Seriously. Ow. (Slight Return)

Posted in gadgets, pain by expatatlarge on October 28, 2011

Just in case you people thought E@L was joking about this fingertip issue…

Seriously! Ow!


Who can E@L sue?


Seriously. Ow (Redux)

Posted in gadgets, pain by expatatlarge on October 25, 2011

Fingertip pain! Xoom, MacAir, Galaxy, the unused touchpad for his iMac, the corrugated touchpad on his work Lenovo ThinkPad. Swipe, slide, stretch, swype. His fingertip is wearing through to the bone, E@L swears.

Obviously E@L is not the only person with this affliction and, pain being the mother of tools of relief, a heap of people have come with a solution. Well not a solution as in a liquid, but as in a solid thing that works.

Capacitance pens. There are lots of them nowadays.

You all know how touchpads and touchscreens work, ya? There is slight charge held on the screen by lots of tiny capacitors, a technology called mutual capacitance, at least that’s what E@L gathers from this Wiki would work well in those wonderful smart-phones, computers and tablets and that require multi-touch gestures. When you touch the screen your large body gives a slight ‘earthing’ effect (electrons surge into you seeking safety and solace) which can be localised by the changing of the charge at the Cartesian coordinates of the capacitors co-affected (at the court of King Caractacus). Completely correct.

Or not. Expert opinion sought, if people can be bothered.

Point being (ha!), you can’t use a normal pen (duh!) with a plastic case or a even wooden pencil as these don’t carry charge and there is none of that earthing to your body. So you can get a capacitance pen, one with a metal body and little (doped) rubber doovey-whacker at the end, which replaces and therefore protects your finger! And when E@L says you, he means him.

E@L bought a cheap (S$14.95) one in Tampines Mall, called iTap (which is odd, because he wants to use it to slide, primarily, tapping not being a problem) because it has a normal pen at the other end.

(The top one,)

All E@L has to do now is not lose it. If he doesn’t, no doubt it will fall apart.


Posted in gadgets, pain by expatatlarge on October 14, 2011

Seriously. Ow.

Samsung IIGS, MacBook Air, Motorola Xoom, touchpad for iMac, touchpad on Lenovo at work. All swipy things…

Killing my fingertips.

Seriously. Ow.



Posted in gadgets by expatatlarge on September 12, 2011

Is E@L the only person to come down with this particular malady? I thought it would be a pandemic across the smart-phone, pad/tab set and now with OS X Lion, spreading even worse.

My finger tips are killing me!

About two months ago I developed some sort of desquamating rash that took lots of layers of skin off the tips of the fingers of both hands. I am not talking TEN syndrome here, and not Stevens-Johnson Syndrome thankfully, but just this peeling and flaking. It lasted two weeks, maybe a little more.

I went to my dermatologist (yes, I have a dermatologist) and she pleaded with me to stop harassing her receptionist to give me an instant appointment and to stop panicking about the above mentioned syndromes and to keep the skin well moisturized as it is just contact dermatitis, some slight irritation maybe from soap or from washing powder. (I had done some hand-washing of clothes with this German soap liquid soap in Croatia, also in Australia the weeks before my visit to the Doc, perhaps it was that toxic gunk?) Maybe some steroid ointment would help, she suggested. Yes of course I have some at home. What sort of question is that?

So no more doing dishes for E@L. (“You’re soaking in it, Madge!” – old TV ad. No? Yes?)

The flaking certainly cleared quickly enough with some simple, cheap (like I don’t have 35 bottles of hotel-filched moisturizing cream in my cupboard) treatment as the Doc suggested and there are some pleasing side-effects when you have your hands covered in moisturizing cream for most of the day and night… which we won’t go into here as the kids are watching…

However one patch of skin took a bit longer to heal than the rest and that was the medial aspect of the terminal phalanx of the second digit, on the palmar aspect of my left hand. Yep, the tip of my pointy finger, just a little off to the side (towards the flip finger). There was, like, this little divot, or rather a patch of flatness where all else was convex. This is the exact point where I make contact with all my touch sensitive devices (the electronic ones).

BTW – E@L is a molly-dooker, a south-paw – Da Vinci, Obama, E@L…

And while it was still red, inflamed, painful, I was not quite feverish, and there was no swelling – it was a flatspot! – but there was also, obviously, else why write this post, loss of function! (Dolor, rubor, calor, tumor, functio laesa Look ’em up.)

I had this sense of … exposure, of vulnerability, of minuscule peri-phalangeal nakedness. It seemed like my inner finger was open to the ever-present dangers of our toxic environment…

But that wound too, in time, healed.

