Old Red Jacket Talker

Just an old RCMP dispatcher’s ramblings . . .

Blogger and Blogs I have been using Internet Expl…

Blogger and Blogs

I have been using Internet Explorer 7 to type up and view my blog entries since August 2006. This has been working fine as Blogger does have some neat stuff that you can use. Then I opened up my blog (and a few others) in Firefox. The blog definitely needs some work as the type face are different etc. The formatting in Firefox is the same as IE, but there are other subtle problems with viewing in Firefox.

With that in mind, I thought I’d state that as well as using Blogger to publish my blog I have also being using another blogging program, WordPress. I actually started my blogging life off with WordPress and then converted over to Blogger, however, I have kept up both blogs. They have for the most part identical content, however, there has been the odd thing that I haven’t been able to convert over directly. I’m working on these small glitches to see if I can figure them out.

One thing I like about the WordPress blog, is that the actual blog seems to be a more clean type looking blog. That being said, I do like Blogger for what can be done with it.

So for any of you that have trouble reading the posts in Blogger, may I suggest you try my WordPress blog. It can be found at:

Old Red Jacket Talker


July 15, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

I Thought I Was On A Holiday !

Here I am retired (supposedly); so I go away for a long weekend (ie June 28th to July 3rd) to the great north country of pines and water. My life is slow paced compared to what it was a few years ago when I was in DOCC Saskatchewan so I figured my email box would be fairly skimpy on my return to the ‘connected world’.

I open up my email and lo and behold I have 545 email messages waiting for me. What the heck ! I’ve only been gone for not quite 5 days and I have that many messages waiting for my peepers to take a look at them. There must be a lot of crap in there I figure. So I got down to the task of rooting out the spam that I know must be there.

Gosh I tried and tried and I think I removed about 5 messages from my que. That still leaves about 540 messages that I have to look through as bonafide email messages. That is a way toooooo many I think, but then I remember just a few years ago when I was working that number would most likely have been a few higher than that.

I decided to check and lo and behold, when working I probably would have received about 1500+ messages when I was gone on such as short time frame (ie 5 days). I know I don’t have to reply to about 1/3 of the email’s I receive, but then if I didn’t reply to 1/2 of the 1/3, then maybe my inbox would shrink even further. Maybe I would be able to actually reply to all that sent me a message while I was away that actually deserve a reply.

As I contemplated all of the above, I figured, if I decided to not reply I would likely not deserve to receive the messages from people that felt it was important enough to send me the message in the first place. Eventually my Inbox would dry up and I would not have the privilege of conversing with prior workers, friends, new acquaintances, etc, and I my Inbox would be empty.

That doesn’t sound like much fun at all.

Keep those emails coming, I thoroughly enjoy each and every one…. It may take me a while to get back to you individually, but eventually I will.

I read them all and definitely thank all the folks that take the time to send me a message. If you think it is important to send it, I think it is important enough to read it.

Keep ’em coming….

July 3, 2007 Posted by | Computers, Family | Leave a comment

So Slow Yesterday I was over at a customers house…

So Slow

Yesterday I was over at a customers house doing some work installing a video cam for them. They wanted to use the cam with MSN or Windows Live so they could set up video chats with their extended family.

This was fine and I felt probably about a 30-60 minute task. Little did I realize that they were still on dial up. So of course I had to download Windows Live for them prior to setting up the cam. Now this is not a large program as it is only 17.2 mb in size.

Prior to departing for the customer’s house, I had downloaded the Windows Live on my laptop to ensure I knew what to do at the other end. As I said it is a 17.2 mb download which took about 70 seconds at my house. However, with dial up, this same 70 seconds took 2 1/2 hours to download. Just watching the download creep down was just so painful.

I actually was going to zip home a couple times, burn it on to CD and then head back to the customers. However, I used my time to update a few other programs on the computer and get everything ready for the vid cam.

After what seemed like hours (well yes I guess it was 2 1/2 hours), the file downloaded and I got the Live up and running. Then I set up the audio and video and all was working just fine. The only problem was that the customer had never used MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Live or any chat type program. So of course I had to do a quick tutorial in the opening/using of the program.

