The Pleasures of Upgrading A New PC – Genuine Lenovo Battery Not Attached

This is the kind of post that I do from time to time that sticks around.  I have a couple “Helpful Hints” (you can search that) that get read every day by a couple folks.   This particular one is how to remove an annoyance from the Thinkpad when Windows is installed.   If you are following along on how to do a “Bare Bones Install” of operating system and mostly open source software, hop onto this link after you read my rant below.

To whoever is in marketing at Lenovo that made this decision, I hope you end up working as a fry cook in a low end burger joint because you truly have no clue how to market to your customers.

After going through all the steps of installing software, I had been constantly annoyed by a pop up… but I am getting ahead of myself here.

The laptop is a Lenovo Thinkpad T60.  I installed Windows 7 64 Bit onto it, and all the Lenovo software and drivers.  I also installed a laundry list of software onto it that you can see by doing a search back for anything with the tag “Implementation”.

Since this is a laptop, it gets plugged into the wall from time to time or the plug gets kicked out when I’m half awake at 6am trying to get the dog out.

Here is my complaint.   When ever the power state changes from plugged to unplugged and vice versa, I get a rude message that begins with “Genuine Lenovo Battery Not Attached”.


The person who upgraded the battery in this machine made the choice for me, repaired it for me, and was kind enough to give it to me complete.  It works.  The battery works.  The battery holds a charge and will power the laptop for an acceptable length of time.

So who are you, my dear friend, the Marketing Drone at Lenovo to question the wisdom of the market by putting this 6 or 7 line bubble up on my desktop and hold it there longer than I would prefer questioning my sanity with “Genuine Lenovo Battery Not Attached”?

Now I went out and found out how to turn that rude message off.   There should be a check in the message to allow me to dismiss it forever, but no, you in your infinite lack of wisdom deigned that from on high I should have to see this blather until I get annoyed enough to try all sorts of things.

Including search on the web on how to turn that hateful message off.

I found it and will share it.

First, with Windows up and running, mouse down to the task bar.

Find the Power Management icon that resides next to the Wifi Icon on the right of your task bar.

Right click on Power Management (The Battery Icon) and click on “Launch Power Manager“.

When the window comes up, click on “Options” tab.

There is a check box next to “Show Power Manager Gauge in Task Bar” – clear that box, then click on “Apply“.

You will now not have the battery in the task bar from Lenovo but SURPRISE! under Windows 7 you will still have the battery information reported from Windows itself.  If you right click on the Windows battery, you can get to the Power Manager by selecting it there.

There.  Message Banished.  Now lets find that Marketing Drone and tell him just what we think of him.


What would this blog be without a rant, now and again, I ask you?!?!?

Twisted Wit – Humor

Maybe I should have saved this for April 1… you know, Amateur Day?

At any rate, I got this one in the email box from a good friend Scott up in Philly.  It’s just sick and twisted enough to share.

Twisted Wit

  • Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Don’t walk beside me, either. Just leave me alone. 
  • There are two theories to arguing. Neither one works…
  • It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.
  • Sex is like air. It’s not important unless you aren’t getting any.
  • Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
  • Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.
  • Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
  • It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
  • It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.
  • If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car repayments.
  • Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
  • Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat & drink beer all day.
  • If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  • Don’t squat with your spurs on.
  • If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
  • If you drink, don’t park; accidents cause people.
  • Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield.
  • Don’t worry, it only seems kinky the first time.
  • Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  • The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
  • Timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
  • A closed mouth gathers no foot.
  • Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side & a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
  • The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire.
  • Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your mouth is moving.
  • Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.

The Pleasures of Upgrading A New PC – CDBurnerXP

There are a few more holes in the implementation of the new laptop.  But the story goes on and on and on…

The first step was triaging all the old hardware and finding which laptops needed recycling.

The second step was installing the operating system, and the minimum software.

The third step was convincing PDF software to actually install and work.

The fourth step was installing the excellent IrfanView and beginning to get my graphics software settled

The fifth step was the install of GIMP that was surprisingly less painful than most.

In the middle of all of this, I found that I needed to upgrade Firefox.  It was a happy coincidence that it was on the same day that they released Firefox 4.

Then I installed Inkscape which went about as well as you could hope.

I covered the install of the instant messaging client Pidgin.

Now I need something to burn CDs.

