Musing: This Got Out Of Hand

It started out small. A simple task. Nothing to it. Would take two minutes.

And then it took two hours.

A microphone rose from the corner of my desk. I use dictation software to speed up the writing process, something those of you waiting on my next book might find amusing. Imagine how slow I would be without it.

When not in use, the microphone irritated me. Even folded back, the boom arm got in the way. If I moved the clamp to a new position at the back of the desk, the boom arm would fold up behind my monitors when not in use. In a fateful decision, I moved it.

The boom arm slid easily out of its mount. The mount simply un-clamped from the corner of the desk and then re-clamped to the back. The process didn’t even take the expected two minutes.

But when I installed the microphone, the cable no longer reached the audio interface—a small box that connects the microphone to the computer.

No problem. The audio interface fit easily beside the relocated microphone boom arm. All I needed to do was reroute the cable from the audio interface to the Dell computer. Except now my studio headphones—cabled for sound quality rather than being wireless—needed to move.

Ten minutes into the project, and all is well. I tested the microphone with the dictation software, and it worked like a charm.

Except…

Being right-handed, I prefer the microphone to my right. Now that I had moved the boom arm to the center of the desk, it blocked my view of the monitor to my right. That display connected to the Dell Computer containing my dictation software. I needed to attach the center monitor to the Dell, but it displayed my Apple work.

Oh. Are you confused? Yes, I have both a Windows computer and an Apple computer on my desk. With my varied interest—photography, videography, writing, website management, and running a business—I know that Apple computers work better in some situations, and Windows computers manage other tasks. Thanks to the power of cloud data storage, I can seamlessly work in both operating systems on separate computers. I know you can work in both from one machine with specialized software, but I found it more efficient to have the two machines.

And the three monitors? When editing videos, I find it helpful to have the video screens on one monitor and sound files on a second. Sometimes, I may have photo software and other tools open as well. Having that monitor space makes life easy.

In my old set up, the middle monitor was my iMac—a computer and monitor in one. The monitor on the far left worked as a second monitor for the Apple Computer. The monitor on the far right served the Windows machine, but it also had a switching device in case I needed three monitors on the Apple. Yes, I know that’s crazy.

What I needed, though, was the iMac to move to the left, and the extra monitor moved to the center where it could work with either Apple or Windows. All because I moved the microphone.

I shut down the computers. Unhooked cables. Prepared to make the switch. And noticed the desk had last received a scrubbing when we moved to Asheville a year ago. Since I had already cleared the desk. I grabbed supplies and went to work cleaning and polishing. Soon, I had a shiny desk and set the monitors back up.

Guess what? By moving the iMac to the left, and the spare monitor to the center, one plug could no longer reach the pair of uninterruptible power supplies on a tabletop beside my printer. Straightforward solution to this, and one I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time—I moved one of the two UPS machines to the side table on the other end of my desk. With that done, I rerouted power cables and plugged the machines in.

Then I discovered one of my monitor cables no longer worked in the new configuration. I needed a slightly different cable. Not the biggest problem. I have a box—fair enough, a couple of boxes—of various cables that have come from a menagerie of equipment over the years. Some are still in their shiny new wrappers as they came shipped with an electronic device, but I already had a suitable cable. Others have a significant amount of age, but still worked fine. The trick in that spaghetti mess was to find the cable I needed. If not, I would have to order it and have it shipped. Fortunately, after only ten minutes of searching, I found a suitable substitute. I plugged it in, and everything worked.

That left me with cables dangling and tangling—an ugly, messy mass of wires. I grabbed my handy bag of various cabling gear and went to work hiding cables with adhesive strips, zip ties, and Velcro.

I leaned back in my chair and admired my handiwork. Three monitors graced my desktop. The switch flipping monitors between the Windows and Apple machines worked flawlessly. The keyboards and mice—yes, I have two of each, so a set works with each machine—were connected and working. My project was done.

Almost.

Debris lay scattered about the floor. I gathered the trash and disposed of it. The many unused cables were coiled and stored in boxes for a future search.

Finally, I was truly done. A mere two hours after I moved my microphone.

Good news though. I needed a story for this week’s Monday Musing. I can officially claim this wasn’t wasted time, but creative juices flowing.

With my microphone properly placed and connected to my Dell Computer, I’ve dictated. I utilized the Apple computer to edit photographs and lay out this post. The finished project was loaded onto the website. Easy-peasy.

Only took a few minutes.


In the vocabulary words I share weekly, I spend a few moments discussing the etymology of the word—where it derives from and, sometimes, how it has changed over the centuries. For example, this week’s word traces back to both Greek and Latin philologia, but with slightly different meanings. In Greek, the word refers to the love of discussion, learning, and literature while the Latin phrase refers to love of learning, letters, and study.

Then the word travels through French—philologie—linguistic and literary knowledge. Today, it references the study and authentication of literary text, oral and written. A philologist studies the cultural impact of language on those texts.

The meaning of words evolves over millennia. When strung together in sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, those shifting definitions can have a dramatic impact on the overall message. That study is philology.


Doorways to magic

We enjoy walking our neighborhood greenway because of the gurgling creek, clumps of rhododendron, mature trees, wildlife, and magical doors. Ah, yes, if you look closely on the walk you will spot doors in the trees, a gateway to magic. Neighborhood children ooh and aah when they spot a portal. Bet you didn’t know our forest was so special.


Ever clicked on a link in an older article on the internet and discovered the link no longer worked? That’s link rot and it’s a far bigger issue than you think.

Ahref, a widely respected expert on search engines and the internet, recently published a study of over two million websites and found two-thirds of all links no longer point to the valid source.

For most of us, this is an inconvenience, but doesn’t really impact our day. Oh, sure, we might not get to see that promised cat video, but we’ll survive.

But in other cases, as noted in this 2014 Harvard Law Review article, court rulings increasingly cite sources via hyperlink. Link rot, though, means the link no longer works even though the ruling exists. Think of the challenges and potential for error as lawyers chase down references only to read something incorrect.

I know from personal experience how difficult staying on top of links is. This section of my musing has two links. What are the odds at least one of them will be bad a few years from now?


Gratuitous Dog Picture

Office distractions and procrastination are bad enough for working from home, but Roscoe P. and the others are the best excuse not to work so hard. Just try to be productive with this smiling face asking to play games.

Want to do something fun besides work?

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4 Comments

  1. Debbie & Miss Ruby on May 2, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Nice patient boy waiting for some Hu-Dad time. I hate it when a 2 minute job turns into so much more!!

  2. Amarok & Co on May 2, 2022 at 11:24 am

    What a sweet Roscoe face. And I want you computer set up . . . it looks fabulous! 🙂

  3. Juno's mom on May 2, 2022 at 11:33 am

    I hate when you have to do ten things before you get to the one thing you wanted to do. A smiling dog or purring kitty can make the frustration disappear.

  4. HokiePack on May 9, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    Roscoe P wanted to help you with the cords 😎😂💀

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