Troubleshooting: 4 – The Evil Empire Strikes Back! Me vs Microsoft

Posted by Karen H on 1:24 PM
Geek & Poke Tell it like it is about Microsoft
Original Post Aug 2, 2009

Well, if you’ve been reading these posts, you’ll know I’m the happy owner of a new MacBook Pro. I transferred all my stuff and magically everything worked fine–all my programs applications even my Microsoft Office 2008. I was a happy camper, that is until the Evil Empire Struck Back. Here I am all la dee da doing my CTER work and up pops Microsoft with a message that there’s an update to Microsoft Office. Innocently, I click to download, load and restart. This seems all normal, but with Microsoft you never know. Now it’s back to my CTER work and click a file.


Microsoft is telling me that I already have a copy of Microsoft Office on another machine so this one is now invalid and I’ll need another registration number. They are evil I tell you EVIL!

So now what? Are they kidding? Do they really think I’m buying another copy just because I have a new computer?

OK, let’s think this out. After a little bit, I decide to uninstall and do a reinstall with the disk and see where that gets me. So far so good. I decide to check if it works before I install updates.

Yes, it does. We are rolling.

Let’s install update one, and check. Yes it works!

Now we are on to update 2. Check! She works.

Update 3, let’s go!


Message from EVIL EMPIRE: You have this version of Office on another computer!

That’s it. It’s War!!!

Uninstall! Reinstall Disk, Install Update 1, Install Update 2.

Click: Do not allow incoming Network Connections from Microsoft!

Do not update program!

Do not update program!

Do not update program!



Description of the problem/context:

Microsoft has disabled my program after update

Possible Causes: I have this version with this registration key on my other MacBook Pro. Microsoft is EVIL

Possible Solutions: Buy another copy of Microsoft Office (NBL=Not Bloody Likely!) Reinstall

Action Taken: Uninstall, Reinstall, update 1, update 2, update 3 -opps. Do not pass go, step back- uninstall, reinstall, update 1, update 2, Stop! Click do not allow Microsoft Incoming Connections

Reflection: Microsoft is EVIL! When installing a Microsoft program that has been on another machine, check each update as you go to make sure it works. DRM is evil. Maybe it’s time to get serious about Open Office


Me vs the Squirrels – Troubleshooting 3

Posted by Karen H on 1:20 PM
Cute Squirrel  creative commons by Genista
Original Post  Jul 28, 2009

Squirrels are cute. There’s no doubt about it. However, I can tell you honestly I’m not being paranoid but they are out to get me. It happens every spring and summer– they just can’t get enough of me. They root through all my flower boxes, dig out my plants, and this year they even overturn whole boxes of dirt and fill my decks. What do I do? Run off to buy critter ridder an expensive brand of spices that they aren’t supposed to like. Maybe it works for a minute and then they are back to their old tricks. So this time I tried blood meal and that must have been the final straw because now they’ve decided to get me where it hurts- technology. In the past month they’ve taken my phone line down twice-yup they’re out to get me!

But if you ask me who I dislike more squirrels or call centre people, I think I’m going to have to side with the squirrels. I know that the squirrels cause the problem, but at least they seem earnest.

The problem starts with what sounds like a little static on the phone line; it gets progressively worse and then it’s almost impossible to hear anything. That’s what happened two days ago. I’m a subscriber to Bell Canada, so I know the routine. First you have to check that it’s not an inside the house problem or they charge you $70. To do that you have to disconnect all your phones and then choose a wired line that you know works and plug that into the jack that enters your house first. If there’s still a problem, you are off the hook for paying.

It's the Call Centre in Whoknowswhere! (creative commons brycel)
Next step is trying to get through on the phone. It takes a long time to get through, but the best bet with the voice commands is just to say “talk to a real person.” Then you wait and wait and wait all the while you are forced to listen to loud annoying music interrupted by a guy who keeps coming on and saying how important you are. By the time you get through, you are really annoyed especially when there is so much static on the line and the guy asks you, “What seems to be the problem?” Honestly that’s what he said!!!

As we’ve seen in our reading, sometimes it’s 100% script.

Then it’s sit and wait until the next day for the repair person. In my saga, things went from bad to worse. After awhile I had no dial tone. But I did make an inadvertent discovery. I decided to see what happened when I called my home phone, so I called my line with my cell, and lo and behold it rang. Suddenly I was back to having a static line. So I’ve discovered that the slight power surge brings it back on even if it’s only for awhile.

