4 years of IT

I made some IT changes in the past few years.  I bought a used HP desktop in 2011 - a 64 bit machine -  and put Windows 8 Developer edition (free at the time) on it.  I have stayed with Windows 8 - using the desktop interface. I tried but did not like a couple of the Logitech touch peripherals. The T650 trackpad seemed too sensitive to some touches but not to recognize the "right-click" gesture. The Logitech T620 mouse was unpredictable. It might react to handling the mouse as a gesture, and ignore button click touches. These devices do not interact well with Windows point and click UI methods, and require too much learning. A pad with buttons (e.g. IBM and Lenovo laptops) works better.

I have an iPad - a gift when I was sick.  I try not to be an early adopter of Apple things. I use iTunes and have an iPod to play podcasts and music.

I tried out different browsers and by last year had gone back to Firefox - I was on the Nightly releases for 64 bit machines - which seemed to work fine.  I never liked or understood MS Internet Explorer.  I started to use Chrome when I moved to an Android mobile device last summer. I chose to submit to Google rather than Apple or MS. Privacy is hard.

At work, we have had an IT "refresh" last week (finally) and moved to Windows 7 Enterprise for workstation OS and MS Office 2010 for tools. Goodbye to Vista.  Vista was a good idea, but a slow and difficult program. MS is still selling desktop Office to enterprise buyers, but it is pushing the cloud-based licensing model for the "365" product for consumer buyers. Software as a service = Leasing software = pay forever. Eventually we will all be tenant-serfs in someone's data empire.

My MT blogging installation started to act up after my web host retired a server. I don't know what happened, but MT could not see the ImageMagick which broke a Captcha I had been using. The MT spam features kept the spam from being published, but I started getting email notifying me I had comments to moderate. I had kept up with Movable Type updates, but MT stopped providing updates to old purchasers. It has had a shrinking user and support community. I am in the process of switching to Wordpress. For now, I turned off comments and trackbacks.

I anticipate some work to clean up things that don't convert or migrate - "Pages" and tags. Links to photos and other "assets" in entries may point to addresses in my old MT static directory, but if they work that will be good enough. There are some pages to update and edit.

MT 5.01

I haven't been writing much since 2006, with nothing to say for several months until quite recently. When I tried to enter some posts and clean up some presentation issues, MT presented some odd behaviour. In fact I was unable to write or edit entries in Opera (which has become my browser of choice) which was probably related to the way Opera handled Java scripts. That seems to have gone away with an Opera upgrade and a reinstall of Java.

MT had been upgraded in the last year, including the release of version 5 in January 2010. I began the upgrades a couple of weeks ago. This was a more demanding upgrade. I installed MT 5.01 by a clean install. At that point I got lost on the upgrade path until I remembered - basically learned again - some of the server side file structure. Once I figured out which folder was my Web Root, I got the uploaded files in the right directories and CHMOD-ed and got the mt-configure.cgi file reading right.

MT tried to supersede many plug-ins and to revise the handling of templates - basically allowing for the incorporation of some pieces of the old templates in new widgets or template modules. I refreshed MT templates, lost some of the features in the sidebars on my old templates I have to go back and edit some templates to get some content back on line but it's on track again. On the positive side, this brings a lot of old files up to date and gives me a lot of new options. Assuming that I start to write again.

Rosa

My mother died last Friday. She was 82 years old. She has had Alzeimer for several years and has been in a care home since June 2008. She had asthma for many years. She had been having increasing difficulty breathing and with that came a diagnosis of late stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I visited Winnipeg in October last year and at the end of January this year. Her death was sudden, apparently due to a cardiac episode. Considering the course that her illnesses were taking, and her pain, confusion, and distress, the end of her life was inevitable, painless and not too soon.

My sisters and brothers in Winnipeg have coped with the issues of my mother's terminal illness and my father's decline and psychological collapse with much hard work and many tears. Dad is in the care home. In the last couple of months before mother died, he was failing in self care and unable to change the course of mother's illness. He was getting disconnected with reality, although his love and affection never wavered. He seems to have become more lucid, but much sadder after the funeral today.

He has mentioned some old stories that I had never heard before, and would not have understood when I had less lines on my face. His mother had visited from Holland in the early or mid 1960's. My father had not gone back to Holland when his father had died, and he had tried never to look back on his decision to move to Canada. His mother had told him, he remembered, that his mother had reservations about Rosa. She was older than him and "bossy" which was probably a way of saying what we might call needy, as she was always emotionally expressive, and defensive of her self-regard. He said that his mother had tried to say that she was surprised at how well Rosa was doing as a wife and mother, but he had found the remark hurtful and always resented it.

With his memory of his response to his own father's death, he appears reconciled to the fact that I am not being demonstrative in my grief and that my grief is different than his own.

