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Archive Category: Geek

    WordPress Comment & Trackback Spam

      Just in case you’re using WordPress, the most successful combination I’ve found so far to Kill Spam Dead (in regard to Comment and Trackback spam) is this:
      AuthImage for Comment Spam; I have had no problems with this. No comment spam has made it through since I implemented this. Yay.

      Go here for trackback spam. It works. I started getting my first vomit-like chunks of trackback-spam today and I tried a few fixes. This is the only one that worked.

      More Speed

        Today I doubled the RAM in my laptop. Glory be. I was getting completely clagged. What I really need is a bigger hard drive, but with some selective culling and my new half gig of RAM, everything is a little more zippy. Thank you ebay: I still can’t get over how cheap memory is, compared to how much it used to be. I got 256 meg of laptop RAM for $55, which isn’t bad at all. Also, my new USB hub arrived yesterday (thanks ebay – free postage to Australia) and only cost $14AU. It is totally worth it – I spent so much of my time swapping my printer plug, burner plug, palm pilot plug and mouse plug – not to mention my camera plug…the hub holds four USB 2.0 inputs – and I’m happy. Woo!

        Geek Hell

          Every time I upgrade WordPress (the system that makes this whole thing run) something goes awry. And then I spend late nights getting few responses to my pleas on the help forums and nutting away at it myself. So. Comments are now working – if someone (besides myself) could leave a comment for me to make sure it works for people who aren’t me, that would be appreciated. If this is incoherent it’s because my eyes are so baggy I can’t see what I’m typing. Ack.

          Spam Karma

            I have to report that I think I’ve finally (touch wood) got a handle on the comment spam. It is all due to the very awesome Spam Karma plugin for WordPress. Since I installed it a week ago (and removed those word-picture things that were so annoying) Spam Karma informs me it has eaten 641 809 bits of spam – and it’s still hungry. Fifty-eight IP addresses have been permanently banned from posting and are now members of the ‘Bad Guys Hall of Shame’. Nah nah nah nah-nah.

            Killer or Coder?

              Lisa sent me a link to this quiz. I’m assuming the geekier you are, the better you’ll do. Which is why I was v.surprised to get this:

              9/10 – You’d spot Hannibal Lector in seconds at an Open Source conference. Your liver’s safe.

              Try it out.

              Definitely gone…

                Miaow is going to be a bit short on pictures until we get this house sold. As I mentioned a few days ago – my camera has disappeared, and I think by now it is definitely gone. I have checked D & E’s car, D & R have checked their study, my sister has checked the boat, and I have rummaged through my bags. Sigh. If someone finds it, they will have fun looking at before and after shots of Boat, as well as some others I can’t remember. They will also enjoy my little 64MB SD card which I also used in my palm pilot, and has quite a few good tunes on it. It is only now that it’s gone that I realise how often I used my camera :( it is very sad. I do have a back up – but it’s a camera that uses proper film; so it’s much less immediate and I have to scan the pictures in. How quaint!

                She’s Ba-ack…

                  Holy hairy big fat THANK YOU. I have been like a ravening junkie the past four days, unable to blog. As you may have noticed, miaowthecat was D-E-A-D. And I couldn’t revive it – principally due to the fact that I didn’t have enough time to devote to poking around to find what was wrong. Finally, tonight – the first time I’ve been able to pause for breath – help desk Steve rescued me from my dire situation. I am still not sure whether the issue was dodgy old files or the movement of my server from New Jersey to Dallas, Texas… but I don’t care. It’s all better. I have so much to type about – gah.

                  Geek Question

                    1. Can anyone recommend a decent webhost? I am on a killer deal at present, it’s $80 per year for my miaow hosting and 256MB of storage – however I need more space! Are there any places that just provide space, and not all the bells, whistles and backends to go with it? I want to stick with my current host, but move all my mp3 files elsewhere…

                    …they have offered me 100MB more for $40 per year, which is starting to sound pretty good.

                    Frustrations & Friday

                      For the past two and a half months my junk mail filter has be staging a revolt and has been quietly siphoning off many non-junk emails into its cavernous bowels. So, please accept my sad apologies if you think I’ve been ignoring you… this issue may also have caused my server to go over quota, so my mail was suspended and I was admonished for my slackness [pouts]. I am going to come into work one boring day and fix everything in the whole world of [m i a o w]…
                      Today has been fraught. Everybody haveagoodweekend… and pray for the positive reaction of the people who are inspecting our house tomorrow morning. M has been cleaning the house like it has never been cleaned before. We miss you M!


                        I wrote previously about subverting the system (read: ‘firewall’) at my workplace to gain access to gmail. They got wise. It no longer works. I have been wasting precious time trying to figure out how to one up them, and so far have come up with one viable option – GMail-Lite.

                        What I Want

                          A handbag with a solar panel to charge my palm pilot and my phone (unless, post-house, I splash out on a Treo 650 and have a phone and palm in one device – oh then I would need another, smaller bag – and why not a solar panelled one?)

                          A Solar Panelled Handbag.

                          Sweaty Palm

                            I leave to go to Beechworth via Macedon tomorrow morning. Which would ordinarily be a nice trip, but as it is for work, I will glimpse scenery on the way to the conference thingy each day, and that’s about it. Thank God I am staying with A and not dossing with everyone else, where I would run into people I only know by sight and have to pretend to look knowledgable (always hard – particularly early in the day). Today I discovered that my Palm Pilot has spacked out and erased itself. Everything. Everything on it is gone. All my information about flying cats to Melbourne. Phone numbers. The lot. I can sync it with my laptop, but it still means I’ll lose everything I’ve entered in the last month, as I just sync it on my work computer to update AvantGo. Goddamnit, this is annoying!

                            Seventeen days, including two weekends, until I leave to head north and find M, cats and house. I’m not counting hours, but I’m definitely crossing off the days.

                            I picked a Canon A85

                              My days sans camera are at an end. After agonising as to whether I should order one from the US and get my mother to schlep it back, I decided that;
                              1) I couldn’t wait that long,
                              2) I don’t know how long ‘that long’ is,
                              3) I don’t know IF she would have brought it back…
                              So yesterday I went out and got the Canon Powershot A85. I was after the A95 – but it was $200 more than I paid with the only differences being one megapixel and no fold-out-and-pivot LCD screen – both of which I can [gulp] live without. On the plus side, it takes AA batteries, which I prefer, and compact flash cards – one of which I already own (thank you D & R).

                              So last night, when M and I went on a date to the Astor to see Coffee & Cigarettes and Maria Full of Grace, I took my first little movie. We were sitting underneath a speaker…

                              Headache gone from naming that song

                                Ohhh. This would save my brain in such a big way. I would probably gain a year of life from having this little gadget. Tres cool…

                                There will soon be no need to wait for the DJ to back-announce the title and artist of a great new song he’s playing on the radio. Just dial a number on your mobile phone, hold the handset next to the radio, and the answer is sent as an SMS…

                                Kiss My Butt Dylan Perry

                                  OK, so I’ve been labelled a whinger. Naturally, my lovely friend who utilised the term is safely in the US, though unfortunately not in Mississippi with Katrina.

                                  The truth is, I have malaise. I have ennui. The hysterical truth is that I am actually working at work and thus my regular time for blogging has been kicked in the guts. I can’t seem to organise myself out of my routine of the last three years. I’m sure it will happen. But at the same time I am having trouble sharing. That’s right. I don’t like sharing. Some things. M and I are sharing my laptop at present, and although he is quite happy, and I couldn’t think of a better person to share my beloved with (except maybe a total luddite who wasn’t interested in using it, ever) I still feel like I am being a hog when I use it at night, or during the day on weekends.

                                  Which is why I am poking around at alternatives. Some involve money and some do not. Right this second there is a manky little laptop whirring away to my right as I install DSL on to its puny 2GB hard drive. If M looks at it and spits, I won’t chastise him (sorry Dennis).

                                  My more frivolous, self indulgent option (which is where the money comes in) is to yield to my yearning for a Mac, and give M my laptop. I’m thinking of a souped up G3 Powerbook – a ‘Pismo’. From what I read online, a fair amount of people consider the Pismo to be their favourite Apple laptop. Although it came out in 2000, it was – sorry, is – very upgradable.

                                  Another option is to just get M some old Thinkpad or Tecra from Ebay that will just run Firefox and Photoshop, which seem to be his two main requirements. We ponder here at [miaow] – we waste valuable time pondering while we should be concentrating on getting our recording rig set up. On that front, M has been my researcher, and we are a hair’s-breadth away from going with the EMU 1820 – and we are then going to build the machine around it. A lovely stable and silent machine that once functioning, will not be tweaked.


                                    Later I will post a picture of our room. It’s kind of like a library. Not only did M build three gorgeous bookshelves, but he found two more in a secondhand shop that matched them. Now we have five. All my books are finally unpacked (except all my plays – what am I going to do with them?) and very anally arranged in alphabetical order. I have a crime fiction section that occupies about eleven shelves! And I just began looking at LibraryThing with appraising eyes. I think I’m going to have to do it – after I wipe the hard drive on my laptop and start anew. If I can’t have a Mac, at least I can have a semi-zippy ThinkPad.

                                    Note To Self: try to remember not to brandish around new announcements online before checking whether the family of the anouncees have been informed of said announcement [bangs head gently and repeatedly against wall]

                                    I Wanna Nano

                                      The Nano appeals to me greatly. I don’t need more than 1000 songs on something I’m going to carry around. And it looks like it’s tiny. Pencil thin. Ohhh, I must put in my tax return so I can semi justify my lusting.


                                        OMG. I’ve just seen what this site looks like in Internet Explorer 6 – it’s completely revolting. Dis-gust-a-rama. This is what I get f0r being narrow minded and only using Firefox. Jeeez. I have some work to do when I get home. Horror! (Or, just maybe, this computer I’m on has some weirdo settings enabled and doesn’t allow CSS or has it’s own webpage styles turned on in the browser. Fingers crossed.)

                                        The Rig

                                          It’s been too sunny to blog. Which isn’t exactly true. I spent most of Friday in the garden with myself in the sun, the laptop in the shade, researching my recording rig – which is proving to be quite frustrating. It seems that new motherboards appear all the time – I am trying to track down one that is recommended by Bob Lentini (who is the inventor of SawPro, SawStudio etc).

                                          So, for the geeks out there, this is what I have so far come up with in regard to what I’m after.
                                          Seagate 8M IDE 120g x 2
                                          Asus P4C800-E Deluxe
                                          Zalman CPU fan
                                          1GB PC4200 DDR2 Corsair (2x512MB)
                                          Matrox G450 DualHead video card (I know it’s old, I don’t care)
                                          EMU 1820M
                                          Coolermaster Real Power 450W Silent Power Supply
                                          Intel P4-630 3.0G CPU 2MB Cache 775pin
                                          GMC X-21 Trinity Case
                                          Some CDRW

                                          All I have so far is the EMU 1820M, which is the main thing. I am also thinking of an external hard drive usb case, but I’m a bit vague on what kind to get as I’m not sure what size normal Seagate IDE hard drives are… Am also wondering whether the CPU I have chosen is compatible with the motherboard, but it’s now midnight and I’m too tired to find out. Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow. Anyway, this is what has been occupying my brain for the past few days (as has Hell To Pay – a George P. Pelecanos novel which has held me spellbound for three days. It’s tres excellent…)

                                          Geek Out! Part 1

                                            So today I picked up almost the last bits of my much researched ensemble. The computer case and the power supply. I could finally begin building my DAW. Get used to the geeky term DAW. It stands for Digital Audio Workstation. Ha! I have replaced a motherboard before, swapped hard drives, mucked about with cards and RAM, but I have never built a computer from the ground up before. Well, not without someone geekier than me holding my hand (thanks, Dyl).

