Thursday, 23 June 2011

Computer Upgrade–Home Again!

I’ve got my computer home again – what a relief! I’m in the process of reinstalling everything now, and I am sure that it will all run nice and smoothly now that the problem has been resolved.

We had a wonderful day out today and picked up the computer on the way – whenever we left the car my hubby (bless his heart!) carried the computer in its bag so that it wasn’t left unattended in the car – it’s no mean weight, and I was most grateful that he kept it safe for me.

Until I’ve got everything back onto it, I can’t sort all the photos I took today, but as soon as I’ve got my photo editing software back on, I’ll get down to it and do a blog about our lovely day in Cornwall.

I’m a very happy bunny indeed, relaxing on the recliner with my feet up, with my erstwhile poorly pooter downloading its anti-virus program beside me, tired after our spiffing day out. Never mind that tomorrow I’ll probably crash with the dreaded M.E. post-exertional malaise – I feel totally spiffed!!!!!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Beatrice Having her Dreamies

Today Beatrice decided to have some R&R instead of going on the computer, and came on her Daddy’s lap for some Dreamies. These little cat treats are utterly irresistible and we call them Crack Cocaine for Kitties. As the advert says, “Cats will do anything for Dreamies.”

Beatrice Having her Dreamies

She knows the word “Dreamies” and will come for them without you having to shake the box.

Computer Upgrade–Good News at Last

On the Sunday morning when I came down, I found that the computer had tried to reboot itself, and was showing the black screen and the bl***ing cursor again!!! At this point I threw in the towel and phoned Kevin. He said they’d gladly fix it for me, in his usual laid-back way – no problem!! My hubby took it in for me that afternoon.

I’ve just phoned to see if it’s ready for us to pick up tomorrow on our way through to Cornwall and he said all was well, and the problem was caused by a completely unexpected problem; after running numerous tests they’d consulted an HP forum and discovered that this particular model of laptop’s motherboard doesn’t support two 500GB drives! He’s replaced them with two 320GB ones (the largest it will support) and reinstalled Windows, and it’s going like a dream now.

I am really pleased that it’s nothing more complicated; some of these intermittent faults and problems that manifest themselves differently each time, can be very difficult to diagnose, and until a definite cause is found, very hard to treat (a bit like M.E.!!!) but in this case, the BIOS was struggling to boot Windows on a disc that it wasn’t properly recognising, and once the correct one was installed, there was no longer any problem.

I asked Kevin how much I owed him, and he said, “It’s the other way round! – I owe you a refund for the difference between the price of the hard drives.” I said surely I must owe him for all the work he’d done but he said no – again I told him my Wonderwoman home help charged more than he did!

So all being well, I shall have my computer back again tomorrow. I haven’t got my 1TB disc capacity, of course, but perhaps I was being a bit greedy – 600GB total is plenty, I’m sure! Video does take up such a lot of space though…

Hopefully this will be the end of the saga, and within a day or two I should have everything back on, and be running normally again, which will be a relief – I’ve got a lot to do and have missed having the ability to do graphics work over the past few days.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Computer Upgrade–or Computer Nightmare?

This is getting beyond a joke… Phoned Kevin the Computer Man this a.m. and he said it sounded like a hardware problem, and explained to me how to download a program called “SeaTools” from Seagate, the manufacturer of my hard drives, and use it to run a test of the discs. The second hard drive passed, but the first (drive C) failed. I rang Kevin again and he said take the  faulty disc out, put the other one in the 1st drive position and reinstall Windows onto it.

I did this, and was a bit fed up because it meant all the work I’d already done, reinstalling all my progs and data, would have to be done again. This I proceeded to do, and all went well until I allowed a major Windows update to take place, which failed towards the end (90 items!) – I then had to restart the computer and………

It failed to boot. Black screen, small white blinking cursor in top right corner. Tried booting from Windows CD. Same thing. Ran the BIOS and was told……… No data! Replace disc!! What? 2 hard drives failing in as many days? Is this coincidence?

Tried booting from the Windows CD, and started the Startup Repair wizard again, but it told me there was nothing wrong, and to unplug anything I’d plugged in, e.g. external hard drive, digital camera. I never got far enough to plug in anything apart from the mains lead!

Tried to boot in Safe Mode, and a message came up that there was a failure in configuring Windows updates, and it was reverting changes. It then shut down, restarted, and showed me the same message. Then it shut down again, and when it started again, it was the black screen and the blinking (I could actually think of a stronger word now!) cursor.

Been on various forums which say that it could be a PSU (power supply unit) problem, or faulty RAM. Or various other things.

The upshot is, my computer has died. I can’t think of anything else to try. Of course, it’s Sunday tomorrow so I can’t do anything. First thing Monday, I’m phoning Kevin again – I am reluctantly admitting defeat, and it will have to go in for inpatient treatment.

