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It's been one of those days today. Went to the church office to do my volunteer work answering phones at 10 am. Around 1 pm the gentleman who looks after the church grounds came over to trim the bushes. As our back garden had several bushes that needed desperate attention, I managed to get him for 2 hours this afternoon. Win!

He came over, trimmed two bushes and removed lots of ivy that was slowly strangling the lavender bush. He brought waste bags for the cuttings, and took everything away. He only charged me £20 for the two hours and wouldn't take a tip. Win!

I will post a picture at some point, as it looks SO much better. Win!

Then, after he left, I was looking at emails and generally decompressing and the doorbell rang. It was my neighbour in Flat 5, whom I will call "C" as that's his initial. He brought his iPad with him, and showed me the message it was giving him "Your iPad is disabled". Apparently he had entered an incorrect passphrase 6 times, which disabled the iPad. Lose!

"No worries" I said, "You've backed it up to your computer, haven't you?" "Er, no" was his response. So, I got him to bring his laptop down so we could try to sort it out. When his laptop arrived downstairs, his Ethernet cable had lost the latches at both ends. Lose!

I gave him one of my spares, and we managed to hook it up to my network. We looked up how to restore the iPad, and tried to follow those instructions. However, his iTunes was woefully out of date, and wouldn't open. Lose!

We updated his iTunes, which took a shedload of time, and finally got it to open. He entered his Apple ID, but had forgotten his password. Lose!

He tried to reset his password, but every password he tried was either too easy or he had used it before. Lose!

I finally took over, asked him for a phrase he would remember. He took a couple of minutes and finally thought of one. Win!

I made a complex password out of it and printed it out for him so that he would have it somewhere, and we reset his password successfully. Win!

We connected up his iPad, but it wouldn't open. Lose!

We tried to restore it, but it would not restore. So we had to reset it. Poor C kept moaning that he would lose all his downloaded StarTrek videos. I had to keep stressing that from this time forward he had to backup and sync his iPad to his laptop in order to avoid this. Lose!

When we had reset it, we found we had to enter his Apple ID. Unfortunately he has TWO Apple IDs, and the one that he had signed into iTunes with wasn't the one that his iPad required for a full reset. Lose!

We entered the other ID, and, you guessed it, he couldn't remember the password. Lose!

I made another complex password for him; we entered it and reset the iPad. Win!

He lost all his videos, his pictures, and his downloads that were on the iPad, however. A real Loss!

The moral of the story: sync your iGadgets with iTunes regularly. AND for pity's sake, REMEMBER YOUR PASSWORDS!

For me, the moral of the story: if you let your neighbours know that you work or had worked in computing, they will never give you a moment's peace. Lose, lose, and more lose.
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I have long advocated that paper and pencil voting be mandated in all elections, everywhere, because of the difficulties with most systems of electronic and Internet voting. As I am not influential, no one listens to me. However, in a recent security test, invited by the election board of Washington, DC, a seemingly secure system became so riddled with security holes that the "foul-mouthed, drunken Futurama robot Bender" was "elected" to the local school board in the test.

Make no mistake, voting over the Internet will come, someday. But until security is taken more seriously by those who are writing the software and constructing the machinery, such votes will be highly suspect, and susceptible to those who would like to control the outcome.
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Well, I am back on a computer yet again. My woes started two days ago when the other computer froze on me around 5 minutes after I started up. I thought it was some kind of software problem. but after taking the SSD out and putting it in a bay on this computer, I discovered that the SSD was freezing after around 5 minutes. Luckily, I back up everything daily, so I only lost a few hours of email, and the other disk is OK, so all of my real data is present and accounted for as well.

So I've restored my Thunderbird profile from backup, downloaded two days' worth of email, got Chrome up and running, and learned some stuff.

First, I've learned how to switch my profile directory from C:\Users to F:\Users and link it from F:\ to C:\. This will mean that my C: drive will remain mostly the operating system. On the other computer, I didn't know how to do this, and my C:\ drive was more than 95% full. Won't happen again.

