Tag Archives: iMac

More Bytes

Time for more computer hardware

The other day when my “third son” Chase and my #1 son were uploading video to the boys’ iMac, I heard one of them say, “Oh, oh!”

Hmmm . . . did some liquid get spilled on the keyboard? Did a video clip accidentally get deleted? Did one of them remember they still had homework to do?

No, it was a storage problem. As in, “Oh, oh . . . we only have 196 megabytes left on the internal hard drive.”

Say what?!? How could that be? The iMac came with a fairly big hard drive of 300 gigabytes. I’ve only used about 60 gigs of my internal hard drive, but that’s because I store all my photos on external drives. Nothing can fill up a hard drive quite like photos from a digital SLR camera. Well, except for one thing—video. Video clips and movies consume lots and lots of gigs.

Chase videos an outdoor scene.

Chase and the #1 son produce a video at least once a month. They have their own production company, and they make videos that they upload to YouTube and for #1’s broadcast journalism class to be used on the announcements. They’re sometimes crudely crafted, often woefully lit, but usually very entertaining.

Erika is illuminated in the camcorder's LCD.

The video that the guys were making last week featured an unusual occurrence: There was a female in it. Yes, we actually had a teenaged girl in our house! Of course, I made sure to document the momentous occasion. It might not happen again for quite awhile.

Erika acts while #1 videos.

That “lucky” gal was Erika, who is in #1’s broadcast journalism class. She’s also a good sport who didn’t mind playing a witch in the video.

The #1 son—videographer, writer, director, and actor

All that footage that Chase and #1 recorded had to go somewhere. But only part of it could be uploaded to the iMac’s hard drive, because there wasn’t enough room.

Techno mom to the rescue! I drove to Fry’s Electronics the other day to score a big external hard drive for the boys’ iMac (they also have an external for Time Machine backups, of course). Fry’s has a great selection and good prices. I opted for a two-terabyte Western Digital MyBook Studio. I bought the Mac version, because it offers a firewire option, which is a faster transfer method than USB. That comes in handy when you’re uploading lots of gigs of data.

The My Book Studio

Two terabytes! That’s 2,000 gigabytes. It’s a monster of a hard drive! And all for $259 (including tax). Amazing!

The My Book Studio and the old CMS hard drive

See that big hard drive on the right? That was my first external hard drive that I used with my old Apple MacPlus, which had no internal hard drive; I think I bought it in 1986. It held 20 megabytes of storage. No, that’s not a typo . . . it was megabytes. My Nikon D700 produces a 20-meg file at its highest quality (raw). So that CMS drive holds only one photo!

Now here’s the kicker: The cost of that 20-meg external hard drive? A whopping $600! But back in the day, 20 megs held a ton of data, and it was a loyal servant for many years. Slow but loyal.

So now the boys have plenty of storage for their videos. Hope that’s the end of me hearing those worrisome “oh, oh’s!” At least for awhile.

Firefighting at Home



One of the many reasons why I fall so far behind in the clutter war is that I find myself constantly putting out fires on the homefront. Too often my perfectly crafted decluttering schedule gets annihilated by last-minute got-to-get-’er-dones by the boys.

Here’s an example: The other day the #1 son asked me to print out a 10-page paper he had written for U.S. History. He typed it in Microsoft Word 2004, e-mailed it to me, I proofed it and fixed his typos in Word 2008, and tried to print it. When I looked at the preview, the pages were blank. I tested it with another Word document that I knew I was able to print with the older version, and, still, nada. Hmmmm . . . what to do.

Because #1 son had to have the paper the next day, I opened it in TextEdit, which comes with every Mac, fixed the breaks that differed from Word, and printed it out. The next day I made it my goal to figure out why Word wouldn’t print. I have Microsoft Office 2008 on my MacBook, so I checked to see if a document would print from it. It could. I knew the problem wasn’t with the printers hooked to my iMac, because the document would print blank from both of them, not just one of them. I tried to print a document in Excel, and that worked, so I figured it was just a Word problem.

