Saturday, January 24, 2009


Installing Vista seems to have worked

The UPS delivery guy really surprised us by arriving at 18:45 hours last Wednesday night to deliver my package with Microsoft's Windows Vista Ultimate inside. It took two tries but I did get it installed on my desktop machine and it is working fine. Of course I have a lot to learn as it is different from XP. I have had Vista Home Premium on my laptop but haven't done very much with it in the past. This time I have had to get some new drivers (I never printed from the laptop so didn't need new printer drivers) and even the sound system driver that came on the CD supplied with my computer, that I just bought in mid-November, would not work. But the computer manufacturer did have what I needed online to download and it did the trick.

I have reinstalled quite a few of my programs and did have the data files backed up to both the internal D drive (two internal hard drives) and an external hard drive. About the only thing that is really going to take some time is getting Photoshop Elements Organizer up and running. I decided that there was a better way to organize my photo files on the hard drive so made those changes during this move. I didn't even try to reinstall one of the backups of my old albums as I'd have to go through all of the photos and reconnect them to the data files. I think it will be easier to just start over and re-enter all of them, then redo the tags and comments. But it will be quite a chore as I think there is something over 5000 photos and that is just in the album I made up since I've met Pat. The older one I may just reuse as I haven't changed many if any of those locations in the hierarchy of my hard disk.

We have been doing a few things in addition to working on resurrecting my computer. Yesterday we went to a before noon ($5 admission fee) showing of the movie, "Frost/Nixon." It is one that we've been waiting for and yesterday was it's first day in our town. It is good and that makes the second good movie we have seen recently in the theater, the other being Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino."

A couple of times a month some of the area musicians from the Washington Old Time Fiddler's Association meet at the Mount Vernon Senior Center, on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month, in the evening to jam. It is open to the public. This is something I've wanted to go see for quite awhile and we finally made it and will go back as these are fun.

Summer has not yet come to northwest Washington State. Not even Spring! Our forecast for tomorrow shows a high temp of only 32! I don't even want to think about the low, but it's in the lower 20s range. Then, if it is an accurate forecast, come Tuesday it will start warming up and probably get wet again, but we should be back to more normal temps. A week from tomorrow we are into February and then flowers should start blooming. It has to warm up for that to happen, doesn't it?

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Computers - a Love/Hate relationship

My new camcorder arrived last Friday and I got its battery charged and actually took a short clip that evening in the living room at home. Boy, is it small in size. Then I wanted to see what it would look like in my new video editing software, Adobe Premiere Elements 7. I took my new software package to the computer room to install it on my desktop PC Saturday morning. That started out well but I soon noticed that it was trying over and over again (it tried 4 or 5 times) to set some value to a system program called .NET Framework. It then failed to install.

Let me back up a bit. Last November I bought a new desktop computer. I have not been a fan of the operating system Windows Vista (I have it on my laptop but haven't used it much) so I paid an extra $100 to get the new machine with Windows XP installed. It also came with a program that I wasn't familiar with called Move and a cable from LapLink, a company I've heard of that I think is primarily involved in designing & selling software/hardware systems that allow a user to keep his or her desktop computer and laptop in sync with each other as far as data used by the same program on each machine. But Move was supposed to move programs and data from the old PC to the new PC. Sounds good as anyone who has gone through the problem of getting a new machine all setup with the programs & data from the old one will know. I decided to try it.

Well, it worked, sort of, but after taking about ten hours to move my "stuff" I found that it all didn't move very well. Some programs and drivers wouldn't work so I ended up having to uninstall & reinstall many of them. At least I still had the data on the old machine. But there was one thing that balked and gave me the message that it had a conflict with a program called .NET Framework. It suggested that I uninstall .NET Framework, so I did, and then my old program worked fine.

I soon discovered that every time I turned the PC off my Auto Update tried to install two updates to, you guessed it, .NET Framework! I tried to reinstall that from the XP disk that came with the new computer but by then XP had updated itself from the Internet and I got the message that I was trying to install an older version to a newer one, so it didn't work. I tried to download the newer one online from Microsoft but their newest version failed to install. This was mainly just an irritant to me, something that slowed down turning my machine off. Until last Saturday when I tried to install Premiere Elements.

So, what to do. I tried a number of things, including the rescue disk that I made that didn't work, either. I even got out an old never before installed full copy of Windows XP that I tried to install, figuring that I'd have to setup all of my programs again and wait through many updates to the OS, but nothing worked. And then finally I got the infamous "blue screen," after which nothing worked. I couldn't boot up into Windows. The machine just wouldn't do anything.

Since then I have ordered a full copy of Windows Vista that is due to arrive tomorrow and I will again, with it, try to boot the machine from a DVD drive. Then I think I'll reformat my C drive, install the operating system and have to start over setting up all of my programs. At least I do have all of the needed data on both of two hard drives in addition to the C drive that will be wiped out by reformatting. I hope I can remember all of the passwords that the machine "knew" so that I didn't have to remember them!

Am I a happy camper (computer user)? No. I paid extra money for this machine to get it with XP, whereas I could have bought it for less with Vista in the first place. And now I am paying out more money to buy a full (I can't just use an upgrade version) copy of Vista. The good news is that all the programs I use plus any new ones that I will be buying in the future should work fine on Vista. I even have a couple of old DOS programs that I wrote and compiled that work on this laptop under Vista. Both my brother who is retired now but was a computer systems manager for our State and a good friend who is a Microsoft retiree have said that the bugs and problems with Vista have been worked out and it is now a stable platform. It is a little different from XP in appearence but I've learned that from using this laptop which came with Vista. I know that I will learn it and I guess I'll be better prepared for the future by having it on my machine. Maybe by the end of this week I'll be able to install and use Adobe Premiere Elements 7.