Second, I've decided to replace the SSD in these two computers with regular HDDs: 2-1/4" 250GB drives. HWMBO will source them from Singapore when he goes next week. Yes, the computer will be slower booting up. However, after some investigation online, I discovered that, in general, this generation of SSDs is not considered to be very reliable. The one in the other computer lasted around 9 months. A regular HDD, for me, generally lasts around 3-5 years, and some have lasted much longer than that.

Now I have to reload all the programs that I had on the other computer. That should be a treat. Will do it slowly. However, as I've backed everything up, I don't have to bother with disks and things (generally).
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And you think that YOU'RE having computer problems…just watch this bunch of workers try to solve their IT problems.

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I have not set London Stabbie on this one because the computer was a gift, assembled for me by our friend in Singapore. HWMBO carried it on the plane all the way from Singapore to London. And, for about 6 months it's been my main computer while I try to get some stuff off the old one and onto the new one.

Of course, I've been backing it up daily, which seems to have been, in hindsight, a very good idea. Last night the larger 1.5TB hard disk crapped the bed. I am still able to use the computer with the smaller SSD disk, and if I need to save anything I can do that to a SD card while I consider what to do.

I am tempted to buy a 2 TB hard disk and swap it into the computer. However, I suspect that one of the fans is not very efficient or something of the sort, and thus the new one will follow the old one into hard disk hell.

I am considering the "cloud" (this year's buzzword), but am not convinced that my data will be safe, secure, and instantly available when I want it.

I'm also somewhat vindicated in my former stance that buying a computer from a vendor (who can then be relied on for at least a year's warranty) is somewhat safer than building your own machine. Fine words butter no parsnips, though—I need to think about this quite seriously.

Any thoughts? How should I provide myself with good, comprehensive computing ability? Is the cloud the only way forward?
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It's not been a quiet week here. However, I've not blogged for a while (except for cutesy stuff and whatever meagre Tweets I could scare up) so here goes nothing.

You may recall that my main desktop computer went all funny a while back. And you may also recall that our dear friend BK in Singapore put together a new desktop computer for me, all shiny and new with Windows 7 and all sorts of stuff on it. And, of course, my backup NAS box frying was a joy.

So I had a dilemma. However, Her Majesty somewhat showed the way forward in that by writing me a cheque for a tax refund that is 2 years overdue. I am going to send part of that off to our savings account, but have used about a third of it to get our systems rationalised here.

I bought an HP Home Media Smart Server EX490, and two 2TB disks to go with the 1TB disk already in it. I bought 2x2GB memory sticks and a half-height graphics card for the computer with the rest of that money.

First off, the disks and server came, and what a pain in the rump setting it up. The manual is in .pdf format, which is fine. However, it is not on the media that came with the server; you have to winkle it out of the HP website.

Worse than that, there is no indication that you have to do any more than install the two extra disks in it to get them to format and start working. Their LEDs blink, and I thought that meant they were formatting. Wrong. When I finally could read the manual, I discovered that the blinking meant that the disk wasn't installed at all. I had to do it manually in a menu that had no indication that you could do such a thing.

Third, there is a function on the server which will allow you to "collect" your videos, pictures, and music onto the server, which will then stream it to any device you've got handy. However, the server continuously told me that the software on my computer (not on the server) was incompatible with the server and I had to uninstall it then reinstall it. I did that, and got the same message. After a lot of research, I discovered the following Mongolian clusterfuck:
  • When the server is turned on and the OS is installed on it, the server merrily goes to Windows Update and requests the newest version of its OS.

  • This newest version of the OS does not update the software on your PC.

  • Thus the two versions are incompatible, and to fix it, you have to uninstall the software from the PC and reinstall it not from the DVD that came with the server but from the server itself, using a web interface.
None of this is intuitive.

The good thing is that it automatically backs up your computers if they're on during the night (or any time you set it for).

I then installed the software on the new computer, and got an intermittent connection. I had to install a Belkin WiFi stick to get a reliable connection to the network. Now that's done, I'm hoping that the backup and the Media Collection software will do their work relatively silently.

Once the music and videos are safely ensconced on the server, I shall (I hope) install the software on the munged-up desktop and back it up. Then I can transfer stuff to my heart's content here and finally move this computer downstairs to my study.

I will then wipe the old computer and try to put Vista 64bit on it for HWMBO.