After I figured the customer had it down pat, I headed for home with instructions that I’d give them a phone call back and we could then go for a trial run from my house. Once home I fired up the laptop (which zooms right along after the recent format/reinstall), opened up Live and then made my phone call.

Now you have to remember the customer used their phone for their internet, so I had to wait a few seconds for them to hang up the phone, fire up the dial up internet and get logged on. I was impressed that within a minute or so the customer was online in Live. I immediately sent out a text message to show that we were both up and running and then advised it was time to go for the audio/video.

Once again, I was impressed with the customer as they had the camera right up and we had a quick video chat to ensure all was fine. There was just a bit of adjustment with the camera to get the picture centered, but other than that all was just fine. With that all taken care of, we closed out and I watched to ensure the customer had followed the instructions to close out Live by actually ‘exiting’ and not just closing down to the ‘task bar’. This was all done, so I was a happy instructor for the day.

As I sat back and thought about how things went for the day, the dial up slowness certainly made me thankful for a high speed availability. But then I thought back to when I first started this ‘computing’ thing back in the early to mid 90’s. At that time SaskTel wasn’t even in the internet field. I used Prodigy as my internet ISP. My closest access was Edmonton so of course I had to use long distance to sign onto my account. If I remember correctly I normally only used the ‘net’ at night after midnight when the cheaper phone rates were in effect. It cost approximately $10.00 per hour of use. Let me tell you, you didn’t do a lot of sitting around on the ‘net’ playing games etc. You got on to the ‘net’, found what you were looking for and signed off.

Oh yah, I had a blazing fast modem at the time of my Prodigy use. It was a 2.4 kbs dial up modem. Yup the top speed was 2.4 kilobits per second. Now a days of course the dial up modems run at 56 kbs with Flex or V90 protocols, but most setups hardly get quite that high. Case in point is the customer from yesterday computer dial up was running at 45.2 kbs. That still is a long way from 2.4.

Like the old saying ‘We have come a long way’.

March 17, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

Bored or What ??? Frik I must be bored…. Out of…

Bored or What ???

Frik I must be bored…. Out of nowhere I decided that I would stick in my ‘Restore disk’ on my laptop to see what would happen. No you have to realize that I know what a ‘restore’ disk does. Duh! It formats the hard drive and reinstalls the operating system back to when you purchased the computer.

Knowing this I still went ahead and ‘restored’ my laptop which has been running fine for the last 5 years. Yup, it wiped everything off the hard drive and we started over again. Now this is not as bad as it seems as I have a backup DVD of the hard drive and I have backups of the important information on my main computers.

But it is darn interesting to see what you have when you start over from scratch. You know what, the darn computer sure runs a way faster than it has been of late. It doesn’t have all that garbage of programs on it, so zip zap and away you go.

I must admit the laptop is about 75% faster after the reformat. When I click on the IE button I’m connected to the home page a way faster than ever before. Well that is not quite correct. When I first purchased the laptop it was very responsive and the IE would load up quick as all get out. Of course over time I added different programs and the computer slowed down considerably.

Oh wouldn’t it be nice to not add any programs and just use the computer with just the basic IE and maybe an EMail client. Overall it sure would save you time throughout the day…..

March 5, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

Vista Compatibility It would seem that the majori…

Vista Compatibility

It would seem that the majority of people in the world are not taking the giant leap and upgrading to Microsoft Vista. There are a variety of reasons for not upgrading not the least being the cost of upgrading. As well the possibility of your existing programs not running on Vista is a real concern. This is a very valid reason for many as there are many programs that refuse to run in Vista (or cause problems).

With that in mind, Microsoft has put out a list of programs that are ‘Certified’ for Vista and those that ‘Work’ with Vista. You can view that complete list at Applications that have earned the “Certified for Windows Vista” logo or the “Works with Windows Vista” logo.

March 1, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

Interesting Computer Repair On Tuesday I had an a…

Interesting Computer Repair

On Tuesday I had an appointment to look at a fellow’s computer in town. This is an older PII 266 computer with 160 megs of RAM that had been running fine up until recently. The fellow doesn’t use it for much other than surfing on EBay and the odd email message.

When I sat down in front of the keyboard I immediately saw there was a problem of lack of hard drive real estate. The computer has two hard drives installed. One is a 2.3 gig model and the other is a 512 meg model. Now that adds up to less than 3 gigs of room on the hard drives and the fellow was running XP Home.

