Tuesday, January 29, 2013

USA Today says.....

USA Today says: "Early lunch may boost weight loss." Excuse me, but around here, 'early lunch' is called Breakfast.

Everything changes....

While at the plaza with our biggest supermarket yesterday, I stopped in at the Postal Outlet, to pick up this year's forms and instructions for completing and filing our income taxes.

Our friendly helpful government has informed us that this year, instead of them sending us individual tax packages tailored to suit our income bracket and place in the pecking order, we're all going to have to use the same complex and confusing T1 General forms more familiar to corporate lawyers and tax experts, and we are all being vigorously encouraged to do our tax filing on line this year, whether we're properly computer literate or not. 

The government is of course making this all seem like they are doing us a huge favor, but the convenience of this is largely on their side rather than ours, because for most of us not previously filing our returns on line, we now must learn a new routine, and must use special software for the process, apparently. When they get the bugs all out of it, this may be a better way, but for now, this is going to be a pain. For starters, reading the instructions for all these mostly unneeded parts of the General Form gives me a headache. I'm a simple guy - all my income is from pensions; one from a past employer, and two others from the government - so why do I need to wade through the same level of detail as the corporate giants who have expensive experts to help them wiggle out of the 'fine print'? It just doesn't seem very reasonable to me.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Looking at the hills this morning

These are in color, and this is the color...
It's that kind of day today.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More problems with the F-35

Here's an article about more problems with the F-35, and how things are coming apart, or cracking under stress. It doesn't sound good. 

Who is using what.... Operating systems

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Women in combat....

No, this isn't about mother-in-law stories. This is to pass along a link to one of our favorite national columnists here in Canada - a lady who was born in the USA, and has her own opinions. And this is the link to her column. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

'Oldest Living Blogger' comments....

It's three in the morning, and time I made sure the bathroom is still there. So now that I'm disgustingly wide awake, I'm thinking of a debate I watched on CNN last night about the gun situation.

There's a couple of things I think they're missing. First of all, when the Second Amendment was created, the founding fathers couldn't anticipate automatic weapons or even repeating rifles and revolvers. Samuel Colt didn't patent his revolver until 1835, and the Winchester repeating rifle wasn't introduced until 1866, 75 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified by the U.S. Congress. So all this talk about how "it's our right to have semi-automatic weapons because it says so in the Second Amendment" is wrong. It says nothing of the sort. Those hadn't been invented yet.

The other point I'd like to mention is that as long everyone is packing a pistol or a slightly modified military style assault rifle or something equally lethal, nobody has to really try to get along with others, because they can blow them away if made angry enough. And that seems to be what's happening. "Those who live by the sword die by the sword" and that same principle applies to guns. Nobody needs a gun to hunt for their supper these days, and when kids have access to weapons that can kill dozens in a very short time, logic dictates that something ought to be done about it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Windows 8: Shutdown and Reboot shortcuts.....

If you would like to have handy shortcuts on your Desktop for Shutdown and Reboot (Restart) in Windows 8, instead of having to go back onto the Start Screen to find the originals, here's how:-

Right-click an empty spot on the desktop. From the little menu that comes up,  choose the fourth one from the bottom titled 'New'. Right-click that for another little menu. The second item on that is 'Shortcut'. Click that, to bring up another window titled 'Create Shortcut'. On the line with the flashing cursor titled 'Type the location of the item' very carefully type as follows, being careful of the spacing between parts (only one space between each operative code):

C:\Windows\system32\shutdown.exe -s -f -t 05

Once again, there is only one blank space between the end of "shutdown.exe" and the "dash s" and one blank space between that and "dash f" and one more between that and the "dash t" and one after that before the numbers for the time in seconds.

What does this tell Windows? It says "Shutdown the computer ( the -s), force close any open programs (the -f) and do this after a time delay of five seconds, (the -t 05)."  You will see a little generic icon on your desktop beside this window in which you are creating these instructions. You can change that icon to something else more to your liking later if you wish. Now, at the bottom of that window, click on the button "Next" to continue. 

The next window asks you to type a name for your new shortcut. Call it Shutdown and then click on the button for "Finish", and you're done.

