Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trying to Live with Windows 7

With time off for the holidays, I decided that it was time to nuke my now-seedy Windows Vista PC at home and replace the operating system with Windows 7 Ultimate.

Of course, one of the main reasons that Vista had gone to seed was my trying to "upgrade" to Windows 7. That went through a lot of motions, but it ended up freezing up my PC and leaving me to back off to Vista. Every day after that was a pointed reminder of why it's usually better to just reformat and install fresh.

I took the chicken's way out for the fresh format, pulling my "working" Vista multi-boot system disk and putting in a new Western Digital (1 TB) Caviar. The old system disk was a small (70 GB) and very fast (10k rpm) WD Raptor, which has been in continuous use since early 2004. Best not push my luck with that old Raptor.

Windows 7 installation was uneventful and fairly fast. The fun began when I tried to piece Humpty Dumpty back together again. Here's a short list of issues that I had:

  1. Try as I might, I could not acquire a networked HP LaserJet printer that was connected to another machine.
  2. My old NTI Backup Now! version 4.5 software was incompatible with Windows 7.
  3. Although my multi-boot system drive was swapped out, the Ubuntu Linux operating system resided safely on another drive. I just had blown away the GRUB master boot record, which I needed to rebuild.
  4. I was afraid that I'd have issues with my old Hauppauge WinTV card and software.
The HP LaserJet 2600N
After configuring and sharing my new OS on my local network neighborhood, other PCs could see me and connect to me; however, I could see the other PCs but not connect to them. Expedient solution was to make my PC the host for network printing. That, too, started out poorly, as test prints just sat in my print queue without printing. Long story short: other users had reported that I should turn off "Enable bidirectional support" in my printer port settings. That and updated drivers solved problem #1.

NTI Backup Now!
Before I upgraded, Windows 7 warned me that my version 4.5 of NTI Backup Now! would be incompatible. An upgrade to the 5.x version was fairly inexpensive, but I forgot one thing: when I went to a new disk drive, I left behind my old NTI Backup program. The 5.x license was an upgrade version, which required that the previous version be installed. I could NOT install the 4.x version under Windows 7. Oops. Fortunately, I found that I had an electronic version for the NTI suite on another drive. For whatever reason, that version was able to at least install an attenuated version of the old NTI Backup long enough for me to then install the upgrade version.

Multi-boot Manager
I was using the built-in Windows boot manager, via BCDEdit, to boot into my Ubuntu Linux partition. After upgrading, I needed to re-create the master boot record entry that would launch Ubuntu. I got in a little over my head when I found that I did not know how to use the Ubuntu Live disk to write a new GRUB entry on my C drive. Most fortunately, I had the foresight to backup the original NST_grub.mbr file. When I put that file back onto the right spot of the new C drive, I was able to convince BCDEdit to configure it back into the multi-boot environment. Hurrah!

Hauppauge WinTV
The Hauppauge started giving me grief back when I first started with Vista, so I wasn't hopeful about Windows 7. After loading up my old drivers, however, I was able to get the WinTV tuner working. Color balance was loopy, though. Every time I fired up the TV, Windows would warn me that the color scheme as changed back to Windows Basic. This means that I always have to go in to Hauppauge preferences and tweak the color balance. Ok. For whatever reason, I could not get the remote control to work, but that was hit or miss (mostly miss) under Vista. I thought that finding and putting in new drivers would help, but that just screwed things so bad that I had to uninstall all of the new drivers and fall back to the old ones.

Lessons Learned

When you run into installation problems with old software, always check the net for new drivers. That solved most of the minor problems. When you have old hardware/software combos like my vintage Hauppauge card, don't expect miracles. Learn to live with it, or plan to upgrade it. I'd love to figure out what's wrong with my Windows Network Neighborhood setup, but at least everyone can print.

It's nice having a fast, clean OS running again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I can has a Cheeseburger?!

Hand it to Big Blue.... They now have a supercomputer that simulates a cat's cerebral cortex, albeit one hundred times slower than a real life hairball. Suprisingly -- to this cat owner at least -- the IBM machine has 147,456 processors and 144 terabytes of memory. Seems an awful lot for a SIM Pussy.

