Sunday, June 30, 2013

The plot thickens.....virtualapp/didlogical came back

I cleaned out Generic Credentials in Windows 8.1 Preview here not 20 minutes ago, and just now, I did a search (above) and it's back...... I looked in the file
of Credentials Manager, and two of the three entries I deleted are still gone, but this one came back. It seems to have something to do with Windows Live, and I don't use its features usually, so I don't need this aggravation, but apparently, I can't get rid of it. I use a non-Microsoft mail service, and a non-Microsoft browser in everyday use, and I don't appreciate being forced into something I really didn't want. This is my computer, and I ought to have the choice. 

Those other Generic Credentials (if any) in your folder are created by programs that aren't a part of the operating system but need credentials to perform their tasks, so they can create these generic credentials to enable them to function.
But this whole subject is very poorly explained, causing more confusion than anything else, and Microsoft should devote enough time to it for an explanation that is easily understood by the vast majority of its users/purchasers/victims.

It's time Microsoft abandoned its cherished Mushroom Philosophy of keeping us in the dark and feeding us horseshit. Because when all else fails, we still know how to spell 'Apple'.

Another discovery....

While sorting out another little problem, I came across a prolonged forum rant
about Generic Credentials and something called 'Virtualapp/Didlogical' in there with a cryptic unfamiliar password, enabling something or someone to do things to your files and folders. There was a long argument going on about whether or not this was planted by Microsoft to enable Windows Live features, like Mail and etc., but they never did seem to resolve that conclusively.

I found that same item in the Credentials Manager of my other PC, and noticed
that while it was there, my CPU activity was bouncing up and down at about 38% of full scale while I was doing absolutely nothing on the computer. And that, Dear Reader, has got to be suspicious. Microsoft created this system, so why would they have to plant a secret user file with generic credentials to make something work in it? That doesn't make any sense to me. 

So I checked this computer, which has just had both its operating systems installed within the past couple of days. I looked at the Windows 7 on here, 
specifically Control Panel -> Credentials Manager -> Generic Credentials and there's sweet essence of nothing in that section of it at all - zero - zip! And the CPU on this rig isn't bouncing up and down with constant activity at about an average of 38 to 40%. It's quite peaceful and happy at around 8% or 9% or even down as low as 4% or 5% even as I write this.

So the logical conclusion is that if you've got something in your Generic Credentials section of Credentials Manager, you've got a problem, and you'd better go in there, and highlight whatever it calls itself, and shred it or delete it.
You'll notice an immediate change in the amount of activity of your CPU, and that's got to be telling us something, because everything works very well without anything in that Generic Credentials section. It's your computer, and there shouldn't be any secret credentials for an unknown user in there. So please check yours to see what's what. This could explain how hackers get into our computers and where they start once inside.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

After all the installing and re-installing, here's a peek inside....

You can find this useful little program here. And you should. It has lots of useful information for you. Like whether your CMOS battery is dying or not......

How handy is this little freebie?

And the answer is: Very handy! For example, when I downloaded that preview of Windows 8.1, it created hundreds of megabytes of temporary internet files that clogged up the works and waste space once the installation is completed. This little cutie removes all that with one swift click. This newest version also shows you how long it took for your Windows to boot up on the latest start, and rates that with other average results, which is also a nice feature. And you can find this handy little helper right here.

Here it is showing my boot-up speed, and please note that this is a dual-boot setup with Windows 8.1 Preview on one partition, and Windows 7 SP1 on the other, and I have to choose which one before booting completes, so this time is not all that bad.

This is the Windows Experience Index today, after re-installing Windows 7 into the other partition of this dual-boot setup. When this machine was running only Windows 7, before the f***-up with Windows 8.1 Preview, this index was showing a reading of 5.7 with all the same hardware. So today's Question Everything is: What did that Windows 8.1 Preview do to my Index readings, and why? If I had a reading of 5.7 out of a possible 7.9 two days ago, why not now?
Should I throw out Windows 8.1 Preview and test this again with just Win-7?
Don't tempt me, Kiddies - don't tempt me! On the other hand, I go back to the days of Windows 98SE, so I'm used to f***-ups and being shot at, and having crashes, and the blue screen of death and all that other crap....and I got most of this intimate and sexy computer knowledge by getting screwed a lot....and I didn't get nearly enough kissing with it, for those who wonder. Any questions? What about you, Uncle Ron? Got a comment?

Want to see a report on everything on your computer?

Then get this great program from Belarc, and then save its report to a folder on your drive or better yet in your back-ups. It has everything, Key Codes and all.


