Notes to Self (While Running System Diagnostics)

Why is my computer freezing and sending me blue screens? I guess I should run some system diagnostics. I ran them a month ago and it said everything is hunky dory. If it’s so hunky and dory, why does it keep freezing?

Diagnostics-89

(FREEZE!!)

NO, Marilyn! You cannot run diagnostics while surfing.  Bad Marilyn.

(FREEZE!!) 

NO you cannot check email. Okay, check, but don’t send anything. Ow. Frozen again.

(PUZZLEMENT)

Why is it prompting me to update the drivers I just updated? Should I do it again? Nah. Waste of time.

Diagnostic-4

(BAFFLED CONFUSION)

Why is Dell installing the software again? This is the fifth time. It’s installed. Geez. It’s just doing this to aggravate me.

(HEADACHE, POUND, POUND, THUD)

I need lunch. Afraid to leave the computer. Who knows what mischief it might get into?

(STOMACH GURGLING)

Bathroom, I don’t care what’s going on. I gotta go NOW. Computer? Sit! Stay! Don’t do anything while I’m gone.

(FREEZE!!)

I guess no matter how boring it is, I should NOT play Scrabble while running diagnostics.

Diagnostic-7

(FREEZE!!) 

I suppose this means running diagnostics is not a perfect opportunity to thoroughly clean the keyboard.

(HUH??) 

My system is fine. Absolutely nothing wrong. So what’s with all those Blue Screens of Death referencing my video card? Huh? Let’s stress test the video card.

(ZZ)

This is more boring than watching paint dry. Are we there yet?

Diagnostics-91

(RESULTS!)

Everything is freaking fine. I’ll tell myself that the next time it locks up. Thanks for nothing. Another afternoon I can never get back.

Glass

It’s just a table with various glassware waiting to be packed away. While it waits, the sun sneaks in from the bright winter sky, drifting.

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Light changes the colors, darkening and lightening randomly.

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Blue dominates, but bits of red and gold shine through.

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Epically Awesome Award of Epic Awesomeness — Twice!

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I have  been many things to many people over the years, but this is the first and second time I’ve been awesome much less epically awesome. Yet last week, I got not one, but two Epically Awesome Awards of Epic Awesomeness!

First, Natasha over at Films and Things honored me and before I had a chance to catch my breath, Mike at Mikes Film Talk gifted me with this amazing award again. I’m trying very hard to not have an epic and possibly fatal attack of ego bloat.

Natasha has a wonderful, creative blog. A young woman who thinks for herself and has more enthusiasm in one post than I can dig up in a month. If you like movies and even if you aren’t all that into film but just enjoy good writing and unique idea, take a look at her site.

Now about Mike. I’ve given him so many awards and he has given so many to me, too that we form a little mutual admiration society. I know his URL without looking it up. I think I know it better than I know my own. Despite the site’s title, it’s about life, the universe and everything … movies too. It’s a great writer, whether he’s being witty or serious. Smart, hyper-literate, his site has something for everyone from healthy recipes to fiction.

Please visit their sites. You will not regret it, I promise you.

Almost all awards in the blogging universe come with rules. Not so onerous, but still requiring a little effort, some thought, perhaps a bit of planning. Not an entirely bad thing, especially for someone like me who has a lot of trouble with the whole “following rules” thing. When I was a kid, I was a little bit rebellious. As a senior citizen, I don’t take crap from anyone. It’s an old person thing. You don’t get a lot of bennies in the mis-named golden years, but one of them is doing it your own way. So every once in a while it’s not a bad thing for me to recognize the legitimacy of a few rules and agree to follow them. If I can do it, so can you.

Awards are supposed to be fun, not punishment … and regardless of every other consideration, it means one or more of your peers thinks enough of you to honor you. It also helps to build bonds between us even though we may live oceans apart. In the end, it’s not just about what you write or the pictures you post. It’s also about spreading a certain kind of camaraderie. We aren’t in competition. We are in this world together and if we work together, maybe we can make it a better one. We aren’t going to right all the wrongs, but maybe we can make life more interesting, pleasant and fun. And we can be nice to each other. That’s epically awesome all by itself.

