Courier New Font Broken

The Windows 10 Creator’s Update messed up the appearance of the trusty old Courier New font. Most users don’t use that font but for decades it has been a favorite in terminal windows and code editors for programmers and system admins. This Microsoft Community thread, Creator’s Update – Courier New, details the issue and proposes a couple solutions. I didn’t like either solution so I simply switched to the modern Consolas font that is included in modern versions of Windows.

Migration in Process

I’m migrating my blog from self hosting on my shared Linux host Go Daddy domain to this shiny new version hosted by WordPress. I originally set it up back in October 2005 on AK Web Hosting (now out of business) and migrated ti to Go Daddy in 2006. It was fun learning how to do all the maintenance work. However the maintenance work has become drudgery and the ancient install started throwing more PHP errors than I wanted to figure out how to fix. After seeing ads on the TWIT network  I decided to come here where I pay experts to manage the drudgery for me.

Unfortunately I took the old site down over a month ago so I couldn’t do an easy export/import. I had to restore the site to a local install, and since I didn’t take the time to make the local install accessible out side the LAN, the images didn’t come through. Also likely do to the character set changes over the last decade some apostrophes and quotation marks didn’t translate properly. I’ll be working through the old pages and fixing the quote marks and replacing the images for a while.

The migration is complete! If you see any problems let me know.

Microchip Support is Amazing

We had one of our Microchip ICD3‘s fail last week so I put in a support ticket via the web site. I figured I wouldn’t hear back for a couple days because Microchip is right in the thick of their annual Masters engineering event. To my surprise they called me soon after to ask about the issue, find out if it was urgent (it wasn’t we keep a spare on hand) and to apologize in advance for possibly slower than normal responses due to the Masters event. Today I got a notice that a replacement ICD3 has been sent out.

Wow even with the event going on they still were able to get this all done in less than one week. Thank you so much Microchip your customer service is amazing.

PS – Their products are great too!

Microsoft Desperately Wants to be Apple

This morning I got the email from Microsoft saying they are downgrading OneDrive to 5Gig making it as useless as iCloud. They also keep pushing out Windows 10 upgrades disguised as recommended updates to people who have declined or rolled back after upgrade incompatibilities as they desperately want to be able to handle their OS like OS-X. They are delusional if they think they can get away with treating their customers the way Apple does and still maintain a large market share (there’s a reason why Apple has never grown beyond being a niche PC company).

It’s sad to see a once great company fall to such low levels. Oh well, as we move forward through the century Google, Amazon and Apple will continue to take away Microsoft’s business. The only remaining question is when will, not if, Google or Amazon make a concerted effort to take away Microsoft’s corporate customers.

Rescuing Windows Movie Maker Projects

I’ve used Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker for simple video editing tasks for many years. Over the past few weeks I’ve been organizing and verifying all my video editing software and old projects. This was when I remembered that I’d never been able to get my old Windows XP Movie Maker projects working in the currently available version. Searching around the web it appeared that there was no solution. Then I came up with this simple solution.

  1. Install the Vista version of Movie Maker from Blaine’s Movie Maker Blog. It will be listed as Windows Movie Maker 6.0 in your start menu.
  2. Install the current version of Movie Maker from Microsoft. It will be listed as Movie Maker in your start menu.
  3. Open the old XP Movie Maker project in the Vista version and save it as a new project. You may need to edit the titles.
  4. Open the New Vista Movie Maker project in the current version and save it as a new project.

Android Audio Problem

I’ve hit this twice now when the Google App has updated so I figured I should note it for future reference.

Symptom 1, trying to record using the stock voice recorder on my LG phone I get a message that says Cannot start voice recording while other application is using audio.  Symptom 2, the alarm clock/timer doesn’t make any sound.

Solution, go to Google Settings -> Search & Now -> Voice -> “Ok Google” detection and turn off the From any screen option.

LibreOffice Windows Explorer Extension Problems

I’ve been struggling to resolve some odd infrequent problems with LibreOffice crashing for about a year now. The problems were not fixed by uninstalling and deleting my user profile as well as many other suggestions that had resolved similar issues for other users. The worst part was how usually the attempts would appear to help but it was always just a perception not a reality.

A couple of weeks ago I upgraded my NAS to a QNAP TS-231 and the problems got worse. I tried a whole bunch of things to fix the problems and nothing really worked. Yesterday the problems got severe enough (trashed ODB file) and repeatable enough that I decided to take some time to research them carefully.

It turns out at least some of the various problems were actually caused by the LibreOffice Windows Explorer Extension which had been a problem for me twice before since 2012. The solution is to simply remove the Explorer Extension as shown in my 2012 post. Now that this feature has caused me major problems for a third time I’m going to have to remember and recommend that whenever installing LibreOffice on a PC that will access files from a *nix based NAS, use the custom option when installing and avoid the Windows Explorer Extension like the plague.

Android Phone as Hiking Companion

As I mentioned in my first post in this series I just started doing frequent hikes this year. I also just started using a smart phone this year and I’ve found it to be an excellent tool for hiking. There are of course the obvious uses, to call for help or a ride home and sending text messages of the hike progress to the person responsible for calling emergency services when you don’t come back.

