Blathr Wayne Lorentz

What is Blathr?

Blathring in September, 2023

“Harmful if swallowed”

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023 Alive 19,146 days

A screenshot of a grocey list organized by macOS

MacOS Sonoma has a new feature that groups items in grocery lists by aisle, to make navigating the supermarket more efficient. Itʼs an interesting idea that needs a bit of help.

Based on what it put under “Beverages,” I think my computer is trying to kill me.

❖ ❖ ❖

Press the white button

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023 Alive 19,146 days

A user interface mess

One thing I really like about the DuckDuckGo browser is its consistency. For example, the way it consistently screws up drawing its own user interface. Almost every day I get an interface element that is black-on-black, or white-on-white.

I look forward to the day I see pomegranate-on-pomegranate.

❖ ❖ ❖

How dare you not throw your tech away

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023 Alive 19,146 days

An unhelpful list from Apple

In order to continue, Apple says I have to update all of my Apple devices. Apple also says that a bunch of my devices cannot be updated.

Why not just tell me that I cannot continue because some of my devices are outdated? Why the passive aggression?

I still use my 2013 iPhone 5🅂 today, as we begin to round the corner into 2024. Right now it's playing music in the library. It still syncs fine with iTunes Apple Music Music Finder.

❖ ❖ ❖


Monday, September 25th, 2023 Alive 19,144 days

A copy of The Prague Post

In March of 2002, I bought a copy of The Prague Post and told myself, “Iʼll read this later.”

Twenty-one years later, I finally got around to it.

The Prague Post stopped publishing when COVID-19 started marching east to west around the globe. Whatʼs left of its web site appears to have been commandeered by search engine spammers. But the February 27–March 5, 2002 print issue is a window into a different era. This was a time of tremendous optimism in certain parts of the world, and especially among certain classes within the Czech Republic.

2002 was a dozenish years after the Velvet Revolution. People who were in their 20ʼs and 30ʼs at that time were by 2002 experiencing the prime of their lives. And a cadre of people who were too young to feel or understand the oppression of life behind the Iron Curtain were coming of age at the start of a new millennium. For the first time in modern history, the Czech Republic had a generation of people who never knew life in the shadow of the hammer and sickle.

What these people saw, what they experienced, and what they desired was to evolve the Czech Republic from a backwater museum piece of a century-dead empire into a modern state, fully European. A peer with Paris or London or even New York; not its grizzled, awkward grand-uncle shuffling nervously in the corner of the world stage.

There are certain times and places in history that become important and transformative. London in the 1850ʼs. New York in the 1920ʼs. San Francisco in the 1960ʼs. Eastern Europe — and especially Prague — in the early 2000ʼs was one of those places. “You had to be there” sounds pithy and dismissive, but as expressions go, it is also oftentimes accurate. No amount of playing dress-up with bad cigarettes, vile absinthe, or frilly gyration can make someone fully understand La Belle Époque. Prague was on the cusp of its own Belle Époque.

The Prague Post documented that era in a newspaper that was a little International Herald Tribune, a little Le Figaro, and a little Village Voice. It simultaneously chronicled the current lives of former despots, vetted the latest pop culture offerings, and published classified ads for cheap sex. The contents are an awkward goulash of past, present and future. Communist, capitalist, and futurist.

In this particular issue, the big stories are:

  • Hand-wringing over rising political star and maybe-not-quite-a-Nazi-but-his-parents-sure-were Jörg Haider across the border in Austria. A few years later, heʼd go off a cliff and end that particular concern.
  • One of the Czech Republicʼs former communist oppressors being let off the hook by a court for lack of evidence. Opponents howled that the previous 50 years of life in the Czech Republic were evidence enough.
  • Funeral home operators going to extraordinary, and perhaps a bit corrupt, lengths to beat the competition. If it was the New York Post there would be a “body snatchers” headline in there somewhere.

Whatʼs interesting is that looking back from a couple of decades later, a lot of the pressing issues are just the same today:

  • Olympic hockey
  • Gypsies
  • Not-quite-celibate Catholic priests
  • Basque separatists
  • The opera
  • The symphony
  • Restaurant reviews
  • Russia
  • Israel
  • China

While a lot is the same, a lot has changed. There are advertisements for airlines that no longer exist offering flights to nations that no longer exist. Also, in 2002, Dilbert is still published in the mainstream press.

