Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Technology can be such a pain, but then it can be amazing, too. I used to be pretty good at figuring things out on my own. When I got my first desktop computer in 1993, within just a very few hours, I had it all set up, working, and I was able to get around very comfortably and I had not ever used a computer before that day. I think it took me about three hours to set it up and get on it and feel rather comfortable. That was in the days of Windows 3! A very long time ago. I could also set up whatever electronics we had in the house and get them working just fine. I could figure it all out and make things do what I wanted them to do.

That was then. Now, well in the past ten years at least, I’m not very good at it. Or rather, I should say, I’m not wanting to figure things out on my own. I’m tired of it and it is getting to the point where it takes too long to figure out how things should work and how to get them to work that way. For example, the laptop I use now is running Windows 8. I never got around to upgrading it to 10 because I was using a Chrome Book at the time and because I really wasn’t feeling up to finding out how to do the upgrade and then do it. But now I can’t find the charger for the Chrome Book so I got out the older laptop. So I am thinking that Google, in all its wisdom, should figure out a way for us to make it look like we want it to look without needing a Ph.D in computers. I use the thumbnails on the home page to navigate to different sites. However, I accidentally deleted the one for Google search. Now I can’t get it back. You can’t add thumbnails because they are determined by how often you use a site. So Google search should be up there but I think that because I removed that thumbnail, it won’t create one for that site, even though I use it a gazillion times a day. Apparently, there is no easy way to do it. Some people on the public forums say you can deleted your browser history, restart the browser and then start from scratch. Do I want to do that? Does deleting my browser history mean that it deletes my passwords? Because if it does, that kinda screws me because I don’t remember my passwords. The browser does it for me. So Google needs to find a way for us to do that simple thing. Don’t you agree?

But then this morning I was reminded of one of the good things about technology. An old friend from high school (yeah, about three lifetimes ago) posted a question about one of the teachers at our high school. You know how something gets in your head and you can’t get it out of your mind until you figure it out? Well, he was trying to remember the first name of one of the English teachers at our high school. I knew it and posted it for him. So I think it’s pretty neat that he could go on and post his question at 9:43 and I could answer it when I went online at 10:02. It’s one of the things that makes the internet amazing. It lets me keep in touch with people from all over. If I can’t be in the same room talking to an old friend, I can still feel like we’re in touch and have a few laughs and share some memories. (Thank you, Al Gore! 🙂  )

So I guess I won’t throw the laptop out the window. I’ll continue to be frustrated because I can’t get the thumbnails that I want back on my screen. I guess I could wait and see if my son can figure it out when I see him in a couple of weeks but then I would have to bring the laptop and I wasn’t going to take it on that trip. Hhm. I’ll figure it out, I guess.


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On top of being sick, I’ve also been tackling tech issues. This week’s challenge is that all the movies and music that I stored on a memory card in one of my Kindle Fire devices have disappeared from the memory card. No one removed it. No one reformatted it. No one did anything with it. New memory card, or at least only a month or so old. It’s the device I got just  to play movies on for the kids when we are out of the house. It had 19 movies on it and a couple of Raffi albums. I have the memory card in my desktop running a scan and fix procedure which is anything but fast to do. I don’t know if it will work or not but it’s worth a try.

In any case, while I was sitting at the desktop, I looked around at some of the files I have there and found no less than six folders with “things to write about.” I suppose when I have finished with the memory card issue I should consolidate and edit the topics and maybe move to my laptop as I do all of my writing and blogging on the laptop. However, one of the topics just said “fig tree” and it instantly brought back memories of the first house I remember growing up in. We had a really large back yard with a lot of fruit trees in it. One of those trees was a fig tree. We actually had two fig trees, one gave us white figs and that was a small tree. The other was huge and gave us black figs. I loved that tree. It gave a lot of shade in the hot summer months (in California so the hot days were quite numerous). Later, my dad got a hold of a playhouse for us that was as big as a bedroom. He put it under the big fig tree and we played out there for hours and hours. I will have to write more completely about the fig tree and the playhouse and maybe some of the other fruit tree memories but I thought I would just mention it here and now so you would get more than just a gripe about technology!

I’m still hoping to get caught up on reading your blogs. I can do only a few at a time these days. I’ll get there, though.

