Nook frozen and beaten
#334 Henry, Saturday, 02 January 2016 1:25 PM (Category: Gadgets)
(Tags: nook)

We're going on a long flight soon to Hawaii. I like to read part of the way. Most of my reading is done with my iPad these days. But the battery runs out so quickly. It might last on a four or six hour flight, but our longest flight is 10 hours and the iPad doesn't survive. And the iPad is heavy. You don't notice it for the first hour or two, but after four or five hours, you do notice how heavy it is. I've got an iPad Air and it is so much lighter than my original iPad 2.

I have a little Nook Simple-Touch. I don't use it much as the screen is too small, but the battery is great, and it's really light. I dug it out to get it ready and fill it up with books. It was flat. I plugged it in, and charged it. And it wouldn't come back up. It froze on this screen.

Frozen Nook Simple Touch

Most attempts at rebooting and restarting took it to this screen. Twice I get further and was able to check the settings. The battery status was shown as unknown, and the battery icon showed a question mark. So maybe it was the battery that was bad. Then it rebooted and went back to that frozen screen. I played with it for a week, but couldn't get any further. So I took it apart. I wanted to get a photo of the battery so if I had to replace the battery I knew exactly which one it was. It's a struggle to pop the top off, but once you do, there's not much inside. The battery sits beneath the cover, there's one single motherboard and the screen. Really simple and light. I disconnected the battery too.

Nook Simple Touch opened up

While it was all opened up, I charged it again, but did it differently. Up till now I had plugged the USB charging cable into the same wallwart I use for the iPad. This time I plugged it into my computer. It happened to be closer and easier. And something different happened. The charge light went orange. Hmm. I left it a while and the charge light turned green. I disconnected it, and fired it up and it worked perfectly. The settings section showed that the battery was good and fully charged. So I put it all back together again.

Then I did some research. On the Nook website, the instructions say to charge it from the wallwart they supply, or plug it into your computer. Do NOT plug it into other wallwarts as this may damage the battery. Well, it sure did. So I'll remember that for the future. I'll charge it from the computer from now on. I guess that the iPad wallwart puts out too much power for the Nook. Lesson learned.

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Little word games
#333 Henry, Friday, 01 January 2016 5:53 PM (Category: Games)
(Tags: wordgames iphone ipad)

I like word games. Especially little ones that take a couple of minutes to play. One of my favourites is Moxie on the iPhone.

Moxie game

There's a sequel to it called Moxie 2, but I don't like that one much and rarely play it. Recently, Moxie did some promotion inside the app and recommended a new game by the same author called Red Herring.

I started playing this and it's tough. I love it. It's free, and you get a free daily puzzle. I showed Anne and she's into it too. Every day, we get the latest puzzle and we work at it. Some are easy and we get it out in 5 or 10 minutes. Some of them are tricky and it takes a lot of work to get them out. If they were always easy, they wouldn't be as much fun. It's a sense of accomplishment to get them out. You get a matrix of words or phrases. Each column should have a theme or meaning. You move the words around until you discover the ones that form the column. Four of them are red herrings, to throw you off discovery. There are three levels of play, and we play on the hardest.

Red Herring menu Red Herring game

Then, in a wonderful bit of promotion, Red Herring told me about another new game by the author - Monkey Wrench. This one is much easier, but still fun to do. Three levels of play, and a free daily puzzle to do. You have to pick words or phrases out of a jumble, and match them to clues. It's fun. I like it. Not as hard as Red Herring, but still fun.

Monkey Wrench splash screen Monkey Wrench game

But it keeps on going. Monkey Wrench recommended a new game by the same author - 7 Little Words. I played the introductory games and thought it was pretty easy. Then I started playing the daily puzzles, and it wasn't so easy any more. You can choose a US or UK dictionary, and we both independently chose the UK dictionary. It's free. There are free daily puzzles. It's fun.

7 Little Words menu 7 Little Words game

In each game, you get a small number of free hints. Once you use them up, you can buy more hints. We have resisted this. There are also giant puzzle packs to buy, but we haven't done that either. So far, the daily puzzles are fun. It's like a daily ritual. First thing to do out of bed is hit 7 Little Words and Monkey Wrench, then tackle Red Herring. We both play them every day. There is competition between the two of us. Scoffings like "today's Red Herring is really easy. Only took me 5 minutes" and "you won't get 7 Little Words out tonight" which makes us both dig down and solve them.

