Why I Love This Song

I screwed around a lot in high school. I was one of those kids who wouldn’t shut up in classes he liked, like history and English. Believe me, few Duluth High students held stronger opinions about the Battle of Hastings and Ezra Pound than I. However, I just.. could… not… stay… awake in classes I disliked, such as… well, most forms of math, honestly. That’s assuming I even showed up at all. After all, can’t you learn more about the human condition in one afternoon at the High Museum than you can in a whole week of Mrs. Pierce’s class?

So, not surprisingly, I had to start my collegiate career at community college.

How long ago was this? It was so long ago that Atlanta still had separate morning and evening newspapers. I mention this because I had to subscribe to the morning paper for 10 weeks for an economics class.

One morning I grabbed my copy of The Atlanta Constitution and drove to school. The traffic gods were kind that morning, so I had plenty of time to pick up a cup of tea at the Student Center. I sat in the near-empty classroom, reading the paper and sipping my builder’s tea. And there I spotted the blurb:

German supermodel Claudia Schiffer will be making an appearance from noon until 2PM at the downtown Macy’s tomorrow to promote her new Guess? perfume.

Me, having clearly learned nothing from screwing around in high school, thought: “I have a female in my life I could buy that perfume for. And meeting Claudia Schiffer sounds like WAY MORE FUN than Algebra 98.” So I went to my first class the next morning, then drove to Macy’s downtown.

The queue wasn’t as long as you might imagine. There were only 30-35 people ahead of me in line, and I wasn’t even trying to rush there. To be honest, Claudia Schiffer was always way down my supermodel list. I always have been, and forever shall be, a Christy Turlington man, with Helena Christensen as my side chick. There certainly wasn’t anything WRONG with Claudia Schiffer. She was just #18 on the list because there were 17 models I thought were prettier. Yes, even Shalom Harlow.

But then she finally came out from behind a makeshift curtain. I was a ways from her, but I remember thinking “wow, she’s a lot prettier than I expected… like A LOT prettier!” And, as the line got ever-closer I just COULDN’T BELIEVE how pretty she was. I mean, there were posters of her plastered in almost every direction of the fragrance department. I could look at those posters all day and think, “yeah, that girl’s pretty”, but then to turn my head and actually SEE her? In the flesh? Godammighhty! It was like my blood pressure went up five points every step closer I got to her.

Then the moment finally came: I was THERE, the width of a high school cafeteria-style table across from Claudia Schiffer. Imagine all the love and care and feeding and education and attention it took to make ME. The countless hours of effort of hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS of people, from doctors and teachers to cafeteria ladies and Vince at the Pleasant Hill Jiffy Lube. All those people, just for me to look Claudia Schiffer dead in the eye and, for want of anything else better to say, said:

“You’re SOOOO PRETTY. I just wanna die!”

My “one chance” with a supermodel, and I sound like Marcia freakin’ Brady telling Jan about a secret crush. Thankfully, rather than look alarmed, she just kind of grinned, I guess secretly celebrating me officially being the 10,000th man she’d turned into a complete pile of helpless Jell-O.

“OK. But… your name… for the shirt?”

“Oh [sheepishly] Jim. J-I-M.”

She signed “To Jim, Claudia Schiffer” on a Guess? t-shirt, smiled and handed it to me. To my credit, I’d recovered enough to prove my German classes weren’t completely useless by giving her a “Tschüs!” then stepped away before making the situation any worse.

And that’s why I like this song.

Outlook and PST “Corruption”

Microsoft Outlook is still a popular email app, used by companies across the world, and home users like myself.

But it seems like Microsoft 365 editions of Outlook have an annoying habit of complaining that a user’s PST file is corrupt and refusing to start. You’re directed to use the SCANPST tool, which says it fixed the errors… but Outlook soon starts complaining about it being corrupt again. But IS IT really corrupt? Is all your data just… gone?

Maybe… but probably not. One habit I picked up from an old timer somewhere along the way (and that refuses to die) is that you’re supposed to run SCANPST on a PST file repeatedly (sending the backups to the Recycle Bin, just in case), until the tool says “only minor inconsistencies were found in this file”:

Outlook SCANPST window

In my version of SCANPST, the “Repair” button is even greyed out, so I couldn’t even run it if I wanted to. So you don’t run the tool once. You run it 3-4, maybe even 5 times, until you see the screen above.

