Archive for the ‘Computers & Software’ Category

A Note About Comments

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

My delete finger has been a little trigger-happy with comments on my blog lately. Sometimes I empty the spam folder before I realize that a comment might not really be spam. And once I’ve accidentally deleted all the spam comments, I can’t get back to them again.

So if you have left a comment on my blog lately and you come back and don’t see it, that is why. Sorry, it got caught in the spam filter and something about the dashboard on WordPress must’ve changed, because I am losing those comments before getting a chance to check out if they are really spam or not.

The best way for me to realize that you are not spam is to mention in your comment where you saw the link to the post on which you are commenting. If you came to my blog from Facebook, let me know that. If you came to my blog through Twitter or Instagram, let me know that.  You are much less likely to get lumped into the spam category along with all the comments from SEO website engines.

Apologies to anyone whose comments I may have inadvertently deleted. Practically nobody comments on blogs anymore, so it is easy to get trigger-happy. 🙂 But I do welcome comments, if you wish  to leave them here rather than on Facebook, for example.

BORROWING ALEX September 30th Release Date!

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

I’m in the midst of a huge website update in anticipation of the Monday, September 30th release date of the Blue Orchard Books re-issue of BORROWING ALEX, which is currently available for pre-order from Kobo. It’s more than a re-issue, because I’ve not only updated the book to reflect 2013 technology, but I’ve edited it to reflect my current writing style (ie. I’ve tightened it a bit and reworked a lot of sentences), but I’ve also expanded the novel to include two additional scenes. If you were one of the 40 or so people who read BORROWING ALEX while it was with Amber Quill Press, or if you’ve listened to the audiobook based on the first edition, don’t let me stop you from downloading the new ebook when it’s available and trying to figure out where the two new scenes have been added. 🙂

Hint: near the end.

Please sign up for my newsletter to be one of the first to know when BORROWING ALEX is available next week at Amazon, Kobo, NOOK and Apple. I’m waiting for the proof copy of the trade paperback before I approve the print edition to go on sale, so if you want paper it won’t be available until hopefully the first two weeks of October.

Right now, I’ve updated the BORROWING ALEX book page, where you can read the new back cover blurb and an excerpt. If you want to get an even closer look at the ebook cover and also the cover flat for the trade paperback edition, you can do by clicking the cover on the book page or by clicking here. I also created a page for the (so far only) foreign edition of BORROWING ALEX, the Greek edition from Anubis Publications, which, as well as being available on newsstands in Greece and Cyprus in paperback form (yes, that’s Jimmy Thomas on the cover!), is available in the Greek language as an ebook from Apple.

Now back to updating my website! Next up is a revamp of my Books page and swapping book covers in the image rotator on the Home page. That last one always gives me trouble.

Oh, before I forget (I nearly did!), a reader alerted me that my email link wasn’t working for them on my Contact page. I have investigated the issue and had a bunch of people test the email link. It appears to work for about 80% of test subjects, because the link depends on the reader having JavaScript enabled on their computer. If you don’t have it enabled, then you might not see my link at all or you might not be able to get it to load an email to send to me.

I designed my Contact page with the email script as a way to help stop non-humans from accessing my email address and sending me emails for various enlargements, etc. You know what I mean. However, if 20% of browsers can’t email me from my website, that’s no good, either.

I’m looking around now for some good email form code that I can embed on my Contact page, and then readers can fill out the form to send me an email. But, until I get around to finding the code and installing it, for now, if you can’t get the email link to work, either (1) ensure Java is installed on your computer (sorry, don’t know how you’d figure that out); or (2) message me from my Facebook page. Or Direct Message me from Twitter.

I’d rather not force folks who are not on social media to join social media just to email me, so sooner or later I will get the website email annoyance fixed. Aiming for a mid-October delivery date on that promise.

NOW back to updating my website!



Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

A few posts back I said I’d give an update on my shoulder condition and my quest for the perfect keyboard. First, I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a perfect keyboard, because to make it truly perfect it would have to be custom made to your specifications. However, I am very happy to report that I am making progress with my rotator cuff injury and have found a keyboard/mouse combination that seems to work for me. I have had both installed for about a week. I am still attending massage therapy once a week, and I still can’t undo my bra behind my back (when I can do that again, I’ll know I’m healed), but I am no longer attending physiotherapy AND massage once a week. I am doing exercises to strengthen the supraspinatus muscle up the whazoo. If you check out the link, that’s the muscle responsible for lifting and the one in which I received a cortisone shot several weeks ago. I also learned I had what they call a cortisone flare, which is why I was in such pain for two days.

