Category Archives: technology

Computer mystery – solved!

Just wanted to share this with my fellow amateur geeks out there:

My MacBook Pro occasionally has a trackpad problem, where the cursor starts jumping around and is uncontrollable. I researched the problem in the Mac forums, and found a lot of long, complicated “solutions” that didn’t seem to be working for anyone. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I instinctively felt that hiring a technician wouldn’t help . . . call me silly, but here’s what happened:

Quite by accident, after considering tearing my hair out over this, I found a solution: Each time the cursor started getting fidgety, I would put down the lid of my MacBook, wait a few seconds, and then open it again. Every time I did this, the cursor would calm down and act normal for a minute or so. As I continued to do it, the problem would gradually stop altogether. Sometimes it took a few days and some patience, but it worked EVERY TIME.Laptop-frustration

I wanted to tell other frustrated trackpad users what I’d discovered, so I went to several forums, where I saw many, many posts like these:

“Please help me! My trackpad constantly freezes, moves by itself and does not respond when needed. It deletes my messages and it flashes. It also clicks on random links.”

“My trackpad moves by itself…and even opens and clicks things! help!”

So I posted my solution, with a sincere desire that it would help people. In a day or so, I got this reply:

“This is excessively bad advice! What you are recommending really just amounts to ignoring the symptoms and hoping that the problem goes away. If this is being caused by a swollen battery, ignoring it could result in permanent damage to the computer. If it is actually being caused by someone accessing the computer remotely, ignoring it gives them more opportunities to do something malicious. Please stop posting this advice everywhere!”

Well, I reasoned that if I had a swollen battery, my computer would certainly not have returned to normal so easily. As for someone accessing my computer remotely, well, I just didn’t believe that. I had my proof, why should I worry about malicious attackers?

Then, a while later, someone posted (on the same forum as my detractor):

“Thanks. That worked for me!”

Ah, justified at last. But I’m sure a lot of other people just ignored my post because I’m not “knowledgeable,” not a technician, and I didn’t offer any complicated, impressive-sounding non-solutions. Also because they might have read that post that “put me in my place.” Who cares? My MacBook is still working just fine, and if my silly little amateur solution can help anybody else, then I’ll be supremely happy. I’m convinced that computers are full of mysteries that have no “pat” answers. I just went with my gut, and got my answer.

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Is it really the “end” this time?

There’s a lot of buzz around about December 21. The end of the Mayan calendar. The end of the world, some say.

Of course there have been lots and lots of other predictions of the so-called “end of the world” and I’ve laughed them off, as most of us have. But this one seems to have a different tone, if I can put it that way. Instead of people talking about the earth burning up or being destroyed (although some are doing that), there’s more and more talk about that date being a time of transition—a transition into a higher consciousness, which will consequently create a better world. Could this be true?

I’ve been around long enough to have seen radical changes in the world. I grew up in the USA in the 1940s and 50s, and there’s no question that those years were very different from the 60s. Then the 70s, 80s and 90s brought further change, some of it drastic, some more subtle. But now that we’re in the 21st century, a lot of us have noticed that things seem to be moving much faster than they did in earlier decades. The speed in technological development alone is pretty mind-blowing.12

Also, when I was a kid I don’t remember anyone (although I’m sure there were some isolated cases) worrying about where the trash would go when we ran out of places to put it. There was never a thought about avoiding eating animals, for the most part. People just didn’t concern themselves with these things. Life was limited to their own little milieu—their family, their jobs. People would read the newspapers, but there was very limited awareness that we were all part of a global family. We had our own little lives, and that was it. There was hardly any “consciousness raising” going on.

Nowadays there seems to be a mad dash toward things spiritual—people aren’t satisfied any more with “I was born, I lived, I died.” In rapidly increasing numbers, they want to understand why they are here, what is this life all about…what’s the point? The internet is overrun with “spiritual coaches” seeking to help people gain some sense of who they are in the overall scheme of things. Many people are opting to be “spiritual” rather than “religious.”

What’s going on?

Well, first of all, loads of folks are finally discovering that materialism doesn’t satisfy. It did for a while, but now it doesn’t. They’re also finding out that believing that all there is to us is a physical body moving among other physical bodies—some who are seemingly very close to us, such as family—isn’t enough. People betray us, leave us, or they die. Sooner or later such things will happen to us, even though we may have lived for years having been spared, for the most part, from such events.

When our lives no longer satisfy, when we find ourselves in an upheaval that we can’t resolve—whether with our work, our relationships, our health or a combination of things—then it’s time to become aware that we are being coaxed out of what we thought was all there was to us, and to start looking at the broader picture. What we really want is to find something real, something we can depend on, something that will make and keep us happy and harmonious.

