Nostalgic Rumblings
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CapitalOne - A Lesson in LOSING Customer Loyality for Other Companies

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:43 pm

Edit December 10, 2015: Life is nothing but disappointment - just when I thought CapitalOne was an amazing company with amazing employees, they prove that they aren’t. Their fraud prevention system is so screwed-up they managed to decline my card at a local merchant for some non-existent fraud…and then the Customer Service rep I talked to suggested it was my fault that I didn’t have their app on my phone so I could clear it. Yeah, no accepting that it should never have happened in the first place, no apologies for the inconvenience, just a smug suggestion that it was my fault for trying to buy glassware at an outlet. Clearly the thousands I charge with them every month pales in comparison to the $70-worth of “fraudulent” coffee mugs and extra serving spoons they declined and pushed-off to another card (which, by the way, cheerfully accepted the business).

(*shrug*) So much for CapitalOne. Back to Bank Of America, Chase, American Express, et al - at least I don’t have to worry about their fraud prevention computer triggering arbitrarily and embarrassing me unnecessarily, like another customer who was declined today because they bought a burrito…

Sorry, I have to give you some background information, so hang with me a sec. Our household adopted, or was adopted by, an emaciated stray cat. I will explain this bizarre sequence of events and introduce you to our newest family member in another post on another day, but you need to know that this poor cat is not in excellent shape, and required a pretty substantial veterinary visit. It was the visit, and the Vet’s bill for services, that began this odd yet wonderful journey.

Shortly after we got home from the visit, I received a telephone call from someone purporting to be from CapitalOne’s Fraud Prevention Department. Anyone who knows me knows I do not provide personal information to anyone I do not personally know who calls me - I mean, after all, how can I possibly know whether they are who they say they are, or just some scammer attempting to steal personal information? I politely but firmly told the person I would telephone the number on the back of my CapitalOne credit card. Which, of course, I did almost immediately (I needed to get a stronger pair of glasses to read the d*mned thing…hey CapitalOne, how about making that number bigger for your older customers?).

I was almost immediately diverted to Fraud Prevention, where I spoke with a most pleasant soul, to whom I explained why I pushed off the person who called me. He let me know a fraud alert was triggered by a purchase, gave me the Vet’s practice name, and asked if the charge was valid. I admitted it was, mentioned the cat’s condition, and had a short but pleasant conversation. When we hung up, I pretty much forgot about it, other than briefly wondering why a guy who routinely purchases stuff from England, Hong Kong, and other countries would trigger an alert with a charge a few blocks away. (Much later I discovered the practice bills out of Los Angeles, CA, which explains why the transaction was flagged.)

Anyway, didn’t give it any additional thought…until today.

My daughter had a half-day of school today, and was home when the doorbell rang. I sent her to see what was what (c’mon, what good are kids if you can’t use them as free labor?), and she went outside, but didn’t come back in. I went to the door to see her struggling to pick up a very large, very heavy box left at the door by the UPS delivery guy.

I helped her get the package in, checked that it was indeed addressed to me and not a neighbor, and was completely confused as to why Amazon would be sending me anything. I carefully opened the box, and found inside a smaller, seemingly heavier box…and some paperwork:

A Gift from Capital One Financial Corp

Mr. Summers, it was a pleasure speaking with you recently. We hope your cat recovers smoothly and is back to normal in no time. Warm regards, Affonso.

You could have knocked me over with the feather on the toy mouse.

A huge financial corporation, one of the “too big to fail” companies I’ve always believed should be broken up into parts small enough to implode if their management screws up, sent me a beautiful cat domicile (sorry, can’t bring myself to call it a “cat house” and not giggle like a 10-year-old) along with wishes this poor stray whose luckiest day of his so-far short life was the day he begged food from Katie would feel better soonest.

So to CapitalOne, the huge financial corporation humanized by Affonso, I offer a sincere and humble thank you. So you know, you had me at giving me a half-percent more cashback on purchases than the other cards I carry, and with no foreign transaction fees…but after this act of kindness it’ll be a cold day in Hades before anyone pries the CapitalOne card out of my hands.

So…what’s in your wallet? (Edit December 10, 2015: Right now, Chase, Bank of America, American Express…pretty much anything but CapitalOne. Yep, the Devil must have had a snow day today - between the unnecessary decline, and the unforgivable Customer “Service,” they won’t be getting my business.)