The one for a Reboot shortcut is the same as the above, except instead of that  "-s" after the filename, you must use a -r meaning "Reboot". Then, when you name it, you call it Reboot or Restart. You can now drag those new shortcuts to any spot on the desktop that's handy for you, and you can now quickly begin a shutdown or a reboot without leaving the screen you're on.

Once again, for a Reboot shortcut, type the following into the location line:-

C:\Windows\system32\shutdown.exe -r -f -t 05

Which means: "Perform a restart of this computer, force close any open programs, and begin after a delay of five seconds."

That time delay isn't essential, but it does have one nice feature: before it begins, it puts up a warning band across your screen telling that this is happening in less than a minute. So you know it got your instructions and is doing it.

Question Everything !

From MTV Canada

Today's 'Question Everything' is: "Who really gives a damn?" The country must be in good hands if this is the biggest crisis it has, which I very much doubt.
And why is there one MTV for the USA and a separate one for Canada, which gets most of its entertainment news from the USA anyway? Whose brainwave is that? Someone who is a couple of gallons short of a full tank, I betcha.... 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Games on your computer...

Windows 8 and its Apps have games, but this one is about 5,000 years old and still alive & well. It's called Senet, from a British Museum site found here.
It requires the Shockwave Player from Adobe, and it is a fun game for the kids.

It begins on the top row, moving in a 'backward S' pattern to end at the lower right by whoever gets his markers off the board first. Probably the predecessor of modern cribbage.

It's all about visuals.....

Windows 8 is mostly about great visuals, so if you can't see the sky where you are this morning, then you need Stellarium which is your own personal planetarium on your computer, and here's a look at the morning sky from our overcast Vancouver, Canada this morning....

This is a great program! You can search for another planet, for example, and then use that as your own location from which to view the sky, by simply using the keys Ctrl + G. Want to go to Mars? It's easy - just get Stellarium, and enjoy.

Here's a "spaceflight" - a view of Pluto and its moons from Saturn....


While you're installing new Windows 8.....

Don't forget Microsoft's Silverlight and their great Image Composite Editor for creating wonderful panoramic scenes ....

If you think you know how to do that already with a Canon program, then in the words of Al Jolson, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!" - so do yourself a favor - get it.

Those Microwaves....

If you have wireless headphones for listening to late night TV, and you go into the kitchen to warm up a snack in the Microwave, you'll be able to find out if your Microwave is leaking radiation. When you get close to it with the headphones on, you'll hear a sizzling kind of static over the regular sound.

National Rednecks Association.....

From USA Today

This fearless old fart rants about common sense, and let's face it - he wouldn't recognize common sense if it jumped up and bit him on the ass!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Windows 8 once more.....before the price goes up!

Here's Windows 8 Pro just installed onto my oldest PC, and even though it's old (like me) it's still ticking along nicely. This dates back to about 2008, but it has had its graphics card replaced by a better one since then, and right now, it gets a Windows Experience Index of 5.9 which isn't bad at all. But enough chatter - here's what my latest install of Windows 8 Pro looks like....

And I'm sure you'll notice it has its sidebar gadgets back again, thanks to a nice program I found for that, and it is also displaying the name of the system and its build number, which can be added using the Ultimate Windows Tweaker, which was made for Windows 7, but like a lot of Windows 7 stuff, it also works just fine in Windows 8. So if you haven't already, grab your own Windows 8 while the price is still $39.99, and before it goes up, up and a-w-a-y at the end of the month. During the introduction of Windows 7, I got a hot deal on a copy because I pre-ordered it during the testing period, but I didn't think to get another for my second PC, and ended up paying full retail for that one. So I'm not making that mistake again. And neither should you. Forty bucks and tax is a lot better than a couple of hundred later on. 

And for those us who love our Windows 7 ( I have 7 and 8 in dual-boots on both my PCs) you can, as you see, dress up Windows 8 Pro so it looks like home. 

Short 'PS' - With a dual-boot of Win-7 and Win-8, you can move files from one to the other using the old drag & drop, if you set two windows side by side on the screen, and it makes it very handy. Almost like one big file system.... and
you can use HomeGroup between two PCs for much the same thing.

Fixing BSOD in Windows 8 using Avast 7 Antivirus

This problem is being caused in some Windows 8 installations because of an error in an Avast driver called 'aswnet.sys' in the Windows\system32 folder.