Otherwise, we have had a relatively quiet time. We went to our friends' place for dinner Friday, bringing a bottle of Moet and a very good bottle of red. The food was fantastic and the company even more so. It's great having friends like that.

On Wednesday evening I initiated a man 5 years older than I am into Freemasonry. I enjoyed the ceremony, apart from blanking out several times on my lines. The initiate is a black cab driver, and he had four cab driver friends with him who were already Freemasons. The first time I stopped for a prompt, all four of them loudly tried to prompt me. I looked at them and said, "One prompter, please." and I had no further problem. The dinner was even nice, and I enjoyed the evening immensely. I have been elected to a second consecutive year as Master of the Lodge as my Senior Warden does not want to advance this year. He's getting married in May and has just started his own business, and wants another year to get himself settled.

I continue on IV antibiotics. They seem to have done the trick, but the operation I'm waiting for is apt to be a more permanent and less intrusive solution.

This coming week I will have to go to the foot clinic and get more antibiotics, as well as ask them about going private for the operation. The Masonic charities might stump up some money for that to happen, as it looks like the waiting list is not getting any shorter and I am getting more and more frustrated with the delays. I am visiting a Lodge on Thursday where a friend is being installed as Master, and preaching on Sunday, as well as attending the installation of Bishop Christopher as Bishop of Southwark in the afternoon.
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It's a Windows 7 computer, mini-sized, with an Asus motherboard. I haven't connected up speakers or such to it, but I suspect it'll do fairly well.

Next step is to plan out how to transfer all my material from my current desktop to that machine. Once that is done, I'll move the current machine out of here and put the smaller one in its place.

Then I'll probably reformat the current machine and perhaps install another version of Windows 7 64 bit and see how that works. Perhaps HWMBO will get it.

This computer stuff is so complicated. Thanks to our Singaporean friend BK, who put the computer together in record time.
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If you aren't into geekery, then perhaps you might want to skip this post.

For a while now, maybe a week, I have had difficulties with Thunderbird, Mozilla's email program. Up until the time I finally got my emails off the main computer and onto my netbook, I was doing OK. I had difficulty in transferring those emails, and did some tinkering with a Thunderbird file called profile.ini. Those of you who are as ancient as I will remember when DOS programs (remember DOS?) always came with an .ini file, which controlled various initial states of the program in question. config.ini was perhaps the most famous of these files.

So Thunderbird still uses a profile.ini file to control where it finds its, um, profile. The profile is not stored in the Program Files folder, it's stored in an area under Users, which would allow for several people to use Thunderbird on the same machine without falling all over each other.

In the course of my tinkering I found that there is a line in that file that looks like this:

Profile={profile address}

Now the people at Mozilla were crafty. They thought that people might want to place their profiles somewhere other than in Users. So, they had the possibility of two ways of entering the profile address. One was absolute, and one was relative. So, if my profile were in C:\Profiles\chris.profile, I would enter the line:


after telling Thunderbird that I wanted an absolute path to the profile.

However, if I wished to say that the profile was in the Thunderbird profile directory, and not use an absolute path, I would use a relative one:


after telling Thunderbird that I wanted a relative path.

All of a sudden, last week I found that it was difficult to move emails into folders in groups. If I selected ten emails to move into a folder and then tried to move them with the mouse, nothing happened. Nada. Rien. Nihil.

If I downloaded emails from the server, I could not open them unless I exited Thunderbird and restarted it. I could not compact folders, and the Inbox folder (which needs to be compacted regularly) showed that it was holding something like "367% of 35.6MB".

Not good.

I stewed about this for about a week, but today I got a brainstorm. Instead of typing the relative path as I did above, I typed it:


You will note that I removed the ".\" after the "Profile=" keyword. You will be delighted to know that this now works. It seems that while Mozilla believes that DOS-style .ini files are a good idea, it does not go so far as to parse DOS-style pathnames. Worse, instead of refusing to run and saying that it can't find the profile, it goes ahead and finds it but then doesn't allow certain operations to happen in it while allowing other things to happily continue to happen.

