Friday, 31 July 2020

Virtual World Trip Day 2 : Sweden

Turning Torso Skyscraper, Malmo

We woke up early and after a delicious breakfast of even more Danish pastries and bacon we hired an old beat up Volkswagon bus and drove across the Oresbund Bridge into Sweden. 
   Wow! What a country. So much hotter than Denmark. Hard to imagine since they're so close together, but phew!
   As soon as we left the hotel for our morning walk we bumped into a friend of my son's and I said, "Oh, Hi, I didn't expect to see you in Sweden!" He replied, "Coming out?" And I said, "Naw mate, we're going for a walk round Sweden. Maybe later :)"
   Had a great walk around Sweden. Saw a bunch of butterflies just like the kind you see in Scotland, and a grey squirrel real up close like.

Some useful words and phrases in Swedish:

Hello : Hallå   /Halloa/
Goodbye : adjö   /Adieu/
Please : snälla du /Snella doo/
Thank you : Tak

one : ett 
two : två   /tvaw/
three : tre 
four : fyra 
five : fem

I didn't expect to see you in Sweden : Jag förväntade mig inte att träffa dig i Sverige

   Today on a friend's advice we went to visit Skansen, which is a huge ethnographic museum on one of the many islands smack bang in the middle of Stockholm.


Amazing place - you need a map to make sure you don't get lost!
   As Sweden is such a long country, you can experience the warmth of the south and the coolness of the north.
   Check out the national anthem!

In Sweden of course they still use the Swedish Krona and with a population of just 10.3 million, there's plenty of space to go around.
   Sweden at the moment is having a bit of a problem with the Corona Virus, but that doesn't bother us because we're only there virtually.
   Have a look at this great video of 13 things to see and do in Sweden:

Looks pretty great, eh? Can't wait to go there for real someday!

At Vasa Museum

In Stockholm's Old Town of Gamla Stan

But the main reason we chose Sweden is because it is of course the home of Minecraft and our son wanted to visit Mojang HQ since seeing Grian's visit there:

Sweden was awesome! But after all that walking we were exhausted and fell asleep as soon as we got back to our very homely home from home hotel, even before I wrote this blog post. 
   Tomorrow : Greece!

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Virtual World Trip Day 1 : Denmark

Well, today was very exciting as at last we began our 2020 virtual family world trip! We 'flew' from Edinburgh to Copenhagen (on our sofa) with very little luggage and the flight seemed to take almost no time at all. They even have X-box on planes now! Bit disappointed to find that the weather in Denmark is almost exactly the same as in Scotland, but whatcha gonna do, eh?

Our son chose Denmark is it's the home of Lego, his favourite creative toy. We’ve been to Legoland at Windsor before but never to Lego House, which is defo one of the planned stops on our world tour this year :) I personally am looking forward to Danish pastries and Danish Bacon. We actually have already been to Copenhagen – I believe it was eight or nine years ago but it was just a whistle stop.

In Denmark of course, they use Krone rather than Euros, and some interesting facts about the Scandinavian country is that it’s an archipelago of some 443 named islands, one of which is called Zealand (perhaps the namesake of New Zealand), and Greenland and the Faroe Islands are actually autonomous Danish territories. The Denmark national anthem can be viewed here.

Life in Denmark is a bit more expensive than in Scotland, and the public transport all runs punctually, so don’t hope to catch that bus you were running a bit late for! Denmark joined the EEC in 1973, and there’s a five mile long bridge connecting Copenhagen to Malmo in Sweden called the Oresund Bridge, which is quite an amazing feat of engineering in itself! We thought about walking across the Oresund Bridge into Sweden, but decided against it. Perhaps we’ll cross it tomorrow on our way to Sweden.

Before arriving in Denmark we studied up on a few basic words and phrases:

Hi – Hej (Hi)

Goodbye – farvel (farewell)

Please – Varvenlig

Thank you – Tak skal du have

Virtual Denmark is nice – Virtual Denmark er rart

Bacon is delicious – Bacon er lakkert

1 – en

2 – to

3 – tre

4 – fire (fear)

5 – fem

But we were pleasantly surprised to find that most people here speak English!

Today we visited the famous Mermaid Statue, which was built in 1913 to commemorate a performance of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen by Hans Christian Anderson. She has lost her head a few times over the years, but who wouldn’t, being stuck to a rock in the harbour day in day out?

We also enjoyed the amazing Tivoli Gardens, which had fantastic rides, games, shops and restaurants.

Next we went to Frederiksborg Castle which is home to the National Museum and a great maze. It was constructed in the early 1700s, when it was the home to King Christian IV. Now it houses many great treasures and works of art.

