched to working from home.)

RIP, Printer

Looks like my ancient Canon PIXMA MP610 all-in-one inkjet printer/scanner/copier has reached its end at last.

I had to go grab some more paper in order to print something out, and when I returned to the computer the printer was powered off, and refused to power on again.

I’ve tried another socket, reseating the power cable at both ends, even changing the fuse in the mains plug to see if that was the culprit. No joy, looks like something inside the printer has shorted out.

I can’t even remember when I bought this printer, it’s that long ago, definitely pre-2010.

The most galling part is that I’d just replaced the black ink cartridge a few minutes earlier. Bummer!

So it looks like I’m now on the hunt for a replacement printer, preferably one that doesn’t drink ink like it’s fine champagne (with price tag to match.)

Sleep, Lack Thereof

I’ve been struggling to maintain a regular sleep pattern for a while now, and spent part of this past week trying to pin down the causes.

Part of it is temperature related, depending on the weather outside I’ve either been too hot or too cold at night. Living in an Edwardian house doesn’t help matters in that regard.

Another factor appears to be how I’m lying in bed. I seem to have switched to sleeping on my side this past year, which is okay but not really optimal for deep sleep. Changing my pillow has confirmed my suspicion that it had gotten lumpy and uneven. At some point I’ll probably need to replace the mattress, as that is now over a decade old.

Then there’s the stress and anxiety of the past few years, which has caused an increase in the number and frequency of weird dreams I have at night. The worst ones leave me in a state where I find it difficult and sometimes impossible to get back to sleep, because my brain just won’t shut up.

I recently purchased some Bluetooth sleep headphones, and I’m using those at night with soft ambient music playing on low volume from my iPad. That seems to be helping me sleep better and for longer.

(I should add that I occasionally have to get up during the night to use the toilet, but I think that’s more a case of my needing to make sure I’ve been before bedtime than any health issues.)

An Operating System Is Not an App

An operating system is something that shouldn’t be treated as an ‘app’, or as something people should stop and admire for its aesthetic elegance, or a product whose updates should be marketed as if it’s the next iPhone iteration. An operating system is something that needs a separate, tailored development cycle. Something that needs time so that you can devise an evolution plan about it; so that you can keep working on its robustness by correcting bugs that have been unaddressed for years, and present features that really improve workflows and productivity while building organically on what came before. This way, user-facing UI changes will look reasonable, predictable, intuitive, easily assimilable, and not just arbitrary, cosmetic, and of questionable usefulness.

Riccardo Mori, Habits, UI changes, and OS stagnation

Adventures in Full Site Editing

Now that my WordPress installation has been updated to version 5.8, I’ve decided to install an updated version of the Seedlet theme that I’ve used here previously, alongside the Gutenberg plugin, and try out full site editing.

Initial impressions are fairly positive — it has been fairly straightforward to remove some things that are superfluous since I’m the only author and don’t use categories or tags.

One quibble so far is that it’s not immediately obvious how various elements are groups together within each template and template part — an outline guide would be very helpful. I will need to dig into the Gutenberg settings and see if there are any things I can change.

Another oddity I’ve noticed is that there’s a discrepancy between how posts display in the editor and how they appear on the site — it seems that the font settings in the Seedlet theme aren’t been applied when editing? I’m not sure what’s going on there.

There is definitely potential here to drastically improve the ability to customise site appearance while reducing the code required for themes. I have a feeling that things won’t gel together until WordPress 6.0 at least. For now, this is very much an optional feature, and I suspect most sites will continue working just fine with traditional themes while people figure out what Gutenberg and full site editing could offer them.

Sunday Reading 2021-07-25

Time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise?

As he described in a webinar last week, Ian Roberts, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, began to have doubts about the honest reporting of trials after a colleague asked if he knew that his systematic review showing the mannitol halved death from head injury was based on trials that had never happened. He didn’t, but he set about investigating the trials and confirmed that they hadn’t ever happened. They all had a lead author who purported to come from an institution that didn’t exist and who killed himself a few years later. The trials were all published in prestigious neurosurgery journals and had multiple co-authors. None of the co-authors had contributed patients to the trials, and some didn’t know that they were co-authors until after the trials were published. When Roberts contacted one of the journals the editor responded that “I wouldn’t trust the data.” Why, Roberts wondered, did he publish the trial? None of the trials have been retracted.


Trust in Software, an All Time Low

The background buzz of permission dialogues is deafening, deadening. Cookie notices, consent forms, allow/reject. Should I trust this? Can I install that? Do you want to try OneDrive? Dropbox needs to update again. You need to restart your browser. Are you sure you don’t want to try Edge? You really shouldn’t be installing untrusted dangerous software. This trusted approved software wants to know your location always. Allow/Decline?

Your privacy is very important to us. We would like to know what you are doing at all times. Accept / Ask me again later.

Yeah. I couldn’t give a good reason why anyone should trust, or like, software the way it typically works these days.

Ask me again later. Not right now. More information. Are you sure?

The Gospel of Consumption

This article is from 2008, but if anything is even more relevant today. A history of how we’ve been persuaded to work longer hours and replace our leisure time with consumption.

Are trans and gender nonconforming identities new ‘trends’?

As with most headlines that end in a question mark, the answer is a resounding ‘no’.

Everyone cites that ‘bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production’ research, but the study might not even exist

“Software research is a train wreck,” says Hillel Wayne, a Chicago-based software consultant who specialises in formal methods, instancing the received wisdom that bugs are way more expensive to fix once software is deployed.

Wayne did some research, noting that “if you Google ‘cost of a software bug’ you will get tons of articles that say ‘bugs found in requirements are 100x cheaper than bugs found in implementations.’ They all use this chart from the ‘IBM Systems Sciences Institute’… There’s one tiny problem with the IBM Systems Sciences Institute study: it doesn’t exist.”

Laurent Bossavit, an Agile methodology expert and technical advisor at software consultancy CodeWorks in Paris, has dedicated some time to this matter, and has a post on GitHub called “Degrees of intellectual dishonesty”. Bossavit referenced a successful 1987 book by Roger S Pressman called Software Engineering: a Practitioner’s Approach, which states: “To illustrate the cost impact of early error detection, we consider a series of relative costs that are based on actual cost data collected for large software projects [IBM81].”

Unlike the first link in this post, from the British Medical Journal, there’s no suggestion of fraud or dishonesty. This is more a case of sloppy writing and reporting, exacerbated by the web.

The Real Right Stuff

Pipe down, Jeff. You’ve only gone where Gus Grissom went before, 60 years ago today

Somewhat lost in the hubbub over Jeff Bezos’ jaunt into space is the 60th anniversary of Virgil “Gus” Grissom’s suborbital flight aboard Liberty Bell 7.

The mission was the second Mercury capsule crewed by a human and followed Alan Shepard’s flight on 5 May 1961. Both missions were suborbital vertical launches atop a Mercury-Redstone booster (derived from the Redstone ballistic missile).

Grissom’s compact Mercury capsule, Spacecraft Number 11, had a few updates over that of Shepard’s. Instead of the 10-inch side ports Shepard peered through, Grissom’s capsule had a large window affording a 30° horizontal and a 33° vertical field of view. There were better controls and, infamously, a redesigned hatch.

Fascinating story, which I’d not known about before today.

Pondering whether a MacBook Air would be a good investment as an upgrade from my current iPad Mini 4. Pro: would run Mac and iOS apps. Con: no touch screen or Pencil support.

Currently reading Social Warming by Charles Arthur, and about halfway through. A well-researched and informative read about the history of social interaction online and its unintended consequences, some of them very real indeed.