julesjones: (Default)
I've just been window-shopping for a new laptop. My elderly Thinkpad will have to be retired next year, when WinXP goes off extended support. Ideally I'd have replaced it already, because it's pretty creaky when I have to run Dragon, even if it can happily handle the rest of my software.

I've just specced up the descendent of my T43. I have 3 disability-related requirements -- as much CPU and RAM as I can afford, to throw at Dragon (minimum 2.4 Ghz and 4GB to run all utilities on the current version, ideally more) and as light as possible for when I need to cart it about. Other than that I don't actually much care as long as it's physically robust, because I don't do anything else requiring much muscle, other than the occasional bout of image editing.

1500 pounds for my ideal minimum configuration. That's before I add the docking station. *Ouch*. Now, the reason for buying another over-specced business-grade machine is that Elderly Thinkpad has lasted seven years and is still perfectly usable other than the Dragon issue, in spite of being hauled around the world several times. But even so, ouch. So I looked at a couple of other options. And really, by the time I've paid for the add-ons to get the necessary CPU/RAM, even cheap home machines aren't so cheap, and that's before adding the "lightweight" requirement.

"Lightweight" may be less important, if I switch to cloud computing so that I can use the iPad for my only travel computer. But I'd really rather not. :-(
julesjones: (Default)
1) The 12 inch remix version of my #AlanTuring100 post is up at the Erato blog.

2) Musa Publishing is offering a free romance novel at Amazon until the end of today, as a promo exercise. Right now I know no more about West with the Wind by Cindi Myers than you can find at either Amazon US or Amazon UK, but hey, free book. Kindle format, m/f Western set in the Californian gold rush.

3) Other Half had a spare docking station for the T series, which seems to have solved the problem with Thinkpad for now, although I'm still working my way through the peripherals to check that they're working. That will include the external backup drive.

4) The vinyl-based metaphor at point 1 is not entirely unconnected with me having listened to the 12 inch 1988 remix of Blue Monday by New Order on Friday night, and having it on a loop on Radio Central Nervous System ever since. Waiter, a new earworm please, this one's been warmed over too long.
julesjones: (Default)
I haven't bothered re-installing everything yet. But this means the machine has now been up for 6 days without re-booting, and there has been no whining about being out of memory as yet, in spite of much chopping and changing of Firefox tabs. I still have to put Flash back, and that's been a serious memory hog, but so far so good.

I'll probably do the rest of the re-install, including trying Google Chrome, over the bank holiday weekend. For now the task at hand is to Tidy My Room, because my home office is now a complete tip instead of just a tip.

I'm not even going to put word count on the to do list. I'm actually physically up to it at the moment, but there are more urgent things to do. Like being able to see more than three square feet of carpet in here.
julesjones: (Default)
I haven't put *everything* back on the Thinkpad, but I've put back everything I need to actually be able to work. Moderately urgent things left to do -- the secondary security programs, Dragon Naturally Speaking (which will involve copying the data files over), the camera software, and getting it to talk to the wireless print server that also acts as a wifi relay point for the desk workstation. The latter is going to have to wait until Other Half returns home, because he has the software disk and current settings. Bad Jules, no biscuit, for forgetting to round up that one before starting, or at least before Other Half went on a business trip.

A good chunk of the time on this was taken up with backing up, and then backing up again, and then backing up a bit more, and then one last copy of vital files to a thumb drive (which I promptly lost, necessitating some urgent Googling later for how to take ownership of backup files when the machine name has changed). Another good chunk was taken up on waiting for the new isntallation to fetch five years' worth of Windows Update. The rest of it was just that fiddling about with medication dosage that affects attention span is not the ideal time to be running a full install of Everything.

The last time I did this I didn't have a Day Jobbe, and it only took me a couple of days. This time it's been mostly done in the evening after work, which really doesn't help even without the meds issue. I've created a checklist as I've gone along, because the last time I did this was some years ago, and I didn't remember to do or how to do some things, which necessitated some Googling.

The thing that actually prompted this outbreak of masochism in the first place was deciding to try Google Chrome, and having the machine fall over crying and complaining within a few minutes when I tried to run it. That was the final straw after some months of the previously stable install getting ever flakier. But just in case it was Chrome in and of itself, that's not going on until I've run another "clone disk" backup.