Actually, I needed something to burn a DVD since I downloaded something from a website, Ubuntu, to get the latest version of the operating system.  I ended up having this file on my computer that was too large to fit on a single CD, needed to go onto a DVD as an image and resided here as what they call an .ISO file.

An .ISO file is an image of a CD or DVD.  The software that comes with Windows 7 promises to burn that image to a DVD but I personally couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Open Source Software to the Rescue.

I was very used to software that works a certain way when it comes to burning a CD or DVD.  You grab the files up into a directory, you start a program, you drag them into the handy little window and you click burn.  Assuming that your PC has all the hardware, in a while you end up with a disc that can be used for many different purposes.

It’s just that I tried to convince Windows’ default software to work and got frustrated so I went “all old school” on it.  I burned a disc that actually turned out not to be a disc that was burned.  After two tries at it I gave up.

First, I went to the Nero Lite suite.  When I went to this free version of Nero, it said it wanted to install Microsoft Silverlight.   Silverlight is an alternative to Adobe Flash, and while Flash is waning, Silverlight was just “deprioritized” in the market by Microsoft.  They will continue to support it but won’t push it for it’s programming capacity – in short, Silverlight is going to die a lingering death.  Obviously I don’t recommend Nero Lite 10.  I used Nero Lite 9 for quite a while on Windows XP and it worked well for me.  I won’t install 10 or Silverlight.

Remember, a lean laptop is one that will last longer on your lap than one that is chock full of software you don’t need. 

So after saying some rude words to my laptop, I cancelled the install, and looked elsewhere.

I have worked in the Philadelphia School System and at Temple University as in progressively more technically involved positions in IT, ending in where I am now, a Consulting IT Project Manager.  In the roles I played at the School Board, I learned that Open Source software can be very useful when your department budget is small or non existent.   To this day, I will look at “Free or Open Source Software” or “FOSS” first before considering pulling out the credit card.

CDBurnerXP is one of those “FOSS” programs and it works exceedingly well.  Where Windows’ built in software to burn a DVD was confusing and intractable, CDBurnerXP worked for me, and did so exactly how I expected it to.  Drag and drop with lots of numbers to read if I needed to understand what the details were about the “project”.  In short More Info Than I Needed meant All The Info I wanted.

And did I say Free?  Open Source?  Put the wallet away.

You can read more about how it works on the site, but this is all about how to actually get the software on your PC in case you need it.

First, surf the website.  There is a lot of information on there on what it does, how it does it, and how you can get it, but basically you have to get here first.

Then click the big green button that says “Download”.  Firefox asked me immediately if I would like to save the file and I clicked “Save File“.

When it was finished downloading, I went to my downloads directory and launched the file.   cdbxp_setup(Version_number).exe

I got the Open File – Security Warning window and clicked “Run” which was followed by Windows’ warning me that a program wanted to make changes to the hard disc which I accepted by clicking Yes.

The Setup Wizard was launched and if you’re actually following how to install all this software, this will look very familiar.  Open Source Projects tend to use similar installer programs on Windows, at least the last few programs did.  

Click Next to get to the License Agreement, then click the button next to “I Accept The Agreement” and then Next again.

You will be asked where to install the software to, and I decided that the default of C:\Program Files\CDBurnerXP was fine, so I clicked Next.

I was presented by a window asking me to “Select Components”.  Since I only need English as the local language, I unchecked the box next to Languages and Next.

The window asking to “Select Additional Tasks” then presented itself.  Since I don’t particularly need a desktop icon nor do I need it in the Quick Launch bar, I made sure both of those were unchecked.  On the other hand I wanted CDBurnerXP to be associated with .DXP/AXP and ISO files… so I checked both of those boxes.  Then I clicked “Next“.

It then put up a window asking me if I wanted to install Internet Explorer 9.  No, I really don’t like Internet Explorer.  It is my opinion that it is bloated and overly large.   I already have what ever version of Internet Explorer that came with Windows 7, I believe that it is Version 8, I hardly ever use it, and don’t want to be annoyed with configuring it until I am told that there is a compelling reason to “upgrade”.   So I clicked the box that says “Do not install Internet Explorer 9” and then Install.

At this point, CDBurner XP is installing/has been installed.

You have a window saying “Completing the CDBurnerXP Setup Wizard” and if you click Finish you will see CDBurnerXP launch.  Since I don’t need it at this time, I cleared the check box that asks if I want to “Launch CDBurnerXP” and then clicked Finish.