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As some of you may remember, I am currently house sitting for my son and daughter-in-law. I was determined to keep blogging and keep up with my social media stuff so I packed my laptop. Well, when I arrived and unpacked, I realized that in my haste to get on the road on time, I had forgotten the charger for my laptop. Sigh. My son got out my daughter-in-law’s laptop which she rarely uses and set it up to charge. Yay! Or so I thought. First, there was a password which we finally figured out over a number of text messages. Yay! I was able to use it on Wednesday night for checking email and Facebook. I put it away for the night and didn’t open it again until early evening on Thursday. I wrote my blog post on it and read a few emails and checked Facebook. About twenty minutes into using it, I got the Blue Screen Of Death, along with a message saying “Critical Process Died” and a reassurance that it would start up again as soon as they finished collecting info. It finally restarted but I had decided to watch a movie so I put it away, connecting it to the charger so I could take it into the bedroom at bedtime to watch a movie on it.  Well, when it was time to go to bed, I pushed the power button and nothing happened. I pushed it again. Nothing. No power to it at all. I kept trying. Nothing. Nada. Rien. Zilch. I’ve been trying off and on since 1 am. It’s now 10 am. No luck. So I guess I killed my daughter-in-law’s computer and I feel so bad about it.

Yup, sometimes life is like that. Now I’m trying to keep up with things on my tablen, with a bluetooth keyboard. Sigh. I don’t care so much about that. I just want that laptop to come back to life again so I don’t have to face Sarah with a dead laptop. 😦

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In 2009 I found the perfect laptop.  It was small, about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, and weighed next to nothing. I had been carrying around a full size laptop that weighed about 9 pounds with the battery in it (like I’m going to use it without the battery, right?).  It was huge and when carried in a case on my shoulder, it was way too heavy.  With my back issues, I really needed something more portable. It didn’t matter that my new lightweight HP had no optical drive because I rarely use one and when I do, I have a desktop top with an optical drive or I can put files onto a flash drive that I can put in my laptop.

Then it died.  Well, not technically.  However, it takes about 6 minutes to boot up.  It plays sound when it wants to.  It is super slow, even though I have had it looked at and optimized and updated drivers, etc., which meant that sometimes I would have to wait over a minute for a page to load, lots longer if it required Shockwave or Flash.  I had to face it…I had to get a new one.

Last week I found a new one.  Small, 11.2 inches.  Lightweight, 2.8 pounds.  Very portable, can use (touch)screen as tablet.   Large hard drive, 500 GB.  And it was at an unbeatable price, under $270.  I really like it and the frustration level when using my laptop now, is way, way, lower.  It speeds everything up, including blogging.  However, with a new device comes a lot of setting up and “getting used to”.  Here’s my top ten that I dislike:

1. Registering everything before you can even get to a start screen.  This includes setting up passwords which I will probably forget.

2. Having to learn a new operating system.  My old one had Windows Vista.  This one has Windows 8.1 and I am told that I will get a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it releases (in a month or two?).

3. Setting up a browser to work the way you want it to with your chosen plugins and add-ons.  And in my case this meant going from Firefox on the old laptop to Chrome on the new one.  Might as well make the change now!

4. Having to remember passwords for sites that I use everyday but don’t know the passwords because they were remembered by my old browser.

5.  My mind doesn’t remember all the passwords so for many sites I had to choose the “Forgot my password” option and then wait for a link to set up a new password.  Sometimes that didn’t work and I would have to guess at the screen name I might have used to register for that site.

6.  Getting a new case for the laptop.  I didn’t use one with the laptop I replaced but I want to protect this one as I carry it around a lot more and often while also carrying a 2 year old with me!  So time to protect this one.

7.  Deciding which files I want to move from the old laptop to the new laptop.  This means hours of going through pictures, documents, downloads, videos, etc.

8.  Moving those files which involves a lot of time and patience.

9.  Figuring out which programs I have to move from one laptop to another, like my photo editing software and my writing software, etc. and copying the files to a flash drive and moving them to the new one (neither of the laptops has an optical drive so I have to use a flash drive to transfer and install.)

10.  Then the icing on the cake…you wipe the old laptop to see if it can be fixed or optimized so I can give it to someone that has nothing better then you realize that you forgot to transfer some files and they’ve been trashed so you can’t get them anymore.  In my case, this meant a few photos and a folder of old writing.  Now I’ll have to go through tons of CDs on the desk top to see if I can recover some of those files!  More time.  More patience.  More frustration.

Ahhh!  The joys of new technology!

