Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where Does The Time Go? Is all this time-saving technology to blame?

Griffin PowerMateMy good intentions to research the CFS/ME/XMRV/CDC thing have fallen prey to all kinds of technology. There's the technology I work on marketing at my day job, which requires a part of every day. Then there's the technology that distracts me, like Kindle for the iPhone, whereon I am reading the last book in the Axis of Time trilogy (in which the technology of 2012 collides with 1942). And then there are the "time-saving" gizmos that can be pretty darned time-consuming, like computers.

An embarrassing number of months ago I offered to repair my daughter's Dell notebook. That did not work out so well. So I got her a replacement, an IBM Thinkpad, a lease-return purchased without an operating system. I installed a copy of Windows XP I had purchased on eBay. That did not work out so well. The darned thing was "all used" up, which is the technical term for exceeding the number of installs for an individual Windows OS license.

Then I remembered the many copies of Windows XP that I had purchased while working as a Microsoft vendor. On Saturday, I finally managed to excavate one of those from the barn (my personal homage to the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a place beloved of nobody but my cats, who love to leap from pile to pile of crated "stuff" and feast upon any mice that try to make their home among our stored belongings).

That worked out well. The license number unlocked the XP install. But then I was buried under a digital landslide of accumulated OS updates, application updates, driver updates, and mandatory reboots. However, by late Sunday afternoon, the Thinkpad was as stable as a rock and as up-to-date as an iPhone app.

airmouseSpeaking of which, there were some positive side effects and salutary sideshows to this techno-marathon. First, I found my Griffin PowerMate, the spacey looking thing pictured, via iPhone, at the top of the page. This is a great gizmo that I have plugged into my Mac Mini to control the volume (and do other cool stuff when editing documents and video). That inspired me to add even more controls to the Mini.

First I tried the Apple app for the iPhone called Remote. This is supposed to provide remote control from an iPhone to a Mac. It may do that for some people, but not for me, not in any meaningful way (and like so many Apple-derived software it suffers from that really aggravating techno-snob, minimalist-style documentation).

So then I tried the Air Mouse app. Much better. That's what you're looking at on the left, a screen on the iPhone that allows you to mouse around your Mac and even type on it, at considerable distance. Great for doing your big screen web surfing from across the room.

I'm still learning all of the things Air Mouse can do, but it should be good for controlling iTunes when I get the multi-room speaker feed installed. Of course, that's got to wait for another tech weekend. Other techno-bits I worked on while updating the Thinkpad include installing Woopra to monitor a couple of web sites in real-time (it's pretty cool to watch someone land on your blog from New Zealand and then start flipping pages).

I also upgraded Paintshop Pro on my Sony Vaio to the latest version. I also did a bunch of writing in OpenOffice.org Writer, which I now prefer over Word by a considerable margin (not that I was ever a fan of Word--indeed, I was quite happy writing with Ami Pro until Microsoft killed it off).

And I started laying the groundwork to move this blog to my own [virtual] server. I noticed the blog was down for a while this morning [for which, my apologies] and I think the move will be good for reliability as well as saving me some money. Whether it will save me any time is hard to say. I'm going to try and turn things off for the rest of the day.

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