Surprise, surprise!

Having ordered my new tablet and expecting its arrival in a week’s time (24 – 31 Dec) it arrived today on the 22 nd. Haven’t used it as I write for it is charging the battery. It feels a lot lighter in weight than the old machine and slimmer too. I wonder how they cram everything into such a small frame. Computers in general have taken great strides in development since the days of the Vic 20, Commodore 64 and others and many times more powerful and versatile. Since becoming mobile they have not lost anything being no longer tethered to the power supply. It shouldn’t take me long to get to know my new tablet.

It was Saturday and I wanted to get on with the work in the cellar again. I was plastering in the various holes in the walls and ceiling prior to getting out the paintbrush but it was taking such a long time to do. I spent a couple of hours down there and made a lot of progress though there was still more to do and I planned on continuing with it until it was finished but I was taken ill. I thought I had contracted the ‘vomiting bug’ though I didn’t vomit anything. The symptoms were similar, severe stomach pains, dizziness, feeling light-headed, nauseous and suffering hot and cold sweats but it turned out I had trapped wind! I was in agony but thankfully everything went back to normal after a short time. Not pleasant at all. I decided to leave finishing off the plastering for the day and took the weekend off. I would probably do it on Monday instead.

Shirley Anne

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Writing on

I’ve not done any writing of posts on this site for almost a week. The main reason for that is my laptop has been out of action for a few days because of software problems concerning Windows 10. I wrote about this in a pre-written post published recently. The post was written days ago and that is the second reason for my not writing much. I usually write around five or six posts in advance. Most of those have now been published. Although the laptop has been fixed I am using the Android tablet to write this as I am having difficulty in connecting to the Internet, it’s a router password matter I haven’t resolved at this moment after many attempts. I think, though I’m not entirely sure, I might be using the wrong information. I am waiting for some family assistance. So I am using the tablet which is equipped with predictive text, something I am not used to as yet but I am learning fast. It is so good it presents many of the words I am about to write as if it is learning as it is used. Maybe. Although the tablet is a 10 inch one half of the screen is taken up by the pop up keyboard and if I magnify the text it becomes more difficult to navigate. I shouldn’t grumble, at least I have more than one means to get on line. The eighteen inch screen is much better though. The laptop has been wiped clean and Windows 10 has been installed and all is well thus far but I need to get on line in order to reinstall other software. So I am hoping that will be soon. In the meantime I am stuck with what I have.

Well I spoke too soon didn’t I? On Saturday morning I managed to connect with the router and began the long process of downloading the various add-ons, extensions and saved data when the machine froze. A reboot didn’t resolve the problem and in fact I wasn’t able to even get the sign in page! I returned the machine so that further investigations can be made. So now I am thinking there is a hardware fault. I it proves difficult I may have to purchase another. What a bummer! Until I can buy a new compute or have the current one repaired all my posts here may have limited content.

Shirley Anne

 

Windows 10

English: Windows in Hukvaldy castle
Windows in Hukvaldy castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the years I have had many problems with my computers, most of which were minor or reasonably minor and were resolved fairly easily. Not many of those problems were due to the operating system in use, Windows XP and Windows 7, my last two. I was encouraged to try the new Windows 10 system, similar to its immediate predecessor Windows 8 but supposedly with improvements and best of all it was on offer for free. How could I resist? I took the bait and well, everything seemed okay, any minor glitches were automatically sorted out but since using the system I have experienced quite a number of problems. Windows 10 isn’t as great as they might like us to think it is. I get the screen freezing up and programs ceasing to work, cursor disappearing, computer start-up very slow at times yet alright at other times. This appears to be due to update activity, especially when the machine is first switched on in the morning. Windows 10 seems to be unstable at times. I run routine maintenance every day, clearing away temporary files and updating the security program but I have no control over Windows updating itself as it is set to do that automatically. It could be switched to manual updating if I chose to do that but then I might miss important updates. I switched off the computer one evening (Sunday) recently and there were no problems. When I switched it on the following morning the machine had problems. The machine became unstable yet again and I found I couldn’t get programs to respond. One of the worse things is when the cursor is very slow in responding but mostly that is because the computer is busy doing other things like updating itself. I also discovered that the list of installed applications wasn’t showing when the icon was clicked upon and neither was the start-up panel where short-cuts can be stored. I noticed also that one of the tray items was missing. I could still use the machine but these inconveniences made it more difficult when doing certain tasks. Microsoft help pages are all on the Internet with directions often to private companies offering help for a fee of course. There is little or no help to be found within the Windows 10 program itself so for someone who isn’t technologically experienced any problems can prove to be a nightmare. Think about the elderly who use these systems but haven’t a clue what to do when things go wrong. I have some experience but I wouldn’t say that my limited knowledge is of much help with many of the issues I am faced with occasionally. Windows 10 could be better, it should be better and there should be some mechanism by which simple problems can be quickly resolved. Microsoft (and other companies) should not abrogate their responsibilities and leave the problem solving to their customers to sort out. My recommendations? Well at the moment I might say throw the computer in the trash bin! Obviously I won’t be doing that but it proves one thing and that is like it or leave it we are now lumbered with them and the problems they sometimes cause. The computer, the Internet might have their good sides but their bad sides can be done without and them not working as they should is one of them. Bring back the quill!

