ellarien: laptop (Computers)
Today I took my old, thoroughly retired Behemoth laptop back to the store from whence it came, and they gave me nearly $50 in trade-in for it. Which is ... about three per cent of what I paid for it in 2004, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I feel at least ten pounds lighter with it gone -- it always was an unwieldy lump of a thing, even before it succumbed to WinXP-rot and slowed to a crawl.

Then I put the trade-in gift-card towards a basic e-reader -- a Sony Pocket Edition, which lacks a lot of the bells and whistles of more recent gadgets -- it doesn't have a touch screen or wireless or even an expansion slot, but it works fine for what I want. This way, while my dead trees are in transit I can read without being dependent on the Palm's not-so-great battery.
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
I shifted all my work stuff over from old Butterfly (work-provided, 2006-vintage Dell Inspiron on the left) to the newer Dragonfly laptop last week, and tonight I'm decommissioning Behemoth, the monstrous lump of a 2004 Sony Vaio on the right, in preparation for taking it back to Best Buy for trade-in or recycling.

In the process of returning Behemoth to its factory state, I realized that the recovery tool actually has the ability to change the partition sizes. If I'd known that earlier it might have alleviated one of the huge annoyances of that machine -- the cramped 15Gb C:\ partition. But the whole hard drive is only 60Gb, so it wouldn't have helped that much.


Aug. 24th, 2010 08:49 pm
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
Time to pull 6Gb of files off the Butterfly laptop onto a new 1Tb portable drive: about three hours.

Time to copy the same files from the portable drive to the Dragonfly laptop: about ten minutes, including time to change the permissions and ownership on the files.

I'm not sure how much of the discrepancy was read vs write times, and how much was the difference in the laptops, which is three or four years and a couple of Gb of memory; I'll get more idea of that when I finish copying the other 10Gb or so of files I want, and run a backup.

... oh

Aug. 14th, 2010 09:50 pm
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
I was on the verge of posting a plaint about my failure (after a solid 24 hours of fumbling around downloading and building things) to compile and link on my laptop the inversion code I use all the time at work. (I've been saying for years that in the current state of computing the thing, which fifteen years ago I had to run on remote supercomputers, should now be doable on a laptop, but considerations of libraries have so far obstructed my actually doing it.)

And then I tried one more thing, and I have an executable!

Whether it will actually execute, let alone give sensible answers, remains to be seen (and probably not tonight), but it exists.

Things done while waiting for compilers to bootstrap: I have obtained a stopgap pair of sandals, booked my next ride to the airport, and run the dishwasher without getting water on the floor.

(ETA: it ran. And gave sensible numbers, as far as I can tell by eye.)
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
Because I dislike the "My Documents" nomenclature MS foisted on us from Win95 on, and particularly dislike the way they resurrected it in Win7 after killing it in Vista, I rename those folders back to just "Documents" and so forth -- which is what the DOS paths are anyway. Then I rename the "Favorites" links in the Explorer navigation pane to ~Documents etc., because it won't let me have just Documents (that being reserved for the Documents Library, which as far as I'm concerned is just a completely unnecessary layer of imaginary folders). That all works fine -- until a Windows patch changes them back and disappears the links. That's happened twice now -- the second time yesterday.


May. 19th, 2010 11:36 pm
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
Yes, I've been quiet lately. Busy kind of quiet, mostly.

Today it seemed like a good idea to update the Cygwin installation on the laptop so I could run a Fortran code. That was fine -- except that I then spent all of a long evening chasing down a couple of crucial bits of functionality that went missing in the process. I used to get along all right with computers in the days when there were paper manuals aimed at the intelligent end-user. Now there are online instructions for unintelligent end-users, with animations to show you how/where to click on the menu, on the commercial side, and on the volunteer side it's all geeks talking to geeks in mazes of twisty little bulletin-board messages. Cygwin support is of the latter variety, and these are snooty geeks with no patience at all for mere users.

All's well that ends well; I suspect I've picked up a bunch of development tools I didn't actually want, in the process of pulling on the wrong end of a tangle of dependencies, but at least my beloved ImageMagick tools are working again.
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
I witnessed a small computer weirdness today, not on my own computer; Firefox was refusing to bookmark anything on Blogspot. Or maybe anything; it wasn't demonstrated in my presence that it could bookmark non-Blogspot things either. I suspect a reboot might have fixed it; the latest FF update might have been one of the ones that really goes better with a reboot, but I've been pushing my work laptop pretty hard lately and it might have been coincidental that soon after the update it just decided it couldn't cut and paste from a PDF open in Firefox to an Emacs buffer.

