Monday, October 27, 2008

My Newest Toy

If you remember from this post, I mentioned putting my laptop into the shop the day after I got back home from the Big E.

A few days after dropping my poor baby off, I called the box store I use for computer repairs (and incidentally purchases) and asked for an update. The person I spoke to was a little evasive, but repeated the standard spiel of 10 days to 2 week turnaround. On day 10, not having heard anything else, I again contacted the techs. This time I was told there was an 'issue' and that paper work had been sent from HP for a replacement to be given to me because of problems either with getting the part, or that there was more to the hardware problem than just the DVD drive--no one seemed sure which. I always insure my laptops for the full 3 years against both damage and repair problems for just this reason. I asked when I would know for sure and was told that it would be resolved sometime between Tuesday and Thursday of the following week. Why not immediately? Well, there was still a chance HP would change their mind/get the correct part and I would get my laptop back..... Hmmmph! I don't think they were actually out of DVD drives. That's a popular model of laptop and just barely over a year old, so obviously there was more wrong and they figured it would cost more to fix the computer than to replace it. Still, there was nothing I could do until the paperwork went somewhere.

On Tuesday I happened to be an the Big Box Store for something else and approached the techs. Now, remember I had called 3 times during the last 14 days and physically visited the store and talked to a tech once. When I gave the guy my repair slip he looked at my repair order on the computer at his station, looked at me, and then asked me to wait a second. Now, officially they could make me wait until Thursday for the final decision, but instead the very nice tech spoke with his supervisor and came back to tell me that they would be replacing my laptop. Although it was nice that I would be getting something brand spanking new, I had reservations because I had been avoiding Vista, I liked my old laptop, and I had everything set up just the way I liked it!!

With just a little trepidation in my heart, I followed the tech over to the computer department where he handed me over to a really nice guy who began the process of helping me find my replacement.

For anyone who hasn't gone thru this, here is how it goes: They pull up the specs of your old computer (and if it is more than a few months old, everything on the floor is now faster and better LOL!) and figure out which model they will offer you as a replacement. I then made it clear that the feature I was most concerned about was my 17" screen. I did this last time to. I do this because usually the 17" screen models are the higher end of most manufacturers lines, and since I edit pictures the larger screen makes it easier to work..... Now he looks and finds the comparable model and shows it to you. This establishes the price they are going to give you. You then have the option of taking what they offer you, or picking out something else and they subtract the cost of the computer they offered you.

Luckily, having been forearmed and forewarned  with the news they were probably going to replace my laptop, I had done my homework and new the model I wanted. Long story short, I only had to pay $500 for a $1300 laptop (that happened to be on sale this week $100 off).  I then added virus/firewall software (for a 64bit machine--there are still only a few companies making it) which was regularly $79, but on sale for $49, a new all in one Epson printer that was $99, but because I bought it along with a computer instantly marked down to $49 because of an ongoing promotion for bundling computers and printers this week, and then, because I was feeling lazy and they had a special on, I had the Geeks optimize my laptop, make the recovery disks, and dump all the crapware for a total of $59(also on special). I also added 3 years of extended warranty covering accident and repair....Grand Total with tax: $2105.21.... Of which, after they subtracted the amount for my replacement and all of the other sales prices, I only had to pay: $1073.08. Oh, and I have one of their frequent buyer cards where you get the gift certificates every time your purchases add up to a certain amount.... and the guy swiped that card before he took off the amount for replacing the computer. So, I should be getting about $100 in gift certificates in the mail soon!! Not too bad and almost makes up for the annoyance of having to find and reload everything onto the new machine.

This sweetheart has an Intel core 2 duo chip, 4g of Ram, 512mg of -dedicated- video ram, a 320g harddrive, a 17" screen that has a screen resolution of 1680 X 1050, and Vista Home Premium 64bit (which you need if your Ram goes over 3G), a built in webcam (I've never had a webcam LOL) This baby HUMS! Oh.... and Vista?? I actually LIKE it so far!

It's taken a few days, but I finally have everything  about the way I like it. There are a few things in Vista I had to hunt a little bit for, but mostly it was pretty intuitive.

AND, it's Shiny!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Adventure Begins.... early!

Horse Hauler

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that I have spent the last couple of years taking care of some horses for a very good friend. I had some retired horses, a couple almost ready to be trained, and a couple of 'babies'. I spent this last spring and summer helping her get 2 of these horses ready to perform. The event we would be attending would be there debut. We had a plan of action, the horses were ready, and we were all set. But, as usual, the best laid plans are usually the ones who go awry!!