I checked Mactopia, Microsoft’s Office for Mac website but didn’t see anyone else with the same problem nor did I read any solutions. Looked like I was on my own, unless I wanted to call for support. Microsoft allows two phone calls before it starts to charge $49 plus tax; I’d rather save my free calls just in case of a dire emergency.

I thought it would be best to just start from scratch, so I uninstalled Office and then reinstalled it. The #1 son had chemistry notes he needed printed, so I opened them in Word, went to print preview, and held my breath. Whew! They appeared!! Printed them out with no problem. I’m not sure what caused the Word glitch on the initial install, but I’m glad it’s fixed. However, the decluttering time that I had previously scheduled was taken up by putting out the Word fire. This always seems to happen with the boys’ projects,  as in, “Mom, I need poster board for tomorrow,” “Mom, please put more staples in the stapler,” and, the ever-favorite, “Mom, I need 30 plastic bowls for chemistry,” which I actually had!

Today’s fire: Troubleshoot the #1 son’s alarm clock, which hasn’t worked right since the time change. Maybe I can multitask and declutter one or two things in his room while I’m at it!

Minor get ’er done

puddingYesterday when I was pulling various snacks for the boys’ lunches from the kitchen cabinet dedicated just to them, I decided to finally take care of something that has been bugging me for months: Pudding disposal. The #2 son used to be a snack pudding fanatic. He loved pudding! He ate four cups of it for breakfast every morning for a couple years. He would switch from two chocolate and two vanilla cups to four chocolate cups, but he never varied from his breakfast choice. Sometimes he’d even eat it for an after-school snack. I tried making the pudding from scratch (I know, hard to believe), but he didn’t like it as well.

There are two basic rules of thumb when it comes to your kids’ eating jags. First, they will come to an end at some point. It may take months, it may take years, but they will end. Second, when they do end, you will be stuck with food that no one else will eat. And it probably will be a lot of food, because you’ve stocked up. The Hunt’s Snack Pack chocolate pudding that #2 liked wasn’t always available, so I often would buy extra when I saw it, especially when it was on sale. No pudding would equal no breakfast would equal one grumpy child.

Of course, I was just setting myself up for a fall. Suddenly and without warning, #2 stopped eating pudding cold turkey. He hasn’t eaten so much as a bite of pudding for a couple years now. And, of course, I had a shelf in the snack cabinet brimming with Snack Packs that I couldn’t bear to part with. At first I tried to fool myself into thinking that the no-pudding phase would end as quickly as it began, and I wanted to have stock on hand.

Yesterday I looked at the pudding cups mocking me and decided to just put an end to the misery. First I checked the expiration date on them . . . 2007 stared back at me. Even if #2 suddenly got that pudding fever again, he couldn’t even eat them. I trashed them and didn’t look back.

Wonder when I’m going to get rid of the several boxes of old Pop-Tarts, which replaced those pudding breakfasts for a year or so, that are still in the snack cabinet? Maybe I’ll get ’er done today!

TV watch

george-clooneyI’ve maybe seen one or two episodes of “ER,” none in years, but I plan to watch it tonight. Why? I’ve read that my second husband, George Clooney, will make a guest appearance! It won’t matter if I have absolutely, positively no clue what’s going on . . . all I want to do is stare at George and listen to him talk.

“Lost” in Applecare


The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham

john-lockeOMG! Another enjoyable, question-riddled episode with a few answers thrown in for good measure. As we watched, I jotted down notes on my MacBook. Here are some thoughts:

• It was no big surprise that John Locke was alive back on the island due to the previews from last week. It was kind of cool the way he “unveiled” himself, though.

charles_widmore• Great exchange between Charles Widmore and Locke:

Widmore: When you last saw me [in a flashback on the island], I was 17 years old. How long has it been since I last saw you?