Is this a bug? Is this a feature? The jury's still out on that. I do know that this behaviour is not very intuitive and needs to be documented somewhere so that other people who are trying to bring their profiles over from another machine can do so without stumbling over this anachronism.
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Last night I was rattled enough that I didn't actually pull my entire Thunderbird profile over from the desktop machine, including the all-crucial Mail database. When i got back from the quack this afternoon, I made a complete copy onto my thumbdrive and copied that to the netbook. Aside from a few glitches, it seems to be working and I can now send, receive, and file away emails.

The quack has put me on IV antibiotics again. There is a new pesky bug in the bone under my second right toe. The rest of the ulcers are healing nicely. They will be doing another X-ray next Wednesday and then have a consultation (yet again) with the orthopedic surgeons. I now have to wait at home every day until the district nurse comes. I may have to give them another box of biscuits. This is for two weeks and we will see what transpires.
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Yesterday was Lunar New Year's Eve. I spent the early part of the evening wishing HWMBO in Singapore, along with my many friends out there, a happy and prosperous New Year. Then everything collapsed.

My system was comprised of a desktop computer, currently usable in safe mode but not otherwise, a network storage box, and various other components. I was composing an email to a friend last night when the email program crashed. A bit of investigation showed me that something was wrong with the power supply to the network storage box, and it had fried the disks inside. On those disks were backups, but, more important, my email archives and the active part of my email system were stored on it. All fried.

Now I can recover all emails before January 7th, as they are still on the desktop computer. I am having some difficulty transferring them to the netbook, and will investigate this further later on today. But this incident highlights some issues in life that I have had difficulties with in the past.

First, I keep all emails. Does this matter? I decided last night, after a bit of swearing, that it doesn't. I would not be happy to lose all the past emails, but losing at most one month's worth out of the past 14 years will not kill me. I've gone through the emails I have still on the mail servers up in the cloud, and stopped emails from groups that I don't need to get and unsubscribed from a few sales email lists that I never intend to buy from. I shall leave all the emails up on the cloud until I have a working copy of Thunderbird with my previous emails on it. And life will go on.

Second, what's important in my life? Not keeping emails, that's for sure. It's making sure that my health is stable, that my feet recover, that HWMBO remains the most important person in my life, and keeping the spiritual side of my life in my mind, heart, and actions. Keeping emails helps none of these things in particular. My life will go on (or not) independent of whether I am saving (or even getting) emails.

So now I can rationally and slowly figure out what to do here. I think that what is necessary is some sort of daily DVD-RW backup of the email database so that it can easily be reconstructed should my netbook go down. I don't think that NAS is necessarily the best solution, especially with flaky power supplies that depend on wall warts rather than internals.

I shall be searching teh Intarwebz this afternoon for specific guidance on moving Thunderbird email databases from one machine to another; I didn't seem to be able to do it last night but it could just have been nervousness. Now that I've had a good night's sleep and a cup of coffee and a bagel, I'm better equipped to face the problem. I also need to migrate my iTunes to the netbook short-term, and to a new computer when that happens.

Long term, one of HWMBO's and my friends in Singapore offered to construct a computer for HWMBO to bring back with him. It must be a compact one, but I hope that it will be stable and, if so, be a way back to relative eventlessness in my personal computing.

Ho hum, now to concentrate on the foot clinic visit today.
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As some of you will remember from previous posts, I am having trouble with my main desktop computer. To sum up what is a long, sad story, Vista sucks, and it especially sucks when it updates a previous XP installation which probably updated a previous Windows 98 installation. The amount of cruft and general stupidity that accrues when you update a Windows installation is beyond belief. I have suffered from the following:
  • When I right-click on a disk drive in the Explorer window to, for example, format a thumb drive, Windows Explorer freezes and must eventually be rebooted. Why? I believe that at one time I installed an add-on to the right-click menu that was ill-considered. I can't even remember what it was now. But, ever since, through the upgrade to Vista, this behaviour has persisted.

  • The Ethernet connection has been flaky for about a month. I think that it was having some trouble with O2's DNS server. However, I don't think it was O2 because none of the other computers in the house had this problem.

  • There have been lots of unexplained and (seemingly) unexplainable crashes, where Vista just stops. I don't know whether it's the computer, or Vista.

