Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Computer hangups that are still driving me nuts

I am still having mondo computer problems, dude. (Sorry, the turtlespeak from watching Finding Nemo from 01:30 to 04:30 this morning is still persisting.)

Any advice, tips, resources, or other help would be greatly appreciated. I, and penguins for generations to come, will sing your praises! Fish bards will remember your name! (Well, they would, if... um... what were we talking about?)

You like me! You really, really like me!

You would not think these problems would persist for so long, but they have.

  • 1. CD and DVD recording: I still have six CD-R drives - seven if you count the one in Vaire and eight if you count the one I took out of Telperion - and only one (barely) working one. Of two copies of Nero I have, one was bundled with this Pioneer DVR-105 (16/8/4/2) drive, and it is the only CD-burning software I now have working.

    • phawkwood and darana recommended Roxio and I'm considering trying to get Toast working on Yavanna (the PowerMac G4-350).

    • hempknight recommended Nero 6.x Ultimate, Manly Edition, but I'm wary of this software that is so bundled driver-dependent that only one of 6-8 drives works. As you may know, I have an uncanny ability to put off computer upgrades, repairs, patches, configurations, and other fixes, for 2d12 months, when downward compatibility inconsideration maketh me to say "WTF?". A Stupidity in Hell, to borrow the NetHack phrase.

    • I still cannot burn DVDs from ISO format (e.g., images produced by DVDshrink).

  • 2. Linux: Project Death Penguins of the Vanyar is a little stalled. (I'll give you two guesses as to the specific distributions and PC platforms.) I got a little discouraged when my partitioning of the little 8Gb drive resulted in out-of-space errors at several different stages of installation.

  • 3. Combination color inkjet printer, copier, and scanner: I cannot for the life of me get this Hewlett Packard psc 1350 All-in-One printer/copier/scanner working.

    • masteralida, jereeza, and scottharmon report no problems with their HP printers, even under Linux. zengeneral and miajesbar aver that it is not the printer, but the fact that the COMPAQ WinXP box I'm trying to hook it up to is crap-in-a-box. All advise me to download updated drivers. I have the CD version 3.5.0.

    • Why have I not downloaded the drivers? In short, because I am a memoryless fishie. A procrastinating memoryless fishie. I unpacked the hp psc 1350 around 15 Jan 2005 and had the box open on the floor for over a week. On cleaning up my basement office, I promptly lost the installation poster and the little sticker that comes with the printer. What little sticker? The one that goes over the panel of LEDs next to all the buttons, that's which one! Yes, I have many flashing lights on this shiny poo and no idea what they mean. It's all very discouraging. *flicker beep flash flash E* Would you go on trying? I can't even work up the motivation to call HP and try to get them to replace it. Meanwhile, a printer and scanner that could otherwise be perfectly fine is going to waste, together with a growing pile of things that need to be scanned and printed:

      • CIS 830 (Advanced AI) papers for review - this is three weeks beyond "urgent, needed yesterday" and into the "OMG *assiduous headdesk*" range

      • CIS 736 (Computer Graphics) papers for review - this just went over the the "urgent, must scan this weekend" redline today

      • Photos - qyoot sproglet fishie! There's plenty more where that came from. C'mon, if that doesn't give you an incentive, I dunno what does!

      • Iron-on T-shirts - OK, fine, I do know. Whosoever helpeth me to print and scan shall receive an iron-on T-shirt with a custom image or logo (or our new TEUNC design!) in his or her size, postage prepaid. Come on, you can't beat that!

      At any rate, I'd like to start printing, and testing out the quijillion ink cartridges and refill kits I bought, not to mention get a spare (color!) copier working.

    • masteralida recommends the HP 58 Photo Ink Cartridge for photo printing. Anyone have anecdotal information on the merits of the 57 vs. the 58?

    Believe it or not, I still like having a COMPAQ desktop, mostly because a) it's cheaper than the manure it is and b) I don't need fast clock, many features, or anything but relative stability and nice multimedia performance. Well, to clarify "clock" and "features": all I ask is a system with more than 2 USB 2.0 ports, where I can put more than half a gig of RAM, a nice 200+Gb IDE drive, and play AVIs at full speed. Due to some odd choices I made, the fastest desktop in my house, other than Osse (the Athlon XP 2400 hand-built system that I borrowed from my own lab and recently returned) and Yavanna (a PowerMac G4-350, also borrowed from my lab) was Tulkas (a late 1997 vintage Dell Dimension XPS D-300). That's right, a Pentium II-300 with 256Mb RAM! My fastest notebook is Numerramar (a 2002 vintage ThinkPad A31p, 1.7GHz Pentium IV with 512Mb RAM), and after that, Earrame (a 2000 vintage ThinkPad T21, 800MHz Pentium III with 384Mb RAM).

    Telperion and Laurelin may be Celerons, but they are 2.8GHz Celerons: more than nine times the reported clock speed of Tulkas (which works out effectively to 2-3 times the actual integer operations per second, if not FLOPS). And BTW, Tulkas has been surpassed in speed by an actual IA32 (x86) system as of last month.

  • 4. Mail: I've been asked to forward all my mail to the department server, because mail was apparently bouncing on Fingolfin, the server to which I used forwarded all my mail for over 3 years (until last December). However, there are a few problems with:

    • Reliability: Upgrades and server moves have caused some downtime lately. We had three solid days of downtime just before the end of intersession (09-12 Jan 2005) and some KDDers (including zengeneral and I) were losing about half our mail for 2 weeks afterwards.