Now it just hurts. The sensitivity remains. The little tender little spot on my finger, this clitoral attacker turned victim, is still hurting. Ow. Like a toefucker!


Using the Samsung smartphone is a pain, but not for the reasons you iPhone lemmings would taunt me with, because of the fingers! Lately I find myself touch-typing my texts (like a primitive iPhone user*, what a step backwards for man) instead of using Swype (look it up) and even using my flip (bird, big, third) finger to do all the important action things on the screen, like stretching back and directing the rubber bands for those perturbed avia, for example And making that switch has resulted in my big finger becoming sensitized as well. I now have two tender fingertips, and am having trouble getting all three stars on Level 4.

The MacBook Air is just the same. In fact it is worse on the Air’s touchpad. Should I sue? All those multi-touch gestures on these devices, that sliding from side to side and stretching the fingers apart and circling around (does sound like clitoral stimulation, doesn’t it?) are taking their toll.

Using the Xoom tab also finds the tenderness, of course but I am not using that much anymore, except to play Words With Friends as it doesn’t have 3G… Sigh.

I’m not sure which of these devices is the greater culprit. It’s just ‘ow’ all the time.


Big fool E@L upgraded his Macs to OS X Lion last weekend.

As there is not much to this upgrade other than fucking up the scrolling direction (if you have scroll wheel in your mouse as I do) and being able to stretch windows from any side or corner (copyright infringement, surely), he bought a “magic” touch pad for the desktop iMac. Because of the tippy-tippy pointy-pointy issues on the left hand, E@L set it up in the right side of the keyboard and… you guessed…

Now the finger tips on the right hand are sore. Result, i am using the mouse and trying to get used to the “intuitive” scroll direction. Result: THREE (3, count ;em) sensitized fingertips.


I was thinking at first, like when I started thinking about this on the weekend, that it might be the new laptop we have a work – a Lenovo Thinkpad with the little red button in the middle… Can we please stop talking about (clitoriseses? clitoratae?) clitorides. (IKYN)

That IBM/Lenovo think, what do they call it, TrackPoint, has small stipples – no not nipples – on the tip and they may have been… no, the skin peeling had started before this creature (not a bad computer actually) was delivered last month.

Ah, OK, enough whingeing. I’ll just scroll down, oops up, no, down, to Publish this post now. Ow.


OK, it’s midnight, time for the moisturizer therapy and – hey, stop running to the bathroom E@L! Your lotions and creams will still be there…


*primitive iPhone user – you might find that phrase rather ambiguous. I don’t.

More Overblown Techno Venting

Posted in frustration, gadgets, geekery, iPhone, other phones, sync, technology by expatatlarge on August 30, 2010

I have lots of computer and phone problems, right? Lots of tech issues, and I’m not much of a geek… I bug you with them all the time. They’re too numerous to catalogue here, so… I won’t this time.


Except that one of the perennials has raised its blooming head (must be springtime) yet again: Phone calendar syncing. Let’s try to do this chronologically, which is to say, calendrically, if not logically.

(Those looking for salacious or, for that matter, even vaguely interesting stuff need read no further.)


I initially had a conundrum about syncing the iPhone and the home iMac, as I had linked the phone to the work laptop PC. Can’t link an iPhone to two computers, right? No big deal, right? Except when I was, ahem, working from home and needed to access or change my work schedule on the iMac.

To overcame this, I reset-up an old freebie Plaxo account and paid for it(!) so that program would grab my calender and contacts from Outlook at the office, and then forward them to iCal at home. The iPhone I could sync through iTunes on the laptop, either in the office or on the road. This was working fine.

At home, I’d get some work emails (only through my company’s Webmail), check for new requests and do the scheduling on iCal, and from there it would upload through Plaxo to the work laptop next time I turned it on. Brilliant. Home, work, phone, all synced.


But the iPhone started dying after it hit its warranty limit. I swear, fourteen months. It started playing up when the Home Key kept missing the curfew, if you get my meaning. I’d press it, press it again, hold it down, nothing! Unless I was trying to show this to someone, in which case it worked perfectly. Sigh.

With all the hassles that went down with the iP4, I thought I’d either wait a bit for the iP5 or maybe pull out a bit from the tethered world of Apple and try something else. Maybe I could stretch it until my phone contract came due, in March next year. But that Home Key was bugging me. It was often usable, but a pain when it wasn’t. How long could I put up with it?

