• wdburt1



    Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 363 total)
    • in reply to: Some interesting links #2529626

      I share some of Dedoimedo’s angst about this.  I think I will probably convert 100%, eventually, but the main hangup for me is Word and Excel.  That’s not to say that they cannot be replaced by LibreOffice–I haven’t explored that yet.  The issue is the distraction and disruption of dealing with changing the programs that are at the heart of my work.  So for the time being I’ll continue to assume use of Windows on one computer, and Linux Mint on the other.

      For the last few years I have had Office 2010 on the internet-facing computer.  It’s now beyond EOL and therefore presumably a magnet for malware.  The breakthrough for me came when I realized that I hardly use Office on the internet computer.  Without it, there was little reason to remain married to Windows on that machine.

      The last couple of days I have been exploring Linux alternatives to Foxit Reader and Adobe Reader, and have reluctantly concluded that they do not meet my needs.  I transfer PDFs all the time from the internet computer to the offline computer, which has both Foxit and Adobe Acrobat installed.  I make heavy use of Foxit’s simple-to-use highlighting and annotation capabilities and Acrobat’s ability to add, delete, and reorder pages and combine documents.  In addition, there is the issue of introducing a third PDF program.  I have found that Adobe and Foxit play nice.  However, when I annotate a PDF in Okular (the best program I could identify for Linux Mint) and transfer it to the offline computer and open it in Foxit, the fonts are changed and the annotations are in some cases not editable, which is a killer.  I have managed to avoid installing WINE so far, but I may have to in order to use Foxit Reader seamlessly on the internet computer.  It was after I had come to this conclusion that I discovered that Dedoimedo went through the same evaluation and came out the same way.

      Someday, Foxit will come out with an up-to-date Linux version of Reader, and there will be one less reason to stay with Windows.

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    • in reply to: “What can I use my old computers for?” #2526119

      I wanted to have a flatbed scanner in my home office, but not obstructing the work space around the two desktop computers I use regularly.  I wanted an Epson V700 (this was a few years ago) for quality reasons, and I didn’t want to replace my printer, so buying an “all-in-one” printer/copier/scanner was not an option.

      To run the scanner I repurposed a Dell laptop running Windows XP.  It sits on a shelf just above the scanner, where I can see the screen and reach the keyboard on those rare occasions that something requires it.

      Regarding Randy’s discussion of Linux on older machines: The idea that I could run Windows 7 on the Internet died when Microsoft recently ended all support for Win7 and Chrome announced that it would follow suit.  I don’t use Chrome, but when leading browsers pull the plug, as it seems they must sooner rather than later, warnings from web sites cannot be far behind.  The security issues multiply.  I considered converting a nice Win7 computer to Win10, Chrome OS Flex, or Linux Mint, and am now in the middle of setting up Mint (Cinnamon) on that machine.  I like what I see–a sensible, no-distractions OS eerily resembling Win7.

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    • in reply to: Saving history #2525933

      The V700 (of which I own two) and V750 (same thing except with a wet plate capability, IIRC), is a good alternative.  My recollection is that the V800/850’s only significant change was to substitute an LED lamp.  I found my second V700 on Ebay, intending to drag it around to those research libraries that will let me scan onsite.  It looks beat up but I have been using it at home on a big scanning project recently and it performs well.

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    • in reply to: Saving history #2525533

      In 1994, I co-ventured with the Erie Lackawanna (Railroad) Historical Society to pay the Pennsylvania State Archives to microfilm much of the corporate records of the Erie Railroad and predecessors in their collection. I received one set of duplicate microfilms and worked with them using an ancient second-hand Kodak Recordak “teepee” reader located near my computer. I had to read, then turn and transcribe on the computer. Quite the test of short-term memory, and tiring work.

      About ten years ago I noticed that some rolls were starting to fade, so I had them digitized. Now I could put the PDF on the screen next to my Word document.

