Sunday, March 31, 2013

A little after church music....

Running older programs in Windows 7

There's a Microsoft program available which allows you to run older Help files on
your Windows system, so that older programs help can be read by modern systems that normally wouldn't be able to decode it. You may be invited to verify that your Windows is genuine, but that's no big deal.

And those notices that keep telling me that Arcsoft's PhotoStudio 5.5 has some compatibility problems with Windows 7 are not exactly right. Not only that, but while installing the driver for my Canon flatbed scanner, I also installed the older PhotoStudio 5.0 which came with it on the disk - and it works fine too! This picture below was edited using PhotoStudio 5.0 in Windows 7.

This morning's sunrise on nearby hilltops, taken on a Nikon Coolpix P510 at a zoom of 42X using the tripod and the self-timer.

Testing the Canon Canoscan 3000-ex on Win-7

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Found another photo-editing program....

And this one's called Photoscape and it's a freebie, made in Korea. The user interface looks like this:-

Just click on one of those icons in the circle around their logo to go onto the page of the program for that set of functions. It's very user-friendly, and yet surprisingly well thought out and nicely made, and it really works. It can do things with features that aren't found in eighty dollar competitors. Features like Backlight, to brighten up areas that were too dark in the original - and here's an

The sky and clouds were much too dark in the original of this, and Backlight in
Photoscape made it much more like the natural sky tones as it was first captured by the camera. Another example of a freebie that outperforms its more expensive competition. You should try it.....

Friday, March 29, 2013

Finishing off reinstalling the operating system...

After I had finished reinstalling Windows 7 and then getting it updated with all its 140 or so security patches and its official Service Pack One cumulative update (most of which was already done by those 140 patches) I took a look at the main window for 'Computer' to check those little bar graphs for my two partitions on the hard-drive. 

The one for the Win-7 x64 looked reasonable, but the other one, for the x86 or 32-bit version showed that it was rather impossibly using about 141 Gb of its 289 Gb partition. Something was wrong - and the something was me! I had not
checked to see where or if the System Protection was on or how it was set up.

So it's off to Control Panel > System, and in the left margin's column, to the item for System Protection, and here's a couple of images to help explain it.....

The little bar graphs after a fresh install of the operating system should look like this, and not take up half the space on its portion of the drive, unless you're saving too many backups and Restore Points, which you can adjust by going onto the System window from Control Panel, and then looking in its left margin
for System Protection, which when clicked shows the following.....

These are separate little windows, and you get to the one on the right by first opening the one on the left, and the rest is pretty-much self-explanatory I hope.
And after you've adjusted things to permit a reasonable amount of backup space - on a large drive you don't need a large percentage of it - then going back to that window above for Computer you will see those bar graphs, or just
one if you don't have your drive partitioned, in a much more reasonable spot
for just being installed.  By comparison, on my other computer, after it has had its Windows 7 installed and well used for years already, it shows the used portion of its drive at about 51 Gb, which isn't too unreasonable for all the use it has had and all the stuff I've added into it. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.....

Thursday, March 28, 2013

News from Google for me....

Got an interesting email from Google tonight, telling me that someone  was trying to access my account from Venezuela at IP Address and
recommending that I should change my password. I did, and I made a few other changes as well. I don't know why someone in Venezuela would want to get into my account, but in case they are reading this, let me say that Google monitors  the sign-in information and when it doesn't match past activity of the account, they notify the user and send the suspicious information for verification. If the user does not recognize it they treat it as an attempt to hack into the account. 

Here's where that IP Address in Venezuela is located, and its details:-

And a big Thank You to Google for the heads-up on this - much appreciated.

Windows Cursors: adding your own

I've always liked those gold colored cursors made famous by Windows XP, and so I saved the Cursors file from XP onto a CD, and now have them in Win-7.

All you need to do is put them into their own folder, named differently from the main Cursors folder of Windows, such as 'Cursors-01' and navigate to your Windows\Cursors folder, open it, and drag & drop your new Cursors-01 folder into it. Then, when you want a different cursor, such as the gold one, you can go into your new folder inside the main one and select it just as you would any other. My Windows 7 now has a Windows XP cursor, and it's looking good.

New Theme

For those times when the weather isn't quite this nice, but I wish...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It's a pain in the......

.....ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies..... but once you've got the whole operating system and its goodies re-installed, it doesn't look bad. This wallpaper is made from a picture taken on the observation deck of the Mori Tower, in Tokyo, Japan and it's a nice one.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Windows 7 re-installs quickly.....

