bunsen_h: (Tuxbert)
My employer may be loaning me a new(er) laptop soon, to enable me to do some work from home.  By default, it will probably have Windows 10 installed, though my work will really need to be done in a Linux environment.  Our usual way of handling that is to work in a virtual machine such as VirtualBox.

How hard should I be pushing to get our people to chuck out the Win'10 OS and install Linux directly on the machine?  Or to use some earlier version of Windows, such as 7 or 8 or 8.1?  We've got site licenses for at least some of those.

Originally, Win'10 had a host of "features" that many people considered utterly unacceptable.  Freely sharing network passwords with everyone in one's Outlook contact list; automatic and irrevocable installation of OS upgrades; snooping on user activity and uploading the results to μsoft.  Push advertising.  More.  Some of these have been pulled back, some haven't, but I'm under the impression that I still don't want a Win'10 machine on my home network if I can help it.  Have I got that right?

I suppose that one option would be to make the machine dual-bootable, and simply never boot up the Win'10 side.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
I've got two desktop computers running at home: an old Windows XP box which I use primarily for recreation, and a new Windows 8 machine which I use mostly for work.  I very much dislike many of the new "features" of the Win8 user interface.  What genius thought that replacing the start menu with a "start screen", and not even allowing me to have the start menu as an unrecommended option, was a good thing?  Supposedly it was done in anticipation of touch-screen computers becoming common, but surely it is obvious that many computer users wouldn't go that route.  I should have done more research before buying.

Each machine has its own keyboard, mouse, and monitor, which makes my desk a tangled mess (even more than it would otherwise be).  I tried one KVM switch (keyboard, video, mouse) from the local Future Shop, to let the two machines share one mouse and keyboard, and also share one monitor.  But I had to return it because the video coming through was intolerably blurry.  Most of the KVM switches that are available would have to be ordered in, and if I'm going to do that, I want to get one that comes recommended by someone I know/trust.  The on-line reviews aren't very helpful, since every item I've seen has both good ("Works fine!") and terrible ("Piece of junk!  And their customer service sucks!  And the toggle is inconvenient / takes 15 seconds to switch, when it works at all / frequently triggers for no good reason!") reviews.

Can any of you give me some recommendations from your own experience about which 2-port USB KVM switches to try, or to avoid?

bunsen_h: (Popperi)
I'm slightly surprised that the only references I can find to "hackward compatibility" appear to be due to scanning errors and typos.

It seems to me to be the perfect term to describe the need for or practise of maintaining all of the kludges and work-arounds that have accumulated over several software generations.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Something on the internet is broken
but I can fix it
I have the skills
or at least I would if I weren't so tired
from staying up late
trying to fix things on the internet
that are broken


Feb. 21st, 2014 02:58 pm
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
This morning, I finally got hit hard by the cold that's going around.  I've had mild sniffles for a couple of days and had hoped that was as far as it was going to go.  No such luck.  I'm skipping work today, as my brain is mostly off-line.

I may try to take a nap this afternoon, though that trick rarely works for me.  I'll probably spend more time playing "My Singing Monsters"... or more accurately, watch the script I've written play the game on my behalf.  Maybe tweak the script a bit, if I can muster the energy and neurons.

(AutoHotKey is a powerful, flexible language for writing Windows scripts.  I do think, though, that its creators have sacrificed syntactic consistency in favour of flexibility.  Several times, I've had to do a lot of trial-and-error work to find "phrasing" that worked.)

I managed to breed a Riff on only my second try, much more quickly than I'd expected.  This gives me a slight chance of breeding a Schmoochle before they disappear until next February.
bunsen_h: (Default)
This morning's dream involved me being repeatedly annoyed by the sounds from the big-screen video game in my bedroom until I finally tried to continue playing the game, by which time the game position was, essentially, too late to do anything but try to salvage the situation.  My inability to remember how to play, and to figure out the instruction booklet — <sarcasm>there's a novel situation in a dream</sarcasm> — just made things worse.