  • Occasionally, but more and more frequently, when I reboot the computer it goes into CHKDSK and, after a very long pause, complains about a file named gameuxmig.dll. This file is associated with the Windows Migration Tool, which I have never to my knowledge used.

  • After an attempt to fix some of these matters with a piece of software I bought (which shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty) I have now found that I cannot boot into my desktop. The computer stalls after logon, and the desktop never comes up.

  • MSN has stopped working after an upgrade. I think I can log in, but all I get is an empty frame, and the actual user list and menu never get shown.
So here I am. After a lot of thought, I've decided what I have to do.

I have to make a backup, wipe the disk clean, get a fresh install (not an update) of Windows 7, and install that.

To that end, I booted into the computer using safe mode with networking, and I'm now backing my hard disk up to the NAS box. This will take quite a while, but is worth it. I don't do it often enough. When I finally figure out how to use ViceVersa most efficiently, it will be faster. Now I'm just using it as a blunt-edged sword, to get all the files off.

Last night I discovered that if I copied my Thunderbird Profile directory to the other drive in the NAS box, I could access all my email from the netbook. I can't tell you how neat this is. I suppose that I could have accessed Eudora from the NAS box too, or at least the email files, but this brings along my profile too, so Thunderbird on my netbook looks exactly the same as Thunderbird on my desktop. If I like I can install Thunderbird on my Ubuntu notebook and access my emails from that as well. What this means is that my online life can continue while I rebuild my desktop computer in a leisurely fashion. LJ, Facebook, Twitter, email, and MSN all continue on the netbook.

The next step is to take the list of installed programs and, one by one, take the setup files off the computer and put them on an external disk drive, along with any license keys needed for reinstallation. This wll take time. I will also have to make sure that the installation programs for all my peripherals such as the monitor, the webcam, the audio console, and the like are also available.

Then I have to buy a copy of Windows 7. Will be looking for the best bargain (if any) but not a pirated version. I might join Tech-Net again if I can get a license through it that won't expire.

Dell set up the hard disks in a RAID 0 array (I think; I can't check at the moment). What I need to do is get bigger disks (perhaps 1 TB) and install them in an array so that I have redundancy. This will take a while. As I have lots of time during the day. I shouldn't have much of a problem doing all this (although the expense may be a problem).

Next step is installing Windows 7 and making sure that all the peripherals work with it. This may be easy, or not. I'm not sure at this point.

Finally, I need to reinstall all the programs I want, and make sure they work. I expect this to be a bit frustrating. Some of these programs have been on my computer for years, and I may not have the latest versions. I know that the programs I use most (such as Office) should be OK, it's other ones that I'm worried about.

I don't expect to be finished with this until spring. But, if I don't do it now, I'll never have a functioning computer again until I buy a new one and I can't see that happening for a long time. In fact, I suspect that my next main computer will be a notebook of some sort (not a tablet yet). I'm exhausted just thinking about all this.
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I have finally decided that my computer has accrued so many problems that it's time to bite the bullet and wipe it clean and reinstall Windoze.

This might sound easy, but it's easier to say it than to do it. For one thing, I have 13 years' worth of email safely saved on my hard disk and I would be loth to lose any of it. I have lots of data of various sorts, pictures going over more than a decade, and lots of programs that I wish to preserve and reinstall. So my project for the next few months is to:

1) Take off on DVDs the data that I want to save. I had some foresight a while back in that I put a lot of it into a folder called data. I may have to put more stuff in it and perhaps subdivide it a bit. However, it'll all be there and backed up.

2) Make a list (probably with Belarc Advisor) of all the programs on the disk. Then I will have to ensure that I have all the installation information, the registration keys, and the install programs put away somewhere. I will probably put them on another external hard disk. This will also give me the opportunity to ditch programs that have accrued on my system and been uninstalled but not very well. For some reason, when it comes to uninstallation, many programmers make very little effort to code it correctly, thus leaving cruft all over your system.

3) See if I can persuade HWMBO to let me buy a copy of Windows 7 and install that. Failing that, I'll install Vista yet again.

4) Put the data back on the system and reinstall all the programs in item (2). This will take a while as well.

There are some people who do this once a year, whether they need to or not. Unfortunately, I have never done this, as every operating system I've ever purchased has been an "upgrade" from the previous one. So some of this cruft could go back four computers and all the way back to Windows 95.