So in frustration and in HK airport I grabbed a Sony-Elricsson Experia X10 (Android operating system). At least I thought I was frustrated by smart-phones at that time. I learned a new definition of the word after a few days with the Exaspera.

Battery life was problem one.

Syncing was problem two. (Problems 3 – 12, another time.) The phone wanted talk directly to its own Sony-Elricsson program, not directly to Outlook. This meant I had to turn the Plaxo program off if I wanted that to work. (I am still under the impression that, and according to the help file in MSO, that I can’t run two syncing programs with Outlook.) No Plaxo meant that I would loose my link to the iCal at home.

It turns out that the Exaspera was happy to link to Google Calendar through the S-E program as well. Now, I hadn’t needed Google Calendar for the iPhone, but what the heck.

So I downloaded the Google Calendar Sync program and linked that to Outlook. It took a bit of fiddling and I ended up doubling up calendar names and the like, so I renamed some, deleted some.

So now my appointments were going from Outlook to Google and from there to the S-E program and from there to the Exaspera.

For the iCal at at home it was going through Pla… oh, no it wasn’t. I had stopped using Plaxo on the laptop. Simple, I thought, I’ll just sync Plaxo with Google and it will go to the iMac!

Simple solutions are always… they always fuck up.

Plaxo isn’t linking to the Google calendar – it keeps trying but it fails… (It still fails today.) Shit. Maybe when I renamed the calendars or deleted them or something, I took away some default setting that Plaxo needs to find the correct Google Calendar.

So I stopped using Plaxo. Actually, it stopped for me. (Now iCal goes to Google for its sync. Don’t ask me how I set that up, it’s a mystery, but it does. And as I have to use Web-mail at home to check work emails, I can still just adjust any appointments in iCal. Or I could just use Google Calendars all the time at home. Why does it have to be this difficult?)

As I said, the battery life on this exasperating Elricsson is just terrible. I’d charge it overnight but by lunchtime it would have died and I’d have missed calls and texts. So, taking a great hit, I sold it on to someone who wanted to play Paper Toss. She also bought another battery for a quick change once a day.


OK, I went back ON the dodgy iPhone,…


Then it REALLY cracked up. Swipe wasn’t swiping, buttons weren’t reacting… Complete lock-up. I could reset it I guess, see if that solves the acute issue, but it won’t fix the dodgy Home Key. I think I might still reboot and use it as a iTouch, or try it again on a new carrier just for playing Word With Friends and Angry Birds… Did I ever tell you that I don’t play phone-games as I think they’re wanky? I didn’t play any until someone go me hooked on Angry Birds. The whole concept of wasting what precious time we have left on earth in order to manipulate transient pixels on a glowing screen is still pretty wanky, but there you go. I was hooked. Such is the fragility of our personalities that we could so easily all become wankers, just as we could all have been Nazis, given the right social and peer pressure – and perverse and pathological love of people with funny moustaches.

(No, just rebooted it, the Home Key still drives me absolutely crazy.)

So there I was, back OFF the iPhone and onto the Nokia E71 again (which I had bought very early last year before I realized that my provider contract was up and could get an iPhone3G for free if I renewed for two years).

Now, problems are there with the Nokia too; text on the screen is too small for my failing eyesight; the touch keypad is too small for my chubby fingers; plus, GGGggrrrrr, like Sony-Elricsson, it needs Nokia specific software, viz Nokia Suite (OVI doesn’t work on the E71) to sync to the laptop… Downloaded a new version of that E@L did… (One day I’ll tell you the trouble I had trying to remove the previous version! No, please don’t, you cry in horror.)


A colleague from India came to the office with his Samsung GalaxyS (Android). He said he loved it. My other colleague, from Chiang Mai, who had been using a bulky old E61i (three years old, four?) was convinced and negotiated a good price in Vivocity (NOT most definitely at the Samsung outlet). He was able to sync both Gmail and our work email easily together. They were both very pleased. Battery not a problem, pretty reasonable, similar to the iPhone, my Indian colleague said. Happy to hear that considering my previous experience with the Android system…

Look familiar?
Doesn’t have Angry Birds, but…

And so I fell apart, psychologically: I became a wanky phone Nazi! Next day, I went to the same shop in Vivocity, told the guy I wanted the GalaxyS for the same price as my colleague (had to be cash) and I came back to the office proudly bearing my purchase (equivalent amount donated to Pakistan flood relief). All three of us now had the same phone! (We had all bought E61s all those years ago as well.)

