Old Tech Device May Be Greatest Exercise Machine Ever Invented

What if I told you that you could get a workout equivilent to an hour on the treadmill and a sun tan better than any flourescent tanning bed while also getting some fresh air, catching an earful of chirping birds, enjoying the smell of fresh-cut grass, and getting your lawn mowed – all at the same time?

The modern Reel Mower is lightweight, and features easy-rolling wheels all around instead of the heavy wooden rollers of it's predecessors.

Enter the old-tech device that, like the sewing machine, is a mechanical marvel of the industrial age. The device I refer to is the Reel Mower. The reel mower was a staple of childhood for those of us who have been around long enough to remember black & white television. Unlike it’s successor, the rotary mower, the reel mower had no gas or electric motor, and was powered entirely by the effort of its’ human operator who pushed it across the lawn. Called the Reel Mower after it’s large spinning blade reel, it was customary in the burgeoning suburbs of the 60’s and 70’s to find kids out wheeling one of these things around the lawn as part of weekly chores before they could go play on a saturday morning.

Back then, although it had no engine, the mower was very heavy with parts constructed of thick steel and with large wooden rollers along the back and often also having heavy wood or iron handles with oaken grips shaped to the contour of your hands. Pushing that thing around on the lawn was truly a workout.  It’s no wonder there was no childhood obesity problem to speak of back then!

A few years ago, I saw that local hardware stores and home improvement stores were starting to carry reel mowers again, after decades of offering only gas-powered rotary mowers.  Feeling a bit eco-minded, and maybe nostalgic too for the whir of the blades and smell of fresh-cut grass without the roar and stench of a gas engine, I decided to buy one.

stickynote tech services

The business end of the reel mower. Note the rotating blades or 'reel' that lends the mower its name.

The first thing I noticed, was how remarkeably light the new mower was.  Thanks to the use of plastics and modern lightweight metal alloys, my new reel mower could easily be lifted with one hand, and pushing it was hardly a chore!  The second thing I noticed was something I had forgotten in my nostalgia, probably the ultimate reason why the reel mower was made obsolete by the rotary mower. Unlike the rotary mower that cuts by spinning a blade at high speed and effectively “whipping” the tips off the grass, the reel mower relies on the grass being pulled up by the reel against a stationary cutting blade that, like scissors, shears the grass cleanly between the reel and the blade. The flaw in this design is that grass that is too tall, does not properly draw up against the blade and instead gets pushed over and left unshorn.  This is why when we were kids, the mowing wasn’t finished until you took the Dandelion Whip and cleared out any stray grass or weed stalks that were too tall for the reel mower to cut.

A Portion of my back lawn freshly sheared by the reel mower. This is about a twenty-minute workout.

Okay, well, so that was a minor inconvenience, easily remedied by doing a “first cut” of the season with a gas powered rotary mower, and then continuing with an every other day or every third day regimen of mowing with the reel mower.  And so it goes, that I have given up sweating indoors on a treadmill while watching TV and breathing stale air in favor of the comforting whir of the reel (think Edward Scissorhands), the invigorating scent of fresh cut grass, and the sun’s warmth tempered by a cool breeze.  And although there’s no motor and no electricity, no memory chips, hard disk, or CPU, the mechanical workings of this device are sufficient to pique the interest of my inner geek. I can’t wait for it to break so I’ll have an excuse to open it up and see how the gears and such all work together to turn human energy into a beautiful lawn.

 

Computer Geeks vs. Band Geeks: Stickynote Tech Services to Raise Cash in Support of Music Programs at Mansfield Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Computer Geeks vs. Band Geeks: Stickynote Tech Services to Raise Cash in Support of Music Programs at Mansfield Schools

May 1, 2012, Mansfield, MA – Andy Trask, Owner of Stickynote Tech Services (www.stickypc.com) announced today, plans to donate a portion of 2012 service revenue, as well as voluntary donations from customers, to the Mansfield Band Parents Association in support of the Mansfield Public Schools award-winning Music Programs.

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Battery (drumline) from Mansfield Indoor Marching Percussion competing in 2012 NESBA season opener at Dartmouth High School

Andy Trask knows what it’s like to be called a geek. After all, with more than ten years experience making house calls to perform computer repair services, and as the owner of Mansfield-based Stickynote Tech Services, he proudly refers to himself as a Computer Geek in his advertising, on his facebook page, and in person. But long before he became known as a computer geek, and long before the status of “geek” was elevated to a badge of honor worn by the technological elite, it was his passion for playing trombone in the Cohasset High School band that first earned him the title of Geek.

“Back in the seventies, being called a geek wasn’t exactly a compliment. It was pretty much a slur reserved for the musicians and the brainiacs,” says Andy, “the good news however, is that those days are over, and today, being a geek is really pretty cool.”

concert percussion performance

Mansfield High School concert percussion group competes in NESBA season opener at Dartmouth High School. This group eventually went on to take the silver medal at the 2012 WGI World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.

In recent years, Andy the Band Geek turned Computer Geek has turned Band Geek once again, volunteering to play trombone with the Mansfield High School Jazz Band alongside his sons Justin (trumpet) and James (trombone), and as a Band Parent, helping out as a volunteer with other music programs including the 2012 World Championship silver medalist Mansfield High School Percussion Ensemble.

