Saturday, May 31, 2014

The previous reminded me of....

Most of you are probably too young to remember Frankie Carle and his Orchestra, and that's too bad, especially if you like nice piano playing. He was a pianist and orchestra leader most of his life, and was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1989. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He died in 2001 just a few weeks shy of his 98th birthday.

This one, some of you may remember.... 

But YouTube hasn't got a lot of his best stuff, such as these albums of medleys,
perhaps for copyright reasons, I don't know - but it's too bad - these have some of his best work on them, done in the '60s with his orchestra, for RCA.

There was another in this series, for the '50s, but I missed that, because my first marriage was ending about then, and the RCA Victor Record Club wasn't my top priority at the time. But I still have these LPs, and they still sound great.
Too bad they aren't on YouTube. You'd see what I mean about his music.

Now, some great piano....

Remembering the old hand-cranked Victrola and...

Jan Garber's version of 'All I Do Is Dream Of You' hit the airwaves in 1934 when I was all of two years old, and four or five years later, when I could see the top of Dad's workbench in the garage, and discovered the old wind-up RCA Victor Victrola there, with that record among others, it's been one of my favorites ever since. This is another of the old-time hits by Jan Garber and his Orchestra. Some things, we just never forget...

Neurons in 3-D

You may not get a lot from the above screen shot, but this video may help...

As I understand it, the field of view is very limited, so it isn't likely they could fit all the nearly 100 billion neurons of the human brain into the field of view at once, so don't go looking for this kind of 'brain scan' any time soon.

But speaking of neurons, and the human brain, here's another one for you, if you have the time to spare....

Before you get your neurons in a knot, please read this about 'Athene'. I will vigorously resist the urge to go into a long rant about pseudoscience and the conspicuous absence of any verifiable 'Theory of Everything'.  Let me only say that there's a reason for the saying 'A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.' 

The commercial space race: off and running

Friday, May 30, 2014

New Space Capsule

This hasn't flown yet, but already the hype from Elon Musk, the company's head honcho, speaks of the Moon and other planets, and eventually beyond our solar system.

One hopes he is doing his homework on all that, and has taken a damned good look at photos of the Moon and Mars, and noted carefully the lack of water or vegetation or other natural life support systems. And one hopes he realizes how distant other bodies beyond our solar system really are, and how long it would take to get there. The reality is nothing like we see on TV in shows like Star Trek or Star Wars. Those are science fiction, and before you remind me that a lot of past science fiction has become science fact in my lifetime, nevertheless very few of us have any real concept of what's involved in interstellar travel. All we know for sure at the moment is that there's nothing like Earth anywhere within reach.

That brings me to this Question Everything: Since we've made such a mess of our own planet, should we really inflict ourselves on any other? We can't exist peacefully here, yet we're talking of invading other planets. Have we even listened to ourselves or realized how egotistical and excessively stupid we sound?

If there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, and there very likely is, it is probably avoiding us because it knows better than to become involved with such an inferior species. They're probably waiting for us to kill ourselves off and for peace to return to this part of the galaxy. And who could blame them?


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spying on you with your own webcam...

On Tom's blog, which you can see here, there's a video showing how someone can spy on you through your own computer's webcam. You should watch it. 

Tom sends a link to this one...

Thanks to Tom for bringing this one to my attention. Today's Question Everything might be: "Will these upholstered 'roller skates' put the rides at the amusement parks out of business?" And as I asked Tom rhetorically and facetiously: "Can I get one with whitewall tires, a Continental Kit, and dingle balls around the windows?"

That got me thinking back to those kits that added a fake front onto Volkswagen beetles to make them look like either a 1930s Ford, or a Rolls Royce. If these almost cars catch on, maybe we can dress them up too. 

I've seen something saying these might be ideal for old people who no longer can drive their own cars, but that of course depends on the price, and the availability of the equipment for recharging them. The vast majority of old folks probably can't afford it. And very few retirement homes have either the parking or the facilities for these. And they'll have a hell of a time convincing owners of expensive luxury cars to switch to one of these. These are the very opposite of a status symbol, let's face it. 

Into the wild blue yonder...


Today's the tomorrow mentioned in this.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why I don't want to be a space tourist...

It's simply getting too crowded up there!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gun violence (continued)...

