Monday, September 30, 2013

She's A Blowin'!

We had a really bad windstorm last night! There have been worse here in Campbell River but we have usually been down south when they happened. Last night we were kept awake by Norma's rose bushes slapping the side of the house and the wind chimes going wild. I finally got up at about 2:00, got the ladder and took the wind chimes down.

While I was getting the ladder from the workshop I aimed the flashlight around the yard and noticed Norma's 15 foot high willow tree laying on the ground. It landed on the lawn where it did no damage so we just left it till morning. A closer inspection this morning shows the root ball is still intact and in the piece of ground it had lifted with it when it fell. We will try to lift it back up and tie it to the fence. Maybe it will survive, willows are pretty hardy. It was nice because it hid the neighbor's ugly shed from view.

Here is the view down the driveway yesterday afternoon before the wind really started and a shot of the downed tree. Norma is going to phone Beau, her lawn guy, to come and help us stand it up.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back To Mint But Older Version 14

I Googled "best Linux for low memory" and found an article recommending installing Mint 14 "Nadia" MATE. The writer claimed this version has lower requirements and should work in an older system without a dedicated video card. A further search indicated it should work with my 512 Megs of memory although 1GB is recommended.

Well, so far so good. It seems to have all the bells and whistles and it easily updated four hundred and some programs or files when I asked it to.

The only problem I am having now is a window that appears after I boot saying:

Error mounting system-managed device /dev/fd0: Command-line `mount "/media/floppy0"' exited with non-zero exit status 32: mount: /dev/fd0 is not a valid block device

I do have a floppy drive but have no intention of ever using it so if anyone has any simple instructions for fixing this....

*NOTE* This is now fixed! See comments section!

More Linux

I attempted to run Ubuntu in demo mode but it failed, telling me I did not have enough memory. I will try it one more time from a cold start because Mint 15 did run after a fashion.


Test from Mint 8 installed. Needs tweaking...

Back again. I can't seem to do any software updates and Mint 8 is a very old version. I am not sure what the latest version of Firefox for Linux is, but I seem to be stuck with version 1.0.

There does not seem to be an office suite installed and I can't get one. Package Manager does nothing, saying all downloads I choose have "Failed".

Keep plunking....

Maybe Mint 8 is TOO old....

Another Linux Distro

See, I am even getting the lingo!

I am running Linux Mint 8 "Helena", an older version of Linux in "demo" mode. My new Linux "Go To Guy", Don, made a comment yesterday that trying an older version of Mint might be the answer as it may nor expect the same resources as the new versions. It looks like he might be correct. Everything loaded and I have a complete desktop complete with the "Menu" button.

I will now try to install it. And just for the record, the keyboard is working in demo mode. ;)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

IE and Sitemeter Not Playing Nicely

If you are using Internet Explorer while trying to connect to sites using Sitemeter (like this one) you will see an annoying pop-up asking you if you want to install or accept some other program.

This is a fault with Internet Explorer, not Sitemeter or this Blog. IE and Sitemeter have a history of having problems working together. Back in 2008, Internet Explorer refused to connect with any site using Sitemeter. After intensive investigation in the technical community the problem was traced back to IE refusing the code Sitemeter was using. Chrome and Firefox were not having this problem.

I got a complaint from our friends Brian and Sue which led me to do some investigating which turned up the above information. To test out my theory I found my Internet Explorer (I never use it) and went to my Blog. There was a warning on the top of the screen that IE had blocked a site that was trying to open. I clicked on the "allow anyway" button and there it was, the annoying window asking to allow "" to open or install (can't remember which).

So, until IE fixes their problem, try using either Chrome or Firefox to view my site and any others that use Sitemeter to keep track of visitors. A side benefit will be that your Internet will speed up quite a bit as IE is quite the little resource hog.

I would have included a screen capture of the problem but I am using my newest Linux distro to write this. I ended up with Lubunto, a minimal installation that I do not think I will keep. It is harder to navigate and has no bells or whistles. I determined that 512 Megs of RAM was not enough to run Mint and tried to install the full version of Ubunto. The installation failed when the installer failed to recognize my keyboard. I then tried Lubunto which did install after hanging up for a while on the keyboard recognition. I think I will change out the keyboard and attempt the Ubuntu install one more time. I thought Linux was simple!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rain, Change Of Plans and Linux Install

It is raining here and looks like it will be raining for at least a week. We had a trip to Seattle planned with Brooks, LindaLee and LindaLee's parents. We were to drive down to Brooks and LindaLee's tonight and then catch a ferry in the morning.

First, LindaLee's parents backed out because Her grandfather is not well and her mom and dad flew to Edmonton. The remaining four of us still planned to go to Seattle.

