Wednesday, June 26, 2013

retiring this blog - find me on

It's official. I've decided I'm never going to post regularly in this space again. There are a number of reasons, one major factor being that I have not regularly posted here in ages and ages.

But another big one is I have seen some changes in my life. I have published a book.

And while this is cool in many respects, it means I have to become an "author." To be an author today means you have to be present on the web. So I have a new blog that is going to hopefully be somewhat like this one was, just a bit more tailored and professional.

My new blog is here:

I'm also trying to be active on twitter:

This is all such a process. I've been blogging for over ten years now. Sheesh. Thanks to everyone who's stuck with me this long.

PS: my book has a trailer:

Friday, October 05, 2012

Oh Dell, Why U No Listen to Me?

I wish Dell had a scorecard of some kind, so they could record the number of times something like this has happened:

  • My computer develops a problem. 
  • I take all logical troubleshooting steps, determine it is not a software problem. 
  • I contact Dell, tell them what I think the problem is. 
  • They proceed to spend hours trying various fixes I already tried. None of them work.
  • They suggest I reinstall I my OS. I say I'd rather not because I think it is a hardware problem.
  • They send a tech out, sometimes replacing multiple parts that are not the one I said I thought was broken. 
  • Multiple tech visits later, they do what I suggested in the first place and, what do you know, problem is solved.

I mean, really, not only would it save me a lot of annoyance, it would save them money (since this always happens when the computer is under warranty.)

On the upside, my computer now has a new wireless card, LCD, lid, screen and antenna; it didn't cost me a dime.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Solid State

I find myself in a bit of an odd spot with technology lately. I earn my livelihood on a computer, the internet is my office, and my morning commute has been replaced by the combination of all the little chunks of time in the day during which I have to wait for my computer. While plenty of my waiting time is caused by the internet (uploading a file to a server, waiting for a browser-based application to load) a lot of my lag time lately has been caused by my computer.

It's not really my computer's fault. It is a good machine with excellent specs. When I got it, it was fast and tricked out. I was excited about the 1TB hard drive. What I didn't foresee was the problem of data. In the two or so years since I got that computer, my business has boomed and that drive has filled up, mostly with things I probably don't need but *might someday. And as the drive has filled, the machine has slowed. I've installed and uninstalled a lot of programs. My OS has gotten progressively more sluggish. But I haven't done a reformat because there is so much data to deal with. Just offloading everything to an external hard drive would take an entire day. Then after I reformatted the computer, I'd have to put it all back on.

So I've been putting it off, and the machine has started to go eccentric on me. The first time I use Photoshop's save-for-web feature (which I use dozens of times every single day) I have to wait about five minutes for some erroneous data loop to run its course. Then it's fine until the next time I shut the machine down. But I actually tend to restart it a lot, to help with some of the glitches. That takes a little while too. In fact, I turn it on first thing in the morning and then go about my normal routine of drinking coffee and hanging out with my netbook on the couch, just so I don't have to wait for the thing to boot. But the netbook is even laggier. It has 1GB of ram. Even opening a web browser is a bit of a task for it. I use it only for writing.

Recently work has been BUSY, and the stress of having more to do in any given day than a single person can reasonably hope to accomplish in two has led me to notice the lags more, and make me wonder -- how much time do I actually spend each day waiting for my computer? Is there a way to cut it down?

I've been drooling over solid state hard drives for years, but they are expensive and hard to find in factory made computers. I've thought about building my own computer, but there is that time issue again. Also, I don't like buying electronics anymore. Well, that's not true. I do LIKE buying electronics. But I don't like what electronics are doing to our world. I don't like having to figure out what to do with old electronics, and I don't like the fact that every new piece of technology I buy is the direct product of exploitation and suffering. My cell phone is five years old. My ipod is well out of date. I don't have any other gadgets. And I haven't bought a new computer in years.

Until last week, when I discovered that dell has started making a laptop with a fast processor, equal RAM to my desktop and, most importantly, a solid state hard drive. I agonized over the purchase for a couple of weeks but finally I made a decision. If  I want to make my living in this virtual world, I have to have some tech. So I should choose wisely. I found a refurbished model with the specs I wanted. It came with three years of warranty, including accident coverage.

And I love it. There are two things that are shocking about the new computer. First, is is fast. So so so fast. It's the hard drive. No moving parts. Massively improved ability for my processor to move stuff around. Also, its data capacity is 1/4 the size of my desktop's. This is going to be an adjustment, but it's actually something I'm excited about. If I don't have the space for it, perhaps I won't let so much junk accumulate on my computer.

I'm also really excited to have the option of being free of my desk. I've learned in the last year or so that sitting in a chair all day actually hurts a little. So now I can work on the couch or even lounging in my bed. It's a bit disorienting to be using this sleek little laptop that is out-clocking my desktop with every task.

Now if I could just get the internet to run faster...