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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Microsoft Windows 7 Debacle

After having ie8 upgrade trashing my wife’s XP, I decided to get two new computers. I got Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit on mine. So far the only programs that have gone on seamlessly are my MS Office programs and not all of those went on well.


My first issue that has not been resolved yet was that if I put my printer on the Win7 machine, my Vista machine could see it and print but none of my XP machines could access the printer.


I moved the printer to one of my XP machines and my Vista machine and my XP machines can print but my Win 7 machine will not address the printer. It sees it, it just won’t use it. I thought I found a fix with Windows Virtual PC that will you allow you to run XP compatible programs on Windows 7.(supposedly) However Microsoft has decided that Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit can not run Virtual PC. My assumption is that they could give a rat’s ass if it works for home computers but that their bread and butter corporate clients would go bananas if they couldn’t run their legacy software.


Oddly enough since it was an upgrade from ie7 to ie8 that trashed the XP OS on one of my XP machines that persuaded me to upgrade to Win 7, my dissatisfaction has increased. Not only did the folks at MS suck the life out of two days trying to recover the XP OS, they are now dictating to me that I can’t run software that does what I need to do.


I’m not running a business. I am just trying to make my computers work. I find it disturbing that Microsoft is willing to aid the corporate users with Windows Virtual PC and callously disregard the needs of the individual user.


I will be posting again regarding my success with making things work under Windows 7 or as the case seems to be telling you about the things that won’t work.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Is Microsoft Intentionally Sabotaging XP?

I am aware that emailing and posting while angry is most likely not a good idea. However I am afraid that means I will never be able to post on this since I have exceeded ballistic and volcanic and am well on my way to super nova disgust. It is astounding to me how a “simple” Microsoft upgrade can cause me so many hours of labor. BTW might I suggest that you don’t walk, run to your computer and change your browser to FireFox before MS bites you in the butt.

After reading an article about the latest vulnerability of ie7 I decided to finally upgrade my spouse’s computer to ie8. I’ve been using it for awhile and it finally seemed a little less buggy. It hadn’t occurred to me that I don’t use ie8 on my XP machines, I use FireFox. The only machine I use ie8 on is a Vista laptop.

I blithely downloaded ie8 and when it rebooted my XP was corrupted. I had no explorer that worked, no screen icons, even task manager locked up when I tried to access programs through it.

I tried multiple XP repairs, using the genuine, original, pristine Microsoft CD. After several hours I realized that repairing was just not working. I could get an OS up but I couldn’t update it and kept getting obscure error messages. I put Firefox on the machine since I could not get any version of ie to work.

Then to my delight (disgust) I discovered that automatic update only works with ie. (surprise, surprise!) I could not find a download for Service Pack 2 which I hoped would fill in the gaps in the “repaired” OS. Alas Service Pack 2 eluded me. I found a tech note that said just use the Service Pack 3. I downloaded Service Pack 3 and it said, you can’t use me until you put on Service Pack 1. Well if Service Pack 2 was impossible to find, imagine how easy it wasn’t to find Service Pack 1.

So I finally gave up and did a full, reinstallation of XP instead of a repair. This involves a complete reformat which means all, ALL software needs to be reinstalled. Hours of fun and excitement all due to Microsoft.

Is it possible that Microsoft is so desperate for money to get Bill Gates back as the richest man in the world that they are intentionally trying to sabotage XP so people will move to Win7?

I want to thank those zany pranksters at Microsoft for providing me with such satisfying entertainment over the last few hours while I fix a problem that they

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Windows Live Writer Helps Write Blogs

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Shellie who is a regular at my other blog, Pick of the Literate,  told me to try Windows Live Writer for writing my blogs.    The world is so frequently cumbersome that it was intriguing to think there might be an easier way of doing things.   Surprise, surprise, there is.   PEPE1

This may have been one of the easier things to learn.  If you have a blog, you may want to try it.  

