Archive for December, 2007

What a day!

December 5, 2007

It started ordinarily enough. Coffee. A glance in the mirror.Oops! Better wash my hair.

The early morning (like three a.m.) plunging of a blocked drain out back, under the porch, to allow the accumulating water to go away instead of cresting the door sill and entering the basement had worked up a sweat, steamed my hair into impossible blurps, clumps of ugliness.

Snow is stunningly beautiful on its first fresh fall. Dry powdery snow covered all the landscaping sins, and mole hills in the front yard. It tatted beautiful lace on the delicate branches of the Japanese Maple. It preserved the tiny footprints of the leaping squirrel.

“Oh look. Bunny prints!” said Mrs. Stepford. They were certainly the right size and the leap between each set of four footpad marks was worthy of a rabbit. Later I clued in that it must have been a squirrel. There was only one set in a widespread area and the only way to have achieved that was to have leapt from the cedar tree. Bunnies couldn’t do that.

Snow drifted down gently and persistently until we had four inches and it stayed that way for twenty four hours. But this is the West Coast which we quite aptly call the Wet Coast, and a Pineapple Express storm swept in right afterwards bringing six inches of rain. Ordinarily I wouldn’t worry, but the accumulation of snow now beginning to melt furiously with the 11 degree temperature coming smack-dab after the minus 3 of the previous day meant that we would have tons of water with nowhere to go.

In the morning I went and cleared the street gutters in front of our place to ensure the melting water could go down the storm drains, then I cleared the sidewalks in front of my house and Mrs. Stepfords’. It wasn’t difficult because the snow wasn’t deep and it was easy enough to push it out of the way. ‘Twas good exercise.

We’d been snowed in for two days and Mrs. S. had some errands to run as did I. We hopped in my car and went up to the London Drugs Mall. My mouse had quit on me. The technician tested it, just in case it was my computer and not the mouse. Guiltless computer established, they simply replaced the dead mouse with a brand new one, same make, same model. (Since I’m whining again, I will mention that I lost my entire two page Christmas letter in the process and all the updates I had made in various files because I couldn’t operate the computer without the mouse.)

By end of day, I had a second mouse failure. Must be something with that model.

In between time, while the new one was working, I’d written a letter to the insurance and updated some of my tax accounting. Bookkeeping, really. You guessed it! The mouse began emitting its frantic red flashing light just like the previous one had. I tried many things to keep that mouse functioning, all to no avail. Had you been a fly on the wall, you might have seen this portly, aging lady lower herself gingerly to the floor onto the anti-static mat underneath the desk, flatten herself and wriggle like a worm to get her head close to the rear of the computer tower to see if another port would make the mouse function. I wiped the floor like that three times in succession trying to get the #@(*# mouse to work. I took it back to London Drugs this afternoon around five p.m.

This time the technician was not so hasty to give me a new one. There was power still going through the mechanism. There was blue light, as there should be, but seconds later the screaming red flashes would recommence. He had hopes for it and sent me back home.

“”Did you push the plug in far enough? Did you have a good solid connection?” he asked as if a little old lady couldn’t possibly have any computer smarts.

“It’s not as if I’ve just started with computers,” I defended myself. “I’ve been using them since 1984 when we first got them at work. I’m not an expert, but I know how to plug a mouse in….”

I wondered if he knew he had gotten quite close to offending me.

I went straight back to the computer, plugged the blankety-blank thing in and got nothing. Not even a bit of power.

Back I went, sweeping up the floor with the entire left side of my body while trying the mouse in different plug-in ports. In the process, I lost my insurance claim letter so expertly written. The important thing was, though, that I still couldn’t operate the computer without a live and powerful mouse.

I had not one whit of desire to go out of the house. Not one. And yet if I expected to do anything more on this machine, I would have to. I’m married to the darn thing now. I can barely function without it. I account with it. I write prose and poems with it. I write my letters with it. I keep my addresses on it. I amuse my self with Freecell on it. I catch up with news on it. I use it for a dictionary and encyclopedia. I check my spelling with it. I research purchases, check time tables and schedules, order airline tickets, command photo orders, keep in touch with friends and family, copy bills for the record, and that’s not all.

So I went back to London Drugs. I must say their return policy is wonderful. They gave me a brand new mouse, again, but a different brand. Stay tuned. Who knows what will happen to this one. For the moment, it’s working.

