Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts

Monday 16 October 2017

Finding Treasure in Boxes...

Now I need to say at the start this treasure is not the archetypal pirate treasure- coins, jewellery and other goodies along with the odd skull.

This treasure is my past writings.

As a teenager I used a pen and pages of A4. I moved on to a portable typewriter, and from there to a Brother Word Processor- work was saved to floppy disks. (Yes we're talking 20th century...)

Then I moved onto my first computer (an XP) with a floppy disk drive in the tower, so I carried on using them.

When that computer eventually died Windows 7 was the latest operating system; but it didn't have a floppy disk drive anymore, so I had to buy an external version with the USB connection.

I was able to access some of the items, but others were unreadable. I left them in the storage box and resigned myself to searching for a programme that would enable my computer to read my saved work. It never happened and I packed the box away somewhere.

After all I did have some of the work printed out ...somewhere.

Then last weekend, clearing one of the shelves in the corner bookcase- it needs to be moved for the rewiring work- I pulled out a compact blue box from the corner. I knew what it was instantly. My floppy disks.

A box of treasure
Downing the small paintbrush (for dusting books) and soft cloth I went to my office and rummaged on the shelf for the floppy disk reader- would it even work on the Windows 10 desktop?

I plugged in the USB and nothing, it wasn't recognised. All my excitement at my discovery went pancake flat. As a final check before unplugging I opened File Explorer and there it was.

Floppy disk reader, old manuscripts
file box...

Reviewing the floppies I chose one labelled short stories 1, inserted it into the reader, listened as it whirred noisily, and then a box opened on my screen displaying numbered stories (SS1, SS2 etc).

Clicking on the first one, Notepad opened the story; I scrolled down and I immediately remembered writing that tale- it was one I'd wanted to rewrite, but thought lost forever.

Opening more,assured me they were okay, so I set about copying and pasting from Notepad into a Word document.

Then I found the disks from my first incomplete novel; I'd started writing it in 2000 and got to about 40,000 words where I'd reached my planned ending. That was when I realised that I'd only gotten half way, there was more story to follow- the possibilities had quickly started flowing through my mind.

 But I stopped there. I realised that I didn't have the skills I needed to complete it- I didn't know anything about writing drafts. I had to go and learn how to write properly. That was how I came to join the local writers' club.

So it was with some trepidation that I now slipped the novel disk into the reader, but all that came up was a box showing formatting and asking me what I wanted to display it in, there were three choices, and in my disappointment I didn't really take in what it was asking me.

As I tried the other disks the same problem, my disappointment grew until I stopped and read what was being asked. I chose an option but nothing happened; it was a frustrated turn of the mouse wheel that scrolled down the box a bit,  and there among the little formatting symbols was text I could read!

I began the copying and pasting again but accepted I needed to do this a bit at a time, so saved and backed-up everything I'd transferred.

That box isn't going to be packed away anywhere for some time.

So if I'm ever irritated by something Windows 10 does, please remind me that it helped me retrieve my early writing that I thought had been lost forever...

Monday 15 May 2017

Windows 10 Reinstallation is Not Scary...

I spent the weekend doing a clean reinstall of Windows 10.

For my friends who have already heard this- I apologise- but decided as I blogged about my initial trials and tribulations of setting up my (new) Windows 10 computer last year, I thought I might as well reveal this latest issue and solution.

At some point in the last 6-8 months something interfered with the Windows update system-despite the security and malware systems. I had the rare update fail to install, but usually they reinstalled the next time.

One of the advantages of Windows 10 is that the security updates are checked for and installed in the background, so unless you actually go into your settings and look at the update history you don't know whether anything important has failed to install.

It was pure chance I happened to look and saw a couple of big updates from the March Security update had failed, and failed... The system kept trying to install these updates and they kept failing. When I did the manual update they kept failing too...

Sadly the system doesn't alert you to this, which is a weakness. So I'd definitely suggest checking your update history now and then.

So off I went to the online tech support for Windows, and over the next 24 hours, five different (but very understanding) techs from across the globe tried to resolve my issue via remote access. Sadly each time this wretched update failed at the last moment- after the tech had signed off.

An important. task..
If you ever have an update that keeps failing you'll find an option to fix problems in Windows updates. You'll need to check your computer/laptops settings as they can be different.

Go to your computer's Control Panel, choose the Systems and Security option.

