Saturday, November 27, 2010

Computing: Moving your "My Documents" folder

Windows has been set up to do a very stupid thing... its default location for your "My Documents" folder is in the Users section of your C: drive.  The very same drive your operating system resides on.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem, if computer viruses didn't exist.  But oftentimes the most effective and time-saving method of cleaning up your virus problems (especially if the victim isn't particularly computer-savvy) is to reformat your operating system drive, and reinstalling Windows.  I'm sorry, but there's no way I'm going to spend a nine hour phone call with my Grandmother explaining to her how to download the virus removal tool or get into her hidden files and folders, or the registry.  It's just not going to happen.

So here's how you can permanently relocate your "My Documents" folder to another hard drive, assuming you have one (and you really, really should) so that you don't lose all those important documents, photos, and music.

1.  Locate the icon for your "My Documents" folder.  Depending on which version of Windows you're using, this may be located on your desktop or in your "Start" menu.

2.  Right-click the icon and select "Properties"... it should be all the way down on the bottom.

3.  In the box that pops up, you will see several tabs across the top... one should say "Location".  If it doesn't, then you're probably running a much earlier version of Windows (Like, before XP) in which case you can probably just move the folder manually.  I don't have a way of checking that, however.

4.  On the "Location" tab, you should see a box with the current file path in it, and three buttons below it.  Click on the "Move" button. 

5.  A box titled "Select Destination" should pop up.  Select the proper drive letter from the tree on the left, and then click the button marked "Select Folder".  It doesn't have to be an actual folder, despite what the button says.  In this instance, just the top level of the drive is good, such as D: or E:.   It's going to be "cutting and pasting" the entire "My Documents" folder from the old location to the new one, so there's no need to create a folder to put it in.  That will just make finding your files a pain in the keister later.  Make sure you have enough room on the drive for the folder, and some extra space for future stuff, like new photos or music.

 6.  Wait for it to finish moving.  Depending on how much stuff you have this can take quite a long time.  If you have over a Terabyte (that's 1,000 Gigabytes, people) it can take upwards of an hour, depending on what you've got running in the background.  Especially if you have things writing files to one of the two drives that are involved in this process.  My last move took several hours because I forgot Tivo desktop was copying TV shows to my computer.  Oy.

Okay!  You should be all set.  All programs that use the My Documents folder (some games and applications save files to your folder) will see it in its new location and everything!  And your data is safer if there's a catastrophic failure of your OS drive, or you have to reformat for any reason.  Not just viruses.

However, you should still follow a regular schedule of backing up your important stuff.  It's no different than scanning and saving your hard-copy photos or documents that are important to you.  Having extra copies, saved in a separate location than where the originals are, is always a good idea.  I'll be talking about a backup plan later.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Computing: Signs you may have a computer virus

Sorry friends, this is not one of those humorous posts.  Deadly serious.

Everyone... and I do mean everyone... who browses the internet, uses cute little Facebook apps, or clicks html links embedded in emails indiscriminately is vulnerable to very sneaky, sometimes undetectable (without virus software) computer viruses.  Sometimes, they'll steal your credit card number when you type it in to buy those cute shoes on eBay.  Sometimes they want to send annoying spam mail from your email software so the virus creator doesn't get in trouble with the law for running scams.  And sometimes the creator writes them just to see how far they can spread them, tracking them in the wild like tagged elk.

No matter what they were created for, they are annoying and can waste you hours of time and effort... even if it's just in time spent waiting for web pages to load.

It's important to have anti-virus software even if you don't think you're infected... a good program (some of them free) will catch them before they even take root.  I'm going to point you to one, but first, here's a list of symptoms that you might have a computer virus.  Taken from

  • Your computer runs more slowly than normal
  • Your computer stops responding or locks up often
  • Your computer crashes and restarts every few minutes
  • Your computer restarts on its own and then fails to run normally
  • Applications on your computer don't work correctly
  • Disks or disk drives are inaccessible
  • You can't print correctly
  • You see unusual error messages
  • You see distorted menus and dialog boxes

Another one they didn't list was if you have an unusual number of friends and family from your email address book asking "What was with that weird Viagra email you sent me last week?"  You might want to take that as a BIG sign.  Unless, of course, you actually sent one yourself.

