Computer Life

Apple logo

 

I thought I would share some of the products I use. I understand many people are using Microsoft Windows in which case, none of this is going to be very interesting but if you use or are thinking of using an Apple computer, then some of this might be useful.

I’m not a specialist or professional in any sense of the word, but I have been using computers and the internet long enough to know what products and services work best for the things I use electronic devices for. 

I’m also not paid to test, review, or recommend any hardware or software. Again, I just know what works for me. Having said all of this, I did want to share those things I use on an almost daily basis. Would it be nice to be paid for this sort of thing? Well of course but I don’t see it happening anytime soon!

 

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MacBook Pro (w/ Retina display)

Last year I took part of my income tax return and made the jump from desktop to laptop and I have no intention of ever going back. I can’t point to any one thing I like more than another with this computer, the overall package is a joy to work with.

 

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Mac OS X (Mavericks)

The latest version of Apple’s operating system which either comes preinstalled on new Macs or is available as a free download via the App Store.

I’ve used MS Windows 8 and Linux and both have their good points and bad points, but I prefer Apple’s OS above and beyond the competition. As you might guess, such things tend to rather personal in nature, so if you have different preferences, then great. I say to always use what works best for you. 

 

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iTunes 12

There is a lot of discussion around iTunes, both pro and con. As with any software, using it is a personal decision. There are a number of excellent alternatives available. For me, it works well enough and does what I need it to do.

 

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

I’ve used more browsers over the years than I can count. Google Chrome works well and uses less memory than either Firefox or Safari, especially when I have a lot of tabs open.

 

 

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iPhoto 9

This is a simple but powerful imaging software available for free on new Macs or through the App Store. It isn’t profession grade, but for the average user, it is more than enough to keep your photos organized.

If you need a more powerful solution for photo editing, I suggest looking at  Aperture, Apple’s professional editing software.

 

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MarsEdit 

I broke down and forked over the $40 for this app because it has proven to be the best solution for me. I tried a number of “free” alternatives, but none of them came close to the ease of use you get with Marsedit. Sometimes it’s simply worth spending the money.

 

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Scrivener

Much as with Marsedit, this is simply the best all around solution for all sorts of writers, from novelists, to screen writers, to poets. I was fortunate for by this for half price but I would pay full price if I had to and never regret the decision.

News Of Interest

Ex-governor of Virginia indicted after corruption probe

Jan 21 (Reuters) – Former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including fraud and false statements after an investigation into loans and gifts from a supporter, court papers filed on Tuesday said.

Source: Reuters

 

1 Dead in Purdue Shooting; Suspect in Custody

A man opened fire Tuesday inside a basement classroom at Purdue University, killing one person and prompting officials to send a text alert to students telling them to seek shelter, police and the university said.

The suspect, who is believed to have targeted the man who was shot, surrendered to a police officer within minutes of the attack at the Electrical Engineering Building, Purdue Police Chief John Cox said.

Source: ABC News

 

Nearly 3,000 US Flights Cancelled As Snow Hits Northeast

More than 2,900 flights into, out of, and within the U.S. have been cancelled today, as the Northeast braces for another wave of freezing weather and heavy snow.

Source: SFGate

 

$1 Billion for a Perfect N.C.A.A. Bracket, Courtesy of Warren Buffett

Each March, tens of millions of brackets are filled out in the hopes of predicting the outcome of the N.C.A.A.’s men’s basketball tournament. But the odds that a bracket will be perfect, that is, every game guessed correctly, are long — to the tune of 9.2 quintillion to one.

Source: NYTimes

 

Pope to global elite: Do more for poor

n an address read by Cardinal Peter Turkson at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics said it was intolerable that thousands die each day from hunger.The pope urged leaders to adopt a new “political and business mentality” and to put their skills to work for the benefit of those living in dire poverty.

Source: CNN

 

HOW SECURE IS MY PASSWORD? IF IT’S ON THIS ‘MOST COMMON PASSWORDS’ LIST, NOT VERY

If your password is “123456” or ”Password,” you’re doing Internet security wrong — and you’re not alone. According to password-management firm SplashData, which analyzed passwords that hackers posted online last year, the top two most common passwords are “123456,” and “Password.” Good job, people. 

Source: Bustle

Response

I spent time witting a comment to a blog post in which the writer was railing against Transwomen. It was much of the same arguments I think we have seen before, but this time I felt compelled to make a comment. 

Me being me, I couldn’t let it end there. I continued to think about it and I had to ask myself why did this bother me so much? Why did I have to say anything at all? It certainly wasn’t for her, I know nothing I could say in a comment would have any affect on her thoughts, so why?

Because I needed to do it for me.