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AOL is Blocking the Digest again…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 12:25 pm

Sorry, AOL users, but they are yet again blocking the Digest. Not sure what a, “Remote Protocol Error” means, but all subscribers using AOL missed issue #66. Info on retrieving that issue, once AOL gets its act together, is available at the bottom of every issue.

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A “Tail” of Two Pigeons…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 1:36 am
When there were three; having a snack in our driveway

This is one of the stranger blog entries I’ve ever written, because it is the story of how three pigeons (now down to two) adopted the cul-de-sac where I live, and for a time the front of my house, as their home.

One day, while minding our own business, there suddenly appeared three pigeons in our driveway. They strutted around as if they owned the place, and while skittish if we got too close, they clearly weren’t terribly afraid of humans. My daughter, softie that she is, went into the house, got some bird seed, and sprinkled it around.

By the next day, she was looking like a farmer woman with chickens - every time she’d leave the house, the pigeons would swarm around her, making small cooing noises until she fed them. It was a little strange…she had suddenly acquired three new pets. Scratch that…we acquired new pets. As you can see in the video below, Mrs. Charlie was drafted into serving meals to the little guys as well!

This wasn’t a real issue until they decided to make a brick ledge by my front door into a roosting place. Understand, I was becoming attracted to the silly things too (more on why in a minute), but my idea of a good time was not having pigeon droppings on my front porch, so I temporarily placed some wood and cardboard to make a slope at that ledge, discouraging them from making that their overnight spot.

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To PayPal, or Not to PayPal…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 11:38 am

While this does tangentially affect OTR Digest readers, it has nothing to do with Old-Time Radio, so I’m sticking it here hoping to get some advice from the readership.

Folks have been asking me about video from the recent Nostalgia Expo, and so you know I am working on them but they are not yet ready. But this is more about how to make them available.

Let me start by mentioning how much I (and practically every vendor who uses it) hate PayPal. They will arbitrarily hold back funds, screw up sometimes even the simplest of transactions, and their customer service…er…isn’t. The reason we all use them is simply because there is no real alternative for micropayments…why another company didn’t get into this space a decade ago is beyond me, frankly, and the lack of competition is obviously the reason they can be so completely tone-deaf to everyone’s disdain.

Now to take credit card orders in the real world, there are alternatives, including my personal favorite, Square. Under 3% fees, money in your business account the next day (instead of up to 21-days that PayPal calls the, “industry standard!”), and helpful people on the other end of the telephone and email to clear up any problems. But they do not have a way to take an existing store and run transactions through…they only have their own, rather limited storefront for merchants to use.

Still, they have all those advantages I mentioned above, including the one really important to me - they are not PayPal. So I would seriously consider adding the Nostalgia Expo videos (panels from 2013, panels and performances from 2014 and 2015) to a Square storefront, even if it will take a bit of work to get things up-and-running.

On the other hand, many people have existing PayPal accounts, and might prefer the devil they know to one they may not be familiar with - and I already have store software installed on the server which allows me to easily include video clips and the like. So I’m asking, begging really, for comments - should I use the limited Square storefront, the existing OldRadio.Net Shop, or should I actually spend the time placing the videos on both storefronts?

Please, discuss in the comments, and I’ll respond where appropriate. If you prefer, I can be reached by email at the address at the bottom of every issue of the Internet OTR Digest.

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The Things You Find: Galaxy’s Chronocron

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 7:55 pm

This is the first in a series of, “Ohmygosh, look what I found while cleaning up ancient boxes.” And it’s a real goodie, too…it’s a “Perpetual Calendar” provided by Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine. I apparently received this fine-crafted piece of plastic and metal when subscribing (or renewing, I cannot remember which) to the magazine which is still residing in other boxes in my basement. This magazine was mentioned prominently on the OTR program X Minus One and was the one I liked more than Analog, the successor to John Campbell’s Astounding.

“Perpetual,” it ain’t though…it only has years up to the year 2000, which I suppose back in the late 60’s/early 70’s seemed like one heck of a ways’ away — I guess the “future” is all relative. Still, you’d dial-up the year you wanted, stick it over or under the month you wanted to examine, and like magic the calendar would start with a Wednesday or something. Even so, it was kinda cool, and I had it sitting on my desk for a while so I could look up what day of the week a specific date was on.

