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User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Got an EKG (4) 4

Went back to the doctor to check on my cholesterol. After about four months, my weight dropped from 186 to 153 (might have taken my shows off last time, however) to the point where after comparing the nurse weighed me a second time. Then a small conversation ensued, basically: "How do you lose all that weight?" "Eat less." "Fair enough." I'm also down to a 38" waist from 44 +/-2, so things are looking good.

On the cholesterol front, all the readings dropped: Total from 230 to 134, HDL from 56 to 32, LDL from 149 to 78, and triglycerides from 124 to 120. So, all is good except the lower HDL score. The doctor ought to be calling to discus the results this evening.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Question: Excel: Edited Hebrew is reversed on reopen. 5

Someone just asked me about Excel. She works on a sheet that has English and Hebrew words. If she edits any existing Hebrew entries, or enters any Hebrew herself, when she reopens the file the Hebrew letters show up in reverse order (Hebrew is RTL). Any idea what could be wrong?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Mother's computer slows down or freezes (2) 2

Continuing on my mother's computer , i took Com2kid's, Cyberdyne's, and Bill Dog's advice, and checked PIO Mode. I had no idea how to check what mode it was in, but it was set to "DMA if possible". A little googling and checking the registry, i reset the error counts, rebooted and all was better. Thanx!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Whitelist at local organization

Continuing the support of a local organization's computers, we're implementing a whitelist. The office itself uses B-Secure. But an open computer implements a whitelist which is desired by the users as well.

IE was blocked following what the last guy did, by setting up a bogus proxy.

I installed Firefox and started using ProCon Latte. It does the job mostly, but, it's per user (perhaps i installed it wrong?), if a whitelist is used a blacklist cannot also be used (to block out some aspects of an allowed site), and the list has no order.

To implement a blacklist to remove some specific pages i installed some filter (i don't remember offhand, i'm guessing it was FoxFilter).

Google is blocked, but can be gotten to via maps.google.com which is allowed. That was fine until Google added the sidebar. Images and videos can be quite inappropriate and needs to be blocked. But because of the way google shows the images, adblock seems ineffective. Gmail is also allowed and uses google.com for login, so google.com itself cannot be blocked.

To block the sidebar, i installed greasemoney and a script i found online. That worked for a bit until the links showed up on top of the google page as well.

Currently, there's over 100 sites allowed, and there is an approval process in place to allow more, as required. People who might not use the Internet otherwise are ok with this computer, so there's positive progress being made.

There's mainly one user on the computer. But there are three others as well. One for kids to play games (no Internet access allowed), one for a another person with more applications, and one for the admin. I wanted to remove the kid's login, but that's a no go as it's for the office admins kids. It's workable though.

I can block all image from google via Firefox itself. But that removes even the google logo itself, which is not a desirable option.

I'd really like a better more manageable solution. The ideal solution would work for all users, allows both a whitelist and a blacklist simultaneously, organize the list (alphabetically or the like), handles the bookmarks as well (otherwise each site must be managed in two places), and handles google's images.

I'm neither for nor against this form of filtering. I do, however, want to help them reach their goal.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Mother's computer slows down or freezes 6

Well, my mother's computer runs slow or freezes now and then. Also the mouse periodically jumps around. Ignoring the mouse issue, i decided to check out the slow downs.

There were some slowdowns on startup, and after then when IE was running. IE running slow is probably what most people consider XP's sluggishness.

Uninstalled old programs, removed startup items via Autoruns, and checked out processor time in Process Explorer. The slowdowns are hardware interrupts which means drivers(, hardware settings,) or hardware.

Disabling or unplugging hardware made no difference. Shutting IE8 made all the difference. My guess is its the hard drive. Windows is notorious for thrashing the HD on startup and IE isn't too good either. Firefox had the issue to a lesser extent.

To verify this, i'd have to disable the HD. So i'm not quite sure how to continue. I could just get a new HD, but i could be wrong and just wasted $100 or whatever. I'm debating whether booting off a USB key of CD would make sense as a test.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Verbiage: Options for new toner. 2

My Printer, an HP LaserJet P1006 is low on toner. Pages are coming up partially blank, or at least close to it, and the driver issued the warning. The replacement cartridge is CB435A.