The keyboard that seems to be working for me is the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard with the VIP attachment. Here are a couple of photos from their website. The Freestyle Solo is the basic keyboard, and there are a number of ways you can adapt it (check out the website for more information). Basically, it comes in two pieces that you can arrange in the split design to suit your needs. It doesn’t have a number key pad on the right. There are still numbers on the top set of keys and there is a number key pad of sorts that you can access under the U, I, O letters and so forth, on the right hand side of the keyboard. You just have to hit the function key first. Take a look:

The advantage to not having an embedded number key pad is that: (1) I rarely use it because I rarely input data, so I don’t miss it, and (2) it helps with my mouse overreach issue, because with my traditional Microsoft ergonomic keyboard I had to reach OVER the number key pad to reach my mouse, which was on a little drawer that pulled out to the right of my keyboard drawer. Now, my mouse, which is a Logitech wireless trackball, sits just to the right of the keyboard, on the same shelf AS the keyboard, which is a lot better for my right shoulder.

I’m the sort who needs wrist pads, so I ordered the Freestyle VIP attachment. Here’s a photo, although not set up the way I have it. This photo is showing the maximum splay of 15 degrees:

I have the wrist pads attached and I have the legs on the back, but I only have them set up to 10 degrees, which works for me. My two keyboard halves are also attached at top (the tether you see there allows people to set up the keyboard in a variety of ways).

I’m pretty happy with the Logitech wireless trackball, too. The wireless receiver is super tiny, because it’s a trackball, I use my thumb instead of my finger, and because it’s a trackball I don’t have to move the unit around like I did with a traditional mouse. The only thing I’m missing is a little wrist pad, because I’m so used to having wrist pads and I really like them. I’ll have to pick one up for the mouse.

This system is good for me because I can work with a lot less discomfort. The trackball is a little tricky to get used to, but I can’t go back to a regular mouse so I’m giving it a good shot. At first it was really weird to use my thumb to move the ball, but I’m getting more accustomed to it.

Do you have ergonomic issues? What’s the best set-up for you?


Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

My absence from the blog hasn’t just been due to Summer Brain. I’ve been super busy on the writing front without doing any actual new writing. I critiqued a full manuscript for a friend, proofed my December release from Five Star Expressions, went through two rounds of editing on Penny’s first single title for Samhain Publishing, then did the final line editing and the proofing for the same. Then, in preparation for editing, I preformatted Penny’s short story for Ellora’s Cave (release date TBA). I just received the edits for the story on Monday, so it’s deadline time again. Not that I’m complaining, but when you’re writing for three different publishers under two different names, well, those publishers all have schedules to keep, which means I need to hop-to when one of them beckons. I’m down two projects, one to go. News which my shoulder greatly appreciates.

Part of the reason, other than the deadlines, that I’ve been gone, is because I’ve been suffering with rotator cuff issues for the last year, but I hurt myself badly in early July when I was moving too quickly, doing too many things at once, and my hand got caught in the workshop door while I was trying to walk up the basement stairs. This stupidito action on my part resulted in a cry of pain and writhing on the couch for what was probably only 30 seconds of torture but felt like 2 minutes (which is a long time when you’re in bad pain). Since that injury, which exacerbated the rotator cuff issues I’ve been having for about a year now, I moved into attending weekly physiotherapy (PT to Americans) and massage therapy…to little result. I saw such marginal improvement that I finally went to my doctor about the issue for the first time since, oh, last November. Not smart, I’ve discovered, to keep telling yourself “It’ll get better without bothering my GP.”

Well, my GP is a sports medicine specialist, so I shouldn’t have been so dense. I should have returned to him a lot sooner. But that’s water under the bridge. Three weeks ago this Friday, I finally went to see him about my shoulder issues and the July injury. The result was a cortisone shot to my supraspinatus muscle which pretty much incapacitated me for 48 hours. After that first awful 48 hours, I began to see slow improvement to my shoulder impingement. However, whether it’s due to, ahem, age, or the fact that I spend a good portion of my days on a keyboard and mouse, or that I fooled myself into thinking the injury would heal over time, I’m making progress but not enough to ignore my doctor’s advice to follow up in 10-14 days in the event that I might have a rotator cuff tear. Okay, so three weeks isn’t 14 days, but he was on holidays. I honestly don’t think I have a tear, but if he wants me to schedule an MRI to make certain, I will.

