Like I do every year, I bought TurboTax Premier Federal + E-File + State 2012 as a PC Download from Amazon.com back on Jan 18th, in part due to sale email from TurboTax. But, probably should've waited, because its cheaper now. Not sure why PC download is so similar in price to buying PC/Mac package. And, wasn't sure if I would still be on a PC.
In fact, I haven't had a physical Windows machine for almost 10 months now. Last year I did my taxes in a Windows XP VirtualBox VM on orac, since I had evolved to running Quicken in different XP VirtualBox VMs and using Dropbox to house my Quicken datafile. My first XP VM was on my laptop....and I spent part of Gallifrey One 2011 getting Quicken up and running in that VM and recovering my Quicken data. Where it seemed the best place to put the file was in my Dropbox. Have since adjusted things to make that work better to mostly cope with the locking issues between Quicken and Dropbox. I set up the one on orac which is where I did 'Windows' for about 9 months, and still use on occasion due to the lack of USB 2.0 support for VirtualBox on FreeBSD.
Though on zen, I have a Windows 7 VM (and still own another Windows 7 copy that I don't know where I'm going to put to use, just as I have a couple copies of XP still...been planning to put the 64-bit XP one into a VM on zen...but it hasn't happened yet.) Perhaps when I finally do get my Mac, I'll use some copies there.
Anyways...I would fire up TurboTax now and then, to see it get updates. Always thought it strange that after it said it was done that it would say that it was restarting TurboTax, but not. So, I never did more than see what updates it was getting.
But, I had intended to start my taxes last weekend...where DST began, though that turned out to be a bit of a weird weekend so I didn't get to it. I had actually intended the weekend before DST, but that also didn't pan out. But, seems tradition has been 2nd or 3rd weekend of March lately.... It is also for some reason the weekend that they always bring down HRIS for upgrades. As it happened this year, I did want to go on there and check something....
So, Friday night at 10pm I fired up TurboTax to see what updates, there were a lot. Been kind of unsettling lately...especially after the IRS Notice I got last year, which I dealt with using the services of Tax Resources...but it might have been a variation of a TurboTax bugs -- "Federal 2010: Customers with certain 1099-R retirement distribution codes" or "Federal 2010: Qualified Pension Conversion and Rollover" -- so I probably should've gotten TurboTax to take the heat for it.
Of course, TurboTax has had other issues in the past, and yet I stay with it year after year....
So, lhaven was this computer I bought specifically for Stanford's Quake Catcher Network project. This was because when I received my sensor, I found that it only worked on Windows or Mac. Linux would require the older sensor, which they weren't selling anymore.
Things seemed to work...except that the machine would lock up now and then. Well, it is Windows...so maybe I'll just schedule it to reboot regularly.
At first that seemed to help...but gradually, I was rebooting it more and more frequently. Eventually, I was down to rebooting it 5 times a week. Sometimes it would fail to restart, other times it would still lock up between reboots.
Eventually, they came out with Linux support for the sensor and I moved the sensor over to orac. That worked great for a while...and then it got a kernel update, and then starting VirtualBox would cause the machine to reboot. And, not just when I needed up update my Quicken. Because I was also participating in LHC's Test4Theory.
So, it was time to find a new home for the sensor. After moving it back to lhaven.
I looked for various low power x86 dedicated SBC or plug computer to run it. Though these things aren't cheap, so I'd want to do more than just QCN with it.
Then it occurred me...that I was overthinking this whole mess. Why don't I just install Linux on lhaven?
I haven't been looking forward to the leap from 10.04LTS to 12.04LTS. While Orac has a GT440 in it that's not being used, not sure what I would do for box....though I've been eye'ng either a GT218 or an NVS 300. It only has an LP PCIe x1 slot.... there are other concerns.
