August 16th, 2016 by Paul Hutchinson
We had one of our Microchip ICD3‘s fail last week so I put in a support ticket via the web site. I figured I wouldn’t hear back for a couple days because Microchip is right in the thick of their annual Masters engineering event. To my surprise they called me soon after to ask about the issue, find out if it was urgent (it wasn’t we keep a spare on hand) and to apologize in advance for possibly slower than normal responses due to the Masters event. Today I got a notice that a replacement ICD3 has been sent out.
Wow even with the event going on they still were able to get this all done in less than one week. Thank you so much Microchip your customer service is amazing.
PS – Their products are great too!
Posted in Engineering | Comments Off on Microchip Support is Amazing
March 30th, 2016 by Paul Hutchinson
This morning I got the email from Microsoft saying they are downgrading OneDrive to 5Gig making it as useless as iCloud. They also keep pushing out Windows 10 upgrades disguised as recommended updates to people who have declined or rolled back after upgrade incompatibilities as they desperately want to be able to handle their OS like OS-X. They are delusional if they think they can get away with treating their customers the way Apple does and still maintain a large market share (there’s a reason why Apple has never grown beyond being a niche PC company).
It’s sad to see a once great company fall to such low levels. Oh well, as we move forward through the century Google, Amazon and Apple will continue to take away Microsoft’s business. The only remaining question is when will, not if, Google or Amazon make a concerted effort to take away Microsoft’s corporate customers.
Posted in Tech | Comments Off on Microsoft Desperately Wants to be Apple
March 15th, 2016 by Paul Hutchinson
I’ve used Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker for simple video editing tasks for many years. Over the past few weeks I’ve been organizing and verifying all my video editing software and old projects. This was when I remembered that I’d never been able to get my old Windows XP Movie Maker projects working in the currently available version. Searching around the web it appeared that there was no solution. Then I came up with this simple solution.
- Install the Vista version of Movie Maker from Blaine’s Movie Maker Blog. It will be listed as Windows Movie Maker 6.0 in your start menu.
- Install the current version of Movie Maker from Microsoft. It will be listed as Movie Maker in your start menu.
- Open the old XP Movie Maker project in the Vista version and save it as a new project. You may need to edit the titles.
- Open the New Vista Movie Maker project in the current version and save it as a new project.
Posted in Videography | Comments Off on Rescuing Windows Movie Maker Projects
January 22nd, 2016 by Paul Hutchinson
I’ve hit this twice now when the Google App has updated so I figured I should note it for future reference.
Symptom 1, trying to record using the stock voice recorder on my LG phone I get a message that says Cannot start voice recording while other application is using audio. Symptom 2, the alarm clock/timer doesn’t make any sound.
Solution, go to Google Settings -> Search & Now -> Voice -> “Ok Google” detection and turn off the From any screen option.
Posted in Tech | Comments Off on Android Audio Problem
January 1st, 2016 by Paul Hutchinson
I’ve been struggling to resolve some odd infrequent problems with LibreOffice crashing for about a year now. The problems were not fixed by uninstalling and deleting my user profile as well as many other suggestions that had resolved similar issues for other users. The worst part was how usually the attempts would appear to help but it was always just a perception not a reality.
A couple of weeks ago I upgraded my NAS to a QNAP TS-231 and the problems got worse. I tried a whole bunch of things to fix the problems and nothing really worked. Yesterday the problems got severe enough (trashed ODB file) and repeatable enough that I decided to take some time to research them carefully.
It turns out at least some of the various problems were actually caused by the LibreOffice Windows Explorer Extension which had been a problem for me twice before since 2012. The solution is to simply remove the Explorer Extension as shown in my 2012 post. Now that this feature has caused me major problems for a third time I’m going to have to remember and recommend that whenever installing LibreOffice on a PC that will access files from a *nix based NAS, use the custom option when installing and avoid the Windows Explorer Extension like the plague.
Posted in LibreOffice, Tech | Comments Off on LibreOffice Windows Explorer Extension Problems
December 27th, 2015 by Paul Hutchinson
As I mentioned in my first post in this series I just started doing frequent hikes this year. I also just started using a smart phone this year and I’ve found it to be an excellent tool for hiking. There are of course the obvious uses, to call for help or a ride home and sending text messages of the hike progress to the person responsible for calling emergency services when you don’t come back.
The first non-standard use is GPS navigation, for my purposes I found that GPS Essentials is the best choice. It’s a versatile and powerful program so be prepared to spend some time getting up to speed using it. There is a support forum where the author and other users, including myself, are happy to help solve problems. Frequently the problems are due to not easily being able to figure out which of the huge number of features will get you the result you want.
