Home Design Software

Home design software is becoming more accessible and feature rich.

One place to experiment is Google sketchup 3D modelling software which is free.
Google also has a web site called 3D warehouse that has collections of models that can be reused.
Check out their furniture collections or cabinets.

Another option is Punch software’s Home Design which includes both Windows and Mac versions.
It is expensive at $200 USD for Architectural Series 4000 but if you are serious about home design or landscaping there is a lot of value in being able to visualize and walkthrough your designs. The Mac version is new and has gotten 9/10 review from Macosxhints.

Another potential option is plan3d which has a website subscription approach at $36 USD per year.
Check out the demos. Over 6,000 models and textures are included which you can resize and change the texture. You cannot create your own objects with plan3d but you can add images from other sources.

Debugging Firefox Problems

Firefox is a great browser, perhaps the best around but sometimes like any application you can experience problems.

Here are some sources of help on things to try that might solve a problem.

First your computer is running ok right with no other operating system or application problems. Check the previous blog entry on Windows troubleshooting and also previous entries on doing anti-virus and anti-spyware scans to keep your system healthy. Applications can have problems if they are running in a toxic environment. Up to date security software that is run regularly is essential to maintain a healthy system and preferably a hardware firewall/router is installed especially if you have a broadband connection to the Internet.

One of the strengths of Firefox are addons but these programs might be the cause of a problem. A useful addon that provides a list of all the addons installed can be found at:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/447 (InfoLister).
It can be a good idea to install this infolister addon so you can easily see what software you are running with Firefox and also send this information to your computer guru (or use Google) to determine if there are any known addon problems. A Google search of the addon name and “problem” can sometimes be revealing.

A quicker way to test if the problem is with Firefox or addons is to use Firefox safe mode. This isn’t Windows safe mode which is used to turn off extensions to the operating system – Firefox safe mode just runs Firefox without any addons. The instructions for running Firefox safe mode under different operating systems are at:
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Safe_mode
If you still have a problem after running Firefox in safe mode then try updating Firefox to the latest (non-beta) version. Each update provides new fixes and security patches so that might be the fix you needed. If you already have the latest version sometimes a reinstall can clear corrupted files.

If your problem isn’t fixed by a fresh version of Firefox you may have a profile corruption problem. A fresh install still tries to use your old profile information so you don’t lose your preference settings. Creating a new profile as described at:
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_Manager#Creating_a_new_profile ,
though that process can be a bit complicated and involves re-establishing your preferences.

In case there might be a possibility of conflicts with other non-browser programs you could try running Firefox in safe mode and also your operating system in safe mode with networking. Check the previous blog entry on Windows troubleshooting for safe mode instructions for the Windows operating system.
You still have problems?! Well maybe it is a documented bug that just hasn’t been fixed yet.
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Firefox_hangs
might be able to point you in the right direction, but it’s a pretty long list. Most software has lots of documented bugs and the kind that are special situations that don’t affect a lot of people may not get fixed as fast. It may be possible to do what you want through some workaround. Less than ideal but it might help avoid frustration until the fix arrives.

You still have problems (with Firefox) and you’ve checked that it isn’t a previously reported problem then it is time to report a bug to Mozilla using the instructions they provide:
http://www.mozilla.org/support/firefox/bugs

If you still have Firefox problems then you probably want to try your luck with another browser.

Thanks to Gavin Sharp who was the source for these tips except the last one.

Windows Troubleshooting

For troubleshooting Windows OS problems like performance slow downs it can be useful to try starting the system in safe mode especially if you have already tried doing virus and spyware scans.

Windows XP

Using the F8 Method

1. Restart your computer.
2. When the machine first starts again it will generally list some equipment that is installed in your machine, amount of memory, hard drives installed etc. At this point you should gently tap the F8 key repeatedly until you are presented with a Windows XP Advanced Options menu.
3. Select the option for Safe Mode using the arrow keys.
4. Then press enter on your keyboard to boot into Safe Mode.
5. Do whatever tasks you require and when you are done reboot to boot back into normal mode.

When using the arrow keys to select the startup mode either SAFE MODE or SAFE MODE WITH NETWORKING could be appropriate.

The following Microsoft support link has further details:
Microsoft Windows failsafe boot
If your computer works better/faster in safe mode then one of the startup programs could be causing the problems.
Michael Lin’s Startup control panel can be used to selectively control which programs load at startup. Finding the culprit could take some trial and error. Try turning programs on one at a time until the problem reoccurs to identify the problem program that you need to remove or replace.

If your computer still doesn’t run well in safe mode then it may be time for reinstalling the operating system from your original system disk or image if available.