The toy that destroyed the world

Commodore 64, VIC-casing but with C64C-coloring.
Commodore 64 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are few things which alone could destroy this world besides atomic bombs and disease and even one of those is within our capability to be rendered  harmless. It is all about intention. Many years ago I purchased my first personal computer, a Commodore Vic 20, a very basic machine with less memory than a modern-day credit card! After a while I upgraded to a Commodore 64 but even that machine was very limited by today’s standards. The only great advance regarding computers at the time was that they had shrunk in size, they were far smaller than their predecessors and could now perhaps become a useful domestic device. Well that certainly happened as we all know. With each passing year the personal computer has gone from strength to strength. It was only with the introduction of The Internet though that the computer came into its own. Many households can now connect to the world in which we live, something only dreamt about years ago. It was around 1982 I bought that Vic 20 and two years later the 64. I had been attending a Methodist church at the time though I wasn’t at that time a Christian. That came in 1989. One day I had occasion to visit the then vicar of the church as I remember to help with a small electrical problem and the subject of computers entered our conversation. I always remember his reaction, ‘They are just toys’, he said. He was so right but I had yet to learn that. Toys they may be but they are powerful and have the capability to destroy the world if miss-used. Therein lies the problem. Because human beings are in control of their manufacture and use there is always the danger they will be used for all the wrong reasons. That is already happening and is slowly becoming a giant-sized problem to the world. Technological advancement has a down side and can be used against us in many ways. What does the future hold for us all if we have to rely on computers in order to live out our lives? Inevitably computers will control everything we do……..all we think, earn, spend, purchase will be recorded and can be manipulated. Should we buy into it all or does our conscience tell us to beware? To me it smacks of the ‘mark of the beast’ as described in Revelations………….you decide.

Shirley Anne


Hidden extras

Downloading updates  1 of 141 do not unplug or turn off your computer’, you’ve all seen this message or something similar on your computer screen for earlier versions of Windows. Since having Windows 7 re-installed on my old laptop all I have been getting when I am about to switch it off are messages like these. One or two is fine but almost every time I have switched off my machine during the last few days I get this message. At first it was 6 updates then 10 then 141, a further 40, then 6 and even more after these. Now I would have expected to see some difference in using the computer but there isn’t one, at least one that I would notice. I decided to check just exactly what had been uploaded and saw a long list of items seemingly all to do with the operating system. I then checked all the installed programs to see if anything had changed there. I discovered that quite a number of programs had been added. Some are games, some are Microsoft’s own programs like Live Messenger, Movie Maker,  Office Powerpoint and others all of which I will probably never use but here’s the rub, one day I might have to, why?

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Well in the great scheme of things Microsoft change their software to make it impossible to do certain things that have been traditionally easy to do by taking away functionality. This means extra software has to be purchased in order to do some of the simple tasks that could have been done just using the Windows platform. For instance, on my new laptop which runs Windows 10 Microsoft has made it impossible to open my files and preview them, they have also filed my photographs in a different way by default and are also not easily located. These things seem minor but at the end of the day it appears that we are being manipulated to using software their way. In society this is the thin end of a large wedge. Has it escaped your notice that the way we shop or do anything else is slowly changing? One day there will be no cash and we will have to use smart technology to buy anything, to get directions, to dine out and to do almost everything that we do. We will be under the control of those who produce the technology and the software that controls it. Think I am being paranoid? Perhaps I am but human beings are meant to be free, not slaves to machinery and technology just to live out our lives. I think I would prefer life to remain a little difficult rather than having to rely upon computers, smart phones, contactless debit cards et al.

Shirley Anne

Testing my patience

English: Acer Aspire 8920 (with 18.4 inch scre...
Acer Aspire 8920 (with 18.4 inch screen) showing its desktop on Windows 7. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having purchased a new laptop computer I had to spend a few hours setting the damned thing up, installing preferred software programs and re-installing saved documents, files and pictures and such. However as is usual with these things nothing ever goes smoothly does it? Eventually, after much frustration I had everything in place but there are still a couple of snags to sort out like being able to actually see the file titles for instance as they were when they were saved. There is no pre-view so I cannot find anything even though it is there. With the picture files they can be opened by the Windows platform but when it comes to searching by title I haven’t been able to discover how I can do that. Why don’t saved files just get replaced as they should appear in the viewing pane, with their titles? No doubt there is a simple way of doing this but I have yet to find out how, you see I am no computer whizz-kid. For me computers are a means to an end and as clever as they are (they’re not actually clever) they can be a pain in the proverbial if one doesn’t know how to solve their every little quirk. Anyway I am sure I will find a way through the jungle and find that clearing eventually.

The machine itself is a Hewlett-Packard Envy (what a weird name) with the same i7 technology as my Acer which is currently still in the workshop hopefully getting repaired. This machine however has a 1TB storage capability whereas the Acer has only 500GB. The higher the available RAM the faster the processing as there is more space with which the machine can work and that means things happen faster on the screen, not that I would notice the difference! I am of course still trying to get used to the slightly different keyboard and touch pad.

