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e-frustration

It’s been one of those days.  Have been working on and off for a month trying to figure out how to get Mobipocket creator to assemble seventeen Word files and cover art into the kind of e-book which can be uploaded to Amazon subsidiary Mobipocket.com so it can be downloaded for reading on PDAs, smartphones and the like. Yesterday I thought I’d be able to post an announcement about the availability of the e-book (as opposed to blook) edition of hackoff.com..  You probably didn’t notice but I didn’t post yesterday.

Just as I was getting ready to upload, the wet snow which had been falling all day finally brought down an electric wire somewhere nearby.  You could easily imagine the sparks as the lights flickered on and off several times and hard drives lurched in an unhealthy way.  Everything settled in the dark and still position, although, after a few minutes, the UPS in the basement started beeping dolefully that it had, after all, been interrupted.

We went to bed and set the alarm for three in case I had to build a fire to keep the water liquid in the pipes.  Power was back by then, however, so we just rolled over.

Mary’s computer, despite its semi-isolation through a power supply, announced that it had no boot drive when ordered to awake.  After a couple of failed retries, I took it out of the docking station, shook it a little, and it got far enough to say that it had shut down abnormally and ask how it should restart.  “Normally”, I instructed it and it whirred and clicked and showed its startup screen before announcing that it had shut down to prevent damage to the computer and suggested starting “from the last known good settings” or something like that.  Whir, click, same message.  “Safe Start” I instructed.  The always anemic battery gave out during this restart so had to put it back in the docking station.

Actually, this is the good news story of the day: the ugly, oversized icons were very welcome when Safe Start managed to display them.  Did a normal shut down and restart.  Startup took forever but I knew not to touch any keys.  Then Outlook needed twenty-two minutes to check its database for crash damage but slowly struggled to the desktop.  An alarming alert appeared saying there were duplicate IP addresses on our home network (possibly a result of the router, three computers, and two Vonage boxes, all sleeping for a while and not all remembering how to talk nicely when they woke up).  Ignored that and no harm seemed to be done.

There is a good lesson here: it does often happen that a startup problem in Windows XP can be solved by Safe Start and then a restart.  Don’t know why because safe start exists to let you fix things and I never fix anything, just start again.

OK.  Mary’s back in business.  Now to post my novel as an e-book.  It uploads smoothly!  I activate it! Voila!  But too many years of computing experience told me that I ought to be the first to download it (cost me $5.95 but we’ll talk about that later).  It looked terrible.  Fonts were mangled.  Some pictures unreadable.  In other cases the background mysteriously covered the foreground of illustrations.  Yuk.  I disabled the book for distribution and put that project down for the day since a lot of work is obviously still required.

Now I have no blog topic for the day so read techmeme for inspiration.  Nice story about Google Earth supporting trail maps.  Plan to go hiking tomorrow so tried it out. Of course, had to download and install a new version of Google Earth.  A little disappointing that the trail we plan to take up Hunger Mountain isn’t in the database but, hey, I’m a Web 2.0 type of guy: I’ve got some hikes stored on my GPS so I decided to upload them and share them with the world.

Have to download a trial copy of the Adventure Planner client from Trimble Outdoors who have partnered with Google to do this trail map mashup.  Download works; Adventure Planner recognizes my Garmin Forerunner 305 as a GPS and downloads some trails from it.  Unfortunately, according to Adventure Planner, all my hiking has been in the middle of the Atlantic and I can’t convince it that it’ll take a lot of global warming to cover the spine of the Green Mountains.

OK.  Not going to give up.  What about exporting the hikes from the Garmin database I have in on my PC and importing them into Adventure Planner.  Nope, Garmin Training Center only exports a proprietary format (.crs) and Trimble only reads GPS exchange format (.gpx).

But my copy of Training Center is out-of-date.  Maybe the new one isn’t so proprietary.  Let’s download the update.  Download OK, now install.  The install program launches something from Epson that wants to copy from my scanner to my printer. Have to debug why the scanner is MIA (the power failure, natch); but even helping the scanner recover doesn’t get me a new version of Training Center installed.

After several puzzled tries, a popup tells me to reboot in order for my setting changes to take effect.  Oh-oh.  What setting changes?  Remember, I installed a lot of stuff.

Sure enough my machine hangs in the reboot.  Half an hour later the Safe Start procedure has me online again so I can whine to you about all of this.

Have a good weekend.  We have a Nor’easter scheduled for Sunday.

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Now on Kindle!

hackoff.com: An historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble

CEO Tom Evslin's insider account of the Internet bubble and its aftermath. "This novel is a surveillance video of the seeds of the current economic collapse."

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