Apr 6, 2015

Oh HP, please!

I have a super grandma. She'll be turning 90 in May, but she's still sharp as a knife and in better health than a whole lot of people half her age. A couple days ago she called to ask my help with some laptop stuff. Her laptop, a good 7 or maybe 8 years old, I'd guess, had died in the middle of a word (my grandma writes a lot - runs in the family ;) ). She wanted to know what could be done to the laptop and whether it was salveagable or not.

My educated guess, when I listened to the symptoms, was that not much was doable to the old laptop and so as soon as I got a word in (she talks a lot), I told her, "Listen, on Monday when you come here for the birthday coffee, you're leaving with me and a new laptop. I'll take you home and set it up for you." She nearly broke into tears. In my mind, whatever little things I can do to pay back all the good she has brought to my life, I do with joy. Besides, we had an extra laptop, only a year and a half old, collecting dust.

Today was that Monday. My grandma came here for my youngest daughter's twelfth birthday with my dad and his wife and I took my grandma home (yes, she lives alone, in her own row house appartment) along with that new-old laptop that I had fixed for her use. I showed her how to use Win8.1 and Word 2013 - I don't even know what versions she had been using before. Everything looked different, but she learned well. I set up her mobile network - she has a usb stick for internet connection so that she can use the same at her summer home easily. And so on. Just the basic stuff.

And then there was the printer. An HP Photosmart C4270. Win 8.1 did not recognize the device on its own so I thought, "piece of cake, we'll just download the driver from the HP support site." Oh, was I wrong about that! The only piece of cake today was the one I ate with an espresso!

I googled. At first, this is all I got: http://www.hp-drivers-download.com/hp-drivers/hp-photosmart-c4270-all-in-one-printer. The page seems to promise a driver download, when in fact it gives you some goddamned driver fixing tool that asks for some licence numbers. WTF?

I removed that and tried searching, tried this and tried that and all I ever found was some similar kind of tools, that I personally just rate as spyware. I do not want that on my grandma's laptop! Finally, by accident, I stumbled upon this page here (which for some strange reason is the first search result for me here at home, on my own laptop, but I could not find it when searching with my grandma's laptop - how odd is that?): http://support.hp.com/us-en/product/HP-Photosmart-C4200-All-in-One-Printer-series/3192751/model/3300210/drivers/

There, finally!



I downloaded the driver and started the setup. It took like a half an hour! It did this, it did that, step 1/8 for this, step 8/8 of something else. Device recognized, finalizing installation. This may take a few minutes. No kiddin'! It took like 10! And then the setup application said: "An unknown error has occured, rolling back installation." And I was like, hell no you don't! I paused it and for the lack of other ways to halt the rollback for good I killed the setup with Task Manager.

Yes, the printer was installed and working fine. I have no idea what that error might've been, but it did not have anything to do with the printer and its ability to print out stuff!

HP, please! Couldn't you just offer a nice clean driver for your devices instead of these horror packages? I mean, how can a printer driver be 180Mb and take a half an hour to install on a relatively new computer (albeit not the fastest kid in the block)? And hey, I've been in IT business for 16 years and I was working on this shit for an hour. How do the non-IT people do it? Contact your Support? Can't you just make it a bit more simple, please!

[P.S. This: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/printers. Yup. Thanks, Jukka Niiranen (@jukkan)!]

Mar 11, 2015

Wombat poop and other social media phenomena

A friend of mine posted a picture in Facebook.



Well, shared it from "I fucking love science".

So, what happened next? I, of course, being the self-taught sceptic that I am (read: manage to question some stuff but buy into other stuff when I forget to be alert), googled it. I would never have even thought to google wombat, let alone wombat poop without the pic. I mean, they don't exactly live in our neighborhood. I knew they exist, but seriously, they're not cute like pandas or koalas or fun like kangaroos.

What caught me totally off guard was Google. Google was already one step ahead of me! I started to type wom - which could've been the beginning for, say, woman, women, womb or a huge many other words. But what did Google suggest?



Yes, of course. Wombat poop had already become a worldwide phenomenon way before the cubic poop photo reached me. And it's Google's job to keep on top of those. For people like me. So Google saved me the trouble of typing more than three letters and on top of that, offered some reliable looking search results. Like International Business Times explaining to the world why the cubic poop is so convenient for wombats.

Wait, what?! What's the Business Times got to do with wombats?

