My new website

My wife and I have just set up a joint web site.  The home page just contains two big buttons.  The one the left is to enter my web site and the one on the right is for hers.

The URL is: www.intellisigsys.net

The main purpose of my site is to list all the ways I can help computer users who dislike (or can’t really afford) paying a lot of dollars to have someone come and do things to their computer.  Some tasks that fall into this category are:

1. Remove malware and crudware from the computer.

2. Install software and optimize it.

3. Set up a new computer and make recommendations for what pre-installed software to keep or get rid of.

4. Help set up a home network.

5. Consulting about which computer to buy to fit your intended use.

6. Want your own website?  I’ll be happy to assist from initial design through coding it up and all the way to putting it out on the web.

7. Assist in upgrading your computer with new hardware or software.

8. Help maintain your computer – dustballs inside it can be deadly.

I work generally in the Dayton, Ohio area and inside 20 miles I won’t charge for gas.  Before I do a thing, we will have agreed on a price – and it won’t make a huge dent in your budget.  Anyway, the URL is active now but the home page is as far as it goes.

 

HTML is a four-letter word

I’ve been busily (for the last three days) doing some much-needed updating on my web site.  Until I get all the paged done, nothing get put up.  There are so many flavors of HTML out there that I hardly know where to begin.  The very first line – the one that tells the browser what the page actually is) kept throwing an error even though the whole line was syntactically correct.  I kept shortening it until all it read was “Doctype HTML”  Take THAT you stupid browser!

“RANT”

For the purposes of this diatribe, I will not use the carets (“<” and “>”) that indicate to the browser that a HTML code is coming up (or just left).  The very worst of it all was setting up the style sheets.  What a load of BS & /BS.  Drop one little ampersand “&” and the whole line goes crimson and nary a clue exists as to WHY it did.

Because I am too cheap to actually purchase good web designer software, I am churning this out in Notepad.  It is a good text editor and can be set up to not wrap lines.  This is a good thing, unless you have a line of code that stretches to infinity and beyond.  I tried Word, but Clippy kept sticking his nose into my business and trying to “guide” me.  I finally retaliated by wasting his ass.  Bwa ha ha!

For those who would really love to do harm to Clippy, you can search for two files and delete them: clippit.acs and clippit.acg.  There are other acs and acg files too (Dot, F1, Logo, Minature, and Rocky)  Kill all of those and they won’t peek over your shoulder and steer you onto the rocks.

But I digress; back to HTML.  Several of my pages have multiple pictures on them.  I spent two hours trying to get three pictures to sit side-by-side.  Who knew that if you position the first one with “align=left” and the rest set to “align=center” that they will all fall in nicely in a horizontal row.  I also tried for a while to indent some text using all sorts of strange combinations of code.  Who knew that a simple command (“UL” and “/UL”) would do it nicely. You can even nest them to do a double-indent.  I mean, it IS intuitive, isn’t it?  I now remember the code by the phrase “Uberpush Line”.

Fortunately, I use Firefox.  I love it.  I’ve been using it ever since version .00001.  One of it’s best features is a context menu item named “View Page Source”.  I love it!  Using this, and going back and forth from my Notepad HTML code, saving it, and clicking the refresh button, I can actually tell when I’ve screwed up made an error and have to fix it.

I think that the one thing that bugs me the absolute most are tag pairs (opening/closing) that you absolutely have to have – except if you have an enclosed tag that negates the use of a closing tag.  Huh?  Howzat?  Take, for instance (please), the simple Paragraph tag (“P”).  Using this tag, you can set text apart from other text as in a paragraph.  Now, if you happen to want to indent that paragraph (remember the UL and /UL?) you can forget the closing “/P”.  That’s right, you don’t need it because the paragraph closing is “implied” by the closing /UL.  It took me three books and a Google search to find out why my terminating /P kept turning red.

Now, I’m sure there are HTML people out there that are shaking their heads and saying stuff like “ignoramus” and worse, but this is MY web site and I want it MY way – not the way that Front Page or Pagebreeze thinks it should be.  Besides, I’ve been programming for just under 50 years now (started in 1964) and the word “nevah say quit” isn’t in my vocabulary (well, actually, it’s three words – but you know what I mean).

Bleah!

“/ RANT”

So, how was your week?

Ok, I admit it. I was wrong.