 

Update : I took it in for a check up and decided to get a reinstalled copy of Windows 10.

 

Shirley Anne

 

Sometimes wonder

Norton 360 version 1.0 box art
Norton 360 version 1.0 box art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had more trouble with my computer on Friday afternoon specifically with Firefox not running the Norton Toolbar. I couldn’t even set the toolbar for it had been removed from the Firefox options! This has happened a couple of times since I installed Windows 10 but it wasn’t Windows 10 that was causing the problem, neither was it Firefox, it lay with Norton. Well in fact some registry files had either been corrupted or had not been removed or overwritten when the last Norton update took place. Norton 360 had to be updated a couple of times when Firefox was updated and Firefox had to be updated to accommodate Windows 10. Now wouldn’t you know it, Windows 10 has had a couple of updates since it was installed too! No wonder things go pear-shaped. It would have been a simple matter to re-enable the Norton Toolbar under normal circumstances but are there ever any normal circumstances with computers? I chose to connect with the Symantec (Norton) team in India for yet another session with them taking control of my computer remotely in order to put things right. I had by this time tried all the obvious things to effect a repair but to no avail. The session started off quite normally and I watched the agent move my cursor all over the screen trying to find the problem. In fact the agent was going over the same ground as I had done but not once or even twice, they must have gone over the same ground six or seven times. I watched in disbelief for the agent was going round in circles. I began to wonder if they knew what they were doing. I use the term ‘they’ for I could not determine the gender of the person from the name on the screen, it was an Indian name of course and well, I am not knowledgeable when it comes to Indian names. Finally the agent decided to do a rigorous scan and after making a restore point stripped four items from the computers registry. The computer had to be restarted three times during the session and of course I had to remain with it to open it up each time. In the process of updating Norton, which was done three or four times but in actual fact could have been done only the once had the agent approached the problem correctly in the first place, I lost two extensions to Firefox. One was ‘Last Pass’ and the other ‘Zemanta‘ both of which I use every time I go online. The session was about to end and I had to remind the agent to re-instate them both so an attempt was made but during the process I had to take control of the cursor myself to show the agent how to do it! I had already spent eighty minutes with the agent trying to solve the problem and I didn’t want to spend another twenty minutes waiting for the agent to hit the right keys! Finally I thanked the agent for the help that I had received but at the same time wondered if they had known what they were doing half the time. The computer is working fine, Firefox is working fine and I am still out with the jury over Windows 10 though it seems to be working fine at the present. My other browser Chrome is fine, I won’t use Microsoft Edge at the moment because of the lack of allowable extensions it has. Norton works well, when it is working properly that is! And it is at the moment, finally!