It's still 'The Champ' -

Windows 7 is still the champ when it comes to installing quickly. It beats Win-8 and the preview of Win-8.1. There's only one little problem with that these days, and that's the 150 or so updates you then have to re-install to get it back up to the present with its SP1 and security updates, and that takes hours

So how did I get into all that, again? Therein lies a tale - a long, sad tale.... and it all began when I prepared a freshly-formatted partition on the drive here to use for the Win-8.1 Preview. I had Windows 7 in the first partition, along with the boot, and I'd wiped the other partition of its PC-BSD and reformatted it to NTFS for Windows. But when Windows 8.1 installed, it wiped out the Windows 7 and went onto that partition instead, pissing me right off! So that got it off to a bad start with me right there. Then finding out that it wouldn't run a couple of my pet third-party programs, like the Windows 7 Logon Screen Background Changer didn't add to my joy either. And now I've spent another several hours getting good old Windows 7 back onto the drive, in the partition where that new Win-8.1 should have gone. 

Today's Question Everything therefore is: "Why can't those thumb-typers down at Microsoft get Windows 8.1 to ask which partition I want it to go on before it just goes ahead and screws up the cooking? Would that be so difficult?" And as we already know, other and better-behaved installers like that of Windows 7 are smart enough to scan the drive and discover if there's already more than one partition on it, and then ask where to go. I could have told Windows 8.1 where to go if it had asked - and now I think I know why it didn't - it was afraid to, in case I told it where to go, how to get there, and what kind of weather to expect upon arrival.

If Microsoft wants to get our approval, not to mention our undying affection, then they could start by putting a little more thought into how they package these goddamned upgrades, so that those don't end up causing more trouble than they're worth and requiring hours of extra work to clean up the mess.
And this one wasn't "free" - it cost me several hours of nail-biting and extra work re-installing something else that I already had on here and didn't want to lose just for the sake of trying out yet another half-baked preview.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Windows 8.1 and Antivirus protection

Personally, I prefer Avast 8 Antivirus. Unfortunately, it and other brands of antivirus are presently blocked from installing into Windows 8.1 and if you try you will get a nicely-phrased bit of bullshit about how it could have issues with your future start-up procedures if you somehow managed to install it, which you can't at present.

Avast forums report that this problem is being worked on as we speak, but as of five minutes ago, I couldn't install Avast 8 into Windows 8.1. I don't think that's terribly critical, but it harks back to the bad old days when Microsoft got into trouble for trying to insist on everything being 'Microsoft' to the exclusion of all competitors. And I suppose I don't have to add that in the assortment of various antivirus programs, Microsoft's Windows Defender has never received an Oscar, and it doesn't prevent the bad guys from throwing rocks through your Windows.

So I'm anxiously awaiting a remedy for this monopolistic approach to security on this new flagship operating system now being flogged by Mighty Microsoft.
Every time I think we've talked them into being more co-operative with the rest of us among the vast unwashed masses, they go and revert to type and get all introspective and protective and paranoic and we have to start all over again reassuring them that the world won't end if they let us run some other program on their Windows. 

I've said this before, but let me repeat it: I don't want an operating system that only runs its own specially-designed stuff, like those Unix based ones, such as PC-BSD, or FreeBSD, or the OS-X ones from Apple. I want an operating system that provides a chassis on which I can run any goddamned program I want, from anywhere I can find the goddamned thing, and I'll worry about the security of the system, and I'll find protection from world-class providers like Avast or AVG or whoever, because they know how and they have the reputation. Forcing me to run your stuff or else tends to get your stuff thrown in the shredder, because I have issues with authority figures who think they ought to rule the world. If I'm buying this shit, then I'm deciding how I want to use it. It either works for me, or I find something which does. And I'm the impatient type - I don't want to wait forever while someone plays 'silly buggers' when they ought to be coming up with solutions.

So - How good is Windows 8.1 at running legacy programs?

And the answer is: - 

Very good..... if you could read the fine print on this PhotoStudio 5's "About" window, underlined in red in the screenshot above, you'd see it was last patented back in '94 to '99, and that's back in the days of Win-98SE - and while Windows 8.1 complains that there's something wrong with this whole thing, it still will run it well enough for me to view and edit photos. It also runs the next PhotoStudio, the 5.5 version, which is also old, but one of my long-time favorite photo editors. Windows tells me that one has a problem too, but offers to let me run it anyway, which I happily do, because it's paid for, and it works nicely not only for its main purposes, but also with my older model Canon flatbed scanner. And that also works with Windows 8.1. So when the bitchers get going about this latest Windows, I have to say "Let's give it a fair trial before we shoot it at sunrise, shall we?"