Previous attempts by IBM have simulated 40 percent of a mouse's brain in 2006. They managed a rat's full brain in 2007. Unlike Renfield, they've apparently skipped past the flies and spiders.

So, what's it like having a computer that simulates one billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses?

  1. It's hard to wake up after it goes into hibernation mode.
  2. Wireless mice keep disappearing
  3. You have a computer that can lick its own I/O ports.
  4. You have to program it in LOLSpeak.
  5. It REALLY hogs your bed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Genetic link to lousy drivers

Astounding scientific discovery from the University of California at Irvine: bad driving may have a genetic basis.

According to a recent study by Dr. Steven Cramer, an associate professor of neurology, and the leader of the study, people with a certain gene variant perform more than 20% worse on a driving test than people without that gene.

People with the variant have a smaller portion of their brain stimulated when performing a complex task like driving.

I'd like to see some research explaining why these same people are drawn to driving in Subarus.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I plink, therefore I am

A news item released today, Music makes you smarter, says that regular music practice can improve cognitive skills.
There is growing evidence that musicians have structurally and functionally different brains compared with non-musicians. In particular, the areas of the brain used to process music are larger or more active in musicians. Even just starting to learn a musical instrument can changes the neurophysiology of the brain.

“My brain? That´s my second favorite organ.”

-- Woody Allen

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ihagee in a box of junk

Over the course of too many years, a little black case, which once belonged to the father-in-law I never met, has followed us about. Inside it were the remaining dreck of his photography hobby: unexposed rolls of Kodak film from 1957, a movie camera lens, and an assorted collection of Ihagee filters and unidentified components.
I've since had a photographer buddy explain to me that the Ihagee brand has a long history and a devoted following. The company was founded in Dresden, Germany, between the World Wars.
One of the boxed components contains what I think is a film holder for a large format camera. Unique among the other assorted boxes, however, the reflex finder box sported an interesting company logo.
Rather than photographing it, however, I decided to try to reproduce it in Adobe Illustrator. This hardly does it justice, as some jpeg artifacts are marring the outside edge of the circle. I also think that I could have done a better job of centering the artwork.
It will be curious to see if there's a market for this kind of stuff on eBay. Hope springs eternal.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Going the Egg-stra Mile in Illustrator

In additions to creating Illustrator design patterns for virtual "rushnyky," I had also dabbled with pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). When you look at the picture of some of the eggs that I have done below, perhaps "dabble" is a bit of an understatement. But I'm okay with that.

At first, I started out completely in the dark, developing my technique as a went along. I was a shameless cheat, creating symbol sets from GIF and JPEG files of patterns that I had found on the web. Soon, however, I found images of actual pysanky that I admired and tried to imitate. This forced me into learning a variety of new design techniques.

In addition to practicing and learning Adobe Illustrator, I learned more about the symbolism behind authentic pysanka designs.

If anyone has Illustrator and wants to try their hand at creating an egg, I found an excellent tutorial, Create and color an eco easter egg in Adobe Illustrator, that will give you an impressive start.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Re-discovering Adobe Illustrator

I had worked a little bit with Adobe Illustrator years ago, in another job. Recently, I've had a chance to get into it again as part of the CS4 collection. A couple of things really made it click for me. One was access to the wonderful on-line training at Lynda.com. The other was an interest in the colorful, geometric Ukrainian folk art that one typically sees on Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky) and embroidery. The typical venue for embroidery is the rushnyk, which is a kind of ritual towel.

I've had a lot of fun learning to duplicate some of my favorite patterns into Illustrator. After learning to create and transform geometric shapes, I challenged myself to duplicate the actual look of the stitching.

Here is an example of my most elaborate work to date. This is a jpeg of a greatly reduced image. A single pair of the diamond patterns in Illustrator is about 800 points high. Once I create the core of the pattern, I convert it into a "brush" in Illustrator, after which I can apply the brush to any line or arc.

Since these brushes only repeat along on axis, I cannot make decent rectangles. I can, however, make some pretty cool circles.

I've found that because I'm building these patterns out of imitation cross-stitches (each is a colored "X"), the overall colors are somewhat pale. This example, for instance, is composed of black, red, green, yellow, violet, blue, and organge. Pretty hard to tell from this distance.