Shirley Anne

Still plodding along

English: A download symbol.
A download symbol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was looking for a nice dry and not windy day in order to mow the lawn. That day was Wednesday but I was also expecting requests for my electrical services which might have prevented me mowing the lawn at a convenient time. At this time of year the grass grows quickly, as do all the weeds! I had intended to mow it on Tuesday which was also a sunny day and I wasn’t at work but it was also a very windy one so I left off doing it then. I had gotten up very early but not for any particular reason, I’d simply had enough sleep. I was downstairs and dressed by 6 o’clock and had finished breakfast by 6.30. I decided to go on-line to check my emails but the computer was so sluggish due to it uploading an enormous amount of data. I should point out that it wasn’t so much the computer being slow but more the particular email provider (AOL) I was connected to. I eventually gave up with the idea of returning to my emails later so I thought I would switch the computer to ‘sleep’ mode. However when I attempted to click on the ‘sleep’ button it was indicating that the computer should shut down. This obviously was due to a large Windows update which needed the shut-down so it could be implemented when switched back on. One of my pet hates with computer data uploads is that you cannot tell what is being uploaded, it might be a Windows update (as in this case) or a browser update (I seem to get a few of them) or it might be Norton Security or a Driver update. I discovered later that it was a Windows update and when I switched the machine back on an hour later it took 70 minutes to install the changes! Some update! Anyway I finally got to read my mails and then switched the computer off again. I was keen to get the lawn mowed and at 9 o’clock I had gone into the street to see if my next-door neighbour’s son was at home or at work. He is a police sergeant and often works nights and I didn’t want to start the mower if it meant disturbing him. His car was on the drive so I waited an hour and checked again later. His mom told me that in fact he had just gone to work and she herself was about to go somewhere. It only takes me 15 to 20 minutes to mow the lawn so I was able to do it just after 10 o’clock. By 10.30 I got the call I was expecting and I went off to do the small job. I decided to eat at the pub on my return home for by that time it was way after 1 o’clock. About 3 o’clock I got another call whilst at home and went off to do that job some 12 miles away for a lady who was desperately seeking assistance with a lighting problem. It turned out that her husband had deserted her a month ago after 18 years of marriage. She was left to look after her two teenaged boys. The guy was himself an electrician but refused to help her. What a mixed-up world in which we live eh? The job didn’t take me long and soon I was driving home. I got more calls during the evening.

Shirley Anne

Just as all was not going well

Before you read this might I suggest you read my post ‘Just as all was going well’ Dec 10, a few weeks ago. Whilst I was using Mozilla Firefox for the reasons I wrote about then, I had an encryption extension tool called Trusteer Rapport to which I could add sites that I wanted to give that extra protection. However, as I wrote previously, I updated the Firefox browser only to discover that my Norton 360 toolbar then ceased to be compatible and was automatically disabled. After trying to solve the problem I decided it couldn’t be done so I switched back to the Chrome browser I had been using beforehand. I haven’t used Internet Explorer for quite a number of years and though I can still use it I prefer Chrome or Firefox.
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As I was connected to one of my bank accounts when using Chrome I discovered that the site had been automatically protected by Chrome’s encryption program (a 128-bit encryption tool) but Trusteer Rapport (also a 128-bit tool) wasn’t on the Chrome address/toolbar and couldn’t be seen to be operating if indeed it was operating. When I clicked on the Rapport shortcut it showed that it was operating but in fact it seemed it wasn’t in use when Chrome was being used. I switched back to Firefox to see if it was on that address/toolbar and it wasn’t, though it had been when I stopped using Firefox. I decided to open the bank account which promotes Trusteer Rapport and hey presto, there was the invitation to download it. Although it was already installed I re-installed it. I found out that this installation was in fact an updated version of the one already installed and as soon as I opened and ran it there was the icon in the address bar where it should be. I also noticed that the Norton 360 toolbar had been re-instated for it seemed the incompatibility issues with it had also been resolved. What a mess but I am happy it all got sorted and now I am able to once again use the browser of choice. All I had to do then was transfer a couple of new links I had acquired whilst using Chrome. Finished, that is until Firefox/Trusteer/Norton decide to upgrade without sorting any possible incompatibilities beforehand.

Shirley Anne.