We were all smug in the office last week with those new phones, but we allegedly were there to prepare for the training in Japan in two weeks time. Then the boss surprised us! He came in – he doesn’t get us all in the same room that often – not to tell us to get back to the task at hand, but to inform us that from now on, we all had to share our work schedules (two on Outlook, one on Windows Live) using Google Calendar!

Oh no!

This didn’t take anywhere near as long to setup, amazingly, as we thought it would.

And almost straight away those guys were complaining about seeing the hundreds of personal appointments that dot my Outlook schedule.

Hey, it’s MY calendar. Or it was. They said they didn’t need to know about my flight schedule to Phuket, nor the hotel details (“so much Baht, you must be rich!”), nor the schedules with my gastroscope-ologist, my oculist, my snore-ologist, my endocrinologist, my neurologist, my orthopaedic Torquemada, my dental ditto, my gypsy fortune-teller, my “massage” “therapist”, my etc, my etc…

Shit. Nosey buggers.

So I tried setting up a second calendar on Outlook for my personal stuff but DIDN’T link this to Google, because… hey, you CANT.

Only ONE calendar can be synced between Outlook and Google. Sigh. That now meant that my personal schedule didn’t get to the SamsungS. For e.g. when I checked the time of my Gastroenterologist appointment today, it wasn’t on my phone! Do’h.

So now (like right now!), instead, I have set-up a Personal Calendar on GOOGLE, and as multiple Google calendars work seamlessly with the GalaxyS – finally something going my way! It’s pretty fine so far tonight – the Doc’s appointment is there, retrospectively.

However, as I said, that Personal Calendar doesn’t get back to Outlook for off-line scheduling, but it doesn’t clog up my colleagues Google Calendar pages either.

I can get it to iCal, along with the Work Calendar. However I had to make it public and searchable in order to set this up – you can now find all my massage appointments with Google Search if you want…