This morning we woke up to pouring rain so I checked the weather for Seattle and they are calling for rain right through the weekend and beyond. I don't mind the rain (I live on the coast so that is pretty obvious) but most of what I like about Seattle involves walking and lots of it. I love walking through downtown, stopping at quaint little sidewalk coffee shops and walking the waterfront area. This is not much fun in the rain.

I sent Brooks an email asking if they wanted to think about doing it another time and he called back saying no, they were going regardless of the weather. They had been planning on this for a long time and it was to be a celebration of Brooks birthday and their first wedding anniversary. They had made arrangements to board the dog and he has work to do for the rest of his time off.

So, they will be going alone. I feel bad about deserting them but I know I would feel worse about sitting in an expensive hotel room wondering how to get to the restaurant without getting soaked. Another time.

Linux Install:

I finally got around to installing Linux on Norma's old Windows XP machine. As you mey remember, I got a copy of Limux Mint Ver 15 Olivia Cinnamon from my fellow Blogger Rick a few weeks ago. I tested it on my W7 laptop and it looked great. I delayed installing it on Norma's machine until we were sure she would not need anything else from it.

Yesterday I inserted the DVD and started the machine! It took ages to load and when it finally did, it asked me if I wanted to restart because it could not open. I did this and the same thing came up twice more. It said that I could run in "Failsafe" mode. Having no other option, I said yes, thinking it might load better from the hard drive than from the DVD.

It then asked if I wanted a permanent install or just a demo. I chose permanent and the process started. I then had to answer a bunch of questions and create a password. I did not want a password but it would not let me leave the field blank.

Eventually it opened but again would only run in Failsafe mode. At first I thought this was equivalent to Windows "Safe" mode but it does not seem to be. It seems to be a common problem when the video card is not fully compatible with the OS. Or something.

Anyway, it is working after a fashion. I am using it to post this Blog. However, my desktop is black and blank There is no Start or Menu button at the bottom left and the only other thing that is on the screen is a bar at the top with "Applications" and "Places" on it. The rest of the screen is black except for a button at the bottom left, "Click here to hide/restore all windows and show desktop".

I am thinking this version of Linux may not be for me as I have only 512 Megs of RAM. Another fellow Blogger, Don, mentioned a different version of Linux that might work better. I might just contact Don for some more information.

This is not how I remember it from when I tried it on my laptop.

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Chimney Liner

Our new stainless steel chimney liner was installed today. The old one was put in just before we bought the house in 1989 and was suposed to last 25 years so it is right on schedule for replacement. The two guys from Oliver's Chimneys arrived just after 9:00 this morning and were gone by 11:30. The bill was $1020.

Out With The Old

Pretty rough shape! No wonder it would not draw!

In with the new!

Tying it to the insert
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

It Worked!

Windows 7 is again running happily on my desktop. I installed Quicken and EaseUS Todo Backup and let Windows update itself. Everything is working and I have an image to fall back on.

I always hate starting these things in the fear that it will not work and I will end up worse off than I am now.


We survived the downpour this morning. A ton of water came down the bank behind us but our multi thousand dollar drainage system we had put in several years ago worked. We did not wash into the sea.

Today is the day I am reinstalling Windows 7 in my Acer desktop. It did not come with a Windows disc but it did prompt me to make a set of three DVD's when I set it up the first time. These discs allow me to reinstall Windows. We shall see. I put in the first disc a while ago and it is working away.

Rick advised me to use Window's Easy Transfer to keep my data so I took his advice and have a thumbdrive sitting there with all my data on it. The three disc set allowed me to choose several different methods and I chose the one that reinstalls Windows but lets me keep all my data. It will be easy to see if this was the correct choice when the computer connects to Windows Update. If there was some kind of a trojan virus in there that resulted in the "Not Legal Copy of Windows" notification that kept me out of any Windows programs and services it will be noticed then and I can do it all again using the more aggressive methof that should wipe the hard drive.

It is on the second disc now and still puttering away....

In the meantime I am watching the BC Lions football game against Saskatchewan. Busy day!

Oh yes, I recently updated Google Chrome and the Blogger site seems to have lost the toolbar that allows me to make a new post and get into the Blogger Dashboard. I am having to make this post from Firefox.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tearing My Hair Out

I just spent 2 1/2 hours with Microsoft Windows tech support. Much, maybe most, of this time was spent on hold.

I started noticing the popup window telling me there were Windows Updates waiting to be installed. I have seen this in the past so was not concerned. Then I got a notice that my Microsoft Essentials anti virus definitions were out of date.

I tried downloading the updates but the downloads failed. I restarted and same thing. I then tried to update my anti virus and same thing - error messages. I then tried to do a System Restore to go back a few days to when I knew things were running well. I was told that there were no restore points to choose from.

I then started getting a message that I was not running a legal version of Windows. I knew this was wrong because I bought the computer 18 months ago with Windows installed and everything worked till now. I did a bunch of things but could not fix it so I turned to Rick Doyle who gave me a few more suggestions which got me nowhere (but convinced us of the real problem of Windows failing authentication).

I found the number for Windows Support and my 2 1/2 hours started. They determined  that my Windows 7 was in fact, legal. They said I must have had a virus that affected the registry before I got rid of the virus. Bottom line, they want $99 to fix it. For that $99 they will take over my computer and fix the problem. They guarantee success or there will be no charge.

My Asus computer came with a three CD set of rescue discs (actually I had to make them myself) that I think will restore the computer to where it was when I bought it. Windows installed but no programs, I would have to reinstall all of them myself.

Is it worth $99 to not have to set the computer up all over again? I don't know... I will think about it for a while.

Monday, September 16, 2013

External Hard Drive On Sale

For any of you Canadians who want a deal on a 3TB Samsung external hard drive, has a "Shell Shocker" sale on them for today (Monday) only. They are on for $109.99 plus $6.99 shipping ($169.99 Reg). That is under $40 per TB, a real deal. The case is Samsung but the drive is a Seagate.

I have a 1TB drive that is almost full of photos and music so I needed more space. The 1.5TB drive in the motorhome will come in and go beside Norma's computer, the 1TB rubber enclosed drive that is on my desk will go into the motorhome after the data is copied onto the new 3TB that will stay with my desktop. A total of 5.5TB of storage! Wow!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The "BC Bud" Bus

Norma, Sharon and I were walking to dinner last night when we saw this "Sensible BC" bus parked on the street gathering signatures to try to force the legalization of marijuana onto the ballot. We stopped to sign.

Pot is "almost" legal in Canada. It is illegal on the books but is hardly ever prosecuted. If a cop sees someone smoking a joint he will just say, "What? Are you stupid? Don't do that in front of me!" and walk away.

I don't smoke it for two reasons. 1) I simply do not like the taste of it and 2) I don't like the way it "sneaks up" on me. It is no different than drinking but I feel I have more control over how impaired I get with booze. With marijuana, there is more of a time laps between when you smoke and when you feel it. Plus, different types have different strengths so you do not know how "stoned" you are going to be when it hits.

Having said that, I have nothing against it or anyone who smokes it and I completely reject the "Gateway Drug" argument.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Still In Vancouver

We decided to stay in Vancouver one more day. It was a great retirement party last night With our old friend Barry O'Neill getting roasted and then giving back much more than he got as only Barry can! Mike Harcourt, former mayor of Vancouver and former Premier of BC was there and we had a chance to catch up with and share some old war stories with him. Jinny Sims, former president of the BC Teachers Union and now Canadian Member of Parliament was one of the roasters as well as many other elected Provincial politicians and old union friends.

I did not take any photos but many were taken and I have been promised copies. I will post a couple when I get them. It was a late night and the friend we are bunking in with offered us the room for one more night so we are having a relaxing day while she is at meetings until 5:00. After that we will take her out for a Greek dinner.

Norma and I walked down Denman Street to Robson and then walked a few blocks to make a circle tour of this part of the West End of Vancouver, stopping at an all day breakfast cafe with curbside tables. This is what I love about Vancouver, lots of sights and things going on with unique little restaurants everywhere. The weather is great!

This is not my photo, it is from Google Images:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Challenge

John Calypso in Veracruz, MX challenged us Bloggers to show our computer stations. He showed his and it is a maze of technology! Steve in Melaque was quick to take the challenge showing his sort of organized desk, followed by Babs in San Miguel de Allende with her tidy, small circular glass topped table beside her bed.

Here is mine. If a neat desk is the sign of a well organized mind you have some insight into the state of my mind. The table is a rescued two drawer oak library table that survived an early 70's school fire, intact but smoke and water damaged. It served as our dining room table in Terrace. On the left is my scanner and laser printer. In the center, my Samsung monitor on top of Norma's old XP machine that I have yet to load Linux into. On the right is my TV, Acer desktop computer, two external hard drives, stand alone CD/DVD reader/writer, telephone, camera card reader, Bill Clinton Center mouse pad and various other items. There is also a small lamp with a mysteriously missing shade. Norma's desk is on the other side of the small room and is much neater!