On my machine it's then Troubleshoot Common Computer Problems, and on clicking that you should be able to find Fix problems in Windows updates. Sometimes it will also say during the process something about administrator permissions, so just click that and then the next button. It will do it's magic and show you what has been fixed.

Every time my system was fixed, but it didn't stay fixed...

Eventually tech no.5 in Israel told me I had 2 options: a refresh, or reinstallation. Apparently the refresh would be a waste of time, and I'd be better off reinstalling. They sent me an email with the link to the info I needed.

March and April are the busiest months for me, so I put it off. Other security updates were installing okay.

Then this horrible ransomware issue emerged on Friday in the UK.

This was when my uninstalled big update of various patches became serious. My computer was not patched. And although I was not a company or big organisation, my computer was still vulnerable because of the missing patch.

So I did a final back up of anything not yet backed up. (You might like to read Simon Whaley's latest post over on his The Business of Writing site about backing-up your work.)

Then I read up on clean installation process, it was actually relatively easy. I was also able to reinstall from the Anniversary edition (that was released last Summer) rather than from the memory stick with the original version.

Go to your computer settings, then Update and Security. Select Recovery from the list on the left-hand side, it's just a matter of following the instructions and selecting the option you need.

The longest part was the downloading- though it does say you can continue to use the computer meanwhile. Once the installation begins you do need to be there as you're required to set the country and language, but it doesn't take too long; you just need to sign into the computer again each time as it needs to restart through the process.

Of course once it's all back in place you then need to go through all the settings just as if you'd just got the computer.

Most of the programmes (apps) I need I've reinstalled, and that important security update installed first time.

It's also solved some minor display problems I had: the missing sign-in at the top right of my blog screen reappeared, and on Facebook, where the stats show for individual posts, in the insights on my Carol Bevitt-writer and Serena Lake pages, they came back too. I hadn't associated them with my computer issues.

So far all is going okay.

I'll be blogging with some news and links on Sunday, so I'm glad the computer is fixed...


Tuesday 30 August 2016


For those of you who had a Bank Holiday on Monday, I hope you enjoyed it.

I did a little gardening, but spent most of the day sorting through the memory sticks (aka flash drives, thumb drives, USB sticks) to find out what was on the unlabelled ones- not my fault... :-)

There was one stick that would no longer open on my computer, or my OH's laptop. I think I know what was on it- it was the first two chapters of an idea that just didn't work at the time. I do have one stick that has a lot images and files on, so I think that some of the lost items are also on there- and it still works.

There were quite a few duplicates- a few of the photos had three or four copies between the different sized sticks, so I was able to free up a couple of them as a result.
Holding memories and
tales to be told...

Among all these old documents I found a few stories that I'd started and either didn't finish, or the idea didn't appeal at the time. So I'll be looking at them to see if there's anything I can salvage now.

I bought some white strung tags so every stick is now labelled with subject and memory size, so I can easily find the one I want.

If you buy a new computer with Windows 10 on it, as I needed to, it will have the 3.0 USB slots. Though you might have a model with both 2.0 and 3.0 USB slots, so it's worth checking.

Fortunately my computer still opens the 2nd generation sticks I have, but that's not guaranteed on all new computers apparently, as I discovered when I was searching to find out why one of my sticks wouldn't open or be recognised.

Needless to say I will be investing in a good portable hard drive as soon as possible to transfer essential items. That way I don't have to use the one my OH bought for his computer files.

Where technology is concerned I opt for the 'change only when necessary', but sometimes you just have to do it sooner...

Sunday 10 April 2016

Coming Up on Tuesday- My Guest Takes the Next Step...

As I've had a very heavy day with computer updates, I'm a little late in sharing some very exciting news.

This week both posts will be courtesy of my guest, blogger Patsy Collins.

Patsy is a wonderful writer with numerous short stories (and collections) to her credit, and a number of novels, including her most recent, (it features a hunky fireman) Firestarter.

It was Patsy who encouraged me to finish and send off my cake-related short story to one of the women's magazines- more about that in the summer.

Patsy Collins
Patsy Collins
Patsy is also my writing buddy, and the purple-loving writer behind the very useful womagwriter's blog.

On Tuesday, Patsy will be discussing the advantages/disadvantages of taking your self-published work beyond the kindle e-book and into print, using Createspace.

Then on Thursday, you can discover more about the actual process, with useful tips and links to help you take that next step.

