Monday, June 30, 2014

One Martian year later, a Curiosity selfie...

It's parked within reach of those two dark little holes in the lower left foreground which it drilled in a slab of limestone. This would imply the presence of a body of water for a considerable period of time. Since there isn't any here now, we can only conclude that some major catastrophic event caused its removal. An event perhaps like a meteoroid of between 100 and 200 Km in diameter hitting Mars and puncturing its crust about 3.5 billion years ago, as mentioned in the Larousse Guide to Astronomy. That could do it, and it would explain why the surface now is all beach and no ocean. And I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would want to come to a place as barren as this, if we can learn about it with robots like Curiosity.

And speaking of pictures, I'd love to know if JPL assembled this composite image using Microsoft Research's Image Composite Editor (I.C.E.) which does this with multiple images. It works very well assembling panoramas consisting of both vertical and horizontal sets of images, and you can find it here.

'Funny Farms 101'

I have terrible news for these electronic therapy merchants and wannabe shrinks: a lot of things like dandruff, hangnails, backaches and genetically related chemical imbalances contributing to problems like bipolar syndrome don't respond well to conversation. You could talk about them until Hell froze over, and without the right medication, you'd still have an unadjusted nut on your hands. Admittedly poorer because of your fees, but an unadjusted nut all the same.

Therapy tends to work best with distraught, frustrated, and lonely housewives who can't get chosen to work it all out on reality TV shows for fun and profit, and actually believe in 'mind over matter' as a viable cure for lack of nookie or age spots and wrinkles. So you have to define your client base rather carefully.
And remember that the burn-out rate for shrinks is rather high, and about fifteen years or so is usually about as long as your career will probably last.
So it isn't a terribly smart idea to opt for working too cheaply.



And Oprah wasn't bumped off the list - she's at number 4 in the top ten. She just isn't number one this year. That's Beyonce.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tonight's sunset as a monitor background

Household hint: 

If you'd like a cold drink like the old-fashioned Orange Crush from when we were kids, mix Tropicana no-pulp orange juice half-and-half with Ginger Ale. 

And here's this picture, without the desktop stuff on it, if you'd like your own.
Just click on it to enlarge it, and save it to your pictures folder.

Where you are....

Checking your Internet Connectivity....

Just in case you ever need to check this, here's a good place to start.

I'm interested, because I read something the other day about malware and how your DNS can be hijacked. So I've been looking at ways to check that and to verify that it is OK. This can explain some of that for you.

You can verify that yours is working OK by sending a ping request to these two addresses shown in the Command Prompt above. If you don't get replies, then you know you're in trouble. If you get replies like mine, then you're OK. But don't take my word for it - read this article I've linked above.

And if you want to verify that IP Address really is Google, then you simply do this:

And if you want the story on your own system's details, you go into Cmd Prompt, as administrator, and at the cursor type: ipconfig /all and press enter, then to find your own IP Address, look down the list for IPv4 Address. That's you. And by the way, that Command Prompt window can be enlarged by dragging the frame if you don't want to do a lot of scrolling. You can change the color of it too. Here's how.......

After you've opened the Command Prompt window, look for the little icon in the upper left end of its title bar, and click on that, and select Properties from the drop-down. Then select the Color tab, and choose whatever you prefer.

Backgrounds on PC-BSD

This was a recent sunset here, and one of the pictures I moved from Win-8 to PC-BSD. And yes, you can use your own. In fact there's one new desktop for this which is still in development which can change through a series of images,
much like we can in Windows. I'm not using it at the moment, because it's still in its 'Alpha' phase, but it is quite useable we're told. So users of PC-BSD aren't missing out on the trimmings. This is a nice system, and you should try it.

P.S. -

PC-BSD reboots faster than Windows 8 ! How's that, Mighty Microsoft ? 

NASA's 'Flying Saucer' went up, and came down...

And they are calling it a 'success' even though its parachute didn't fully deploy
for the return trip. Here's more, with this original picture.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Another problem solved....

