Monday, November 9, 2009


The last time I posted in this blog, I had just received a used Gateway 450 ROG laptop, after the IBM ThinkPad I had been using was stolen. Although the Gateway generally performed well--and running Windows 7 Release Candidate 1, no less!--I soon began to experience problems, first with the battery (which I had expected in view of the laptop's age), and then with the power terminal which the laptop's AC adapter plugged into in the back of the unit.

The problem has now worsened to the point that the laptop has become flat-out unusable. I have therefore been compelled to attempt to sell the unit, and am now confined to using computers at the Nashville State Community College library, the Fairview Public Library, and, on occasion, at the Vanderbilt University Central Library.

Thankfully, I was able to transfer all of my data files to an external hard drive before the laptop failed altogether. Unfortunately, since I have now been unemployed for some six months, I have no way of obtaining another computer on my own. I will have to wait until I can get another job to progress any further as far as building a "living room" PC is concerned. Until then, I will be writing in this blog on other topics, including (but not limited to) severe weather safety, sourdough baking, and--believe it or not!--Western clothing and fashion, especially vintage-style Western clothing. STAY TUNED!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A New Laptop--and back to Windows 7

At the end of July, through an unusual series of circumstances, the IBM Thinkpad laptop I had been given by a friend in my church over a year before was stolen from the student lounge in the Kisber Memorial Library Building at Nashville State Community College. My copy of PrintMusic 2007, which was in the bag I had been using to carry the laptop, was also stolen. To say the least, I felt as though I had been violated! Naturally, I reported the theft to school security, but I have yet to hear anything from them.

Through the generosity of my former employer's son and daughter, I have now been given a new laptop (as before, new to me!). It's a Gateway 450ROG, with a Pentium 4 CPU @ 1.7 Ghz., 512 MB of RAM, a 20 GB hard drive--AND internal Wi-Fi! Thanks to the higher clock speed of the CPU, I was able to resume using Windows 7 RC1 as my operating system, at least for the next year. Due to the comparatively small size of the internal hard drive, however, I cannot, at this time, use a dual-boot setup with any distro of Linux. Hopefully, I will be able to swap out the current primary hard drive for a much larger one at some point in the future. In the meantime, I will use portable external hard drives for additional storage.

Also, I am currently exploring the use of music notation software OTHER than PrintMusic, due primarily to the latter's annoying habit of requiring the program to be "re-authorized" after ANY change is made in the contents of the hard drive on which it is installed--even after defragging! While I understand the concern of Coda Technology (PrintMusic's publisher) as to software piracy and the like, nevertheless I find this "solution" to be unacceptable--even paranoid! If the company does not find some other means of resolving this concern, in my opinion, they will be cutting their own corporate throats in the long term, as sooner or later customers will become too fed up with such draconian measures to put up with them any longer. Hopefully, I will be able to find an alternative music notation package that will not insist on such a paranoid approach to software security. Whether that package will run under Windows or Linux remains to be seen. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back to Linux and the Laptop

After my previous tower system failed due to heat-related issues, I was fortunate enough to be able to transplant the innards of the system into a new (new to me, at least!) and larger case, with multiple fans and far better airflow. When, in November, I swapped out the power supply for a new one with dual fans, the remainder of the system came right back to life--that is, until mid-March of this year, when I again experienced heat-related system failure. At this point, I am unsure whether it was the power supply, the motherboard and CPU, or both. Thus, I am once more using the IBM ThinkPad A20m laptop.

About that time, the beta testing program for the upcoming Windows 7 began. Having already downloaded and burned a copy of the initial beta version, I tried it out on the ThinkPad for a time, only to discover that its Pentium III CPU, operating at a clock speed of 700 Mhz., simply was not quite fast enough to handle the load. Consequently, I have switched back to Linux, in a rather unusual combination: After initially installing Xubuntu, a Linux distribution designed specifically for older systems, I have added on the Ubuntu Studio desktop, a package of multiple audio-visual programs. I have also added on the Wine (Windows Emulator) package, and have installed Finale's PrintMusic 2007 for Windows, which I had purchased more than a year before. Unfortunately, I found it necessary to install this package due to the fact that it has several capabilities that Ubuntu Studio's notation programs do not--at least, not yet!

Chief among these is the capability of importing sheet music that has been scanned into the computer in a series of TIFF files. I had already bought a used HP ScanJet 4100c flatbed scanner on eBay right about the time I purchased the PrintMusic package. The problem is that, at least right now, my scanner, which I am reasonably sure is in good condition, simply refuses to work with X-Sane, Ubuntu Linux's built-in scanning package. I am attempting to resolve this mess, so that I can scan several works onto my laptop's hard drive, then use PrintMusic to arrange them, and finally use Denemo and LilyPond to secure the finest quality printed result possible, usng an Apollo P-2500u inkjet printer.

As for my tower system, I have now decided that I will need to replace the motherboard, RAM, and CPU. To reduce the heat load on the system, I will need to switch to at least a dual-core CPU. This in turn will almost certainly require a new motherboard and new RAM. While I will be keeping up with such packages on eBay and the TigerDirect websites, any specific action will have to wait until I get another job, for I quit my job at McDonalds of Fairview in mid-May of this year due to extreme job stress. While I am looking for work, I will be making new entries on this blog much more frequently than I have in the past, and on a variety of subjects. So, dear reader, STAY TUNED!