And today it was in the 80s again -- warm enough for sightings of short-shorts on campus, though I think myself that's a little premature. To my mind, in these parts, the cut-off point for winter-weight long pants is somewhere around a high of 75F, and I don't go for full-bore summer attire (which in my case is lightweight but long dresses) until the highs hit 90 or so, which comes soon enough as a rule. (Part of this is that we get big ranges, often thirty or even forty degrees in the course of a day. It makes dressing for the weather challenging, sometimes.)
ellarien: claret cup cactus flower (spring)
The desert along I10 between Tucson and Phoenix is really blooming. I first noticed it yesterday somewhere north of Marana, when I had to look up from building an Excel index because the rattling bus was making me slightly travel-sick; the median was bright with poppies, almost solid orange in places. Up towards Picacho Peak the flowers were having a harder time dealing with the construction work, but there were pools of blue lupines. (Which are not to be confused with lupins, though I think they're related.) So far, though, the bloom doesn't seem to have spread to the slopes of the Peak itself as I've seen it do in other years. Further north it's mostly yellow brittlebush, but quite a lot of that.

I dreamed HTML last night, and I may again tonight, but I think the index is done, bar one missed link that won't seem to take in the "published" version no matter what I do.


Jan. 22nd, 2010 11:11 pm
ellarien: laptop (Computers)
Today I finally had a chance to take the Dragonfly laptop to Best Buy to see about the ethernet cable that got stuck at the end of November. The Nice Young Man (TM) took it in the back for a couple of minutes and came back with cable in one hand and laptop in the other, much to my relief; I was afraid they'd take it away for weeks and give it back with a different hard drive, or something similarly stupid. And yes, I still have a working ethernet port.

The silly cable had been in there so long that the machine looks and feels oddly incomplete without it, now.


Jan. 21st, 2010 10:14 pm
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
Firefox 3.6 and Thunderbird 3.0 are available! (And Thunderbird 3 supports AdBlock Plus.)

(Also an important off-schedule security patch for IE, which I use as little as possible.)


Dec. 17th, 2009 06:58 pm
ellarien: Blue/purple pansy (Default)
And now I'm all the way home (a couple of hours ago, actually.) It was nice to see clear sky again in the hour or so before night fell.

Passing on a security advisory about Acrobat: )

Fair's fair

Dec. 1st, 2009 10:14 pm
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
I think I was wrong about the color scheme for the taskbar buttons; on closer inspection, it just seems to be picking up color from the icon, and that's where the angry-looking red for TightVnc was coming from.

More sleep-deprived chuntering. )


Dec. 1st, 2009 08:32 pm
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)

Customizing with extreme prejudice, part 5 Customizing with extreme prejudice, part 5
Now that's what I call a Start Menu!

ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
I will say this for the Windows 7 desktop interface; it's amazingly customizable.

I doubt I'll actually keep it like this for long, but just to show how far one can go without resorting to registry hacks, have some screenshots, with commentary.

Read more... )
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
Win7 has something called "Homegroups" which is supposed to let you share your files with other Win7 computers on the same home network, with a special password. The stupid thing about this? At least for my situation (one person, many computers of various vintages and operating systems) good old-fashioned filesharing on the network works just fine for that. I'd got[ten] used to the convenience of having (password-protected, but that's mostly transparent) write-access to the files on the desktop from whichever laptop happened to be in use in the living room. (Except the little Eee, which was so intermittent and flaky about it that I eventually threw in the towel and resorted to what we used to call "sneakernet" at work, though in my case it was usually slippernet or barefootnet; put the file on a removable medium and walk over to the destination computer with it.)

Homegroups, it turns out, doesn't let me do that. Once the silly thing was set up, I suddenly found that I could only see the files on the desktop that Windows thought I should be allowed to see -- and only with read-access, and organized by libraries. (I told you libraries were evil.) The XP machine, meanwhile, could read and write everything just fine.