You'll still have to do all the work, but Patsy's experience may help you decide whether it's for you...

And to top it all off there's an offer you won't be able to resist.

So pop back on Tuesday to find out more...

Monday 4 April 2016

Windows 10 - The Not-So Scary Bits...

Now I've been able to add a few programs to my new desktop I'm feeling much more in control.

After advice from writer friends who are familiar with Windows 10, I downloaded Office 2007 from the disc I bought for my previous computer- it still had a use available. So I've not had to move to Office 365 with it's subscription system (monthly or annual).

I'm not keen on the new browser, Edge (the IE replacement), so I quickly downloaded Chrome, and added a few programs that make life easier.

Having used Windows 10 for a few days now, I'm getting used to how it's set out. Plus having to look to find out what updates have been added in the background.

My main gripe is that they've hidden so many useful items. I've found it's actually quicker to get to what I want by using the search bar on the bottom toolbar next to the Windows symbol that opens a cross between a start bar (like Windows 7) and a block of tiles (as in Windows 8).

Yes, it gives a tidy appearance, but I don't want or need to waste time looking for the program/app I need.

Maybe my amplified annoyance is another left-handed (and the way my mind works) thing...

If something isn't working as it should, then most means of resolution will be found somewhere in the settings; just choose the relevant category and look through the options.

Apparently, if you have anti-virus protection and it runs out, Windows Defender automatically takes over, so you're not open to nasties getting onto your machine.

It hasn't been as difficult to adjust to the move from Windows 7 to 10;but I could have happily lived with version 7 forever.

The major downside is that you need a Microsoft account, so if you want to add a family member so they can use the computer with their own password, you need to add their Hotmail, Outlook, X-Box or other Microsoft related email address, and they then receive an invitation in their inbox; once they accept their account will appear on the opening page screen.

If a family member doesn't have a relevant account they have to create one, then follow the process for an invite.

There's a wide selection of apps in the store, some are pre-installed, Microsoft People- it utilises your email address book. :(

Personally, if my old computer hadn't bust irretrievably I would have carried on with Windows 7.

If you've thought about the free upgrade to Windows 10, but are still happy with Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, then don't rush. Friends who have upgraded seem split between those who have been trouble-free, and those who have had a number of issues.

The most important thing now is that I can get on with my writing without further delays...

image courtesy of aechan &

Thursday 31 March 2016

Back at Last - The Computer Saga...

Apologies for the lack of new posts, but the computer began slowing down at the weekend and then Wednesday morning it finally stopped working.

I've had numerous crashes, and the blue screen of death has appeared half a dozen times since last month (when I first mentioned it), but by Sunday it kept looping whenever I logged off, so the only way to shut down was turn it off at the tower. :(

Knowing it was going I had been looking around, but with so much choice online it's difficult to comprehend how it will look actually on my desk. I had specific requirements for capacity, but the position of the USB ports and the DVD drive was essential- I hated the vertical DVD drives!

I've done the basic set-up, and am now creating the recovery memory stick- it takes some time...

Of course before I could remove the old tower I had to clear everything off my desk (actually it's an old scarred dining table) and the area of the floor beside it.

So out with the hoover and the extendable attachment to the hose, so the dust-webs could be sucked up, and the floor cleaned. Once that was done I was able to move the table back and access the office book shelves.

There's still a lot to do before I'll be totally satisfied.

I don't have Office at the moment, which I really do miss. as much as Windows 7.. :(

Anyway, I'm back and aiming for my first post-Windows 10 blog post on Sunday.

So keep your fingers crossed I survive it all... :D

Sunday 6 March 2016

Computer Gremlins...

It's been a busy few months and apart from getting the short story finished and sent off, I've not had time to make any progress on the Nottinghamshire story- though I have been doing needed bits of research (highlighted when I read the first chapter of draft 1 through).

Sometimes I can't imagine ever finishing it, but I know that's not true, it will get done.

Unlike the first draft I haven't found it as easy to do a bit, then stop, then do a bit more. That's the hard part at the moment, finding how to work with the second draft.

There has been other writing/editing going on though.

A factual piece that I wrote last month that required a final edit was rewritten with a different slant, and will appear this month.

There's an entry for the writers' club quarterly prose that needs finishing off. I started it twice and wasn't happy so put it aside. Then last week everything clicked together and I started again. It's working much better this time...

