Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Update on previous posting:

Here's a screenshot showing what Collusion found on my computer while I was watching the video explaining about Collusion and tracking. There aren't a lot of dots on mine yet, because as mentioned below, I have a couple of add-ons that weed out the spyware quite well. But there's still some connections....

Updated again: (7:33 PM)

Here's another screenshot, showing the connections while I was reading a news item on Google's news page. I went onto Google to its News link, and then to the article itself. The rest are the tracking links.


You should watch this video....

The link to this came today in a newsletter from Firefox, 'Firefox and You', and it's a TED talk about privacy and the web, which we all should see. This video lasts about seven minutes.

This is why I use Firefox, because it has an add-on called 'Better Privacy' which can find and remove hidden 'supercookies' called Local System Objects,
or LSOs, which don't show up on your regular cookie handling programs, and which unlike regular cookies, never expire. These can also contain executables (small programs) which can perform operations on your computer, sending home information, or actually redirecting you to another website which you probably hadn't planned on going to. So I suggest you get the Firefox browser and then download that extension called 'Better Privacy'. You can set it to work along with your regular cookie-clearing feature, to automatically remove those hidden LSOs or 'supercookies' along with other unwanted items. You may be glad you did. 

Another smart move is to have a good security program, like Avast 7, which will warn you if you surf onto a site containing malware, and block it before you are infected by it. It warns you in time to get off that site and go to another safer one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nokia leaves Russia

For the complete web page, please click here.

How the Internet works.....

Thanks to Tom on Tommy's Ramblings for this video I'm also posting. If you've ever wondered how the information travels back and forth, this explains it.

Meanwhile, back in Russia....

You can read all about it here and find out what's going on over there for yourself. This probably explains why it's so difficult to stop the fighting there.

Gas prices compared: USA vs Canada

This screenshot is from USA Today:

Compare that to today's prices around Vancouver, B.C. :

Please note that the average price around here today is $1.36687 per liter, so we have to multiply that by 4.54 to get the price per Imperial Gallon, which works out to $6.20 per gallon, or virtually double the American price. And some of that American product originates in this country. So how would you spell 'rip-off'?

Putting that another way, this US price on a per liter basis is 84.5 cents per liter, the US gallon containing fewer liters than ours (3.785 L to our 4.54 L).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More 'this and that'....(to Tablet or not to Tablet?)

I took this just so I won't forget what these hills look like the next time it clouds over again, which, if it happens as it has been recently, should be in about another twenty minutes or so. These have been obscured by clouds for days lately, and it's half-past 2012, and we're still waiting for some nice weather.

Moving right along here (may we?) - there's a loud clamor in tech circles on the wild, wild web these days about Mighty Microsoft's entry into the tablet market,
two years behind Apple, and with something that the know-it-alls probably haven't actually seen yet, but feel qualified to judge and comment on anyway.
From the tone of all that, you'd think (a) The fate of the civilized world depends upon the outcome of this gigantic struggle between Microsoft and Apple's iPad;
(b) Everyone in the world is practically trampling one another in the streets to get their hands on one of these magical whatever-it-is thingamajigs, which don't have any price tags yet; (c) It may or may not preserve intelligent life in this half of the galaxy if it succeeds; and (d) It can't possibly succeed unless it can be made to do everything you do now on computers or portables, plus brush your teeth and comb your hair (assuming you have some) and tuck your kids into bed at nights, and all for a price that's a hundred bucks under an iPad.

So have a peek at this screenshot, Kiddies....

The significant thing about this is that heading on the first box which says that the Mobile Market Share (including tablets) is only about 7.8% of the world's market. The remaining portion, about 92%, is made up of desktop computers.
So all this noise is over a device entering a segment of the market which is presently less than eight percent of that whole world market. So there must be a lot of underemployed technology writers out there in cyberspace somewhere desperately trying to find a paycheck for creating all that uproar. So please don't believe what you hear about "the death of the desktop" or similar lines of 
'BS' - sorry, I meant 'creative writing'. 

I'm with that 92% who use a desktop, because I don't need to take it with me,
I don't want to take it with me, and you can't make me take it with me! Who needs an electronic leash everywhere they go? Isn't that what they do to prisoners when they want to keep track of them? Get the picture?