There were some of my pictures in a folder in Windows 8 that I wanted to move here into PC-BSD to use for backgrounds on the desktop, but I can't just drag and drop them or transfer them easily from there to here, as I can between Windows 8 and Windows 7, because this system uses a whole other formatting of its portion of the drive, and the one system can't 'talk' to the other. The solution is to use my own form of "the cloud" - email the stuff from one system to myself, and then reboot into the other system to read the mail, and save it to a folder. So I now have my Windows 8 backgrounds in PC-BSD, and another problem is solved.

And right after you download the latest version of the O/S, get this PDF of the Users Handbook. Life among Windows users would be infinitely easier if Mighty Microsoft  had ever issued instructions like this for their various operating systems, instead of forcing us to figure them out by trial and error or by asking questions in those gawd-awful forums where ignorance rules supreme, or by pestering someone with real knowledge but insufficient time to hold our hands.

One of the reasons I really like PC-BSD is that there's a lot of basic information available on it right in the Handbook, and no matter what time of day or night, you can always "read the directions" and usually find your own answers. And if you do go into one of their forums, it has people on there who aren't there just to play 'Silly Buggers" with the newbies, and I also appreciate that a lot. We're actually trying to help one another. You could get to like this a lot.

Here's why I'm not quite into Gimp yet...

It's the poor man's Photoshop, and you don't learn all its secrets in five minutes. But it's a hell of a program, and the price is most certainly right, so it's well worth spending some time becoming familiar with the many things it does.

NASA (Continued in Win-8)

This is the Windows 8 USA Today App's full-screen version of that image that I took from their regular website, which was only about 500 by 400 or so, so this
is a bit better quality..... and this thing is now flying, and here's the plan:-

And now I'm going to switch back to PC-BSD 10 and continue playing with that.
They've added some new stuff into it, and some of that has to be properly configured so that the system can assimilate it correctly, and I've done that already, but I want to make sure I haven't missed anything. This may very well be the future of operating systems. Give us the system free or 'by donation' but sell us the hardware that runs it. Upgrade the software quarterly (as this is now) and then we only need to replace our hardware when increased demands of the software would require it for continuing good performance. This wouldn't entirely eliminate 'engineered obsolescence' but it would probably slow it down and make a lot of us happier. That's my theory, anyway.

NASA's Flying Saucer....

This is NASA's latest experimental landing craft for delivering two or more tons of whatever to beautiful, airless, waterless, all-beach-but-no-ocean Mars.... or so they fervently hope. And it was presumably tested today - I've been so busy re-learning my PC-BSD and remembering its passwords, I haven't checked the latest news to find out if it flew or not today. But we will all know momentarily.

And this image is a bit fuzzy, because I enlarged it a lot from a smaller image, and Gimp in PC-BSD is an image editor with whom I am barely familiar, and its 'sharpen' feature marches to a different drummer than any of the ones I've used in other (Windows) programs. But I'll catch onto it eventually. Familiarity breeds contempt, and all that rot. I'm still learning all this. That's why I got it....
to keep me alert, because the world needs more lerts. Any questions?

Temp's 57F, weather looks like this....

Except for the leaves, this could be a balmy day in late February - but it's the end of June. Isn't Climate Change wonderful? Don't you just love it?

And my old Pentax X70 is still working OK. Being only 24X, it doesn't get used nearly as much as it should, but it really does take nice pictures... there's nothing wrong with it. It's human nature I guess to play with our newest toys, and this gets left on the shelf too often. I think I'll try a faster card in it and see if that peps it up. This was 'cutting edge technology' not so long ago....

LibreOffice in PC-BSD 10

Recently, I was babbling about LibreOffice, the complete office suite from the open-source community, and I mentioned that it is the 'official' office suite for PC-BSD 10. Here's a screenshot of PC-BSD's AppCafe, showing its listing there.

So, as mentioned, you don't have to go without a complete and up-to-date suite of office features in PC-BSD. Everything's included. Just install and enjoy.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Power generation stations of the future...

...will probably look a lot like this solar panel farm in Germany, shown in the latest USA Today.

Just an 'FYI' .....

If you haven't used yours for a few days, then it's going to take the better part of an hour or so for it to totally renew and upgrade itself before you can jump into it and start exploring the new improvements, and there's quite a few.

