iTunes Shenanigans

A couple of months ago, I installed iTunes on my laptop. I should have known better, because the last time I did that, it completely corrupted my operating system to the point that Windows could not load. I had to wipe the hard disk and reinstall Windows from scratch. You can imagine how happy that made me.

So I knew better. But I had a handful of songs in AAC format that I’d bought from iTunes that I wanted to convert to mp3. Installing iTunes temporarily seemed to be the easiest solution. I did, and it worked fine, and I immediately uninstalled it. Everything seemed to be functioning properly, so I thought I was in the clear.

Today I tried to rip some CDs and found that my computer couldn’t access music CDs–it kept telling me the drive was empty. Data CDs worked fine, so it wasn’t the drive itself. I was NOT AMUSED. And then I remembered my little adventure into iTunesland. And, more important, I looked through my recently installed programs and that was the only thing I’d changed since the last time I’d (successfully!) ripped a CD. Therefore I was 100% positive that iTunes had caused the problem, but I didn’t know how to fix it. The only thing I could think of was that maybe something didn’t uninstall properly, so I re-installed iTunes, rebooted, re-uninstalled iTunes, and rebooted again. Et voila, everything was back to working properly.


Would someone please remind me of this if I EVER consider installing iTunes again? Because if I do, I’m sure no good will come of it.



I joke about being bad at math (really, truly, spectacularly bad) and about being generally no good with numbers. Usually, it works against me, so on the rare occasion when it turns out in my favor, I like to savor the moment.

I’m in the process of setting up my old computer for my mom. Her ancient iMac is limping along on its last leg, and though my old desktop is not as spiffy as it could be, there’s a lot of good life left in it. Job #1 was upgrading the RAM. That turned out to be easier said than done. The first time I ordered it, I got the wrong kind and had to send it back (I read PC4200 as PC3200). The second time I ordered, I tried to be more careful, but when I got the shipping confirmation, I noticed that I’d ordered 240 pin RAM, instead of 184 pin. Yikes! It was too late to do anything about it, so I was resigned to sending yet another shipment back.

It arrived today, and I thought I would at least look at it, to see if it would fit. Guess what? I had originally written down the size incorrectly, so when I ordered the “incorrect” size, it was actually exactly what I needed.


So now I’m in the process of uninstalling programs my mom doesn’t need and installing stuff she does. That, I should be able to manage without too many math errors, though I did have a moment of panic when my Windows license code didn’t work, because I’d transposed two numbers.


“My Google Changed”

I wonder sometimes how the people I work with manage to dress themselves in the mornings. Over the weekend, LIT pushed down an update for Firefox. No problem for those of us who use Firefox instead of IE, nor for those who are moderately clueful about software. And by moderately clueful, I mean, they know what a web browser is. Apparently some of my coworkers do not.

Now, I realize that there are plenty of folks who manage to find their way around a computer without overstuffing their brains with information they don’t really need to have on tap. So if I asked my mom what a web browser is, she is unlikely to know what the hell I’m talking about. That’s fine. My coworkers, though? We all had to go through a web 2.0 workshop, so they ought to bloody well know what a web browser is, right?

Twice now, I’ve had someone come to my cubicle to tell me, “My Google changed.” Now, I had no idea how to unpack that statement. What the hell were they talking about? Knowing about the Firefox update, I asked which web browser they were using. “What’s a web browser?” Uh-oh. I asked if they were using Firefox or IE, and coworker A said, “I’m using Google.” Um, no. I explained that they had to be using either Firefox or IE (there are no other options on our workstations). “Oh, definitely IE, then, because I never use Firefox.” (Any guesses as to which browser was open when I went to their workstations?) Lordy!

Apparently, when the new Firefox update was pushed down, it made itself king of the mountain (“All ur shortcuts R belong to us!”). Folks who usually use IE as the default browser now found that Firefox was the default. Some folks–including coworkers A and B–litter their desktops with shortcuts to websites, instead of bookmarking them. Because of the update, clicking on any of those shortcuts launched Firefox, not IE. Folks realized that things looked a little different, but couldn’t figure out why, so their explanation was that Google–which LIT has automatically set as the default homepage in both IE and Firefox–had changed.