Autopope reminded me that there is a Lotus fork of Open Office. I hate Word, and I hate the Open Office word processor for exactly the same reasons, but sometimes I have to handle Word files, and Lotus Symphony is probably the least bad option, so I shall install that as my not-SmartSuite word processor. Maybe I will hate the Word mental model less now that I have had a couple of years of compulsory Word use at the Day Jobbe to get used to its horrible ways.
julesjones: (Default)
Well, happy birthday tomorrow. Just went looking for an old post to refer to in the geek nostalgia thread that developed under my post about reinstalling Windows, and discovered that it will be five years tomorrow since my Thinkpad arrived. It mostly spends its time sitting on a port replicator pretending to be a desktop, but it does travel the world on occasion. I think this is the first time in at least three years and probably four that I've done a full re-install. It's had an extra memory module installed, and the hard drive swapped out for a larger one, but the only mechanical issue I've had with it was its original CD drive, which was somewhat temperamental on burning disks. I'm not a gamer, so it's still more than powerful enough to run everything I use. Even if it dies tomorrow, I think it's amply repaid the investment in a business-class machine.
julesjones: (Default)
There's a conversation in a locked post about using Open Office instead of MS Word. I'm putting some of the information in an unlocked post, as it may be useful to other people.

I use Lotus Word Pro as my word processor, because I do not get on with Word, for values of "do not get on" that involve literally screaming at the computer within ten minutes or so. However, there are editors and publishers out there who insist on using Word documents for dealing with edits (and that's Word format documents, not rtf format). Word Pro can import and export Word files, but I've got an old version that doesn't know about the most recent Word formats.

I installed Open Office because it's supposed to be fully compatible with Microsoft's office suite, and in theory should be a way to read Word files. In fact, Open Office's word processor falls down on a very important function -- comments/notes, those useful little Post-It analogues which allow people to put comments into the document without inserting them into the actual text. it has a comments/notes facility of its own, but it does not display comments/notes from imported Word files. There is no warning of this anywhere, so the first I knew about it was when I sent off my response to "track changes" edits, and got a plaintive "what about the comments?" email back from my editor.

At least one of my friends has had a similar problem, so after the discussion in my LJ this morning, I wandered over to the OO website and had a poke in the bug tracker. It turns out that this is a known issue, and while this one is relatively recent, various other problems with the comments/notes have gone unfixed for five years, often with rather snotty "nobody actually uses notes so this isn't a priority" replies from the development team. It is simply not seen as an important facility by the development team.

Apparently the problem with the display is that the comments are imported as hidden text. You can "easily" work around the non-display of imported comments by using the Navigator or by turning on display of non-printing characters (in the View menu in the version I'm using), so it's not seen as an issue that needs to be fixed any time soon. More details here:
I've just tried the Navigator and "non-printing characters" workarounds and they do seem to work in 2.0.4, but it's a major pain. I gather from the annoyed commentary in the bug tracker that earlier versions of OO did display imported comments, even if not particularly well. I've just downloaded the latest version, 2.1, so once that's installed I'll see if that has an updated help file.

I have to say that dismissing this as a trivial issue, and not even bothering to put the problem and workaround in the help file, does not lead me to think any better of Open Office than of the Spawn of Redmond. I'd downloaded OO primarily as a backup word processor, but I was also evaluating it for a primary WP should I finally bite the bullet and move away from Windows as an OS. This issue means that I *cannot* use it as a primary. My WP need to be fully compatible with Word, and the comment facility is the main reason it needs to be fully compatible. Right now a 1999 edition of Word Pro has better compatibility than a late 2006 edition of OO Writer.
julesjones: (Default)
I've lost all my Demon email dating from the changeover to this machine. Hiccups when I was transferring stuff over to the new machine meant that I ended up with a second copy of the mailspool, which I somehow forgot to delete. And guess which copy I backed up before reformating the hard drive this morning...

If I owe you a reply from email sent to my Demon address, it's hosed.
julesjones: (Default)
I pulled the plug this morning. Used the IBM Recovery system, which reinstalls WinXP Pro. It appears to be sane so far, but I need to sit down and re-install software, move files back on etc. At which point I'll discover whether it is now condescending to read CDs, which was the tipping point last night on declaring that this is a dead installation, it is no more. When the thing is burning CDs perfectly well, but refuses to read any CD, there is something wrong past the point of it beinf worth trying to track down what is on its tiny silicon mind.


