Too day

Back home for a bit. How long? Well …

Let’s start with the trip back on Monday and having to be in 4WD for about 1/3 of it because the rain combined with the ‘grading’ of the road made for many kilometers of muck to power through. Thanks, road crew. One day you may even learn how to do it right. It went right into solid raining that evening so I don’t expect it’s getting better out there.

Shopping. Why do I even bother to make lists? Whatever I want, they haven’t got it and don’t know when they can get it. The only certainty is that if the stocks are replenished the prices will be higher. This project has already gone in to the “outrageously expensive” category, and it would be worse if I could get the missing bits. Hmm, maybe they’re helping me out there? No, it’s just dragging out the pain.

Now tomorrow it’s supposed to maybe not rain as much. That’s the update from “sunny”, made necessary because I planned to fix the trailer that day. Can’t have any co-operation on anything, can we?

The ‘work crew’ chickened out and want to wait until there’s fewer mosquitoes. So that would be what? January? Maybe February. It has been an awful year for mozzies and with the weather continuing to alter between rainy and hot the little buggers will continue to breed like crazy.

Another odd thing is that when I first tried to fire up the new computer at home it ran in to problems. I had to boot it in ‘recovery mode’ and reset some files because the CPU was timing out. Nothing like seeing hardware failure errors being reported on the brand new laptop you got to replace the one full of hardware failures, eh? Eventually I got it talked ’round to working, but I wonder if another jostling trip down the road will shake it loose again. It shouldn’t be a physical problem, and yet there’s nothing else that happened which could cause the change. On the upside it does work with the wireless printer and with the card reader. 90% success so far.

We’ll see how the rest of the week goes. Lawn needs mowing here again but it may not stay rain-free long enough to do it.

Mother & child. Taken with Canon G11, through the window early on a cloudy morning. Significant cropping.

How things are going

Head towards the light.

A little update.

First of all, this is the first post done with the new computer. I’ve got it up and running Linux Mint Cinnamon Una. I tried MATE but couldn’t see any functional advantage to it, and had been using Cinnamon before so it’s familiar. There is a noticeable improvement over the old machine, and not just that the hardware doesn’t throw random faults. For one thing, all web sites can be accessed via Chromium instead of having to use two different browsers depending on what I’m trying to look at. For another, the video editing program doesn’t crash as much. “As much”: it still freezes occasionally, and I’ve only tried one video experiment so far – just to test it. Another positive is that the screen is visually superior and so a little tweaking and I have a better chance at seeing what I’m looking at.

The biggest downside is that this laptop does not have an SD card reader built in, so I have to use the accessory reader. This is a pain when you consider my #1 usage is image editing and posting. C’est la vie.

It was quite a process to get it switched over from Win10 – the second worst OS ever. I have wiped that entirely because it is so bloody awful. It’s inferior Android-ish spyware for those who don’t know any better. There just aren’t enough bad things that can be said about it. Take, for example, the fact this machine has only 128 GB of SSD. That’s pretty small, because these days they want you to store all your data on “the cloud”. As the saying goes, there is no cloud; it’s some else’s computer. Not being a fan of handing over my personal data and copyrighted material to companies so they can make money off me, I don’t do that. There was a time when my wife used a secure on-line back-up for her accounting business, but rest assured that was secure: no chance they were taking private info and handing it out to whoever had the price. Encrypted before it left the office, and we paid a fee for the service. Beware anything offered for “free” as there’s no such thing. Learn physics and understand this.

Anyway, Win10 reported my 128 GB was 115 GB and it was using 79 GB for its bloated intrusion into my life. Linux Mint is using 14 GB and reports I have 122 GB total. It does everything Windows does, except spy on you. It’s also not ugly, messy, badly organized, and dysfunctional – unlike Win10. Microsoft should be forced to pay every Win10/11 victim $1,000 for abusing them.

Rant over.

Male rufus hummingbird

I put this pic on as my wallpaper. Windows doesn’t even let you do that. Oh, rant over.