So now it’s the next day and the repair person is supposed to be here before noon, but of course that doesn’t happen. I have to call my favourite call centre again and ask, ” Is someone really, honestly, truly coming?” Excuses, excuses- yes he’ll be there before 5 pm.  When the poor repair guy gets to my house, I tell him I’m two seconds away from dumping Bell. He has a look that almost says, “Not a bad idea!” but the words that come out of his mouth after me explaining about the last squirrel phone line attack, are “Well you know there are a lot of wires up there, they might have eaten another one all together. Yes the squirrels are nasty.” I mention my discovery to jump start the line, and  he tells me that yes that’s exactly what happens when you phone your line. I’m at least starting to feel better because I’ve learned something. I can see him going up the pole and shortly I get a call and he tells me the damage has been fixed and I can hear him clearly.

Squirrel calling! (photo creative commons kthypryn)
My only fear?   Next call is from this guy—->

Description of the problem/context:
Static on my phone line and sometimes no dial tone.

Possible causes: Bad phone, rain storm damage or squirrels.

Possible Solutions: Check phones, call repair. Switch phone service to cable.

Action Taken: Unplug all phones, plug in wired phone to first jack that enters the house. It’s not an inside problem. Phone line dead- phone the land line with cell phone. Wait for a man who climbs a pole!

Reflection: Squirrels don’t like me but I can’t do much about that unless I switch to a cable phone. I learned something the repair people don’t tell you. You can spike your dead phone line sometimes by giving it a call. When they finally arrive, there’s nothing quite so nice as the people who can actually fix things!


Troubleshooting-Swollen Batteries & Itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny Fonts!

Posted by Karen H on 1:14 PM
Swollen Battery!
Original Post Jul 21, 2009

I knew I needed a new laptop, when I realized my hard drive was almost full, but when the battery started to suddenly swell, now I had a really good excuse. The first signal that I had a problem was when my computer suddenly shut down before the battery was dead with no notice. I have talking alerts on my computers, so I’m used to the voice coming on and saying, “You are now running on reserve power.” As I was plugging the laptop in, I noticed that there was this slight bulge in the battery.

I’ve been oggling the new MacBook pro laptops, since they were released a couple of months ago,so this battery problem was my final rationalization for getting a new one. So off I went online and ordered my new 17″ and a new battery for my old one. The new battery came first and really just in time, because the battery had swollen even more. I went online and saw that this bulging battery was something that a number of people had experienced. I read their stories and saw that some managed to get reimbursed even though their warranty had expired. That gave me evidence that I would soon put to use.

A day later, last Friday, my new 17″ MacBook Pro arrived. It’s always exciting opening the box and seeing a thing of beauty. Once I had it out of the box, I realized that the new verison uses a different firewire cable- 800. I only had 400 to 400 firewire cable, so I’d have to make a trip to the Apple Store for a new cable. I figured I’d use the opportunity to also try to get reimbursed for the old swollen battery.  The first guy that was helping me at the mac store didn’t seem to know what he was talking about, didn’t really know that the older models used 400 firewire cable, but he managed to find the cable I needed. I pulled out the battery and told him about the problem. He said he couldn’t do anything because that computer wasn’t under warranty, and that if I wanted to talk to someone I’d have to make an appointment and come back. I told him this was a bit ridiculous and said forget it then, and I went to the cash. Really I was looking for someone who knew more or someone who could make a decision.

I checked out the candidates and stood in that line. As I was paying I pulled out the battery and began explaining the problem telling the Mac person that I had been online and seen that this was an ongoing problem with 17″ MacBook Pros. It wasn’t long before she went and got a new battery, opened the box and gave me a new one. She told me I could just return this new battery in the box I had at home or I could keep it as a backup. Mission accomplished new battery and new firewire cable!

Once I was home I couldn’t wait to set things up. I figured there might be some things I would have to configure once my data was transferred so I was ready for that. I plugged in both my laptops, attached the firewire, went through a few clicks and magically my information was being transferred.  There was a lot of info to transfer so I went off for a couple of hours and came back…lickedy-split.. .done. I restarted the new laptop and magic everything looked exactly like my other laptop. And everything configured exactly the same,  even my wireless was configured!  The only thing I had to do was plug a few of my serial numbers into a couple of programs to activate them.

