a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: I Hate Computers

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Hate Computers

SUMMARY: Why can't everything just be perfect AND easy so I can spend time practicing running contacts and going over obstacles that are in front of you?

Tika: "Mom--why are you pulling your hair out?"
Note empty high-tech boxes. With Boost-chewed box corners ("take that you computer things").

I am trying to upgrade my computer and software a little bit. I can't upgrade it a lot because I can't afford it.

I want it to be FAST and EASY so that I can get back outside and work on agility activities in the sun with the furry beasts. But--this is computers--

For many months I've wanted to run Blurb's BookSmart because it sounds perfect for making books of your own photos. And now, ta-da!, it supposedly automatically slurps your blog from Blogger or your photos from SmugMug. This would be tres cool if it also sucks down all the text that I've typed for my smugmug photos! Because there's no way to get all that text into a book except by copying and pasting it from every photo individually. For thousands of photos.

But to run it, I need OSX 10.4.9 at least, plus Java 1.5, which needs OSX 10.4.something at least, and I am still on 10.3.something. Plus 10.4.something plus booksmart suggest that I have at least 6-zillion gigahoots dual processors, and mine are only 400-something megawhootz. Plus I'm out of space on my system disk, so no more room to put system upgrades OR more applications that won't run without the upgrades.

Plus my 15-year-old laser printer died, what's with that?

So here I went:

New laserjet printerTwo and a half hours of unstringing and restringing cables. The old printer setup was a little complicated.Works pretty OK. Much faster than the old one and does double-sided much more easily. Except when it won't. Then it just prints pages of fuzzy gray lines. No way to tell what its mood is until you actually print. So I have lots of one-sided things printed on the backs of sheets covered with fuzzy gray lines.
New humongous external disk driveExternal because I hate opening the computer and working inside. I haven't yet blown up anything when I've done so, but there's always a first time. And those warnings! DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING IN ANY WAY WITH ANY OBJECT OR THE WORLD WILL END ELECTRICALLY sorts, which scare me immensely. Anyway, plugged in Firewire cable and installed driver. Works. Some farkling around to divide it into partitions, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I'll probably regret it later.
Move system software to new driveDownloaded a nifty tool that makes a bootable copy of your existing system drive. Except that it kept dying with some unintelligible error. Their site had online help forums, where others reported similar messages, but apparently the meaning can be divined only by the initiated. Fortunately, one of the initiated responded and all I had to do was to reinstall some things that had been working just fine to the naked amateur eye but apparently the nifty tool didn't like its attitude. The copy finally worked but, not surprisingly, it took a very long time to copy 30 GB. So my old system is now working on my new drive. Because it's external, it's slower than it would be if I were to go out and buy ANOTHER disk drive of megahungus gigawhoo size and install it inside the box after taking out the old one and again using the System Software Copier to copy it all back... the cost and the time and the logistics just give me nausea. So it stays on an external drive for the nonce.
Upgrade processorsRather than buying a whole expensive new computer, my company is just upgrading processors in all our office machines of roughly the same vintage, and they hope to get another 3 years out of them. So I buy a new superhuge dual-processor, at 1/5 the price. But first I have to upgrade the something firmware whoozie driver whatsit software. At least twice, maybe 3 times, because I've got all these versions of the operating system on different disks (including the old System 9).

Oh, and there was the part where it wouldn't reboot under system 9 and I had to go find some sort of CD that it would boot under so I could try again, and it takes FOREVER to boot from a CD. But, OK, everything's happy now.

Then I have to open the computer (ewwww... scary...), remove the old heat sink and old processor, and I'm shaking in my virtual shoes the whole time for fear I'll TOUCH SOMETHING WITH A BURST OF STATIC ELECTRICITY AND FRY EVERYTHING. But aside from losing a screw and taking a while to figure out how to get those clips off (they have detailed descriptions and photos and I'm still slow to get it), then "simply align the single connector" must have taken me 5 minutes at least, and then the box wouldn't relatch...
But it's in! And the system powers up! And it runs! And, wow, the computer really DOES run faster!

Except now, sometimes, when the computer goes to sleep, there's this shrieking rising high-pitched sound like a jet engine revving or a solenoid about to explode (there aren't any solenoids in modern computers...are there?...). But if I hit a key really quickly, the noise stops. Maybe it's one of the fans on the new dual processor. Maybe it's something else that's coincidentally failing. Do I really want to go through taking the new one out and shipping it back and reinstalling the old one? No. So cross fingers and hope it's just a settling-in fluke.
Upgrade to System 10.4(Which of course you can't just download--apple doesn't have it any more since they're now selling 10.5. So I have to go far afield to get a copy.) I put it into a different partition Just In Case, and it takes a couple of hours to go through all the hoops. Well, of course, that means that it doesn't understand ANY of my settings or application preferences from system 10.3.x. I checked with one of my gurus, and she said, "Why'd you do that? Just install it over 10.3." So I did. But updates are funny--many are serial, so after a very long system install, then I check for updates,and it installs those, then I chck for updates again, and there are more, and it installs those, and I check again, etc. etc. until now finally I'm up to system 10.4.11 and now finally the java updates start to install, and those seem to be sequential...6 hours after I started installing 10.4, I'm now fully running on 10.4. There goes another day. It actually seems to be working fine so far (except that every application I run says "you're running this for the first time; OK?").
BookSmart installNOW I can download and run BookSmart--except--their web site is down. It's down for most of the day. Have they gone out of business? I dunno! Can't find anything about it on the web anywhere. Finally I try once more, and the site comes up, and I download BookSmart.Seems to run. So, OK, let's just play with it. First, you can use only preset page layouts. It has lots, but you can't design your own. I've tried laying out 3 pages of photos and already I don't like what I can't get. What if I have 5 photos and want to lay them out as if I have 6 but put text in the 6th box? Can't do it. Gahhhhh.... OK, it's a new product and still in beta. Be patient.

