Patty Goes Geeky

A techno odyssey

Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

What, me bitter?

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I was featured today in a Seattle Times article on Zoe Krumm, a business-intelligence manager on Microsoft‘s anti-piracy team. More precisely, maybe Krumm included my case (see blog entries below, below, below….) among Washington state contacts in her efforts to track down people who sell counterfeit software. Janet Tu writes:

“Since 2005, Microsoft has received nearly 400,000 leads from customers around the world, 2,850 alone from Washington state.

“The typical submission comes from someone who bought counterfeit software off an online marketplace or downloaded it from a fake Microsoft site.

“Microsoft replaces those products free, in exchange for information about where the fake product was purchased and for giving the product itself to Microsoft.”

That describes me, and apparently 2,849 other Washingtonians.

I wonder how many of them took unseemly satisfaction from last week’s Times four-parter on Amazon’s business practices. My personal boycott of this “online marketplace” continues. And that includes not linking to Amazon in my blog that no one reads.

Ha, and yes, I know how to carry a grudge.

Written by geekypatty

April 9, 2012 at 8:18 am

Posted in Blog, Misc Tech, Software

Trying to think win-win

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There will be a post coming about scanners, drivers, Canon tech support, WinZip and WinZip tech support. If you think there’s a story behind this, you probably have read Patty Goes Geeky before. I’ve already got hours into trying to solve the problem, including half an hour or so with an incredibly patient Canon techie who, bless his heart, I think let the tiniest bit of frustration creep into his voice as he said the problem must be with my computer and he couldn’t fix it. I am now waiting to hear back from WinZip, so I will know how the story ends. Sigh.

But in the meantime, I encountered another simple thing I used to not know how to do, but now I do. The WinZip person asked me to send a screen capture of the error messages I was getting. I didn’t know how to do that, but I know enough to know that it must be very simple and it was something I already should have learned to do. I did a search and found the Vista directions before I noticed she’d thoughtfully included a link to instructions in the e-mail.

Here’s my version: Click the Start button, type “snip” in the search box, double-click the return for “snipping tool” and use it to draw a box around the area you want to capture. Save it and use it.

Let us now hope that the solution to my Canon/WinZip issue can be handled as deftly. I’m not counting on it.

Written by geekypatty

January 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Misc Tech, Photo, Software

Contact sport

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Because my theme (as opposed to “resolution”) for 2012 is “experiment,” I reckon I may be posting more diligently to Patty Goes Geeky in the new year. Or not. Maybe experimentation will lead me in non-tech directions, instead.

In any case, there’s still an item left for 2011. As new secretary (somebody forgot her resolution to cycle off boards) of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, I needed to create a board mailing list for my Gmail account. After confirming preferred contact info for those who’d been emailed under multiple addresses (and tracking down through Facebook the last name for a new member I knew only by first name “Barnaby” — how many beekeeping Barnabys can there be in Seattle?), I had what I hope is a clean list to send to other board members.

Using my low-tech skills, I planned just to copy and paste my contact list. Nope, Gmail decreed. After consulting Help, I learned I had to create and export in CSV format. (CSV is comma separated values, a factoid of no relevance to getting this task done.) The instructions were useful only to a point (I was not saving to a disk), and then I had to muddle the rest.

I saw that Excel was an option, so created a spreadsheet and labeled the fields. Turns out I didn’t have  to label the fields to export into; labeling was automatic. All I had to do was delete my first attempt (I exported all my contacts instead of the group I needed) and then hide the unneeded columns in my second attempt. After a couple tries at saving (the instructions about losing information depending on save-format were only moderately useful), my experiment was a success! I had an Excel spreadsheet I could email to my fellow bee-loving boardies.

Why “experiment” for my 2012 theme? The unformed desire to be at my age at-least-non-stuck-if-not-crazy-risky crystallized during this vacation time spent with my chef son. Will, whose Christmas list included both singing and welding lessons, coached me through home projects (e.g., a substitute for Diet Coke syrup being one) saying, “we’ll try it and then we can tinker with it.” His desire to learn and his fearlessness (singing lessons? when all of his genes would wail “lost cause”?) were inspiring to me.

Both my children are brave, smart, funny and passionate about their beliefs. They are my teachers.

Written by geekypatty

December 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Misc Tech, Software

Free was a good price

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I opted for the pay version of AVG internet security when I got the re-up notice, even though one of my I.T. guys (the Portland one) said I’d probably be fine with the free version. The difference, he thought, was the free version checked for bugs after the fact, while the pay version verified sites before the fact. But, he said, if I’d feel better with the higher level of protection, go for it. So I did, for around $40/year. (Using the same rationale, I bought the fifty-buck Backblaze to back up up my computer rather than continue the manual monthly back-up. It seemed to be the best choice for me based on a DigitalEve Seattle discussion and I had too much content at risk to continue to trust a home-done effort.)