There's a patch available for it on the Avast website, shown below....

You can go there by clicking on this link. 

This just in from Microsoft.....

On here, "before it expires" means before January 31st, after which the price goes up. So if you'd like to get in on a bargain, the time is now.

More information? Here's the whole story for you. 

After my changes to Windows 8.......

After the 'customizing' I've done to Windows 8 Pro, with the addition of the gadgets sidebar and gadgets, I thought I'd run another boot-time scan with Avast Antivirus, just to make sure it is still clean.....

And this is the scan report on it, indicating it's still clean, which is reassuring.

The boot-time scan, as mentioned the other day, is a one-time thing you can select on the window for choosing the type of scan, and it runs during rebooting, so that it can scan the whole computer's drives before the operating systems are reloaded, and before that reboot process completes itself. That way, it can scan directly on the hard-drive and find anything on there. As Avast says, it's one of their main and best weapons against malware - and it works! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

New gadget in Windows 8 .....

This digital clock comes from here and was originally intended for Windows 7, in which it works just fine. This shows it also working on Windows 8. There's a flashing colon between the hour and minute digits, but it isn't shown here, because it was between flashes as I grabbed this screenshot. The background color and numerals color can be changed from color charts in its config window.
It works nicely without taking up a lot of space. 

Please Note:
That nice big informative weather gadget from this website also works nicely in Windows 7, and installs in the usual gadgets location. 

Microsoft doesn't do this.....

This came in the email, from my favorite photo-editing program's maker, because they hadn't heard from me for a while, and don't want to lose me.

You won't catch Microsoft doing anything like that. I was chatting with one of their helpful technical helpers a few days ago, asking about a problem I had with re-installing Windows 8. I was told to check my Microsoft Account which would show details of my purchases. There's absolutely sweet essence of nothing in that account about any purchase whatsoever. Microsoft has no record of my purchase of two separate copies of Windows 7 or a recent copy of Windows 8, and as far as the record goes, I'm a total nobody. Thanks a lot, Mighty Microsoft! And I helped test Windows 7 and Windows 8, as well as buying them when they became available, and they have no record. Isn't that just wonderful? What's all this security horseshit about if they can't even keep track of their loyal customers?  That's my other 'Question Everything' today.

Today's 'Question Everything' ....

When's the last time you got a can of 'air' and took the cover off your PC, and blew the dust out of the cooling fins of the processor(s) and other heat sinks,
to keep it from overheating? Not for a while? Well maybe it's time to get a can of compressed 'air' (actually it contains difluoroethane not good for breathing) from your local computer supplies store, and do your dusting. Your computer will thank you by lasting a lot longer. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Personalizing Windows 8

This time, I started at the beginning, with that Lock Screen you have to get past before you sign in, so this is a photo of it with its new image....

Windows 8 never looked better - and yes, you can change that picture!

And here's a new Windows 8 Theme, with pictures of Thailand.....

And here's Windows 8 with its sidebar gadgets back - the ones Windows removed from the retail versions. Now, I've got it the way I want it......

Speaking of Themes, here's one I just made for it....

Back to the future -> Windows 8 Pro

After my impatience got the best of me yesterday, and I dumped the latest version of PC-BSD from its half of the dual boot setup on here, I decided to put Windows 8 back, and rather impetuously stuffed its DVD into the drive. It is a 64-bit system, but the Windows 7 on here is only 32-bit, and you can't upgrade one of those with the other. They have to be the same. I didn't want to do that anyway, but no matter. The Windows 8 DVD took a look around and told me it couldn't be installed, because it was not compatible with installed files.

But I'd had it on here in a dual boot arrangement before.... and then the light came on: I'd forgotten to go into the BIOS and reset that so the DVD Player would be the choice for first boot, and the regular drive would be second. By booting up from the DVD, it then took another look around, saw two partitions, one of which was empty, and asked me which I wanted to use for Windows 8. Naturally I chose the empty one, and now I have Windows 8 Pro back on the drive in a dual boot with Windows 7.