      The microfilm rolls were numbered in an opaque fashion, which made it difficult to understand the sequence of things like board of directors minutes. I was ready to digitize the microfilms because I realized that the material would remain all but inaccessible otherwise. In order to keep the task simple for the scanning service, each page was saved as a separate PDF. I saved all of them as a separate file and socked away the original scans on the external hard drive they came on. I then combined the PDFs in Adobe Acrobat and created working copies sorted by type of material and date. The working copies can be highlighted and annotated. (I live in fear that future changes in the PDF reader or related technology might render some or all of these PDFs unreadable, but that’s just something to keep an eye on.)

      Similarly, I have thousands of digital newspaper clippings, with the originals saved in folders reflecting the newspaper’s location. File names start with the year-month-day, so they sort themselves chronologically. Working copies are organized in subject folders.

      And this is the point: Digitizing makes the material useful, where otherwise it would just be overwhelming. My subject folders for clippings are often specific enough that they contain maybe 25 to 50 clippings, a number small enough to absorb and keep in mind when I start writing.

      The same holds true for family photos and similar material. The ability to organize it digitally is a big advantage.

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    • in reply to: Does Linux Mint require antivirus? #2525399

      I would again like to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread.  It is an interesting discussion.

      I’ll take this opportunity to share my pleasure that I have finally successfully installed Linux Mint 21.1 Cinnamon on an unused six-year-old HP desktop computer, in preparation to replace a ten-year-old computer still in use on the Internet.  Mint will run in dual boot (either-or, not simultaneously) with Windows 7, but the latter will not go on the web.  I have set up the included Thunderbird program this afternoon, and tomorrow I’ll work on Firefox.

      Practically nothing about this has been without bumps in the road, but I won’t dwell on those today.  The result appears to be what I hoped for: An OS with a dignified, elegant interface and no distractions, no cajoling, no ads, no crapware, no pointless changes to familiar procedures and all the rest of today’s Windows experience.  I’m liking what I see.  And I am glad to have the Win7 EOL monkey off my back.

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    • in reply to: Saving history #2524209

      Some observations from scanning Kodachromes, Ektachromes, and other slides and black and white negatives from the 1950s and 1960s:

      My first pass at it, in the early 1990s, was to take selected slides from a certain collection to a commercial prepress house that used a room-size Scitex drum scanner.  The slides were taken out of their cardboard frames and taped under cellophane to the drum.  The scans were detailed and color and contrast were good.

      I scanned many of the same slides on an Epson Perfection V750 flatbed scanner about ten years ago.  The results were not sharp enough.  While the scanner performs well with documents laid directly on the glass, it must guess at how far away the surface of the slide is in the holder, and that distance varies across the image due to warp.  When I look at photos in magazines that publish images in this genre (railroad history), I can easily spot slides that have been scanned on a flatbed scanner.

      Slides or negatives laid on the glass, and B&W negs in holders, will often exhibit “Newton rings.”

      I scanned using both Epson and VueScan software.  Color casts varied significantly, with VueScan tending toward blue-green.

      Many of the slides were scanned a few years ago by a friend using a consumer grade scanner.  The results were mediocre–not sharp and color off.

      After some research I bought a used Nikon LS9000 slide scanner.  I also have a friend who owns a somewhat smaller model, the LS5000.  Neither has been manufactured for years; they use a Firewire connection to the computer and the software is designed for Windows 7, but these are reputed to be the best slide scanners around.  The results on my LS9000 were sharp with good color and contrast.  My friend’s LS5000 actually was a hair sharper.

      Some reviewers suggested that Nikon discontinued these scanners because the customers essentially tended to use them once and then sell them.  There was thought to be no long term market.

      Concerning B&W negatives: I have found that simply scanning the negative tends to result in an image with poorer midtone contrast than a print.  Count me skeptical if good quality is the goal.  Of course it is getting difficult to find anyone to print B&W negs using the traditional process, rather than using the process designed for color negs.

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    • in reply to: Does Linux Mint require antivirus? #2523333

      Yes, in my online reading I see Clamav mentioned, and not many other options.

      Thanks to all who responded above.  The situation is as I suspected.  People say Linux does not need AV mainly because its market share is so small that it does not attract malware.  But of course that will gradually change as its market share increases.