Please Note:

The link to that Market Share page is right here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More musings from 'Oldest Living Blogger' - Windows 8

The latest from the world of Mighty Microsoft is their tablet, dubbed 'Surface', and loaded with Windows 8.

There's still the problem of convincing developers to make enough really useful Apps for Windows 8 to make it into a 'gotta-have-it' for consumers who would like to do some actual useful work on one of these things, instead of just playing silly video games.

The other problem with tablets and all-in-ones of course is that once you get one, you're stuck with whatever's inside that can't be changed, because there just isn't room for anything that wasn't designed to fit into it in the beginning.
So, for example, you can't increase its RAM with extra slabs of it, and you can't swap out the puny graphics card for one with more horsepower or better built-in memory capacity. You're stuck with whatever it had when it came out of its box.

Desktops, by contrast, can be improved with better hardware components, and you might be wondering how many of us do that. Not that many, actually - only about five percent, according to my favorite computer repair technician. That was a surprise to me, because I assumed there'd be more of that, due to the costs of replacing complete systems, especially in the business world, but evidently not. It does work, though, because I've had mine improved with better graphics cards and more RAM, and it makes quite a difference.

Anyway - Mighty Microsoft has more work to do before they can call Windows 8 and its new hardware a finished system and a professional product. They should start by showing us how useful it all will be in the everyday working world where the bulk of its customers earn the money to buy it. And as one self-styled expert put it recently, "I want something that doesn't get in the way while I'm getting something done. If it gets in my way, it isn't right for the job." I agree.

Here's what The Washington Post has to say about it. 

And here's the search engine usage numbers.

The new roof is finally started

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One of our palm trees is blooming...

And that surprises me, because the weather's been so unseasonably cool and wet, it doesn't feel at all like it should for tomorrow being our first day of Summer here in the Great White North. As I write this, it's 58 F on the balcony.

 This is the blooming part...

And this is the whole tree.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Around our grounds with the camera...

The Foxgloves are blooming.
Inside the upper right bloom,
a right rear leg and part of the
abdomen of a Bumblebee.
A yellow thistle; even weeds can 
be beautiful.
An Iris near our main entry.
Guess who turned 70 today? - Paul McCartney of Beatles fame. Now I know why I feel really old. 

Another gossip-mongering site heard from....

While clearing out some junk mail from Google this morning, I impulsively tried this website to see what it's all about. I'm still not entirely sure, but inquiring minds can check it out by clicking here. I could be wrong, but I suspect many of these contributors to the comments on this site are Mac users, and I have to wonder why Apple customers are interested in the good or bad points of Windows latest operating system, and why it should matter to them if they are happy with what they received from Apple.

All this babbling about operating systems comparing Microsoft's Windows to the OSX systems on Apple's computers is really like comparing an elephant to a mouse. Or let's put that another way: Apple's hopes of dominating the business world's computing requirements is a lot like a flea climbing up an elephant's hind leg with rape in mind. Here's the latest figures if you'd like to check them.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The hardware and software of war is changing...

From USA Today
Today's Question Everything is:
"If this is the future direction of armed conflict, then why are we trying to justify spending untold billions on a manned supersonic and some would say 'old-fashioned' and out-of-date fighter force which may never really be used except for training and joy-riding around the country grandstanding to patrons at air shows?" 
The corollary to that question is: "Who is deciding our military strategy, our elected representatives and government, or the executives at Lockheed Martin whose primary concern is their company's bottom line?"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Things I didn't learn in school: The War of 1812

There's an interesting article in today's Globe and Mail about the period around the time of the War of 1812 and the resulting rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada later around 1837/38 that explains a lot I don't recall ever being taught in school about these early beginnings to our nation.

Because of their length, I won't attempt to summarize all of that here, but I do have some links for those of you who may wish to review it:-

 Here is the main article. 

The Upper (and Lower) Canada Rebellion(s) 

The Family Compact. 