When I tried to render a complex pattern such as this into Photoshop, I frequently run out of system memory.

Right: a previous attempt at creating pseudo-cross-stitch.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playing the Race Card(inal)

A couple of days ago, according to the Associated Press, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana said that in light of President Barack Obama's election, there is no reason why the next pope couldn't be black.

Assuming that Cardinal Turkson was speaking of his own chances at becomming pope, my main concern is going to be over the validity of his baptismal certificate.

  • Does it have a raised seal?
  • Is it signed?
  • Does it have any creases?
  • What proof will we have that it's an authentic baptismal certificate?

Would any of that even matter? You can go out on the net and download your own template for a baptism certificate.

After all, it's one thing for a black man to be president of the United States. It's another thing altogether to have one as the spiritual leader of the Catholic world. Look what happened when we had a Polish pope.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I see brilliant people

Just catching up with old news. In this case, it's a TED presentation, Talks Pattie Maes demos the Sixth Sense, which was posted in March of this year. It's an absolutely brilliant synthesis of technologies: computer, telephone, user interface, etc.

In a nutshell, it's a demonstration of a device that lets individuals pull up and display data on just about anything, from just about anywhere.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Gay rights are apparently not for the faint

An interesting bit of research appeared in the June 3, 2009, ChronicleOnline from Cornell University. It says that there's a correlation between a person's susceptibility to being more easily disgusted and political conservatism.

Assistant professor of psychology at Cornell, David Pizarro, surveyed people with two indexes: the Disgust Sensitivity Scale, and a political ideology scale.

Here are a few cherry-picked highlights from the article:

  • Participants who rated higher in disgust sensitivity were more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion, issues that are related to notions of morality or purity. The researchers also found a weak correlation between disgust sensitivity and support for tax cuts, but no link between disgust sensitivity and the other issues...
  • Conservatives have argued that there is inherent wisdom in repugnance; that feeling disgusted about something -- gay sex between consenting adults, for example -- is cause enough to judge it wrong or immoral, even lacking a concrete reason. Liberals tend to disagree, and are more likely to base judgments on whether an action or a thing causes actual harm....
  • The research speaks to a need for caution when forming moral judgments, Pizarro added. "Disgust really is about protecting yourself from disease; it didn't really evolve for the purpose of human morality," he said. "It clearly has become central to morality, but because of its origins in contamination and avoidance, we should be wary about its influences."

I'm not sure how to draw my own conclusions. I'm not particularly disturbed by animal blood and guts (human is a very different story), but I am very wary of the gun control agenda. Certain scenes in Brokeback Mountain really give me the willies (no pun intended), but I strongly feel that homosexuals should have equal rights under the law.

Do these contradictions make me a conservative liberal or a liberal conservative?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rx with Blemishes

After doing a bit of research, I thought I'd plop down $10 of my hard-earned money on what is the most expensive iPhone applet that I've so far purchased: MotionPHR for the iPhone. This applet is billed as providing "a secure record of you and your families (sic) health."

At this point, I'm not into using all of the program's existing bells & whistles. I was interested in two things: pharmaceutical and immunology records. In the day since I've begun to noodle with this program, I can only address my observations about the pharmaceutical side of things.

In an earlier post, I talked about how Google Health makes use of pull-downs and hyperlinks when you add medications to your profile. Perhaps that spoiled me, because I was really disappointed when I discovered that I had to manually type everything into the MotionPHR applet. Forget pull-downs and forget spell checking. To its credit, MotionPHR does let you record the Rx number of a prescription, which is something that Google Health didn't do. However, back to manual data entry: I had a bunch of prescriptions to key in, and I though that it was stupidly inefficient of the program to not make use of the first instance of the pharmacy name to allow for speedier entry on subsequent prescriptions. I mean, most people use a single pharmacy for their various prescriptions, so why should they have to type the same name and phone number each time?

And the phone number is dumb, too. One of my reasons for putting that prescription info in there in the first place was so that I could call my pharmacy's automated voice mail system for refills. MotionPHR does not link the phone number field to the iPhone!

Another feature in the medications portion of the applet lets you record and increment the number of refills. Missing, however, is a calendar entry for when the prescription expires.