In about 45 minutes, more or less. I say "more or less" because after the first round of installing is done, and you're thinking the worst of it is behind you now,
it isn't.  After that, there's about 140 security patches to install, and that adds
another 407 Mb or so, which still isn't everything, because there's also the SP1
for Windows 7, with another 700 Mb or so, if you're using a fresh unused DVD
out of its original box, because you've been working with the 32-bit version until now. So it's not 45 minutes. It's more like a half a day, if the web isn't too busy and the creek don't rise, and you don't get called away for something else.

If I could charge Microsoft the same rate I got on my job before retirement, then they'd owe me a lot more than I've paid them for their overpriced software for sure. And considering all the constant upkeep it requires, I have to wonder why the hell I bother. I must be too old for chasing the gals or something.....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Frustrating discovery....

I made an unpleasant discovery today. Something went wrong with the automatic updates feature in Windows 8, and the troubleshooter said that it was because some of its components were configured incorrectly, and it referred me to an on-line tool to magically repair all that at the click of a mouse.

There's not just one of those, but a couple. They have rave reviews, and they look cute, but after running them, my windows updates still come up with a red warning and an error code, and no goddamned updates. I even tried reinstalling Windows, and guess what? That didn't fix the problem either!

In older versions of Windows, when you put the CD into the drive and started it,
you were invited to choose whether you wanted to do a repair of the operating system or not. Windows 8 is too modern and simplified for that. You don't get a
chance to fix the damned thing, except by re-installing it, and now I find that doesn't do it either, and I have no idea why not. The whole purpose of having a CD handy is defeated if it can't renew and replace corrupted or missing files.

After I'd waited for about fifty minutes while Windows 8 was theoretically re-installed, I looked again in Services for the listing of Windows Update, and it wasn't there!  I even went into the Registry of Windows 7 and copied the portion for 'wuauserv' which is the whole works for automatic updates, and then
I copied that into the Registry of Windows 8, it being based on Windows 7, and
that got the Windows Update entry replaced in Services, but it still doesn't fix the failure to update or search for updates.

I'm very close to throwing out Windows 8 and replacing it on that partition of the drive with a fresh copy of PC-BSD, which is an open-source freebie operating system based on Linux, and it both looks good and works. Its GUI is a lot like a cross between Windows and a Mac, and it comes with a good selection of its own programs for just about anything you could want. So I'm asking myself why I'm getting frustrated trying to get Windows 8 working when
I could be using something else that actually works without a lot of cussing.

Windows 8 doesn't seem ready for prime time just yet, in spite of all the hype.
Windows 7 still runs rings around it.  Microsoft is aware of the problems many of us are having with its automatic updates, and it hasn't offered any useful fixes yet which can actually cure the problems. They could make something which could re-install those components, but they haven't. I don't know why not. Nor do I understand why re-installing the operating system didn't fix it.

Today's 'Question Everything'

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ah, So.... Not so Happy, Yes?

Want a tile on the Start screen for Gmail ?

My spies tell me that Google doesn't want to make a tile for Windows 8 Start Screen to let you check your Gmail. But you can make your own just like I did,
and this helpful article tells you how. 

Look beside my Desktop tile near the lower left for my new Gmail tile. If you use
your sign-in page URL it takes you right to it, and it's handier than sliced bread.

Problems playing videos?

Pause the video, right-click it, and check these settings for Flash Player...

Where it says in the second image 'Local Storage Settings by Site' and has a button for 'Delete All', yes, you may. Periodically cleaning that out will clear off some entries that may interfere with others. Just delete them all, and then restart your video and let it choose its own settings for that video.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Windows 8 Themes and Wallpaper

If you are wondering where to look for the Themes or Wallpaper folders in Windows 8, there are three locations for those in the filing system:-

The ones that are provided with the operating system, the default themes, are in C:\Windows\Resources\Themes. But wait - that's not all.....

The rest, including those you make for yourself, are in a normally-hidden folder
inside your own username folder called 'AppData', and to see that folder you need to go into Control Panel -> Folder Options -> View (tab) and look down the list for 'Hidden files and Folders' and click the little circle in front of the words
'Show hidden files, folders, and drives' to activate that choice. Then don't forget to click 'Apply' and 'OK' down below before you close that little window.

Having done that, you can use File Explorer (new name for Windows Explorer) to navigate to C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes where you will find more Themes, including your own creations.

