Category Archives: Business

Ah, the Computing Life. . . Sigh

As I set up my new (refurbished) Windows 10 computer, I wonder how many hours, days, perhaps even weeks I’ve spent on building computers, installing operating systems, installing software etc. since I got my first computer nearly 30 years ago.

For those who missed the tale, the latest Windows 10 update kept bricking my last computer — the update just couldn’t complete without the result being a completely frozen machine. After three or four attempts cycling through three or four backup C images, I threw in the towel. It appeared that machine had some weird combination of hardware that Windows 10 Update just couldn’t work with. And Windows Update refused to stop trying to update, no matter how many settings I tinkered with.

So I got a refurbished Lenovo through Best Buy for $469 — 12GB of RAM and a 3TB hard drive. I’ve got Office 365 set up and running, ClipMate set up (I put this wonderful utility on every PC I have), and am now installing Adobe Creative Cloud and all of its apps.

It’ll be awhile before I have everything on the machine. It’s going to be a “where is..? oh, yeah, I still need to install it. . .” cycle for the next several days.

Consequences of Car Crash Drag on for Weeks

A fellow ran a stop sign and T-boned our car nearly two weeks ago, and the recovery process is still dragging on. Thankfully it’s “recovery” as in getting life back to normal, not “recovery” as in being injured. I was fine, but our trusty 1998 Subaru Outback ended up being written off by the insurance company.

Dealings with the Insurance Corporation of BC have been great. Staff have been calm, courteous and helpful. While we’re not happy that it was decided to write our vehicle off, we understand there’s not much to be done for a nearly 20-year-old car, no matter how well we’d maintained it over the years. Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to get more than a few thousand dollars for it, but we’ll push for the most. I’m collating maintenance records, and bills of recent purchases of value like snow tires, new battery, etc.

Our insurance for replacement vehicle coverage will run out this week, so we have to get on with getting a new(er) car. ICBC extended the rental coverage by nearly a week because they’ve been inundated and haven’t provided us with a buyout yet.

So we’re shopping for a new vehicle, and while that’s exciting in some ways, it’s also stressful. All sorts of decisions to make like new vs used, cash vs finance vs lease, etc.

We’re pretty much settled on what we want. I want another AWD (all-wheel drive) vehicle. I loved the Subbie’s performance in winter conditions. My wife wants a hybrid, and unfortunately Subaru has none available in Canada.

You put “hybrid” and “AWD” together, and the result is Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, for the most part. There may be a few others that fit those parameters, but they’re too big  or even more expensive.

We test drove a 2018 RAV4 Hybrid yesterday, and it seemed huge compared to our old Outback.  Mind you a new Outback is also huge compared to the models several generations ago.

We’ve also considered used RAV4s, but it appears you’d save at most three or four thousand dollars if getting a recent “Certified Used” hybrid, so why not go new and get a full warranty, more financing options, etc.

Looking forward to getting this all settled as soon as possible!

98 Outback towed away
Saying goodbye to our faithful companion of nearly 20 years.

Lots of memories associated with this car.

Both of my late parents were still alive when we got it. It transported hutches, dining room tables, coffee tables, armchairs. . .

My wife and I did dozens of trips across western Canada over the years. Many camping and canoeing trips. . . North as far as Kitimat, west to Tofino and Long Beach, east as far as Brandon, south as far as LA and Joshua Tree. . .

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Update Bricks my Computer – Again!

Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 update has bricked my main computer twice. I am fortunate to keep regular images of my C: drive, but still, each time it’s taken hours to swap drives and restore everything.

I keep clicking on the postpone update message, hoping they’ll get their act together and release something stable. I’ve gone into update preferences and attempted to shut down updates. Yet it appears that the second time MS went ahead and overrode my preferences.

This is extremely aggravating, time-consuming, and costly. And I’m not the only one. Sharing my experiences on social media has turned up plenty of folks, some in major institutions complete with IT departments, who have had the same problem.

Yes, I have Mac and Linux boxes, too, but my workflow has been Windows based for decades, with various utilities and such that I’m loath to give up, or find equivalents for on other OSes.

Meanwhile, today I bought another HD, so that I can keep multiple images of my C: drive. At least having imaged drives reduces the aggravation somewhat, in addition to regular data backups on NAS devices for additional insurance.

Year-End Digital Data Backup

I back up regularly, but I also make a point of making sure I have fresh images of my main computer hard drive, and backups of all data drives, at the end of the year.

There’s no such thing as having too many backups — both onsite and offsite.

Yes, make sure you also have a backup stored with a relative, or at a trusted friend’s place. Or in a safety deposit box.

My project for this cold and rainy afternoon was to check my drives and backups.

My 3TB D: drive, which is dedicated to photos, was near capacity, while my 2TB C: drive was 80% free. I’d been contemplating upgrading to 4TB-plus on D:, but ended up moving several hundred GB of old photos from D: to C:, giving me enough room on D: to keep me going well into the new year.

Now setting up backups of the new configuration to my NAS (network attached storage) RAID drives.

Again: there is no such thing as too many backups!

You Don’t Have to Hit a Homer for a Sense of Accomplishment

Chipping away. . .

People often set big goals. While laudable, I’m not sure that’s always the best way to get things done, chalk up accomplishments, and just plain feel good about yourself, particularly when it comes to projects that take less than a month, a week, or even a day.

Recently I’ve been trying smaller steps, in greater frequency, and it feels good.

Today after work I:

  • cleaned and organized my desk in my home office and can now see 2/3 of the surface
  • cleaned and organized my side desk and can now see 2/3 of the surface
  • got rid of stuff that had sat untouched for years in several desk drawers
  • shredded about 1/3 of a legal-size filing-cabinet drawer of financial records that were well past the date of potential interest to the authorities
  • filled a banker’s box to overflowing with old magazines and put it in the garage to place in recycling
  • filled another banker’s box with books to donate
  • did a load of laundry
  • . . . and so forth.

None of these activities took more than 15-20 minutes each, but it all added up. I could have gone further into the filing cabinets, but why kill myself? Lots more shredding in there to feel good about over the next several days : -).

 

Completed Standard First Aid for Industry

I completed a St. John Ambulance (Burnaby branch) Standard First Aid for Industry with CPR/AED course and certification over the weekend.

Thanks to Danni, a superb instructor, who was very knowledgeable, down to earth, and fun.

I’m zonked now — it was an intense two days, but also happy to have refreshed my first-aid knowledge. I hadn’t taken a formal first-aid course since my youth, in Red Cross swimming classes and Boy Scouts, several decades ago.