“I see what these kids can do, and I see how many of them apply to, and get accepted into, prestigious schools like Berklee College of Music, and I can’t help but feel a certain pride in the quality of the Mansfield Schools music programs,” Andy states, “and as a 25+ year resident of Mansfield, I know every year it’s a budget crisis of one sort or another that threatens to shrink or kill music programs in our schools, so I was looking for ways besides volunteerism, to help make sure that the Mansfield schools music programs remain a force to be reckoned with. My ‘Aha!’ moment came when I realized I could have my family-owned business not only contribute directly, but also act as a conduit for customers to contribute to help fund those programs through the Mansfield Band Parents Association.”

Marching Band trumpet feature during halftime show
MHS Marching Band performing at                   night football game

 Starting May 1st, 2012, and continuing through to December 31st, 2012, Stickynote Tech Services will donate 1% of all collected service revenue to the Mansfield Band Parents Association. In addition, with each billing, Stickynote customers will have the option of adding a voluntary contribution to their bill, 100% of which will be passed through to the Mansfield Band Parents Association to support music in Mansfield Schools.

How will donations work? Customers can have their donations added directly to their bill. But you don’t need to be a Stickynote customer to donate! Anyone who would like to donate is welcome to do so at http://www.stickypc.com/donate.html where they can securely donate any amount to help with this great cause.

About Stickynote Tech Services

Based in Mansfield Massachusetts, Stickynote Tech Services is a local provider of in-home computer installation, recovery, and repair services, wired and wireless network installation and troubleshooting services, and general personal technology services to individuals, families, and small businesses in Southeastern Massachusetts including the south shore, Cape Cod, south coast, greater Taunton area, greater Attleboro area, lower Route 128, and lower Route 495.

About the Mansfield Band Parents Association

The MBPA exists to support the music and color guard programs in Mansfield Public Schools by raising funds and providing as much help as is needed for these extraordinarily successful programs to continue.  Mansfield school music programs that receive assistance from the MBPA include the Jordan/Jackson elementary school band, the Qualters middle school bands and percussion ensemble, the Mansfield High School competitive Winter Guard, and the High School Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, and competitive Percussion Ensembles including the 2012 World Championship Silver Medalist concert percussion ensemble.

Contact:
Andy Trask, Owner
Stickynote Tech Services
(508) 369-9077
info@stickypc.com
Http://www.stickypc.com
Laura Dunn, President
Mansfield Band Parents Association, Inc.
mansfieldbandparents@gmail.com
http://www.mansfieldbandparents.org

Computer Repair vs. Computer Replace: What makes sense for you?

computer repair picture of up-to-date windows 7 home computer

Is it time for Windows 7 in your house?

Well, it’s finally happened – what computer repair pros have dreaded for years. The cost of buying a new computer has finally dropped to the point where the computer itself has become  disposable, and any decision to repair a computer, even if repairing it simply means paying for a professional virus removal, has to be weighed against the  cost to replace the computer instead.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating stuffing the earth’s dwindling waste and recycling resources with junked computers, nor am I suggesting that arbitrarily buying a new computer is the cure-all for when things go wrong and the old computer needs repair work.  Rather, I’m pointing out to folks who may not have noticed, that the price of an entry-level desktop computer tower with (humor me and let me get my geek on for a sec here) Windows 7 Home Premium, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a Terabyte or more of Hard Drive space, is currently retailing for as little as $399- and that’s just off-the-shelf pricing!  With a little shopper’s diligence you may be able to shave another $50-100 off that price. Netbook computers (“mini” laptops if you’re not familiar with the term) have been available in the $249-399 range since introduced a few years back.  Even full-blown laptop computers with normal-sized keyboards and screens (for those of us who’s fingers and eyes are not aging so gracefully), are hovering in the $500-700 range and can regularly be found on sale for as little as $399!

So, armed with this knowledge, let’s explore a couple scenarios, one in which replacement is the best option and another where doing a repair of the existing computer is still the more sensible approach. And then we’ll wrap up with what it means to you, and highlight some of the questions to ask and values to consider when making your own computer repair vs. replace decision:

Scenario 1

Laptop video / motherboard failure:  Let’s take the computer repair call I got last week from a woman in Sharon, MA. She told me the screen on her laptop computer had failed some time ago and that she had been using an external monitor with it, but now, even the external monitor wasn’t working.

Decision: Replace

Instead of signing myself up to repair her computer at a cost of $300-400 to replace the motherboard (which, in this case, would have been necessary because the video card is built into the motherboard), I suggested instead that she buy a new laptop and have me over to set it up, connect to her wireless network, transfer her data from the old computer to the new computer, set up email or other online accounts, and make sure she’s got adequate data backup and virus protection going forward.

Why the decision to replace?