    • in reply to: Welcome to our twentieth year #2516271

      These snippets serve as bookends for today’s AskWoody Plus Newsletter:

      Susan Bradley:
      “These days, the big vendors are pushing stuff to us whether we want it or not — and at their pace, not ours. So few of these new Apple and Microsoft ‘features’ are exciting. They’re either tiny, incremental changes or radical UI alterations.”

      Will Fastie:
      “At every turn, it seems we are losing control of the personal technology that has been an important part of our lives and businesses since the birth of the IBM PC. We’ve made billionaires out of the people who drove forward with innovation and brought us all this tech, with which we’ve been able to do great things of our own.

      But we’ve become trapped as a result. Microsoft, Apple, Google, and — sadly — Dymo are setting the rules for us, not catering to our needs or even our whims. Software quality is dropping; to replace that, we’ve become a permanent beta-tester class. Our feedback is rarely heard, much less acted upon. We are struggling to tame our tech… What are we going to do about that? Will the Borg prevail?”

      My last updates to Windows 7 were in 2017. I have continued to use Win7 without incident, following strategies discussed here:


      Now that Chrome (and Brave) are ending support for Win7, and Firefox reportedly is studying doing so in the months ahead, our hands are being forced. Many users have adopted Windows 10 or 11, perhaps with third-party programs to make it more like Win7. I find it hard to work up much excitement about that approach.

      After long hours of plowing through “Internet knowledge” about Linux Mint, I came across a review that concisely summarized what it offers:

      “Ironically, one of the things that make Linux Mint unique is that it’s not trying to be [unique]. By mimicking the last beloved version of Windows rather than coming up with something different, Mint has been leading the charge when it comes to converting users from Windows to Linux. A gateway drug, if you will.

      The current iteration of Cinnamon is reminiscent of Windows 7, with absolutely no trace of Microsoft’s tiled missteps in Windows 8 and 10. Linux newcomers, older users, and folks who miss the elegant simplicity of 95 through 7 era Windows will all love Linux Mint.”

      (Adam Overa, “Everything You Need to Know About Linux Mint,” https://www.makeuseof.com/what-is-linux-mint/)

      I have said before that I would pay for a version of Windows 7 that received security updates and perhaps even other updates, especially if they are optional. If Overa is right, Linux Mint is becoming that alternative.

      To the point made by Will Fastie, in free trade both sides benefit from the transaction. They are better off that they would have been without it. That does not mean both sides got all they wanted. It is always a struggle between producer and consumer. Both want “more.” Producers like Microsoft get the upper hand when competitors fail (or are bought out, which often follows a decline in company valuation), and very often that is because the original business model is broken.

      Microsoft and other tech companies found that they could not make enough money being paid once for a software package. They kept improving Windows until many users found that they would rather continue using the version they have than upgrade. It didn’t help that Microsoft more or less ran out of marketable ideas at the same time. Its attempts to pitch what Susan calls “radical UI changes” as positive and worthwhile innovation fell flat and were quickly seen as a case of changing something because you need something to sell. So Microsoft, like Adobe and other purveyors of software, resorted to pushing unwilling consumers into subscription plans and making their software increasingly a platform for selling stuff.

      All this is old news here, of course.

      At this point I have one foot out the door. I will continue to use Win7 on my offline computer. The Internet computer is likely to be converted to Linux Mint.

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    • in reply to: Defibrillate your “dead” laptop #2510157

      Ben wrote:

      “Whenever possible and convenient, use your laptop with the charger attached. This also prolongs battery life and maintains battery capacity closer to original factory capacity.”

      I have two older Dell (Inspiron 1525) laptops. Keeping them on the charger will boost and hold the charge to 100%. My layman’s understanding is that for maximum battery life the charge should be maintained between 80% and 40% (opinions differ as to precise percentages), and that keeping the battery fully charged or allowing it to run down to zero shortens its life. The Dell laptops warn me to connect to the charger when the battery slips to 40%. So when I am intensively using the laptop at home, I am constantly connecting and disconnecting the charger. An 80% charge is good for about an hour.