But you haven't found Wallpapers yet.....

And that's because those are in C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper (as above) and this is where you can find the images for things like those one-picture-only themes
or images for the Lock Screen, etc. if you're looking for them. It's also possible to add more pictures to these files, for example to the one which has the picture of the out-of-focus daisies as a default Windows theme. Just note the file name
protocol used, and follow that same style and sequence. And that's probably everything you ever wanted to know about Themes files but were afraid to ask.
Making your own slideshow-style themes is a lot of fun, so give it a try.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Weird weather....

....And good on them !

Those of us who grew up not believing the Second Amendment is the Eleventh Commandment simply can't believe how aggressively our American cousins are
willing to fight for the right to continue killing each other. 

Those venerable founding fathers were not clairvoyant. They could not foresee the future with its repeating rifles, its revolvers, and its modern assault weapons, nor the stupidity of its citizens in mistaking the right to bear arms against a foreign invader with the right to bear arms to kill one another.

Albert Einstein was right when he said that the commonest element in the universe isn't hydrogen, but rather stupidity. We have seen the proof.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Does this look like Windows 7 ?

This isn't Windows 7, in spite of how it looks. It's Windows 8, but it isn't the 'Metro' style, it's the 'Retro' style.... because everything old is new again!

And if you've noticed the counter shows higher numbers today in the sidebar,
it's because I updated it to reflect the actual number of page views as recorded by Google since this blog began.

It's magic!

Another freebie for Windows 8....

This one adds more items to the right-click menu in Windows 8, according to how you configure it, and one of those items which I like very much is an industrial-strength shredder for destroying files you want gone forever. It has many other useful items as well, and it works on any Windows from XP onward,
including Windows 7 and Windows 8, both 32-bit and 64-bit. 

Here are the choices for various shredding operations offered by the program.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Today's weather, maybe...

Earlier this morning, I found a problem in this Windows 8, with some of the Apps not opening. By the time I found out what was wrong, and then got it corrected, by 'refreshing' my computer, I had to spend most of the rest of the day replacing all the programs - Microsoft now calls these Apps - that it deleted while cleaning out everything that isn't native to Windows 8 system files. It also wiped out all the security updates since day one as well, so those all had to be restored, about 400 Mb of them. It's been an eventful day, just to get a couple of malfunctioning Apps working on the Start Screen.

And during all of this, I found that System Restore does not seem to be regularly saving periodic Restore Points as it used to do in good old Windows 7 and Windows (Ugh!) Vista..... If this is Progress, it needs a Suggestion Box.
Are we looking at the Decline and Fall of the Microsoft Empire? .....Maybe....

Note for Uncle Ron, and others with this same problem (see his comment below):-

You have to uncheck some sneaky selections that are being included in the usual installer texts, to avoid getting stuck with unwanted features, because
Google doesn't like taking 'no' for an answer, and they are very pushy.

Here's the default installer window. Please note you're set for "Express Install"
meaning everything they want to throw at you. Click on "Custom install" instead, and down below, uncheck those little boxes for Google Chrome......

So here's what you want it to look like, before you click on "Next". This way, all you get is what you thought you were getting in the beginning.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Learning HTML

There's a tutorial on this website to get you started.

And it includes a practice page where you can try it yourself. You can also use a plain text editor like Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) and then save your results, and open them with your browser.

Worth passing on -

Be sure to watch this right to the end..... (the best part!)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Time Travel ?

If this was 3,000 years ago, this might well be ancient Egypt... and there are some similarities between then and now if we look closely.

The poop on the new Pope.....

I think Conan got it right last night on his show when he said, "Once again those wrinkled old white guys have picked a Hispanic to do their dirty work."

And today's 'Question Everything' is: "If the Pope is God's right-hand man on Earth, then why is he chosen by 118 old sinners?"

Monday, March 11, 2013

You can take it with you...

From USA Today Photos

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Daylight Saving Time and dual-boot computers

If you have a dual-boot setup on your computer, and your time changed during the night to Daylight Saving Time, you may find that one of the two operating systems has changed its time by two hours instead of one. 

I have a theory about that. Whichever operating system changes the system time first gets it correct. But then the second operating system looks at that system time, and adds another hour to it, making that one an hour too much.

So if you have a dual-boot setup on your computer, check the time on both of the operating systems to verify that it is correct. To change the time, click on the time in the lower right of your desktop, and choose "Change date and time settings".

