All posts by Paul Cipywnyk

Celebrating Completion of Trials on New Computer

Well, I’ve been chipping away for over a week on getting my latest tower computer up and running. It’s a Windows 8.1 box, which has taken some getting used to.

But all my programs and apps are on it. My documents, my music, my photos, and my videos are on it. It’s driving the dual 24- and 20-inch monitor setup properly now, as one extended desktop.

So it’s become my main squeeze, next to the wife : -).

The old, getting progressively more flaky, Windows 7 box is still running just in case I’ve forgotten something, but it’ll soon be gone.

So I’m celebrating the transition with a second glass of wine, and Buddy Guy cranked on the speakers — within neighbour tolerance, of course. . .

Slowing Down New Mouse

I got a new Microsoft Wireless Mobile 4000 mouse today. It was on sale at NCIX for $19.99, down from $34.99. I had an old USB mouse plugged into my Windows 8.1 box, but the cable was short in relation to the somewhat awkward placement of the tower.

The new wireless mouse alleviates that problem — I can put it anywhere on my computer desk, or side desks. And despite the “mobile” moniker, it’s about halfway in size between a typical desktop mouse and a portable laptop mouse.

I like the size, because with my moderately large hands, I can cup the mouse so that my wrist, thumb and two smallest fingers actually rest on the desk. Feels nice and solid, and hopefully proactive against potential carpal issues.

The only problem that I had was that the mouse pointer was zipping around like a squirrel on speed hiding nuts when there was hint of frost in the air. So I delved into the Control Panel, and sure enough there was a mouse pointer speed adjustment. I cranked it down several notches, and now I feel like I’m back in control.

UPDATE later today: I’ve also discovered that this mouse is sensitive to the mousepad, which in my case is one that has a bunch of little photos printed onto it. If I move the mouse to a solid-colored surface, it’s much less jumpy.

Copying Photos to New Computer

Tonight I started the process of copying my photos to my new Windows 8.1 computer. I have set up the Photos folder to automagically redirect to the D drive (second 2TB hard drive that I specified to be installed in the new system).

Instructions on how to redirect a folder here.

The new computer is now copying 154,596 files, for a total of 1.22TB from a NAS (network attached storage) backup system. Windows 8.1 estimates that this will take about 12 hours. Initially it thought 17 hours. OK, now 8.5 hours. Whatever. That’s why it’s great to have more than one computer when you rely on them for business and pleasure. I am writing this on my Mac Mini that I mostly use to fool around on.

I like having my photos on an internal HD. Faster access than on a NAS or external USB drive. I use NAS and USB for backup.

Lost Morning Spent Trying to Install QuickBooks Pro

Three hours lost to QuickBooks installation — the solution so simple it hurts.

Took all morning to get QuickBooks Pro 2014 installed on my new computer. I have a monthly service payment plan that includes all upgrades and updates, so I thought it would be a breeze. Just download the latest version to the new machine, enter my Licence Number and Product Number and away we go.

Not so fast. The installation routine would not accept my Licence Number and Product Number, noway, nohow. So I spent about an hour digging around online support, but I no longer seemed to exist in their system. Enter Customer Number — no such number. Enter email address — no such email address. Enter phone number — no such phone number. What the @#$%!?

I then spent about half an hour getting through to telephone support. The answer? I’d been downloading the installation file from the US .com site, not the Canadian .ca site. And I’d been trying to log into my account from the US site. That’s what made all the difference.

So, Intuit, do you think you could add a few lines of code to your onlne login forms that would remind a thick-headed bozo like me that I should go to your Canadian site? You know, a little popup that says “that does not appear to be a US phone number, please check your country of purchase.” And “that customer number does not exist in our US database, please check your country of purchase.”

A simple reminder like that could have saved me hours of frustration.

Windows 8.1 Box Nearly Ready to Roar

I’ve been plugging away bit by bit over the last several days installing programs on my new Windows 8.1 tower, and backing up and transferring documents, photos, videos, music and email.

Yes, I’m one of those holdouts who still likes to store copies of email on a local machine. I have email archives going back some 20 years. I’ve been on Gmail for many years, but the way I work my email setup is to have a server host my personal and business email accounts. That server then forwards everything to Gmail, and Gmail in turn forwards everything to my local Shaw ISP. I thus have access to all my messages in three stages: I could log into the hosted server, which I rarely bother to do except to empty its spam folder a few times a year. I can access all my mail via Gmail. And I download all my email from Shaw using Thunderbird.

This setup also ensures that I get very little spam, since it is filtered by my server host, by Gmail, and by Tbird.

Creepy Consumerism

Now and then I’m hit with a creepy feeling of being on the set of a horror movie in which beasts are ravenously consuming everything in their path. The feeling is reminiscent of the short story read in school “Leiningen Versus the Ants” in which a plantation owner battles columns of army ants that are obliterating every living thing in their path. The other classic reference is to locusts. Masses of locusts.

The feeling hit me a few days ago in the cafeteria at the huge IKEA store in Coquitlam, BC.

The previous time that I felt such a wave of near revulsion was at a WalMart Superstore.

In each case I felt overwhelmed by excessive consumption. I was part of it, to be sure, but that just exacerbated my squeamishness with guilt.

In the IKEA situation, it was the steady flow of people through the cafeteria, chowing down on thousands upon thousands of meatballs, fish sticks, and tons of potatoes––mashed and French fried––not to mention the gallons of gravy. I envisioned how many times this scene was being replicated at IKEA stores around the world. Repeated day after day.

As for WalMart, it was a woman with not one, but two shopping carts stacked to overflowing, hyperventilating on a shopper’s high. She was near incoherent with consumption-induced euphoria, babbling to nobody in particular about the “deals” she was getting. I envisioned how many times this scene was being replicated at WalMart stores around the world. Repeated day after day.

I don’t mean to single out the above two companies. Choose your poison. We could add Costco and most any other major supermarket chain to the mix. Remember when Canadian Tire, was, um tires and other automotive stuff? Have you been to any of the new two-story monsters recently? Just another superstore with tires and batteries on the side.

I understand this all provides jobs. I understand that we live in a consumer-driven economy. What I don’t understand is how we can keep this up in the long run. Our national economy, our global economy, is a pyramid scheme that is dependent upon endless growth. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and doomed to failure with some poor sap eventually left holding the empty bag. That sap may be all of us.

Setting up New Windows 8.1 Tower Computer

I am typing this on my new Windows 8.1 tower computer, a custom box I configured and bought from NCIX in Burnaby, BC.

As mentioned in previous posts, my Windows 7 tower suffered a bad bout of malware awhile back that took several anti-virus programs and some manual tweaking to clean up. It was starting to show its age, anyway, and some tasks like video editing were very slow with its 6GB of RAM and a 512K video card.

The new machine has 16GB of RAM and a 2GB video card, along with an 8-core 3.5GHz processor, so that should make an appreciable difference.

I haven’t found Windows 8.1 to be as much of an interface challenge as I had feared. I’d read horror stories about folks complaining about the Windows 8 touch/tile interface, but 8.1 has made it easier to go back to an interface relatively familiar to users of Windows 7 and previous versions.

I’ve already got Office 365 installed, and a few favorite apps that I use daily, such as ClipMate, Evernote, and IrfanView.

I have yet to get many programs installed such as the Adobe Suite, etc. I’ll chip away at it bit by bit over the next few days, while keeping the old box running side by side on the network. I also need to transfer all my files and photos, but I’ve got all those synced to a NAS (network attached storage) unit on my network anyway.