The Canada Company

If you have the time, this makes interesting reading, because it explains a lot about our past, on both sides of our international border, and describes how and why we are different both politically and economically in the ways our two neighboring countries have developed. In some ways, this reads like a comedy of errors, except that its participants were deadly serious, and we've been stuck with the consequences of all that ever since. Parts of this story are a real eye-opener for anyone who assumes that the British have been the champions of freedom and democracy in the world. Evidently, their perception of freedom consisted of one's freedom to do what one was told, and smartly at that. After reading all this, I have a much better understanding of the causes of the American Revolution.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Showbiz in Ottawa.... the omnibus budget voting...

Until fairly recently, Canadians have taken a certain amount of pride in having a different approach to governing the country than our American cousins govern theirs, but we're getting more like them every day it seems.

This omnibus budget bill, encompassing 400-plus pages and nearly four dozen laws being changed, and requiring some 22 hours of marathon voting seems to be uncomfortably similar to those American tactics of tying together a batch of unrelated pork-barrel projects and then shoving them through under the guise of a budget modification which in itself had nothing to do with its add-ons, or very little at best.

Here's a picture from today's Globe and Mail showing (left to right) our P.M., the ever-radiant 'Hairspray' Harper, flanked by his House Leader Van Loan, and on the right, that isn't a Chicago mobster, despite the squinty look and the flashy suit, it's Peter 'F-35' MacKay, the marvelous mathematician and Defense Minister. The Three Musketeers they aren't, Kiddies. And we can tell from the look on Harper's face that he already knows God's going to get him for this one.
It's just a matter of time.

Here's what Queen's University professor Ned Franks says about all that:-
"I consider these bills and the form they come to Parliament and the length of them an affront to parliamentary procedure and practice." Well said, professor.

This self-serving dictatorship is a democracy only on the day once every few years when us unwashed masses are allowed to vote for those who participate in it supposedly on our behalf. The rest of the time, our main function is to provide the revenue for these spendthrifts to squander as they choose.

The original Rembrandt ?

Recent research indicates neanderthals like Uncle Hairy here were doing cave drawings and paintings as far back as 30,000 or more years ago. If that's so, then there's probably a progression from that to the eventual development of the pictographs and hieroglyphs which later became our first forms of writing.
And for those of you who don't have a copy of the two-volume set of Sir E.A. Wallis Budge's An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary ( Dover Publications Inc., New York) perhaps I should say that there's literally hundreds of hieroglyphs to express various ideas and concepts and words or phrases.

There's also a couple of possible interpretations of these, depending upon whether or not you choose the common one or the more detailed and introspective or intuitive method, but we won't go into all that just now. Let's just say it's an interesting study for anyone who would like to know what those ancient writings actually tell us. And what a lot of them on temples and royal monuments say turns out to be very repetitive and mostly rather boring recitals of the great Pharaoh's accomplishments, both real and imagined, and there's a traditional pattern to all that self-congratulatory advertising. But what we're writing today owes its roots to those people, for sure.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nice sunset

The rest of the sky around here hasn't looked this good all day, and still doesn't, with plenty of dark clouds around and cool temperatures. The way it has been this month so far, it's a choice between summer and winter underwear almost every day, and that's definitely unusual for around here. The climate is changing, but we can't call it 'global warming' when the average temperatures are consistently below normal for the time of year.

Yes, you can change the first screen in Windows 8

More musings from Oldest Living Blogger.....

Where was I yesterday? Stuck in the bathroom? No, that wasn't it. Mostly, I was finishing off the updating processes resulting from Patch Tuesday this week, and getting two computers with dual-booting on each of two systems all happy with each other, and matching their add-ons, so that I've got the same things on the same operating systems on the two different computers. Sound confusing? Yes, it is, but mostly, it's a time-consuming process that seems to require a lot more time than necessary. 

For example, when Microsoft with its 'Patch Tuesday' puts together a set of its Windows Updates for monthly distribution to us unwashed masses for so-called 'automatic download and installation' then why isn't that whole process actually automatic and actually installed, and why can't that process be set up to do its own confirmation and rebooting so that I don't have to waste half a day re-checking everything to make sure it happened and was a success? Is that asking too much? Apparently it is. But if they can write the code to create the updates, why can't they write the code to get them to automatically integrate themselves into the rest of the system without requiring user inputs or actions to enable it? Do they imagine we enjoy wasting half a day finishing off a process that they decided was necessary for the continued secure use of their programming? 