I cannot speak to this person or other like her face to face, I’m not sure I would if I could. But her word, like so many before her, are meant as a personal insult. They are deigned to be a burr under the saddle, a pea under the mattress. They so often echo the same questions I have asked myself, some of which I could answer and other I could not. They feed doubt and anxiety. Spotlight fears and insecurities.

I needed to rise up and defend myself.My sense of who I am, who I know myself to be in spite of anything and everything which insists I’m something else… Against a life time of lies and barriers, of false images of who others thought I should be…

 

Then it struck me. I am a creature of the digital age. An avatar made of electrons and light. Somewhere behind the screen I inhabit a physical space, but you cannot see this. I exist here as pixels on glass… just a ghost, a spirit passing in the night. 

Now, in this time and in this place I am as close to existing as a being of pure energy, pure intellect, as it is possible for a living human to obtain. My material body is inconsequential. It is only my thoughts which matter. Only they have weight and consequence.

 

More than anything I needed to assure myself I exist… Not just within the hallways of my mind, but out there, in the world, side by side with other human beings.

That is why I had to respond.

Weekend

Well, I didn’t intend for this, but it seems as if I’m writing a weekend post more than anything. Of course more happened on Saturday than Sunday but I need to cover both.

So, Saturday…

First off, it was A and my seventeenth anniversary. Hard to believe it’s been so long, often it seems as if we just met then we look at our oldest who is fourteen and I know it has indeed been this many years. I hope we can look forward to just as many more. 

Saturday was also another therapy session, though this time it was more like a chat over coffee than therapy which was nice. We talked about many things both related to trans* issues and not. I mention this just because I told her about the trans-girl who won homecoming queen which lead to talking about how, with hormone blockers, HRT, and surgery, it can be difficult if not impossible to know if someone was born female or transitioned, the case being made by Jenna Talackova who competed in the Miss Universe competition. I told her there are those who can pass and those who like myself most likely cannot… which earned me a rather strange look, though Jodi didn’t day anything. Yes, I am way too critical of myself.

A and I then took some time for ourselves and went out window shopping, just some quite time for us without the kids. Of course having a nice day meant something had to go wrong… which started with my wifi router going on the blink. I had to reboot it and do a diagnostic which which didn’t tell me anything, it seems to think it’s just fine, thank you very much… while I watch all the lights go off one by one like the eyes of a terminator…

It started working again, though I don’t know how long it is going to last, so my next purchase is going to have to be a new router.

This wasn’t as bad as Sunday though when the computer we received from A’s parents decided to just quit working. I have no idea what’s wrong as it only gets me through the boot screen before it stops working, leaving me with a black screen. At least it was free so I am only out the cost of a mouse, and I’ll let my oldest have it for his computer.

Other than that, I have been going through and doing software updates and other general maintenance. The good news is I have my firewall and internet settings such that’s it’s pretty much impossible for the kids to download malware so my virus sweeps came up clear.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Sleepy

(Yes, this is my little fur ball)  

 

I was thinking today about what I wanted to write, skimming through various blogs and news stories when I had to stop for a moment. Several things dawned on me, first I’ve almost reached the two year mark with both my transition and this blog. Second, I have reached a point where I find the every day to be something I don’t need to blog about. Sure I have my moments, some doubts and fears. Some body dysphoria and a little more gender dysphoria mixed in, but they aren’t overwhelming. I don’t find myself lost in a deifying roar of thoughts and emotions. 

This is in part due to many different factors; finally being honest with myself, going to therapy, and yes, medication which I think is finally working the way I need it to.

Looking back to a year ago I was hopeful I would one day find myself right where I am now. Two years ago I couldn’t have imagined it was even possible to have hope for the future.

Of course a side effect of this is I seem to have less personal things to blog about, at least on a daily basis. Unlike a personal journal, I see no point in going over the mundane. I can only talk about the frustrations of housework so much before someone will want to strangle me. I love my kids, but I just can imagine trying to write about them every day either, though I do know there are people who do so… it’s just not for me. I also have a cat, but honestly, aren’t there enough cute kitty pics out there already????

So what is a poor girl to do? (And I mean poor both figuratively and laterally).

I guess pretty much what I have been doing lately which is to share some of my interests. It’s been mostly music up until now, but I hope to able to write about other things as well, books, movies, poetry, and yes… to share a little of my Geeky side.

I’m afraid things are probably going to be inconsistent for awhile as I explore just what I would like to share, provided I can do so well. As with anything, if I’m going to do something I want it to be something I can be proud of.

How Not To Be A Pirate

Pirate

Let me apologize to all of you who may not be interested in this sort of thing, I know it isn’t what you normally expect from me, but it is something I am interested in and I felt it was a good thing to share.