Unlike Windows, these folks don't hype the hell out of you first, and then demand that you sell one of your kids into slavery so that you can afford their latest incarnation. They simply show you a little icon that indicates there are new packages available, and when you click on that to check it out, it starts a whole sequence of downloading and then installing everything in the package. In this case, 1 GB of downloads requiring an additional 557 MB of disk space in addition to that already in use for it. 

A whole fresh installation of it, in other words. So, "What's it like?" you ask. And I answer "It's the open-source world's answer to both Microsoft and Apple, and it looks and acts like a cross between Windows and OS-X, with the balance tipped toward the OS-X, with its optional programs and features predetermined and listed by categories from which you choose. Because: both this and OS-X have been derived from Unix code, but I hasten to add here that we can't grab Apple's widgets to use in this one. We have to use the widgets made for this, but there's no shortage, so don't fret about it."

If you're having a rainy weekend like we are, this would be a good time to get to know PC-BSD 10.0.02 and discover a whole other operating system that doesn't require opening your wallet before opening the program. They do accept donations, though. 

Here's a screen showing the AppCafe's category list (alphabetical) and below it
the 'Applications Available = 2174' and 'Total Packages = 23351' and this is what I meant by it being similar to OS-X. You choose your add-ins from the approved list, not by grabbing things off the web, like I've been doing for years with Windows. Below this screen is another of the Desktop, without that window blocking the view.

Would you like your own? Please click here for the Downloads page.

And I'm happy to report.....

..... It's Fixed !

Sometimes, the semi-famous....

...turn out to be just like the rest of us foul-mouthed, garden-variety Assholes!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Not the brightest burglar....

More from Irfan at Irfanview....

My sincere thanks to Irfan for making me aware of this addition to the context menu of Windows Explorer, and here's a look at it installed.....

Again, thank you, Irfan, and do enjoy your day! 

Mystery continues....

Relatives of missing passengers who expressed doubts that the aircraft could have been on autopilot at the time it vanished should study the reports of the Asiana Flight 214 crash at San Francisco in July of 2013, in which the autopilot was flying the plane up until just a few seconds from impact with the seawall at the end of the runway, because its pilots were insufficiently trained and didn't fully understand the complexity of the relevant systems, and the differences between Boeing and Airbus control systems. So it's very possible the autopilot was flying the plane when it ran out of fuel.

So my Question Everything is: "Why can't they rig the Autopilot so that whenever it is flying the aircraft, it sends a regular ping to a satellite which can relay that information back to ground stations monitoring air traffic?" At least then, someone would know whether or not the pilots were flying the aircraft.
If they included data on its GPS location, a record could be kept of its flightpath,
and then if it disappeared, there would be more useful information on where to start looking. These aircraft cost hundreds of millions of dollars - $261.5 millions in this case - and that along with the lives aboard it ought to be enough incentive for inclusion of such improvements in its design. This isn't 'rocket science' but simply common sense. Or so one would think....

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Program Icons: Make your own....

If you don't like the 'blah' icon that came with your newest program, and you have an icon-making program like IcoFX, you can take any image you prefer, and resize it to 400 by 400 or less (so the editing program can work with it) and then you can convert that image into a new icon, file it in your icons folder, and then change to the new one from that 'blah' one that came with your program.
If you look at the icons in my screenshot here, you'll see that's what I've just done with the one for LibreOffice 4.1. Its original icon was very forgettable.
Making your own icons is fun, but you should remember that images with a lot of detail in them will not translate to a very sharp icon, because of the limitations of its size. So you should strike a balance between details and clarity
for optimal results.

Office Apps and programs.....

Google today is making big noises about an Office program (QuickOffice) for its mobile applications, so those can work with files from Microsoft Office. They didn't mention 'Microsoft', but anyone familiar with what QuickOffice does will know without being told.