In the Scheme of things...I had planned to upgrade the video card in zen someday...and take its GT420 and change to an LP bracket and put it in lhaven. Hadn't quite worked out what I'll do about gumby, but it has since died...and when I get around to resurrecting it, I might have a Radeon HD5450 that I'll free up (not sure if it helps with BOINC, but eventually...I want all the systems using DVI....so I can switch to my new 4-port DVI KVM. DVI to VGA through the old KVM was horrible....plus keyboard issues with the old KVM, makes me wonder if I can wait until I can fully make the switch.)
So, I had downloaded 12.04LTS beta1, but never got around to install it anywhere....and when this idea occurred, 12.04LTS beta2 was just starting to appear. Though the question was, would I go with ubuntu, or try one of the other variants. Namely, xubuntu or lubuntu.
I ended up going with xubuntu 12.04LTS beta 2. I didn't hear about lubuntu until after I had started downloading xubuntu...so I envisioned that I would resurrect gumby with lubuntu....though so far I haven't gotten around to that.
So, again this year, I bought TurboTax Premier 2011 as a download from Amazon.com. But, then on February 15th, my Windows 7 computer crashed. Or rather it auto updated and wouldn't boot. After a couple weeks of various attempts to fix it, I've written it off. Hopefully, my backups were good...and I'll eventually get around to rebuilding that.
In the meantime, I fired up my XP VM...installed Quicken Premier 2012 and recovered a backup of my Quicken data..and had been continuing to use that. So with likelihood of getting Windows 7 running in my home again anytime soon, being low. I reinstalled the recently purchased TurboTax Premier 2011 into the VM debated when I would make a start.
After the initial update, it noted that on or before March 8th, there would be another update. So I decided I would defer to then. I had intended to pop on to HRIS sometime before then to check something, but I didn't remember that I needed to do it until after I took the system down for planned weekend upgrades. As it was, there wasn't anything I needed from it anyways.
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This being Cyberweek...I tried to cram some stuff in other than just recovery from Chicago Tardis into this week.
Though I haven't actually gotten to all the things yet...I felt that I should start this post before I forget all the things I wanted to cover. Too late
Anyways...one of the important items was new CO detector. I used to have a First Alert CO400?, battery operated CO detector that took a couple AA batteries and didn't do much else. I was looking to buy something like it again, except reading the negative reviews on amazon.com... a number of other people were complaining that unit disintegrates when you try to change the batteries. Which is why I was needing to replace my old one. So, I decided that maybe I would look at a different brand this time around.
Also noted that these things have like a 5 year life expectancy...though my First Alert CO detector was only a year old. I noticed that Kidde CO detectors claim a 7 year life span (though only a 5 year warranty). Though (in part due to Amazon 'recommendations') I got the Kidde KN-COPP-B-LPM, which has a digital display....showing current CO levels and historical levels, etc. Which I debated on whether I would want to know if there was a CO level, that wasn't alarming.
Don't know if I paid attention to the fact that it uses 3 AA batteries....one odd thing I've noticed, is that it doesn't say if I should replace batteries regularly....but I suspect it'll be part of the same routine with replacing smoke detector batteries.
Though I don't think I'll replace the CO batteries along with the smoke detector ones on December 25th (because of long DST, I had changed my bi-annual to be on or around June 25th and December 25th.) Though, I've already replaced the battery early in one of the smoke detectors. Odd, because there hadn't been any nuisance trips in some time...and it isn't one that is typically set off by these situations. (usually ones that nuisance trip is the detector in the living room [near the kitchen or the first bedroom from the kitchen. Yeah...something I'm burning on the stove or in the microwave is usually the cause.)
But, getting a new set of 4 9V batteries was something I got in my recent cyberweek purchasing...
I decided today is the day to close my Stamps.com account. It was triggered by something unrelated....
I had pretty much decided that it I was going to close my Stamps.com account around mid-year, but I kept thinking that I might need it still and then I kept forgetting to do it (before the automatically monthly charge around the 20th takes place.)
