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Workaround Solution to Spinning Blue Circle Next to Mouse Pointer (Working in Background) in Windows 10 May 5, 2018

Posted by Jason W Ellis in Brain, Computers.
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pointer-workingEver since I installed Windows 10 on this desktop computer build (detailed here), I have been distracted by a tiny spinning blue circle next to my mouse pointer about every 5 minutes. This mouse pointer change indicates that a process is working in the background. I could still move the mouse around and click on things, but the mouse pointer change visually distracted me from the work that I was doing. The user interface, which should facilitate my focused work on the computer, was pulling my attention away from my work and towards what should otherwise fade into the background: the user interface and the operating system.

There are many discussions about what causes Working in Background mouse pointer change, such as here, here, and here. I tried troubleshooting what was causing the regularly appearing “Working in Background” pointer change on my computer, but I couldn’t definitively pin down the cause and resolve it.

Nevertheless, I found a solution to the distraction caused by spinning blue circle: change the “Working in Background” pointer to match the “Normal Select” pointer icon. Here’s how to do this:

Click Start > Settings > Device

settings

In Devices, click Mouse on the left, and then click “Additional Mouse Options” on the right.

settings-mouse

This pops up a new window with additional mouse settings. Click Pointers > Working in Background > Browse.

mouse-properties

This pops up a pointer selection window. Choose “aero_arrow.cur” and then click “Open.” mouse-pointer-select

This returns you to the previous window where you will click “Apply” and “Okay.” Finally, you can close Settings. Now, your mouse pointer should remain as the arrow pointer icon even when a process is working in the background.

Since I have made this change to my computer, I am not distracted by the mouse switching intermittently between the arrow and the arrow with spinning blue circle. Of course, the underlying cause of the spinning blue circle remains, but at least with this solution, whatever is working in the background is no longer disturbing my attentional focus by leaping front-and-center into the UI.

Inaugural Donation to Georgia Tech Library Archive’s Retrocomputing Lab June 20, 2014

Posted by Jason W Ellis in Computers, Georgia Tech.
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Wendy Hagenmaier, Jason W. Ellis, and Jody Thompson next to Apple Performa 550 and iMac.

Wendy Hagenmaier, Jason W. Ellis, and Jody Thompson next to Apple Performa 550 and iMac.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of making the first donation of three computers to the Georgia Tech Library Archives, which is launching its own Retrocomputing Lab for scholars and students to use. The Georgia Tech Library Archives is already well-known for its significant Georgia Tech Science Fiction Collection and other holdings.

I met with Department Head Jody Lloyd Thompson and Digital Collections Archivist Wendy Hagenmaier to setup the three computers and talk about each machine’s provenance and current operation. We set the computers up on the right side as you enter the Georgia Tech Library Archives. This is a temporary location as the Archives makes plans for their use in Archives for the time being and possibly more in the future as part of the on-going Georgia Tech Library renovation project.

Apple Performa 550 and iMac.

Apple Performa 550 and iMac.

From my personal collection–which I am having to cull before moving to Brooklyn for my new job at City Tech, I donated three computers: an Apple Performa 550 (1994), Apple iMac (1999), and Dell Dimension 4100 (2001). Before donating the computers, I refurbished each to be in as factory-fresh condition as possible.

For the Peforma 550, I installed a PDS ethernet NIC and replaced the SCSI hard drive with one that was less noisy than its original one. Then, I installed Mac OS 7.6.1 and some software including the AfterDark Star Trek: The Next Generation screensaver and ClarisWorks, and utilities for working with files and disk images.

For the slot-loading, DV iMac, I replaced the motherboard battery and performed a fresh install of Mac OS 9.2.1. The optical drive suffers from a weak ejection mechanism. I made sure that the bottom plastic bezel fit properly, but reseated it had no effect on improving the drive’s ability to eject discs correctly. I warned the librarians about this, and recommended buying an external, Firewire optical drive and using the paperclip ejection method in the meantime.

Dell Dimension 4100.

Dell Dimension 4100.

For the Dell Dimension 4100, I installed a 3Com NIC donated by Mark Warbington. I installed Windows 98 Second Edition and painstakingly installed the drivers for the components in the Dell (this was a laborious process, because despite having the Service Tag number, some recommended drivers did not work on all of the components).

I provided two sets of speakers–one for the Performa 550 (it’s internal speakers had stopped working about a year ago) and one for the Dell Dimension 4100. In the event of future hardware problems, I gave them spare AGP video cards, optical drives, a 3.5″ floppy disk drive.

Also, I gave them some spare motherboards, controller cards, and hard drives that might be useful for displays in the Library.

The Georgia Tech Library Archives have big plans for making digital archival work and learning an integral component of what they do. If you have functional and working computer hardware or software, you should consider donating it to the Georgia Tech Library Archives, or if you have technical skills for working on older hardware and software, you can donate your expertise and time, too. Contact Jody and Wendy by email or phone here: Georgia Tech Library Archives contact information here.

UPDATE: I made these four Google Glass videos while working on the iMac DV:

YouTube – Chain of Fools : Upgrading through every version of windows (HQ) March 3, 2011

Posted by Jason W Ellis in Technology.
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This video of the upgrade process from Windows 1.0 to Windows 7 is full of retro-goodness. I wish that I had the time to do this in a virtual machine on my MacBook just for shits-and-giggles (and research purposes).

YouTube – Chain of Fools : Upgrading through every version of windows (HQ).