And it is reassuring that a brand new Dell computer feauring a Pentium Ⅲ processor can be had for just 150,000Kč. Thatʼs about $15,000 U.S. dollars in 2023 money.

I take a personal interest in the televison and radio listings because of my history in radio and television. Here are the radio stations available to the average Prague dweller in 2002:

Frequency Station Format
87.8 Rádio Blaník Top 40
88.2 Evropa 2 Top 40
89.5 Country Radio Country
91.3 Čzeský rozhlas 2 Variety
91.9 Rádio 1 Alternative rock, techno and jazz
92.6 Čzeský rozhlas Regina News and music
93.7 City 93.7 FM Top 40
94.6 Čzeský rozhlas 1 Radiożurnál Current affairs
95.3 Radio Vox Top 40
96.6 Radio Impuls Top 40
97.2 Rádio Zlatá Praha Top 40
98.1 Radio Kiss 98 FM Top 40 through the ʼ90s
98.8 Classic FM Classical
99.3 Radio France International French
99.7 Radio Bonton Top 40
101.1 BBC BBC news in English, plus local news from Radio Prague
102.5 Rádio Frekvence 1 Talk
103.7 Radio Melody Country
105.0 Čzeský rozhlas 3 Vltava Classical

In the interest of posterity, here is a list of whatʼs in this issue of The Prague Post. It shows the variety and quantity of news that came out of such a small paper. Iʼve listed the headlines and subheads. In the case of briefing lists, Iʼve included only the first sentence of each brief.

Main Section

  • Mouthing Off
    Zemanʼs political fitness questioned again after Arafat-Hitler remarks
  • Štrougal acquittal provokes protests
    “Horrified” dissidents denounce former communist leader
  • Haider: Headed back to the roots
    Analysts doubt that Austrian rightist will abandon politics
  • Seven Days

    • A Czech chemical unit will send most of its 250 troops to Kuwait by the end of March
    • A key American Republican Party activist has hinted that the return of former Prime Minister Vladimir Mečiar to power could hinder Slovakiaʼs NATO entry bid
    • A man was killed Feb. 23 when a rally car slide off a muddy track
    • The controversial Temeln nuclear power plant in south Bohemia was shut down
    • Hungary called off a March 1 summit of central European nations
    • A number of the armyʼs elite rapid-deployment brigade brutally beat a 17-year-old boy and shouted Nazi slogans at him Feb. 21 in the north Bohemian town of Hlinsko
  • € - $ - Kč exchange rates
  • A list of transit disruptions
  • Svátky
  • Limits on cigarette ads proposed
    Move would ban signs search schools, but critics say that is not enough
  • ODS makes flat-tax campaign promise
    Conservative party suggests 15 percent rate for all taxpayers
  • More police officers charged with crimes
    Improved investigation techniques cited as reason for increase in charges
  • Briefly Noted

    • Russian authorities are denying Czech reports that two Russian nationals extradited from Prague to St. Petersburg Feb. 18 are connected to the 1998 assassination of liberal politician Galina Starovoitova.
    • Foreign minister Jan Kavan says the Czech Republic will back NATO expansion
    • An Athens court has sentenced two Czech citizens to life imprisonment for smuggling heroin
    • The ruling Social Democrats (ČSSD) are supported by 23 percent of the Czech public
    • The German Supreme Court confirmed a lower court ruling that sentenced Anton Malloth, a former SS guard at the Nazi prison in Terezin (Theresienstadt), north Bohemia, for the murder and attempted murder of two Jewish inmates.
    • The daily Lidové noviny reports that five former Interior Ministry employees issued more than 100 false lustration certificates between 1991 and 1993.
    • The last of 400 Czech troops in the joint Czech-Slovak KFOR battalion have left for Kosovo.
    • Prague auhorities will prosecue seven Serbs accused of breaking into more than 100 luxury villas in the Czech Republic.
    • The Social Democrats (ČSSD) and opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) will scrap their power-sharing pact before June elections, according to a report in the daily Mladá fronta Dnes that quotes ČSSD deputy chairman Zdenẽk Škromach.