If I wanted to hold people’s hands and help them sort out their lives, I’d work in tech support. But I don’t, so I don’t.


Not Cool Enough

This was posted to BoingBoing Gadgets. I ended up with the very same computer, for exactly the same reasons. There’s the expected Windows-bashing in the comments thread over there, with the same asinine arguments:

  • Windows is too expensive (From people who think you should pay $2000 for a Mac vs. $700 for a PC.)
  • Your PC will be full of viruses in no time (Um, no, some Windows users are actually smart enough to operate anti-virus software.)
  • Macs are great for non-tech savvy people. No, wait, only non-tech savvy fools use Windows. M’kaythen!
  • Use Linux! (As if the OS–the cheapest part of the equation–were the sole reason for buying a PC, and besides, Windows Vista Home Premium only costs me $20 through my job. Twenty dollars vs. a free OS that none of my programs will work with? No, thanks.)
  • And how on earth has a company that sells just a handful of flavors of computer become the icon of hip, cool, diversity, when PCs come in a million different sizes, shapes, and prices?

Instant Review: Track Pad

When I first got Cracktop, I wasn’t so happy about using a track pad with applications like Photoshop. I’ve used track pads before, but they never worked very well for me. Trying to use one in Photoshop was just a royal pain in my ass. But, I told myself that I’d use this one for awhile, to give it a thorough test drive. If I sill hated it after a couple of months, I’d get a USB mouse. Well, it’s been almost two months, and I’m finding that I rarely wish I had a mouse. In fact, I find myself wishing my work computer had a track pad.

Part of it is that my laptop’s track pad is much more customizable than other tracking devides I’ve had in the past. I’ve been able to teach it to do what I want, instead of having to train myself. It also helps that I’ve made myself take long enough to get used to it. I was really frustrated with it on several occasions (yelling at your computer is not very effective, apparently), but since I didn’t have another alternative on hand, I was forced to work through it. And now, I’m quite happy with Mr. Track Pad.

Teh enb.


Tech Tip o’ the Day

As I’ve decided to embrace the evil that is MS Outlook 2007, in no small part because I need a good, functional calendar, I decided to look around for calendar add-ons. Specifically, I wanted a moon phase calendar. There are a couple of websites selling them, but I found iCalShare, which has free calendars. Obviously, these are only as good as the folks who created them, but you cannot beat the price.

I snagged a moon phase calendar, a Mercury retrograde calendar, a Roman Catholic feasts-n-saints calendar, and wonder of wonders, an academic calendar for IU Bloomington. The last is perplexingly missing from our work calendars. You’d think that official university events would be part of the standard Outlook install for our campus, but I guess not.

I think you can also file this under “spring cleaning.” I’m having some sort of OCD fit and am apparently needing to create order out of chaos.


Gone to the Dark Side, BRB

I finally got fed up with Thunderbird. The way it displays quoted text drives me batshit crazy. Since I’ve got Office 2007 installed on Cracktop, and since I have to use Outlook for work, I figured I may as well use it at home. As much as it hurts to say it, it’s a huge improvement over Thunderbird. For one thing, you can control how incoming messages are displayed, even to the extent that it’ll strip out HTML. This is good.

Plus, the integrated calendar is helpful. And the good lord knows, after spending three hours in a ridiculous workshop learning the dark secrets of the Outlook calendar, I should probably put that evil knowledge to use.

[Addendum: I found a utility to convert Thunderbird mailboxes to Outlook-readable files. It involved converting, then dumping into Outlook Express, then importing into Outlook, but it worked flawlessly. The whole process took about 15 minutes, and that includes searching for the converter, downloading and installing it, and time spent hunting around on my hard drive for the stupid TB files.]


And Another Thing!

Why on earth do I still have old installation booklets for Windows 95 and Windows 98? I mean, maybe I originally kept them because the product keys were on printed on the covers, but that doesn’t explain why I didn’t get rid of them in the last couple of moves.

There are bigger pack rats than me out there. I know, because I’ve met them, but still, my ability to hold on to junk is kind of mind-boggling.

Also, not to be whiny, but I broke a nail, and I am not amused. It takes me forever to grow them, even when I’m not chewing my fingers to bloody stumps. Hrmf.