Moving along here (shall we?) it seems that every day lately, there's a new financial crisis somewhere. If it isn't Greece, it's Spain, or Portugal, or France,
or Germany, or China, or the USA, or God forbid, Bunga Bunga, that magical land of mystery and intrigue and cheap T-shirts. This got me recalling a video on the subject of money and where it comes from called 'Money as Debt' and
you can find it here. It's about 47 minutes long, but worth the time for sure because it explains a few things most of us don't stop to think about or find answers to, and we should. And it just may surprise you. Check it out.

And today's Question Everything is: " If they can make paper towels tough enough to outlast almost any chore demanded of them, why can't they make toilet tissue that doesn't dissolve before its job is completed?"

Rumor has it that Larry Hagman and 'Dallas' are returning to the tube with both original and new cast, or so says USA Today. I have terrible news for these weathered and aging stars of 'I Dream of Jeannie' and other assorted epics of the small screen - you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, and nothing's forever, not even on TV. So forget it....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The roofing job got rained out today

Not a nice day for roof work...

The morning's ski and fog report....

As has been happening all too often lately, these clouds are much too close to the ground around here, and there's far too many of them, and considering it's almost half-past June (I almost said 'half-assed June') the weather's not at all conducive to good bikini watching. Not that I'm implying there's any bad bikini watching, mind you, just that there's not any! Damn! Where's Summer? This is what happens when seven billion ignoramuses and their cows indiscriminately belch and fart and drop their garbage all over the place and leave it for Mother Nature to clean up. She just can't work that fast. So shame on us!

"The top 500 Worst Passwords Of All Time".....

And here's the list in spreadsheet form, courtesy of Avast 7 Free Antivirus, from their newsy occasional blog, a link to which pops up regularly with their regular automatic updates of the database. This list dates back to 2008, but stupidity is even older than that, or so I'm told.

For a freebie, Avast is one very-hard-to-beat antivirus program, and if you're testing Windows 8 and don't want that to cost you a lot, or if you're just a plain old cheapskate like me, you should try it. I think you'll be surprised at just how good it really is, and how sophisticated it is for a free and usually basic program. And you can find Avast here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Barbarella's still got it at 74....

From USA Today

If I looked half this good, and I'm five years older than she is, then I'd be famous on seven continents and wanted by the law on four of them I betcha! Jane is a tribute to good genes and good management of them.

Welcome Back, Monsieur Beep!

Es hat 55 Tage seit Ihrer letzten Blogeintrag, und ich war immer besorgt über Sie. Ich bin froh, dass Sie gesund und munter sind.

(And I hope Microsoft's Translator worked correctly!)  :)

"It's four o'clock in the morning" and no, it isn't a song title!

It's just the nightly (or more accurately, morningly) bathroom trip religiously performed by all of us capacity-challenged bladder owners in the Thundermug Lounge Social Club. I'm pleased to report the bathroom is still alive and well, and
the peculiar new vinyl smell from the new shower curtain (heavy duty, 10 gauge, Walmart $9.97) is slowly dissipating. Too slowly dissipating I might add...

Like it says here on the opening window for this blog, Welcome to the new Blogger. (I was quite happy with the Old Blogger, thanks all the same!) This "new" one really isn't all that new, you know. Recycled is more accurate. And not very well, either. But Google is nothing if not exceptional at tooting its own horn while carefully crafting its texts for the sole purpose of herding you in one and only one direction: straight into their open arms for further brainwashing, processing, and Remedial Behavior 101 as written and decreed by the Great Gurus of Google.

A sample? Sure, why not? But first, make sure you have your Bullshit Protectors on, because there's a lot of it in every line, and these guys are experts at handing you a line, trust me.