  • Confessions of an Interpreter
  • Death in the line of duty
  • Sunday Music Spotlight, or the day the music died
  • Letters


  • World Digest

    • Europe

      • A Milan court convicted four Tunisian men of various terrorist-related charges.
      • Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski appealed to his countyʼs powerful trade unions to support a liberalization of labor laws aimed at reducing Polandʼs 18 percent unemployment rate.
      • Italian police believe terrorists were preparing to plant a chemical bomb in an underground passage next to the U.S. embassy in Rome.
      • French President Jacques Chirac called U.S. President George Bush Feb. 23 to urge him to renew pressure for political dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
    • Africa

      • The government of Angola displayed the body of 67-year-old rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, slain in battle with soldiers, on television and urged his followers to surrender and end the countyʼs civil war.
      • A 70-year-old Swiss woman working for a humanitarian agency in Somalia was killed by unidentified gunmen Feb. 22.
      • One hundred of the worldʼs top photojournalists have arrived in Africa for a Feb. 28 photo shoot called ”A Day in the Life of Africa.”
    • Asia-Pacific

      • U.S. military investigators are looking into the cause of a Feb.22 MH-47E Chinook helicopter crash that killed all 10 U.S. soldiers on board.
      • Indiaʼs governing Bharatiya Janata Party was rejected by a majority of voters in crucial state elections Feb. 24.
    • Central America

      • Marxist guerrillas kidnapped a Colombian presidential candidate who defied warnings not to travel a dangerous road in disputed rebel-held territory.
    • Middle East

      • A Pakistani judge ordered that the alleged mastermind of the kidnapping of murdered American reporter Daniel Pearl be held in custody for two more weeks.
    • North America

      • The last day of the Salt Lake City Olympics began on a violent note as riot police fired rubber bullets to disperse a rampaging crowd that broke sup windows, trashed a police car and attacked the courthouse.
      • The air around the World Trade Center disaster site may not be as safe as the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested.
  • Guinness, no Waiting
  • Church Scandal
  • Hunting War Criminals
  • ETA Protest
  • Incriminating Discovery


  • Dead End
    Funeral homes use loopholes to snatch the body business from smaller competitors
  • Uphill battle: Roma who made it
  • Crown prompts call for ingenuity
    CzechTrade urges exporters to increase productivity, efficiency
  • Bizweek

    • Gas utility Transgas made preliminary pretax profits of 5.033 billion Kč ($139.8 million) from May to December 2003, during its first eight months of existence as a joint-stock company.
    • The daily Hospodářské noviny expects the value of the Czech automobile industry to reach 450 billion Kč by 2005, with subcontractor supplies to automobile plants likely to use from 110 billion Kč in 2000 to about 200 billion Kč.
    • The Czech Republicʼs six building societies granted more than 151,000 loans and bridging loans in 2001, a 15 percent year-on-year increase on 2000, when 132,000 loans were provided.
    • Czech steel companies produced 6.3 million ons of cruise steel in 2001, up 1.6 percent against 2000, according to the Czech Steel Federation (Hutnictví železa).
    • The U.S. company SDC International, new owner of Tatra Kopřivnive, plans to lay off 600 of the truck makerʼs 3,100 employees, according to officials at the district employment office.
  • Market summary
  • Můj dům names best
  • Shaken or stirred, drink orders up
    Cocktails become more popular as selection improves, incomes rise
  • Drug makers plan alliance
    Going east is the goal for Slovakofarma and Léčiva as they merge
  • Dilbert cartoon
  • Ernst & Young shuffles leadership
  • Five Questions
  • Wrecks provide ad vantages
    But promotions on four wheels irritate drivers in search of parking spaces
  • Labor Ministryʼs plans called inadequate