Replace toner with a chip, is just under $20, a knock-off cartridge is slightly more. The few comments i have read say the knockoffs are never perfect.

HP has one at $67.99 or two at 121.99.

Amazon has the Dual Pack at $108.30 (it was $106.18 moments ago, reloading that tab also shows the new price), which has a $15 credit toward a next Amazon purchase. I use Amazon often enough to consider that a real $15. This means it's 2 at $93.30, or $46.65 each.

The Amazon price would be approximately twice the knock-off price, and i would have to buy two, which i don't go through too often.

Ebay has a few listed for about $53 with free shipping.

Buying the two pack on Amazon and selling the second on Ebay, sounds interesting. Assuming shipping is $4.90 though, (My cartridge weighs 18.25 ounces. Parcel Post prices for not-over-two-pounds to zones 1 and 2 is $4.90) making the total $51.55, leaving a dollar or two profit. Considering ebay's final value fees of 9%, however, makes it non-profitable even before ebay's listing fees and ebay's paypal fees.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Bought Google Voice Invites on ebay (2) 1

Continuing my ebay saga, i started a thread in the ebay forums and got just one real reply. Quickly checking another thread, i figured the guy just has a bad attitude. So, i opened chatted with ebay support, and Tabatha told me to open a case. I did just that. The seller offered a compromise, i rejected because it wasn't 50/50. We decided to escalate, and ebay decided in my favor. Here's the text (sans phone number) from the resolution center.

Jun 30, 2010 at 4:10 PM eBay Customer Support has opened a case for you.The seller has 7 days to respond.
Details you provided:
The item doesn't match the seller's description.
You have tried contacting the seller
You paid on Jun 28, 2010
You have issues with 10 items in the order
You contacted the seller through eBay Messages
The seller has responded to you
The seller isn't working with you to solve the problem
You entered the phone number xxxxxxxxxx
We will not share your phone number with the seller.
The buyer said the item is unusable
Additional information:
"I bought 10 google voice invites for $1.25. I paid right away via paypal.) Moments after i bought it i realized Google Voice has been open for a week, and thus invites are useless links now. I messaged the seller about this and asked for a refund. He sent the invites and responded that he sent them and i was paying for his waiting time. He explained that he did not know google voice was open now. Our entire conversation was through ebay. He was courteous. I'd like to get ebay's opinion on this. In short, i made a stupid mistake. He is selling bogus invites."
You wanted:
A full refund

Jun 30, 2010 at 8:42 PM The seller has offered you a partial refund of $5.00.
Refund information:
The seller offered a partial refund of $5.00 that will be issued through PayPal within 3 days if you accept the offer.
Seller's note:
"I feel we both should share responsibility. I delivered what I listed. I waited a long time for these, and they were sent in a timely manner. With that said, I'm willing to give you a partial refund. I think this is a fair solution."

Jun 30, 2010 at 8:48 PM You have responded to the seller.
Your message to the seller:
"I think i can accept that we share the responsibility here. But let's make it 50/50. The cost was $12.50, so half would be $6.25. And i will delete the emails you sent to me. (Haven't touch them.)"

Jun 30, 2010 at 9:46 PM The seller has responded to your case with other solution.
Seller's message:
"But I have paypal and ebay fees, you don't. I think my offer is fair. We are arguing over penny's here."

Jul 01, 2010 at 4:46 AM You have responded to the seller.
Your message to the seller:
"In truth, i really think you should refund the whole amount and stop selling these expired invites. This is a compromise. The way i see it, you're making free money by selling no-longer-required invites, i'm losing money for something absolutely useless. I'd like to refuse the offer and have ebay decide. So, if you believe you are in the right, just say so, and i'll have ebay get involved. That's probably be the best option anyway."

Jul 01, 2010 at 6:05 AM The seller has responded to your case with other solution.
Seller's message:
"Have ebay settle it!"