I took a break from my unwanted manoeuvers. I thought I might trim some cardboard that I needed for a project and went downstairs to get one of those self-sealing cutting boards. While looking around for it in my still unsorted basement, I put my hand on top of the rack, shelving unit, that I am using for storing my paintings, chalk pastels, drawings and paper stock. A slurp of water came tumbling off the top item, thankfully encased in mylar. Oh dear!

Somewhere in the front of my house, I have a leak coming in, travelling as water is wont to do, and depositing directly on top of the storage unit right onto my framed and unframed art work. I’ve already got a cleaning basin up there from the leak I found two days ago.

I was expected at Mrs. S’s for a late evening cup of tea. She had promised me some poached pears if I came and that’s a hard thing to turn down for any reason.

“Which of the bad news would you like to hear first?” I moaned as I walked in the door.

Her intelligent eyes scanned me up and down and she said nothing. Her eyebrows lifted in a question, inviting me to continue on, prepared to listen.

I started with the mouse and ended with the leaks.

The poached pear was wonderful; the company and conversation a blessing. Mr. S joined the conversation. Like a team of sleuths, we tried to shed some light on the provenance of these water deposits.

Mrs Stepford sent me home with a roll of plastic sheeting that I’ve spent the last hour trying to install over the whole shelving unit. It’s way past midnight and I’ve got to go.

“It’s been quite a day, Maggie Muggins.”

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Der Druker – computer woes

December 5, 2007

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I’ve had several dismal days of computer rebellion.

I must have overloaded my computer with photos. I had that conference at which I took a thousand photos in five days. I modified some of those and made smaller file sizes with others, resulting in duplications of a sort. In addition, I take photos of all manner of things I find beautiful.

I took a walk with Mrs. Stepford at Kanaka Creek Park on one of the recent sunny days. We get so few of them that it’s a real treat to be out there and pounding the gravel walkways. I always take my camera. It’s my motivation for getting out there. I took quite a number of photos, maybe thirty or forty. The reflections in the oxbow of the creek were stunningly beautiful. The creek meets up with the Fraser River and after a short walk, you can see the river as well. There were a few clouds backlit by a winter sun. It was so very visually tasty.

I’ve been doing this kind of massive photographing without editing, culling out the out of focus ones, the ones that caught a moving object passing in front of the camera just as the shutter goes click, and those that simply don’t express what I wanted to capture ever since Franc gave me this digital camera in July of 2006. It was his gift for our 20th wedding anniversary.

If only I went out photographing twice in a week and shot two hundred photos a weekend, that would be about sixty-six weeks times two hundred or a little over thirteen thousand pictures. But that’s not all.

I take pictures of my art work so that I can send them by e-mail. I make smaller copies of each one I want to send, and that creates more duplication. Sometimes my skittish computer will copy photos on its own and I find them later at the bottom of a folder. It’s a pain to go back to check that it actually is a duplication, so I leave it there until I have time to do so. That time to check and cull never comes.

The other day, I took off two hundred sixty seven photos of the Pitt Meadow dike. Again, it was a sunny day and the water in the dike and the surrounding park was glorious with its reflections. The surrounding farmland was glowing with a late day golden sun. Somehow all those pictures disappeared. I could not locate them in my picture files so I did a search and figured I’d sort them by date afterwards and maybe I could find where they had gone.

The search turned up over 31,000 pictures! If I were a shopaholic instead, you wouldn’t be able to move around the house for the storage space the photos were taking up. I had been wondering why my computer was acting a little strangely. I realized I’d have to take a lot of them off.

So I painstakingly backed up all my photos and all my data. The other data took up one full DVD – my accounting, my letters, my spreadsheets, my writing and my estate files. It took me nine more DVDs to back up the photos. Yes, the photos had to go. Well, as a true photoholic, I couldn’t let them all go; and I knew that I had them on disks, so it wasn’t like they were really gone.

My computer was feeling poorly, though, overloaded to the hilt. She just didn’t want to work. I had to cajole her, sweet talk her, trick her, in fact. I had to work around her rebellious need to go on strike. Burdened as she was, she did not want to let me into her memory. She wouldn’t show me my files.

