Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Today is Canada Day, it says here....


This is typical CBC, which is short for "Canadian Broadcasting Corporation". It's something like "National Public Radio" but without the pizzazz, or the currency of content, and as you've noticed, the illustration in the above web page is part of their "ancient history".

I've just slogged laboriously through half an hour's rantings by a carefully chosen group of foreigners taking selfies and sending in compositions about Canada's image in the rest of the world, including, bejaysus, The Olde Sod, and know what? I don't give a damn what they say! It's mostly bullshit anyway....

Canada has a long and colorful history involving it roots in France and England, and the conflicts between the British Hudson's Bay Company of Explorers (those damned beaver-hunting pirates!) and The Northwest Company, their main competition, and all the skullduggery that went on. Amongst which, were the colorful "Coureurs Des Bois" of New France, those independent entrepreneurs who worked both sides of the street, so to speak.

And then, of course there's the problem of that battle on that field beside Quebec City, called the Plains of Abraham, on the 13th of September, 1759. The French under the Marquis De Montcalm were defeated by the English under General James Wolfe. Ever since then, the francophones have been weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth while loudly protesting "You Anglo bastards stole our country, and we want it back!" And us peace-loving anglophones have been showering them with preferential treatment, government grants and federal contracts, and marrying as many of them as we could catch, and they still aren't really happy. They talk of leaving Canada. We say, "You can't. It's ours - all of us, including you too - and we aren't giving it up. And besides, what would you do for government handouts if we let you do this?" So they're still thinking it over, while we all go for a beer together and talk more about it.....

So what does Canada mean to me? I'd be absolutely homeless without it, and so would my cute little francophone ex-wife, who just recently got re-married to another of those damned anglophones. Ah, mon cher, je l'admire votre courage!  

Night photography with a compact digital...

These aren't blank, nor are they mistakes (depends who you are, I guess) but rather my humble attempts at capturing the settings, last evening, of two of our other planets, Venus (the larger of the two) and Jupiter (smaller because further away) - so "click to enlarge" and have a look....



These are shown above West Vancouver about 11:00 or 11:20 P.M. yesterday.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Security: "Does Bitdefender Free really work?"


And the answer is: "Yes! - Definitely."

Windows 10: Belarc Advisor: Yes! It can and it does!


It doesn't show the Operating System correctly, and that one Security Update it is reporting as missing doesn't apply to Windows 10 Insider Preview, so that's nothing to be concerned about. The Operating System on here is only about an hour old, and if you look in the lower right corner of the above screenshot, you'll see why - this is now Build 10158, and it's hot from the oven at Mother Microsoft's.... so anyway..... Yes! You can definitely run Belarc's very useful Advisor in Windows 10, because I've just proved it works fine. And to the folks in the back room at Mighty Microsoft, "Keep up the good work, Kids! Buy yourselves a beer!" 

And after you install this latest Windows 10, don't forget to get the latest version of Adobe's Flash (18) and also update your Shockwave Player while you're on their site.

A little more about Anti-virus Programs...

Maybe not "programs", just a program - specifically Bitdefender Free.....


Here's what it looks like with its Logs and Reports page open beside its smaller main page, which appears here in the lower right corner when you click its icon.
This year, this program has been rated Number Two behind one from Panda, and I've never liked Panda, because it has a history of being "up and down like a toilet seat" performance-wise. Bitdefender, by comparison, has a more consistent record. It's also very unobtrusive, works quietly in the background, and requires little or no attention from me/you/us. "It just works!" - And did I mention? It kicks the shit out of the competition!

With Bitdefender, and Malwarebytes Anti-malware, and SuperAntiSpyware, I'm fairly well covered. Bitdefender for the anti-virus functions, Malwarebytes for the stuff it might miss, including blocking incoming attempts at entering the system, during which MBAM shows me the IP Address of the offending invader, just in case I want to add it to a black list, and SuperAntiSpyware for all those adware cookies the whole world likes to plaster us with at every opportunity. The three together form a very adequate protection suite.

And speaking of protection generally, there's another very handy program that you should probably have......


This does a scan of your system, and then shows you a report of absolutely everything in it, and I do mean "everything".....Key Codes, Serial Numbers, Programs, Updates, and "You-name-it" - it's all in Belarc's Advisor Report. And I can't show you an example, because it contains things I'd rather not show the whole world, naturally. But do get this program. It's worth its weight in gold, yet it's absolutely free for home users. It isn't listed as being ready for Windows 10 yet, but Windows 10 being based upon Windows 8.1, it just may work anyway, so I'll try it in Windows 10, and get back to you later on this....