That's how these social media phenomena go. Everyone and their dog wants their share of clicks using black and blue (actually it was gold and white ;) ) dresses of celebs (who was it again?) and wombat poop and whatever "sells". It's all about the money (that the advertisement brings in). And we, consumers, swallow the bait, over and over again.

So, what did I learn today? That I'm still not sure the wombat cubic poop is not a hoax and that everyone is only after my clicks. Oh, go ahead and say it. I'm riding on wombat poop too. But hey, you got it for free - no advertisement included!

[Afternote. Thank you, Wikipedia. No, it is not cubic. You know what tipped me off? The "it's".]

Sep 21, 2014

Updating to Lumia Cyan - WinPhone 8.1

'Twas the third windows phone update in two weeks. Microsoft had been pushing one to my Lumia 820 every Friday for three Fridays in a row. The first one announced itself as Lumia Black (and in all due honesty, the update might have been available for some time already for it had not notified me and I only noticed the update then). It made no major changes that I would've noticed. The second one didn't even have a name, so I guess it was just a patch pack instead of an os upgrade. The third one upgraded my phone to Lumia Cyan. And that brought on a whole lot of stuff.

First thing I noticed after the upgrade was that a tile was missing from my start screen. At first I couldn't remember what it was, for I didn't have the need for it. Then I realized. I was missing something as crucial as the calendar! I looked for it in the app list. Nope, no calendar. I checked my accounts and yes, calendar was supposed to be synced too from our company Exchange. I started to google. I found out that this disappearing calendar was actually a known bug, one of many, with the nice solution to it: do factory reset.

At this point a friend of mine commented to my Facebook status complaint: " If it ain't broken, don't upgrade it". And my husband: "Next time google for experiences before running an upgrade". Duh! But hey, they're supposed to be tested and ok. And besides, if everyone waits for other peoples' experiences, there never will be any. I'm sort of used to go head on to new stuff, because of my job. So here I am, writing a blog post for the behalf of those who actually do wait and read first. Anyway, I have no regrets.

So, I had to do the factory reset. So? It took me probably less than an hour, thanks to the cloud backups that restored almost everything to my phone after the reset. I think there were a couple of apps and a couple of app settings that weren't restored. And the main thing there was that my calendar reappeared. I had tried to avoid the reset by downloading a different calendar app (tried two of them actually), but since the calendar of the os was messed up, I only got a read only version of my calendar in those apps, and that's not worth anything, really.

Calendar bug aside, I really like the new stuff the Cyan brought to my phone.

1) Pull down notifications + actions center
That's something I have written about before. With the iOs7 and iPad jailbreak etc. Something I had been used to with the Android and then finally Apple implemented it in the iOs, and now finally Microsoft brought it to the wp8.1. It has four slots for settings quick access buttons and the link to all settings (yey, I don't have to have the settings as a tile anymore!). In the Notification center settings you can set which settings buttond to show, and also control the apps in the notification center, in a rather Apple-y way (then again, there's not that many ways to do it).

   

2) Start screen options
These are the minor stuff in a way, but then again, it's the stuff that makes the UI more sleek and cool. The ability to customize the home screen a bit more. Actually, I cannot say for sure which update or upgrade it was, for I did not check all of the settings after the previous ones - only now when the factory reset sort of made it mandatory to go through it all. 

Anyway, now there is the option to use your own photo as a background for tiles - it's a no-scroll photo that is only shown in bits and pieced as the no-scroll background of transparent tiles. Also, now there is the option to fit more tiles on the home screen too. With a phone like Lumia 820, I found the smallest tiles to be so small in this mode that I just passed. I prefer the "old way". 

 


3) Enhanced volume controls
When you tap once on the up or down volume control buttons, the volume control appears on the top of the screen as before. You can adjsut the ringer + notifications volume using the buttons. But if you tap on the volume control, it opens a bigger control panel, with a slider the ringer + notifications volume and an additional one for the media and apps volume control. It's easy to mute either by tapping on the bell or note icons, and now the vibrate can be easily turned off too.



4) The new calendar UI
After getting my calendar back, I have to say I like the new and enhanced Windows Phone native calendar with the week view and all. The old calendar constantly agravated me with the slide list view that made it difficult to see whether there were appointments on s specific day or not. It required more than a glance. This new look and feel is nice. There's the options (behind the right-most button on the bottom) to switch from week view to month/day/year views. And it shows some weather data for the upcoming days too, if you allow location on the calendar.

