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    an idyllwild weather clam!

    Our gal, The Idyllwild Weather Clam thinks that it will rain again today.

    Wednesday 31 August 2016
    Currently at 4:59 AM 60°


    Up to the minute now-casting provided by: Idyllwild Weather Clam Mega-Skyview Ultra-Precision Doppler 160000 Super Computron Forecast in Full Spectrum HD
    Saturday
    Jul162016

    Two Sentences From A Book - Slow Hand Edition

    The Little Jaunty Players
    - Proudly Present -
    - Your Best Mates -
    - Selflessly Helping A Fellow Out -
    - Without Any Thought Of Personal Reward -

    It's Two Sentences From A Book!


    I was obviously elected to divert his girlfriend's mate, who wasn't the most beautiful girl in the world. I wasn't interested in her at all, but I was very horny, and although I wouldn't kiss her, I did try to get my hands on her upper torso.

    Spoilers: She was not amused.

    Thursday
    May262016

    Everybody Needs A Hobby

    A lovely centered picture of a dog on a mission.

    Friends,

    I've been spending a lot of time at lower elevations lately, since the new gig is in a tilt-up concrete architectural afterthought near the Pacific Ocean. That means that Lola gets to spend quality time in the tiny back yard at a sweet girl's house.

    Lola likes to have a job and up in my piney paradise, she kept squirrels away while also fending off incursions by attackers disguised as joggers and hikers. I just assumed that her new vocation involved a coordinated attack on the grass to eliminate gophers.

    A lovely centered picture of a dog with a car.

    Actually, she's been mining for Hot Wheels cars. And it turns out that she has impeccable taste. A Hot Wheels #167 Austin Healy is worth some decent cash when they're in good condition.

    A lovely centered picture of a tiny car.

    They might be worth a tiny bit less in this condition...

    A lovely centered picture of a dog with a car.

    It's a good start though. What a good girl!

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    May252016

    Have You Left A Comment Lately?

    A lovely centered picture of a very confused Mister McFeely.

    Friends,

    Just a housekeeping note. If you've tried to leave a comment, which I appreciate immensely, it may not have shown up for a very long time. The reason for this is two-fold. Even though the comments are moderated by me, I don't have a mechanism to notify me if something's awaiting my approval and because of the limitations of the platform, I never will. Second, on top of my lack of diligence in writing things here lately, I also have a less than stellar record of maintaining this joint—including moderating comments.

    It'll get better as I get back into the swing of regular updates. Thanks for your patience and continued readership.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Tuesday
    May242016

    The 404 Still Makes Me LOL

    A lovely centered picture of bobtherieau.com.
    Friends,

    A few months ago, I was reading Advertising Age or Webdesigner Depot or something along those lines, and fell prey to a listicle showing fun 404 pages across the internet. In case you don't know what a 404 page is, here's Codeacademy to help explain...

    Sometimes you’ll see a 404 error if you incorrectly type the URL to a web page you want to visit, and instead of being taken there, you’re rerouted to a page that reads something like, “404 Error - File Not Found.” The 404 error is telling you that the request you sent did in fact make it to the server, but the server could not find the specific file you were requesting.

    This started me thinking about building a custom 404 page for bobtherieau.com. It's not really that hard, but what should be the theme? All the clever error pages, pages that nobody would normally ever see, have a theme. But what should I choose for my nature photo-heavy portfolio site?

    Then it became obvious...

    A lovely centered picture of bobtherieau.com's 404 page.
    And it still makes me laugh whenever I see it.

    Your pal,

    - bob

    P.S. If you're a big fan of error pages, I have server error and unauthorized access pages too!
    Friday
    May202016

    Once Upon A Time

    Friends,

    I've got a bone to pick with a copywriting trend I'm seeing lately. It's popping up in press releases, news articles, think pieces and op-eds with alarming frequency and I'm already tired of it.

    This trend is really a writing style and it goes like this...

     

    1. First paragraph has some background and lays out a premise.
    2. Second paragraph says how we used to do a thing.
    3. Third and subsequent paragraphs introduce the new thing and explain how great it is.

