Entries from April 2009 ↓

Jumpy Mouse

I have a newer Dell computer that has been having jumpy curser problems. You drag the mouse, the curser follows, then stops, then jumps to the new location. Very annoying.

I tried a new USB mouse, plugged it in to a front panel USB port. The previous mouse had been plugged into a rear apron USB port next to the USB keyboard. Now the curser no longer jumps, but since I also did an update to XP, I cannot be sure what action was the magic bullet and I don’t have time to fool with it now to find out.

So, if you have a Dell, a jumpy curser, and a USB mouse, do one or all of those remedies listed above and let me know which one did the trick.

New Hard Drive

About the only thing birthdays are good for is to receive birthday presents, eat birthday cakes, and retrieve birthday cards from the mailbox.

This birthday I got a 500 gig hard drive. A full 500 giglebytes that I divided into two partitions of 250 gig each. That is so I can back up each partition with a 250 gig drive. 250 gig drives are cheaper than 500 gig drives, faster too. Although the 500 gig was not all that expensive or slow. Only $60 at Newegg and that includes shipping. I still recall paying $300 for my very first 10meg hard drive for my PC XT clone. An extremely painful memory. Just think, 1000meg is 1gig and this new drive has 500 x 1000meg or 500,000meg. 60/500000=.00012 dollars per meg or .0012 dollars per 10meg. By todays measure that $300 10meg drive would cost .12 cents today. Hey! that is just about what it is worth!

Well, now I can store all of my electronics and radio stuff on-line, on the hard drive, including 20 years of CQ, QST, and 73 magazine. All that and with full backup so that I don’t have to worry about data loss. All that and no need to connect that particular computer to the internet. No viruses or buggy virus elimination software for me.

And the other partition can hold over 100 movies!

Life is good again.

The Game of Life

I read somewhere that in the game of life the person with the most toys at the time of death wins the game.

I believe that is a very short sighted outlook. My definition of a winning position is to be the one with the most toys that are still working when the end comes.

Recently one of my ‘toys’ broke. Several years ago I became the owner of a lawnmower that propelled itself. You did not need to push it. Just guide it and let it pull you along.

At the start of this season it required pushing. Lots of pushing. After half an hour of pushing I was all pushed out. This thing needed to be repaired or replace.

Replace was out of the question. New lawnmowers are now priced at what I would consider reasonable for a good used car. Guess I am still living in the 60′s. That is the 1960′s.

Repair was going to require parts. The main problem was that the drive bushing on the vertical shaft run by a pulley and belt from the main engine shaft was worn out. That and the fact that the worm drive gears were caked full with hardened grease was what was keeping the drive from driving.

Cleaning the gears was not all that much of a problem. Finding parts was another story. There are lots of places on the internet that offer parts for lawnmowers of all kinds including the one I have. All those places are completely worthless. Prices are outreagous, shipping is unreasonable, parts selection is non-existent. After cruising the internet for half an hour I was pretty well certain that I would not be able to find the part I needed.

Well, it turns out that I did not need to buy a new part after all. The drive gears are housed in a casting that bolts together. The casting is in two parts, upper and lower. The shaft that drives the wheels runs horizontally. The shaft that drives the horizontal shaft runs vertically. The two shafts combine in the casting and are supported by bushings. Two bushings for the horizontal shaft and one for the vertical shaft. The three bushings are identical! So, the horizontal shaft was polished so that one of the still good bushings could be removed. The good bushing was used to support the vertical shaft. The worn out bushing from the vertical shaft was used to support one side of the horizontal shaft. A worn out bushing on the horizontal shaft did not seem to bother the function of the shaft.

After a few choice words a few beers in celebration and a sharpening of the blade, I am again in business with a functioning lawn mower. It cuts, it mulches, and I don’t have to push it.


What does NTFS stand for? Maybe ‘Not This Friggin System’ Why should it matter what it stands for? All that matters to users is what it does? It allows your computer to have hard drive volumes larger than 32 gig and files larger than 4 gig. Those are the FAT-32 limitations. Guess maybe FAT-32 is not so fat after all.

If you are still using a commodore 64 or a vic-20, you may not even know what a giglebyte is, or care. Why should you? But if you are trying to store and move large video files, you need hard drive volumes larger than 32 gig capable of handling and storing files larger than 4 gig. This is where NTFS becomes necessary in the PC world. NTFS will handle our 14 to 20 gig video files

The video capture card in our PC regularly records up to 12 hours of programs at a time. When recording a program, it is easier to just turn on record ahead of time and not have to worry with a start/stop timer and time accuracy. We edit out commercials later anyway and we can edit out unwanted programming at the same time. (No, we don’t have a TIVO or real PVR and have no plans to upgrade our equipment. We would probably still be trying to use a commodore or vic-20 if P4 PCs were not so inexpensive.)

We also have an Apple iBook. It is the ‘apple’ of our eye. Neatest little notebook ever made. It can do everything and more that our desktop PC can do. It can even access the internet, magically, without using wires! The only problem it has is hard drive space. That 20 gig is just about used up.

No problem. We have lots of storage on an external firewire drive. Trouble is that drive is NTFS so we can store video files on it. Stock Apples don’t do NTFS. At least the iBook we have does not normally do NTFS.

Well, it does now and all is well in our computer world.

Yesterday we installed macfuse which allowed us to install NTFS-3G. Those two programs allow the iBook to happily read and write to the NTFS files system.