28 June 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I spent my summer vacation getting up to speed on a new laptop. At least that's how I spent part of it. The old laptop had served me faithfully for almost seven years, although in recent months it spent more time paging than it did processing.

The last time I upgraded it took three days from the time I got the new machine until the time I got rid of the old. That time was spent connecting the two machines on the home LAN, transferring files, installing software, and smoothing wrinkles. This time I spent three days just connecting the two machines. The biggest hurdle was the jump from Windows XP to Windows 7. Backward compatibility was once Microsoft's strong point, but those days are long gone.

After transferring files, I discovered that a large chunk of my favorite software no longer worked on Win7: 'cannot start or run due to incompatibity [sic] with 64-bit versions of Windows'. Before leaving on vacation, I downloaded at least one replacement for every tool that no longer worked, then spent my free time (there's not much of that with a 20-month-old toddler running around) installing and testing the software.

Since I had no access to the Web -- otherwise it wouldn't be a vacation -- I wasn't able to test a replacement for FTP. When I returned home, I solved that by adding the FireFTP extension to Firefox. Here's a test on a drawing made by our 9-year-old vacation neighbor.

The FTP process was simple, and except for the smudges, which are probably my own fault, the image looks good. As for smoothing wrinkles, I'm still working on those and there is no end in sight. Microsoft's 'incompatibity' caught me with some major gotchas.

In future posts I'll discuss various adventures with my new chess software.

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