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Computer Deals

I recently had a Microsoft inspired computer debacle. There will be a detailed post regarding those zany pranksters at Microsoft and how they sucked 7 hours out of my life, never to be regained when there innocuous ie8 upgrade blew up my, up until then, stable XP. As usual I digress, this post is about the computers I looked at when I decided I was going to buy a new computer due to my frustration with the ones I have.

If you are new to my world, I had a computer business for 25 years. When I sold the business 4 years ago I had several computers I was using there were not part of the sale. I have since used those computers with reasonable satisfaction. When the ie debacle occurred, I realized that I was fighting with a computer and OS that was well over four years old. None of my desktops were new when I sold the business so they are at best 4-5 years old. Now being an economical soul (cheap) I have a whole bunch of used parts that I have been cobbling together for repairs over the last 4 years. It occurred to me after 6 frustrating hours trying to recover my spouse’s desktop from the Microsoft imposed premature demise, why am I doing this?

I closed up her box, went into my cpu storage area and dusted off another 4 year old (or more) XP P4, plugged it in and got her back up and running. However since my epiphany (holy smokes these computers are old!), I thought perhaps I should consider buying a new computer.

I jumped on line and did some research. A user who primarily emails, surfs, downloads Sudoku and occasionally pays a bill does not need a power house. I found several computers that had more than adequate resources to do what my spouse wants to do.

They are in no particular rank order:
Buy.com, Acer Aspire Desktop for $199.00 with XP home.
Buy.com, Acer Aspire Netbook for $299.00 with Win7 Starter
Staples, IBM Desktop refurbished for $219.00 with XP Pro
Buy.com, Viewsonic Desktop for $395.00 with Win7 Home Premium
Dell, Desktop for $299.00 with W7 Home Premium a DVD drive & MS Works

Note the first three have VGA out and the last two DVI out, so keep that in mind if you plan on using an existing monitor.

They all have a one year warranty. If you want to trust that Microsoft may have improved things with Win7 then factor that into your decision. Win7 starter sounds like lite beer, no taste, not filling and probably a waste of money. I have not looked at it so keep in mind at this point I am not real happy with my pals at MS so that is definitely coloring my verbiage.

A light user will find anyone of these machines satisfactory and if I wasn’t so frugal (cheap) I would probably have gotten one. However since I have a couple more 4 year old (or more) desktops still in storage I will run through them before I buy something new. You Apple guys are probably wondering why I don’t cross over to the dark side, blow off Mr. Gates and join the happy, cheery, smug Appletinis. Remember I am frugal (cheap) and Apple still hasn’t brought out a machine that is financially acceptable.

If you decide to upgrade your ie7 to ie8 and Microsoft gremlins trash your XP OS, one of the machines above makes more sense than spending 7 hours trying to resurrect an old machine. (Provided you don’t have a stable of old machines waiting in the wings.) BTW nobody paid me a dime to recommend any of these computers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tequila and Shopping Cozumel

Here is another post best categorized under philosophic musings rather than tech tips.

I’ve had a epiphany! Shopping while buzzed is more like partying than shopping. A recent cruise I took stopped at Cozumel. If you have no interest in Mayan ruins or uninsured adventuring (snorkeling, parasailing, motorcycles, dune buggies), you are left with drinking or shopping or in the Cozumel market place shopping while drinking.

I have never, ever walked into a jewelry store and been asked, “Water, beer or tequila?” I suspect that the last time I had a beer at 10 in the morning, Nixon was President!

Cozumel is a long stretch of store after store with alcoholic beverages available gratis with great frequency. If you accept all offers, you will be buzzed in two blocks and bombed in four. It provides a totally different view of shopping and explains why several of the stores have multiple outlets along the street. If they don’t get your money in the first store, they give you a drink and you proceed down the street. The sales theory seems to be that before you can get back to the ship; your inhibitions will be reduced to a buying frenzy preferably in one of the ubiquitous jewelry stores.
One rather persistent sales clerk, followed me down the street reducing the price of the $400.00 silver and onyx ring to $45.00 in spite of the fact, I kept telling him I don’t wear rings.