Now, it’s just an artifact of youth. Can’t wait to see what else is in those ancient boxes…

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Some Clarification on Why We Don’t Talk to Google Mail…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 1:33 pm

There have been some questions lately as to why we reject connections from some free email providers - Gmail is not the only system we reject, but it is probably the largest. I wrote about this specific issue before, and way back in 2004 I explained why the server isn’t accepting connections from there, but there have been some questions lately about rejecting these systems, and I wanted to clarify with a handful of weblinks from somewhat trusted websites. Note this is all pretty old information, nothing new here at all.

From The Guardian: Google: don’t expect privacy when sending to Gmail

From Forbes: It’s Not A Surprise That Gmail Users Have No Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy

From Business Insider: GOOGLE: If You Send To Gmail, You Have ‘No Legitimate Expectation Of Privacy’

OK, enough, you get the idea. And for whatever it’s worth, if you email me, the mail is not retained on the server, but rather on my personal computer inside my home…which requires the government to issue a search warrant signed by a judge to read, and keeps corporate America completely out of your email.

And in an unrelated side-note: I will try in this new year to write more here on the blog for both of my loyal readers. ;)

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I bought the silliest thing…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 7:16 pm

Everyone who reads this blog knows I’m an aging geek…you know, the kind who has gadgets just for the sake of having gadgets. But I think I have outdone myself this time…I bought a virtual keyboard.

By “virtual,” I mean what I am typing on right now doesn’t exist, at least not physically. It is being projected onto the tabletop in front of me by a laser, so while I can see it, it isn’t really “there,” if you get my drift. There is a sensor that reads when my fingers touch the table (technically just a little above it), and register a “click” and keystroke. The soft keyboard in my tablet, SwiftKeys, gets out of the road while still providing me word choices…of course, that requires me to leave the virtual keyboard and touch the tablet screen, so it’s mostly faster for me to just keep typing on the table. The keyboard is surprisingly responsive for not really being there in the first place, and rarely misses a keystroke.

Fine, you ask, but what good is it? You already have a “soft” keyboard in your tablet, and a bluetooth rubber keyboard in your carry-bag. Why do you need this silly thing?

My answer? Don’t need it. Just wanted the thing for the coolness factor. And to watch the geeks half my age look on in awe and wonder. And before you ask, yes, I did type this blog entry with it, sitting at my dining room table in front of my tablet. Seriously cool…

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I Live a Rather Strange Life…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:49 pm

I know that title up there is a bit of an odd pronouncement to make, but it’s true, and has been true for a very long time. While not ancient, and not ready to pack anything in just yet, I admit I am spending more time as I get older thinking about all the weird coincidences that define my life, and am equally awed and frightened by them.

This rather reflective post started out because I’m pretty much of an average joe, a normal schlub who bops his way through life working at a job, mowing the lawn, replacing a cracked window glass, adding a washer to a faucet, and all the other things that are a part of every average joe’s life. And yet last week I drove a few hours to spend some time in the presence of incredibly smart people in a palatial setting saying goodbye and hello…hours spent watching others do a job far more fascinating than mine, people actually paid to satisfy not only their own curiosities but ours as well, about all manner of things. And watching one incredible talent who, braced by that staff of amazing people, made magic happen right in front of me.

See what I mean? Most of the time I am the most average and forgettable person you’ll ever meet, yet there are occasions when I am suddenly, and undeservedly, next to greatness. And the more I contemplate these times, I realize they are almost always the result of odd coincidences.

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FBI, Apple probe Jennifer Lawrence nude photo scandal

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 1:18 pm

From CNN: FBI, Apple probe Jennifer Lawrence nude photo scandal

Ok, a word or three here about the real problem: cloud storage.

Folks like Steve Wozniak have been warning for years that “the cloud” isn’t to be trusted…while the idea that easy synchronization of data between devices is an awesome one, it implies we need to trust the service that is holding and syncing our data. This week, it was pretty clear we can’t; a simple programming error, coupled with weak passwords, allowed for celebrity data to be stolen. While admittedly the titillating photographs of celebs nude is what is making the news, photos of children, information on security systems, possibly even financial data and passwords to other, important websites may have been included in the script-kiddy hack, which makes this all pretty darned serious.

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Now that the 2014 Nostalgia Expo is over…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 1:01 pm

…I have some thanks, some apologies, and some thoughts. This post is only a beginning, since I have yet to gather things together (or unpack anything, for that matter), but every journey starts with…oh, you know.