  • Stravinsky in Red, White and Blue
  • The Town Read

    • Second Hand will no longer appear on these pages.
    • The National Theater has begun pre-sales for all operas, ballets and theater productions in the 2002-03 season.
    • Professor Michael P. Sneg will conduct a seminar on human rights at the International Baptist Theological Seminary March 1 at 4 p.m.
    • The Egon Schiele Art Cetner in Český Krumlov, south Bohemia, has received an Austrian Award for cross-border cultural expression.
    • Pope John Paul Ⅱ has appointed Karel Herbst auxiliary bishop of Prague.
    • The Time4Shareing endowment fund will throw a charity ball to assist the Deštná orphanage March 22.
    • Beef Stew is dead.
    • The annual Days of European Film festival kicks off March 7.
    • The German Protestant congregation at Markus Kirche in Frankfurt am Main has presented the Czech Jewish Liberal Union with silver cup for kiddush — the festival blessing of wine — as a token of friendship.
    • The Czech Audiovisual Producersʼ Association has become a member of the European Film Promosions network.
  • Best selling books list
  • Freedom in Bohemia — or exile?
    Kliment novel poses some tough 1968-era choices
  • The modern press, thugs and rock ʼnʼ roll
    Carl Hiassen cleans the floor with corporate journalism


  • Valentaʼs jump is highlight of Czech Salt Lake City showing
  • Ups and Downs
    Hockey team trips over Russia, but Valentaʼs unprecedented acrobatics bring Olympic solace
  • Roundup

    • Olympic hockey captain Jaromir Jágr says he may play at the April world championships in Sweden.
    • The Slovak hockey federation managment is considering filing a suit against the National Hockey League (NHL) for failing to allow its best players to perform in the Olympics.
    • Sparta Praha dropped a 2-0 Champions Legaue decision to Panathinaikos Athens in Prague Feb. 19.
    • Slovan Librerec, the only Czech team left in the UEFA Cup, played Franceʼs Olympique Lyon to 1-1 tie Feb. 21 in Lyon.
    • UEFA will rule on the schedule for the Euro 2004 qualifying group that includes the Czech Republic after talks among the five teams broke down in Prague Feb. 18.
    • Two Czech national team players have been fined by UEFA for their conduct during World Cup playoff games against Belgium last November.
    • Pittsburgh Penguins center Martin Straka, whose broken right leg cost him a spot on the Olympic team, has been declared fit to play and is expected to see NHL action soon.

Night and Day

  • The engineer of mighty music
    Roman Bělor takes command of Prague Spring festival
  • The (mis)Marriage of Figaro
    Mozart opera at Stavovské plays for laughs — badly
  • Concert calendar

    • Classical
    • Opera
    • Theater
    • Jazz, Rock, Etc.
  • Playing the fool
    Comedy troupe runs the gamut
  • Boulevard of dreams
    Lynchʼs latest effort is also his weirdest
  • A pure simulacrum
    Old Townʼs new Mexican restaurant has far to go
  • Where the East meets the West
    Grilled king salmon with wasabi whipped potatoes, tomato-ginger coulis and watercress
  • Janetʼs Joint
  • Boxes and blooms
    Apartment window-box gardening
  • Sites to see
    Monasteries and convents
  • The Austrian approach
    A melancholy, self-reflective avant-garde
  • Shedding crocodile tears
    Jiří Davidʼs computer-generated compassion lacks reality
  • Tilt
  • Washington Post crossword puzzle

Classified ads

❖ ❖ ❖

You should be used to being dateless

Saturday, September 23rd, 2023 Alive 19,142 days

An out-of-bounds date picker

I can mostly understand a date picker that opens up beyond the boundaries of its containing window, if itʼs on a web page. But Reminders is a native macOS program that Apple includes with the operating system. It shouldnʼt open a date picker off the edge of the screen.

❖ ❖ ❖

The Soviet bread line of password resets

Monday, September 18th, 2023 Alive 19,137 days

Apple says to cool your jets

You cannot be in a hurry to reset an iTunes password. Itʼs simply not an option.

Two-factor authentication is so last Thursday. The new hotness in account security is leveraging temporal annoyance.

When you try to reset an iTunes password, not only do you have to wait an unknown amount of time to complete the process, you have to wait an entire extra day first to find out how long the process will take.

In my case, 24 hours after I got this message, I received an e-mail stating that it would take seven days before I would be allowed to reset my password. So eight days in total in order to regain access to all of my music from iTunes Japan.

It makes sense that scammers arenʼt going to be that patient. Their business model relies on the ability to flip and abuse an account nearly instantly, before the owner even knows something is happening. Eight days isnʼt going to fly on the dark web.