                                            Once I spread all the bits and pieces out, I was fairly convinced that I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

                                            Bits and pieces

                                            However. I did deep breathing and took it one step at a time. (E cooking me dinner helped too.) It couldn’t be worse than a bad bikini wax (note to self – never go back to that place in Sandringham again. ever). I tried very hard to follow all the instructions, which was a little bit hard for some of the time, as my case DIDN’T COME WITH ANY. I also had no idea what ‘thermal interface material’ was and whether I had any. After some googling, and poking about in the CPU/heatsink packet, I decided that it was already included (fingers crossed) on the basis that it would be stupid to sell it without it. [looks hopeful]

                                            So as of 25 minutes to midnight I’ve got the motherboard in the case, the hard drives, power supply and cd drive installed and was just about to embark on connecting up all the wires, when startlingly, common sense prevailed. I will resume tomorrow with a clean brain. But in the meantime, here’s the proof that I got my hands dirty…


                                            Geek Out! Part 1.2

                                              Erm. So I’m still building my DAW. Am having a few issues (fear, knowing very little, horror). I am wondering if anyone out there can help me… [looks hopeful...again]. Non geeks can tune out for this request. There’s this thing on my motherboard – the Gigabyte K8NS Ultra-939 – where you attach all the front jumper wires for the front panel i.e. the power switch, reset button, etc. So, I’ve been getting a lot of help from the AMD Socket-939 DIY Guide. I’ve attached the right jumpers to the right bits, but as my case is different from the one they use in the guide, I have two wires left that I don’t know where to plug! I have one called RESET LED (which is two wires) and another called GRD (which I’m gathering stands for ‘ground’ – and is only one wire). Neither of these are mentioned in the guide, and I have gaps in my front panel section, as I have only one POWER LED wire instead of two, and no HARD DRIVE LED wires. I’m wondering whether I put the RESET LED and the GND. Any idea?

                                              I have to get myself a monitor still, but I’m too scared to connect the power before I know exactly where these wires go. Here is my whole rig (a little bit different from my original plan):

                                              Gigabyte K8NS Ultra 939
                                              AMD Athlon 64bit 3000+
                                              EMU 1820M sound card & breakout box
                                              Seagate 7200 8MB 160g hard drive
                                              Seagate 7200 8MB 120g hard drive
                                              Corsair Value Select 2x512MB RAM
                                              Lite-On 52x52x32 CR-RW
                                              Matrox G450
                                              Seasonic S12 430w power supply
                                              GMC X-21 Trinity case

                                              P.S. Am wondering if the voltage of the Matrox 450 is compatible with the motherboard, but as I can’t find out what voltage it is, I’ll just have to wait and see

                                              Freak Mouse

                                                More on Meredith later when I go through my photos… but in the meantime, I turned up to work today (feeling a bit bedraggled) and my new mouse had arrived! I’ve been having some trouble with my shoulder, and took it to the osteopath last week. While he was torturing me working on it, Craig The Osteopath quizzed me about my computer usage and suggested that a change in mouse was due. He recommended one where your hand remains in a kind of handshake position. I relayed this information to lovely L.I at work and voila! a new mouse arriveth! The company that we got it from are pretty amazing, as they send you the mouse to try out for a week or so, and if you don’t like it you can send it back free of charge. It sort of looks like a piece of rounded cake…

                                                Optus is Crap. Scrapbook is Good.

                                                  We use OptusCable for our internet connection in our current house. It was already all hooked up when we moved in. I bought a wireless router and a couple of wireless network cards, and M and I were very happy with our wirelessly connected lappys. However. I have begun noticing that whenever the weather gets fairly hot (like yesterday, and those 40 degree days a week or so ago) we lose our internet connection. I called Optus and flexed my old help desk muscle and got them to tell me that it was defnitely at their end and not at ours. And this was confirmed this morning when I read this on Whirlpool.

                                                  It’s very annoying. And as I’m not the account holder, there’s not really much I can do about it. But – I did remember the other night that I used to use the Scrapbook extension for Firefox. I installed the latest version the other night and saved myself some articles that I wanted to read through at a later date. So last night when I got home and, what a surprise, our connection was down, I just used Scrapbook to go through and read what I’d saved. It’s a very cool extension.


                                                    This might be a useful tool if you’re like me and have accounts at flickr, allconsuming, 43things, delicious etc. It’s called SuprGlu (don’t ask me why neither of those words have an ‘e’ – maybe it’s the new cool thing…) and it basically pulls in feeds from all of your accounts with those aforementioned services. Maybe good and nifty, maybe not. Have to play with it a bit more. Here’s mine at

                                                    Oh. And say hello to Ian, my friend in northern NSW who has succumbed to the lure of blogging. He’s getting geekier by the week and is hanging out over at dotdotdot

                                                    Just so it’s down on…er…paper?

                                                      There may be some [miaow] issues soon, as I’m sick to death of the way this thing looks, and want nothing more than a good hard… geek session, where I will upgrade my WordPress installation and grapple with a new layout and all the gnashing and slashing that entails. I have always liked the look of What Do I Know? and I also like Kartar’s site (as you can see, I’m into those little tabby things at the top) although I much prefer my side column on the left. Anyway, with my next few days full of steam cleaning, grouting, shed building and finding a copy of The Hot Kid in a place where internet banking is viewed with suspicion…my nights will hopefully be spent playing with kittens and giving [miaow] a revamp. As some famous political slogan put it – IT’S TIME.

                                                      Redesigning my B-R-A-I-N

                                                        I’ve been working on the redesign of this site every night for a week. I have only made progress over the past two nights, and there are still some evil bastard bits that won’t work yet. People have left comments, but it continues to say ‘No Comments’ – grrr. The FAlbum plugin which puts that cute little picture over there in the top left looks great – but don’t bother clicking on the picture, because it DOESN’T WORK – and over here are all the other poor people that can’t make it work either. So I’m not alone in my nuffiness, but it feels like it.

                                                        I am sort of geeky, but definitely nowhere near as geeky as I need to be to make all this stuff work. Every. Single. Time. that I redesign my WordPress site I get stuck in all the convoluted madness of php (I’m sure there are php guru’s sitting there reading this, shaking their heads and sipping at their JOLT! cola – please, give me more of your pity!). I’ve given up for the night. I have a very exciting thing arriving in the morning. Fingers crossed…

                                                        Chronological Archives

                                                          Creative? Or just tight?

                                                            I kind of knew what I was getting myself into when I made the switch to a Mac. I knew that it would involve what I, in my pc swap meeting life, would term as serious money. What I didn’t realise was that once I had outlayed the ‘serious money’ it pretty much meant I would then have to outlay more (the mini dvi converter cable to my lcd monitor) and more (the 2gig of RAM I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy yet – at least $300) and probably even more…on THE CASE.

                                                            My MacBook can swim laps in my trusty Kathmandu laptop case. And I use the MacBook for both my jobs. Something had to happen, but I am fairly adverse to spending even more money on this thing. One of the reasons I got the Mac is because they look cool, and thus it followed that I wanted an equally cool case. However, all the ones I like are $100 and over. What a surprise. Then I stumbled on a post over at isoglossia which I thought was quite inspiring.

                                                            As M had finally released my toolbox from it’s two month prison inside the boot of my car, I decided to have a bash. I’d already bought an old sleeping mat ($2) and some gaffer tape ($6). So here is how I made my EIGHT DOLLAR MacBook sleeve. Ha! I just followed all the directions from here. The end result is not really asthetically heart stopping…

                                                            My DIY MacBook Case
                                                            My DIY MacBook Case

                                                            …but it’s snug, protected, and gagging for me to make it a groovy material cover out of some funky fabric. And it was E.I.G.H.T D.O.L.L.A.R.S – take that Apple shops!


                                                              Actually, I think the term is ‘unsecured’. I’ve often tried, but have never stumbled on an unsecured wireless network. Until NOW! I’m in at my new office [groan] and there is no LAN or internet access until next week. I started out working in my boss’s office this morning – only one wireless network popped up, and it was secure. Later I moved into my new little cubbyhole, and my laptop kindly enquired as to whether I would like to join a different network. I said yes. Yay me. I can now check my email. And a few other things. I’m assuming it’s coming from the apartments next door… And the port I use for BitTorrent is also open… hmmmm. Now watch me battle with my conscience.

                                                              Insecurity Update

                                                                After the veritable FLOOD of comments (well… 12) that my innocent dabbling in an unsecured wireless network generated, I thought I might provide a little update. Having been chastised by someone with the pseudonym of ‘Andrew Bolt’, my conscience was a bit twitchy. I asked my most geeky friend [husband of L] what I should do. He suggested that considering the person in question was such an obvious nuffer, they definitely wouldn’t have changed their default login on their router. So I should try and find out who made their router, find the default login and then gain access to their router, where I would most probably find their email address.

                                                                After very quietly changing the default username and password on my own router [groan] I did what had been suggested to me. And then I had a further thought. I wondered how much information I could glean from what I had discovered. So I googled the email address. It turned out that the email address was listed on a kind of community businesses directory, along with the person’s name, business address and phone number. From there it was a short leap to stick the name into the WhitePages and discover the home address. Bizarre. (I did always yearn to be a detective.)

                                                                The weird thing was that the wireless network was not in one of the apartments nearby, but further down the street. No wonder the speed wasn’t great ;) – anyway, I decided that the most anonymous way of alerting the person to the situation was to actually post them a letter, with directions on how to secure their network. I sent a draft of the letter to L, who responded in typical crime aficionado style – warning me to post it from somewhere obscure, while wearing gloves, on the stroke of midnight.

                                                                However, I belatedly realised that a large portion of my morning had been wiped out by my investigative zeal and that I had a whole days work to get through. So I have yet to edit my instructional letter according to L’s feedback, but I will. And then I will post it. My first good deed for the year.

                                                                A tale of two macbooks

                                                                  In the end, after having a macbook for about four months, I have decided to persevere. Mostly because everything looks so much more aesthetically pleasing, and also because I feel like I haven’t even remotely taken advantage of all the cool stuff lurking under the bonnet. I want to be apple script savvy, for god’s sake.

                                                                  I was still unprepared to pay over $200AU for 1GB RAM, but meanwhile I was going insane from the slowness, the incessant seconds given to the interior musing of the macbook. Yeah – I had a lot of space clagged up with movies and music, but I still had about 13GB free – which was how big my ThinkPad hard drive was [sob] in its entirety. A few years back 512MB was gutsy. Now? It is pain.

