I planned to take this evening to tell all of my loyal readers about the events of the past few days, the repairs on Black Magic, the great for lake levels but lousy for sailing weather, the magical moment involving a cinnamon-colored bobcat, and a whole lot of other stuff. But instead of writing a lyrical blog post, I have been mired in a frustrating gumbo of cybernetic slime.
Dino had told Zorro about my report of the crack in the starboard side of Black Magic, and apparently the way Dino told it, Zorro thought the boat was sinking, and so he had left a frantic message on my voice-mail. I called Zorro back to reassure him that the boat wasn’t sinking, but that I was worried about this crack that had appeared. I had taken pictures of the crack, and I was planning to send them to Zorro so he could see what it looked like, so I told Zorro to watch his email for the pictures.
I copied the pictures from the camera to the computer, and then, as I was preparing to compress the files so I could send them efficiently, I discovered that this computer doesn’t have JPEG-compression software. Without compression, each picture would take about an hour and a quarter to upload. So I went in search of the software that would compress the files – the one that we already have on the laptop and the computer in Albuquerque, and that works wonderfully well, compressing files, typically, to about 6 percent of their original size. My idea was that if downloading the compressor wouldn’t take more time than uploading two photos, it would be a no-brainer to download the compressor.
So I went to the website where the compressor was available for download. I found out that the software was just about exactly the same size as one of the pictures I wanted to upload. In addition, the software is shareware, which means people can test-drive it and don’t have to pay until they decide they like it and want to continue using it. This software had a 30-day free period – so someone could use it for 30 days without paying anything. If the user liked it, the user could pay $25 and keep using it; otherwise, the software would disable itself.
I was given two choices: a prominently placed “Download Now” and a much smaller “download using your own browser (much slower).” I didn’t like the “much slower” thing, so I clicked the bit “Download Now.”
For the next hour and a half, the only reassurance I had that a download was occurring was the little two-computers icon in the lower right of my screen that showed my computer was communicating with a remote computer by showing a light-blue screen when either of the two was sending data. I was really regretting not using my browser’s downloader, even if it was theoretically “much slower,” because I didn’t have any sort of indication of download progress. I considered aborting the download and restarting with my browser, but as time progressed, I would have lost more of whatever had been downloaded.
Finally, an hour and a half later, I got the “download complete” signal. At last, I could start up the JPEG compressor and get those photos online.
Nope. All that had been downloaded in the past hour and a half was the software site’s proprietary download manager. After 10 minutes of installing that, then I could actually begin to download the software I really wanted.
Now, to give the download manager credit, when I did download the JPEG compressor, a file that would ordinarily have taken about an hour and a quarter to download ended up taking only about 20 minutes. But that download manager is good only for downloading files from its own system, so it’s not really all that useful.
So I started up the JPEG compressor software. It made me do an online registration – I gave it a soon-to-become-extinct email address so as to cut down on spam.
Then I started up the program and compressed the picture files so I could send them to Zorro. When I tried to save the compressed files, I got hit by a nasty whammy – the free trial version of the program won’t allow one to save files. If one wishes to save files, one must purchase the program.
OK, no problem, it’s only $25. I’ll do that. So I go online to the secure payment site, and I enter my credit card information. I get the message “Thank you for your payment.”
When I got back to the screen where I was trying to save files, I tried again, and I got the message “your payment hasn’t yet cleared.”
Looks like it’s going to be a long night. Zorro needs those pictures, and they take an hour and a half each at the speed I can get over the noisy rural dialup connection I have. If I hadn’t wasted so much time trying to save time, I could be going to bed about now.
I still have a lot I want to tell you all about, now that I finally have a night without a thunderstorm and related power outage. I especially want to tell about the bobcat. But I need to get those pictures to Zorro.