I Got Something Done

Okay, bear with me on this. I haven’t been able to get much done for the past several days because my computer crashed and burned. This moment I’m working on a new computer, with a brand new operating system… Windows 8.

Now Windows 8 is quite interesting. It’s rather like the interface you’ll see on a Notebook or even one of the new spiffy phones. As a consequence, nearly everything I know about a computer interface is nearly worthless old-timey out-of-date trash. Naturally there’s no option to say… make this computer work like my last one did.

Before I could get to any of my routine work I had to begin the arduous process of getting the tools installed that I use to do my work. There’s always the potential that the software will not be compatible with the new operating system, and I’ll have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get upgraded.

Microsoft Office was my starting point. I just purchased the Home and Business something like a year ago because the previous version I owned was no longer eligible for a freebie upgrade. And then, of course, I had to buy an independent copy of MS Access because that key element isn’t actually included in Home and Business. I had to spend awhile on the phone with the Microsoft Store because there was no record of those purchases on the store. It turns out (note how I’m translating four hours of agony to a transitional statement “it turns out”) that customer is identified by his email address. And my old account was registered under my old hughesnet email addy. This is extremely short-sided of Microsoft. Email addresses tend to be more transient than other important customer information. Once I got switched into my account the store has a reusable product Download option and a convenient product code (and even an option to put it in the copy/paste buffer).

The next thing was to get a browser so I don’t have to use funky Internet Explorer. I have been using Mozilla Firefox. The problem with Firefox is that it has mostly been an unstable product since about release 4.0. And every time they upgrade it I lose support for more add-on options. So this time around I’ve gone for another browser, called Opera. The jury is still out on Opera. I’m a little put off by the fact that there is no “Home” button on the toolbar. Otherwise it behaves rather like Firefox, enabling multiple tabs to be open and having a Favorites screen populated by usage habits.

My old computer, Compaq Presario had a failed boot. Naturally these days you don’t get a start-up disk with a new computer (in spite of having paid for it). So I downloaded a utlity that allows you to create a bootable CD/DVD. It’s actually little more than a file manager and not a robust operating system at all. Since I didn’t have a terribly current backup of production files this utlity did good work for me.

I also had a back-up laptop computer which was Marsha’s old laptop, also a Compaq Presario. I created a new user partition, then opened Mozilla Thunderbird … hopeful that I could find a way to identify and retrieve my old messages from my failed laptop. Oh, be careful what you wish for. The IMAP settings immediately began to download from the frigging cloud every email I’ve ever received and every email I’ve ever sent. That download took about three days and probably put our data allowance over the top on our Verizon account. None of the filing of emails I’ve done is reflected; everything I’ve ever deleted is back again; and there’s no indication as to what emails I’ve ever replied to unless I want to go into my sent files and do some detective work. Naturally I’m reluctant to turn on Thunderbird on my new computer. All I need is another massive download. Instead, I’m going onto the internet to find a backup utility that will hopefully solve the IMAPping puzzle.

While I have a bunch of work to do, I’m approaching it one small bit at a time. There was a .pdf I had to edit (created from an Excel file); and then upload onto the Internet. I’d already solved the MS Office part of it. The next thing to do was get Acrobat Pro up and working. All Office products now have a “Save As” option for a PDF. I didn’t really need a virtual printer. What I did need is a PDF editor… which is why I installed Acrobat Pro. I’m happy to say that version 7 installed just fine. I know there’s a newer version that is compatible with Windows 7 (which is what is on Marsha’s computer) and Windows 8. But I don’t really need it. And I’m weary of Adobe products. You can’t talk to a person in the United States should you ever need support.

I also installed FTP on the new computer. It’s an old terminal package for which I’ve had a license for more than ten years. And guess what… it didn’t work. A quick check on the Internet found me a freeware FTP editor called FileZilla. OMG where have you been all my life? What a wonderful and well-designed program. Oh, and it’s a freebie.

So, like I said. I got something done, finally. We’ll count this blog post as also getting something done. Tomorrow I’m going to return to the topic of dog agility. I have a bunch of stuff to share.

Btw, my new computer has a Kindle app. I went out to the store to buy a Kindle book called Martian, by Andy Weir (recommended to me by Wayne Van Deusen). I put myself to bed last night with this brilliant sci-fi read. It’s reminiscent of the old hard core science stuff that guys like Asimov and Niven and Heinlein (before he went crazy) used to write. And the book only cost $.99. I must investigate how to author Kindle pubs.


Oh, and my new computer has a webcam. Fancy that.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

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