Windows 8.1 - the critical feedback begins.....

On this U.K. website, this guy babbles on about Apps and things, so please let me show you something......

Here's my 'essential' or frequently used Apps, all very neatly arranged for handy access. Please notice that little white arrow in the lower left. I'm going to click it and show you where it takes me....

 Here's the main repository for the Apps. To move one of these to the other screen, right-click it, and then select 'Pin To Start' from the icons along the bottom of the screen. Click that little white arrow in the lower left again, and it puts you back on your "essential" or working Apps screen. Now what's so difficult about that? Want to change the sizes of your Apps? Again, right-click or tap one, and select 'Resize' from the icons appearing along the bottom. You will be presented with several choices, depending upon the App.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Here's why I like the USA Today App in Win-8 and 8.1

Nice b-i-g pictures, and good clear type faces, for me and Cousin Weak Eyes.
Some electronic newspapers, like Toronto's Globe and Mail, get all techy with
"pinch here, and point there, and drag this way" and that's OK if you have a nice multi-touch all-in-one, but with a mouse and keyboard, I found that the damned thing kept trying to relocate itself to one side or the other of the monitor screen or shrink back to postage-stamp size immediately after I'd get the thing zoomed up large enough to read it. So about two minutes of that, and their widely advertised 'Globe To Go' simply had to - I turfed the damned thing in favor of one more readable and better-behaved. The Globe and Mail ought to take a look at the way USA Today does it. Big pictures, worth a thousand words, and not a lot of mindless babbling. Just the facts, Ma'am. 

And digressing for a moment, it's been a good day. I've got Windows 8.1 nicely customized, and today this blog passed the 90,000 mark for viewers - and I thank you all for visiting. I hope whatever you've found here was helpful or entertaining or both, and that you will visit again.

Win-8.1 - "Where's the Windows Experience Index?"

I rushed to the System window in Control Panel, looking for the Windows Experience Index to compare with the Win-8 on my other PC, and there's nothing of it in sight - it's just gone! And I'd like it back, please. It's a useful tool for rating the relative performance, and comparing it to others. 

And for all you late risers who may have missed my morning's rants, here's yet another look at my customized treatment of the Windows 8.1 Desktop. 

And the App for USA Today actually installs and opens in Windows 8.1 which is something it mysteriously stopped doing for me in Windows 8 on the other PC,
so I'm liking this better all the time. Maybe I'll even keep it for a while.... and 
the screen saver with the bubbles is back, too. Now if I could just combine that with VirtuaGirl, we'd really have something!  ( Just kidding, Folks! ) 

Before and after switching Synch off...

Before on left, After on right.

Where to find the Synchronization controls in Win-8.1

Just in case, like me, you want to turn them OFF. See these screenshots below:-

The above shows them all turned on. (Black slider to the right in each switch.)

Here they are, all off. (The top switch on the page shuts off everything but the second one, just below it. You have to switch that one separately.)

This, as my handy All CPU Meter shows, will save a hell of a lot of loading on your nice little CPU, and let it run much cooler - which could be something to consider, especially if you're on a laptop which normally tends to run hotter than hell anyway. And before cute little Sally down at Microsoft sends me a sharply worded email, let me hasten to explain that I just love these modern conveniences, but only if they're convenient for me - not for somebody else.
I just recently rescued this old PC from a fate worse than death, and I don't want its CPU to get fried now from being overloaded with unnecessary work.
Maybe for you, this isn't a concern, and if so, please disregard the above, But if you're like me, this could save you some trouble and expense later.

Here's the gadget monitoring my CPU, and as you can see, it's cores are not spiking up near the top of the graph now - they're quite peaceful & happy - and not nearly as hot. Trust me - your CPU will last longer if you're nice to it.

Mystery Solved! Why the CPU cores were spiking frequently

I stumbled on the answer while I was looking at themes in Personalization in my Win-8. For days now, the little gadget that displays the actions of the CPU cores has been showing that these cores are constantly spiking from nearly zero up to 80 or 90 or even 100% of full scale every few seconds, and this has to be creating an unnecessary burden on the Processor.  I suspected a virus or something similar, and scanned it with several different antivirus programs, both installed and on-line types, all to no avail - it kept coming up 'clean', and making me more frustrated. And when you're 80, you're already frustrated enough, Kiddies, believe me.

But I digress. In those themes in Personalization, I noticed one marked as a
'synched theme' and it was a duplicate of a theme that I had made myself - so that struck me as being rather odd, and I deleted it, because my original is still there and quite sufficient. The very instant that I deleted that synchronized theme, the CPU spiking immediately stopped. So that goddamned synchronized theme was the cause of all that problem on the CPU, loading it up and making it run much hotter than it normally would have.

