Friday, April 21, 2017

The Square Peg - I’ve Got Hardware, But My Software’s Floppy

The Square Peg - I’ve Got Hardware, But My Software’s Floppy
© S. Bradley Stoner

 Image result for Angry computer images

My oldest is being helpful. Yep, he decided I was living in the computer stone age. The old reliable computer I have used for the past eleven years apparently was too slow for him. It is for me sometimes too. Being on the cutting edge of computer technology, he decided to buy a government computer from surplus and rebuild it for me. It has a quad core Intel processor with a half terabyte hard drive. That means it is fast and can store a lot of stuff. Matter of fact, it can store everything I have on my current hard drive, my external hard drive, and still have plenty of room to spare.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like fast with lots of storage. I use a lot of program, some for my writing, some for research, and some for landscape and architectural design. Yeah, I know, I’ve got a lot of interests. Anyway, he also installed two monitor cards... you know, the fancy kind they use for gaming. I don’t game, but I do like the high resolution they offer. But, there was a problem. The cards are for DVI monitors. I have VGA. The connections didn’t fit. I told him about that.

“Well, that’s no problem,” he said. “You just need to get a couple of adapters. You can get them from Amazon. I’ll send you the link.”

Okay, one problem solved. On to the next. Once I get the adapters, I proceed to remove my old computer, replace it with the new tower, tighten all the bracket fittings (I have an under the desk mounting system) and plug all my connections into their corresponding receptacles in the new box. I turn it on. Poof! It’s up and running. Only it has Windows 7 loaded. I had a disk for Windows 8. Hey, why not be as new as I can without going out and purchasing new software? Yeah... I know. Cheap. By the way, to be honest, I don’t like either one. I like XP, but the new computer won’t load that... it’s out of date. Can anyone tell me why, when a company produces a software that is very user friendly and completely meets ones needs, they have to create something new and then suspend supporting the old one? Oh, shut up. I know it’s about revenue. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So, I get 8 loaded up and, of course, I have to register with MicroMush. I don’t mind doing that, I’ve beta tested some of their software with my developer’s membership. They ended that program a couple of years ago, but more about that later. Back to the registration. I duly filled in all the info they wanted. Then you know what they do? They send me a message that I have to go to my email and get a code to enter a password. Okay, I can do that. So I did. Of course I had to do it from my laptop, because when I rebooted after the installation and registration, I had a little Icon with a generic profile picture on it with a password box underneath and it wouldn’t let me in until I entered the password. Twenty minutes later, I actually got on my new computer.

Okay... software loading time. I had a copy of Office 2013 from the old developer days. I know, I’ll load that! So I did. It asked for the code key. No problem... I had one... again from the developer days. I put it in the little box. You know what I got? “This is not an authorized Microsoft...” blah, blah blah. Apparently the viability of my developer code key was ended when they ended the tech program. What a crock! It’s that revenue thing again.

Well, I could buy 2013 for anywhere from $90 - $375 from a second party on Amazon or eBay, but guess what? The cheap copies are “unavailable.” Nuts. I could get Office 365 for only $99... per year! Wow, that sounds like a good deal, right? Um, no. I bought my original Office for around $275 and upgraded three times for a total of about another $200 for a grand total of $475. I’ve had the final version of that program for six years now. Six years of “leasing” Office 365 will run just shy of $600. Of course they will tell you that you get automatic updates to the program. Yeah... and then you have to go to the tutorial to find out how to use whatever it was they put in their update. Geez!

My oldest called me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. I told him about my issues with MicroMush.

“Oh, no problem,” he chirped. “I have a copy of a newer version of Office with a valid code key. I’ll send it to you on Monday.”

Sigh. So, I’ll be setting up the new system on Monday... in the meantime, what am I writing this on? My laptop? Nope. I’m using old reliable. I’ll let you know how things go.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Square Peg - I Thought You Were Dead

The Square Peg - I Thought You Were Dead
© S. Bradley Stoner

Let me start out by saying it’s been a long couple of weeks. I was planning on working on one of my books. Apparently the Fates had other ideas. A fellow author asked me to edit his soon to be released SciFi novel. Then a colleague asked me to review an ISO 14001 plan and matrix. You might say, “Poof! There went two weeks.” Yep, it was gone, shot to pieces, and I didn’t get a blog or a single paragraph on one of my books written.

