November 27, 2013

IE-11: Dammit, Microsoft!

Microsoft rolled out the 32-bit version of IE-11 about two weeks ago, and rolled out the 64-bit version yesterday.

It breaks some functionality associated with post and comment entry here on meenu. What I've noticed so far:

1. Link entry no longer works. For post entry you can still use the "HTML" mode to enter a-href's. For comment entry you're SOL. I guess they have to go inline, as ugly as that is. So we have a temporary amnesty on the ugly way of doing it. Like this:

2. Control-I works to start italics but doesn't work to end them. You can hit the "I" italic button in the header to turn them off. Strangely enough, control-B and control-U work fine both opening and closing.

3. Control-V doesn't work to paste text into a post or comment. You can right-click and choose "paste" and that works.

I've alerted Pixy, so all we can do is be patient. Luckily for us, this isn't a holiday in Australia. But this kind of incompatibility issue isn't likely to be easy to fix. We may have to put up with it for several weeks. Let's all practice patience.

Or use Firefox. 

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:00 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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October 22, 2013

A question

What comes after OS X 10.9?


OS X 10.10?

OS X 11.0?

OS X 11.1?

OS X Vista?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:17 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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March 12, 2013



That "update automatically" box defaults to checked, dammit.

And I need to figure out how to tell IE10 not to spell check my entries.

UPDATE: Here's how.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:41 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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February 09, 2013

Spica: Black Screen redux

It happened again this morning. I did some searching, and I'm not the only one having this problem.

One person noticed that it was happening 10 minutes after he woke from hibernation, so for the time being I'm not going to use hibernation.

Another guy said that Asus Live Update was the villain. That's a function I don't want, anyway, so I just uninstalled it.

And I used "Autoruns" to turn off a bunch of other ASUS cruft.

Search engine keywords: ASUS G75V black screen reboot crash

UPDATE: Three days later: I think it was Asus Live Update which was the problem. Since I uninstalled it I haven't had a single crash.

UPDATE: Last night I turned "hibernation" back on again. This morning I got another black screen crash, the first in several days. It's evident that's a problem, and I've turned hibernation back off again.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:04 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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February 08, 2013

Spica: black screen crash

It happened again this morning, and after it rebooted the display driver went bogus, filling the screen with magenta crawling lines.

I just went to the nVidia site and downloaded and installed the latest driver, and I hope that will fix it. A graphics driver crash certainly could cause the symptoms I have been seeing: The screen instantly going black, and then the computer rebooting.

Search engine keywords: ASUS G75V black screen reboot crash

I am virtually certain it is not related to power.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 08:06 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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February 07, 2013

Spica: Strange things

It's been interesting setting up Spica, the new computer. I'm sure you're all terribly interested in this (snore) but it's been what I've been doing for the last couple of days.

The cooling on this system is amazing. When I started getting really worried about Alcyone, Speedfan showed the cores running 80C and the GPU running 120C. Seems like the computer was really cranking back its clock rate in self defense, which is why that computer felt really slow and unresponsive.

Spica, on the other hand: Speedfan reports the cores running about 20C and the GPU at 38. 8 cores, it reports.


And the task manager reports 8 CPUs, too. This is designed to be a gaming machine, but I'm having a hard time believing there is any game out there that can take advantage of 8 CPUs. We're getting into the realm of "Mine is bigger than yours" with this, I think. Surely I have no such use; the only app around here that would take advantage of it is Handbrake, and I run that about once a year.

Or is it 4 hyperthreaded cores? Intel i7 3610QM; Wikipedia said it was 4 cores.

I managed to get a lot of my apps installed. Spica has about half the disk space, and I'm finding that I have to leave some stuff behind. However, I think it has an empty bay for an HD. I'm going to check on that, and if it's true I'll order another one.

Something worrisome: twice now this system and quit and rebooted. No warning, no popup, just instantly black screen, and then the windows boot "We shut down unexpectedly, do you want safe mode?" screen. That's not good.

One of my "can't live without" programs is Photomagic 4.0. It originally came out as a Win 95 app, and its installer is a 16-bit program, which Win7-64 won't run. So I copied the install directory over. And it turned out there were about 8 DLLs in the OS directory that had to be copied, too. Once I did that, and then let it run once with admin privilege, it works. Whew!

The new puzzle is that IE has stopped running flashes. I'm not sure why, but I can't see the top rotation now. (It worked earlier, and it still works in Firefox.) It may be that I have to install the Flash plugin again, and it may be that I fouled up a setting in the options frame. I'm still working on it. I was looking around on the Adobe website for the page that installs the plugin, but I couldn't find it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:24 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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There's a setting, somewhere, which makes the text in the "favorites" sidebar of IE smaller, only I can't remember where it is. Anyone know?

Getting Spica up to speed is going a lot faster than I thought it would. The fact that Alcyone is still working has helped a lot. It's sitting on one of my kitchen counters, and I can go turn it on and search for things, or see how things are configured. (That's how I located Agent's database.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:51 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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February 06, 2013

Welcome, Spica!

6PM, They just delivered it. I was the last delivery. (Oh, well, someone has to be.)

Step 1: upgrade to Win7 Pro.

