When I want to group photos for my blog, I typically do it with Power Point and I usually know what I want to do with the photos. Even so, once I place more than one photo on a slide, PP offers design ideas for at least one or two dozen different ways I might want to shape, group, or arrange the photos. For the first time, I stumped Power Point. The words inside the blue oval say “Sorry, no design ideas for this slide.” I guess the number of photos I’d already grouped exhausted PP’s creative abilities.

Without the computer telling me what to do (gasp!), I had to figure out something on my own. Oh, the trauma, right? I resized the photos all by myself. Mission accomplished.

I enjoyed listening to my favorite playlists on my iPod last April as I sewed face masks for Ted and myself. When I finished sewing, I cleaned up the project room and put everything away. Somewhere between the project room where I was listening to my iPod and the box in the kitchen where we keep our iPods and our device chargers, I lost my iPod.

It was unbelievable! Where could it go between (almost) literally, the top of the stairs and the bottom of the stairs???? Ted and I searched everywhere we could think of that he or I might have set it and then we searched in places that we were unlikely to set it. We looked under and behind furniture, in drawers, and in places I don’t remember throughout the house. No iPod.

When I went back to the project room to sew more masks for the family, I listened to music from Ted’s iPod. It was fine. The world kept turning. The sun kept shining. But it drove me crazy because I knew my iPod had to be somewhere in the house, and I couldn’t find it!

Tonight, I decided to change placemats for dinner because I’m tired of using the ones I’ve had out this week. I usually stack them on the shelf in pairs so I can grab two matching ones for Ted and me, but the blue ones I wanted were separated by several other place mats. I had to take the entire stack of placemats off the top shelf of the pantry so I could re-arrange them in pairs. When I got down to the blue one I wanted, I found my iPod! The battery was dead, but it’s rechargeable.

I was pretty excited about finding my iPod, but now it’s driving me crazy how, on its way from the project room to the charger box, it got stuck between the place mats on the top shelf of the pantry. 2020 is a weird year in so many ways!

USA Today reported that a pilot from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) was using a drone to map shoreline erosion on Lake Michigan when he began having reception problems. He pressed the button to recall the drone and his video feed showed the $950 drone coming back to him when its propeller suddenly came off and the drone dropped from 22 mph to 10 mph before plummeting into the lake.

The pilot spotted the culprit: a bald eagle “flying from the scene of the crime.” The motive for the attack is unknown, but the leading theories are territorial disputes and hunger. EGLE reported there is little that can be done legally about the attack because the Michigan Department of Natural Resources “has no mechanism or authority to issue corrective action notices against wildlife.” The good news is that Michigan has a thriving bald eagle population. There were only 79 nesting sites in the 1970s. That number grew to 849 in 2019.

The pilot was unable to find the fallen drone, and reported it is “resting comfortably” on the bottom of the lake. State Representative Beau LaFave tweeted the following:

I made a Wal-Mart run for some essential items (wire for face mask nose pieces) and saw a robot at work. It was silently cruising up and down the aisles in an orderly manner. I asked a nearby employee what the robot does. He was puzzled and I had to point out the robot to him. He didn’t know what it was doing–or that it was even a few feet away from him–but he guessed it might be scanning for empty shelves that needed re-stocking. Note: I can’t believe his lack of curiosity! If a robot cruised by while I was at work, I’d ask someone what it does, just because it’s interesting.

As University of Wisconsin alumni, Ted and I receive the UW magazine. We each found an especially interesting article in the current edition. My “find” is a philanthropic educational initiative. I know a number of universities have similar programs, and I’m proud that my alma mater is one of them. (FYI, Bucky Badger is the UW mascot, thus “Bucky’s Tuition Promise.”)

Ted’s favorite article is cuter and more fun.

In 1982, Ted and I bought an Apple IIe computer for the family. It cost us $2,000 for the monitor, the processor, and a disk drive. We added an Apple ImageWriter color printer for $500 and an 80-column card to display more of that green text on the monitor. The ImageWriter (and all personal printers at that time) required tractor-feed paper. That’s actually a feature I occasionally miss. We used to print banners on tractor feed paper and you can’t do that on the individual sheets of paper personal printers use now. The processor had a 56K data storage capacity and used 5¼-inch floppy (literally) disks. Compare that to today’s PC and printer prices, storage capacity, and flash drives.

To use the Apple IIe, we had to insert a separate program disk for each program we wanted to use. To save a file, we had to remove the program disk and insert a blank disk. This became cumbersome (even in the early days of personal computing, we expected fast), so we bought a second disk drive.

Here’s the Apple IIe, all set up and ready to go after resting for many years on a basement shelf.
The upright card is the 80-column card.
A Google image of the ImageWriter printer. I forgot to take a picture of ours.

