Patty Goes Geeky

A techno odyssey

Wrong number

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Well, that didn’t work very well, did it? I came across a SanDisk Mobile Card Reader/Writer, unopened, in the box of my husband’s abandoned BlackBerry phone. It’s for transferring photos from cell phone to computer, and I NEED THAT! I scissored open the package and started reading the directions. Alas, to use it I needed the card out of my hand-me-down phone, which I couldn’t find. But wait, there was also a cable in that box that fit both my phone and the USB port on my laptop, so maybe I could bypass the thumb-drive-looking gizmo and connect directly. But wait, I had to download new software. But wait, my computer didn’t recognize the attached device. But wait, maybe both devices needed to be restarted.

Nope. After researching what kind of phone I inherited (a V323i), I discovered Motorola’s directions and online troubleshooter didn’t accomplish my task. I Googled a site that answered a similar question with, “You idiot, there’s no card in that phone so the only thing you can do is e-mail the photos to yourself,” and the comment thread was closed because of the inappropriate response. But both the other questioner and I agreed that maybe the flamer was right.

Written by geekypatty

January 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Misc Tech, Photo

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

Carmen to Don Jose: It’s over. I’ve unfriended you on FB.

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I’m going to become a regular reader of TechFlash now that my talented friend and former Seattle Times coworker Michele Matassa Flores has become Assistant Managing Editor for Digital Media at the Puget Sound Business Journal. Her first post, “Why does TechFlash care about the Seattle Opera,” ponders the way technology is interwoven with Seattle life.

She writes: “The Seattle Opera blogs ‘If Carmen and her friends were on Facebook,’ featuring a mock Facebook page filled with clever, fictional posts by characters in the show playing through Saturday (Oct. 29) at McCaw Hall.”

Having seen “Carmen” this week at Seattle Opera, I have to say I was dubious about a possible connection between technology and Bizet’s fateful story of love scorned. But then I thought about how raw people’s emotions get when they’re unfriended on Facebook, and realized that today Bizet could just as plausibly had Don Jose stab Carmen over discovering that she’d taken their relationship off her profile.

(As much as I enjoyed this production of “Carmen,” one of my indelible memories of opera is a previous Seattle Opera production that curtained-down with a white-dressed Carmen leaving a crimson blood streak on a stark white wall as she died. Breathtaking.)

Written by geekypatty

October 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Excellent resource/wonderful time sucker

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Alex Johnson has “cleaned up and updated” his Journalists’ Quick Reference Page. I think you’ll find it useful, and also find it difficult to resist entering something into one of those boxes he’s collected in this one-stop research resource, just to see. On this particular day in history, for instance, I learn that in 1915 a Mr. Chubb purchased Stonehenge for the equivalent of $11,500 as a present for his wife. Bookmarking this baby, for sure.

Written by geekypatty

September 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Resources

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

Feeling much more secure

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My nephew, Morgan, bless his heart, in about 5 minutes installed a password giving us wireless-network security on our computers. Yes, I know how stupid it was to be unsecured. But for a long time, I didn’t know our wifi WAS unsecured — I just logged on. Once I discovered the problem, I painfully researched how to solve it. I trial-and-errored my way partway through the process (punctuated by more than the usual swearing), but chickened out because I did not trust my ability to rescue our internet access if I locked us out of our system. I could imagine my husband’s reaction if I said, “Hey, Mike, you can’t work from home any more because I thought it would be fun to try a Geekypatty experiment on our internet access. It’s gone, I have no idea what I did and even less idea about how to fix it. Sorry about that.”

Fortunately, I have a tech-wizard nephew who graciously agreed to bail me out. I sat at Morgan’s elbow as he narrated the steps. It was so reassuring to watch someone who knows what he’s doing. And I didn’t feel (that) bad about failing to do this myself. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s wise to be realistic about when DIY becomes DDIY — Don’t Do It Yourself.

Add Morgan to my crackerjack I.T. team!

Written by geekypatty

September 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Misc Tech

You have to laugh, or you’d cry

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Here are the instructions we had to create for a guest on how to use the televisions in our house. My husband drafted them, I idiot-tested them and we both revised and revised for clarity. The process took a long time. And I kept wondering, why did ANY businesses ever let any consumer product out their doors that was this breathtakingly technologically illogical?

“The old-style televisions work with the singular Comcast remotes nearest to where they’re located. The exception is the guest-room TV. You have to scroll up or down through all the channels to reach your selection.

“The widescreen downstairs can require three remotes and is very frustrating — sorry. The first to use is the large black Samsung. Press ‘power.’ Press ‘menu.’ Scroll down three times with gray inverted-triangle down button on the center ring. At ‘source list’ press the round, gray button twice. To play a DVD, select ‘AV1/DVD’ and push the round, gray button. Screen will read ‘No Time Information/No Signal.’ (DVD instructions continue below.) For regular TV viewing, ignore the TV or PC options. Instead, scroll to ‘component 2’ and press the round, gray button. The TV will come on. (TV instructions continue below.)

“From this point, for DVD viewing use the small, black Philips remote. Start with the power button on top and wait a few seconds. Use the top triangle button – the one just below the power button — to open and close the sliding tray. Insert disk and use ‘OK’ to play.

“For regular TV viewing, use the gray Comcast remote. I usually only use the keypad to change stations. Let’s say you’re viewing MSNBC on channel 47 and you want to change to the Food Channel on 35. Simply press 3 and 5 on the keypad then press the oval red ‘OK/Select’ button in the middle of the remote.

“To view other expanded Comcast options, press the oval ‘menu’ button.

“And, yes, all of this is ridiculously (and no doubt needlessly) complex…  All of the above, FYI, only took me about a month to figure out.”

Written by geekypatty

August 18, 2011 at 10:20 am

Posted in Misc Tech