Nov. 20th, 2006 07:11 am
julesjones: (Default)
My computer is sick. It is clear that the registry is corrupted, although in a way that doesn't stop me *using* the computer, so we're not sure how long this has been going on -- it may explain some minor issues that have been going on for a while now. It does, however, need to have Something Done About It. This may have to go as far as doing a clean install, or as clean an install as you can get with WinXP and its "we won't give you a copy of the software on a CD, you filthy pirate" policy [spit]. Everything important is backed up, I think. I hope. My computer will not read the CDs it's just burned, although Other Half's computer will read them perfectly well.

I'm not sure how long this is going to take, but if it does end up in a "format c:" situation, it's probably going to take a couple of days to put everything back afterwards...
julesjones: Suzanne Palmer's cat-vacuuming icon for rasfc (cat-vacuuming (Suzanne Palmer for rasfc))
I have a new keyboard--a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000. It isn't quite the same shape as Preciousss, so I get to learn all over again exactly why the unimpaired don't really like split-and-angled keyboards. (I do remember my first encounter with a split keyboard. It was... interesting.) It's also a US keyboard, which I'm not entirely enamoured of. But it has a built-in palm rest and it's definitely more comfortable than the flat keyboard. It's also significantly quieter than Preciousss, which was always a noisy brute and was getting decidedly clacky in its old age. There were complaints from Other Half about clacky noise, so I suppose someone will be pleased.

I'm trying it with supports installed and a chair cushion, and without both, and neither is entirely satisfactory, so I can see the next wodge of cash being spent on the long-threatened but never purchased wheelie chair with height adjustment. That or a thinner cushion for the dining room chair currently pressed into service as a computer chair.

This beastie's not cheap, but it's money well spent if it suits my hands. And the old keyboard isn't going anywhere but the bits shelf - it's mechanically sound and still works perfectly well with the desktop, and I may have need of it at some point.

It has a number of interesting toys as well, like a zoom key. I'm not sure how much of this stuff I'll actually use, as there were fancy keys on the old one and I never strayed outside the standard ones in nine years of using the thing. (Yes, it is that old.) Expect further incoherent ranting as I get used to it...
julesjones: Suzanne Palmer's cat-vacuuming icon for rasfc (cat-vacuuming (Suzanne Palmer for rasfc))
I have a new laptop with WinXP. It does not want to play nicely with my old keyboard with the split alphanumeric pad and sundry other ergonomic features. It demonstrates this by every so often deciding that the Shift key is glued down, or developing a stammer, or thinking that the mouse has the left button held down permanently. This morning the random weirdnesses got too much for me to bear, and I swapped over to the USB keyboard that was included with my desktop purchased five years ago. Five years ago it was snarled at for not being an ergonomic keyboard and tossed into the bits cupboard, where it has been ever since. I plugged it in intending to use it as a stopgap until I can get to Fry's for some serious keyboard trialling, and to double-check that the problem is indeed the fact that the old keyboard, henceforth to be known as Preciousss, is so old that it needs an adaptor to plug into a PS/2 port, never mind a USB port. As has been noted in the past, I have RSI and Preciousss suited my hands so well that it was very definitely a case of "You will have to pry it from my cold dead hands."

I hate this keyboard. This keyboard doth suck galaxies through a straw. This isn't just "using a strange keyboard" syndrome. This is not just the keys being in the wrong place (and let us not mention the fact that it is a US keyboard, and thus does indeed have the keys in the wrong place). This is lack of the misnamed "wrist rest".

In fact, what I rest on the wrist rest is the base of my palms. Not while I'm actually typing, you understand, but in all those brief little pauses while I think about what to type next. Often for only half a second or so, but it's amazing the difference it makes. It gives the damaged tendons in my arms a brief rest from supporting the weight of my forearms, and it means that if I'm sensible I can type all day without problems. Just typing this entry without a wrist rest has been enough to give me early warning signs.

Preciousss has a built in rest wrist that was the ideal height, width and slope for me, but I can use a decent flat keyboard with the right wrist rest--that was the setup I had at work. But this is not a decent flat keyboard, because it assumes that the only possible adjustment that anyone would want to make to the slope of the keyboard is to raise the back so that it looks more like a typewriter. Bzzt. Wrong. If anything, I want it to be slightly lower at the back than at the front. That gives me less trouble. Preciousss actually had adjustable feet at front and rear, allowing either variation to be selected, and in several different height combinations.