This event was quite a distance away (approx 1200 miles), and we needed to arrive there around the 9th of Sept. The event would run from the 12th till the 27th. The plan was to leave on Saturday, giving us 4 days to get to our destination. Plenty of time. However a little thing called a hurricane interfered! It seemed that Hurricane Hanna had a different idea. Hanna had decided that traveling up the east coast looked like a lot of fun to her too. This forced our hand and we left 4 days early trying to stay ahead of the worst of the weather. Not a problem if you hadn't thought you had 4 more days to get all the things you needed together.

Somehow we all managed to get everything we, and the horses, needed together, packed and loaded into the vehicles we would be taking with us. This doesn't sound like a big deal until you realize that we are talking about 10 horses, 3 adult humans who would be staying at the event, and 1 adult who would be driving us and then leaving. We were also leaving 3 horses here at home with my boyfriend, G, and we needed to leave all the food, hay, etc he would need for the period until I returned home.

Yep, things got hectic! And the trip that followed our late night leaving on Sept 4 wouldn't be a picnic either. Although we were running ahead of the main storm, we still had to deal with a lot of rain, wind, bad visibility.... yep, it was not a good time. Think about any long trip you've made in bad weather, and then add in having to take care of the needs of ten horses on the mix. They didn't care that we were getting soaked, they still wanted us to provide food and water whenever we stopped.

Still we arrived safely at our destination...... but the storm arrived with us and we ended up soaked to the skin by the time we got everything ready for the horses and then got them unloaded from their transport and bedded down for the night. Luckily that seemed to be the last of the storm and we would wake to sunshine the next morning.

The next day we spent getting ourselves set up, finding our way around, seeing who else was attending, and watching in amazement as the fair went up around us. Yep, the event I'm talking about was none other than the Big E. The largest fair in the northeast. Since we were a few days early we would have a chance to get oriented before the fair actually kicked off.

I have very few pictures of the trip/event. It poured most of the trip up there, and once there I was usually too busy to run and grab the camera! The picture of S.'s horse hauler at the top of this entry is one I had already in my collection . It's an 'air ride' vehicle and travels much smoother than a lot of horse trailers you see. I know I have a picture of the hauler hooked up to a tractor somewhere, but I unexpectedly had my laptop replaced, and I can't seem to find it at the moment. LOL!

To be continued......

Friday, October 10, 2008

Public Service Announcement

We interrupt this blog for the following Public Service Announcement....

I know that some of the people who are moving their journals over here from AOL may not be the most tech savvy group of people.... and some, like me, may just be having a hardware problem. I have a tip coming up.

One of my problems with AOL pulling the plug on Journals and Hometown at just this minute was this; having returned from my trip/adventure the first thing I did was put my laptop into the shop to have the DVD drive fixed. The drive had been acting up for a while, but I had nursed it thru going on this trip because it was going to be the only entertainment I had. Read that as I took a bunch of DVDs with me to watch cause I had NO television, no radio, no internet. Sigh!

Normally being without my laptop for a short period isn't too bad. I can use G's laptop to check e-mail and blogs, and I just put off everything else till I have my baby back. G has the bare essentials on this machine. It is old. It only has 128mb of Ram and a 20 gig harddrive and USB 1.0. He only uses it for surfing the web and e-mail. I do NOT have all of my usual resources. I needed a solution of where to download my FTP stuff. Even plugging my external harddrive into this machine is an interesting proposition. I needed some other way to take care of Hometown....

My solution?? Photobucket! They offer a free and a paid account. The free account is fine for what I'm going to explain. I had decided to get a photobucket account anyway to upload my animated content to due to the problem that Flickr doesn't support animations. After signing up for the account I was thrilled to discover that you can move pictures using the picture/graphics urls twenty at a time.

So, here's what you do if you want to move your FTP Hometown things without downloading and re-uploading them and using only a web browser:

  1. Open up Hometown in one tab and Photobucket in another. I reccommend using Firefox. Sign into both AOL and Photobucket. Do not use the AOL client software... you need to be on the internet and in a browser for this to work. If you don't have Firefox, IE 7 or above should work.
  2. About halfway down the Hometown page you should see AOL Hometown: File Manager. Click on that and you will be taken to the file manager. From here you should see your files that you have stored on AOL FTP.
  3. Right click on the file that you wish to move from Hometown to Photobucket and choose Copy Link Location from the drop down box
  4. Now move to the photobucket tab and choose the Web URL option. It will give you 3 spots to paste your url link into, but if you look farther down you will see where it says add more. Click on add more and it increases to 20 spaces.
  5. Click on the space and using ctrl-v (or right click and use paste), this will put a copy of the link to your picture/graphic from Hometown into the space
  6. Repeat steps 2 - 4 till you have the pictures/graphics you want or you have filled all 20 spaces
  7. Click the Upload button in Photobucket (Located under the url spaces)
  8. Photobucket will now upload a copy of the photos/graphics.
  9. Repeat till you have moved all of the files you want to Photobucket.

