Posts Tagged ‘computers’

Spring 2020 computer catchup, part 3

June 16, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 16, 2020

Last month, I mentioned that I’d purchased a replacement for my old scanner. It works fine, but…

My Xerox Duplex Combo came with two pieces of scanning software. One is Visioneer Scan Utility, which is pretty straightforward. It works fine; my only big complaint is that it doesn’t let users save different configurations of scanner options. If I want to scan an oversized item using the flatbed as opposed to the document feeder, I have to change the settings; then I have to remember to change it back for regular-sized documents. By comparison, the (outdated) software that worked with my old scanner easily let me switch between clearly labeled different settings. The inability to choose among configurations in Visioneer Scan Utility is unfortunate, but it’s not a tragedy.

The other piece of software is a different story altogether.

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Spring 2020 computer catchup, part 2

May 22, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 22, 2020

Earlier this month, I went online and bought a new scanner, a Xerox Duplex Combo, a lightweight machine that features both an automatic sheet feeder with two-sided scanning and a flatbed that can accommodate larger or irregularly shaped documents. I had it delivered to my Durham residence, where I spent time from the 5th through the 20th.

I let the box sit for a few days before opening it up. Evidence indicates that the chances of catching Covid-19 from mail or boxes that have been contaminated by the novel coronavirus are extremely low, but I’ve been trying to extremely diligent about limiting my exposure.

Setup was pretty easy. So was software installation. I had to fiddle with the software settings a bit, but it was pretty easy to begin scanning with the new machine. This meant that I could upgrade my MacBook Pro’s operating system and still be able to scan documents. I was almost ready to get my computer on board with MacOS Catalina.

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Spring 2020 computer catchup, part 1

May 21, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 21, 2020

I got my current computer, a 13-inch MacBook Pro with retina display, in September 2015. It features a 250-gigabyte hard drive, which seemed rather spacious at the time. Not anymore, my friends.

For perhaps the past year, and certainly the past nine or so months, I have been living dangerously when it comes to hard-drive space. MacOS Catalina, the most current Macintosh operating system, came out in early October 2019, but I put off upgrading from Mojave for a long time because I just didn’t have enough free hard drive space.

Did I try to open capacity on my drive? Yes sir, you bet I did! I offloaded old, little-used documents, photos and audio recordings. But all my efforts barely made a dent in available space. The biggest bugbear by far was my photo library, the main file associated with Photos, Apple’s native image-viewing application. With a lot of work, I winnowed it down from about 96 gigabytes to 88 GB. Even then, it remained by far the largest single item on my machine.

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More than you (or I) ever wanted to know about USB cables

March 4, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 4, 2020

I wanted to add some odds and ends about the computer stuff I’ve been posting about.

First, USB ports on Macintosh laptop computers — that is to say, the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. I wrote on Friday that these machines had had USB Type A ports since the line was introduced in 2006 up until 2017. If you’re a Doubting Thomas, you can click the links in the first sentence of this paragraph, which will lead you to the appropriate pages on the website EveryMac.com.

The MacBook’s USB Type A ports came in two flavors; the receptacles initially conformed to USB’s 2.0 standard before being upgraded to the 3.0 standard. The early version transfers up to 480 megabits per second, while 3.0 can transfer 5.12 gigabits per second, which is roughly 10.7 times faster. By contrast, USB 1.1 — the version that made the Universal Serial Bus a popular connection standard starting in the late ’90s — topped out at a measly 12 megabits/second.

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DriveQuest: The hardware strikes back

February 28, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 28, 2020

My plan to add a network-attached storage device to my home computing setup and thereby create a personal cloud has yet to come to fruition.

I put in an online order for a network-capable hard drive on Thursday, Feb. 13; it was set to arrive the following Tuesday, Feb. 18. But after my post on this topic went up, I received an email saying that the NAS drive was out of stock and that I could cancel my order and receive a full refund.

I did so and instead bought what I believe is a slightly newer device made by WD, or Western Digital. It was a little bit more expensive than the item I’d originally bought. It came on Thursday the 20th.