Something to be aware of is the possible lack of accuracy with the GPS and compass sensors. On my LG pulse phone the compass is basically useless it has errors of over 30 degrees at times. The GPS accuracy is excellent when there are no hills, clouds or trees blocking the view of the GPS satellites. However my hiking virtually guarantees poor GPS reception sometimes making the error greater than 150 feet. This brings up one of the first field lessons I learned, a GPS in your pocket can be absolutely horrible, I saw errors of over 300 feet. To avoid that problem I bought a wrist strap to hold the phone. In addition to keeping the GPS readings as accurate as possible it also makes it more convenient for other phone tasks. When I’m out exploring new trails I find the only times I need a compass are when I get to an unexpected intersection (frequent occurrence in SE New England forests). To work around the inaccurate compass I simply walk a few hundred feet on one trail and see how the recorded track compares to my trail map. This has the added benefit of recording the unknown trails direction for adding to my map.
One very important thing to keep in mind when using a smart phone as a hiking companion, electronic devices fail. They run out of power and have other problems that will prevent you from using the GPS. This is why I always carry my trusty old Silva compass and a paper map. I have also added a portable phone charger/emergency LED flashlight to my day hiking gear. It has come in handy a couple times allowing me to finish recording my GPS track instead of turning off the phone to save the power for an emergency call if needed. To keep the whole package small and dust/water resistant I replaced the included USB cable with a 6″ cable and installed a pair of RooKaps.
This reminds me of another important safety tip, set your phone to automatically power off at 10% battery left so that you won’t get stranded due to a dead phone battery.
The other smartphone features I’ve come to rely on are the camera, voice recorder and eBook reader. In addition to taking photos of interesting things seen, I like to take pictures of trail signs and oddly shaped intersections. Those pictures come in handy as I build up my comprehensive forest map. The voice recorder is a great way to take down long notes and record odd natural sounds for later identification. On my very first hike I heard a strange cacophony of sound emanating from many areas of the forest but could not see what critter was making the racket. I eventually tracked it down to some type of frog in vernal pools, when I got home I used the recorded sounds for reference and determined it was the mating calls of Wood Frogs. Voice recorded notes have also been very handy for documenting the appearance of birds I see. I can quickly speak a description of what I see and then later use the recording while searching through my bird identification books. This leads me to the last feature the eBook reader, with some field guides downloaded to the phone I can look up the critter while observing it if I’m not in a hurry or wait and look when I’m taking a rest break.
A final thing I’ve learned the hard way about using my smartphone as a hiking companion. CHECK ALL THE FUNCTIONS BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE. On one hike when I went to make some voice notes I got error messages saying the microphone was locked by another application. After trying reboots and other things that came to mind for about 15 minutes I finally gave up and started the hike. When I got home and researched the issue I learned that a recent update to the Google app had set it to take control of the microphone from everything except the telephone app. A simple settings change and I was back in business, if I’d checked it before leaving I would have been able to hike an extra 3/4 mile instead of fumbling round trying to fix the voice recorder.
Posted in Hikes, Tech | Comments Off on Android Phone as Hiking Companion
December 1st, 2015 by Paul Hutchinson
I ran into this post on the old CNET forums today and I had to laugh (bolding mine).
First off by Jimmy Greystone
First off, always remember an important Internet axiom: Your right to be taken seriously is forfeit if you quote Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is rife with misinformation, bad information, and flat out WRONG information. It’s made by people just like you and me, who may like to think we know more on a subject than we really do.
Case in point: you clearly do not understand the difference between logical and physical processors, because the Wikipedia article is actually correct, and answers your question.
He slams Wikipedia for allegedly being wrong about almost everything while saying it was absolutely correct on this topic. Dear Jimmy, wake up and face reality, Wikipedia is as good as any paper encyclopedia and it is way easier to check its references than those in a traditional paper encyclopedia. A good rule of thumb is that as long as it’s not a political or current events topic Wikipedia usually gets the basic facts correct. If the accuracy is important then simply check the references in the Wikipedia article and if they or the article needs fixing please help out by fixing it rather than complain and slam Wikipedia.
Posted in General | Comments Off on Irrational Wikipedia Hater
October 11th, 2015 by Paul Hutchinson
My hike today took me along the west central edge of the Douglas State Forest. Most of the hike was on private property and quite a few areas have been logged over the years. Most of the logged areas are clear cuts but today I hit an area where obviously the property owner is selective cutting because on the trail I saw this:
A line and the text 11 carved into a tree and filled in with white paint. Behind it two trees where marked 12 & 13 and looking around I saw these other trees.