To burn that pesky ISO file, all I had to do was double click on the .ISO in Windows Explorer, and have a blank DVD in the drive.   A click on the Burn Icon later and I had my Ubuntu DVD for that old computer that I need for a server.

Pretty easy and no mental gyrations at strange times in the middle of the evening!

Can’t beat that, huh?

A Rose For Pat – Picture

Perhaps, Greeting Card is more appropriate with that Haiku at the bottom.

All this happy text stuff was done in one of those tools that I installed over the last few weeks. 

To please Kevin, I made a point to find an open source font.  The font was called “Journal” and can be found here.  I’m able to use it since it was released under that GPL thing that I was banging on about a couple days ago. 

To please my sister, Pat, I decided to use the Rose from my back yard and banged out the Haiku at the bottom off of the top of my head.

I will have to remember that font, if I have better text, it could make for a very nice greeting card or addition somewhere.

Anyway, the picture is a segment from a larger picture taken as a batch of five.  This was the best from color, content, detail, and composition.  Just to the right of the flower off frame was a rusted old tiki torch holder sliver, and to the upper left was the bud of the blossom that would bloom when this particular rose wilted away.  It stayed for a week and was one of the first things I would see after the sun came up from my bedroom window. 

I used Inkscape to add a layer of text to the picture, tweaked the font and size, added that copyright notice at the top and another hidden one at 15% opacity somewhere. 

You won’t see it but I know it’s there.   Inkscape allowed me to play with the text and do that sort of thing in a span of about 5 minutes.  Imagine what it would be like in the hands of a real artist.

Modesty aside, there’s a lot out there that someone who has a basic level of knowledge of this Graphics Design stuff can do with a little fiddling around.  It is often said that if you look at a program that you use like Microsoft Office’s Word or Excel, you only use about 10% of it.  Just like your brain.

The world was built with people applying that 10%.   Everything you see that was man made was done by many people applying what they could with their poor little 10% and over time you would end up with something quite beautiful, useful, or amazing.

Mom was right.  All you have to do is apply yourself.

The Pleasures of Upgrading A New PC – Pidgin

There are a few more holes in the implementation of the new laptop.  But the story goes on and on and on…

The first step was triaging all the old hardware and finding which laptops needed recycling.

The second step was installing the operating system, and the minimum software.

The third step was convincing PDF software to actually install and work.

The fourth step was installing the excellent IrfanView and beginning to get my graphics software settled

The fifth step was the install of GIMP that was surprisingly less painful than most.

In the middle of all of this, I found that I needed to upgrade Firefox.  It was a happy coincidence that it was on the same day that they released Firefox 4.

Then I installed Inkscape which went about as well as you could hope.

Now I’m moving on to Pidgin.

What’s a pidgin?  Something spoken in Papua New Guinea?  Something that is better known as a flying rat?  No, this is something different.

I use the chat networks to keep in touch with clients, family, and others around the world.  There are a number of applications that I use, and Pidgin is one of them, that tie together multiple chat networks like AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger, IRC, MSN Messenger and others into one piece of software.   I also use it to monitor my three email accounts on Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail.  It puts up a helpful notice when I get mail.

Yes, complicated.

The software though isn’t tough to use and it would allow people to stop using the bloated AOL client all the time, or having AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and MSN Messenger all running at once.  It gathers all the functionality into one place.   There are competing software, but this is the one I use.  I tried Trillian and some others here and there and it just felt like it went too far.

1) Surf and download and save the installer for the client remembering where you put it.  The helpful Orange Download button is there for you to click.  You may also explore the site and find out more about this program.

2) Run the installer from where ever you hid the thing, and when it puts the window up, select the language.

3) You will now be presented with the Pidgin Setup Wizard.  Click Next to get to the GPL, then click Next to the Components to Install window.  The defaults should be good for you with one exception.  Click the Plus Sign next to “Spellchecking Support”.  It won’t break the bank if you don’t have spell check turned on, but it certainly will make you sound more intelligent.   Select your language (or don’t but I will judge you if you misspell things) and click on “Next”.

4) Now that you have done all of that, click “Install”.  The installer will count up the percentage of progress at this time until done.  It will be done when your window stops changing and you see “Completed” in the status window.  Click “Next”.

At this point you are through the basic install.   I check the box that says “Run Pidgin” and Finish at this point so I can configure the program.