                                                                  And I couldn’t just buy 1GB – noooo, for the full wonder of duo core, it’s recommended that you have the same amount of RAM in both slots i.e. ‘duo’. I was getting stuck in cyber glue if I tried to run Word, Entourage, Firefox and Excel at the same time. And forget about running Bits on Wheels with more than one other program, or it was Welcome to Slugsville. Population? Me.

                                                                  It took a month or two of musing, and lots of time spent noodling around at looking to see the minimum I could pay to buy a macbook with better specs. I also spent too much time on trying to figure out how much I could probably get for my little bottom-of-the-range-but-very-cute macbook. I emailed numerous US ebay sellers about how much postage to Melbourne, Australia would cost, and was cynically unsurprised at the wild variations.

                                                                  I finally found a couple of different sellers with whom I thought I could get a good deal. And I had also established that I could probably get between $1300 and $1400 for the one I already had. After wasting even more time and missing out on a few good deals I gave myself a kick up the butt and decided that the next time a particular seller had the right laptop, I was going to do the deed.

                                                                  Not last week but the week before, I bought my second macbook. (I’ve decided to get into the nitty gritty of this whole experiment, mostly so I can remember it later – so I’m going to have to be impolite and mention the amounts of moola that were involved. I had paid $1300AU for my original macbook.) I’d signed up for alerts to tell me when the seller put a new secondhand laptop up on ebay. So this is what I got:

                                                                  Intel Macbook
                                                                  2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
                                                                  4MB shared L2 cache
                                                                  1GB (two 512MB SO-DIMMs)
                                                                  60GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive
                                                                  6x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
                                                                  Cost: $1100US/$1440AU
                                                                  Postage: $70US/$90AU

                                                                  So I got it for $1540AU, including postage. And as it was being posted, someone helpfully reminded me about one VERY important angle that I had managed to completely neglect. Import duty. As my laptop was in transit I visited that site and almost coughed up my own lung in self flagellating horror – because my purchase was over $1000 I was going to be up for $325 in import duty.

                                                                  I couldn’t tell M of the debacle. I was about to have to pay what it would have cost me if I had decided on the unadventurous path of merely just upgrading my RAM. I whimpered to everyone in my vicinity, including the computer guy who came into work. He said he knew someone who was after a macbook, and also thought he’d be interested in buying my dead ThinkPad for parts. “Whatever”, I said, miserably.

                                                                  I got home on Thursday night and there was the package. It had taken all of about four days to arrive. I looked at M. He didn’t look like someone who had just had to fork over $325 in order to extract a secondhand laptop from the post office. I tiptoed over and read the postage label. And floated on bubble of gratitude. The seller had ticked ‘Gift’. And had thus rendered me tax free. I know that this is not legal. I also know that I don’t care. As I had been saved from having the whole exercise becoming redundant, I confided to M what might have been. Eeek.

                                                                  A few days later, the computer guy asked whether I would take $1400 for my old macbook and ThinkPad. I said I had been hoping for a bit more, but was unwilling to push my luck. I do the handover on Tuesday. He gets a very good deal, and I have paid $140AU for a 2Ghz macbook (compared to a 1.8Ghz), a SuperDrive (compared to a non-DVD burning combodrive) and 2x512MB (compared to 2x256MB). My new macbook is a bit more battleworn with a lot of scratches on the outside casing, but it’s the inside zippiness that is my concern – and it’s SO much better.

                                                                  The fact that my new macbook also came with the full Macromedia, Microsoft Office, WorldBook 2006 and Adobe CS2 (to name a few) didn’t hurt either. However, I will now be much more careful about the import duty angle…!!

                                                                  Save space on yer macbook

                                                                    Don’t know how many people reading this even have a macbook. Probably not many. I don’t personally know anyone who does. But anyway, this is t’internet and someone might be keen to know how I resurrected 4GB from my hard drive, which had previously been concerned with useless muck. Can’t remember how I got on to it. Either Digg or Lifehacker, but anyway – a very nice program called ‘Monolingual’ gets rid of extraneous language files that are sitting around doing a lot of nothing. It saved me 2.9GB – and I didn’t even go near the bit that removes non-Intel architectures from my computer.

                                                                    Also, another clogger are the the 2GB or so of printer drivers that came with my computer. I was careful. I moved them all into a folder on my desktop prior to any deleting. Then I installed Gutenprint (formerly Gimp-Print), which worked much better with the old Samsung laser printer at work. Now I just have to see if it will also work with my home printer – an ancient HP LaserJet 6L – which I am convinced will continue printing until the end of time, or until people stop making drivers for it.

                                                                    Dollar Signs – Currency Whine

                                                                      I am becoming fascinated with the disparities of price in between the US and Australia. I know that our dollar is fairly crap, but still… I can get 1GB RAM for my macbook for $125US ($162AU) new from US Ebay, but over here it is about fifty bucks more – about $225AU. I was just having a look at the cost of AppleCare – the thing that gives you a further two year warranty on the one year warranty you get with your Mac.
                                                                      AppleCare for a macbook in the US?
                                                                      $250US which equals $322AU

                                                                      AppleCare for a macbook in Australia?
                                                                      $420AU which equals $325US

                                                                      So to buy AppleCare for my macbook in Australia it would cost $98AU more than if I bought it in the US. Which is where I bought my macbook. This sucks. Not that I am going to get it, because I’m almost sure it would be a waste of money… except that things seem to happen in threes. My first ThinkPad was struck by lightning, my second ThinkPad developed a fatal case of dead motherboard… and…

                                                                      I’ll leave it there. The most recent ThinkPad was taken off my hands today for a small amount of cash. And I bet the guy who took it is going to make about a 500% profit on it when he fits it with a new motherboard, which is something I was too scared (read ‘both lazy and intimidated’) to try.

                                                                      Toffee apple red

                                                                        Last night, the P.O box spat out my latest Ebay items. I treated myself to a polycarbonate hardcase for the macbook, because it was all scratched on the outside. It’s pretty cool. It looks like this:

                                                                        My new macbook case

                                                                        and this…

                                                                        My new macbook hardcase

                                                                        It fits on very well, although the lid part could be a weensy bit more snug. It’s great though, because you can’t see the scratches and I’m less worried about leaving it lying around. The red does get fingerprint smears, but I don’t care – that’s what it’s there for. At my city job, the CEO saw my macbook a month or two ago, and when I went in last week he had bought himself a blackbook – which I’ve always thought are more sexy than the white ones – but his had handprints all over the matte blackness. So you might pay a good $300 just for blackness, but you still need to wear gloves when you grab it.

                                                                        In other gripes, the new install of WordPress has killed my image borders. I’m working on it.

                                                                        Extend your ring length…

                                                                          An interesting anatomical modification? No. Just a tip that may help some people with mobile-phone rage. Each time I’ve swapped phones in the last two months (twice) I have had to siphon through google with gritted teeth trying to remember how to extend the amount of time my phone rings when someone calls. It would just ring about three times and then go to message bank. A recipe for rage, especially after making death defying leaps toward my handbag, tipping it upside down, only to have the ringing cease immediately. Oddly, this is not specific to the kind of phone you have, but the phone company you use (or who uses you).

                                                                          So. If you are with Telstra or one of the mobs that use them, extend your ring by typing in **61*101**25# and then pressing the ‘send’ button. Then test it.

                                                                          If you’re with Optus (and therefore VirginMobile, iSim, etc.) type in **61*321**30# and press the ‘send’ button. It works.

                                                                          I feel instantly calmer.

                                                                          Printing from OSX to HP Laserjet 6L. FINALLY.

                                                                            Oh. My. God. A major breakthrough today. For months I have struggled with trying to get my old and excellent HP Laserjet 6L printer to print from my MacBook. Was desperate enough to hook it up to the Windows computer and then try and print by sharing the printer from there. It has been the stuff of teeth grinding infuriation. I was reduced to ‘printing’ stuff to a pdf file on the mac, transferring it to the pc and then printing from there. But no more!!

                                                                            It’s a wonderful thing that happens when you stumble on a few minor bits of extra information which can revolutionise your previously uninspired googling. My first win was finding out that when you go into the printer setup utility and then click on ‘more printers’ while holding down the option key (of course, how else would you do it?) you get an advanced menu option. Naturally. Anyway, to give credit where it’s due, I got that vital bit of information from here.

                                                                            But I still couldn’t print. And then, while searching for instructions that included that little trick with the option key, I found a post entitled Printing to windows shared printers from Mac OS X. I was a bit worried that I didn’t have a password to enter for my pc, but just left it out and it didn’t seem to matter. I almost fell on the floor when the printer shuffled into life.

                                                                            Of course, that had been my modest aim, but as soon as it worked, I had to take the further step and try and see if I could plug the usb cable from the printer directly into my mac, and print that way. I’d read, in my google rambles, all about how it matters what kind/brand of printer usb cable you have – particularly as old laser printers are pre-usb. Complete crap. Mine is just some old usb printer cable that I’ve had for at least seven years. A lot of other posts went on about the need for a print server thingy. Wrong.

                                                                            I went through all this on my first MacBook and never solved the problem. But one thing I did do when I got this new one was delete all the preinstalled printer drivers (saving myself 2gig) and installed the Gutenprint drivers. I kept looking and on some forum in deepest, darkest somewhere I found a link to a truly simplistic page entitled Tutorial how to connect a Parallel-Printer to Mac via USB – I was made very hopeful by the fact that the person who put the tutorial together also had the Laserjet 6L. There was hope after all!

                                                                            I didn’t end up being able to print as a result of that page (due to not knowing what the hell a usb device url was supposed to be), but it prompted me to keep looking and I stumbled on an even more encouraging post [Macosx-list] Re: SUCCESS!! Mac 10.2/Belkin Parallel to USB/LaserWriter Select 360 and the key piece of information contained on that page was as follows:

                                                                            I attempted to manually select the LWS 360 driver by holding down the option key while clicking add and using the “advanced” settings. I chose “unkown” for the device, rather than “AppleTalk Printer Acess Protocol”, which was the default. This was the only choice that resulted in the “device URL” being automatically completed. I then chose “Apple” for printer model and then it let me select the LWS 360 from a sublist. After adding the printer, I selected “show information” from the “printers” menu and changed the name to something more head compatible. I also changed the “installable options” to recognize the sheet feeder. AND IT WORKED FLAWLESSLY!!

                                                                            And mine worked flawlessly too. It didn’t seem to matter that they were installing a different printer, it was just HOW they did it. Incidentally, I used the driver “HP Laserjet 5 CUPS+Gutenprint 5″. So it can be done! I hope this saves some other poor person out there who doesn’t want to give up on their old laser printer just because their new mac makes it all unnecessarily hard.

                                                                            Skitch invites

                                                                              I don’t have many friends that would probably be that interested in Skitch (for Mac owners only), but I think it’s super cool. It’s made by the same guys that came up with Comic Life. I have five three NONE LEFT! invites if you would like to try it out. Email me: miaow AT miaowthecat DOT com and I’ll send you one if you like.