I will still have my netbook, my Ubuntu notebook, my Apple iMac, and my Sun 10 Sparcstation, all of which are usable in a pinch. And, of course, my own computer will never be the same after all this is reinstalled. However, needs must, and I'm tired of fighting with it.
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All you Linux-heads and Mac-heads, you may go to the next post now. Nothing to see here, move right along...

For all you who remain, I've got a nagging problem that is driving me rather around the bend. Background: I have a Dell server (which I use for a workstation), with a RAID array (I believe it's RAID 0), running Windows Vista, patched up to date. What is bothering me is this: I keep the computer on 24/7, but of course it occasionally hangs or needs rebooting for various other reasons such as updating. When I reboot, most often than not the machine wants to run CHKDSK before starting up again. When it does, it invariably says that there is a problem with the file gameuxmig.dll. It fixes the problem, then reboots, and service goes on normally until the next reboot.

I have AVG Anti-Virus Free, latest version, and XoftSpy XE, also latest version, both with malware files up to date. Neither of them has caught any viruses on my machine.

I thus decided to Google "gameuxmig.dll" to see whether there was any information on what kind of file it was. There are a shedload of references, but most of them seem to trace back to anti-virus sites that may or may not be legit (as I don't recognise them), so I refrain from following the links.

I also tried to google CHKDSK to see whether there were any online pages I could visit to learn about how it works and what the various error messages it throws mean. No luck there, either. I got lots of Q&A sites, where if you pay for guidance, or trawl through hundreds of questions from the clueless, you might find what you need to know. I did not get any useful sites.

My question to you, dear techie friends (or friends of dear techie friends) is this: What is gameuxmig.dll? Where does it come from (I think it's part of Windows, but can't be sure)? What does it do? And why does it always go wrong on the disk and have to be corrected by CHKDSK?

I may try Bing, or Yahoo!, or some other search engine to see whether they give any further useful information. And, as for CHKDSK, I went into the Windows technical pages and looked for technical information about what CHKDSK does and what the messages it turns up mean. No dice there either.

Wit's end, here…any references, steer to references, or suggestions for more useful search terms gratefully received.
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I've lost my camera, somehow. It used to live on my desk in the study, and yesterday I wanted to take a picture and didn't see it. I have torn the house apart and can't find it. HWMBO has promised to help find it, but it's just another annoyance among many. I suspect it was tidied away when we had our little dinner party last week. I hope to be able to find it. If not, I suppose the opportunity to buy a new one looms.

The problems I had with my Internet Bridge have been solved! and We have [ profile] mc3bbs as a houseguest for a week. I am always happy to see Chaz; he's exuberant, witty, fun, and very accomplished. He brings presents of peanut butter and smokehouse almonds for HWMBO, and adobo seasoning and Irish Spring soap for me. But he also brings his expertise.

Now I've posted before about my iMac and the travails I went through to upgrade it. I cannot find where I posted about my travails with the internet bridge that I was using to connect to my WiFi from the spare bedroom upstairs, but I'm sure I did. Tags are a beyotch sometimes.

In any case, about a year ago I went to turn on the iMac and it stubbornly refused to connect to the Internet. As the Internet is made of cats, I just assumed that something was wrong with the connection or the internet bridge. I tried everything I could to connect, but not being a Mac-head, I couldn't get it to connect. I bought other hardware and tried that. No dice. I considered connecting up the room with ethernet cable. I never got around to that. Meanwhile, the iMac was stubbornly accusing me every time I went into the room.

When [ profile] mc3bbs arrived, I pleaded (well, maybe not pleaded, but nearly) with him to take a look at it. He worked on it at intervals, and finally discovered that, far from being something wrong with the internet bridge, it was something wrong with the iMac's software. I was gobsmacked. Figuring this out did not take Mac-itude, it took networkitude, and Chaz has it in spades. So I now have an upgraded original iMac that connects to the internet through the bridge. I am quite pleased, and look forward to playing with it at intervals in the future and learning more about it.

