July 31, 2010

The Case of the Disappearing Disk Space

For the past 2 months or so, my old 2004 desktop running Windows XP has mysteriously been losing disk space nearly every day -- between 100 MB to 500 MB a day. (I currently have less than 10 GB free.) I get Windows Updates automatically, have Norton Internet Security 2010, Webroot Antivirus with Spy Sweeper, and Prevx. While I've invested in a new Windows 7 laptop and transferred all my important files and apps over, I still would like to use my desktop, but the dwindling free space has me concerned that someone is hijacking my computer for filesharing or some other nefarious purpose. I never visit filesharing sites myself and am super-careful about email and surfing. There seems to be disk activity even when I'm not doing much myself. And just to make life interesting, Windows Updates tells me there are 16 Security Updates for Microsoft Office 2003 that I cannot install.

Anyone have suggestions about how to discover where the new files are going or what is causing the disappearing space? I've tried a Windows file search for files created in the last month, but haven't found what I wanted. Anyone have experience with System Mechanic or WinCleaner?

I'm leery about using any of the free/shareware disk space cleaners. I've googled for disappearing disk space and many of the hits are flagged by NIS as suspicious or are just plain old. A year ago I purchased a so-called registry fixer called Registry Easy which resulted in more problems. Recent NIS flagged this as SecurityRisk.ADH and removed it, but who knows what damage it did.

Oh -- one more thing. The past few days, with the latest Firefox, I'm getting "The URL is not valid and cannot be loaded" popup error message at seemingly random page loads (although often on Amazon).

Is it time to ship my desktop to the nearest landfill? Man, I hate this kind of stuff! I'll buy a drink for anyone local who provides a solution or for you remote folks, I'll buy you something from Amazon or iTunes.

July 28, 2010

Obama and McCartney - At the White House

There is so much that was special about seeing Sir Paul McCartney perform at the White House. First, there is the award: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The honor was bestowed upon him directly by a president he so admires. Then there were the All Star list of celebs performing McCartney's songs: Stevie Wonder (We Can Work it Out and later Ebony and Ivory with Paul), Elvis Costello (Penny Lane), Jonas Brothers (Drive My Car), Herbie Hancock with Corinne Bailey Rae (Blackbird), Dave Grohl (a blistering version of Band on the Run), Faith Hill (The Long and Winding Road), Emmylou Harris (an emotional For No One), Lang Lang (classical piano) and Jack White (medley of Mother Nature's Son and That Would Be Something). Jerry Seinfeld was hilarious in his mock mini-roast of Paul about his lyrics and song titles and lyrics. ("Well, she was just seventeen/You know what I mean....Do we really know what you mean, Paul? We have a pretty good idea but....")

Sir Paul opened with Got to Get You Into My Life and later played Let it Be and Eleanor Rigby. He apologized to the President before playing Michelle with more than a nod to The First Lady -- what's her name? Afterwords he said, "I could be the first guy to be punched out by a president". The show closed with Hey Jude, ending in audience participation with all performers and the Obama family on stage doing the "na, na, na, na-na-na-nas". But what was really special was seeing senators and congresspeople singing along to every song. Rocking the suits, man! Yeah -- and a major from the Marine Bugle Corp playing a note-perfect piccolo trumpet (?) during Penny Lane. And Mary McCartney whistling a cat call at her 68-year old dad. Gotta love it! And the earlier black and white recital of Paul playing Yesterday on acoustic guitar accompanied by 3 violins and a cello.

Did I mention that President Obama called Sir Paul McCartney the "most successful songwriter in history"? As for American culture, "we stole you, Paul". Music is one of the things that helps us through hard times. He said The Beatles "blew the walls down" and changed everything about music in a few short years.

When Paul accepted the award, he said not only was the award a big honor, but it was even more so being presented to him by "this president". Regarding the Gulf oil spill and other problems, Paul said there were a "billion" people rooting for The Prez. And there are probably that many of us rooting for you, too, Paul!

Great show! Watch it now on pbs.org.

July 22, 2010

Bring Back the Plastic!

Yes, I know it's not PC, but I'm so tired of buying CDs with all-cardboard sleeves. It's too easy to crush, bend, tear, and otherwise destroy. Sorry, I don't care if brown is the new green. Yes, I know you wonderful recording artists are trying so hard to save our environment. (How's your mansion doing, anyway, and your road crew entourage? Use electricity much?) But look at the opportunity you have now! Just sponsor scarfing up all that petroleum from the Gulf and recycle it as plastic jewel cases! If the plastic is cracked or otherwise ruined, I can just replace the jewel case. No more stinking cardboard, please. It's rough on the CDs too, and I prefer my music unscratched.