Anyway, if you’ve run SCANPST several times, and you’re sure your hard drive\SSD isn’t failing (by running chkdksk for example, or getting S.M.A.R.T. warnings, or corrupted files in other apps) then chances are Outlook has just gotten stuck in panic mode and needs help getting out of it:

Shut down Outlook, then open REGEDIT and navigate to


You may wish to back up this key for safety. Once that’s done, delete the LastCorruptStore and PromptRepair keys. Open Outlook… and everything should be OK now.

A Neat Firefox for Android Trick

Google Chrome, the desktop web browser, is known for its vast library of extensions, small browser add-ons that fix minor (or major) annoyances. One of the most popular types of extensions are ad blockers. I can’t imagine surfing the Internet without uBlock Origin, and neither should you.

But Google, the company, has long resisted allowing Chrome for Android to use extensions. They claim it would be a support and security nightmare. And maybe they’re not entirely wrong. But without any kind of aggressive ad blocker, using Chrome for Android is just downright painful – pop-ups, pop-unders, video ads, those ads that take up the whole screen that you have to scroll past. I’m just trying to read about my favorite band’s next tour, but Chrome is allowing the site to make my phone look like an epileptic slot machine.

Firefox for Android does support extensions. Sort of. Once upon a time, you could use *any* Firefox extension on mobile, but for the same security and stability reasons as Google, Mozilla blocked most of them. Instead, they whitelisted 16 “official” extensions for Firefox Android. But one of those is uBlock Origin, which means you can get the same high-quality ad blocking on your mobile browser as on your desktop!

But wait… there’s more! Until recently there was an extension called Bypass Firewalls Clean that, as the name suggests, allowed you to bypass the paywalls at hundreds of news sites. Mozilla recently yanked the extension from Mozilla’s extension repository. We don’t know why, although the extension’s author suggests unhappy media companies issued Mozilla DMCA notices on his work, rather than it being a security issue on his part.

The good news? You can still download the extension from the author’s github page. Even better, the author created an oft-updating set of rules that allows uBlock Origin to act exactly like Bypass Paywalls Clean! Although this “trick” works in both desktop and mobile Firefox, it’s especially interesting for mobile in that it essentially gives a bonus extension that wouldn’t have been available ordinarily.

To set it up in either desktop or mobile Firefox, just open uBlock’s settings, go to “Filter Lists” and scroll down to “Import”. Paste the following URL into the box that opens:


So now you have uBlock AND Bypass Paywalls Clean on your mobile browser!

There are a lot of other great features of Firefox for Android to check out – I like how easy it is to send tabs to\from my desktop to\from my phone to\from my laptop, or pull a tab from my desktop session up on the phone.

Sharing Wi-Fi Network Info

Today’s tip is a simple one, but one that I don’t think a lot of people know about.

If you have guests and want to share your Wi-Fi info with them, but it’s difficult for some reason – maybe you have a long or complex password, or maybe the person you want to share with is hard of hearing, or maybe they just got a new phone and don’t know how to add a Wi-Fi network, whatever – there’s an easier way. You need an Android phone on your end, but their phone can be Android or iOS:

Make sure your phone is connected to the Wi-Fi network you want to share and also that your screen is set to maximum brightness. Also have your guest unlock their phone and have their camera open and ready.

Open the Wi-Fi applet on your phone and tap the “Settings” (gear) icon near the top of the screen:

Sharing Wi-Fi 01

Click “Share”:

Sharing Wi-Fi 02

A QR code will now appear. Have your guest point their phone (camera) at the code. They will see a pop-up  asking if they want to join your Wi-Fi network (the exact wording differs from Android and iOS). Tap “Yes” or “OK”:

They should then be instantly connected to your network, no need to type the password manually. However, if it doesn’t work for some reason, the password will be shown under the QR code. This is also a good way to find a forgotten Wi-Fi password. And don’t forget to turn your screen’s brightness down to a reasonable level when done!

EDIT: To anticipate your next question, YES, you can print a screencap of that QR code and frame it, or tape it to a cabinet., or whatever.

My Top Albums Of 2022

2022 was an amazing year for music! I have a gigantic list of great albums that came out this year… and I also had one of the best years ever for concerts, seeing Yumi Zouma and Magdalena Bay in Atlanta, Beach House and Alvvays in Asheville, and Purity Ring and Cannons here in Charlotte! Wow!

Also, my apologies for not getting this out sooner. I wanted to publish it in early December, but life kept interfering (as did the list itself, more on that later). So I planned to get it out the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but one of my clients had a serious, LEVEL-1 DISASTER I had to address. I love billable hours, but didn’t have the “relaxing week of nothing” I was hoping for.

So anyway, below are my ten favorite albums of 2022. The list comes from my Last.fm stats generally; I reserve the right to tinker with the specific order. After that are the honorable mentions, followed by the “Song of the Year”, “Live Song of the Year” and the raw data from Last.fm.