Finally we arrived at Lego House which, apart from being a popular song by Ed Sheeran released on 11/11/11, has a tonne of great stuff to do in and around the man building, without even having to buy a ticket!

At last, after a long day, our feet were killing us and we returned to our nice wee hotel for a long soak in the bath, another Danish pastry, some delicious Danish fare, a Danish beer and a movie on TV. Home from home! 

Oresund Bridge Photo Credit CC BY-SA 4.0

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Wacom Bamboo Touch Pen & Tablet Rant

Well, I said I would write about this on my blog, so I suppose I should.

Recently my MacBook updated itself to Mac OS 10.15.5 Catalina. It's been fine. I've had no problems.

Apart from my Wacom Bamboo Touch Pen & Tablet, which isn't working the way it should, IE at all. So I get on to the Wacom website and download myself the latest driver for it.

Now this tablet I bought in Japan in 2007 ish and it's one of the only things I've been able to care for and look after enough such that I haven't lost the pen or pulled the wire out the tablet or anything like that. I even kept them all in a bubble wrap envelope for years. To be perfectly honest, it's been great this whole time. It's helped reduce RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in my wrist, I've used it for drawing and designing and editing. It's been brilliant for 13 years.

Until now.
The driver is like, "Dude, no can work with Catalina." 

And I'm like, "Dude, yes can work with Catalina."

And it's like, "No dude, no can work with Catalina."

And I'm like, "But dude, must can work with Catalina."

So I get on the chat support and meet a very nice chap called Luis with a beard and I immediately get off on the weak foot when my autocorrect makes me write, "Hi sis."

This is a bad start. But I press on.

I told him the problem and he told me the problem. 

Wacom no longer supports my product for Catalina. It'll work on older OSs and Windows but alas, Catalina and my Bamboo Touch are now incompatible.


I tried to not direct my frustration at Luis, who was only doing his job and very well, instead trying to make a case for corporate responsibility. I had hoped the whole chat conversation would have been sent to my email address so I could just copy and paste but probably when anyone threatens to 'write about it on their blog', they are not expressly given this option.

Anyway, I did manage to copy this rantette:

You know the world has a lot of problems right now, with the coronavirus pandemic, and a global depression. Everybody is feeling the effects, and I'm sure your company is too. But I can't afford to buy another product from Wacom at the moment because I have nothing in my business bank account. £5 or something. I don't think it's right for a company to stop supporting a product that a customer has taken care to look after, not break or lose, for 13 years, only to be recommended to buy another product, even when the first product is still in perfect working order. I can't afford to keep updating hardware like this. The planet cannot sustain such a 'throwaway' existence. Can you please forward this to your manager or decision maker regarding this as it's socially irresponsible and in my opinion poor business practice. I'll be posting about this on my blog, because quite honestly, it's heartbreaking.

I asked if it might be possible to be given a discount off a newer tablet in exchange for returning the now defunct 2007 product I have, but Luis didn't sound all that enamoured with my suggestion. He gave me a number to call in the UK which I'll try, but I won't be calling with much gusto. Anyway, as I only have £5 in may account I doubt that even with a discount I'd be able to buy a new tablet.

But wouldn't that be great though? A business that gives you money back on old models. It deals with waste and helps keep their loyal customers up to date with tech. I don't know, maybe I'm being too unrealistic since seeing the words 'Lifetime Guarantee' on my Zippo.

What am I supposed to do with a defunct but perfectly working Wacom Touch Tablet and Pen? I could use it to play ping-pong against myself. I could use it as the roof of a little hamster house. Ooh, I could use it as a cheese board. 

Anyway, I hung up the chat giving Luis five stars to try to make up for having to listen to me blowing off steam and then a cloud of dejection lowered upon me. The planet is screwed. I personally am in it now up to my eyes. This philosophy and practice is unsustainable.

I have been trying to live by the ideology of Billionism, (which I may have invented) which is to imagine what would happen if all the billions of people in the world took the same choice and made the decision as you. I use that to guide my actions. That's why I sign petitions. Plant vegetables. Plant trees. Walk instead of drive when possible. One man makes not much difference. But if Billions thought the same way and did the same thing, what a difference!

What the hell am I meant to do with a billion defunct but perfectly working order Wacom Tablets and Pens? What makes it more annoying is that it still works perfectly well. That really grates. If it was broken I wouldn't mind so much. But it's fine. I feel like the prize I get for looking after it all these years is for someone to say, "Right, get lost."

Within my cloud of dejection I didn't feel like writing a blog post. I felt like a white, male, privileged twat complaining about nothing. People are poor, hungry and dying all over the world.

Then I thought, well, what the hell.