But it still bugs me.

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 09, 2009


Weather, Mexican Train and digital video

Huh? How do these three different things relate to me? Well, let me tell you. Our weather warmed up, a lot, and we got a lot of rainfall over the last week. Enough that along with the snow we had on the ground when all of this started, we had flooding around the whole western part of the state. One recording station down on the Pacific Coast has recorded over 20 inches of rain since the first of the year. That rainfall, plus the melting of two feet or so of snow, caused the ground to be super saturated to the point that it couldn't absorb more water. So, the small creeks and streams swelled way over their banks and we had flooding in places where it had never before flooded. Our main river (the Skagit) came close but the dams upriver were able to hold back the worst of it so that it barely reached flood stage, which put some water into some fields and over a few roads but there was not much damage in our immediate area. From it. But other areas and other rivers were not so lucky.

But the damage from smaller streams and super saturated hillsides sliding down has brought a lot of problems to many people. A twenty mile section of Interstate 5 about halfway between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, the main north/south highway on the west coast, was closed for over two days. All of the mountain passes through the Cascade Mountains were closed to both truck and rail traffic. They are now as of this afternoon finally open but the cost due to delays in moving freight was considerable. The forecast calls for more rain this weekend but at normal winter amounts, then a week or more of sunshine and dry weather. We need it.

On to Mexican Train. I wrote my last post a week ago, just before we played our weekly game of dominoes called Mexican Train. Everyone antes up a dollar. The challenge is to accumulate as few points as possible, playing from the 12 spot dominoes down to the blanks. A game takes two to two & a half hours. The winner gets all of the dollars except for one, which goes out as a booby prize to the person who gets the most points. Last week, I won one of those, Pat won the other. I won't say who was the big winner and who the big looser, but we did keep it in the family and the proceeds will finance our playing for three more weeks. One of which was last night, when neither of us won anything. Bummer.

Now digital video. I expect all of us have had some experience with video taping things. I've had a couple of camcorders, the most recent one a VHS-C unit we bought ten years ago just before a trip to Hawaii. I've always wanted to go to a digital camcorder but was never willing to spend the money on one. Well, I just did. I ordered one last night from and it should be here early next week. Boy, do I have a lot to learn as photography with these things is a LOT different from digital still photography. I've got six books on order (two are here) on digital photography and my editing software of choice, Adobe Premiere Elements 7, which I picked up today.

I did a lot of looking at various cameras and "talked" (mostly via email) with quite a few people. I wasn't going to put out the $3000 - $5000 for a professional camera system and I decided against even going for an HD system. I don't know how much I'll use it so will just start with a standard definition system that will do a good job with wide screen images. My other systems have been Panasonic brand and that is what I stayed with this time, a Panasonic SDR-H60 hybrid camera. It is hybrid in that it has a built in 60GB hard drive but it also takes SDHC memory cards that it will save your data to. Either the hard disk or the memory cards. The camera has a 50X zoom lens so it covers an extremely wide range of focal lengths and it has what is probably about the best vibration reduction system built in which is important to help keep those very long telephoto views stationary. Just the slight shaking in your hands as you hold the camera (if it isn't on a tripod) can make those long shots look odd as the camera moves around. If you are interested in it, Google that model and take a look.

Now I have a lot to learn about a different area of photography and to start thinking of "stories" I might want to make up videos on. I wonder, how I can get one of me flying my airplane?

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 02, 2009


Happy New Year!

I would like to wish everyone a Happy 2009. 2008 wasn't too bad a year for us although our meager investments in the stock & bond market became more meager, but overall it was not a bad year. However I think this year is dawning with more promise and hope than I've seen in a long time and that seems to be from many different people.

We are still having winter weather but I guess that isn't too surprising considering that today is only January 2nd. We woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow but it wasn't enough that it kept me from going on the three day a week mens walk from our park to the hospital, where a group of us meet for coffee. The sun did come out although I don't think the temp got much above freezing unless you were directly in that sunlight. Pat & I took advantage of no rain to take out outside holiday lights down and get them packaged away for another year. Maybe tomorrow we will tackle the Christmas tree. We use real trees and after a couple of weeks they become too dry to safely leave up. Otherwise I'd be tempted to leave it up all year as I do enjoy them.

Our bad weather for two and a half weeks has caused some problems with deliveries. It is kind of amazing but the US Post Office did manage to come around every day and deliver the mail, but UPS and FedEx were nowhere to be found for a couple of weeks. I had ordered an upgrade of Adobe Acrobat that was supposed to have been here Dec 19th, delivered by FedEx. It finally came on the 29th. I'm sure glad that I didn't pay any extra for expedited delivery service! I guess that shows who is more dedicated to doing their jobs.

Since last night, our normal Mexican Train game night, was a holiday the game was postponed to tonight. That happened last week too but then it was canceled due to the snow & ice. Won't be a problem tonight, so at 18:15 we'll go over and again try our luck. Mexican Train is played with dominoes for those who are not familiar with the game. In honor of Mexican Train, we are going out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. See how that works?

Labels: , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?