Every new machine comes with pre-installed software which is usually not always used by the buyer. Mine came with a different Internet security program to my preferred one, with whom I have a contract which is automatically renewed each year and charged to my bank account. I had to install it. I use Norton 360. I use Firefox for my browser and have Chrome as a back-up so I had to install them too. Then I had to reinstall Trusteer Rapport, Zemanta and Last Pass and it all takes time. I also had to de-clutter the start menu and taskbar from all the useless short-cuts that Microsoft had placed there. I also had to register, set up passwords and other things whilst fending off pop-up screens inviting me to answer a couple of short surveys by the purveyors of some of the software I had subscribed to. I didn’t receive the machine until ten-thirty on Monday morning and it was around five o’clock by the time I had most of the set-up completed. This is the annoying part of buying a new machine but I will have to do it all again, well some of it, when and if I get my other machine repaired.

Did I say I hate technology?

Shirley Anne

Not faffing about any more

laptop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My readers will know by now how much I have suffered with computer problems lately and not only computers but also my mobile phone! I try my best to sort things out but having done that I find I am banging my head against a brick wall sometimes. Techology and me don’t really mix which is a little strange I suppose considering that I have been involved with it all my working life. I have an excuse though as the technology has been of a different kind. The latest escapade has left me with only my tablet whilst my laptop is undergoing repair. In my last post I talked about having to return it after yet another problem. As I write this on Saturday evening and using the tablet, my laptop is sitting on the work bench in Curry’s PC World for the second time and I won’t be getting it back at the very least until Monday. I was using the tablet just before I had my late lunch at three o’clock when I decided to push the boat out and browse the Internet looking for a new laptop, something akin to my fault stricken machine. I found one with a slightly better specification and also using i7 processors. The price was one penny less than £1000. I bought it. If my other machine gets repaired successfully I won’t be bothered as it will ensure I have back up in more ways than one! I get fed up faffing about so I do something about it. Hopefully I will now have a little less to worry about concerning computers and their problems, well perhaps. Now I have to go through the whole set up procedure once again, probably twice if my old machine is repaired!

Shirley Anne



One Step Beyond...
One Step Beyond… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did I mention I hate computers? In this day and age they have become more a necessity than a real need, I never wanted a computer in order to do the many things that can be done with them but when they first came on to the market (way back in 1980 for me) I bought one as a novelty. I had no idea of their potential at that time though I did learn to write basic programs that helped my children to grasp spelling and simple arithmetic which was useful. I remember a time around 1985 when ‘CompuServe‘ had a program whereby purchases could be made through the computer. It was a beginning but not the beginning of the present day Internet. I have seen many stages of development since those days. I last purchased a computer, a laptop, over eight years ago I think, it is the one I am using to write this. The model is an ‘Acer Aspire‘ fitted with i7 processors which far exceeded those available today many of which only use i3 or i5 technology. I’d have thought many more would be using i7 processors by now but it seems not. The idea was to buy something that was future proof to some extent. Well the machine itself has been excellent though probably never used to its fullest capability. It has a wide 17″ screen too which is useful for watching movies. When originally bought it was using ‘Windows XP‘, a really good platform which I found easy to use but then I switched to ‘Windows 7′. It was equally as good and easy to use and after a time I thought it to be an improvement. A couple of months ago I downloaded the ‘Windows 10’ platform which has proven to be somewhat of a problem. Many programs wouldn’t work with it and the computer itself has been affected by the new software which has overridden some of its built-in features such as the Cinema Graphic function. This is a manual function for use when in Cinema mode which enables various control setting adjustments. They are no longer functional. It appears Microsoft programs are deemed better. Perhaps. The signing in procedures are all messed up too and once or twice the computer has hung up during the sign-in process, in fact the computer has frozen on a number of occasions necessitating a re-boot each time. On Saturday afternoon I spent almost two hours trying to get the computer to allow me access because of a software glitch and during the same time Windows 10 was updating and requesting a re-boot as were one or two other software programs too. When the opportunity arose to sign in I was presented with a sign-in screen for Microsoft but there was no cursor and no means to make it appear. After repeatedly re-booting and getting nowhere I began to get thoughts of approaching the computer with a claw hammer in order to beat it’s brains out but I resisted the temptation. Instead, I asked E if she could have a look and maybe spot something I hadn’t noticed. After a couple of similar failures to my own she hit a couple of keys to end the madness and I was in! Those keys were Control (CTRL) and ‘End’ (Top right on the numbers pad). No other combination had proven to end what seemed to be an endless loop in the programming. I gave her a hug but even she didn’t know how it had succeeded. I hate computers.