Locke: Four days.

250px-ben_linus2The key question of the season: Who is good or bad? Charles Widmore? Ben Linus? The #1 son thinks they’re both bad, that they’re like Russia and Germany during World War II (guess what he’s studying in U.S. History right now). “Which one are you going to side with?” he asks. “It should be Russia.”

Okay, son, but then who is Russia, Widmore or Linus?

• Widmore says he was the leader on the island before Ben tricked him into leaving. Christian Shephard made it seem like Ben tricked Locke into believing that Ben had to be the one to turn the wheel to move the island.

• A good line by the #1 son after Widmore says to Locke, “Godspeed.” #1 son asked, “How fast does God speed?”

matthew_abbadon• Oh, oh . . . it’s Matthew Abaddon, that creepy orderly who told Locke to go on the walkabout in Australia. He tells Locke that his job is to help people get where they need to go. He works for Widmore. He tells Locke, “Your path leads back to the island.” Duh!

walt• Hey, it’s Walt! When I saw the name Malcolm David Kelley in the opening credits, I knew he’d be in the episode. He’s gotten so big and looks so much older. I’m glad Locke decided not to try to persuade him to go back to the island. I guess Walt never will know what happened to his dad, Michael. Tangent: Harold Perrineau, who played Michael, is part of the cast of the new ABC show “The Unusuals.” He sure was unusual on “Lost!”

• After Locke’s chat with Walt, Ben pops up looking so totally creepy! Just out shopping for souvenirs to bring home to the Others, Mr. Linus?

• Helen Norwood is dead . . . how sad for John, who seems to have really loved her.

• Ugh, what an ugly, shocking death for Abaddon.

bearded-jack-shephard• What’s “Lost” without a car crash? Gosh, who would expect Jack to be Locke’s doctor?!? Jack has that crazy beard; obviously it’s when Jack was sinking into his pill-riddled depression. Why isn’t Jack shocked to see John?

A line from the Mister about Jack, as he rages against Locke in the hospital: “Not a good bedside manner.”

• There’s a knock on the door as poor John is about to hang himself. Was his thought, “Room service now?!?” Nope, it’s just Ben.

• Ben admits that he killed Abaddon. Widmore said that Ben is bad. Ben does seem to be bad.

• Ben says, “John, you have no idea how important you are.” Will we ever find out Locke’s importance?

• Did Ben lie about Jack booking a flight to Sydney?? John sure is a weeper; he should be on “The Biggest Loser!” Ben finds out Jin is alive from John. 

The #1 son says, “Ben is secretly caring. Or is he?” Sounds so Miles!

hawking• Check out Ben’s facial reaction when John says “Eloise Hawking.” He just snaps! OMG—Ben is strangling poor John! OMG! Was Ben being mean, like with Martin Keamy, or was it because he knows Locke has to be dead in a casket to help duplicate the original events of Oceanic 815 on the Ajira Airways plane?

• Great shadow effect of Locke hanging. And Ben gets Jin’s wedding ring to cap it off.

• Ben CANNOT be a good guy! Ben: “I’ll miss you, John. I really will.” There’s just not a Hallmark card made for this situation!

• John is walking fine when he’s back on the island with no sign of his compound fracture. Is it the island’s healing powers again?

• Ilana and Caesar are the new characters; what will be their importance? 

• Lapidus, the pilot, and a woman took one of the boats on the island. Which woman, Sun or the flight attendant? If Sun disappeared during the flash on the plane, it probably was the flight attendant. Who is she?

• So the plane did land on the island. It looks like it’s intact.

• A great line by Locke when he sees the injured Ben in the makeshift emergency room on the island.

Caesar: “Do you know him?”

Locke: “Yes, he’s the man who killed me.” Chilling!

A great episode to analyze! Can’t wait until the next one!!

Applecare adventures

sevenLooks like we’re done with Applecare. The good news is that we know why GarageBand ’09 won’t play the GB ’08 songs; the bad news is that it can’t be fixed.

