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      Saturday, July 09, 2022

07:39 AM - 07/09/2022

The topic: Goodbye, Spot


Towards the end of last month, I found a lump on Spot's belly. I bumped up his lactulose and fluids, hoping it was just stool in his colon.

When four/five days of this didn't work, we got  him into the vet on the 27th of June. The news wasn't good. He had cancer. He had lost four pounds from his visit in April. He was anemic and his blood tests were not good. The lump I found were actually his glands. Both the glands on his belly and in his neck were huge because of the cancer.

We brought him home, knowing that his time would be short.

We took him in on Thursday to say goodbye.

There were no vets at the vet's office, the regular vet has Covid (along with her six month old daughter). The other vets that come in weren't available. The first opening was 1:45 Friday. Brian would be out of town.  Knowing that Spot was miserable and was quickly going down hill (it was very hard for him to walk and he had the hundred yard stare), we knew it was time.

I called the local emergency vet but their number was continuously busy. I called the practice that the receptionist from our vet had moved to at the beginning of this year. (I also texted and called her, leaving a message.) They referred me to a couple of walk in clinics after letting me know they weren't taking new clients. Our friend didn't come in until eleven that day. I called the closest walk-in and was told as long as we were there by 4:30, they could perform the euthanasia.

I hung up and told Brian. If this is what we had to do, this is what we had to do.

The phone rang. It was our vet's office. One of the techs is licensed to do the procedure, but they wanted to get the vet's okay before letting us know. We could bring Spot down at anytime.

We were there before noon. His passing was quiet and peaceful (we were the only clients there).

It had been ten years since his PU surgery. We almost lost him that year (look back to October 2012). We figure we had an extra ten years with him.

I miss him so much.

goodbye    catstuff   

      Saturday, June 04, 2022

06:09 AM - 06/04/2022

The topic: Super busy week


Boy, one of those rare weeks just about every day was spent in the office. Just nuts. I shut down yesterday around 3:30, headed back to my broken down section of the sofa (reminds me of my mom  - she had her beer and cigarettes, I have my water and remote control), turned the television on, set to Castle on Lifetime and promptly fell asleep.

What I did was rip over four hundred CDs to the Plex drive (remember this post from last summer? I'm finally working on finishing up). Last year I got the various artist compilations ripped. This week I got the pop/rock and easy listening/smooth jazz sections finished. I still have country, soundtracks and holidays to do. That will only take a couple of days at the most, but I'm kind of burned out on it right now. I am looking forward to having all of my music available on the Plex drive. Which I can access from just about any device in the house, so that's pretty cool.

In my last entry, I mentioned motion sprinklers at the back fence. Because we wanted (well, me, it was me, I wanted) to see what was going on I tried to get my old Foscam cameras set up and could not get them set up properly. I don't know what the problem was, if I did I'd have set them up, but after hours of working on it, I threw in the towel and got a fairly cheap wifi cam that would work with Blue Iris (so I could watch it from my cell phone or tablet). It's not an outdoor cam, so I used the globe that was originally on the roof cam (that Brian moved to the other side of the roof recently, a better view than just a tree - check out the weather page for the roof cam view, a new image every fifteen seconds). Brian affixed the sheet of metal that had been over the globe on the roof cam to keep the sun from overheating the new camera. The problem with the globe is reflections of the camera lights. And I have to clean the globe because of the spray from the motion sprinkler. Which doesn't go off that often now, the cats have kind of figured out to stay away from that part of the yard. Escape has not been a problem.

I turned off the night lights on that camera because of the reflection. I ordered a set of outdoor, solar, motion sensor lights from Amazon and got a crazy good deal, 40% off, with tax it was under fifteen dollars. No electric needed. They have three settings, on all night, on at motion and on all the time, but brighter when there's motion. We're going with option three. I mean, solar, right?

The camera is a wifi camera. It connects to our wifi. The problem is placement. Too many obstructions (building with a bunch of machinery inside) for the signal to reach. I tried all of the signal extenders I had and none of them worked consistently. I ended up getting a new router for a better signal (I will never buy another Netgear product, just too many signal dropouts). And I got a stronger wifi extender. Brian figured out a way to get power to them from the light fixtures at the back of his shop and all is good at this point.

