Monday, March 26, 2007

New Computer and Operating System


My wife finally convinced me to give up on a 10-year old laptop that I got for my second son when he started college and was gathering dust when he gave it back to me a few years ago. He has this great education in computers and information systems from the University of Michigan, so he came over to help order the new replacement laptop.

Now I have dual-core processors and SD card virtual memory and Bluetooth Microsoft keyboard and mouse... oh, and LoJack, too! I really don't like typing on a laptop keyboard because, in addition to my wildly roaming thoughts posted here, I enter a lot of data and use the 10-key pad extensively, so that's the reason for the extra keyboard and mouse. There's enough room on the base of the laptop to land a helicopter, so you'd think a 10-key pad could be fit in somehow. I guess most people just don't need it enough.

Naturally, when you put together new hardware and software you always have a bit of a problem. First, things just look different. Vista is a big improvement over XP. I'm convinced of that. But now I have to train my brain to think differently when I want to tell my computer to do something a little out of the ordinary. Then there is always the glitch. I couldn't get my keyboard and mouse to "talk" to my laptop... even with talking to a live support person for over an hour. That's what sons with computer science backgrounds are for... personal IT support. He figured out the problem and talked me through the fix which was really quite simple... when you know what to look for.

As much as I really like this 17" Dell, I really... really... like the Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The keyboard has all sorts of neat shortcuts built in and I love shortcuts. My Excel 2003 setup used 20% of the screen for icons. I have to get used to the different approach with Excel 2007, but I'll figure out how to gunk that up, too.

I'll never go back to a desktop. It just doesn't make sense with the large, bright screens, speed, and functionality... and mobility... of the new laptops. I imagine that more and more people are coming to the same conclusion.

You can bet that a lot of blog posts this summer will be written on our pontoon boat.


Unfortunately, the good things don't always last....

It seems that Vista and Dell and Bluetooth may not be fully compatible. After awhile, the keyboard and the mouse lose some of their functionality and it doesn't return. The good news is I'm not the only one experiencing this issue, so perhaps Microsoft and Dell will resolve the issue and come up with a workable solution.

... further...
Dell has a great remote tech support capability where their support person can take control of your PC and run through all sorts of checks. After about an hour, the problem I was experiencing appears to be a faulty internal Bluetooth card. They will send me the part to replace the old one... a 5 minute job.

I dug through the packaging from my mouse/keyboard and found a USB antenna. After disabling the internal card, I installed the USB device and everything works great. I guess this is a fallback if the new part also doesn't work right.

Yup, nothing is ever as simple as it first seems.

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)