My hubby will have to take it in for me. He’s being very good about it, but I have no idea what he’s up to on Monday and if he will have time or not. He made one very unhelpful remark this evening: “Why didn’t you just leave it as it was? It was working fine before you started messing about with it.” He said it was like in Star Trek Voyager. There they are, stuck in the Delta Quadrant, trying to get home, and what do they do? They investigate every single spatial anomaly, and answer every distress call, and it ALWAYS ends in tears… He says they should ignore them all, and just try and get home! I tell him that would make for a very boring TV series.

He’s right, of course, but my computer wasn’t quite up to doing what I wanted it to do, and I was keen to have an upgrade. The other computer was fine when I upgraded to Windows 7, and I thought this would be the same.

More fool me. Grrrr.

 

Later – small hours, Sunday a.m. I decided to try one more thing – booted into Safe Mode and ran a System Restore to the point before the last Windows update. It worked! I am now back in Windows proper, and everything seems fine so far. I’m in the process of running SeaTools on Drive C – the short test resulted in a pass, so I’m running the long test just to make sure. Not sure if I’ll stay up to see the result – last time it took over 2 hours, although it might be quicker if I’m only testing one drive, and if it fails, it will stop then anyway.

If it fails, the computer will have to go in to Kevin next week. If it passes, I am going to have to try and find out which Windows update caused such a devastating result – I shall phone Kevin on Monday anyway to tell him what’s happened and seek his advice, whether or not I find anything out.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Beatrice the Computer Queen Again

She’s been at it again…

I came down to find she had opened my DVD player and was trying to play a DVD, and when I closed that full-screen window, I found a couple more underneath, proving what a busy girl she’d been. The first one showed that she’d opened my Video Remaker software which enables you to trim the ends of video clips, split them up, etc. etc. I think this is the first time she’s got interested in anything to do with video.

Closing that window, I found another underneath: Control Panel – Ease of Access.

Perhaps in this case she was trying to be helpful to me as a disabled user – not that I need High Contrast to be set up, but it proves her heart is in the right place.

Underneath this window I found the Windows Mobility Centre which she obviously thought was Mobility in the context of disability – this obviously didn’t answer her immediate needs, hence opening the Control Panel to discover the Windows Accessibility settings. However, I don’t remember muting the volume, which appears to have been checked on this dialog box. Perhaps that’s why she gave up on the DVD player – no sound?

I’ve been struggling enough over the past few days getting my new Windows 7 installation to function properly, without “assistance” from our resident computer expert, but at least she shows willing.

When she’s not working, she likes to relax in bed:

in her radiator hammock:

(Unfortunately this is the only photo I’ve got of her in the hammock, and she’s struggling to relax with Chloe having muscled in! Poor little Chloe was killed on the road last year)…

on my lap (here with Phoebe):

in my wheelchair (apologies for the washing drying on the radiator!!!)

or her favourite place of all, as close to Daddy as possible!

These are all favourites for days with inclement weather. However, when it’s hot and sunny, there’s nothing she enjoys more than a spot of hot-tubbing in the garden:

Since we’re on a roll with Beatrice piccies, I thought you might enjoy this one of her with her sister Bella, who was also killed on the road outside our house. This picture was taken not long after we got them and they were utterly adorable – little soft grey balls of fluff! When we first had them, I could hold them both in one hand. Beatrice is the one on the left.

She wasn’t computer-literate in those days, of course.

If you hop over to my Photobucket album, you can see lots more pictures of our kitties.

http://s496.photobucket.com/albums/rr328/shoshiplatypus/Kitties/#!cpZZ1QQtppZZ20

Computer Upgrade

It booted fine this a.m. despite the fact that Beatrice got her paw in before I got there, and tried to log onto Windows with her ultra-long password again! (Apparently Windows had restarted after an update, which was encouraging because it showed that the Startup Repair wizard appeared to have worked).

I’ve done quite a bit on it today, including finding and downloading a display driver which has definitely improved performance sufficiently to run my new video editor, which was hanging every time I opened it.

However... still major booting problems. It takes simply aaaages... between 5 and 10 minutes? Fortunately I’ve got the other laptop and have been exploring loads of forums trying to find an explanation for this. Another weird thing is that after it’s taken a long time, my 2nd hard drive is not visible from within Windows. I’ve been in the BIOS and horror of horrors, it told me the 1st hard drive needed replacing, and that it had “no data” on it! Then the weirdness increased as I exited the BIOS and the computer booted as normal – nice and fast, and there was the 2nd hard drive visible again, and obviously Windows, and all my progs and data, were safe and sound on drive C after all! I do not begin to understand any of this...

