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...

Friday, April 11, 2014

1st Ride of the Season!

It was cool this morning, so I had coffee, read the newspaper, and eventually went out to the garage. Did some cleanup and started a ToDo list for the outdoor stuff and garage stuff.

Noticed that I needed a new hose reel. The old one sprang a leak at the end of last year. So, off to get a new one. Figured I would get the hose in operation and get the dust off the bike and go for a ride.

Got neat metal one from Costco. But, it is a wall mounted one. The mounting hardware looks like it was meant to attach a full battle tank to the wall. Well, the afternoon was moving on, so I decided to do the ride.

Nice day, dry and sunny and relatively warm for a slow speed ride. Off to Home Depot for a metric bolt ( I had bought one before when I should have bought two) and then over to the nearby GO station. For those who don't know, GO Transit runs trains and buses for commuters in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

This station has an empty parking lot on Sunday mornings. I go there a lot to practice slow speed U-turns. I did pretty well today, considering it was the first day riding this season. Seems to me I did better than last year. That pneumonia really did a job on me last year.

On the way home, I took the long way... .

Now, I cheated a bit. The BMW 1200RT has a tank bag, rear paniers, and a top box when fully set up for travelling. Today, it was bare. Not even the GPS, which I never leave home without, almost. That might have made it easier to U-turn, but I think it was the refresh reading I did the other day that reminded me to really turn my head around.

I'm looking forward to a great season.

Off to get ready for a steak dinner with some old friends. I'll try to do regular blogs in the next while.

Addendum:

I was fretting last night, thinking I had lost the 2nd extra key that BMW provides with their bikes that have immobolizer alarms. Two regular keys with alarm fobs plus this little flat plastic key that is a miniature key comparatively but is still electronic and will start the bike! They intend you to keep it in a wallet I suppose, but I put it on a string and hang it around my neck when traveling. Almost lost a key camping once, spotted it on the grass near the table I had just sat down on. And, had no spare with me... .

At the end of the season last year, I thought I would keep it somewhere in the garage ... then I forgot where I put it. Looked for it last night. Looked for it today before the ride. No dice. Now I was getting bothered with myself. After the ride, I re-checked a place I had looked before and there it was! Don't know how I could have missed it last night it was so obvious. I do this too often! Do you suffer from this sort of thing too?

Really must go now.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Season Initialization

Nothing ever happens all by itself. Before you can tie your shoelaces, you have to put on your shoes.

Was waiting for warmth and rain. Today was 16C! Late in the day, sprinkles of rain and likely more overnight.

Renovation of the "main" bathroom at the top of the stairs is basically complete, but awaiting some final items to install. So, the half of the garage that was used for tool storage by the installer became clear after noon.

That meant:

1) sweep & take cardboard boxes to the recycle centre.
2) use the Park n' Move trolley (great item) to turn the bike around.
3) pump out the old fuel in the tank, put it in the minivan with lots of other fuel to dilute it.
4) get new, fresh fuel from the local gas station and pour it in, and ...

5) start the engine.

Every year, the first start of the engine is a concern. Never had a complete failure, but the fear is there. This time:

1) the battery delivered a fine high amperage current to the starter motor, thanks to the battery tender that has always done me good service,

2) the big twin gave a sideways shake and one cough, likely of old November fuel, stale as  could be,

3) sucked down some fresh 94 octane fuel and ... just ran. Ran fine.

Funny how fast fear flees. [Sorry about the alliteration, just could not resist.]

Tomorrow ...