  • Cost of repair close to cost of entry-level replacement computer
  • Casual use of computer (email, facebook, surf the web, and occasional word processing) means low-cost entry-level system would be adequate for her needs
  • New computer would have greater power, speed, and storage capacity
  • New computer would have Windows 7 vs. old computer Windows Vista meaning better compatibility with hardware, peripherals, and software going forward
  • New computer would have 12-month warranty vs. 30-day warranty on repair

In short, had we gone with a repair, she would have spent almost as much as getting a new computer just to get back to being whole. By replacing, although more expensive when you take into account the cost of the new computer plus set-up and data transfer services, has the advantage of moving her forward into the future with greater speed and capacity, a more modern operating system, and a more comprehensive warranty that makes the extra couple hundred dollars well worth it.

Scenario 2

Desktop Motherboard / Hard Drive Failure:  Here’s a case where I was called out to a small business in Seekonk, MA. They were using a “middle-aged” Windows Vista computer as the central computer for the business, running some proprietary business automation functions, and also doing the business accounting via Quickbooks.  When I arrived onsite, the system had no video signal and would not start up.  I performed some diagnostics and recovery and was able to get the system to start up but would not  trust it to run the business at that point as both the motherboard and the hard disk drive were suspect.

Decision: Repair

I explained the repair vs. replace options to the business owner, leaning heavily towards replace until we started talking about the proprietary software that controls specific devices and functions of his business.  As it turns out, the software was also middle-aged, and the original installation CDs were long lost never to be found again.  With the cost of replacing that software running into the thousands of dollars, the decision to repair became obvious.

Why the decision to repair?

  • Cost of replacing proprietary software and/or related devices would cost thousands of dollars
  • Uncertain compatibility of proprietary software with Windows 7.

In conclusion, it was decided to repair the system, ultimately not by replacing the motherboard, but by tracking down and purchasing a compatible used computer online, and migrating the hard drive image from the old computer to the “new” one.

Your Scenario…

Now of course, every situation is different, and you too may be facing a repair vs. replace decision, if not today, certainly in the future.  Here are some important things to consider if you are faced with that decision:

  • What is the total cost of repair, including parts and labor?
  • What is the total cost of replacement, including computer, applications, and services?
  • Would you need set-up & data transfer services or can you handle that yourself?
  • How old is the computer being repaired? For example, does it make sense to stay with the older Windows XP system, or is it time to move to a Windows 7 computer?
  • Do you have original CDs or installation media and activation keys for software that you want to bring forward to a new computer?
  • Is the software you want to bring forward compatible with the newer hardware and/or Windows version?
  • Are you okay with change?  Realistically, a lot of older folks have become comfortable with their existing computers and how they use their computers, and frankly, the thought of change can be disconcerting.  Don’t fret, you’re not alone! This is one of the big reasons for the continued popularity of Windows XP, and is completely understandable.
computer repair or replacement, that is the question

When I saw this log-in failure, I suggested replacing the computer instead of repairing it.

In conclusion, what I’ve found from helping hundreds of customers with this decision is that although costs can play an overriding role, the decision doesn’t always come down to dollars and cents.  I recently fixed an old MS-DOS computer (a mid 1980’s vintage computer… think pre-mouse!) for a gentleman in Stoneham, MA, who used it to do his accounting.  When I suggested the old machine could fail again and he should think about modernizing, he simply responded, “if it fails again I’ll call you again. I’m 76 years old and don’t feel like learning a new computer!”

 

 

SOLVED! Windows Live Mail could not be started. … Windows Live Mail (0x80041161)

When you start Windows Live Mail, you may get an error message that reads: Windows Live Mail could not be started, It may not be installed correctly. Make sure that your disk is not full or that you are not out of memory. (0×80041161)

picture of windows live mail error 0×80041161

It looks bad but Don't Panic!

If you are getting this message, Don’t Panic!  It does not mean all your emails and contacts are lost (phew!).  Below are instructions for how to solve this Windows Live Mail error and get your email back up and running normally in just minutes.

SOLVED: Windows Live Mail could not be started, It may not be installed correctly. Make sure that your disk is not full or that you are not out of memory. (0×80041161)

1. Click the start button (the round windows logo in lower left corner of screen)

computer repair doesn't always mean broken computers. Sometimes you need help with your email or internet connection.

We haven't decided yet, what to do when it rains...

2. In the search bar at the bottom of the start menu type just the word SERVICES and then hit the enter key on your keyboard. This will open the Component Services window.

Note: Depending on your account rights a small box may pop up first asking you to give administrative permission to proceed with this action. If it does, you must click the choice that gives permission.

3.  In the Component Services window, at the bottom of the left-hand column, click “Services” and a long list of services will appear in the middle column.  Scroll down this list of services until you find “Windows Live ID sign-in assistant.” Double-click the windows live id sign-in assistant service and it will open (refer to image below)

repairing windows live mail error caused by disabled service

Windows Live ID sign-in assistant service

4.  In the  “Startup type” field,  if you see “Disabled” or “Manual”, click on that field and choose “Automatic”

5.  Click the Apply button then click OK and also close the Component Services window.

Once you’ve done this, your Windows Live Mail problem should be fixed. So let’s go ahead and start up Windows Live Mail.  Welcome Back and congratulations! You fixed it yourself with a little help from Stickynote Tech Services!

 

 

 

 

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