Next I carefully resize the photos for the page layout. But then decide that I want a different layout. So I switch layouts. And it shoots all the photos back to their original sizes and I have to resize them all again. Same thing if I switch the position of two photos--have to resize them both again. This is not quite the easy-to-use thing I was imagining. But let's see whether it at least does what I wanted it to do.
Slurp SmugMug albumsWith just a few button clicks, it brings down all the photos from my chosen gallery. Slick.Well, guess what--it doesn't seem to slurp the text! I look all through their help and online materials, and I can't find anything. Why did I think that it would? I can't find that info on SmugMug, either, so maybe it was just wishful thinking. Since it doesn't do that, I can just use the photos that are right here on my computer. But I want the text! That's frustrating.

There's a Windows utility (which I can run an emulator for on my system) that will slurp the photos WITH the captions EMBEDDED in the photos. Still have to open each one to see the text, but at least I'd have it. But does booksmart take any info out of the embedded photo info? Apparently not, not that I can find. Well, crud!
slurp my blogJust a few button clicks again. I'm surprised that there's no way to specify which part of the blog you want to get, can't even specify certain labels or anything, near as I can tell. It's really going to slurp 1250 entries and hundreds of photos and put them all into one book?? No, of course it isn't, it keeps barfing after loading about 25 entries, saying that the blog is unavailable, try again later. Well, it's not unavailable, dagnabbit, it's right there and I can view everything. I post a help request on their site but have to wait one BUSINESS day. So there goes the weekend and any likelihood of creating a real book.
Blog labelsInstead, let's put more labels on my older blog posts (have been doing it only for a year or so, so 5 years worth of posts have no labels). I did a few topics a couple of weeks ago, using the Search box to find all relevant posts. But now--what?!--the search finds only posts from the last few months! It's not finding ANYTHING older! It's not finding the posts that it found two weeks ago! I spend an hour on their site trying to find relevant info. It claims to be a beta search and it seems to be broken, but there's nothing posted about it anywhere, and searching their massive billions of forum posts doesn't bring up anything useful. Used to be when you reported a bug, the bug went right to their support folks...although I do remember having to search for the right page, like they didn't really want you to find it. Now their "report a bug" goes straight to a public forum with 85,000 posts in it and if you're lucky maybe a Blogger person will come by and answer the question. So I posted the question yesterday and have yet to get a useful answer.
Photoshop elements upgradeMeanwhile, Photoshop Elements 6 has become available, and I bought it at a discount. I use this all the time, so it makes sense to buy it. It installs OK (except that it says "insert CD and follow the instructions on the screen", but there are no instructions, there's just the CD, so I have to find the right folder with the right thing to run...). But man, I think it took as long to install as the whole new operating system! MAN, it took a long time.Then I start it up. And it takes up my whole blinking monitor screen. Welcome to the new software--there's no resize handle in the lower right. There are no min/max buttons in the upper menu bar. I just want a little tiny photoshop window so that I can view other things at the same time. I look everywhere, all the menus, all the icons. I try Help. I try the User Guide. I try their web site. Another hour down the tube and I've done nothing except trying to resize my window.

I finally find a support place on their site where I can post a question, so I do. Now I have to wait for "1 to 2 business days"(?) for a response. It's probably something stupid that I just overlooked. But I hate this, HATE it...I've got over 20 years of experience on a wide variety of window-based applications, and I CANNOT FIGURE IT OUT!

Gah! I just want to scream.

Instead, guess I'll take the dogs for a walk and get my shoulders ripped out some more. It'll take my mind off the fact that I HATE COMPUTERS.


  1. I am with you! Computers are only good when they work! That's cool that you are going to try the blurb books. I love mine- oh and not to run it in or anything but my blurb works just fine :o) hopefully you get everything worked out on Monday!

  2. Yeah, I neglected to mention that half of this took place a couple of weeks ago, then I took a breather, then the rest has taken about 3 days so far. Gak.

  3. oh my god. i am going to go make a giant backup right now. or at least dust off the top of my computer. that was a scarey, scarey story. i don't even know if i read the whole thing. i think i fainted at the beginning part about plugs and cables.

  4. You know what, when I was done typing, even *I* couldn't read the whole thing. But clearly if it's making people back up their computers, I have done this for the good of all mankind!

  5. w00f's, heehee, when ima through killin my puter wiff my hammer, u wanna borrow it...

    b safe,

  6. Oh, yeah, the indispensible fix-everything computer tool: The sledge hammer! Some days are like that--

    I have updates on my issues; will post when I can get at my blog, but at the moment it keeps timing out! Jeez, I hate computers!

  7. Sounds a little like what I went through building my website! Computers, software, compatibility - love 'em, hate 'em.

    Hmmmm...a personal printer that prints on both sides, how cool is that! Last time I worked in an office and saw that it took up half the coffee room - oh, I'm behind!