I can't do any serious typing on this thing as is without risking losing the rest of the week to RSI. So it's probably back to random weirdness and rebooting every so often until I can get to the toyshop. :-(
julesjones: (Default)
Other Half fixed the monitor last night. Eventually. No, it wasn't just me being unfamiliar with WinXP, it was doing it to him as well. Eventually he smacked it into submission by changing the settings on the graphics card driver, rather than trying to go in through the display menu. I was a lot happier today, since I had a functioning work computer once again. Installed Skype and talked to [livejournal.com profile] predatrix, but no joint work was done because I distracted her by showing her the cast of Ghastly's Ghastly Comic, a hentai pisstake webcomic with an array of bizarre characters, including a very camp gay tentacle monster and his human boyfriend... Naturally, she started reading the comic.:-)

I did get some solo work done, but not the work I expected to do. Thought it was time to tackle the pile of stories waiting to be sent out, checked the guidelines for an m/m/f website to see if they'd changed, and was reminded that I had an actual m/m/f plot idea and about a page of manuscript to go with it. Pulled that out and added about 1150 new words. I'm not sure where it's going to go--I thought it was a short story, but it seems to be growing on me. Yes, you have heard that before. But I'm not convinced there's enough plot to support a longer story. It's betwixt and between--not enough plot for literotica, not enough smut for a stroke piece. I shall just have to keep writing and see what happens. There is also a minor issue of the f being a female scientist, and while she is quite definitely not an avatar, people do have this bad habit of assuming smut must be autobiographical even without there being that close a match. (I've got this canned rant here about why do people assume that it's impossible for women to write m/m sex because they can't have experienced it themselves, while being perfectly happy to accept descriptions of what it's like to travel the galaxy from someone who has never done same...)

Had to stop writing because Other Half came home and wanted to play with the networking again. Much debate over whether it's a white goat with a black-handled knife, or a black goat with a white-handled knife. Anyway, the ritual sacrifice half worked, because his machine can see mine but mine can't see his. I'm not sure I approve of this state of affairs...
julesjones: Suzanne Palmer's cat-vacuuming icon for rasfc (cat-vacuuming (Suzanne Palmer for rasfc))
Word count was low today at only 650 words, but that's because I had two new toys to play with today. *The* new toy arrived, so I've spent a fair bit of time checking it out and loading software onto it. And [livejournal.com profile] emilyveinglory pointed out that there is a romance wiki in need of new entries, so naturally I spent some time cat-vacu--putting in some relevant entries...
julesjones: (A Kiss At Midnight cover art)
The new laptop has been ordered. New as in new, not new as in Official Factory Refurbished, which was the original plan. There go the royalties for the first quarter...

Pimpage 1: Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is experimenting with pdf distribution. The initial trial is with issue 22, which is available at a special low price of A$3, reflecting the lack of cover art and a couple of the stories. Note down the password you're given before clicking on the link, as the customer interface leaves something to be desired...

Pimpage 2: Currently working my way through Harald, by David Friedman. I am biased both because David's a friend and because I saw this book being chewed over in rasfc while he was writing it, but so far I'm throughly enjoying it. The style is very terse, which isn't going to be to everyone's taste, but it's appropriate to the POV character. That link goes to the Amazon page if you want more details.

Word count since last update: 450 on Friday, 350 on Saturday, 150 Sunday (because I spent much of the afternoon potting up tomatoes and seeds, and tidying the patio). 250 today.

The Dahle trimmer and the Brodart book jacket covers both arrived this afternoon, so I've been playing with the new toys. The trimmer cuts cleanly rather than tears, copes happily with light cardstock, and is accurate even with a stack of five sheets (at least on the straight blade). It's not quite as solid and no-nonsense as the pro grade models, but it is a major improvement over the not-cheap and nasty thing I bought from the local office supplies shed last year, and promptly took back for failure to actually do the job. The wavy edge blades look pretty, although they're less accurate and a little trickier to use. I now have a stack of bookmarks ready for Baycon. Definitely worth shelling out to get a decent machine. It's easy to swap the blades over; I just wish that the packing box was better designed to hold the spare blades safely or it included a storage box for the blades.


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