Introducing the completely new, streamlined blogging experience (Relax, Junior, this isn't next year's luxury sports model with the fifth-gear automatic overdrive and fifty-miles-per-gallon-downhill-with-a-tailwind!) that makes it easier for you to find what you need ( The hell you say! I need waterworks that don't wake me up three hours into a night's sleep, and I need lungs that still have their original five-times-necessary capacity so I'm not gasping for air, and I need, dare I say it, less bullshit here!) and focus on writing great blog posts. (FYI: I was focused on "writing great blog posts" long before some boob coined that phrase; back when we used word processors to dash off pungent, pithy prose sent to Dear Editor by a quaint little machine called a Fax, which delivered said pungent, pithy prose to said Dear Editor an hour or so before breakfast in the mornings, so that she could distribute one or two fresh ideas to her ace wordsmiths in time for the next editions coming down the line at the local daily newspaper. So there!)

Which brings us, after all that digression, to today's Question Everything which is: "If this really is a new and streamlined blogging experience, then why is it that I have to almost constantly re-select the font I prefer because the program doesn't retain my settings if I pause to edit or add an image or just want to stop and scratch my nose? What the hell's with that, Google?" Can't your people ever finish whatever they start? Do you believe, like the folks at Westinghouse of years gone by, that 'Progress is our most important product'? They clung to that idea until it became painfully obvious even to the inattentive that their competition was kicking the stuffings out of them because they simply had too many things in progress to be able to actually complete them properly and their quality went downhill faster than a kid on a new toboggan - and it could happen to you, too. So don't say I didn't point this out. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Nice evening....

Nice for a change....

The folks across the street are dining out...

It's a sign of the times that when I take a picture of a 'nice day' these days,
it's a scene where the sky is only 60% or 75% obscured by clouds, rather than
being 85% or 95% or 100% cloud-covered. I think I'm growing webbed feet....

Friday, June 8, 2012

Not a good day for religion....

Photo: USA Today

The Head Buck Nun shakes hands with the President of Sri Lanka in the Vatican
while back in the USA one of his flunkies, Monsignor William Lynn is on trial over those abuse scandals as yet unresolved. And Creflo A. Dollar was busted for battering his daughter while arguing whether she could attend a party. Can anyone actually imagine anybody with an I.Q. of more than twice his shoe size actually using a name like 'Creflo A. Dollar' while running some semi-religious outfit based on the idea that God wants us all to be rich? Doesn't this have a phoney ring to it? Can you connect the dots there? Guys like that tend to believe the Golden Rule means "He who has the Gold makes the Rules."

Thursday, June 7, 2012


This is as close as we got to clearing off today.

The Dating Game - Hope springs eternal, or something.

While raiding the fridge for my midnight snack, and preparing to watch the ever-radiant Barbarella on Letterman tonight, I caught an ad on the tube for an outfit calling itself and informing us that it's for those of us in the 50-plus bracket....

Hmmmm.... fifty-plus, huh? Around the middle? Or around the calendar? Or perhaps both? Anybody who is over fifty is definitely 'over the hill' and for that matter, anybody over thirty these days is scaring the hell out of that hill themselves. I've been over fifty for almost thirty years now, and thirty years is practically a lifetime career, so I've got a lot of experience at being over fifty and over the hill. It's disgustingly familiar territory to me.

A dating club for the over-fifties is a lot like forming an auto club for owners of
antique cars. You can get together once a month if you can get it started, and
your rheumatism isn't acting up too badly, and your laser eye surgery has healed enough so that you can get a good look at the other stuff, and your pension for this month isn't all spent yet, and there's still a little gas in the tank, and your suit came back from the cleaners without falling apart on you, and well, you get the picture, I'm sure....

Meeting other over-fifties will not be the greatest adventure of your life. More like a convention of aging used car salesmen, reminiscing about the good old days that probably never were that good to begin with, and trying to pretend that the ravages of time and high mileage aren't really so bad after all. The hell they aren't! Take a look in the mirror. I dare you! The main reason I cut myself shaving so often these days is because I'm in such a hurry to get it over with,
so I won't have to look at that ugly old fart that's looking back at me!

Those gold miners seeking riches from us old pensioners really ought to be ashamed of themselves. And we ought to know better than get anywhere near them, let's face it. Besides, I'd rather be lonely than miserable.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wanted: More Newspapers with Apps on Windows 8

If USA Today can do it, there's no excuse for the rest of you not doing it. This is a really nice way of skimming through the news in the mornings - or any other time that grabs you for that matter. See something you want more details on and click or tap on it, and up comes the full presentation. Neat! I like it. This is how the news ought to be presented - like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Pick what you like, and go for it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Windows 8: That missing Start Button.....( a solution)

Has Microsoft listened to users who have complained about the disappearance of the Start button? Nope. The Start button is still AWOL, and the Start screen -- Metro all the way -- is the entry to Windows 8.