So what about December 21? Some, who have observed the speeding up of our consciousness here on earth over many years are saying that that date is a turning point when things will speed up more, even dramatically. Maybe this explains why people are so madly searching for the truth. What do you think?

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Jittery cursor – a metaphor?

So I’m typing away on my MacBook Pro and suddenly the cursor starts jumping around the screen at random. Try as I might, I couldn’t control it with the trackpad. I have an external mouse for emergencies, so I plugged that in, and things seemed to calm down for a minute or two, but then the cursor started skipping around again. It even jumped around when I wasn’t touching the computer, which I found a little spooky. It would open up files all on its own, and when I was online it would open and close pages seemingly at will, as I looked on helplessly.

But it also had short times when it worked just fine. During one of those, I did some quick Googling and discovered that many, many computer users were having exactly the same problem, and not just on Macs — on PCs, too. Furthermore, none of these people, including technicians, had found a solution. One or two said they had the trackpad changed and that solved it, but that didn’t explain why I was having the same problem using a mouse. Obviously I didn’t even consider calling a techie to try to solve a problem that apparently had no solution.

I finally figured out that if I closed the lid to the laptop every time the cursor started getting the jitters and waited for a few seconds, when I opened it, it would work again, at least for a minute or two. Then sometimes it would work just fine for an hour or more. I was baffled.

This went on for days and days. Some days it was really bad, others not so bad. After a while I started to notice that it was matching my moods. When I felt edgy or restless, it jumped; when I was cool and collected, it behaved. What was up with that? I decided to troubleshoot the situation by trying my best to maintain my calm every day. Guess what? After a day or two, the jumping stopped. Now what am I supposed to make of that, if anything? Just a coincidence? OK, if you say so . . .

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Decisions, decisions

I love technology, especially anything having to do with computers and related devices. I’m really, really happy to have a MacBook Pro (switched to Mac in 2007 after years of battling PCs with their “blue screen of death,” viruses and all their myriad other problems), but I haven’t yet gotten all the other fun stuff I’d like to have.

Here in Brazil all these things cost much more than they do in the USA, so I really have to think carefully about which device is best for me, which one(s) I really need, and so on. I want a Kindle, but it’s complicated to have one sent down here because of the high customs taxes. They say we’ll have our very own Kindle store here by July with reasonably priced Kindles…I’m inclined to believe that when I see it.

But meanwhile, friends have been telling me I should get an iPad instead, because I can read books on those, too. Well, maybe, but the size seems a bit awkward to me and I’m not sure that I really need any of its other features (although it would definitely be FUN to have one). Another friend suggested I get an iPhone instead of a Kindle, because I can read books on an iPhone, too. OK, I guess so, but isn’t the screen a little small? Not to mention the fact that iPhones cost a fortune down here, once you add up the cost of the device and the carrier.

So while I sort all of this out, at least I’ve found a temporary solution to reading e-books: Kindle’s free app for Mac. I downloaded it today. I know it’s not as convenient or nice as reading on an actual Kindle, but it’ll do until I can sort out all the complicated details of which devices are really going to work for me and which ones I can afford.

How about you? Do you have a Kindle or other e-reader? Do you like it? How about an iPhone? An iPad? Any thoughts about those?

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Everything is getting smaller…or disappearing altogether!

I remember when a stereo system consisted of two BIG speakers and several other fairly good-sized components. When I was a kid, a tape recorder was bigger than a breadbox. And didn’t I read somewhere that computers used to be bigger than refrigerators?

I’ve moved a lot of times in my life, I mean a LOT. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to drag around at least six large wooden boxes crates with vinyl albums. I was relieved when I could give them all away and start buying CDs (sorry, vinyl people).

And then there were the books: boxes and boxes full of heavy books to be moved every time I moved.

My first computer was a big, clunky thing, too, although not as large as a fridge.

But how things have changed! A few years ago I found myself in a situation where I had to narrow down ALL my worldly goods to fit into one large suitcase and a carry-on. I was moving by myself from the US back to Brazil.

How happy I was to be able to take several boxes of old and new photographs and scan them onto my little MacBook. I did the same with piles of papers and documents. I didn’t have to worry about CDs any more, either, because all of my music was now in mp3 format (sorry, sound freaks).

I did have to pack a few books because I didn’t (and still don’t) have an e-reader. But you can bet that will be my next purchase.

I don’t even have a TV any more. I watch everything I want/need to see on my MacBook Pro.

I totally love the diminishing of stuff. How about you?

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