When someone has the feeling that the whole world is against them, or that nobody understands them or cares to, and they have mental health issues which they either don't recognize or don't admit to having, those nearest to them who are in a position to monitor the person's mental state ought to have the power to request and receive help, and that help ought to begin by removing any firearms from the disturbed person's residence. That wouldn't be a foolproof solution, because there might be firearms hidden elsewhere, but it's a logical start. And there's nothing life-threatening about a psychiatric exam. On the contrary, it might be the beginning of much-needed treatment and rehabilitation for its recipient. It worked for me, and I'm not trying to be facetious here.

That's how I found out I'm a manic-depressive, and began getting some really excellent treatment for it, which resulted in my being able to continue my career and enjoy a relatively normal life - instead of possibly drinking myself to death or shooting someone, or possibly both. So this problem of disturbed people with access to firearms is one that I take very personally and very seriously, because I have some first-hand experience with it. I thank God that others around me knew what to do and did it in time to prevent a disaster.

The NRA says that guns don't kill people; people kill people. And that's true as far as it goes. But people wouldn't be as able to kill other people if they did not have access to the means of doing so.  For example, if every handgun owner had to show cause why he needed that firearm, and had to pass a background check, and was then restricted to keeping that firearm within his own residence
unless he first obtained a special transit permit from the local police, stating the purpose for the move and its destination, as we've been required to do in Canada, there'd be a lot less trouble, probably.

One of the main problems with guns is that they make it too easy for someone with a well-oiled semi-automatic within reach to think that he's got the power of life and death over the rest of us. And sometimes, if his head's not in just the right places, he can yield to the temptation to do something really stupid - something that can't be undone later. So the logical solution to that problem is to keep the guns away from those who can't be trusted with them, and probably didn't need them in the first place.

Following an incident the details of which I won't go into here, my several guns
including two well-oiled semi-automatics were confiscated by the RCMP. After they had done further investigation, they phoned me one evening several days later, and the gist of the message was that they weren't running a storage facility, and would I please come to headquarters and pick up my guns. I replied that upon reflection, I would prefer them to keep them, so that in future we would both know where they were, in case they got another call that I had threatened someone with a gun. We discussed that, and they agreed to make an itemized list of the guns and ammo they'd been holding, so I could sign off on it, which I did later. The point I'm taking too long to reach here is that it wasn't until after I'd given away that gun collection that I finally began to seriously work on my interpersonal relationships and learn the manly art of making compromises instead of threats. And that's been one of the best things that ever happened to me. I highly recommend it.

The Pope says "The door is always open..."

Hopefully, that door isn't attached to somewhere like this.....


This habit needs to be broken...

Instead of holding tearful vigils for the recently departed, or becoming proficient in hastily constructing sidewalk memorials, or going viral with tweets, or brilliant displays of hindsight and hand-wringing, wouldn't it make a hell of a lot more sense to do something constructive about the misinformation around the Second Amendment and the NRA and the nutcases who can legally obtain and use lethal weapons? I like Americans, but you really need to stop killing each other, and start remembering the sixth commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill'. 

If you look that up in Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5, you won't find any exceptions; it simply tells us not to kill one another. It doesn't say anything about 'except when I'm really angry' or 'except when I've lost my mind' and
it also doesn't mention any Second Amendment. It just says "Don't do it!".
How difficult is that to understand? Remember, there's only one God, and it isn't Wayne LaPierre and his NRA. And you can bet your sweet bippy on that one.

Our Aquarium...

I have to agree with Dr. Goodall on this. Last summer, my son and his family and I went to the Aquarium so that the three kids could see the displays and watch the show they put on with the dolphins. It was grossly overpriced, and the show was pathetic. 

My son remembers when he was little and we had a family membership there,
and they had polar bears, killer whales, dolphins, otters, water fowl, and a show every couple of hours that was really worth seeing. Now, the polar bears and the killer whales are gone, the otters have been moved elsewhere, and it isn't the same experience at all, unless you count paying three prices to get in as being a real thrill. The grandchildren, never having seen anything like it, were impressed, but us three adults were definitely underwhelmed.

The Aquarium here today is a real rip-off, and both we and the animals would be better off without it. The excuse that it's performing useful science is bullshit.
It's just a money grab for the Parks Board, and a blight on our reputation.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Check a file or URL

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit

This is not the newest version, but is the version prior to it. The newest version of this when installed prompts Windows to pop up a banner across the screen informing that "This program will not run on your system. Please contact the maker for another version..."

So, you ask, "What's it do, anyway?" It provides zero-day protection against malicious exploits by malware that is not yet on database lists. And you'd like to know "Why doesn't the newest version work for you if this one does?"

