Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays and an Update

Ah, if only there really were a Santa. If there were, I could reasonably expect to find a brand-new MacBook Pro with all the software upgrades sitting under my cat tree on Christmas morning (the cat tree being the only tree available in the house at the moment). But as I've been told since achieving adulthood, Santa is a marketing myth created by Coca-Cola, and unless I have:
  • a well-off significant other
  • a well-off parent
  • well-off friends with extreme generosity
  • a flourishing bank account and the selfishness to spend it all on myself
there is no reason to expect the arrival of said MBP on Saturday.

That said, the G5 is still in the Mac Hospital and I'm typing this on my geriatric (but greatly appreciated) G4 laptop that is still running OSX Panther. Hey. At least I'm internetically connected. I'll take that at this point.

Without boring you with too many details, the problem in the G5 seems to be related not to the RAM itself but to the MuthaBoard. We are hoping this is wrong. We are hoping that the fact that the brand-new RAM failed upon installation is, in fact, a bizarre fluke wrought by that fiendish Mercury Retrograde, which is known to wreak havoc upon communication, electronic devices, and travel and is with us until the 30th.

(The effects actually last a few days longer, meaning if you can avoid traveling, communicating, signing contracts or buying expensive jewelry and electronics until January 5th, you'll be much happier with the results. Now is a good time to research and finish up old business. I took a chance that "replacing RAM" would be "old business", not "repairing expensive equipment", since I'm swapping out one module for another rather than adding more. I'm still counting on that twist to work in my favor.)

So. The laptop is keeping me connected, and I've survived my Farm Games Intervention (can't play, the OS isn't high enough to handle the most recent Flash Player upgrade). I can upgrade the OS on the laptop, but... I'm trying to hold off until the 5th. Just to be on the safe side. At this point, if it ain't broke and still works sorta, might as well not touch it.

This is an historic holiday for me. It's the fifth year sans parents. But that's not the historic part.

It's the first time in my entire life history that Christmas has been canceled.

The Niece At Whose House The Festivities Occur contracted The Purge courtesy of her little germ magnets. The whole family was brought down by the beast, apparently, but N@WHTFO had it affect her breathing (asthma), and spent Monday evening in the ER. It was touch and go for a while as far as whether there would be a Christmas—she's "fine", it's "just" the flu which IHHO was far better than what she'd anticipated (pneumonia)—but due to the fact that neither I nor my other niece and her husband are protected against The Purge, having avoided flu shots at all costs, and the fact that N@WHTFO doesn't feel up to it, we're postponing.

Until mid-January. And weather in SW PA dependent, that may be moved up to Easter.

So I am, for the first time EVER, spending the most important, biggest, family-centric holiday of the year...


Without pwesents.

And you know what? It's OK. In fact, it feels like it's something I need to experience. (And it's not like I'm missing out; I was told that Sister, who lives next door to N@WHTFO, isn't even going over there. The plan is that Sister will drop off a load of scalloped potatoes on N@WHTFO's front porch, and N@WHTFO will shove a plate of ham out the front door. While both hold their breath and turn their faces away. Yeah, I think I'll be OK missing that.)

If you've been hovering around this blog for any length of time, you're aware of my ambiguity when it comes to holidays and the remaining family members. It's gotten better; still, I feel like I'm being given the chance to really see what this holiday means to ME, without all the distractions of family and good cheer. I've never taken the opportunity to do that. I've always accepted the defaults, going where Mom and Dad decided we were going, participating in the required/expected activities. This is my chance to test their validity for MY life.

Which is why, although several dear friends have offered to take me in this Christmas and invited me to join in their festivities, I've opted out. I'm grateful that they care enough to open their hearts and homes to me; yet, something inside says, "this would be yet another distraction". There's also the possibility that bearing second-hand witness to their celebration may hurt more than help. It can be hard to watch everyone else having fun as planned, when you're sort of an add-on. Even a welcome one.

Besides. I'll have the warmth of that $168 million dollar lottery jackpot win to keep me warm. (I have my ticket for tomorrow night, and I've already planned to win the Christmas Eve draw. Merry Christmas to me.)

