Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Making Internet Shortcuts Icons - Windows 7

Once again, thanks to Microsoft fixing a lot of older problems in Windows 7, we no longer have to hack the Registry (as in XP) to change an Internet Shortcut's icon from the generic ones that were normally shown by your browser of choice after you created your shortcut.  Thanks to the big  clean-up during the creation of Windows 7, we can now once again use the same kind of easy procedure we've been using for changing desktop icons of other programs. Just right-click the unwanted icon, choose Properties, choose 'Change Icon', choose 'Browse', and then go to your folders where you've stashed all those neat home-made icons, and pick out a nice one. Or choose the one you just made for it. Those two shown in the upper left above, next to Dana Delany & I, are two examples of new home-made internet icons for website home-pages.

Winter - revisited....

What can I say? A picture is worth a thousand words. Try not to cuss too much.... and do try to enjoy your day regardless.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More fun with Logon Screens....

After I'd renewed my pledge to my favourite Internet Radio jazz station at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA last night, I got a semi-inspired notion to turn the header of their home-page into another wallpaper for my collection of them for possible Logon Screens.

You can also use old movie stills and an editing program to do something similar and more fun.

Crazy weather !

We've been basking in spring-like weather for a couple of months, the flowers are out, the leaves are coming out, and now what happens? Back to Winter !!! Where did we go wrong ???

Now that the clouds have lifted a bit (7:30 p.m.) here's the evening 'Ski Report'.... 

Some of the spring flowers

Picasa has come a long way since that first version, away back when....
Posted by Picasa

Make your own Welcome logon screens...

I like this one better than the one supplied in the operating system, possibly because I made it myself. It's clean, simple, and looks good on the monitor. I think I'll keep it... and before I forget, here's the changer program for it.  It's easy to use - just begin by collecting the images you want to use, sized for your monitor's native resolution, in a folder in your Documents library. Then use the program to add them to it's sample, and all you have to do is scroll across the row of images to the one you want, click it, (it highlights with an orange border) and then choose "Apply". You're done!
 Here's another example, a bit less 'commercial'. You can use any image you like, as long as it is the right size for your monitor.  So you will never again need to wish you could change that wallpaper in the Welcome/logon/shutdown screen. Now, it's both easy and fun.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A work in progress....

Earlier this morning, perhaps before my brain had kicked into 'drive', I attempted to post another of my so-so neighbourhood 'here's the kind of day we're having' shots, but discovered that the blog wasn't accepting images at that time. I then spent a surprisingly informative half-hour reading up on Google's helpful hints and factual facts about postings, images, limits for those, and Picasa Web Albums ( Hello to Gunnar, in case you're still there!) and found how to check how much of my allotted storage quota has already been used (23%) - so I should say "Thank You, Mr. Google, for deciding to work on the new setup this morning, which gave me time to improve my limited knowledge of how this whole thing works."  If you hadn't guessed already, I'm another of those guys who doesn't bother reading the directions until after the mung hits the fan! After all, why clog up the old memory bank with information you may never need? It almost works for me.....

Enjoy your day, Everyone!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Not like Mom's piano... but it does play!

Why is this so short? Just a wild guess, but maybe because your computer keyboard isn't quite 88 keys long. It uses the 'ASDF' row for white keys, and the QWERTY row for blacks (sort of) and you can pick out basic tunes on it with very little practice. Underline 'basic' - you won't be dazzling anyone at the office with your brilliant piano playing, trust me.

But one of these days, some genius will come along with a flexible roll-up piano keyboard that you can plug into a USB port, and use to actually play real piano, I betcha. If it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, I'd buy one real quick. Just imagine the fun you could have in places where space is limited, or you couldn't move in a real piano by yourself. File this one under 'Inventions Wanted'.....

Easy shortcut making with Windows 7...

Maybe you already know about this, but in case not, here's the easy 3-step method of making a new shortcut to a Windows 7 feature. If you make a new folder called 'Shortcuts' and put all yours into it, you can unclutter the desktop while still having them handy. One shortcut on the desktop named 'Shortcuts' takes the place of dozens in that folder and gets you to them quickly.

My Picture of the Week...

This is about as good as I get as a photographer, just in case anyone's wondering. I love these flower shots. They seem to keep modern life in perspective, somehow.  Science and our great technology can do some wonderful things, but only God can make a flower look like this. Enjoy your day, everyone.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Could have saved three hours by looking here first -

Today was 'one of those days'.... I got thinking I was smarter than I really am ( my normal mode!) and tried to edit the registry to make a pair of my own third-party icons work in place of those in Windows 7, and I spent about three hours ( more, actually ) surfing the web and reading great stories about how to fix this, and how simple it is, and blah, blah, blah.... And the bottom line is that absolutely none of those delightful bits of advice worked. Then, I got just a wee bit smarter, and remembered something I should have thought of hours before - (you guessed it!) - Fix It.