When I called, they noted that I had had my account since 1999....guess that's about right...also the year that I started NetFlix (another thing that I'm starting to wonder about.) For a while before than, I had been paying for a postage meter.... Stamps.com used to be a lot cheaper by the month than the rental of a postage meter, by quite a bit...though sometime ago the edge closed, but there were other advantages to having Stamps.com then. I also lived closer to a post office, and was active selling on half.com and ebay. Though proximity to a post office was important to being a seller....
But, when I upgraded my computer back in December....the end for Stamps.com came up. The Stamps.com-branded labelwriter that I could print single stamps on demand with wasn't supported beyond Windows XP. (wasted a sheet of NetStamps somewhere years ago....printed a whole sheet of first class postage, but only used one....figured I'd use it while computer was packed up for move, etc. But, don't know where it went to.) I may someday buy a new labelwriter (been thinking of a new label maker...though perhaps I'll just buy new labels for my current ones), but to keep my stamps.com account useful wasn't enough of a reason to do it now. But, I'm just about at the point where I'm going to pull the plug on the old computer (TARDIS)...and use the space for something else. Providing it doesn't end itself for me first. I've already replaced a drive in it since 'retiring' it. And, its making drives noises again...
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That is Gumby was torturing me!
It all started around May 13, 2010....and could ended around...sometime back in April, 2011...but had to let it drag on to today...July 23, 2011.
Gumby had been torturing me more and more lately....largely because when I upgraded it in May 13, 2010...it became my second fastest system at home, and my fastest Windows XP box. Ole TARDIS was only a Pentium 4 3.2GHz w/HT. While new Gumby is a Pentium D 3.4GHz.
Though while TARDIS was still my main Windows XP system, I largely kept Gumby's role the same...though it did pick up a few things the ole Gumby didn't do, due to it having more juice and being less cluttered in its registry and driver hell. Like a new DVD burner, or running a few more CPU and/or memory intensive apps (things that didn't work to well on P3-933MHz and/or only a max of 512MB...)
But, the problem with new Gumby was that its a legacy free box. No PS/2 mouse or keyboard ports (though it's strange that I can still buy new systems that have one or two PS/2 ports, something about the reliability of PS/2 mouse and/or keyboard over USB probably... this KVM switch was kind of holding up whether or not I would be requiring PS/2 ports on whatever mobo I decide to build the new LHAVEN around.)
I had gotten USB PS/2 adapters to keep using my old keyboard/mouse and KVM setup on Gumby (though the keyboard and mouse have upgraded a few times since the Trendnet TK-408) Also, I think the mouse has always been a USB kind with a PS/2 adapter. Originally a ball type, now an optical type....some day I'll get some laser mice here and there...
Problem was that the USB PS/2 adapter was less than reliable or usable. I was still using the Kingwin one that I got to start with new Gumby. Which worked the best, except that every now and the the mouse would stop responding. I could have to stop using the mouse for a while, and it had to be absolutely still during the stop....and then something would reset and it would work again. I had tried a TrendNet, thinking it would go with the KVM....but switching away and then back on the KVM would cause the scrollwheel functionality to go away, and that required me to unplug/replug the USB adapter to get scrollwheel working again.
I also tried a PCI PS/2 card, but found that internally was just another USB PS/2 adapter...just in a slot consuming form, plus it didn't get along with the other PCI card (firewire, and I use firewire external storage on Gumby)...also it exhibited the same problem that the TrendNet USB PS/2 adapter did, except that its a little harder to unplug the card to reset it at will...
So, I stayed with the KingWin and set my sight on a KVM.
So, after I finally replaced the backup drive on gumby...I noticed a strange whining sound, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, so I went on to other projects.
Later when I was going to bed, I found it really annoying...so I went to look for the source.
Well, it was emanating from TARDIS....I eventually decided it was probably the external drive, and tried to safe remove and power it off to confirm. I couldn't get it to disconnect, and TARDIS was wanting to reboot after having applied patches but also wanting to know if I wanted to update other stuff.
So, I ended up turning the external drive off hard. That stopped the whine. Eventually, I got things mostly patched and set it reboot and went off to bed.