Please Note: 
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware itself was recently given a major upgrade, and is itself a zero-day protection program. Here's what they say about it:-


Back in the heyday of Windows XP, there was a program called 'ThreatFire' which did essentially this same thing. It was a very good program, and probably still is....

...but its latest update is version 4.7, which came out on November 25, 2009.
So you can try it if you like, but I'd recommend this newer Malwarebytes one instead. Because today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.

Testing this one....

This encrypts whatever you type in the browser while it is activated, and the green background behind the letter 'K' in the system tray tells you it's on.
The website for it is here.

Added later:
I've tried all four browsers (Internet Explorer, Opera, Chrome, and Firefox) and it switches on when each is started, and shows a little window saying "Protection is on". You should try it. 

Something to check out...

MajorGeeks: About third-party programs and toolbars

If you download a lot of 'freebies' from the web, like I do, then you probably know about all this already, but for the rest of you out there, this should be some required reading that can save you a lot of grief.

Like the man says at the beginning, MajorGeeks has been providing downloads of useful programs for a lot of years, and I've always found them to be very dependable and up-front about the various offerings. If they don't like it, you shouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, and if they approve it, you can take their word that it's OK. 

But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and so you should read what they tell us here about 'bundleware' and 'adware' and third-party programs that come with their own toolbars and other junk that has nothing to do with the operations of the freebie program you want to install and use. And like the article says, we are our own worst enemies a lot of the time for simply not taking time to carefully read the directions while the installation process is happening. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Anitra's Dance Boogie

There's a great boogie version of Anitra's Dance in the Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo movie from 1948, 'A Song Is Born', but unfortunately I can't find the segment of it on YouTube now. It was there a couple of years ago, but time marches on, trampling everything underfoot. However, this version is quite similar, and the nearest thing I can find to what I wanted to have on here.

Speaking of Guy Lombardo...

Through the magic of YouTube, another golden oldie toe-tapper for you.

Three O'Clock in the Morning....

Once again, it's three o'clock in the morning, and I'm making the visit to the smallest room in the place, just because....

Just finished watching the movie 'Sweet November' - the 2001 version, not the original from 1968 - starring Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever only gave it one and a half bones, and didn't treat it very nicely at all in its review, but I'm a hopeless romantic, and I loved it.  Liam Aiken as the little neighbor boy, Abner, was a real charmer, and the ending where Charlize and Keanu part, at her request, so that he won't see her last days of suffering from her cancer, was really touching. I wanted to cry.

It's another Sunday morning, and in the news, I see that the Pope has invited Middle East leaders to visit the Vatican. I wonder if they will accept. There's always been too much rivalry between the various religions, I think. My views on all that have changed a lot since I was first converted to Catholicism back in the mid 1950s. I wonder about many things. One being whether or not these church leaders really know any more about God than you or I do. I tend to doubt they do, because I suspect they are more oriented toward the leadership and administrative side of their religion - putting butts in the seats, as they say.
And I don't think God cares where our butts are, as long as our hearts belong to God. It's not some kind of brand-name popularity contest, but too many people get all hung up on that aspect of it, and miss the main object of the exercise.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interactive travel-time map tool

This shows you on a map of your favorite city how far you can go by car in varying times in minutes, on a chosen day of the week, at a chosen time. It is called 'isoscope' and you can find it here. 

Above is a map of Seattle, with the white dot of the starting point centered on Redmond, the home of Mighty Microsoft, and the blue area shows how far you could travel by car from that starting point at 2:00 PM on a Wednesday in ten minutes of driving. The dark box on the bottom of the map displays the choices of days and times of day, and the different choices of travel times in minutes.
Just insert the name of your city in the search box, upper left, and make your choices. To position the white dot of the starting point, choose your spot on the map and then double click it. Happy motoring!

Those Gas Prices...

Like I said the other day, if you don't like American prices, be thankful you aren't paying Canadian prices. Our greedy bastards make yours look like rank amateurs. And our fearless leader, Stephen 'Hairspray' Harper thinks that's OK.

In Canada, our gallon contains 4.546 liters.
In the U.S.A., a gallon contains 3.785 liters. 

Question Everything: 

"Why couldn't the gallon be standardized at an even 4.0 liters everywhere?"

Windows 9 - Coming Soon ?

My friend Tom sent me something humorous about the coming of Windows 9, and that got me hunting for other news and rumors about it...