So first, a few non-exclusive thanks. Thanks to Melanie for the book…I owe you at the very least a Moon Pie! Thanks to Mike for letting Kate and me interview the special guests, and this after him seeing us do the same thing last year. Thanks to returning guest Ivan Cury for a compliment that means more to me than he can imagine, considering my respect for what he has done for a living. Thanks to both new guests (Beverly Washburn and Jon Provost) for allowing Kate and me the interviews, and accept apologies for anything we might have messed up. And thanks to all three of the convention guests for having done such an awesome job in the performances…I’m sure they didn’t have nearly as much fun doing the work as we did listening, but they all did one helluva job bringing those scripts to life. Thanks for so many Digest subscribers for telling me what the Digest means to them…just so you know, I feel exactly the same way. Thanks to everyone at the convention for treating Kate so well…trust me, she loves attending the Ohio convention.

Apologies go to anyone and everyone I dashed-off without acknowledging…seems I’m always running off somewhere, and inevitably someone is talking to me while I’m doing so. Apologies to Jon Provost for screwing up the video recordings of our interview…thanks to Mike backing up the backups, we at least have audio of the interview. Apologies to Blue Ash Chili for my not making it there this year, but thanks for the pickup order that still got me my cheese coney and Cincy-style for lunch. Apologies to the people sitting behind me at the performances…I tried to stay low and out of the way, but I’m a pretty big guy and probably got in your way more than once.

Thoughts? A bunch, but none I’ve gathered together yet. (As some of my friends will tell you, I have to go far and wide to gather my thoughts…) Later today I’ll get a few photos up, and see what else I can put together over the next week.

But right now, I have to mow the lawn… ;)

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My Quest for a Pop Song from China…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 3:10 am

I’m honestly not sure how I can properly explain all this, and I honestly don’t know, dear reader, if you’re going to really care, since this quest seems to be a pretty personal thing, but I’m going to give it a shot and see where it takes us.

As some of you know, I’m “collecting” free cloud storage services. I have a Dropbox account, one from SpiderOak, Tresorit, and others. The one I use the most is, since they provide 15G of data for free (Dropbox is only 2G), and if you follow that link back there and sign-up, you get an extra 5G for a total of 20 gigabytes. Add to that the customizable file-sharing system, and it’s my clear favorite - it’s the one I use to allow the Internet OTR Digest to include binary files. But even that won’t stop me from “collecting” others.

Someone pointed me to QQ, a company in China that is supposedly providing stupid-large storage accounts…10T, in fact. Yep, ten terabytes, or 10,240 gigabytes! As a collector, I couldn’t possibly turn this down, so I applied for an account. It wasn’t quite that simple, since there are a bunch of hoops to jump through, but I finally got an account on their system. (Is it really 10T? Dunno, since it would take me forever to upload that much with my aDSL. Haven’t put anything other than a few test files up there so far.)

(And for those of you who think I’d be crazy to post anything to a Chinese cloud-storage service, I have three letters for you: NSA. I mean, c’mon, truly personal data shouldn’t be uploaded to any cloud storage service, since after 180 days it is considered by American law to be “abandoned” and can be retrieved by a simple letter instead of a court order signed by a judge. I’m betting a Chinese cloud storage server is no less intrusive than anything in the United States.)

As most services, this service provides a few example files. QQ/Tencent provides a spreadsheet, a Word file, and an MP3 music file. It’s that last file that caused all the time and trouble…or rather my downloading and playing it, anyway. It’s a bouncy pop song called Be the Best with those words repeated throughout the song in English, while the rest is in Chinese. I really, really like the song, but I can’t sing to it, since I can’t speak or understand Chinese.

The quest was to discover information about the song, and hopefully find English lyrics for it. After a few hours, and with the help of Bing Translate, I have a general idea what’s going on. (Ok, look…the only translation software on the Net is from one of the “big boys” or another, so it was either the evil Google, the evil Microsoft, the evil AOL, or some other evil corporation bent on tracking, monitoring, and monetizing me. I picked Bing. So shoot me.) The album cover and more info after the jump.

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Had a great little birthday…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 11:53 pm

As those of you who have been reading this blog for years know, I tend to make a big deal of my birthday anniversary. Having been born on the Ides of March, I suppose some of the pomp and circumstance is inevitable, but I’ve always liked the idea of a holiday that was special to me and not shared by everyone else, so during my adult life I’ve made it special by it being the one day of the year I don’t sit in front of a computer.

Of course, this was much easier when I started it in the early 1980’s, since a computer was something you could easily point to…something that once connected to a television set would display characters, either those generated by the user, by a program, or coming down the telephone line through a 300-baud modem. It was simple…for one day, I didn’t sit in front of the large box with a keyboard, and could say I was not using a computer for the day.