And as for Daylight Saving Time, as the Old Indian said, " Only the government would believe that you can cut a foot off the top of a blanket, and sew that onto the bottom of the blanket, and have a longer blanket."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The problem with salt - it's everywhere

If you are like most of us, it's very hard to reduce your salt intake, and one of the reasons as this article explains is because the salt we add to our food is just a very small part of our daily intake. Most of it is already included in whatever we are eating.

Construction at Park Royal North Mall

Thursday, March 7, 2013

New version 8 of Avast Antivirus

New version, new features - available now.

The disappearing Desktop PC ?

There's a problem with this: the problem is that there doesn't seem to be any standard way of determining how to measure the data, and this results in the stats varying from 3.5% to as much as 20% for the total usage by mobile devices. So in other words, we really don't know for sure how many are using a mobile device as compared to how many are using a desktop. All we know for sure at the moment is that the vast majority of computer users are on desktops
because most of the business world is still using them. 

If you're on a desktop, and you want to open an App for a mobile device, what do you do? There are add-ons for your browser that will do this, and this article tells you about them.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The 50X optical zoom camera

I thought my Nikon Coolpix P510 with 42X optical zoom was really something, but now along comes Sony with this HX-300 with 50X optical zoom.

You can't get one just yet, but it's coming soon. And today's Question Everything is: "Where will it end?"

News: Camels in ancient arctic...

This is an example of how things can get bent out of shape by jumping to conclusions. Here's the article about it, and there's two things wrong with it: first, it doesn't take into account continental drift, and second, it doesn't consider whether the earth was closer to the sun back then, and thus warmer.

Windows 8 Tip: Resize those tiles

To resize those tiles to make them smaller, right-click on the tile, and from the selections along the bottom of your screen (under the tiles) choose 'Smaller'.
Your new tile will be half the size of the larger one.

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Inspiration Mars" mission.....

If you read the latest news about it then it might be easy to conclude that this whole thing is beginning to sound like a bad April Fool joke.

Cardinals meeting

My father-in-law used to refer to these guys as 'Buck Nuns'.....

Here's an article in USA Today worth reading.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Make your own Theme for Windows 8

You can save screenshots in Windows 8 to a specially-created folder inside your Pictures folder, by simply holding down the Windows key and pressing 'Print Screen' (PrtScrn), and then after you've saved several, your can create your own Theme for Windows 8.......

Create a folder named DesktopBackground, and put that into another folder which you have named for your new theme. Put your set of saved screenshots into the DesktopBackground folder inside your new theme's folder. Then go to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes and drag & drop your newly named theme folder into Themes. Click your new theme folder to open it, click again on the DesktopBackground folder inside it, select all of the enclosed images, and then
right-click on one of those and choose 'Set as desktop background'.

Your new theme appears on your desktop. Right-click on your desktop and from the drop-down choose the bottom item, 'Personalize'. That opens the Themes folder and you can then find your new theme in the upper left corner of those shown. Give it a name, and down below the window, click on the icon for Desktop Background. Choose the length of time you want each image to be displayed on the screen, click 'Save changes' and close the window. Enjoy your new theme.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Questions about Mars....

The Larousse Guide to Astronomy dates back to 1978, but Mars hasn't changed much since then, even though our awareness of it has. In that Guide, it talks about the mean density of Mars being "considerably lower than the other three terrestrial planets but similar to the Moon's." It also says, "A major tectonic event has rent the surface just south of the equator and produced a 5,000 Km long canyon up to 140 Km wide and nearly 5 Km deep." (see above)

That 'crack' is about 5,000 Km long, and if we opened that up into a circular hole, and considering that our Moon is about 10,000 Km in circumference, then
what if our Moon came out of Mars back when it was hit by that meteoriod of between 150 and 200 Km in diameter which they claim punctured its crust, and
very likely created a horrendous explosion within its core? Mars and our Moon are more alike than any of the other terrestrial planets, Mars has a scar on its surface almost the right size to have allowed the ejection of the Moon, and we
are wondering "what if?".....

I still think that anything as big a 150 to 200 Km in diameter hitting Mars and
puncturing its crust would have to cause an immense explosion, perhaps powerful enough to have inflated the planet momentarily, causing its outer shell or most of it to be thrown off into space, and perhaps that impact also blew part of the molten core material  out through this 'crack' or 'canyon' into space, thus
forming what may now be our Moon. Why would I think so? Because there is a reason for everything if we can find it, and so far, the explanations that have been offered just don't quite do it.