Saturday, April 19, 2014

Adventures in computer land

I hardly know where to start.

  • Over the past month or so, Dianne's laptop, circa 2008, has been giving her a huge amount of trouble. It runs Vista, and an older version of Internet Explorer, that for one reason or another seems to get a huge amount of unwanted pop-ups, malware, and viruses. This means I spend a huge amount of time as a computer administrator, rather than my desired position of "Old Fart" retiree.
  • It had become untenable by the start of last week. Some folks were adamant that Diane should get a new computer and that it should be an Apple computer. So, on Tuesday last, I bought a new laptop of the Windows variety, and Diane bought an Apple Mac Air. When all was said and done, and taxes paid, we were down about $2500. And of course that was just the beginning...
  • On the Apple front, Dianne took to the Mac rather well. It currently is at the Apple Store getting a whole bunch of files transferred over from the old PC. That's a service they offer if you buy their $99 a year one-on-one plan, which provides a bunch of training etc. and we also bought their $350 3 year service plan, which now that I think of it might be the plan that covers the transfer. Don't know and don't really care.
  • My new laptop is an Asus unit. I rather like Asus. My desktop that I am writing this on, is an eight core unit, but the new laptop is only four cores, 6 GB of memory, and 500 GB of hard disk drive. It came with Windows 8, and even that required several hours of program updating. Once that was all done, I had to upgrade to Windows 8.1. Was that instantaneous? Not exactly... That entailed about 3 GB of downloads and I don't know how many hours of updating. Still it's all done now.
  • I should also mention that I'm not really typing all of this, I'm using what I think is the latest version of Dragon dictate, which is practically flawless. I first started using Dragon back around the turn-of-the-century. At that time it was pretty good. However this version which I bought last year sometime, is superb. For the first time, the issues are about my comfort with dictating rather than using the keyboard as opposed to the mechanics of "operating" the dictation program. Just as a point of interest, it did take a little bit of effort to put in those quote signs around the word operating in the last sentence. But, I got her done!
  • I have a Go Pro camera. One of the reasons I bought the laptop, was that my iPad is the original version, that lacks a camera, and now is so old that it is not capable of accepting new updates of the operating system. There is a remote control application from Go Pro that allows real-time previews of what the camera sees, which requires the latest version of the OS, which would cost about $600. I wear bifocals. The Go Pro screen is very small. When the Go Pro cameras in its housing, and mounted on the motorcycle, it's virtually impossible to see what the camera is actually going to take a picture of. Hence, some sort of application running on a tablet or a laptop is almost indispensable. So, I opted for the laptop even though I dearly love my iPad. Still and all, the far more capable laptop was purchased for less than $500 which was much less than the cost of a new iPad.
  • There are a number of applications available to control a Go Pro camera using a Windows 8 laptop. I saw one that had a really nice GUI, even though it cost a small number of dollars, so I bought it and it's companion file browser. I can't get either to work. I have sent an email to the support people and I even got a reply today on Good Friday. I have sent them a number of emails today including some screenshots that show the laptop and the camera can communicate quite well using their competitors software, which in fact is free! One of those free programs has a preview function and it works just great. It will be interesting to see if the problems I'm having with the paid software can get resolved.
  • It seems to take a lot of effort to be able to make good progress, but we are getting there.
  • If the weather is nice tomorrow, I might take a ride to Radio World to pick up my special ordered RAM mounts that have finally arrived. Now the only thing missing is a ball head that has separate locks for angle and horizontal panning. That type of mounting is identical to the method used by my friend Bob, and it allows the camera to be rotated left and right while one is riding. I've seen Bob's videos and by golly they look really good. Well you know, at this time of the year, any excuse will do.
  • More of this to come of course...


  1. Wow, you have been dealing with a lot of computers/electronics lately.

    We have Macs at home and really enjoy them. IMac, iPad and an old Macbook laptop. Hubby used to use PCs at work and it would drive him nuts every time they would go down since our Macs are 99% trouble free.

    So far Macs have been good to us. Hopefully your wife will enjoy hers.

  2. Ed:

    You are brave ! I couldn't bring myself to buy the Mac Air even though I liked it. There was too much of a learning curve, for me

    I also bought a new computer for traveling. a bit larger than the one I had last year. But I did the smart thing. I waited for the one I wanted that already had Windows 8.1 installed. Mine is a hybrid SSD and mechanical drive and also has a touch screen. Sort of like a big iPad, sort of. I also bought the google nexus 7 chrome tablet and I like it

    I have the GoPro Hero2 with Remote but I don't use it. You have to keep the main unit ON and that drains the battery. It would be different if you could connect to bike power.

    Are you able to edit and author videos using your new laptop ? I had problems last year with my 1st gen i3, but now I have the new Haswell i5

    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Yes, it has an AMD 4 core processer, 6GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive. I use TrakAxPC for video editing, although that sounds like I use it a lot. I don't and need to use it more to be as proficient as \I need to be.

  3. Isn't technology fun! (Just keep repeating this to yourself and maybe add burn some incense or something)

    I, personally, prefer OS X though I do have a number of Linux and Windows systems as well. They all fill a niche and have their strengths and weaknesses. The last time I tried Dragon was around the turn of the century and the attorney I set it up for thought it was good enough and his secretary said it was way better than the voice memos.

    1. An old saying: if you really want to screw something up, use a computer!

      I have always used DOS/Windows, but in the last few days, using the Mac computer has been quite ok. Got the $99 training pgm for Dianne, but will tag along.

      The Apple Store did a transfer of a lot of files and a few emails. Don't know why all the emails did not come over. I had to buy a $13 PC program to convert the Outlook .pst file contents to Mail format. Used a USB stick and transferred some 670 MBs of mail. Worked great!

      The latest versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking really impressed me. I plan to use it more in the future. It is not natural for me to dictate rather than type, but it gets easier with practice.