Michaelwclark.com

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Taking the Hardware Plunge

Image via Amazon.ca

Image via Amazon.ca

I can’t believe I finally did it. I ordered some RAM for a very old laptop that was (trying to) run on 512 mb ram. Up till now I’ve only extracted stuff from busted computers and juggled it around, hoping it would work and not blow up! So far I’ve been pretty lucky.

But last night I researched and scanned my old laptop system info with the free CPU-Z portable app, which I love. And I read and read and read. I also extracted the RAM and wrote down a whole bunch of numbers. Noted the slots. All that stuff.

Just hoping now I got it right. If this works, I got an amazing Hong Kong deal.

Will keep you posted. Low, low price means longer than usual delivery times.


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Well, I went back to Windows after all…

It was fun but it couldn’t last. I had to admit it. Even the fastest Linux software (Puppy Slacko) for my old PC ran slower than a clean install of Windows XP.

I’ve become a master at disabling unwanted plugins, resources, and startup items to get the RAM usage down to just over 100 mb. I’m not sure if Puppy Slacko was that low or not. The way the meter read the RAM was confusing to my untutored eyes.

Anyhow, I wrote the bulk of yesterday’s earthpages.ca article on my WinXP Pentium 4 computer, “Frankenstein.” But it gets slow when doing the final layout. So I switched to my Win 7 laptop, which is pretty average by today’s standards. Then I proofread again using the Win XP machine.

Looking at my writing on different systems gives me a fresh take. I can see inelegancies, errors and redundancies better. I then went BACK to XP and again to Win7 before finally finishing the thing at about 4:30 am.

Good thing I can sleep in a bit when I need to. I enjoy listening to music more than writing about it! 🙂


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The Supreme Geek in the Sky

Puppy_linux_430

Puppy linux 430 (Image: Wikipedia)

Possessed would be too strong a word. Obsessed might be better. Theologically, possessed means a serious eclipse of free will by an evil spirit. Whereas obsession isn’t quite so strong. Again theologically, I think obsessed just means being harassed by an evil spirit.

In both cases free will never dies. But in possession, it is temporarily eclipsed.

I think that’s right. I’d have to check my own Earthpages.ca “Think Free” entries to be sure.

Isn’t that pathetic? I have to look stuff up on my own website to see if I get it right.

But that’s the way it goes sometimes… 🙂

So what am I possessed/obsessed (whatever…) about?

Well, the Great Geek in the Sky or, as some might call him or her, the Supreme Geek in the Sky, has taken over most of my free time; I have been extremely enthused about learning Linux.

Earthpages, the news, the issues… they’ve all taken a back seat. Instead, searches upon searches about Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and (Slacko) Puppy Linux have been filling my days.

Trial and error… Endless reboots. Wearing out my old computer maybe. But lovin’ it!

I have a nice Windows computer in my bedroom. But it looks like a stranger to me now.

Weird?

A little bit.

Desktop and ROX-File-Manager runnig under Pupp...

Desktop and ROX-File-Manager runnig under Puppy Linux 2.13 (Image: Wikipedia)

I guess that’s what happens when you enter into Linux Land. The “old world” of Windows looks so… ick… banal… easy… bourgeois.

I’m having much more fun learning everything anew on an old Pentium 4 that was broken. It’s actually a mix of two computers. But I’ve talked about that

Anyhow… that’s all for now… have to get back to my learning curve. The Great Geek calls… 🙂


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More tips for people trying to get the most out of an old computer

compaq-crop

I awoke in the middle of the night last night. Instead of rolling around in bed when that happens, I usually get up and do something.  I also enjoy listening to music late at night. My senses are heightened. It’s quiet. And usually there are some other night owl bloggers with whom I might engage in some friendly banter. So it’s all good.

But last night my faster laptop was in my bedroom. And I wanted to sit at the dining room table, where I have a really ancient laptop set up. I say “set up” because the hinge is busted, so I have to prop up the screen with something moderately heavy.

A bit tired of Spotify and Stingray, I wanted to listen to Naxos online. But this little dining room laptop just couldn’t hack it. After playing sounds for a few seconds it would skip and sputter. That’s what happens with 512 RAM and an atom-style processor.

So I tried the K-Meleon browser, highly touted among old computer hobbyists. But it couldn’t load the Naxos playlist. I tried Firefox. Same thing. Next I tried the ultra-light Midori. The portable version didn’t load. But the installed version did.

This looked very promising and, happy for a few minutes, I thought I’d found the answer. But after a while the whole Midori browser just crashed.

Then it came to me. Duh. Just load Chrome without all my extensions. This meant signing out of Chrome and loading the blank browser, clearing all history, bookmarks, etc. (Not sure if the latter makes any difference but I thought I’d do it anyhow).

Success! This works so well that I am listening to Handel (streaming) and typing this note on Word 97. Next, I’ll try to load up WordPress and see if the music still plays.

It’s the little things in life…  🙂


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A little ingenuity goes a long way

IMG_0622-fixA few years ago I purchased a really nice, small USB keyboard for 10 dollars at one of those downtown liquidator outlets. Either I got a lemon or was outright suckered, I’m not sure. But much to my dismay, when I got home and eagerly tried it out, the CTRL key was dead. I tried everything. I pressed it repeatedly. I pressed it hard. I pressed it soft.  I even took the back cover off the keyboard to see if there was anything I could clean. But it was all too tight and mysterious for my limited expertise.

For bloggers and writers, the CTRL key is key, as it were. I use it all the time for quickly bouncing thru words one by one, as I imagine most writers do. So I was miffed, and felt cheated. I’d seen other people returning stuff at this place and didn’t feel like going thru the usual runaround. Also, even if they gave me another keyboard, it would probably be flawed too if the place was a clearing house for defective stuff (which I was starting to suspect it might be).

So after getting some limited use I packed it up in the basement. But today I thought, why not just remap the keyboard? There must be a way.

Turns out there are several ways. I chose this cool little program because it was free, light, and didn’t require installing anything else along with it.

http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/keytweak.html (KeyTweak 2.3).

I found it very easy to use with a practically self-explanatory user interface.

So if by chance your laptop keyboard or some other keyboard is not working on a particular key, maybe try this. You can see the dead key in my photo. I remapped that to the key that my pen is pointing to, a key I never used. But you can remap to almost any key.

Works great!


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Windows 10 free upgrade ending soon! – July 29 2016

win10aI tried Windows 10 when it was first available and didn’t like it for several reasons:

  • Windows Defender seemed mandatory
  • not as many options to control Windows Update behavior
  • used more RAM than Windows 7
  • seemed like a lot of ads that I didn’t want

But I am a sucker for free things so am installing it now before the free offer expires on July 29. I can always go back to Windows 7 if I want to. But I doubt I will. I have an old machine running Windows XP and fully realize what a hassle it is when software updates are discontinued.  January 14, 2020 in the case of Windows 7.


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Tips and tricks – U S B expansion

Most of you have probably heard of a USB hub. That refers to a small device that plugs into one of your USB ports and gives you 3 or more ports. I’m no expert on this stuff, but I think the juice might be diminished with each new plug-in. So if you’re transferring lots of data or, as in my case, trying to minimize lag (called latency) on your musical keyboard, chances are its best not to use a USB hub for that kind of activity.

My laptop has four USB ports. But I would really like five. So after thinking about it, I realized that I could use a hub on stuff that wasn’t so critical. Like the mouse and USB keyboard. They both work fine thru the hub, and are low drain (my non-technical language) so you don’t notice any difference in performance.

The hub I use cost about two or three dollars at the dollar store. A quick solution to wanting more USB ports!