The above is a quote from a blog about the new Release Preview of Win-8 that came down the pipe yesterday. And I have some good news if you'd like to make yourself a very handy 'work-around'.....

After you hit your 'Ctrl' to bring up the Log-in screen after the nice picture and
the time and date thing first appears, and after you've logged in, and are now confronted by the Start page full of the patchwork of Apps tiles, look for the one for 'Desktop' (usually somewhere near the left side) and click on that to put up your desktop, that old familiar former starting point.

While it's still empty and there's plenty of open spaces, do a right-click on it, and from the menu which appears, choose 'New' and then from its menu, choose
'Shortcut'. We're going to make a couple of shortcuts here. One for 'Reboot' and one for 'Shutdown', and here's how:-

After you click on 'Shortcut', you get a little window asking for the location of the item. In there, type as follows, using the exact spacing I'm using here:-
C:\Windows\System32\Shutdown.exe -s -f -t 00
Then, click next for the next window, asking for name for it. The name in this case is Shutdown.  The line of code you just typed into the address box is telling Windows to  shutdown, and force-close any open programs, and to do that with a time delay of 00 seconds. There's one empty space between each of those commands in the line. While you're doing all that, a new shortcut icon will be created on your desktop for it.

Now that you're finished creating that one, do another similar one using the same process as before, but in the address line this time, you type in the following:- C:\Windows\System32\Shutdown.exe -r -f -t 00
The name for this one is Reboot. Now you will have two new shortcuts on your desktop, one named Shutdown and the other named Reboot. Clicking on those will immediately begin either a computer shutdown or a reboot. You will no longer have to worry about where the Start button went, because you can use
your own shortcuts. If you don't like those generic icons with them, you can change those by right-clicking the shortcut, choosing "change icon" and then
pick out another from the little display that will be presented by Windows. Or if you have a collection of your own favorites, you can use those. You can see mine in the lower left of the screenshot here.

After you have the two shortcuts on your desktop, you can also copy those onto your Windows 8 Start screen as tiles along with the others, so that you
will have them accessible from either the desktop or Start screen. In Win-8,
these can be on both places at the same time without a problem. And once you have that done, you can reboot or shut down from either one of those.
And that missing Start Button isn't such a loss now.....

Here you can see the new shortcuts as tiles on the Start window. The easy way to get them there is to right-click on each shortcut on your desktop, and from the menu which appears, choose (and click on) "Pin to Start". The shortcut is then pinned to the Start window as a new tile. This can be dragged to a different location on the screen if you wish to rearrange tiles. The original shortcut icon will remain on your Desktop, so it is now in two places, but you can only access them one at a time, so it won't create a conflict. This is one new feature of Windows 8 that I like, but it isn't sufficiently well explained.
It takes a bit of work to dig up this information. That may be easier when they finish writing all the Help notes for Windows 8. Right now, those are not complete yet, and you're on your own for some of this stuff. And that's why I'm babbling on about it here.

For your new version of Windows 8, I recommend....

My browser of choice, because....

It has some very useful Add-ons,
and there are many more available.
Windows 8 comes with its own built-in security,
but I like this one better because it has more
features, like the sandbox for iffy items,
and it talks to you, and updates itself often.
And yes you can use this instead of the default
protection that comes with the program.
It will automatically take over from Defender.
You should try it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Windows 8 Release Preview has arrived!

And I couldn't resist making a couple of revisions to the 'Castles of Europe' Theme for it. This is the other side of the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.
Most pictures of it are taken from the mountain behind it looking towards the
photographer of this shot, because there's a hiking trail up there, and a nice
suspension bridge dangling over a mountain creek, and the bridge makes a nice open spot from which to take pictures of it. So we don't often see pictures of this side of the castle. But we do here. King Ludwig would be surprised to know his castle now averages about 6,000 tourists per day visiting it. It's a very popular place.