Monday, September 28, 2020

Ugly non-transparent titles still being used by The Conversation

A year or two ago I contacted The Conversation (Australia) and pointed out that the then recent change in the way that titles of articles  were displayed was a turn for the worse.

My attempt to influence this poor design were unsuccessful, so for the last couple of years titles have been displayed as non-transparent areas with a solid white background superimposed on the image that appears at the top of each article, like this one:

image

Just like Closed captioning (CC) on free-to-air television the solid background is very ugly, and it hides sections of the underlying image (which can block out major parts of TV broadcasts such as charts and weather maps).

In my opinion, the captions should (perhaps selectively) be presented with transparent backgrounds, like the subtitling used by Netflix and Amazon Prime TV. (You may have to use configuration options to change from solid to transparent background.)

It is bizarre that on the home page of The Conversation titles utilise transparent text, such as:

image

Obviously they could use transparent title text everywhere, not just on the home page, and I remain puzzled why they don't.

I notice that both the  "Africa" and the "Global Perspectives" editions of The Conversation use the original layout, for example:

image

 

This is a weird inconsistency.

I promised myself that when once I became an octogenarian (which happened in early July this year) I would try to stress out and stop being annoyed by such things, and try to live a calmer life.

But it seems that I can't. Every time that I read an article in The Conversation I still have the same reaction. C'est la vie!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Stringent new rules for COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria (13 September 2020)

All residents of and visitors to Victoria should become familiar with these extended rules.

a-really-BIG-book

They will take effect from  11:59 pm on Sunday 13 September 2020.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Resolving the mouse pointer "stickiness" problem for multiple monitors in Windows 10

Just like lots of others using multiple monitors with Winds 10, I have been greatly irritated by the way that the mouse pointer tends to "stick" at the monitor edges when you move it between monitors, unless you are moving the mouse fairly fast (when it transitions from one monitor to another without any issues). Do a search such as this one to see some of the history.

There are solutions involving editing Windows registry settings (or using an app called NSM – Non Sticky Mouse to do the editing for you). I tried these suggestions, to no avail, and the mouse pointer still kept sticking at the edge of the monitor.

I had almost given up when, fortunately, I saw a comment by one person recommending that you go to Display Settings and jiggle the rectangles representing the monitors as close together as possible:

image

There may still seem to be a gap between monitors, but the action of moving the edges of the rectangles so that they slightly overlap seems to have the desired effect.

A reminder that you may have to log off and sign in again (or restart Windows) before  this remedy takes effect.

As mentioned, this seems to work -- but we all know that Windows can be rather quirky (and Microsoft keeps tinkering with these things, so a fix like this may stop working at some pint in time). Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Dying, alone or not?

A weighty topic ...

I have a feeling that, to some extent, we all will die "alone" -- even in the presence of other(s) -- but my choice certainly would be to have the other(s) present.

I haven't yet been present at a human death, my only direct experience with death being with a lovely dog Clyde, who had been very ill, and finally took one last look into my eyes before suddenly expiring on my lap. Dogs are very expressive creatures, aren't they, and I think he realised that something drastically different was happening to him

I wasn't present for my father's death, which might have been alone in a hospital cancer ward (his earlier smoking caught up with him), and I thank that my mother was alone when she died at a nursing home in Frankston.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -  For those without access to Australian newspapers  - - - - - - - - - -

These conversations are among the hardest I have had as a doctor

         Dr. Julia Corfield (The Age - 26 August 2020) 
                     Become a subscriber to The Age
 
It's a cold Saturday morning in Melbourne and I am a doctor at work in a palliative care unit. I have just reviewed one of my patients, whose body is beginning to reveal some of the tell-tale signs of dying.
His son stands over him and sadly remarks that “this is a bad time to die”.
 
With strict visiting restrictions firmly in place across Melbourne, there is a very real chance that his father will die alone and he knows it. This is the new normal.
In a state of disaster, there are a set of rules and visiting restrictions for families and friends of those dying in a hospital setting. These restrictions vary slightly between health services, but the message is the same: as few visitors as possible, for as short a time period as is reasonable.
 
For months now, hospital staff (myself included) have been chanting the mantra of seemingly arbitrary visiting windows, maximum numbers of visitors per patient and numbers of visitors permitted at the bedside.
In recent times, I have found myself asking questions such as “do all six of your siblings need to visit?” or “could your grandchildren say their goodbyes via FaceTime?”. These conversations are among the hardest I have had as a doctor.
 
Many find these new rules unacceptable, and with good reason. Few people want to die alone, and even fewer want their loved one to be alone in the final weeks, days and hours of their life.
However, these are not normal times, and a balance must be struck between compassion and safety. Across the world, and now in Victoria, we know that many people with COVID-19 are dying alone; but so are those without COVID-19. Both are tragic realities.
 
Under normal circumstances, achieving “a good death” is laden with obstacles, let alone in a pandemic. An inherent challenge is that a good death is an individualised experience, reflecting the diversity of the human person.
 
