Archive for July 25, 2008

Heppie’s no longer in her body.

Heppie’s no longer in her body.

G’day all.

This morning I made the tough decision to have Heppie put to sleep. I had hoped that she’d die peacefully in her sleep during the night, but instead laboured breathing made it sound like that was not likely to happen – she was just too determined to keep ticking despite her problems.

It was clear that her condition was terminal, and although she was deteriorating quite slowly compared to what the vet expected, it wasn’t getting any better – and with no energy to walk more than 20 metres and 48 hours without a #2, it seemed likely that things were shortly going to get a lot worse.

So, at around 11:30 this morning, she was put to sleep. It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped – they tried twice to put her to sleep in the Kingswood, but in the end because her blood pressure was so low they had to take her inside and use a different type of injection method. Nonetheless she seemed pretty relaxed about it all which was I guess as good as I could have hoped for.

I then took her home, dug a resting place, and later that evening we buried her – near the front gate because she always loved traveling and although presumably her body no longer contains her, at least if it did, she’d be in that happy place between car and home.

Now of course, grieving continues – raising as it always does the inevitable questions that no-one seems able to answer, like why are we here, is there an afterlife or some sort; along with the more localised thoughts like did I look after her well, was it the right decision, where did dogs come from anyway, etc.

I guess multiple religions have been invented around these themes, but at the risk of upsetting those of you who have decided; I’m yet to be convinced. I have taken some comfort in other people’s near death experiences, but that still doesn’t really qualify as scientific evidence – interesting as they are. Like Einstein lecturing to a budgie, the world may be too big for us to understand.

In memory of Heppie, I created a one page document which I buried with her in a glass bottle, and because I’m a techy guy I also burnt 5 copies of a CD of pictures of her life, sealed them in the plastic spindle with silicon and included some dessicant silicon in the package. Odds are no one will ever find them, but who knows – and if they do will they even know what a CD is? (This was inspired by a recent post on a website where someone had written a missive about their pond and buried it thereunder, said letter berating the pond violator for choosing to remove said pond.)

Following is the text of said letter, along with a link to some of the pictures that were included.



Unknown before 1998 to 24/7/2008

Heppie was found at Mays Bend in Bourke, NSW around 2008. She’d had puppies and appeared to have been dumped. She found me, Michael Kean, sleeping in a car because I was not in the mood for fishing.

She lived in Bourke for a couple of years, had a number of puppies there in one litter. She lived outdoors.

She lived at Green Creek near Fords Bridge for a couple of years – again as an outside dog.

She lived at Fords Bridge for almost a year – again as an outside dog.

She then moved here (Black Mountain) around 2002 and was at last allowed to be an inside dog – all other properties were rental, etc. Her life really began here!

She miraculously survived a roll of a ute as she was flung off near Brewarrina, and her leash snapped due to the force. She was found two days later on a nearby property, to great relief.

Every day from 2002 on, she’d accompany me as I carried out computer repairs in the local area – occupying the back seat of the 1971 Kingswood. (Front seat for the last two weeks.)

She went with us on many holidays to Coffs Harbour, South West Rocks, Golden Beach – and was always a ‘car dog.’ There was nothing she liked more than travelling, although she preferred utes to cars.

In July, 2008, she began to become less spritely – would not run up and down the road any more with the electric scooter. A test at the vet showed she had a red blood cell count of 12, where normal is 35-57. The vet was a little surprised as it seemed she should not be alive at those levels.

She survived another two weeks, but could not walk more than about 20 metres before freezing on the spot and having to be carried. She would still travel happily each day and was now eating luxury food only – chicken from 627 café, steak and kidney pie, home made stews, and mars bars.

On 24/7/08 I took the painful decision to have her put to sleep, because her quality of life was diminishing further – she was still a happy dog, but sleeping was becoming more difficult.

She was a great loved friend for many years, and will be sorely missed.


Photos are here.

Fixing ATO E-Record on Vista

Fixing ATO E-Record on Vista

If you get an error when you install e-record on Vista, to the effect that it is always asking you where to save as, then you might have hit a non-documented problem which I encountered with a customer’s installation.

To fix it, you need to change the permissions on the e-record folder(s) to allow full access to the system, or was it the logged in user – anyway one or more of those.

There was no information about this on the e-record website, so hopefully this will help someone save an hour of their life trying to solve the problem!

[ccc-news] Assorted News 12 :)

[ccc-news] Assorted News 12 🙂

In this edition:

Important News
Possible new MP3 Virus

Buying Cheap Laptops
Other Bargains
USB Record Player

Losing another friend.

Possible new MP3 Virus

A new virus is apparently going around turning people’s MP3s (music) into Windows Media Audio (.asf) files, adding links to malicious sites within them, but leaving them with the original mp3 name.

For those of you who use Limewire, etc, to download music from the Internet, I’ve traditionally said that MP3 files are safe and WMA/WMV files are not. It is possible that MP3 files may now also be slightly risky – although as yet I haven’t been able to get confirmation of this.

It’s easy to spot if you’ve picked up a bad file, however, because when you try to play it you’ll instead be taken to a website, which will probably ask you to download a ‘codec’.(A codec is a program for your computer that lets it play a specific type of file – a bit like teaching your computer a new language if you like – but in this case it’s a ruse as they’ll actually send you a bug instead.) If you close the website you’ll probably be OK.

Buying Cheap Laptops…

One of the most common questions I get these days is ‘what’s a good laptop to buy.’ Many retailers, such as Dick Smith and RetraVision, have laptops for sale from about $650, and with $150 cash back offers when you post away a registration form. Mostly these are Compaq and Acer laptops.