Now, about those rules:

ONLY two. Only two? All that for just two rules? All that fuss.

Oh shut up. I need to occasionally climb on my soapbox and wax eloquent. Or something like that.

  • Reveal 10 epic and/or awesome facts about yourself. Note: I’m not sure how much epic and awesome stuff is left to tell that’s suitable for a G-rated blog.
  • Give it to 10 bloggers you think are awesome and/or epic – or both. 

10 Possibly Awesome Factoids about Moi …

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  1. I graduated high school at 16. 
  2. I got married at 18.
  3. I got my BA at 19.
  4. I became a mommy at 22.
  5. I didn’t get serious about a career until I was 27, at which point, to absolutely no one’s surprise, I started writing for a living.
  6. My current husband was my first husband’s best friend.
  7. My husband is also my son’s godfather and that’s why my son’s middle name is Garry.
  8. Don’t even try to figure out what it means. Trust me, you won’t.
  9. I had a spinal fusion and laminectomy at 19 and almost died, the first of 2 near death experiences with visions and everything.
  10. Had a chat with God. I didn’t die. 

And now for my 10 Epic and Awesome nominees!

Tyson Carter over at Head in a Vice who manages to be the Johnny Carson of bloggers, turning a website into a forum and a collaborative effort across oceans and mediums.

Isaacs Picture Conclusion who describes his site as honest reviews from an honest guy (who doesn’t take things too seriously), which pretty much says it. It’s a pleasure reading his writeups.

JCAlberta at My Favorite Westerns. He does beautiful graphics and nostalgic posts about MY favorite westerns.

Rich Paschall whose Sunday Night Blog is a weekly dose of erudition and honesty. Beautiful writing and frequently reblogged by me!

Christine M. Grote – Random Thoughts from Midlife. Unique, humorous and smart observations on the world and life.

My Beautiful Things – Finding the Beautiful in the Everyday. And she does. She finds beauty in all the things that surround all of us in our daily life and shows us how beautiful they are.

Vastly Curious posts one extraordinary image every day, pictures that aren’t just things. They are moods and mysteries.

Hot Rod Cowgirl doesn’t post every day but every post is beautiful, memorable, full of the joy of her life and the land she loves.

Rarasaur is funny, sad, poignant, hilarious, weird, outrageous and absolutely unique. Try her. You’ll like her.

Rumpy Dog – I’m cute. I’m funny. And I’m making a difference for animals. And she is. Every day. She makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me glad to cuddle up with my furry kids. She does make a difference.

There are others to whom I would happily give this award but either they are dealing with LIFE in capital letters and there will be other awards to confer when life is less crazy. And other friends recently gifted or who do not like awards

So go check these bloggers out and the folks who nominated me as well, they’re all EPIC AND AWESOME! And now, so am I!

P.S. You might also want to notify your fellow bloggers that you’ve nominated them. I almost forgot that part 😉

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Beep, ding, whirr, ping, buzz …

It’s the little things that trigger epiphanies. Those tiny moments of recognition that make me say “Oh! I see!”

A few days ago, I took my Canon S100 out of my shoulder bag where it lives. I’m very careful with my cameras. When I’m shooting, I’m so focused that unless I adhere to a strict routine, I lose stuff. As I’ve gotten older, I lose stuff anyway and I don’t want to lose any cameras, so I follow my checklist to make sure that no camera or accessory gets left behind. I pull the camera out of my bag, stuff its sleeve in my pocket, take my pictures, and put it all back. When I get home, I pop the SD card out, plug it into the computer, download the pictures, clear the card and return it to the camera. Back into my bag it goes. I know if I keep to the program, I will always have a camera near at hand. For some reason, the last time I used it, I didn’t put the S100 away and left it next to the monitor. I’m sure I had a reason, though I can’t recall what it was.

I forgot it until last night when I picked my bag and noticed how light it felt. What was missing? Ah, the camera.