The highest number was 60 so it appears the property owner is going to selectively harvest 60 hardwood trees of various species. Pretty cool I’ve never seen this kind of preparation before, it will be interesting to see what the end result is the next time I hike that trail. It could leave some more open habitat that I’m sure will be enjoyed by the deer and other forest edge species (there’s very few open areas so any additions should be an environmental plus).
Posted in Blackstone Valley, Hikes | Comments Off on A Sign of Logging to Come?
October 2nd, 2015 by Paul Hutchinson
Fourteen months ago I broke my right ankle while on a pleasure walk with my family at Purgatory Chasm. The force of the break was so bad that it sent a pressure wave up my fibula leaving a small fracture under my kneecap. Unfortunately for me the ER doctor did a bad job on the splint which left my skin so badly damaged that the surgeon had to wait three weeks for my skin to heal before he could operate on me. I had three screws put in the ankle but also got the bad news that two of the screws where going to have to come out later if I ever wanted to walk without a bad limp. I got started on physical therapy but I couldn’t progress very far because the ankle just couldn’t flex enough with the two temporary screws in place. I did get to the point of being able to climb the stairs to get to my bedroom and home office and then to only using one crutch by Christmas.
The last week of December I had the two screws removed and by the middle of January I was back on one crutch and able to re-start physical therapy the last week of the month. By the middle of March I’d used up all the physical therapy insurance would cover and was walking well and driving again. Knowing it was going to take a long time and a lot of work to get my ankle as flexible as it could be, my therapist and I discussed options for continuing self therapy. Since the best therapy is something you will actually stick with (almost everyone gets bored and stops too soon) we decided I would do a bunch of rough terrain hiking to really work the ankle flexibility. The plan was that as soon as the snow was gone (couldn’t risk a slip on snow and ice) I’d start slowly with short easy mostly flat trails then as I felt more confident and comfortable I’d increase the distances and terrain roughness. A few very important conditions were placed on me by the therapist, first I needed to get good tall hiking boots to provide excellent ankle support for both legs. Next I had to wear my soft orthopedic ankle brace inside the boot as added protection for my injured ankle in case I fell. I was also told to use a walking stick to help prevent me from falling when traversing rocky and hilly terrain. The final condition was that I had to be careful and not push too hard, it ‘s OK to be sore and tired but if I caused pain in the ankle I’d probably slow my getting it back into shape.
As everyone living in the valley remembers we had massive amounts of snow last winter so the trails and woods weren’t clear of snow until very late this year. Waiting for the snow to melt and a weekend day with no rain kept me from getting started until April 12th. My first hike was the easy heart healthy Bird Blind and Cedar Swamp trails in the Wallum Lake Park area of the Douglas State Forest. This hike was only 2 miles but it was challenging enough to give the ankle a good work out and fun enough to make we want to do more. Needing a goal to keep me motivated all year I decided I would task myself with locating, hiking and mapping every foot of trails in the Douglas State Forest. As of last weekend I’ve finished the trails in the DSF as well as most of the trails in the adjoining Mine Brook Wildlife Management Area and bordering private properties. My injured ankle is nearly as flexible as the other one, I’ve rebuilt most of the atrophied muscles in the leg, and now after hikes it’s other body muscles and joints that are more likely to be sore than my ankle or leg. I can now hike 9 miles in a day over very rough terrain and average 17 miles per weekend. My total hiking distance for the year so far is 210 miles. Another great thing is I’ve lost more than 20 of the extra pounds I gained while I was on crutches.
Posted in Blackstone Valley, General, Hikes | Comments Off on Hiking as Physical Therapy
September 29th, 2015 by Paul Hutchinson
A guy over on Google+ posted a rant to the LibreOffice Community and at first I didn’t reply because it seemed like he didn’t have a problem just a complaint. I’m not the type to tell people, sign up as a developer and help them implement this feature you want, or call him an lazy idiot for complaining instead of doing the obvious work around.
Well after a few other people replied the original poster modified his position and made it seem like there was no way for him to set it up to be easier to use for his 8 year old son. This was when I replied and pointed out to him how he can easily accomplish it. His reply to me was rude and insulting, that’s the risk you take when you try to help people on the internet. No good deed goes unpunished . 🙁
Posted in General | Comments Off on Sorry I Tried to Help