                                                                                Sometimes you just happen upon a site that some thoughtful person has put together because they’ve had trouble figuring something out. I tried to do this with my revelatory (and lengthy) experience of getting my macbook to speak nicely to my ageing HP Laserjet. Anyway, I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress tonight – 2.2.1 and in all the faffing about that went with that I started to wish for the days when I had my site setup (somehow) in DreamWeaver so it wasn’t such a headf*#k to edit the layout.

                                                                                That led me to wondering whether there was yet a simple way to make changes to the site offline so I could tweak away at my leisure and not do millions of uploads, breaking the site in the process. I have tried to do this before, BUT! not on a Mac. So after a few googles, and instructions that included using Terminal (something I am not cluey enough to use…yet) I found Michael Doig’s instructions for installing WordPress locally. He reckoned if you follow his instructions, you could have it up and running in 15 minutes. He wasn’t wrong.

                                                                                I installed the very exciting almost newbie-proof MAMP and it was all reasonable straightforward (though it did tend to assume that you were familiar with doing a WordPress install – which might bite a few people who use Fantastico auto-install magic). Anyway, with a bit more poking around I am going to be able to work on [miaow] offline and no one will be the wiser. This will obviously be of no relevance to anyone who has not suffered the hell that is the broken website resulting from endless design tweaks by someone who is generally fumbling in the dark – but hey, I can’t be the only one who has suffered.

                                                                                The MSY Mystery

                                                                                  The computer I sorted for my dad about four or five years ago had finally begun to falter, and seeing it was fairly antiquated and computers are so cheap at the moment, I offered to build him a new one. This was going to be the second computer I’d attempted to cook up – the first is documented here. And of course, since my father was almost a child of the Depression, he has an inbuilt necessity to ‘make do’ until ‘making do’ is rendered impossible. Thus, he needed a new computer yesterday.

                                                                                  So I spent a few hours on the net checking out Charles Wright’s latest workhorse machine – where he builds exactly that, and includes the cost of all the parts. The forums on the Bleeding Edge site also proved useful, as did the exhaustive and excellent From my time doing IT kind of stuff at Momentum I’ve been using MSY to buy hardware (or ebay), because they’re cheap. Back then, they had one shop. Now they are becoming the La Porchetta’s of the computer world.

                                                                                  Anyway, I used used their latest advertisement to cost all the parts I was after (remembering that this is not some pimped up gaming machine, but a quick and reliable workhorse to preserve the sanity of my father). I came up with this:

                                                                                  Gigabyte 965P-DS3P – $149
                                                                                  Intel C2Duo E2160 – $112
                                                                                  Seagate 160g SATA – $65
                                                                                  2G Kit-667(2x1G) Corsair – $109
                                                                                  Pioneer SATA 18x 212D Black – $50
                                                                                  Antec NSK6500 (with 430w PS) – $139
                                                                                  Viewsonic VA1912W 19′ – $245
                                                                                  TOTAL – $869

                                                                                  Right. I am sure that proper hardcore geeky people could pick it all apart and provide a much better group of working parts, but it was the best I could do in the time I had. It just so happened that we had to go near the MSY shop in Malvern the next day, so I needed to get it all sorted by then. I printed out the above list. We went to MSY. I handed over the list. They handed it back. Because although they list all this stuff in their advertisement? That doesn’t mean it’s in stock. Of COURSE. I won’t even tell you what they didn’t have, and will just say that they DID have the hard drive and the DVD burner – but only in beige. And that was it.And therein lies the problem of only being a part time geek. I only knew stuff about the components I had chosen, and that was about it. Sigh. So we asked them to call their Clayton shop, but the number was constantly engaged. It was kind of on the way home, so we dropped in.

                                                                                  I had become more decisive during the drive, and decided that if they also didn’t have what I wanted, I would improvise, and my father would have to cope with spending a little bit more. Of course – his other option would have been to go out and drop $500 on a new prebuilt bargain box (with potentially dodgy, or at least lowest common denominator, bits in it) and a monitor and get out of the whole thing for about $750 – but I am convinced it was better to spend a bit more and know what’s been put where. Kind of like making your own cake or using a packet mix.Of course, the Clayton shop was almost as bad.

                                                                                  They had the case, the dvd burner (in black – yay!) and the hard drive. I had to upgrade the motherboard to a GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3R $177, they were out of Viewsonic monitors, so I went for the LG L194WT-SF $232, they had no Corsair 2gig RAM kits, so I got Kingston – same price, and the CPU was out of stock, so I had to pay more and get an E4400 for $145. Sigh. Oh. And the more computery among you may have wondered what I was trying to do – building a computer without a graphics card? Yes. Well. I did have a graphics card that I planned on using in the back of the cupboard, but of course, it was AGP (i.e. the wrong size) so I had to rectify that and, after convincing the computer shop guy that the most exciting combination of colours my dad’s computer was ever going to have to display would be contained in yet another red carpet shot of Salma Hayek and that he would not be playing graphically intense shoot-em up games, I got a cheap graphics card that will be more than adequate.

                                                                                  Building my second computer

                                                                                  [Please forgive dodgy quality of above picture, which was taken on my phone because I need to get around to recharging the batteries in my camera.]

                                                                                  Oh. OK. The title. The MSY Mystery. It’s just that I began to ponder. How many people does it happen to? They go into the shops with their little lists and there (probably) equally little budget, only to find that none of their hard-researched components are actually available and, guess what? There are slightly more expensive ones instead. Naturally, I’m assuming, within my theory, that most people are putting together machines they needed yesterday, if not a week ago, and are thus able to justify an extra hundred bucks. But I have now learnt my lesson, and next time? I will telephone/fax in advance, and have the items procured and put aside for me. I think they suggest that on their webiste… D’oh.

                                                                                  Apple Form Factor Evolution 76-07

                                                                                    This is a kind of cool picture/chart of Apple products…

                                                                                    Background tinkering

                                                                                      A while ago I wrote about how I was mucking around with MAMP so I could run an install of WordPress locally. It has been a godsend for tinkering with my new site. I’ve been poking around with it for about two months now – usually until I begin to pass out at around the witching hour of 10.30pm (y-a-w-n).

                                                                                      The template I decided on, after much trawling, is the Upstart Blogger Modicus by Robert Ellis. It is – but of course, tweaking around with the css, and various WordPress plugins, archive formatting and general layout is agony. I have to learn as I go. M wasn’t convinced that the redesign was a good idea, but now he likes the look. The other great thing about the theme is the support that Robert Ellis provides in the comments on the aforementioned site – he is patient with nuff nuff’s like myself.

                                                                                      So the point of all this seemingly pointless information? I am actually alive, but have been becoming so preoccupied with my shiny new layout, that I’ve been neglecting my online workhorse.

                                                                                      And… btw, real live prunes (six each morning) as well as hot water with lemon juice, porridge and walks around the paddock? They’re working. And I’m a much nicer person ;)

                                                                                      The new look

                                                                                        OK. This is way too late for me to be up and functioning, but I wanted to get this sorted before I head back to work tomorrow morning. There are probably a few hiccups and things I want to change. I find it desperately annoying that the titles of the books I’m reading don’t appear when you mouseover them. But hey. It’s all basically functional. And most importantly – it’s a CHANGE. Which is almost as good as a holiday…but not quite.

                                                                                        Geekery and whine

                                                                                          So I don’t get nearly as much time online as I used to have and when I am online I have to get proper things done – like blogging, banking, email – leaving not a lot of room for musing from site to site finding out about the cool, new and interesting. So it’s kind of exciting for me (in a lame kind of way) to have upgraded to Firefox 3.

                                                                                          It seems very cool. It looks better and runs quicker on my macbook. The main reason I got it was because OH MY GOD it lets me read PDF files inline. It is that precise thing that has made me turn again and again to Safari (only to give up, yet again, when I missed all my Firefox add ons too much). Of course, with the PDF excitement was one real annoyance – no ability to tag and post pages with delicious… Oops! I had a few minutes and I double checked – this IS available, and much better than before. Yay!

                                                                                          I also upgraded to Leopard – the latest OS for mac. Of course, in my lather to upgrade I forgot that 1) I have barely any space on my puny 60gig hard drive for all the fun stuff that comes with it – I even uninstalled ITunes a few weeks ago and moved all my music to the PC in the loungeroom in an effort to claw back some space [sob], and 2) The first law of upgrading is it will Most Likely Stuff Things Up. Goddamnit. In this case, my very hard won printer drivers. Gone. Cactus. Ka-put.

                                                                                          When I think back to how looooooong it took me to get my ancient HP Laserjet 6L printer working, I have some serious doubts about ever getting it working again. My time online should be currently devoted to researching baby led weaning and selling things on ebay to fund our week away at the end of the month.

                                                                                          But what I’d really like to do is get a big stonking hard drive for my laptop so I could run the lot – ITunes, IMovie, IPhoto etc. etc. without having to free up space all the time. We were given a very cool Sony video camera with a 30gig hard drive when PartyPie was born, but we basically have no editing software because there’s no point – we don’t have enough space to dump the data off the camera! Grrrr. I need to discover if I can just put any old kind of hard drive in my macbook – I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have to be some kind of uber-priced ‘apple’ brand. Anyone? Oh, and if anyone knows whether you can pull music into ITunes on a mac from a pc running ITunes on a LAN….? That would save me some valuable time in which I could be SLEEPING. :)

                                                                                          Old tech

                                                                                            I began cleaning out the study a little bit – starting with a crate of stuff I had taking up all the room at the top of the cupboard. Chucked out old network cards, graphics cards, leads, and am looking for somewhere to recycle a couple of dead mobile phones. I saved a few old hard drives, as I’m sure there are photos and stuff on there that might be fun to investigate sometime down the track.

                                                                                            I stumbled on my old Palm IIIx. It was this item that began my evil credit card spiral. I would even go so far as to say that I got a job, so I could get a credit card, purely to get myself the Palm IIIx – which at that time was over $600 *goggle* I loved it SO much. And over time I got a collapsible keyboard for it and the fabulous Pocketmail attachment. I could use it to blog and email wherever there was a payphone or mobile phone. It was seriously ace – particularly for boating holidays.

                                                                                            The Wikipedia entry for Pocketmail is quite hilarious, stating with apparent amazement that ‘it works with any phone, EVEN OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES’!! Good god! How extraordinary. It then adds sadly that the Australian Pocketmail has given up and now spends it’s time owning uranium mining prospects in Queensland and South Australia. Of course.

                                                                                            Super. But superseded. Woe.

                                                                                            There is no way I can get rid of this thing. I have given it permission to take up unnecessary space in my existence. Possibly there will be some lucrative future recurrence of interest in the Palm IIIx, and when there is I will be able to dig it out with a flourish – while PartyPie looks on uncomprehendingly…”But mum, where’s the colour on the screen gone?” And I will have to tell her that, once upon a time? There was this thing called monochrome…

                                                                                            Delicious Library 2

                                                                                              I like Allconsuming and LibraryThing for my reading and watching, but what I really want is something that creates a better looking list on my blog and also that isn’t too labour intensive i.e. not typing in a billion ISBN numbers or whatever.