For this low price, you’ll usually get a single brain laptop, whereas more expensive laptops tend to have two brains. Having two brains does help your computer run faster when it’s trying to do two things at once, and may be worth the $200+ premium over these cheaper laptops in some cases; but for general office work having one brain is enough. (Curious if your computer has two or more brains? Hold down Ctrl + Alt + Del, click “Task Manager” then look on the Performance tab. If you see two graphs under CPU Usage History, you have two brains – or rather, your computer does!)

The other thing you’ll probably want to do is add more RAM to one of these cheapies – as they usually come with only 1GB of RAM,.The good news there is another GB of RAM will cost you about $40-$50 from RetraVision. (Avoid buying RAM at Dick Smith Electronics, as they use a different brand that’s about three to four times the price!) Fitting it is always easy on these new ones, but does involve undoing a small door under the laptop with a screwdriver. I usually have memory in stock as well, so you can always ask me to do it for you 😉

As a side note, part of why Vista has received such a bad wrap is that it needs at least 1GB of memory, preferably 2GB or more to run at a bearable speed. Many laptops sold last year only have half a GB, so they’d take 4-6 minutes just to start. XP on the other hand used to need only 256MB to be happy, although with new virus scanners, etc, you really need at least 512MB to get by.

So, there you go. $550 will get you a nice new laptop with a bit of extra RAM, with most of the modern features you’d want, such as wireless, dvd burner, etc, and at a reasonable speed for most people.

Desktop PC sales appear to be dropping off rapidly – Dick Smith no longer stocks them for example! For those of you who prefer a fixed working position as opposed to a laptop, you can easily attach a normal screen and keyboard to a laptop and use it like a desktop PC.

Other Bargains

I recently missed one of my supplier’s closing time by a few minutes, and needed a new hard drive for a customer. So, went for a power-walk to K-Mart and found that you can get quite large USB hard drives there for about $120 – which for a 300GB hard drive was quite good value just for the drive itself. The drive inside was a seagate drive, so quality’s not a concern. (Anything other than Western Digital is pretty good these days.) So, if you’re worried about your hard drive dying, or you’re getting low on space, it could be a good investment for a backup or more space!

USB hard drives come in two physical sizes – one the size of the average Bible or Dictionary, the other about the size of a short, wide TV remote control. The big ones require mains power to run, whereas the smaller ones will run just from the computer’s power. The bigger ones often have more space for the same price, and are also faster since they spin a 7200 RPM whereas the smaller ones are, well, smaller and slower at 5400RPM, but more convenient since you can easily take them with you.

USB Record Player

One of the services I offer is converting LPs and Cassettes to CD & MP3. However, at $5 per album it can be a bit pricey for some people. So, here’s a way that you can convert your old LP records to CD using your computer. Jaycar Electronics now sells a record player that plugs into your computer’s USB port. – although I notice they’re out of stock at the moment. The Amac computers shop next to The Warehouse in Armidale is a Jaycar dealer if you want to get your hands on one.

Losing another friend.

Many of you know Heppie, the border collie / kelpie cross that usually resides on the back seat of the Kingswood. (Some of you have probably also seen the fan in the front window, or heard of the gadget that rings my mobile when the temperature exceeds 30 degrees.) Well, over the last three weeks she’s been getting slower and slower – not wanting to run with the electric scooter any more, and now not wanting to walk more than about 100 metres at a time.

I found her, or rather she found me, back in Bourke in ’98 where she was already full grown, showed signs of having recently had puppies, and appeared to have been dumped. (This was at May’s Bend, a fishing spot some way out of Bourke.) As a result, I don’t know her exact age but expect it’s at least 11 years, possibly up to 13 years.

A recent trip to the vet didn’t come out too well – her heart’s OK, lungs are OK, but she’s very anaemic. (You can tell this because her gums are ghostly white rather than pink.) A blood test said something I think like “hermatic rate of 12”, where normally it’s 37-55. The implication from this is that she’s either losing blood or has a tumour. Operating could be an option, but I suspect at her age it’s better just to enjoy her remaining days until eating becomes an issue, or any pain becomes evident.

So, as a result she’s getting a bit spoilt. She’s been upgraded to the front seat, where she’s always tried to be in the past. (Although technically she prefers utes to cars and has tried to jump into a few that weren’t mine in the past!) She has a new coat, new electric blanket, and a new diet. She’s particularly fond of Cafe 627 spicy chicken sans spice, and shelled Mars bars for energy. (Shelling a Mars bar is a messy but tasty job!) Canned fish (cat food) is also a popular but previously forbidden dish, along with that cheddar cheese stuff you get with snack packs..

The stress of knowing you’re going to lose a friend isn’t terribly pleasant of course, and has made me a little less reliable than usual. (I’ll discuss the 7 register theory in another newsletter.) I’m trying to keep to reduced hours to get home before dark during the week,and making more stops to let her check out the world. Funnily enough, I’ve been through this with her before when 5 years ago she was on the back of a ute that rolled when it hit a roo. (Datsun 4WD with buggered shocks, and I wasn’t driving.) We couldn’t find her after the accident – but she turned up two days later at a nearby property. She was very lucky in that her leash snapped – but it must’ve been a heavy impact to do that. (It bent the pin in the collar’s buckle by 30 degrees too, kind of amazing that she survived unscathed.)

When she does eventually go, I’ll probably have a break from dogs for a while as I’m planning a trip to Tazzie at the end of the year. Maybe after that I’ll find another – or another will find me!