Monday, June 29, 2015

Today's Top Ten viewing this blog...


When it's this hot......


When it's this warm outside...


You don't cook, you go to the Deli in the supermarket, and you get a couple of these Corned Beef on Russian Rye, and you feel better almost immediately.
 И когда вы закончите, вы можете говорить по-русски, как родной!
(And when you're done, you can speak in Russian like a native!)


Windows Defender: How good is it?

Tom's Guide says:-


PC Mag says:-


And Old Ray says:-

Today's Question Everything is:-

Why would Microsoft, with its sensitivity to criticism, leave itself wide-open to heaps of it by continuing to flog this substandard excuse for adequate protection on its loyal and gullible unwashed masses of devoted users? Why?

What am I using?

 

View from the porch this morning...


It's going to be a nice day, after an overcast evening yesterday, and a sudden violent wind-storm between ten and eleven-thirty last night. Standing at my north window, looking toward the upper streets of British Properties, suddenly there was a brilliant, bright-blue flashover very near or possibly right at our Glenmore Substation, near the merging of Millstream and Crestline Roads in the eastern (Glenmore) section of "Ye Olde Snob Hill". 

I'm familiar with the neighborhood, because I used to service that substation in my younger days. Rich kids from that neighborhood used to party on our lawn there, because it was secluded by reason of surrounding trees and hedges. And I had to clean up after them the next day. I didn't really "have to" because we had a crew for that, but rather than call them out, I'd do it myself. And one day as I was making my usual inspection of the place, a very nice lady who lived down a very steep driveway right next to ours came over to chat for a minute. She asked, "Could you possibly do anything about these kids that love to party on your lawn late at nights? They drink and get loud, and they bring sound systems that rival ours in the house." 

I said, "Ma'am, I'll immediately mention this to my boss, and I'm very glad you have mentioned this, because a customer's complaint carries a lot more weight with my supervisors than anything that I can say to them. So while we're having this little chat, what can you suggest as a cure? What would you like to see done here? She smiled, and said, "Well, obviously, put a gate right out by the street here, so they can't drive their cars into your place behind the trees." And I said, "Exactly my thinking too. And believe me, I'm not enjoying cleaning up those whiskey bottles and other unmentionables any more than you are listening to those who leave them here, so you'll definitely get your gate, I promise!"

Two weeks later, after I'd told my boss this story, and he'd said, "You know what's needed there, so go ahead and take care of it" and I'd got what I needed from our shops across town, and was up there one hot sunny day, pouring the ready-mix to mount the gate-posts, that same lady drove up, returning from shopping downtown, and before she turned down into her own drive, she called to me, asking "How would you like a nice ice-cold Heineken about now?" And I replied, "That would probably save the life of a guy like me, dying of thirst!" And she said, "I'll send my boy right back with one!" I loved every drop of it. And that's how Glenmore Substation got its front gate.


This is one of our local "alarm clocks" and part of my personal Air Force. These guys go through about two loaves of bread every morning during the winters. In summers, I usually let them forage for themselves. But they keep reminding me that they know where the goodies come from.



And here's a couple of cruise ships heading into the inner harbor to tie up at 6:00 A.M., so their passengers will be in downtown Vancouver before breakfast. That's the hills of Vancouver Island in the background.

Added to a previous posting.....

Please see my added notes under "Security: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly".

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Today's Top Ten Countries viewing this blog...


Windows 10: Make a shortcut to Registry Editor....


Security: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

While I was getting an update to Shockwave Player just now, I was offered along with it a version of Symantec's 'Norton Security Scan'. Normally, I wouldn't accept anything like this, because it falls into the category of bloatware, but I thought, "What the hell? Let's see if it's any good!" Here it is:-


Nice bright visuals, right? Confidence-building presentation, right? Results are  reassuring, right? - WRONG!!!

I have three other security programs on here, not just the one it found! And I do have Web Protection built into the latest Firefox Browser and its plug-ins! And I have 'Better Privacy' managing the 'LSOs' or "Supercookies" that get secretly loaded on here unannounced.