As you see, there's also a handy little Desktop Gadget for "Mr. Fix It", and clicking on its top title bar ( where the little guy is ) will take you to the home page shown above. I wish I'd done that about three hours sooner!  :-(   But better late than never...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Google....

Thank you for the new templates and layouts for Blogger. 

There's a couple of things that may need a little bit of 'fine tuning', but this is a very nice improvement on the older setup, as you so rightly say in the newsletter about it.  I had to change a couple of my gadgets, and re-arrange others, but change is good. I don't like being 'stale' either....
So give yourselves a big pat on the back, and here's three 'Attaboys' for you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An update about Flash Memory Sticks and 'ReadyBoost' in Windows

I have to correct what might have been a false impression I may have created with the previous post about this topic. Having now 'consulted with the oracle' here, meaning my friendly neighbourhood computer fixer-upper, and having done some homework of my own on the wild and wonderful web last night, I'm here to say that if you're running a 32-bit (x86) version of Windows, and you already have 4 Gb of installed RAM, then your system is already optimized to make its best use of the full amount of Random Access Memory it is capable of using, and those cute little Flash Memory Sticks, with their built-in flashing lights as they process data - they'll be helping your performance not at all. Nada - Nyet - Non, mes amis. So keep on using them for portable memory to transfer your files & photos, but forget performance enhancement, because they can't do the impossible if your system isn't designed for using any further help.

However, if you have Windows 7 ( and you should ) and your PC has a 64-bit processor and you are using the 64-bit version of Windows on it, that's a whole other ballgame. Windows 7 is happy with more than one memory stick being used for performance enhancement, as long as that is on a 64-bit system, which is happy using more than the 4 Gb of RAM of 32-bit systems. You can then augment the installed RAM with these extra 'ReadyBoost' dedicated Flash Memory Sticks, and gain an advantage for things like multi-tasking, which uses a lot of RAM. But if you're more of the 'single-minded' type, and only do one or two things at once, then you may not notice any improvement - as with a 32-bit setup. Last but not least, don't try using older flash memory sticks because those may not be capable of as fast data transfer times as today's modern hard-drives now deliver.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another helpful utility....

A few months ago, I bought a couple of little flash memory sticks, to use in a USB port on the PCs along with the 'ReadyBoost' feature of Windows, which promises to speed up performance by using the flash drive as more responsive caching than a hard drive, for example.

One of those stopped working about the same time I was getting rid of some malware one day, and I removed it, figuring it had had it. Today, I learned I was wrong. I couldn't get it to accept a  new formatting but found an online recovery tool on their website which magically does wipe it all clean, and re-format it for fresh use.

So if you're using a Transcend USB Flash Drive, you can go on their website, and use the model number of it to get to the download for that online recovery tool. You do need to download a small program, because it has to be able to search your computer for its flash drive for fixing. Then you just follow the directions, and in a few moments, your flash stick is once more ready to use.

Dumping the trash - Windows 7

If you, like me, periodically dump the contents of your Temp folder to get rid of stuff that's past its 'best before' date, I'd just like to remind you that in Windows 7, there are several Temp folders. Yep - I wouldn't lie to you. There's a 'Windows Temp', an 'Administrator Temp' and 'Username Temp' (for each user!) - So if you're making a shortcut to your Temp folder, don't stop at one....

To keep everything organized handily, you can make a new folder in your user file, and call it something like 'Out It Goes'. Into that folder, drag & drop those three shortcuts you made for those three different Temp folders above. Then, if you make a shortcut to that one folder called 'Out It Goes', you can easily find all those others in one place, and not have to go hunting for them.


Internet Explorer 9 Demo.....

This is what the demo page looks like, and you can get one if you go here.

Dear Microsoft:

Please include in Internet Explorer 9 a feature like the 'Better Privacy' add-on for Firefox, which finds and removes those hidden LSOs (better known as supercookies) that never expire, can be much larger than a regular cookie, and can 'call home' or make changes to stuff. This add-on is worth its weight in gold, and it works like a charm, and Internet Explorer should have one.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Windows 7 - The complete set of keyboard shortcuts lists

If you use keyboard shortcuts, and would like to see the complete set of lists of all of them, then here's the page you want.  Just scroll down past where it says 'Show All' and click on any of those 13 headings for all the shortcuts which apply to that heading.  You didn't realize there were so many of them? Me, neither. You might like to bookmark this one, or add it to your favorites, depending on which browser you're using.

