Tag Archives: upgrade

Running on WordPress 2.7 Final

I have now updated this blog (and Speed Force) to WordPress 2.7 Final — using the built-in updater. It takes a while, but it’s entirely automated once I tell it “Install” and enter my FTP info.

The built-in plugin installer is very convenient as well.

The Flash 10 upload bug is fixed!

As with Speed Force, I’ve dropped the plugin I was using for avatars in favor of the built-in feature. It still generates Wavatars for those of you who leave your email address but don’t have Gravatars, but it seems to generate them differently, so you get a new and different monster.

All my plugins work as far as I can tell, but there are a couple of glitches:

WP-Super-Cache doesn’t seem to be deleting expired pages on schedule. And the spot for the convenient clear-cache-now buttons for that and WP Widget Cache doesn’t exist anymore, so if I do need to clear them out I need to go to the plugin’s settings page — which is what I had to do until a month ago anyway, so no big deal.

Also, Twitter Tools doesn’t seem to be able to pre-check the “Notify Twitter about this post” checkbox. But the important stuff works.

I’m still getting used to the new admin layout, but the only thing that really bugs me is there doesn’t seem to be a quick way to get to scheduled posts from the dashboard.

Other than that, so far so good. As always, let me know if anything seems broken.

Gone Widescreen

Last month I finally got around to a major rebuild of my computer, something I’d been meaning to do since May when I traced some display problems to the motherboard*. I finally bit the bullet when I started seeing signs of disk errors, and dragged the machine into the present day. (64-bit, dual-core, 2 GB RAM, SATA drive, faster everything.)

Then I discovered that some of the display problems actually were the fault of the monitor.

So I went out and bought a new monitor while Fedora was installing, and I took the opportunity to go widescreen.

My criteria were simple: The resolution and physical size both had to be as big or bigger than the old one (17″, 1280×1024), and it had to be under $300. That meant at minimum a 22″ display at 1680×1050, and I found a Hannspree 229HBP for about $190.

There was a Dell right next to it, same size & resolution and comparable specs, and the Best Buy employee had been talking both of them up. The Dell was on sale for $290. I asked what the difference was. He thought about it for a few seconds. “Well, this one [the Hannspree] does run a little bit hotter. But mostly it’s just the name.” Thank you, Best Buy employee whose name I’ve forgotten, for helping me save $100.

The biggest difference, aside from actually having room to show both the toolbox and document windows on GIMP, is that I don’t maximize windows anymore. Not that I maximized apps that often before, not counting the stuck-in-low-res period. I’ll occasionally run a video or slideshow fullscreen, but the only program I regularly maximize is my email client, and that’s because I can put it in three-column mode (Folder tree on the left, mailbox listing in the middle, message content on the right).

Something to watch out for: At first I left the monitor off-center, because there wasn’t enough room on my desk for it. I figured as long as I worked mostly on the right part of the screen I’d be fine. But I ended up having neck problems shortly afterward, and Katie suggested I check the placement of the monitor. I shifted things around so I could center it, then set it on top of an Amazon box to raise it a couple of inches, and the sore neck cleared up.

I’ve only run into two problems (not counting the placement): There’s one dead pixel, but it’s off in a corner so that it’s not really an issue. I almost didn’t notice it at first when I was still setting things up, because the default GNOME layout has a Mac-style ever-present menu bar, and it falls right on the edge. Usually it ends up either on the edge of a window border or lost in the wallpaper noise.

The other problem: the built-in speakers pretty much suck, but I had external speakers already, so again: no big deal.

* It stopped displaying any resolution past 1024×768. I could tell it wasn’t the monitor because it was perfectly happy to show another computer at 1280×1024. And not the drivers or OS because I had the same problem booting from a LiveCD. And not the video card because plugging in another one didn’t solve it. This was particularly frustrating since it was an LCD monitor, so running at less than native resolution made everything blurry. Still, I put off replacing the mobo for months since it’s such a pain to do.

It Pours

My desktop computer has been a bit flaky for a few months now. Well, more than that. There’s the problem where it won’t display anything in plain-text mode, but that’s not really a big deal. It was when it stopped running anything higher than 1024×768 that I started getting annoyed.

That turned out, oddly enough, to not be the video card. And not the monitor, since I could display higher resolution from the Windows box perfectly fine. And not my OS, since running a live CD had the same problem.

So I figured it was a motherboard issue. Fine, I’ll upgrade. Eventually. Wait ~4 months, and I’m starting to notice data errors on the hard drive. Great.

You know that old saying about how any project requires at least 3 trips to the hardware store? It applies to computers, too.

I finally got around to looking for a decent mobo/CPU/RAM combo, and a new hard drive. Ordered online. Arrived yesterday. Ran backup last night.