Jul 01, 2010 at 7:15 AM You have escalated the case to eBay Customer Support.
Your message to eBay Customer Support:
"We did not agree on terms. Would like ebay to look at the details and decide."

Jul 01, 2010 at 1:02 PM eBay Customer Support has refunded you through PayPal and the case is closed.
Refund information:
A refund of $12.50 has been issued to your PayPal account. View PayPal transaction
Final decision:
Neither you or the seller were found at the fault.
eBay Customer Support comments:
"You will be issued a refund."

This item was covered for your purchase price plus original shipping. Learn more

Find out more about getting your refund.

The message from ebay support was:

Dear chacham,

We appreciate you contacting eBay in regard to item #180525725741. I
understand it can be very frustrating to have to open case in the
Resolution Center to get a problem resolved , but we truly appreciate
your cooperation. I thank you for your patience and commend you for the
time that you have given the seller to correct this situation.

I have good news! After reviewing the case, due to the value of your
claim as a courtesy to show that we value you as a member, I have
decided to close it in your favor! In this situation, you do not need to
send back the item for this particular claim. We do realize that it can
be frustrating to receive an item that is not as described in the
listing. Rather than have you spend time to send this item back, and
wait for a refund when you have done nothing wrong here, we'd like to do
you a favor to show our appreciation, and issue you a refund today.

Our system will generate an automated email that says the same, but I
wanted to take a few moments and explain our decision in further detail.
You should see the money in your PayPal account within 48 hours. If you
do not have a PayPal account you'll simply need to open one with your
registered eBay email address to claim the refund.

Also, please make sure that the email address on your eBay account is
added and confirmed on your PayPal account. If it is not, you will not
be able to receive the refund.

Here are the steps to confirm your email address with your PayPal
account:
1. Log into your PayPal account at www.paypal.com
2. Hover over the "Profile" link under the "My Account" tab
3. Click on "Add or Edit Email" from the drop-down menu
4. Select your email address and click "Confirm"
5. Check your personal email for an email from PayPal
6. Open the email and follow the instructions to confirm your email
address

Thank you for being a valuable member of the eBay community! I look
forward to assisting you with your many future eBay transactions.

Sincerely,
Rodney G.

eBay Buyer Protection

All in all, ebay seems to have their act together. I'm impressed by this part of their service.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Worked on another computer issue 9

Call #3 of the bunch came an. An elderly lady has a laptop that stopped working, she wanted to connect to the Internet. Her son told her to get an iPad, so she did, but is finding it confusing. She wants to know what to do. I told her to return the iPad.

It's an iPad 3G 16G and it's just past the 14-day return period. She said the store wanted a 10% restocking fee, which would be ~$70. I said i'd look on ebay. I'll wait for a few to end and see what they go for. This is nearly new and with the box and all.

Her needs are to get onto the Internet mostly for studying and research, which means a a few websites. She goes to Florida during the winter, so it and it's Internet connection should be portable. She has used a laptop for some time, so a laptop seems optimal.

Her laptop is over ten years old. It's a P3 (iirc, 600 MHz or so) with 384MB RAM, and a 4GB HD. The laptop has a key for 98/98SE but it's running XP. There's less than 100 MB free on disk, the battery looks like it's shot, and the power cable is a bit loose.

Freed up some 800 MB by deleting, uninstalling, emptying the recycle bin, and lowering the system restore space. With just under a GB free, she ought to be able install an aircard (she had a problem with that in the past) and the low disk warning will go away. That was last night, i'm going to have to get back to her.

I think she needs a new laptop. Her current laptop will work, but it's probably worth a small investment to have a lighter laptop with a working battery. Dell's cheapest new laptop shows $399, same at Newegg. Is there anything cheaper?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Worked on someone else's computer 10

Worked on someone else's computer. It seems that calls like these come in bunches.

She called and asked for three things. Hook up her fax machine, copy outlook files from the old harddrive to new computer, and plug the computer through the surge protector/battery backup.

The fax machine was easy. She had already hooked it up, but it was conflicting with the answering machine. The instructions showed three modes: fax unless voice, voice unless fax, and (i think) choose. After verifying she wanted the second option, i read to her what to do, and she clicked it all on the mini screen. Tested and it worked as desired.