Red Herring can be tricky. The last one involved four moons of Saturn, four streaming music services, and four characters in Cheers. I was going down wrong alleys with Toy Story characters. Anyway, great fun.

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#332 Henry, Friday, 01 January 2016 4:34 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: apple superdrive)

The guy I got the first MacBook Air from approached me recently. His roommate, the original owner of the MacBook Air, was cleaning up and had discovered her Apple Superdrive. This is a little external DVD reader and burner specifically for the MacBook Air. She had no more use for it, so gave it to him. He has no use for it, so he wanted to turn it into cash. He wanted $40, I offered $10, we settled on $15. He gets spending money, I get a Superdrive. I plugged it in to make sure it worked, and my MacBook Air immediately started playing a movie. A chick flick. I ejected it. I returned the DVD to him.

It works. I knew it could read DVDs, and I burned a data disk onto a DVDROM, so it's good. I don't really have a lot of use for it, but I have it, just in case.

Apple Superdrive

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Backblaze back at work again
#331 Henry, Friday, 01 January 2016 3:52 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: backup backblaze)

Back in July 2015, I signed up for Backblaze. I was going to use it to backup the bulk of my personal data stored on my Drobo. But the Drobo proved problematic with my Mac Mini. I cannot leave the Drobo mounted on the Mac Mini. I used to get "device improperly dismounted" errors, until a firmware upgrade. After that, it won't improperly dismount it, but it will silently make it read-only, and it will then crash the Mac Mini. I originally blamed the Mac Mini, which had some stability problems. I had the motherboard replaced in the Mac Mini, but that changed nothing with the Drobo. So I leave the Drobo dismounted but turned on. When I back up, I mount it, backup, then dismount. It's an ugly solution and I am not happy with Apple and Drobo over this mess. But it works and lets me back things up to the Drobo on a regular basis.

But Backblaze was doing nothing. Not good. Waste of money. So I thought about it and realized that the Mac Mini had a 500 gig hard drive doing nothing except run the operating system. I don't use the Mac Mini for anything except hosting the Drobo. So I created a directory on the Mac Mini internal drive and started regular backups of my Linux desktop to there. Then I turned on Backblaze for the third or fourth time, transferred the license to the Mac Mini and got it to start backing up the Mini and that backup directory. It started. 275,000 files to backup. What? I have a lot of photos, and a lot of email and a lot of notes, but I didn't think I had that many files. But if I go to that directory and type

find . | wc -l

I get 275,238 files. Well. Guess so. I left BackBlaze running. After six weeks, it's still slowly backing up. 44,000 files left to go. It should finish the initial backup by the end of January, I hope. I keep topping it up with regular backups.

I see that Backblaze has an iPhone and iPad app. It's pretty neat. I can access my backed up files remotely via the iPhone and iPad. That's acting a bit like Dropbox and ownCloud. I like that.

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Fixed the X and mouse problem after Slackware upgrade
#330 Henry, Friday, 01 January 2016 3:40 PM (Category: Linux)
(Tags: xwindow linux mouse)

After the huge upgrade that came down the pipe with Slackware, I got several irritating problems. I wrote about them here. One was a problem with Perl, but I eventually worked out how to fix that. The other one was a problem with X Window and how the mouse behaved. Positioning the mouse became problematic. I had to put the mouse cursor about a half inch to the right and a half inch below where I really wanted it. That got old really fast.

I had done the same upgrade on my Linux desktop at work, and it wasn't happening there. Different video cards, so can't really compare it. I searched through the forums, but no-one else had reported anything like that. It was up to me.

I looked at my xorg.conf and didn't see anything. But I experimented. After a few hours, I found the fix. I was using these modules:

Section "Module"
    Load  "vnc"
    Load  "glx"

I had installed them so long ago, that I cannot remember what they are for or what they do. I commented them out and restarted X and the mouse problem went away. I should have diligently tried each one to find out which of the two was causing the problem, but I had run out of patience and just wanted to get back to work. It hasn't caused any problems running without those modules.

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