I did look around in the computer and found that someone tried to help him recover some room by deleting certain unused programs. Of course they just used the ‘delete’ key so the registery was a total mess.

After prodding around for an hour or so I advised the fellow that the best thing he could do (other than buying a new computer) would be to reformat and start afresh. I told him that I could do it for him but it would take a day or so to get it all back up and running. He was agreeable with that so I unplugged the tower and headed for home.

Once home I reformatted both ‘C’ and ‘D’ harddrives and commenced installing XP. Oh yah, the fellow couldn’t find his own XP copy but he knows he had one somewhere. No problem as I had a couple CDs I could use and just needed his Product Key. I have a full version of XP so I started the computer with it and commenced the install process. The process went fine and was booting just ducky. I then got a new version of AVG 7.5 antivirus and put that in the computer so we could keep out some of the nasties that show up every now and then.

It was when I put in the AVG that I realized that the amount of room on ‘C’ was going to be critical. So I installed the program onto the ‘D’ drive. Of course you still get all kinds of DLL files etc that programs insist must go on ‘C’ so I did loose some space.

With that all in place it was time to look for some updates. When I checked on Microsoft I found it needed at least 73 updates. So I started downloading the required files and watched the hard drive get less and less room to play. Eventually all the upgrades were down and the beast was still functioning fairly well. Then I looked and realized that XP was still sitting at SP1 and needed some more upgrading to get up to SP2.

Well I started downloading the update but the computer immediately started to balk at the size of this puppy. A stand alone download of SP2 runs about 266 megs of space. However, the update download is a bit smaller than that, but it still takes up a lot of room.

About half way through the download I could tell it was not going to work so I cancelled everything. I then reformatted the computer and started over with an Upgrade XP SP2 disk I had. This went better as Microsoft had at least fixed the 73 upgrades that were needed from the original XP disk so I didn’t need to download the files.

I continued on and also installed the AVG over on the ‘D’ drive. I also installed ‘Crap Cleaner’ on the ‘D’ to assist with cleaning out some of the extra update files once I was done. This worked out quite well and once I had the XP all up and running and updated I still had close to 940 megs free on ‘C’. This isn’t a huge amount of room, but it would probably work for the way the fellow used his computer.

Then I figured I’d go whole hog and install the new IE7 for him. After downloading and getting the program updated I was fast running out of room on the hard drive. The program was complaining that there was not enough ‘free space’ left on ‘C’ and that the program needs at least 200 megs to function.

I looked around and there really wasn’t a lot that I could remove that wasn’t needed. The fellow stated he wanted email, be able to browse and to be able to play solitaire. I did have a bit of room sitting over on ‘D’ so I then figured I’d move the ‘Page File’ over there. This worked just great and did free up some needed room over on the ‘C’. I had over 450 megs of free room left on ‘C’ which is plenty to allow for temporary internet files and the odd email that was expected.

I tested the computer out and surprisingly it worked fairly well. Now remember this is only a 266 computer with 160 megs of RAM. But it was definitely peppy enough on opening up the browser or the email. The solitaire worked just fine as well.

After running a final AVG scan and finding everything was clean I bundled up the computer and headed for the customer’s house.

Once I got it all hooked up and purring right along, the guy says ‘Oh yah, I have this ‘All In One Printer/Scanner’ that I would like installed”. So I grabbed the CD and started installing. As I watched the files fly into the computer, I knew the free space was fast declining. But I continued on and ensured everything worked just fine.

I took a peak at the ‘Explorer’ to see that there was about 350 megs free on the ‘C’ drive and about 250 megs free on the ‘D’ drive. But the printer, scanner, fax machine now worked just fine. Well not quite fine, the customer hadn’t used the printer since last summer sometime so of course the print cartridges were dried up. But the printer did go through the printing process as well as scanning in a document, etc. So it appeared everything was good to go. The customer was going to pick up a new black print cartridge to ensure he could print but he was satisfied that everything was in order.

I wasn’t sure it could be done on such a small hard drive, but at least now I know, you can have XP Home with all the recent updates installed on less than 3 gigs of hard drive real estate.

