Some thoughts on PC “care and feeding”

Woman cleaning the roof of Södergran's house
Ah! The joys of cleaning!

Image courtesy of the Flikr Commons & Society of Swedish Literature

You have a computer/laptop. It’s been sitting for awhile. How best to put it back in fighting form?

Well, there’s a bunch of ways but here’s a simple list.

  1. Make a bootable back up of the hard drive
    1. Get an external hard drive (usually USB), that is larger than the drive you want to copy
    2. Get a drive clone/backup tool. One of the better tools for this is Macrium Reflect. It has a nicely featured free edition which should cover the essentials and a bit more.
    3. Install the tool, and then plugin the drive. The drive may take awhile to appear the first time.
    4. Use the tool to make the back up (I recommend a ‘clone’ for these one off back ups). If you are feeling a little unsure Macrium has a rather nice user guide.
    5. When the backup is done, safely remove the drive, unplug from the computer and set aside in a safe place.
  2. Get Ccleaner from Piriform
    1. The free version will do 99.9% of what you want
    2. Install and click “Run Cleaner” (BUT read the next like before you click)
      1. By default this will clear your web browsing history and cache, so you may need to log back into your favorite sites after the clean
    3. Watch the cruft fly away.

These steps are the most basic way of clearing up a Windows computer. Some like to go a step further to check the actual health of the drive with tools like SpinRite, but that’s not a necessary step, as it will take the computer out of commission for a long time.

If you want to keep the clone backup “current” make a point of plugging it back in every week or so and running the backup software again.

Pacific Rim – I love it!

I came for the robot/monster fights I stayed for the joy of it! This is a quintessential summer film. It’s not high art but it is high octane fun! In my mind Guillermo del Toro takes it above an average summer blockbuster, his is more of a labor of love, a sense of craft that makes it more enjoyable. Which is not to make it sound high brow, it’s mostly good fun, but really well done fun. Ehh. I’m droning on here. Let’s cut to the chase.

Do you like giant robots? Yup!

Do you like Kaiju (wikipedia link) movies? Yup!

Do you like Guillermo del Toro’s visual style and story telling? Heck yeah!

If you also answered some from “yes” to these questions then Go see this movie!

I also recommend seeing it in IMAX 3D if you can, it is fantastic!

If you want to hear the Tested crews “Spoilercast” on Pacific Rim check it out here – – They much more eloquently express my feelings of joy about the film

A Little Something I Made part 2

Well, I’ve not be too idle on this. In real world time I’ve been poking at these scripts for a while, but just now been getting around to posting them.

So this is version 02 of the timer script. I have been messing with making the timer a function so that I can call it separately. Hopefully this will allow me to eventually make it easier to add a GUI and make it loop until all of the tests are done.

-edit- a few minor changes that made sense after I read the code again.

# a simple countdown timer in python
# learning by doing - eh

# time.sleep and import time -
#while loop info from -
# conditional and function info from

import time                                                                   #adds the time lib from python

def testTimer():                                                   #function that is the timer

t = input ("How long is the test? ")                                    #var that sets the timer length in seconds
station = raw_input ("Which test station is running? ")        #var that sets which test station is running

while t >0:                                                                    #simple "while" loop that will check the amount of time left, it checks once a second
print t, "seconds left"
t -=1
print "Test on", station, "complete."

def again():                                                            # ideally a way to make the timer run again w/o leaving the script
rerun = raw_input ("Would you like to re-run this timer? Y or N ")
if rerun =="Y" or "y":
print "Great! Test on ", station, "is complete! Check the results and move on!"


Not very complex and it currently only runs in the command line. My next goal is to make it store the inputs so that it can re run the timer with only one command. I’m thinking maybe some futzing with conditionals and functions will get me closer.

A Little Something I Made

To assist myself at work I wrote a little Python script to run as a timer. This is a two fold thing, 1. I’m learning Python, 2. I needed a timer to help track the tests I run at work.

After some hunting and kvetching on Twitter I was guided to some useful resources and came up with the following.

# a simple countdown timer in python
# learning by doing - eh

# time.sleep and import time -
#while loop info from -

import time

t = input ("How long is the test: ")
station = raw_input ("Which test station is running? ")

while t >0:
print t, "seconds left"
t -=1
print "Test on", station, "complete."

Not very complex and it currently only runs in the command line. My next goal is to make it store the inputs so that it can re run the timer with only one command.

Regarding recent changes in the DCU – that I don’t like

Likely many of you out there have seen some of the fervor over some of the decisions that have been made in the DC comics reboot. There have been a number of good and interesting changes, and there have been some that leave many of us scratching our collective noggins. Leading the pack of controversial decisions about the portrayals of Harley Quinn, Starfire, Catwoman and the return of Barbra Gordon to the role of Batgirl. Catwoman and Starfire are the ones I know better so they will be my focus.

I’m not a comics feminist scholar so there maybe some blind spots in what I say, please try to not pick on those, I think there is a point that can be made clear without a über deep knowledge of the back issues. While I may not be a feminist scholar, I do have some, rather long held thoughts, on the comics industry and the portrayal of women.

