Susanne’s Job

Susanne made a video for her…well…not sure what to call it in English.  She’s in her last year of training to become a therapist in some kind of alternative psychotherapy.  Again, I’m not sure what do say about this stuff in English.  Anyway, she made a video as a project for this training, and we were talking about how she could show it to her group.  I put it on a DVD and a memory stick, and as a joke I said I could just upload it to YouTube.  Maybe as a joke she said “why not?”  Maybe as a joke I just uploaded it.  Maybe as a joke you can watch it and laugh at her and Billy.  It’s actually good fun.  But be forewarned:  it’s in German, and I’m not gonna translate it for you.  If nothing else, you can see what my wife and son look like.

Here it is:  Susanne’s job  .



Installing a Brother printer driver (USB) in Vista…

…can be a pain in the ass. I googled and found advice that didn’t work. I asked Gerhard, my best friend and IT expert, and experimented (as I said in a previous post) for several hours.

And based on all the advice, I finally got it to work.

Now for my advice to others with similar problems.

Trying to follow my philosophic training, I will reduce my advice to the simplest Occam’s Razor kind of advice. This advice might only work with Brother printers. Nevertheless, if it works, please let me know. If it doesn’t, Google some more.

Here’s my advice:

1. Unplug your printer.

2. Uninstall any previous printer installations. This can get complicated, as Vista doesn’t automatically list all installed devices in the device manager. You must click something that says something like “show hidden devices”, but I’m not sure what it says in English, since I’m using a German version of Vista. But you’ll find it. The point is that you must remove any previous printer installations.

3. Reboot your computer.

4. Assume (though this step might be completely unnecessary) that you had to reboot to finish re-installing your printer driver. So when the computer is again up and running: shut down your computer.

5. Wait until your hard drive stops humming and the static electricity goes away. Go to the bathroom. Go get a beer.

6. Do a cold boot. Now, maybe the terminology has changed. But years ago a “cold boot” meant doing what you just read in step #5.

7. Install Vista’s generic printer driver.

That’s my advice. The key here is: THE PRINTER SHOULD NOT BE PLUGGED IN WHEN INSTALLING THE DRIVER. Previously installed drivers screw it up. Brother’s own drivers screw it up. And using Plug and Play screws it up. In other words, with a virgin copy of Vista, install the generic printer driver BEFORE YOU EVER PLUG THE PRINTER IN!

That’s what worked for me. I’m curious whether it helps anyone else. Maybe not. Computers are fickle things.


Rollercoaster Tycoon…

…has got my son in its grips.

Susanne thinks this is terrible, and is angry with me.  She thinks that a little boy should be outside or at least doing something with his hands, and should NOT be sitting in front of a computer screen.  Maybe she’s even right.

But:  she also complains that I do too little with my son.  Which I do.  And I see Rollercoaster Tycoon as a kind of buddy project for the two of us.  Staying up till four in the morning slaying monsters—that’s adult stuff.  (At least, it’s not really for 8 year-olds, who should be playing ball or building things with LEGO.)  But building a cool rollercoaster with your father is…


Am I wrong about this?




Upon buying a new computer, my dirty little lazy mind thought: hehehe, GAMES!

You see, when you’re running a Pentium II 400, and all of the sudden you’ve got a relatively up to date machine, you can buy games again.

I asked some of my students, “So, what’s out there? Any good games in the last few years that I should know about?” And they asked, “Well, what kind of games do you like?” And I said, “Well, I liked Diablo.” And they said, “Well, they really haven’t done anything better than Diablo lately.”

So I thought: OK, go dig up your old Diablo. Which I did, but it wasn’t any good because it was an English version which (rightly or wrongly) I was told not to install on a German OS. So I went to the store and bought a new copy of DIABLO II for about 10 bucks. (Oh, the beauty of liking old games: they’re cheaper and they run smoothly). AND: this time I ALSO got the expansion set LORD OF DESTRUCTION (for another 10).