     

    It's lazy (and I've done it myself) and not new in itself. What's new is that articles are explicitly telling you what they're doing. Here's an example...

    Everyone likes to tell stories – it’s something we’ve done since we were kids. These days storytelling is an inherent part of our daily lives on social media, whether it’s sharing family photos or promoting a product, company, or cause.

    For a long time, the tools that let us creatively express ourselves and tell our stories were there for the select few who knew how to use them. But times have changed.  A high-definition camera is just a swipe away. You can carry an orchestra in your pocket and a digital publishing studio in your bag. We already know how to share with the world—but how do we actually stand out by telling our stories with impact?

    Today we’re announcing Adobe Spark – a new way to create powerful visual stories...

    Sure, Executive Vice Presidents write this way, but you shouldn't. You're better than that.

    Your best pal in the whole world,

    - bob

    Thursday
    May192016

    An Ungodly Early Hour

    IMG 2309

    Friends,

    It's been six weeks, so I suppose I should finally spill the beans: I decided to take a job off the hill and away from my lovely forest. The decision was easy to make since I was as broke as a joke, but it's been a tough transition and doesn't seem to be getting easier.

    Waking up at 3:30 every morning is beating me up. I don't know how people do it. The new coworkers in the new office in the new town at the new job are nice enough, but I'm so sleepy that I don't feel I'm holding up my end of the bargain. Yeah, you read that right. Three-effing-thirty.

    Thankfully, a sweet girl I know has been more than generous in playing along with this absurd schedule shift. She's been a good sport, but she surely must be growing weary of my alarm going off in the middle of the night.

    However, I have a plan…

    Your best pal,

    - bob
    Friday
    May132016

    Jaunty Little McBlogface

    Friends,

    You may recall the sad saga of Boaty McBoatface, which I won't retell here, but now Google has released their artificial intelligence engine to open source. The natural English language parser?

    Parsey McParseface.

    My Friday is made.

    Your best pal in the whole world,

    - bob

    Monday
    May022016

    One Half AA?



    Friends,

    I'm sorry to report this morning that a) Southern California Edison is not very good at the whole consistently providing electricity thing and that b) the trusty old Power Macintosh that provides images for the Jaunty Little Webcam did not survive the last extended outage. The good news is that I think the problem with the Mac is its geriatric clock battery which is no longer charging and not keeping the clock alive. Wake On LAN and Restart After Power Outage? Yeah, they're handled by the clock.

    The good news is that replacement batteries are cheap. The bad news is they won't show up until the end of the week, so we're sunk until then. Save a good thought for the old Macintosh that she'll live to see another day, won't you?

    Your pal,

    - bob

    Sunday
    Apr242016

    Several In The Bush

    A lovely centered picture of Quarks
    Friends,

    It's been a little while since I've posted an update, but what a little while it's been. Since I last wrote some words here and you've read them, I've taken a position working for the company that contracts to the company that provides Tier III tech support to an enormous multinational publishing company. The office I'm working in near some flower fields and a small regional airport is staffed with good folks who seem to like each other, which is a wild departure from my last office gig. What is not a departure is that the executives do not seem to know what happens in this office. It's all a laugh though and I'm enjoying my time there.

    This means that I don't get to see my chunk of forest in person very often, so I'm with you having to make due with the webcam images. All of this could change at any time, of course. The people at the new gig could label me a fraud and a sham, sending me packing. A new company could call and offer me uncountable wealth for agreeing to share small pearls of wisdom with them. A large meteor could strike tiny Aguanga, California rendering the roads impassible (like they need any more grief. - ed It's just an example.). These are things that could potentially happen, but will they? Probably not, don't count on it, and surely not.

    What I do know for sure is that recruiters keep calling and I keep picking up. At this point, though force of habit. They might have something else for me to do soon, but in the meanwhile, I'm happy to spend my day taking apart Dell laptops and resetting passwords.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    Mar302016

    A Bird In The Hand

    Snowy Springtime Snap

    Friends,

    As you may have heard, we're in the middle of the Spring Hiring Season. What this means as far as I know is that companies have finally shaken off last summer's hiring doldrums, last autumn's hiring malaise and last winter's hiring freeze. It's a rebirth, if you will (and won't you please?).