Accounts window:  Pidgin works with your current chat accounts.  In this case I am going to add AIM to Pidgin for the blog, but it works with my Yahoo Instant Messenger and MSN Instant Messenger as well.

Click “Add”.  You will get an “Add Account” window.

On the basic tab:
  The Protocol is the Chat Network you want to configure.  Select AIM (or any other you need).
  The Username is your sign on.  You’ll have to supply that one.
  The Password is the password you type to get onto AOL or AIM.
  I recommend checking the box that says “Remember Password” even if later down the line it means you’ll forget your password for AIM.  Do what everyone else does – write it down on a post-it note and lose the note when you clean house.
  Check the box for “New Mail Notifications”.  You’ll get a handy notice in the Pidgin Window when you get email on this account that you will forget you ever had after you forgot how to log into it with the password that is on the post-it note that got cleaned up 2 years ago when you had visitors.
  If you have a small picture, you can add it here for your avatar by clicking the box for “Use this buddy Icon” and clicking on the default Icon.   At that point you will have to find the picture that you want to use for this account.  Easy enough to do, you have thousands of pictures on your PC.  Just remember not to use the “rude one” that you have on that “special” chat site showing you in front of the mirror that got you all those complements about your “abs”.  Mine is a boring G Rated “Head Shot”.  I’d go with that.  Leave those special pics for special times.  🙂

When you click “Save”, Pidgin will go out and try to log you onto the network.  If you put in the wrong password it will tell you in the main window which was covered up by the accounts window.  Not to worry, you can click back on AIM and the “Modify” button to enter in the correct Password. 

Of course I did forget mine, and you can surf and get it back by trying to log in.  AIM itself is kind of annoying in that your password can’t contain “part of” the user name – but they don’t tell you “how much” of that they need for you to enter it.

The process for any other network that Pidgin supports is identical.  Just click “Add” in the account window and you’re on your way.

One other thing that you will want to do is to configure sounds.  I usually have mine only set to tell me when “Message Received Begins Conversation”.  You can edit those preferences by clicking “Tools” then Preferences” and “Sounds”.  You will also want to make sure chats open in their own window.  This is done on the “Interface” tab of the Preferences window and unchecking “Show IMs and Chats in Tabbed Windows”.  I just happen to prefer having lots of little chat windows than having to shuttle between tabs.

Looking Up A Palm Trees, With or Without Wires

I went out into the backyard. 
I began taking pictures. 
Plants everywhere, Butterflies around my head.  Some may say Bats in My Belfry.

I was looking to take a picture for the background of the computer.  You know that pretty picture that you never see because your junk is all over the screen.

No, Eric, not THAT junk.   Your programs.

This is the original picture.  It has those pesky power wires because this was deep in the back of my yard next to the Utility Easement.

So why leave those wires in there?  I was installing software all over the place, taking pictures of things, and merging the two in the blog for the last week or so.  A couple days ago, I wrote about how to install GIMP and why you may want to do so.   The picture below is the result of my playing with GIMP on a late Friday Afternoon.

I erased the wires. 

Not just the wires, but in removing the wires, you had to go back and retouch some of the palm leaves.  If you look very closely and flip back and forth between the two pictures, you will notice my tweaks.  I removed, or trimmed some of the fronds on the palm.  I lightened some of the individual leaves on the fronds.  After all, the sun angle had cast a shadow on the leaves from the back.

Why bother?  I wanted to see if I could figure it all out, why not?  Someone who retouches the picture for a magazine, or a website will go through all of this.  I needed a little more practice using The GIMP to make sure that I could do it for some projects that are up and coming. 

You tell me, I think I did fairly well… not perfect.  You’ll be able to spot some of the edits, especially if you had the full sized pictures.  You don’t, these are around 1/4 size but they’re fairly clear. 

Ok, it’s obsessive… But I’m learning.  Enjoy.

The Pleasures of Upgrading A New PC – Inkscape

At this point, the frenzy of installing new applications and programs is slowing.  The machine is beginning to get more complete, but there will be other tweaks down the road.

The first step was triaging all the old hardware and finding which laptops needed recycling.

The second step was installing the operating system, and the minimum software.

The third step was convincing PDF software to actually install and work.

The fourth step was installing the excellent IrfanView and beginning to get my graphics software settled

The fifth step was the install of GIMP that was surprisingly less painful than most.