    


(Oh, we have cool days coming up... autumn is here.)


Summa summarum, I definitely do not regret upgrading my phone despite the need for a factory reset to get it all properly working. I'm quite happy with all the improvements!



Apr 13, 2014

Adapting to iOs 7.1

So, after putting my iPad back to AppleJail yesterday, it feels like I have a brand new iPad. I jailbroke it from iOs 6 and unbroke it to iOs7(.1). It is different. No other way to put it. I mean, I had to google to even understand how to kill apps! But after an evening of fiddling with it, I started to get a hang of it. I think it'll grow on me, just like any other new os has before. I mean, I am a happy Win8.1 user now too, even though (long term MS person as I am) Win8 had me pretty much on my toes at first!

There are several really cool things about iOs7 - things that originally were part of the reason I jailbroke my iPad in the first place - but there are agravation points too. Let's do a little break-down of these, even though I recognize that I'm already a bit late in this game, iOs7 being old stuff already ;)

Category cool: new swipes

  1. Pinch with four or five fingers, halfway (or up) to get to the open apps cards view, all the way to get to home screen
  2. Swipe with four or five fingers to switch between apps - this is the best thing in my opinion!

You can turn these off in the settings if it happens to be an agravation point to you.

Category cool: the open apps cards view

Even though it annoyed me at first, that I had to KVG (Finnish acronym for look in the effin' google) how to kill the open apps, I actually like this new view! And, for those of you who ended up here because you needed to google this same issue, here's the answer: you swipe the app up and over the edge to close it.

Category agravating: the wallpaper zoom and move around

This was the first thing I noticed. My wallpaper was moving around. I don't like moving around stuff, it makes me motion sick, so I went to the settings and more guessed than new that it could be turned off in the wallpaper settings. It's the not so obvious Perpective Zoom setting (you need to the wallpapers settings and tap the wallpaper open to preview), that needs to be turned off if you don't want the wallpaper to be moving around.

Category agravating: the flying windows

I have this kind of stuff turned off in my Windows too. I don't like my apps to be flying this way and that when I launch and close them, I want them to appear and disappear. So far, I have not found a way to disable this on the iPad though, so I just need to learn to live with it.

Category *meh*: the overall design

I don't really like the flat, grey, thinline design, but can't say it would exactly bother me either. I mean, the icons are pretty ok, but the title row e.g. in Safari is, for lack of a better word, boring. It goest to the same design as the new Facebook look and feel. Seems unfinished. Like it's missing some CSS or something. Don't like that either, for the record.

Category cool/agravating/*meh*: the controls panel / highlight search / notification swipe down

Where-ever you are, you can swipe out the controls (music, camera, flight mode, wifi...) from the bottom of the screen. This is one of those things that was missing in iOs before (esp. the wifi, bluetooth etc. controls) and one of the reasons I jailbroke my iPad, and now, there they are :) Swipe from the bottom and you get them :)

Highlight search is mostly a nuisance to me. I don't really use it, never have, and now it pops out in the top of the screen just by a simple mis-swipe of a finger on the screen. Oh well, goes to the category of "learn to live with", I guess.

As for the notifications, I mostly hate them and don't use them, so it's only calendar appointments and new email, that will ever be visible in my notifications swipe down (I believe it has some other proper name, but I can't remember it). Anyhow, it falls nicely from the top of the screen and opens a full black screen with whatever notifications you have (enabled).

***

Ok, what else? I had some trouble with certain apps after the update, and whether the reason was the unbreaking & restoring or simply the updating, can't know. Anyway, Instagram and iKeepass had some glitches.

Instagram, well, it so happened that at the same time their server was down and I was unaware of this, so my troubles might have been non-existent. Anyway, I did some googling and found that some other people had had problems with Instagram after updating to iOs7, so again, who knows?

iKeepass had me for a time there too - it launched nicely, asked for my master key when I tapped to open my database, but after typing in my key, it gave me blank. I so totally rely on my Keepass for passwords that this was a major issue (even though I can access tha database on multiple devices). At that point I decided to try the reset all settings -trick to get my apps to work properly.

I'd been reluctant because of the extra work that means, to go through your settings to reconfigure everything after the reset. But it worked. iKeepass revived and Instagram too, as soo as they had their server running again, that is.