My final comment to the fellow before I left was to ensure he kept his ‘Temporary Files’ cleared out and don’t be saving huge attachments in his email messages. Oh yah, keep your eye out for a good deal on a new computer. PII 266’s are getting fairly long in the tooth and you never know when it would decide to die a silent death.

February 15, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

Vista Programs Today I had some good news and som…

Vista Programs

Today I had some good news and some bad news. The good news was that NOD32 is now Vista compatible and so I should be able to install the program on the new computer with no problem. The bad news is that ZoneAlarm PRO is not yet compatible and ZoneAlarm themselves advise against installing it until they have got a Vista compatible upgrade available.

Then I read a few other spots on the net and there is some question as to the actual need for a further firewall as the Vista firewall is much better than the previous XP firewall. Vista’s firewall does check for outgoing connections from the computer whereas the XP version did not. That was one of my main aims for using ZoneAlarm. It prevented programs from accidentally being downloaded and clearing the virus scan and then installing themselves and sending out information from the computer (ie Trojan programs). So if the Vista firewall does in fact do as good a job as ZoneAlarm, then I would wonder why I would in fact need ZoneAlarm.

I still have the 60 days (57 now) Norton Internet Security version up and running on the Vista computer for now. I’ll be leaving it installed for a few more days until I can read up a bit more on the firewall program installed through Vista. As my time counts down for the end of the Norton’s then I can install my NOD32 program (which has been paid for) and go with the Vista firewall until ZoneAlarm comes out with an upgrade.

Other than that the Vista computer is humming right along and I have most of my files (that I wanted on the new computer) copied over. Thank goodness for routers and the ability to network the computers together. I’ve not run into any more programs that do not work on the Vista operating system yet.

One of these fine days though, I’ll have to get Sandra’s computer transferred over. She inherited my old 2.8 Intel tower and we’ll replace her 800 Duron. I’ve tentatively transferred programs, but I just haven’t gotten all of her emails, favourites, etc transferred. I keep telling her soon just after I finish doing something on my computer…

Sometimes I don’t really think she believes me though 🙂

February 11, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

Eyes Are Falling Out I haven’t been on the blog o…

Eyes Are Falling Out

I haven’t been on the blog of late because I’ve been working in the computer room on a couple new computers. Lo and behold I’ve had 2 Vista computers in the office to play with. Of course one of the computers is my own new HP Pavilion Media Center with 2 gigs of RAM, a 400 gig hard drive and a AMD 5000+ processor. The other computer is an Acer system with a 3800+ AMD, 250 gig HD and 1 gig of RAM. I’ve been working on the systems for so long my poor eyes are having a bit of trouble focusing of late.

My first impressions are that Vista is different but nothing earth shattering.

Let me tell you though, I don’t think I’d be running Vista with only the minimum of 512 megs of RAM. The computers I’m working on are brand new and have only had Vista Home Premium installed on them so I haven’t tried an upgrade just yet so I’m not sure what can of worms the upgrade would bring into it.

For my own system I had the computer up and running in a few short hours with most of what I had on my previous computer (ie Email, Favourites, etc). It did take me a couple hours to figure out how to network them all together so I could go back and forth and transfer favourite programs, pics, tunes, etc. Looking back at it now it was a relatively easy task. The major stumbling block was the firewalls (ie ZoneAlarm Pro and Norton Internet Security not playing nice). But after I got them sorted out, it seems to be working quite fine.

On my own system I have only found one program that is causing a bit of problem. That is the EPrompter Email notifier program that I use. It takes it’s updates from the Windows Help system and Vista does not use this Help system at all. So of course my program won’t update so I can’t receive notification of my Windows Live account. This is not a great problem as I don’t really get very much email through this account anyhow. I haven’t tried switching over from the supplied Norton Internet Security to my preferred ZoneAlarm Pro as of yet either. I’ve read that there ‘may’ be a problem with ZoneAlarm and Vista. I don’t foresee this as a large problem as I’m sure ZoneAlarm will have a fix out quickly. I do get 60 days to play with the Norton Internet Security before it dies. As well I haven’t installed my preferred NOD32 antivirus either. I’ll tackle that in a couple days and see what transpires. Once again I’m sure that if NOD32 does have a problem it will get fixed quickly. As a side note on the other computer I did install the free AVG antivirus and it works quite fine.