If you have a Google account (and who doesn't?) MotionPHR uses 64-bit encryption to back your medical data into a Google Docs account. It's only for archival storage, but it is a handy feature. MotionPHR's Blogspot site mentions that a future incarnation of the applet will soon let users be able to "sync their Personal Health data with Google Health and their iPhone." This could be a good thing,tm in that one might be able to use Google Health and a real keyboard for entering their prescription information. Or, as MountainLaurel commented on my earlier Google Health posting, it could also be a bad thing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Google Health

Google has a new toy in their box: Google Health, which allows you to store and manage your health information in a central location. If you want to know more about it, read About Google Health.

One of the impressive looking features lets you import medical records. There's a page of links to providers of internet-based health records. If you know who has your records, you can set up an account with them and ask them to transfer your records to Google. They're supposed to be your records, after all. The problem for me is that I haven't a clue as to which provider may have my records. I guess my doctor might know.

Another potentially neat feature lets you add your medications to your profile. There are easy-to-use pull-downs for generic and brand name drugs, as well as appropriate selectors for dosage and frequency. All of this is conveniently hyperlinked to drug information sites. While it looks like an encouraging start, however, I'm already disappointed in what it doesn't do. There's a Prescription column that I cannot enter data into or edit. This is where I would hope to be able to put in my pharmacy's prescription number, expiration dates and related information.

Google Health is like a boat-load of lawyers sinking into the ocean: a good start. It's still flawed in the type of information that I would like to be able to put into it, but I'm willing to give it a tentative one thumb up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why I Have the Blues

After three years of research, an Austrian chemist has announced that it's a type of body hair that is responsible for trapping lint and drawing it into a navel.

A March 1 article in Telegraph.co.uk, Revealed: The secrets of belly button fluff, reports that "the scaly structure of the hair enhances the 'abrasion of minuscule fibres from the shirt' and directs the lint towards the belly button."

Doctor Georg Steinhauser goes on to say that hair scales "act like a kind of barbed hooks" (Velcro?)

Shaving one's belly hair will result in a fluff-free navel, and a belly button ring seems to also be effective at sweeping away fibers before they have a chance to lodge.

An earlier Australian study determined that the "typical" carrier of navel fluff is "a slightly overweight middle-aged male with a hairy abdomen."

I'm going to see if I can have my belly button declared as a national breeding ground and sanctuary.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Collective Cluelessness

This information comes from a research study, so it must be true.

Brenda M. Trofanenko, a professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that teaching history by rote is a pedagogical method guaranteed to get students to tune out and adds to our collective civic and historical cluelessness.

“We need to start thinking differently about our students’ abilities,” she said. “They can think critically and engage in historical inquiry if they’re actually given the opportunity. Instead, we make them learn facts and test them on their ability to regurgitate them at the end of the week. I think that’s really insulting to them.”
It's interesting that the hypothesis blames accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind law. If it can't be quantified, it can't be measured. So the easy way to quantify knowledge of history is to rely upon memorization of dates. It's so much harder to grade an essay.

Friday, January 30, 2009

She's Gonna Blow!

According the the Associated Press, Alaska's Mount Redoubt is about to blow its top.
On Nov. 5, geologists noted changed emissions and minor melting near the Redoubt summit and raised the threat level from green to yellow. It jumped to orange — the stage just before eruption — on Sunday in response to a sharp increase in earthquake activity below the volcano.
Interestingly, Alaska's Volcano Observatory website is so swamped right now that it's posting this message:

Due to very high load on our web server, we can only support a very limited website. We are working to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Thanks!

If you're as curious about the scheme behind the treat levels, there is a nice explanation on Wikipedia. Realizing that information on Wikipedia can be somewhat fleeting, let me provide the warning scheme here:

GREENVolcano is in its normal "dormant" state

or, after a change from a higher level: Volcanic activity considered to have ceased, and volcano reverted to its normal, non-eruptive state.

YELLOWVolcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background levels.

or, after a change from a higher level: Volcanic activity has decreased significantly but continues to be closely monitored for possible renewed increase.

ORANGEVolcano is exhibiting heightened unrest with increased likelihood of eruption,

or, Volcanic eruption underway with no or minor ash emission (specify ash-plume height if possible).