Step 2: catch up on patches. Back in about three hours.

UPDATE: Actually, step 1 is to burn install DVDs. It'll take 6, and probably take upwards of an hour. But it'll be good to have them.

UPDATE: And now it tells me it'll take four DVDs. Sounds like it was written by the same guy who wrote the code that predicts how long a big copy will take.

UPDATE: McAfee uninstalled, and Microsoft Security Essentials is installed. Doing patches now. Upgrade to Pro is going to have to wait until I get email working, because that's how they send you the upgrade key.

UPDATE: Proxomitron is working, and I am using Spica to make this update.

UPDATE: Note to myself someday: Agent's data files are in
C:\Users\Steven\Appdata\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files (x86)\Agent

UPDATE: OK! Agent and K9 are set up, and I have email again. Now I can upgrade to Win7 Pro.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 06:28 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 05, 2013


Last few days have been annoying, because I can't use Alcyone the way I'm used to. It has been getting really hot, and at a certain point it throttles its own clock rate in defense and my performance goes into the toilet. Then I turn it off and let it cool.

The replacement machine is being delivered tomorrow. It's going to be named Spica.

(Big deal, eh? But I don't have anything else to post about right now...)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 07:38 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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January 11, 2013

Kindle Fire HD use experience

James wrote to me and asked me to write about my experience with the Kindle Fire.


The left unit is my original Fire, for which the charging connector is now broken, so it can't recharge. The middle one is my new Fire HD. On the right is my phone. And I included a DVD case for scale.

The HD actually comes in two sizes, the 8.9" version (which I got) and one that's the same size as my old Fire. I have to say that I'm really glad I got the big one. Even for reading books it's a lot nicer, a lot more comfortable for my old eyes. It is, however, heavier and a bit more cumbersome to hold. I usually read by having it sit on my computer desktop, rather than holding it in my lap.

One change Amazon made in the HD was to include advertising, but it isn't obnoxious. The main place you see it is when the unit is first turned on, before you unlock it. The other is at the bottom of the main screen, where it shows you books you don't own that they think, based on your previous purchases, you might like. Since probably three quarters of my purchases have been Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout, that's what they're showing me. But it's inobtrusive and easy to ignore, and I haven't noticed any advertising anywhere else. (Given J Greely's eclectic reading practice, and the things Amazon has recommended to him in the past, I imagine his "you might be interested in this" display would probably be rather amusing, not to mention NSFW.)

James asked me about watching movies on it. I haven't done that, so I don't know. You wouldn't want to rely on the built-in speakers if you did that; they sound like the speakers is a notebook computer. You would want decent headphones instead, and I'm sure they would sound fine.

Aside from reading books, the only other thing I've used it for is browsing the web -- and it works pretty well for that, considering there isn't any physical keyboard. If you need to type, a virtual keyboard shows up on the screen, and that's another way in which the larger screen shines: the keyboard is larger and easier to use.

The unit has a really large battery, which means it's heavy. But that also means the battery life is excellent. An entire evening of reading is quite possible without recharging. I'm sure that watching a movie would drain the battery faster, but I'm sure it can run one movie on a charge, and it might do more than that.

All in all I'm very happy with it. The one I broke, that was my own fault; I was being careless. With the new one I'll be more careful, and I expect it will run a long time.

Any complaints? Yeah, one. The original Fire came with a user manual loaded into its memory. I can't say I used it much, but I did consult it a couple of times. The HD did not, and there wasn't one in the box, either. And I haven't been able to find one online. So if you're confused about the user interface, you're on your own. Amazon is unhelpful.

I think where that would affect people the most is in Wifi connection, which is somewhat complicated even in the best of circumstances. One "gesture" you need to know is to press-and-hold an object. That's the equivalent of a mouse right-click; it brings up a context menu.

In my case, my Wifi hub doesn't send out DNS's properly when it's doing DHCP, so I had to set up the IP and portal and DNS's by hand. To do that, I picked my hub from the list of hubs it saw, pressed-and-held that entry, and then got into the "advanced" menu.

In terms of cameras, there's only one. It faces the user and it's intended for video conferencing. I haven't used it.

But I did load a few high resolution images onto it and viewed them. It didn't show them to me at the highest resolution. These images were 4K*3K and I think it actually displayed them at about half resolution at the maximum magnification. (You zoom in with a two-finger spread.)

I've thought about buying some illustration-heavy book (such as "Dinotopia" or "On Beyond Zebra") just to see how it works, but my general experience so far is that when they include illustrations the resolution isn't any too high. If you come to an image embedded in the book, you can double-tap it and it comes up alone on the screen. Then you can zoom and pan -- but you can't zoom very much, at least on the ones I have far. For something graphic-rich, they might invest more kilobytes in the images, I would hope.

Getting to the controls is a bit tricky: you press-and-hold at the very top of the screen, and then slide all the way to the bottom. That give you acess to a few controls (particularly the "lock/unlock" control, which denies/permits the unit to change screen orientation) but there's something else you have to click to get to the rest of the controls.

It's a different user paradigm than Windows, but it's well conceived and you get used to it quite rapidly. It's a pleasant use experience.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:15 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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