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I recently agreed to be pen pals with a fellow blogger. I got my first letter from her over the weekend and I’m ready to write my letter back to her but I wanted to write it on pretty paper. I haven’t written letters in so, so long that I don’t have pretty stationery anymore. After dropping Anderson at pre school, I went to four different stores looking for stationery, even ugly stationery, as long as it had matching envelopes and paper. No luck. I guess that’s one of the things that is difficult to find now in the age of email and text messages and skype and all the different ways people find to keep in touch in a less personal way than through letter writing.

I want to write her this letter so she doesn’t have to wait much longer. She’s in Australia and it takes a couple of weeks for the letter to get there so I don’t want to put it off. I do have a few rubber stamps left from my former extensive collection so maybe I’ll just decorate the paper myself. After I get this letter off, I will get busy and look some more for pretty paper and matching envelopes and maybe I’ll find some in the next month before I need to write another letter!

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My less than two year old top of the line android has been on the blink for some time.  It shuts itself off.  The ringer works when it chooses to.  Text messages sometimes take two or three DAYS to come through.  Phone calls sometimes don’t go through yet there is a voice mail message from that missed call (which doesn’t show up in my call log at all).  I do not want to pay $600 for a new phone.  I don’t really want to sign another two year contract either (not to mention that I’m not eligible for the upgrade til May).  Then I found the phone I want, brand new, from Amazon…and unlocked!  Only $100.  So I ordered it and figured it would take care of all the problems.

However, there is one thing I really dislike doing…setting up a new phone.  I read on the amazon site how to do it but the app I needed would not load on to my Galaxy so I couldn’t do it.  Then AT&T said take it in to get the new nano SIM card and they would back everything up from the old card to the new one.  So I did that, even though I don’t go to malls and AT&T just moved into the mall, closing the location I used to use.  And today is the two year anniversary of a shooting at that same mall and I didn’t want to go but I did.  So the guy I got after waiting for 25 minutes gave me the new SIM card but did not back up my old data onto the new one, saying he “wasn’t an expert” at that.  What a jerk!!!

So now I have the next four or five hours ahead of me booked for merging contacts and all that stuff.  Then I have to download my apps.  And learn a new phone.  Then maybe I can test it to see if I like it.  I have 30 days to decide.

And you better believe I am going to let AT&T know what poor service I got tonight!

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This past year has been enlightening in terms of all things related to babies.  With my daughter’s pregnancy and the birth of the baby, I’ve gotten to see how so much has changed since I was pregnant and had my children.  It seems everything has changed.  No dairy til the age of one; the pediatrician put my kids on milk by the time they were six months old.  No meat until one; I think it was about the age of eight months when my kids were little.  The list goes on and on.

Today though, while looking online for ideas for a Christmas gift for the baby, who is now nine months old, I came across something I didn’t really expect.  There are so many electronic, computerized, super-duper toys on the market.  This I knew.  My daughter has already purchased a number of electronic activity toys for Anderson.  But what I noticed was that a lot of the toys my kids played with and enjoyed endlessly when they were the same age are still around!  They are simple, non-electronic, non-computerized, and not high tech at all.  They are baby driven exploratory toys!  And I also noticed that some of the toys available today are the same that were available when I was growing up.  One in particular is the Fisher Price Chatter Phone.  I didn’t have one but my youngest sister did.  I think it was in the very early 60’s.  It’s still around and as popular as it ever was.  Sure, there are digital toy phones and electronic toy cell phones available today but one of the top sellers continues to be the Chatter Phone.  Another is the Playskool Busy Poppin’ Pals, which my kids loved to play with.  It has basic knobs and buttons and switches to push, pull and press, each causing a different Poppin Pal to pop up.

It was reassuring to see that a lot of the same things kids have thrived on for generations are still around today.

Not sure what Anderson will get for Christmas but I know he’ll love all the hugs and kisses his grandma will shower him with.  You can’t get any more basic or genuine than that!

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This past decade has been filled with technological advances.  These have been both good and bad.  In my case, I think they’re good!

In January of 2002 I had a car accident which left me unable to go back to work.  That meant that I was pretty much stuck at home.  My son was in college hundreds of miles away and both of my girls were doing an independent study curriculum.  This meant that I didn’t leave the house except when I had to drive them to the learning center to meet with their supervising teachers once a week.

I had already been online for many years (since 1993 and the early days of CompuServe with the black DOS screens and long user IDs that were numbers, not names), however I needed the computer and the internet a lot more during that time period.  Without the internet, I was pretty much isolated and shut out of everything.  So I started to pay more attention to my blogs (I had several at the time) and joined some graphics groups.  Later, I also reconnected with lost friends and began emailing and chatting with them on a regular basis.  This kept me going during the solitary times.