Here's an article about synchronization and how to stop it and I wish I'd found it sooner. Windows 8.1 also uses synchronization and therefore has the potential to cause a similar problem with your CPU, so you may want to check your own system for this condition, and perhaps disable synchronization. From where I'm sitting, it looks like it's doing more harm than good.

Wondering what Windows 8.1 looks like...?

Pretty much like my Windows 8.0 actually - the Ultimate Windows Tweaker still works, and the 8gadgetpack still works, but I'm absolutely desolated to discover that my old favorite, the Windows 7 Logon Background Changer won't mount my favorite logon screen picture.... Damn!

But I guess I can't expect Mighty Microsoft to give me everything I wish for, and they are trying, Folks - they really are. They've even put back a semi-start button shortcut, which, when clicked on, takes you directly to the Start Screen's magnificent collection of cute and even more resizable tiles. My spies were right.
There's no handy-dandy menu like we had in Win-7 or you can get back again with that Windows 8 freebie, Start Menu Reviver - which installs in Win-8.1 but just doesn't do much compared to what it did in Win-8. But it doesn't break anything, and that's nice. And if you right-click on that flag-thingy that tries to look like a Start Button, you do get a nice selection of choices, including the old standby 'Run' and you've gotta love that!  

So, it's still semi-customizable, but not as much as I'd like it to be, and the big question remains: Can this one slay the Dragon and recapture the top of the mountain for freedom, democracy, and above all Mighty Microsoft? Don't ask me, Kiddies - I just write this stuff..... reading it is your problem!

Would I buy this one if it wasn't already a freebie to us Win-8 customers? Ask me again later, after I've discovered more about it. For now, I'm not so sure.
It took a long time to download and install, I got two different verification codes offered to me within one minute by email while trying to activate it, and yes, I do understand it's just a trial version - what we used to call a 'beta' - and is therefore likely to have a few bugs. But I keep comparing everything lately to Windows 7 when its first beta hit the streets, and it was absolutely bulletproof from day one. That's something we began to expect and look forward to, and
we aren't going to be happy with anything less, especially after all the diddling around  getting to this point, and all the hype we've been seeing about it.

Some wit who writes for one of those so-called insider-knows-it-all websites has said that this is Microsoft's apology for screwing up on the original Windows 8.
There should have been no need for any apology for screwing up, and Windows 8 should have been what came out when Windows 7 was released, if only they hadn't wasted about two years making Windows Vista virtually unusable for average users, and thus letting Apple get the jump on them with touch-enabled devices, and having to play 'catch-up' ever since. And it's still true: you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today's the day, Folks.....

So, will I or won't I? I'm still thinking that over. I've already got everything that I want in my original Windows 8, including this program restoring the Start Button and Menu which I tried for a while and then later removed. It works very well, but I'm already accustomed to the original system's methods, plus a few refinements of my own, like the shortcuts on screen for Reboot and Shutdown, which do just that with one click. And neither of my two PCs have touch monitors, so I really don't need more 'bells & whistles' in that department. And as you can see from this screenshot, I've got the Desktop quite comfortably outfitted already. My previous blogs on here have explained how to do that.

Those gadgets you see here?  It's called '8gadgetpack' and you can get it here. It lets Windows 8 run even more gadgets than Windows 7 did, and you can even
install these gadgets individually into your Windows 7, if you wish. They work equally well in both operating systems. 

I really don't need an 'improved' version of Win-8, because I've already made the improvements to the original myself, using freeware available on the web.

Today's Question Everything is: "Why is Microsoft playing 'catch-up' when it ought to be leading the pack?"  What's happened to Mighty Microsoft? And please don't all shout at once.....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's all fake, Folks....

Are you old enough to remember the original Quaker Oats oatmeal cereal? The kind that you cooked up in a pot of boiling water on the old wood stove, and then maybe spooned into a hot frying pan with a few slices of bacon and fried it up for breakfast? 

Well, the modern equivalent of it is now their "instant oatmeal" and it comes in various flavors. I like the "Peaches & Cream" which is neither Peaches nor Cream. It's Peach-flavored and colored dehydrated apple flakes with a powdered creaming agent made of hydrogenated coconut and palm oils and corn syrup solids (whatever that is) and sodium caseinate, and other semi-unpronounceable chemical compounds - but it's just delicious!

Like George Burns said, "I don't eat those natural foods any more - at my age I need all the preservatives I can get." 