Now, please excuse me for a moment, while I go into Control Panel and dump this Norton stuff. Years ago, while I was still a "newbie" at this, and was struggling with Windows 98SE, and had Norton Security on it, it experienced yet another 'crash', and as was my habit back then, I picked up the phone to call Bob at my ISP to ask what to do. And Bob, being the super-helpful guy he is, asked me "What kind of security program are you using?" When I replied, "Norton, why?" Bob said "Dump it! It causes a lot more problems than it solves! Get something like 'AVG' that actually provides some protection. Install that, and then if you're still having problems, call me back..."

Apparently, Symantec's 'Norton' hasn't changed a whole bunch since then....

Added later (Monday, 29 June, 5:07 A.M.)

One of those other security programs Norton totally missed on here is the current free version of Bitdefender Antivirus, which happens to be one of the top-rated ones this year. I checked before I got it. And that's why I have it, because it is one of the top-rated ones this year. And that brings me to another helpful hint: You shouldn't be sticking with your same old antivirus program, just because it worked fine five years ago! Everything evolves! Very quickly, in the case of viruses, and malware generally. And as my first father-in-law was fond of saying, "Get the best you can afford, because the best in none too good!" - Every year, at least once, I do a Google Search for "The Top Ten  Security Programs of 20XX" and I see if mine is in that list, preferably in the top five. If not, I try something new. So should you! And before you say "I can't afford it!" may I please point out that today's best free antivirus programs are just as good as yesterday's top purchased ones. They catch just as many "bad guys" and they give you just as good protection, and they don't upset the budget. So please think about that. Today's above-average "freebies" are tomorrow's costly security suites. So surf the first wave, not the last ones. 

Sunset: Early and Late



Two interpretations of last evening's sunset. God does very nice work!

Below, in a previous posting, I mention programs to make your Windows more fun, and these are examples of Image Composite Editor from Microsoft Research in action, assembling a multi-image panorama. You should get it.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Making Your Windows More Friendly...

Windows 10 is waiting in the wings, I know, and is getting its final "fluffing up" before its big debut - but maybe you'd like to continue with what you have, until the wrappings are all off, and the First Act is over, and the audience reactions are in...? OK - here's a couple of things you can add into Windows 8 or 8.1 to make them a little more "user friendly" and more like our beloved old Win-7, or our newest Win-10....


To find this one, click or tap this link. This program adds more gadgets into Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 than we ever had in Windows 7, and it runs fine in all of these operating systems. I've tested them to make sure.

Another "freebie" if you want the "Start" button and its included attached menu like we had in Windows 7, or Vista, or even Windows XP, try Classic Shell. 


It adds more than just a Start button and those menus with it - there's also other tweaks included as well.... so have a look at it.  

  Another handy "freebie" for cleaning up the system and removing unwanted stuff, is Glary Utilities. This one optimizes several things in your system with just a one-click on its little window, and it won't hurt the stuff you really want to keep. 



I've used this for a long time, and I like it better than "CCleaner" because it isn't quite as invasive, and yet it covers all the main bases for you. It's fast, it's reliable, and it's also another "freebie" ( unless you wish to go Pro, but you shouldn't need to.)

With these programs, you'll probably enjoy your Windows more, and have more fun with it. And speaking of "fun", if you like taking digital photos, (and who doesn't?) then you should get Image Composite Editor from Microsoft Research.



Not only is this another magnificent "freebie", it's also the absolute best program for assembling multiple overlapped images into really seamless and huge panorama images, and it also works with other programs they've developed for even more special kinds of displays - so do check this one out and download a copy for yourself. It's wonderful, because unlike many other programs for splicing images or making panoramas, this is completely automatic once you add into it your batch of images. There's no lining them up or manually repositioning them like we did with those older Canon programs. This does all that for us, and does it much better than we ever could. The results speak for themselves, and loudly too! I love this program, and you will too.

So take a few minutes when you have some spare time, and tune up your Windows to make it more loveable. You'll be glad you did. And enjoy your day!

To Tom, in New York.....


Hi, Tom!
Got it yesterday afternoon, as you suggested, and the nice young lady who pointed me in the right direction at Indigo Books said, "It's a great read! And it will be a movie soon..." Thanks for the "heads up", Tom, and enjoy your day...

Friday, June 26, 2015

For my most helpful friends at Indigo Books.....

I know I probably took up too much of your time this afternoon, as I babbled on about Mars, and a really neat planetarium program called "Stellarium" which can take us there, at least visually if not for real. If we use our imagination, it may almost seem real....but first, here's the program you should look for......