I finally got Cometdocs to work.  Apparently, the method they USED to use was to send you an email with a link to your converted document.  That has gone by the wayside I guess.  What you do now is upload your document and then haunt the next tab over (called ‘File manager’) and wait for your document to finish processing.  Then, you click on the provided link and download it back to your computer.  This, to me, is a much cleaner way to do it anyway.

On this tab, you are also offered the choice of leaving your original and the converted docs up there or deleting them.  This is a good thing.  I have found. also, that you don’t get the File Manager unless you are logged in to their site.  If you are a casual user (haven’t created an account), I haven’t a clue how you get your converted document back.  Maybe you don’t.

In any case, I stand corrected.  I was able to convert some pesky XPS documents into something I could actually modify in a DOC format and save it.

Bill

Beware of “Cometdocs”

I received several documents as XPS (Microsoft XPS Document format) files and looked around for something that would make these a little more readable (and editable).  Google found an online site that claimed to translate them from XPS to DOC format.  The site is called Cometdocs.

When you first go there, you will find a simple interface where you click the Browse button and search for the document(s) that you want translated.  Once found, you highlight the document(s) and click the Open button on your dialog box.  You are then directed to select one of the multiple ‘this’ to ‘that’ format buttons (I chose XPS to DOC).  Next, there is a field where you put your email address.  Once that is entered, you click the Send button.

Absolutely NOTHING will happen.  If you monitor the email address you just gave, there will appear an email from Cometdocs that requires you to click a link to “verify your email address”.  The link appears genuine and will take you back to a “thank you for verifying” page on Cometdocs.

Then you wait.  And wait.  And wait.  You will not get anything returned to you from Cometdocs.  I put the request for translation in at around 2130 last night and I am STILL WAITING now at 1030 this morning.  It does not take over 12 hours to translate a document.

The Cometdocs web site claims to be hosted by WordPress, although I find no sign of it anywhere here.  I am now convinced that Cometdocs is a scam to gather emails addresses and all the “I really like Cometdocs” posts (do a WordPress search on ‘Cometdocs’) all say virtually the same thing which means that they were probably put out there by the same person or group of people.

Beware of Cometdocs.

Bill

 

Revolving emails

Early this morning, I started up my email client (Mozilla Thunderbird) and was told that I had 86 emails in one of my accounts.  Stunned by this revelation, I quickly clicked on the inbox for this account.  Every one of these 86 emails was identical.  I had received ONE email from a friend down in Australia and it was being replicated even as I read it.  By the time I finished reading the email and storing away the attached TGA picture, I had accumulated 17 more identical emails.  Total now being 103.

During the next hour I received around 30 more of them.  During the rest of the day, I got a total of over 250 emails, all identical to the first one.  Clearly, it was time to call the professionals.  I fired up Firefox and managed to navigate AT&T’s really convoluted web site to get to “Web Chat with a professional”.  The conversation:

him: “Hello my name is ……. how may I help you?”

me: “Hi, I have a problem with a repeating email continuously being sent from your server queue to my Inbox.”

H: “Oh, I am sorry to be hearing you having this diffuculty.  Please let me assist you in helping you to solve this problem”

(Eh?  Howzat? Two guesses which country I’m now in contact with.)

M: “At the risk of repeating myself – I have a problem with a repeating email continuously being sent from your server queue to my Inbox”

H: “Is it the same email?  if it is, do not open it because it is a virus.”

M: “No – it is NOT a virus.  It is a legitimate email sent by a friend and contains an image I need from him.”

H: “I repeat, sir, please not to be opening it, it contains a virus.”

(By this time I’m ready to strangle him)

M: “NO – it is NOT a VIRUS!!!!!!!!!  It is simply a message that, for some unknown reason, is being resent from your server to my Inbox.”

H: “I speak from experience, sir.  It is a virus.”

M: “My experience trumps your experience, man.  I’ve got over 45 years in computers – beat that!  It is NOT A VIRUS!”

H: “Yes, sir.  Is there anything else I may be helping you with now?”

M: “Yeah – my original problem – how about that?”

H: “I have told you repeatedly that it is a virus and not to open it.”

(Yeah, I gotta kill this guy.  If I could climb down the wire I would.)

M: “Okay. What do I do with the other 255 of them?”

H: “Delete them?”