Years ago, I had installed Skype on various computers thinking that I'd jump into the whole using my computer for VoIP calling either as a supplement to doing VoIP using ATA's or successor. It revived buying webcams and/or headsets on my newer computers. I bought a webcam for my dad. But, he never used it.
And, I've never really used any of the many new webcams I keep buying either. But, recently I've met some friends on line that are into chatting online using Skype. I did do it once, and it was a strange experience actually talking to people....rather than the usual type into a window or web form chatting that I'm accustom to for online chat. But, they weren't into the webcam feature of Skype, so I don't know if I'll ever get to use that part for more than just as the microphone. (Which I might not do, since I bought a headset for one of my computers...)
Meanwhile, yesterday on Gumby....the computer I installed Skype and a(n HP) webcam onto, because ole TARDIS wasn't feeling up to getting new hardware (the plastic tab in some of its USB ports have broken off, though the kind of still work sometimes....not as bad as the old Gumby where the front USB ports didn't work at all anymore....And, I was using a PCCard USB adapter to help...)
Anyways, yesterday I recall seeing this EasyBits Games or something dialog come up, when I was checking some stuff on the machine. It had been up for over 16 (reached a max of 16.8 this time, TARDIS is currently at 35.52 days), but it seemed confused. A java app said it was out of memory, though there was plenty on the machine (over 1900MB free)...so I tweaked its JVM settings. Though later I discovered that PRTG had stopped running at some point. Someday I'll install Nagios, or something and replace that aspect of PRTG that I use. I had switched to running it, because bello-monitors-the.net ceased operation a few months back...and I was using it to monitor the performance and availability of this blog. At first PRTG seemed the solution to doing this...but its more annoying than just works, so I'll probably look at some other online service...
Anyways, suddenly with no explanation my screen went dark and the lights went out on Gumby...a moment later it was booting back up. Nothing in the event log to explain why it had gone down. I came back later to see the finished boot, and dismiss the various dialogs that come up during a boot and see why PRTG was complaining about something I was sure I had told it to stop monitoring (LHAVEN....I haven't finished that post yet). That's when I saw the huge gap in data, and it had apparently stopped working sometime yesterday morning (this unexplained reboot was around 5:27pm).
I vaguely recall seeing a strange dialog from Skype in reference to EasyBits Go games, seemed odd that Skype wanted me to install something like this. And, I have Skype in offline state on this computer...since I had upgraded to Zen...and Skype is online there. But, I dismissed it. I wasn't interested in it. But, later I saw that it had installed itself anyways.
Then a strange Flash Player install dialog, not the usual one from Adobe that comes up now and then. But, it seemed to do the normal Adobe Flash Player install...the except it was the kind that tried to install crapware with it, that you have to figure out the checkbox to uncheck to not get it before downloading it...while needing to check other boxes for it to proceed.
Guess I should've read it, because it was yet another part of the Crapware infestation that was coming to my computer via Skype/Microsoft.
Did a quick google search this morning, and found out how that its realy crapware, because the uninstall doesn't do anything...have to do more complicated stuff to remove it.
Found the steps to eradicate it at: Jeff Duntemann's ContraPositive Diary - EasyBits GO, Skype, and The Crapware Problem
Just firing off this quick blog post and then to reboot....
Wonder if the Free AVG will catch it later, or if I should install something like Norton Internet Security (I seem to have gotten a 3-seat license, but I'm only using it on one computer at the moment....I do need to upgrade the version of Trend that is running on TARDIS, but getting NIS working and not working on Zen has been quite the hassle...so maybe I'm still looking, at least its SONAR isn't going after BOINC like NAV used to on TARDIS....wouldn't be so bad, if it didn't start doing that just after I extended it for another year.)
Wonder if I shouldn't just remove Skype while I'm at it....
So, I had decided that I was done yesterday with the migration.... but, I remembered one last thing that I hadn't tried yet. XP Mode. Can I get EncoreViewer 1.0 to run in it and resume reviewing my data. After some work, and lots of waiting, I got it to work. And, did my latest download. Then came the question of how do I print from XP Mode.