Some kind of extremely-large bright-yellow monster was attacking one of my space bases.  The monster lived in a higher dimension or parallel dimension, so all I could see were the free ends of its many tentacles, like a swarm of elongated blobs moving around within the shell of the space platform.  As each of those blobs was destroyed, the next section of the tentacle would be pulled into our dimension: larger and slower, but taking more damage to destroy.  When enough of the tentacles were gone, the body of the creature would be dragged into our space... with the active bomb it was carrying.  The bomb couldn't be hit without detonating it, destroying the station.

The creature's plan had been to travel through hyperspace to the station, with only the tips of its tentacles "showing" in normal space.  When it was coincident with the station, it would arm the bomb, deposit it inside the station, and then depart through hyperspace.  If I had engaged the creature during its approach, I might have been able to retrieve the inactive bomb and add it to my own arsenal.  By ignoring the game as long as I had, I'd ensured the loss of the station.

I don't play blow-things-up video games; my reflexes and coordination are terrible for that kind of thing, and I only like blowing things up for fun, not for violent purposes.  But this was an interesting game concept.
bunsen_h: (Default)
Can anyone point me towards a "chore manager" tool, for Windows or as an iPhone app?  What I'm looking for, in a relatively-easy-to-use tool, is that it keeps a list of chores to be done.  Each chore has a priority, and that priority will be changed automatically on a specified schedule.  For example, a certain task will be added in January with a low priority, say, 2 out of 10 ("don't forget this chore").  At the end of February it will start to rise, and by the end of February it will be at 4.  By the end of March it's up to 7 and by mid-April it's up to 9 ("Urgent!").  For the last week of April it's at 10 ("Aieee!!!"), falls to 8 for two weeks into May ("You missed the deadline!!  But you can still get it in!") and slowly tapers off ("better late than never").

Bonus points if it can also keep track of chore "dependencies" (this can't be done until that is taken care of) and chore difficulty (so if you're having a bad day you can deal with an easy task of moderate priority instead of a difficult task of high priority).  And if it can do recurring tasks (e.g. need to water the plants every week, need to clean the furnace air filter every two months).

Also, long-term low-priority stuff would rise in priority by, say, 1 level every 2 months.  Click on a "snooze" button and it will drop again, but only temporarily...

What I'm imagining would be a display of "things to do", sorted and colour-coded.  By ticking a box or a "radio button", the display would change to show only easy-to-do tasks.

If such a thing doesn't exist and someone wants to create it, that would probably be a good thing.
bunsen_h: (Default)
About a month and a half ago, I noticed that my Windows XP box seemed to be slowing down.  The most noticeable problem was an increasing delay when I right-clicked on a file in Windows Explorer, before the list of possible actions appeared.  Initially the delay was just a few seconds, but over time it increased to a couple of minutes.

(Details of the solution are left as an exercise for the interested student...) )
Apparently the Seagate Replica software takes a long time to search for all the older versions of a file to build its sub-menu in the file action list, and while it's working on that, Windows Explorer hangs.

The problem, of course, is that I didn't want to leave the external drive disconnected while I was using the computer.  That would take away most of the value of having it in the first place: a system for backing up my files which didn't require my attention, and wasn't vulnerable to my fallible memory.

After a bit of guesswork about possible solutions, I found a software tool that allows me to control which options appear in the file-action list: FileMenu Tools, by Rubén López Hernández.  I haven't played with it extensively, but it appears to do just what it says — a simple user interface to allow filesystem actions to be enabled/disabled — and does it pretty well.  Under "Commands of other applications", under "All file system objects", I unchecked "CRebitContextMenuExt" (and it took me a fair bit of trial-and-error searching to determine that that was the Replica action).  Voilà, my file operations are back up to their proper speed.  If I do need to retrieve a file sometime in the future, I can re-enable that action.

It's a work-around, not a solution.  I'm disappointed that the problem has been reported to Seagate repeatedly over quite some time, but nothing seems to have been done about it.

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