The line conditioner came second. The battery required plugging in on the bottom as the readme had it. It had eight outlets. Three have conditioning and backup, three have only conditioning, and i don't know about the other two. Following the good instructions, i plugged in the monitor and case into the backed-up outlets, and the speakers and printer into the others.

Then came the old files. She's running Windows 7, so i hit Start and didn't see shutdown. Luckily Alt-F4 still works. Checking inside showed SATA HD and DVD drive, which i have as well, but i never dealt with. The old HD was SATA as well and there was an open connector. I actually have no idea what the two cables are for, so i guessed one was data and one was power, the wider one was available, for the smaller one, i grabbed it from the DVD.

Windows found the HD and wanted a reboot. No thanx. Went Start, and typed cmd into the unlabeled text box, which got me a familiar prompt. Dir /s found me the pst files, and i copied them over to c:\oldhd.

Went to Outlook 2010, afte being horrified and the huge buttons on top (and the ugly icon in the taskbar) i went to the menubar and found import. Luckily, that hasn't changed. The file to be imported was over 3GB, which Outlook decided to take 5 minutes to import. After the first import, it did a second import, which imported 512 messages at a time, then started the taskbar over again. 120 minutes remaining, 60 minutes remaining, 45 minutes remaining, 2 minutes remaining, or similar nonsense. Each batch took a minute or so, and after 20,000 messages i decided to leave having absolutely no idea how long it would take.

During this time, i used xcopy to copy all the contents of the old hd to c:\oldhd. It worked fine, except the documents and setting stuff was renamed. So, what used to be c:\doc...\Owner\Documents\ was now something like c:\oldhd\123456_Owner\C\doc...\Owner\Documents. On top of that, Explorer wouldn't show the new directory, and i had to click on the address bar to type it in.

When i left, i told her that when the command window stopped scrolling and outlook finished the import, to run the newly installed Security Essentials. I uninstalled Mcafee which had 10 days left. She called me later to tell me that SE has caught a worm.

I came back in the morning, removed the hd, connected the DVD and put the cover back on. She offered to pay, i refused, so she donated some money to a local synagogue (that i had prayed in that morning).

After everything, one thing is clear to me. I dislike Vista/Windows 7. I dislike Office 2010. Not because they are bad. It's because it changes everything. I know what i want to do, and i know how to find it. But, why the big ugly toolbar? Why the big ugly icons? Why do applications seem slower on faster machines? Why hide directories? Why move around the start menu? Sure, i can probably customize it, but really, why? Eventually, i'm sure i'm going to be stuck with Windows 7 at some company. I'll probably survive, as long as i have a command window. If worse comes to worse, i can create a bunch of cmd scripts. As for Office, i avoid it as a general rules and use notepad. I can survive it at the end to format everything, if required.

At home, i'm using XP. If that ever ends, i'll probably go back to Linux. Unix command are so much easier once you learn them. And they don't change.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Reoved virii from local organization's computer

While supporting a local organization's computers, i remove the offending winsock entries. Lo and behold, they belonged to B-Secure. Things worked a lot better without it (remove the entries, have IE's wizard "fix" the connection) but it noticed it was gone on reboot. So, i killed it again, removed it from startup and things were moving along.

Then came Defense Center. It puts nasty icons on the desktop and wants you to buy into its scam. It runs one process, cleverly disguised as the Windows remote executable (wau something, i forget) and places itself in .exe in the registry. Every application runs it, then it runs your app, but it throws up warnings. Luckily, i had Process Explorer on the system, and watched what was happening. Killing the process did not kill its child, so i was able to get the programs i wanted to run. Security Essentials wasn't doing anything.

Took the hard drive out and connected it to another computer and did a full scan. It cleaned the virii, and i put it back. Still there, but Security Essentials started realizing there was a threat, but failed to remove the actual executable. Even a full scan didn't seem to remove Program Files\Defense Center (i deleted it myself after it *seemed* to have past it in the alphabetical order). But, it did ask to send a copy of it to them, which i did (twice).