Next iMac-connected task: replace the onboard backup battery. As is usual, it's not a PC-type "hearing aid" battery, but a 1/2AA 3.7V battery that even Maplin on the Strand didn't have in stock. I have ordered one online, and with postage it came to more than £7.

My 40 high-school reunion is in October and, unfortunately, I won't be there. I was at the 30th, and there was only one other classmate there, and of course he was someone I barely remembered. Time…marches on!

I really must adjust the amount of time I spend on the Intarwebz. I have been frittering away lots of time on Facebook (turned off location services yesterday, though. Yay me!), Twitter, e-mail, and blogs. I need to spend a bit more time doing productive things So I'm going to reserve two hours a day for something productive: either reading, or some sort of learning. This will cut down on the amount of material I post in various places.

The Archers Why the hell am I listening to this? Someone rescue me!

Medical matters The foot ulcers are steadily getting better, according to the district nurses. That's all I want to say about it now but that's just because I'm tired of it and don't particularly want to witter on. On my way back from the pharmacy this afternoon I bumped into the Canon Pastor of the Cathedral in the tunnels underneath the Elephant and with my pillow cast (which now looks a bit ragged) I felt as though I had turned into a street person. Oh well.

Programs that are quite stupid. I use Semagic to post to Livejournal, and I'm mostly satisfied with it. HOWEVER, I wanted to intentionally misspell a word above and it won't let me, whatever I do. What a pain.
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Last night my computer became somewhat unresponsive—it would start working, then when I tried to do something, it would freeze up and I'd have to reboot. A lot of swearing later, I just went to bed.

I worked on it all today (with a job interview over the phone in between bouts of working) and finally think I've figured out what was causing it. I'm not sure, but things have been pretty much OK since I disabled a few services.

It's now midnight 32 am and it's time for bed. Foot clinic tomorrow.
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I listen most afternoons at 5 pm to the afternoon news and interview show PM on Radio 4. Today they changed a little bit of the program, in which I was intensely interested. They've modified the weather forecast.

Now those of you in the U.S. or in Singapore might wonder what the fuss is about. I gather that Singaporean weather forecasts are pretty much the same every day, and weather forecasts in the U.S. generally focus on a small metropolitan area in which the weather is mostly homogenous.

Here in the United Kingdom, weather forecasts on the radio and TV have generally been delivered as a story. In order to keep the Scots, Welsh, and Northern Irish happy, sometimes the forecast begins with those, other times, and perhaps even most times, the forecast begins with Southeast England and East Anglia, corresponding to Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk counties and the London Metropolitan Area. But, what often happens is the one's ears glaze over when the weather forecast starts, only to snap to attention when it's too late and your area has already been mentioned.

A few weeks or a month ago, a woman wrote in to the PM program stating that the current weather forecast was very easy to forget to listen to; she wondered whether other formats would work better. So some experiments were conducted, including:
  • Delivering the regional forecasts in the accent of the area concerned—Scotland in a Scottish accent, North East England in a Newcastle accent, and so on;

  • Playing music behind the forecast;

  • Playing agricultural sounds such as birdsong behind the forecast;

  • Playing sounds corresponding to the weather being forecasted—gales behind strong winds, pattering rain behind showers, and so on;

  • Finally, dividing the country up into regions and announcing each region, then its weather—similar to the Shipping Forecast.

After trialling each of these, and consulting within the BBC and the Met Office (=USan Weather Bureau), the last alternative was selected. Peter Gibbs, the head of weather broadcasting for the Met Office services for the BBC, (also a hottie for those who are into men like him—unfortunately, he's already taken), went on PM and explained how and why the new style forecast was being trialled. If it works well, and people like it, it'll probably replace the current story weather forecasts on radio. The PM host asked for comments to be left on the PM Blog.

I heard the forecast, and I liked it. I was able to concentrate long enough to get the gist of what will be happening here tomorrow. However, when I went to the BBC PM blog website to comment, I discovered that one has to register to leave a comment.

No problem? After filling out the form, you have to also verify your email address by clicking on a link in an email that the blog will send you, presumably automated. What PM didn't seem to anticipate is that so many of its readers would not already be commenters that the comment verification email mechanism would be overwhelmed and is probably down for the count. I asked for the verification email to be sent 27 minutes ago. Nothing yet. Normally these emails arrive almost automatically.