Not an elegent solution, I admit. But a workable one if you don't understand how to use FTP programs, or don't have access to anything but a web browser!! I only had around 250 files (less than 10mb) in Hometown, so this was a viable solution for me.

Any questions... feel free to ask and I'll try to help.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Goodbye AOL

Goodbye AOL and thanks for the encouragement to move on and use better tools!

Just a quick note to anyone who hasn't moved their AOL Journal. I just did it and it went seamlessly. Seems that AOL actually did something right.... more likely someone over at Blogger, but let's give AOL the benefit of the doubt...

I put one last entry up over on my AOL Journal and plan to leave it up till the final day so people will be able to find my 'forwarding address'.

I named my imported blog Adventures of an Eclectic Mind - The 1st and don't plan to post over there. I am going to continue to post here and leave that blog as a collection of memories from the AOL years. I did put up one entry over there explaining what the blog was, what AOL did, and directing people here...... An era ends and a new one begins

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Deathrows of AOL Journals....

Yes, yes, yes... I know I promised stories from my great adventure, but I seem to have returned to find something of a disaster happening in J-land. It seems that AOL has decided that the Journal product, along with all of the Hometown stuff, is to be discontinued. In other words they are kicking us out. I can't say that this is totally unexpected. I have been pessimistically mirroring all of my entries on a Blogger Blog for a long time now, every since the Banner fiasco. After the way AOL handled that, I wasn't sure I trusted them to stick around and support the Journals product. It seems that unfortunately my paranoia was not so unfounded after all.

At first glance this seemed to be a pain, but I have been playing around with moving away from AOL for a while now and this is just the push I needed. I tend to go with the established (read easy) path unless pushed. With Journals and FTP space gone -- and I am sure AOL Pictures soon to follow-- the only thing left that I really use on AOL is my e-mail account. I will probably continue to always have that e-mail addy as long as AOL continues to support e-mail because it is the one I've had since like 1995 and everyone has it, but I see it becoming the account I check like once every couple of weeks to be sure that nothing ended up there.  Why? Because:

  • I have a g-mail account, which I plan to migrate all my e-mail traffic over to
  • Blogger will now be my main Blogging platform -- at least for now and until I decide to do the whole domain/host thingy -- again, I've always preferred the customization over at Blogger anyway
  • I have a free Flickr account, which I will take Pro tomorrow. It's a better platform than AOL Pictures anyway and the only reason I haven't been using it is just pure laziness of habit. Plus I have been wanting to do more with my pictures over at Flickr anyway and maybe this will be the push I need to do so
  • I was only using AOL FTP to host my animated graphics. I will now move those over to Photobucket
  • AOL alerts were always lousy, so I have a Bloglines account up and running and have been using it for years already. Now it is just a matter of getting everyone's new Blog accounts into Bloglines and deleting out the old AOL Journal ones
  • AND Live Writer is integrated with Blogger and it was always a pain having to copy and paste the entry into AOL anyway. With Blogger all I have to do is hit the publish button

So... I'm thinking maybe I should THANK AOL for being butts and kicking us out. My only fear is that some of the people I enjoy will either not continue to blog or I will miss finding where they have gone. Otherwise I think this may actually turn out to be a good move, at least for me.

If anyone who is making the move needs any help with getting their new Blogs set up, or have questions about Bloglines, Flickr, or Photobucket feel free to ask.

Another place to get help is here. Rachel has set up a bulletin board for people to help each other, ask questions, and post their forwarding links. You have to sign up for an account to post, but it is free.

This will most likely be my last post that I 'mirror' over at AOL Journals. From now on I will only be posting here. I will put one last entry up over at J-land directing all my friends over to my Blogger Blog. Eh, and an era ends.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I've Been on an Adventure!


I've been on an Adventure! I am currently sitting in an airport waiting for my flight home. I was told I would have internet access during this little foray, but this turned out to be not exactly true. Turns out that this is the first time I have been online since Sept 11. Details to follow as soon as I get home and get a little caught up.... by the way, I have 4572 entries waiting my attention on Bloglines and 1840 e-mails.