An Applecare genius named “Seven” (yep, his real name, and he’s too old for his parents to have been influenced by the 1996 “Seinfeld” episode) went the extra mile trying to help us for about an hour. He concluded that there are certain loops used in earlier GB versions that can’t be accessed by ’09. He suggested we open the songs in ’08 and lock the tracks; then they’ll play in ’09 (but can’t be modified).

At least that was one mystery able to be solved. If it had been on “Lost,” I might not have gotten the answer until sometime next season!

Get ’er dones

Besides finally finishing up my scout Photoshop work, tonight is the middle school’s first track meet. #2 son will be triple jumping and running the 100 and 200 meters, which means we’ll have to stay for almost the entire meet (field events are early, the 200 is the last individual event before the relays). I’ll be taking photos until it gets too dark. I’ll tote my Nikon D300 along with my Nikon 70-200mm, 85mm, and 50mm lenses and my Nikon 1.4x teleconverter. It’ll be great to shoot outside once again!

Weaving a “Lost” Web

I like how intricate a web “Lost” is weaving to suck us into the story line and keep us captive. Last night’s episode was great! I loved how the opening harkened back to season one’s first episode with Jack’s eyeball. Classic!
As usual, I recommend that true “Losties” go to Entertainment Weekly and Nik at Nite for more in-depth analysis and great comments. Here’s my take on “316”:
• Poor Desmond . . . the island isn’t done with him. I was amazed that the pendulum didn’t clock him.
• Eloise Hawking said they had to recreate circumstances of the original plane crash as much as possible, hence the guitar case that Hurley carried (was it Charlie’s?), Locke in the coffin with something belonging to Christian Shephard (who originally was in a coffin when he was on Oceanic 815), and the handcuffs (Sayid this time instead of Kate, but why is Sayid in handcuffs?).
• It was sweet of Hurley to buy up all the empty seats so more people wouldn’t be killed if the plane crashed. Did Charlie tell him about the flight? Did Charlie get him out of jail?
• Where the heck is Aaron? Did the ghostly Claire take him back? Remember she had told Kate not to bring him back to the island. Or did Kate give him to Claire’s mother?
• Ben says he needs to make good on a promise he made to an old friend before he goes to the airport. It better not be to kill Penny! I really like her character and the love story between her and Desmond. But that would be one way to get Desmond back to the island . . . to seek revenge.
Bloody Ben• Was Ben so bloody because of that promise? He sure is a cold, callous SOB.
• Possible best line was said by Frank Lapidus (pictured above with Jack): “We’re not going to Guam, are we?” Definitely a rhetorical question! I loved that he was the pilot.
• Why would Jack wear a suit on the plane? Does he have a business meeting on the island to attend?
• Anyone else yelling at the TV, “Just read the note, Jack!”? Geesh, what does it take?
• Wow, Dharma Jin! What a great ending! The Oceanic 5 (no Aaron) obviously have gone back in time, because the VW bus looks newer and runs well. Great-looking Dharma jumpsuit on Jin!
Lots to think about and analyze. Can’t wait until next week!
First “American Idol” picks
large-prime-time-in-no-time-logoA quick comment: Thank goodness Tatiana didn’t make it into the final 12! Good voice, too melodramatic. Three solid picks in Alexis, Danny, and Michael from this first round of 12.
Funny line from Frank Nicotero, who hosts the very humorous “Primetime in No Time” on Yahoo TV: He calls her “Tatiannoying.” So true, Frank!
Get ’er dones
We’ve just about got all the iMac problems fixed. Now I know that when the Apple store wipes the hard drive and reinstalls the system, the system administrator’s password is gone and left blank. Logical duh! The mailboxes are working properly now that they’ve been removed and added again. iLife ’09 is installed with one glitch—it won’t play some of #1 son’s songs that he wrote in the old GarageBand. Have to figure that one out.
I’m just about ready for the cleaning crew (today’s #1 get ’er done). The job was made much easier by me doing more around the house yesterday. Lunch at Chipotle beckons, as does grocery shopping. Finally, there’s the mental preparation for watching “Survivor” tonight. Looks like a fun afternoon!