Without the internet and blogging, I would not have met a lot of amazing people who, although most of us have never met, are friends just as many of you are friends with people at work or from school or your neighborhood.  I’ve also met many of my internet friends in person and they have proven to be just as genuine in person as they are online!

One day I came across a MyPoints.com recommendation to visit a new site called “Gather.com”.  I logged in and lurked in the background for a couple of months before jumping in and becoming a part of the Gather community.  I made a lot more friends there, too!  That lasted for a while and around 2008 my visits at Gather.com became less and less frequent and in fact, since April of this past year, I don’t think I’ve been there except to read maybe four or five articles.  However, I am grateful for having stumbled upon Gather.com as a lot of my friends and blog buddies are a result of Gather.com.

Then came Facebook.  I joined a long time ago (around 2005) but didn’t do much there until the past year when a lot  more of my friends became active in Facebook and I resurrected my presence there.  I’m now spending a lot of time at Facebook although since I stopped playing any of the games there, I don’t spend that much time there but I do visit it a couple of times a day.  Facebook also has the advantage of being a meeting place for a lot of my family members (nieces and nephews mostly) so that’s an added bonus!

In October of 2008 I discovered Twitter and what a discovery that was!  I originally joined in an effort to meet some of the local PDX twitter community as I was new to the area and knew only three people here and one of them was my daughter!  It was a lot of fun to follow the elections on twitter and to watch the Proposition 8 fiasco in California politics.  Twitter allows me to keep up with the local newspaper and broadcast news in some of the places I’ve lived so that I am still informed of what is happening there.  I don’t visit Twitter much because I didn’t really meet many people through it and although I have a lot of followers there, they really aren’t friends and most of them wouldn’t know my name if it was branded on my forehead.  Perhaps at some point Twitter will again play a larger role in my internet life but not at the moment.  There just doesn’t seem to be a friendly or welcoming presence there.

And my blog.  What would I do without my blog?  This blog?  I think I would be lost and would have no creative outlet.  Blogging here makes me feel like someone is listening and reading and cares about me and what I write, what I have experienced.  It has been a driving force.  Over the past two months, I have blogged every day in November and every day in December.  I’m going to try to continue as long as I can without a break but that is sometimes more and more difficult!

As you can see, technology has allowed me to make friends, reconnect with others, and keep in touch with my family and friends.  That’s pretty much a HUGE role in my life, especially as the years go on and I find myself living alone with no one to talk to, sometimes for days and days.  So I talk online.  I think I’d go crazy if I couldn’t do that.

In the coming decade, I’m sure I will still be actively dependent on technology.

So, in the coming ten years, I hope to see you all on the Internet(s)!

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A little break from all things Australian.

Last week I lost my cell phone.  I couldn’t find it when it was time to turn the alarm on at bedtime.  Finally, it occurred to me that I had it just before I turned on the washing machine.  Sure enough, it was in my pants pocket.  The pants were in the washing machine.  The washer tub was full of water and was ready to start up as soon as I shut the lid.  I fished out the phone and tried to take it apart right away.  That particular phone is really difficult to open.  I have never been able to do it.  I always end up having to take it to the AT&T store to have them do menial things like take out the SIM card.  All night I worried about my pretty pink Sony Ericsson walkman phone.

So the battery and SIM card stayed in the wet phone overnight.  The next day I went to breakfast with my daughter and she took it apart for me.  I put the SIM card into an old, old, old Motorola Razr which I never liked and only works sometimes. We waited to see if the phone would dry out and start working.  It didn’t.  So I remembered that I actually had insurance on that phone.  I called them up and sure enough, they cover water damage.  They sent me out a new phone.  It arrived on Monday.  The bad thing about having the insurance is that you have to take whatever they send you as a replacement.  You have no choice.  So what I got was an LG Xenon, in red.  It was very pretty and it had a Qwerty keyboard which makes it very easy for an old half blind lady like me to text message.  I tried to work it.  I tried to customize it.  I made my own ringtones for it.   Then in the end,  I realized I was only getting about ten percent of my phone calls.  The rest were not coming through.  The reception inside my house and in this area was horrible.

Yesterday I took the phone in to the AT&T store to see if they could help me out.  I knew it was a long shot because the phone was issued from their insurance which is administered by a company not owned by AT&T.  I was afraid I would have to pay another deductible which would end up not being a good deal at all  (the deductible is $50).  The manager was great.  He said he would call the insurance and deal with them for me and see if he could get them to send me a new phone.  He warned that they might not want to talk to him but if they would talk to him he was pretty sure that he could sweet talk them into sending out another one.