“You have enough of them already. What do you want to look at them for. Enough’s enough. I’m tired. Go away.” she said, refusing to open up Windows Explorer for me. I stood there at the threshold patiently waiting, thinking “Please. Pretty please. Just one more time?” but she didn’t budge. The flashlight waved back and forth in the Explorer Window like a desultory finger waving back and forth, “No. No, not today. Maybe never. I’m too tired. Too overloaded. Go away.”

So I opened up the Recycle bin and deleted everything I thought I could let go with impunity. I was still trying to find those files I’d lost of the Pitt River Dyke. I had no idea what they were called; there was no way to identify them.

I took off everything having a file name with “small” in it. I knew I would have the full pixelled photo somewhere. Then I took off all those with “copy” prefixing it. They too must have originals somewhere. There was no risk there.

If I tried to take off a row of files away, she gave no warning and simply shut down, left me hanging mid operation. I’d reboot, go back in the Recycle Bin and start again. I spent about fifteen minutes deleting them one by one. Then I experimented with two at a time and that worked. But when I tried three, she crashed. “I’m too tired. I’m going to bed” she whined and I was left hanging again. Hours later, I could take a whole row off. Eventually I took everything off. I knew if I didn’t she might never work for me again.

I still couldn’t open Windows Explorer so I hit Start, then Documents, then My pictures. Obviously the pictures were the big files. Miracle! The files opened. I had snuck around my recalcitrant computer and gotten in the back door. Before she could notice it, I deleted a whole folder of photos from the Sixties party from July ’06. I took off the Conference files, all one thousand plus of them. I took off a file folder I made for my cousin Marion and one I made for Moira of Stave Lake.

Sneaking around the back door like that was making me nervous. Besides, taking them out of the Pictures file and into the Recycle Bin had done nothing to diminish the bulk of them on the computer. It had simply moved them from one location to another. I went back into the Recycle Bin and deleted them all.

All on my own I found the My Computer file and was able to see what progress I had made in freeing up space. As I was browsing in the various options there, I found the defragmenting function and ran it, although the file announced that I didn’t need it. I watched the two sets of identical graph lines red, blue and green, rearrange themselves in the second set until it was all cleaned up.

I phoned my computer nephew. The computer was still having hissy fits and refusing to work – my computer the Drama Queen. I can laugh about it now, but I was pretty serious about it then, I can tell you. “It might be the motherboard, but try taking off more files,” Hugh recommended. “If it’s Hardware then….” he thought for a moment and then finished, “I’ll send you the link for Dr. Hardware. You can find this file that will assess each component of your computer and then give you a report on each device. It should tell you if you have a component that is not working. ”

I downloaded the file, saved it, ran it, then waited. Twice I cancelled it as the computer made threatening gestures and then just left the program hanging. Finally I got it going and left it to work on its own. I’d given up on waiting for it. It was ponderously slow.

The result was a fifty-two page report which I printed out. If only I knew what it meant! The only clear thing I could see was that a battery was missing. Just before I shut down Dr. Hardware’s program, a vermillion red pop-up came up with a warning.

Der Druker ist nicht am Druken.

I’d set the program running in English. What more did she want? She hadn’t told me she was bilingual. How was I to know what Der Druker ist?

The miracle of the Internet came to the rescue. I Googled Translate Druker. At first it insisted “Do you mean Drunken?” Finally with “tranlate Druker from German” helped me find “Printer” as a plausible meaning. Perhaps ” the Printer is not… printing? ”

It couldn’t be that. The program results were being printed on the printer at the same time as the pop-up appeared. The printer was working.

When the printing was completed, I rebooted the computer. Although it had been recently done, I ran the Anti-Virus program again. There were six more viruses found. Just where do they come from? I was up and operating . Mademoiselle la difficile was finally off strike, though still on a work slowdown.

When, near midnight, I tried to scan an important document for file, she wouldn’t allow the scanner to operate. I gave up and shut everything down including the scanner. She could have a good sleep in until morning and then maybe she would be a bit more responsive, a bit more dependable. Maybe even the scanner would cooperate. If not, I’d have to crawl around on the floor unhooking the peripherals and reconnecting, then rebooting to see if I could cajole the peripherals into operating properly.

Today, I am pleased to say, I’m back in business. It has taken me two days away from my other work.

Now what do you think? Can I get away with not giving her a Christmas bonus?