“Hmm,” I said. “I didn’t realize that little camera adds so much heft to my bag.”

It was late. I was on my way to bed, but stopped in my office to collect the cordless phone to return it to its cradle in the bedroom. I noticed the camera lying on the desk. I picked up the camera and thought “Gee, I should swap the battery and charge this one. I’ve been using it a lot.” I have quite a few spare batteries. There is nothing that will ruin a shoot more completely than having a battery die in the middle and not having a replacement with you.

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I popped the battery out and went to put it in the charger. I looked at my power strip. Six chargers. Impressive for a strip that only has 6 plugs.

This being a Canon battery, I tried putting it in the first Canon charger on the strip. It didn’t fit. I tried the next but it didn’t fit there either, which shouldn’t have surprised me because it was Panasonic and this was a Canon battery, but who can read black lettering on a black charger in dim light anyhow?

There was one charger in the strip I hadn’t tried. Unsurprisingly, the battery popped right into place. I looked around and realized I have two more Olympus chargers nearby and an off brand charger whose purpose I do not recall. The chargers in this group each attach to one arm of an octopus splitter. With a wrinkle of concern, I realized I had another little camera on the way and no room for a charger. I was going to have to add another strip. I wondered where I could possibly put it. Things are getting crowded in the electrical part of the office.

Epiphany.  Bong. Whack.

I have a lot of cameras, computers, tablets, readers, telephones, printers, transmitters, routers, modems, Roku, DVD players and music making thingies. I don’t even know how many there are. I don’t even know where I’ve put them all. Or if they work. They have accumulated while my back was turned. There are all the old ones I used until I got newer ones. Then there are the back ups I never use, but have in case a piece of equipment fails. Spare telephones, extra cameras. Even a couple of miscellaneous computers.

Everything uses batteries including items that plug into a socket somewhere and most things seem to need a WiFi feed. No room is exempt, from kitchen to bedroom. We have electronic toothbrushes in our bathrooms. After even the briefest power outage, my entire house starts blinking.

Night is lit up by the soft glow of red, blue and green LEDs. It’s never fully dark or entirely silent. Everything flickers, whirrs and buzzes, beeps and dings. The telephones variously whoop, bong or play obnoxiously loud music. Even my wallpaper (the stuff on the computer, not the walls in the kitchen) makes splashing sounds as my virtual dolphins leap in an electronic sea.

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My universe collapses in the face of a power outage. Nothing works if the power’s down. I am slavishly devoted to technology and the thought of having no electricity for even a brief period makes me shiver with dread.

Everyone these days seems to have a vast quantity of electronic gadgetry, no matter what they say because nothing is simple anymore. The microwave, the refrigerator, the range and the oven are computerized. Those are merely the basics.

I had to reboot my bed the other day.

I may not in theory need so much stuff, but I can’t imagine giving anything up.  I love it all. I even love the things I don’t use, cell phones that served me well and obsolete computers or cameras which have been replaced by newer models. They are my Hall of Fame collection.

Accumulation will never stop. Garry’s new computer is on the way and who knows how many peripheral items it will spawn.

I swear this has all crept up on me, slipped into my life a gadget at a time — a computer, a modem, a router, a laptop, another computer another and another. New cameras replaced old ones and they were themselves replaced by even newer gear. New gadgets were invented and became indispensable. As technology continues to evolve, each piece of equipment will be replaced eventually by newer versions. Like virtual seasons in an endless cycle of beeping, flashing and whirring change.

Excuse me. My oven is beeping. Dinner must be ready.

Geeks Speak, Consumers Say No

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So I’m sitting here reading a ZDNet article: Microsoft’s Windows 8 approach: Bold, arrogant, or both?

The argument is irrelevant.

Is Microsoft’s approach, which involves trying to force feed Windows 8 to unwilling users, bold? Arrogant? Stupid? Who cares? How about all three? What is over-the-top stupid — not to mention self-destructive — is trying to stuff an operating system down users’ throats when they obviously do not want it.