It doesn’t take a Rhode Scholar to see a major flaw in American Superhero comics, although to be fair the problems extend well beyond our shores. The covers and inner pages are a wash of distorted views of femininity and sexuality that are played off as liberated or self-acutated. It seems much more like a bunch of guys sat around saying, “Wouldn’t it be hawt if *insert name of character* was more like *insert male fantasy* while wearing *other male fantasy*. Did it go down like that? Not sure, many of these comics are by professionals and many of them have a reputation to uphold, but it does no make them above curious decisions. The dubiousness of the decisions made more glaring because so much of it seems sorta bolted on and adding nothing to the character.


This seems most obvious in the changes made to the character of Starfire [wikipedia]. I knew her best from the animated TV show Teen Titans, where she was an interesting mix of Mork and a foreign exchange student. The TV version of her was delightfully fun and interesting. She was devoted to her friends and even reached out to those that wanted to destroy her (Terra). Her focus was on the good of those around her, which often made her a little naïve but in a very likable way. Her depiction in the comics has always been more sexual, see wikipedia and Comics Alliance, but there seemed to be an earnest heart behind her actions. Not seeking to do harm, but not always understanding the human heart. The ernest of her heart may not excuse her from being a poor female role model but it is at least consistent to her character.
Now if you read the linked Comics Alliance article you’ve read a very clear and pretty smart rationale about the dislike of this new take on the character. While a “restart” often pushes an “edgy” version of the character forward it really seems that this Starfire is less well developed than she could have been. It was not a necessity to take the character from the Teen Titans TV show as some would suggest, but it could have been really interesting to see some sort of meshing of the comic and TV version. That is a character i could have cared about, the one I see in Red Hood and the Outlaws isn’t one that I can even begin to understand let alone care about. Well, at least they can’t take the TV show version from me.


Catwoman makes for a more complicated situation since her character is a foil for Batman in both skill and sex appeal. She is the “unattainable” yet seemingly perfect match for him that creates a unique tension in her and in Batman. In years gone past she has often been plauged by poor and sexist writing that often played up the sex appeal. This left her often rather flat as a character. Yet in Batman: The Animated Series, there seemed to be a resurange of the more cunning, self assured, sensual, and more than a match for Batman. A Catwoman who had more in common with Julie Newmar than Halle Barrie (no offense to Ms. Barrie, but that movie was awful). This type of Catwoman lately seems to be falling by the wayside in favor of one that makes much more liberal use of the front zipper of her costume. The current one is still smart but it often seem she is more body than mind, and not in a really good way. The costume is much more believable as one being worn by a stealthy cat burglar, and yet the creative team seems much more interested in her being out of it than in it. Again, reference the Comics Alliance article for a very good breakdown of the way this is portrayed.

This misuse of an excellent character really bugs me. Especially in light of her excellent use in Batman: The Animated Series. While the show is not new, it did a really good job of using the tension between Catwoman and Batman to show her as probably the only woman who had a chance of understanding him as a man and as a mask. Sure Talia al Ghul also understood The Great Detective but Ra’s al Ghul and the tactics of the League of Shadows would always keep them apart, Selina Kyle had fewer complications, other than burglary. Interestingly enough both Talia and Selina are accomplished heads of organizations and major companies, when they aren’t partaking in their “pass times”. Which may not make them super standout but they do acquire some respect for this. It can’t be easy to be CEO and masked adventurer at the same time. It is hard to accept Catwoman as being something less than all that. She should be free to make her own choices and adhere to her own morality. It also seems to me that these can be expressed in a what that is more positive about her as a woman than as a sexual object.

So to wrap this “little” rant up I close with some posts by Aaron Diaz the talented artist and writer of Dresden Codak. Why? Well to me it shows that there can me a male behind a reboot/redesign and it not be annoying and crapy. His redesigns may not be perfect but they seem to be much more senseable and interesting than what the “pros” have done.

Other good related stories:

A New Challenger!

Well we added a new player to our weekly gaming session.  It was pretty cool.  She’s a human rouge and her first combat action was an epic win, crit with a dagger thrown through a wall of magical darkness.  Yup pretty cool.  Plus it’s nice to see the group expand a little, fresh blood can make a game session much more interesting.  I look forward to seeing what she can do when the rules become less of a stumbling block.

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These links brought to you from the tomes of LifeHacker

I am an insufferable geek, although my girlfriend tells me it’s cute.  I also have a long and abiding desire to get my crap together.  Through productivity guru Merlin Mann (yeah his name is really Merlin) I came across the idea of the “Life Hack” a way to shortcut the things in life that could be more efficent.  This also introduced me to the site [link]  The huge amount of life hacks there is like drinking from a fire hose.  Anyway here’s a few highlights that I came across while clearing out my RSS reader.

There is plenty more to be had there.  Go check it out, there are also tons of linux/windows/mac tips, trick, and small hacks too!