There are some commonalities across what constitutes a good death, and the company of friends and family features almost universally.
 
A current patient comes to mind ­ a woman in her 70s dying of lung cancer ­ who tells me almost daily that her breathing is bad but the feeling of loneliness even worse. She would like to see her grandchildren, but no children are allowed in the hospital.
 
Her brother visits, but the allocated two-hour visiting window is not long enough to fill the void created when faced with one’s own mortality. And so on. Her story is not unique.
 
Dying in a pandemic has brought with it new and more challenging obstacles, ones that make us question what it means to be human. Death is normal, but dying alone is not. So, frankly, when I hear my patients and their relatives say that it is a bad time to die, I can't help but agree.
 
Ultimately, how we live and how we die tells us about society as a whole. Today, people die alone to protect society and this at least may be a small source of solace. Their strength and determination to push forward and adapt to this strange new world is a testament to the human spirit.
 
I hope, though, that those dying in this COVID-19 world know that their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. Every day, their struggles are seen and felt. Many have had to forgo the so-called good death, and that is the undeniable truth.
 
Julia Corfield is a doctor working in palliative care in Melbourne.

- - - - - - - - - - - -


As for me, I'd like to die with a pungent, witty observation on my lips!
Something akin to the following classic:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_IdF6NE8Fisg/SYU9unioKEI/AAAAAAAAAoI/W
           Stan Cross (in Smith’s Weekly, 1933, Australia).

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A twisted yet really good way to put on a face mask (a COVID-19 usability tip)

On local Australian TV news a day or two ago, I saw a passing shot of a nurse wearing her face mask differently from everybody else that I've seen so far in all the news reports from around the world about this COVID-19 pandemic.


See the image below, where the blue lines indicate  how the loop is twisted (compared with the usual untwisted method in white).
I tried it out "the twist" today, and it seems less likely for the mask to come loose, and it seems to reduce the problem of the ear loops getting tangled up with the arms of your spectacles.

Try it out yourself. What do you think?

 

 

POSTSCRIPT:  

For a pointedly different way to wear face masks,
go here.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Another act of kindness emerges in time of adversity [COVID-19, Australia]

In these bleak times, it's nice to be reminded of just how extraordinary people can be.

Take lawyer and businessman John* (who did not want to use his real name), who rolled up to the Box Hill Centrelink this week and started handing out $100 notes, or as he calls them, "lettuce leaves".

"I came here as a six-year-old from a village in Greece and this country has been good to me," he said.

"I was watching the queues at Centrelink – all those people lining up just so they could buy food for their families – and it made me sick to my stomach. I couldn't take it anymore."

John went to his bank and withdrew the maximum amount of $10,000.

"I started at the back of the line so I didn't miss anyone," he said. "I still had money left over so I went in the building and made sure everyone inside got some too.

"That day they just needed instant relief. These are just innocent people who, through no fault of their own, can't put food on the table.

"There is a lot of wealth in this country and we can ship some of that off so people can get back on their feet, that's all there is to it.

"If everyone who is a little better off can take out what they can and hand out some lettuce leaves, do you know how much better we will be?"

(As reported in The Age on 27 March 2020)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Various national health warning levels – Update for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) UPDATE (sent to me on 17 March 2020)

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent virus threat and have therefore raised their threat level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, level may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.”  The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.

The virus has been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let's Get the Bastard.” They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its alert level from “No worries” to “She'll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far, no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

The Russians issued their standard reply: “It’s not us."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rambling thought for today, the ides of March 2020

Well it's 15th March, and this morning -- mainly on the spur of the moment but partly to keep my mind off  the all-pervading news about COVID-19 corona virus) -- I  felt like investigating the Latin work "ides".


Several online dictionaries use the same definition:
The 15th day of March, May, July, or October or the 13th day of the other months in the ancient Roman calendar.

Curious about why it wasn’t the 15th of the month that was always used, I found a good discussion you can investigate under Ides of March in Wikipedia

… a day in the Roman calendar that corresponds to 15 March. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts. In 44 BC, it became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar which made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history.
and
The Romans did not number days of a month from the first to the last day. Instead, they counted back from three fixed points of the month: the Nones (the 5th or 7th, nine days inclusive before the Ides), the Ides (the 13th for most months, but the 15th in March, May, July, and October), and the Kalends (1st of the following month). Originally the Ides were supposed to be determined by the full moon, reflecting the lunar origin of the Roman calendar. In the earliest calendar, the Ides of March would have been the first full moon of the new year.


However there's the following alternative scenario:

              

So avoid being stabbed, and smile for a while on the ides of March!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Coronavirus Effect (Australian perspective)


A friend sent the following to me in an e-mail (attribution unknown) …


ROTO-WIPE .…… That one's a bit rough!


Norton's (one of the best antivirus programs)







                 Total Protection



                       China's version of "The Game of Thrones"



It started off decades ago as Jim’s Mowing, and after that has expanded into many different gardening and cleaning services.