That got me looking into what's been happening with the old original OpenOffice that began as StarOffice, evolved into with sponsorship by Sun Microsystems, who got bought by Apache, who then let the whole thing wither on the vine until most of the open-source development community packed up and went elsewhere. The 'elsewhere' turns out to be this latest incarnation of it:

It's a tightened-up version of the original OpenOffice, trimmed from 312 Mb down to around 206, but with all the same great sections doing all the same sorts of things. Just like Microsoft Office, but without the expen$e$. And if you're a fan of the Unix derivative O/S, PC-BSD, it has also been ported for it
and is their native office suite. And PC-BSD is something else you should try....

This just in from Irfan at Irfanview....

There's a new version, 4.38, available today, and you can get it here.
It's free, but Irfan (pronounced 'earfan') appreciates donations which you can make through PayPal or Kagi (and you should!). It's well worth it. And if you aren't already using his excellent program, you really ought to try it. 

What can you do with Irfanview? - Almost anything! Here's a look at its menus:

The File menu:

The Edit Menu:

The Image Menu:

The Options Menu:

The View Menu:

There's also an excellent Help and FAQs sections, and this is a real winner. Our friend from Bosnia is not only a really nice guy, he does excellent work! 

Dear Ray,

Thank you once again for the donation and support! :-)

Happy summer!

The current IrfanView version is 4.38



A gaggle of Google....

That cryptic 'I/O' logo symbol: Google says it means 'Input/Output' or 'Innovation in the Open'. Wrong. It means 'Google 1, Others 0'.....

Wearables: Question Everything: "Who does the laundry?"

Let's talk Television: It's been done to death already! Television is a vast cultural wasteland designed for those with an I.Q. twice their belt size. There's been nothing really interesting on it since the 1960s, and the programming on it is just bait for the commercials that take up one-third of every hour. And stop talking about 'set top boxes' - our sets these days are flat screens that are only three and a half inches thick, and there's nowhere for a 'set top box' on top.
The top edge is only two inches wide on mine, and if you can find someone who still sells those cathode-ray tube televisions, that took up half the room and weighed a ton, I'll kiss your cute little ass until you bark like a fox!

But while I'm on flat screen TVs, I have to say these make excellent monitors for your computer, and with a click of your TV Remote, you're watching the latest TV news, sports, or whatever. And you don't have to shut down your PC while you do that. Just leave it on, and use the 'Input' button on your TV Remote to select 'VGA' instead of 'TV' to go back onto your computer again...
where you can continue wherever you left off before you switched to 'TV'. And I betcha Google didn't tell you anything about that one. 

And while Google is making noises about the bad old NSA and government snooping into our personal affairs, and holding conferences to showcase their latest brainwaves, let's not let all that distract us from the little bouncing ball which is snooping through all your emails, blogs, and other stuff on the web to find every possible means of selling you something with advertising that has made their stock worth more than anybody's. They howl about privacy, because pointing the finger at someone else is the easiest way to avoid suspicion yourself, and they're hoping you will be so enthralled with all their 'show and tell' that you won't notice they're skinning us alive and selling our hides to anyone with a buck or two to spare. Would I lie to you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From KatKam: Tonight's sunset

In the news: today's (required) reading...

It's not easy changing policy or perceptions of America in places like the Middle East, when there's so many people with active memories and such a detailed historical record of all those many stupid mistakes. But Good Luck with that!
It's a noble and worthy cause, even if it does seem futile. It's hard for people to trust you after you've shot at them not just once, but for years.

Scientists simulate time travel....

If this involves a Black Hole, and it appears to, then whatever goes through it is going to come out as subatomic soup, likely in an alternate universe, from which there's no obvious escape. So in other words, the 'Theory of Everything' says in effect that 'nothing is going to turn out exactly like you thought'. And now, we can prove it, hypothetically of course. Isn't science wonderful? 

And why do I need time travel, if I can't afford to go anywhere, and wouldn't have any way of knowing what to expect if I got there? This is what's known as 'theoretical physics' - it's all mind over matter: if you don't mind, it don't matter.

NASA rovers of the future....

This looks like a modified Segway, and today's Question Everything is: "What if the very act of injecting this device into the under-ice lake precipitates a change of state causing the whole thing to freeze rock solid?" Are we really this desperate to find something productive to do? Somehow, I doubt it...