One of my scheduled  fall projects was to go through and eliminate duplicate photos, and another was to research what it would take to speed up my computer (aside from taking off thousands of photos, which I still plan to do, at which point I may no longer need Backblaze, after all). But AVG sent me a customer-service come-on note offering a free PC tune-up, “a fast, simple and effective way to tweak your system’s settings and get the most out of your computer.”I’m a sucker for free, so I tried it. It said it found something like 9,000 errors, bugs, flaws, duplicates, garbage and other deficiencies, and invited me to run the repair. I did.

I can’t say I have noticed much difference in the speed. I think the photos are probably the main culprit and their mass would mask any improvement.  But it does feel good to have redd up the computer. And it’s not even fall yet.

Would I buy the AVG PC tune-up? Probably not.

Written by geekypatty

September 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Software

Going digital for recording audio

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In an earlier post, I recounted my adventures in converting audiotape recordings to digital for purposes of editing and burning to CDs. Clearly it’s time to dispense with that extra step and record future audio sessions digitally in the first place.

Never hesitating to impose on a friend, I contacted a former coworker to ask what recorder was handing out to reporters to use on the job. After checking, he advised that the gear was $250 and probably overkill for the modest hobby/family needs I’d described. More my speed was an Olympus WS-600S Digital Voice Recorder, available for around $60.

It records in MP3, which is eats less space and is faster to edit than the alternative WMA format. It accepts an external microphone and it has a direct USB computer connection to download the files.

Other good advice was to practice recording in a situation similar to the actual circumstances (i.e., if I was to record someone frail speaking softly while lying in a bed) to see whether a clip-on mic or an external mic mounted on a tripod was better at capturing a conversation. While a clip-on mic meant I wouldn’t have to have a mic in someone’s face, I’d want to make sure clothing didn’t rub on it and create unwanted noise. Another factor in placing a microphone: Would I want to record the questions in real time? If not, I could edit them in later but it’s extra work.

And I did get a seal of approval for using Audacity to edit audio.

Until I truly become Geekypatty, I am fortunate to have such helpful tech support.

Written by geekypatty

February 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Audio, Software

Wonderful how-to site for labeling photos

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OMG, if you’re a newbie at managing family photos generally and labeling digital photos specifically, have I got a site for you: Digital Cameras and Genealogy.

Chimpanzeepatty has been (mostly) diligent about captioning photos as I’ve been scanning. But as Ken Watson notes, if your goal is preserving and sharing these ephemeral documents widely and for the long haul, you are wise to embed the I.D.s into the photo in a non-proprietary format that’s likely to be around decades from now. So Geekypatty gave it a try.

Fortunately, my free picture software in Windows and in Picasa both allow me to do this. Watson tells how. In Windows, for instance, the IPTC/XMP open standard data can be entered by right-clicking on the photo, opening “Properties,” opening “Details,” and entering the I.D. under “Title.” To make sure it’s there, open the photo in your viewer, “save as” a new file name and then open to confirm the name is embedded. Like this, when you mouse over the image:

Oops, I just discovered that my version of Picasa probably needs to be upgraded to make this work properly. But, scarred as I am from my technological adventures, I first did a paranoid Google search about upgrading to 3.8 and the effect on photos currently stored in version 3 and discovered, sure enough, there is a risk of compromisng what you’ve got and having to revert to a backup.

Uh, cancel. Back away from that upgrade.

I solved the problem for this purpose by specifying that the blog photo open in Windows sted Picasa. But now — sigh — my to-do list includes researching how to upgrade Picasa safely.

Written by geekypatty

January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Blog, Photo, Resources, Software

A number conundrum

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Another item from Margaret’s book project. Goal: To have an unnumbered insert section of glossy photo pages in the middle of the numbered pages of text in a single document file. Problem: Word insists on numbering pages sequentially. Solution: Never found it and after an hour or two of trying, ran out of time. I had to ask the printer to insert the photo pages by hand.

I was perfectly willing to number/not number the pages manually in Word. Nope.

Judging by my Google search, it’s a common frustration. Microsoft offers page-numbering help. But I couldn’t make it work. Worse, I was jeopardizing my proofed layout on deadline by tinkering with the footers.

The answer apparently lies in defining the text in sections, which I learned to do, but I was stymied by how to get the numbering of the third section (the second half of the text) to start with the correct (continued) number on a right-hand page. Perhaps the answer lies in this explanation.

Or perhaps it doesn’t. I had conducted a cost-benefit analysis while banging my head against a wall, and determined that whatever extra I would have to pay for the printer to hand-insert unnumbered photo pages into 35 books was cheaper than the time, risk and frustration I was experiencing with something that ought to have been so simple. I’m sorry to report I gave up.

Written by geekypatty

January 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Software