Shirley Anne

Weird Saturday

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985
Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of months ago I wrote about registering my interest in Microsoft’s Windows 10 with a view to receiving the free download. I waited patiently to be notified when it would be available so that I could download it. On Friday I clicked on the already present icon to see what would happen and the screen opened up which showed it was ready to download. Microsoft actually uploaded files automatically before notifying that it was ready and from what I gather they do it in the background whilst the computer is in use. I clicked on the button to start the download and carried on doing something else but after an hour it was still apparently not finished. I restarted the computer and tried again for the second time with the same result. Finally after three attempts I gave up. On Saturday morning I tried again and to my amazement the download began. Some time later I checked to see what was happening and the download had only reached 20%. I had to leave the machine running for someone had called me out to do a job for them. It was a couple of hours before I returned home and the program had finished but I had to stay with the machine to respond to the screen prompts. The program warns that the computer will restart a few times during the installation and of course prompts have to be answered. Even when the program had completely installed it kept me waiting whilst it made some adjustments. I don’t know if any of my readers have Windows 10 or have experience of it but it looks very interesting and has many new applications to, they say, make browsing the Internet a better experience. Time will decide that claim. I have not delved too far into Windows 10 capabilities but already I have found that certain extensions and add-ons are not usable on ‘Edge’, Microsoft’s new browser so for instance signing in to favourite sites has to be done manually and I assume the information is then saved for the next time. I use Last Pass and sometimes Norton 360 to auto-sign me in to my sites but they are not on Windows 10 extensions. As I write this I am using the Firefox browser to allow that to happen. Another thing I noticed was that my favourites bar isn’t displayed but has to be opened elsewhere and many sites and files are kept in unusual places, all stored together. That I don’t mind but many of them are history and are no longer in use. It seems too complicated to use in certain areas but I suppose that is a matter of getting familiar with it. As I say, I haven’t delved into the programs’ full capabilities as yet so there will be days ahead when I shall be metaphorically pulling my hair out in frustration I suppose. There are some aspects of the program I will never use and I have already set some of my preferences in that respect. More no doubt will follow. Most of my day therefore was spent either at work or messing about on my machine but I had some respite, cooking my dinner and spending an hour or so out on the patio whilst the evening sun was shining.

Shirley Anne

Just as all was going well

Most used web browser in country or dependency...
Most used web browser in country or dependency as of July 2011, according to Statcounter: Blue: Microsoft Internet Explorer Orange: Mozilla Firefox Green: Google Chrome Red: Opera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Computers! I remember well the time I never had one but the novelty of owning one was so attractive I succumbed to the idea and bought my first. In those days the realisation that computers could be used in the way they are now was not seen but all that soon changed. I learned how to write programs on my first computers but a couple of years later it became unnecessary unless I was going to be employed in IT (Information Technology) or writing control programs and games. All I needed then was to know how to use the computer. Slowly but surely the computer in one form or another has become part of our lives and in such a way as to be indispensable in many ways. My personal views regarding computers and ‘technology’ have been well recorded and although I’d prefer not to be a part of it all I do find some of it is useful. Writing this for instance and having it broadcast around the world wouldn’t be possible without the computer. To be able to use the computer to connect with the world we need browsers and my introduction  to them was through Internet Explorer. I stayed with ‘IE’ for many years but then discovered  I was having problems with it, compatibility issues and other things.

The usage share of web browsers. Source: Media...
The usage share of web browsers. Source: Median values from summary table. Internet Explorer (38.9%) Firefox (25.5%) Google Chrome (20.2%) Safari (7.7%) Opera (2.9%) Mobile browsers (7.1%) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was introduced to Google Chrome and for a couple of years found no problems with it but then one or two issues developed and I thought I would try yet another browser. This time it was Mozilla Firefox. I soon found that all my issues with browsers had melted away using Firefox and that has been my experience up and until a few days ago. Browsers need to be upgraded from time to time as different problems and issues arise in their use and Firefox is no exception. So it was that I upgraded to their latest version, version 34 but after a few minutes discovered the new version had created a problem on my machine. I use Norton 360 for my computer security and it has proven to be an excellent extension. One of  the things I find useful with it is the Norton tool-bar on which I have access to my vault, a safe place to store my passwords and urls to the sites I use. It isn’t the only vault I use as I use ‘Last Pass’ too. However I tend to use the Norton vault in which to store my banking access details. I might also add here that I have an encryption program installed on my computer which I use when on-line. It scrambles data before it is sent out. The latest version of  Firefox isn’t compatible with the Norton tool-bar and therefore the tool-bar won’t display. In fact it has been disabled when Firefox is used. Confronted with this new issue I decided to revert to Chrome again and now everything is as it was before. No doubt the incompatibility issue between Firefox and the Norton tool-bar will eventually be resolved and I will be able to use Firefox once more with the tool-bar in view. I wonder why these problems are not sorted out before new versions of programs are released. At the moment all is well and I have no issues. I hope it stays that way…………

Shirley Anne