The solution? Leave Homegroup, on both Win7 machines. Then I'm back where I was before, with full access to all my own files, not just the ones in stupid "Libraries." (ETA, with added growling: but I had to share the printers manually, and add them again.)

So what exactly was the point?

I'm a PC, but Windows 7 I'm having second thoughts about.
ellarien: two laptops (computers2)
Am embarked on the process of en-Sevening the HP laptop. At the point where it asks you to stop and uninstall iTunes (and some other things that there doesn't appear to be an uninstall path for) it decided the driver for the DVD drive was corrupt, and a reboot didn't fix it. I tried a system restore, which claimed to have failed, but the drive came back to life. So now we are at 94% on Copying Windows files, and we'll see how it goes.

Also, I grabbed an ethernet cable to connect it to the router, in case the wireless went down during the process, and now it seems to be inextricably stuck in the port.


Also, I probably need new glasses again, but I was too stressed and sleep-deprived earlier in the week to do anything about it. Last year I did it early in my November break, on too little sleep, and flunked the visual field test, which ended up costing me an uncomfortable morning and my insurer several hundred dollars for a glaucoma exam. Not risking that again; I'll probably leave it until after the February trip (if it happens) is over.


Nov. 27th, 2009 04:43 pm
ellarien: yin-yang fish drawing (fish)
I just traded in a couple more surplus bags of books at the local used bookstore and "entertainment exchange," and picked up from the classical music rack something entitled (as copy-pasted from iTunes)

彩なす島の伝説 沖縄島唄

which Google translates as "Legend of the Island of Okinawa Shima Uto eggplant" and Babelfish as "彩 The legendary Okinawa island of the island which is formed 唄" which I guess wildly might actually be something like "The legend of the formation of the island of Okinawa."

It sounds like a variable number of voices singing, presumably in Japanese, with a jaunty accompaniment of clicky percussion and plucked strings. Not my usual sort of thing, but not unpleasant.

Also, my copy of Win7 for the HP laptop arrived today -- closely followed by an email announcing that it had been dispatched and please to allow 5-7 days for delivery.

Talking of Win7, I wonder if there's a way to stop it randomly switching on the Canon printer. I suppose I could disable the software power-up in the printer driver, but it's sometimes handy to be able to send something to it from the other room, without going in to press the button first.
ellarien: Blue/purple pansy (Default)
I know I'm trying to do too many things at once when I pour myself a cup of coffee, put it down, and ten minutes later wander past the kitchen and do the same thing again -- only to find the earlier, undrunk cup sitting looking reproachfully at me.

This afternoon's mission is chaos reduction and de-grungification, with particular focus on the bathroom. Now that the tub is no longer filling with other people's dubious waste water on a daily basis, I am somewhat more motivated to try to do a decent job on it. I have also acquired a nice new shower curtain, liner, and mat. The old mat was pretty much past it anyway, the rubber backing having gone the way of all rubber that sits around for long in the desert, but the workmen completed its demise. As soon as the floor and fixtures are clean, the new stuff can go in, and I'll have a respectable bathroom again, albeit still one with a messy book-sized patch on one wall.

Yesterday's big project, which wasn't meant to be, was the backing-up of the newly-Sevened desktop computer. I can't tell now whether my initial hypothesis that Win7 was being pickier about mixed-up permissions than Vista was correct, or whether it started with a bit of corruption on the destination drive; I just know that laboriously making everything in my personal directory inherit the top-level permissions didn't help, and CHKDSKing the drive (which found ONE 32kb spot of trouble) finally let it finish. (The other grump about 7 is that there isn't a working driver for my HP laser printer yet; otherwise it seems to work fine.)

And I can't find my small straight-nose pliers.
ellarien: Blue/purple pansy (Default)
The Windows 7 Upgrade setup program's background image features a cute little dove with an olive branch. What exactly is Microsoft trying to say, I wonder? Please don't hate us any more? I'll reserve judgment on that until I see what it looks like when it's done.

This was a Phoenix weekend, and I have not embarked on any ambitious writing projects. Oddly enough, a completely new story-seed did drop into my brain somewhere around Picacho Peak yesterday, complete with first scene, setting, and three-and-a-half characters. And a title: Stone and Silver. Still not going to drive myself crazy trying to Nano, though; this month is going to be tough enough without that.

Mission Statement

Reading, writing, plant photography, and the small details of my life, with digressions into science and computing.



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