There's another way to get to things in a hurry, and that's to make a desktop shortcut to it. Then with one click on that, you're there. No fumbling around with keys or taxing your memory :-) (works for me!) I have a whole folder full of them, accessed by one saying 'Shortcuts'.

What if you can't remove something from Programs & Features?

I like to download various programs from the web, and sometimes, as with Apple's program called Apple Software Updates, I couldn't get that entry off the list in Windows 7's Programs & Features page (formerly Add/Remove Programs) no matter what I tried. I went through the files everywhere I thought they might be hiding, such as the hidden folder 'Username\App Data\' and 'C:\Program Data\Apple' or 'C:\Program data\ Apple Computer' ( I had both) and deleted all that stuff. Still couldn't get rid of that entry on Programs & Features. Then I got lucky....

If you have that kind of problem, download this Windows Installer Cleanup Utility and run it as an Administrator. When it shows you a list of programs it will remove, carefully select only the one you want removed, because it could remove them all, and you'd have real problems. Once you have selected it (in my case 'Apple Software Update') simply click on the 'Remove' button which becomes activated after you make a selection from that list. After you click on 'Remove' you can close the Cleanup Utility. A check on the Programs & Features window will show that the one you wanted removed is now gone from that list. The Score -> Microsoft  1,  Apple 0.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Birth of an Icon

With the right programs to play with, and time on your hands, here's an example of what you can do when you get creative.

Tonight's sunset

The wide screen version - a two-image splice, taken with the Canon G9.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today's 'weather report' -

This is the kind of day we're having, and one of our Magnolias is almost in bloom.

Here's the bloom nearest to opening on it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today was a good day....

First of all, my thanks to our Canada Revenue Agency for their prompt processing of my return and their deposit of my refund into my bank account. I made out the return on February 21, and sent it by snail mail on the 22nd. The refund came back today, just 25 days later.

I also got a call from the Cancer Agency today, saying they'd had a cancellation, and could move my next appointment up a week to the 23rd, if that was OK with me. It is, and those folks are right on the ball too. 

Signs of Spring....

As soon as the nice weather arrives, so do the snippers, chippers and chainsaws. I know they are just trying to make a buck, but they're noisy bastards.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today's picture

Today's picture shows the snow line receding, prompting the question 'Is spring really here?'

About adding another player into your PC -

After I got the computer home from the shop with its new Blu-ray Player installed, I made an interesting discovery. A regular DVD Player can't play Blu-ray discs, but a Blu-ray Player can play regular DVDs. The difference in them is that a regular DVD Player uses a red laser, and the Blu-ray, as its name implies, uses a blue laser.  I suspect it has something to do with the wavelength or frequency of each, but I don't know exactly what each one's is.

All I know for sure is that the next time I grab a movie off the bargain counter bin without reading its fine print, it won't matter whether it's a regular DVD or a Blu-ray, I'll still be able to play it in my favourite computer, which now has a player of each type installed. There's something to be said for the large size enclosures of PCs made up until 2008, because these do accept two players  whereas the newer PCs like my other one with its smaller enclosure only has barely enough space for one DVD player, and that's mounted on its edge along one side of the case, rather than on the flat like we've had in the past. I don't like that, because I'm always afraid the disc will fall out of it while it is opening or closing. It never has yet, but I worry about it, and that annoys me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prostate cancer brachytherapy information

Here's a good U.K. website with information about this, and some good illustrations of some of the preparations involved. The specifics apply to the U.K. health system, but the main procedure itself and the equipment involved is the same here in Canada.

Here is our own  website for the B.C. Cancer Agency with information on various kinds of cancer treatments available.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

More about Windows 7

One thing that I liked about XP Pro was the nice selection of various cursors available, and I especially liked the gold ones. I still have those official Windows files on a CD, and tonight I discovered that by opening that file, and dragging & dropping the ones I want into the Windows 7 files in Windows\Cursors, I can again use those XP cursors. So everything old is new again, Kiddies. When you get them into the Cursors folder in Windows, just go onto the Start button, type cursors in the box,  then choose 'change how the mouse pointer looks' to get the selection window for choosing. When it comes up, highlight your Windows 7 pointer in the list, choose 'browse', and look down the list for the new one you want. Select it, and click on 'Apply'. Click OK to get out of there, and you've now got the new cursor.

If you want to make sure it doesn't get changed by another theme you might choose later on, make sure you remove the check mark from the box beside 'Allow themes to change mouse pointers'.