So far, I like the new router, but being a different make, it took some getting used to. I'm still figuring things out. One of the reasons I got this model was it has, like my Netgears had, a USB port that will work as a shared drive on all the computers. A network drive. A "readyshare" drive. So, I don't have to be in the office to access Quickbooks or my photos or Silhouette files, things I work with on the laptop in the other room. This office is miserable hot in the summer. Anyway, I was having problems with saving Quickbooks files and was confused about why I couldn't save my work. It was a shared drive with read/write access for everyone. This should have been a breeze.

But it wasn't.

Well, this week I figured I'd move the photos I've taken from the memory card over to the readyshare drive and I couldn't. I kept getting an error message. I tried using the laptop. Same problem. I ended up doing a tech chat with Asus and the problem was escalated to another support tier. This started around nine in the morning. Hours with level one, no resolution, now I'd have to wait until the next level could talk to me. Not text but on the phone. I was given a 24-48 hour window of when they'd call. I had to fill out a form with my system information and send them lots from my router. The most frustrating thing was when I had to change the login and password before saving the logs and that stupid ass CAPTCHA thing really got my blood pressure up. Changing the login/password was a two step process. First, you change your login name. Then you have re-login. CAPTCHA! You login with the new login name and old password to get back into the router dashboard but that stupid ass CAPTCHA keeps telling you you're wrong. And then you see that something is wrong with your login/password. I tried so many times I had to wait for five minutes to try again.

It didn't help that the autofill box on Firefox kept blocking access to the boxes where I needed to type in the new word. I ended up using the Edge browser. Since I don't usually use it, I don't use autofill. Made what I was doing much easier.

Anyway, as I was waiting to hear back from support, I kept trying things. I kept looking for information on the error message I was getting. I finally tried something that was so simple, so easy, that it should actually be a part of the tutorials on this.

There are all sorts of advice on settings, formatting the drives, but not one of them mentioned setting the permissions on the readyshare drive before attaching it to the router. You know how on memory cards there's a switch on the side so you don't overwrite something? How it "locks" the information? That's the only analogy I can think of to explain what was going on. I disconnected the readyshare drive from the router. I attached the readyshare drive to the computer. I set the permissions to read/write for the entire drive. I disconnected it, then reconnected it to the USB drive.

Tried to make a new folder. It worked! Moved a photo to that drive. It worked! No error message.

Took less than five minutes. It was seven hours later and the fix took less than five minutes.

I cancelled the support call. Told them they could close the ticket and how I'd resolved the problem.

That was Thursday.

Another problem with the router was I couldn't get the print servers to work. I had been using print servers for the UPS label printer and my old Epson R1900 printer. What a print server does is turns a USB printer into a network printer. There's an adapter, you plug the printer's USB cable into the print server device and use an Ethernet cable to attach that to your router. There are some settings and voila! You have a printer that you can access from any network computer, not needing to leave one computer on for the access. I ended up getting a new USB label printer, I got the old one over ten years ago and it was no longer supported by the manufacturer. I'd been having problems for a while with the UPS site not seeing it. I had to reinstall the software every other use. Now with the new router, I couldn't access it all. I'd started printing out labels on the laser printer and cutting them out with scissors.

So, new printer gets here, set up was icky, print server wasn't working. the Epson was no longer working. Hours later, I just decided to hell with it, I'll run both of these printers as USB printers. Took way too much of my day.

Brian saw a Mint Mobile commercial on television. "We should check that out."   We. We should check that out. Meaning me. So, I did.

Neither of our phones are compatible. We'd need new phones. The deal is you don't pay monthly. You pay in advance for the plan you choose, either three months, six months or twelve months. The fifteen dollar deal? That's for new customers, three months only. Then the rate goes up, depending on how many months you choose. We're not doing it. But at least we know.

And I filled out my ballot after doing my research. Brian copied my work. So, we voted yesterday.

And at 3:30 yesterday afternoon, I shut down my computer and walked out of the office.

Carol has been climbing a tree. The North Island Pine.  She was almost to the top (about forty feet) a couple of times. She didn't have problems coming down, but it was slow going. Brian ended up trimming off the bottom branches and putting up a barrier to keep her out of it. And he moved the tractor. 

It's just been a busy couple of months here. I need to get laundry started (weekend, less expensive electric).

geekstuff    catstuff   

      Friday, May 27, 2022

05:57 AM - 05/27/2022

The topic: Everything’s cool


Just having a hard time focusing. I'm getting a lot done, though.