I changed the .exe entry, deleted the file (it was in the temp directory), but now executables wouldn't start. To fix that, i used Explorer's Tools\Folder Options\File Types, to reset it as application. Then Security Essentials did a full scan and found no threats.

All in all there were three virii. One master that wasn't really detected, and two children that it caught after the other computer scanned it.

Windows Update installed a few items, .Net 4 and a Security Essentials update. A reboot made Windows want to do a full scan again. Instead, i did a quick scan, reinstalled B-Secure, rebooted, and started a full scan. That's where it is now. I'll have to make sure it restart ok next time.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Project canceled, looking for new job (5) 5

Well, i had the testing yesterday. It was just three aptitude tests, all times.

The first was simple and i finished it in time to start a review. I think it was a half-hour, and she said it averaged to 45 seconds per question. Things like:

Men are ___ shorter than their wives.

(A) Always (B) Usually (C) Never (D) Rarely (E) Much

There were syllogisms, adages, word games, the obvious, and the not so obvious, and the hilarious.

The second test was a multiple choice "finish the sequence" in two parts, the first being letters, such as

a b d e g h

or

a b z e f y i j x

the second being graphical. Dark ball in lower-left of square, then upper left, then upper right, then lower right, the answer being the next would be lower-left again.

The first part was easy, though when i got up to question 8, i realized i skipped one and had to go back. I finished most of them, in the 12.5 minutes provided. The second was much harder for me. I find most graphical pattern arbitrary. So, i did the obvious ones and skipped the harder ones.

The third test was story problems.

Originally, i skipped three of them because i would have had to think about them. When i finished, i went back. I took a guess on one using approximate mathematics, and i got stuck on the next. It was something like:

Company A sells heavy-duty tape for $34 and light-duty tape for $28. They reduced the prices to $32 and $27. Company B has spent $1440 from them in the past, every month, with 3/4 of their purchase being heavy duty. If that continues, how much will they save with the new prices?

I wasn't sure how to approach the problem. And with the clock ticking, i just didn't think straight. Oh well.

She intimated that i did well and i would be coming ion for the next step of the interview process. The next step in an in-depth interview with her and possibly one or two other people from HR. The fourth step is with the hiring manager, and possibly team members. After that, they extend an offer.

She said she'd get back to me this week, but did not know if step 3 would be this week. As she is taking off next week, the process is not likely to complete before the week after next.

I had shown up about five minutes late to the meeting. I miscalculated time needed to get to the meeting, with I-75 and Troy being so busy. They're almost directly off I-75, but it still take a few minutes.

They're in an office building taking up the fifth and sixth floors. Not knowing where i was going, i ended up on the fifth floor, realized it was their education center, and made my way to the secretary on the sixth. I explained that to her on the way out.

All in all, things are moving comfortably. I have to file for unemployment today, i might go out of town next week, and enjoy the happy summer days.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Bought Google Voice Invites on ebay

So, i was explaining Google Voice to a neighbor, and decided to get him an account. I went to ebay, found some being sold for $1.25 and bought 10. I want to give to a few other people too. Moments after i bought it i realized Google Voice is open, and there are no invites. I emailed the seller for a refund.

He sent the invites then responded. Our ebay message conversation went as follows:

Dear goldminejp,

Wait a second. Google Voice is open. What are the invites for?

Please refund my purchase.

- chacham

He responded:

Dear chacham,

google voice is NOT open. I waited 8 months for these. I already sent you 10 invites...no refund!

- goldminejp

I sent:

Dear goldminejp,

go to voice.google.com

create an account link is active.
google voice for everyone news article.

ill ask in the forums what to do. maybe you just didn't know.

- chacham

Dear chacham,

it may be. if it is, it's the first time ever. as i said, i waited 8 months for these. i sent you 10 legit invites. i even stated in the auction, that google voice is a free service, you were paying for my wait time. sorry if you don't need one, but i still waited for them, and they are still good. i can't refund for something i've already sent. sorry.

- goldminejp

I replied with:

Dear goldminejp,

That's ok, i understand.

