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Monday
Aug252014

Got Live Writer working in Windows 8.1

Yes!!!

After about eight hours—four hours last night and another four hours this morning—of trying this and that I have finally got Microsoft Windows Live Writer from the Essentials 2012 pack working in Windows 8.1 Pro.

So happy. Might have a celebratory wine even though it is only 1:30 p.m.

For anyone else having a frustrating time trying to install .Net Framework 3.5 on Windows 8.1 so you can use something like Essentials 2012 Live Writer here is my secret.

I uninstalled the following two Windows Updates:

  • KB2966826
  • KB2966828

These are two Windows Updates that refer the .Net Framework.

I recommend that you only try this after you have tried the various other options outlined on the Microsoft site, most of which involve using the DISM utility. At this stage I can’t be sure about what other collateral I may have caused although so far everything seems to be okay.

After uninstalling these two updates and re-booting I was then able to install .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 without any issues. Just worked.

And then I could finally install Live Writer.

Phew!!

BarryMark

Monday
Aug252014

Converted notebook drive to SSD: Upsides and downsides

Yesterday I upgraded the hard disk in my notebook PC to an SSD (solid state drive). While they are still a little expensive I was able to pick up a SanDisk Extreme II 240GB SSD for $149.

This was a good time to change over drives in my notebook as I was planning to rebuilt it to run exclusively with Windows 8.1. Before this upgrade it was dual booting between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

The primary advantage of changing over from a traditional spindle hard disk to a solid state hard disk for your desktop or notebook PC is the speed of the disk. Depending on the actual SSD you go with and the interface you can expect a useful data access speed improvement of between 3 to 5 times. For someone like me working with Photoshop and large 22+MB picture files this speed improvement should be useful. However if all you do is surf the Web and maybe work with the occasional Word or Excel file then this data access speed improvement to your disk is not going to be a great deal of benefit—except possibly when booting up and shutting down (or copying large files).

In the case of notebook PCs there is a secondary upside to changing over from a spinning hard disk to a solid state ‘disk’. SSDs use less power. Again, depending on the SSD and what you use your PC for, and which reviews you read, you might get anything between 10 to 40 percent more battery life after converting over.

With Windows 8.1 the actual installation and loading of the operating system onto the SSD went without issues. For my Toshiba Tecra A11 all the devices drivers were found.

The worst part of the change-over was waiting for all the Windows 8 updates and then the Windows 8.1 upgrade itself to download and install—because initially you load the PC with Windows 8 (which nobody in their right mind would use on a non-touch notebook or desktop PC). These two sets of updates took the better part of five hours to complete.

So now I have Windows 8.1 Pro installed on my Tecra A11 running from the SanDisk Extreme II 240GB SSD.

One small other upside to using an SSD is that there is no disk usage noise. So now, unless the cooling fan starts up, which does not happen much on the A11, the PC runs in complete silence—except for my tapping on the keys.

Photoshop launches significantly faster now. My timings (to the nearest 0.5 of a second) for launching Photoshop with the spindle hard disk averaged 6 seconds after a boot-up (to ensure nothing was cached). With the SSD the average launch time in three tries was 2.5 seconds; less than half the time.

Another big plus is the ‘smart object’ switch time between Lightroom and Photoshop. With Photoshop pre-launched the smart object switch time into Photoshop was 5 seconds but now is 2.5. My assumption here is that ‘smart objects’ must get written to disk and then read from disk; both of which happen much faster with the SSD.  The same kind of speed improvement is evident when taking the ‘smart object’ back to Lightroom, but I didn’t have any pre-SSD timings for this to compare.

So, you might be asking, what are the downsides?

At this stage I have only found one downside, and it is probably not directly attributable to the SSD. But I am unable to install Microsoft Live Writer. I am actually keying this posting on my desktop PC via remote access from my notebook. I am not sure what is going on here because I had Live Writer installed okay on the dual boot Windows 8.1, but the difference might be that I installed Live Writer when it was Windows 8 before the 8.1 upgrade.

I am only hoping that I work out some way to get Live Writer installed without having to go back to starting again and putting it on before I upgrade the initial Windows 8 install to 8.1.

The $149 investment in the SanDisk Extreme II is looking like a good one that will give my notebook at least a couple more years life.

BarryMark

Sunday
Aug242014

Gate Series 2: Second level of Pickering Brook tennis courts

My first posting in my ‘gates’ series was of the first level of the old abandoned tennis courts at Pickering Brook. This second series of two pictures is from the second level, which is about 1.5 metres lower than the first level.

The first picture below shows a Western Australian golden wattle in full bloom and like the green grass in the first ‘gates’ picture (here) it is glowing yellow from the sun being behind it. This has also caused a slight fun flare in the picture but I won’t tell you where it is—see if you can spot it.