      The first laptop is tethered to a scanner and used sporadically, so I often find its battery needs to be recharged. The second laptop was used awhile for another purpose but is now mainly a backup. I kept it on a charger in the back room, out of sight and out of mind, until I found that the charger had burned out–a risk to note. Recently, I decided to swap it with the other laptop and see if it worked. The battery was at 0% but I plugged in the [replacement] charger and it booted right up and began charging. The CMOS battery evidently kept the BIOS and any other essentials alive.

      By the way, I have owned some desktop computers long enough to have to replace the CMOS batteries. Erroneous time and date is the telltale sign. Six to seven years seems to be about the typical life, though it no doubt varies. Layman’s understanding again: If the computer is plugged into the wall, but not turned on, it will still draw enough power to stand in for the CMOS battery, lengthening the battery’s life.

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    • in reply to: Is it time to move to Windows 11? #2509138

      I would be interested in reading a discussion of the programs and other solutions you use to make Windows 10 tolerable.

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    • in reply to: Beware of used printers #2466730

      There may be a simpler explanation.  My experience with buying several different types of vintage equipment online is that initially there is a period where you can still find “new old stock” units, followed by fairly new used units being offered, etc., and finally nothing but worn-out, dirty old junk.  In 2010, I bought from an online liquidator two 24-inch 1920 x 1200 displays that were new models in 2007.  They were still new but discounted because the boxes were dented.

    • in reply to: Beware of used printers #2466364

      Still using an HP LaserJet 4P, new circa 1995.  Not fast, but reliable if the used one you buy is in decent condition.  HP toner is still available for reasonable cost.  The printer will run forever on a toner cartridge.  Unlike modern printers, which have technology that terminates use of a cartridge when it reaches a predetermined number of pages–whether or not there is toner left–the HP will keep printing until the cartridge runs out.

      The HP uses a parallel cable but an adapter cable can be used for a USB connection.  I have two computers sharing one printer by means of parallel cables and a device that reads which computer is talking to the printer.  The printer does not communicate wirelessly.

      It’s getting harder to find a 4P with low miles, but I quit looking after buying a couple of spares a few years ago.

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    • in reply to: Choosing the right email program #2459608

      Outlook Express did everything I wanted a PC-based email program to do, and when I found OE Classic Pro I was a happy camper.  I still use it contentedly.

    • in reply to: Why is email authentication changing? #2450055

      “Keep raising obstacles to participation?”

      Advocates of coercive change would do better to step back and ask themselves whether it is possible that customers do not entirely share their objectives and lifestyle.  And thus whether it is wise to marginalize them this way.


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    • in reply to: Ewaste or usable – week 3 #2448471

      “Do I need a traditional computer in the future?”

      A smartphone or tablet can replace a desktop or laptop computer for some things, but at what cost in convenience and ease of use?  I could hook up a wagon to my riding lawnmower and drive to the grocery store, but I have better ways to bring home the groceries.

      For me it is about “flow.”  The technology should get out of the way.  No obstructions, no distractions.  The user interfaces–keyboard, monitor, mouse–should be not just adequate but satisfying to use.  When I write, I need total immersion in the subject.  I don’t create spreadsheets as often as I once did, but if I do it is often to make sense of a complex subject, often so I can return to writing armed with some figures.  When I work on photos, I need a display capable of showing the nuances.

      None of which sounds like a smartphone.

      Lurking behind this topic is the question of how a change in devices shapes how we communicate.  Email has been criticized for unintentionally conveying an impression of harshness, to the point that people in business are often advised to pick up the phone when an email exchange starts to go south.  Yet for better or worse email permitted people to put some thought into what they wanted to say, at whatever length was necessary, before it was sent.  How much of today’s polarization arises from knee-jerk texting and limits on the length of texts?  Personally, I think that relying so heavily on texting has silenced the more reflective voices–the things we might have said had we taken the time and could communicate without limits.


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    Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 363 total)