In the middle of all of this, I found that I needed to upgrade Firefox.  It was a happy coincidence that it was on the same day that they released Firefox 4.

Today I am beginning the install of Inkscape.

I would be willing to bet that most of my regular and irregular readers won’t ever need this program.  I do…. but why?

Gimp will allow you to take a picture and type graffiti all over it to give your message.  Then typically you will save your new artwork as a JPG.  When you do, take a nice close look at the text.  It won’t be crisp with clean lines.   There are times that you need that.  I have been “watermarking” my pictures that I put on the blog for quite a while now simply because… they’re mine.  I’d rather not stumble across a website using my pictures because Cease and Desist orders can get expensive and all the content that I put on the blog is my own, unless expressly said otherwise.  Or perhaps I forgot.  I’ve only grabbed other people’s pictures once in a while, maybe 5 postings in all the time I have had the blog.  Plenty of Velma Posts but that’s a different story.

So in your JPG, if you “zoom in” to an area you notice things get fuzzy very quickly.  Having your text get fuzzy makes for sloppy work.  It isn’t the fault of Gimp, but the fault of the way a “raster image editor” works.  They all do that.

Inkscape is a “Vector Graphics Editor”.  It saves things as points in an array… yeah I know “Science Content” as they say on Mythbusters.   Look at the picture on your monitor very closely, it’s made of a lot of dots.  Put one finger at the top of the monitor, another one at the bottom.  You have just drawn a Vector.  That basically is what Inkscape does – sets out a lot of points and says what will connect them.   It makes for a very sharp picture.  Read this link if you’re interested in a bit more deep detail. 

Inkscape also implies that it is “Alpha” or “Beta” software.  This means it is a work in progress.  If you break it, go back to Inkscape.  They may have a fix already or they may not know about it so you can report the problem and help them out.  I use Inkscape fairly heavily and I’ve been happy with the results.  The program may be rare, but it isn’t a raw burger so to speak…

So how do we get it installed?

1) Surf and see if you really need it.  I do, but you probably won’t.  I’m finding it’s simplicity makes it very easy to use to get the kind of results I want.

2) In the upper right corner there is a “Download Now” link.  That is to the latest version, but this link will put you on the Download page for all versions.  It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and is probably available for more platforms than you will ever want to look at.  You most likely will want “Windows – Installer” which you will find under Official Release Packages.

3) Clicking on the link sends you to the Sourceforge download page and will start the download for you.  Save the file.  You will want to make a note of where it puts the file because I doubt you will have “C:\Users\Bill\Downloads” on your PC.  When complete, start the program.

4)  It will ask you to “Please Select a Language” and welcome you to the Setup Wizard.  Click next when you get there.

5)  You will click Next once you get to the GPL General Public License, and then you will be presented with a list of choices of features.  The only feature you may want to look into is whether you need an alternate language.  I did not need any extra features, so I clicked “Next”.

6) Inkscape will then ask where to install it, and it does not have to be in the Program Files group, but you will most likely want to let it go there by clicking “Install”.  It then will write the program out to the hard drive.  My installer ran almost to the end and inexplicably hung there for a while.  After it “woke up” eventually it came to say “Completed” and the Next button lit up.  It literally fell asleep 3 or 4 times waiting on background installs of subsystems.

7)  Click Finish and it will launch Inkscape.

Inkscape will present you with a window for “New Document 1”.  It is here that you can build your projects by adding layers.   A picture can be layer 1 to use as the background, and you can add other pictures or objects by drawing them onto the page.  Basically you can save the file as a .SVG file, and export as a bitmap your project to show it to everyone on the web.  That’s the very basic view on how to do things, you’re going to want to play around with the program.  I go in and change the size of the document, add graphics, move things around and add text.   All of this can be done easily and sounds much more difficult than it actually is.

You have control over all the bits and pieces that you are adding to the project.   If you think of the project as a Collage, you’re going to have a very good idea of how this all will work.

21st century scissors and magazine articles in elementary school art class is a good metaphor.

Another very complex program, and all Free and Open Source Software just like almost everything I run here.

Butterfly in the Park – Picture

Remember, Always bring your camera.  Even if it is just a dog walk.

I was walking Mrs Dog past M.E. Depalma Park last week.  Brilliant sunshine lit the flowers in the small park.  Lettie was recovering from her stroke, so she had a wobble to her step.  