    I've tried to weather all of those various seasonal shutouts, but the job climate now is very different. Offers have been pouring in over the last several weeks and it's been hard to keep them straight. One is barreling ahead at full speed, but the one I've been hoping for over a bunch of months looks like it might also work out. All I have to do is be patient for another week.

    Another. Week.

    Surely I can hold on for another week, right?

    Right?

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Thursday
    Mar172016

    Here's A Wee Update: Write Something, Dammit! Edition

    IMG 2252

    Friends,

    I've been lax about updating this thing lately, but not for lack of something to say. You can see some nonsense from me on Twitter, mostly about politics and pretending to be friends with people I've never met. I also spend a certain amount of time feigning outrage about stuff. It's not healthy to be a part of the Internet Outrage Machine, of course. The more you feed it, the more insatiable it becomes. You'd think that would be unsustainable, but Twitter is selling ads against the furor, so somebody has figured it out.

    This leads me nicely (if you do say so yourself. -ed) to why I haven't been posting lately. The job market has been particularly prickly and as I read the piles of rejection notes clogging my inbox, it's been tough to build up the will to write. You can only read that you're no good for so long before you start believing it yourself. "They don't realize what they're missing," and "Maybe it wasn't the right fit" still don't pay the bills. You will not find that surprising.

    I still think that writing can pay the bills, so here's a start. There will be much more to come, including a new project that I can't talk about yet. Thanks for stopping by. I'm excited to get back behind the keyboard.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Monday
    Feb012016

    We Get Letters!

    IMG 1699

    Friends,

    We get a lot of interesting email here at the Secret Alpine Laboratory, and frankly, a lot of the unsolicited email seems a bit off the mark. I'm sure you've seen all manner of come-ons from deposed African princes, for herbal remedies and gadgets claiming to cure all sorts of ailments. This note, however, seems to know all about me—based on exhaustive research!

    Dear bob@bobtherieau.com,
    I am pleased to inform you that based on your professional background, you have been selected to apply for inclusion into the Worldwide Association of Female Professionals. Our research department nominates a handful of potential candidates based on factors such as your current professional standing, recent accomplishments, honors/awards, published articles, as well as information present on authoritative media outlets, social networks, and professional directories. Based on this, I feel that you would make a fitting addition to our elite network of professional women...

    What a lovely honor!

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Friday
    Jan222016

    A Very Bright New Year

    A fine photo of my new company car.
    Friends,

    There is every possibility (not every. infinity's a big place. - ed), or to be more precise, a very promising possibility that I will receive good news about a new job today. This will allow me to purchase a new commuting vehicle, a picture of which I've posted above from the manufacturer's brochure.

    The only difference is that I'm ordering the heated seats.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Thursday
    Dec242015

    A Very Merry Christmastime

    A lovely centered picture of a skater.

    Friends,

    I'm not going to sugar-coat it; this year has not been great. Business has been slow and some promising opportunities have fizzled or flaked. Despite that, I've had the good fortune to meet new people and branch out a bit.

    If I've learned anything this year, it's that starting and maintaining a new business is harder than I thought. The work itself isn't the tough part [maybe you should take a moment out of this holiday message that seems to have veered wildly off course and tell the people what it is you do. - ed Not now, I'm on a roll.]. Fixing computers, installing networks, and building websites are the jobs I'm landing most often which is fine and not terribly difficult. The problem is marketing myself. I can easily develop slick marketing plans for other people, but I've always had a issue with selling myself. If I overcome that, I'd be in much better shape.

    So there's my wish for the new year—to get some more business. My wish for you is that you enjoy a healthy and happy 2016.

    Totally doable.

    Your best pal in the whole wide world,

    - bob
    Wednesday
    Dec162015

    Ahoy Thar!