Finally started washing floors earlier this month. With the three day weekend coming up, we'll have less expensive electricity rates for three days, which will make it easier. These utility companies, I swear. Our electric bill jumped over a hundred dollars in one month, with no increase in usage.  As a matter of fact, it was a winter month when we use less.

We had a tree problem again. Brian had called three tree companies earlier this year and they either didn't respond or were a lot more money that he wanted to pay. He said he'd just rent a cherry picker and do it himself. How fortuitous that a small company was across the street one Sunday morning, working on a neighbor's tree, they left a card in our screen, I found it and took it out to Brian right away. He went over and spoke to the owner of the company and by the end of the next week, the trees were severely cut back and the weeds and piled up tree needles on the bank were gone and the front yard was cleared of the same.

We have a negative nelly neighbor, an old guy who only talks to anyone when he has a complaint and the previous week he'd been over warning Brian that he was going to turn him in because one of the trees was dead at the top (fire hazard doncha know? all of our utilities are underground, there's zero possibility of a spark from that starting a tree fire) and that Brian's old work truck hadn't moved from it's spot on our driveway in years and even though a vehicle has been put in non-operational status, it still has to be moved at least four inches.  Wut?  Brian explained that he had been looking for someone to do the work on the trees and just furrowed his brow at the non-op for the truck.  (I did some research after this little visit and there's nothing about a non-op needing to be able to be moved - it was pure BS on the neighbor's part.)

He told Brian he was warning him because someone had turned him in and he wanted to give Brian a chance to fix these problems before getting into trouble. Nah, you're just a lonely, nosy old man that has burned all the bridges with all the neighbors and no one likes him any more.

We rescued another cat. He was in our yard one Saturday morning. Very friendly. We let him out. He was back the following Monday. Got him in to the vet's office, checking for a chip and tested for diseases and bloodwork done. He has a problem with one of his eyes and wasn't medicating that fun? No.

We set him up for a neuter the next Wednesday, giving the eye time to get better and the day before the surgery, he was gone. Out of the yard. I cancelled the appointment on Tuesday. Saturday, he was back. We had been letting all of the cats out at night in the short time he'd been here, but this time, we kept them all in. Because he really needed to be neutered. I called the vet on Monday to set up another neuter appointment and, bless their hearts, someone lost their place in line because they never confirmed their pet's appointment and Simon went in on that Monday morning and was home that afternoon. Yay.

We had installed a motion sensor sprinkler at the part of the yard we thought he'd gotten out of. The other cats had been watching and we didn't want them trying it out as well. But that next weekend, even though all the cats had been in the house overnight, when we let them out in the morning, he was gone again. But he wanted back in. He was at the top of the wire when the sprinkler went off. He didn't come back in. It took the neighbors behind us and next to us to get him home. And I checked on him every fifteen minutes or so.

But he hasn't shown any interest in leaving since then, so that's a good thing.

The Avengers are doing well. Goose plays fetch. It's a lot easier to tell Goose from Steve. Goose is bigger.

I got a new router since the older one wasn't cutting it. I don't think I'll ever buy another Netgear product. The new one is a Asus and it took me almost a week to get everything back up and running.

We've been doing a lot of program streaming the past couple of months. Brian had never seen "Breaking Bad", so he wasn't familiar with Bob Odenkirk. We watched the movie "Nobody" and I read that "Better Call Saul" was ending this season. I figured I'd try watching it again from the beginning and Brian watched with me (it is on AMC+).  Only six more episodes. "Resident Alien" is on our list as well. We watched all of  "Orphan Black", too. I am looking forward to the end of June when it starts to get dark earlier and we can start watching movies outside at night again. We have a couple that we decided not to watch until we can watch them on the big screen. lol

Well, that's about it for now. Brian's up and it's time for the day to start.

I hope to get back here with updates and details on things I wrote about. I just have to get my head in the right spot. Without distractions. So many of those lately.

simon    geekstuff    catstuff   

      Wednesday, March 16, 2022

01:34 PM - 03/16/2022

The topic: Yay, me.


I just spent some time raking up the murder balls that fall from the Liquid Amber tree. Holy crap, those things hurt when you step on them barefoot. We seem to have an incredible harvest of them this year. It's hot, though, so I quit. I worked on the areas where I'd be most likely to walk, barefoot (which I try really hard not to do anymore, always have an old pair of slip on Skechers nearby).