So I install it, and Vista tells me that there might be some compatibility problems. Blizzard tells me the best way to get patches is to go into (which I’d never done before–hey, I played Diablo long before I had a 24 DSL connection, and I was way too cheap to try it online). So I go to, which downloaded and installed a patch as quick as a bunny rabbit and with nothing coming even close to printer driver installation stress, and I’m ready to play Diablo again–this time with a decent CPU and graphic power to boost–and this screen is on my monitor, and I think:

“OK, I’ll give a try.”

Fast forward two weeks, and you have an answer as to at least one reason for my continued failure to blog in spite of my resolution to be more resolved.

My back hurts terribly—undoubtedly a pinched nerve from hunching forward towards my monitor for countless hours. The fingertips of my third and fourth fingers on my left hand are numb—undoubtedly from some kind of pinched nerve in my left arm, just before the elbow, exactly where my arm hits my desk. And I am TIRED…the kind of tired you feel when you have spent at least two weeks getting less than your usual amount of sleep.

Hey: my old necromancing ways are not to blame. I got bored of standing back and watching my gollem kill demons: I wanted to jump into the mele—with zeal and holiness! I made myself a PALADIN!

And I have learned that playing online is a much different experience. Instead of picking off monsters at the edges of groups, then slowly opening every chest and overturning every rock and corpse looking for treasure, you run around full speed in a whirlwind of violence and magic, stopping for nothing other than an occasion drink to refresh your energy, letting money and treasure lie around like so much rubbish. And you say things like, “GO!” or “GO BACK” or “LET’S GET ANDI!” or “GET ANY GOOD DROPS?” or “LOL” or “ENGLISH?”

You also say a lot of unintelligible things like “wp, tp, pppp” and—here in Europe—read a lot of stuff in languages like Polish and Danish.

But the worst thing is this: you decide to do a quest, and you do it, and you do it fast because you have help, and then you hang around to help others do their quests. And you go just a little bit longer about 10 times, and then you yawn and say, “I really have to stop” and you turn off the computer and it’s 4:00 AM. But you’re no longer 27 years old, and you have a family expecting you for breakfast. So you get up dutifully the next morning and say you were up a wee bit late and then you do it again the next night. And you don’t prepare for classes and you don’t really want to be celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends and fireworks because ACT IV is waiting—and not only that…there is an ACT V! because this is the expanded version—and at some point you realize…

…I have become addicted.

OK, I’m exaggerating. At some point I stopped staying up till four. But I still spend my days thinking things like where I should build up my skill points. And this, my friends, all in a game I already played out two or three times at least five years ago! All because of

I do not dare—I do not even begin to dare, so don’t anyone try to tempt me—to consider some MMORPG. Those are either for the people who wish to give themselves over to a virtual world (I don’t) or for those with self control (not me). I figure that I’ll play this one out—Diablo, I mean—and then quit playing online.

That’s my plan.




OK, maybe it doesn’t comletely suck, but this computer is new.

It looks good, I’ll give it that.  It boots quicker than XP.  I can all my old games (which I’m saving for another post).


(And this is important)

I have spent at least five hours trying to install my printer, and it still doesn’t work.

I repeat:  I can run old video games.  But I cannot print.

You see, the beauty of today’s technology is supposed to be:  I buy a new USB printer, plug it in, and Windows says, “Hey, Jeff, I see a new printer there…let me get it working for you, buddy!”  That’s the whole point of Windows these days.  If I wanted to play IT expert and mess around with registries and all sorts of binary technical stuff then I would run Linux.  And the point of a new Windows system should be that it is an improvement.  Right?

This problem is not unique to me:  Google turns up many websites in which others complain about the problem–same error messages and everything–but I’ve yet to find a solution that actually works.

What is the problem, exactly?  I cannot install a printer driver.  It simply won’t install.  I poke and prod and try tricks and bribes and it simply won’t install!  Vista says, “That printer drive won’t install, buddy!  You’re an idiot to keep trying!  Wait about six months and Brother might have found a solution.  Go to their web site in six months and I bet you’ll be able to do something.  Otherwise, piss off!”

One friend helpfully points out that with the thousands and thousands of peripherals out there these days—all cheap and probably not earning the companies any money (they make it on supplies like toner cartridges)—why bother to offer support (like a printer driver that will install in Vista)?  And he has a point.

Yes, he has a point.