On the second machine I did run into some problems with the printer however. The fellow had bought a brand new HP Photosmart C3180 All In One printer just recently. There were no drivers available for this printer for Vista so I had to go to the HP website to get some. Even at the website HP only had basis drivers available so the full function of the ‘All In One’ will not be able to be used until the drivers are updated. But for now the printer does print as it should.

Overall I would have to say that the largest difference I’ve found between XP and Vista is the file system and where each operating system stores their defaults. Another thing with Vista is that the program pops up dialogue boxes questioning if you are actually doing a certain task or not. If you are, you click on ‘allow’ and away you go. In one way it seems to be a little more security conscious that XP was.

I’ll play with the system a bit longer to see what other problems may occur. So far so good though.

February 10, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

New Customer Just as I was sitting down to watch …

New Customer

Just as I was sitting down to watch some fine TV viewing tonight with ‘Prison Break’, ’24’ and ‘Heros’ the phone rings. The caller was having some computer problems and wanted to know if I could help. As she sounded a bit frantic I sensed that she wanted some immediate help. So I said I could be right over.

I was over at the residence in a minute or so and found the problem appeared to be with the printer. It had been working fine, however, it just stopped working with this particular program. I went to the manufacturer’s web site and downloaded the correct printer driver and did an uninstall and reinstall of the printer driver.

The driver went in fine and all programs were working fine except the program that was needed to print a report. I felt that it could be the actual program that got a glitch and needed to be reinstalled. Of course nowadays most computers come pre-installed with all the programs they need. The backups are on a ‘Restore’ disk which is a pain in the butt to use to reinstall just a single program.

I was fortunate in that I had the program at home on a separate disk. I drove home and got the disk, returned and reinstalled the program. All was well once again with the program and the printer. However, while I was doing the printing I noticed there were some errors in the report. The report was created by using a spreadsheet and there were errors being shown where the equations were not working properly.

With a bit of searching I got the errors fixed up, but then found some more errors. It looked like every line of the report would have to be gone through with a fine tooth comb. Sadly the owner was not a spread sheet expert, but at least she had the report all printed out. She could go through it and see if she could fix up the errors on paper.

While I was working I was speaking to the folks about slowness of their computer and how they should be maybe looking at some anti-spyware software, etc. Then I asked if they had cleaned out the junk (extra files) out of the computer lately. Well yes, they had the computer in to get cleaned only a year or so ago. I then quickly downloaded Crap Cleaner and did quick check. The computer only had 670 megs of junk sitting there so we cleaned that up for them and recovered the real estate on the hard drive.

I then re-explained about spyware and whatnot that they should be looking at. I could tell that we were overshooting the knowledge base on this one. So I asked if they would rather have me do the installing and cleaning. This was definitely a better plan than them doing it themselves. So now I have a date to go work on their computer on Wednesday.

Gee, word of mouth in a small town is great 🙂

January 29, 2007 Posted by | Computers | Leave a comment

The Hype is On It seems that everywhere you look …

The Hype is On

It seems that everywhere you look in the last couple of days, all you see is ads for Microsoft’s new operating system Vista. This system is going to be a bit different in that it will have more flavours than we are currently faced with in the XP version.

I have been searching around and doing some reading on the pros and cons of the system. On the surface, the system sure does look nice, but then tell me one thing that doesn’t look nice when it is a brand new?

For anyone that hasn’t yet checked their system out to see if they can actually upgrade to Vista, here is a link to check Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor. You need to download a 6.7 mb file and then run the program to install it.

Once installed, you run the program and it checks your computer for any glitches it may find as it pertains to Vista. I have read that it most definitely does not find all the problems you may have with hardware and software on you systems. So those that are contemplating upgrading, do some homework first. As well Microsoft says that you need as a minimum 512 mb of RAM. From what I’m seeing, I wouldn’t even be thinking of upgrading without a minimum of 1 gig of RAM. 512 RAM is about the minimum amount of RAM that you need to run an XP system with any proficiency. The system will run with less RAM, it’s just that with all the upgrades etc, the system has a tendancy to run like a snail.

If you want to get the ‘hype’ on Vista from the horses mouth so to speak, you can go to Microsoft’s own site of Windows Vista and read all about it.

January 27, 2007 Posted by | Computers | 2 Comments