Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

November 2021 Check In

I almost forgot to write anything at all for the entire month of November 2021.


It was a rough month. We had a death in the family, it was another rough month of pretending like we’re making progress toward a post-COVID life, the clocks changed again, I had to drop several shows I was trying to watch, and most of what’s kept me going at all is a bit of new music and reading material and picking Satisfactory back up again (after basically burning out on Fire Emblem Three Houses, mind you).

Among other things.

I’ll probably write about the new stuff in Satisfactory (Update 5 definitely changes the game!) in the days to come. I’m just not sure how many days that’ll be, you know?

Windows 11: It’s okay!

I’m a paid, professional computer nerd. Wrangling Windows PCs into a semblance of good behavior is part-and-parcel of what pays the bills around here. So, since my work-from-home aged PC is new and shiny enough to accept the upgrade, I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the 10-to-11 jump last night.

I’m partway into my first workday on the “new” operating system and… it’s okay! It’s fine. It’s Windows. It does what it says on the tin.

Look, when you’ve been around long enough that your first Windows version began with the number 3, after a while the interface changes stop meaning too very much. Oh, so this one has the icons in the middle of the taskbar instead of on the left. Okay. Oh, so this one has gone back to more rounded corners on the windows. Okay. Oh, they put some color back into parts of the interface again. Okay.

Windows 11’s Explorer window. Note the color-coded content folders. (Wallpaper by Mary Cagle.)

They added some spacing between elements here, reduced spacing there. It’s more refinement than revolution. And you know what? That’s okay, too. More than okay.

The “centered icons” taskbar about which much wringing of hands is seen on the Internet. Copying the Mac UI! Yes, Microsoft’s been doing that for literal decades now, try to keep up.

Those of us who remember some of the great boondoggles in Windows’ version history will be glad of a chance to breathe easy. Windows Millennium Edition, anyone? Heaven help us, Windows Vista? The dreaded version between 7 and 10 which somehow wasn’t 9 because Reasons? It’s still early days but I don’t think 11 is going to wind up lumped in with that roster of disasters when we look back on the history of the operating system.

It’s different, yet the same. Which is, honestly, a good summation of the entire 10-to-11 experience.

With all that said, I have a couple of tips:

  • You can select to put the icons on the taskbar back on the left “like normal” if you want. I’m trying out the default Mac-style centered icons to see if it’ll be better, worse, or a big nothingburger. (I expect “nothingburger” to win this challenge.)
  • What you can’t do is toggle “show all icons in the system tray” like you could before. You must choose one-by-one, which is… only mildly annoying, honestly. I liked being lazy and just saying “show me everything,” but I’ll live without that option.
  • There’s a desktop-Linux-y “multiple desktops” function, which is great if you’re into that sort of thing, but it comes with a catch: If you use multiple desktops and have multiple monitors, you can only set one wallpaper for all monitors on each virtual desktop. If you want to set per-monitor wallpapers (and I do!) then stick with just the one desktop. (Or run a 3rd-party app. I used to use DisplayFusion but I’m trying to go without that to reduce the number of programs I have running at all times.)
  • Speaking of not needing DisplayFusion: Multi-monitor taskbar is finally a native feature, complete with “put the icons of each running program on the taskbar of the monitor that program’s showing on.” Huzzah! (You only get one copy of the systray, though.)
One of my near-future goals is to convince that damned Xbox Live thing to stop running at every login, though. Ugggh, WHY? Also: I have Teams AND Teams now? Yay…?

Overall, my verdict remains: It’s okay! Nothing seems broken, it’s still essentially Windows 10 as far as application compatibility is concerned, and since I’m running an Intel CPU I’m not affected by the (as of this writing) issues with AMD CPUs in this new version. (Presumably they’ll get that sorted out soon. We hope.)

Who Wrecked Their Flying Fortress Better?

I just finished watching the end of the Fractale anime for the 2nd time. I watched it weekly as it originally aired, and now I own it on Blu Ray. (It was on dirt-cheap sale.)

While processing the show’s ending my brain made a very silly, very random connection between Fractale and something else I watched recently: The Black Widow movie.

There’ll be spoilers (of a sort) after this point, just so you’re warned.

Continue reading

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

I don’t remember why I pre-ordered this (via Powell’s, by the way, not the “large river monopoly” website) except a vague sensation that several people whose opinion I trusted were very excited at its impending release. And, hey, the elevator pitch (anime-style giant-mech action in a strongly historical-Chinese kind of setting) is nothing to sneeze at.

Let me get the recommendation part out of the way right now: If the aforementioned elevator pitch intrigues you, buy this book. If a story of a young woman realizing that a great deal of what she’s been told about How Things Are Supposed To Work is Just Plain Wrong and then proceeding to wreck everything in the process of Doing Something About It sounds like your idea of a good time, buy this book. If you want a “YA” tagged story where the romance bits both do and do not go the way you mostly expect, get on board this shiny mecha, folks.

More thoughts after the break. Here, have a pull quote:

“What I have learned through this madness is that you can absolutely solve your problems by throwing money at them. If you can’t, you probably don’t have enough money for that particular problem.”

IRON WIDOW, Xiran Jay Zhao
Continue reading

In Search Of

I’m looking for something to do, something to get into, something to give me a bit more purpose and energy than my current routine of Doing Almost Nothing Day After Day is providing.

General status update: Left-side shoulder (and upper arm) still hurts like hell. Blood sugar numbers aren’t great, not terrible but not great. Next doc appointment is nearly end of month. Later this week I should be able to play the Diablo II high-def remaster, which is money I kind of feel bad about spending considering the Blizzard/Activision shenanigans but dammit, I need something to look forward to and playing one of my all-time favorite games in glorious high resolution and detail counts, you know? Job’s stable (long may that continue to remain). Home life, same (and, same). Looking forward to the next season of anime, given that the summer season was almost devoid of quality material.

Hmm, maybe an anime post is in order. (Later.)

Gaming has mostly consisted of Fire Emblem: Three Houses but I’m also feeling a bit burned out now that I’m close to the finishing line on my fifth play-through. Satisfactory? I’m still waiting on that map-changing “Update 5.” Nothing else has caught my attention, except for a game on the Switch that I can’t really play because it uses my left arm so much that I end up in pain after a little while.

Getting older: It’s not for wimps.

There are some books and records coming out over the next couple months that I’m cautiously optimistic about. Maybe I’ll talk about some of that here soon.

I should… absolutely start using this site again. I know: I’ve said that so many times in the last decade. So. Many. Times.

We’ll see.

Is this the one?

As of late May I’m officially “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 with the Pfizer product.

For what that’s worth, given that breakthroughs are a thing and mutations like Delta are a thing and even without the variants (ha ha, Loki humor) the vaccine was never a sure thing, never mind the uncertainty about the duration of the protection overall. So now, every time I have to go out among people, especially now that so many people have simply decided that masks are “for morons,” I find myself asking: Is this the one? Is this the breath that inhales the virus and gets me killed?

Not a healthy mindset, but it’s the only way my brain knows how to operate, so here we are. I absolutely do not get out much, no. And after a year and a half or so of this, I’m breaking down faster than ever.

But what else can I do? Ignoring reality isn’t the option. Blissful ignorance isn’t my style. So, here we remain.


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