When you have a cortisone shot, the physio and massage therapists don’t like to see you for 7-10 days, so while I was waiting for the cortisone to work, I did a ton of exercises the physio had shown me and began investigating different keyboard and mouse options. I have been using a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard for years, and I didn’t know what else I could do until researching my injury led me to believe that it isn’t specifically the mouse that exacerbates my condition, it’s the fact that I’m constantly reaching over the number-key pad on the right of my keyboard to GET to the mouse. I do believe I’m a victim of mouse over-reach. I researched my options and was disappointed to realize that Microsoft doesn’t make a left-handed keyboard (number key pad on the left) in an ergonomic wave design. So I ordered what’s called a touchpad keyboard, from another manufacturer. The keyboard itself is ergonomically shaped and still has the number keypad on right, but instead of a mouse, you have a touchpad (like laptops have) in the bottom middle of the keyboard.

I loved this idea! And, while the brand of keyboard had received hit-or-miss reviews on-line, I spoke to a handful of writers through email who owned the keyboard and loved it. Well, they either had the older, more reliable version or I received a lemon. And what a lemon! I had that stupid keyboard set up three days, and while getting accustomed to the touchpad might have taken about a week, I would have gladly put up with that if the touchpad software didn’t keep going berserk. The cursor would whip around on the screen and open every program for each icon it touched. The only way I could stop it was by doing a cold shut-down. I later read on-line that you could unplug the keyboard to get it to stop glitching, but because of my computer and office set-up, that presented a whole ‘nother PITA of crawling around under my desk and straining my shoulder that I was not going to endure. So the keyboard went back in the box, and I’m awaiting reimbursement.

Since going back to the mouse, I can tell, yep, I have mouse over-reach issues. I can not keep my current set-up. My next experiment will be ordering the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard with the VIP attachment. This keyboard doesn’t have a number key pad (you can order one that comes separate from the keyboard itself) and it splits into two halves that can be arranged in several different ways, to suit the user. I sincerely hope this works for me. While I’m at it, I’m going to try a trackball again. I have my eye set on a Logitech model.

I’ll report in on my ergonomic issues in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ll continue to blog sporadically (twice a week if I can manage it) and reserve my keyboard/mouse use for editing and writing.

Wish me luck!

Dear Delbert,

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m glad you died. Five years in computer age is like 50 years in human time. That’s worse than a dog’s!

Dylan is not only prettier than you, but I don’t have to plug my digital camera into Dylan to upload pictures. There’s a handy little slot for my camera card! Delbert, I loved your operating system, and you were a good, solid workhorse. You saved me from “progressing” to the dreaded Vista, and for that I thank you. But Windows 7 kicks your ass. I love how uncluttered my desktop is thanks to the docking station where I’ve hidden all my program icons. I also have my most-used progam icons in a nice BIG size down on my task bar. I really appreciate how I can right-click on a program and pin my most recently used files to the top of the list for easy access.

Yes, Dylan rocks. And her little cousin, Daisy, is sweet, too.

Daisy isn’t as quick as Dylan. Her start-up speed kind of reminds me of yours. Windows 7 Stater edition doesn’t kick your XP butt, I must say. But Daisy has a purpose, and she fulfills it.

The only thing I miss about you is that my old monitor isn’t compatible with Dylan. Oh, the old monitor works, but I can’t download a Windows 7 driver for my 5-year-old 19-inch Dell flat screen monitor (not impressed with that, Dell!), and the generic driver doesn’t provide me with as many CLEAR viewing options. So now my website looks a lot narrower than I remember it looking on you, which drives me nuts. And I had to get used to reading smaller type on-line. That was annoying.

I shall persevere with the monitor. I refuse to buy another until it dies…like you did, leaving me frustrated and lonely until Dylan came along.

Oh, and Delbert? I don’t appreciate you hiding the style sheet for my website in your coffin! That was a nasty trick. Luckily, I’m quite the mortician and figured out how to unearth it.

Well, I must be off. Time to go smash your old hard drive to smithereens.

Love, Cindy

Old Writer, New Tricks

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Well, middle-aged writer is more accurate. I’m not 103 yet!

I have made a transition in my writing life that I never thought I would accomplish. I have :::gasp!::: finally begun typing in black font on a white screen. It’s almost like typing on white paper. Amazing. Why didn’t I think of this before?

