Sunday, September 21, 2014


The wisdom of Microsoft
(Did I write "wisdom"?)


The Spouse needs her Skype "fix" 6 days-a-week.

In the past, her employer allowed her to use a company computer to Skype with her daughter and grand-daughter on her break.

But things change and the microphone on computer to which she has access now for some reason doesn't work. The tech support people are over-burdened with other, critical problem so she won't ask anyone to troubleshoot the faulty system.

We have to MS OS machines in the house - a Vista budget OS (my Toshiba Satellite) and a Win 7 OS on the Spouse's Toshiba Satellite. Both are "big" screen machines.

I suggested she take her machine to work with her, connect to the workplace Wife and use that machine to Skype.

"No, it's too big. Let me use the 'little' computer."

Ahh, you mean the Compaq/HP machine that's gathering dust in the closet. "That's the one."

It's a little smaller than the Toshibas, but I think heavier. It came with XP Pro.

Still, whatever Lola - sorry, The Spouse - wants . . .

So, I pull out the Compaq/HP machine and fire it up.

XP loaded OK, but I couldn't get into the desktop; apparently The Spouse had password protected it (or maybe I did it for her) and no one remembered the password.

NOT A PROBLEM. Back in XP days, the OS was provided on several CDs. I had the CDs - all except for Service Pack 3 which was still available on the WWW.

I reinstalled XP Pro, thereby eliminating the password problem; downloaded SP 3 and installed that, then installed Chrome and made it the default browser, and then installed Skype. Skype insisted XP have SP3 installed which is why I looked, found, and downloaded it.

Because I didn't know better - or maybe I did and just wasn't thinking - when I used the Compaq/HP device with the battery installed when it was new, the battery's charge time was "short."

Somehow, in setting up the machine I discovered a utility to "calibrate" the battery. The utility discharges the battery to 0, then charges it to (what the battery thinks is) 100%. It then calibrates the battery. I'm not sure what that means, but in the end, the machine's battery is 30-some percent. assume that means it is at 30-some percent of its original capacity.

I figure that gives the machine maybe 15 minutes useful battery life, which may be just fine for my Spouse's Skyping. 'Course the machine seems terribly slow to load and that will cut down her chat time. (Alternatively she can take along the power unit; she's already having to carry the external camera and microphone.)

So - old XP had a utility to discharge the battery to 0; used often enough, the battery's could be recharged to almost 100% rather than losing more and more capacity with each use. (Having learned the lesson, I now remove the batteries from notebook computers that normally operate on household AC.)


The Compaq/HP device included a fax program. That was back in the day when TuCows listed a number of free fax software applications. Those seem to have disappeared. MS does have a utility it calls Fax and Scan for many of its operating systems. (Vista Basic is NOT one of them, although Win 7 is - but our Toshiba with Win 7 lacks an internal modem or, as far as I can tell, a connection for an external modem. The Vista machines is supposed to have a modem, but the OS lacks the Fax and Scan utility. (Can it be downloaded? Next challenge.)

In this age of email, WHO CARES if you can receive and send faxes from a computer? Well, anyone who deals with HIPAA-cowed medics, many financial institutions, and some government agencies.

Many - perhaps most doctors' offices forbid email, fearing that some patient information might be jeopardized. A good concern, but it as easy to misdirect a fax as it is an email. Faxes are the preferred "nearly instant" communications method for the medically inclined.

Sometimes progress is painful.

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