                                                                                              For some reason I have found it difficult to google for what I’m after. I keep coming up with Shelfari…and AllConsuming and LibraryThing, and GoodReads…but just now? I FINALLY found something that looks AWESOME. Maybe some of you non-mac bibliophiles (yes, you over there in West Preston) should not read on. It might depress you that this application is just for the mac. I haven’t used it yet, but Delicious Library 2 looks super cool.

                                                                                              You can use your iSight camera, and take a picture of the barcode of your cd or dvd or book and it will pull up all related info. I am not sure that this is going to be any good for my extensive collection of Leslie Charteris Saint books, but I really want to give it a whirl.

                                                                                              I hate MacSpeech Dictate and so do two thousand Sikhs.

                                                                                                I got really excited earlier in the year when I read all the hype about the new dictate software for the Mac. I had always read how Dragon Naturally Speaking was the ultimate in dictation software, BUT it was only available for windows. I used to use it and found it quite good.

                                                                                                Now, with my left wrist having returned to a sad and sorry state, I have been looking for ways to avoid stressing it. My work paid for me to get a somewhat pricey USB headset (as stipulated by MacSpeech) and I began my relationship with the latest dictation software for the Mac. Which, incidentally, is made by the same people that make Dragon. Here’s the thing. On occasion, when the planets are aligned, I’m not slurring with tiredness and there aren’t too many words like ‘arch’ or ‘considered’ – it is curiously accurate. It seems to be able to deal with words like ‘supraspinatus’ and ‘foraminal’ and ‘CT scan’.

                                                                                                What it can’t do is LEARN. You can feed it lots of documents so it adds words to its vocabulary, but you can’t teach it to recognise words that it continually – really, c-o-n-t-i-n-u-a-l-l-y gets wrong. Many, many times I have begun speaking in a well modulated polite tone, but by the end of the paragraph I have transformed into a banshee, screaming TWO THOUSAND AND SIX. TWO THOUSAND AND SIX. YOU FUCKER. Because in my work, I have to mention dates almost more than anything else. And bloody Mac bloody Speech has some kind of glitch with how I say ’2006′. It types, without fail, the following variations;

                                                                                                • Two thousand Sikhs
                                                                                                • 2000 and Sikhs
                                                                                                • two thousand is sick

                                                                                                And can it type the word ‘considered’? No. It types ‘conceded’. Which is not quite the same thing. It’s a sneaky bloody program too. Just as I’m about to delete it forever, it will suddenly churn out paragraphs of pure and coherent prose, and lull me into a false sense of security. Only to tell me about the two thousand Sikhs a little bit later on. I have really begun to dread those files where the incident has occurred in that year.

                                                                                                The main problem is that I HAVE NO TIME. There is no time for me to remember, during the week, that MacSpeech is really probably not helping my working processes much at all. I only remember when it comes to a work day and I have to sit down and start getting through it. There is then no time to try and deal with it or find an alternative, because I have too much to get done.

                                                                                                Today, again, I was lulled. But the time has come to fight back. I am going to install VMWare (which enables me to put Windows on my Mac in a sort of virtual way), and then install Windows XP and then install Dragon Naturally Speaking – and see if the Dragon and I can’t make friends. Of course, this will all take time, and take up room on my ever dwindling hard drive. I will also have to train Dragon from scratch unless I can find some old speech files from two thousand Sikhs hanging around somewhere. But I’m at the point where I will do it. It is already fairly stressful trying to work from home in a tiny trailer etc. etc. etc. and dodgy software raising my already rising blood pressure is something I can do without.

                                                                                                Why on earth would you rush to release some software that Mac owners have been hanging out for in such a half arsed manner? Who would dream of putting out dictation software that has no ability to LEARN NEW WORDS? Huh? HUH? Goodbye MacSpeech. I gave you a good go. And now I’m going to bid you GOODBYE. Gah.

                                                                                                Holy Moly. Whinge and they will act. Mostly.

                                                                                                  I was whining about the utter craptasticness of MacSpeech Dictate the other day. You know, when I wasn’t harping on negatively about how horrible my life is and the sleep, the sleep. Ha.

                                                                                                  Anyway – I have had a google alert primed for any information about MacSpeech, in order to try and avoid the nightmare that has been the VMWare install (a breeze), the install of Windows XP (a breeze) the install of Dragon Naturally Speaking on aforementioned virtual operating system thingy (the nightmare). Today, again, I was stuck with two thousand Sikhs (2006) and two thousand sticks (2006) and vast amounts of other errors that I was UNABLE TO CORRECT.

                                                                                                  And guess what? I finished my work today. I also pretty much sorted out my tax (thank you for the reminders, L) and there, sitting snugly in my inbox, was a google alert listing all the places online that were talking about the update to the program. Not just any update, but one that allows you to spell the word that MacSpeech has just got wrong and thus TEACH IT NOT TO DO IT AGAIN. I am praying that they have also included the ability to make all numerals text and have killed that ridiculous auto-indent.

                                                                                                  I am going to persevere with this thing, and uninstall VMWare etc. and reclaim some valuable hard drive space.

                                                                                                  HP Laserjet works under Leopard. Woo!

                                                                                                    So this issue has plagued me for months. MONTHS I tell you. Finally, I solved it. There are a lot of pages out there with pissed off people saying “My old HP Laserjet won’t work since I upgraded my Mac to Leopard.” Damn right it won’t. I had to print via the Windows PC for the last six months for just this reason. But a few days ago? I sorted it. Yay me. This is how…

                                                                                                    Google for about forty minutes and freak out about how much time you are wasting while you’re supposed to be working. Stumble on a site that is not really related to the specific issue, but relates how, when you go to install a printer (and, unsurprisingly, your Laserjet does not appear) you right click on the toolbar and select ‘Customise Toolbar’ and then drag an ‘Advanced’ button on to the toolbar. This miraculously gives you access to extra printer options. Why? Who knows. Someone at Apple must have been feeling grumpy that day and thought “I know, I’ll hide these. That will REALLY piss a few people off.” And they succeeded.

                                                                                                    Anyway. Actually, you might not even have to do all that, because what really busted it open (I’m assuming you’ve installed all your Gutenprint drivers) was installing this: This is what made it work. If you need to find your printer’s usb url – a potentially troublesome task, go here and you can view them in your browser, providing the printer is installed.

                                                                                                    OK. I feel like the above is kind of garbled, but it should help someone with the specific issue that I had. I know there are people out there gnashing their teeth over this and having to print via their PCs. So hopefully it’s helpful. It’s really hot here at the moment though, and I have to go.


                                                                                                      Someone hacked my site. I have no time to type right now, but I found code in one of my backend files that points to a blogger homepage. I want to hunt this down and wreak some vengeance, but more importantly, I want to figure out how to stop it from happening again. ARGH!!! Here is someone else that has had the same thing happen – only one person on the whole rest of the INTERNET? I think I have to look a bit harder.

                                                                                                      Am very glad that this damage isn’t permanent, but am going to do a backup right now so I don’t have to relive the past hour fruitlessly searching for an unhacked copy of the file…. GRRRR.

                                                                                                      Same principle, but a lengthy leap

                                                                                                        Back in 1999 I began working for BigPond Tech Support, first in the EasyMail area (anyone remember that shortlived little service?) and then on the general dial up plans. It was my second ‘proper’ fulltime job and required wankishly corporate attire and individual workplace agreements – both of which revolt me, but both of which I put up with….

                                                                                                        I needed to eat, pay rent and, most of all, qualify for a credit card, with which I could purchase my heart’s desire. I already had a Gibson Ripper bass guitar, a Maton Phil Manning Standard matte black electric guitar, a Maton nylon string acoustic, a Humber Supersnipe, a MesaBoogie 15 inch speaker and a Marshall head and a computer that was probably cranking along on Windows 98SE ;)

                                                                                                        What more could I have possibly wanted (besides a small round caravan)? One of these:
                                                                                                        Palm Pilot IIIx
                                                                                                        A Palm Pilot IIIx. As soon as I read about it I was totally hooked. It had a touchscreen and it’s own shorthand language. And infrared, 4MB of memory and a backlit display. My desire could not be quenched. It cost SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS. And this, I am a bit embaressed to admit, is the only reason I got a credit card. And the only way I could get that credit card was to have a legitimately revolting job. Sigh.

                                                                                                        So I got my credit card. And immediately purchased my Palm. Some might say that such immediate gratification took the fun out of it all. Not so. I had to way t-h-r-e-e w-h-o-l-e months before the credit card mob would consider my job to be proper. Anyway, once I had it in my hot little hand, I took it everywhere. Over time I got a foldable keyboard (thanks, mum!)
                                                                                                        Palm One Foldable Keyboard
                                                                                                        …and the pinnacle of add-ons – the PocketMail Backflip (thanks, M!):
                                                                                                        PocketMail BackFlip
                                                                                                        Man – the PocketMail Backflip blew my tiny mind. I cannot overstate my admiration for it. Yeah – so it was kind of hit and miss using it in the USA, and it was thoroughly useless from Spain, but when it did work – it was excellent. Too bad they overpriced the PocketMail subscription service and didn’t allow a prepaid kind of setup. The technology was so simple and cool – to do with acoustic couplers.

                                                                                                        So that was my rig for a few years, until the person that sold me a stolen laptop on eBay tried to make amends by buying me hardware items of my choice, and I got a Palm Tungsten T3…
                                                                                                        Finally the Palm Pilot had some bling happening…which almost, but not quite, clouded over the fact that NONE of the accessories for the older models of Palm Pilots worked with it. And its battery life (goodbye to the handiness of AAAs) was crap. The beginning of the end of my Palm fascination. There was no way I was in a position to acquire new keyboards etc. and nor did I want to, as there was nothing wrong with the ones I already had (except planned obsolescence and incompatibility). Gah.

                                                                                                        The T3 and I remained in one of those long drawn out on-again, off-again relationships. We got all hot and heavy with the input of a new 512MB SD card (back then this was not so sniffy), and then my passion cooled with the absence of wifi and the finances to buy the add-on wifi-card. I had a brief dalliance with the Kodak MC3 (thanks, Dyl!) but it didn’t last.

                                                                                                        I was sick of carrying around a phone, a camera and no tunes – until M gifted me an 80GB iPod video, the morning of the day we found out about PartyPie. I had a variety of kind of blingy phones, inherited from SB, which all eventually died. And a couple of cameras, ending with a Canon Powershot A85, which came to a grinding halt about six months ago.

                                                                                                        Thus I was left with a phone inherited from my mother, the Siemens A50…
                                                                                                        Please Wait. ARGH!
                                                                                                        A phone which could expertly raise my blood pressure by flashing ‘PLEASE WAIT’ as it cogitated inwardly on the state of the world while I waited to find a phone number or a missed call. Coupled with this disaster was my replacement camera from T – which was better than nothing, although its favourite pastime of chewing through two AA batteries at every breath made our relationship equally fraught.

                                                                                                        With a recent injection of funds, M had a spasm of generousity about three weeks ago, and bought me an iPhone. He said it was a thank you for being a sleepless super-mum. Oh. My. God. How much does this thing kick all my other bits and pieces into a corner and jump on them? I am loving it. I had an initial problem, and the one I got had to be sent back to Apple, but the replacement I received is all smiles. Now I have camera, video, tunes and a phone in one very designer drool-slicked package.