Clean sweeping

Norton 360 version 1.0 box art
Norton 360 version 1.0 box art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve all heard of having a clean sweep, a Spring clean and a tidy-up. We do it in our homes, our office desks and desktop but how many do it on their computers? When we use our computers on-line, downloading data of one sort or another we can collect a lot of debris with it. Even if we delete programs and files there are sometimes bits of data still left on the machine. In fact, when we delete programs and files they can still remain on the hard drive hidden from access. The registry files and program files can get mixed up too and need de-fragmenting occasionally. All these things serve to slow the machine down. We may also have old unused programs and those which are outdated that need to be removed too. There are programs that will take care of tidying up our hard drives, some of them good and some not so good, some are expensive and some can even be free to use, though the latter tend to fall short of being useful. We can also buy into regular maintenance whereby a remote operator cleans up the computer for us. Late last year I came across one such service which for an annual fee would clean the computer as many times as I desired during the year should it be necessary. At that time I was experiencing many problems with my machine and was looking for a solution that wouldn’t cost me the Earth but couldn’t find one that I thought was reasonably priced. Ideally it would be best to have a program sitting on the computer which could be activated at any time to clean out the rubbish. There are programs available which do this to a point but the ones I’ve seen so far do not do a comprehensive clean-up. So it was that I bought one year’s cover with an American company and had my computer thoroughly cleaned by a remote operator. Once I had enabled the file allowing remote control all I had to do was more or less sit there and watch the cursor seemingly moving about the screen all by itself. Of course it wasn’t, a girl at the other end of the connection in the US had complete control. I have to admit that the experience was a little unnerving but as I watched I could see the work that needed to be done to put things right. After about forty minutes all was done but I discovered that one or two settings had been altered against my preferred options and a couple of plug-ins and extensions seemed to be missing. I corrected those things myself once the session had finished. The result? My computer was running as smoothly as on the first day I’d bought it. As it is nearing the termination of my subscription I thought I’d get the computer cleaned up once more and I connected to the site on Tuesday afternoon. It took about forty minutes to do but again I had a program missing, an extension called ‘Last Pass’ which looks after my site passwords and settings and automatically connects for me so that I don’t have to remember sign-in details. In fact I have two such programs, the other being that supplied by Symantec on their Norton 360 anti-virus software. Windows itself has the facility too but I’ve never used it. With the number of sites I visit regularly I need to be automatically signed-in. So now my machine is again running smoothly. I know I can do a lot myself like de-fragmentation, emptying out files and optimising the drive using Norton 360 and I do but some things cannot be done with it. Computers are wonderful tools but can be costly and time-consuming to keep them in working order.

Shirley Anne

Out of synchronisation

Time is a Tickin'
Time is a Tickin’ (Photo credit: im elsewhere)

I read many years ago that we have a biological clock within us and that it is based around a 16 hour period. Since then I have read elsewhere that the period is around 20 hours. Whichever is the truth our bodies have to live by the 24 hour day so naturally we get out of synchronisation with the day and we make the adjustment without realizing it. However there comes a time when strange things happen like not feeling tired enough to sleep even after a really hard-working day, just as is happening to me as I write this at 3 in the morning! Yesterday, that is Tuesday or in this instance new year’s eve, I worked a full day at home on our bathroom project, mostly alone as E had to spend the afternoon with her mum and take her to the hospital for some routine check-ups. The main task had been to construct the new raised ceiling frame ready for the plasterboard to be fitted and to do other work associated with the timber wall rising to it. Both tasks were completed but by the time I had finished for the day I was truly tired. It doesn’t help too much having to flit up and down the stairs a lot fetching timber and other things as well as doing the work. After my evening meal I had it in mind to get an early night so that I could sleep and I went to bed around 10.15. I had been on the computer for an hour and a half to liaise with a remote computer maintenance company’s technician who, through their software took control of my computer to rid it of the many errors and software faults that it had accumulated over the last couple of years and also out of date drivers in some cases. The driver repairs were incidental as I have this company’s driver updater software on my computer. There is something quite unnerving to see the cursor flitting about the screen under the control of someone on the other side of the planet as they carry out the maintenance. The alternative would be to take the machine to a repair shop and have them do it but that would normally mean leaving it there for a few days. This way you can watch what is going on and it takes far less time. In this instance it took them an hour. I have to pay for this service of course but it gives me 24/365 access, meaning I can call upon them at any time. I went to bed once they had finished but could I sleep? No! Try as I might the land of Nod was way out of sight and I eventually gave up trying. Today, that is new year’s day, I shall be doing more work at home, hopefully installing the wiring for the new lights and fitting the said plasterboard………unless I nod off to sleep whilst making the attempt! By the way I don’t celebrate the new year and usually I am asleep at its passes through into the next day but this time I just lay there wondering if I’d ever get to sleep. I went downstairs, grabbed a slice of toast and a drink and proceeded to write this.

Shirley Anne

A bit of an easier week?