The hills today -

There's more snow on the local hills now than there has been for the past two months. Maybe we should all join in singing 'Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow', and maybe it won't. It worked at Christmas. We had one of the greenest ever.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Signs of spring -

The leaves are beginning to come out, even with new snow on the hilltops.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If this looks like winter -

- That's because it's only 289 days until Christmas, and we like to get an early start....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More snow overnight....

Here's how close the snow came to the edge of town last night.

And here's how it looked as the clouds began to clear earlier today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I think winter's back....

Another day, another snowstorm.....  Does this mean that global warming causes more moisture to be retained in the atmosphere, which in turn results in more precipitation, leading to a greater cooling trend, resulting in another Ice Age ? Is global warming really what starts all that ? Is that how Mother Nature takes care of overcrowding on Spaceship Earth ?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Now that the Olympics are over, here's the snow...


After the clouds cleared from yesterday's stormy weather, here's what it looks like now...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

For Monsieur Beep, another beautiful car

This is one of the most beautiful cars in the world, especially considering it was made in 1937. It is a Delage D8-120, made in France, and these pictures were taken in 2005 at an auto exhibition in the USA, where this car took top prize in the show. When these cars were built they were produced as an engine and chassis, and then that was sent to the coach builder of your choice, for its own custom body. This particular car was originally owned by the owner of the company, Louis Delage, and if you wanted to buy it these days, you'd be looking at spending over a million dollars. This is one of the finest examples of a luxury sports coupe ever made. It even has a column gear shift on which the gears are electrically selected by a small lever. And remember please that this was in the 1930s. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another mountain panorama

Here's a close-up from the Pentax X70 at 24X optical zoom of Crown Mountain behind Grouse as the sun sets. 

The Toyota Museum -

While I was babbling on about cars in the previous posting, I left out a link to a nice site in Japan for the Toyota Museum. So here's where you can find it, and trust me, it's worth a look for sure. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More musings from 'Oldest Living Blogger'....

I was watching a movie on TV a while ago, and it was interrupted by the usual commercial break, one of which showed a red tag sale for Toyotas. It's a shame what's been happening with them lately, and it makes me wonder if a lot of the drivers of today have forgotten a few of the basics of the art of controlling a misbehaving automobile. 

I grew up and learned to drive before the age of turn signals or seat belts or air bags or even padded dashboards, and us kids survived not because we were lucky or well-behaved, but because we learned a few defensive tricks for times when things went to hell suddenly. "Like what?" you ask. Like, if the gas pedal stuck and the car took off, reach down quickly and pull it up, and if you can't reach it, then turn off the ignition and stomp on the brakes. "But the regular brakes aren't working right either!" you say. Fine - remember that lever between the seats for the emergency brake? Grab that and pull it hard, but don't let it lock into the 'on' position, because you'll want to be able to hold onto it and release it again. It's called an emergency brake for a reason, and you can guess what the reason is I hope. "But all we have is a parking brake!" you say. That's it, dummy! So use the damned thing. It isn't as effective as regular brakes, but it will slow you down if you use it. And if all else fails, like I mentioned earlier, turn off the engine but leave the car in gear.

"So, Gramps, what did you use instead of seat belts and air bags?" you ask. Well, Kiddies, it's like this - when we nodded off and woke up too late to save it from going into the ditch, the safest place to be was on the floor beneath the dashboard. The car can be replaced, but you can't, so down on the floor under the dash was the safest place to be until everything stopped flying around. I've survived crashes that way when the car was a total write-off, and more than once too. I'm not especially proud of that, but I'm still here to tell about it. It all comes down to whether or not you're smarter than your car - and maybe that's the problem. Today's cars probably are smarter than some of their drivers.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More signs of Spring -

It's the annual general meeting and voting for board members for the Mountain Equipment Co-op, and these days, with on-line voting, it's a lot more convenient than it used to be when we had all that paperwork, and then had to trek off to the Post Office in the rain to mail our ballots. This way, we're saving the trees, and staying dry all at the same time. I think I like it.

And in today's email, I made another discovery: if you have a PayPal account, and you don't use it for three years, like I didn't use mine, then they'll automatically close it for you. And I'm just guessing here, but if I haven't used it at all in three years, then I probably don't need it very badly anyway. I got it because I thought I might have problems using an ordinary credit card for on-line transactions, but that wasn't a problem. For those rare occasions when it might be, there's always Kagi, which also does everything PayPal can do. Just Google them, and see. Why have I used Kagi instead of PayPal? Because it was recommended by a friend, and it works just fine.


Monday, March 1, 2010

More signs of Spring...

One of the Magnolias is beginning to bloom -

While other signs of Spring are all around us.