                                                                                                        Here’s the thing. The outright cost (I am allergic to phone plans) made it the same as my Palm IIIx from TEN YEARS AGO. It is basically a beautiful demonstration of how handheld computers have morphed intervening period. The difference in the two is huge. God knows what will be the wonder-thing in ten years from now – but when a friend of mine called his iPhone “…a piece of shit that I’ll get rid of next year when they release a better one….” I could not have agreed less. It’s going to take longer than a year for me to stop worshipping this thing. It’s f@#$ing brilliant. YUM!
                                                                                                        Super BLING!

                                                                                                        File Transfer Protocol

                                                                                                          It has been a while, but I have yet again volunteered my services to set someone’s computer up for them – this time in an effort to stop them being fleeced by the computer guy at work. Well, not exactly fleeced – he’s a nice guy and he runs all the computers that they use at the office, but still…

                                                                                                          She was very tempted by the computer guy, who suggested he could set her up with a whizzbang rig that would only set her back around $800. It was totally over the top for her requirements, and she was going to have to borrow the money to do it. However, her daughter put her in touch with this kind of backyard setup in Gippsland, and I helped talk her into buying one from them. Therefore, my friend has got a refurbed computer that has more than enough grunt for her word processing, email and interweb…for $150.

                                                                                                          I promised to put Office 2007 on for her and generally set it up so it was ready to go when she gets it home and plugs it in. I went and picked it up yesterday – from a rundown suburban house that was humming with activity once you got to the front door and could see at least three people and a lot of computers. Looks like they’re on to a good thing!

                                                                                                          The computer is nothing special, the power supply is pussy, the hard drive is only 40g, there is a floppy drive etc. etc. – but seriously – she’s not into gaming, she thinks Photoshop is a verb, and compared to what she’s running at the moment – it’s MORE than adequate.

                                                                                                          Of course, it has taken me longer than I thought, installing this stuff. I had to find a *particular* file to help things along, and my USB drive was being finicky and not letting me copy files across. I had no other way to get the file over (I wasn’t going to even begin trying to set up a link between it and my macbook), didn’t want to waste a cd burning a 16MB file – so I uploaded it to my server, and then…fired up that old command prompt window on my friends machine and my fingers appeared to remember how to use ftp in that format!!

                                                                                                          Now I am really not geeky at all in comparison to some friends I know, but it did give me a little buzz that somewhere in my fatigued and slow moving brain, I still had some kind of semi-geek knowledge hanging about – even after three years of being a mac person and not having to use it. *grin*

                                                                                                          Of course, the zip file was cactus, so it wasn’t much use in the long run, and I instead borrowed M’s USB drive, which worked a treat. But that’s beside the point…


                                                                                                            A while ago I was reading over on Ruth’s blog about her love for her iPhone and some of her favourite apps. If you don’t have an iPhone, or covet one, tune out now. Apps are addictive – even the free ones. ESPECIALLY the free ones. But if you’re still reading, you know that. Right?

                                                                                                            Anyway, reading about someone else’s faves made me want to write about my own. I have only ever spent money on two apps – all the rest are free. And the ones I bought? So far, they suck.

                                                                                                            My favourite one by far is RSS Runner. I can see which of my favourite sites have new posts. It does lack the ability to bookmark things of interest, which is why I am open to suggestions about other options, but I use it every day.

                                                                                                            The New York Times app is kickass. I liked reading that while we were over there, and the app is so schmicko it is a joy to use. The Age seems like tabloid fodder in comparison. There. I said it.

                                                                                                            The ABC app is pretty good, but WHY isn’t iView integrated into it? WHY is iView not available over the iPhone? Surely there’s some hack out there to get around it – some kind of OS anonymiser thingy? Gah.

                                                                                                            Oh. The eBay app was a fave until it started crashing a few days back. SO useful for tracking things, and great to use. The Facebook app is the same kind of usefulness, only better.

                                                                                                            AllRecipes Dinner Spinner – this is cool. I like it – I just wish there was a way to keep it open on a recipe page without the iPhone not knowing you’re in the middle of combining all the ingredients and powering down like it’s supposed to.

                                                                                                            White Noise Lite – this has been useful for drowning out outside noise on occasion.

                                                                                                            The WordPress app – lets me post to this site while lying in a caravan in a driveway…almost anywhere. And that has to be a good thing.

                                                                                                            Tunin.FM iCar Radio – this lets you play lots of different radio stations from anywhere through your phone – which is great if, like me, you have great speakers in the kitchen (the only warm room in the house) but no FM radio. They just need to get a few more public radio stations on there, that’s all…

                                                                                                            Oh – I actually like the Pennytel app too – mostly because it saves me money – I can text using wifi and make calls using my iPhone over VOIP – that makes me very happy.

                                                                                                            Games? I’m not really into them, but even I have felt the addictive pull of Paper Toss.

                                                                                                            My two paid for apps? One was at one of my peaks of sleep deprivation. MagicSleep. It was the warning about not using it while driving or operating heavy machinery that tugged me in. I should have stuck with the free version – which would only play for 15 minutes – and made my own loop of it. Instead I paid five bucks for the full version and the actual loop THEY made is so obvious that it keeps me awake and furious at five minute intervals. And no – it never made Small Z go to sleep. It’s an app, not auditory Phenergan.

                                                                                                            The other paid app is McSweeney’s. And so far it’s a yawn. I am waiting to read something that doesn’t make me skip straight to their next article. I paid for this because I knew I wouldn’t get around to subscribing to the hardcopy. I wish One Story had an app. I wish Clues had one too.

                                                                                                            What would I like? A decent free weather app, a app, a BBM to iPhone app (Blackberry instant messaging), and…cheaper data! In the future, if I sell a few more small things on eBay – maybe I will treat myself to a paid weather app…or the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy official iPhone 30th anniversary edition…

                                                                                                            VOIP. Take two.

                                                                                                              In our last house I spent useless hours attempting to unlock a SPA-3000 that had been locked to Engin. I asked Engin to unlock it and found them surprisingly accommodating. Too bad that whatever they said they did never worked. Or I could never get it to work. This is all just part of my quest NOT to pay 30 bucks a month for the privilege of having a phone line.

                                                                                                              Cut to the new house. I pay Telstra $60 to get the phone connected so as to be able to ask Exetel (our ISP) to notice it and cut it off in order to activate nekkid ADSL2. I know beforehand that if Telstra twig that I’ve had the phone line deactivated within the first three months, they hit me with a $100 slap on the wrist just because I’ve made them feel unloved. Another reason why I don’t want to deal with them Ever Again. Like I needed another one.

                                                                                                              I tried again to make my SPA-3000 work, briefly, or maybe I just got it out to glare at it. I can’t remember. All I know is that in the last two weeks both M and I have lost our iPod headphone/microphone thingos, meaning that my iPhone is the only thing we can use VOIP on. Last weekend while at the world’s most excellent garage sale, I bought a cordless phone after much deliberation. Was I ever going to find the spare $70 to buy the Minitar MVA11A that would enable me to actually use the phone? Doubtful. But I hoped for serendipity.

                                                                                                              Serendipity came to say hello yesterday while I was at my mum’s. T brought home a huge tangle of geekware from the op-shop where he volunteers. In it was an SPA-2100. I brought it home. I plugged it in. I dicked around for about half and hour on the interweb before stumbling over the default user/password combo. Der. Was momentarily happy with that as it’s further than I’d got with the other stupid one. Then I read that in order to do any decent customising to make it work I needed the administrator username and password.

                                                                                                              I had established by this point that it was probably an ex-iPrimus VOIP box and read somewhere that the passwords were generated in some weird way. By this time, interupted many times by parenting crud, I was over it and frustrated. Finally, at about 10.45pm – waaaay too late for me to cope with, I gave up. And then I had one final puny thought. And dialled 1194 just to see. I remembered this number from when I was about eight – it still works – there is still the same man telling you the time. And…

                                                                                                              It worked. I couldn’t fucking believe it. If I had tried it as soon as I’d plugged the thing in it probably would have worked then as well. But HOW does it work?! I am a n00b. I don’t know what I’m doing. When I have used VOIP before it has been under the guise of Pennytel via my iPhone, Engin via my old VOIP box and Skype. I am calling out to any geek who has been bored enough to read this far. How is it working? I have the phone plugged into the SPA-2100 which is plugged into my modem/router. That’s it. Don’t get me wrong – it’s fantastic, but I’d like to know how it’s happening. I wish I could configure stuff through the admin section, but don’t want to bugger around too much anymore because I might bust the magic!

                                                                                                              VOIP. Take three.

                                                                                                                Uh oh. My ‘magic voip’? The phone that worked by the power of my all abidingly good karma and little else? The logical explanation for its magical wonder became apparent this morning when I answered a call from a woman who sounded like she was restraining herself from being very rude. She said;

                                                                                                                “Why are you answering my home phone number?”


                                                                                                                “I’m calling my husband at home and he’s not answering and now you’ve just answered… I called his mobile and he’s at home. Do you know what’s going on?”

                                                                                                                [My brain clicks into gear and I barely stop myself from shrieking D'oh!! D'oh!!!]

                                                                                                                “Ah,” I say carefully. “How weird. What actually is your home number?”

                                                                                                                She tells me and it sounds very familiar to the one I gave to Mr H last night while wittering…I don’t trust it but this appears to be our new phone number! I think the term is JINXED IT? Just mildly. She says she works for a telco and there has obviously been a problem with ‘provisioning’ and reels off some other impressive words that I fail to understand. She sounds like someone who works for a telco.

                                                                                                                “Our number is a data number, a VOIP number – it’s not the normal phone line,” she says.

                                                                                                                “Oh. I think that’s what ours is too. But we haven’t lived here very long and hardly ever use the number, soooo…”

                                                                                                                “How long have you had the phone on?”

                                                                                                                “Oh,” I say, sounding increasingly vague, “Probably just a week or two. Who’s your phone actually with?”

                                                                                                                She clinches it. “iPrimus.”

                                                                                                                Fuck it.

                                                                                                                “What about you?”

                                                                                                                For some reason I don’t lie, but I don’t think it matters. “Exetel.”

                                                                                                                “Well there’s obviously been some doubling up and both of them need to be notified so we can sort this out….”

                                                                                                                She continues in that vein for a while as I make the appropriate responses. We hang up after I assure her that I can call her back as I now have her mobile number on her phone. Thankfully, she doesn’t ask for mine. I run to the study and yank the power out of the VOIP box. Goddamnit, I knew magic VOIP was too good to be true.

                                                                                                                Obviously she has forgotten, or her husband has neglected to tell her, that her whole former iPrimus VOIP rig has gone to the op-shop with all the settings still intact. So, was someone getting billed for my calls? Yes. Luckily I haven’t had a chance to call Small Brother in New York or Utah or LA or wherever he happens to be at present. Of course, they will probably be able to find out who I called using their number, but I doubt it will amount to more than 50 cents in calls.