As an aside, inhibitions in the bars seem to be even less than those on shopping. Bikinis, booze and hard rock provided sufficient eye candy for a revision of the movie American Pie into Mexican Pie. Although I did not see any mature women displaying inappropriate behavior, I can’t say the same for some of the “gentlemen” in my age category. There is no fool like an old fool, unless it is a drunken old fool, trying to dirty dance with a bikini clad child the same age as his college age granddaughter. It goes to show you that tequila supersedes embarrassment.

All in all it was an entertaining shopping experience.

In fairness to the rest of Mexico, you don’t have to get too far away from the beach dominated cruise experience to see a totally different Mexico. The Mayan ruins were impressive and the fact that practically every shrub covered mound was an unexcavated ruin demonstrated the sheer magnitude of the Mayan culture.

Provided you either have the strength of will to “just say no” to all the offers of free booze or the superior unmitigated gall not to be embarrassed over your behavior if you succumb to the pervasive offers; shopping Cozumel is entertaining.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Noroviruses The Bane Of Cruising


CDC definition : “Noroviruses (genus Norovirus, family Caliciviridae) are a group of related, single-stranded RNA, nonenveloped viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis in humans. Norovirus was recently approved as the official genus name for the group of viruses provisionally described as “Norwalk-like viruses”

Succinctly, get a norovirus and barf your guts out. I’m not a fan of ralphing. I do not worship at the temple of the porcelain god. The idea of taking a vacation and spending 24-48 hours with my arms wrapped around a toilet just seems horribly, horribly wrong. Consequently I have great sympathy for the poor folks who did just that on several recent cruises. Mercury as an example.   The record-holder for bad trips in 2009 was Holland America. Its fleet delivered seven different outbreaks on five different boats.

According to an article in the AARP magazine, (Yeah, embarrassingly enough I read it but just for the pictures.), Holland America spent a whopping 5 hours sanitizing the ship before bringing the new suckers, I mean customers on for the next cruise.

Face it, cruise ships are fun but you are cheek to jowl with a whole bunch of folks. I would think that the cruise lines could pay, at least, more than a cursory attention to sanitary procedures after an outbreak of prolific heaving and diarrhea. Perhaps some of the folks unfortunate enough to deal with a bout of norovirus should be jumping up and down rather than meekly accepting their dismaying experience. You can bet that a cruise booked by the American Bar Association would get far more cleaning than the cruise lines dismal average.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cisco Super Router 322 Terabits Per Second, ZOOM, ZOOM!

Zoom, zoom is no longer just the Mazda slogan, Cisco is putting Zoooom into it’s new infrastructure routers. ” Translation: Well in Cisco terms, the router will be able to provide download speeds of 1 Gigabit per second for everyone in San Francisco, download the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress in 1 second and stream every movie ever created in less than 4 minutes.”

Some folks are questioning the need for that kind of speed. Obviously they are the folks who send one email a week and have never downloaded a program, let alone streamed a movie. We ALWAYS need more speed. We have a NEED for speed. When my cell phone is billed by the minute, I don’t want to wait for a download. Of course the inability of Verizon to get a reliable signal in my area has been the subject of previous posts and is still one of the more annoying aspects of my technical life. What is the point of getting a smart phone if you don’t have a stinking signal! But as usual, I digress.

The increasing popularity of the smart phones (for those who get a signal) is going to have a dramatic impact on the necessity for increased routing speeds. Cisco has stepped up to the plate and if the CNN.Money article is accurate, they have hit a home run.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Teen Tech Week 2010 is March 7-13!