Windows 8 Desktop Concept
Windows 8 Desktop Concept

Who knows what a day may bring or what a week will turn out to be. At the beginning of last week I found myself with nothing to do but all that soon changed and then I found myself swamped with work. I was half glad it was the weekend so I could have some respite. I say half glad because I am never happy with nothing to do. I actually enjoyed last week and the jobs I had to do gave me much satisfaction and I believe those I worked for were happy too. However life isn’t all work and no play. On Monday I had no work scheduled so in the morning I accompanied E to PC World so I could buy her a replacement power adapter and lead for her computer as the old one became damaged and was unrepairable. Whilst we were there I asked her if she would like a copy of Windows 8. Her computer has been running Windows Vista since I bought it new for her some years ago. It was never a really good operating system I feel, though I’ve not used it. E doesn’t like it and was never happy with it. I was waiting for the opportunity to buy her the upgrade anyway so I bought a copy for her. I also took the opportunity to buy two carrying bags, one for the iPad she won a week or so back and another for the Nexus 10 I had ordered via the Internet and was waiting delivery of. I received the Nexus on Tuesday. We didn’t have time to dine out last week and may do so this week if we have the opportunity. It all depends whether I have an easier week at work. I can never tell what my working week is going to be like even if I know what I have to do. I know one thing though, it will be an easier week for my purse, I intend to curb my spending for a while having spent rather a lot during this month.

Shirley Anne

Me use a smart phone?

English: Samsung Galaxy Ace
English: Samsung Galaxy Ace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday morning I had a job to do out-of-town which took me all morning to complete. I was installing new down-lights in someone’s bedroom which meant crawling around in the loft. Fortunately that part wasn’t too bad but as usual whenever I am in an awkward place my mobile phone rings, which it did this time too!  E was calling to ask for the password on my computer. The engineer from TalkTalk had arrived as scheduled to find out what the problem was with our broadband connection. I had an idea the router was faulty and indeed that is exactly what it was. I gave her the information and carried on with my job. When I’d finished the job I drove out of the driveway only to snag the plastic under-guard beneath the engine block on the steel gate stop sticking out of the ground. I must have missed it on the way in but caught it on the way out. Part of the guard was broken off and might need replacing. When I arrived home I wanted to have a closer look by putting the van up on the ramps but found the front bumper was too low to allow that. It seems I will need to take it to a repair depot so they can raise it off the floor to inspect it. I remember when we were extending the old horse stable and converting into the now new garage, you know, the one with the new roller shutter door,  that it might be a good idea to construct a pit before the concrete was poured but decided against it at the time. Mistake! A pit would have proved very useful wouldn’t it? Anyway getting the guard checked is on hold for the moment. It was some time before I could sit down to lunch and after I’d eaten my mobile phone rang. It was an advert asking if I had financial problems. I immediately disconnected the caller. That sort of cold calling infuriates me. However when I went to check on the identity of the caller I discovered that my phone had suddenly stopped working. This happened some weeks ago but somehow it righted itself. No such luck this time so I asked E if she would drive me into town in order to arrange for a replacement phone. Whenever she or I go to town for a brief visit we drop each other off and park somewhere out of the meter zone to wait. E dropped me off close to the phone shop (I am with ‘3’). A really nice guy greeted me and I explained my predicament so he sat me down whilst he checked my account. It appeared that in four days (15th) my contract was due to expire anyway, although I would have simply continued anyway. That meant I was entitled to a replacement phone. Calling my old phone a bit of a dinosaur even though it is only two years old, he suggested going for a touch phone instead and showed me the Galaxy Ace for my approval. I didn’t want an all singing all dancing phone but that is what I got! I arranged for a similar tariff to my old contract and got one for £20 per month giving me 500 voice minutes, 5000 texts, 2000 free ‘3’ to ‘3’ extra minutes for those who are on the same provider, that is ‘3’ and 250 Mb data transfer for Internet use. Most of all that is wasted on me and the many free applications on board will most probably get used once in a blue moon, if at all! When I arrived back home the first thing I did was to pair it to my hands-free system in the van via the Parrot hardware. Later I went on-line but found my computer wasn’t recognising my password! Soon after I had arrived home before lunch I reset my password and switched off the machine before switching it on again to test the password which worked as expected. Why it isn’t accepting the password now I have no idea. Normally that would prevent my using the computer but the computer has built-in fingerprint identification for logging in and is set up to recognise my fingerprints. Now you would expect that having gained access using the fingerprint recognition I would naturally be able to change my password but no, it doesn’t seem to happen that way! My eldest son reckons there will be a way to do it and he said he’ll check it out on Saturday when he pays us a visit. What is it with me and gadgets? Me use a smart phone? Is it any wonder I try to avoid such things? At least my Internet speed has improved and is now around 12Meg! A vast difference from the 0.5Meg or less we were getting with the faulty router!

Shirley Anne