    • Functionality: On the CIS mail server (cislinux), there is no elm, and procmail doesn't update its recipes using all the real-time blackhole lists (RBLs) that we have it set up to use. We also use SpamBayes, though that is turned off right now. At any rate, spam is a big problem. I normally get 40000 e-mails a year (about 90% spam when you count mailing lists and cc's to myself as wanted e-mail), and it was up to 10000 per month (over 96% spam) during the months I set forwarding back to the KSU CIS department.

      Why so much spam, you ask? Simple: I was on the organizing committee for the 2001 International Conference on KDD: I had been organizing my own workshop on KDD for IJCAI-2001 and the organizer in charge of advertising and press relations talked me into being Publicity Co-chair. Back then, I didn't bother to mask or mangle my reply address. My e-mail address has been harvested so much, it isn't even funny. Stupid, I know, but I have no present plans to abandon the login bhsu.

    • Quotas: The 40000 e-mails a year come out to about 300Mb a semester, or 3 full 700Mb CDs every 2 years. The last I checked, our default faculty quota (which can be increased at need) is 200Mb. Trust me, if I had time to empty out my mailbox more than once a semester, I'd already be doing it.

    • Remote accessibility: I have been lazy about setting up IMAP. One reason is that I already have two httpd feeds (hsuwh[AT] and rizanabsith[AT] and one IMAP (Fingolfin). Add a half dozen GMails, some Wikis, several LiveJournals, half a dozen communities, and a GreatestJournal, and it gets busy. I do wish I could consolidate.

    Does anyone understand procmail file locking? Also, does anyone know what I have to do to make my CIS .procmailrc work with RBLs and SpamBayes? I can't wait for the migration to CNS; it will mean about 40000 more spams.

  • 5. Notebook computer display: The LCD screen on my ThinkPad A31p develops a strange display artifact problem every three boots or so. This has been going on intermittently for over a year and a half. Here is a screenshot illustrating the artifact as it appears. This was taken in Explorer last February, when I was browsing a higher-resolution JPEG file in Filmstrip mode; I then pasted the image into Paint and saved it.

    • The problem seems to last for one full boot session. Hibernation and restore will often make it go away for several boots. It is transient and difficult to reproduce

    • OTOH, it is persistent. It has recurred after a driver update, a BIOS upgrade, and a complete reinstallation of WinXP from a different CD. Previously I had RedHat Linux and WinXP dual-booting, and it would happen two out of every three times on first booting into Windows after booting Linux.

    • I can't tell whether it's the drivers for the on-board graphics card, the card itself, the BIOS, or something else.

    • IBM can't seem to reproduce it without my HD. They had my computer for several days last fall, after I sent it back with a report of several problems, including the display problem. (The three-year warranty expires in one month, so I would really like to get this resolved.)

  • 6. HTML formatting: This is more of a general query than a computer problem, but it is driving me crazy. Does anyone know how to make GMail or Hotmail interpret HTML as LJ does, or how to cut-and-paste formatted HTML "as-is" into rich text format?

  • 7. Magnifier window: OK, here's one I hope will be easy for a few of you. On Earrame, I somehow managed to open a small "magnifier" window, no larger than about 150 pixels on a side, that won't go away. As nearly as I can tell, it magnifies the window behind it at 1:1, 2:1, and 4:1 resolution, changing magnifications each time it is clicked. I've tried right-clicking, opening "Magnifier" to get the overhead bar, killing processes, even rebooting, and it just won't die. The only way I can make it go away even temporarily is to go into Control Panel, change the resolution under Settings, and then discard the change. Can someone tell me:

    • What it is?

    • How to turn it off?

  • 8. Outlook Express startup linked to IM: Here's another "easy" one. Does anyone know how to keep AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) from launching when Outlook Express does? How about MSN Messenger? I have this problem on Earrame and had it on Numerramar before I uninstalled AIM there, but it doesn't happen here on Telperion.

Here's what I've gotten fixed lately:

  • 1. CD and DVD recording: I now have regular CD-R and DVD-R burning on the Pioneer CD-R/RW/DVD-R combo drive in Telperion (the 2.7GHz Intel Celeron-based COMPAQ Presario SR1010NX with 256Mb RAM and a 40Gb HD; I added a 200Gb IDE drive and 512Mb for a total of 768Mb)

  • 2. Linux: So that Ashari, Andrew, and perhaps zengeneral and masaga can kibbitz, I got DynDNS, and have registered five systems. (Yes, that's a locked post: I have enough problems and don't need to be inviting 1337 ha><0rs.)

  • 3. Combination color inkjet printer, copier, and scanner: I'm still struggling. It took me days to even find the 3.5.0 CD. HP's web-based auto-detector just hangs. Dude, I tell you, I'm more printer-cursed than Hurley's numbers.

  • 4. Mail: Andrew is helping me make Fingolfin bounceless again, but if we could get file-locking fixed, then there'd be no bounces to suppress.

  • 5. Notebook computer display: I am looking for a quick-and-easy way to back up (and restore) the data from a nearly chock-full 60Gb ThinkPad hard drive, before I send the whole computer back to IBM for warranty repairs.

  • 6. HTML formatting: You've got me! I'm still at a complete loss on this one.

  • 7. Magnifier window: I can't even tell what this magnifier is. It's been around for 2-3 weeks and has persisted across about 10 reboots. I have never found out how I managed to open it.

  • 8. Outlook Express startup linked to IM: Somehow I managed to supress the link here on Numerramar, but I don't know how I did it. It might have been installation order, AIM version, or the fact that Outlook 2003 is my default e-mail reader and not Outlook Express. (Did I mention that I despise, deplore, and abhor Microsoft's "default bindings" paradigm?)


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