Author Archive: Marshall
I don’t always have much to blog about here (oh, does it show?) short of keeping an eye out for appropriate links and actually remembering to blog them. I really don’t do work on computers on the side any more, and that tends to be same old anyway. I recently experimented with Ghost but forgot to post about it. I have a graveyard of computer carcasses and parts to go through Real Soon Now, making my room look like I’m a hoarder (if the shoe fits…), but until I actually mess with those, no news or entertainment on that front. I have needed to replace my last good computer, which died I believe 4-5 years ago, since then, and have relied on first one, then another hand-me-down laptop.
However, I just bought a refurbished laptop to use specifically for business. There’s room for the business expense against revenue, my personal machine is getting gummed up with working files, and my personal machine provides distractions I will avoid on a new machine. I figure I will get around to building a fresh desktop machine Real Soon Now, ideally before the personal laptop can fail, and be back where I belong. The personal laptop can be spare, maybe used in part by kids as they need one for school. We’ll see. I really want that physical separation, though, so the business machine is clearly for business, which has become blogging and web site editing/updates. I’m calling it all “publishing.” But I digress.
A laptop gives me portability if I need it. I can take it wherever to work, especially if it’s just writing. It also was what I could afford offhand, at only $220 for something not as much newer as what I have now that I had thought, but with much better specs. I noticed a lot of the refurbs have tiny hard drives, like 60 GB. I didn’t want to have to replace the drive right out of the gate, so I found one with 750 GB. The machine originally had Vista, which is what my dead desktop had. It now had Windows 7 Professional 64 bit. Being 7 or higher, that gets me a free upgrade to 10 if I want it. That’s the plan, though I want to get it configured and broken in some first.
Making a short story long, I have a ton of e-mail accounts coming to Outlook Express. I’ve used it forever, with one brief break of sorts, and find it comfortable. Aha! I had forgotten that when I got Vista, there was no Outlook Express. There was Windows Mail. That was close enough, but frustrated me terribly by being unable to port mail from Outlook Express.
Then Microsoft eliminated that, which I also had known and forgotten. Web web web. No! Web mail is a pain to use. Convenient. Good for low volume, single account users. But a pain.
Turns out it didn’t stay gone. So I tried installing it from Microsoft, which resulted in a big package of other stuff installing. Net result? No mail client. In the Windows Mail folder the only thing is Windows Address Book.
I have dowloaded three free clients. I had heard of none of them before, and they apparently didn’t exist several years ago when last I ran into this. Heck, that was probably 8 years ago. I’ll test and try to report on them here.
Then there will be the matter of making the machine usable. I have no actual room on the desk yet for it, and things will have to be changed a lot for dual machines to work. I look forward to forcing myself to focus by that being for work and this being for personal/fun use. However, the new machine will need an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. It will need a USB hub even more than this one did, since it had but one USB port. This machine sits on the desk as a clamshell. It doesn’t matter that the keyboard has issues. It doesn’t matter that the touchpad can’t be used to do certain things. It doesn matter that the screen is uncomfortably small – scary, since it’s far bigger than the new one, though at least that bodes well for portability. I can use Photoshop with the mouse and not be frustrated. I can really see web site pictures. Well, I need that for the business machine, but I don’t want to give it up for the personal machine (the monitor is a hand-me-down my father no longer needed, or I might never have bought one). So I have to buy at least four more hardware items for the new machine.
This is a good place to grumble as I go. Plus, hey, this is part of the writing for which the new machine exists. And updating, since there are some seriously outdated installs and themes. Stay tuned.
A data storage company has released stats on failure rates and patterns in hard drive brands it uses, which is significant when you’re talking 27,000 drives. The results seem to be in line with my experience over the time when I built or fixed large numbers of computers.
This is fascinating. Which is funny, considering I got dragged kicking and screaming through the watered down calculus they offer people who aren’t math majors. Of course, that was partly a matter of it being mandated for my major, and partly my not seeing how it was necessary. On the other hand, in high school I almost got moved retroactively into the advanced math program because I was a geometry star in 10th grade. I tend to need to grok some of the principles before I can go on, and if I am disinterested, I won’t work at the nuts and bolts.
I recently taught my nine year old daughter what prime numbers are. She’s in third grade, being introduced to multiplication, except I introduced her to that long ago. She has become more interested in math at school, now that it’s gotten to that, except she’s already toying with division, and at home she and the younger two play with negative numbers and square roots.
What’s particularly interesting here, beside that I did not know there was a concept called twin primes, is that this touches on concepts in addition, that most basic of functions. I love that the solution is by a complete unknown, confusing the establishment by coming out of nowhere.
NSA has nearly complete backdoor access to Apple iPhone… somehow. I have never used one, but it make me even more inclined toward the alternatives.
NSA spying goes so far as to intercept packages to plant backdoors or other monitoring methods. It’s not enough to be offline, or to be on darknet, or to be on an alternative to the Internet. All unconstitutional, depending on how judges rule, which for all we know could depend on what they have on the judges in question, shades of the speculation regarding the Roberrts contortions on ObamaCare. And that speculation preceded the NSA revelations, and even the IRS scandal. But I digress into the non-technical, non-geek realm, if not into one that should concern us all.
What gets me is trying to picture how they do the physical interception. You order from, say, Dell, who ships it, say, UPS, then somewhere in transit to you the package is intercepted? Whatever is going to done to it happens, then it is inserted back into transit? Without the shipper knowing? Hard to imagine.
More than you ever knew about MicroSD and other flash/storage cards, including the ease with which they can be compromised, and the shocking quality issues.