Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: computers

Bean counters

People like myself (bookkeepers & accountants) are sometimes referred to as bean counters. The none-too-complimentary implication is that we spend hours at our desks sorting beans into little piles with no idea of what those beans represent. It isn’t necessarily so.

I used to work in the quality assurance department of a factory that made engineered rubber products for the automobile industry. The automobile companies asked for bids to produce parts for them. We had a team of engineers who would do a thorough analysis of the costs of producing a part and our company would bid on the ones we thought we could profitably manufacture.

One part that we contracted to make was produced on a very high tech, made in France, rubber injection moulding machine. The bid had been based on one person being able to load and unload the machine, hand trim the little bits of excess rubber and pack the parts in a shipping container. Once in actual production it was found that a second person was needed. The production management computer program showed that this skyrocketed the costs and we were losing a bundle on this part. After two years we did not bid on this part again.

Up to this point accounting had been done in an office in another city. Then an accountant was relocated to an office in our plant. She was intrigued by the huge cost overrun on this part and began to investigate. It didn’t take long for her to discover that when a second person was added for making this part, the computer program automatically added another expensive injection moulding machine and calculated the capital cost allowance and operating expenses for this second machine. When she removed that phantom machine from the calculation she found that the part had been a money maker, not a money loser.

At that point I left to become a missionary in Montréal, but I understand the company was preparing to bid on that part again the next time it became available.

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A new cruiser for the information highway

owl-158414My wife has been in need of a new computer for some time, hers was still running Windows XP. She has been receiving warnings about XP’s obsolescence for several years, but it continued to work. More or less, anyway. Now it seemed the time had come to replace the old clunker.

So we went around kicking tires at computer shops and found what we wanted at the shop closest to home. A little shop in a little town (pop. 2,200) not too far from us. They had a number of gently used computers, in good shape and with all the accessories we needed (especially Windows 10). For a modest sum they would transfer data, install programs and send it home ready to go. At least the sum seems modest if you average it out over its expected five year life span – then its only a few dollars a month.

We had to do a little more set up at home, like getting it to recognize our printer. Apparently a five year old printer is too old for a newer computer to recognize. By now the new jalopy is running smoothly, and a little faster than her old one.

On her old computer, she was using a pair of speakers that I bought at Dollarama. The sound quality was excellent and they had an on-off switch and a volume control. The new computer will not recognize those speakers, but it does have an internal speaker that is a lot better than most.

I bought the computer I am using a few years ago from a national office supplies retailer. I don’t think I’ll do that again. They are just too big, with too many people involved. The person who sold me the computer was not the one who set it up for me and that technician wasn’t available when I went to pick up my computer. I found that I had to transfer data and install programs myself. It would have been too much hassle to keep hauling the computer back and forth to the city. With a small town shop you always know who you are dealing with. And who to complain to if something isn’t right. I think that makes them feel a lot more accountable to the customer.

I told the young Nigerian lady at work that we had replaced my wife’s computer because it was still running Windows XP. “XP!” she said, “that’s what I used in junior high!” Let’s see now, XP first came out in the fall of 2001, and this lady is, well I’m not going to say but it sounds about right that XP would have come out just before she started junior high. So Nigeria was right up to date and my wife was using this ancient version until the day before yesterday. Nevertheless XP was pretty much problem free, which is more than can be said for most Windows versions between XP and 10.

Temperamental devices

My internet has been down. My wife’s computer is connected to the same service, through the same modem and router and has had no problem. The cable connecting my computer to the internet had several splices and bare spots on the wire, evidently that must be the problem.I bought a new cable yesterday, hooked it up – still no signal.

The internet connection troubleshooter on my computer told me that an ethernet cable was disconnected. I’d just been through all that, so decided the problem must be an internal disconnection. This morning I pulled off all the wires and took my computer for a ride in the car to our nearest town with a computer shop. They plugged it in and it worked ! !? Evidently the car ride fixed it. The young man at the computer shop charged me for 15 minutes labour.

The next time this happens, I’ll just tell my computer “I’m going to take you for a ride.” Hopefully that will do the trick. If it doesn’t, I’ll try the little device the computer repair man sold me. It has one end that plugs into a USB port and the  internet cable plugs into the other end. This gives another pathway for the internet signal.

No doubt our grandfathers have all told us about their first  car that wouldn’t start until they gave it a good whack at a certain spot on the left front fender. Cars nowadays are much easier to start. A good thing too, a whack like that would make a permanent impression on their fenders.

