Time To Get This File Off My Desktop

I’ve had this Word file on my desktop for at least two years called “Blog Stream of Consciousness.” I decided it had to go. It was one of those things you leave thinking “I’ll get to that someday,” but you never do. So, I opened it to see if there was anything worth saving. I was surprised that it didn’t contain what I thought it did. At one time it, was a list of topics I jotted down that I thought I’d write about later. I guess I must have edited it since, because it contained only this passage:

Sitting here at the Lake House, where there is just barely any cell phone coverage and certainly not any Internet service, I’m reminded how our computers have really become nothing more than Internet terminals. Without the network, I’m relegated to using my computer as a media center for movies and music, doing some writing as I’m doing right now, and…

I’ve now deleted the file, and I guess it did serve its purpose, as it did make it into a blog post. The previous sentence contains many occurrences of the word “it.”

By the way, happy Rush day: 2/1/12.

Mac Setups: Mac Pro and a VT220

This article: “Mac Setups: Mac Pro and a VT220,” brought back some memories.

I did a lot of my initial learning about VMS and UNIX on a VT220 terminal back in the day. When I couldn’t find an open PC, I’d opt for the mostly-forgotten terminals along the Clow Computer Lab wall. When your network is in doubt, a hard serial connection will get it done.

I need to keep an eye out for a VT-series terminal at the auctions. This could be a fun little project.

Passed the CISA Exam, now for “Waiting, Part II: The Revenge.”

Today I got the long-awaited word that I passed the CISA exam that I sat for in June.

What is the CISA? It stands for “Certified Information Systems Auditor” and is one of several certifications by ISACA. Note to my pedantic academic friends: Yes, that’s a Wikipedia link back there. Get over it.

I’ll be honest, waiting EIGHT WEEKS for my exam results made me a little stressed, and a perhaps a little saltier than usual. Passing the exam is great, but it’s only the first step in getting certified. I have submitted my application for certification, which verifies my work history, experience in the field and my education. Now, I get to wait…for up to EIGHT WEEKS…again before I can officially use the CISA designation. Sigh.

Where I Almost Ask Apple to Give What They’ve Already Provided Me

So, I’ve been meaning to write this little letter to Apple for something like two years now.  Read on for the #Chuckfail afterward:

Dear Apple:
I would really like to have more granular control over my podcast episode
settings in iTunes.
For example, let’s look at the “The Classic Tales” podcast.  I want to keep all
of those episodes until I get around to listening to them.
However, for something like the “Wall Street Journal This Morning,”
a daily news show, I only want the most recent episode.  No one likes to listen
to last week’s news.
As it stands right now, I can have to choose between the two options for
keeping podcast episodes, and it’s the same settings for all podcasts
in my iTunes library.  I’m betting this is not a difficult feature to implement
and I’m also willing to bet I’m not the only one who wants this.

So, after I finally write this out and just before I decide to post it here, I switch over to iTunes to check on something…and guess what?  Yep.  There are indeed episode settings for individual podcasts, right there in front of me.  Glad I caught it before I posted this and looked like a fool.  In my defense, I’m assuming this is a recent new feature that I had missed. I hope so, anyway.

Users Want Their Computers to “Just Work”

This weekend, one of my facebook friends posted this all-too-common tale of computer woe:

“So much for my new computer…I woke up this morning to find out my new computer was already broken. So after having the computer for less then 12 hours it wouldn’t even work. Thanks to the Geek Squad I now have a brand new computer tower that is finally up and running! Now I have no time to play on the computer because I have to go to work:(“

Being only partially awake and a little grouchy, I posted this admittedly not-very-helpful comment:


A few minutes later, I was notified by E-mail that someone had responded:

“She didn’t say apple or pc. Pc’s easy to work on and half price of apple. The only good deal is the Apple Ipod touch which I am typing on. Easy choice for the money is PC .”

I just smiled to myself. I will admit I am making some assumptions here based on what little I know of this person from briefly viewing his profile, but I think I have a pretty good guess of his “type.” This person is likely a computer hobbyist who enjoys providing technical support to his friends and family. Since he is only comfortable in the PC and the Microsoft Windows world, he probably recommends people stay within his technical comfort zone so he can help them out and feed his hero complex.

What really got my attention was the phrase: “Pc’s easy to work on and half price of apple.”

First, PCs in many cases can be had for even less than half the price of Apple computers, but I will come back to that little nit-picky point in a later post. Let’s talk about “PC’s easy to work on.” I’m assuming that this “type” of guy is saying “PCs are easy to maintain, repair and upgrade,” rather than “PCs are easy to get work done on.”

Assuming he means the former, my response is: “So what if the PC is [arguably] easier for technical people to work on? The user does not care about how easy it is for the technician to work on a system. The user wants the system to ‘just work.’ Ask a Mac user, especially one who has recently switched from the PC, why they like their Mac and the answer will often be: ‘It just works!’ In the end, that’s really all most users care about.”

So often, those of us with a technical focus forget that that the computer is there to help the users get their work done, not for us to practice our craft and show off our technical acumen. If a computer system “just works,” and makes for happier, more productive users, we should celebrate and advocate, rather than disparage and reject that system.

I should point out that when I went to reply to his comment on facebook, he had deleted it.

Next post (who knows when that will be): “Are PCs REALLY cheaper?”

“Delete All Duplicate Files” Means Just That

Over the years, I’ve moved my music collection from computer to computer, and with the ever-larger hard disk sizes I confess I’ve been a bit lazy about checking for duplicate files. After my recent finding I had five copies of some songs, I figured it was time to do something about it. I found a handy little duplicate file finder application for Mac OS and it found a ridiculous amount of duplicate files: Over 16,000. I was tired, it was late, I hit the “Delete All Duplicate Files” button. The next day, I figured out what that meant: If there was one copy of a file, it deleted ALL identical versions of that file, including the original. Ooops. This caused me all kinds of trouble, as it deleted Omnifocus data files, some Firefox cache and config files, and of course, music files. I’ve been slowly crawling through my iTunes library bit-by-bit identifying “missing” files and using Apple’s Time Machine (glad I was using that regularly!) to restore the missing files.

At first, I didn’t see the pattern in what files were missing, as they seemed random. I’d look in a folder where iTunes has my music folder organized (by artist, then album) and wonder why two or four out of twelve files were missing. After a few file restores, I began to realize a lot of the missing songs were some of my favorites–those most likely to be copied in multiple places. Ah, naturally, the favorite songs would be the ones to get deleted. I’ve temporarily disabled my Time Machine backups so my music files don’t roll off the back end of the monthly snapshots. Hopefully I’ll be done here in a few more evenings. It’s good mindless unwinding work if nothing else.

Update (4 July 2009): I finally finished the laborious restore process last night. Many good lessons were learned.