The stuff you may see about installing or upgrading to Windows 8 tells us that it can only be used as an upgrade over an existing Windows operating system, but that's not entirely correct, because it will install onto an empty partition on your drive if you have one created for it, and if you first of all go into your BIOS during a boot cycle, and change the order of booting from the regular drive to the DVD one, so that the new program's installation disk does the booting. Just don't forget to change that back to the normal drive afterward. And now, I have to finish adding programs to Windows 8.

One nice thing about that is that with both Windows 7 and Windows 8 on the same drive, they both list their contents in Windows Explorer (or as Windows 8 calls it File Explorer) so you can copy stuff from one operating system into the other.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Updating PC-BSD 9.0 to 9.1

This shows the installation process in action, after I'd downloaded the update for the 9.1 version of the operating system - not realizing when I began it that it would take 3 hours to download the new system's files. I went back to bed while it was chugging away on it, and now I'm getting the newest version of PC-BSD installed on the other PC. More about that later, after I have a look at it....

This is later, and here's what it looks like, with one of its alternate backgrounds....

One word of caution: this program is apparently made to work best with an NVidia graphics card, and mine here is an ATI Radeon HD 5450 which means that they do not have the 3D graphics enabled yet for this, and I'm also having a little problem making it stay with the native resolution of my monitor (1680 x 1050) because it seems to like to revert to 1024 x 768 on its next reboot, and then I have to reset it again. Otherwise, it's much like its predecessor, the 9.0 version.

I got tired of fiddling with this one - so I removed it. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

In the news....

Word is that 'Dear Abby' has passed away at 94, thus ending a famous chapter in our social media, one that preceded Dr. Phil, and all these other pompous know-it-alls of current TV fame or notoriety. They'd say the former, I the latter.

While reading that article, I couldn't help noticing an ad along the side of the page, proclaiming in a shrill tone: 'Value-packed wines under $12"..... I took one look at that and said "Hell, gasoline's $6 a gallon, so what kind of plonk are they flogging at $12 ?"

Useful program while removing infections....

A very useful little program is Filemenu Tools from Lopesoft because it contains a very good shredder, with which you can destroy infected files as you are deleting them.

Here's what its window looks like, and when you first install it, everything on that list will likely be checked, meaning you want to add those items to your right-click menu.
You most likely don't want to do that, so you need to uncheck everything you don't want added to the right-click menu in Windows Explorer. As you see above, the only two items that I have added to my right-click menu from this extensive list are the ones for "Configure Filemenu Tools" which lets you change your choices, and the one for the military-strength shredder, which I think is worth its weight in gold. So before you go hunting infected files to eliminate, get this and have it on your right-click menu.
Then you can shred the bad stuff and be sure it's gone.


That Java infection and Avast 7 Antivirus

This shows a Boot-time scan in progress on my other computer, after it found three infected files in Java. It later found and also deleted one other. These were all in files that presumably should have been removed when I uninstalled the Java a few days ago. I'm showing the above in case you're also using Windows 7 SP1 and would like to check your own computer for similar files.

This Boot-time scan done by Avast is a special scan that you can program it to do on a one-time basis, after which it resets itself to normal. The scan is done while a rebooting action is in progress, but before any of the normal Windows files are loaded, so it can find things that would otherwise be unavailable to it after Windows loads. In this respect, it is a lot like Emco's 'MoveOnBoot', because it does its thing in the midst of a rebooting process, after the shutdown, but before the reloading processes for Windows begin again.

It works very well, and there's only one problem with it - it takes so long to do it, you could reformat your drive and re-install the operating system from scratch, and be up and running again long before this scan finishes on a computer which has a dual-boot setup (two separate operating systems) and a
'Windows Old' folder from a previous installation of Windows. But I wanted to try it, and from this, I've discovered where to look in this other computer to find any similar infections. So it wasn't exactly a waste of time. It just took too long.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Texans want to secede from the union

It says so right here in the New York Times but they don't fool us. We're wise to that old trick - they're just trying to get out of paying their fair share of the sixteen trillion national debt, I betcha. 

Truth is stranger than fiction....

Just when you think you've heard everything, you haven't. Have a look at this one for an example of ingenuity in action.  

Our latest 'Indian Uprising'..... some background

With all these recent protests and meetings of chiefs and a hunger strike going on, maybe this article in the Toronto Sun should be required reading before we leap to any hasty conclusions about the situation.