Back in the Blue Ages, when WordPerfect was the word processing program of choice, I became used to typing white font onto a blue screen. One day My Liege came home from work and announced that his employer had converted to this strange new program called Word. We were getting a new computer, and he didn’t want to have to know how to work two word processing programs (plus, back in the Blue Ages the hard drive on our computer was so small that it didn’t have room for two word processing programs). So it was decided that we were moving to Word. I wailed, I gnashed my teeth, I believe I even pulled out some of his hair. I LOVED WordPerfect. For a writer, it’s amazingly simple compared to Word. The Reveal Codes alone was enough to keep me committed to WordPerfect for life.

However, then I learned that not only had my husband’s employer moved to Word, but Word was the program of choice pretty much across the publishing industry. Teeth ground down to gums, I made the transition. But one thing I refused to give up was typing in white font on a blue screen. Typing in black on a white screen hurt my eyes. Plus, it didn’t look pretty. It looked business-like, not creative. It stunk.

Lo and behold, Word has a “white font on blue screen” option for those of who were dragged kicking and screaming away from WordPerfect. I used that option religiously until this year.

Two things happened. (1) My eyes are older and weaker than they used to be, so suddenly the black font on white screen doesn’t seem so harsh; and (2) as my frequent blog readers know, my desktop died. I had a full manuscript request, so I was forced to work on My Liege’s and Youngest Son’s laptops. They both type black on white. Afeared of screwing up their laptops somehow, and noting that the laptop screen wasn’t as big (and therefore not as blinding) as my 19-inch desktop LCD monitor, and rationalizing that I was only editing not creating, I boldy went where my fingers had not gone before and typed black on white. And after a few days it wasn’t that bad.

Then the weirdest thing happened. I loaded Word onto my new desktop, opened a document, cursed that the default was once again black on white, went into the options panel and changed it to white on blue, then…decided the blue screen was too bright. Yes, finally, finally, after all these years, I have made the conversion. It will be interesting to see if it sticks. Having submitted that requested full manuscript, I am now returning to revisions on my single title. Revisions I can manage typing black on white. I do most of my revising with pen and ink, anyway. But when I finish those revisions and finally start crafting a new story, that will be the real test.

Have you forced yourself to learn new writer tricks? The other biggie for me was going from two spaces after a period to one. When I finally decided to make the move, it only took my fingers three or four days to become accustomed to not typing that extra space. I thought it would take forever. Not so.

Maybe there’s hope for me with the tiny keyboard on my new netbook, after all. It’s replacing my old AlphaSmart, and if I could type on that, I should be able to type on the netbook keyboard. But I did order a mouse to go with, and I can’t wait until it arrives. I still absolutely abhor touchpads. Maybe someday I’ll get used to them..but not now.

New Toys!

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I’m back on-line!

I’m in the process of setting up my new Dell (named Dylan, a unisex handle). When I finish that, I have to set up Daisy, my new netbook. I’ve never even had a laptop before, so I’m excited. Daisy is purple. She’s a Garbera daisy. 🙂 (Not sure of the spelling there).

I like Windows 7, but I need to familiarize myself with it—badly. Today I mainly installed my virus software, then figured out how to update the license so Daisy can use the same software. Then I got a handle on my overflowing in-box. My local geeks (I’m not insulting them—their business name has Geeks in it) initially told me I wouldn’t be able to run Eudora on Windows 7, but when I went to pick up the computer, lo and behold, Eudora was installed. I don’t know if this is because Eudora CAN run on Windows 7, or because I purchased the Professional edition, which allows programs that aren’t compatible with Windows 7 to run on a Virtual XP thingie.

The first thing I need to do tomorrow is change the screen resolution. It’s too tiny for eyes “of my age.” And then begins the slow, laborious process of installing programs. I figure, between two new computers, I should be all caught up by the weekend.

Okay, I just hit some weird button on this crappy entry-level keyboard that is changing all my apostrophes into è. I donèt know how this happens, but I made the same thing happen on the full size keyboard My Liege has hooked up to his old laptop. Itès irritating. I have to restart the computer to get it to stop happening.