All in all, I'm quite happy with the iOs7 so far, if you disregard the couple things that go into category "learn to live with" (I have found live in general is easier, when you learn to live with the stuff you can't change). It gives me most of the same things as jailbreaking did (since the multi-user thing actually pretty much broke after a month or so).

 

Apr 12, 2014

Un-break my iPad

It's not like my iPad was broken broken (other than that screen, but not referring to that now), but as I have written before, it was jailbroken. And I loved it. Mostly. I loved the little features it gave me. In the end, after more than a year of having a free bird iPad, what weighed in the scale most, was the annoyance of Safari crashing all the time. For no good reason. So, finally I had enough and decided to un-break my iPad.

That's not a huge big deal to do. Connect the iPad with iTunes on a laptop - Macbook or Win, either is fine. But, have I ever mentioned how much I dislike iTunes? I don't get the UI. Though, I have to admit, that when it actually started to do something, after waiting and wondering for several minutes after connecting the iPad, the backup-update console was straightforward enough.

My iCloud has been full for a long long time already. So first thing I did, was to backup my iPad in iTunes before attempting the return to the Applejail. That took quite some time, and after that I also transferred my un-bakced up photos to my Dropbox (which requiered ejecting the iPad from iTunes, should've done that first!), just for good measure. The iCloud photo sync still is not really realiable and not up to date today either.

Once this was all done, I re-plugged my iPad to the laptop, and iTunes launched automatically, asking me to update the software. I clikced Download and update, and the process started. After some time - during which I walked to the store with the dog - iTunes informed me of an unknown error and told me to restore the iPad. So Restore and Update I did.


After only a few minutes, iPad rebooted and iTunes prompted me to proceed with restoring the iPad from the backup. After several reboots and iTunes operations of syncing and such, the iPad was finally up and running again. With iOs7.1.

Everything seems to be running smoothly. I miss that top bar swipe menu a bit, but otherwise the iOs7 seems ok. Then again, haven't been using it yet more tha a cursory glance to check that all is well in my iPad.


Apr 10, 2014

HP Ultrabook 850

Nothing was exactly wrong with my old HP laptop, but I cannot say that I'd be the least bit sorry for getting a brand new work laptop. Especially one as nice and sleek as the HP Ultrabook 850. It's thin, lightweight, got a backlit keyboard, battery power for 7 hours with basic battery, and what best: a touchpad similar to the macbook trackpad!

My Macbook-loving husband asked me why was it worth its while to get a laptop that was as expensive as a Macbook, and in many ways a quite shameless imitation of the Macbook experience. Why not buy Macbooks instead? Two words. Micro and soft. I cannot very well do my MSWork with a Macbook. I am bound to Windows via SharePoint and Visual Studio and... even if I mostly use a remote server.

Besides, I have problems understanding the OsX. But I do love the trackpad! And now I have something truly similar in my Win-powered sleek Ultrabook, that is not a nuisance even while slouching on the couch with it. Not heavy, not overheating all the time. And it's quiet - no fan going wild all the time either.

So in summary, I love my Ultrabook <3 And here's the tips for the touchpad-trackpad-mouseDevice:

  • two-finger tap: you get the quick menu (normally right mouse click) by tapping the pad
  • two-finger swipe: scrolling - and you can do it either vertical or horizontal
  • three-finger swipe (or flick): scanning through browsing history in browser, or images in image viewer etc. this I needed to activate myself in the mouse settings, it was not enabled by default
  • pinch zoom: zoom in browser by pinching, but also e.g. in Word and other Office apps
  • rotating with two fingers: handy when doing a lot of photo work and needing to rotate images

There's other options too, but these are my favorites!

 

 

 

Mar 30, 2014

Changing the iPad2 Screen

There are a bunch of tutorials on how to do it, I know. But after doing it twice now (the first being the learning experience and the second one to correct what went wrong the first time) I believe I have something to contribute to the subject. Things that I didn't find in the tutorials I read when doing it for the first time. But since it is quite agravating to read a list of tips and a separate tutorial, here's the full process, with the tips included.