Squashing My Enthusiasm


Was it hard to sleep last night, wondering how Tasty Tuesday turned out? The wait is finally over! Here’s the 411:

Possibly the hardest part of making the marinara squash was, no surprise, cutting the squash in half. That sucker was rock solid! I almost succumbed to running next door and pleading with JJ, the organizational wiz and accomplished chef, to help with the unyielding vegetable, but instead I just pierced its skin and microwaved it for a few minutes. That helped immensely. As is par for the course for me, I put the halves fleshy part down on the baking pan, popped it in the oven, and then read the rest of the instructions. Duh! Will I ever learn? So I had to pull the pan out of the oven, season the squash skin as instructed, and push it back in for 30 minutes.

Chipotle logoWhen I looked at the baked spaghetti squash, I was naturally dismayed: There seemed to be a lot of work ahead. This is why I’m usually the simplest of vegans: I can live on salads, which are easy to make, and fruit. Or I can live at Chipotle and let them cook for me. Either way, I’m a happy camper.

But I digress . . . I sat down at the kitchen table to deseed the squash while watching “American Idol” (which we never did finish; got to catch up tonight). It was a long, torturous job, with many seeds hiding everywhere. After a long sigh, it was time to rake the spaghetti-like strands with a fork. Raking = gardening = too much work! But I really wanted to eat dinner, so rake away I did. I finally got a bowl full, added the marinara sauce, nixed the chives (too much added work), and sat down for a taste test while watching the lovefest on “The Biggest Loser.” 

The verdict: The best part probably was the marinara sauce. Otherwise, I think spaghetti squash is too bland for my tastes and much too much work for me to ever make it again. I’m glad I tried it, though; now I can cross it off my veggie bucket list. Oh, and #2 son’s comment was, “That doesn’t look at all like spaghetti.” Doesn’t taste like it either, son.

Ten-Minute Tasks

The NuShield is on the MacBook! It actually only took about five minutes to apply. You can see the edges of it, but it’s not too noticeable. The $64,000 question, though, is how does it handle the glare? Quite nicely, I’m happy to report. I think it cuts the glare a good 75-80 percent, making it a worthwhile acquisition for those glossy laptop screens. Recommended!

mac-mail-logo1The iMac’s TMT is stretching for much longer than 10 minutes, unfortunately. The good news was that the Apple store geniuses put the data back on the computer. But there have been some glitches: First, the system administrator password doesn’t work anymore, which means I can’t install new software or certain downloads. That has to be reset via the install disks (hassle!). Second, Mac Mail isn’t working properly. I can set up the boys’ mailboxes and mail comes in but doesn’t go out. Grrrr! Finally, not only did the so-called geniuses not install iLife ’09 like they said they would, they didn’t reinstall iLife ’08, which came with the iMac! Major grrrrr!!

So along with Kitchen Wednesday, today I will be solving the above iMac problems, hopefully, satisfactorily. Maybe I’ll also solve a few of the “Lost” mysteries in anticipation of tonight’s episode!

Tasty Tuesday (I Hope!)


See that lone, naked spaghetti squash up there? I hope that at this time tomorrow I can regale you with tales of how tasty it was after it’s been cooked tonight!

80x80px-ls-365_organicI’m going to use a recipe that I found on Helloveggie.org for marinara squash. While it does have slightly more than three ingredients, one is the squash, another is marinara sauce (I just happen to have a jar of Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Pasta Sauce), and the others are olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives—I have everything! I’ve never eaten spaghetti squash before thought I’ve always wanted to, but I must admit that I was intimidated by the hard-shelled beast. But Helloveggie.org’s Jenn has me believing that I can successfully master the squash, so I’ll be tackling it tonight and, hopefully, enjoying it while I watch “The Biggest Loser.”