Since the Episode, she’s been sniffing much more than usual and more “selectively deaf”.   I’ve proven that she can hear by placing my hand over my mouth and asking “Do you want a cookie”.

The result is massive tailwags and ear perks, and the dog equivalent of “Are you flipping crazy?”.

We have gotten used to a slower walk through the neighborhood since then.  It forces me to stop and smell the coneflowers.  In doing so, I’ve managed to get this picture.

This picture convinces me of a few things.

Always bring your camera.  You never know what you will see.
I need a better camera since picture isn’t as sharp at the 3200 by 2400 or so that it gives me.
Dog knows best.  Always listen to Dog.
That next camera will be a Digital SLR with a removable lens.

Much of the imperfections of the picture are missing when you look at it fullscreen.  This is a slice, and it showed the flowers to the left slightly out of focus, but on the small screen that I had on the camera it looked amazing. 

After the picture was taken I showed it to the artist Julie Shen and gave her husband very precise directions on how to get to the park.   He is planning on bringing her to the park so he can take pictures for her to paint from.  I hope that happens, M. E. DePalma’s efforts deserve to be seen.  As for my photography, it is improving.

The Pleasures of Upgrading A New PC – Firefox 4

At this point, the frenzy of installing new applications and programs is slowing.  The machine is beginning to get more complete, but there will be other tweaks down the road.

The first step was triaging all the old hardware and finding which laptops needed recycling.

The second step was installing the operating system, and the minimum software.

The third step was convincing PDF software to actually install and work.

The fourth step was installing the excellent IrfanView and beginning to get my graphics software settled

The fifth step was the install of GIMP that was surprisingly less painful than most.

In the middle of all of this, and perhaps a little out of step, I found that a web page wasn’t loading quite right.  I’m not in control of it so I couldn’t have fixed the page.  What happened was that I went to check if Firefox had been upgraded.

It had.

To Version 4.0.

Now many professionals have a theory – Never Upgrade to a “Dot Zero Release”.  I’m usually a bit less conservative about that, and well frankly everything.  So true to my liberal leanings and my Quaker upbringing, I jumped in full force.

I threw the baby out with the bath water, got a new baby, new water and a brand spanking new bathtub.

The good news is that I’m writing this to you, now, and am quite pleased.

Firefox 4 is faster than Firefox 3.6 was.  Noticeably faster.  Blisteringly faster.  Like they tacked a turbo charger onto the old diesel and now it is blowing the doors off things.

Hyperbole aside, the upgrade was painless.  I haven’t yet found a problem with this.  Granted, this is “First Day” I am writing this, and will be posted the second day, but I have already opened a lot of web sites.  I’m sure I will find things that are broken, although I never did with the Old Firefox.

It does seem to use a little more of the processor, and it can use more memory depending on what you are doing.  The old Firefox 3.6 and it’s predecessors would slowly eat up memory.  It would use more and more until *POP* it would crash.  This would take a couple days of use or abuse.  I would open my morning 160 web pages, do my thing, and leave the browser up with four email accounts, Facebook, and the login pages to CareerBuilder, Monster, and Dice.  At the end of the day I’d hibernate the laptop and go through the same process “tomorrow”.   Eventually Firefox would crash, the operating system would become unglued and I’d readily take the time to restart the machine.  It would normally take a week.

The new Firefox 4 seems to be better at actually returning the memory it uses to the operating system.  I have a lot open at the moment, and this is after the system has been up, hibernated, and revived.  The memory use is what I would expect with 20 plus tabs and counting.

At the moment I have open more than 160 tabs worth of web pages.  Yes, 160, and I did count.

On Firefox 3.6, I’d be around 1GB of memory used for the browser and it would be creeping along… I’d be worried that it wasn’t going to work and crash with loss of work.

Now on Firefox 4 with those 160 pages, I am watching the windows task manager show me between 1.50 and 1.60 GB of memory. Substantial increase, but at this point of the morning, it is smooth.  The nice thing is that it’s also using my video card (Ok, GPU for the techies out there) to do some of the work – this is why it’s faster.  Your Processor and Video Card – both are being used.  Now, while 1.5 or 1.6GB sounds like a lot, keep in mind, it starts out around 120MB and grows with what you’re doing.  It’s shrinking it’s usage as I close tabs and windows.   The old Firefox was less gentle with it’s memory use, and wouldn’t always return memory to the operating system.