And to be fair, thereʼs no song in my iTunes Japan account that is so urgently needed that I have to listen to it right at this very moment, so I find all of this slow-motion hoop-jumping to be a curiosity. I expect there are other people who consider it an outrage.

But, true to its word, exactly seven days after I received the e-mail from Apple telling me Iʼd have to wait a week to change my password, another e-mail arrived with a link allowing me to do so. It took 192 hours, but at least the process just worked.™

❖ ❖ ❖

Space wars

Saturday, September 16th, 2023 Alive 19,135 days

Conflicting views of space

One Finder window says I have 54GB available. Another Finder window says I have 168GB available.

Itʼs no wonder that Finder has been reviled by Macintosh users since the 1980ʼs.

❖ ❖ ❖

Think of the computers!

Friday, September 15th, 2023 Alive 19,134 days

A screenshot from inside an iTunes music library

Appleʼs iTunes software has a habit of upgrading the music in a person's computer every once in a while, without telling them.

But if you're the sort of person who occasionally looks through one's file system, you see it in action, because anomalies arise when automation is allowed to make changes to something as arbitrary as music.

In the screenshot above, you can see the directory that stores a copy of the Tori Amos album American Doll Posse.

Of note is the song “Fat Slut,” which has been upgraded to “Fat S__t.”

The music isn't different. Mrs. Amos still shrieks, “Fat Slut!” into the microphone. But Apple has thoughtfully sanitized the song's file name to protect the sensitive circuits in its modern computers that might become offended by the term.

Nobody tell Fat Agnus.

❖ ❖ ❖

Insert snarky title here

Sunday, September 10th, 2023 Alive 19,129 days

A worrisome financial transaction

I donʼt know that Iʼve ever allowed a bit of placeholder text leak into production, but we all make mistakes.

Still, youʼd think that Apple Pay would have a regex or something somewhere to prevent this sort of thing.

❖ ❖ ❖

Time flies

Thursday, September 7th, 2023 Alive 19,126 days

A lie from Wrike

I only clicked on the link to Wrikeʼs silly onboarding video because it promised it would only be one minute long. It was even in bold, so it must be true.

But like campaign promises and frequent flyer miles, this turned out to be a lie. The video is actually almost four minutes long.

I guess I should have expected this from the same company that only recently stopped sending out alerts with text randomly changing from Pacific Daylight to Pacific Standard time, and bogarts the web browserʼs ⇧⌘N shortcut for its own purposes.

❖ ❖ ❖

Tender vittles

Sunday, September 3rd, 2023 Alive 19,122 days

The Randallʼs deli case.

Going to the deli makes me sad. It reminds me that I used to always bring home a slab of turkey as a special treat for Henri. He knew when I came through the door with grocery bags that it was special treat time, and heʼd hop up on the kitchen counter and dig through the bags looking for it. He was never a patient creature.

Rest in peace, little friend.

❖ ❖ ❖

Peak nerd

Saturday, September 2nd, 2023 Alive 19,121 days

It took me a while, but I finally managed to buy each of the original cartridges released with the Atari 2600 in 1977.

The sticking point was Star Ship. It took almost a year for one to show up on fleaBay for under $50.00. My budget was $5.00. So when one finally appeared, I was all over that Buy It Now button.

To mark the occasion, I put them in a stack on the dining room table, and took photos which I then turned into i-device wallpapers. They look pretty good on my iPhone. I haven't tried them on an iPad yet, but I made them with plenty of space around so that they'll work in both portrait and landscape on an iPad.

iPhone X screenshot of Atari cartridges pile
iPhone X screenshot of Atari cartridges in a helix

You may notice that the screenshot with the cartridges arranged in a helix has squiggles where the time should be. This is because on weekends, I don't want to know what time it is, and iOS doesn't allow one to remove the clock, so changing it to a language I can't read is almost as good.

It's also not possible to remove the date bar, but I can replace it with the weather, which is less awful than seeing the cold, bony hand of time scratching across the top of the screen.

The original wallpaper files I created are here:

❖ ❖ ❖

Friday, September 1st, 2023 Alive 19,120 days

This is what happens when you don't validate untrusted input

So, if I set up an iCloud e-mail address, all of the e-mail that everyone around the world sends without an address will come to me? That doesnʼt sound like fun at all.

❖ ❖ ❖