Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The latest Firefox - new and improved

This isn't just a minor tweak to Firefox 3 - it's the full program, over 7 Mb, and includes new features that I haven't even tried out yet myself. If you're already using Firefox, click on the "Help", and choose "Check for Updates". If you aren't already using it, and would like to try it, you can click here to get their latest download.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We are all cousins, says a geneticist

A respected geneticist, on a TV program recently, says that his research indicates that we are all cousins.

He was looking for the Biblical Adam, and by checking the characteristics of 'Y' chromosomes of many individuals from various parts of the world, he has found a common feature in them which indicates that we are all descended from a common ancestor who lived about 60,000 years ago.

This would have been around the time that some catastrophic event killed off many species, including most humans, and it has been estimated that there may have been as few as only a couple of thousand humans who survived all that. One of those apparently was the parent of all future generations. He didn't look like those famous paintings either, and he lived most likely in East Africa, according to the experts.

So not only are we all related, but we've increased in numbers from a couple of thousand about 60,000 years ago to our current 6 billion plus, and we probably aren't getting along with each other as well now as we did back then, when our very survival depended on it. Come to think of it, our survival still depends on it, doesn't it?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Windows 7 news....

This morning, I got an email from Irfan, of Ifanview fame, saying that he has now finished a new update to his famous viewer. A few weeks ago, he and I exchanged a couple of emails about problems I was having with Irfanview in Windows 7. I am very pleased to report that Irfan's latest update has fixed all that, and Irfanview is now working fine with Windows 7.

To get yours, click here and you can enjoy one of the world's best viewing and editing programs. Millions of users can't be wrong.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More on the Windows 7 special sale...

I was wondering if Microsoft is actually tracking those who have been actively participating in this Windows 7 testing program, so that we get an opportunity to have one of these discounted copies of Windows 7, and the answer is yes, they are keeping track of us. This morning, I got an email from Microsoft, inviting me to purchase my copy. I already had ordered it, so I replied to say thanks and let them know.

Since this test version of it is the Ultimate version, I would have liked a special deal on that, but unfortunately, there apparently isn't one. So after the retail versions are shipped, I'll be a few bells & whistles short, but I'll still be using Windows 7, and enjoying it.

My next question is: "When do we start testing Windows 8 ?" - Enjoy your day, everyone.

Windows 7 Pre-order sale....

I have a couple of things to gripe about with this deal: First, I think they ought to check the exchange rate on currency, because I don't think $50 U.S. equals $65.00 Canadian; and secondly, the Canadian website seems to be dragging its ass compared to its U.S. counterpart, because on the U.S. website, their resellers and Microsoft Store were shown as early as about 10:00 p.m., June 25th.

The Canadian Microsoft website however does show a list of their standard resellers, and by checking some of those, I was able to find two or three who did have purchasing information available for Windows 7 pre-orders. Not all of them listed both the Home Premium and the Professional versions however. One only lists the Home Premium. That's probably going to be the best seller anyway, because it gives you the best bang for the buck. The Professional version includes about three more features which most of us at home can live without, and probably will - including me. I ordered the Home Premium version, for a total cost of $72.75 from Staples. There's a limited number available, and I'm sure they will all be gone before the deadline of July 11 rolls around, so if you want a copy, better do it now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Catching up on my reading today...

Today, I've been catching up on the news about Windows 7, and there's been some. Starting tomorrow, there's going to be even more. We can pre-order it at a nice saving, they say. I hope there's enough to go around for all us Windows 7 testers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today in the rain...

They got their bread later on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today in the garden

Some of the local flowers. I don't know what they're called, but they look lovely.

Fun with the camera...

I went out on the balcony to try to get a shot of a noisy bluejay in the trees below, but by the time I got the camera ready, it had moved on. So I took this instead. Maybe next time...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today's weather...

Off to the west, there's a patch of blue sky, but closer to home, the rain is coming. It's one of those days - if you don't like the weather, wait half an hour.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Today's weather report....

After the long spell of nice sunny weather, it's finally raining, and we needed this.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sometimes, getting upgrade reminders is good...

Above is one of our many local floatplanes, heading off to Vancouver Island probably.

This evening, I got an email from WinZip telling me about an upgrade to their version 12.0. At first, I didn't pay much attention, because I have their version 11 on my XP machine, and there's a cost to upgrade that to version 12. Then, just on an impulse, I checked the code for the registration of the version 11 on the XP machine, and compared that to the registration code that was included with the email about the version 12 upgrade. These were different registration codes. So I had evidently forgotten that I'd paid for a version 12 installation on this newer computer while it had Vista installed. I'd lost all that when I wiped out the Vista to install this Windows 7.