NBC News on Windows 8 - video player

If you're on Windows 8, and you click on the tile for NBC News, and after it opens, you see an item that contains a video player's blank screen telling you that it can't play, and you've got Flash Player installed from Adobe, but still no action, go to the NBC website, where they have their own player.

Here's a picture from NBC News website video, of the Colorado wildfires to show you that it works....


Sunday, June 23, 2013

That 'Supermoon'....

If you have Stellarium, found here, then you can make your own set of backgrounds for a Moon Theme in Windows 8 - just like I've just done. And for all you Windows 7 users, it works just the same for you, so have some fun.

Added Note:

One of the neat features of Stellarium is that you can choose another planet as your home base for viewing the cosmos, as in this illustration below, where we are on Mars, looking back toward Earth. In this particular view, they have manipulated the zoom feature to maximize the wide-angle effect to get more sky into the picture. In the actual program, the Martian horizon would not have such a pronounced curve, but would be much more like our own. And as you can see from this picture, our Earth is but one little speck in a vast cosmos.


Here's a normal view of the horizon on Mars as we look toward Earth.....

Now, someone please tell me - why would anyone want to come here?  There's no air and it's all beach but no ocean, no vegetation, nothing but rocks, gravel, and sand, and you can't bring it back because that costs too much - about a million dollars per pound, or 2.2 million per kilo. So what's the big attraction?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Computers: Did I mention...?

If you have a Windows 7 HomeGroup, it will be seen by Windows 8, and you can also HomeGroup with one computer running Windows 7 and the other running Windows 8. 

I have two computers - one with Windows 7 and Windows 8, and the other with Windows 7 and PC-BSD, and I've tried all that.

Rapidly heading for 'Fat & Fifty'

But not too rapidly....

You're getting warmer....

Sarah Palin.....

If this woman had one more brain cell, it would be terribly lonely.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Longest vs Shortest Day of the Year

Not much difference around here, except for the foliation and temperature, in this northern temperate rain forest. That crow saw me at the window and came by to check for munchies on the window sill. There weren't any, because in the summer, I expect them to find their own. But I sometimes make exceptions....

Top threats reported in the last 24 hours - map

From Tom in New York....

Thanks, Tom... I really needed this one!
 And where the hell did you find my picture?

H.L. Mencken said: "The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom."

The Duc de la Rochefoucauld said: "Old people love to give good advice; it compensates them for their inability to set a bad example."

George Burns said: "When I was young, the Dead Sea was still alive."

And Ellen said: "My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is!" 

And I have to add here: "Relax, Kids! We never run out of stupid things to do."

This just in from NBC News...

Billy Wilder said: "France is a country where the money falls apart and you can't tear the toilet paper."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Here's a little change of pace for us.....

It's not often we get a chance to hear how one of the great composers played his own music, so this is a real treat. Enjoy it.

New version 11.6 of Autoruns for Windows is available.....

This was last updated on June 4, and you can get yours by clicking here. This shows you everything that is auto-started on your computer and lets you have control of that if you wish. It is by far the best of this kind of program, so please have a look at it if you are wondering what is starting automatically on your Windows system when you start your computer.

Viewers of this blog.....

I'm more popular outside Canada than here within it, and I'm afraid to ask what that means. But I thank all of you for visiting my blog and giving me a reason to keep on trying to do it better. If you read anything that you would like to comment on, please look below each blog entry for the words "No comments" and just click on them - it's a link to another page where you can leave your own comments.  It only says "No comments" because nobody has left one for that entry. It does not mean "do not", and I would enjoy having more of you leave a comment, if you wish to do it.

This picture appeared in today's Globe and Mail....

The captions above it are my own....

After adding those captions, I sent it back to their Letters Editor. Popular opinion seems to be saying young Trudeau has a good chance of becoming our Prime Minister, like his father, the ever-radiant Pierre, of the One Finger Salute....

And if that happens, then it will only be our own damned fault for not paying attention to the saying 'Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.'

I was WRONG and I'm here to admit it.....

In a recent previous post, I mentioned that a freebie program CleanMem will optimize your Windows use of its RAM to make it much more efficient without simply loading up the Page File on your hard-drive. And that, Dear Reader, was
incorrect. I'd forgotten the cardinal rule of those offering advice, which is Engage brain before opening mouth!

This morning, after installing a fresh version of 'All CPU Meter' which now shows both RAM and Page File use in percentages, I was shocked and amazed to note that with CleanMem running, the Page File was showing up to 50% usage while the RAM was loafing along at 20 or 24%. 