REDEruption is forecast to be imminent with significant emission of ash into the atmosphere likely.

or, Eruption is underway with significant emission of ash into the atmosphere (specify ash-plume height if possible).

BROWNCataclysmic eruption is in progress.

or, OMG!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A naturalist looks at FSTDT

I was an amateur naturalist as a kid, looking under rocks and logs to find what surprises lurked there. Perhaps my surfing the internet has become an extension of this exploratory urge. The analogy of looking under rocks is not greatly extended when I talk about the site Fundies Say the Darnest Things! This site is
An archive of the most hilarious, bizarre, ignorant, bigoted, and terrifying quotes from fundies all over the internet!
If I may continue to extend my analogy further, this site is a user-submitted collection of some extraordinarily ignorant statements, along with links to the rocks under which their authors congregate.

The Latest Comments section is kept pretty much up-to-date. Even as I write these words, new submissions are being added. The gist of those I'm seeing right now indicate that wingnuts continue to stew about the current president. Take this gem:

January 20, 2009 is the day the United States of America died. We have ushered in an era that will approach Sodom and Gomorrah standards.

Frostie7, RR [Comments (18)] [2009-Jan-28]

This is typical in many ways. Note the RR hyperlink. RR stands for Rapture Ready. If you're at all curious as to what constitutes the 30% of the Republican "base," check out these links and read some of the comments.

Perhaps you've read about fundamentalists; maybe you've even seen one. If you want to read them in their natural habitats without getting out of the car, check out some of their online discussions. For now, it seems, the fundamentalists have crawled back under their rocks. But they ain't happy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A New Face of War

StrategyPage, an web site devoted to what is going on militarily in the world, offers us a glimpse of what "cybergeddon" might be like. Their definition of cybergeddon is "a massive attack via the Internet that would cripple the economy, government and military."

In their January 22 article, Waiting For Cybergeddon, they describe three types of cyber war:

  1. Limited stealth operations (LSO), as Chinese, Russian, and others, use Cyber War techniques to support espionage efforts.
  2. Cyber War only (CWO), which is the open use of a full range of Cyber War weapons.
  3. Cyber War in support of a conventional war.
To date, our experiences have been fairly limited. The one version of a CWO they cited was when Russia nearly shut down Estonia's national internet structure over the Estonian's removal of a Word War II statue. In this case, Estonia tried to invoke the NATO mutual-defense pact. NATA cyber war experts were actually dispatched to Estonia, but then the attacks stopped.

The sobering news is that the United States is said to be the most exposed to cyber war attack, because we use the internet more than any other country (what about South Korea?). According to the article, the so-called "good news" is that a major attack risks becoming the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, which led to an enraged response.

Oh, brave new world!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yes, We Should

Excerpt from Obama's inaugural address:
"For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do."

And on technology:
"Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America."

-- Barack Obama, Springfield, IL
February 10 ,2007

Friday, January 16, 2009

Woman blames Dell (and not herself) for missing online classes

WKOWTV.com from Madison, Wisonsin, had a story about a college-aged woman who blames Dell for missing online classes.

Abbie Schubert said she was talked into buying the Dell computer with the Ubuntu Linux OS, being told that "Ubuntu was great, college students loved it, (and) it was compatible with everything" that she needed.

Unfortunately, Abbie apparently knew very little about both computers and about getting technical support. She couldn't load her Verizon high-speed internet CD, so she couldn't access the internet. And she could not install Microsoft Word, which she claimed was a requirement for her Madison Area Technical College (MATC) online classes. Consequently, she said that she had to drop out of MATC's fall and spring semesters.

This story is so wrong in so many ways. First of all, I find it amazing that a college-aged person could be so clueless about computers. Is she Amish or something? As the story progresses, you learn that Verizon did indeed have support for Linux, and they dispatched a tech support person to help her get connected.

And MATC has reported said that it would accept any of her class work, regardless of what software she had installed. This comes as no big surprise to me, as my work in supporting online learning systems has shown that (unless you're working in a Microsoft Office-specific course) assignments are usually expected to be in the universally acceptable RTF format.