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Items for Feb. 15, 2020: Lost pens, new pens, computer storage

February 15, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 15, 2020

Various items:

• Sometime over the last week, I lost a red pen. It’s not a big deal, I guess, but it was still annoying, especially because when I checked my office supplies at home I discovered that I didn’t have any red pens in reserve. I use red ink to mark questionable words and challenges while playing Scrabble; I also use them to mark attendees and the total number of players in late games when I work as a World Tavern Poker tournament director.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, I went into a convenient office-supply store that’s part of a national chain; I had a $30 “e-gift card” for it. (This item, which I printed out at home, belongs in a different category than either a gift card or a gift certificate, as various cashiers and I learned in 2019 through trial and error.)

I wound up buying a four-pack of fine-tipped black pens for $10.98 and a five-pack of fine-tipped red pens for $7.29. I wasn’t out of black pens, but I have been searching for fine-tipped black writing implements. I can no longer find the 0.5-millimeter black rollerball pens that used to be stocked in every office-supply store.

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Time marches on, but memories linger

March 1, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 1, 2016

When I was a child, someone gave me a set of books by John D. Fitzgerald, the first of which was titled The Great Brain. Each volume was an episodic novel about kids in a small Utah town around the start of the 20th century. The title character, whose given name was Tom Fitzgerald, was an incredibly shrewd youngster who was great at solving mysteries and resolving problems. In one story, he outed a card shark by discovering that the suspiciously lucky stranger was using a deck that had been manufactured with subtle irregularities in the patterns on the backs of certain cards.

I only remember bits and pieces of the books, which I loved but have not laid hands or eyes upon for probably the better part of three decades. There was one story that I recall only for its opening scene. The tale, which was perhaps the last chapter in its book, started with the Fitzgerald patriarch causing a hubbub by having a W.C. — a water closet, now better known as a flush toilet — installed in the house. The other townspeople, shocked and appalled by this newfangled contraption, smirked to each other and snarked that the Fitzgerald home would shortly be awash in foul odors. Most of the Fitzgerald clan felt exactly the same way, sharing the dismay and puzzlement of their neighbors; the only exceptions, I think, were Mrs. Fitzgerald, who had long ago resigned herself to riding out her husband’s passing fancies with a certain tolerance, and possibly the Great Brain himself.

To the modern reader — The Great Brain was published in 1967 — this uproar is, of course, comical: I was trained on flush toilets from a young age, as (presumably) were my parents before me. I know what an outhouse is, of course, but the concept is still somewhat foreign to me. It’s hard, not to mention unpleasant, to imagine what cities were like before the advent of running water and modern sanitation.

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Turing’s tests: ‘The Imitation Game’ is a superior but tragic biopic about a brilliant but lonely intellectual

December 31, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 31, 2014

What makes life worth living? Why should society — why should anyone — value a man’s existence and accomplishments?

Those are some of the questions Norwegian director Morten Tyldum poses with his new feature, The Imitation Game, which examines the life and work of pioneering British computer scientist Alan Turing.

The movie has three interwoven narratives. The shortest, but arguably the most heart-wrenching, shows a roughly 15-year-old Turing at boarding school in the 1920s. Turing, played with touching vulnerability by Alex Lawther, is bullied mercilessly by his classmates — all but one, Christopher Morcom (Jack Bannon), who shows appreciation for Turing’s quirky personality as well as his impressive intellect.

The grown-up Turing whom we see throughout the rest of the movie is less vulnerable — at least superficially. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s ongoing 21st-century update of the character and Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness) portrays the main character as he first strives to crack Nazi German cryptography in World War II and then, in the early 1950s, tries to deflect the inquiries of an overenthusiastic Manchester detective who suspects Turing of spying for the Soviet Union. (To avoid spoilers, I’ll confine most of my commentary to the movie’s World War II narrative.)

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Too many tabs, man. Too many tabs.

December 5, 2012

Many years ago, I worked at an institution of higher learning that I usually refer to, with my trademark snark — not to mention my stale wit — as PU. A guy in my office was also named Matt; he had some kind of information technology job, the exact nature of which escapes me.

Anyway, one day Matt stopped at my desk for some reason and noticed the bar at the bottom of my screen. My computer was running some more or less current (at the time) version of the Windows operating system.

Windows then did (and continued, I believe, up until the version released this year) to display a number of rectangles in that bottom-line status bar. Each rectangle represented either a program that the computer was running or an individual window of a program that was running. If more than a few programs were running, a program would get just one box.

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