The first non-standard use is GPS navigation, for my purposes I found that GPS Essentials is the best choice. It’s a versatile and powerful program so be prepared to spend some time getting up to speed using it. There is a support forum where the author and other users, including myself, are happy to help solve problems. Frequently the problems are due to not easily being able to figure out which of the huge number of features will get you the result you want.

Something to be aware of is the possible lack of accuracy with the GPS and compass sensors. On my LG pulse phone the compass is basically useless it has errors of over 30 degrees at times. The GPS accuracy is excellent when there are no hills, clouds or trees blocking the view of the GPS satellites. However my hiking virtually guarantees poor GPS reception sometimes making the error greater than 150 feet. This brings up one of the first field lessons I learned, a GPS in your pocket can be absolutely horrible, I saw errors of over 300 feet. To avoid that problem I bought a wrist strap to hold the phone. In addition to keeping the GPS readings as accurate as possible it also makes it more convenient for other phone tasks. When I’m out exploring new trails I find the only times I need a compass are when I get to an unexpected intersection (frequent occurrence in SE New England forests). To work around the inaccurate compass I simply walk a few hundred feet on one trail and see how the recorded track compares to my trail map. This has the added benefit of recording the unknown trails direction for adding to my map.

One very important thing to keep in mind when using a smart phone as a hiking companion, electronic devices fail. They run out of power and have other problems that will prevent you from using the GPS. This is why I always carry my trusty old Silva compass and a paper map. I have also added a portable phone charger/emergency LED flashlight to my day hiking gear. It has come in handy a couple times allowing me to finish recording my GPS track instead of turning off the phone to save the power for an emergency call if needed. To keep the whole package small and dust/water resistant I replaced the included USB cable with a 6″ cable and installed a pair of RooKaps.

This reminds me of another important safety tip, set your phone to automatically power off at 10% battery left so that you won’t get stranded due to a dead phone battery.

The other smartphone features I’ve come to rely on are the camera, voice recorder and eBook reader. In addition to taking photos of interesting things seen, I like to take pictures of trail signs and oddly shaped intersections. Those pictures come in handy as I build up my comprehensive forest map. The voice recorder is a great way to take down long notes and record odd natural sounds for later identification. On my very first hike I heard a strange cacophony of sound emanating from many areas of the forest but could not see what critter was making the racket. I eventually tracked it down to some type of frog in vernal pools, when I got home I used the recorded sounds for reference and determined it was the mating calls of Wood Frogs. Voice recorded notes have also been very handy for documenting the appearance of birds I see. I can quickly speak a description of what I see and then later use the recording while searching through my bird identification books. This leads me to the last feature the eBook reader, with some field guides downloaded to the phone I can look up the critter while observing it if I’m not in a hurry or wait and look when I’m taking a rest break.

A final thing I’ve learned the hard way about using my smartphone as a hiking companion. CHECK ALL THE FUNCTIONS BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE. On one hike when I went to make some voice notes I got error messages saying the microphone was locked by another application. After trying reboots and other things that came to mind for about 15 minutes I finally gave up and started the hike. When I got home and researched the issue I learned that a recent update to the Google app had set it to take control of the microphone from everything except the telephone app. A simple settings change and I was back in business, if I’d checked it before leaving I would have been able to hike an extra 3/4 mile instead of fumbling round trying to fix the voice recorder.

Irrational Wikipedia Hater

I ran into this post on the old CNET forums today and I had to laugh (bolding mine).

First off by Jimmy Greystone

First off, always remember an important Internet axiom: Your right to be taken seriously is forfeit if you quote Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is rife with misinformation, bad information, and flat out WRONG information. It’s made by people just like you and me, who may like to think we know more on a subject than we really do.

Case in point: you clearly do not understand the difference between logical and physical processors, because the Wikipedia article is actually correct, and answers your question.

He slams Wikipedia for allegedly being wrong about almost everything while saying it was absolutely correct on this topic. Dear Jimmy, wake up and face reality, Wikipedia is as good as any paper encyclopedia and it is way easier to check its references than those in a traditional paper encyclopedia. A good rule of thumb is that as long as it’s not a political or current events topic Wikipedia usually gets the basic facts correct. If the accuracy is important then simply check the references in the Wikipedia article and if they or the article needs fixing please help out by fixing it rather than complain and slam Wikipedia.

A Sign of Logging to Come?

My hike today took me along the west central edge of the Douglas State Forest. Most of the hike was on private property and quite a few areas have been logged over the years. Most of the logged areas are clear cuts but today I hit an area where obviously the property owner is selective cutting because on the trail I saw this:

A line and the text 11 carved into a tree and filled in with white paint. Behind it two trees where marked 12 & 13 and looking around I saw these other trees.

The highest number was 60 so it appears the property owner is going to selectively harvest 60 hardwood trees of various species. Pretty cool I’ve never seen this kind of preparation before, it will be interesting to see what the end result is the next time I hike that trail. It could leave some more open habitat that I’m sure will be enjoyed by the deer and other forest edge species (there’s very few open areas so any additions should be an environmental plus).