So, the little cat crafts turned out nicely. I found a similar set from a different designer on thingiverse. I was sharing this link with facebook when I noticed the files are no longer available because they were supposed to be for non-commercial use, you know, don't sell them. But people would make and sell them so the designer took the files down.

Luckily, I saved them last summer! They'll go nicely with the ones I just finished. You can see them here.

Anyway, here they are. I did have a hard time trying to figure out the background. I tried coloring the areas I wanted different on a white sheet of paper and thought I could just place the 3D print over that, but it wasn't very easy. I couldn't seem to get the holes in the print to line up with the colors on the sheet. I did the next best thing. I colored sheets of paper and cut them to fit behind the holes in the print and glued them in place. Then I cut a piece of cardstock to the size of the print and glued that onto the back of the print. I like how they came out.

I think they look good in that spot. Now I'll have to figure out where to put the other three, once I get those done.

photos    craftstuff    catstuff    3d printing   

10:59 AM - 03/16/2022

The topic: Okay, I’ve been busy


I did get the little cat hangings done. I will share those this afternoon.

My past week has been stuck in the burning movies to my hard drive mode. Remember my little outdoor theater? And remember that I bought a DVD/Blu-Ray player for outside?  Well...yanno...I started to wonder if instead of using that player, I could somehow burn the disks I own to a hard drive and run them using Plex.

And I found out I CAN! I had to get some different software than I have, trial and error to find which software(s) did the best job of ripping and converting.

The first one I found was Winxdvd. It did a great job of ripping the disks. And they were okay for viewing, but they weren't high definition. You need a converter for that. But I was okay with it. I bought it before I'd tried out other software. But in my defense, the trial versions had limitations on them. I could probably get a refund, but eh...I mean, I did get a fair amount of use from them.

One that I ripped was Cleopatra.  A two disk version. I didn't watch what had been ripped, since all of the other movies seemed to be okay.  I ripped each one then had to find a software that I could join the two parts together. I used a software I've had for ages (Movavi) and the words weren't in synch with the lips. (This hadn't happened with the other movies, just this one. So far.)  Four hours. I re-ripped the first part with WinxDVD using different settings and it was the same problem.

I downloaded the trial of WinxDVD's converter software, but it had a limitation of five minutes. The movie has over five minutes of music before the movie starts. You know, how movies used to be in the old days? Music that gives you a chance to get comfortable in your seat before you actually see something on the screen? I had to purchase it to convert more than five minutes.  It was a bust. The lips were still out of sync. Back to my search.

That's when I discovered Wonderfox software.  I downloaded the trial for the converter software first. I converted the first part of Cleopatra that I'd ripped using WinxDVD. Lips were still out of sync. So, it wasn't the converter.  At the completion of the conversion, I got a popup with a great price on Wonderfox's ripper software. I didn't buy it right away, but I did download the trial and, boy howdy! I was impressed. Because it converted at the same time it ripped! It wouldn't be a two step process. So, I bought it. For fifteen dollars!  Super good price.

I ripped Clepatra again, this time with Wonderfox. Converting to 1080p from 720p at the same time.  I started the movie. The lips were in sync! I bought the software! (Make sure to do a google search for promo codes.) Then I used Movavi (I've had this for a long time, so many softwares to do different things) to join the two parts and they look great. And I converted one of the twenty movies I'd ripped the previous couple of days.

Anyway, I re-ripped all of the movies I'd done with WinxDVD with Wonderfox, converting them at the same time. They look great.  I actually got three of the ripping softwares, one for the Plex machine, one for my big PC and one for the laptop. Because I have a lot of movies.

Now for blu ray. I got an external blu ray player/burner, which came with Cyberlink software. Too confusing and it wouldn't work right. I looked for something else, I had tried MKV and Handbrake and I just didn't want to spend that much time trying to figure out the different options. Certainly not frustration free. I ended up trying Leawo blu-ray software to play the blu ray and it seemed to work. So, I figured I'd try their blu ray ripper. It worked, too.