Time for a different rant.

Mosquitoes! They are out en force here now in just the past couple of days. Despite the fact the cabin is better sealed than it has been in 70 years they still manage to get in and interfere with everything from working to eating to sleeping. One tried to bite my nose this morning while I was still in bed – under the mosquito net. Yeah I’ve got some ideas about redesigning that as it’s flawed in function.

Well I’m told there’s people arriving at the end of this week. They’re supposed to be my work crew, but others have already assigned them different tasks which are not in line with my getting things done. (Thought I was the Project Manager. Guess not.) I don’t know how well they’ll like the mozzies. Oh and the big question: is the cabin ready? Well, sort of. It’s a lot better than it ever has been, but I haven’t quite got things done. Mostly due to shortages.

One of the things I’m really short on is energy. The last big project I did, renovating the entire rental house which needed quite a lot of work, took 6 months. That was what? Eight years ago? Now I’ve just spent six weeks doing one room. Yeah I’m not as fast as I used to be. Can’t see well anymore so a lot of it is more “artistic feel” than “artificer perfection”. Anyone who doesn’t like the result can redo it themselves in their own time at their own expense. I shouldn’t be doing any of this stuff anymore.

Anyway I’ve got to get back to work. Zapping mosquitoes.

Fluff – and nonsense.

Week up date

HMS Hannibal

About to head back to the cabin for more work. I can’t say “finish up” because that will never happen. Apparently there’s some kind of schedule on the project, but I don’t know what it is. I just know there’s more work to do.

It’s the second day of three days of hot before rain and then cooler temps. If the forecast is accurate, this will be good. For the mosquitoes, not for people.

Spent an insane amount of money yesterday getting more supplies because everything is so damn expensive these days. Had to buy 40 litres of gasoline as well as put 50 in the Xterra’s tank and two tanks of propane. Never mind the $100 dropped at the hardware store – just for six pieces of trim, a can of paint, and some glue. Food? Yeah, bought some of that too.

Mowed lawn, somewhat, and planted bushes the Mrs. got for some unknown reason. They’ll probably die.

Much to do, much to do, much to do. Try not to die while doing it.

Here’s a little dash cam clip from coming home last time. Watch the for the surprise at the end: Rough Road

BTW, I worked on my ‘updated’ computer and managed to get the UEFI cracked open to where it will look at a bootable USB drive. Except I haven’t found a version of Linux that will actually boot up yet. It doesn’t help that the creating program, Rufus, doesn’t look like the on-line instructions anymore and most of the “how to” info out there is out of date for both the hardware and software and therefor unhelpful. You’d expect the latest distros to work but … no. I’ll keep poking at it until it does. Damn Microsoft anyway. As it is I’m still using the old machine with the defective hardware that crashes, jams, doesn’t boot, et cetera on a random basis. Reliable it ain’t.

A bear

Black bear on the road to the cabin

This bear was browsing and not inclined to wander off. I inched the Nissan ever closer, taking photos along the way, until he decided the Xterra was bigger than him and galloped into the woods.

The amazing thing here is getting this post up at all, as the computer has been having fits of failure and I really can’t replace it. So I have been missing other people’s posts and comments and just ‘bearly’ managing to communicate with home as I continue working on the cabin.

Biting and dodging bullets

So this happened:

Error! Error! Error!

Wherein I managed to get a pic of the boot-up error on my laptop. I tried three times before I got this far, and the screen above what you see here was the initial hardware error repeated three times before it got down to the business of saying anything important.

Important like “Machine check: Processor context corrupt” and “Kernel panic – not syncing: Fatal Machine check” and “Kernel Offset:” (with range relocation. You don’t have to be be too computer savvy to know that’s bad. In essence it’s saying the microprocessor is hooped. That pretty much explains the random problems starting, running, and shutting down.

But that’s nothing compared to the pain caused by the solution. The solution being a new computer. I found one at 80% off which sacrifices processor power, memory, and worst of all storage space but at least give the higher resolution screen.

A bitter pill.

The biggest problem is it runs Windows Spyware 10. Getting to this screen you see took the better part of an hour, with an awful lot of twiddling about and prying into my personal affairs. Starting with “Cortana” coming on as if having some brain-dead AI talking to me was a good thing followed by a lot of intrusive questions, the “need” to set up a Microsoft account (never needed one before) and a lot more “set up” functions which even saying “no” to only protects you from the depth of their intrusion. Would I like them to tie in to my smart phone so they can sell all the data they find there too? (Okay, I translated; that’s not how the question was asked.) Well guess what: I don’t have a stinking smart phone, so there!

Now I have to figure out how to change the BIOS to boot from USB so I can wipe Gate’s spyware off this computer and install Linux. Strangely Linux doesn’t need to know anything about you, it starts faster, and it doesn’t have massive security flaws. (Hey let’s face it: MS discovered the way around hackers breaking into their systems was to do it themselves and sell all the data they find there. Hackers go along because it’s easier and no more expensive than buying credit cards on the dark web.)

Seriously Windows OS 10 and 11 should be outlawed throughout the entire world. It is even more unbelievably awful and intrusive than the barely-function version on my wife’s old Win10 laptop. It’s no wonder some people think Gates is tracking everybody; one encounter with their OS set-up procedure and you’d believe it too.

But now I have more important things to deal with so this new machine gets to take a rest until I can spend hours canceling the corporate crap ware.

Something borrowed

Well that was a week of disasters. To say that anything has been resolved would be incorrect. Now, this should be an entry about the fourth part of my photography endeavors (‘price’ – as disappointing a topic as can be imagined), but instead …

Ignoring all that I’ve been through for sake of both reader and writer, let’s skip to today’s subject: the Chromebook. Borrowed for purposes of evaluation.

Old Asus netbook on top of new Asus chromebook.

What’s good about it? Let me put it this way: I’m writing this on a pieced-back-together, 12-year-old, failing Gateway laptop that locks up and goes into random video flickering that can induce epileptic seizures. Faults aside, it is able to do the job when it deems to work.

The chromebook doesn’t live up to the hype, which only proves the manufacturers are out to sell stuff not make good product. See the above photo? That old, now burned-out, netbook had 320 GB of storage and 4 GB of memory. It could run programs and store files locally in addition to connecting to the Internet. The chromebook can only connect to the Internet. It has a measly 32 GB of storage, no ability to add programs, and local storage has to be done via a USB drive if you desire it.

It can’t connect to my printer or scanner either. Not “it can’t connect to any printer/scanner” but specifically the equipment I’ve got. Lack of drivers. There are some for Brother printers, but not the particular one I have. That figures. Just the way things go for me. Of course the Canon scanner won’t connect either: seems they only support Windows OS.

In short it’s like the old computing terminals: can’t do much without being connected to the mainframe (Internet in this case). So no choices for how you want to do things: it’s “my way or the highway” for everything. This is absurd because but for the built-in storage capacity and the severely limiting OS it could be a netbook.

 

In order to replace my ‘main’ laptop with something modern and viable I’d need to have these specs:

Quad core processor (the dual core keeps maxing out).

4 GB RAM (I’ve tested my current laptop on 2 GB and it still works, but slows down. 4 GB would be a minimum and 8 GB would be better even though not used 90% of the time).

256 GB HD (either mechanical or SS; either works fine for me since I don’t do video and thus don’t need high speed read/write). There is a temptation for 500 GB, but since I managed two identical copies of my whole system and files on a drive that size with space left over I guess I’m not in danger of filling it up anytime soon. Especially as I am keep far fewer images these days due to the high rate of failure.

15″ screen minimum, preferably with higher resolution display like 1920 x 1080. I think that might help with the eyesight problem. (BTW I have a 17″ laptop and it’s a bit unwieldy as it’s heavy. Also the screen has failed on it and barely presents an image).

Around here even finding a computer that meets those specifications is difficult: they want to sell the cheap stuff which has the maximum profit margin. As such they scrimp on performance hardware and try to make up for it with promotions wherein every model is described as “perfect for all your computing needs”.

Oh one of the funniest things I’ve come across is pushing chromebooks by extolling their ease of cleaning and resistance to spreading germs. That’s what they learned from the pandemic: how to use disease to sell product.

I can’t complain too much about the old Gateway giving up because it is 12 years old and has done a lot of work in that time. Eventually heat gets to the components and makes them unstable, which is what is going on here as near as I can determine. Laptops aren’t very well-designed in that respect: the first one I ever had needed an ice cube on the processor at the end of its life to keep it running long enough for me to pull all the data off the drive.

But I can complain about the lack of suitable replacement laptops available, and the price of the few that exist.

Well what do you know? This post got around to being about price after all.

 

Well guess what

I have spent an entire day’s worth of hours reworking my computer. Upgrading, downgrading, replacing the hard drive and restoring backed-up data, programs, and settings … To be rewarded with only minor losses of images, downloaded data, and some documents. They’re on the ‘defective’ drive somewhere and I may yet be able to get them back.

Of course all is for nought because the damn thing still freezes. What’s more, despite this being an identical OS install to what I had before some things are different and don’t function right even when they function at all. I suspect some of it is hardware failure caused by heat due to laptops’ notoriously poor design for dissipating heat. Also I noticed the CPU usage pings 100% from time to time.

And it is just so much fun trying to deal with this when … well have you ever seen how small the screws are that hold these things together? Imagine it with my eyesight, which is something like this:

This is what you see.
This is what I see.

Not exactly conducive to precision close work. Or anything else. Like photography.

So I’m up the proverbial creek without a paddle or a canoe. If the thing had just completely quit and not put me through that false hope of repair I’d be happier. But …

Anyway. No solutions just now. Not for anything. Whether or not I post more pictures is kind of ‘iffy’: I have some already processed but I am loathe to do more for fear of losing them. I’ve lost thousands before, but not under circumstances where I could see it coming and thus should have avoided it.

Yeah I don’t know what I’m going to do now.

More … whatever the last post was about

I am sparing you a rant about everything going on these days. It requires a huge amount of effort on my part to restrain myself from going on at length. Especially the bit where the word “stupid” appears over and over and …

Anyway.

You will not be spared this rant about the computer problems. In the last episode I updated from Mint 17 to Mint 18 in order to be able to run a certain graphics program that I had used in the past on a Windows system and enjoyed. Now then. Install program. Okay!

Uh-oh. It doesn’t look the same as the version I remember. Gone is the obvious intuitive interface. Gone is the functionality. In the true sense of the word. Id est, it doesn’t actually work. Why not? It just doesn’t. Not even half works. As though the ‘buttons’ aren’t connected to anything. Click -this- and … nothing happens. It took me eight hours to upgrade to OS version 18.3 and the one program I wanted to use doesn’t work anymore even though it should? Okay, there’s a couple of other similar programs so let’s try them.

Ha, ha, ha, ha. Whatever made me think they would work? They don’t. One is just dysfunctional crap that won’t even load a file, the other works as poorly as it did when I tried it on version 17 OS. I suppose my first clue should have been that before I tried any of these programs the computer locked up completely under Mint 18.3 requiring a power button restart. Of course it would do that on the older version too, along with a lot of other little glitches. But at least most of it worked most of the time.

So maybe 18.3 is too old. After all, the first message I got when firing up Firefox (to download Chromium) was “EOL” – end of life – about the OS. Right. Upgrade to the latest and greatest, Mint 19.

It only took me six hours. Well, it took the computer six hours. I watched a couple of movies and occasionally typed ‘y’ and the password as needed to keep it going. After it was done …

First hint: the key transposition is still there. Second hint: the program I was going for still doesn’t work. Third hint: the other two haven’t magically gotten better. Fourth hint: the interface now looks suspiciously like that crappy Windows/Chrome/Android dumb smartphone graphics. Fifth hint: one of the programs I used daily no longer functions correctly.

This is better, is it?

Don’t these people ever test anything before releasing it? I realize that Linux is open source, volunteer developed and costs nothing but … come on! How about a little pride of workmanship? If you’re doing something isn’t it worth doing the best you can? Even if you’re only doing it for yourself? Perhaps especially if you’re doing it for yourself.

Good grief we have a world full of this kind of garbage going on. Oh, I wasn’t going to do that rant. But my recent software experiences are a microcosm of the bigger problem.

Now what do I do? This may be a case of the hardware being too far behind the times to handle the software (I did see some worrying error messages as the upgrade progressed, but nothing that should prove fatal). Even if I could afford a new computer I doubt it would work any better.

So it looks like I get to spend who-knows-how-long regressing the operating system back to 17 when at least what I had worked and I knew what flaws to expect. Easier to put up with those flaws than does-not-work-at-all combined with works-even-worse-than-before. Maybe I have a different idea of “improvement” than other people. It just seems as though all the software upgrades were a case of change for change’s sake and altering the look-and-feel rather than fixing problems or improving performance.

All told, I seem to be swearing a lot these days – and it is not in my nature to swear.

In Space No One Can Hear You Bark

In case you think this is just my opinion: Linux is getting worse

That wasn’t fun

It’s complicated

My computer was becoming ever more erratic. Not a chance of replacing it due to financial constraints. What was more, I’d have to spend money for Win10 – and then delete it because it’s crap. Win11 is even worse as it is specifically designed to lock out old hardware and force sales of new machines. Imagine that: you just bought a Win10 machine and then you ‘upgrade’ it to Win11 and the next thing you know it doesn’t work worth a damn and you’re told you need to buy a new computer. Oh some will take the change, but better find out before you make the switch.

Anyway I’d just delete Microsoft’s bloated Spyware System and install Linux. Which is sort of what I did yesterday, except it was install Linux over Linux – or rather alongside it.

See here’s the thing: there was a program I wanted to use which would not work on Mint 17.3. There is no upgrade path from 17.3 to 18.3 except either deleting and starting over or doing a dual-boot install. As it is I had to backup everything anyway, so I did the dual-boot thing in case I didn’t like 18.3. That took all afternoon and into the night. I can only imagine it’s worse with Windows.

(Comic Note: in Star Trek: Lower Decks one of the characters has a cybernetic implant. In one episode it needs to be ‘updated’ and so it keeps rebooting as it installs progressive increments of the update, causing the character to black out and not know what goes on during that time. It is so much like the Windows update process … The funny line is: “Installing Klingon Fonts” What?! Why do I even need that?!)

Anyway after getting it up and running I then installed the updates and then installed the updates and then began updating it … That is to say transferring the massive number of data files and making sure I had the same programs. Whoops. After the solitaire and mahjong games that got a little dicey. Seems Chromium (the open source version of Chrome) is a bit different. In fact it’s better but hey the included outdated Firefox had to go. Then I need the extensions. Then … Well, you get the picture. (In fact over 20,000 pictures). It’s a good thing Linux does not itself consume massive amounts of drive space. I now have two versions of it with duplicates of my data files – on a 500GB drive with plenty of space leftover. I hear Windows alone can eat that much space.

So the look is slightly different but not so far off it’s unusable. I haven’t had time to fully test it of course, and no I haven’t got to installing that one program which started me down this rabbit hole. It does appear that the video has stabilized and possibly the computer itself (it had developed the habit of locking on boot or shut down or just mid operation). We shall see if it remains so.

There is one tiny little annoyance, though: for some reason the [@] key and the [“] key are now transposed in operation. So far that’s the only glitch and it doesn’t make sense as I thought ASCII codes were standardized decades ago. Yes, I tried changing the keyboard language designation but it isn’t any different on any version of English. If anyone can explain this weird deviation I’d like to know what’s caused it.

Note to self: check and see if the printer and/or scanners now work.