MacBook Pro

 In a few minutes I was doing my normal things on this new beauty. I noticed suddenly the beautiful resolution, but also how tiny all the fonts looked. First step was to check out the resolutions. My other laptop’s resolution was 1680 X1050, but this one is 1920X1200. I checked the lower resolution but didn’t like the way it looked; it appeared almost fuzzy. I tried a few others but decided to go back to the crisp 1920X 1200 and google a solution to the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny fonts.

I found lots of people who had found the same thing. One suggested solution was to go into the browser preferences of firefox and increase the font size there. I tried that and it worked but I still was finding some sites I went to, the font was so tiny. I knew there were some accessibility features in mac but I’d never had to use them before. It was late and I figured I’d look more into it the next day. The phone rang and I was soon talking about my new mac.  I was relating the story of the tiny fonts and my friend said, “Just press command and +” I turned on the laptop again, went to a page and pressed ” command +” bingo! I could make any page as large as I wanted. I asked myself, why didn’t I know about this trick, and why did he know? Oh yeah, I don’t need reading glasses! Of course he knew about this feature, he needed it. What this taught me about troubleshooting is that sometimes people who are not necessarily experts can help you. There’s a big difference between nice to know and need to know.

Description of the problem/context:
My new computer has a beautiful resolution but it makes the fonts really small.

Possible causes: For every increase in resolution, the fonts will appear smaller.

Possible Solutions: Choose a lower resolution, change font sizes on computer, search google for other people’s  experience

Action Taken: Check the appearance of resolutions; adjust font size in Firefox, talk to friend discover “command +”

Reflection: Sometimes we don’t know an answer to something because we have never “needed” to know it; it might have been something that was nice to know so we didn’t keep it high priority. A person who needs to use that information, although they may not be as technical as you can teach you something!


Bleep’n Printers #$%! Trouble Shoot Me!

Posted by Karen H on 1:07 PM
 Original Post July 16, 2009

Swear Now! Pay Here! (cc flickr by danhodgett)
It was one of those days they write songs about – Monday!  I had planned to go into my college to print all of the readings from EPSY457. Not having any time to read my newspapers, I grab one to read on the streetcar. I chuckle at a story on the front page that gives us all permission to swear. Apparently, a study reported in the journal Neuroreport explains that swearing ain’t all bad and in fact can relieve pain.  Interesting, but I’m not a big swearer and I’m pretty happy so it’s just a silly diversion.

Here I am, at the school. Last time I was in,  I noticed that the printer wasn’t working. But it’s over a week it must be fixed, I say to myself. As if?

I plug in my mac and have a look at the printer. It doesn’t look good. It’s jammed. It’s in the same state as it was a week ago. That printing idea is toast, or is it? I just lugged my mac in here, I’m not giving up.

I plug in my mac and have a look at the printer. It doesn’t look good. It’s jammed. It’s in the same state as it was a week ago. That printing idea is toast, or is it? I just lugged my mac in here, I’m not giving up.

There’s an office next to me with a printer, now if I can just find it on the network and send my job over there, I’m laughin. A little searching on the network, a little fiddling with settings and I think I may have located that printer. OK- send job! Maybe this isn’t going to be so bad. Off  I run to the other office, to see what’s there. Success! One reading printed; can we try for two?

I repeat the same process and click print, run to the other office and what the heck- no print job?? I’ve had these issues before. I’m on a Mac; the school is mostly all PC. Our school website even says on it, “We don’t support Macintosh.” I’m an alien; I’m used to this stuff, and I’m not giving up.

There’s no sense asking anyone at the school for help. Our help desk is outsourced, so I’d be better off doing what I usually do if I think they could help, accidentally on purpose run into one of the IT guys and accidentally mention something. But the fact is they  don’t know as much about macs as I do, so I’m on my own with this one.

After a little bit of back and forth between the offices and pressing print, I discover that if I close down the printer after each job, and then go through the process, it will let me print each job. But that’s not where the troubles end. The printer in the other office starts giving a message that says there isn’t enough paper, and it’s clearly lying.

Be Large Shout! (cc flickr by akai)
I take out the paper and put it back in. No way I’m leaving here without everything being printed. There’s a fight going on between me and this printer. I’m not turning my back and if I’m attacked I’m fighting back! As I’m printing, I’m noticing some of this stuff is about troubleshooting! Egads!