As soon as I'd gone into Autoruns to remove the little tick marks from the entries (two of them) for CleanMem, to stop it from automatically starting up with Windows, and then did a Reboot to get all the little ducks realigned correctly, the RAM was once again showing like 36% to the Page File's 15%, which is a much more normal situation for Windows 8 (or any other Windows!)
because: as we're told by its designers at Mighty Microsoft, Windows Knows Best, and it can manage its own RAM and Page File better than you can and better than I told you CleanMem could. And as they tell us, we're far better off to just relax and let Windows do its own thing with all that.  And I'm sorry that
I opened my big fat mouth before engaging brain and doing homework!

Please Note: You can find the All CPU Meter here, and it installs into Windows 8
very much the same way the Windows 7 Gadgets install into Windows 7, if you have already installed the Sidebar and Gadget Pack contained in the freebie program 8gadgetpack v6.0 found here. You can't install this into Windows 7, but the extensive list of gadgets shown along with this will install separately into Windows 7 if its Sidebar is still enabled. Just make sure your Windows 7 Sidebar is enabled, and then download whichever individual gadget you'd like from the list along with 8gadgetpack, and it will install into Windows 7 for you like the original Windows 7 gadgets did. I've done it, so I know it works.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More This 'n That from Oldest Living Blogger...

Yesterday, I settled a dispute over a parking violation at a parking area in a back alley behind my doctor's clinic here in North Vancouver. There's a row of parking stalls there, never enough for the traffic, and part of it is reserved 24/7 for the dental clinic beside the doctor's clinic. There's probably a story there too but this isn't it. 

I'd had an appointment at that clinic that day, and was unable to get into the correct part of the parking, because it was all full, so rather than miss the appointment, I parked in the dental clinic's "reserved 24/7" section. As I left the appointment walking back to my car, I passed a beady-eyed individual in the alley, skulking along, noting license numbers with a pad and pen. I got to my car before he did, and drove off down the alley. That was a month and a half ago. This past weekend, I get an overdue notice in the mail demanding $110.25 for a parking violation I didn't know I'd been tagged for.

I sent them an email complete with several pictures of the location taken by Google's Street View, and suggested this was a rather harsh introduction to their venerable company, and it would be much nicer if we could just start over with the original violation fee. This I sent to their Appeals email address (these guys have it all figured out) and a nice little gal named Alice Wong agreed that
we should start once again from the beginning. I was tempted to ask her if two Wongs make a Wight, but thought better of it.  All's well that ends well.

And while struggling to avoid an ulcer while desperately trying everything to get this nice computer going again after that BIOS disaster, I've been wondering how many other perfectly-useful computers have ended up in the junk because people insist on believing that just because you screw up the BIOS it means you have to throw it away and buy a new one. 

IF you're willing to spend the time hunting the web for answers, and of course have another functioning computer to use for that, there are answers out there.
Even if you haven't got access to Windows, it can still be done because the universal language of BIOS systems  seems to be DOS - either FreeDOS or the MS-DOS variety. And you can find an instruction which tells you how to get a 
USB flash drive programmed as a bootable DOS drive, with which you can get
your correct BIOS installed over the bad one. And then all you have to do is coax Windows into re-installing itself. During which, you may have to use the good old DOS Command Prompt, to enter a couple of commands that make it do some self-diagnostics and repairs to get itself into the right condition to accept a re-installation of its Operating System. "Like what?" you ask.....

Like the following, so you may want to make notes here:-

In Command Prompt, at the flashing cursor, type in:-
Bootrec /fixmbr
(This gets it to restore the Master Boot Record)

Or else try.....
Bootrec /fixboot

And if you can't boot into Windows 7 any more, try this fix:-
Bootsect /nt60 all
And if "all" doesn't get the right response, try substituting your drive "C:"

It worked for me....

 Update: This just in from Alice Wong:

Thank you for your correspondence.  We have received the $63.00 payment on  June 19 2013 and your account has been updated. Please disregard the notice you have received in the mail.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Have a nice day !

Alice Wong


One of our strange foreign planets.....

The planet Venus setting

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tonight's sunset.....

Thanks to KatKam, overlooking Burrard St. bridge in downtown Vancouver. That's the mouth of False Creek in the foreground, with Burrard Inlet beyond it.

After the BIOS crash - My Windows Experience Index

Now you can see why I didn't want to toss this out without a fight....

If you have an older Wacom tablet.....