He was right.  They refused to talk to him and had him hand the phone over to me.  I explained the problem with one little twist.  Craig, the store manager had told me he was going to tell them that I had zero reception in my area and no other phone line.  So when I talked to the representative, I took my cue from Craig and told them the same thing and crossed my fingers.  They said yes.  They would send me out a different phone.  They didn’t say what I would get but they said they would try to send me out another Sony Ericsson or a Samsung.  They said I would get it next Tuesday.

Late last night, the same day I called it in, I got an email with tracking information for the replacement phone.  It was to be delivered today.  And it was.  I had a bright new red Sony Ericsson in my hand before 11 this morning!  The advantages to this brand of phone is that I already have all the accessories so I don’t have to get anything new, except maybe a memory card to load music and audio books onto.  And the big plus is that I already know how to work with the OS of the Ericsson, which is very intuitive and easy to deal with.

So now I have to customize it with my ringtones and pictures.  I usually have distinct tones for each of my kids and some other people I hear from often and contact pictures for my kids so that’ s the next thing I have to do.  And the biggie is my own main ringtone.  I am hard of hearing and have trouble distinguishing sounds when there is other noise in the background.  This means that my phone can be on the loudest ring setting and be two feet from me and I won’t hear it if the TV is on or if I am at a restaurant or out shopping.  So what I do to get around this is that I have a ringtone I made for myself with the old song Corina Corina (the Ray Peterson version).  That way, when I hear my name, I know I need to answer my phone.  This helps me to not miss calls.  So now I have to find the song, download it, and make my ringtone.

It looks like I will have a slow, yet busy weekend.  But in the end, all will be right once again.

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Oy vey!

I love technology and learning about all things new, yet sometimes I wish things would stay the same.  Recently, the laptop that I thought I would make do with for another year or so, gave out.  I had to get a new one.  I shopped.  I took my son shopping with me (well, because he looks at some things that I don’t and because he knows some things that I don’t).  We found one two weeks ago and I bought it.  For the past two weeks, I have been getting my Vista OS working the way I want it to work and getting my software patched/fixed for this operating system.  Then about five days ago it started to overheat and shut itself off.  Oops!  I thought it was a fluke until it did it again.  And again.  And again.  Yesterday, my son was here and I showed him.  We went to Best Buy so he could spend his gift cards from Easter and while we were there, we looked to see what they had in the same price range.  I had given up on the Gateway.  Luckily, they had a Dell and I was within the 14 day return period.  Last night, after my son went home, I backed up my stuff and deleted things and my passwords from the browser on the Gateway and off I went to exchange it.

Luckily, everything went smoothly and I was in and out of there withing 20 minutes.  It was closing time so they were pretty efficient so they could get out of there!  I brought the Dell home and plugged it in.  I turned it on.  It powered up but the monitor didn’t come on at all.  I was baffled.  I thought there must be some setting I was missing.  Of course, I couldn’t call Best Buy because they had closed about five minutes after I walked out of there.  My daughter arrived home just then and I showed her.  She tried it.  Nothing.  We figured the monitor was dead.  So I put everything back in the boxes and brooded.  I had been offline for a couple of days and I still had not caught up on all the time I was either without a laptop or without my functionality on the new OS.  I was upset.  I couldn’t sleep all night.

This morning, we took it back.  Luckily, the technician looked at it and said, “Oh, Dell’s do that.  You have to “power cycle” it.  So he took out the battery and put it back in again and my monitor worked!  Yay!  I brought it home after my daughter’s part of the trip (breakfast and Target).  I am finally setting it up!  I think this one is a winner.  I like it.

However, in the process, I’ve lost all my bookmarks and all the blogs I read.  So I have to go through and search and get those back.  It will take some time.  So if I am not reading your blog and I normally do, I’ll get to it.  Or you can leave me a comment here and I will be able to follow your comment to your blog and bookmark it.  That would actually be faster!

By the way, I am setting up a Firefox extension called Foxmarks.  It allows you to synchronize your bookmarks so you can access them from any computer.  When you add bookmarks, you synchronize and keep it up to date.  If I have to switch out a computer or am using someone else’s computer, I can still log in to foxmarks and get my bookmarks.  Pretty nifty, huh?  Too bad I didn’t find it last night before taking the Gateway back!

Okay, I’m off to see if I can load some of my software and the patches for it.  Wish me luck!

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