M: “Fine – they’re gone.  Whoops, another one just popped up.  Shall I beat that one to death also?”

H: There is no reason to be rude to me.  Call this number for AT&T second level service (877xxxxxxxxxx).

-hangup-

I reach down to the floor, pick up my anger, which has been biting me on the ankles, and pick up the phone with a sense of foreboding that somehow I will get the very same guy – only this time in audio instead of a chat window.  I don’t.  Instead, I get a really nice guy who speaks English like a native.  When I ask, he’s from Georgia (that’s still in the US isn’t it?)

I repeat my original complaint and he put me on hold for about 30 seconds.  When he comes back, he asks if I would start up Internet Explorer and allow him to take control of my computer.  Hmmmmm.  I’m not altogether too keen on this, but I allow it.  First, I have to find IE.  I haven’t used it since IE2.3 but I know is has to be on my Vista machine somewhere.  Finally, down in a very unused corner of my hard drive I find it and get it running.

He gives me a URL and I enter it.  It allows him to assume control of my machine.  I watch as the cursor flutters, then steadies on the screen.  He bounces around a bit and then (over the phone) asks me where my task bar is.  I tell him to run the mouse to the bottom of the screen.  He does, and it pops up.  “Neat” he exclaims.  (Oh, great.  I’ve got probably the only kid in America that doesn’t know you can ‘auto-hide’ the taskbar.)

He types the URL for my web mail interface and it creaks open.  I’ve never used it since around the invention of the Internet so I am really surprised it works.  He clicks on the Inbox and it is immediately filled with around 50 or 60 identical emails.  “Whoops,” says he.  “Looks like you have mail.”

“Well, gosh,” says I.  “Looks like they’re all the same email doesn’t it?”

“Yup.  Sure does.  Is this what your complaint is?”

“Yup.  There used to be over 250 of them.  These just came in while I was flapping my fingers at the Indian guy.”

He proceeds to make the mouse pointer wander around the screen (which I watch like a hawk watches a mouse since HE is on MY machine) and clicks a few items.  He gets down into my email options and sets the offending email address up as SPAM.  This causes new incoming copies of the email to get routed to the SPAM folder.  “There!”  He proclaims.  “That will make it go away.”

“Yabbut (one word), what happens when he send me another email.  Won’t it get shunted to the SPAM folder?”

“Yeah.  Isn’t that what you wanted?”

I count slowly backwards from ten thousand to zero – by sevens – until I have control of my mouth.  “That’s not solving the problem – only forcing the email to a SPAM folder.”

“But you can see it every time you get your mail.”

“How?”

“When you come to the web interface.”

“Sorry, weren’t you listening when I said I don’t use the web interface?  I use Thunderbird exclusively and get my email using the POP server.  The SPAM folder on the web interface is not emptied by my POP client.”

“POP what?”

(Uh, oh.  Big trouble here in River City.)

“Never mind.  Thanks for your help and have a good day.”

“Bye and thanks for using AT&T services.”

We hang up and I immediately check to see if I’m getting any more emails from my friend.  Nope.  They seem to have stopped for the moment.  I’m dreading taking his email address back out of the SPAM locker in fear of receiving all the backed-up emails stored there.  If I’m really lucky, however, marking it as SPAM might (just might) take it permanently out of the deadlocked queue and stop it from SPAMming me any more.

Sheesh!

Bill

 

I have a web site!

Two days ago I uploaded the first draft of my web site.  The first page has a picture of me at the controls of a steam engine.  Number 97 of the Valley Railroad.  The railroad itself is over in Connecticut, in the town of Essex.  It is known also as “The Essex Steam Train” and their web site can be found here: http://www.essexsteamtrain.com/.

My site is a specialized site aimed at allowing people whose versions of the train simulator sold by Auran (Australian company) have become unsupported.  A ‘route’ is a collection of train boards with all manner of textures, trees, houses, tracks, trains, and the like set down on them.  Terrain can be modeled from actual digital maps and can be quite realistic.

I offer some pictures of a route that I created several years ago so you can get the general idea what Trainz is all about.

The site is here: http://trainzroutez.info/welcome.html so drop on by if you’re curious to see what I look like (with an added 20 pounds I have since lost).

Something screwy going on here.  I’m not getting my RSS feeds of this blog.

Bill