I tried to get to network printers, but that wasn't working. Not sure why or where the problem is. Did a google search and seems the way is add local terminal server ports, except there's no way to tell which port is what printer. Didn't matter, the drivers I need aren't part of stock XP and I decided that it would be too much work to try finding the printer anyways. Think I'll just install PrimoPDF and go with that.
Hmmm, XP Mode application integration into Windows 7 is interesting. Just the application window, though its constrained to the primary display. After I printed a report from EncoreViewer, I thought why did I just save it there? How do I get it over to my main computer? I was trying the print again, but see if I could navigate to the shared drive...which I thought, why was there a 'God-Mode' folder in the Desktop list. That's on Zen's desktop now the XP Mode. It didn't show everything that was on my Windows 7 desktop, so I didn't recognize it at first as being that. Closing the app, because I couldn't minimize the window (another quirk in XP Mode?) I saw that my document was in fact on the Windows 7 desktop.
Meanwhile, I was looking at the Devices folder on Windows 7, and thinking....it has identified the debranded display as an HP w2338h Wide LCD Monitor, which is kind of cool. But, that it sees the Vison monitor as "MW22E-BAD". I hope that isn't a commentary about it.
Anyways, I knew they were both the same size, the Vison monitor being a something .5 versus the debranded display being 23". Yet, I keep admiring how both monitors have the same display height...so they look right sitting next to each other on my desk. Got out a measuring tape to check that they were in fact different size monitors. The debranded display is 23"...and the Vison is 21.5". Ok, my memory is ok. Buy how did they end up being the same. Thought about it some more, and realized they have different resolutions, and the aspect ratio is probably different. Yup, that's it. The Vison monitor is 1680x1050 which makes it a 16:10 aspect ratio. While the debranded display is 1080p or 1920x1080, so it has the standard HDTV 16:9 aspect ratio.
Okay...I'm not going crazy.... at least on that subject
Probably won't run anything else in XP mode, if I can. 'cause it is really slow, though from what I've gathered its probably intentional. XP in VirtualBox or VMWare is said to be significantly faster than XP Mode/Virtual PC. Doesn't seem to be a way to use XP Mode in something else, at least not activated or right. Though I do have a copy of XP that hasn't been installed anywhere that I could use, but I don't really want all that work. Feeling a sleep sneaking up on me....
Since I last wrote, I continued to data from my old computer over to the new one. I had started opening some of the old documents to remember what they were and how to sort them into place. Since, the old was many different drives/partitions to help with organization...and on this computer I'm keeping things as much as possible to the standard 4 groups in the Library. Though stuff I do doesn't really fall into just the four, though things tend to use (My )Documents as a catch all.
Ran into a problem when I tried to open an Excel spreadsheet to see which one was the right version. The system came preinstalled with Microsoft Office Starter, but I guess its actually the full Microsoft Office whatever... And, initially it pops an annoying dialog that asks if I want to purchase the full software and/or activate it, otherwise use Starter to open the file. But, I had installed LibreOffice, and I was sure I had set it to handle these file extensions. I did change install process to confirm. But, this buy Microsoft Office or drop through to starter kept coming up.
Obviously I just need to remove it...so I did. Now my old files open file in LibreOffice...some of the files don't format correctly, but guess its kind of expected. LibreOffice doesn't seem too skilled with some of the esoteric formatting trickery I've exploited in Word in early days/versions. Word5/7. It also never seems to do well with my old WordPerfect and Quattro Pro files. I had to go through some of the older Quattro Pro files that wouldn't open at all in LibreOffice and export them as an old version of excel that could at LibreOffice could handle (most then got converted to OpenDocument format), so I shouldn't need to resort to buying WordPerfect Suite for this computer (just yet). Probably should've kept better track of document type obsolescence....but if hadn't done time working around librarians, I don't think I would've ever have thought of these kinds of issues so much. Some files were kind of important though....namely the ones I was tracking PDH hours or cost basis of stocks I own.