I’m currently doing all of this on a Core2Duo SU7300 (I think) Thinkpad T60 with 4GB of Memory and a 7200rpm 500GB hard drive.  Old but not decrepit.  Midspec – after all a Netbook is much slower and they’re still selling THOSE.

I may be on the trailing edge with an “old” laptop, but I’m using all of it to get a LOT of things done and apparently all at once.  The last list of 38 pages loaded while I was typing in the last three paragraphs.  It would pause very slightly as Firefox found something it needed to “think” about, but nothing nearly as bad as the old version.

I am also having to change how I work with Firefox.  Before, I’d have an excuse to slack more.  I’d launch Firefox, launch 35 tabs, and idle away until they’ve loaded by playing solitaire, contemplating my navel, looking for pocket change in the chair, petting the dog, making faces at people who walk by.  You know, normal stuff.   Now, I select the same 35 tabs, and they load so much faster that I only have time to do a little dawdling before coming back to the work at hand.   After all, it is limited by the speed of my WiFi connection.

There are some famous tweaks out there to make “My” firefox run faster at the expense of more hits on the web server or fewer saves.  I still have them since they weren’t set back to “factory default”.

The browser should act just like it did.  It has some changes in how it looks – the “User Interface” or “UI”.  The biggest one was that it put the menu bar folded up into an orange button that says “Firefox” with a little downward pointing arrow.  Like the start button.  I hated that and got rid of it by going into the orange button and clicked on Options and turned on the Menu Bar again.  I also lost my weather thing because they turned off the status bar at the bottom of the browser.  To turn that all back on, right click on the area to the right of the ugly-orange-button-that-says-Firefox and check “Add On Bar” as well as your “Menu Bar”.  You’ll be back to the old faithful look and feel.

I am NOT a fan of “Minimalist” computing when it comes to something like that.

Ahh Much Better.   Now it looks like a Windows application with the familiar “File Edit View” menu at the top.  Yes, I’m a traditionalist that way.  I don’t want to learn how to use a program simply because someone made a design decision that turns it into the “Tallest Nail” and is trying to “be slick”.

How to get it?

Simple, surf and click on the green “Firefox 4” button.
Accept and save the download.
Run the file.
Close your browser windows, yes all of firefox browser windows.  IE and Chrome don’t count… ever.
It updated, painlessly.
It only asked whether I want icons on the desktop and start button menu and where to put the thing. 

If you are using Firefox, I’d say upgrade now.   If you aren’t because of one reason or another, I’d say you should try it.  If you’re one of my clients, this is what I’ll be instructing you to use.

Egrets In The Yard

Other than having fun editing pictures, what use is a camera?

In the case of this particular picture, I was able to catch a flock of egrets land in a neighbor’s yard and start to feed.  I don’t know why birds decide to chose one particular spot to feed, but it must have looked tasty.

Around here, you get used to seeing egrets.  One here or there, they are fairly common to see, about as common as the flocks of feral parrots that scream through the sky or the hawks and buzzards hovering near sunrise or sundown.

On the other hand, usually when I see an egret, it is just that, “an” egret.  This particular day I was blessed by a flock coming by.  They landed on the roof, first by the lead bird, then the rest of the flock.  One by one, led by that pilot, they landed on this particular spot of weeds and began to feed.

As some of my friends are fond of pointing out around here, if you plant native species, wildlife will come.  I can look out any window and expect to see natives pass through, but they may not stay if they don’t like what they find.   The curious thing about this flock of egrets is that they are on and stayed over a line.  The line separated the “Nice Green Lawn” of one property from the “Nasty Unkempt Weeds” of the one next door.  The Weed strewn lawn was that way because the house was not cared for since it was sold by the owner back in 2007.  It was then bought by a character that we of this block are happy to see the end of.  He basically walked away, brought in a house hold of 20-something bar crowd partiers that eventually moved on.  After the partiers moved in the younger set of an “Old Wilton Manors Family” who began to take better care of the place.  At least the place stopped it’s decline.

All of that wordy prose leads me to wonder if we all let our lawns go more natural, might we not see more nature?


One of my regular readers, Constance, told me that I was mistaken.  I saw the white bird above and thought it was the Egrets that sometimes land around here.  This flock is not, it’s an American White Ibis.  It looks like “my” flock was an adult and a number of juveniles.

Here are the wikipedia pages:

Snowy Egret:

American White Ibis: