This was a fun resource and I have my friend Carl Frank for sharing it.

Count on old-school fun with these new calculator emulations

I’m old enough to remember when calculators were banned in school. Bring one in and use it on a test and you automatically flunked. It really wasn’t a problem; those first calculators were so expensive that I certainly didn’t have one. If my memory serves me correctly, there was only one person in my class did. He was a good guy and would never use it on a test.

We all bought into the concept that doing mental mathematics or working it out on pencil and paper would give us life skills forever. Actually, that part is correct and it does have an application in real life, particularly at the grocery store. It is so valuable these days. Prices seem to change daily.

But, back then, we did everything manually except for the higher end mathematics and we had a unit on using a slide rule to learn those skills!

I went to university to study Mathematics and Computer Science and my dad bought me my first calculator. It could do all the basic operations, + – * ÷ AND, it could do square roots and had a memory to store one number.

I remember a professor at university who, in Statistics, told us to get a good calculator if we wanted to go far. So, I did! She also recommended one with RPN (Reverse Polish Notation or postfix operators) and I did. On her recommendation, I bought a Hewlett-Packard HP-21.

Thanks, HP Museum –

I think I still have it somewhere but the battery is long dead. Learning RPN took a while but it was so worth it – actually it’s worth it still today. You don’t buy calculators these days; you just download an app and most certainly I have.

Lest I get too far off track, the article that Carl shared talked about new additions of calculators to the Internet Archive. There are a few Hewlett-Packards and Texas Instrument calculators. They all come with graphic screens. I never had that luxury. The TI were very popular in my classes when I taught secondary school. I don’t recall any of them having RPN though; they were arithmetic in operation which made it easy to just pick it up and use it.

It’s funny, as I clicked though and checked them out.

They do really look old-school as noted in the title of the post.

And, they were relatively expensive at the time. At university, only engineering and mathematics students seemed to have them. We always got chosen to be the group in psychology classes because we had a calculator and could work the numbers on projects.

Nowadays, a calculator is thrown in when you buy a computer or a phone. This is the one that came with this Chromebook.

Of course, I had to download an RPN calculator.

You can always tell an RPN calculator from others because there’s no = key. You just read the register or roll up/roll down to get your results.

I wish I could say that I use it frequently but honestly, I don’t. Everyone knows, I hope, that all you need to do is open a new tab in your browser and type the expression you want solved and voila. Or, speak to your smartphone and watch the answer appear.

I thought that this was so appropriate these days as people are predicting the end of the world with artificial intelligence utilities. In my lifetime, I’ve gone from banning, purchasing, upgrading, and now using my computer or phone if I need to solve something.

It was fun to reminisce about old calculators. Do you remember your first calculator?

I’ll save you a click – in 2016, it made a Sunday morning “Whatever happened to …” post. Have I really been blogging for seven years?


A whirlwind of operating systems

We all knew that it was coming. Microsoft has officially stopped selling its Windows 10 Operating system.

Microsoft Stopped Selling Windows 10, But You Can Find It Elsewhere

My home office, such that it is, is mostly powered by a computer that came with Windows 10 pre-installed. I honestly never really felt that human-computer connection with Windows 10 and the machine became more of a business function. When Windows 11 came along, I jumped and it became a fun computer again. My only complaint is that I don’t use the Edge browser much and yet Microsoft somehow finds loopholes that make it launch in response to particular actions.

I have an older computer that came with Window 7 installed. For me, it was the perfect example of how you should never buy a computer with minimum specifications. It had a very powerful Intel i7 processor but only 4GB of RAM. It never ran Windows 7 all that efficiently. I had to learn to be patient and, if you know me, you know that I’m not a patient person.

Eventually, it became an experimental computer and it has had a number of different operating systems installed on it. They were from the Linux side of the house – Ubuntu, Lubuntu, and Linux Mint were the most recent distributions that got installed.

No matter what I did, it struggled with only having that 4GB at times. If I was just browsing the web, there was no problem at all..

Today, it was kind of cold outside; just the type of day to do some playing around. As I really thought about it, I really do everything in a browser anyway. It was time to play around with an operating system that was just a browser – and I’d read all kinds of things about it – ChromeOS Flex.

Like most operating systems, the instructions to download and install are pretty straight forward – download the installer to an external USB key, boot with the key in it and install the operating system, and away you go. Google even make it simple by providing a browser extension that makes things easy.

I wish that I could say that things went smoothly but I can’t.

I downloaded the installation file four times and each time, the verification of the installation image failed. I was going to give up when I thought of an alternative. Instead of installing the Stable version of Chrome OS Flex, my next download was the Developer version. After all, this was just going to be something to play around with.

This time, things went smoothly. Installation was quick and efficient and when it was installed, all the extensions and settings from my actual Chromebook synched nicely.

I’ve been using my new ChromeOS Flex computer all afternoon and I’m quite impressed with the results. So, this Windows 7 box which was upgraded and then moved to various versions of Linux is now running ChromeOS Flex.

I know that I’m fickle with these things but it is looking good.

Off the grid

Her: Sir, I can’t see your computer on the network

Me: That’s why I called; I can’t get on the network

Her: I really can’t help you then; can I close your case?

Me: Do what you’ve got to do

My wife was on the chair busting a gut laughing at this. She has seen and heard me on the receiving end of this type of call for years.

Earlier this week, she and her sister had spent a couple of nights in Goderich at this hotel and I got a panic call that she couldn’t get her Chromebook on the network. Our tech discussion was similar to the one above.

As it turns out, we fell into a couple of dogsitters and went back there for Sunday/Monday to enjoy the leaves and I traveled light; meaning I brought my Chromebook to see if I could use it. I’m egotistical enough to think that I’d be able to get connected easily.