Today I dismantled everything, hampered by the fact that I could not find the box that has all the case components (faceplates so I could remove the ZIP drive which I haven’t used in 3 years, etc.), though I did eventually find the screws. After I installed the motherboard, I started plugging in connectors… only to discover that the power supply didn’t have the right kind of connector.

Off to Fry’s to get a new power supply, after stopping at storage to see if I could find that box with faceplates and stuff. No luck, and power supplies are astonishingly expensive, though I found one that fit my specs and was on sale and had a rebate, so that worked out. (Some of them are 1000-watt monstrosities that cost as much as a cheap computer, and in the words of another customer, “look like they should be in a Chevy.”)

Came back, hooked everything up, moved it back into the bedroom to hook everything up…and couldn’t go into the BIOS to set the boot device. After messing around a bit, determined that the text-mode problem, at least, actually was the monitor. So I’m borrowing Katie’s monitor while I install an actual 64-bit OS. Once it’s at the point where I can let it sit for a while, I’m going to run out to Best Buy for a new monitor. I suspect the resolution problem is different, but at this point I’m no longer inclined to suffer through it.

Still, it’s worth the upgrade (assuming, of course, that everything continues to work once I close up the case), since the old system was single-core, 32-bit, and ran on an IDE drive, and the new system is dual-core, 64-bit, will have more memory, a faster bus, a SATA drive, etc. This should be much faster.

Once it’s done, anyway.

Originally posted at LiveJournal.

Current Mood: šŸ˜”frustrated

Apple Updates Software Update, Addresses Criticism

In conjunction with the Safari 3.1.1 security release, Apple has also released a new version of Apple Software Update for Windows. With version 2.1, they’ve taken the opportunity to fix one of the problems that caused so much criticism last month.

It now shows two lists: one for updates, and one for new software. This takes care of one of the three easy steps that I culled from discussions back in March:

  1. Separate updates from new software and label them clearly. Done.
  2. Leave the new stuff unchecked by default. Bzzzt! Try again!
  3. When run automatically, donā€™t pop up a notice more than once for each piece of not-installed software. [Edit:] Done.

Unfortunately the new software is still checked by default, but one hopes that the separate list would be enough to make people stop, look, and make a conscious choice as to whether or not to install it.

I don’t know yet how it handles new software when run automatically, or whether they’ve made the ignore option apply to an entire piece of software rather than a specific installer. I’ve taken iTunes off the ignore list and set it to check daily so that I can find out. [Edit:] I haven’t seen it pop up in the last 24 hours, and according to eWeek, “Apple will now only prompt the user if there are critical security updates available.”

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Apple Software Update: a Simple Solution

I appreciate the fact that Apple provides a single updater for all their Windows software. It’s nice to consolidate things a bit with the profusion of updaters for what seems like each and every application (sort of like how every mobile device seems to need its own charger). But it has its flaws. I’ve mentioned some broken UI design, but the most annoying thing is that it tries to install new software instead of just updating what you have.

At work, I have QuickTime and Safari for development purposes. I don’t have iTunes. I don’t need it. I don’t even have speakers hooked up to the computer. But every time a new version gets released, it shows up in the Apple Software Update list, and I have to tell it to ignore it until the next time they update iTunes.

Now that Safari for Windows is out of beta, it’s doing the same with Safari*. And people are complaining. People like John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla, who sees it as an anti-competitive measure that dilutes users’ trust in software updaters.

Personally, I think there is a problem, but I hardly expected it to turn into the firestorm it has, with Asa Dotzler, c|net, digg, Techmeme, [edit] and now Slashdot, [edit 2] Daring Fireball and Wired (it just keeps going!), and dozens hundreds of commenters entering the fray.

There’s a simple solution, and it’s one of those rare cases where Microsoft gets something right in their software that Apple gets wrong.

  1. Create a separate section for software that isn’t already installed, and label it clearly. It can be in the same list, as long as there’s a separation and a heading.
  2. Leave the new stuff unchecked by default.
  3. Added: If set to check automatically, don’t pop up a notice more than once for each piece of not-installed software.

That’s it. Done. Apple still gets to leverage their installer to make people aware of their other apps, but there’s no chance of someone accidentally installing Safari (or iTunes) by accident because they didn’t read the list too closely. Take a look at Microsoft Update and how they (currently) offer Silverlight. It’s in a list of optional software, and it’s not checked until you choose it.

That’s all this really comes down to: sensible defaults and proper labeling.

*I have to admit getting a kick out of the title, “Apple pushes Safari on Windows via iTunes updater,” because my problem is that they’re pushing iTunes on Windows via their Safari updater. It’s a matter of perspective.