My brother in law Joe accepted the task of delivering a eulogy at the funeral. He spoke well, emphasizing on the positive elements of her last few years. She became a happier person, more "in the moment" more content to take and give a smile and thumbs up and to wish anyone well with "keep up the good fight". He found the right picture and captured her strength as a mother.

Appliances

Since my move to Victoria, I have tried out and adopted some appliances and discarded others.

I started with a new set of Paderno stainless steel pots - purchased cheaply in 2006 when Canadian Tire dropped the Royale sets. I have added another sauce pan and the steamer and double boiler (not Royale but who cares). Capital Iron carries Paderno in Victoria. I expect the saucepans and the dutch oven to last for a while. The coated frying pans are standing up well although I think the coating in those pans will break down long before the pans wear out.

I bought a larger enameled cast iron dutch oven at Capital Iron which has become one of my favorite pots.

I started with some decent knives - some with the Superstore house brand and some of the midrange Wusthof Tridents.. I bought a couple new knives last year - I went to Mac for a 6 and a half inch Santoku and a 10 inch chef's knife. The steel is superb - it stays sharp enough for ripe tomatoes with a few strokes of a diamond dressing hone.

Paddling and Cycling

This year I broke off with dragon-boating. It was initially a conflict with the manager of the Club program over a protocol and has become a longer break. Some paddlers paddle dragon boats every summer from May to August. I have enjoyed the evening practices and the frantic transformation of couch potatoes into weekend warriors, but I have let it go.

I paddled Outrigger canoes (OC) through the winter, one or twice a week. In the spring, I paddled in some spring races and some longer races. It has helped me to stay active but I have not trained enough to consider myself a fit or strong paddler. I had hoped to paddle more this summer but many paddlers give up OC for dragon boat or to take canoe or kayak trips. There are a few diehards so we have been getting out about once a week. Dragon boat is winding up and there are going to be some races this fall, so I might get on a team and get into some tougher training.

I have been cycling more this year than last year. I haven't done many evening rides, but I have been getting some long rides in on weekends. I have had some work done on one of my bikes. I had upgraded some components on the Giant in 2004 but made the serious mistake of putting on 175 mm cranks. This may have been contributing to strain on joints, pain and fatigue. It may play a part in the stiffness in my right hip. We will see.

Age and Illness

In December last year I agreed to travel to Winnipeg to accompany my dad to the hospital for his surgery for hernia. He had the operation in January. It disrupted his routine of visiting mother in the nursing home for a few days, but he was back at it. He realized that his needs to visit and be with her had been putting a strain on his family - specifically my sisters, who had been picking him or taking him home. He agreed to apply to be placed in a nursing home - on strict condition that it would be the same home as mother. He was surprised when his application was approved quickly. He had been underestimating his frailties.

He moved when a room became available. He is on the same floor in a different wing. He visits mother and tries to anticipate her needs and wants, and to provide care that the staff can't provide. This tires him out, because his ideas of what she needs and deserves are not the same as everyone else's, and he reacts to her smallest gestures. As her behavior is impulsive, this can be frustrating for him.

He says he is happy. He is busy with his efforts to help mother. He turned 80 in June. I visited at the end of June.

2008 is over, Hallelujah

My story about my musical year starts with a short term obsession about a song.

The CBC broadcast a story about the popularity of Leonard Cohen's song Hallelujah in Britain on the National (TV news) on the Friday night before Christmas. The CBC was interested because the writer was a Canadian. The story was that two different versions of the song were topping the British charts in the week before Christmas. For the last few years, some kind of Christmas themed piece has topped the charts. There is no Christmas list as such, and the charts continue to track the popularity of modern popular music in Britain, on sales.

End of Summer

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The milestones of life ...

Over the last 6 weeks I spent more time than I want to think about trying to get a new Satellite (Model A200, or A200-03V, specifically PSAE3C-03V08C) to run an alternative OS to its pre-installed Windows Vista. The laptop was attractively priced, perhaps because it was pre-loaded with Vista, as much as the fact that it was being cleared out for newer models. I think these models were engineered for XP and thrown on to the market with Vista drivers when Microsoft terminated its OEM licencing for XP installations, forcing computer manufactures to pre-install Vista.

Given the resources of the system - processor and memory - it falls short of what it seems to take to run Vista, and running Vista has other drawbacks.I wasn't sure about changing to XP although that is the route I took in the end. One problem, for me and many users is having to buy XP off the shelf. There is a cost factor, and even if I had owned a valid working copy of XP, I needed to get working drivers for the hardware in the Satellite to complement the install set and complete the installation. Another potential problem is losing the recovery functions that Toshiba builds in with its HDD Recovery Utility.

MT 4.1

Back in January, I ran the upgrade to Movable Type 4.1. The developers made a number of moves to make MT more attractive to personal users including changes to let personal users migrate from Word Press and to port Word Press Styles to MT. The management of pictures and content has become easier with the ability to upload and manage "assets" and then use the assets in the blog.

I haven't used it much. I have been busy at work, and spent more my personal time reading and pursuing other things.

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