    Friends,

    The good folks at Mahindra may be getting some press for their purchase of Italian styling house Pininfarina, but what you're missing is that they've revamped the Thar.

    What's a Thar? It should look very familiar to you. Think Jeep CJ-7 with a CJ-3A windshield and a diesel engine and you're most of the way there.

    Or, Thar.

    You're welcome,

    - bob

    P.S. FCA, the parent of Chrysler and Jeep should hire Mahindra's agency and fire whoever it is they hired to make this. The video above actually spends time showing what the Thar can do in a pretty straightforward way. I know, it's weird.
    Wednesday
    Dec092015

    Je Suis Californie

    California bear
    Friends,

    Terror attacks in the United States are on the rise with Colorado and San Bernardino being the latest examples. What I find distressing is that one of these events is called terrorism and the other isn't. One has prompted shouty people to shout about condemning non-pink people and one global religion, but those same shouty people are loathe to shout about a beardy pink fellow who follows another global religion.

    We were justifiably alarmed by the attacks on Paris. We changed our avatars and proclaimed our allegiance and solidarity with an entire country. The terror attack on San Bernardino on the other hand, sparked a national dialogue. Did you overlay a California flag over your Facebook avatar? Me neither.

    I didn't even consider it.

    "America, what a country!"
    - Yakov Smirnov

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Monday
    Sep282015

    Nothing But Trouble

    Apple haterz
    Friends,

    I wrote this for inclusion in an application package to write for an Apple-centric blog. I haven't heard back from them, but I thought you might enjoy it. Please also note that it clocks in at 299 words, which seemed important.
    Chris, the Time Warner Cable installer arrived early for the appointment yesterday. His detailed tattoos declared his love of mountain biking. His worn and too-large boots showed that he’d been around a while. It was time for me to make the switch from the rural-class DSL recommended by the realtor when I bought the cabin to faster and cheaper cable.

    Connections complete, he poked around on his iPad to turn up the service while I poked around on the Mac Mini to see why the network wasn’t coming up. I should at least get a connection to the router, I thought, but Safari protested, “You are not connected to the Internet.” I’ve never used a Netgear modem with this Airport Extreme, but the modem’s lights were all reassuringly green next to the Airport’s ominous orange.

    “Oh, you’ve got one of these,” Chris sighed, flipping the Airport around. “I have nothing but trouble with these things.” That can’t be, I thought. Apple stuff just works. After decades of troubleshooting and cussing and fixing PCs and third-party gear, I made an effort to keep my own home network as homogeneous as possible. I need to get actual work done, so only Macs, iOS and Airport will do. I’m all in.

    I managed to change the network address settings in Airport Utility and hit Update only moments before Chris took matters into his own hands and pulled the router’s power. “There, that should do it,” he beamed. Green light, connection established, and I was ready to stream the Galaxie 500 deep cuts playlist. If I were a good Apple evangelist, I would’ve told him that the static IP settings weren’t working. Instead, I simply thanked him for his hard work and gave him a positive rating on the survey.

    If you have comments, please leave them on your Pinterest or Instagram feeds and I'll go look for them.

    Your pal,

    - bob
    Sunday
    Aug302015

    Our New Offering

    Ampersand
    Friends,

    I applied (again) for a copywriting gig at a reasonably famous craft brewery in a county just South of here and their HR department politely declined the offer of my services. Before I submitted my application, I did my research and spent time on their website. This particular brewery seems to have written themselves into a very deep hole if you think about it. Their site is full of words, their packaging is full of words, and each of their many products have a pile of words apportioned to each product page. You'd think that they would have glommed onto my application like a lamprey, since as you've seen here, I am rarely at a loss for words. Many words. Many lots of enormous words.

    This got me to thinking though—how would I write for beers? Also, how might I write for beers and incorporate (and milk endlessly) a single joke. Here's my product announcement...