Being in the foreground and being so bright, the golden wattle almost takes over from the primary subject; which is the gate. But it is the gate that has focus and exposure was taken from the ground just below the gate. Which is why the wattle may seem slightly out of focus and a tad over exposed: that’s because it is.

Pickering-Brook-Gates-3-650-2

The second picture has been taken from inside the first court and features the gate in the fence between the first and second courts. Also in the shot are the rusted old steps going up from this second level to the first level courts.

Notice that the galvanised pipe used for the side of the steps has not rusted but the tread-grate steel used for the steps has rusted badly.

A third element of the this shot is the gate at the top of the steps going from the second level into the first.

Pickery-Brook-Gate-2-2-650bpx

As usual there are 1600 pixel wide versions of these pictures in my SmugMug folio. Clicking on either of the pictures above will open the SmugMug version of the picture.

BarryMark

Saturday
Aug232014

No “Like” button

Since recently becoming a user of Facebook I have realised that the Abalook site has a serious fault: no “Like” button.

Many users of Facebook are happy to click on the “Like” button, but posting a wee comment is just too much like hard work.

Having worked this out I decided that what I needed on my site is a “Like” button. Then those that don’t want to go to the effort of crafting up a comment could just hit the old “Like” button. At the time I sort of figured that this is probably a pretty standard option with all Web sites and all I would have to do was go into SquareSpace and enable it—something I must have missed doing when I set the site up.

But there is no option for a “Like” button option in version 5 of SquareSpace. To get a “Like” button it seems I have to upgrade to version 6 of SquareSpace. Regular readers will know that this is something I have been avoiding for at least a year because it is going to wreck the tight formatting of all my pre-existing posts.

But the reasons are building up for a move over to version 6 of SquareSpace:

  • Handles pictures better and has a gallery feature.
  • Automatically caters for use on smaller screen mobile devices (phones) and tablets, and automatically detects what device is being used.
  • Allows for posting of wider pictures in the main blog; up to 900 pixels wide compared to 650 pixels with this blog.
  • Has a “Like” button option.

My current contract runs out at the end of next month and I am planning to have a three month break from work. Maybe I will have a look at converting over to SquareSpace 6 during that time. Something that always holds me back is that I will no longer be able to key and post from Microsoft’s Live Writer. Such is life: moving forward ALWAYS involves some degree of going backwards (the trick is not to go TOO far backwards).

BarryMark

Monday
Aug182014

Sansa the parrot-cat

Since I was a boy I’ve had lots of cats. I wouldn’t say I was a cat lover exactly, but I do like cats and find them amazing animals to watch and study.

When I was about 12, on my way home from school one day, I found a couple of kittens that had been abandoned at the local wheat bins. It was a known thing that some farmers did. Bring unwanted kittens into town and drop them around the wheat bins. I guess the general theory behind this was that there would be lots of mice to be found around the wheat bins, and, secondarily, maybe some townie would find them and adopt them.

Well on this day I adopted two. I stuffed them in my school bag (there was plenty of room) and took them home. I begged my mum to let me keep them even though she assured me that they would run away. But they didn’t. They adopted us and stayed around. And my dad, who was definitely not a cat lover for too many reasons to go into here, even came to enjoy them. He used to call them ‘circus cats’ because of all the tricks they did. But as any cat owner would know, cats are just full of many ‘tricks’ to amuse their people.

Since then my wife and I have had a number of cats. Basically I think we have had one or two cats around almost since we moved into our first house a lifetime ago.

Well just recently our house cat stopped breathing, which always has a rather disastrous outcome. Just before Jazz went to cat heaven the wife and I gave the thumbs-up to my son’s fiancé getting a kitten. At our recommendation she got a Burmese kitten. If you can believe what you read they are people-friendly (as much as any cat is), smart, and generally don’t roam (too far, too often). Also they are on the low-side when it comes to being allergenic.

The fiancé has named the kitten Sansa. I think it’s a great name and it complies with the rule of two syllables for a cat or dog name.

However we have discovered a rather odd personality trait of Sansa. I think she thinks she is a parrot.

Whenever she gets the chance she gets onto your shoulder.

If you walk too close to her climbing totem she will launch herself through the air to lob on your shoulder. While she does it with the greatest of care and minimum use of claws, it can be marginally startling to suddenly find a kitten on your shoulder.

On occasion she will even go from the ground, up your jeans and jacket onto your shoulder and then just sit there, balancing as you walk.

When I am sitting at the kitchen table working on my notebook she will often go up my tummy and onto my shoulder, somehow fit herself into my neck-back-shoulder formation, and take a cat nap.

Here is a picture of Sansa the cat-parrot perched on my son’s shoulder going for walk.

Sansa-the-Parrotcat

Obviously she likes being up high and she loves people. Being a cat-parrot sort of fulfills both requirements.

Currently she is small and light. Hopefully as she gets bigger and heavier she will get over this as I don’t fancy a grown cat going up my back onto my shoulders. That might involve significantly more deployment of claws.

BarryMark