  • Order a digitizer screen full with the toolkit even though it has a bunch of stuff that I at least didn't need at all, for it is quite convenient to have the exact right size screwdriver and those plastic sticks are rather handy too. Besides, in Amazon, it was cheaper too than only the screen (which also would not ship at all to my nook of the world...).
  • Order a roll of 3M adhesive tape, for the strips that come with the toolkit were a pain in the butt to be placing on the iPad. Much easier to cut small stirps and place them all around.
  • Get some pure alcohol for cleaning the old glue off. I didn't actually have that, so I used nail polish remover, girl that I am, and it did work ok too.
  • Once you have all the appliances, choose the time to be messing with this wisely. To do it properly and without hurry, try to make sure you have no immediate time limit and peace and quiet around. I spent a good two hours with the second shot, just taking my time and being through. Also, be prepared to not use your iPad for a few hours after screen changing, to let the glue stick properly.

With the preliminary tips said, on to the actual process:

1) First off, you need to get the old screen off. The iPad turned off, use a hair dryer to heat the edges of the iPad, and pry the glass off (between the glass and the plastic rim) little by little, working around the edges with the help of one of the plastic tools (guitar pick or one of the stikcs).

2) When the glass is loose, open the iPad like a book. The screen is attached to the mother board with a cable, and next you need to get to that. So, with the screen out of the way, loose the screws in all four corners of the inner screen, and then lift that screen up, like turning a page in a book since it is attached to the motherboard too.

3) The motherboard exposed, see the digitizer screen cable in the bottom left corner. There's two small black latches that lock the cable in place, pull them gently with the flat small screwdriver or similar tool to release them. Once the cable is freed, your broken screen is free to be removed.

4) Now, clean the old glue from the iPad rim carefully. Any lumps of glue will make your new screen uneven and easily break again - the part I cheated on the first time round, impatien ADD that I am. Don't do that. Use that pure alcohol (or nail polish remover ;) ) and some q-tips to rub the glue off. The plastic stick tools are helpful also.

5) Prepare the new screen.

Unscrew and detach (use the blow drier again, if needed) the home button from the old screen and using a couple small pieces of the 3M tape, attach it to the corresponding spot on the new screen.

Detach the camera lense piece from the old screen (glue, again) and attach it to the new one.

6) Cut pieces of the 3M tape and place them on the iPad rim, not the screen. I have 1cm (0,4") wide tape and mostly I cut out a 5cm (appox. 2") piece and then cut it in three slim slices. That worked quite well overall, and then I jus t patched the rest of the spots with right size pieces. Tweezers are a good help, as you don't want to get finger grease on the tape.

Be careful not to get the tape on the white/black plastic rim, for that again results in an uneven screen taping and easier breaking.

7) Attach the new screen by sliding the cable between the iPad body and the inner screen, and pushing the pin end to its place and locking the latches.

8) Turn the inner screen back to its place and secure with the screws.

9) Before exposing the upper glue side of the tape, turn the digitizer screen to its place and turn the iPad on to test that everything works. Do at least these tests:

  1. the general working of the screen (unlocking the lock screen already does this)
  2. the keypad - open up a notepad app or web site etc. and do some typing to check that the keypad works ok
  3. open a web site to test that the wifi antenna is still working - if not, you need to order a new one and replace it
  4. home button - test that the home button does what it's supposed to in more than one scenario
  5. camera - try out the camera too

If there are any glitches, try to figure out the cause and correct it. E.g. first time out, I had the tape too close to the home button, preventing it from working fully.

10) When you are sure everything works fine with the new screen, turn off the iPad again and use a microfibre cloth to wipe the inner screen and the insides of the digitizer screen. Trust me, the occasional finger print is really annoying when you can't get to it. Even now, as carefully as I tried to wipe these clean, there is a little something left in my screen, that I did not notice when cleaning the screen.

11) Peel off the protective papers from the tape strips - tweezers may be helpful here too if fingernail don't seem to do the trick. Place the screen carefully in its place inside the plastic rim, and press the edges gently to attach properly. Try to make sure the screen snaps inside the rim.

12) Test out the screen again. With the off chance that something is amiss, this is your best opportunity at starting again, when the tape is not yet fully stuck. If you need to remove the screen again to do some fixes, do start again with the cleaning out the old glue. Even if it would happen to stay in place some way, chances are that it gets wrinkled and most probably does not hold well anymore. You also cannot simply add new tape on top of the old one.

13) Place the iPad on a soft flat surface (on top of a non-scratching cloth) screen side down, and place some heavy books on top. Let sit there for a few hours to give the tape glue time to attach properly before starting to use the iPad again.

Good as new? Ought to be :)