Friday, August 28, 2015

Welcome to my world!

This is my living room proofreading setup, established in the months leading up to my hip replacement in early 2013, when sitting in a task chair for hours in my upstairs office became too painful. It began with one laptop and one printer/scanner and has grown to this -- all of which gets used; it's not just OCD spare-hoarding. That's Schooner in the recliner, right where he insists on burrowing even when I'm in there, though with me he prefers lying on his back, the better to snag my arm for attention. That blue cylinder next to him is the pillow he reposes on when I'm hogging most of the seat.

My lapdesk and the pillow it rests on sit atop my proofing draft pile (not much in this photo) on the old revolving bookcase scavenged from a family attic many years ago. The rear laptop runs the printers/scanners and sends/receives jobs; the front laptop handles the Google research, backs up email, does photo editing, and in general is surf city. It can also run the printers/scanners if necessary.

The printer/scanner in this June photo's foreground is the infamous Epson, so prone to scanner failure and eventual demise, now banished upstairs to mere rarely-used backup printer existence. Its replacement is the Lexmark it traded places with, yes, the very machine whose printer function died, then mysteriously revived sua sponte. Why, yes -- yes I do have a lot of hardware. Well, why not? If it needs replacing but is still useful for something, why throw it out? This is why I still have an XP desktop in the upstairs office, vintage 2004, no longer online but still faithfully performing a handful of tasks.

In the lower left corner is a corner of Ted's cage complex. And yes, that's a TV remote on the chair arm; my television sits opposite me, and the kitchen is only steps away. It's true I still find it uncomfortable, even now, to sit for long in the upstairs office, and the afternoon sun streaming in through its west-facing windows makes it hot in summertime, but that's not the only reason why I continue to do most of my work here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The More Things Change....

You'd have to be of a certain age to remember this -- in-ground garbage pails. We had one by the back door of the house I spent most of my childhood in, and used it until eventually installing what my grandmother called "the pig in the sink" -- a garbage disposal.

Now, after decades of using a disposal, I save all my food scraps in a countertop collector for the town's compost program, scraps which join the litterbox gleanings in a wheeled bin to be picked up weekly, and am loving it -- but it does amuse me to think on how retro it all is, in essence.

Here's a neat short description and image of garbage pails I found online:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Upgrading to Windows 10

Windows 10: Should you accept the free upgrade of your current OS?

I bought a lower-end ASUS notebook on deep discount with 8.1 on it, just to test it out before potentially borking any of my Win7 workhorses. Good idea. I learned a lot, including:

1. I hate Windows 8.1. I had a helluva time finding anything, I couldn't get email to work at all, the supposedly prepaid year of Office 365 refused to recognize it was allowed. No preloaded antivirus showed up when I started using it, so I downloaded and installed AVG -- and then, finally McAfee (it had to be McAfee, of course) showed up and started nagging me. Getting anything configured the way I wanted it was a tedious struggle. I put Classic Shell on it, which helped, but it was still a pain to use. After a while I was able to get Windows Livemail working, so there was email, and I did get a Kindle reader and my e-library downloaded to it, at least all the unread volumes.

2. So after a few days of picking away at the thing, I tried downloading and installing Win10. And failed twice because there wasn't enough free memory (9 gigs!) to do it. So I toddled off to Staples to get a thumbdrive -- 16 gigs for 12 bucks, such a deal -- plugged it in, and tried again.

3. Success! Well, eventually. The process took so long that I got an apologetic "This is taking a bit longer than normal, but..." message after a while, but eventually it finished. I turned it on, to a much handsomer welcome screen than before, logged in, and started checking it out.

Stuff worked. Classic Shell came up immediately when I logged in instead of the execrable Start screen with all those excitingly asymmetrical icons. I played with it for a bit, then turned it off and unplugged the thumbdrive; turned it back on....

And it would not function. "Internal log-in failed" or some such message appeared on the Black Screen of Doom. I tried variations of with/without thumbdrive, turning on and off, got the error message a second time, then even worse -- a BSofD with a frozen cursor that would not go away when I pressed the on/off button. Just sat there staring blankly back at me, thumbing its useless thumbdrive at me.

I called Staples tech support, since that's who I bought it from, and after a while got a real live tech to unburden myself to. As we talked, I tried yet again to turn it off -- and off it went! I turned it back on, and there it all was, functioning just fine, thankyouverymuch. The tech and I agreed it probably will have to live forever with the thumbdrive stuck in it since its factory-born memory just hadn't been enough.

4. So now it's cruising nicely. When I log on I'm taken right to Classic Shell. Livemail works fine. Firefox works fine -- although I still have some issues with bookmarks and toolbars, but nothing I can't live with. If I get around to hooking up Sync that could solve them, in fact.

Just one little problem: I turned on the upstairs desktop this morning for the first time since before noodling with the notebook yesterday... and discovered a number of emails I should have received didn't arrive. I knew I'd gotten them on my laptops, so why?

Turns out, when I dug deep into the notebook Livemail settings, that the box for "Remove emails from server after deleting" was checked -- and the missing emails had indeed been deleted from the notebook inbox after I'd checked that Livemail worked. So I unchecked that box, made all same-same as the laptop I was checking settings against, and forwarded what I needed to so that the desktop could receive them. Hopefully it's all good now -- and I don't plan to do email on the notebook any time soon, just in case.

So, bottom line, after all that? I will be noodling around some more in Win10, see how I like it, but barring any more nasty surprises, it seems to work well. Still, I don't think I'll be upgrading my Win7 machines any time soon; they suit me just fine as is, and I'm not sure they'd have enough free memory to do it without adding thumbdrives to them, too.