Anyway, even though newer versions of Windows have built-in defenses, right now most people are not running the most up-to-date version of Windows.  Here's how to protect yourself and guard against future infection.

  1. UPDATE - I realize some of my family up in Minnesota are still stuck with dial-up connections, but it's still very important to connect to the Windows update service and get the latest security updates.   These are fixes for security holes that virus creators have learned to exploit.  Spackle them over with a hotfix update.  Do this at least once a month.
  2. Get yourself some anti-virus software and set it up to regularly scan your computer... quick scans daily and a deep, thorough scan once a week.  Most of them have the ability to shut down the computer when it's done running, so you can start it up when you're leaving the computer for the night, and even if the scan takes till three in the morning, it will shut itself down afterward.
  3. If disaster strikes, and you do contract a virus, learn how to clean the infection, or be prepared to re-format your operating system drive.  Depending on your setup, this may mean losing a lot of data.  Be prepared for this by NEVER keeping your "My Documents" folder on the same hard drive as your Windows drive.  There's a way to ask the PC to move it in the "Properties" tab of the "My Documents" folder.  At least then you won't lose your photos, documents, and other personal stuff.
AVG has a great anti-virus program... I'm using it myself.  There are two versions, Free, and Pro.  You can download both here:  Just look for the blue box that says "Free Edition 2011".  Don't forget to set that up to update itself, too, since new viruses are being written every day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Knitting: Casting On

Well, between baking pies and last-minute shopping trips, a girl has to find time to sit down and get off her feet.  With that in mind, tomorrow morning while waiting for baking, simmering, and browning to be done, and I'm watching the Thanksgiving Parade, I think I'll be casting on my kit for the Norwegian Lusekoft sweater.  My kit is in red.

I've been crocheting squares for the Snuggly blanket this week, and it's just a basic granny square.  I'm feeling the need for a bit more complexity.

My Grey/black Clapotis is done, but I haven't taken a picture yet.  It's really yummy-soft and warm.  Will make for good neckwear when the temperatures drop back below 40 again.  That's the weird thing about living on the gulf... even if you're in Texas, the winters get nippy.  We had snow one year.

Anyhoo, my dear friends and family, have a great turkey day!  Remember to keep all food-safety rules in mind when eating/storing leftovers.  Food poisoning is not your friend. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cooking: How do they do that?

I've been using a recipe organizing software called "Cook'n".  I started using it because Master Cook is abandonware, and Living Cookbook needed me to call and ask for a license reset EVERY freaking time I reformatted my operating drive.  Up until this month, Cook'n was a dream to use.

Oh, sure, there were little things about it that bothered me, like the jury-rigged way you have to do ingredients if you need to qualify it with something with a comma (onions, chopped means you have to type ,_chopped in an ingredient field) and some of the weird linked recipe bugs I've found over the years, but until version 9 it was a good resource for menu planning.

I've purchased several cookbook modules from them, all sent via download link in an EXE file.  I save them diligently on my hard drive, backing them up in case I need them.  I had a problem installing version nine that necessitated uninstalling BOTH versions of Cook'n, both 8 and 9 and reinstalling both of them again.  Why would I need to install both again?  BECAUSE their EXE files for their cookbooks are NOT backwards compatible.  Over $100 in cookbooks and recipes purchased over a span of years, and all were useless unless I installed version 8, installed all the cookbooks, then installed version 9 which would automatically import them.  The first time.  But not on subsequent re-installations.  Oh no.

The flaw in their system was brought sharply home to me when, on a whim, I ordered the download version of "Holiday Cooking".  It had a LOT of recipes, was less than $15, and seasonally appropriate.  Much to my dismay, when I tried to install it, it said I didn't have Cook'n installed.  It also politely asked me to call an (801) area code number if I needed assistance.  As if.

Now, I could back everything up, uninstall everything, and reinstall it all, adding this one cookbook.  But why should I have to?  I even tried exporting from version 8 to a DVO file, and importing into 9 (something I'd desperately tried on my first 9 installation).  But no.  Those files are not backwards compatible either.

I probably wouldn't be angry about all of this if they hadn't PUSHED BACK the release date of 9 in order to "provide a better product on release".  Really?  What exactly DID you fix?