 ...and as far as we can tell, all signs are pointing toward early 2015. Now that I've got my Windows 8 all gussied up with gadgets, and transparency and other much-loved features from past incarnations, here we go again, into the wild blue yonder. Am I ready for all that? You bet your sweet bippy I am! I've tweaked and twiddled and improved Windows 8 about as much as I can, and I'm ready for a new challenge, so bring it on!

On this question at the end of the article above, I can offer this hint: the latest release of PC-BSD, its version 10, comes only in 64-bit, and if you want a 32-bit version, you have to settle for a previous version. 

For differences between 32 and 64-bit, here's an article that explains all that.

"ET, phone home..."

"Hello.......Please leave a message after the tone."

AeroGlass for Windows 8/8.1

First of all, you can find it here...

And as you see, it restores the transparency features from Windows 7 into your Windows 8 or 8.1. There's different downloads for each on the website. And yes, it's another of my famous freebies discoveries.

If you have a problem, or you're wondering why it didn't immediately show after you did the install and the required reboot, go into Personalization, (the bottom item when you right-click an empty spot on the desktop) and then go into the Color setting along the bottom of that window, to get to the window shown above. Make sure you have chosen any color tint except the Automatic in the upper left corner. Then adjust the slider that will appear below those color swatches, to get the desired amount of transparency in your window frames and the desktop's Taskbar. Enjoy your AeroGlass!


Friday, May 23, 2014

When is News really History?

This is the latest available display of ABC News that I can get with my Win-8 Apps, and the dates under these items are several days old.  This isn't 'news', it's more like history. So what's the problem at ABC?  Don't they look at their own stuff?

Firefox 29....

Why should we have to "fix" the damned thing? The purpose of a browser is to perform certain tasks in the most user-friendly manner possible, not get caught up in an endless round of one-upsmanship with its competition until all of them look and act like clones of the other. If that's what we wanted, we'd simply use the other one. Nobody needs three different browsers that really aren't that different at all.

I was first attracted to Firefox years ago, because it was different and it worked. Now, it's not that different, and it doesn't work as well nor as conveniently as it did. If I really wanted a Google Chrome or an Internet Explorer, I'd be using it and I wouldn't be wasting my time being frustrated by just another also-ran.
Firefox, you used to be great - now, you're just a pain in the ass!

And why, after all these years, does Internet Explorer decide to close and then re-open again in the midst of my composing this blog? Hasn't Microsoft had time to get the bugs all out of it yet? How long does it take? Or, as with Mozilla's Firefox, is this a lifetime 'make work' project where the users are just the crash test dummies in the war with the competition? That's my Question Everything for this evening...

Another Windows Theme: Planets

These images are from Stellarium, the planetarium for your computer, which I mentioned previously here, and I made this just to show that it's another thing you could do with Stellarium.


What's wrong with Religion?

Question Everything:

"What kind of church has a pastor with a name like 'Ma$e', and what does that tell us about his priorities?"

There are over 4,200 different religions in the world, and nobody knows exactly how many, because any damned fool can start his own if he can find enough other fools to follow him.

God doesn't need a religion. If you believe in God, then neither do you, because God is all you really need. And if you shut up and listen to that quiet inner voice you will be guided in the right direction, and you will know what's right or wrong. As Einstein said, Good and Evil are not two separate things - the one is simply the absence of the other, and its our choice. So think about it. Think of it not as a duality, but as a kind of spectrum or continuum, with Good and God at one extreme, and Evil and the Devil at the opposite extreme. We are somewhere between those extremes, with our 'location' depending upon which of those influences is manifesting itself most strongly within us from moment to moment. This isn't perhaps the best explanation, but we aren't dealing with rocket science here; we're dealing with spirituality, which is a whole other thing.

Reading eBooks....

I enjoy Kim's regular columns of advice and helpful hints, but she's missing something here....

You can read all about it here. It's a good program, and you should try it. It has a very good demo video that you can watch on YouTube, and it has its own built-in reader for those who don't have a separate device to read eBooks. Did I mention that this is free and open source?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Adobe Shockwave security risk

There's more about this here but I couldn't get it all in one screen capture.

And here's where I found the reference to the above....

You can access the above through the App for News Bento in Windows 8/8.1 if you wish to use the links in it.  

A little space travel this morning...

Mercury, Venus and Uranus from our Moon
Earth from Mars this morning...
...if you had a very good telescope.
Four planets from Mars' moon Deimos.
Saturn, Earth and Mars from Venus.
And now, let's go home...
Approaching Earth from the direction of Mars.
Preparing for re-entry...
Home, Sweet Home!
I hope you enjoyed your flight. 
(These are some of the things you can do with Stellarium.)