Of course, when I finally get my email, finish registering, and make my comment, I'll have a short approving phrase for the weather forecast and a rant about not anticipating this kind of load.

chrishansenhome: (Default)
This morning the UK-Twitterverse was asking for tweets praising our contact with/experience of the NHS and hash them under the title #WeLoveTheNHS. So, I tweeted thusly:

I had a heart attack & got angioplasty & a stent within an hour. I'm originally from US but the NHS is (a good reason) I stay in (the) UK #welovethe NHS

(Note: This happened in 2006, 3-1/2 years ago).

Now, my Facebook page picks up all my tweets. From a friend (a real meat-life friend, not just an Internet friend), I got this Facebook response:

You just shocked me, Chris H! I thought you'd had a heart attack *today* (and a miraculous recovery and reappearance on the internets).

A bit later another friend (real meat-life friend again) said that he thought the same thing.

This is a case of "context-slip", in that the context I originally tweeted to did not exist in Facebook, where the tweet was replicated.

What to do? As a soc.motsseur always says, "Context, context, context". However, there is no good way to provide the context here.

Has anyone else had this problem with messages to one social network replicated without context on another?

Enquiring minds want to know!
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I came across this website that is dedicated to eradicating IE 6, and thought of you. Only problem is, when I go to the site that has the code to display the anti-IE6 banner, I can't figure out how to use it. Any thoughts?
chrishansenhome: (Default)
HWMBO's hard disk packed up last week. Very sad, really, but the computer and harddisk are about 7 years old so it was time. Most of it has been saved, so losses were minimal.

But, we probably couldn't afford a new computer for him, so what to do? I had several relatively new SATA disks, but no SATA DVD-RW drive. The old computer has a SATA controller on it, but it won't handle SATA and IDE drives at the same time.

The solution was to get a SATA DVD-RW drive (they are really cheap now, around £30) and put the SATA 500GB hard disk and the DVD drive into his machine, and re-install Windows et al.


I ended up buying two DVD-RW drives, one from Misco, one from PC World, because the Misco drive didn't arrive on time (I was out buying the other one when it arrived—they left it at the church, which they probably weren't supposed to do. But, hey...)

Got his computer open, removed the two drives, installed the new ones with the new cables, vacuumed it out, and closed it up again. Then started the real fun.

I have a Rock laptop which now runs Ubuntu v9, rather than Windows. So I used the installation disk from that to install Windows XP Pro on the Dell desktop and its brand-new drive. Of course, the installation went OK, but the computer couldn't see the Ethernet port. Thus, I had to download the driver (into a thumbdrive attached to my computer) and then install it on his computer. We were then connected to the Internet. Of course, there was XP SP1, SP2, and SP3 to install, plus a shedload of other patches, most of which needed a reboot. During this time HWMBO came home. Thank goodness he wasn't here when I was trying to install the rest of the stuff. I was swearing like a trooper.

We finally got all the updates installed, as well as Firefox and AVG Free. That was enough for today—we went to the Well as a reward.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
Well, I'm having difficulty with the ethernet bridge again. It's a Linksys WET54G. For those who don't know what it does, here's the scoop. It has an antenna which picks up the WiFi signal from my router down here, then converts it into wired Ethernet so that you can plug a computer's Ethernet port into it as though it were a port in the wall. The theory is simple. However, the execution is pretty grim.

It worked with the BT router. However, when I got my O2 broadband service (and router with it) it seems to have stopped working. While it can see the WiFi router, when you plug something into it the bridge doesn't seem to be able to get an IP address and connect to the Internet through the router. The DHCP service seems to be at the route of the trouble.

I have tried everything under the sun to get it to work. Neither the iMac (which has a very unhelpful helpless Help Assistant for such things) nor the Asus EE can connect. I bought a Belkin Wireless N access point but then found out that it was not designed to work with an iMac. So I got the drivers from someone who specialises in such things, and installed it. The access point can see the WiFi but, again, cannot connect.

My conclusion is that it's the router that is failing me here. I need to buy a new one.


I will do research to try to find the best WiFi ADSL modem/router and buy that. There are instructions for placing non-O2 routers on the linel. Boy, do I hope that works.

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