We've had these same problems in Canada for decades. The French have never forgiven the English for winning that battle in 1759 near Quebec City, which gave the English what became British North America, and later Upper and Lower Canada, and our native Indians, 'aboriginals' in politically-correct media-speak, have never forgiven any of us for leaving Europe in the first place and bringing civilization to these backward and chilly shores. I continue to have terrible news for my Buckskin Brothers: we are not going to give you back the country, because you weren't even born when it was lost, and neither were we. 

As the devout Italian mother of nine said in response to the Pope's instructions about
birth control and the use of contraception, "If you no play da game, you no make-a da rules!" And the tail does not wag the dog, no matter how hairy it is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Down Memory Lane: Player Pianos

A fellow blogger and I got onto the subject of communicating today, and that led to some comments about how things have changed over the years. That in turn got me thinking about how music was first distributed, and the player piano. 

Player pianos were very popular during the 1920s, when George Gershwin was doing his thing, and he recorded a lot of his music on piano rolls, which were used in those player pianos to duplicate the original playing. Here is an example, with Gershwin doing Sweet And Lowdown.  A player piano was the original "home stereo", but you had to keep pumping the pedals to keep it playing.  Here's George and Ira Gershwin speaking.

In this second one, the first voice we hear is Ira Gershwin talking about George, and then George is heard in a bit from a Rudy Valley radio show recorded on November 10th, 1932. I was born the next morning at 10:58 a.m. in a town in northern Ontario, so this is what technology was like back then. And back then, we listened to music like this. I still like it. I used to play this record on an old wind-up RCA Victor Victrola when I was hardly tall enough to reach the table top where it sat. That's Memory Lane....

Monday, January 14, 2013

U.S. Government still doesn't like Java software...

Apparently, I was right to be suspicious of Oracle's latest patch news, as Reuters says here. The U.S. Government shares my lack of faith in Oracle's so-called fix. I didn't just disable the browser plug-in the other day, I completely removed Java from the list of installed programs, and if you haven't also done that yet, maybe you should. Because? Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as Granny used to say.

We had a green Christmas, and now this....

Jodie Foster and the Golden Globes...

There's some chatter in the media today about Jodie's speech at the Golden Globes last evening, while accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award, and whether or not she "came out" or is retiring from acting. She later clarified the latter by saying she intends to continue acting, and as for being 'gay', that's evidently old news to anyone who has been paying attention, and certainly no big deal. I'm just surprised that the cute little Tallulah of 'Bugsy Malone' fame is old enough to be receiving a lifetime achievement award. Time sure flies....

Prettiest dress at the Golden Globes...?

Lucy Liu

Computers 'n stuff.....

It's the middle of the night, the bathroom's still here, and so am I - and now that I'm awake, what next? I don't smoke, don't drink, and I'm too old & ugly to chase girls. So it will have to be something else....

With all the recent fuss about Oracle's Java, and its seemingly ongoing vulnerabilities, and the related confusion among some of us about the differences, if any, between Java and the similarly-named JavaScript, I thought I'd look it up. Turns out it's almost an apples-and-oranges thing. Java is a programming language, while JavaScript is a scripting language. Kissing cousins, but with different uses in different situations.

To borrow from Yahoo Answers, a programming language is structured code which needs to be compiled, or converted into machine language, before it is run, and when it is run, it runs all at once to create a program. A scripting language is generally used within a program to issue commands that are read line by line and then executed. Once a programming language has been compiled into machine code, it can be run any number of times without re-compiling, but a scripting language has to be interpreted each time it is run and is therefore usually slower because a separate program needs to read the code, interpret it, and then follow its instructions.

So why do Java and JavaScript have such similar names if they are different? Partly because they were both developed by the same people at Sun Microsystems back in the mid-nineties, and because of legal reasons and lack of imagination, both ended up with similar names. That's how it seems to me, anyway...

And speaking of Java, they've announced yet another patch to fix this latest hole in it which allowed the bad guys to get into it. Problem is, we're told this latest attack was made possible because they didn't completely or properly patch it the last time. So how do we know they've properly corrected the mistakes this time? We don't. So it's all about faith - either you have it or you don't. Me? I think I'll wait a while to re-install Java. This rig seems to run OK without it, so I'm in no rush....

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Add-on for Firefox...