So I send you all my most heartfelt Christmas wishes for a wonderful holiday with your families and friends, and I'll catch up with you in the brand-spankin' new year if not before.

Peace out. :-)

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Saturday, December 11, 2010


My main Mac (the desktop, the newest one) threw a hissy fit a week ago. I spent the week hovering over it like Dr. Frankenstein troubleshooting it and trying to coax it back into behaving.

As of now, my late 2005 Mac PowerPC G5 will:
  • Boot into OS X 10.4.11 (Tiger, which is two generations behind still and yes I'm aware that time moves forward, I just never bothered to upgrade)
  • Allow me stability and internet access as long as I'm in a User Account I just created the other day (Test User) that has NOTHING in it and a bare desktop
  • Launches and allows me to use: Firefox; Scrivener (writing software); anything that came bundled with the Mac
  • Allow me to work on my novel(s) and other writings, surf the web, read the paper/email, and play FarmVille
  • Burn the Almighty backup DVDs
It will not:
  • Let me get much past startup in my old User Account (crashes, freezes, spinning beachball, kernel panics, dimming and demanding a restart)
  • Launch MS Office 2004, Adobe Creative Suite 2, Painter IX, Cubase or anything else I have installed on the thing when I'm in the old User Account (shared library error)
  • Remove MS Office 2004 using its tool (shared library error)
  • Reinstall ANY software from the original disks (shared library error)
  • Run Disk Warrior to defrag it or find out why it is misbehaving (shared library error)
  • (I'm getting the feeling my Mac is selfish, because it apparently doesn't like to SHARE LIBRARIES)
And this is AFTER completely reorganizing my data, cleaning off the desktop, burning 10 DVD's worth of jobs, photos, music, and so on, deleting over 1,000 files, running every troubleshooting process known to man, AND doing the Archive & Install that Mac gurus everywhere swore would resolve the issue (it didn't—it made it worse) followed by doing the software updates to bring it back up to 10.4.11.

I called the local Apple repair guy. I'd run the Apple Hardware Diagnostic tool, and since the logic board passed and mass storage passed and the memory hawked up an error, we've determined it may be a faulty RAM chip that needs replaced.

Oh, great. My elderly computer has Alzheimer's.

Thankfully, RAM is cheap, it's on its way, and the logic board is OK (if that were bad, we'd be flotsam). If the hard drive were the issue, it's no biggie. I can buy (and easily install myself) a bigger one for about $100. I'm taking the Mac with me when I pick up the RAM and while I'm there (before I waste my money on RAM), I'm making it turn its head and cough for the nice repair guy. Just to be sure.

THEN I'll install the memory and do the whole wipe the hard drive and rebuild it from scratch process.

Or raid my retirement fund to buy a new Mac if the thing winds up terminal. And all the software upgrades because none of my stuff will work in Snow Leopard. Erk. Except Scrivener.


The most interesting thing is that Scrivener DOES work (in Test User, but not in Old User). And it's BEAUTIFUL. This is software for writers that goes beyond Word Processing. It is linked with NaNoWriMo and Winners (like ME!) get a 50% discount on it. Which I'll hold off on using until I'm sure I'll still be Mac-based in 2011 (most likely, don't think I can bring myself to do Windows, but at least it's cross-platform). But I'm playing with the 30-day trial right now and it's...

One user said she wanted to marry it. I understand totally. I keep running into features and saying "OMG! I was hoping it'd do that!" It imports and exports to Word format, PDF—I can't find anything wrong with it. (The only downside to it is that I can't run it on the G4 laptop [yet] because, sadly, the OS on that is even more out of date—still in Panther, 10.3.9—but it can be upgraded if I'm willing to spring for it. Before you ask, the Tiger disks that came with the desktop are machine-specific, otherwise the laptop would've been running Tiger already.)

Scrivener is so efficient, elegant, intuitive, and beautiful that when I first saw it, and after playing with it for hours, I would not have been surprised to find the price to be out of reach.

It's not.

Go see for yourself. Remember I'll be getting it for half that amount.

I know, right?

This is one of the rare instances in which "too good to be true" actually is just as good if not better.

Scrivener = Love. I've found my soul mate and it's not a cat or a horse. It's a piece of software. Who knew?

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