I bought a PC for my husband last night to replace his 6-year-old desktop. I ended up buying almost exactly the same computer, but with much more memory, hard drive space, graphics support … more of everything and blazingly fast, too. Ironically, it also cost less than the old desktop. Prices have come down a good deal in the past 6 years, at least for desktop computers.

Did I order a Windows 8 machine? No, I bought a Windows 7 machine because he would be lost in Windows 8 and so would I. He is not computer savvy and does not give a hoot about what’s under the hood of the OS nor does he care to learn. But he does need a computer with an up-to-date version of Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. He needs to be able to get on and off the Internet, receive and send mail, create documents, keep a calendar, and exchange files. He hates finger painting and will never use a tablet, prefers the comfort of his desk, the big flat screen monitor and full size keyboard.

If I’m going to be honest about it, so do I.  Laptops are fine, but some of us spend a lot of hours at the computer and we type faster and more accurately on a standard keyboard. I love my big bright HD monitor and for editing photographs, the laptop is never going to be first choice, even though it has the same software as my desktop. It simply means that my husband and I are probably always going to have both a desktop and a laptop and they will serve different purposes in our lives. That ought to be a plus for business since we end up keeping 4 computers for two of us (not counting Kindles and other small devices).

It ought to be easy to get an operating system with which we feel comfortable and familiar. We should not be forced to use something a corporation deems better. What in the world is wrong with supporting both Windows 7 and 8? It would hardly be the first time Microsoft has supported multiple operating systems. They supported NT and Windows for years and still support various versions of every operating system including Windows 8.

But Microsoft is bound and determined to do it their way, no matter what it costs. We are going to march to their drum beat. Or else. Or else we give up and buy a Mac? Switch to Linux? Wait a while until something else that will support our familiar applications comes onto the market? Are the marketing wonks at Microsoft so out of touch they believe they can force me to buy something I don’t want? What in the world makes them think that? As a side note, I should point out that what people do not like about Windows 8 is not how it works or anything complicated. They don’t like the user interface. I think it’s ugly, in addition to taking away familiar functionality with which I am comfortable. If they just made Windows 8 look and feel like Windows 7, it would sell. And yes, they could do it. They just don’t want to.

I don’t want to buy what they are marketing. Who will win? I think I will, or maybe, we will all lose. Because in this fragile economy, losing a few big players like Microsoft, Dell and other Microsoft dependent corporations would probably be that final nail in our economic coffin.

Meanwhile, collectively and individually, we aren’t marching to Microsoft’s drummer. We aren’t buying their act or their operating system. PC sales are falling through the floor. Microsoft stubbornly insists everyone will do it their way while we dig in our heels and say “Hell no!” They obviously don’t get it. They think it’s about technology, but it’s really about choice. It’s about comfort. It’s about freedom.

I’d have bought a different computer for Garry, but I refused to buy Win8. I don’t want it. Neither do most of the people I know. We are called consumers and it doesn’t matter how great Microsoft thinks their new OS is. They may even be right and it still doesn’t matter. If we don’t buy it, they are screwed. And so, in the long run, are we. They are being incredibly short-sighted, which I think is a special kind of stupid. How many computer companies have disappeared because they wouldn’t bow to the market?

Remember Digital Equipment Corporation? DEC was Massachusetts’ biggest employer and it is gone, baby, gone. By the time they finally realized that being better wasn’t selling their products, it was too late. Down in flames they went.

When I was a child and my mother tried to make me eat food she believed was good for me and which I did not want to eat, I clamped my jaws shut and refused. It didn’t matter how long I was forced to sit at the table. I would not eat it if I didn’t want it. No amount of coercion, coaxing, or arguments changed anything. I said no, I meant no. If my mommy couldn’t force me to eat the mashed potatoes, why does Microsoft think it can make me buy Windows 8? And what in the world makes them think they have the right to try?

It’s not about technology, oh ye geeks.

IT’S ABOUT CUSTOMERS AND WHAT THEY WANT!