If you use Firefox as your browser of choice, (and you probably should) then you should also get this add-on for it:

If you look at the bottom of the window, in the lower left corner, there's a little letter 'S' with a red circle and diagonal line through it. That's NoScript at work, and the text following that tells the present situation for scripts allowed or not. This, along with the add-on 'BetterPrivacy' are two that improve your safety on the web while browsing.

Please Note:
If you use Malwarebytes anti-malware (and it works very nicely) you will have a problem with this add-on (and will likely have to disable it) because Malwarebytes is heavily reliant on javascript to do its chores properly, and with this add-on enabled, that's not as it should be. Given the choice between the add-on and the security program, I'd opt for the security program, and disable that add-on. 

More on recovering images....

Here's a snipping from a window showing recovery of 28 image files from a camera card. The two at the bottom showing an Irfanview icon instead of a thumbnail were two files that had lost some reference data and couldn't be recovered, but 26 of 28 is still an excellent result, especially considering that these came from a card that was showing 'no images' and that some of these have been there for months.

If you start a search on a card, and it shows no results, you should start again, doing a "Surface Scan" which takes a few minutes, but finds otherwise hidden images. These above were found using that method on a card that was supposedly empty. This is because when something is 'deleted' it isn't always wiped out - the space is instead designated as 'available' for another use, to be overwritten by a fresh file. So if done soon enough, older images that haven't yet been overwritten can be recovered.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Recovering 'lost' or erased images on an SD Card

This afternoon, I took four pictures of a commercial airliner flying south overhead, and when I resized those, expecting the resizer to simply duplicate the images in the newer size, it didn't, because it's an older version on this PC than on my other one. I really wanted to keep the bigger sizes as well, so this began a search for a free recovery tool to recover images from an SD Card. The images were on the camera card originally, and I hoped this might work. It not only worked perfectly, but it found not only the four I wanted from today, but a total of 21 images altogether on that card, and the picture quality of the recovered images is really good. I can hardly believe it. Here's an example of an older image from the card, one that has been on there a long time...

You can find the program here if you would like your own copy. Click on the big blue button 'Download' in the upper frame of the window, where the title reads "Free File Recovery Software". That takes you to the download page, where I didn't have much luck clicking on their "Download Now" recommended button, but I did get nice results using the one for Pandora's own Server, where it says "Download from local server...." - and this is a really nice program, which does just what it promises to do. It recovers your images, even including some you weren't really looking for, like this one above. But you must admit, nothing was lost in the process; that's a perfect duplicate of the original photo, and I'm really impressed by it.

Here's what started all this..... this jet coming over our mountains....

And here's why I wanted the 'lost' larger camera images back:

So I could show you the plane that was making that trail across the sky.

More about your security...

While I was babbling (below) about disabling your Java because of its insecurities, there are a couple of other things you should also do. 

In Control Panel, click on 'Admin Tools' and choose 'Services' to open. Look in there for an entry 'Java Quick Starter', and right-click on that, choose 'Properties' and 'Disable'. If the entry isn't in there, that's even better.

Next, you should have the program 'Autoruns' from Microsoft's Tech Services, which is a very useful freebie you can get by clicking here. Its window looks like this:-

It shows you a complete list of everything on your computer that starts automatically when Windows starts your computer. You enable or disable any of these items simply by adding or removing the check mark from its little box on the left of its line, (with administrator privileges) along with other chores you can read about in the 'Help' files. There's an entry there for 'SunJavaUpdateSched' in the top section, which allows the Java Updater to keep checking for updates. Uncheck its little box to disable it.  

There's also this free but temporary scanner available from Microsoft, but to get the correct one for your machine, instead of just clicking on the big blue 'Download Now' button at the top (which gives you a small file that isn't what you wanted) be sure to click on the text underneath the button saying 'Select your version'. That takes you to another little window with choices for '32-bit' or '64-bit'. Choose the one for your O/S and download that. It opens a small window during scanning, like this:-

And as they say, it expires in ten days, so it isn't a substitute for regular anti-virus, but rather is a quick check to see if your present protection missed anything.  

'Oldest Living Blogger' looks at the news...