                                                                                                                If I had been able to get into the administrator section of the SPA2100 I would have realised this and been able to set it up for Pennytel or whoever. I may have a few more tries, but I am getting weary and my geekness in this realm is fairly limited and definitely doesn’t stretch as far as this

                                                                                                                VOIP. I won. In the end.

                                                                                                                  Skulking around after various failures and still desperate to avoid paying for another VOIP box when I already have two that work fine…or would, if I could unlock them, I struck GOLD. Woot!!!

                                                                                                                  Whirlpool. The place that never lets me down. My SPA2100 – previously locked to the settings of the annoyed lady that called me up – has been freed!! By a dude called DogFace. It’s almost poetry…

                                                                                                                  I found him mentioned on Whirlpool.
                                                                                                                  I thought he sounded too cool…
                                                                                                                  But I joined up at the place where he hangs out,
                                                                                                                  Sent him over a desperate SHOUT
                                                                                                                  Paid him via PayPal. Fifteen bucks.
                                                                                                                  He emailed me how to set stuff up.
                                                                                                                  There I left it. Ready to be NAized…
                                                                                                                  And he did it. Like that.
                                                                                                                  Am. Completely. Amazed.

                                                                                                                  Dogface, you rock. Now I have a landline. Signed up with Pennytel and got myself a number. Get ready for me to pimp it around y’all because I have SOOOO much time to talk. (What – you thought I might post without including a whine? While I can’t drink it, I may as well emit it.) Must stop. Now. Miaow.


                                                                                                                    There are two techie sites I’ve found useful recently. The first is a site that helps with the aspect ratio of photographs. Or any pictures. Because of the size of this column that you are currently reading, I can’t really post any pictures larger than about 375 pixels wide. And I use flickr – where the default sizes don’t suit my situation at all.

                                                                                                                    Instead of the time consuming trial and error that I had been doing, I found a site that lets you enter the original dimensions and then the width you’re after – and it tells you the remaining height. Excellent. Although still a bit time consuming – I was hoping there would be some kind of flickr hack, but haven’t been able to find one.

                                                                                                                    The other site is one that solved an issue for me that has bothered me for years. The inability of some browsers to underline acronyms. I love the WordPress acronym plugin, but Chrome doesn’t underline them. I like making up acronyms to save time, such as StOC and SWWNBB – however, it has been useless to all my multitudes of readers ;) who may use Safari or whatever. So…

                                                                                                                    I wondered if there was a workaround and tracked down Day 17: Dive Into AccessibilityDefining Acronyms. Oh glory! It can be done with CSS! It has been a long while since I pulled this site together – and since I will not have that kind of time again for another 15 years, I just have to tweak it as I go alone.

                                                                                                                    This means that I have to scrummage back through my poor aching brain and remember which template to edit and how etc. etc. (now is that an acronym? No. An abbreviation.) Anyway, it works! If anyone is reading this in something other than Chrome or Safari, could you let me know if the acronyms come up when you put the cursor over them?


                                                                                                                      Odd. I tried to check this site and also do a new post and it wouldn’t load. Other sites were loading fine. Against all logic I stopped using Chrome and went to Safari and voila! No problems at all. If any of the more geek inclined people out there can explain this to me, I’d be grateful.


                                                                                                                        A short announcement. I installed Google Reader Shared last night. Since that time, my comments have died, my Amazon Showcase plugin has ceased to function and my tweets are no longer published to this page. The developer of the Google Shared Reader plugin says that it has not caused these issues. So…I must grudgingly accept that it is a startling coincidence. And one that makes me Very Unhappy. Please bear with me while I attempt repairs…

                                                                                                                        Oh – and if you’re interested? I was using WordPress 3.0.4 but have since hurriedly updated to the latest release of 3.1.3 – which has achieved exactly nothing. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to tweet me @miaowthecat

                                                                                                                        UPDATE: – ok my tweets are now appearing. however the link to make a comment appears to be broken. can you hear my teeth grinding? I have no time for this. I have to get work done.

                                                                                                                        OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone

                                                                                                                          The blurb on the Otterbox site reads ‘The OtterBox Impact Series case for iPhone 3G and 3GS is a mighty silicone skin case that offers suprising (sic) protection!’ Yes. It should read: ‘The OtterBox Impact Series case for iPhone 3G and 3GS is a mighty surprising silicone skin case that offers protection!’ Besides not being able to spell in their metadata, the other issue is this…

                                                                                                                          This case sucks. I am devoting a post to it in the hope that google will find it. You’ve run out of floppy old socks to put on your 3GS iPhone? Just use one of these! It will fit beautifully for a few months and then subtly lose some necessary elasticity. You won’t notice for a while and will spend some time puzzling why all your photographs have the bottom left hand corner obscured by a white glow (if you have bought a white case…)

                                                                                                                          You may assume you are being haunted. Being teased by fast fluttering angels? Until the situation worsens and you realise that your OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone has lost the plot. Yes. Otterbox. A brand I thought had their shit together. Not this time. Saggy baggy and photograph naggy. I have used about five different cases and this is the worst. My $5 on-sale-at-Amazon Speck rubber case leaves this OtterBox Impact Case for iPhone dead in the water.

                                                                                                                          Do not buy one. Unless you want all your awesome photographs to be flawed by saggy casework, necessitating cropping of your pictures into weird dimensions. Can you tell I might be a little frustrated? Why they have such a good rating on Amazon is beyond me. I just went there to check, and their price has halved – maybe that’s a sign of HOW CRAP THEY ARE.

                                                                                                                          The week that was…Part 1

                                                                                                                            Wow. It’s only been EIGHT DAYS since my last post. I find that extraordinary. I thought it had been at least fifteen. I note that my last one was dated the night before a few things were all shot to hell. If you follow me on twitter you may have noted the long sad bellow of despair…

                                                                                                                            But let’s backtrack. It was exactly a week ago, as I was trying to get Small Z off to her first Really Long Day at kinder that my boss rang me. My boss NEVER rings me. He said he had extra work that he was supposed to get done, was supposed to already have done, and could I…um…do it for him? STAT!

                                                                                                                            It was web-trawling research work – compiling information about methods of assessment on a state by state basis. Teeth-aching boredom – but paid by the hour. And so began my Hell. Working at night, on top of the sleep striking/teething/waking? Two nights of it and my wheels began to fall off…

                                                                                                                            But I only noticed when I realised I’d washed my iPhone. My precious window to sanity, sloshed around in the front loader for ONE WHOLE HOUR. Oh god. I discovered it when I had people over and so was fairly composed. Unfortunately I had to voice my sadness, albeit in a restrained manner – and Small Z did all the suffering for me, screaming and crying about her games and ‘Was it dead f-o-r-e-v-e-r?’

                                                                                                                            I baked it in the oven encased in rice (a little too hot, but…) then I cracked open the case and left it in the hot car for two days. My SIM card, somehow, survived intact. And the phone, when I put it all back together, actually worked! Except for the microphone – so people could call me, talk at me – but could not hear me. D’oh.

                                                                                                                            Over a day or two it began getting flakier. The wifi carked it. The backlight was intermittent. The thing I hated most? No camera. Anyway, we happened to be going to a birthday party on Sunday close to an Apple Store… I’d done a bit of research and realised that I could get a brand new replacement cheapest straight from Apple.

                                                                                                                            Sure enough, I walked into my ‘genius appointment’ and about eight minutes later I was $179 poorer (can you feel my credit card sweating?) but the owner of a brand new white 3GS. And thanks to iCloud, all my stuff was getting put back on it as I hovered out the front waiting for M to return with the Smalls. I was soothed. And thankful. And kind of disgusted at myself at the excessive amount of money involved…

                                                                                                                            That night, we got home after a revoltingly hot day, the Smalls conked out (a marvel in itself…but my joy was premature) and I sat down at my computer. My first workfree night (the previous evening had been spent making a present for the birthday). I updated ‘flash player’ as it requested and was twenty minutes into Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries when my computer died. My Macbook Pro. Workhorse that has never blinked.

                                                                                                                            I couldn’t. believe. it. Nor could I believe that I had, of course, backed up nothing. My work that I needed to send in the next day was on there. It was cold sweat time. I pulled the hard drive out so fast that my screwdriver was on fire for the lord. Thank goodness M has a computer.

                                                                                                                            I put my hard drive into an external casing with a usb and plugged it in. It was, being formatted for Mac, unrecognised. After much cursing I installed HSFExplorer – a free and holy grail piece of software.

                                                                                                                            I was able to access all my files, copy all the important ones over to M’s computer and breathe a massive sigh of relief…

                                                                                                                            The second installment will be posted tomorrow. The sleep strike remains ongoing and thus I must away to bed.

                                                                                                                            The week that was…Part 2

                                                                                                                              There has definitely been something going on in the lives of many. Computer fails, speeding tickets, purse loss, brain melts and general discombobulation. Just as I thought I had survived the combination of Christmas and a zillion birthdays, things got tricky.

                                                                                                                              I rescued my files from my hard drive and labouriously copied them on to M’s computer. All my photos, my work files other bits and pieces. It’s astonishing how little of the 380GB or so that is occupied on my hard drive is actually essential. Mostly it’s the photos and blog backups. I didn’t even bother with the music.

                                                                                                                              This is mostly because I didn’t have ‘the feeling’. You know, the one that you get when you know that something has totally had it. I still harboured hope. Which was a good thing, because when I plugged another hard drive into my laptop, the same error occurred.

                                                                                                                              Thus, the problem was not the hard drive. I put my proper 500GB HD back in. I had two sticks of 4GB RAM. I removed one of them. Laptop returned to life not even looking mildly perturbed. I put the RAM back in, just to make sure it was really the issue (and with a tiny hope that it might magically just work) – and the thing refused to boot up.

                                                                                                                              Goodbye RAM. I am now running on half of what I had, but… I am up and running! I was bleating a little on Twitter as I went through all this, and Tony suggested I try CrashPlan. I say suggested. He kind of demanded. In a good way ;)

                                                                                                                              I got CrashPlan going. I was under the impression that it was a magical and free thing that backed up the contents of my hard drive to a misty ethereal kind of safe place where it would stay until required. Wrong. You have to pay for it to do that. But it will back up to an external drive or someone else’s large computer. I’m sure that would be a bit of an earner – a small one, set up a rack of hard drives and pimp yourself to friends and acquaintances as ‘BackUp Queen’ – if, of course, you don’t plan to move aboard a boat in the near future…


                                                                                                                                Two apps are ringing my bell at the moment.

                                                                                                                                If This Then That

                                                                                                                                f.Lux is an awesome addition to the laptop or iPhone (jailbreak required) if you are someone who stays up late with their electronic device – or uses it in bed.

                                                                                                                                ‘f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again. Tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have, and where you live. Then forget about it. F.lux will do the rest, automatically.’

                                                                                                                                As well as SBS Settings so I can quickly change my iPhone’s brightness, f.Lux is the reason I’ll be jailbreaking my (new) phone. I would rather not bother but I find the lack of these two apps too painful to remain pure.

                                                                                                                                If This Then That (ifttt) appears to be a genius web app thingy that allows you to apply rules and automate your online world. It’s kind of like a virtual TeasMade – if you have been reading this blog for a considerable length of time, you will remember I love such devices.