...such as my Graphire 4, dating back to the days of Win-XP, and it has been acting strangely lately as you try using it, I may have a fix for you. Try this:-

 Re: Graphire4 drivers not working (Win 7)

by Wacom » Mon 8. Apr 2013, 08:12
The Graphire4 is not supported anymore in the latest driver. The driver may not be running at all or not open the configuration panel. - Unplug the tablet, uninstall the driver and restart Windows. Then go to device manager and remove any remaining Wacom entries there. Go to SYSTEM32 (and SYSWOW64 if you have it) and remove all files wintab*.*. Then attach the tablet again. Verify that it works as mouse and install tablet driver 5.25. If there is still a problem go to Start menu -> Programs -> Bamboo and use the preference file utility to remove the tablet settings. That restarts the driver and should help.

I didn't have to use this exact procedure, because I've just re-installed everything into this computer, after the BIOS disaster last week, but purging everything Wacom from your system and starting fresh seems to work. My own Graphire 4 is now working once again on Win-7 without showing any strange actions while being used. 

But if you've been reading up on the newer models like the Intuos 5, then you know that these newer ones are now multi-touch enabled, and can be a lot more fun to use. And Wacom has always been fun to use - they're a great accessory for your computer. You can draw and write and edit photos right on screen. You should try it, if you haven't already. Here's their website.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Solar-powered Plane.....

...Lands in Washington, D.C.

....And this just in, from Lucky Lindy

There's a new version of 'All CPU Meter' ....

And you can get yours from here. There are umpteen ways to customize it, and add features, and the size is even adjustable from 100% to 400% in steps.

I learned something today from watching its Clock speed. The CPU has an 'automatic transmission'! Well, not exactly, but it works a lot like the three speed automatic transmission in an older car. It automatically changes its speed and voltage depending on how much demand or load is being placed on it. When things are quiet and you're not multitasking or surfing the web looking for things you shouldn't, it powers down to around 986 Megahertz. If things get a little busier, it will speed up and power up more, to around 1,800 or so, and if you're surfing the web and answering mail and generally loading it up, then it goes right up to full speed of 2,900 to keep all the canaries flying in there.....
and that's the kind of stuff they don't explain at the store while you're getting all dewy-eyed and goofy over the latest and greatest all-in-ones and notebooks and those thumb-typers pads.

You don't have to know what's under the hood to drive the car, but it sure helps when it quits on you in the middle of the night a hundred miles from the nearest garage. Computers aren't much different. They like to be understood too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Here's how Father's Day began here...

I ought to apologise, perhaps, for not getting this on here sooner today, but it has been 'one of those days'. Just after i took this shot, I turned on Old Computer with its newly reactivated systems, and after about 150 updates of it yesterday, Windows Updates had another 60 or so for it today. 

As that was happening, the phone rang, and it was Youngest Son who lives 486 miles away, saying "Get ready to go out for coffee, Dad, because I'll be there in about ten minutes..." I've never had such a nice and such an unexpected gift on Father's Day before, and it was just wonderful. We never did get that coffee, because we went shopping instead, and then my favorite restaurant had a lineup (wonder why?) and Youngest Son had to get started driving home soon anyway, because it would be very late this evening or early tomorrow morning before he gets there. But this has been a wonderful Father's Day for me and a
very unexpected treat. I will treasure the memory of it always.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

And who can forget David Lee Roth ?

You can't get there from here!
Would I lie to you?

This is why Gramps doesn't dance like you do....

From the Droids' album Star Peace (1978). With the right 'medicinal compounds' this seemed to last much longer back in the old days....

Old Computer with its usual look...

Here's a picture it took me all week to get to....

After I got the BIOS problem sorted out, and the errors fixed, and the Windows re-installed, and updated to SP1, I downloaded Seagate's Seatools For Windows
and ran a test on the hard-drive, just to confirm that it's OK. I also did the Windows Experience Index test, and it says "5.7" the lowest reading of those being for the graphics. The hard-drive got a 5.9 on that one.

Friday, June 14, 2013

That screwed-up computer has been "unscrewed"....

I hope you'll all forgive me for patting myself on the back here, but it's not every day that a computer disabled by a bad BIOS upgrade is brought back from the junkyard gate and restored to health and active use. And now that I've undone that idiotic mistake I made at the beginning of this week, it's almost been worth the several days of worrying and looking for answers. If I'm ever stupid enough to try that again without doing more 'homework' I hope someone reminds me of this week.  There's no fool like an old fool because you just can't beat experience! I'm living proof.

While screwing up other computer, I'm still learning...

I'm 'this close'  to getting that one back to normal,  but not quite - and I've tried various tricks to access the DOS section in CMOS through the remaining useable PCBSD system, which uses a whole other kind of formatting. I've tried a couple of times to use an 8GB memory stick, programmed as a bootable DOS installer,
and I have confirmed that the correct Acer BIOS for this model is now in there.
The only problem is, it won't let me into Win-7 on that first partition. On one try last night, everything went black, and up came a message in that quaint font used by the DOS system, saying 'No Boot Record Found - Insert System Disk."