Generally, I'm trying to avoid having to buy/rebuy software for this new computer immediately. I haven't made any payments on this computer yet, and things are already getting kind of out of hand with extras that I've had to buy already. Though in an unrelated note, I went ahead and purchased the license for Touchdown for Android...even though its my work issued Droid 2. There would probably be ways to be productive on there without it, but given that I've gone to all the trouble to get it to something I can use now....I'll just stay with what's working for me.
As I was making progress, I noticed it seemed odd that I was missing some stuff. I then realized that when I was migrating "My Documents" over, I had gotten distracted when I reached the "My Pictures", "My Videos" and "My Music" folders and not continued after that point. There was a ton of stuff to copy for that...a couple hundred gigabytes.
I went back through and continued to copy those, while I was going through "Documents and Settings" on TARDIS to see what else I should get. I didn't do the hidden folders...just looked at "My Documents" and the two "Start Menu" trees to see what kind of apps I should see about reinstalling. Guess I'll worry about tracking down the data when I do the installs. Though along the way I did find it odd that I couldn't locate data files for some of the applications I used to use, and want to continue using. Realized later that some apps store the documents in its program directory. Will have to make sure I look for that when I go through my "Program Files" directory....
It is interesting, seeing all the old software that used to be on TARDIS that I don't use anymore. Though sad to see some of the stuff I do use occasionally or regularly, that don't work under Windows 7 or 64-bit. I haven't checked out XP mode yet, but I intend to....for the stuff I really can't do without or purchased software that needs it (like EncoreViewer 1.0).
"My Documents" was pretty cluttered, though I did go through and sort some of the documents into folder categories, like "Home", "Work", "Manuals", "Routers" (generic because it includes configs for my APs), etc. Kept looking for a letter to stop the work at and go to sleep...but New Year's day was imminent and I knew there would be neighbors that would be especially keen to use this particular occasion (instead of times where there was no occasion at all) to violate the city's fireworks regulations. I wish the police would actually enforce it. Friday night shouldn't be an occasion to set off fireworks...etc. Well, the fireworks continued for more than just a few minutes into the new year...so I ended up completing all of "My Documents".
That leaves "Program Files" as the last remaining directory to go through. I should have that done later today (though I won't necessarily install all the applications that I find I still want.) Wonder just how much of TARDIS will remain in regular use then?
I did move my Apple TV over to sync'ng with Zen's iTunes. That process was a wipe everything and start over again. Hopefully it won't be that involved should I move my old iPhone 3G over, or my 5th Gen iPod Nano. I have been thinking of getting the 4th Gen iPod Touch, since it should be faster and better than using the iPhone 3G without service has been....though the case(s) I want don't yet have versions for the 4th Gen, so maybe I have to wait to see what the 5th Gen looks like. Though not sure how I'll carry both an iPod Touch and the work Droid 2 around. Not sure how to carry the work Droid 2 around all the time as it is. Was easier when it was just a work KRZR. I usually only wear my e-Holster at work. Hmmm....
Was strange yesterday to finally watch a DVD that I got from NetFlix...hadn't found time to watch DVDs much this fall...too much new fall television to watch. But, I was settling down with a pizza last night, so I decided a DVD would require less interaction while eating. Should've started before I started eating, because the preview trailers were kind of annoying. And, skip was an invalid key on the remote, but at least I could FF some individual previews. There was time for another one or two DVDs when I finished the first, but I opted to get back to migration work.
Meanwhile, I'm kind of sore now from sitting at my new computer so much. I guess I need to work on replacing the chair sooner than later. The task chair is like 26? years old...so the seat is kind of hard/worn and it never was really comfortable to begin with. Guess the plan of getting an Aeron chair at home, just isn't going to happen. Will, probably just keep an eye on the Staples.com weekly ad to see if something on sale catches my eye.
Latest Poopli Updaters -- http://lkc.me/poop
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