Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On a slightly different topic...

The downside of owning your own small business is being responsible for the tasks you don’t like to do, for me that is the bookkeeping. But it must be done, so I sat down this morning with a fresh cup of coffee ready to barrel through it. But my brand new computer was running really, really, really slowly. Making what I hate to do, take 10 times longer than it should, anyone sense my frustration yet?

So I immediately saved what I was working on, shut everything down and restarted my computer. My first answer to everything electronic is reboot and try again. Hey, I play with plants for a living my technical knowledge is VERY limited. After shutdown, I noticed that my start up was taking longer than usual, especially for my brand new speedy mac and I immediately thought “Oh no, what did my kids download onto my computer”. This prompted my search, I won’t take you through my lengthy steps, remember my business is landscape design not technology. After this long process I found an application called Growl, BTW this only showed up under System Preferences under ‘Other’. I tried looking for it with finder and other searches, it doesn’t show up. I never installed anything called Growl so my first thought was spyware. I tried to uninstall it, but it wouldn't let me. I couldn’t drag it to the trash either.

Google Time. Turns out, Growl installed itself when I downloaded an application called Dropbox (which a colleague suggested I use to share work documents). Not only that, but Growl set itself to automatically start up with my computer (although it doesn’t show up on my start up list), and it is always running (although it doesn’t show itself as a running application). So what does this sneaky application do? I haven’t the foggiest. One blogger described it as an annoying guy following you around the house telling you “your phone is ringing”, “your dishwasher is done” and so on. Thanks, but not something I need.

So my next google search was “How do you uninstall Growl?”. The software developers of Growl want you to download an uninstall software from their website. Excuse me? That sounds wrong. I’ve accidentally deleted lots of things before, but in this case, I need a special application to delete another application? There must be another way. Growl showed up uninvited on my computer, remains hidden (from most of my search methods) and I am supposed to trust the developers to remove it by voluntarily installing another application. Does anyone else find this odd?

Ok, so more searching finds forums filled with other queries similar to mine “How did Growl get on my computer?”, “Is Growl a Virus?”, “How do I get rid of Growl?” and so on... at least I am not alone. But I can’t find a complete answer. I found out how to stop it from running, how to disable it from Dropbox, and how to stop it from opening at start up. But I still can’t get RID of it. Apparently neither can others, most forum responses follow this line “It isn’t doing anything just leave it.” or “You may want it in the future” but this isn’t enough for me. If someone walked into my house, uninvited, I would want them to leave. Even if they were not eating my food or using my hot water, I would want them OUT of my house.

The good news is that my computer is running MUCH faster now that I turned this application off, and therefore I can get back to my bookkeeping (maybe not so good). But I still want to delete this application from my computer, and I don’t want to install another application to do it. So, thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finally, the Application of my dreams!

Truly the Bible of the plant industry, Michael Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants", is finally in an App form for your iPhone or iPad called "Dirr's Tree and Shrub Finder". Complete with pictures, cultural characteristics, identification tips, propagation notes and all the other info you have come to expect, nay rely on! This nifty app also allows you to search based on a multitude of criteria.
No longer will I have to schlep around the 20lb hardcover "Hardy Trees and Shrubs" book to show clients pictures! Now what do I do with the well worn text book I've had since college? Yes, it is almost 20 years old and so full of notes, highlights, arrows, paperclips, sketches and so on it is almost a scrapbook of my career. From my initial loathing of Hydrangea macrophylla to my current love affair with the plant (now that new cultivars have made it a reliable
bloomer for 3 full months) all the way to updating the genus on certain plants (Sophora japonica now Styphnolobium japonicum) or crossing them out entirely because they are now prohibited in Massachusetts or a failure like the genetically flawed Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana "Bradford").
My only comment is that like my textbook from ages past, I'd like a comment area. A place to add pictures, notes, or comments. I am confident that the app will be updated with all the critical industry updates, great new cultivars, breakthroughs in breeding and hybridizing but I still want to reference and record my own observations. Maybe I'll keep my textbook around a little while longer...