Why don’t I just go to Google Calendar completely you ask? I would, but, strange as it may seem…

~~~~~~~ I AM NOT ALWAYS ONLINE! ~~~~~~~

In the plane, at many places in Singapore (I have forgotten my password for island-wide(ish) free wi-fi), at expensive hotels where the internet is also expensive (but not cheap hotels where the internet is free), at my mum’s place in Australia – funnily enough not all 85 year-old ladies have, or even need, broad-band internet – at these times, in these places, I am not online.

But while I am traveling with my laptop, off-line, I still can adjust my schedule with Outlook! It syncs when I get back online. Can’t do squat with Google offline, what?


Maybe my current situation is tenable: Let’s see how long it lasts…

Work stuff is typically done on the laptop, though it can be one on Google or on the GalaxyS. Private stuff is done on Google when I am online, on the phone when I am not, or on the fly.

1: Outlook Calendar <> Google Work Calendar <> my colleagues’ Google calendars, i.e no Personal Calendar in Outlook 😦 or on my colleagues’ Google 🙂

2: Google Work Calendar & Google Personal Calendar <> GalaxyS

3: Google Work Calendar & Google Personal Calendar <> iCal*.

4: Plaxo Pro ($49.95) <> nowhere.


Let’s see how long the new phone lasts!


* I am thinking, why do I need to sync to iCal at all? I’m always online at home. Then I could then change back the privacy settings for the personal stuff! I think I’ll do that now – at least I proved to myself that I could link them if I wanted to!

** I could have gone to the gym instead of typing this: it would have finished two hours ago and I am not sure which would have been the more exhausting.

Netbook – Anger Management

Posted in computers, defenestration, gadgets, geekery, hammer, netbook by expatatlarge on December 14, 2009

I just tried to do some work on my relatively new Samsung Netbook, running (HA!) Windows7. The plan was to take this creature, which is only slightly lighter and marginally smaller than my Fujitsu work laptop, on my multi-location holidays which are commencing at the end of this week.

I have a lot of training to give the day after I get back from the Bali leg of my holidays. It’s just a rerun of the training we did in Bangkok a few weeks ago, but you see, we have been having CODEC issues with our AVI files (the video files from our U/S machines).

For some godforsaken reason they won’t run in Powerpoint 2007 on Vista, i.e. mine and my colleagues’ work 3 year old Fujitsu laptops. I found out that they WILL run on Powerpoint 2007 on my personal, home, not-work’s, private, I-paid-for-it Win7 Netbook (and on the iMAC and PPT2008 for Mac).

Does our company’s budget extend to us getting Win7 installed? No. Stupid question – we are flying someone in from Sao Paulo for this training, but buy urgently needed software? Not a chance. Can I put in a pirate copy (“hey I am Bangkok”, or I was at the time, “people are thrusting Win7 DVDs at me from every corner of Fortune Tower or Panthip Plaza”)? No, um, we are being audited in January, must show receipts for everything, lah.

Prior to that Bangkok training, way before I bought the Netbook, in the depths of frustration, I determined that the only way to get my PPT videos working was to convert all of those nice AVI videos into something that would work using my genuine $50 Blaze Media Pro conversion software. Trying out different AVI CODECS had only screwed up the frame rate while maintaining the size format, so I had to cop a hefty resolution compromise and go with some shitty small MPG format, but it was the only one that kept the frame rate OK. I had tried about thirty different CODECS and file types… (Hey E@L, what do you do in the office all day?)

One of my colleagues had used the “Run In Full-screen” tick box for his presentations, but the trainees really needed to see the text that goes with the videos to make much sense of them. In my opinion, anyway. Damned if I was going to let this defeat me!

Then, after the training was completed and people had finished commenting on my crappy small videos, we trudged home to Singapore where someone in the office (not me, The Boss!) worked out, in a fierce bout of guesswork, that merely changing the file extension to WMV and reinserting the video back into PPT would enable them to run flawlessly and losslessly!

SIGH! (That’s three years of frustration escaping there.)

So the plan was simply to change the extension names on just a coupla dozen files for this training, and then rename every AVI file in my 40GB archive of training presentations, and do the same in future for every file we get from the machine or from the head office in Tokyo, where they use Windows 2000, or so I believe. (The irony of this is the our U/S machines run on WinXP Embedded) No, this changing of file extensions is much better use of our expensive time than upgrading our laptop software and letting us get on with our work (see below).

And of course for CUSTOMERS who just might have Vista and PPT2007, they’ll have to do the same thing! At no extra charge!

Well, today, after wasting half the afternoon changing file extensions when I could have been writing emails to pen-pals – *ahem* – I said bugger this… I’ll bite the personal use bullet and just use the Netbook for this lot of training and run the original AVI files! No need to change extensions, just replace the crappy MPGs in my PPTs with the old AVIs!

Well, the idea was to take the back-up HDD with me this weekend and play with the PPTs on my spare moments of my 3 week holiday, like maybe lying by the pool/beach/forest/volcano in Bali, just to make sure they all worked.

YAY! Netbooks are cool!


Tonight I brought the HDD home just to check out how the PPT videos and PPTs would play…

This is the first time I have used the Netbook for serious computing. Other than a bit of blogging from a pub a few weeks back, I haven’t needed to get it out. (Not that it’s IN anything.)

In the meantime, while doing the PPTs, I’d surf the web, check out some cool YouTube stuff, my do my personal email, get into Facebook, play chess, etc… all on the Netbook, just as if I was at work (see above)…

But I ran into a wall of molasses…

It is so DREADFULLY slow! A windows take 5 seconds to refresh. Trying to scroll down a YouTube page in iE while a video is downloading freezes that tab for over a minute! Finally I got the video loaded (Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke playing in the change room prior to or after a show, see below) while I fiddled, slowly, updating the PPT files with the AVIs…

Everything took forever (for everybody, just to hyperbolate completely)! I gave up on the touch screen because the W7 multi-gesture thing kept picking up the edge of the finger that was clicking on the LMB, so I took out the mouse from my iMac and plugged it in. 2 1/2 years later, sigh, I could use the mouse to do things like resize the videos, then wait, and move them around the PPT page, then wait… Obviously this ATOM chip is way underpowered to do anything serious!

But that’s not all. When the YouTube finally came back to life and I tried to listen, obviously the tinny (ENHANCED BOOST) speakers were horrible. So I unplugged the Bose speakers from my iMac and tried to plug them in – it went all funny, loud then soft, it was crazy, like the cable was bung. I changed it for a superfluous one on the HiFi. No better. Then I checked the headphones insert area on the Netbook. It has this nasty bloody recess; it only take small plugs, like iPhone shit. Holy toe-fucking hell!

Sigh… Turn off Netbook. Plug mouse back into iMac. Plug speakers with original cable back into iMac. Go to YouTube…


[Addendum: to put these guys into perspective…]


And just to remind you, as the music soothes my anger and the night fades down towards beddy-byes for E@L, NetBooks are a WANK! Fucking worst Sin$900 (why so expensive one, lah? I had to pay extra for Win7 {at least the videos run} and a bigger HDD) I ever spent. Not happy. Seriously thinking of passing it on to some other geekoid sucker if it doesn’t get smashed and tossed out the window before they get the chance.