My Top Albums of 2022

10) Lovers Lake – Lovers Lake – It seems like every year I stumble upon a new artist for which there is little to no information. Lovers Lake is that band for 2022. Their Last.fm page just says “if you know anything about this band, add to the wiki!”. Spotify’s bio only lists their socials. I haven’t looked through every post on their Facebook, Insta and Twitter pages, but as yet I haven’t learned anything about them. Where are they from? How many are they? Who knows? But their self-titled debut album is pretty good! It’s heavily influenced by vaporwave, but it’s a well-rounded album with actual instruments – real guitars and basses! There’s lots to love here, if only we knew more about them!

9) Kid Moxie – Better Than Electric – It seems like the #9 spot on my lists is reserved for acts “showing up out of nowhere” every year. And just as Munya’s Voyage to Mars surprised me in 2021, so too did Kid Moxie’s Better Than Electric in 2022. This is a surprisingly solid album, although for some reason it doesn’t include her (pretty awesome) cover of “Creep”.

Continue reading “My Top Albums Of 2022”

Firefox: Clearing “Recent Locations” in Bookmarks

Another day, another Firefox tip!

I’ve been using Firefox for years, and I’ve had one minor (but annoying) problem for a long time now: when you go to save a bookmark, there’s a handy list of previously used folders. That way you can quickly choose a folder to save the bookmark, rather than click through the entire folder hierarchy.

Firefox Bookmarks
Problem is, this list stopped updating about 5 years ago.  The issue followed me through several versions of Firefox, on both desktop and laptop. I could save a hundred bookmarks in some other folder, but this list of recent folders has looked exactly as shown above since 2016 or 2017. And it was super annoying, since I mostly only use bookmarks as a session-saving type system these days. I save each Firefox window in a folder called “Sessions”… which I always had to manually click to, since the folders shown above never updated.

But yes, there is a way to fix this:

1) Open a new tab in Firefox and enter “about: config” (without quotes) into the address bar. Click “Accept the Risk and Continue” when prompted.

2) Type (or paste) “devtools.chrome.enabled” into the search box, and when it appears, double-click it to change the value from FALSE to TRUE. Close the tab when done.

3) Click the hamburger menu in the upper-right of the window and click More Tools > Browser Console. A small window with a bunch of techo-gobbledygook will open:

Browser Console

4) Type (or paste) the following at the cursor on the bottom of this window:

await PlacesUtils.metadata.set(PlacesUIUtils.LAST_USED_FOLDERS_META_KEY,[]);

5) Restart Firefox. When you try to bookmark a page, the previous locations should now be empty, and will refill over time as you save to various folders.

The Amazing Dabbawalas

In 1995, a regional political party named Shiv Sena came into power in India and followed through on a campaign promise to rename the city of Bombay to Mumbai. Which is understandable. No one wants colonial names around. That’s how [King] Charles Town, South Carolina became Charleston.

Still, Mumbai wasn’t very noteworthy until May 11, 1661. That’s when England’s King Charles (hey, the “Charles Town” guy!) acquired Bombay as part his new wife’s dowry. She was Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal. Charles in turn leased the land to the English East India Company for £10 a year. And when the East India Company got serious about building a trading center there, they didn’t play around. The population exploded from 10,000 Bombayites in 1661 to 60,000 by 1675. Long story short: the East India Company turned Bombay into a gigantic trading city. For decades, it was a money-printing machine for the British Empire.

But here’s the thing: most people settling in Bombay were traders from all over southeast Asia. Which was a problem. With so many different cultures and tastes and religions, it was hard for anyone to run a successful restaurant that suited everyone. So, in Bombay the practice became to just go home for lunch, or have your wife or maid bring you lunch, or meet you at a park… or something. By 1890, Bombay had become enough of a modern business city that many Bombayites were going to offices every day.

This is where dabbawalas come in. Every workday morning they stop by their customer’s houses to pick up a hot meal, prepared by the wife or household staff, packed in a series of stackable metal dishes called a tiffin or dabba. Each dabba is labeled with a unique destination code that uses symbols, colors, letters, and numbers. This system is universal to dabbawalas and is easily picked up by illiterate dabbawalas.

A typical tiffin or dabba.

The dabbawala picks up all the dabbas from his customers and heads to the nearest train station. He will meet other dabbawalas and may exchange some dabbas with them, whichever is most efficient. He then takes the train downtown and meets other dabbawalas, again exchanging dabbas. He then delivers all his meals, then rests for bit before doing it all again in reverse, picking up all the empty dabbas from offices, exchanging them with other dabbawalas as needed, and returning them to their homes.