I’m phoning Kevin the computer man in the morning. My hubby’s huffing and puffing because he may have to drive me over to Plymouth with the computer if something really serious is going on, that Kevin can’t fix over the phone. If the 1st hard drive is indeed faulty, that means I’m going to have to start the whole reinstalling of Windows and all my stuff all over again...

The worst of it is, when I put Windows 7 onto my small laptop as a clean install, it went in like a dream, and the whole thing was done in an afternoon, including putting all my progs and data back. That laptop is an older computer than the big one too. I can only think that it is a hardware problem, which I probably won’t be able to sort on my own.

Not sure if I can actually go into Plymouth with my hubby because I’m expecting a parcel which I’ve got to be here to receive. Also it’s going to be pouring with rain in the morning apparently... However, if I can talk to Kevin, and then send my hubby off with the computer and a comprehensive report of what’s been happening and what I’ve done to try and correct it, that might be enough.

This has turned into a major bore. At least I’m not panicking, as I would have done a few years ago if this had happened. I’ve got all my stuff backed up, and if we can get to the bottom of this, I won’t have any problem reinstalling it all again. I'd just rather be doing something else by now!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Computer Upgrade

After the oh-so-easy upgrade to Windows 7 that I did on my small laptop a few months ago, I was anticipating no problems doing the same on my big one. We took it in to have a bigger hard drive and some more memory installed on Tuesday, and my Windows 7 disc duly arrived the next day, and boy have I had some problems...

First of all, I was informed that my copy of Windows 7 was not genuine, and was pirated. This I found hard to believe, having got it from Staples!! I tried re-entering the activation code without the shift lock on, and the letters appeared as capitals even so, and this time it was recognised, so that was obviously what I was doing wrong there.

When it arrived, the box was broken and the 32-bit disc was floating around loose (it would be that one, as it was the one I was wanting to use! - not that it was in 32 bits, you understand, but was for a 32-bit processor rather than the 64-bit one lol!). I bunged it in, hoping it hadn't been damaged...

It installed just fine, apart from said activation problem. I've spent a couple of days reinstalling all my programs and transferring all my files back from the external hard drive, and this afternoon have had major problems with booting - sometimes it was OK and went like a dream, and other times, I've had to go through the "Startup Repair" wizard. According to one forum, you may have to use this wizard 3 times before the problem is fixed - apparently it's something to do with the MBR (Master Boot Record) having got corrupted.

As I write this, it's going through the process of "repairing disk errors" and informs me it might take over an hour to complete. This is as far as the process has ever got, so it's progress! Hopefully before I finally go to bed (it's now 2.15 a.m.) I will be able to boot it properly. If not, I've found some invaluable advice on various websites, the best being "Seven Forums" which is full of great stuff about Win7, and I don't feel too fazed about having a go at fixing it tomorrow.

I'm feeling quite chuffed really because years ago, this sort of thing would have sent me into a flat spin and making panicking phone calls to my computer chap in Plymouth, but I know I've got everything properly backed up, and there are several more options to explore before I hit the panic button.

Perhaps I should enlist Beatrice's support. After all, she is our resident Computer Queen! (see my blog posts here.)

When it is running properly, it seems to be a dream. I was keeping an eye on how full the hard drive was, recently - if it's over 75 percent full it can affect performance, and it was nudging 80, but now I've got everything back, it's registering at only 13 percent full! I've got an extra 1 GB of RAM installed too. As I said to Kevin at the computer shop, "in this life you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much memory!!"

laptop

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Long-Case Clock Card

It’s my dad’s birthday on Wednesday 15th June, so I’ve made him a card. He is very interested in clocks and repairs them as a hobby, and he also has quite a collection of his own. The card I have made him is in the shape of a long-case clock (commonly called a grandfather clock, probably after the famous Victorian song).

The clock face was cut from an image that I re-sized in Serif DrawPlus and printed out, and lightly coloured the edges with Tim Holtz Black Soot Distress Ink.

I designed all the pieces for the clock in Serif DrawPlus and exported them as a .svg cut file (now uploaded to my SkyDrive – see link on the right side of my blog). These pieces were lightly distressed with Black Soot Distress ink. The top piece which frames the clock face, and the panel on the main, long, central body of the clock both have pieces cut out, which are not kept; the door piece is sized between the outer and inner outline of the door panel, if that makes sense - when you make it up, it becomes clear.

The door is attached on the inside by a narrow strip of card which is scored down the middle to form a hinge. There is no cut file for this piece; it can be cut from the piece removed from the centre of the main body panel. To close the door, I cut a small piece of self-adhesive Velcro and attached it onto the main body frame and the inside of the door. The pendulum bob, hinges and door catch were cut from gold card, and the catch was attached with a gold-coloured brad.