Now I’m remembering the article in the paper and thinking what the Bleep’n #$%&!!!!! I’m by myself, no one would notice a few choice words, but it’s actually getting a bit funny.

It took me hours but I printed the @#$%!!!’n stuff…


Description of the problem/context:
The printer in my office at school is jammed and not fixable. I need to print!

Possible causes: Too much use, too many people using one computer.

Possible Solutions: After making sure the jam is gone, look for another printer

Action Taken: Search the network for printer in another office; figure out the settings IP address; configure my Macintosh to this IP

Next problem: This printer won’t print consecutive jobs

Possible Solution: Close down printer software after each print job and re-enter

Next Problem: Printer says it is out of paper but it’s not.

Possible Solution: Take paper out and re-insert. Try to trick the printer.

Reflection: It might be better to just spend the money for ink cartridges and print in draft mode at home. I take care of my equipment, so there’s less of a chance for these repeated problems.


EPSY 590 NET !

Posted by Karen H on 12:56 PM
Dog Takes Revenge on Laptop
Original Post  Jun 18, 2009

The template for my blog is appropriately called “Desk Mess”  but maybe it would be better called Bed Mess.

I work with my laptop on my laptop and the best place to do this and not get major neck cramp is on bed.

EPSY 590 NET you are all over my bed as well as my head. My Dog is getting severely ticked at the computer and I’m afraid that it might end up like the above pic.

There’s a lot to read and do in this course. I like the activities, the learning and getting to know our community of practice. It’s a nice place to be. I feel lucky.


CTER Reflections

Posted by Karen H on 12:20 PM
Original post on Jun 18, 2009

School can be fun! But it’s work! Traveling to Chamapign this week was a lot of fun. It was nice to meet people and know that we all are not just entities sitting typing strange words in cyberspace. The orientation was a lot more than I expected, but it was great because we got to see and use the tools we will be using.

Traveling from Toronto to Champaign and back again kind of took away two whole days of true geeky time. I wasn’t able to do all the things I usually do and feel like I’m rushing to catch up. By the time I got back to Toronto, a large contingent had already done the reading posting for EPSY590 NET!  Yikes more rushing to catch up.  And there’s still more to do. I’m determined to get most of this week’s work done by tomorrow.

Next week will be better. It’s a good reminder of what we put our students through!

Here’s a video I created about the CTER Journey

Trip to Illinois for CTER Orientation 2009


To blog or not to blog?

Posted by Karen H on 12:09 PM
Original posted Jun 18, 2009

Sometimes you see something
in a different way
The future is social! Blogging can be a way to reach out and touch someone without a Hallmark card.

Some reason to blog

  1. It’s free
  2. It’s a good way to write about something you are passionate about
  3. Engagement- Using a social tool like a blog can reach students on their turf
  4. It’s easy
  5. It’s a way to create a Community of Practice
  6. It’s collaborative, open
  7. It’s a good way to store your stuff. You can’t loose your ideas, if you write them down.
  8. Students do it!
  9. Networking.
  10.  It’s fun!

I’ve been blogging since last year. One of my blogs What it says- What it Means is where I investigate media and its meaning. I use this one as a way to keep my ideas and questions to share with students and friends. Sometimes I’ll open my blog in class to show a Youtube video- it’s embedded, so there will be no ads there- except that is the ones I am showing! Sometimes I’ll ask my students to view certain posts and comment inside our LMS (Blackboard) It has brought a different dimension to my class, and sometimes it’s just a way for me to write something that I need to say..Like, what’s with that? Oh really! Now I’ve seen everything!

I’m also partly seconded to our Learning Innovations division assisting faculty with technology. Just before I started this program, I began my Captain Future E-learning blog to talk about the various interesting ed tech things I’ve been finding and experimenting with. What’s good about this one for me is that both my blogs have become storage spaces for things I’m using or others may be using. In the Web 2.0 world sometimes there are so many new things that the only way to keep track and remember is to document and discuss.

But blogging is a job, if you are serious about it. Sometimes just a visual and a question can do the trick.

If you like to write, blogging is fun. If you’ve got something to say or share it’s great. If you don’t want to do it yourself-there’s always student blogs. It’s amazing the things they will come up with!

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