Even though there are no computers whatsoever in this system, and even though most dabbawalas only have a rudimentary education (at best), this system is often claimed to be the most reliable and most accurate delivery service in the world. On a typical workday, dabbawalas deliver over 200,000 meals, and average fewer than 4 delivery errors per *million* transactions. That’s astounding. Dabbawalas take their jobs very seriously. In a city where the trains may not run on time, and the phone\power\internet go down way more often than they should, dabbawalas are SERIOUS about making sure you at least your lunch on time.

Firefox: Copying “Uncopyable” Text

Have you ever been to a website that won’t let you copy text? Like this page, for example? There are a few workarounds for this, especially with Firefox.

The easiest is to just click the “Reading Mode” icon in Firefox’s address bar:

This presents a simplified page with most of the ads and graphics stripped out. You can easily copy text now:

Another option uses uBlock Origin. uBlock is one of the most popular ad blocking extensions, and it’s available for Firefox, Chrome and Edge.  If you don’t use uBlock already, you probably should. In Firefox you can install it by clicking the hamburger icon in the upper right corner of a Firefox window and then “Add-ons and themes” and type “uBlock Origin” in the search bar. Make sure you install uBlock Origin and not plain old uBlock or any other variant. For other browsers, just go to its extensions site\store and install it from there.

In any case, if you click on the uBlock icon in the Firefox toolbar, you can click the “</>” icon to disable JavaScript, then click the “Reload page” icon just above it (the arrows in a circle):

Ublock Disable Javascript

Ublock Reload Page

Don’t forget to re-enable JavaScript when done! uBlock disables JavaScript on a per-domain basis, so while it shouldn’t affect other websites, it might affect some other aspect of the current site.

The inability to copy text is almost always done in JavaScript. So disabling JavaScript will almost always allow you to copy text. But digging through the settings in whichever browser you use can be a chore, and may require a restart of the browser.

There are plenty of Firefox and Chrome\Edge extensions that let you toggle JavaScript off and on, and they usually work. But it’s so rare that I come across this that I usually try Reading Mode first, and it that doesn’t work, disabling JavaScript via uBlock works about 99% of the time. If this happens to you all the time – maybe copying text from “protected” pages is what you do at work all day – then maybe one of those simple JavaScript togglers would work best for you. Most of these disable JavaScript within the browser, so don’t forget to turn it back on when done!

Firefox: Turning Off the Download Pop-Up

Firefox 97+ has introduced an annoying new “feature”: when you download a file – any file – the download progress meter pops-up when the download completes, whether you want it to or not. Perhaps the pop-up is helpful if you’re downloading a large file over a slow connection… but if you’re downloading a bunch of smaller image files it’s more annoying than helpful.

It’s pretty easy to stop the pop-up window. Note that the following procedure will ONLY disable the pop-up at completion: the other behavior of the download button on the toolbar is not affected:

– In the address bar, type about:config and press ENTER. Accept the warning message (the exact text varies by Firefox version) and click “Continue”.

– Type (or paste) browser.download.alwaysOpenPanel in the search box at the top of the window.

– The value for the entry should be set to TRUE. Double-click the text and it should change to FALSE.

I honestly don’t remember if this requires a restart of Firefox, so you’ll need to figure it out for yourself (I think it doesn’t, but could be wrong). It probably won’t hurt to restart anyway.

The Bolton Strid

This is the Bolton Strid. Many call it “the most dangerous river in the world”. And they’re not wrong: if you were fall in the specific bit of the river shown in the picture, your chances of dying are around 95%.

The Strid is part of the River Wharfe in Yorkshire. As you can see from the picture below, the river is fairly broad a few miles north of the Strid.

River Wharfe

So here’s the thing: as it narrows to a space an adult could easily jump over, all that water has to go somewhere. In this case, it goes down, and over the centuries the current has dug trenches as deep as 40 feet (12m) in some places. This means the river effectively turns sideways through the Strid.

But here’s the killer: the first 4 feet (1.2m) of water in the Strid move at a leisurely pace: around 5mph (8KM/h) on a normal day. So ducks can take-off, land and float down the river without a problem. But underneath that there’s another layer running between 25-30mph (40-48KM/h). It’ll sweep you off your feet in an instant, and if you get pushed into one of those 40 foot deep trenches… you’re not coming out. Ever. Not alive, anyway. No amount of human muscle-power can outswim that current, and even if a fully-equipped rescue team watched you fall in, there’s just NOTHING they could do to rescue you.