How is it that Schubert was so clueless about taking an online course. I looked at MATC's site, and was not surprised to find this verbiage about online learning:

  • Do I have access to the computer technology and a connection to the Internet?
  • Do I have basic computing skills?
  • Three credit classes may require 12 to 15 hours per week. Do I have the time to take class online?
  • Can I motivate myself to go to the virtual classroom at least five days a week?
  • Am I comfortable with my reading, writing and typing skills?
  • Am I easily frustrated by technology?

Perhaps she was suffering from delusions of adequacy when she read this. Or perhaps, more likely, she didn't read this at all.

Finally, I was not surprised but nonetheless saddened to read in the followup article that the poor girl was being verbally abused by legions of intolerant Ubuntu zealots. That's sad, because more good could have come if they'd offered their help and advice. As it stands, however, the story might have a happy ending, because Verizon and the school have both offered to help.

That's not surprising, however. I'll bet all Ms. Schubert had to do was ask someone.

Postscript: my respect for MACT's web site just plummeted. Check out the Technical Requirements page for their online courses. I'd like to see Internet Explorer 5.0 pass the Blackboard Browser Check! "Last Modified: January 30, 2007" indeed!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Farewell to the King

A February 2009 VanityFair piece, Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House, by Cullen Murphy and Todd S. Purdum, ought to become required reading for future historians.

If you were to distill the gist from books such as Fiasco, Hubris, and The Republican War on Science, you would have the damningly concise chronology of the last, disastrous, eight years. This chronology is built upon the testimony of witnesses to these events:

  • White House communications director Dan Bartlett
  • German foreign minister Joschka Fischer
  • Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and chief of staff to Colin Powell
  • chief White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke
  • Canadian foreign minister Bill Graham
  • David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
...the list goes on and on.

As if I needed further evidence, this article hammers home the incredibly malevolent effect that Vice President Dick Cheney and Karl Rove have had upon this country.

Your own reading of this account will doubtlessly leave you with your own conclusions. The authors chose to end their piece with a quote from Bush’s pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign, Matthew Dowd:

"You know, the headline in his presidency will be missed opportunity. That is the headline, ultimately. It’s missed opportunity, missed opportunity."
For me, however, it was encapsulated by the words of David Kuo, who was one of administration's disillusioned faith-based players. Now understanding how the evangelicals had been manipulated, Kuo speaks about Karl Rove's master plan of a "permanent Republican majority:"
It’s kind of like the Tower of Babel. At a certain point in time, God smites hubris. You knew that right around the time people started saying there’s going to be a permanent Republican majority—that God kinda goes, No, I really don’t think so.
Thank god.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lessons from a Mouse

For weeks, I have been plagued by mouse problems with my computer. Whenever I used the mouse to highlight and select text, the text that I had selected would often deselect itself. I couldn't just pick a sentence or a phrase and select it for operation. It didn't matter what web browser or text editor I was using.

I had reached my limit today and began Googling for a solution. Since I'm running Vista, and I have an Logitech bluetooth cordless mouse, I tried various permutations around those words.

It was surprising that I had found so many potential hits. A great many of them seemed to revolve around specific issues with Microsoft Word, but Word was not really the issue for me, although text selection with Word was just as bad as any other application.

Following some ideas that I'd gotten from a few applicable postings, I:

  • installed new mouse drivers, specifically for Logitech. My old driver was an out-of-the-box Microsoft driver;
  • experimented with enabling and disabling the Vista Aero theme in the mouse styles;
  • replaced the batteries in the wireless mouse;
  • swapped mice.
It was only when I had swapped back to an old cord-based laser mouse that I was able to perform text selection normally.

There are some lessons here. The first thing that I learned is that some search word choices turn out to be irrelevant: this wasn't a Vista problem. The biggest lesson was in my reluctance to consider this to be a hardware problem.

Interestingly, I had given up on using a different Logitech cordless mouse within the past year because of pointing problems that I was having. It was another Logitech bluetooth mouse (I just found it, sitting on a shelf).

I think I'm through with Logitech cordless mice. They've always ended up giving me grief, especially with regard to battery life and my not being able to easily tell when crappy performance was the direct result of dying batteries. Now that mouse balls are more or less a thing of the past, it seems that the failure point of a mouse might be in that wireless connectivity. I'm going back to a chord -- and I don't think it's going to be a Logitech this time.