    Ampersand Brewing Company Announces Latest Creation

    Ampersand Brewing Company, the premier craft brewer in Northern Southern California's famous craft brewing region, is excited to announce its latest premier craft beer—Additive Ale. Brewmaster Ann Annotherthynge has hand-selected the finest Ersatz hops from the Etcetera region of Austria, bringing the fruity nose and resplendent hearty head fans have grown accustomed to. Using the finest Furthermore yeasts and slow-hopped over months and months and months, the finish is smooth with notes of caramel, grapefruit and leather. Additive Ale will be initially available on tap at finer gastropubs, and in restaurants, and at liquor stores, and supermarkets, and in growlers on our web store, and in convenient six packs, and from taco trucks, and from other places.

    Yup, just the one joke.

    Your best pal in the entire world,

    - bob
    Friday
    Aug142015

    Not The Future

    Change the oil and she'll fire right up!

     

    Friends,

    I applied for a copywriting job at a cute little agency housed in a cute little Victorian about 50 miles away from my piney paradise. 50 miles you say? Isn't that the distance I crabbed about not that long ago? Yes, but the old gig was in a sea level men's room hand dryer, not in an old neighborhood with quaint tree-covered lanes.

    The setting was great, the people were welcoming and the job was something I could do standing on my head. How do I know? During the selection process, I was sent writing tests, including a timed test, that I took to like a kitten is drawn to a webcam. A long week waiting for an answer ended with polite rejection. As is my custom, I asked what I could have done differently as a way to figure out why my application was turned down. I received this:

    "Your qualifications and interview was excellent. You were one of our top three candidates. Ultimately, it came down to the best fit for our company and our future."

    I'm not entirely sure how I might not have fit into the company, since we seemed to get along very well in the interview and subsequent email correspondence. What I'm worried about as I, ahem, gain more life experience, is the perception that I won't be around for a company's future. As far as I'm concerned, I've got another good 100 to 150 years left in the tank. Putting in another twenty until some people might think I should retire is a wildly optimistic number for any business concerns' hopes of longevity if you look at the numbers.

    So what does this mean? It's back to the drawing board, or writing board, or keying board. I'm sure somebody needs the savvy and experience I've earned. Sadly, the folks I had hoped would see that, didn't.

    Your best pal in the whole wide world,

    - bob

     

     

    Wednesday
    Jun172015

    In Defense Of Yesterday's Technology

     

    Friends,

    I've been a subscriber to a single wireless phone carrier for twelve years, which is absurd when you think about it. Who hasn't switched and flopped between carriers to get the best price or the best signal or to take advantage of a last gasp deal (Hello, T-Mobile!). I was finally able to take advantage of my, erm, loyalty yesterday and also a giant multinational corporation hoping to clear last year's phone model out of the channel to get an iPhone 6 for nothing down. Also, the payments on the new phone with the deal are lower than the old phone, so the monthly is lower. That's the financials, but what about the hardware?

    Brilliant. The camera is lovely, the processor is very fast and migration of data from the old to the new model was reasonably quick when directly connected to the desktop through iTunes. It's bigger than the older phone, but it still fits in a front jeans pocket.

    All that said, there are some problems. My laptop is from (late) 2007 and has been rejuvinated with a RAM and hybrid hard drive (part SSD, part spinning disks) upgrade, but still can't run the latest version of Mac OS X. That means that it has been excluded from the great cloudiverse. It can't share data with the new phone, iPad, or the desktop machine if I turn iCloud on. Apple makes an app (or application, if you will) that allows Windows machines to access iCloud storage, but you can't do that on old Macs. Perfectly functional Macs.

    Perfectly functional Intel-based machines are out. The Power PC machines, like the G4 Cube, Power Mac, Powerbook G3s and iBooks (before iBooks was an e-book purchasing app, or application, if you will) are still running, but out of luck in this ecosystem. Surely you don't want to toss these machines in the bin since they have a lot of useful life left doing the things that most people want to do, like browsing the web or checking email, so making these machines obsolete seems like a waste.

    There are lots of ways around this file sharing problem, like Dropbox, and local file sharing, but the many old machines on my network deserve something better. They've built the company, or at least the ethos of the company, so why not cut them a little slack?

    I know why, but that's the subject of the next piece.

    Your pal,

    - bob