For as long as I can remember, certainly since I was middle school, copying and sharing was just part of what everyone seemed to do. Back in those days it was copying music from vinyl records to cassette tapes or recording off the radio and sharing with my friends. When I became aware of computers, it was much the same. The difference was, with software it was an accepted practice, in fact there magazines dedicated to providing the code for different uses especially games. The music side was different, with songs being copyrighted, but as long as we weren’t selling anything we thought we were fine. Of course we know now this isn’t the case and getting music without paying for it is theft.  Which brings me to the point of writing this. Unlike those early days, much of mainstream software is intended to be paid for, thus the whole End User Licensing Agreement or EULA. If you have ever had to reinstall Windows on your computer then you are at least aware of this. Commercially available games are the same and if you use a computer for work, then odds are all the programs are licensed.

The problem comes in when someone decides, for whatever reason, to make otherwise paid for goods available for free without the permission of the people who created it. This is know today as Piracy, though to be honest, the name doesn’t quite fit. Still it is the point behind it which matters… getting something which would otherwise cost you money for free when it isn’t your right to do so. This has been an ongoing issue for both the music industry and software companies. Despite all of the rhetoric, it really is a serious problem especially for small developers and independent artists who simply cannot afford the lost sales. It may not be as expensive as providing physical media, but making a product available online still cost something and the money has to come from somewhere.

On the other side of this is us. The consumers. Some can afford to pay for all the things they want or need, some of cannot. In fact, with the global economy the way it is, many cannot afford even the smallest of budgets for anything that isn’t a necessity to live; food on the table, a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, and a way to and from work…

It is true, there is more to life than just surviving. Anyone can do it but it isn’t much of an existence. We need something more, an occasional distraction, a way to lift our spirits, something to make life enjoyable. That is the purpose of entertainment. Add into this the tools someone may need to compete for a job, or to try and better themselves, or to learn something new and you have a market for for “Pirated” goods.

Most people aren’t out to make a statement, or to cause harm, though those people do exist; they just wish to share in something they otherwise could never afford. I’m not making excuses, just being realistic, unlike the majority of corporations and their lawyers but that is a different argument for a different time.

The question then is, can people find the things they want, and/or, need or at least a product which will provide it to them at a reasonable cost or free and do so easily?

The answer is “yes” though maybe not as easily as clicking a “Buy Now” button.

Truthfully, it takes a little motivation and perseverance, not to mention time, to scour the web to find things which are worth the effort, but it can be done and in the end you have something your not ashamed to have sitting on your hard drive.

Now before I go any further, I want everyone to have a safe experience which means taking some precautions. First, look for reputable sites such as NoiseTrade for music, SourceForge for software, or YouTube for video. Also be sure you have a Firewall and antivirus software. If your careful and use common sense precautions you can find what you need safely. There are many, many places out there in cyberspace where you find dishonest people who will do some very nasty things, so taking the time to do research and due diligence is key.

A Free Ride

Technically, nothing is free. You had to pay for equipment, an MP3 Player, a computer, a DVD/Blue Ray player, television, etc., etc. You also have to pay for an internet connection or phone line. Yet it is possible to reduce your costs to as near to free as possible.

Everyone’s first stop should be Google. Say what you want, but odds are, if your looking for something, you’ll find a link to it with a Google search. Use search terms such as “Free (what your looking for)”, “Copyright Free”, “Free Download”,  “Royalty Free”, or even “No Cost”. There are also any number of reviews and opinion pieces out there where people have taken the time to do the hard work for you and tracked down some very good sites, artists, and software available for free or little cost. For those use, “Review Free (your operating system)software”, or “Freeware Reviews”, or anything similar.

Oh, there is another cost associated with going this route… your time and effort learning something new. So far I have found it to be well worth the investment…

So, need a jumping off point? I’ll share some of the sites I use the most.

Music:

NoiseTrade

ReverbNation

Software:

SourceForge

Cnet

Television/Movies:

HULU

YouTube

A note about YouTube. Clicking the link will take you to the main page, if your interested in movies, Google “youtube movies” and it should take you to their movie page. You will find there a lot of pay per view titles, but if you scroll down, there is a listing for “Free Movies”. Most of this is old, cheesy flicks, but there are some fun and interesting things to be found.

Another note… about software. More often than not you can find direct links to developers sites, the harder part is finding the type of software you want and then finding something free of cost which will do the job you need. I recommend doing a review search first for the type of software you want then doing another “free alternative” search.

Apologies

I have to apologize to everyone. I posted several links to music I have found and wanted to share, but for some reason the direct link to download the albums from NoiseTrade aren’t appearing in the published posts on my blog. Even through they are present in the Preview Pane I use to edit before uploading.

I have had no issues with linking to YouTube videos though, and I use HTML for both. I guess I am going to have to simply create links to the appropriate pages so people can at least find the artists. It’s an extra step to listen before deciding to download, but I can’t think of another way to get you the information.

One example is “Just Be Honest” by Shannon LaBrie. Since you didn’t get a preview of this wonderful artist I’m including the video, I hope you enjoy.