                                                                                                                                I appear to have got sidetracked. Excuse me.

                                                                                                                                ifttt gets all your information for all the things you love (the one slightly dodgy, but obviously necessary part) online and lets you create ‘recipes’ with them. Therefore, if Clive Owen sent an email to my GMail account, I could set up a ‘recipe’ that would enable this to be archived with Evernote or DropBox, or I could receive a text message to tell me, or (I assume) I could have the fact published to Facebook or tweeted… The options are many and varied.

                                                                                                                                I could get it to archive all my Instagram photos to Flickr or contact me when the weather is going to be rainy… Unfortunately they have not managed to invent a ‘recipe’ that would make me tea, which would be excellent, as my Teasmade broke down two weeks ago…

                                                                                                                                I appear not to be here

                                                                                                                                  A few people have told me that this site is not loading for them. I am trying hard to troubleshoot at this end, but it is difficult as everything is working fine for me. All looks normal in both Safari and Chrome :( Ack! It is so infuriating!! And also so long since I poked around under the hood on this site that I don’t want to break anything while I’m sort of working in the dark.

                                                                                                                                  I’ve just realised what a pointless post this is – because if the site is working you’ll see it and wonder what I’m wittering about, and if it’s not working. You, uh, won’t! Apparently the mobile version is peachy fine…

                                                                                                                                  As you were.

                                                                                                                                  A few free hours to geek

                                                                                                                                    It has been a hard week. After three days in a row of coming home to a house that looked like a bomb had hit it, hard and often, M came home at 4pm to save me. I had some Time To Myself. He cooked dinner. Wrangled the Smalls – and you know what? I got reaquainted with the back-end of this blog. In a non-tawdry way…

                                                                                                                                    I updated to the latest version of WordPress, got tweaking with some plugins and widgets and even busted out PhotoShop and threw together a temporary new title image…in lieu of actually writing an OMG I’VE BEEN BLOGGING HERE FOR TEN YEARS celebratory post. That kind of thing. (Yes. Really.)

                                                                                                                                    I had the best three hours! I forgot how much I love doing all that stuff. I’ve barely touched the mechanics of this site for five years – I am very slow at tweaking design in php, because, um, I don’t know php and I operate on trial and error.

                                                                                                                                    WordPress, since I began using it in…ooooh….I began on Blogger (before Google owned it), moved to MovableType and defected to WordPress sometime in about 2003? Who knows. Who cares? The point is, it has become easier and easier to use. There’s less reason to get your fingers dirty behind the scenes – no need for FTP, you just install plugins within the interface.

                                                                                                                                    Anyway, my point is, I’ve rediscovered my appetite for tweaking. The end.

                                                                                                                                    Geekery. Laptop rescue.

                                                                                                                                      A while back we were given an old laptop. As a result of me moaning about the Smalls using mine to watch iView…and also play a few games. It is a Toshiba Satellite A85. The ‘A’ is for ‘ancient’. But regardless of its antiquity, it does the job. It has a souped up install of XP. Unfortunately we keep it under the dining table and it has fallen or almost fallen a few times…

                                                                                                                                      This led to the power-jack (where you plug the power cable into) becoming loose. We didn’t know if it had died and I was going to order another jack (eBay: $20 from Australia / $3 from the US & China – surprise!). M encouraged me to have a look inside it. If I had known what that entailed before I began I never would have tried…

                                                                                                                                      It turned out that to get to the power-jack, you have to take the laptop apart. Literally. Screen off, keyboard off…the works. Thankfully I had a step-by-step guide for this (I love you, Interweb). It took me TWO HOURS and cost me a tidy house…as the Smalls had to entertain themselves…

                                                                                                                                      This is where I try to keep the bazillion screws organised. And fail. That’s the screen, sitting on the jars of water with creepy Easter Eggs…

                                                                                                                                      The screws and the screen

                                                                                                                                      I finally get it all apart and discover (gleefully, but ruefully, as I don’t imagine I’ll be able to ever put it back together again) that the power-jack has just snapped from it’s holder, but is still connected. Yay – I don’t have to learn to solder! So I use bits of cork and hot glue. Obviously.

                                                                                                                                      Power-jack. DIY fix with cork and hot glue. Classy.

                                                                                                                                      I painstakingly put it all back together. At one point Small Z comes over, hugs me, and says, “Deep breaths, mama, deep breaths.” And then, “Why do grown-ups say ‘oh GOD’ all the time?”

                                                                                                                                      Nothing has given me a headache like this since I tried to do my own tax-return.

                                                                                                                                      We test it. It works beautifully and I am thrilled. So thrilled that I just can’t leave shit alone. No. I have to embark on an Extra Thing to make it Extra Awesome.

                                                                                                                                      M had said wistfully a few days before, “If we get another computer, this time we should put it on a wheeled trolley, under the table, so it has somewhere to live and doesn’t need to be moved around all the time.” The kind of thing you say knowing it will never happen…until…

                                                                                                                                      Yesterday I bought a set of four wheels from Crib Point Op-Shop (where I made L hang with her THREE children and one of mine for FORTY-FIVE minutes while I had a doctors appointment, but I digress…)

                                                                                                                                      I found my set of $2 drawers that have been gathering dust in the shed. One drawer is being used for a dinosaur bed, but no matter. I turned over the drawers – of course the sides are too narrow for me to attach the wheels. So I have to improvise. I rip parts from an old wooden shower mat thing, saw the ends off (hand-saw people, a HAND SAW) and then, with my trusty drill, I mod the drawers into a laptop trolley.

                                                                                                                                      Extra wood to base of drawers to add width so wheels can be added.

                                                                                                                                      And here’s the proof (Small Z seems to focus unnecessarily on my ear here, and that is not a bad dye job, it’s just the light…)

                                                                                                                                      Me and my friend the drill. By Zoe - 5yo.


                                                                                                                                      This is where it lives. Gaffer taped to the top.
                                                                                                                                      New wheeled drawer unit for laptop. Yay me.

                                                                                                                                      I am beside myself with smug, DIY exhilaration. M comes home and is appreciative. I make sure he knows I had to dismantle the laptop IN IT’S ENTIRETY. I set it up for him. Gliding it out on the TROLLEY. Click over to iView. Everything works beautifully…except the sound. It’s totally silent. I clutch my head and begin rocking catatonically. I mustn’t have connected up the speaker cable properly…and it is UNDERNEATH THE KEYBOARD.

                                                                                                                                      Unless you personally went through the fifty-seven (I exaggerate, but still) steps to get UNDERNEATH THE KEYBOARD, you will not have a true sense of my anguish. Thankfully – when I plug in some headphones, the sound is fine – so until I can face it – I’ll be plugging in my little travel-speaker…

                                                                                                                                      The End.
                                                                                                                                      (And god knows how long it’s been since I posted in this category!)

                                                                                                                                      Sewing machine, pristine and clean.

                                                                                                                                        So I took the advice, busted out the screwdrivers, and investigated the interior of what I have discovered is a Janome 110. I found mank – quite a bit of fuzz, greasy cotton entwined around some inside bit of the workings – I oiled some bits and generally did a bit of day surgery.




                                                                                                                                        I found a manual online that, while it wasn't my exact model, was pretty close. I realised I have been (if idiocy offends, please don't read on) threading the machine wrong. The is a silver hook right near where the cotton sits that I never really noticed before. This thing also plays a role in winding on the bobbin, so I've probably naffed that up too…

                                                                                                                                        Anyway – I got more sewing done last night that I've been able to so far – a plus!! It ended when the top thread snapped because of tension stuff, but… I am not going to freak out as I have one more task, which is to get new cotton and wind the bobbin on properly – that may fix my troubles. I got through seriously chunky bits of felt tonight, so I'm feeling pretty happy right about now!

                                                                                                                                        (And I left my laptop power cord at work this week, so am putting my ipad through its paces – so far so good. I am really liking using Blogsy and the way it integrates with Flickr is awesome. The other thing I have started using is FlickrStackr because when I upload pictures from my phone, I can then sort through them on the ipad and tag the, put them into sets, etc.)


                                                                                                                                        Reinvention is on the menu.

                                                                                                                                          In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution to write more, goddamnit, comes the growing dissatisfaction with my blog layout. I have not changed this thing for over six years. That’s right – I spent a vast amount of my pregnant time tweaking and altering and reloading various WordPress themes…when I had time for such things.

                                                                                                                                          Man…there have been some improvements in layouts since that time! What remains the same is the, well, sameness of so very many of them. What I would love, in an ideal world, is to go with my laptop to a minimally populated island with high speed broadband and divide my life into happy thirds: sleeping, rebuilding my website, and languishing on the beach with food, sunshine and swimming.

                                                                                                                                          And as pigs fly into the sunset my realistic option is to find a theme I like and install it, with hopefully a minimal amount of tweaking required. Trouble is, I modded this current theme here there and everywhere and recollect none of it :O I have trudged back through the archives to 2007 and re-discovered MAMP – I recall it being very useful in such situations and figure I can re-learn how to use it – thus rescuing my teeming throngs of readers from being greeted by a site in various stages of re-invention… hopefully.

                                                                                                                                          Meanwhile I have an almost-six-year-old doing a five day intensive swim course and she is lying next to me as I type, after the first day, with a throat infection. FUN AND GAMES!

                                                                                                                                          I need a reset button. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                            Well that was the worst day of the year so far. Small DB shook off her fever yesterday – it had gone for six days. But she is still totally stroppy and under the weather. Add this to the somewhat neglected Small Z, who is also tired as a result of me pulling her out of bed relentlessly by 7.30am in an effort to get her bedtimes earlier. And then add me, hanging on by my fingernails with minimal sleep, struggling to say goodbye to HP Sauce and a million other things, worrying about TATIANATM and 40 degree (104 F) heat and you’ve got what was basically an all day, three way meltdown on your hands. My hands…

                                                                                                                                            Probably not the best time to rip apart your partner’s prized old-model iPhone to try and fix it. Understatement of 2014. But I did it anyway, because he had left it at home – having skulked out this morning to the boat on the first wave of crazy. When I bought him the phone the screen wasn’t working, and in my efforts to divine what was the problem I had cracked open the phone and poked about.

                                                                                                                                            As the screen was blank I didn’t know if the camera had been working prior to me purchasing it, but by the amount of horrendous selfies on it, I assumed it had. And that I’d somehow buggered the camera when I’d opened it up. So today, amidst constant meltdowns, including my own, I opened the phone up again – sweating gently on the fact that I might wreck something and therefore destroy one of M’s more precious possessions (I say precious, but must mention that the entire thing was covered in sand – he treats it with tough, sandy love).

                                                                                                                                            Performing surgery on an iPhone 3GS

                                                                                                                                            I put it all back together, turned it on…and the camera worked. HUZZAH!! One win, on a day of despair! Excellent. Thank you Nick. I am convinced the neighbours believe I have dismembered both children (they each scream at a different pitch, so they could tell it was both of them). Tomorrow will be better. Or else…

                                                                                                                                            Unwell. Afternoon nap.

                                                                                                                                            This was yesterday – an excellent wondrous nap… Didn’t happen today, but I’m putting it in here to soothe myself.

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