I am *this* close to going back to Living Cookbook... and they still haven't replied to a technical service email I sent them five years ago.  That's how irritated I am.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Food: Because It's Sooner Than You Think

 Alton's Brined Turkey (sorry, they embed advertisements right in there, too... bastards)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Television: Messages

My grandfather died last week.  He had a long life, and his health was not good, but it still affects me.  I'm also unable to make it up for the funeral.  I will probably be posting very little next week regardless.  I don't even feel like writing this post, but I figured I'd better mention it so no one worries.  And since I'm here and had this half-written and saved...

I discovered the new "Nikita" series this past week.  It rehashes the "origin story" of Nikita from the french film, the American re-telling via "Point of No Return", and the "La Femme Nikita" television series, and use many of the same characters.  "Nikita" is giving it an interesting twist, however, placing most of the origin story in the past and telling it through flashbacks and the mole Nikita placed in the training facility.  I like it.  However, of the three "Nikita"s and three "Michael"s, I like the Bridget Fonda/Gabriel Burne pairing the best.  LFN's Michael's accent is so thick, it's hard to follow him sometimes, although I like his Nikita.  In the new series I don't like Michael at all, and Nikita is just "meh".  I do like her protege a lot though.  Eh.  We'll see.

"Psych" is back from hiatus.  Ah, Sean and Gus... I missed you wacky kids.  I also miss your '80s retro musical numbers after the end credits.  What happened?

Supernatural is becoming a real force this season.  Kudos to the new team!  And Ack!  What do I say that's not spoilery?  This week's episode was touching and sad, and the boys seem to be dealing with Sam's status.  Still, I bet they're thinking that torching those bones was a good idea now, don't you?  Not that Sam gives a crap...

Rumor has it that Gwyneth Paltrow will be singing on Glee next week.  Really?  I missed the memo.

Otherwise, with my marathon of "La Femme Nikita" episodes to compare and contrast with the new series, I am behind on all my current TV watching.  I'll be trying to catch up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Knitting: Search of the Week

With the ability to share Ravelry searches, I give you the new "Search of the Week".  Please note, you must be a Ravelry member to use this link.

This week's search:  Shawl Collar Cardigans, Aran weight 

Knitting: New Show, New Vigor

Well, my knitting took off yesterday with the discovery of a new, cool show to watch while I knit.  I was skeptical about the new "Nikita" series, especially when it started with roughly the same plot as "Point of No Return" and all the other previous Nikita knock-offs.  They added some unique touches that made it a bit better than I anticipated though, and I'll be talking about that on my usual TV blogging day on Saturday.

Meanwhile, I'm making excellent progress on my Big Red Tights.  I'm beginning to see why the yarn was on sale though, as I've run into several spots where one strand of the yarn was looser than the rest, bumpy and snaggy looking.  I had to break and splice, they were so bad.  I'm glad I got extra.  I'm also glad that I intended these to be worn under things, rather than as leggings.  The snaggy bits look like I split stitches all over the place.

I also think that either the pattern is a bit off, or my gauge is a bit off... or a combination of the two.  Once it hits the knees, these things are huge.  Trying them on, it almost looks like I should have decreased at the knees and increased for the thighs again.  Instead once you hit the top of the calves, there's this huge baggy area.  I may not even need any inseam increases, and I'm seriously considering using a sewing machine to take out an oval-shaped swath behind the knees once I've finished knitting them.

I *really* don't want to have to rip all the way back to the increase line.

It's crap like this that makes me not want to knit.  I swatched for this, and I *hate* swatching.  And still... crap.  Sigh.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gaming: Spooktacular

Steam had a sale Halloween weekend... 50-75% off selected spooky titles.  I got hubby a gift of the Left 4 Dead bundle... at a third of the price I got it for myself.  Grr.  But I got myself the Overlord bundle, so it's all good.

I'd said I wasn't going to get Overlord... I'd already played the first one on the Xbox 360, and given up because I found it frustrating.  There are no clear road signs, and the paths are just loopy enough to get oneself turned around... a bad thing for an evil overlord stomping through the countryside.