Sadly my desktop PC is showing early signs of future failure, and I'll need to replace it this year. I like Windows 7, but will have to move up to Windows 10 when I do change. :(

So I've been tidying up the programs, taking off those that are no longer needed, and avoiding putting the PC under any potential stress.

Glad to say it seems to be helping.

So if I suddenly stop posting you'll know what's happened... :D

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles &

Sunday 15 March 2015

The Next Step...

Well I've embarked on the next stage in my writing career.

Nothing major, but if you try to find my blog in the next few days and it says it's not there, don't worry, it will only be temporary; the likely cause will be me, struggling to get my recently purchased domain name attached to my blog.

If only we were able to swallow a pill and, as a result, instantly understand the instructions that go with these important tasks.

I actually have two domains, one for me, and one for Serena, but I won't be using the latter for a few months yet.

While I've been trying to get on with my current work in progress- the contemporary romance- Serena's stories have temporarily taken a back seat.

Her ideas and characters are still simmering and developing, so there's lots to look forward to...

So keep your fingers crossed, and if it all works I'll be posting as usual on Thursday, if not, I'll post when I can...

If anyone has applied their domain to their blog, and has any useful tips, either comment below, or email me. You can use the contact form on the right hand side of the page.

Thanks. :-)

Thursday 29 November 2012

Back to Normal - Almost...

I'm glad to say I'm now fully online again, so will be catching up over the next few days.

Only when you lose your internet use, do you realise how much you use it for.

My OH did let me use his little netbook, but it couldn't cope with sites that had lots of graphics and pages with adverts on- I couldn't do anything until the page was loaded and it was so much slower than I'm used to...

My computer has had a couple of replacement parts, so I got an IP address again (my computer lost it's identity at the weekend along with my internet access) but it still didn't work.

The technical experts at my ISP (internet service provider) did a brilliant job, despite being on the less usual solutions stage.

And the answer to my problems?

Apart from adjusting settings and typing in codes to get it to do specific things, it improved after uninstalling the computer's security package, and replacing it with an alternative- internet access was immediately restored.

I'd done quite a few standard checks before I rang anyone; run the diagnostics on my computer, checked wires and connections and the old favourite of turning the router off, then on; turning the computer off and then back on, clearing cookies, browser history, cleaning the disk.

I have a basic housekeeping routine for my computer each week to keep it running happily, and it is something everyone should do regularly- and you can set your computer to defragment your files once a month.

I'm just glad there was someone on the other end of the phone who could eventually solve my problem, when the initial work didn't resolve the issue.

Have to say I can see the advantages of wi-fi, but even that doesn't protect you from security updates
upsetting your computer...

A big thank you to all who left comments on my previous post- they helped retain my sanity when I was getting upset and annoyed at the numerous phone calls and brick walls I kept facing in trying to get back to normal.

Now, I'm going to catch up on what's been going on in the writing world ready for my weekend post...

Monday 26 November 2012

Computer Issues...

My regular posting schedule is going to be out this week.

I've written this on my OH's netbook- had to plug a mouse into it, so I could get anything to move...

No idea what's wrong with my computer, but I can't access the Internet, and the security package isn't working either on my desktop.

Strangely enough everyone else using a wireless connection in the family is fine and secure.

My service provider claims it's a computer provider issue- because the laptop computers are able to access the browsers and security package okay, even though I can't on the wired line...

So tomorrow I will be contacting Dell to see if they can resolve the issue, even though I've run all the diagnostic tools and not come up with any obvious issues.

I expect to spend most of Monday on the phone and tearing my hair out in frustration. :(

I'd been intending to spend some time getting the size of the book in the side column reduced in size, but at the moment it will have to stay as it is, until I'm back to full browser access.

So apologies for the size-but the link to works if you click on the book. Apparently 69 copies have been sold so far, though I don't know if that includes the Amazon sales...

If you've bought and read the anthology, would you consider adding a review to Amazon?

The writers who contributed stories and poems to the anthology are reluctant to write and add reviews themselves, as they are concerned about the ethics of doing so.

They don't want to be linked to any accusations of sock-puppetry...

As soon as my computer is back online, I'll be blogging again.

In the meantime I'll be trying to keep to date with as much as possible via the netbook.

Apologies for not visiting and commenting on fellow bloggers pages meanwhile.

Fingers crossed it's not a major problem...

Monday 28 May 2012

Moving Ahead...

And I mean that in many ways.