I asked in the ebay forums what to do. If i should accept that i made a mistake or that you did. I'm planning on following their advice.

- chacham

So, i made a stupid mistake. But he was selling bogus invites. I'm thinking this can go either way. I could really use some advice as to what to do. I just don't know. I don't even now who's right anymore.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Project canceled, looking for new job (4)

Friday was my last day at Ford, i left at about 12:00pm. At 1:00 i had a phone interview with Sarah, in New World Systems' HR department. She called me back later to say she had spoken with a manager, and we scheduled an interview for Monday at 2pm. The position i applied for is database centric. Seemingly, i found it via Google, landing me at jobsinlawenforcement.org showing a listing on Dice. Interesting.

After the phone interview, there was a pre-employment information sheet. In requested full employment history with interests, both career-related and otherwise. I had to call the companies i worked for for some information. Exact start and end dates, titles, and managers. Although i worked at Ford and DaimlerChrysler, i officially worked for the contracting houses. For earlier positions, i was vague. Some companies simply no longer exist.

It asks for desired salary. That's a hard one. I depends on responsibilities, venue, and the total package. I called the HR rep and asked about it. She said to put in a range, and when i was putting in an hourly rate, she reminded me this was a salaried job. Really? Oh, yeah. It's been a while, i just naturally think in hourly rates.

I asked her if i should wear a suit, or causal. In tech departments, casual rules. While i wore a suit for the DaimlerChrysler interview, my Ford interview was much less formal. Also, my "casual" is dress shirt and dress pants. Someone reminded me that casual actually means t-shirt and jeans. Oops. :)

She quickly responded that a suit was required, though i could show up without the jacket. And that interviews there are more formal. I excused myself as it having been while. But i'm still kind of glad i asked.

She told me that before the interview there are tests i can't study for. There was a pattern recognition test and whatnot. I don't remember everything she said exactly, but it came down to a series of tests or interviews as i proved to be a good fit for the company.

The pattern recognition test sounds interesting, for as an INTJ, i am an introverted intuitive. van der Hoop explains intuition as getting the entire image, or seeing a pattern without knowing what the pattern is (that requires Thinking or Feeling.

So, i got a haircut last night and now i'm wondering what the interview will be like.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Car died 6

After the car's last milestone, i was hoping to hit 150k, but alas, it was not to be. In September, even before the Day of Judgment, and ironically on the way back from the cemetery, it died. On 696, just a few miles from my apartment, it took up smoking. I'm probably at fault for not taking care of the engine, but oh well.

Getting a new car was an interesting thought. But do i actually need a car? Am i just assuming "i need a car"? Thinking it through, i realized the main reason for a car was to get to the office. Yet, i had a friend and co-worker driving me every day anyway. This worked out particularly well, as i don't really drive at night anymore and getting back from the office on those short winter days would have been difficult. As for the other needs of a car, what were they? Travel? Rent. Shopping? buy local, borrow, or go with a friend. I did not want to buy a car just to buy a car. And now, perhaps, it was time for an interesting experiment.

Since then, it has been working. No car, no insurance, and no gas really does save a few dollars. And renting "would you like to purchase insurance?", "no thanx, my credit card will handle it". After an explanation of its secondary nature, i respond that it is primary, as i have no car, and thus no insurance. It even came into play once, and i must say that Visa and Enterprise Rent-A-Car were wonderful. Once i had the basic forms filled, they worked with each other to get the whole thing taken care of. I was impressed and told the Visa guy to register my compliment.

Another benefit is speeding tickets. Their main cost is not the ticket itself, but the insurance rates which can add $100, once every six months, for three years. That's $600 per ticket. The $150 of the ticket itself (including all those ridiculous added "costs") is almost worth it for the amount of time it saves (over time). With no car, there's no car insurance, and the cost of a ticket is now at a manageable level.

Having no car has gotten me on my bike more, and even walking. It's truly a pleasure. It's something i'd like to keep up as well.

I'm not against having a car. I'm just trying to identify if i actually need one. When the times come, nay, *if* the time comes, i'll have to get another. But, there's always hope.

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