So after the trick or treaters slowed down to a trickle, I got a little gaming time in with my new games (I also picked up Batman: Arkham Asylum and the Steam version of Plants vs. Zombies for an absolute steal).  Overlord is better on the PC for some reason.  I *did* have to look up the map online, which had been included with my previous version, but not this one, not even in PDF format, but maybe I have more patience now, or maybe it's the difference between playing on your couch and playing up close to a PC.

In any case, Halloween was a great time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Television: What rhymes with "Screwed"?

We finally got some answers this week on Supernatural.  There is going to be some speculation on my part and some SPOILERS if you didn't watch the episode last night.  Consider yourself warned.  I'll also be discussing some other shows in a more general fashion, so if you want to skip ahead to those paragraphs, I won't be offended.

Supernatural finally told us what the weirdness is with Sammy, Samuel, and those freaky cousins of theirs.  I TOLD them quite loudly a while ago that they should have burned Crowley's bones when they had the chance.  Did they listen?  NO.  Idiots.  Now he's holding Sammy's soul hostage, and has some kind of leverage over Samuel (and can I just interject how stupid it is to bring back one of the relatives the boys are named after?  Having two Sams is confusing... Gah!).  My private guess is that both Sam and Samuel were brought back without a soul, but Sammy's soul is the one currently in Samuel... Samuel was a demon when he was killed.  I'm betting his soul is long gone.  And I'm thinking the leverage Crowley has on Samuel has something to do with Mary, they boys' mother. 

Okay, enough spoilers and speculation.

Stargate: Universe is chugging right along.  Our unhappy soap-opera in space didn't have any trips through the stargate, but plenty of romantic side-trips, discussions of babies, divorce decrees, and secrets and lies.  It's starting to piss me off.  You know, I don't care if the ship's computer can run battle simulations in the colonel's dreams... it was one big "Groundhog's Day" episode, without the funny.  My god, I'm ready for them to bring back the fugly aliens, and I really didn't like those guys.

Graham Norton has started a new season... check your BBCA listings (or your equivalent if you're not in the US) for details.  He has quite a few American actors on his show, which is surprising.  I don't get all of the political satire, but his bashing on Amy Winehouse is funny.

I like the addition of Sela Ward to the CSI: NY cast.  She's always been fun to watch in any of her roles, and her current one as a transplanted Virginian scientist in New York is cute and sassy.  I'm hoping Mac finally has a love interest that isn't going to run off on him.

I feel unqualified to comment on the Rocky Horror Glee show, since I must be one of the few people who has only seen it on DVD.  I did get the joke Sue told about throwing toast, but other than that I was pretty much lost.

I have a lot more shows I watch, but I think that's enough for this week. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knitting: Still Working on the Fluffy Stuff

Still working on the Snuggly Afghan, which might turn out to be the Snuggly Bedspread.  Little Monkey Pants recently got new sheets and needs a brighter, cuter bedspread to go with them.

The squares for this thing seem to go really fast, but once I started piecing them together, I wasn't making as much progress as I thought I was.  Good thinking on my part to use the Yellow Crayon yarn that I bought over 20 skeins of when the color was being discontinued.  It's the main color, interspersed with a bright pink and citrus orange.... I love those three colors together, but now I'm wishing I'd added some blues and greens.  And ordered more of the secondary colors.  At the time, I thought two skeins that made 10 squares each would be plenty, but the end result is smaller than I anticipated.

What you see above would make a very large couch cushion.  I'm already on my second skein of pink, so it looks like I'll have to order more.  I'll just have to make a crap-ton of yellow squares while I'm waiting for the additional pink and orange to arrive.

I've also been using up the excess yarn from my Chullo Hat, now finished, by double-stranding it and crocheting the exact same basic granny square.  Since it's in browns, it will make a nice addition to the back of the couch.

I think the reasons I'm on the crochet kick are a) it feels faster b) I NEED to use up some yarn.  Seriously. and c) I picked some really boring stockinette projects for my knitting, and I'm in avoidance.  The granny square is easy enough to memorize (no hauling a book around) yet complex enough that I have to pay attention to what I'm doing.

I'm getting burned out on it though.  I hate to cast on yet another project, but I do have a rather nice Norwegian sweater kit from Knit Picks, and since the temps are dropping to the 40's this weekend, I'm thinking it will be handy soon.