Darn it if I didn’t have the same problem. Our Android phones connected just like “poop through a goose” but the Chromebooks were a no-go.

It was frustrating. With my job and my work as a CSTA volunteer, I’ve connected to networks all over the Northern Hemisphere but this was a non-starter.

As a regular blogger, I had mentally formulated a blog post to go Monday morning and all I had to do was key it in. That’s the easy post; posting it is kind of important too. Thanks to those who checked in to see if I was not healthy or something. Except for higher blood pressure from my call with tech support, I was great. We visited parks in Bayfield and Goderich and did the Menesetung Bridge twice and enjoyed the leaves. A rather noisy bit on Instagram and Facebook will tell the story.

As I’m sitting and panicking on the fourth floor of the hotel, I could see neighbours’ networks coming and going. They weren’t strong enough to join and kudos to them for having passwords on them. Then, I noticed a flash and a Tim Horton’s network was available. I pulled the curtains and sure as shooting, there was a coffee shop just a short distance away. I grabbed my Chromebook and went.

Now, I don’t know if you believe in signs and I didn’t think I did but check this out. As I started to walk through the driveway, it was closed! The stars had aligned.

I could have gone back and blogged on my phone or set it up as a hub but I thought I’d done too much away from the original purpose so I packed the computer and we went out to West Street Willie’s for an incredible supper and then down to the lake for some sunset pictures. (Yeah, I know, more pictures)

Now, I’m not one to admit defeat so I’m curious to know if there are others with the same problem. And there was.

Chromebook Won’t Connect to Hotel WiFi – How to Fix

I tried most of them – and the tech person indicated that she had reset the router. Who knows for sure?

This was interesting. I’m not about to do a Powerwash (particularly if I’m not connected) but the Captive Portal issue sounds like it might have the answer.

My easiest solution would be to just not take my Chromebook in the future and avoid the issues that way.

So, folks who were wondering about me, I was enjoying a great weekend and just couldn’t get connected. That’s certainly not the end of the world.

Has this happened to you? Do you have a solution?

It’s fixed

If you’re a follower of mine, you know that I’ve been complaining and unhappy about one thing in my Chromebook. In Twitter, during replies or looking at my private messages, the text has been pixelated for quite some time.

I wrote about it in one of my Sunday summary posts.

Technology Troubleshooting

I have this issue with Twitter on my Chromebook. For the most part, things are working well but there’s a problem with the text being pixelated in the overlay windows. Replies, Messages.

It doesn’t hurt the functionality but it is annoying. I’ve tried everything I can think of; the best suggestion, it seemed, was to turn off hardware acceleration. That didn’t work. I can run Opera or Vivaldi on the Android side and it works fine.

I thought that maybe it was an extension that was interfering but I’ve tried Chrome with no extensions with no success.

My solution is one of:

suck it up
magnify the screen size to 150% and the problem goes away
Neither are really attractive and so I continue to search for a solution.

It was tough talk, I know, but it still bugged me every time I used it. I bounced between blaming Twitter and Chrome and found that if you’re looking for anything negative about either, you can easily find it. But not a solution for this problem.

Last night, I was curious as to why the Chromeos on my Chromebook hadn’t had that big security update that is making the news. On my other machines, there was an update to fix whatever the problem was but not on the Chromebook.

So, I thought that I would force an update. After checking and being assured by Chrome that I was up to date, I asked it to reboot and switch to the Beta Channel. It only took a couple of minutes and I think I probably forgot why I did this until I went in to reply to a Twitter message and the content was crystal clear. No pixelation at all! How about Messages? I popped up that menu and it was perfectly clear as well.

To be honest, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. This morning, I turned the computer off completely and rebooted and the fix remained. I read the release notes and it hadn’t been noteworthy enough to comment about. I sure wish I knew what they did but I’d so glad that they did what they did.

I’m one happy camper.

Chrome 100

Geeky me, I was waiting for this milestorm to drop. In a perfect world, this would have been time for big features to be added to the browser. This time, it wasn’t earth shattering but, with all the security warnings running around, it’s something that needs to be done.

The Chrome update came to Windows first and a few impatiently waiting days later, I was eligible for my Chromebook. I was starting to get worried that maybe it had aged to the point where Google wasn’t supporting it any long. Fortunately, it did land here and I got the update.

There were two things that had me really curious. With the revision moving to 100, the version now has three digits instead of two. There was lots of speculation that we might be in for another Y2K, this time websites checking for two digits instead of the now three. So far, it has been another non-issue for me.

There were a few other changes that were interesting to read about and probably have good features but didn’t reach out and grab me.

The big thing on the user end was that the Launcher was changing. Instead of a full screen coverup with all of the available applications launchable, it was to take on a more of a Windows pop up look. Quite honestly, that wasn’t going to be new for me since it’s been an experiment on my personal unit that I’ve turned on for a while.

Besides the smaller footprint and the ability to see what’s under the menu, picky people like me could right click in the open window and sort the icons by either colour or alphabetically. I went alphabetically which is the only option that made sense to me.

I turned off the experiment and did the reboot and was hoping that there was more to be enjoyed. I was quite surprised when it didn’t work. So, I did what any superstitious computer user would do – I shut the entire computer down. Maybe a harder reboot was needed. No go. I wasn’t a fan of the old launcher so I went in to the experiments and turn the new launcher again. Maybe my Chromebook wasn’t ready for that feature officially but it has always worked and it continues.

So, eventually, I got the update and I was happy that my Chromebook was still supported and I started to poke around. It’s working well, my blog is still available – what’s not to like?