So I checked the WinZip email again, and it said that as a registered user of version 12, I was entitled to a free upgrade to version 12.1, and it helpfully provided my registration codes. So I downloaded the new version of WinZip, and entered my registration codes, and now it is back and working again.

Incidentally, this was no big deal, because there are two or three very good free zip programs available on the web if you ever need one in a hurry. WinZip is good, but it isn't the only one around by any means. Jzip and 7zip are two others that come to mind.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today's photo: Roses

These remind me of a large rose bush on the front lawn back home many years ago.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A local wild flower....

This Foxglove showed up in our shrubs this year, and I hope the seeds start more next year.
These grow wild along the highway north of the city.

Another drive-by flower shot

For this one, I was stuck in gridlock, waiting for the light to change.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Windows 7 leaked builds...

My spies tell me that this new background image is the biggest visible change in the latest series of build leaks from Microsoft. Those are now up to build 7260, and the most recent ones are all in a format for use on virtual machines, and aren't in the usual ISO Image format. So we are all being advised to just ignore all that, and stick with our RC version 7100 until the final release to manufacturing is created. Why waste time re-installing the operating system if you can't see any visible changes? There are some, if you know where to look, but mostly it's in the unseen parts that the latest improvements are. I like the RC just fine as it is. And I'm not looking forward to that new background wallpaper - as someone said on a posting about it, it's about as subtle as an elephant in your living room. And who needs that?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Those roses along the median at the mall

I took one from the roof deck of the mall the other day, but this is a closer view.


A little of everything - land, sea, and air, as the Coral Princess leaves for Alaska and others are heading home from work.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nice sunset

Thanks to Telemark Systems and their KatKam for this nice picture. You can find a link to this website in the right-hand margin of this page. If you scroll down below the picture, you will find other links on it to other webcams around the area and beyond - such as Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. So do give it a look.

More pictures

Top photo: Canada Place, the cruise ship terminal, with parts of downtown behind it.

Bottom photo: Another part of downtown, with Stanley Park in the foreground. If you notice a few thin spots in the trees, that's because we had a near-hurricane in December of 2006 which blew down large numbers of the mature trees, and these had to be removed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday at the Mall....

From the South Mall at Park Royal, West Vancouver, B.C.

The ski report....

Ski slopes in summer always look rather sad. This is part of Grouse Mountain's ski area.

I went to the doctor the other day, to get a prescription renewed, and as usual, we got talking motorcycles. He's on his third one now, a Yamaha sports bike. When he got his first one a few years ago, I gave him a book that has all the best advice and hints in it about how to do all that without becoming a statistic, and he actually read it, and it seems to be working well for him.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More local scenery

Upper photo: Part of the downtown skyline viewed from the park on Grand Boulevard in North Vancouver.

Lower photo: The Lions peaks, with a lot of wires in the way, also from the park on Grand Boulevard, in North Vancouver. These are the peaks for which Lions Gate Bridge is named.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another useful program for you....

It's called Neat Image, and it cleans up noisy older images in just a couple of clicks, and you can find it here.
It also works on Windows 7 for those of us who are using the newest Windows. There's a Demo version which is a freebie, so give it a try if you want to clean up older images.

Things that fly....

Upper photo: An Eagle, looking for lunch.

Lower photo: One of the commuter planes making regular flights between here and Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More this and that....

Above: Roses and other flowering shrubs along the median at Park Royal Mall - the first shopping mall built in Canada, back in the 1950s, and still going.

I went for an eye test a couple of weeks ago, and it turns out I don't need new glasses yet - but when the lady looked at mine, she said that the coating was coming off, and she would like to send them back to the lab, because they are still under warranty. Yesterday, she asked me to come and get my glasses, with new lenses in them.

The other day, I emailed Alwil Software to tell them that their Avast Anti-virus works well with Windows 7, unlike some others I've tried, and that more people need to know this.
Here's their reply:-

Dear Ray,

Thank you for your email and your feedback. We are glad that avast! is working so well with Windows 7 and we will put more attention on it before the launch of Windows 7.

Kindest Regards,
Martin Zima
ALWIL Software a.s.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Lookout at Prospect Point....