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When did we all become sheep?

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 11:15 am

I have to admit it, I’m a cranky old man some days. And even I admit sometimes I get myself all riled-up about something for no good reason. But lately, merchants of all stripes are really beginning to tick me off, and all for the same reason - they keep dictating to me what I must do to give them money.

Put that way, it sounds really stupid, doesn’t it?

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We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 6:47 pm

…the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor, I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says “If you see it in The Sun it’s so.”
Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 West Ninety-fifth St.

VIRGINIA, Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

— Editorial page of the New York Sun, September 21, 1897

From our entire family to yours - Annie, Katie (who knows perfectly well there is a Santa Claus), and yours truly; no matter what you are celebrating at this truly amazing time of the year, Happy Holidays!

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So then this happened…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 8:44 pm

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Backing Up the Samsung Dart microSD Card With an ext2 Partition

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 12:00 pm

My microSD card blew up.

Ok, it didn’t actually explode, it just stopped working; I mean *boom* stopped working; I picked up my phone, there was a window tellimg me I unexpectedly removed the SD card and that I should ask nicely first the next time. Any memory card can just…die - I’ve had it happen not only to microSD cards, but flash drives as well. The card won’t mount in anything (computer or phone), so while I hung onto it just in case one day I find some method to restore data from it, I’m assuming at this point it’s toast. Of course, my backup of the FAT32 partition was older than I’d like, but I don’t think I’m missing anything vital.

Except the entire ext2 partition.

If you remember, back when I wrote the article on dealing with low memory conditions in the Dart I said, “And, of course, an ext2 makes backing up the card in Windows more problematic…I’ll deal with this issue in a few days when I again have a little spare time.” And of course, I never did.

So I had no good way to back up the second partition, even with being able to back up the standard FAT32 partition. It was necessary to jump through a lot of hoops, using Titanium Backup and Link2SD to help me rebuild the apps in the phone. I decided this was not going to happen to me again, nor hopefully to anyone who reads the articles here, so I’m going to tell you how to mount to the Windows desktop, and therefore be able to easily and quickly back-up the data therein, that second ext2 partition you made with MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition.

You want to download Paragon ExtFS for Windows - note you get the download link via email, so to avoid spam you might want to consider a one-off email address. Follow the link, download the file, and install. When you put the dual-partition microSD card into your computer, the FAT32 partition will show up; run Paragon ExtFS for Windows (you’ll need elevated privileges under Windows 7 & 8), find your card, and look for a yellow-bulleted unmounted partition. Select it, click the “Mount” button, select the drive letter, and *poof* - your ext2 partition is mounted (under the Hard Disk Drives, not under the Devices with Removable Storage, BTW) to Computer. Be a little careful moving stuff around in there, since this really belongs to Link2SD, but feel free to use 7zip or the like to make a backup of this partition at the same time you backup the FAT32 partition.

And, unlike me, do it often.

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Killing the “Microsoft Office Click-to-Run 20xx (Protected)” Q: Drive

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:57 am

I hate Microsoft.

No really, I do. They do stupid things, and always have (remember the days when they allowed Microsoft Word to format your hard drive via macro?), and most of the power-user’s time is wasted on trying to get Windows to stop doing something stupid.

Today’s issue: The dreaded “Microsoft Office Click-to-Run 20xx (Protected)” Q: drive label.

Do a search, and every solution tells you to uninstall the Click-to-Run version of Microsoft office. Problem is, I did that a long time ago. MS tells you to run their “FixIt” routines…did that, and it couldn’t fix anything, since Office isn’t installed. They tell you how to manually remove Office, but again, that depends on the thing actually being there.

And yet, every time I get enough drives installed to hit drive letter Q, and the flash drive/memory card/hard drive has no name, the d*mned system reports it as, “Microsoft Office Click-to-Run 2010 (Protected)” - and yes, I usually have buttloads of USB drives connected, so this is a relatively common occurrence. Understand, it doesn’t affect what’s in the drive, only the label displayed in My Computer and elsewhere. But it’s d*mned annoying, and today I decided to get rid of it if I had to install linux!

Turns out, there’s a simple reason and solution: the Office uninstaller doesn’t (or at least in my case didn’t) remove one tiny registry keyset: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\Q

Create a System Restore point, back up that keyset for safety, delete from \Q\ down (under \Q\ is “DefaultLabel,” which was the frelling problem), and *poof* - no more Click-to-Run labels on that drive. Didn’t even need a restart to cure the problem.