The news seems to get stranger all the time. In Ottawa yesterday, our 'First Nations', the politically correct term for our native Indian 'Buckskin Brothers' had demanded a meeting with the Prime Minister, Stephen 'Hairspray' Harper, but then many of the chiefs refused to show up, because the Governor General wouldn't be there. He would instead host a dinner meeting with them later. Not good enough for them, apparently. Our natives seem confused. Not unlike problems we've had with our Francophones, they don't seem to realize that just as there's no second chance to make a first impression, there's also no second chance to win a lost war. Here's a report on the fiasco yesterday in Ottawa.

Also in the realm of the bizarre, the U.S. Government has received a petition to build a 'Death Star' as in 'Star Wars', and because they have to respond to all petitions with over 25,000 signatures, including this one, well, here's the story, told better than I might. Proving once again that you don't have to be crazy to live on this planet, but it sure helps! And I have terrible news for those petitioners: we're already living on a so-called 'death star' - thanks to our uncontrolled hormones and the fact that our total population is increasing a lot faster than our understanding of mathematics or common sense. Since I was born in 1932, there's now over three times as many people on this planet, and we can't possibly sustain that kind of increase. Climate change is us, folks. 


This was taken about 6:00 a.m., with a Pentax X70 set to 'Night Landscape', with a 2-second self-timer delay. It shows the light reflecting from clouds above the Cypress Mountain ski and boarding development just beyond the horizon, on an otherwise clear night/morning here, as the night shift grooms the runs to prepare for another day's skiing and boarding. The lights in the lower portion of the picture are those in the British Properties portion of West Vancouver. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Java is everywhere.....

And, according to this, so are the hackers. So if you haven't already disabled yours, here is how:-
Go into Control Panel, to the Java icon, and click on that to bring up the Java Control Panel. From the tabs along its top, select the Security tab. On its window, at the top, there's a little box, followed by the text which says "Enable Java content in the browser." Remove the check-mark from that little box, and then down below, click "Apply" and "OK". Close those windows. For good measure, do a reboot of your PC. And make sure your security programs have the latest updates. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The hills, now that we can see them again.

USA Today says: 10 most overrated tourist traps...

USA Today's pick of the 10 most overrated tourist traps and what to see instead. This could save you some expensive disappointments. Why not Google them instead?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What day is this? Answer: Patch Tuesday

Windows 7 users get 15 updates today. Sixteen, counting Microsoft Security Essentials. And after those are all installed, it's a good idea to use Glary Utilities 
to clean up the files, and then Auslogics Disk Defrag to defragment the drive and get everything sorted out nicely. Two very useful freebies.

David Bowie: 'Where Are We Now?'

Ziggy Stardust it isn't, and it's not Major Tom to Ground Control either - but one thing's for sure: it's certainly different, and that's what he does. Good on him.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In the news in India....

The headlines in the Times of India are still about the recent rape case, but next to that is a link to this ad for their Miss India 2013 Calendar. Mixed messages?

And in Russia, The Moscow Times is telling us 'Putin Gives Depardieu Russian Citizenship' to help him with his battle with the French taxman. I think Depardieu may find Russia a little cooler than the French Riviera. In Russia, the bikinis are fur-lined.

And in China's official news, a picture of Christmas tree recycling right here on the other side of town, in our Richmond suburb. Small world, huh?

Friday, January 4, 2013

So, how is Windows 8 doing in sales?

You may recall that as I was testing it while it was in beta before its release, I said that it wasn't really any advantage to those of us using desktops, and that means the vast majority of computer users even today, in spite of what we hear about laptop sales.

So, how is Windows 8 doing in sales? This in PC World says that it is behind the sales figures for (Ugh!) Vista for a similar time period since retail release, and we all know what happened to Vista back when. It was reworked and cleaned up and improved a lot, and became the much better Windows 7. 

And Windows 7 is the core of Windows 8. They've added some frills and annoyances to it, but the reason it is so rock solid is because it is basically Windows 7 with add-ons. Add-ons that require additional steps to access your usual desktop and bypass those colorful but relatively annoying Apps tiles, without which we can do nicely. So what happened to my Windows 8 Pro? I made sure I had a copy of it on DVD, and then I wiped its partition on the drive and installed PC-BSD 9.0 in its place. 