That made me stop for coffee. Then I got playing with the Power button and the Delete key, and finally got it showing the boot choices of F1 or F2, for Win-7 and PCBSD, the first of which I can't get into. But it did reboot into PCBSD again, after which I heaved a big sigh of relief.

While researching what to do about all that, I've made a couple of discoveries.
Windows doesn't like all kinds of Flashing utilities for the BIOS. Older versions of those come with several cute little files that have to go along with its main '.ROM' file, which is the actual upgrade for your BIOS, because unlike newer ones, those weren't self-installing. Newer ones, however, are self-installing and all you have to do is point them in the right direction and stand well back, beyond the fallout zone, with your fingers crossed.

And if the BIOS in yours is a Phoenix-Award as in mine, then you already know that it peeps at you as it is starting up. That's not only friendly, but also a code signal. There's a whole list. That one short beep you hear as it is starting up means that it has completed its self-test and all is well in there. A long beep followed by two short ones means there's something wrong with your Video Card and you may need to replace it. A long beep with three shorts means the Video Card isn't installed right, or the memory on it is bad. Often, re-seating it in its socket fixes that, or else replacing it may be the only cure. If you hear a high-pitched beep followed by a low-pitched one, and it is repeating that, this indicates a CPU problem - perhaps overheating or a malfunction, and if the beep is only high-pitched and repeating, it means the CPU is overheating and could get fried soon, so turn off the machine while you figure out why. If you hear any other kinds of beep tones, those usually mean problems with the Memory, and replacing the RAM may be required. But check if it's just loose first. And on the subject of beeps, mine with the messed-up BIOS is still only making one short beep as it starts up, so there can't be too much wrong with it. It's not yelling for help yet anyway. I should have paid attention to that message the other day.

And these are some of the things I'm learning while messing up a perfectly good computer that I wish I'd left as it was. I'm still hoping there's some way to get
that inaccessible Windows section back on screen, but nothing I've tried so far has worked for me. And to complicate matters, I'm not that well-versed in the Unix system of PCBSD to be able to access it through that, if that's even possible - the PCBSD being a whole other format. There's an emulator program in it called 'Wine' but that doesn't mimic Windows well enough to let me do any real alterations in there. It can't even show me everything I'm trying to view.

The Windows 8 Start Menu (and button)

I've been trying this out for a while now, and I'm still undecided about keeping it or reverting to the purist version of Win-8 sans Start Menu Reviver because for me, it's just not all that much benefit. I'm already familiar with how to access the start, reboot and shutdown in Win-8, because I've been playing with this little beauty ever since it was only seven and a half..... but if you'd like to try it you now have the link, above. 

The add-on for Win-8 that I really prefer is 8GadgetPack  which restores an improved Sidebar and Gadgets to Win-8 with an even larger collection of the gadgets than came in Win-7. I should add here that the 'Heads Up Display' shown above in mine is another extra that works along with it. So if you'd like to retro-fit your Win-8 for a more familiar Win-7 look and feel, there are ways.

And for all who are multi-taskers, there's CleanMem which optimizes your memory usage, and not by shoving stuff into the page file either. It simply gets Windows using its memory more efficiently, and its little gadget is shown above in the lower right corner of the screen. It can cut down your memory usage by
as much as almost half, and that's like having more RAM, and it's another of those fabulous freebies I love to find.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My 'trashed' computer looks like this...

So, what's my problem, you ask.... and to which I'd answer sweetly, " My problem is that I'd like the whole thing to be working, and not just the PCBSD part of it."

The only thing that saved this partition with its PCBSD (unix) on it is the fact that the formatting on this part of the drive is entirely different to the usual kind used on the Windows part of the drive. Windows can't see this part of the drive and doesn't know it's there, luckily for me, otherwise this whole computer would be useless junk right now. But as it is, I can still get it to boot up into this section. And that's at least some consolation. And I might yet figure out how to get back onto that other part, too.

And while we're thinking about all that, this is the best reason I know of for having a dual-boot setup with something completely different, like this Unix derivative, PCBSD, which is FreeBSD with a nicer GUI front end, or so I'm told.
So if you're like me and love tinkering with the workings, something like this can save you from total and complete disaster when you screw up on it. And that's how Necessity became the mother of Invention, Kiddies....and this isn't sunburn, my face just naturally looks like this when I'm embarrassed.