Not only that, but my sweetie decided it would be nice to put a couple of bird feeders out. Boy, was that a mistake. Well, maybe not. I do enjoy watching the birds whenever I manage to take a break. Wow! I didn’t know how many different birds we had in the neighborhood. Purple Finches, House Finches, Gold Finches, English Sparrows, White Crowned Sparrows, White-winged Doves, Mourning Doves, Inca Doves, Cardinals, and even Red-winged Blackbirds. That’s the list of seed eaters I’ve cataloged and that doesn’t count the bug eaters like Grackles, and Wrens. I found out they tell all their friends about feeders. I counted over 70 birds in my back yard the other day.., okay, I estimated. Who knows how many were hiding in the bushes and trees? And, boy do they eat!

We went through two ten pound bags of seed in about three days. Being economy minded, my sweetie comes home from a shopping trip a day later with this 50-pound bag of sunflower seeds. I don’t know how long that’s going to last. The little chirpers go through two feeders-full a day. Oh, and that doesn’t count the local squirrel who also happens to like sunflower seeds. Does anyone know how to keep a squirrel out of one’s bird feeders? I swear, the little buggers are contortionists, not to mention persistent. But I digress. Back to the point of this tale.

We’ve been having beautiful weather punctuated by thunderstorms. This, of course, in south-central Texas means the grass and just about everything else grows. Yep, mowing and trimming season has arrived. So, two days after our last shower, I knew I’d better get busy before I had to hack my way to the door. I opened the garage, gassed up the mean green machine, and trundled it down the driveway, fully intending to mow my lawn. About then my neighbors noticed something different in the neighborhood. Yep... me.

Bingo Bob was the first to arrive on the scene. It seems he always does.

“Holy crap!” Bob exclaimed. “I thought you were dead!”

“I was,” I quipped, “but I decided to come back and haunt you.”

For a second there, I thought Bob was going to poke me, just to be sure. Bob’s a little superstitious... and he watches those paranormal investigator programs on TV. It makes him a bit weird at times. Well, he’s weird all the time, but he’s particularly weird about ghosts. It’s probably why he decorates his yard so elaborately on Halloween.

He eyed me suspiciously. “Where were you for the last two weeks?”

“Geez, Bob, I thought Duncan was the cop on the block.”

“Wha... Oh, very funny. I’m not the only one who wants to know,” he persisted. “Everybody I talked to was sure you’d bought the farm.”

I looked at my lawn. “Well, I am about ready to make hay, so I suppose you could consider this a farm.”

“Cripes! Be serious!”

“I don’t know how,” I replied.

About that time Duncan showed up. “Damn!” he declared. “Bob said he heard you were dead.”

I groaned and eyed Bob. “And where did you come up with that?”

You can tell when Bob is lying. He shuffles his feet, digs the toe of his shoe at the ground, and mumbles.

“Somebody told me... um... don’t remember who....”

I heard footsteps pounding on the sidewalk. Charlie was hurrying to join our growing little group.

“Good golly!” Charlie said loud enough for the folks on the next block to hear. “Bob said you were dead!”

This was getting to be a bit much. “Do I look dead, Charlie?”

Charlie scratched his thinning hair and said, “Well, no... you look pretty lively to me.”

About this time, old Bob was starting to feel just a little uncomfortable. Just about that time Patti Peeksalot comes striding by on her late morning walk. She gives me a startled look and then glares at Bob.

“You said he was dead!” she sputtered accusingly, then turned to me. “You aren’t dead! Why not?!”

I have to admit, that took me aback just slightly. “I’m not? Well crap... that means I have to keep paying taxes!”

“Do you know what this means?”

“Maybe you should develop a healthy skepticism when Bob tells you something?” I suggested.

“No!” Patti snapped. “It means I have to go and tell everybody that you’re not really dead! That’s going to make me look foolish!”

“Not as foolish as it would if people found out on their own,” Duncan offered.

Bob sniggered.

“What are you laughing at?!” she demanded of Bob. “You’re the one who started this!”

“Maybe,” Bob admitted, “but I wasn’t the one who telegraphed it all over.”

A fight was brewing and I didn’t think my yard was the best place for it. I yanked the cord on my mower and the mean green machine roared to life. It was happily munching my grass when I looked back to see the row had moved to Bob’s yard. Better his than mine.

I just finished mowing. I think I’m going to go watch the birds and then take a nap.