...as seen from Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. This lookout is in Stanley Park, on the west side of the southern end of Lions Gate Bridge, and overlooks Burrard Inlet and West Vancouver.

From one park, looking at another....

The Stanley Park Seawall Promenade with Siwash Rock on the point at right, as viewed from Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. Taken with a Canon G9 using a doubler on the zoom. Click on the above image to enlarge it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Celebrities who are part plastic....

I thought I'd better not include a picture of a typical example here, but the list is very long, and you can read all about it, with pictures, on this website of the encyclopedia of plastic surgery right here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A look at West Vancouver's waterfront

Today it looks like our stretch of really nice summery weather is giving way to clouds and maybe some rain, so while I'm thinking of it, here's a shot of part of the waterfront along West Vancouver's shoreline. At the water's edge, there's a seawall walkway similar to one in Stanley Park, which runs for many blocks, and terminates at a very nice restaurant further out along the shores of West Vancouver. Unlike the Stanley Park seawall, however, they have no provisions for bicycles, so bikers have to walk it. Too bad, because it's a nicer way to go than on the city streets, without the cars or hills.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Boats - big and small

Top picture: Speedboat near the Stanley Park Seawall Walk.

Middle picture: Sport fishing in Burrard Inlet near Ambleside Park.

Bottom picture: Sailing near the 'parking lot' for ocean freighters in Burrard Inlet.

More duck hunting

At Ambleside Park this afternoon.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two birds with one shot....

These ducks almost blend in with the rock they are sitting on.

I just received the latest Microsoft Technet Newsletter, and it mentions that the Vista Service Pack Two is now available. How do I tell them that I don't need it, because I removed Vista when I installed Windows 7 when it first came out? I should also add that I've never been sorry for doing that. In fact, I think Windows 7 is the best Windows I've ever seen or used, and even though this is the release candidate version that I'm now using, it's already a better and more stable product than some of its predecessors, and I won't name those, out of respect for the feelings of the folks at Microsoft. If you haven't yet tried this new version of Windows, I can only ask, "Why not?"

I was reading on a forum today about some guy asking how he could remove Windows 7 so he could go back to Vista. Personally I can't imagine why he'd want to do that. I sure wouldn't.
I think his problem was that his security program didn't work well with Windows 7. That's because most of the major security companies weren't really on the ball when this new O/S was coming along, and they weren't ready for it. I've found ( by trial and error) that some of them don't work well, but others not yet approved work fine. I'm using Avast 4.8 Home Edition, and it works fine with Windows 7. It updates automatically, and does the usual things we expect of a good anti-virus program. And for those of you who are wondering, Yes, it does catch the bad stuff - in fact, it even warns me if I'm trying to connect to a site that has malware on it, in time for me to abort that and avoid the problem. I think that's just great.
You can find it here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A blooming pine tree... and other stuff

We don't usually think of pine trees as having blooms, but they do, and these are those. I haven't a lot to rant about today, but a nice young lady who once wrote a blog about how to do your blog advised us that if we want to get it noticed, we have to do it regularly. It seems some bloggers will start one, and then only update it every few weeks, and of course those die on the vine rather quickly. Even when contributing to it regularly, and using a service to ping various blogger sites, it can still take quite a while to get some regular readers. So if you are one, thanks for visiting.

The last couple of days, many of us have been following the story of the Air France jet which mysteriously vanished over the Atlantic during the night on Sunday. Latest reports say that there have been four separate patches of debris spotted in the area where it disappeared. This seems to suggest that it broke up in mid-air, and fell into the ocean in pieces.

If it flew directly into an especially violent tropical thunderstorm, in which there can be balls of hail the size of bowling balls, and violent up and down drafts, could that explain it? And why didn't they see it coming on their weather radar, and go around it? We may never know.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More pictures....

Need a fresh background 'wallpaper'? One of these might just do it.

And today, it's official - the retail versions of Windows 7 will be available October 22nd, so for all of us who have been using the beta and now the RC version, we will never have to switch back to anything else. Welcome to the future, Folks. This RC is already so good, I wouldn't be able to tell it wasn't the retail version if I didn't already know the story. When we say this promises to be the best Windows ever, we aren't kidding. Many of us have wanted a Windows like this for a long time, and now we've got it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Microsoft's answer to Google....or is it?

Google News has an article from CNET about this today, and I decided to have a look for myself. How did I find it? I Googled it, of course!

The secret to good answers is to use the right questions, and good key-words.