"And what does it do?" you ask. Let's get it installed and open it, and then look for Mars - one of my favorites...... and incidentally, this stores its own screenshots in its own folder, not your usual "screenshots" folder in Windows, and to put a screenshot into that folder while using Stellarium, we use the keys CTRL + S, not the Windows Key + PrintScreen. But I'm digressing again - sorry! Here's the program running, and zooming in on Mars. To locate it to begin, use the "Search" function found along the program's left margin. If you mouse into the lower left corner and slide the mouse pointer up along that edge, you'll find several choices, including "Search".... so here we go....



But we're not going to land on Mars just now. Instead, we're going to land on its moon Phobos, and have a look at it from there......



This is Mars as seen from its moon Phobos, which is quite small, irregular in shape, and probably wasn't always a moon.... but lets get off this thing, and go to Mars itself, shall we?



Here we are on Mars, and I've set the 'Search' to look for Earth, but all we can see of it are the little red markers, almost into the sun, because from here it is almost directly in line with the sun, unless we zoom in closer.....



Here, I've zoomed in just enough to show you where Earth is this afternoon in relation to the sun, and Mars. (Really far away!) and now, for something entirely different, I've returned us to Earth, where the Moon is visible rising (Objects should be visible from wherever you begin your "travels" before you can "land" on one!) and now we've gone from Earth to the Moon.....but for some reason, we're landing on the Dark Side! Pink Floyd would have loved it! So while we're here, lets look at part of the Milky Way from the dark side of the Moon.....



But you're going to miss your evening's meal unless we go home for it......



So here we are, back home on Earth, standing in a field, looking at the evening's Moon rising. I hope you enjoyed our little "space flight" and will also enjoy taking your own with this program.

And in answer to a question asked this afternoon at Indigo about "What's Windows 10 like?" here's my Desktop of it, and yes, those Gadgets are back, and so is the "Start", sort of.... but you'll see all this in about a month, when its official release arrives, and we set it free from its cage! 

Enjoy your evening, Everyone!

Honey Bees Endangered: This just in.......

From Barbara McDaniel Ray, in Atlanta, Georgia.....

The honey discussion is interesting, but for me the most important issue is pollination, Dale Ray, Ray Sutton, Charles Sykes.

As an avid gardener and wildlife conservationist, I recommend participation in the efforts of BeeAction.org, affiliated with the Friends of the Earth. As these organizations remind us" bees are the canaries in the coal mine". If we continue to use neonic pesticides, and ignore the plight of bee colony collapse, we do so at our own peril.

The list is lengthening of chemicals that are killing bees. We buy them in our garden centers and use them. For example this list includes acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. Check your labels fellow gardeners.

The Good Professor Susskind: This nice old guy fascinates me!


Just now, (actually half an hour ago!) I began checking his lectures for one to put on here, and I got sampling this one, and almost couldn't tear myself away! I really love the way he does all this! And I'm not being facetious!

One quick comment in passing: When he speaks of "elementary particles" it makes me flinch, because I don't believe there are such things as "elementary" particles. I prefer to believe it's rather an infinite space/time continuum, (because: it takes something to make something! We can't combine two "nothings" into a "something", no matter how small or big) but otherwise, I'd love to sit at the master's feet and quietly (or not so quietly, knowing me!) pay attention to him. And who knows? I might just possibly learn something.....

Like, for example, recently, some self-important know-it-all ( I think Republican) said: "The natural universe has existed for billions of years quite happily without anyone worrying about whether or not there's a God, so why should we worry about that now?" - Or words (insufficiently thought-through words) to that effect. Prompting me to immediately wonder "What if everything we see "out there" along with everything we see "in here" collectively comprises the actual physical body of our omnipotent, self-regenerating, everlasting God - what then?" And are we willing to gamble that isn't so? Will Rogers said, "It's not the things we don't know that get us into trouble; it's the things we do know that ain't so!" And Will, wherever you are, may God continue to love you. 

See big crane: Watch for new hi-rise here...


This is just a smidgin uphill from the first cross-street on Taylor Way north or uphill from the newly-expanding Park Royal North mall, with its freshly-built rows of condos, in steps, up this same hillside, west from Taylor Way at Marine Drive, West Vancouver. "So where is all that, Smartie?" you ask. To which, I reply, "Obscured by trees, center-left and left, off-camera - cute, huh?"