In order for the pendulum to swing, I attached it at the top with a brad, hidden by the main body panel. I had to build up this panel with two layers of double-sided adhesive foam tape in order to give the pendulum room to move, but unfortunately, even though I cut this foam tape in half length-wise, it did make the space inside the panel rather narrow, so the pendulum doesn’t have a very big swing – this would be enough to stop a real clock! To remedy this, I have reduced the size of the pendulum bob in the cut file slightly.

I coloured the visible edge of the foam tape with Black Soot Distress Ink, which I applied by rubbing the ink pad on my craft mat and spritzing it with water, and applying it with a small brush.

I cut a large shadow piece in Make The Cut (not included in the cut file), copied and pasted it, and welded the two pieces together to form the actual card; this was cut in black cardstock, scored and folded down the centre, and the whole of the rest of the clock was glued onto this, building up the layers.

I lined the right-hand side of the inside of the card with white cardstock, cut from a shadow piece created in Make The Cut, slightly smaller than the main card piece, and distressed it with Pumice Stone Distress Ink. I hand-wrote the sentiment, and added a bit of decoration in the form of some gold peel-offs. I don’t use these very often but they come in handy sometimes.

I think the whole thing has a nice antique feel, and I hope my dad, expert horologist that he is, will appreciate it!

This is the last of a long string of projects I’ve made during the first part of the year, all of which have had quite tight deadlines – I’ve had to work out a timetable to get each one done in sequence, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a productive time! Apart from our nephew’s wedding present that has to be made by August, I haven’t got any more deadlines until I have to start thinking about Christmas… In the meantime there are plenty of other things I want to do, with no pressure, so I’m looking forward to having some real FUN in my ARTHaven!

Monday, 6 June 2011

60th Birthday Party

I haven’t blogged for over a week because after we got back from our Silver Wedding trip away I crashed as a result of having overdone things – not just going away, but getting all my projects done in time, and pushing myself when I really should have been resting. This week I’ve had a good rest, and by the time yesterday arrived, I was at last feeling a lot better.

We were invited to the surprise 60th birthday party of one of my hubby’s oldest friends yesterday – they were at school together. His wife had arranged it all in secret, and then announced they were going out to lunch with some friends – he immediately asked her if they ought to take a present and couldn’t understand why she said no!

It was a lunch party, held in a beautiful hotel in the heart of Dartmoor near Two Bridges. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great so I wasn’t able to get any decent moorland photos – my hubby promised to take me up there again on a nicer day.

Here we are just after our arrival, when we were served with a glass of champagne.

Here is our friend’s son welcoming us.

Party guests enjoying their pre-lunch champagne:

The boys:

I went into the dining room ahead of the others so I could get settled and not be in everyone’s way, which was great because I could see it all properly!

In the corner, there was this delightful little antique toy merry-go-round:

and in another corner, a flower arrangement:

Here’s everyone enjoying the excellent meal we were served.

We had a three-course meal, with a choice of starters. I had the smoked salmon. As you can see, it was all beautifully presented.

The main course was roast lamb served with roasted vegetables.

These are the two desserts on offer – I had the passion fruit one, and my hubby had the chocolate torte. Totally mouthwateringly delicious!!

This is the Birthday Boy's wife. She is from Albania.

I felt like the paparazzi taking this, because I used my zoom lens and she had no idea I was photographing her!!

When we were having our coffee, an old friend stood up and said a few words about the Birthday Boy.

Then the cake arrived. What? Only one candle?!!

(Pity the flowers got in the way!) When my hubby had his 40th birthday, I put 40 candles on the cake, and when I carried it through, was nearly knocked out by the heat they gave off – and then someone held up a fire extinguisher in case he needed it to help him blow them all out! So perhaps 60 candles might have been a bit much…

Here’s the Birthday Boy enjoying his cake.

The Birthday Boy was originally sitting beside me, and this is his place card (they were all made by his wife):

She had stuck little embellishments on all the place cards – mine had a ladybird. When we were having coffee, the man then sitting next to me showed his small son this place card, and asked him what he thought the Birthday Boy might enjoy, and he said “Cake”! (He thought the trowel was a cake slice!) I roared with laughter and said, “Yes, he likes cake in SPADES!”

The kids all set at a separate table with large jugs of juice instead of wine, and they seemed to be having great fun. At the end of lunch they all went outside and ran around in the grounds.

Here’s the Birthday Boy’s brother chatting with the lady who made the speech.

Here are a couple of photos of the views from the windows:

It’s such a shame it was so dull and overcast, because the views of the moors are stunning.

It’s the foaling season for the Dartmoor ponies, and we were delighted by this little fellow on our way home.

It was such a great day out – the lunch was extremely leisurely, allowing lots of time for conversation and relaxation, and a couple of times during the meal, people moved round so they could chat with different people. A beautiful setting, and great to see our friend enjoying such a nice birthday party!

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