I've had my postcard acknowledgement back from Woman's Weekly, so I know my short story has arrived and is now in their system. So now I'm going to forget about it, until a yes or no letter arrives.

I'm getting very little quiet to write or even read at the moment, as my sons are taking their GCSE exams and are in and out of the house, or at home revising and relaxing, so my much valued peace during school hours is gone...

I've also got to start packing the remainder of my writing stuff up to put it into boxes ready for the weekend move. The computer will be moving position- as will some of our furniture-into different areas of the living room/dining room.

I'm hoping I can fit a filing cabinet in by the new desk area too, as I have a lot of papers that are currently sat in boxes and not accessible; likewise quite a few of my reference books are packed away and I'd like them on a shelf or at least stacked nearby.

The advantage of the new location means people moving around in the living room won't be close enough to distract me if I'm working, unlike currently.

With the Queen's Jubilee celebrations this weekend, plus the Monday and Tuesday Bank Holiday days it will give us plenty of time to get everything done.

And if that doesn't work and make me more productive, I may have to resort to a shed in the garden...

Thursday 10 May 2012

A Brief Catch Up and Yoga...

I'm not sure where this week has gone actually, but it's almost Friday again.

I've almost finished the final edit on my short story, now that I've got my formatting sorted out. Some of my new lines didn't indent to where they were set to- no idea why, but it was just one or two lines each on pages 3,4, and 5...

Even stripping all the formatting out of the document and re-doing the settings didn't sort it out- that document has been highlighted more than my hair!

Having asked some writer friends how to solve the problem, both of the suggested solutions were needed to resolve the issue.

It was only recently, when I was reading an article by Sue Moorcroft in Writers Forum magazine about presentation, that I discovered pressing the space bar five times at the beginning of each new paragraph was not a good idea. Apparently it makes extra work for an editor, so I thought I better learn how to set indents properly, and started with my short story.

(As you may have realised I'm still learning how to use the assorted options on Word 2007, so I won't be switching to the 2010 version anytime soon...)

Actually being able to sit down at the computer for a while was quite good, as I'm still aching from the yoga class that I attended on Tuesday. Now I did yoga when I was younger (much much younger) and I knew I was capable of doing the various positions, and admittedly some of them I had no problem with, but sadly the rest were not as successful.

Yes, I'd had one of those 'moments'. My brain still thought I could do it, but my body had decided that a) I'm not 20 years old anymore and b) my body is no longer that flexible...:-)

I'm sure I'll improve with time and practise, as my writing has...

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Up and Running, News and Murder...

Well I'm back in the land of computer access and what a difference Windows7 makes. Pages load instantly, images too.

I've still got to put a few programmes back on the computer yet, but I'm secure and able to access the web.

Unfortunately I can see it will take me some time to get used to finding where everything is- but luckily one of my teenage sons is acting as technical advisor as I go along...

Now for a bit of writing related news.

Short story magazine writer Vivien Hampshire has a three page article (in the September issue of Writing Magazine due in newsagents from tomorrow) on the responses she received from the editors of the assorted women's magazines.

It makes interesting reading and not all the news is bad...

Anyway I'm off to get the rest of my programmes loaded and while that's happening I need to read through my part for the murder mystery I'm taking part in tonight-I do know I am not the victim... :-)

Saturday 30 July 2011

The Poorly Computer...

Yes, my computer is sick and early next week it will be getting an big upgrade and my long minutes of waiting for image heavy pages to load will be over, no more waiting and waiting for the little hour glass to do something...

I like to read as many blogs as possible over the weekend, but I'm a bit limited at the moment, as not only am I in the middle of reorganising at home, among other things, the postcards are now in a pretty, larger box with plenty of room for new additions- but the washing machine is on the blink threatening to stop working completely- it's had a hard life with my family.

Last Saturday I came back from food shopping to find my OH had dragged the washing machine out of it's slot and was checking the pipes at the back, with a pile of wet washing in a laundry basket.
I'm glad to say he got it working again, but it keeps having stroppy spells- now that has given me an idea...

But anyway next week I will be discovering Windows7- and I hope by next Friday I'll be back surfing the web without any problem and catching up on the blogs I've been missing.

Technology and labour saving devices are great until they breaks down or get old...

Finally here is the writing related bit, I'm going to leave you with a blog to look at- Louise Wise-who has started a blog directory (by category) that you might like to peruse in the meantime.