I have had my share of temperamental automobiles. There was the venerable Olds which regularly coughed and sputtered to a stop because the timing had gone out of whack. I took to carrying a wrench so I could get out and turn the distributor housing until it would run smoothly. There was the 1972 Toyota Corolla that had the coil sitting low down a few inches from the road. Every time there was water on the road the connection got wet and the car stalled. (It never rains in Japan?) I carried a cloth to wipe off the moisture from the wire connection that fit into the top of the coil. Then there was the Dodge with a capacitor mounted behind and above the motor that was prone to failure. I always carried a spare so that I wouldn’t be stranded somewhere miles from home or a repair shop.

Unfortunately, we people can be temperamental at times, too. I’m sure many a person has at times wished to give me a good whack to see if that would solve my problem. I’m thankful that they have refrained and tried gentler ways. I would like to think that, unlike many cars that I have owned, I have become less temperamental with age.

My computer caught a virus

– and home remedies didn’t work.

Two emails written in Russian found their way to my inbox last week.  At least they were written with the Cyrillic alphabet and I think they were Russian.  The only part I could read was the dollar amounts.  I knew they were not good news and hit the delete button.  I should have known better — I do know better.  All that does is move them from the inbox to another folder labelled deleted.  It does not get them out of my computer and if they are infected the infection can spread from there.

I don’t know that these emails were the source of the infection, I didn’t open any attachments or anything so it might have come from somewhere else.  But when I stated up my computer Monday morning there was a message that the Norton firewall was disabled.  I idly wondered how that had happened, switched it on again and carried on.

Wednesday morning the message about the Norton firewall turned up again.  Belatedly, I realized something unpleasant was going on.  Especially as my computer was pretty sluggish that morning.  I turned the firewall back on and began to scan my computer with a second anti-malware program.  This program got as far as identifying nine infected items on my computer then froze.  I found that my whole computer was now frozen, I couldn’t even turn it off with keyboard commands.

I held down the switch to turn the computer off, disconnected all the cables and took it to the Thorstad Computer hospital in the nearby town of Outlook.   When I went to get it two days later they informed me they had removed 30 items of malware.

I have Norton 360 Premier Edition installed on all three computers in our home.  No doubt it is a good program and protects our computers from most kinds of viruses and malware.  But it doesn’t seem that any one protective program can catch everything that is out there.  For several years I have made it a practice to periodically scan our computers with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.  It will occasionally catch something that has snuck past Norton and I believe it would have found and eliminated the malware this time, had I used it soon enough.

I am freshly aware of the need to not just delete suspicious emails, but to also promptly empty the deleted folder to remove them completely from my computer.  And to do a scan of my computer with a backup malware program at the slightest suspicion that something funny is going on.  Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is recommended by Thorstad.  It comes in both a free version and a paid version.  The free version is probably all that most home users need for use as a backup to our regular antivirus software.

Excuses

Faithful readers of this blog will have noticed that I was absent for almost a week.  I want to sincerely thank everyone who continued to check out the posts on this blog, even while nothing new was being added.

No, I did not leave home on an extended trip, but other things came up which hindered me from being able to write for this blog.  Here is my list of excuses:

1. My keyboard died.  Because I do some translating and writing in French, I use a French-Canadian keyboard which has  extra characters and a couple of extra keys.  I have been using the same keyboard for 20 years.  We have moved seven times in those years and I have lost track of how many computers I have used it with.  It has performed faultlessly until the other day when I think I finally managed to jar something loose inside and it ceased to function.  I stole the keyboard from my wife’s computer.  I knew that would make life difficult around here if it continued, but it gave me time to buy another keyboard on eBay.  For some reason, all the French-Canadian keyboards listed on eBay are located in Texas, so it will take a little time to get here.  Meanwhile, a friend helped to salvage peace in our home by offering me an old keyboard that he wasn’t using.

2. I am planning major changes in my bookkeeping practice.  This requires getting a website up and running and learning two new software programs.  I am knee-deep in webinars for these programs.

3. I am having lengthy long distance phone calls regarding corrections to the proofs of a book that I translated.

4. I was asked to write an article for a school paper published by the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite and the deadline is approaching.

5. I received a request to write a Sunday School lesson.

6. I received an invitation to give a talk to the annual meeting of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan.  That meeting is still four months away, but it reminds me that I need to do more research for a booklet I want to write on the beginnings of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite in Saskatchewan.

7. Our internet was down for 24 hours.

8. I need to get caught up with my bookkeeping work.

9. Winter is approaching and there is still outdoor work that needs to be done.

10. We are experiencing an invasion of maple bugs (aka box elder beetles) of almost biblical proportions.

11. I seem to have a special talent for procrastination.

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