This sounds pretty cool. “Teen Tech Week 2010 is March 7-13!
Teen Tech Week is a national initiative aimed at teens, librarians, educators, parents, and other concerned adults meant to encourage teens to take advantage of libraries' nonprint resources. The 2010 theme — Learn Create Share @ your library — fosters teen creativity and positions the library as a physical and virtual place for safe exploration of the many types of technology available at libraries, including DVDs, music, gaming, video production, online homework help, social networking, tech workshops, audiobooks and more.” (Direct from the YALSA Site)

Sourcebooks, one of the companies that provide me with books to review has jumped on Teen Tech Week to also promote teens reading. Their site has a bunch of very cool things going on to coincide with Teen Tech Week.

TeenFire is a social networking site that promotes the titles that Sourcebooks represents but it also promotes reading in general. Check out TeenFire and Teen Tech Week. The more kids we can get to read, the less we have to worry about their future!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cruisin’ with 68500 Horsepower!


This isn’t my Big Bad Green 69 Javelin cruising down the street, radio blaring, long hair (LOL) shaking, low riding but a 916 foot truly, easy rider; the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas.

I took a cruise recently this post has no tech. Money saving does fit the appropriateness of this post due to the fact that cruises are offering deals that are just impossible to beat. The nightly rate for the cruise I just took was less than if I stayed in a decent (not 4 star, just decent) hotel.

Disregarding the ubiquitous free breakfast on the 95 corridor hotels, most hotels do not ply you with “free” food 20 hours per day. Nor do any hotels I stay in, provide multiple venues of entertainment nightly at no additional charge. If you aren’t interested in very professional singing, dancing or variety acts; you can always gamble. Again, outside of AC or Vegas, I don’t know where you would have that variety of entertainment and last I checked, Vegas and AC hotels don’t provide any of that at no additional charge to the room.

The food was good, not exceptional but good. The quantity was ludicrous. If you wanted everything on the dinner menu, your waiter would bring it. Everything! Sadly I did succumb to a smidge more than one or two desserts a night. If you preferred a buffet instead of table service than you could gorge your self at least 20 hours per day. The food could explain the propensity of morbidly obese folks that were seen daily in the buffet line.

My wife and I have experienced multiple cruises. The crew on the Grandeur of the Seas was the most accommodating we have ever experienced. They seemed truly glad to serve.

The entertainment was top notch. The singers and dancers had an energy level that was truly awesome! Although there were beautiful young ladies on stage every night, my appreciativeness was somewhat daunted by the recognition that they were closer in age to my grandchildren than my children. Arrggh!

If you have not taken a cruise, now is a great time to do so. There are some astounding deals and considering the snow falls this winter, there may be no better time to take one.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Celebrating Strong Women, International Woman’s Day, March 8, 2010

On this International Woman’s Day, I would like to celebrate the strength of women. Sadly there still are too many of my gender, who feels deep down in their heart of hearts, grossly threatened by accomplished women. That is a mystery to me.

If a person is accomplished, how can their gender diminish that accomplishment? I’m 6’2’’ and 220 pounds. The love of my life is a foot shorter and well over 100 pounds lighter than I am. Yet this diminutive dynamo kicks my butt on the golf course. She is more skilled, has greater consistency and is just better. I’m not keen on being beaten in anything by anyone. I am sadly aware that size and strength pale in comparison to skill in golf. So what if it is a tiny terror of feminine pulchritude, she beats me, gender has nothing to do with it.

Strength is not just measured by breadth of bicep or endurance; it is measured in character, dedication and perseverance. My personal life has been enormously enhanced by the strength of many of the women around me. Daughters, by law not birth, have honored me with their love and overwhelmed me with their skills. These women are mothers, wives, professionals and yet they have time and strength to show their father by law how incredibly wonderful it is to have daughters.

I feel a deep sadness for those of you too narrow minded or insecure to recognize the benefits of having women as equal partners in your life. For those of you in relationships or nations that are blind to the enormous wealth women can bring to life, open your eyes and see, second class citizens add little value. Equal partners double your worth. Look at the women around you and celebrate their existence on this International Woman’s Day!
 Money Saving Tech Tips