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Trip To The Big City

We are off to Vancouver for one night on Thursday. It is a retirement party for an old acquaintance, Barry O'Neill, BC president of the Canadian Union Of Public Employees (CUPE BC). We have both known Barry for many years, Norma in her political life and me through my union activities. Barry has always been a very progressive voice for Canadian workers and he will be missed. There will be a roast involved and we are both looking forward to renewing some old friendships.

We are catching the ferry Thursday morning and returning sometime Friday.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Just In Case You Forgot

This is what a "Surgical Air Strike" looks like from the ground. Remember the old chant, "Hey, Hey, LBJ! How many kids have you killed today?" Don't make us adapt it to rhyme with BHO!

The Monitor and Found Remote

Norma's old computer was running on an eMachines monitor I picked up on sale at Staples several years ago. I was never happy with this monitor, it always had a "fuzzy" appearance. I messed around with the resolution settings once but could not improve it. Norma was happy with it and never likes me "messing" with "her" computer anyway so I just left it.

When I plugged the old monitor into the new Dell, wow! It looked great! Sharp and nice crisp colors. Maybe it was the old video card or maybe I just missed something.

When I was messing around installing the Inverter in the motorhome the remote for the front TV went missing. I know it was there at one point because I had the TV on to test the inverter. I searched high and low for it and even took the plywood tops off the dinette seats to check under them - nothing.

I finally asked for help and Norma found it under the passenger seat. I guess I put it on the top of the dinette seat back and then knocked it off.

Of course in the meantime I ordered a new remote from eBay. Oh well, it was only $8.

I am getting itchy feet. It is getting cool at night up here.

Norma's New Dell

Norma's new (reconditioned) computer arrived yesterday. I cleared a spot on her desk and started the lengthy process of setting it up for her. It came with a refreshing lack of bloat in the way of pre-loaded programs. All it had on it was Internet Explorer and Microsoft Security Essentials, both of which I kept. I use MSE on all the computers and have been very happy with it. I used Internet Explorer to download the latest Chrome and that is the one and only time I will ever use Explorer!

I loaded Office 2003 as she has always used Outlook as her email program. After a ton of research I learned how to move her old emails over to the new computer. Some guy in Iran had very good instructions on the Internet. I dislike Outlook but that is what she used when she worked and is used to it. I added MalwareBytes, 7-Zip, Ccleaner, EaseUS Todo Backup (free edition) and Picasa. She then came in and set up her online banking. That will do for now.

I will leave her old computer alone for a while before I format it and install Linux Mint 15 just in case there is something on the old computer I missed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rainy Drive Home

We left Brooks and LindaLee's at about eight thirty yesterday morning and stopped at the little coffee shop in Shawnigan Lake where LindaLee has been working. It was busy but we had time for a chat and then we were on our way. It was raining pretty hard by then and the rain continued falling hard all the way to Parksville.

We got home at 1:00 PM and all was well. No deer had found their way in so Norma's flower garden survived her absence.

Today I will climb under the motorhome and run power from the inverter to the rear TV and satellite receiver. I no longer fit under the motorhome ;) so I will have to back it up on blocks. I also have to cut two holes under the dinette seat for cooling and add vent covers. Then I can put all the seats back together and make Norma happy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Test Blog With Linux

Just testing. I met my Blogging friend Rick at Tim Horton's in Mill Bay this morning and he gave me a copy of the new Linux Mint DVD he just downloaded and burned. I will install it on Norma's old desktop after I set her new one up.

Anyway, I stuck the DVD in my laptop just to see what the OS looked like and it is very much like Windows (except for the cost and memory hogging).

I think I am going to like it very much.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My First Dell

Norma's computer is in need or replacement. It is an old IBM desktop with Windows XP on it. Microsoft's recent announcement that support on XP will soon end spurred me to action. Her demands on a computer are not high, limited to checking her email once or twice a week and monthly banking. She does not like laptops. She cannot figure out a touchpad and says it is too small.

So began my search for a suitable desktop. I have always has good success with reconditioned computers from tiger Direct so I pulled up their website. The selection was great and I found one.

Dell Optiplex GX620 Desktop PC - Intel Pentium 4 3.20GHz, 2GB DDR2, 320GB HDD, DVDRW, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, (Refubished)

It has a Pentium 4 processor with a decent size hard drive. It comes with only 2 GB of RAM but I can add more for not very much money. It has Windows 7 but in the 32 bit version which will be fine for her. The $160 plus $25 shipping price was certainly acceptable. It will be here of Friday.

I have always shied away from Dell for some reason or other but others seem to like them. In fact, my Blogging friend Rick is looking at one now and he is a retired network guy whose opinions and advice I have grown to trust. I am sure Norma will be happy with it and when Norma is happy.....