Why am I posting something like that here? Because eventually someone else will become as frustrated as I was about all of the other solutions on the Net not working to remove the cosmetic disc label, and hopefully will stumble upon this post, delete the reg entry, and get a good night’s sleep.

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AOL is blocking the Digest again…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 7:34 pm

Yes, I know, this is an old story, but AOL has taken it upon itself to block the Internet OTR Digest yet again. There is nothing whatsoever I can do about this - apparently they statistically have received spam from some part of some netblock which includes the Digest server, and there is no one I can complain to about this.

If you’re on AOL, I would urge you to complain directly to them, letting them know you are not receiving copies of your opt-IN hobby mailing list. And, I must suggest again, consider another free email provider, as AOL routinely insists on turning the Digest into filtered spam. (*sigh*)

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Rooting and Unlocking the Samsung Dart

Filed under: General, Electronics Disassemblies — Charlie Summers @ 12:24 pm

As I’ve discussed before when we fixed the “low-space” warning, the Samsung Dart Android phone is an entry-level device with an older version of the Android operating system which can, if properly managed, be a perfectly fine little phone for practically no money. And I also in that post mentioned that I’d someday get around to writing a step-by-step on how to root and SIM-unlock the phone. Well, today’s the day.

OfficeDepot had this little phone on clearance for under $40, so I couldn’t resist putting one together for the Mrs. who is currently using my old feature phone. And while I’m doing everything all over again, I figured I might was well detail the procedure so that anyone who bought one from OD this weekend could quickly root the phone, preparing it for the procedure described in my previous post, as well as SIM-unlock the phone so it can be used on AT&T’s network, or a network elsewhere in the world.

One thing before we begin; the whole “to root, or not to root” question seems to me to be silly. It is my humble opinion that it should be illegal to sell any device, be it phone, tablet, or computer, without the device rooted. Sounds ominous, but all “root” means is administrator; the “root” account is the account on a un*x-like device (linux, Android, whatever) that has administrator access to the device. It is exactly parallel to the Administrator account in Windows. Think about this for just one moment…if you were sold a Windows computer, but Microsoft refused to allow you administrator access which would mean you couldn’t install applications, control the hosts file, your networking, and pretty much anything else, wouldn’t you be furious? So how comes we all lay down and let Apple, Google, and yes, even now Microsoft do exactly the same thing? Without root, you do not own your device! You paid for it, but the company who manufactured it controls it completely, and you are forever at their mercy. You really want to trust any company that much?

So now that the whole “should I root” question is disposed of, let’s get started, right after the jump.

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More Shorts not posted to Twitter…

Filed under: General, News — Charlie Summers @ 9:52 pm

More stuff I’m not posting to Twitter…

  • The weather a few weeks ago was amazing; perfect spring days, warm sun, cool air, just extraordinary. Now that summer is here, the temps immediately moved toward the 90-degree mark, with lows overnight in the mid-60’s. But that’s ok…glad to pay for the beauty of a few weeks’ ago with a little warmth. But then temps come back down into the 70’s and low 80’s, cool nights, and awesomeness all over again. Man, I am lovin’ this summer.

  • Ever notice how some people just don’t get it?

  • This constant need for validation is driving me crazy. Subscribers to blogs, BoobTube channels, everywhere you look on the Net people are begging for validation via “likes,” “follows,” or “subscriptions. I must be the anomaly…I’m comfortable in who and what I am. If you enjoy reading what I write here or elsewhere, great! If you don’t, I’m ok with that, too. I don’t need thousands of “followers” or “subscribers” to know I have value. And I sure as heck ain’t gonna ask you to click a “like” button…

    Guess that makes me an odd-ball in today’s 15-min-of-fame society…

  • So was passing through Intercourse, PA (yes, it’s a real town) and at the town limits saw the sign that read, “Formerly Known as Cross Keys.” In what universe is it a good idea to change your name from the latter to the former? One of my wise-beyond-her-years passengers suggested it happened at a time when the entire town council was composed of 15-year-old boys.

  • Doing a radio show with your daughter is a strange and wonderful thing to do. But it makes you do bizarre things, like grabbing a mic and recording a quick pickup line standing in the kitchen so you can finish the edit before bedtime. And don’t get me started on backtiming…

  • So can anyone explain to me why in today’s movies, super hero costumes are always comprised of huge hunks of rubber? Now even Superman’s shield is three-d molded rubber…makes no sense whatsoever to me.

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