Oh, and yes, I photographed the squash on a very old Thomas the Tank Engine plate. And worse? We still use that plate (love that Thomas!).


 Ten-Minute Tasks

There are so many needy contenders in the house! I’ve decided to pick the NuShield, which came a couple days ago. It’s pictured above in the plastic bag it came in and on top of the MacBook (the white border is the adhesive). It looks like it might take a good 10 minutes to carefully adhere it to my MacBook screen (I’m usually terrible at tasks like this), after which I will test it to see if it really helps with the glare. I like the idea of a screen protector, of course, but I’d love to cut down on the MacBook’s glossy screen’s glare.

I’ll also be spending at least 10 minutes when I bring the boys’ iMac back home and set it up again. The Apple store geniuses think there was a problem with the operating system, so they wiped the internal hard drive and reinstalled Leopard as well as iLife ’09. We have everything backed up on an external hard drive via Time Machine, but the geniuses want us to move everything back manually in case the problem also was backed up. Naturally, #1 son is worried he’ll lose some of his iTunes songs, but I think all will be right with his world.

Those TMTs are today’s get ’er dones!

An Exhausting and Irritating Monday


Ever have one of those Mondays? I started out exhausted, because #2 son had trouble sleeping. He tried to bribe me with $500 cash (and he showed me the money!) to let him stay home from school, because he was so tired. But it was worth $500 from me to him for some alone time (not that I paid him, of course)! Then I made two trips to the Apple store, which was irritating. Remember how I thought I had fixed Apple iLife ’09 last week? Nope, it still wasn’t working right. So I made an early appointment with the so-called Apple geniuses and took the disc in, hoping it was just a bad install disc. But the genius said I had to bring in the iMac. Arrrrgh!

I brought in the iMac in the afternoon, glad that we had opted for Applecare. After spending an hour at the genius bar while the genius tried to install iLife first from my disc and then from the store’s external hard drive as he waited on several other people (maximum efficiency for the store, not for me), iLife still would install but not restart the iMac. They’re going to keep it (hopefully for a short time) and see what the problem is.

And the end result is that son #1, who thinks the iMac is all his, isn’t happy, and this blog post is late. And now I have to let son #1 use my iMac to work on his U.S. History project; good thing I have my trusty MacBook!

A heartfelt family disc golf outing

All was so much better on Valentine’s Day. #2 son decided that we all needed to show some disc golf love, so we signed up for a low-key doubles tournament in College Station. Fortunately, #2 chose me to be his partner. This was my first (and possibly last!) disc golf tournament, while he’s a hard-throwing, laser-putting semipro (even at 13 years old). Our strategy was that he would have great drives, while I would try to make as many putts as I could (the format was best shot; partners had to use at least one of each player’s throw). Usually I’m #2’s driver, but this time he was my driver! Meanwhile, the Mister and our #1 son partnered.

solo-flip-mino2We had a blast! Neither team placed, but it was a great bonding experience deep in the heart of the Texas A&M campus (my first visit there). I brought along #1 son’s new Flip Mino to video some of the action, which you can see above. I’ve learned that I need to use steadier hands and not move so much while filming. I edited my little movie and added music in iMovie ’08; it was so easy!

Oh, and as you can tell by watching the video, #1 son did wear his cordless headphones the entire time he played. At least they were hooked up to his iPod Touch!

Get ’er dones

pokemon-platinumI’ve already done two of ’em: Dealt with the iLife problem and reserved a copy of Nintendo’s Pokémon Platinum for the #1 son. I’d still like to spend 10 minutes with the family room clutter chair, as well as continuing the excavation of the master bedroom (at least it’s finally at the top level now). I know after watching “The Big Bang Theory,” that everything will be much better tonight!