That 56K data capacity made it necessary for me to save my 20-page graduate papers on three disks, because 10 pages of text was nearly 56K of data. I usually saved the files for the text of my papers on two disks, and I saved the title page, table of contents, and bibliography on a third one. For my final copy, I had to manipulate the page numbers in the three files and I had to make sure the second text file began with the word immediately following the last word in the first text file so the paper would read correctly. After printing the three files, I had to arrange the pages in order. Whew! That was tricky, but copy, cut, and paste was a lot better than typing and re-typing on a typewriter.

Even then, Jeff was our go-to computer guy.

When hard disk drives became available, we upgraded from the Apple IIe, but we kept it with all the original parts and manuals in a box in the basement. I thought that, at some time in the future, it might be fun to set it up again to bring back good memories when the kids came to visit. We finally did this when the family was here for our 50th anniversary weekend. Ted and I set out the pieces, and Jeff and Thom got everything connected properly. Then they tried playing some of their favorite games: Dig Dug, Lode Runner, and Apple Panic. They were primitive compared to today’s games, but we all enjoyed playing them in the 1980s.

Here’s Thom playing Dig Dug.
This is a picture of Lode Runner in action.

We offered the Apple IIe to the kids, but none of them wanted it. Ted and I were not interested in selling it online and we didn’t know anyone else who might want it, so we took it to Best Buy to recycle it. When we carried it in, we were stopped twice by people who said “Is that an Apple IIe?” and “You could probably sell that for a couple thousand dollars.” (Maybe, maybe not. Probably not.) We offered it to an employee who admired it, but he said that once it’s in the store, they can’t take it home. I offered to carry it back to the parking lot and give it to him there, but he said he’d probably lose his job if Best Buy management found out he kept anything that had been brought in for recycling.

Here’s our last view of our 37-year-old first PC–complete with recycling labels.

The ImageWriter is in the box with the disk drives and other smaller parts.

Ed. note: Jeff took more pictures of the Apple IIe than I did, so I lifted some of the photos above from his blog post. Thank you, Jeff.

Ever since Sputnik was launched, I’ve been interested in space, and I wish I either: (1) had enough money to buy a ticket now for the first flight to the moon; or (2) would live long enough to be able to afford a ticket to the moon. Meanwhile, I get excited about photos from deep space, the latest of which was the first photo of a black hole.

That’s awesome! Literally awe-some. On a lighter note, here’s another depiction of a black hole.

Ted and I are with Jeff’s family, as well as Thom and Julian for a few days. We’re celebrating Kyra’s homecoming from her mission (Feb. 20) and three birthdays: Julian (Feb. 16), Jeff (Feb. 18), and La (Feb. 23). Naturally, I had some computer questions to ask Jeff, one of which addressed the icon for my blog.

When I bookmark my blog, I get the gray icon in the lower left (above). Jeff’s blog, on the other hand, gets a flag (upper right, above). I asked how I could get a prettier icon than a gray square. Together, Jeff and I selected a “D” (lower right, above). Much better! Thank you, Jeff.

Because it’s dangerously cold outside, Ted and I took our three-mile walk in the mall today. We walked through Penney’s to enter the mall and saw this awesome (?) cap that’s good for cold-weather walking.

Wow! Removable wireless headphones built into the cap!
I could be this happy if I had this cap, right? (I wasn’t even tempted to buy it.)

I can’t believe it: I have my own internet domain! This is so cool, technology-wise, and I’m easily excited about getting and working with new technology! I was excited in the 1970s when I bought my own electric typewriter, and again in the early 1980s when our family had one of the first Apple IIe computers. The thrill continues. In 2016, I bought a tech device Jeff hadn’t even heard of (because he didn’t need it), and last September, I changed a command in the root drive. Now I have my own domain name. I’m a hip, tech-savvy baby boomer (with Jeff’s help).

Readers, take note:

If you want to continue reading my blog, as of today, it is at https://dctrd.com. In case the string of consonants appears confusing, think “doctor d” and take out the vowels. Doctord, drd, and docdi were already taken. There must be people just like me out there, because I had the same issue with my personalized license plate which is also DCTR D for the same reason.

Now, the background story. Jeff has generously been allowing me to post my blog on his cyberschroeder.com domain, but he is going to retire that address in August. As a result, he had to select a new domain for his own blog, personal email, etc. and so did I.

I offer thanks to Jeff for setting up my new domain and for making everything work so that, for a transitional period, if you go to https://diane.cyberschroeder.com, you will automatically be re-directed to my new domain. This will be true until August when cyberschroeder.com ceases to exist, so if my few (think “select group”) readers want to keep reading my musings, change your bookmark for this blog.

As I told Jeff, I probably could have done this myself . . . with step-by-step instructions and phone support from him. For Jeff, who has all kinds of domains, it’s no big deal, but I never expected to need or have my own domain name. Thanks, Jeff, for keeping me cool!

Our first family computer was an Apple IIe–a 1982 family Christmas gift.  It’s 36 years later, and for the first time ever, I wrote code in the root directory to change my PC’s operating system.  I’ve always been told to stay out of the root directory.  This hasn’t been a problem because I have extremely limited knowledge of code.