Ièm not used to a regular keyboard. I use an ergonomic keyboard. However, lo and behold, when I went to hook up my old ergonomic keyboard, I realized Dylan only accepts keyboards with USB connections. The nerve! My old keyboard had a circular connection. With Dylan requiring a USB connection for the keyboard, I realized that 4 USB slots in the back would not be enough for my purposes. I need 5: scanner, printer, modem, keyboard, mouse. The nerve! So, seeing as I needed a new keyboard anyway (I was told I could buy a thingie to convert my circular connection to USB, but half the letters are worn off the old KB anyway), I had to decide between buying a new, wired ergo keyboard along with a USB pod so I would have more USB connection slots OR buying a new wireless ergo keyboard with wireless mouse that only requires 1 USB  port between them. I opted for the latter option. Ièd better set it up first tomorrow, because I never accidentally make my apostrophes turn into è on ergo keyboards.

The nerve!

RITA Books!

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I received my RITA books to judge today, and I’m a happy camper. Last year was my first year to judge, and I was sent 9 books. This year I was only sent 6 books. That’s much more manageable. Last year, even though I signed up to judge 3 categories, I received 8 books from one category. Not an ideal situation. This year, I have books from 3 categories, and some are different categories than I judged last year, so I’m greatly looking forward to it. 

I’ll dig in this weekend. I’ve ordered my new computer, but it won’t be here for two weeks. I also ordered a netbook as a belated birthday present from My Liege. He wanted to take me to an electronics store and help me pick one out, but I already knew what I wanted and it was just so easy to buy the netbook while ordering the new tower. I got a better deal by ordering both from the same supplier, too.

Now M.L. has to go out and buy me a little something extra, because it’s just not right that I should buy a birthday present for myself. Aren’t I clever?  

I’m back to editing the requested full manuscript. Today I’m on Youngest Son’s laptop. Yesterday, I was on M.L.’s. Y.S. has Word 2007, so I’m experiencing a learning curve, that’s for sure.

Delbert December 2005 – January 2010 R.I.P.

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

It’s official—my computer  is dead! Delbert needs a new hard drive (on top of the virus issues which first sent him to the shop), and now that Windows 7 is out (Delbert had XP), My Liege and I decided it’s time I get a new tower. I don’t need a monitor, speakers, etc., so it shouldn’t be too much damage. The cost of replacing the hard drive is too high to seriously consider for a 5-year-old computer.

So now I’m researching new towers while continuing editing/polishing the requested full manuscript on M.L.’s or Youngest Son’s laptops. The computer dying lost me a good two days on the manu request, which was further complicated by the fact that I went to Mexico to celebrate a milestone birthday in the company of my parents. I had a wonderful time and just returned Friday night. Will post pictures once I have my new computer. I’ll probably get another Dell. This will make our second Dell desktop purchase and we’ve also made two Dell laptop purchases in the past. M.L.’s job offers a discount that is usually too good to pass up. The computer techs who looked at my hard drive told me they see the fewest hardware failures on Dell above all other brands (no, they don’t sell them),  so that gives me good incentive to be a repeat customer.

In Mexico, I was able to check on my email using my father’s laptop, but somehow couldn’t find time to research Delbert replacements or work on the requested manu in nice, sunny weather. Instead, I read a ton of books, spent quality time with the ‘rents, and visited an out-of-the-way beach (IOW, not the beaches in front of the hotels). I haven’t gone somewhere in the winter for 13 years, so it was a nice change. Unfortunately, M.L. had to stay home for business considerations, and it was a good thing he did. The weather is wreaking havoc in my part of the continent, alternately freezing and melting. We had a huge melt while I was gone, and M.L. spent my birthday attempting to protect our basement from flooding. He did a great job, but the old detached garage that houses his motorcycle suffered some damage. Better that than our house!

If he had gone to Mexico with me, I can’t imagine what a mess the basement would have been in when we got home.

Anyway, this is my convoluted way of saying that I’ll be scarce on-line until I have my new computer all set up and files transferred, programs loaded, etc. I do have a guest blogger visiting next week, and luckily I scheduled her posts before I left. So that guest blog and book give-away will still go ahead. I won’t be visiting blogs, etc., myself until I’m on my own computer again, but I promise I’ll catch up with my blog and Twitter and Facebook (Scrabble!) friends when I can.


Monday, January 11th, 2010

Popping in to say I’m kind of here…in some format. I’m in the midst of editing/polishing a full manuscript request, which has been made more difficult by a pleasant circumstance and also a very unpleasant one—my computer is “deaded,” as Allie McBeagle would say. I’m posting from a borrowed laptop.  You’ll all have to carry on without me. More on the pleasant circumstance when Delbert (the computer) recovers. Please keep him in your thoughts. :::sob:::