But they didn't work this morning. Frustrated, I did a google search for the error I was getting. And this time the fix was pretty simple. Running as adminstrator fixed the start up problems. I'm ripping the first disk of the Lord of the Rings right now. (And this really sucks because I'd had the trilogy set since 2011 or 2012, never paid attention to it until last year.  Included in the set were download codes for everything in the box, that expired in June 2012 - I wasn't in the streaming mode back then, so I never did anything with them. I tried pleading my case with the Warner Brothers folks, but it was a case of you snooze, you lose. Geez. They were only eleven years since the expire date, come on, guys...lol...at least I tried)

The first part of the Two Towers just finished and it looks awesome! Five more to go! (I'm only doing the movies, not the extras.) Next up, the Harry Potter set.

And that was my past week. Geeky, fun stuff. I drink this stuff up.

plex    movies   

      Thursday, March 03, 2022

07:11 AM - 03/03/2022

The topic: And the weather page is back up


The little refurbed PC got here yesterday morning and I was ready.

Unpacked it, climbed on a stool and started plugging stuff in. Unfortunately, the little bluetooth keyboard I had wasn't working. And if I didn't have a working keyboard, I couldn't finish setting up the PC. Because Windows wants a name. I ended up unplugging the one I use all the time (I like not having wires, but I've had so many problems with wireless keyboards and mice in the past, I just went to wired - maybe the problem was too many things and interference caused the problems; with the NAS and the weather systems I don't access them enough to be a bother).

So, with the wired setup, I got it up and running. Except now I couldn't use my big system. Well, last year Brian complained about his keyboard and I ordered one for him like mine. Wired. He never did anything with it. I found the box and plugged it in to my system and that made life much easier. (After I was finished with the setup, I did attach the keyboard to his computer and he's real happy with it.)

The first thing I did was to install Firefox. Once I had that synched to my Firefox account, I added Piriform's software. I've been using CCleaner (originally known as Crap Cleaner) for decades to keep junk off of my system. Last year, I got a super deal that included five computers and the other software they sell, Speccy (which gives you details about your system), Recuva (file recovery), and Defraggler (which organizes the files on your hard drive, which makes it run more smoothly; Windows breaks up data when it installs, Defraggler puts the fragments back where they belong). I used the ccleaner to get rid of the programs I absolutely had zero interest in.

I tried setting up the little bluetooth keyboard,only to find out this little computer did NOT have bluetooth capability. Nice, right? I never paid attention on the other Optiflex and checked it out. It doesn't have bluetooth. I actually went over to eBay and checked out the specs of what I purchased. Bluetooth was not listed. So, I got what I paid for. I hit Amazon and ordered a bluetooth dongle for ten bucks and choose the option to pay three dollars more to get it the same day. I hoped it would be the last thing I had to do.

I installed Blue Iris (the software that  I use to position the weathercam and send the image to the weather page every fifteen seconds). Since I'd let the license lapse last December, I had to renew it, which I found out when I was working with the laptop last weekend. And here's another case where I made work for myself - I keep telling myself I won't do that again, but I do. Before I had the new license installed, I exported my settings. Settings which knew where the camera was, where to send the images, and how often to send them. And, which I found out yesterday, the license key. Which was no longer valid. I had not exported the settings after installing the new license. And that took me more time that it should have to get the software running without a big ass watermark across the image. I don't know how I did it, but the program finally came up with all settings and correct license key. Yay!

Then on to the weather station. That went pretty quickly because I'd just done it last weekend. Moved from the laptop to the Plex pc. I figured I'd just copy the data file and transfer that over. Yeah. There were problems. The data wasn't rendering properly on the Daily Data page of the weather station. I thought it was when I shut down, but last night, when I checked it using my Fire tablet, it was absolutely wrong. Before I'd shut down in the office, I finally figured out how to get the weather pc files to be seen on the other systems. And I was able to edit from the laptop in the other room. Took me a little time to realize my mistake, but it looks like it should now.

Once the only two programs that would be running 24/7 were setup, I ran the defraggler. Making for a clean system from the start.

The bluetooth dongle got here, I plugged it in and the little keyboard works nicely.

It is absolutely so much quieter here in the office now. The laptop itself was loud, the external fans adding to the noise. They are no longer needed. It's nice.

I was made aware of a free software that will stream to online platforms, like Youtube. I tried doing this last year with a paid service, but had zero luck. I just may try this again. But not this week. I'm done with geekstuff for this week.  141031019

Oh, and if you're interested?  The Weather Page.

weather station    geekstuff    computer   

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lisaviolet is sixty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

In her spare time, she makes pretty things to sell in her store.

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