Jeff set up my new PC (July 2018) with two operating systems, and I wanted to change the default start-up OS.  Jeff sent directions for me to get into the root directory and to make the necessary changes, and I did everything correctly until the end.  I couldn’t make it save the changes.  I gave Jeff a call, he told me what to do, I shut down the computer and re-booted it to make sure the changes took effect, and . . . everything works.

Obviously, the computer industry has little to fear from me, since I ultimately needed help to make the changes effective, but I feel powerful for even daring to get into the root directory and for making changes (very minor) at the operating system level.  Yea for my sense of accomplishment!

My sister-in-law, Mutzie, sent me an email filled with map graphics that show a variety of interesting facts.  This map made me glad it’s not 1969 any more.

Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Today’s Google doodle features William Henry Perkins, a British chemist and entrepreneur who accidentally discovered the first synthetic dye.  In 1856, when he was just 18 years old, Perkins was trying to synthesize quinine to treat malaria.  His experiment failed and, instead of quinine, his beakers were filled with a dirty brown sludge.  When he cleaned the beakers with alcohol, the sludge became a bright, rich purple dye that he called mauveine.  A long chain of chemical advances resulted in a bright, inexpensive synthetic color available to the masses.  Thanks to Perkins, we don’t have to smash roots and berries to have colorful clothing.

This gorgeous photo was taken by Malcolm Denmark, a Florida Today photographer.  It shows the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral early this morning.  Ooh, aah.

Go, Elon Musk!  Of the 500,000+ objects of space junk orbiting the earth, the Tesla driven by Spaceman is way cooler than the old satellites and spent rocket boosters up there.  The best part of the launch might have been the return of the reusable booster rockets to the launch pad.  Wow!


An English major’s work is never finished.  Notice that, even in cartoons, there’s a need for a good editor.

Imagine my surprise when I turned on my PC after returning from our vacation and it kept freezing on me.  It worked fine before we left!  I worked with it through two days, trying to figure out why it was performing in what I called a “freeze and thaw” cycle.  It didn’t act like a virus, so I wondered if my motherboard was going bad.  The PC is nearly seven years old, and I’ve already replaced the network card, so I called my tech wizard, Jeff.  His diagnosis was the same.  We agreed that for not that much more than the price of the motherboard, I could have a new computer and avoid going down the path of replacing one part at a time.

I hadn’t planned to spend my weekend installing and loading a new computer, but sometimes you have to pull on your Big Girl Panties and do the crummy job.  The set-up and loading went smoothly; it just took awhile to get everything loaded, the backup data transferred, and everything personalized.

The new tower is about one-third smaller than the old one and has 4 TB of storage.  That should be sufficient.  I went for a 27-inch monitor with a curved screen and it really is easier to see the entire screen when it curves.  I love it!

Best of all, everything worked the first time.  Snaps for me.  (cf “Legally Blonde 2”)

I’ve been needing some new electronic toys for awhile, so I finally took the plunge and bought them.

My Nexus 7 tablet was diagnosed by Alex well over a year ago (maybe two years ago) as having a broken accelerometer.  Translation:  When I rotated the screen, it would not rotate back.  I had to power the tablet down and reboot it to un-rotate the screen.  Solution:  I’ve just kept the screen locked in the portrait position.  In the past year, the touch screen has also become increasingly less responsive.  Solution:  Tap harder and repeatedly to get a response.  My frustration and patience finally reached their limits with this device, so I bought a Samsung S2 tablet.  It’s an eight-inch screen instead of seven, but I like it.  It’s still easy to hold in one hand and not as unwieldy as a ten- or eleven-inch screen.

Another one of my toys, my seven-year-old laptop, wore out its internet card (diagnosed by Jeff).  I’d be merrily working away and would lose my internet connection without warning.  If I plugged the laptop in with an Ethernet cable, everything was fine, but I’m going to use my laptop for the India teacher trainings, and the odds of having a handy Ethernet port are slim, not to mention how inconvenient that would be.  I bought a 13-inch Asus laptop, and it’s pretty awesome to move up seven years in laptop technology.  I like the touch screen a lot, the laptop is very thin, the keyboard has a smooth, light touch, and I got a terrabyte of free cloud storage with the MS Office suite.  The only downside is that it’s brown!!!  Really?!  Not even a choice of at least standard silver or black?!  I mean, who wants a brown laptop???  It’s a silvery metallic brown, which makes it more palatable, but still, . . .

Anyway I’m happily playing with my new toys and, after also replacing our four-year-old smart phones last spring, I should be in good shape with my electronic toys for awhile.

The laptop came with a nice carrying case. I had to buy a cover for the tablet.

The laptop came with a nice carrying case.  I had to buy a cover for the tablet.

Yup! They both work. The photo on the laptop is from the Isle of Skye ought the northwest coast of Scotland.

Yup!  They both work.  The photo on the laptop is from the Isle of Skye off the northwest coast of Scotland.