Why? Because I'm not going to write Microsoft another four-page critique like I did on Vista to try to get something done about it. And I'm baffled by the way they can produce one operating system that's wonderful, and the next that isn't. Where are they going wrong? One mistake they're making is trying to tell us what we ought to like, rather than trying to improve on what we've got. Windows 7 is a wonderful operating system, and for desktop users, it's still your best bet. It has more of what you need and less of what you don't. Trust me - would I lie to you?

What is the Higgs Boson and Higgs Field?

First, the video.... and if you enjoyed the previous post about the standard model of the universe, and whether or not any of it is missing, then you should enjoy this too.

As I watched this, it seemed to me that there's a relationship between the density of the Higgs Field and the speed and perhaps also size of the particles traveling through it and interacting with it.  The smaller and faster ones interact less or not at all and therefore have little or no mass, while the bigger and slower ones meet with more resistance and accumulate greater mass.

To discover it, they have to make a great number of collisions between particles, and they keep getting different results because there are probably different numbers of the colliding particles interacting with one another. An electron and a muon and a quark and a hadron are all different, and perhaps we think of them as indivisible subatomic particles because we haven't got the technology to examine them closely enough to discover any potential constituent parts. After all, we once thought the atom was the smallest thing in the universe, until we developed better ways of examining stuff. 

I'm no scientist, God knows, but let's put it this way: it takes something to make something. We can't combine two nothings to create a something, and if we're smashing two somethings together and getting different results from the collisions, then it is just possible that the two somethings we are colliding have different constituents, thus creating varying results. That would be my guess anyway....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Universe: Where's all the stuff? 1 of 5 parts

I suggest you watch this on YouTube, because the next part will come to the top of the list as this one finishes, and you can watch the whole thing more easily.

This series is a good beginning to the story about the Higgs Boson search, because it gives us some useful background on the universe, and it's interesting stuff.

Through the fog

More this n' that from 'Oldest Living Blogger'

Looking at the news headlines, I'm not so sure the word 'civilization' is a relevant descriptor of what we have here. It's more like Ug and Mug those intrepid cavemen, but with better technology. Our technology has improved, but we haven't matched it.

In the news, writing is getting more popular but reading, not so much. The vanity press is actively seeking suckers - er, I mean 'customers', and with over 150 million of us bloggers clacking away here, who has time to read this stuff? It's a bit like the more than 70 channels on my TV - there's not a whole lot of it all that good, mine included.

We've still got a lot more questions than answers, about almost everything. And speaking of everything, why isn't there a Theory of Everything? Because: the combined knowledge we presently possess barely explains merely four percent of our universe, because whatever we can discover about it isn't even a good representative sample.

In other words, we don't know where we are in it, nor why, nor where we're going, and we haven't even got any really good guesses. Like, what caused the original Big Bang? We don't know. Was it someone's accidental or intentional nuclear detonation in some other dimension? We don't know. Are there other dimensions with intelligent life? We don't know. Is our solar system someone's subatomic particle? We don't know. Is our universe expanding because we're part of something that is growing? We don't know. Is our physical reality only a portion of an infinite continuum? We don't know. When things are trapped in a Black Hole, where do they go? We don't know.  Does the stuff that goes through a Black Hole create another 'universe' somewhere? We don't know.  - See what I mean? There's a hell of a lot we don't know.

But as 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."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lots of snow on the peaks

Today's look at the weather

Cliff-diving 101....

The catastrophe has been averted for now, but this isn't a win, it's only a time out. The real heavy lifting is all ahead yet. They didn't go over the cliff, but they're still walking along its edge, looking for a better spot as the debt ceiling gets closer, and the old problem of raising the roof or lowering the floor is faced again. Balancing their income with their outgo isn't easy, because there's a huge pork barrel in the way.

The good news is, it's 356 days until Christmas, unless you are Eastern Orthodox, in which case it's only 5 days away. And once again, I got what I asked for - the second of January. And it's a whole year until the next one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fiscal Cliff: Did we jump or were we pushed?

Contrary to what you may hear closer to home, The Guardian in the U.K. has another take on the whole thing. I like this comment on it: "Praising Congress for the fiscal cliff deal is like giving an arsonist an award for putting out his own fire."

Peg Bracken, quoted in 'Quotations With An Attitude' asks, "Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"

Otto von Bismark said: "Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made."